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Even though his competition failed to stake a strong claim to the starting job in offseason practices, rookie quarterback Josh Allen will open training camp at the bottom of the Bills’ depth chart.

“We’re going to pick up where we left from OTAs at the QB position,” coach Sean McDermott said Thursday, via the team’s official Twitter account. “Josh Allen will work with the threes as we start training camp tonight.”
The news is not surprising in the sense that Allen was deemed a bit of a project coming out of Wyoming, with questions surrounding his footwork, accuracy and decision-making.

On the other hand, the 2018 draft’s No. 7 overall pick boasts an overwhelming talent advantage on AJ McCarron and Nathan Peterman, neither of whom has stood out in new coordinator Brian Daboll’s offense.

Squarely in rebuilding mode despite squeaking into the playoffs last season, Buffalo offers little in the way of supporting talent for a greenhorn quarterback. It’s quite possible that the organization’s brass is intent on allowing Allen to sit behind McCarron and/or Peterman rather than forcing him into action early in the season.

In which case, it’s on Allen to alter those plans with a strong showing in August.

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PITTSBURGH — After battling injuries over the past two offseasons, Joe Haden plans to make up for lost time.

The Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback said he took one week off after the regular season ended, and after morning beach workouts in Southern California, Haden is with his teammates for Phase One of voluntary workouts.

If the Steelers want to play more man coverage in 2018, which Haden suspects, the 29-year-old corner said he’s “good with it,” thanks to his clean injury slate.

“My groin’s good. My knee’s good. I’m feeling healthy,” Haden said. “I was able to get a full offseason workout. My last two offseasons I haven’t been able to train like I wanted to. This year, I got after training like I never have before.”
Joe Haden is ready to see what he can do with a full offseason with the Steelers. Mark Alberti/ Icon Sportswire
Haden underwent groin surgery in January 2017, which slowed his training for that upcoming season. The previous offseason, Haden was recovering from a concussion scare that cost him all but five games in 2015.

Haden’s injury history and hefty salary made him expendable for the Cleveland Browns, who released him in late August, but the Steelers quickly signed him to a three-year, $27-million, thrilled that a Pro Bowl-caliber cornerback was available so late in the preseason.

Haden acquitted himself well in 11 games with 20 tackles and one interception as Pittsburgh’s lead corner alongside Artie Burns. Haden missed five games with a broken fibula, an injury that shouldn’t affect his long-term outlook with the team. The Steelers are carrying Haden’s $11.916 million salary-cap hit because of his importance to the defense.

Haden wants to see what he can do with a full offseason with the Steelers.

“[Before] it was just trying to get the plays and that stuff down,” said Haden about his limited offseason work. “Now, I can work on myself and my individual game and put it together. I was happy I could do it, being able to be healthy. It made me feel good working out in the mornings, get that work in, then having afternoons to myself.”

The Steelers should have a solid corner rotation with Haden, Burns, slot corner Mike Hilton, Cam Sutton and potentially a draft pick. Haden seems eager to take ownership of that group as he heads into his ninth NFL season.

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Larry Kwong, the first player of Asian heritage to appear in an NHL game, has died at 94.

According to an online obituary, he died Thursday in Calgary, Alberta.

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Kwong played a shift with the New York Rangers against the Montreal Canadiens on March 13, 1948. The brief NHL stint came after he joined the New York Rovers, a Rangers farm team. He led the team in scoring in the 1947-48 season.

Kwong was born in British Columbia and played with his hometown Vernon Hydrophones before moving up to the senior ranks at 18 with the Trail Smoke Eaters.

After the Rangers, Kwong spent several seasons in the Quebec Senior Hockey League. He later played in England and Switzerland, where he also coached. Kwong was inducted into British Columbia’s sports Hall of Fame in 2013.

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The Los Angeles Angels have a difficult decision to make over the next few days: Will Shohei Ohtani make the Opening Day roster?

OK, so maybe it is an easy decision. After all, Ohtani has struggled on the mound and at the plate in his limited exposure in spring training games. In two spring starts, he allowed nine hits and nine runs in 2⅔ innings, flashing plus stuff but also struggling with his command and serving up three home runs. At the plate, he has gone 3-for-28 with nine strikeouts, three walks and no extra-base hits.

Much of his pitching work has come on the back fields, including an 85-pitch outing in an intrasquad game Saturday against Angels’ minor leaguers. While Angels manager Mike Scioscia called it a “great outing,” Ohtani threw 47 of the 85 pitches for strikes but walked five batters, hit another and threw two wild pitches. ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported that Ohtani’s fastball was 92-94 mph, down from his previous outings. Through his interpreter, Ohtani said after the game that he was working on his splitter and breaking ball more than his fastball, which is probably why his velocity was down a bit. Hmm.

Maybe the Angels feel obligated to keep Ohtani on the major league roster. After all, they were handed a gift when Ohtani selected them over the other teams, and I doubt their sales pitch included Ohtani starting the season in Salt Lake City.
Shohei Ohtani has struggled this spring on the mound and at the plate. Masterpress/Getty Images
Still, the Angels have a long-term commitment to Ohtani and they need to do what’s best for his development and what’s best right now for the franchise. That means starting him in the minor leagues, where he can find his fastball command, have a few good outings and get at-bats without everyone focused on whether he’s going to be the Babe Ruth of Anaheim on March 29.

Saturday’s outing seemed like a possible harbinger of a minor league assignment. Using major league starters on the back fields for minor league games has become a trend in recent seasons, but this felt like a deliberate attempt to give Ohtani a low-pressure environment. The Angels needed him to get his pitch count up, so this also provided a controlled situation to do that. In a regular spring game, for example, if his pitch count in one inning got up to, say, 30, they would likely want to remove him and he’d have to finish throwing on the side. In a controlled scrimmage, you can end the “inning” at any point.

That’s sort of the point, however: The Angels couldn’t trust Ohtani to get through 85 pitches in a spring game, so that hardly makes him ready for a major league game. Scioscia may have called it a great outing, but clearly walking five batters — minor league batters — in six innings is a sign that he’s not ready to start on, say, April 2 against the Cleveland Indians in the Angels’ home opener. Those lights are a lot bigger than the ones on a back field in Tempe.

Ohtani said he’s ready. “I feel like I’ve done everything I can get to get ready for Opening Day and I felt like I’ve done everything 100 percent, but it’s hard. Every other year, even in Japan, I was never 100 percent on Opening Day, so it’s going to go gradually into the season. I think it’s going to be the same this time.”

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Asked when he’s pitching next, he responded, “Please ask Mike Scioscia.”

If that’s the case, it’s all the more reason for him to start in Triple-A. Remember, because of an ankle injury, he pitched just 25 innings in Japan last year. His command was lacking then as well, as he walked 19 batters. So some of this is probably just rust from a pitcher trying to find his 2016 form, when he posted a 1.86 ERA and fanned 174 batters in 140 innings.

The bat is another issue entirely. There’s a reason there hasn’t been a true two-way player since Ruth: It’s hard! The hitting side of the equation is going to be even more problematic to work out. How much patience will Scioscia have with him? He obviously needs at-bats to adjust to major league fastballs, but if he struggles at the plate from the onset, is Scioscia willing to give him 300 plate appearances? The Angels are a potential playoff team, and if Ohtani starts the season going 7-for-49 (or something similar to that) it will be easy for Scioscia to give those at-bats to Chris Carter or Luis Valbuena and keep Albert Pujols as the full-time DH.
Would a move to the minors make it easier for Shohei Ohtani to adjust? Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports

Of course, if the Angels do send him down, they’ll be accused of doing so simply to manipulate his service time, as the Atlanta Braves did with Ronald Acuna. There is enough evidence to justify the move, though. Ohtani seems aware that he may not make the Opening Day roster.

“Honestly, I don’t know how people up there are making decisions like that, what they think of me at this point,” he said Saturday. “I try not to worry about that. I’ve been having the same approach since my days in Japan. It’s not really up to me; it’s up to other people.”

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There is enormous pressure on this kid, with all the hype, the expectations, the throng of Japanese reporters following his every movement. He’s trying to do something no player has done at the major league level in 100 years, all while adapting to a new culture. There’s nothing wrong with easing him into that situation. He should start the season at Triple-A.

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TORONTO — Give Drake, the rapper and Toronto Raptors’ “global ambassador,” credit for being bold.

Give the Toronto Raptors’ terrific perimeter defense credit for making his prediction come true.

Addressing the Air Canada Centre crowd during an early timeout, Drake declared that the Houston Rockets’ impressive run was ending Friday night.

“By the look of it, tonight this win streak is over,” Drake hollered to the delight of the home crowd with the Raptors up nine points late in the first quarter, a lead that swelled to 19.
1:06
Harden goes off in the 4th, can’t keep streak aliveJames Harden tallied 12 of his 40 points in the fourth quarter, but DeMar DeRozan and the Raptors go on to win 108-105 to snap the streak at 17.
The Raptors made Drake look like Nostradamus and snapped Houston’s 17-game winning streak, the longest of the NBA season, by beating the Rockets at their own game en route to a 108-105 victory. It’s the longest single-season winning streak the Raptors have ever snapped, per the Elias Sports Bureau.

Toronto torched the Rockets from 3-point range (15-of-38) while consistently chasing Houston off the 3-point line. The Rockets, who launch from long range at historic rates, matched their season low in 3s made with nine. Houston attempted only 27 3s, its second-lowest total of the season.

A desperation jumper by James Harden from the midcourt logo — not far from where Drake spoke into a microphone a couple of hours earlier — caught nothing but air at the buzzer as the Raptors swept the season series between the teams currently atop the respective conference standings.

“I don’t even feel like we lost. Same swag,” Harden said, who scored 40 points on 15-of-22 shooting. “Ain’t nothing changed. One game.”
DeMar DeRozan said that James Harden, his 2009 draft classmate and fellow native of Southern California, should be this year’s MVP. John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY
The loss dropped the Rockets to 51-14, but the Golden State Warriors lost in Portland to drop to 51-15, and Houston holds the tiebreaker. The Raptors (48-17) hold a 2½-game lead over the Boston Celtics in the East.

Houston entered the night averaging 15.5 3s made and 42.4 3s attempted per game, both figures significantly higher than the NBA records set by last season’s Rockets.
0:22
Drake announces album dedicated to TorontoDrake takes the mic at halftime to let the Toronto faithful know that he will be dropping an album for the city.
Kyle Lowry, the Raptors’ All-Star point guard, almost made as many 3s as the entire Houston roster during his 30-point performance. Lowry was 7-of-9 from beyond the arc.

DeMar DeRozan, Lowry’s All-Star backcourt partner who finished with 23 points, hit the Raptors’ biggest shot. DeRozan drilled a baseline turnaround over Harden, his former AAU teammate, immediately after a Harden 3-pointer tied the score with a little more than two minutes left.

“They’ve been playing exceptionally well, so for us to come in here and protect home court was big,” said DeRozan, whose Raptors have a seven-game winning streak as they pack for Sunday’s road game at New York.
0:26
Lowry drains 3 over CapelaKyle Lowry finds space behind the arc and nails a 3-point bucket in the face of Clint Capela.
Chris Paul missed a rare Rockets open 3 from the right corner with 14.5 seconds left that would have given Houston the lead.

“Down the stretch, I’ve got to be better,” said Paul, who had dominated crunch time this season, scoring 56 points on 15-of-22 shooting in 51 clutch minutes before Friday. “We can’t depend on James to do everything and make all those shots that he did. That’s the thing I’m probably more frustrated about.”

The rest of the Rockets were much more focused on their poor start than the finish.

Drake’s taunting prediction came during the Rockets’ worst offensive first quarter of the season. Houston, by far the NBA’s best first-quarter team with an average margin of plus-4.8 points, was doubled up in the first dozen minutes in large part due to a terrific defensive performance by the Raptors.

Houston had its worst first-quarter scoring output (16 points) and field goal percentage (28.6 on 6-of-21 shooting). The Rockets didn’t make any 3-pointers in the first quarter, attempting only five shots from beyond the arc.

“From the jump, they played harder than we did, which is not acceptable for the level of basketball that we’re trying to play,” Rockets forward Trevor Ariza said. “We ended up picking it up, but it’s hard to play from behind. The lesson for us is that we have to come with that mentality from the jump, not when we get down 15 or 20. We have to come with that killer instinct from the jump.”
Added Harden: “Just came in too cool, too cool. Just had it easy. Felt like we could come back, which we did, but just got down 20 points. We can’t allow that to happen against any team.”

The Rockets finished the first half only 1-of-9 on 3s, an alarming statistic for a team that’s shattering records for long-range shooting. Houston was 1-of-12 from long range before Harden, whom DeRozan declared this season’s MVP earlier in the day, hit off-dribble triples on back-to-back possessions late in the third quarter to spark a 14-2 run that brought Houston back within striking distance.

“So be it,” said Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, whose teams wraps up a four-game road trip Sunday in Dallas. “We’ve got to go back and get another streak.”

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New Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Todd Haley addressed his hiring by saying that the 2017 Browns “obviously” played “a lot of close games.”

One could forgive the fans if they said it didn’t seem that way.

Such is life for a winless team whose record overcomes a final score.

The Browns finished with a point differential of minus-176, which means they lost by an average of 11 points. That was the worst in the league, by 34 points. They lost six games by six points or fewer, and Haley saw two when his former team, the Steelers, beat the Browns by three and four points, respectively.
DeShone Kizer and the Browns had close calls in both meetings against the Steelers in 2017. Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Were the Browns that close last season? Here’s a look at the games that were out of reach and those that weren’t:

Out of reach

At Baltimore (24-10), at Indianapolis (31-28), Cincinnati (31-7), at Houston (33-17), Minnesota in London (33-16), Jacksonville (19-7), Baltimore (27-10)

Average point differential: 15 points. The Colts score looks close, but that result was deceiving because the Browns were blown out in the first half. Jacksonville was a three-point game in the fourth quarter, but the offense never moved the ball consistently. In the rest, the other team was simply better.

With some luck, maybe

Pittsburgh (21-18), Tennessee (12-9 in overtime), at Los Angeles Chargers (19-10)

A play here or there would have changed momentum in each of these games, though the Browns would have had to create their own good fortune to finish each with a win.

Two plays made a big difference in the opener against Pittsburgh. Down three and trying to hold the Steelers without a first down for another chance in the final minutes, Antonio Brown somehow caught a fly ball from Ben Roethlisberger that descended as if it had a parachute. Brown leaped and made the catch between two Browns defenders. Previously, late in the third quarter, DeShone Kizer threw a pass that was intercepted by T.J. Watt at the Pittsburgh 17 — a pass basically thrown to nobody. Either of these plays could have changed the feel of the game, given the Browns a chance and helped Kizer’s early-season confidence. At times, the Steelers seemed to treat the game as more of a glorified scrimmage, but in the end the Browns had chances.

In the overtime loss to Tennessee, the Browns could not sustain enough drives and threw three interceptions. The score was close, but the Browns never threatened to take the win.

Philip Rivers threw for 344 yards and controlled the Chargers game, but in the first half, Kizer missed a wide-open Josh Gordon for what would have been an easy touchdown. Does that play change the result? Maybe not, but it could have changed the feel of the game.

Winnable with a play or a break

New York Jets (17-14), at Detroit (38-24), at Cincinnati (30-16), Green Bay (27-21 in overtime), at Chicago (20-3), at Pittsburgh (28-24)

Each of these games warrants a closer look.

A key play in the Jets loss came when coach Hue Jackson went for a first down on fourth-and-2 from the 4 early in the fourth quarter and the Browns down 10-7. A field goal would have tied the score, but Zane Gonzalez already had missed two and Jackson thought it was time to win the game, not tie. He was roundly criticized for it when the Browns didn’t make the first down. Naturally, the Jets followed with a 97-yard touchdown drive that essentially put the game away. Two other important plays earlier in the game also affected the outcome. Kizer threw a goal-line interception to snuff out a scoring threat when he misread the coverage. He also had a poor pitch on an option play at the goal line that led to a fumble inside the 10. If any one of those plays goes differently, the Browns have a chance to win. This game counts as one that got away.

In Detroit, a couple of missed chances affected the outcome of a two-touchdown game. The end of the first half was a lesson in clock mismanagement and ended when Kizer thought he saw an opening for a quarterback sneak on second-and-goal from the 2 with 19 seconds left and the Browns out of timeouts. The Lions stuffed the play, and the Browns got no points. Later, with Kizer sidelined with sore ribs, Cody Kessler overthrew a sure touchdown to a wide-open Bryce Treggs. Earlier, Seth DeValve’s fumble gave the Lions a defensive touchdown. The Browns actually led by seven late in the third quarter. They could have won this game.

One key play in Cincinnati still has the Browns banging their foreheads on their desks. The Bengals led by seven in the fourth quarter and faced third-and-5 from the Browns’ 40-yard line. Andy Dalton threw down the sideline to Josh Malone, who caught the ball just before receiving a hard tackle from safety Jabrill Peppers. Officials called it a hit on a defenseless player, and Peppers was flagged, which allowed the Bengals to score the clinching touchdown. The Browns were bitter about the flag, and their position seemed justified when the league rescinded a fine on Peppers. If that play goes the Browns’ way, Cleveland at least has a chance to tie.

The Packers loss remains toothache-style painful, especially because the Browns blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead. Any of three plays makes this a Browns win. First, David Njoku dropped a third-down pass with 2:59 left and the Browns up seven that would have meant a first down and an opportunity to run out the clock. On the ensuing punt, the Browns gave up a 65-yard return on a Keystone Cops effort that gave the Packers the chance to tie the score on the second-to-last play of the game.

That was the seventh-longest punt return in the NFL last season. In overtime, Kizer held the ball too long — Gordon could not get off the line for a quick slant — and was hit as he threw. The resulting pass turned into a pop fly that the Packers intercepted. They scored the game-winning touchdown soon after. This loss was a teeth-gnasher.
A 17-point loss in Chicago shouldn’t have had any meaningful plays for the Browns, but in this game one defensive play could have altered the outcome. On the first play of the second half, defensive end Myles Garrett returned an interception for a touchdown that would have put the Browns up 10-6. It was the kind of uplifting big play that energizes a team, but it turned out that Carl Nassib was flagged for offside, negating the interception and touchdown. It’s not inconceivable to think the Browns win if the play stands.

The season ended in Pittsburgh with a crushing mistake, as Corey Coleman dropped an easy catch at the Steelers’ 10-yard-line with 1:46 left. Kizer had played by far his best game, and he was guiding what appeared to be a last-minute, dramatic, game-winning drive. Instead, Coleman’s drop turned into a play that will live in Browns lore. The Browns had two turnovers on their previous drives on a Kizer interception and a Duke Johnson Jr. fumble, but the Coleman drop stands out as almost excessively cruel.

That adds up to six games when a play or three could have swung things for the Browns.

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New York Mets first-year manager Mickey Callaway won’t name a closer for the start of the season, opting instead to use a committee approach to close out games.

Callaway, in a recent interview with MLB.com, said he’s planning to rotate Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos, Anthony Swarzak and left-hander Jerry Blevins in save situations to start the season.

“I don’t think we’re going to name a closer to start the season,” Callaway told MLB.com. “If there are three left-handers coming up in a row, we can use Blevins. We want to make sure everyone is pitching when they have the best chance to be successful. I think we have four options to close games.”

Callaway did not indicate whether he would change his approach and name a full-time closer at any point later in the regular season.

Callaway also said that the Mets plan to have Familia throw multiple-inning relief outings in spring training in order to get him ready for extended outings in the regular season. Familia had a franchise single-season 51 saves in 2016 but missed most of last season because of a blood clot in his pitching shoulder.

Ramos, an All-Star closer with the Miami Marlins in 2016, has 99 saves over the past three seasons. He was expected to compete for the closer role with the Mets after New York acquired the right-hander in a trade with Miami last July.

Swarzak signed a two-year deal with the Mets last month after posting a career-best 2.33 ERA in 70 combined appearances last season with the White Sox and Brewers.

Blevins, an 11-year veteran with five career saves, went 6-0 with a 2.94 ERA in 75 appearances last season, his third with the Mets.

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LOS ANGELES — Clippers coach Doc Rivers became the latest in a long line of players and coaches to voice his displeasure with the referees this season after a 126-118 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night.

After watching his team rack up four technical fouls in the fourth quarter, which included the ejections of Rivers and assistant coach Mike Woodson, the head coach sounded off in frustration.

“Listen, we don’t want to get fourth-quarter techs,” Rivers said. “My tech, by that time, the game was over. I literally got thrown out of the game for saying, ‘You guys gave us some tough calls tonight.’ That was it. No swear words. Nothing. And the point I make all the time, if I earn a tech, I’m fine with it, but just like players can lose their composure, officials can lose their composure, as well.”

What drew the Clippers’ ire was the discrepancy in free throws. The Timberwolves shot 39 free throws, including 16-of-17 in a career-high performance from point guard Jeff Teague, while the Clippers went to the line just 22 times.

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Wiggins carries Timberwolves to 126-118 win over Clippers
Andrew Wiggins scored a season-high 40 points and the Minnesota Timberwolves hung on to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 126-118 on Monday night, snapping their four-game road skid.

Doc, Thibs want All-Star Game draft televised
LA Clippers head coach Doc Rivers and Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau believe the NBA should expand its All-Star rosters to 15 players on each side and would like to see the All-Star Game draft televised.
“Mainly, up until the very end of the game, Teague had more free throws than our entire team,” Rivers said. “I thought we were driving and just as physical as them. It’s rare when you’re the home team and the free throws are 39-22. And a lot of their fouls came down the stretch, when the game was over; it wasn’t even as close as that.”

Clippers big man Blake Griffin was whistled for a technical foul with 4:50 left in regulation, with his team hanging onto a two-point lead. It shifted some momentum back toward the Timberwolves and upset Rivers and his staff.

“Whether it was or wasn’t, I can’t be the one to get a tech there in the fourth quarter,” Griffin said. “That put us in a hole and kind of started the whole onslaught, for lack of a better word, of technicals we got throughout the last four or five minutes, whatever it was. So I got to be better. But there’s a reason why there’s so much disparity and so much back and forth and so much tension right now [between players and officials].”

Clippers assistant coach Sam Cassell got another technical foul a few minutes later, before Rivers and Woodson were kicked out of the game right before its conclusion.

“Sam got a tech for saying, ‘Three seconds,’” Rivers said. “Blake got a tech for saying, ‘Over my back.’ One ref told me I couldn’t talk. I thought I was the head coach. As long as I’m respectful, I can say whatever I want. That’s not why we lost the game.

“Why we lost the game is because the rebounding, the offensive rebounding; they destroyed us. And they got to the free throw line. It’s rare where you lose a game and you shoot 56 percent, and we lost that game. So I thought overall our guys played extremely hard. We made a lot of defensive mistakes that we can get better in, but overall, I liked the spirit of our team, I liked how we played. I just didn’t like the results.”

Clippers sharpshooter Lou Williams echoed similar sentiments regarding the officiating.

“Not a great officiated game, but it happens,” Williams said. “It happens in the NBA every once in a while. I just thought they were the more aggressive team, played harder down the stretch, got some calls that went their way. That kind of shifted the momentum of the game; it happens.”
This was Rivers’ first ejection of the season but the 16th of his career, according to ESPN Stats and Information data.

“It is what it is,” Rivers said of the officiating. “I don’t have any control over that. With our guys, what I always tell them is to keep our composure. No fourth-quarter techs. I honestly — I heard what Blake and Sam said. I guess you can give a guy a tech for anything. I didn’t think either one of them really earned it. But you still can’t get ‘em.”

Williams didn’t want to comment further when pressed on the outcome.

“It happens,” he said. “I’m not donating my money to the NBA tonight.”

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Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis seemed to have an eye on the future before the 2017 season was even over. He said he told Teryl Austin to “stay in touch” prior to the Bengals’ game against the Detroit Lions on Christmas Eve.

Even though Lewis and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther had expiring contracts, Lewis seemed to be keeping an eye on Austin just in case. Now, Austin will take over Guenther’s duties as the Bengals’ defensive coordinator.

Austin ran a 4-3 base scheme in Detroit that had 32 takeaways last season, ranking third in the NFL. He promised to bring an aggressive style of play to Cincinnati.
New defensive coordinator Teryl Austin on joining the Bengals: “… When you have an opportunity to work with good people, good players, good teams, you have to take that chance.” AP Photo/John Minchillo
“We are going to try and play on their side of the line of scrimmage. We’re going to play without fear,” Austin said. “We’re going to play really physical and strong. I guess that’s what I mean by aggressive. We aren’t going to sit back and let somebody dictate what we do. That’s what I mean by aggressive. Aggressive is not fighting and talking and all that other stuff — it’s how you play the game. That’s what I want the people to see.”

Though the Bengals were able to force 28 turnovers in 2015, that production tailed off to just 14 in 2017. Austin said the Lions were so good at taking the ball away because he made it a point of emphasis.

“It’s like anything else in coaching: You get what you emphasize,” Austin said. “I know for a few years, our first year, we were really good. Then, we kind of fell back a year. We talked about it and tried to emphasize [takeaways]. This past offseason, I really dove into making sure we emphasized it more. We ran more takeaway drills, and we kept that going throughout the entire year. I think it paid off, because what our guys saw was tangible results early, and they kept building off of that. And that’s why I think we were able to get as many turnovers as we did this past year.”

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When: April 26-28
Where: Arlington, Texas
NFL draft home page » | Projected order »

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Though Austin will put his own touches on the defense, a sweeping change to a 3-4 style of defense doesn’t seem to be coming anytime soon. Lewis said he didn’t want the Bengals’ players to have to “relearn the wheel.”

“I thought it was important to have somebody that would stay within in our structure because of the personnel we have returning and that we didn’t have to make a drastic change,” Lewis said. “There are things that Teryl did the last few seasons in Detroit that are very compatible with what we do. He can shape [our defense] now with his hands, and with the rest of the coaches. Obviously when you take over a similar situation, as I did years ago from when I left Pittsburgh, you inherit some coaches, schemes and players. You have to adjust the coach a little bit, more so that the players don’t have to take too much of a sideways step, and we can keep pushing forward with their knowledge.”

 

Austin and Lewis conceded that his stay in Cincinnati wouldn’t be for long if everything worked out. Several of Lewis’ former coordinators and assistants, including Hue Jackson, Mike Zimmer, Jay Gruden and Vance Joseph, have gone on to become head coaches. Both hope the same thing for Austin, who has interviewed for several head-coaching positions over the years.

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“Obviously the big thing was his opportunity to possibly to become a head coach in the NFL,” Lewis said. “I was waiting for that to break, and I know that will occur in his future, and that’s the exciting thing. Hopefully we have great success immediately and he gets that opportunity.”

Said Austin: “The best selling point is that you have a chance to work with a quality person and a quality team. That’s the biggest selling point. At some point, you have to put all that other stuff [aside] — that other stuff will take care of itself. You can’t control that, so when you have an opportunity to work with good people, good players, good teams, you have to take that chance. That’s what I was looking for more than, ‘Hey, I have a chance to work with Marvin and possibly become a head coach.’ That’s not what I’m looking for. What I’m looking for is an opportunity to coach some men, get better, work with a good group of guys, and try to make them successful.”

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BIDDEFORD, Maine — Thirty-eight letters penned by Hall of Fame baseball player Ted Williams, including one in which he described crash-landing a fighter jet with “holes all over” it, are going up for auction.

The letters written to his mistress show another side to Williams, who played for the Boston Red Sox, describing his second hiatus from baseball for military service, his bombing missions in Korea and his feelings on war and his father’s death.

“They’re his innermost thoughts during the Korean conflict,” said Troy Thibodeau, of Saco River Auction, which is putting the letters up for auction.

The letters were written to Evelyn Turner, a flight attendant, from 1952 to 1954, a period in which Williams trained in the U.S. and served in Korea as a Marine combat pilot. During the time, Williams served as wing man for future NASA astronaut and U.S. Sen. John Glenn.

He wrote to Turner the day after he crash-landed his burning F9F Panther after a mission. He only sprained an ankle, but it could’ve been far worse.

“I had holes all over the plane and I was riding on all the prayers people say for me ’cause I was awfully lucky. My plane was burning like hell when I crash landed. Everybody around here now is calling me lucky. Anyway, I’m missing you,” he wrote .

Another letter written after his father’s death described Williams’ anguish and regret over having not spent more time with him.

Yet another alluded to a military radioman sabotaging his plane to keep it grounded for repairs in Florida so he could spend extra time with Turner.

The letters and other items from Turner’s estate will be auctioned Jan. 3 along with other baseball and celebrity memorabilia. Included are photos of Williams in Turner’s home, along with newspaper clippings and Turner’s writings about Williams.

Williams was married to his first wife, Doris Soule, during the romance with Turner. Their affair lasted a decade, said Turner’s son, Al Christiano. Williams and Soule divorced in 1954.

Turner and Williams broke up after he told her that she’d take third place — behind baseball and fishing — if they were to marry, Christiano said.

“She wishes every day that she’d said yes. But that was a decision she made at the time, and she had to live with it,” he said.

Their relationship is recounted in Ben Bradlee’s book, “The Kid.” Williams met her on a flight when she worked for the now-defunct National Airlines.

Williams’ flings come as no surprise, said Dick Johnson from the New England Sports Museum. “Ted was a lady’s man, certainly,” he said.

This isn’t the first auction of Williams’ love letters. Six letters to another mistress, Norma Williamson, fetched several thousand dollars in 2011, according to Chris Ivy, director of sports collectibles at Dallas-based Heritage Auction.