8 things to watch in NFL’s Week 6: Kirk Cousins gets to audition for the 49ers

Washington’s contract situation with its starting quarterback is tenuous. The club has steadfastly refused to give Kirk Cousins the big-money, long-term contract he desires, instead locking him in to franchise player designations that keep him from the free agent market on one-year deals. Cousins is making $23.9 million in 2017 and would cost $34.5 million to franchise again next fall or $28.8 million for one year under the Cheap Dan Marino Jerseys transition tag.

Earlier this week, Cousins gave the exact kind of cliched responses to questions about his future as you’d imagine. But that won’t stop the speculation from now until free agency.

More recent years hold some potential — though Corey Coleman’s inability to stay healthy threatens to derail his career. Shelton is a solid space-clogger up front. Myles Garrett has three sacks in two professional games. Jabrill Peppers is flawed, but athletic enough to develop into a plus starter in the Cleveland secondary.

Those are big numbers, albeit against second-string competition. Hundley will have the biggest opportunity of his football life when he fills Rodgers’ role in the lineup. A big performance wouldn’t just keep Green Bay afloat while its starter recuperates — it would also lead to a big payday in 2019. The UCLA product has one year remaining on his contract after this season, and a solid showing would make him a commodity in a league where Mike Glennon can sign a three-year, $45 million deal to throw at the feet of Chicago’s receivers.

He didn’t get off to a great start against the Vikings, who pressured him throughout the afternoon. While he tossed a touchdown, he balanced that out with three interceptions. He finished the game Cheap Dri Fit Jerseys with 157 yards, but needed 33 passes to get there.

McCarthy said he didn’t like the hit from Barr on Rodgers and took a different stance than Zimmer.

Rodgers will undergo surgery on his broken clavicle, and, according to Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy, his season potentially could be over.

He’s out of the pocket, he’s clearly expecting to get hit, but to pin him to the ground like that, I think was an illegal act, McCarthy said. I didn’t like the hit. It was totally unnecessary in my opinion.

The Dolphins picked up an important, come-from-behind win over the Falcons on Sunday to improve to 3-2. But none of that will mean much if Miami gets swept next week by the Jets. The Dolphins have been up and down all year and could use a hot streak to separate themselves from the pack. Two of their next three games are at home. — James Walker

The current dispute over the national anthem is threatening to erode the unifying power of our game, and is now dividing us, and our players, from many fans across the country, he wrote last week. Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the national anthem. It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us.

It wasn’t just Trump’s response — or lack thereof — to the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico. It was the fact that the president used his platform to critique players who protest during the national anthem instead of acknowledging Puerto Rico that spurred Kendricks to action.

Who will step into the void left by Elliott? Maybe Prescott? The offensive line? Darren McFadden? Alfred Morris? With or without Elliott, the Cowboys are at a crossroads as they come off the bye. — Todd Archer

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The Miami Dolphins are coming off their most impressive victory.

The New York Jets are coming off their most impressive defeat.

On Sunday, these AFC East rivals will meet at Hard Rock Stadium as the Dolphins (3-2) seek to avenge a 20-6 loss to the Jets (3-3) in Week 3.

The good news is it’s not too late for the Dolphins to make a change. A soft schedule and some luck (Mariota’s injury) has Miami at 2-2 in a division where the Patriots suddenly look mortal and the top spot in the standings is a three-way tie at 3-2.

Moore is an option, though not an ideal one. At 33 years old, he’s hit his ceiling and it’s not unreasonable to think last year’s small sample size — a stretch in which he played above and beyond his career averages — is an unsustainable level of performance. Keep in mind the teams he faced were 7-9 Buffalo, the 5-11 New York Jets, and a New England team eager to limit its starters in Week 17.

There are options on the free agent and trade markets, most notably, the one player many Dolphins fans may be sick of hearing about — Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick recently told CBS’s Jason La Canfora he plans on playing football this fall and has been working out six hours a day in preparation for his next shot in the NFL. There’s no guarantee a rusty Kaepernick would be able to provide more than Cutler has, but a comparison of their 2016 stats suggest a clear on-field edge for the former 49er.

The Eagles’ game plan on the road will be simple, especially with Lane Johnson out. They will try running the ball often to give Wentz manageable third downs, knowing the Panthers will bring pressure. They don’t want to leave the backup right tackle on an island, which they’d have to do on third-and-long situations.

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Tim Tebow Watch Watch: In which our hero searches for consistency

Let me be clear: I could not hit .216 against you, the person reading this. If you threw nothing but 55-mph fastballs without any command, I would make weak contact against most of them, occasionally shaking my hands because of a stinger. And if you threw even one pitch inside, hoo boy, I would fold into a lawn chair that you could store in your garage during the winter.

Unless baseball has other plans, Lewis should be able to utilize his 70-grade speed to be an impact offensive player despite a long swing. You know whenever you see the Baseball America runs like a gazelle comparison, it’s serious. While playing up the middle at shortstop and centerfield or how high he’ll be able to perform defensively is still up for debate, his character is unquestioned. Though, teams have proved time and time again that #character almost never comes first or even second, third, or fourth when evaluating players, even when they’re not that good.

But as analysis of each draft pick’s present and potential have been wrung dry in the handful of days since the draft ended, it’s officially much more fun to look at the who’s who(se son or relative) of the draft.

The Blue Jays took first baseman Kacy Clemens, one of four of Roger Clemens’ sons, in the eighth round with a .305 batting average, 12 home runs and 49 RBI at the University of Texas. ARod’s nephew Joe Dunand was called on the first day at 51st overall by the Miami Marlins. Rodriguez’s Instagram video of the family’s watch party showed just why he was drafted first overall in 1993, realizing Dunand’s name was being called and wooing before anyone else. Darren Baker, a Cal State commit, getting taken in the third round by his dad’s team, however, might have been one of the best stories, not just because it gives the opportunity to watch him pat JT Snow’s back after he was rescued, but also because of his 80-grade Twitter clap-back game.

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Rogue bat boy collides with Mets infielder, ruins play

It was just a few hours ago that we were gorging on Mets, enjoying the Mets, letting the Mets drip off our chins and onto the keyboard. Well, I hope you’re happy. Because there’s no way to turn this Mets faucet off.

Our latest example of the Mets metsing all over the place came on Thursday, when a bat boy dressed in Brewers garb collided with Mets third baseman Wilmer Flores, who was trying to catch a pop-up.

Regardless, Mets manager Terry Collins was not happy, which gave us an absolutely stellar argument, which we really don’t get that often in the era of video review:

The runner from third didn’t end up scoring, however, so the play didn’t mean a whole lot, other than Collins getting ejected, which might be a net positive for the Mets, depending on which talk-radio station you’re listening to these days.

Here we go, with the Twins doing roughly what we thought they would do. This is an interesting pick for the upside, though it’s not without its risks. The last time the Twins had the first-overall pick, there was extraordinary pressure to take Mark Prior, the unbeatable mega-ace from Alpha Centauri. They went with the hometown catcher, a high school kid at that. Do you know the failure rate for high school catchers?

Redemption is never that instant, that perfect. Ruben Rivera didn’t hit a walk-off homer after committing the worst baserunning of all time. Fred Merkle didn’t come back from his boner and goad someone else into an even worse boner.

Well, say, I wrote about this, too. When Scooter Gennett hits four home runs in a game, it apparently makes me want to write the equivalent of a clip show. If he does it again, I’ll come up with something more original. That’s my solemn promise to you.

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Was the floating bat at a Braves game the work of a friendly ghost?

Last night, sports got supernatural when a floating baseball bat haunted the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies. When Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco let go of his bat after a swing, sending it toward the stands the bat stayed suspended in midair. Check out the spooooooky clip (if you dare):

Now this is obviously the work of a Braves-friendly poltergeist, right? Probably an undead spirit who doesn’t even want to give the Phillies a chance to score.

Does Fullerton have a counter offer to Lundquist’s upper lip? Of course they do. Here’s reliever Brett Conine getting amped after a bang-bang play at first.

Now, mustaches are fine as far as they go, but what about the full-on beard? Well, let’s check in with Fullerton third baseman Taylor Bryant.

The Dirtbags and Titans are tied, 1-1, in the Long Beach super, with the winner earning a ticket to the College World Series proper in Omaha. Keep the dream alive, everyone.

The Aggies are the wildcard of this half of the bracket, having entered the regional round as a three-seed in the Houston regional. A&M then beat all three teams in the regional Baylor, Iowa, and the hosts then hosted a significantly overwhelmed Davidson club to advance to the CWS for the first time since 2011. This is the Aggies’ sixth appearance in Omaha.

Freshman Braden Shewmake leads A&M’s powerful lineup with a .335 batting average and 68 RBIs, which is more than twice as many as the next hitter on the roster. He’s only a freshman.

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MLB draft 2017: Brendan McKay selected No. 4 overall by Tampa Bay Rays

With the No. 4 pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, the Tampa Bay Rays selected two-way star Brendan McKay out of Louisville. He was announced as a first baseman.

There’s a good deal of intrigue surrounding McKay given his ability on the mound and at the plate. The 21-year-old is the only three-time winner of the John Olerud Award, given to the best two-way player in college baseball, having won it in 2015, 2016, and 2017. His list of accomplishments at the NCAA level is staggering.

There is no TV coverage of the draft on Tuesday, but MLB.com will provide online streaming, including analysis and information from draft gurus Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo from MLB’s New York Studios.

There is a 30-minute pre-show to begin Tuesday’s coverage at 12:30 p.m. ET, followed by the draft itself at 1 p.m.

There are one-minute intervals in between picks for all eight rounds on Tuesday. That interval shrinks to zero on Wednesday, with no time in between picks for rounds 11-40 on the draft’s final day.

Three players who finished in the top 10 in MVP voting in 2016 were drafted in Rounds 3-10. Mookie Betts, drafted in the fifth round in 2011 by the Boston Red Sox, finished second in AL MVP balloting last year. In the National League, Anthony Rizzo (sixth round in 2007 by the Red Sox) finished fourth for the Chicago Cubs, and Justin Turner (seventh round in 2006 by the Cincinnati Reds) finished ninth for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Which didn’t seem as exciting when I typed it out. So we get Piazza.

All of those demerits for Murray’s career? We get to add home runs and batting average. Instead of a .308 career average, I’m going to make him a .318 hitter. Instead of 427 homers, he has 600. And instead of an iffy defensive catcher, he’s going to be a super-iffy defensive first baseman.

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That’s what Omaha does to pitching staffs.

Subtle changes happen to a facial expression when you cry. Muscles around the eyes tighten up, which in turn helps contract the tear ducts. Looking at Mr. Mets’ eyes, we can see that this facial tightening is in a permanent state. His pupils are dilated, his eyes are mid-contraction. This is a man who is ready to cry at any moment and he’s been this way for years.

Nobody ever asks Mr. Met how he’s doing, or is just willing to listen to him. Instead he suffers alone, in silence, for all the world to see.

Knowing these factors, it’s understandable why Mr. Met snapped on Wednesday. He’s endured so much over the years, and for what? Some chuckleheads to mock him after a losing game? His head is full of stitches, he’s always about to cry, his sex life is unfulfilling, and he’s watching Queens change around him.

Instead of slamming Mr. Met for flipping off some fans, we should instead just be asking Are you OK, Mr. Met?

That’s what Omaha does to pitching staffs. Reduces you to relievers, even your starters. Everyone throws late innings out here.

LSU thus holds the staffing advantage of having thrown Lange, Poche, and shutdown man Zack Hess 24 hours earlier than Saturday’s bouts, and they should be ready to go when the dogfights of late inning work needs to be dealt with. Florida’s bullpen ain’t that deep beyond the big time arms of Michael Byrne and Garrett Milchin, and that’s been a liability for the Gators all season. This is where the real separation should be monitored, since Florida’s late innings staff may not be able to carry the load into the barn.

The problem here for the Gators will be matching up arms with LSU’s rested pen, especially in deep innings. Also, LSU’s big bats will push runners around the bases with happy abandon. Florida’s staff needs to prevent base runners if they have a hope in this series.

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Florida vs. LSU 2017, College World Series score: Gators take Game 1, 4-3

Florida and LSU earned tickets to the College World Series final round, a best-of-three set that will crown this year’s NCAA baseball tournament champions. Florida dismantled LSU, 4-3, to score the first strike, and the Gators stand just one win away from their first-ever CWS title.

Without the services of Alex Lange or Jared Poch, LSU threw Russell Reynolds to start Game 1 of the best-of-three final series, and he immediately put a man on first on the second batter he faced. That threat, such as it was, didn’t last long, though, as Dalton Guthrie tried to advance to second on a semi-wild pitch but was gunned down on his slide into the base.

The Bronx Bombers are back. After finishing 22nd in total offense and 19th in home runs in the league last season, the Yankees now rank fourth in the league in both of those categories. Aaron Judge is leading the way on offense, batting .324 with 44 runs, 18 home runs, and 41 RBI through the team’s first 54 games. Judge enters Tuesday night’s game with an eight-game hitting streak.

Here it is. My favorite combination of baseball skill and baseball absurdity. There is nothing better or more pure than this.

Bengie Molina ran like Yadier Molina was hanging from his ankles and begging him not to run. He was, quite possibly, the slowest baseball player I have ever seen. Perhaps the slowest baseball player I will ever see. And that’s when he was in his prime. In this game, he was 35 years old. In catcher years, that’s closer to 45 when it comes to legging out triples.

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Mike Matheny’s job isn’t so safe anymore

It has not been a pleasant 2017 season for the St. Louis Cardinals. They have a disappointing 27-32 record, a number of their everyday players aren’t living up to expectations, and they recently completed a disastrous, winless seven-game road trip. They did win a game against the Phillies last night, but that’s almost like a teenager winning a race against a toddler who keeps getting distracted by a leaf blowing on the ground.

Things came to a head of sorts yesterday when general manager John Mozeliak called a midafternoon press conference and announced … a few changes to the non-Mike Matheny coaching staff. Mozeliak started the presser by owning up to the team’s continuing struggles while acting like he was presiding over a funeral mass, and then he announced third base coach Chris Maloney was being reassigned, Pop Warner was joining the staff, and a few other changes.

The minuteman, gun and all, has one shot to win this fight literally. A single stray musket shot and it’s over. The reload time is too long, the threat too great, and both parties are trapped inside a circle.

Let’s give the minuteman a sporting chance and say it was shot by the musket. A story from India earlier this year shows that a tiger was shot with a vintage musket as recently as May. It took 13 days to die.

The minuteman gets his shot off and then gets absolutely torn to shreds by the angry tiger. There’s no reasoning with the tiger. All hope is lost. Please see Tipu’s Tiger for more information on this fight.

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