Terrance Knighton: I’m free agency’s ‘biggest steal’

New Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan used his first offseason in Washington to add players and churn the roster in a quest to fortify both lines.

McCloughan was also the only front-office executive to furnish Terrance Knighton with what the former Broncos Peyton Manning Jersey defensive tackle deemed a reasonable offer.

Signing a one-year, $4 million pact with the Redskins, the man known as “Pot Roast” is now answering to the title of “the biggest steal in free agency,” per SI.com’s Don Banks.

“Yeah, I was (the biggest steal),” Knighton told Banks this week during OTAs. “But I’ve always bet on myself. I consider myself a premier player in this league, and I’ve got a lot of football left. This will be my A.J. Green Jersey seventh season, so when I hit the table again, there won’t be any excuses next time.”

We expected Raiders coach and former Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio to pursue Knighton after the defender started 32 straight games in Denver over the past two seasons. Oakland didn’t pursue him, though, leaving Knighton to confront a soft market for his services.

Despite concerns over Knighton’s weight and conditioning, the nose tackle immediately improves Washington’s three-man front alongside Jason Hatcher and Stephen Paea.

“I was actually surprised Andrew Luck Jersey he was available,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden told Banks. “We didn’t play Denver last year so I didn’t get a big look at him on tape, but I remember from the playoff run they had two years ago and he was damn near unstoppable in there. He’s got great hands and it’s very tough to sustain a block with him. He sheds blocks extremely well.”

Thirty-one other teams passed him by, but Knighton figures as a 16-game starter for a Redskins team that certainly could use help.

Brian Cushing looks rejuvenated

It’s been a good offseason for Brian Cushing Jersey.The inside linebacker has been healthy in the January to June months of the year for the first time since 2012.

Then, he was coming off a 2011 campaign that saw his teammates select him as the squad’s MVP.Now, he’s coming off a 2014 that was frustrating for him at times.

In the early halves of 2013 and 2014, he was recuperating from major knee surgeries. With a full season back under his belt, and no physical limitations, he said feels like his old self.

“I feel great and just really excited to be back out there,” Brian Cushing Red Jersey said on Friday. “Mentally the best I’ve been in a while because physically it’s the best I’ve been in a long, long time.”

The 7th-year pro joked that he’s truly back at 100 percent, or “98, 99 percent”, as opposed to the 100 percent he said he was the last two offseasons.

“I can say that up here and really mean it,” he joked. “I’ve said it before and really haven’t, so I’m telling you the truth right now.”That transformation is clear to head coach Bill O’Brien.

He made a play today out there in a two-minute drill on about a 20 yard pass where he got back in coverage and he tipped the ball away,” O’Brien said. “That was a big play. It was good for me to see that. I think he felt good about making that play, but that’s an example of how far he’s come from the end of last year.”

Cornerback Kareem Jackson is pleased to see the return to form of Cushing, too.

“Brian Cushing is looking good, man,” Jackson said. “It’s the same Cushing I’ve seen since year one and a lot of energy, he’s definitely moving well out there for a guy that’s gone through the things he’s gone through.”

Brian Cushing and the Texans Store are finished with OTAs, and start up a three-day minicamp on Tuesday at the Houston Methodist Training Center.

 

Angels ‘close to balanced foundation’ after Draft

ANAHEIM — The Angels Uniforms entered the 2015 Draft in search of bats, then selected a position player with 25 of their 40 picks over the last three days, a drastic, necessary change in philosophy after back-to-back pitcher-heavy Drafts.

The Angels drafted a pitcher with 10 of their first 11 picks in 2013 and each of their first five in 2014. In 2015, eight of their first nine picks and 12 of their first 14 were position players. They finished Day 3 by selecting a college senior with 13 of their final 28 selections.

Now, Angels scouting director Ric Wilson said, “We’re getting very close to a balanced foundation.”

The farm system was in need of a major replenishment around the time Jerry Dipoto took over as general manager after the 2011 season, and the Angels wanted to stabilize it first with pitching, because it’s the more valuable commodity and it generally takes a little longer to develop.

This was the year they could finally address the other half.

“We laid down a strong foundation of pitching over the last couple years, and these last three days we hit it hard on the positions,” Dipoto said. “I really feel strongly about the group we put together.”

Angels draft GM Dipoto’s son

The Angels mostly played it safe, as usual, drafting eight teenagers and 22 college seniors.

But they like some of the high-upside potential they acquired from the high-school ranks, too. Like second-round pick Jahmai Jones, a center fielder with a football background and great athleticism. Or 11th-round pick Jimmy Barnes, a power hitter whom Dipoto called “a cross between Jermaine Dye and Chris Carter.” Or 12th-round pick Dalton Blumenfield, a catcher who’s 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds. Or 17th-round pick Samuel Pastrone, a right-hander who’s up to 97 mph with his fastball.

Angels draft brother of Trout’s girlfriend

The Angels turned heads by drafting the son of Jamie Moyer (Pepperdine University second baseman Hutton Moyer), the brother of Mike Trout Jersey‘s longtime girlfriend (Gannon University right-hander Aaron Cox) and the son of Dipoto himself (Newport High right-hander Jonah Dipoto).

They were also criticized for using their first-round pick on Taylor Ward, the Fresno State catcher they had ranked a lot higher than most others.

“Doing some of the stuff we did early opened us up to do some of the things we did from [rounds] 11 to 15,” Wilson said. “There was a strategy to it. People sort of look at us cross-eyed when we do Mike Trout Youth Jersey things, but there was definitely a plan to it. In time, it’ll all show itself.”

Rob Gronkowski goes bald at annual One Mission Buzz Off

Rob Gronkowski is definitely the MVP when it comes to helping kids with cancer.

For the fourth year running, the Patriots tight end participated in the One Mission Buzz Off to support pediatric cancer patients. The annual event took place at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, National Cancer Survivors Day, with more than 1,000 people going bald and raising upwards of $1 million for One Mission’s programs.

The fun started with Gronk getting his head shaved before picking up the buzzer and playing hairstylist for his brother Gordie and some of the event’s top fundraisers. In the past, other members of the Rob Gronkowski Patriots Jersey family have come out to support the Buzz Off, including mom Diane, who shaved Rob’s head last year.

In addition to going bald for the cause, Gronk also had a role in encouraging fans to sign up for this year’s Buzz Off; last December, he appeared shirtless with a shaved head on billboards promoting the event across Massachusetts.

Mike Trout, Albert Pujols hold steady in All-Star voting

Angels star Mike Trout continues to hold on to his starting job for the American League All-Star team, as of the latest update in voting from the 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot.

With Monday’s update, Mike Trout remained the No. 2 vote-getting outfielder, behind Kansas City’s Lorenzo Cain and ahead of Cain’s teammate, Alex Gordon.

Mike Trout’s 3,668,577 votes are fifth-most in the league. He is aiming for his fourth consecutive All-Star Game appearance and third straight start after earning All-Star Game MVP honors last year in Minnesota.

The reigning AL MVP would join Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson (1982-84) and Rod Carew (1979-84), as well as Vladimir Guerrero (2005-07) as the only Angels to earn at least three consecutive fan-elected starts.

Trout’s teammate Albert Pujols Jersey (587,805 votes) held on to his fifth-place standing among AL first basemen. Eric Hosmer (3,551,005) overtook Miguel Cabrera (2,933,108) for the top spot this week.

Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites — on their computers, tablets and smartphones — using the 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot until Thursday, July 2, at 8:59 p.m. PT. For the first time, voting is exclusively online, where fans may submit up to 35 ballots.

Fans may also receive the ballot by texting VOTE to 89269 (USA) or 101010 (Canada). Or text VOTA for a ballot in Spanish. Message and data rates may apply. Up to five messages. No purchase required. Reply STOP to cancel. Reply HELP for info.

Following the announcement of the 2015 All-Stars, be sure to return to MLB.com and cast your 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote for the final player for each league’s All-Star roster. On Tuesday, July 14, watch the 2015 All-Star Game live on FOX, and during the game visit MLB.com to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2015 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote.

MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of All-Star Week festivities.

The 86th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International’s independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit http://www.angelsshirts.com/

Mark Buehrle blanks Nats in 2nd straight CG

WASHINGTON — Stephen Strasburg was supposed to pitch on Wednesday, but he was on the disabled list because of a left trapezius strain. Instead, it was right-hander Taylor Jordanwho took Strasburg’s place in the rotation and the Blue Jays pounded him and the Nationals, 8-0, at Nationals Park.

Blue Jays left-hander Mark Buehrle Jersey tossed his second consecutive complete game, and third of the season, by allowing six hits and striking out two.

“That was a masterpiece,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “It seems like whenever we need something, he steps up. Two complete games on this road trip. You look at the career he has, and he’s one of those guys that does that kind of thing.”

The Blue Jays ended up taking two out of three games in the series, while the Nationals have lost five out of their last six games.

Buehrle put the finishing touches on the 10th shutout of his career with a scoreless ninth inning. He’s now riding a 17-inning scoreless inning streak and has tossed back-to-back nine-inning complete games for the first time since Sept. 25-30, 2004. Buehrle also became the first Blue Jays pitcher to record back-to-back complete games since Roy Halladay in 2009. Buehrle has complete games in three of his last four starts and it’s safe to say he’s back to his old form after a rough first month of the year.

The Blue Jays had a rude welcome for Jordan in the first inning as they began the game with their first four batters reaching base. Jose Bautista Canada Day Jersey, Chris Colabello and Kevin Pillar had RBI singles while Justin Smoak drove in another run on a grounder to first base. Toronto scored four runs before it was all said and done, which was more than enough run support for Buehrle to cruise through his outing

Jordan had an outing that he would like to forget, allowing seven runs in six innings. A bright spot for Jordan came in the third inning when he struck out the side.

The Nationals collected six hits against Buehrle. Bryce Harper collected two of the hits — a single to left and a double to right field. His batting average is now at .335. Yunel Escobar also had two hits for the Nationals.

“He is under 100 pitches, complete game, 2 1/2 hours. You can pretty much chock it up every time when he’s on,” said Ian Desmond, who went 1-for-4 against Buehrle. “He works the corners. He pitches to your weaknesses. [The Blue Jays] play well behind him because he is working really quick. He has been doing it for a long time.”

QUOTABLE
“I’m accustomed to it and he’s just so, so fun to watch. It’s amazing, he throws one ball on the black, and then he goes a little bit farther … he’ll bring it back a little bit, then he’ll bust you in. He’s so easy to catch. He’s one of the easiest guys I’ve ever caught in my life.” — Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro, on Buehrle

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Colabello extended his hitting streak to 14 games with an RBI single in the first inning. That’s the longest of his career and the longest active streak in the Major Leagues.

The Nationals have lost five out of six games. During this span, the Nationals are hitting. 222 with a home run, 14 RBIs and a .295 on base percentage.

UNDER REVIEW
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons won his challenge in the bottom of the first inning on a close play at first base. Buehrle grabbed a little dribbler up the first-base line and made a toss to Justin Smoak, but Denard Span was called safe by umpire Larry Vanover. Gibbons asked for a review and following a brief delay, the ruling on the field was overturned.

WHAT’S NEXT
Blue Jays: Toronto will take the day off on Thursday as it recovers from a six-game road trip through Minnesota and Washington. On Friday night, the Wholesale Blue Jays Jersey will open a three-game series against the Astros at 7:07 p.m. ET when rookie right-hander Aaron Sanchez takes the mound. Sanchez is coming off a strong month which saw him allow two earned runs or less in all but one of his six starts.

Nationals: The Nationals face the Cubs in a four-game series starting Thursday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Left-hander Gio Gonzalez is on the mound for the opener. He will face Chicago for the seventh time in his career. He is 3-1 with a 2.39 ERA against the Cubs. In his last four starts, Gonzalez has a 6.65 ERA.

Texans offseason ranked among best in NFL

With OTAs underway and training camp on the horizon, the 2015 season is around the corner.

In the meantime, it’s still the offseason which means lots of lists and ranking from national media.

This week, the Texans were among the best in the league in NFL.com’s offseason rankings. Houston came in fourth behind the Jets, Dolphins, and Eagles, with the free agent acquisitions of Vince Wilfork Jersey,Brian Hoyer, and Rahim Moore. NFL.com’s senior analyst Gil Brandt, who ranked some of the top teams and their offseasons this week, likes what the Texans have done to solidify their team.

“Bill O’Brien’s squad — which won nine games with three starting quarterbacks in 2014 — has talent,” Brandt said. “Signing Hoyer, who I expect to beat out Ryan Mallett Jersey for the top job, will go a long way toward stabilizing the position and should help Houston reach double digits in wins this season. O’Brien coached Hoyer in New England and knows how to get the most out of him, especially with a promising rookie (Strong) joining rising youngster DeAndre Hopkins on the receiving corps.

“Re-signing Derek Newton, one of the more underrated right tackles in the NFL, was key, as Newton is a good run-blocker and pass protector.”

Houston’s 2015 draft class also played a part in their offseason accolades.

“First-round pick Kevin Johnson Jersey (cornerback) and second-round pick Benardrick McKinney(linebacker) are both capable of starting; Johnson, who can cover and play the run, has Pro Bowl potential, while McKinney brings size and competitiveness,” Brandt said. “I also like sixth-round pick Reshard Cliett(linebacker), who should be a great addition to the special teams unit.”

Vikings’ Adrian Peterson returns to team

The standoff is over. Adrian Peterson is returning to Minnesota.

The All-Pro running back, who was cleared from a suspension two months ago only to enter a contentious situation with the only organization he’s ever played for, has shown up to work out with his teammates this week. Peterson and head coach Mike Zimmer will hold a media press conference at 2:30 p.m. local time.

ESPN first reported the news of Peterson’s return.

The 30-year-old, who missed almost all of last season after being indicted on reckless or negligent injury to a child, might have seen the end of his rope in terms of leverage. Peterson was placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List last September and then in November was suspended for the remainder of the 2014 season.

Despite reports into his displeasure with the organization throughout the offseason, Peterson was not traded before or during the NFL draft, leaving a clear indication that he could play for the Vikings or retire.

Per NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, no concessions were made on his contract.

At the moment, it would be difficult to imagine both sides picking up a friendly relationship. Though coach Zimmer maintained some level of communication with Adrian Peterson Youth Jersey, it became clear recently that Peterson was still unhappy with his current situation.

That manifested itself in a recent series of Twitter posts that mentioned his contract.

Still, his presence immediately makes the Custom Vikings Jersey that much better. A team that was flirting with a potential wild-card spot can now consider themselves serious contenders again.

J. J. Watt Red option a ‘no-brainer,’ Texans say

If the Houston Texans Store were truly conflicted about exercising J. J. Watt fifth-year optionearly last month, they aren’t going to admit it publicly.

Team president Bruce Allen told reporters Monday that it was a “no-brainer” to pick up Griffin’s option, which is worth $16.155 million for the 2016 season.

“We think J. J. Watt is a starting quarterback: We’ve seen him win; we’ve seen him win big games,” Allen said, via The Washington Post. “We know his talent. It really was a no-brainer. I think if you asked us six months before, it would have been the same decision.”

Allen can hardly be blamed for publicly backing his quarterback. Conceding the decision was an arduous one would further undermine Griffin’s already shaky confidence on the heels of multiple high-profile benchings in the past two seasons.

That doesn’t change the fact that Allen’s statement strains credulity.

General manager Scot McCloughan acknowledged in March that the Redskins’ brass had “some early discussion on” Griffin’s option, but were “still talking it through.”

Those comments don’t reflect the J. J. Watt Red Jersey actions of an organization handling an open-and-shut case.

Franchise quarterbacks are hard enough to find that Griffin will continue to get chances based purely on his outstanding 2012 rookie season.

That’s understandable. But it’s hardly a no-brainer.

Albert Pujols limited to hitting; Angels call up Navarro

ANAHEIM — As the Angels prepared to play their third of four games against the Tigers at Angel Stadium on Saturday night, several key members of the club — Joe Smith, Erick Aybar and Albert Pujols Jersey — were still dealing with various injuries, with Pujols’ necessitating a roster move.

Albert Pujols aggravated his groin during his final at-bat of Friday night’s game. Angels maanger Mike Scioscia said Pujols could hit but not field, which forced the Angels to use him at designated hitter and call up infielder/outfielder Efren Navarro from Triple-A Salt Lake for first-base depth.

Scioscia said the Angels would keep Pujols, who homered for the third straight game in the Angels’ 8-6 victory, off the field for “as long as it takes.”

“Efren coming up is obvious with Albert Pujols Women’s Jersey just tweaking his groin a little bit,” Scioscia said before the game. “We do not want him out there on the field right now. It gives us some coverage at first base. … We needed the coverage.”

On the other end of the roster move was struggling reliever Vinnie Pestano, who was optioned to Triple-A.

“In the big picture, Vinnie needs to go down and try to find some stuff,” Scioscia said. “He’s a better pitcher and can have more of an impact on us, especially against right-handed hitters, if he can find his game. It’s tough the way he’s been so hit-or-miss with his command right now.”

Sending Pestano down leaves the Angels with a six-man bullpen, which could become a five-man bullpen depending on Smith’s availability, but Scioscia said the team should be able to get by.

“You can adjust in a day with your bullpen, so if we need somebody, we can get somebody here tomorrow,” Scioscia said. “But if we can hold out through the weekend, we can make an evaluation of where we are on Monday and then go from there.”

Smith was dealing with a minor neck issue, but with the Angels Shirts needing to hold onto a two-run, eighth-inning lead against the Tigers on Saturday night, there he was, coming on to get the final out.

“We wanted to give him as much time as he could,” Scioscia said. “He said he was OK today, but we really were trying to stay away from him if at all possible. But at that point in the game, we had to bring him in.”

Reliever Fernando Salas started the inning with the Angels leading 7-3, but couldn’t finish it, allowing two runs before Smith entered with two outs and a man on second. Smith threw two pitches, getting Nick Castellanos to ground out weakly to end the threat.

After the game, Smith said he was fine health-wise. After all, he said, “I pitched.”

Aybar, who tweaked his hamstring in Thursday’s series opener, was out of the starting lineup for a second straight night. The shortstop said he would be able to come into Saturday’s game if necessary, but he was not called on in the victory. He said that he would “for sure” be good to go on Sunday and would presumably start at short.

“He worked out today. Erick felt very, very good in his workout,” Scioscia said. “If there’s no repercussions from what he did today, he’ll start tomorrow.”