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Baffert didn’t need to worry.

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Going in, my main concern was really just getting him out of the gate, Smith said. Because, believe it or not, I mean, he’s just so talented. I mean, this horse, he’s so above average, it’s unbelievable. He has a mind to go with it. I knew if I could get him out of there and get him into a big rhythm, he can go fast. That’s how good he is. He can go at 45 and still finish like he did was incredible.

Big Money Mike knew exactly what he had and what he wanted. He wanted to lay second as the pack came out of that first turn. Yes, second would be fine. It all fell into place for him. Promises Fulfilled dutifully became the pace-setter. He was no threat, and Smith tucked in behind him out of the first turn, just as he wanted.

Then it happened just as sure and he felt it would.

As the Jets this week waived one quarterback (Bryce Petty) and welcomed another (No. 3 overall draft pick Sam Darnold), Christian Hackenberg remains on their roster.

This offseason, Hackenberg has changed his throwing motion, with the help of a personal quarterback coach.

But is it too late for him with the Jets? Probably, since they just drafted Darnold and traded away three second-round picks to move up from sixth to third, in order to get him.

The Jets are now in the second phase of their offseason workout program, so Hackenberg can get out there on the practice field and throw. (The Jets begin spring practices, with organized team activities, on May 22.)

The majority of NFL teams that are running an optional rookie camp will hold their workouts May 11-13.

The nine teams beginning workouts include several of the top rookies from last week’s draft, including Baker Mayfield (Cleveland), Lamar Jackson (Baltimore), and Sam Darnold (New York).

The three days of work allow the first-year players to get a jump-start on learning the playbook and preparing for their immersion in the NFL.

Per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team may hold one post-draft Rookie Minicamp on either the first or second weekend following the NFL draft, with players participating in club activities for a maximum of ten hours per day.

Panthers DB coach resigned following investigation

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Carolina Panthers defensive backs coach Curtis Fuller resigned this week following an investigation into complaints of inappropriate conduct, the team announced Friday.

TV cameras often show the rooms before the draft starts, when team personnel are settling in and reviewing their notes. That’s a quiet time.

Then the cameras show teams when they are on the clock. By then, they know who they’re planning to take … unless an appealing, last-minute trade offer comes through.

Then the room becomes more animated as the trade details are worked out and called into the league before time expires. The last thing a team wants is to not submit their pick or trade details on time, because in that case, the next team can jump in and select.

The Ravens had designs on selecting a running back, only to get foiled by teams selecting ahead of them in the middle and late rounds of the draft.

It’s safe to say DeCosta is a fan of the Bears ‘ first-round pick. While the Ravens traded out of the opportunity to select James, they wouldn’t have passed up the chance grab Georgia’s Butkus Award winner.

If you’ve got a chance to get a guy like Roquan Smith, DeCosta said, you should probably take him.

In the early rounds, teams generally wait for last-minute trade offers before telling their representatives at the draft site to hand in the pick. With 10 minutes allotted in the first round (previously 15 for most of my NFL years) and seven minutes in the second round (previously 10) before it drops to five minutes in the remaining rounds, there’s a lot of down time.

The draft presents a mix of highs and lows in terms of a team’s success, but everybody knows it takes two or three years before actual success can be determined.

Now in my consulting work with an NFL agent group, the draft is more of the same — sweating it out as I wait for our players to be selected.

Jaguars owner might not be allowed to buy Wembley Stadium until 2057

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Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan caused a bit of a stir last week when he announced his offer to purchase Wembley Stadium in London. It wasn’t so much the proposed purchase price of $840 million — Khan is one of the world’s richest people, so he can easily afford it — or the fact that a U.S. citizen wanted to purchase English soccer’s biggest stage that had people buzzing, but rather that Khan told the BBC that ideally he’d like to configure Wembley so it could host a Super Bowl down the line.

What could have been: The Browns drafted Myles Garrett with the No. 1 pick, but could have packaged picks to draft a quarterback such as Deshaun Watson, who showed promise with Houston as a starter before a season-ending injury.

Does it matter? There is still time for Cleveland first-round picks Jabrill Peppers and David Njoku to develop, but Watson was another chance for the Browns to rectify that problem. If the Browns draft a quarterback in 2018, that player will be propped up against Watson on some level.

Instead, Eric Trump said, the firm’s existing businesses — commercial buildings in New York, licensing deals for Trump-branded hotels and clothes — produced so much cash that the Trumps could tap that flow for spending money. 

He had incredible cash flow and built incredible wealth, Eric Trump said. He didn’t need to think about borrowing for every transaction. We invested in ourselves.

He added: It’s a very nice luxury to have.

The cash purchases began with a $12.6 million estate in Scotland in 2006. In the next two years, he snapped up two homes in Beverly Hills. Then five golf clubs along the East Coast. And a winery in Virginia. 

The biggest cash binge came last, in the year before Trump announced his run for president. In 2014, he paid a combined $79.7 million for large golf courses in Scotland and Ireland. Since then, those clubs have lost money while Trump renovated them, requiring him to pump in $164 million in cash to keep them running.

Trump’s lavish spending came at a time when his business was leaning largely on one major financial institution for its new loans — Deutsche Bank, which provided $295 million in financing for big projects in Miami and Washington.

NFL draft 2018 CB rankings: Denzel Ward is class of deep group

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The top cornerback prospects entering the 2018 NFL draft:

1. Denzel Ward, Ohio State (5-11, 183): The Buckeyes have produced three first-round corners in the past two drafts (Marshon Lattimore, Gareon Conley and Eli Apple), and Ward is next in the pipeline after being named a first-team All-American in 2017.

4. Isaiah Oliver, Colorado (6-0, 201): A standout decathlete, he has athleticism NFL teams crave. Oliver has the size to excel as a press corner and the speed to close when the ball is in the air. His footwork, however, leaves him vulnerable to sudden changes of direction, and he must improve his route recognition. Projected: Round 1-2

5. Mike Hughes, Central Florida (5-11, 191): After starting his career at North Carolina and transferring to junior college, he was one of the breakout stars of the Knights’ undefeated season. His rugged, relentless approach in press coverage is not what one might expect given his stout frame. Certain teams might not see Hughes as a fit given his height and length, as well as his potential problems adapting to off coverage, but he’ll contribute early as a returner at minimum. Projected: Round 1-2

A slight-framed, injury-prone quarterback who can’t move in the pocket? That scares teams.

But scouting is looking at the trees and understanding the forest.

Rosen has his warts—as does every quarterback in this class—but he also has mechanics that make evaluators drool and the best accuracy of any passer in the group. And he might have an Aaron Rodgers-like chip on his shoulder that allows him to somehow get better the more teams hit him.

There is enough on his tape for scouts to consider him the best quarterback in the class.

And to worry he’ll get them all fired.

The next LeSean McCoy? Ex-Penn State defender explains what makes Saquon Barkley special

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Penn State running back Saquon Barkley  is viewed by many as one of the most complete prospects to enter the NFL Draft in recent memory. 

Weighing in at 6-foot and 235 pounds , Barkley’s game film is full of explosive touchdown runs, plays where he leaps defenders and sticks the landing before keeping on running, and catches both out of the backfield or from the slot that have blown games wide open. 

Barkley’s production at Penn State is impressive, but given the fact that he was often used as a decoy on run-pass options in the Nittany Lions offense and frequently out of the game by the fourth quarter during his junior season, his numbers could have been even more eye-popping than the 5,038 total yards from scrimmage and 51 touchdowns over three seasons. 

Similarly to the NFL career that the 5-foot-11 and 210 pound McCoy has built, Barkley is a threat to score as a runner, a receiver, or after having the ball directly snapped to him largely because of his ability to cut on a dime and burst upfield. 

“The thing is, he’s a complete-back,” Cabinda said. “He blocks in the running game. He blocks in the passing game. He does it all. I think that’s what makes it special.”

Now the two, who have both had their fair share of playoff disappointments, will try to carry their regular-season success into the postseason when the Rockets open a first-round series with Minnesota on Sunday night.

Sixers’ big win | Observations

The guards have been effusive in their praise for one another, with Harden recently joking that his relationship with the nine-time All-Star was “love at first sight.” Paul didn’t go quite that far, but a huge smile crossed his often serious face when asked how their pairing has worked.

“Unbelievable,” he said. “You just (don’t) get this opportunity too often in a career to play with somebody like James … you get a chance to appreciate greatness.

“What he’s doing on a nightly basis and stuff like that, it’s crazy and I’m in awe,” Paul continued. “I’m grateful I get to play alongside him.”

When told of what Paul said about him, Harden was quick to answer.

“You can tell,” he said. “It feels like it’s been forever but it’s not even been a year yet.”

When is the 2018 NFL Draft? Date, time & live TV coverage from AT&T Stadium

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More than 250 new players will join the league in the 2018 NFL Draft in April. Some top college football players will be important additions for teams like the Cleveland Browns and the New York Giants, as they look to rebuild for the future.

Here’s everything you need to know about the 2018 NFL Draft, including order of picks and live TV coverage on ESPN.

Live coverage of Rounds 2 and 3 on April 27 (7 p.m. ET) will be shown on four networks: NFL Network, Fox, ESPN and ESPN2. Joel Klatt, Fox’s lead college football analyst, and Charles Davis will join NFL Network’s Peter Schrager and Chris Rose on the coverage.

For the first time, ABC will simulcast ESPN’s coverage of Rounds 4-7 on April 28 (noon ET). NFL Network will cover the later rounds, too. Fans also can also stream the action through NFL, Fox Sports and ESPN apps.

ESPN’s “College GameDay” will even put its college-themed twist on the draft Thursday and Friday. Rece Davis will be joined by “GameDay” regulars Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard behind the mic.

The 2017 first-round draft pick out of Alabama started 10 games as a rookie, tallying 72 tackles.

Jeter blinked first after reportedly telling Stanton that he’d force him to be on a watered-down rebuilding club for years if he didn’t accept a trade that the organization worked out as opposed to one to a team that he preferred.

The Yankees and Marlins completed a trade in December to move Stanton, who hit 59 homers and won the National League MVP last season, and ever since there’s been very little looking back other than continuing past friendships with former teammates.

“I follow whoever my friends are,” Stanton said. “I check out how they’re doing. I made sure to send notes when they’re doing well and keep ’em going.”

Come August, Stanton will have another reunion with his old club, one that probably will be more meaningful: The Yankees’ two games in Miami.

“It’ll be cool to see my guys (this week), but I think it’ll be a little bit different when I go to Miami,” he said.

Report: Daryl Worley Tased, Arrested by Police; Gun Recovered at the Scene

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Ex-Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Daryl Worley was reportedly tased and then arrested in Philadelphia early Sunday morning.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the incident occurred at 6 a.m. ET on Sunday after Worley “became combative with police.” Rapoport added that “Worley was found passed out inside a vehicle blocking a highway” and “a gun was recovered at the scene.”

Per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the incident took place near the Eagles’ team facility.

The Eagles announced Worley has been released after the arrest.

The Redskins’ interior line took a hit with Spencer Long leaving in free agency (Jets), and guard Shawn Lauvao is unsigned. They should think defense with this pick if the player is right (Smith or Vea), but Daniels would be a fine player to line up in front of Alex Smith and also upgrade the run-blocking.

According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Huizenga passed away Friday after a battle with cancer.

Huizenga first bought a partial stake in the Dolphins in 1990, and bought control of the team from Joe Robbie in 1993.

He eventually brought baseball and hockey to the South Florida region as original owner of the Florida Marlins and Florida Panthers as well.

Even after he sold controling interest in the Dolphins in 2008 to Stephen Ross, he retained a small share of the team, a testament to his passion for the local sports scene.

During his career as a businessman, Huizenga launched three Fortune 500 companies — Waste Management, Blockbuster Entertainment and AutoNation.

Our thoughts are with the Huizenga family at this time.

McCourty continued: “I think it’s why I got involved in the Players Coalition and to have a presence. Obviously we don’t know all the information and we’re not the brightest people in the room, but I think because of our platform, we get to elevate all the people around us so we make sure everyone hears it.”

Prescott laments Bryant’s release: ‘Tough to see him go’

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Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has exchanged text messages with Dez Bryant since the wide receiver’s release from the franchise on Friday.

“It’s sad news. That’s a brother to me,” Prescott said from a women’s clinic he was hosting at Episcopal Parish School in Dallas. “Put the football stuff behind you, and what he meant to me as a person, what he meant to me as a brother, it’s tough to see him go. It shows you it’s a business. All it does is motivate me and puts all this in perspective. Just got to go to work.”

The Cardinals are a team to watch to make a move for a QB in the top five, but with the way things have shaken out in this mock, we still can attach them to Allen at No. 15. Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon were signed in free agency, but neither can be trusted as a solution beyond 2018. Allen needs a little time to hone his accuracy and mechanics to match his arm and athleticism. Arizona’s situation allows for that.

There’s no telling which statement will stick: the one where he said he’s retiring due to stress, one other saying “made ya look,” and the latest asking for a release from the team.

For now we’ll assume Incognito just did what he always does. He is messing with everyone’s collective heads.

By completing his third NFL season, Gurley is now eligible for a new contract under the league’s labor rules. The same goes for recently acquired cornerback Marcus Peters. Quarterback Jared Goff will be there during the 2019 offseason. And there’s safety Lamarcus Joyner, who signed his one-year, $11.3 million franchise tag Monday. The Rams now have until July 15 to reach agreement on a multiyear extension or are unable to negotiate with Joyner until the 2019 offseason.

It’s unknown whether the Rams ultimately will be willing or crafty enough under the salary cap to retain all of those players. But Gurley believes concentrating on team goals rather than individual paydays is the best approach for all Rams players to cash-in as the club tries to build upon last season’s first-round playoff appearance.

Broncos schedule 2018: Denver’s challenges start in own division

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Bottom line: Even if Case Keenum starts at quarterback and plays well for Denver in 2018, its schedule, combined with the talent in its own division, makes a playoff push doubtful. Before they even think about where they stand in the AFC with contenders like the Texans and Steelers on their schedule, the Broncos need to take care of their standing in the AFC West. Those six games will define Denver’s season. Record prediction: 7-9

Although Gronkowski has yet to commit to returning, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported in February that he was expected to play in 2018.

After an injury-plagued 2016, Gronk appeared in 14 games last season and finished with 69 receptions for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns en route to his fifth Pro Bowl and fourth All-Pro First Team nod.

Gronk also appeared in all three of New England’s playoff games. However, a concussion forced him to leave the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

With 474 catches for 7,179 yards and 76 touchdowns in his career through only eight seasons, the 28-year-old Gronkowski is already among the most productive tight ends in NFL history.

Belichick’s issues with trainer Alex Guerrero also factor into this, with Volin writing that Gronkowski is “openly feuding” with the New England head coach about his relationship with Guerrero. Gronk has taken Tom Brady‘s side when it comes to Guerrero, per Volin, crediting the trainer’s methods with helping him stay healthy last season — which came after a back injury cut his 2016 slate short.

The Bills can’t leave the first round without a quarterback; they have no long-term starter on the roster, and even their short-term options would be upgraded with the addition of a rookie. While some in Buffalo’s front office prefer Josh Rosen, Allen is more likely to be the pick.

Denver needs to continue to upgrade its offensive line, and Nelson is the draft’s best lineman. Nelson, along with last year’s first-round pick in Garett Bolles, can help give Case Keenum the protection he needs.

Five 2018 NFL preseason games actually worth watching

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The NFL released its preseason schedule Wednesday and there are actually a few games with some intrigue.

Sure, those first four games really don’t matter as a lot of the best players in the league elect to sit out to avoid additional wear and tear on their bodies, but there are going to be a lot of young quarterbacks looking to make their mark as well as veterans in new zip codes who want to give a preview of what’s to come.

Here are five games you should definitely not miss come August.

49ers vs. Colts, Week 3 — It’s Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Andrew Luck? Jacoby Brissett? It’s unclear who will be under center in Week 3 of the preseason for the Colts and that is important as well. If Luck is playing that week it is a very good sign for the Colts’ season. If he is not there will be near panic in Indianapolis. Whereas in San Francisco, Garoppolo should be hitting his stride and newly acquired cornerback Richard Sherman should be settling in as well.

Cowboys vs. Texans, Week 4 — This will probably the game you’ll see the most of Dak Prescott and Deshaun Watson at quarterback. Watson, of course, is coming off of a serious knee injury but he should be getting acclimated to the field once again by this point. As for Prescott, you won’t be able to tell much from his preseason performance because he’s so consistent, but the rivalry between Dallas and Texas will make this seem more like a regular-season game than some throwaway.

The owners put on a show of support and understanding. They undermine it exactly the same way others in society undermine it: the time-honored deflection of, “I agree with your point, but not with your method of making it.”

Simply put: The owners can’t pretend they don’t know why players were kneeling, and they can’t keep telling the lie that it was about anything other than the same issues that inspired Kraft to visit a prison and he and his son to write an op-ed.

If Kraft is powerful enough to bring eyeballs to Meek Mill’s sentencing, he’s powerful enough to end the blackballing of Kaepernick and Reid. He and the owners have chosen one, and not the other.