Archive for March, 2016

Capital’s Chimera receives hefty fine for butt-ending

Thursday, March 31st, 2016
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Chimera and Shayne Gostisbehere were skating around the net after the whistle had blown in the second period when Chimera used the butt end of the stick to poke the Flyer's defencemen in the midsection.

Bears agree to 1-year deals with S Bolden, OL Larsen (The Associated Press)

Thursday, March 31st, 2016
The Chicago Bears agreed to one-year contracts with former Denver Broncos safety and special-teams contributor Omar Bolden as well as former Tampa Bay and Arizona offensive lineman Ted Larsen on Thursday. Bolden played for Bears coach John Fox in Denver and spent the past four seasons with the Broncos.

Greenway returning to Vikings for 1 more season (The Associated Press)

Thursday, March 31st, 2016
Minnesota Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway is coming back for one more season in purple. The 33-year-old Greenway has played all 10 of his NFL seasons with the Vikings since he was a first-round draft pick in 2006. In a decade in Minnesota, Greenway has emerged as a pillar for the Vikings both in the locker room and in the community.

From hero to human, athletes struggle with transition when playing career ends

Thursday, March 31st, 2016
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At some point, every athlete has to stop lacing up their skates, pinning on their race number or strapping on their skis. Deidra Dionne's day was sudden and she wasn't prepared for it.

Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith on knee: ‘I am leg-pressing over 600 pounds’ (Shutdown Corner)

Thursday, March 31st, 2016
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Just after injured Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith received the apparently bad news about his health from the NFL scouting combine, he and Irish teammate and fellow linebacker Jarrett Grace drove past each other right outside the school’s athletic department after Smith returned to campus. The league’s reaction to Smith’s gruesome knee injury — a torn ACL and LCL in his left knee, and possible nerve damage — was telling. Team officials winced as Smith limped on his surgically repaired leg and struggled not to show his discomfort when NFL medical people torqued his leg in every direction to see just how bad the injury was. [ Follow Yahoo Sports draft expert Eric Edholm on Facebook and Twitter ] Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson reported at the time that Smith had been removed from at least three teams’ draft boards , pending the results of the league’s medical recheck in Indianapolis April 14-15. It appeared that the draft stock of Smith, a one-time top-10 prospect, was in free fall. But if Smith had just received life-changing bad news about his draft prospects, Grace was completely unaware. All he saw when they passed each other on the road was Smith’s patented smile. “I was the first person he saw when he came back to campus,” Grace said on Thursday. “I yelled out to him, ‘Jaylon!’ and he yelled back, ‘Hey, JG! Smooth!’ It was just great seeing his smile, seeing him in good spirits.” Smith brandished that smile on Thursday, even as he was unable to work out at Notre Dame’s pro day at the Guglielmino Athletics Complex, other than putting up an impressive 24 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. That number matched the total of 315-pound Irish offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, who appears to be going in that same top-10 range Smith was supposed to before he suffered the stunning injury in his final college game, Notre Dame’s Fiesta Bowl loss to Ohio State. Smith declared for the draft shortly thereafter despite his murky medical status. The torn ligaments are one thing; those usually heal with enough time and rehab. But the potential nerve damage would be another story entirely. If Smith suffered damage to the peroneal nerve — which helps aid movement and supply sensation to the lower leg, foot and toes — then all bets are off. That could derail his entire 2016 season, and possibly doom his career as well. The fluid, athletic, productive and highly instinctive 2015 Butkus Award winner, who also had become the first Notre Dame freshman linebacker to start in the past 20 years, has a lot at stake over the next several weeks, months and, it appears, years. But he reportedly took out a $5 million loss-of-value insurance policy that would pay out $700,000 if he’s drafted outside Round 1, and $100,000 per pick thereafter. Will he still be a first-rounder? That’s one of the biggest mysteries of the 2016 NFL draft. Smith only spoke briefly with the media at large after doing an interview with NFL Network. But Shutdown Corner caught up with Smith a few minutes later and gathered a few more details of the progress he has made following the difficult combine weekend. Can Smith feel a tangible difference physically in the past five weeks? “Oh yeah, absolutely,” Smith said. “A few weeks have made a huge difference, even the past two weeks. I can feel it. “Rehab is going great. I am leg-pressing over 600 pounds right now. I am squatting over 400 pounds. I am getting that strength back. It’s just a matter of time.” Asked whether it has been determined if he suffered nerve in the injury, Smith was a bit vague, but he remained upbeat. “We’ll see when I go back there [to the medical recheck],” Smith said. “We’ll see what the doctors say then. I feel like I’ve regained some of it. I'm happy where I am at right now.” Smith has met with “about 25 teams” during the pre-draft process and has more meetings set up. “There’s a lot of interest,” he told a local TV crew on the way out of the facility. “There’s nothing I can control except working hard. Everything is positive.” The San Francisco 49ers are one of the teams expected to fly Smith in for a visit in the next few days, and if there’s a team that might shy away from a talented player coming off a career-threatening knee injury it might be them. The Niners took a fourth-round gamble on Marcus Lattimore, who suffered multiple torn ligaments in each knee, which interrupted what was a brilliant college career. Lattimore retired without ever having appeared in a game for the team, and he was not found to have suffered nerve damage. Smith was spotted after surgery wearing an AFO (ankle foot orthosis) brace, which tends to suggest the presence of nerve damage in rehab patients who need it, but he did not appear to be wearing any type of brace on Thursday. For the first hour or more of the pro day, Smith stood and watched his teammates perform drills for NFL scouts and walked around without a visible limp or discomfort. “The good news is that I feel great, that’s a big step,” Smith said. In attendance at the pro day was a large contingent from the Tennessee Titans, including head coach Mike Mularkey, who has a bit of first-hand experience with an elite athlete returning from a major, career-altering knee injury. Mularkey took the Buffalo Bills’ head-coaching job the year following Willis McGahee’s rookie season. The Bills took McGahee 23rd overall in the 2003 draft despite having suffered a torn ACL, MCL and PCL in the national title loss to Ohio State that year. McGahee would first play in the NFL in Mularkey’s first season as head coach, and he said that most NFL-caliber athletes are driven in a way to rehab that others are just not wired to achieve. “It comes down to the makeup of the player, what they believe they’re capable of doing again,” Mularkey told Shutdown Corner. “Most of these guys, their mentality is that no matter how bad an injury is, now matter how bad things are now, they’re going to be back to normal. “Obviously, some can recover quicker than others. But [Smith] can still believe he’s going to get back there, and that will go a long way.” Mularkey saw McGahee rush for 1,128 and 1,247 yards in his two seasons in Buffalo, with a combined 18 rushing TDs. By the end of Year 3, had McGahee — whom Mularkey called an “elite” athlete — gotten back to where he was pre-injury? “I still think it was early,” he said. Grace also knows a thing or two about devastating leg injuries and long waits. He suffered a shattered fibula that broke in four different places in October 2013 that ended not only that season but also kept him out for all of 2014. Grace had a rod inserted in his leg to help stabilize it, and he returned to the field finally in 2015, when he was a regular contributor on defense again. It gave Grace a unique perspective from which to offer advice to Smith. “Initially I just told him to keep his head up and trust the process. You have tremendous resources around you to help guide you back and make your full recovery. … “But I mostly told him to keep being Jaylon. Don’t change anything now. Now that this road bump has come, you’ve been doing things the right way for so long, and if things don’t work out then you can look in the mirror with no regrets.” If a team drafts Smith knowing that 2016 is a wash, what can he add to a locker room as a rookie without playing? “He can pick up on defenses and teach his position, coach everyone around him,” Grace said. “If you’re not going to have his presence on the field, you’re going to have someone who is very detail-oriented in the locker room. If he wasn’t in class, he was trying to soak up as much football as he could. He didn’t want to have to rely on his athletic ability. “You see plenty of tremendous athletes out there, popping off crazy numbers at the combine and stuff. But he has that and the other side, the [intangible] side. An 80 percent Jaylon Smith is going to be better than everyone else in the draft.” Consider defensive lineman Romeo Okwara a believer that Smith will get back. His first clue has been watching Smith work to become one of the best players in the country over the past three seasons. Okwara’s second indication: that smile. It hasn’t gone anywhere. “To me, he’s the same Jaylon Smith I met his freshman season,” Okwara said. “Nothing has changed.” Cornerback KeiVarae Russell, who is fighting back from a litany of injuries himself, including a stress fracture in his leg, agrees. “That’s my guy,” Russell said. “I consider him my little brother. I am proud of him, proud of what he’s done so far and proud of what I think he’s going to be. “It’s tough for what I consider a top-three pick in the draft to potentially losing millions of dollars, so I can’t really give him advice on that. But he’s taking it all in stride.” Smith is doing the same. He takes a deep breath and keeps the smile painted to his face as he walks out of the facility after the pro day ended. “Life’s been great,” he said. “Everything I am going through, it’s definitely made a better man out of me. “As more time goes by, you realize that everything happens for a reason. I appreciate things better now. I appreciate just how hard it is to get to the top of the mountain. I am not even close, but I feel better about getting there one day.” - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Tight end Vernon Davis tweets about joining hometown Skins (The Associated Press)

Thursday, March 31st, 2016
ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -- Tight end Vernon Davis is heading to the Washington Redskins, signing with the club as a free agent.

Price finally returns to Habs practice

Thursday, March 31st, 2016
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Star goaltender Price practises with Canadiens for first time since November

Colin Kaepernick's $11.9M 2016 contract becomes guaranteed (The Associated Press)

Thursday, March 31st, 2016
After months of trade talk and speculation, Colin Kaepernick is still on San Francisco's roster and due a hefty payday. Instead, the quarterback's $11.9 million 2016 contract became guaranteed at 1 p.m. local time Thursday when San Francisco kept him on the roster. While potential new teams for Kaepernick might ask him to restructure his current deal, Kaepernick wouldn't have to accept anything less than the $11.9 million.

Running backs Thomas, Pead sign with Miami Dolphins (The Associated Press)

Thursday, March 31st, 2016
MIAMI (AP) -- Running backs Daniel Thomas and Isaiah Pead have signed with the Miami Dolphins, who wanted to add depth at the position after Lamar Miller left for Houston.

Rex Ryan promotes Vrable, Meyer to new roles on Bills staff (The Associated Press)

Thursday, March 31st, 2016
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -- Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan has promoted two assistants on his staff.