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Published: Tuesday, December 05, 2017 @ 1:53 PM
— Pittsburgh wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and Cincinnati safety George Iloka have been suspended one game for their actions in Monday night’s 23-20 Steelers win.
JuJu Smith-Schuster & George Iloka have each been suspended 1 game for violations of safety-related playing rules. pic.twitter.com/OyDq7Ca4jy— Michael Signora (@NFLfootballinfo) December 5, 2017
Both players drew 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalties in the final 7 minutes of the game, beginning with the Pittsburgh rookie wide receiver, who was flagged twice on the same play.
Smith-Schuster's illegal blindside block on Vontaze Burfict resulted in the Bengals linebacker leaving the field on a backboard on a cart with a concussion.
The receiver then stood over the injured Burfict taunting him, drawing another 15-yard penalty, although only the taunting was enforced.
Five plays later on Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s game-tying touchdown pass to Antonio Brown, Iloka hit the Steelers receiver helmet-to-helmet in the end zone.
NFL Vice President of Football Operations Jon Runyan issued the suspensions. In his letter to Iloka, Runyan wrote, “You violently struck a defenseless receiver in the head and neck area. The Competition Committee has clearly expressed its goal of ‘eliminating flagrant hits that have no place in our game’ and has encouraged the League office to suspend offenders for egregious violations such as the one you committed last night.”
In his letter to Smith-Schuster, Runyan wrote, “You are suspended for the dangerous and unsportsmanlike acts you committed during the fourth quarter of last night’s game. Specifically, with 7:10 remaining, on a passing play to a running back, you lined up a defender and delivered a violent and unnecessary blindside shot to his head and neck area. You then “celebrated” the play by standing over him and taunting him. The contact you made with your opponent placed the opposing player at risk of serious injury and could have been avoided. Your conduct following the hit fell far below the high standards of sportsmanship expected of an NFL player.”
Smith-Schuster apologized for actions against Burfict on Twitter after the game, adding “praying he gets better.”
I don’t have any intentions to hurt anyone when I play football. I didn’t mean to hurt Vontez Burfict, I just wanted to throw a block for my teammate. I apologize for standing over him and that isn’t me. Praying he gets better.— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) December 5, 2017
At least one Pittsburgh player defended Iloka on Twitter, with safety Mike Mitchell writing that the Bengnals safety is “a good friend” and “not a dirty player.”
SteelerNation @George_iloka is a good friend. Weve spent many summers training together. HES NOT A DIRTY PLAYER. He’s a Standup guy just a hard nosed no bs player. In no way was he tryna hurt AB just like I know @TeamJuJu wasn’t trying to hurt #55. Football is violent! #Facts— Mike Mitchell (@iammikemitchell) December 5, 2017
Both players are expected to appeal to their suspensions. They have three days to do so.
If Iloka’s appeal is denied, he will be the third Bengals player suspended this year. Cornerback Adam Jones served a one-game suspension for his actions following a Jan. 3 arrest, and Burfict was supended for the first five games for his preseason hit on Kansas City fullback Anthony Sherman, although it was reduced to three games on appeal.
Burfict also served a three-game suspension to start the 2016 season for repeated violations of the league’s player safety rules, culiminating with his hit on Pittsburgh’s Brown in the 2015 wildcard playoff game.
And he was fined again this season for actions against the Steelers, when he kicked fullback Roosevelt Nix on the first play of the game, drawing a $12,154 penalty.
Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 3:18 PM
When Preston Brown walked through the Bengals locker room for the first time after signing a one-year, $5 million contract, he noticed his number — 52 — already was assigned to Brandon Bell.
“I’ll have a talk with him and see what we can work out,” Brown said.
But that conversation never happened.
“When I showed up last week (for the start of voluntary offseason workouts), I already had it,” Brown said.
Bell was just as surprised was Brown, but he said he understood.
“It’s a veteran thing,” Bell said. “I get it. They say we’re still rookies. I don’t mind it too much. It is what it is.”
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Bell wore 11 in college so he didn’t have an attachment to 52. This year he will wear 51, which belonged to Kevin Minter last year.
Even though Bell didn’t have a say in the swap, Brown said he still plans to thank him.
“I’m going to have to take him out to dinner or something,” Brown said.
“I’ll take him up on that offer,” Bell said. “A nice steak would be great.”
Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 9:55 PM
CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Reds hit a home run for the first time in eight days. They grabbed a lead for the first time in 50 innings. They scored more than three runs for the first time in a week.
Most importantly, the Reds won a game, snapping a five-game losing streak by beating the Atlanta Braves 10-4 on Monday in the opener of a four-game series at Great American Ball Park.
With a 4-18 record, the Reds still have the worst record in baseball, and they are still off to their worst start through 22 games in franchise history. This was the first win for interim Reds manager Jim Riggleman, who took the reins after the firing of Bryan Price and was swept in his first series in St. Louis.
“I was involved in a situation in Chicago many years ago where we got off to a horrendous start,” Riggleman said before the game. “I’ve been through it. A great baseball man, Buddy Bell, went through that in Kansas City. I was able to say that to the players. We’ve been through it. We can handle this. You’ve got to handle it. The way to handle it is to get out of it. We’re going to get out of it. Our players are focused and will always be giving a great effort. The sooner the better, of course.”
Here’s a quick recap of the game:
Small crowd: The announced attendance was 9,463, though there were many fewer people in the stands. At the start of the game, there were only four people sitting in the upper deck in left field.
It was the smallest crowd at Great American Ball Park this season and the smallest since Aug. 31, 2009, when a crowd of 9,087 watched the Reds beat the Pirates 6-3. That was the last time the Reds had a crowd smaller than 10,000.
Drought ends: With the Reds down 2-0, Scott Schebler, hitting lead-off for the first time this season, hit a game-tying, two-run home run in the fifth inning. It was the first home run for the Reds since their last home game on April 15 against the Cardinals. They didn’t hit a home run on the six-game road trip that concluded Sunday in St. Louis.
» RELATED: Price says he will keep pulling for Reds
Schebler hopes this victory eases the pressure on the offense, which ranks last in baseball in runs scored.
“It’s one of those things where the whole season it felt like we never had momentum,” Schebler said. “We were great offensively last year, and I full expect us to be like that the rest of the year.”
Big inning: The Reds scored five runs in the sixth. It was only the third time in 22 games they’ve led in the sixth.
Pinch hitter Jesse Winker drove in the go-ahead run with a single. Jose Peraza drove in the second run. Joey Votto walked with the bases loaded to drive in the third run. A single by Scooter Gennett drove in the final two runs.
“We’ve been having a hard time, and I was really proud of the guys,” Riggleman said. “We were down again after losing a lot of ballgames. Then we got it going. (Schebler) had a big hit for us.”
Costly mistake: The Braves took a 1-0 lead in the third thanks to an error by the Reds. Left fielder Adam Duvall’s wild throw to third base got by Cliff Pennington, allowing Dansby Swanson to score with one out.
Power display: Nick Markakis hit a solo home run in the fourth to give the Braves a 2-0 lead. It was the third home run of the season for Markakis.
Missed chance: Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart struck out with the bases loaded to end the first inning.
Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 5:02 PM
DAYTON — Former Dayton Flyers forward Xeyrius Williams will play his final season of college basketball at the University of Akron.
The Wayne High School graduate Williams announced his decision Monday. He will have to sit out the 2018-19 season and will finish his career with the Zips in the 2019-20 season. In posts to Twitter and Instagram, Williams thanked the Dayton fans who watched him play the last three seasons.
“You guys have been there through the ups and downs,” Williams wrote. “I also want to thank all the people, managers, coaches and especially my teammates/brothers who I had the opportunity to play alongside. You guys have all influenced my life in a positive way, and I’ll always cherish the brotherhood and the memories we made as a team.”
Williams also visited Kent State, according to his Instagram account.
Thank You Flyer Fans, I just want to take the time to thank all the Dayton fans. You guys have been there through the ups and downs. I also want to thank all the people, managers, coaches and especially my teammates/brothers, who I had the opportunity to play alongside. You guys have all influenced my life in a positive way and I’ll always cherish the brotherhood And the memories we made together as a team. Also I want to thank the coaches who recruited me this second go around. After strong consideration and prayer this was a tough decision. I’m choosing to leave Dayton and proceed with my academic and athletic career at The University of Akron #GoZips #PaybackSZN
Williams announced March 13 he was leaving Dayton. He was one of five underclassmen to leave the program. He appeared in 18 games last season, averaging 5.0 points and 3.1 rebounds as the Flyers finished 14-17. He had a breakout year as a sophomore, averaging 8.2 points and 4.8 rebounds.
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The season did not go as planned. Williams started the season in the starting lineup and played 34-plus minutes in each of the first four games, averaging 11.3 points. Then he missed the next five games with a back injury.
Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 9:29 PM
DAYTON — The Dayton Flyers added to their 2018 recruiting class on Monday as Frank Policelli announced his verbal commitment.
Dayton offered Policelli a scholarship in January. He visited Dayton on April 15. He’s a 6-foot-8 forward from Long Island Lutheran High School (N.Y.).
» RELATED: Former Flyer picks new school
“I would like to thank everyone who helped me along this journey since I was a kid,” Policelli wrote on Twitter. “This process was very hard, and there were a lot of ups and downs, but the people closest to me helped me remain humble and focused through it all.”
Policelli joins Dwayne Cohill, a senior at Holy Name High School, and Jhery Matos, a sophomore at Monroe College, in the 2018 class. Dayton now has four scholarships open for the 2018-19 season.
Maryland, Illinois, Texas Tech were among the other schools to offer Policelli scholarships. He’s a three-star recruit who ranks 262nd in the class of 2018, according to 247Sports.com.
Policelli is from New Hartford, N.Y., which is four hours from Long Island. He transferred to Long Island Lutheran for his senior year. He missed the second half of his junior season after undergoing knee surgery. He averaged 28.1 points and over 13 rebounds as a junior.
Policelli played AAU basketball with the New York Jayhawks. Dayton freshman Obadiah Toppin also played for that team.