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What to Watch for in the Nuggets Season Opener at Utah
Early in the week, Nuggets coach Michael Malone warned against looking past or counting out the Jazz just because they lost two key playe [...]
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That's What They Said: Chargers HC Anthony Lynn, OLB Melvin Ingram
Here's what Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn and outside linebacker Melvin Ingram had to say about the Broncos in their conference call with Denver media. [...]
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Dodgers close in on World Series with 6-1 win over Cubs
CHICAGO — Yu Darvish pitched into the seventh inning, Chris Taylor homered again and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 6-1 on Tuesday night to open a commanding 3-0 lead in the NL Championship Series. Andre Ethier also went deep and Taylor added an RBI triple in the fifth as Los Angeles set a franchise record with its sixth consecutive playoff win. Yasiel Puig had two more hits in another entertaining performance that included an impressive bat flip — on a long foul ball in the first inning. Looking for a four-game sweep, the Dodgers will send Alex Wood to the mound Wednesday night at Wrigley Field with a chance to reach the World Series for the first time since their last championship in 1988. Jake Arrieta, eligible for free agency after the season, pitches for the Cubs in what could be his final start with the team. [...]
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Bashed in the Bronx, Astros happy to head home
NEW YORK — The Houston Astros will be happy to get home after a three-day bashing in the Bronx that left Jose Altuve flinging his bat and Josh Reddick slamming his helmet. Not even Dallas Keuchel could prevent New York from sweeping three games at Yankee Stadium and returning to Texas with a 3-2 lead in the AL Championship Series. Game 6 is Friday night. Houston’s pair of 2-1 wins at the Juice Box last weekend were distant memories after three days unsuccessfully fending off New York’s noisy bats and fans. The Astros’ Big Apple experience was about the same as the tourist couple in “The Out of Towners.” “It’s a tough environment. These people love their Yankees,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said before Wednesday night’s 5-0 loss. “They’re smart with how they try to get loud and put pressure on the players.” The Yankees took the New York portion of the series in straight sets, outscoring Houston 19-5 and outhitting the Astros 25-11. Just one of the Astros’ last 15 batters reached base in Game 5. Keuchel had pitched 13 scoreless innings against the Yankees in postseason play, including seven to win the opener. The bushy bearded ace was 6-2 against New York, never allowing more than three runs. But those precise pitches were a smidgeon off as Greg Bird, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius had run-scoring hits to chase him after 4 2/3 innings. It was Keuchel’s shortest outing since finding his groove in August after struggling in his return from a neck injury. Alex Bregman’s glove was about an inch short of snagging Judge’s 94 mph smash down the third-base line, which put the Yankees ahead 2-0 in the third. Related Articles Dodgers close in on World Series with 6-1 win over Cubs Aaron Judge HR sparks NY, Yankees beat Astros to even ALCS at 2 Aaron Judge, CC Sabathia help Yankees beat Astros, trail ALCS 2-1 Cubs’ Joe Maddon stands by not using Wade Davis, questions criticism Dodgers’ dominant bullpen is baffling foes in NL playoffs Keuchel pitched around Judge with first base open in the fifth to bring up Sanchez, who had been 0 for 8 against the lefty with six strikeouts. Sanchez lined a single to left and Gregorius followed with a grounder up the middle that hit the bottom of the glove of a diving Altuve at second and bounced into center. Houston led the major leagues with a .282 average and 896 runs during the regular season. But the Astros have just nine runs in the ALCS and are batting .147. Houston is hitting .077 (3 for 39) the first time through the batting order and .148 (4 for 27) with runners in scoring position after going 0 for 8 RISP in Game 5. Fish rot at the head and it has been no different at the top of the Astros’ batting order. Leadoff man George Springer is 2 for 18 and Reddick is 0 for 17 in the No. 2 hole. Other than Altuve and Carlos Correa, Houston has just 13 hits. Justin Verlander, who pitched a five-hitter to win Game 2, takes the mound Friday night hoping to save the Astros’ season. The 101 regular-season wins and five in the playoffs don’t matter now. If the Astros are to win their first title or even reach the World Series for the first time since 2005, they’ll have to do their work at home. [...]
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Watch Live: Chaparral at Rock Canyon in Class 5A football on the Post Preps Game of the Week
Chaparral (5-2) plays on the road against Rock Canyon (4-3) on Friday night at 7 p.m. in a Class 5A Mount Evans league showdown. The game will be streamed live in HD, as well as archived afterward on The Denver Post site. The Wolverines have ripped off four straight wins and are led by junior running back Dylan Smithwick and senior middle linebacker Jacob Stanton, while the Jaguars look to regain momentum consecutive losses to Pomona and Cherokee Trail. Cory Lopez and Dee White have the call starting at 6:45 p.m. from EchoPark Stadium; you can also tune into the game and our Post Preps Gameday show featuring preview analysis and player interviews on Friday via our Facebook page. Don’t forget to “like” our Denver Post Prep Sports Facebook page and turn on notifications to make sure you get a heads up every time Post Preps TV goes live. See the full Post Preps TV schedule here. [...]
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Colorado Prep Football Preview: Top Week 8 games to watch
Denver Post preps editor Kyle Newman breaks down the biggest games to watch in Week 8 of the 2017 high school football season, the third week of conference play around the state. Columbine (6-1) at Northglenn (5-2), Thursday 6 p.m., Five Star Stadium: With consecutive impressive wins over Fairview and Mullen to open Mount Cameron play, senior running back Connor Snow and the No. 8 Rebels are rolling into the bout against an upstart Northglenn team that’s found success with a backfield by committee as well as the defensive leadership of junior free safety J.J. Gomez. Fruita Monument (7-0) at Standley Lake (6-1), Friday 4 p.m., North Area Athletic Complex: No. 5 Fruita Monument travels to Arvada for a pivotal Mountain League showdown against No. 9 Standley Lake, and each team boasts stretch-the-field senior running backs in the Wildcats’ Braeden Graham and the Gators’ Ty Webber. Listen to this game live on the Post Preps Radio Game of the Week. Chaparral (5-2) at Rock Canyon (4-3), Friday 7 p.m., EchoPark Stadium: Chaparral enters the Mount Evans battle having reeled off four consecutive wins and ranked 13th in the latest RPI, while the Jaguars, losers of two straight, look to keep their playoff hopes alive in a game that could be decided by whether Chaparral senior linebacker Jacob Stanton can be kept in check. Watch this game live on the Post Preps TV Game of the Week. Grandview (5-2) at Doherty (5-2), Friday 7 p.m., Garry Berry Stadium: This Mount Massive showdown pits two playoff-caliber teams against each other as the Spartans seek to avenge last season’s 38-point loss to the Wolves. Senior quarterback Kyle Smith (112.7 QBR) needs to continue to be efficient for No. 7 Grandview, while Doherty will look to senior tailback Julian Cooks (1,126 yards, 15 TD) to break loose for big plays against a stingy defense. Fairview (6-1) at Mullen (3-4), Friday 7 p.m. De La Salle Stadium: Sophomore quarterback Aidan Atkinson has a diverse arsenal at his disposal — one that includes the running and pass-blocking talents of senior Mariano Kemp — as the No. 9 Knights travel south to take on Mullen, which leans on junior quarterback Dominic Depizzol to get the team back on track following a decisive loss to Columbine last week. Valor Christian (7-0) at Highlands Ranch (6-1), Friday 7 p.m., Shea Stadium: In a Mount Lincoln battle between two schools that are right across University Boulevard from one another, No. 1 Valor Christian gets another chance to defeat a top ten foe and assert itself as the state’s Goliath, but the No. 6 Falcons’ physicality up front — combined with the field vision and speed of junior running back Dominic Bettini — will make it a competitive ballgame. [...]
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Jameer Nelson waived by Nuggets, clearing way for Denver to sign Richard Jefferson
SALT LAKE CITY – Veteran point guard Jameer Nelson has been waived by the Nuggets, league sources confirmed to The Denver Post, clearing a spot on the 15-man roster for Denver to sign forward Richard Jefferson. Jefferson is not in Utah for the Nuggets’ opener against the Jazz but could join the team as early as Thursday, league sources said. Jefferson will sign a one-year, $2.3 million contract. Nelson averaged 9.2 points, 5.1 assists and 2.6 rebounds for the Nuggets last season, emerging as the starting point guard as Denver made its playoff push. He missed the bulk of training camp with a toe injury and started one preseason game. Nelson was absent from the Nuggets’ Tuesday practice in Denver and from Wednesday’s shootaround in Salt Lake City, prompting coach Michael Malone to say he had “tremendous respect” for Nelson. “His ability to mentor and help young players is something that probably people didn’t hear enough about,” Malone said. “Jameer has a great basketball mind and he has a passion for the game … Jameer had a huge impact while he was here.” Without Nelson, Denver turns its point guard duties over to youngsters Jamal Murray and Emmanuel Mudiay. Murray, who averaged 9.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game while playing both guard spots as a rookie in 2016-17, started Wednesday’s opener against the Jazz. Related Articles NBA 2K18 season simulation: How the Denver Nuggets fared Denver Nuggets shootaround notes: Nikola Jokic aims to lure Rudy Gobert out of paint Lunch Special: Denver Nuggets live chat with Gina Mizell Kiszla: Is it fair to expect 47 wins from Nuggets, or turn up heat on Michael Malone if they don’t? Denver Nuggets briefs: Will Barton “ready to go” for season opener after rolling ankle Jefferson, 37, became an unrestricted free agent Monday after he was waived by the Atlanta Hawks following a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers. He averaged 5.7 points and 2.6 rebounds per game for the Cavaliers last season while shooting 44.6 from the floor and 33.3 percent from 3-point range. He won a championship with the Cavaliers in 2016, and also played for the Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz, Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Milwaukee Bucks and New Jersey Nets during his lengthy career. Known around the league for his engaging personality, Jefferson adds another veteran presence to a young Nuggets team aiming for its first playoff berth since 2013. Denver is also a sensible destination for Jefferson because of his friendship with Nuggets president and governor Josh Kroenke. Because the transaction is not yet official, Malone could not speak specifically about Jefferson joining the Nuggets. But Malone coached Jefferson when he was an assistant with the Golden State Warriors and called Jefferson a “consummate professional” following Tuesday’s practice. “Anytime you can be around a player that has a resume like Richard does, I think you’re better off for it,” Malone said. Footnotes Nuggets rookie forward Tyler Lydon was inactive for Wednesday’s opener against the Jazz. So were “two-way” players Torrey Craig and Monte Morris, who will spend 45 days as members of Denver’s active roster but the bulk of the season in the G-League. All three players were present in Salt Lake City … No Nuggets were listed on the injury report. [...]
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NFL Week 7 Preview: Key injuries throwing wrench in playoff races
The Saints-Packers matchup in Week 7 was supposed to feature two of the NFL’s top quarterbacks. But Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers instead became the latest star in the league to be lost for the season when he suffered a broken clavicle last week. The list of star players who have missed some time due to injury this season is a long one: Odell Beckham Jr., J.J. Watt, Jameis Winston, Derek Carr, Julian Edelman, Ryan Tannehill and Rodgers, among others. Only time will tell which teams can overcome these losses to stay in the playoff chase. (All games Sunday unless otherwise noted.) Game of the Week: Falcons (4-2) at Patriots (4-2), 6:30 p.m. These two teams haven’t looked like the same outfits that met in the Super Bowl eight months ago. New England’s defense has sprung holes everywhere. Atlanta was outscored by Miami 20-0 in the second half of a loss at home last week. Perhaps the rematch will elevate both teams to a new level. Chiefs (5-1) at Raiders (2-4), 6:25 p.m., Thursday. Nothing has gone right for the Raiders following their 2-0 start. Now they face close to a must-win game against a Chiefs team aiming to re-assert its dominance in the AFC following a home loss to the Steelers. Ravens (3-3) at Vikings (4-2), 11 a.m. Much of the talk surrounding the Vikings’ QB situation is whether Sam Bradford or Teddy Bridgewater should be handed the reins once healthy. Perhaps they should continue to ride Case Keenum, who has completed 64.2 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and only one interception in five games of fill-in duty. Jets (3-3) at Dolphins (3-2), 11 a.m. A controversial call burned the Jets in a loss to the AFC East-leading Patriots last week. The Dolphins rallied from 17 points down to win at Atlanta, their second consecutive victory. This is a big game in the chase for vulnerable New England’s crown. Cardinals (3-3) at Rams (4-2), 11 a.m. Arizona had the worst rushing unit in the league. Then they picked up veteran Adrian Peterson and watched him run for 134 yards and two touchdowns in his first game with the Cardinals, a win over the Buccaneers. Jaguars (3-3) at Colts (2-4), 11 a.m. Style points don’t matter in the rock ’em, sock ’em race for the AFC South title. Games like this one within the division, which features no team with a winning record through six games, won’t be pretty. But winning doesn’t have to be. Saints (3-2) at Packers (4-2), 11 a.m. New Orleans seems to have found its stride after dropping 52 points in a win over the Lions, the third in a row for the Saints. Green Bay must find a way to stay on track in the NFC North without Rodgers. Panthers (4-2) at Bears, (2-4), 11 a.m. Rookie Mitchell Trubisky has given the Bears a spark in his first two NFL starts, leading them to an overtime victory over the Ravens last week. Fellow rookie Christian McCaffrey is starting to find his groove for Carolina with one receiving touchdown in each of his last two games. Buccaneers (2-3) at Bills (3-2), 11 a.m. Tampa Bay quarterback Winston is dealing with a shoulder sprain, which is bad news for an offense that has been disappointing this season. The Bills, coming off a bye, can stay in the thick of the AFC East race with a victory. Related ArticlesOctober 18, 2017 Suspension on hold again, Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott returns to team October 18, 2017 Roger Goodell: NFL not changing its national anthem policy October 18, 2017 Dallas Cowboys will host 2018 NFL draft at AT&T Stadium next April October 18, 2017 Cardinals RB Adrian Peterson back in London as star man October 18, 2017 For NFL quarterbacks, change is coming in a big way this offseason Cowboys (2-3) at 49ers (0-6), 2:05 p.m. The Cowboys will have the services of RB Ezekiel Elliott, whose six-game NFL suspension has been delayed — for now. Even with Elliott, Dallas has already matched its regular-season loss total from last season. Can they avoid being the first team to lose to San Francisco? Bengals (2-3) at Pittsburgh (4-2), 2:25 p.m. Cincinnati is coming off a bye week and riding a two-game winning streak. An offense that sputtered out of the gates has found life, but now the Bengals face a Pittsburgh defense that limited the AFC-leading Chiefs to only 13 points in a road victory for the Steelers last week. Seahawks (3-2) at Giants (1-5), 2:25 p.m. Seattle is coming off a bye, which proved to be a recipe for disaster when the Broncos were and faced a winless Giants team last week. If quarterback Eli Manning continues to be conservative and take care of the football, New York’s defense is good enough to lead the team to a home win. Redskins (3-2) at Eagles (5-1), 6:30 p.m., Monday. Philadelphia will play for the first time in 10 days and Washington is coming off a bye week. Both teams should be well rested for a matchup with hu [...]
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Shane Ray, Jake Butt return to Broncos practice; LB Brandon Marshall added to injury list
Broncos practice on Wednesday included two additions in outside linebacker Shane Ray and rookie tight end Jake Butt. Ray, who was designated a short-term injured reserve player, hasn’t practiced since injuring his wrist early in training camp and subsequently undergoing surgery. He is expected to make his 2017 debut in Week 8 at Kansas City. Butt, still on the reserve/non-football injury list because of an ACL injury suffered at Michigan, could play “any day now,” head coach Vance Joseph said, though it’s unlikely Butt will play Sunday in Los Angeles. The Broncos have a three-week window to add him to the active roster. “Jake Butt looked great. He looked tall. He looked fast,” head coach Vance Joseph said. “He caught the ball well. He hasn’t been playing football, so he’s out of shape. But he’s gotten better every day as far as getting into football shape. Hopefully, we can get him up soon. Shane Ray, he looked fine. Again, not in football shape. Shane Ray’s timeframe has to be three weeks. So, he can play against the Chiefs since it’s Monday night game. That’s considered the third week. Butt’s timeframe is any day. When he’s ready, he can come up.” Added Ray: “The hand technique, the speed, the get-off — everything was where it needed to be. Just finishing that one last step. For me, it’s just knocking the dust off. I’m still doing what I was doing before.” Injury updates. The Broncos list of injuries was the longest it’s been since the start of the regular season. Receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Isaiah McKenzie, both wearing boots because of their ankle injuries, were absent from practice and will be out for Sunday’s game. Right tackle Menelik Watson, also seen wearing a boot in the locker room, is day-to-day with a calf strain and did not practice. Nor did receiver Demaryius Thomas (lower calf bruise), receiver Cody Latimer (knee), quarterback Paxton Lynch (shoulder) and inside linebacker Brandon Marshall (right shoulder). Joseph said Marshall injured his shoulder about two weeks ago and played through the pain, but it affected his ability to tackle against the Giants. “We have to see how he progresses this week if he’s going to play or not,” Joseph said. “But if he’s sore and can’t tackle, he cannot play. Hopefully he gets it better as the week goes on.” Quarterback Trevor Siemian practiced in full Wednesday, after missing a series in last Sunday’s game with a left shoulder injury. Joseph, as well as Siemian, said he’s fine. Joseph also said Thomas will be OK to play Sunday but, “he needs one more day just to get it right.” Cornerback Aqib Talib, running back Jamaal Charles and nose tackle Domata Peko received their usual veteran day off, and tight end A.J. Derby did not practice because he and his wife were expecting their first child. Open spot. The Broncos have a vacant spot on the active roster since they released Ahtyba Rubin and placed Billy Turner on injured reserve. Wednesday they announced the promotion of receiver Hunter Sharp and addition of River Cracraft to the practice squad. Joseph said they are exploring all their options to fill the last spot — and they will fill it. Related Articles Hunter Sharp eager for chance to help Broncos team with injuries piling up at wide receiver NFL Week 7 Preview: Key injuries throwing wrench in playoff races Can’t decide which player to rep? Broncos fans can now rotate jerseys week to week Broncos promote WR Hunter Sharp, add WR River Cracraft to practice team Broncos make moves to clear two roster spots, sign WR River Cracraft “It could be a number of things,” Joseph said. “It could be a lineman this week, it could be something else. But it’s being explored.” The Broncos are now thin on the offensive line in the wake of Turner’s hand injury and Watson’s day-to-day status. Wednesday, Donald Stephenson and Allen Barbre both received time at practice at right tackle. Support for Siemian.  Siemian’s up-and-down game against the Giants in which he threw a career-high 376 yards but had a pair of brutal interceptions hasn’t cost him support from his coach. “Trevor is our quarterback. Right now we’re 3-2 and as a team we’re getting better,” Joseph said. “Nothing has been perfect. No one has been perfect, including myself. Absolutely, he’s our quarterback.” [...]
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Suspension on hold again, Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott returns to team
FRISCO, Texas — Ezekiel Elliott was back with the Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday, his six-game suspension over domestic violence allegations on hold again after the star running back served a day of it waiting for another reprieve that eventually came. Last year’s NFL rushing leader left no doubt that he will keep fighting a legal battle that so far has lasted six weeks with hearings in three courts in three states. A fourth hearing — and the second in a New York court — should happen before the end of the month. “It’s fighting for your name, that’s what it is,” Elliott said. “I think my representatives have done a good job just going out there and fighting for me. It’s been a lot of hard work and it’s definitely a tough job. They’ve definitely served me well.” Elliott was granted his second temporary restraining order, this one from a New York judge , Tuesday night, clearing him to play Sunday at the San Francisco 49ers. He likely will be eligible the following week at Washington based on the court’s timeline for another hearing. The 22-year-old Elliott was suspended in August by Commissioner Roger Goodell after the league concluded following a yearlong investigation that he had several physical confrontations in the summer of 2016 with Tiffany Thompson, his girlfriend at the time. The NFL investigated after prosecutors in Columbus, Ohio, decided not to pursue the case in the city where Elliott starred for Ohio State, citing conflicting evidence. Elliott denied the allegations under oath during his NFL appeal. “When you get accused of something of that magnitude, you kind of get labeled as an abuser,” Elliott said Wednesday. “And that’s just not me, that’s not how I want to be seen. That’s not how I want to represent my family. It’s just important for me to fight.” Elliott’s teammates are behind him, even if it is a distraction. And at least one player is willing to acknowledge it is, along with owner Jerry Jones’ self-induced saga of threatening to bench players who don’t stand for the national anthem. Both issues percolated during the bye last week. “Just been some tough things going on,” linebacker Justin Durant said. “Obviously some stuff that’s out of our hands. Trying to deal with it the best way we can.” Elliott was suspended Tuesday when the Cowboys returned from their week off. The NFL placed him on the suspended list Friday, a day after a federal appeals court overturned a Texas court’s injunction that had kept Elliott on the field in Weeks 2-5. With the ruling in New York, Elliott didn’t miss any practice time. He was on the field for the first full workout Wednesday. “I don’t find it frustrating,” said quarterback Dak Prescott, who teamed with Elliott last year for a pair of remarkable rookie seasons that helped carry the Cowboys to the best record in the NFC. “I find that there’s nothing I really can do. Just as I said, we’ll take it week by week. And as of this week, he’s playing so that’s all we’re worried about.” The Cowboys (2-3) have already matched last season’s loss total, as has Prescott with his interceptions (four). Related Articles NFL Week 7 Preview: Key injuries throwing wrench in playoff races Roger Goodell: NFL not changing its national anthem policy Dallas Cowboys will host 2018 NFL draft at AT&T Stadium next April Cardinals RB Adrian Peterson back in London as star man For NFL quarterbacks, change is coming in a big way this offseason Since the 49ers are winless at 0-6, a return to the playoffs could get difficult if Dallas doesn’t win. But the outlook is already brighter than it was over the weekend, when the Cowboys were thinking they would have to find a way to rebound without their top running back until late November. “For us it’s really been status quo,” coach Jason Garrett said. “Control what we can control. We think Zeke’s done an excellent job of focusing on what he needs to do. We certainly try to do that as a football team. So nothing’s really changed from our perspective.” NOTES: DT Stephen Paea retired last week after consulting with medical staff over a knee injury the 29-year-old had been battling for several weeks. The Cowboys placed him on injured reserve and have yet to fill the roster spot. … All-Pro LB Sean Lee returned to practice during the bye and is expected to play against the 49ers after missing two games with a hamstring injury. [...]
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Hunter Sharp eager for chance to help Broncos team with injuries piling up at wide receiver
When Hunter Sharp was in his second season at Antelope Valley College in California, he and several teammates were visited by an assistant coach from Utah State named Mark Weber. As Weber went through a line of players shaking hands, Sharp knew what the coach was doing. “He wanted to see how tall you really were and how big your hands were,” Sharp said. So as Weber approached Sharp, the young wide receiver rose from his chair and slyly stood on the tips of his toes, opening his hand wide as he met Weber’s hand shake. “It’s nice to meet you, Coach,” the 5-foot-11 Sharp said with the confidence of a 6-footer. Weber indeed gave Sharp a shot at Utah State, and he’s turned it into a chance to show what he can do on an NFL stage. The Broncos signed Sharp off their practice squad Wednesday and told him he’ll be active Sunday when Denver visits the Los Angeles Chargers without the services of receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Isaiah McKenzie, who are nursing ankle injuries sustained Sunday. The Broncos could also be without receiver Cody Latimer, who has missed the past two games with a knee injury and did not practice Monday. “I was happy to hear I was playing, but for it to be in L.A. — and I’m an L.A. native — it meant even more to me,” said Sharp, who will also be an option for the Broncos at punt returner Sunday, along with wide receiver Jordan Taylor. “The younger guys on this team are put in a position to where, if we have to come up, then it should be a smooth transition. Coach tells me to keep paying attention like I’m playing every week, and I keep doing that. It’s got me to where I am.” Sharp caught 137 passes for 1,774 yards and 16 touchdowns in two seasons at Utah State. He was signed by the Eagles as an undrafted free agent in 2016 and spent some time on the team’s practice squad. He joined Denver’s practice squad last December and later signed a futures contract with the team. He had six catches for 92 yards and a touchdown for the Broncos during the preseason. “He’s earned a spot to be on our practice squad and now be on our roster,” Broncos coach Vance Joseph said. “He’s a smart guy, very consistent, a great route runner with great ball skills. I’m looking forward to seeing him play.” The Broncos have already had issues on offense the past three weeks, averaging just 14 points per game during a 1-2 stretch. Now they are without their second-leading receiver in Sanders and their lead punt returner in McKenzie. And leading receiver Demaryius Thomas was hobbled during Sunday’s 23-10 loss to the Giants, briefly leaving the game in the third quarter with a right calf injury. Thomas did not practice Wednesday, but Joseph said he’ll be ready to play Sunday. That still means Bennie Fowler, the team’s third leading receiver with 13 catches for 140 yards, Taylor and now Sharp will have to make up ground against a Chargers team that has the NFL’s fourth-stingiest pass defense at 186 yards per game. The Broncos would like to run the ball more consistently and more efficiently than they did in Sunday’s 23-10 loss to the Giants, when they ran the ball 17 times for a season-low 46 yards. Still, a production void at the receiver position must be filled. “You just have to be ready to play,” said Fowler, who caught two touchdown passes in the Broncos’ season-opening 24-21 win over the Chargers. “We have some key players out right now. We have to get those guys healthy. But, me, D.T., (Taylor) and (Sharp) … you just have to be ready to go.” Related Articles Shane Ray, Jake Butt return to Broncos practice; LB Brandon Marshall added to injury list NFL Week 7 Preview: Key injuries throwing wrench in playoff races Can’t decide which player to rep? Broncos fans can now rotate jerseys week to week Broncos promote WR Hunter Sharp, add WR River Cracraft to practice team Broncos make moves to clear two roster spots, sign WR River Cracraft The Broncos, who signed former Washington State standout River Cracraft to the practice squad Wednesday to add further depth to the wide receiver spot, have still been looking for consistent production at the position outside of Thomas and the injured Sanders. No player besides those two — whether it be a wide receiver, tight end or running back — has posted back-to-back games of at least three catches. Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy has said that every eligible receiver who suits up for his offense has to be a target and 12 different players have caught a pass for the Broncos this season. But a consistent target Siemian can count on when he faces pressure or sees Thomas and Sanders draped in coverage has yet to emerge. He [...]
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“Young Mario”: Auston Matthews continues to reinvent ways to score
WASHINGTON — Auston Matthews is drawing comparisons to Mario Lemieux and getting noticed by Bryce Harper amid a hot start to his second NHL season. Last season’s Calder Trophy winner as rookie of the year, Matthews went into training camp seeking to be more assertive on the ice. That has translated to five goals and three assists in his first five games and the kind of improved all-around play that makes the face of the Toronto Maple Leafs a superstar already at age 20. “He’s got a skillset that ranges from just about everything,” Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri said Tuesday. “The ceiling’s the limit for Matts, and he knows he can be a great player and he already is. It’s crazy to think he’s (still) at such a young age.” Even though Matthews remains in the shadow of Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby on hockey’s pantheon of top players, he already has filled up the highlight reel thanks to some tweaks and adjustments. The Scottsdale, Arizona, native was the first rookie to score 40 goals since Alex Ovechkin in 2005-06 and is conscious of the pressure to keep up that pace. “You’re always reinventing yourself,” Matthews said. “The league’s always adjusting and you’ve got to adjust right back to it.” The league hasn’t adjusted yet. Matthews showed that by scoring goals so many different ways this season. Matthews scored an overtime winner against Chicago by taking the puck off a carom off the back of Patrick Kane’s right skate and going down the ice. Against Montreal, he scored one goal by flipping the puck past a Canadiens defender and knocking it down at full speed before firing through a screen, and then another on the rush by shooting short side on 2015 Vezina Trophy winning goaltender Carey Price. “For me, the first (Montreal goal) was probably a little more impressive just how he handled the pass and you see how much he changed the angle,” Toronto winger James van Riemsdyk said. “He’s really good at changing the angle, getting it off quick, things like that. He’s got a lot of different shots that he’ll try within his toolbox. It makes him pretty unpredictable when he’s going to shoot it.” Matthews has only played 87 regular-season and six playoff games and yet has admirers far and wide. Harper wore a brand new blue No. 34 Matthews jersey out of the Washington Nationals’ clubhouse after their season-ending Game 5 loss to the Chicago Cubs last week. Matthews said he doesn’t know Harper, who’s from Las Vegas, but called the honor “awesome.” Capitals coach Barry Trotz has been watching Matthews’ growth and likened him — already — to a Hockey Hall of Famer and one of the best players in history. “Auston Matthews, I’ve been saying it: He’s a young Mario Lemieux,” Trotz said. “He’s (big), he can skate, he’s ultra-skilled, he’s very, very competitive, he makes plays.” Matthews’ rookie success earned him another believer: himself. He said last month he was aiming to trust his skills more and want the puck more. With the season under way he said “you just want to be the best player you can be,” and that’s evident with how much the line of Matthews, Zach Hyman and William Nylander have had the puck. “We’ve been able to create offense, which is important, and that leads to chances,” Nylander said. “That’s always a positive.” At even strength, Matthews has been on the ice for 80 Leafs shots and 64 by opponents, evidence of just how much his evolving defensive game benefits the Maple Leafs. “When you play well defensively, you feel like you get the puck more,” Matthews said. “We’re offensive guys. We want to create offense so when you have the puck it feels good and you feel like you can create chances.” Related Articles Avalanche centers Nathan MacKinnon and Tyson Jost able to avoid serious injuries Avalanche, Stars off to unexpected starts this season Brian Boyle is not alone in fighting cancer and playing hockey Vegas Golden Knights have emotional, inspired home debut 9 days after mass shooting Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins visit Trump at White House Those chances are coming, and Matthews is cashing in on them. No wonder he has earned coach Mike Babcock’s trust. “He’s a good player trying to get better each and every day,” Babcock said. “What I like about him is how hard he works and how competitive he is and how much he wants to get better. The best players in the league, the superstars, they love hockey more than everyone else, so they can work at it harder and longer than the next guy.” [...]
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Avalanche takes lead, then takes a break and loses at Nashville
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Nathan MacKinnon finally scored his first goal of the season, getting a lucky bounce off a Nashville Predators defender to give the Avalanche the early lead Tuesday at Bridgestone Arena. It was the kind of bounce MacKinnon said would get him going in the goal-scoring department. But it was all downhill from there for the Avs, who lost their composure and fell 4-1 to the defending Western Conference champions. John Russell, NHLI via Getty ImagesColton Sissons #10 of the Nashville Predators scores against Semyon Varlamov #1 of the Colorado Avalanche during an NHL game at Bridgestone Arena on Oct. 17, 2017 in Nashville, Tenn. “Just bad reads. That’s on everybody. I think every time we have bad puck management it leads to losses,” MacKinnon said. “When we exit and enter our zone cleanly, we’re definitely a very good team because we’re fast. Tonight was really salty.” The Avs, who finished 0-2 in the Central Division road trip that began with a 4-1 loss Saturday at Dallas, gave up multiple odd-man rushes after MacKinnon scored the game’s first goal on the power play 4:09 into the second period. The Preds tied it by creating a 4-on-1 rush in transition and ultimately scoring during a 4-on-2 advantage, with Viktor Arvidsson capping a nice play by Filip Forsberg at 7:07. And then Nashville made Colorado pay by taking two lackadaisical penalties — Matt Duchene‘s delay of game (he flipped the puck in the stands from the defensive zone) and Gabe Landeskog‘s slashing (stick to the hands of Ryan Johansen) while on the penalty kill. The result: Roman Josi’s 5-on-3 power-play goal at 13:30. Related Articles Why Andrei Mironov is a healthy scratch for the Avalanche rather than playing in the AHL NHL Live 18 season simulation: How the Colorado Avalanche fared Avalanche’s Erik Johnson logging big minutes with considerable NHL success Avalanche centers Nathan MacKinnon and Tyson Jost able to avoid serious injuries Lunch Special: Is there a big difference in Avalanche coach Jared Bednar this year? “I didn’t mind our start. I thought our first period was OK,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said. “And then I just felt like we had questionable decisions in (giving up) a couple odd-man rushes. Their second goal was a 4-on-1. We get caught gambling on a puck in the offensive zone and it comes back to hurt us. And then we took penalties and put ourselves behind the 8-ball a little bit.” Things got worse after the Preds’ 5-on-3 goal. In a 4-on-4 situation, the Avs became a mess defensively and Colton Sissons scored easily from the doorstep with 45 seconds left in the dreadful second period. Both Arvidsson and Sissons scored from goalie Semyon Varlamov‘s doorstep. Varlamov allowed another close-in goal early in the third period by Austin Watson and the rout was on. The Avs, who stand 4-3 after a 4-1 start, host the St. Louis Blues in another Central Division clash Thursday at the Pepsi Center. Colorado is off to a 0-2 start in division play. “We just have to refocus our group here and get ready to go two days from now against St. Louis, another tough Central Division team. It doesn’t get any easier,” Bednar said. “There’s another level some of our guys need to get to from a competitive standpoint.” He added: “First five games, I think it was good. We were a hard-working group, really competitive in those first five games and I feel like it’s kind of slacked off a little bit here in the last couple. So we have to find a way to rebound.” The Avs fell Saturday at Dallas after improving to 4-1 by defeating Anaheim on Thursday. They had plenty of time to prepare for Nashville, arriving in Music City early Sunday morning and taking that day off. They practiced Monday at Bridgestone Arena. “We knew it was tough going into Dallas, getting in at 3:30 a.m. (but) tonight just wasn’t good enough,” Landeskog said. “We’ll regroup and get back at it on home ice.” [...]
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