Report: Bengals botched A.J. McCarron trade at deadline

Report: Bengals botched A.J. McCarron trade at deadline

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Report: Bengals botched A.J. McCarron trade at deadline





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A new version of events has surfaced blaming the Bengals for the A.J. McCarron trade that wasn’t.

Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweeted that the Browns sent a signed trade document to the Bengals to sign and send to the league, confirming the trade. The Bengals sent in the wrong document, one signed only by them.

The league needed both signatures to approve the trade, and the deadline passed before they got both.

An earlier report blamed the Browns for failing to get the trade into the league in time. The Bengals would have received 2018 second- and third-round picks in exchange for the backup quarterback.

Stay tuned to this one.














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October 31, 2017 at 04:54PM

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Celtic improving among European elite – Rodgers

Celtic improving among European elite – Rodgers

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Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers believes his side can stay involved in European football after Christmas

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers believes his side’s display in losing 2-1 to Bayern Munich shows they are improving at European football’s elite level.

Bayern’s 2-1 win at Celtic Park sent the Scottish side out of the Champions League, but Celtic can still qualify for the Europa League.

“We want to get there playing a level of football that can allow you to go as far as you possibly can,” Rodgers said.

“We showed in our performance that we’re improving at the highest level.”

Bayern opened the scoring in Glasgow when Kingsley Coman took advantage of Dedryck Boyata’s failure to head clear a long ball.

Although Craig Gordon was adamant Coman used his hand as he steered the ball past the Celtic goalkeeper, no foul was awarded and the Bayern striker finished calmly.

The mistake frustrated Rodgers, as his side had been playing with good intensity and passing range.

Craig Gordon was adamant Kingsley Coman handled in the build up to the opening goal

“We’ve got to deal with it. We got good pressure on the goalkeeper, positioning is good on our defensive line and we’ve got to head it, it’s as simple as that,” the Celtic manager said.

“I’m more disappointed we didn’t deal with the header. It comes through and I haven’t seen it, so not sure if it was a handball or not.

“It’s disappointing, given how well we played – the level of composure and quality, I was very proud of the team. We caused them lots of problems.

“Individually, they are world class. You get punished at this level, but overall we looked like a proper team and developing at that level. So, many positives from the game.”

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers was deflated by the error by Dedryck Boyata for Bayern’s opener

Celtic equalised in the second half when James Forrest dinked the ball through to Callum McGregor, who steered a shot under goalkeeper Sven Ulreich.

The sides were only level for four minutes though, Javi Martinez rising above Nir Bitton to head home the winning goal.

“I thought, as a team, we showed a high level of tactical idea and technique to play,” Rodgers said.

“The goal was a wonderful demonstration of two Scottish players showing a great bit of skill.

“How James lifted that over – if that was them, everybody would be raving about it – and Callum does what he does, he breaks into the box and scores.

“Kieran Tierney up against Arjen Robben, outstanding again, and Scott Brown in midfield, controlling.

“Across the team, I was really pleased with the co-ordination and how they worked the ball.

“It’s another step for us being a competitive side and playing proper football at this level.

“It’s a huge step for the confidence and, apart from the two goals we conceded, defensively we were very good, we played our shape very well and pressed at the right moments.

“When we had the ball, we found the gaps. But what we’ve got to do now is finish off over the next two games.

“We want to achieve what we set out to achieve – European football after Christmas.”

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October 31, 2017 at 04:54PM

Utah Jazz forward Joe Johnson out at least two weeks with wrist injury

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Jazz forward Joe Johnson will miss at least two weeks with a right wrist injury.

The 17-year veteran had an MRI on Tuesday that found tendon instability in his right wrist. He suffered the injury during a 104-89 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Monday and will be reevaluated in two weeks.

Johnson averaged 6.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.6 assists in the first seven games. He was struggling with his shot, hitting just 39.1 percent from the field and 11.8 percent from 3-point range. The poor numbers are simply considered a slow start.

The Jazz began using Johnson as a sharp-shooting power forward last season. Jonas Jerebko is most likely to pick up minutes, though he’s only played four in two games in his first season with Utah.

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October 31, 2017 at 04:51PM

UGA tops Tide in 1st CFP; Irish, Clemson follow

UGA tops Tide in 1st CFP; Irish, Clemson follow

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The SEC rules the top of this season’s first College Football Playoff rankings, but not perhaps in the way most would think.

Though Alabama is ranked ahead of Georgia in the AP poll, the CFP committee sees the unbeaten Bulldogs as the No. 1 team ahead of the equally unbeaten Crimson Tide, who sit at No. 2.

With both teams currently on a collision course for the SEC title game, the Dec. 2 game in Atlanta could serve as a playoff game for the CFP.

Following the SEC titans are six teams sitting at 7-1, led by Notre Dame at No. 3. The Irish’s lone loss came in a home defeat to newly minted No. 1 Georgia. Should standings hold as they are, Notre Dame could potentially leap frog Georgia, were the Bulldogs to lose to the Crimson Tide in the SEC title game.

The fourth team locked into the CFP is Clemson. At 7-1, the defending champions have flown a bit under the radar, but clearly the committee did not penalize the Tigers for a shocking road loss to Syracuse that featured Clemson losing starting quarterback Kelly Bryant to injury.

Oklahoma plants its flag behind Clemson at No. 5. It appears the CFP committee agreed with Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield, who said Tuesday he believes his team, which beat Ohio State in Columbus earlier this year, deserved to be ranked ahead of the Buckeyes since both have the same 7-1 record.

Those same Buckeyes have a good look at the Sooners’ tail lights as they fall in at No. 6, one spot ahead of the same Penn State they beat in Saturday afternoon’s thriller.

The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions are the highest ranked teams out of the Big Ten, while undefeated Wisconsin is ranked ninth in the CFP. The Badgers lack a signature win, and have no CFP-ranked teams remaining on their schedule, but an undefeated run to the Big Ten title game and a showdown against potential East Division winner Ohio State or Penn State could vault Wisconsin into the top four.

Stuck in between the rush of Big Ten schools is TCU. The Horned Frogs picked a rough week to drop their first game of the season, as the previously unbeaten team’s high-flying offense was grounded to a halt by a surging Iowa State team. With surprise wins over Oklahoma and TCU, the Cyclones find themselves ranked 15th in the CFP.

The Miami (7-0) round out the CFP top 10. While many have claimed “The U is back,” they still have work to do, but a Nov. 11 home game against Notre Dame would go a long way in silencing any doubters.

Oklahoma State are on the outside of the top 10 looking in and are followed by Washington (the highest ranked Pac-12 team), Virginia Tech, Auburn, Iowa State, Mississippi State and USC.

UCF is the highest ranked team among the Group of 5 schools, at No. 18 in the CFP rankings. The only other Group of 5 school ranked this week in the CFP is Memphis at No. 24.

LSU and occasionally embattled coach Ed Orgeron sit at No. 19 and are followed by a two-loss NC State team that rattled off six straight wins after losing in their opener to South Carolina, but got taken down by Notre Dame last Saturday.

Stanford is followed next by Arizona. The Wildcats and quarterback sensation Khalil Tate are ranked No. 22 ahead of Memphis, Michigan State and Washington State.

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October 31, 2017 at 04:22PM

Kelvin Benjamin trade a shock but makes sense for Panthers

Kelvin Benjamin trade a shock but makes sense for Panthers

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The decision by the Carolina Panthers to trade star wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin to the Buffalo Bills for a pair of 2018 draft picks will make sense after the initial shock wears off.

Consider, Benjamin was heading toward the last year of his rookie deal after the Panthers picked up his fifth-year option. Carolina would have to pay him $8,459,000 in 2018 or sign him to a long-term deal that would cost that or more per year.

The organization obviously wasn’t ready to commit that kind of money when you consider they unloaded the 28th pick of the 2014 draft for third- and seventh-round picks in 2018.

Also consider Benjamin and Devin Funchess are similar in size and what they do in the offense. Benjamin is 6-foot-5 and 243 pounds and primarily plays the “X” receiver spot. Funchess is 6-4 and 225 pounds. While he can play all three receiver spots, he has been best as the “X” receiver where he played mostly in college.

When both are on the field in a two-receiver set the Panthers don’t have a true deep threat to open up the field underneath.

Without Benjamin they will be more diversified in their sets in terms of blending different types of receivers opposite Funchess, who will take over Benjamin’s spot.

General manager Marty Hurney told ESPN.com this gives Carolina the opportunity to bring more players into the mix with Russell Shepard, second-round pick Curtis Samuel and Kaelin Clay.

Running back/receiver Christian McCaffrey also will blend in as he has done all season, leading Carolina in receptions with 49.

Remember, the past two seasons speedster Ted Ginn Jr. lined up opposite Benjamin. Ginn had a career-high 10 touchdown catches in 2015 when quarterback Cam Newton had a career-high 35 touchdown passes.

The Panthers lost Ginn in free agency to New Orleans, where he is flourishing with quarterback Drew Brees.

Newton had eight touchdown passes to four interceptions on throws of 20-plus yards in 2016 and 10 of that distance to only two interceptions in 2015 with Ginn.

Ginn caught eight of Newton’s 18 touchdowns of that distance during that span. Before Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay, Newton was 4-for-6 targeting Benjamin on throws of 20-plus yards but 3-of-14 with no touchdowns and two interceptions to everybody else.

With Funchess in Benjamin’s role the Panthers have created a situation closer to what they had the past two seasons.

Something needed to be done.

While Newton’s completion percentage is at a career-best 63.1 percent, he has thrown more interceptions (11) than touchdowns. Defenses haven’t had to worry about the deep threat because there hasn’t been one.

The risk is Funchess won’t deliver. Benjamin has 16 touchdown catches from Newton since 2014, the most by any Carolina wide receiver even though Benjamin missed the 2015 season with a knee injury.

Tight end Greg Olsen was second on that list with 14 touchdowns during that span. He was tied with Ginn.

So by trading Benjamin the Panthers have given themselves more flexibility on receiver sets and saved immediate money in 2018 — and more long-term.

They have shown confidence in Funchess, who with 33 catches already has a career-high in eight games and 10 more than he had all of last season playing with Benjamin.

Coach Ron Rivera has said repeatedly over the past month the team has to find more ways to get Funchess involved.

Now they will.

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October 31, 2017 at 04:22PM

Jeremy Lane fails physical; Texans get third-rounder in 2018 instead

Jeremy Lane fails physical; Texans get third-rounder in 2018 instead

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Jeremy Lane fails physical; Texans get third-rounder in 2018 instead





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Cornerback Jeremy Lane failed his physical with the Texans, via John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, altering their trade with the Seahawks.

The Texans, who were supposed to get a fifth-round pick in 2018 and a second-round pick in 2019 and Lane in return for Duane Brown and a fifth-round pick in 2018, now receive a third-round pick in 2018 and a second-round pick in 2019. The Seahawks still get Brown and the fifth-rounder in 2018 as well as the return of Lane.

Lane missed two games a groin injury but returned Sunday to play six of 71 snaps in Seattle’s victory over Houston. While he was out with his injury, Lane lost his job to rookie Shaquill Griffin at right cornerback opposite Richard Sherman, with Justin Coleman playing the nickel.














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October 31, 2017 at 04:18PM

UFC 217: Bisping vs. St-Pierre breakdown

UFC 217: Bisping vs. St-Pierre breakdown

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In the main event of UFC 217, former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre returns and challenges middleweight champion Michael Bisping for the title. St-Pierre has been out of action for nearly four years, while Bisping has lately gone on the best run of his career.

Both fighters are clearly accomplished, but there are key stylistic differences that could be determining factors Saturday night. The following is a breakdown of the statistical categories that highlight those factors.

Fightnomics

Takedowns

St-Pierre has stated that Bisping is “terrified” of his wrestling. If Bisping is truly afraid, then his fears are not unreasonable. During his UFC career, St-Pierre has used his takedown game to dominate fights. The former welterweight champion holds the record for most takedowns landed in UFC history with 87, and his takedown accuracy of 73.7 percent is second-best all time. Since being knocked out by Matt Serra in 2007, St-Pierre has landed at least 50 percent of his takedown attempts in each of his past 12 fights. During that same stretch, he averaged 3.89 takedowns per 15 minutes of fight time.

The saving grace for Bisping is that he has relatively strong takedown defense. In the UFC he has stopped 65 percent of his opponents’ takedown attempts, and he has only been taken down four times in his past seven fights. However, in the 17 fights in which an opponent has attempted to take him down, Bisping has only managed to avoid going to the ground in four of them. For context, Bisping has faced three fighters who average at least three takedowns per 15 minutes: Matt Hamill, CB Dollaway and Chael Sonnen. These three opponents landed 64 percent of their takedown attempts against Bisping and combined to take him down 12 times.

Certainly wrestling will be part of St-Pierre’s game plan. It has been a vital element of his offensive attack since he debuted in the UFC in 2004. In order to be successful, Bisping will need to find a way to keep this fight on the feet. If St-Pierre does score takedowns, Bisping will need to avoid damage on the ground and get back to his feet.

Ground striking

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  • Legendary boxing trainer Freddie Roach will be cornering his first MMA fight next Saturday at UFC 217 with Georges St-Pierre. He shares his thoughts on the matchup with Michael Bisping and what lies ahead for GSP.

  • Rose Namajunas is facing a presumed outcome when she meets the undefeated Joanna Jedrzejczyk in the Octagon at UFC 217. But Namajunas plans to be her “most complete self” at the fight — and she thinks her opponent won’t be ready for it.

Another element of St-Pierre’s success is his ability to land meaningful strikes once he takes a fight to the floor. During his UFC career, 36 percent of GSP’s significant strikes have come while on the ground, and he has outlanded opponents 449 to 43 in that position. On the other hand, Bisping prefers to do most of his striking on the feet. He has only landed nine percent of his significant strikes while on the ground. Since defeating Jason “Mayhem” Miller in 2011, Bisping has been outlanded on the ground 47 to 23.

Takedowns not only allow St-Pierre to dictate the pace and position of the fight, but they also open up a significant part of his striking offense. If Bisping is able to stop the takedowns, it will hinder his opponent’s offense and put him in an advantageous position for offensive striking.

Significant strikes

Bisping holds the record for most significant strikes landed in UFC history with 1,533. For his career, St-Pierre is not far behind with 1,254. However, on a per-minute basis, Bisping has a pretty clear advantage. He lands 4.33 significant strikes per minute, while St-Pierre only lands 3.82. Plus, in his past six fights, Bisping actually increased his rate even more and landed 4.56 per minute.

In an interesting development that could be a problem for St-Pierre, Bisping seems to have found power late in his career. Through his first 24 UFC fights, he scored five knockdowns at a rate of 0.25 per 15 minutes of fight time. In his past three fights alone, Bisping has scored three knockdowns at a rate of 0.84 per 15 minutes. St-Pierre has only been knocked down three times in his UFC career, but he did absorb 240 significant strikes in his past four fights and is coming off a nearly four-year layoff. If this power continues to show and Bisping is able to prevent takedowns, St-Pierre could struggle to say in the fight.

Strikes absorbed

Thanks in part to his takedown ability, St-Pierre does not absorb very many significant strikes. During his UFC career, he has absorbed only 1.43 significant strikes per minute. However, for his past four fights that rate jumped to 2.4. The increase was due mostly to Jake Shields (3.12) and Johny Hendricks (3.4), the only two fighters to land at least three significant strikes per minute against St-Pierre in the promotion.

Bisping has allowed his opponents to land 2.62 significant strikes against him in the UFC. However, that rate has increased dramatically over the course of his past six fights. In his first 21 fights in the UFC, Bisping absorbed 2.39 significant strikes per minute. During his recent six-fight stretch, his opponents have landed 3.2 significant strikes against him on a per-minute basis. Bisping may have the offensive edge in terms of striking, but St-Pierre has proven hard to hit in his UFC run. This could turn out to be an interesting defensive wrinkle on Saturday night. In the past Bisping has needed to be a volume striker to be successful. If St-Pierre is able to prevent that, the fight could swing in his favor.

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October 31, 2017 at 04:15PM

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