6 big winners from Thursday’s ‘riveting’ NFL preseason action

1. Matthew Stafford: Maybe Matthew Stafford will be fine without Calvin Johnson after all. He was accurate, made decisions and looked like he won’t miss a beat without Megatron this year.

2. Christine Michael: The summer of Christine Michael continues. The Seahawks’ on again-off again running back had a fantastic game against the Vikings. Could he be the man in the backfield this year?

3. Griffin & Pryor: RG3 and Terrelle Pryor Chris Jones Jersey have a real connection. Pryor followed up his big play effort last week with a beautiful 50-yard touchdown catch from RG3. Griffin looked solid too, throwing another touchdown to Gary Barnidge.

4. Falcons running backs: Atlanta’s running Chuck Howley Jersey game looks on point. Devonta Freeman leads a stacked group of running backs for the Falcons. There was a lot to like about the bunch in Thursday’s preseason win over the Browns, too.

5. Tom Brady’s backup: Jimmy Garoppolo looks like he can win in the NFL. Brady’s backup had a great night and he did it without the Patriots’ top offensive weapons.

6. Jeremy Langford: Jeremy Langford has the Bears No. 1 running back job sewn up. He rushed for 55 yards on eight carries, caught one pass for 8 yards and scored a touchdown. Langford looks like the kind of back who’ll get 25 touches a game, and that’s a good thing.

HARRISON WANTS TO BE ON TV: James Harrison wants his interview with the NFL filmed. In his postgame comments during which he called Commissioner Roger Goodell a “crook,” Steelers linebacker James Harrison made a very good point about his upcoming PED interview. “I wouldn’t have a problem with it being filmed live,” Harrison said. All this is pointing toward a big labor war when it’s time for the next CBA. We discussed that on the podcast this week.

LUXURY STADIUM: The Falcons are teaming with Daktronics, IBM to build a massive video board. And it’s not just one big ol’ video screen, it’s literally thousands.

ROOKIE HEAD COACHES: For Adam Gase and the NFL’s other new head coaches, success starts with changing attitudes. The Dolphins want their new head coach to fix the offense, but for that to happen, he’s got to change the way the team views itself.

BREAKOUT SEASON: Is this the year that Lamar Miller becomes a legit No. 1 running back? Reports out of Houston suggest that Miller could be on the verge of a huge season. The Texans offense is perfect for him.

Josh Norman leaves game against Lions, diagnosed with a concussion

Washington’s secondary took a hit Sunday afternoon when Josh Norman injured himself defending a pass against the Detroit Lions.

Norman was one-on-one with Lions wide Khari Lee Jersey receiver Marvin Jones when the two went up for a ball, and Norman appeared to come down on his shoulder, between Jones’ helmet and the turf. The team would say that Norman was being evaluated for a possible concussion

The previous record holder, Mike Vanderjagt established the high mark while also with the Colts. Vanderjagt’s streak was broken when he missed a 48-yard attempt against the New England Patriots on the Monday Night Football opener in 2004. The Colts lost that game, 27-24.

Vinatieri is in his 21st NFL season, and at 43, he is the oldest player in the NFL. He was named the AFC’s Special Teams Player of the Week following the Colts’ Week 5 win over the Chicago Bears. Vinatieri took a leap toward tying this record in that game, hitting five field goals to help Indianapolis secure a 29-23 victory.

This isn’t the only NFL Kyle Fuller Jersey record held by Vinatieri. He currently holds the records among placekickers for the most Super Bowl appearances with five, and the most Super Bowl wins with four. Two of those Super Bowl victories came on late-game kicks by Vinatieri. Vinatieri currently leads the NFL among active players for total points scored.

Fitzpatrick said he tried to stay focused on his job despite being benched this week.

There are conflicting reports, though. Fitzgerald inked a one-year contract extension with the Cardinals just last month and ESPN’s Adam Schefter says that the receiver has “no plans” of hanging up his cleats after the season.

Regardless of Charles’ status, Spencer Ware will once again be Kansas City’s No. 1 back Sunday. He leads the team with 78 carries, 415 rushing yards and two touchdowns this season. Charcandrick West is currently dealing with an elbow injury, but has carried the ball 15 times for 82 yards so far.

The 3-2 Chiefs are currently 14th in the league in rushing, so they could use Charles at full strength. The four-time Pro Bowler’s return to complete health has been more than a year in the making, and this setback means he’ll have to wait a while longer.

I was trying to get timing back and just hitting the ball hard

DUNEDIN, Fla. — Springer recorded a pair of homers and five RBIs as the Astros walked all over the Blue Jays a 10 victory on Wednesday afternoon at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Springer’s first shot of the day came the fourth when he sent offering from right-hander Jeffress over the wall right field. He Connor Shaw Jersey threw me two fastballs, Springer said of his first home run of the, which extended the Astros’ lead to 6. The object there was to get the guys from second and third. The infield was back and I was just trying to hit something hard up the middle and I got a pitch I could handle on the outer half and was able to get the barrel to it. The 23-year-old struck again the fifth with right-hander Claudio Vargas on the mound for Toronto. This time it was a two-run shot, and Springer finished the afternoon 2-for-3, also reaching base the seventh when he was hit by a pitch.

I was trying to get Corey Coleman Jersey timing back and just hitting the ball hard, he said. I honestly say the key to those at-bats were the guys who were on base ahead of me. Dominguez and Corporan had some great at-bats and were able to get me into a fastball-hitting count. White made his debut on the mound for the Astros after arriving offseason trade with Colorado. He faced a lineup that could resemble the one Toronto uses on Opening Day and managed to get through his two innings unscathed. White, who is competing for a spot the starting rotation, allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out one. He threw 14 of his 25 pitches for strikes what go down as a strong first appearance of the. It was good to get out there and get some work, White said. I felt really good. There were a few things I wanted to work on mechanically with delivery and it felt great today. If I can stay consistent delivery, I think command is pretty good. Right-hander Brad got the start for Toronto but was unable to finish his lone inning of work. allowed four runs on three hits and a walk while throwing just 12 of his 24 pitches for strikes. The 27-year-old likely attempt to throw two innings his next time out effort to transition to a possible starting role the Minor Leagues. Just go out there and try to feel good, said. This early you’re still going to be knocking off the rust a little bit, but you still have to take some things out of it and work on some things between outings. Anybody that’s out on the bump, playing the field or the box, they want to compete and they want to do good but when things go bad, you have to take the good things out of it and work on what went wrong. Shortstop Jose led the way for Toronto on offense, going 3-for-3. Catcher J.P. Arencibia also enjoyed a strong day at the plate as he recorded a leadoff solo home run the third inning off Wesley Wright for his first shot of the.

Other standouts for the Astros included right fielder J.D. Martinez, who went 2-for-3 with RBI, and designated hitter Martinez scored a pair of runs and drove two more. Up next for Astros: Harrell become the first Astros starter to take the mound for the second time when he gets the ball for Thursday’s 12 p.m. game against the Yankees Kissimmee. Harrell, the Astros’ Pitcher of the Year last, went two innings and allowed four hits and two runs on Saturday against the Phillies Clearwater his first start. The game be televised on CSN and with Ashby making his return to the airwaves. Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

This array of talents-a spread of abilities only super-studs like Alexis Sánchez

It’s not often that a player comes into the big bad Premier League and from day one treats the World’s Best League like a playground pitch for him to dominate the way he would any other. But that’s how West Ham’s Dimitri Payet has attacked England. He’s a nearly phenomenon who, having come not quite Justin Faulk Jersey from nowhere, has bossed the league a way no one would have suspected.

Payet is one of those rare players adept at each of the three big attacking arts of playmaking, dribbling, and shooting. His vision and ability to slide off perfectly weighted passes make him already one of the very best creators England, borne out his average of 3 key passes per game, a rate second only to Mesut Özil. With his combination of speed, strength, and technique, he can slink or muscle past defenders with the ball at his feet, sneaking into the areas of the pitch where he’s most lethal. And his team-leading Nathan Gerbe Jersey six goals, which he’s scored on a little under two shots per game, show that he’s as much of a threat to lay on the go-ahead goal as he is to score it himself. This array of talents-a spread of abilities only super-studs like Alexis Sánchez, Eden Hazard, and Riyad Mahrez share to such rarified degrees-enables him to takeover matches almost by himself.

You can tell a lot about a player’s perception of themselves by how they react after they score. Some players are elated immediately, some are subdued, some seem almost angry, and some relieved. All of these responses reveal something about what that particular goal means to that particular player. Payet most often comes off cool and confident after he puts the ball the net. It’s never a shock to him, even after he bursts past three defenders and chips the ball daintily over the keeper. He’s never overwhelmed. He just kicks the ball between the posts, struts off towards the sideline, and usually leaps with his back to the crowd, thumbs pointing to the name on his jersey. Everyone else might be surprised at his moment of genius, but to him it’s just what he does. The way he dribbles also expresses that same preternatural confidence. He glides all over the field search of the ball, and when he gets it, he’s incredibly decisive with his plan of attack. Some fancy-footed dribblers, like Neymar, like to step on the ball and size up the field before taking on the defense, simulating their mind what reaction each future step and feint will elicit from their opponents, calculating the appropriate responses, then implementing their mental model real life. Others, like Mahrez, appear to fly at opponents with nary a thought about the future, instead able to react realtime to the minute movements of their markers and navigating past them that way. Payet is different; he simply decides what he’s going to do, then does it. How defenders respond almost doesn’t matter, since he’s so adroit at poking the ball exactly where he wants it that they wouldn’t be able to take it off of him if they knew where he was going with it advance. Payet plays with an assurance that at all times the ball is under his control, for him to push around however he sees fit. Yesterday’s match against Bournemouth was yet another example of how Payet does it all for West Ham. After a first half where Bournemouth controlled the pace of the game, jumping out to an early 1 lead that they were unfortunate not to extend, the Hammers came out the second period more intent on returning to their best gameplan: give the ball to Payet and let him work. his 33 minutes after the break, he created three chances, scored the equalizer, and set up West Ham’s go-ahead goal before getting subbed off with the game hand. The goal and his celebration were emblematic of his game as a whole: After smashing an inch-perfect bomb of a free kick, Payet sauntered over to the stands, as calm as could be, while the traveling West Ham fans lost their minds about what he’d just done. There was their 28-year-old midfielder, brought from for a completely unremarkable £11 million, and fresh off a two month spell out with an injury, saving the day yet again with one of the best goals they’ll all season. It’s understandable why his ability to conjure magic from nothing inspired such a rapturous response. But to Payet, it was just what he does.

In Olympics where logistics are a problem

While the U.S. won the game, the Canadians dominated the scoring chances, outshooting the Americans 45, but Team USA was able to take advantage of the Canadians putting themselves the box three times over a 10-minute stretch to start the third period.

After successfully Steve Largent Jersey killing off Eric Staal holding call and a Crosby high stick, was sent to the sin bin for slashing with 13 left a 3 game. It was at that point that everyone the building understood the significance, the Canadians would both kill it off and tie the score, or the Americans would bury the hatchet.

And with 12 to go, Uncle hit the jackpot as Langebrunner’s stick deflected a Suter shot from the circle, sending the delirious crowd silent, except for the chants of U-S-A from Americans fans who made the trip across the border. In Olympics where logistics are a problem, the rallying point for Canada has become the No. 1 cause of concern. You know to win this tournament, you’re going to have to beat a lot of good teams,Jarome Iginla said. We knew everyone thought it was going to be the Russians and us, but we knew there were more Steven Hauschka Jersey than two strong team here. the Canadians have to beat four of them a matter of six days, or a country painted red and white fade to a very somber black.

Australia, while not on the level of Japan, it some baseball. The history of the sport there dates back to the 1850s, and the domestic Australian Baseball League is profitable for the first time ever-thanks part to funding from MLB.

The ABL is increasingly becoming a legitimate league for American minor leaguers, and there are currently nine Australian players MLB, all-time high. it’s only logical that MLB, seeking another international foothold its global marketing scheme, would look Down Under. 1999, the Rockies and Padres opened the season Monterrey, Mexico. Starting 2000, and happening semi-regularly since, a pair of teams have started the year Japan. And, if talks between MLB and Australian officials prove fruitful, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks could kick off the 2014 season with three at the historic Cricket Ground.

After Game 1 flop, Rick Porcello can only hope for a shot at redemption

For six seasons and four postseasons with the Detroit Tigers, Rick Porcello watched teammates Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer start the openers of playoff series. The biggest lesson: Stay with your Zdeno Chara Jersey routine and keep things as normal as possible, even with all the distractions swirling around you.

The short outing was by design. The shaky outing — he gave up five hits and two runs to the 14 batters he faced — was not. It was the lone throwaway of the bunch. In fact, his best outing of the five might have been the one after facing the Marlins, when he wrapped five innings of one-hit ball around a rain delay.

He got up to 91 Angel Pagan Jersey pitches on Sept. 24 and feels as if he has no restrictions with strength or stamina now that the playoffs have arrived.

“At first, when you’re coming back from an injury, it’s just while you’re obviously competing out there, in the back of your head, you’re like, ‘Am I going to hurt it again?’ ” he said. “I had that, for sure, the first couple times out there.

“The last two or three starts, I’ve really haven’t thought about it. My work in between is as close to normal as it’s going to be. So I really haven’t thought about, you know, re-injuring or anything like that. I feel as close to 100 percent as anybody else is at this time of year right now.”

But for the Indians, the opportunity to play Games 1 and 2 in Cleveland was validation for grinding it out through all the injuries, slumps and other potholes they encountered during the regular season. They posted a 94-67 record and benefited from a late fade by Boston to avoid having to play a Monday makeup game against Detroit. The Red Sox, meanwhile, finished 93-69 and missed out on the opportunity to begin the series at Fenway Park, where their offense is especially daunting.

Boston appeared to have a clear pitching edge with Cy Young candidate Rick Porcello taking on Trevor Bauer, who rated as Cleveland’s No. 4 starter before the rotation was crushed by injuries. Bauer has terrific stuff, but he’s a deep thinker who is admittedly high-maintenance because of his outside-the-box preparation. Thursday’s TV broadcast showed him long-tossing while listening to music on headphones, chucking a ball at hyper-speed from behind the mound between innings, and engaging in the type of behavior that has earned him a reputation as “quirky” in baseball circles.

His abject outing, though, just might help Yu Darvish.

In Hamels’ 42-pitch third inning, he stopped throwing the ball and started aiming it. Adrenaline consumed him, and disaster ensued because he couldn’t command his fastball or any other pitch.

“So I don’t think he needs to watch his emotions. I think he needs — these are settings that, they’re electric. There are going to be emotions and players need to be able to play within their own emotions. Just don’t be emotional about it.”

In other words, be the opposite of Hamels, whose emotions swallowed him. That’s surprising, considering he was the NLCS and World Series MVP in 2008, and has now started 15 postseason games.

Now, though, comes the question of the playoffs. For all of Kershaw’s regular-season dominance, there is that postseason vulnerability. A popular theory is that Kershaw’s injury was actually a blessing in disguise since it kept his innings count low, but the left-hander never felt as if he had ever battled end-of-season exhaustion.

“It happens, man. He ain’t perfect,” David Ortiz said. “He’s a human being just like everyone else. He left a couple pitches on the plate, and unfortunately that’s what happened. But he’s human.”

Indians catcher Roberto Perez, a .183 hitter during the season, belted a full-count fastball that caught too much plate because Porcello didn’t want to walk him, an acceptable situation except for what occurred next. Two batters later, he elevated a sinker to Jason Kipnis for another home run. He tried a changeup to Francisco Lindor, but that went out of the ballpark, too.

Cubs win 96th as Jon Lester continues to build Cy Young case

The Chicago Cubs have had Cy Young winners and MVPs and Rookies of the Year. What they haven’t had in a long time is a World Series championship. But when a team is going so well, sometimes the personal accolades go hand in hand with the ultimate team honor. At least that’s how the Cubs hope it plays out.

In the Cy Young chase, Jon Lester bolstered his case with another quality outing, a 6-1 win over Cincinnati that made him the National League’s first 18-game winner. Despite having a shaky fastball early, Lester wriggled out of a couple of jams and ended up throwing only 97 pitches over seven innings.

“I think he pitched a little bit more today, rather than just really relying on his fastball,” manager Joe Maddon said. “It was good, it was very good. But he has been on quite a roll.”

Lester tossed his MLB-best 25th quality start and lowered his ERA to 2.36, second in the majors to teammate Kyle Hendricks.

“He’s pitching well,” catcher David Ross said. “This is the guy you were going to get when he signed the deal he signed. He’s one of many guys who is throwing well on the staff.”

And, in an interesting twist this season, the right-handed hitting Turner has been far better against right-handed pitching than left-handed. He entered play Tuesday batting .299 with a .920 OPS against right-handers and .193/.627 marks against lefties.

“I think that we have had spurts where we were OK,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “But if we plan to do what we want to as a team, accomplish what we want to and go deep into the postseason, we have to be better against left-handed pitching.”

An option like the righty-hitting Enrique Hernandez was key for the Dodgers against lefties last season, but he has hardly done the same damage this season in sporadic playing time. Yasiel Puig has produced about the same numbers against left-handers as right-handers, but overall, it has not been one of his best seasons.

“Most of the times in the game, you’re worried about your next at-bat or defense. Obviously you’re cheering for your team and paying attention, but I was able to watch those guys closer and see what they did, how they got ready for pitches, things that you see normally but you don’t pay as much attention to,” Upton said.

He noticed how early Kinsler got his foot down in his swing, how both Cabrera and Martinez rely more on rhythm. It was a luxury, watching some formidable hitters within his own lineup without worrying about his own production on those particular nights. Did it help? He’s not sure, but it was better than what he had been doing previously.

Rodriguez’s biggest moment, the one that inspires the most confidence that he’s capable of succeeding in October, came in the sixth inning.

With the Red Sox leading 2-1, the tying run on second base, two outs and the crowd getting loud at Camden Yards, Rodriguez could have chosen to walk AL home run leader Mark Trumbo and pitch to Jonathan Schoop. Instead, he won an eight-pitch duel with the 43-homer slugger, striking him out on a nasty changeup after he had fouled off three fastballs and laid off a dirt-diving slider.

“Bryce is always going to be Bryce,” Rendon said after the game. “He’s still going to be a threat, no matter if he’s 0 for his last 10, or he’s 10 for his last 10. He’s fun to watch and it’s good to see him getting more respect.”

As good an omen as that is for the Nationals, Dusty Baker is even happier about what’s happening behind Harper.

“It’s better how guys respond behind him,” the Nats skipper said. “That was some of the problems earlier in the year. The guys weren’t responding like they are now.”

There will be no toasting in St. Louis as Cubs offense stalls

ST. LOUIS — Put the champagne on ice, because it won’t be needed until the Chicago Cubs return to Wrigley Field later this week. The Cubs’ magic number to clinch the National League’s Central Division remained at three after a 4-2 loss Tuesday night to the team behind them, the St. Louis Cardinals.

“It’s inevitable at this point,” center fielder Dexter Fowler simply stated after the game.

With their division lead at 16 games, the question the last few days in the locker room has been about where, not when or if, they would clinch their first division title since 2008. Either the Cubs would clinch at Busch Stadium with a dramatic sweep of the Cardinals, or they would do it back at home in front of their own fans after Wednesday’s conclusion of a nine-game road trip. The task of sweeping a playoff contender on the road was always a tall one, so now they’re likely to pop champagne in Chicago. Tuesday’s starter, Jason Hammel, and the Cubs offense made sure of that.

“Whoever put that out there, the source within the system, they lied,” Backman said. “And that’s the part that pisses me off.”

Backman said he played a large role in advising the organization to acquire James Loney, Rene Rivera and Jose Reyes and never received any appreciation.

It’s widely known that Alderson has never been enamored with Backman, a popular 1986 Met whose hiring was fueled by ownership. Asked about his relationship with Alderson and Mets manager Terry Collins, Backman said: “It’s not Terry. Terry and I talked all the time. I think the biggest thing, and part of the reasoning behind it, is the lack of respect.

Backman had been hired by the Arizona Diamondbacks in Nov. 2004 to manage their major league club, but was fired days later after previous arrests and financial issues surfaced.

Backman said he has the temperament and loyalty to be on a major league staff.

“Everybody calls me old school,” Backman said. “I use every bit of the information that’s available in today’s baseball world.”

Non-reviewable gaffe by umpire results in A.J. Hinch ejection vs. Indians

The Cleveland Indians were the beneficiaries of a blown call by the plate umpire that was not reviewable and resulted in the ejection of Astros manager A.J. Hinch during Houston’s 10-7 loss Thursday.

Lonnie Chisenhall was at the plate with the bases loaded in the bottom of the second inning and — on a 1-2 pitch from Astros starter David Paulino — fouled off a pitch that had bounced in front of home plate and came to a rest near the Indians’ dugout.

They aren’t alone with that high volume. The Dodgers will carry 13 relievers for the rest of the month, and Washington started Wednesday’s game with 37 active players.

The managers all over Major League Baseball are using these extra pitchers, turning the final innings into slogging marathons of pitching changes. The other day, Giants manager Bruce Bochy — understandably looking to take advantage of all the weapons available to him — used 10 pitchers in a 13-inning loss to the Cubs. Last weekend at Citi Field, Nationals manager Dusty Baker made six pitching changes in the span of eight hitters. Under the current rules, the managers aren’t doing anything wrong; they’re actually trying to do everything right, exploiting the high volume of relievers by seeking out incremental advantages in the batter-to-batter matchups.

But more and more, you hear from folks inside the game about what a tough watch it has become, and according to sources, Major League Baseball has raised the idea of regulating the September rosters in the current collective bargaining talks in the hopes of diminishing the slog. Concepts have been discussed internally, centered on the idea of creating greater limits on the number of players available to managers in each game.

Mike Trout: No doctor visit, no lingering pain after crash

SEATTLE — Mike Trout, hitting in his usual No. 3 spot for the Los Angeles Angels, had a three-run homer his first time up Friday night, two days after he was involved in a multi-vehicle accident.

Puig rejoined the Dodgers on Friday after a spending a month with the team’s Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City. He started in right field and batted fifth against the San Diego Padres.

Moncada drew a five-pitch walk in the eighth and scored, and struck out swinging in the ninth in the Red Sox’s 16-2 win.

Travis Shaw got the start at third base Friday against Oakland right-hander Andrew Triggs but figures to lose playing time to Moncada for the season’s final month. Shaw homered and had five RBIs on Friday, but he entered the game hitting .189 since the All-Star break.

Farrell said Moncada, a switch-hitter who has had more success from the left side, will get the bulk of the starts against right-handed pitching. Aaron Hill will start against left-handers, and Farrell suggested Hill could replace Moncada for defense in the late innings of close games.

Moncada has been a second baseman for all but 10 games of his minor league career, which has lasted only 187 games. He did play third in his native Cuba, so he and the Red Sox believe he’ll handle the position smoothly.

This season for Class A Salem and Double-A Portland, Moncada hit a combined .294 with 31 doubles, six triples, 15 homers and 45 stolen bases.

He said he still wasn’t expecting a big league promotion.

“It was definitely a surprise for me,” Moncada said through translator Daveson Perez. “I didn’t think they were going to call. I’m here and ready to work. It’s been a blessing.”

Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani has given the Cardinals a lot of trouble in the the past, and Friday was no different, as he held them to two runs in seven innings. He has a 2.25 ERA in 32 career innings against them.

Yadier Molina and Randal Grichuk each homered, but that was it for the Cardinals’ offense.

The Grichuk home run came on a slider, but DeSclafani allowed no other damage with his offspeed pitches, getting nine outs with them.