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Browns sign kicker

Published: Monday, March 20, 2017 @ 4:38 PM


            Browns sign kicker

The Cleveland Browns on Monday signed kicker Brett Maher.

Originally signed as an undrafted college free by the New York Jets in 2013, Maher is officially entering his first NFL season. The University of Nebraska product also has spent time on the Dallas Cowboys roster.

Maher spent the last three seasons playing in the CFL with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Ottawa Redblacks and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Last season for Hamilton, he connected on 41 of 50 field goal attempts and scored 161 points.

Browns kicker Cody Parkey, who was 20 of 25 on field goal attempts and 20 of 21 on extra points last season, has one year left on his contract.

Former Notre Dame QB Malik Zaire looking for right fit

Published: Monday, March 27, 2017 @ 2:57 PM


            Former Notre Dame QB Malik Zaire looking for right fit

There’s still much to be discovered about Malik Zaire. What isn’t in question is a program is going to soon get a gifted athlete who has impeccable leadership skills and untapped potential.

“I’ve always believed it’s going to be a good story-ending for me, going through some of the stuff I’ve been through,” said the Alter High School graduate and former University of Notre Dame quarterback from his current residence of Chandler, Arizona, on Monday. “I know I can do it. Now it’s just time to make it happen.”

Zaire is the college basketball version of the one-and-done recruit. He was granted a do-over by earning a bachelor’s degree in film/television (minor in peace studies) at Notre Dame last December. That makes him immediately eligible under the NCAA fifth-year transfer rule, which has a more high profile among basketball quick-fix teams.

The countdown for Zaire’s final college football team began soon after Notre Dame lost to USC in the regular-season finale last season. That was the third loss in ND’s last four games – beating only Army – and ended a bowl-less 4-8 season.

Notre Dame’s 2013 national championship appearance – and 42-14 mauling by Alabama – likely banked head coach Brian Kelly this coming season, but it will be without Zaire. He announced his decision to leave and was granted his release by Notre Dame just three days after the USC game.

Zaire had hoped to enroll in a new school in January and participate in spring drills. Instead, he relocated to Chandler where his father lives and went full throttle with the Dennis Gile Quarterback Academy. Now his senior-season audible includes waiting until after spring practices and re-upping with a program that can use a one-season QB.

Wisconsin and North Carolina have been at the top of his wish list. Florida also has been mentioned, but only if the Southeastern Conference relaxes its fifth-year transfer rule.

“Since I’ve graduated early, I’ve had a chance to be kind of selfish and take this semester and get better as a player,” Zaire said. “I have the peace that I wanted. Now I can get into what I really wanted to do, too. It’s been working out pretty good for me.”

A gifted runner and adept passer, Zaire had the rare distinction of verbally committing to Notre Dame despite not ever having started a game at Alter prior to his senior season. He sat behind QB Everett Golson that national championship appearance season and was a sensation in his first ND start, earning MVP honors in the 2014 Music City Bowl, a 31-28 defeat of LSU at Nashville.

A broken leg ended his 2015 season in the second game and last season he couldn’t displace DeShone Kizer. Kelly always talked glowingly of Zaire, but Kizer was his choice as starter the last two seasons. Ironically, Kizer has since announced he’ll forego his final two years of eligibility and enter the NFL draft.

Zaire completed 11 of 23 passes last season for 122 yards and one touchdown. He sat out four games and played sparingly in the rest.

“Regarding my football career, it’s about learning how to thrive in tough situations,” he said. “I believe in the special player I can be. If anything, it made me a stronger person. Not only physically but really mentally in dealing with some of the things that sometimes you can’t control, but when the opportunities do come, you’re prepared.”

Zaire still calls Dayton home, although his father lives in Chandler and his mother in Maryland. He still follows Alter football. “As long as they have (coach Ed) Domsitz, everything is going to be all right,” he said.

Zaire will be an NFL longshot come this time next year. A breakout final college season would help.

“The ultimate goal for me is to be able to reach that next level like any good quarterback’s dream should be,” he said. “You want to play at the highest level. That includes being the best in college. It’s all bottled up in one season, but that gives me more motivation to prepare and make it special.”

MALIK ZAIRE

At Notre Dame

Combined stats: 58 completions, 98 attempts, 816 yards, 6 TD’s, 0 INT’s.

Reds’ Reed crushed by Giants regulars, 13-2

Published: Monday, March 27, 2017 @ 7:00 PM
Updated: Monday, March 27, 2017 @ 7:00 PM

It was a mismatch when the managers turned over their lineup cards to the home plate umpire Monday afternoon when the Cincinnati Reds traveled to Scottsdale to play the San Francisco Giants.

On Reds manager Bryan Price’s card there was one regular and it was Jose Peraza, playing shortstop instead of second base, where he will be on Opening Day.

Meanwhile, Giants manager Bruce Bochy had his Opening Day lineup on the field — Denard Span, Brandon Belt, Hunter Pence, Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Aaron Hill, Joe Panik, Madison Bumgarner and Hernandez.

IN YEARS PAST, WHAT Price did was a violation of an unwritten agreement. During spring training exhibition games a visiting team was expected to have at least four regulars in the lineup.

When the Reds trained in Sarasota, Fla., in 2000, the Minnesota Twins visited Ed Smith Stadium and manager Tom Kelly’s lineup card contained nine mystery men.

When it was mentioned to him that he was violating the commissioner’s edict about four regulars in the lineup, Kelly said, “If the commissioner can tell me who my starters are he can fill out my lineup card.”

Kelly was right. The Twins lost 93 games that year and finished last.

REDS STARTER CODY REED needed all the help he could get Monday because he didn’t help himself. He gave up 10 runs and 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings during a 13-2 loss.

He walked the first two batters he faced in he first inning, Denard Span and Brandon Belt, and both came around to score on singles by Brandon Crawford and Aaron Hill.

He hit Joe Panik with a pitch to start the second and walked pitcher Madison Bumgarner and Panik scored on a double by Gorkys Hernandez to put the Reds down, 3-0, after two innings.

IT DIDN’T GET ANY better for Reed in the fourth inning. He retired pitcher Bumgarner, but Hernandez doubled Span singled for a run, Belt singled and Pence doubled for two more runs and a 6-0 Giants lead.

And it didn’t end there. Reed walked Crawford and with two outs Hill doubled to push the count to 8-0.

And it didn’t end there, either. Jae-gyun Hwang, who had just entered the game at second base in the top of the fourth, drilled a two-run home run to make it 10-0.

And that’s where it ended for Reed and his miserable afternoon: 3 2/3 innings, 10 runs, 10 hits, four walks, no strikeouts and a home run, pushing his spring earned run average to 7.08.

WHAT IT ALL MEANS, mostly, is that there are only six days remaining before Opening Day and the Reds starting rotation is still a mystery beyond Scott Feldman and Brandon Finnegan.

AS ONE MIGHT EXPECT, Bumgarner toyed with the Reds’ lineup of minor leaguers — one base runner through four innings, a single by Sebastian Elizalde.

Elizalde became the Reds’ second base runner in the fifth when he led with a double, took third on a wild pitch and scored on Rob Brantly’s sacrifice fly. Stuart Turner then homered, cutting the deficit to 10-2.

Bumgarner pitched seven innings and gave up two runs, four hits, no walks, struck out nine, including Nick Senzel, Elizalde and Alex Blandino in his last inning.

RELIEF PITCHER MICHAEL Lorenzen put some semblance of order into the game by pitching a 1-2-3 fifth and facing only three batters (a walk and a double play) in the sixth.

Blake Wood took over in the seventh and struck out the first two, then gave up a double to Hernandez and a single to Span for another run and an 11-2 Giants lead. Wandy Peralta replaced Wood and got the final out on a line drive to first base.

The carnage, though, continued in the eighth inning against lefthanded bullpenner Tony Cingrani. He gave up three runs on two hits and two walks.

While the Reds gave up 13 runs and 15 hits, the accomplished only two runs and six hits offensively.

They lost three games over the last two days and gave up 42 runs in those three games.

Before the game, the Reds released Ryan Raburn, an infielder/outfielder they signed to a minor league contract on February 19.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When will the Bengals play the Raiders in Las Vegas?

Published: Monday, March 27, 2017 @ 4:39 PM
Updated: Monday, March 27, 2017 @ 6:16 PM


            When will the Bengals play the Raiders in Las Vegas?

NFL owners voted 31 to 1 Monday to allow the Raiders to relocate to Las Vegas, although the move is not expected to take place until 2019 at the earliest.

The 2019 season is the earliest the Bengals could play a road game against Oakland, although the new stadium in Las Vegas is not expected to be ready until 2020.

›› RELATED: Grading previous NFL franchise moves

Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league will look into possible venues for the Raiders in 2019, including staying one more year in Oakland. The Bengals will play a 2019 road game against the AFC West team that finishes in the same position in the 2018 standings.

A road game against the Raiders is already on the books for 2021 regardless of where each team finishes in 2020.

Follow Jay Morrison on Twitter

While opponents and sites are known years in advance, you will need to wait until the NFL announces the dates and times for the 2021 season in April of that year to start planning your own road trip.

Las Vegas Raiders are just latest NFL franchise to gamble on moving

Published: Monday, March 27, 2017 @ 4:40 PM

Las Vegas Raiders are just latest NFL franchise to gamble on moving

NFL franchise relocation is nothing new, but with the league approving the Raiders’ move from Oakland to Las Vegas, there’s no better time to evaluate the many moves that have come before.

This is an unscientific exercise, but for the most part we used success in the new city (as well as perceived fan interest) as a barometer.

Sorry, Cleveland.

RELATED: When will the Bengals play in Las Vegas for the first time?

A

Decatur Staleys become the Chicago Staleys, 1921

A year later, they changed their name to the Bears. Though it has only won one Super Bowl, the franchise has nine NFL championships (trailing only Green Bay) and is one of the league’s iconic franchises with a strong connection to its fan base. 

Dallas Texans become the Kansas City Chiefs, 1963

This franchise spent only three seasons in Texas and has gone on to be a strong franchise in Missouri.

After winning the AFL in 1962 in Dallas, they won it two more times in KC, including 1969 when they went on to beat the Vikings in the Super Bowl.

The Chiefs are also regarded as having one of the best homefield advantages in the league with a college-like atmosphere at Arrowhead Stadium. 

Cleveland Browns become the Baltimore Ravens, 1996

Owner Art Modell famously tore the heart out of northeast Ohio when he announced during the 1995 season he was moving their beloved team.

To make matters worse for the fans they left behind, the Ravens gave their new fans a Super Bowl championship in 2000 and another one 12 years later. 

B

Houston Oilers become the Tennessee Oilers, 1997

They did not change their name to the Titans until 1999, but the club has been above .500 since making the move north after posting a .463 winning percentage in 38 seasons in Texas.

However, the Houston franchise made the postseason 16 times and won the AFL twice while the Titans have only six playoff appearances and one Super Bowl appearance.

Boston Redskins become the Washington Redskins, 1937

I have to admit I did not know this happened until I started working on this post.

Anyway, the franchise has won more than half its games and five league championships (three Super Bowls) since moving south, so that qualifies as a success. Of course there is still time for Dan Snyder to get that grade changed.

Cleveland Rams become the Los Angeles Rams, 1946

The Rams won the NFL championship in 1945… and promptly moved to California. In so doing, they became the first team in any major sport to play its home games west of Kansas City and arguably jump-started the pro football’s process of overtaking baseball as the U.S.’s most popular league.

They only won one league title during their first stint in LA, but this gets a boost for its overall importance in the development of the league. 

C

Oakland Raiders become the Los Angeles Raiders, 1982

There are those who remember the Silver and Black’s time in La La Land fondly, but their stint there couldn’t match what Al Davis’ team did in its first 21 seasons. The original Oakland Raiders made the playoffs 11 times and won two Super Bowls while posting a .638 winning percentage.

They won another Super Bowl in LA but weren’t quite as good – or at home.

Sadly, the second stint in Oakland did not go so well as the Raiders struggled to win more than 40 percent of their games from 1995-2016.

Baltimore Colts become the Indianapolis Colts, 1984

After famously fleeing the East Coast under the cover of darkness, the Colts have been a strong regular season team but not as successful in the postseason as they were before the left. Or as good as the team that replaced them 13 years later.

Los Angeles Chargers become the San Diego Chargers, 1961

The franchise played one season in LA in the AFL, losing the championship game, then spent their next five-plus decades in San Diego, where they won 49 percent of their games and made the playoffs 17 times, including one Super Bowl loss.

They are moving back to LA this fall.

D

Chicago Cardinals become the St. Louis Cardinals 1960

Ceding the Second City to the Bears didn’t go all that well for the Cardinals, who won less than half of their games in Chicago but were league champions twice. They never won a playoff game during their 48 seasons in St. Louis.

St. Louis Cardinals become Phoenix Cardinals, 1988

Then again, the Cardinals have arguably been even worse since leaving St. Louis for the desert. They have made five playoff appearances (and lost a Super Bowl) but are 81 games under .500. 

Los Angeles Rams become St. Louis Rams, 1995

This is a hard one to evaluate because the team was terrible for much of its time in Missouri… but that is where the franchise won its only Super Bowl championship, too.

Still, the overall winning percentage in St. Louis was just .424 compared to .549 in the first 49 seasons in California, and they ultimately didn’t stay.

Portsmouth Spartans become the Detroit Lions, 1934

Seriously, who leaves Ohio for Michigan, anyway? At any rate, the team enjoyed a .636 winning percentage in its four seasons on the Ohio River and has posted a .452 mark north of the border with no Super Bowl appearances.

They have won four NFL championships in Motown, though, so we’ll give them a passing grade. Barely.

F

St. Louis Rams become the Los Angeles Rams (again), 2016

So far, so bad. The team drafted a potential franchise quarterback in Jared Goff but floundered to a 4-12 record in front of an average home attendance of 57,024 fans.

The only team to draw worse? The Raiders.