Kings

Rex Ryan is getting creative with his roster

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Rex Ryan is getting creative with his roster

From Comcast SportsNetFLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) -- Joe McKnight walked into the Jets' offensive meeting room and Rex Ryan broke the news to the backup running back."He said I've been traded," McKnight recalled Wednesday. "I was traded to the defense."McKnight will start working "a ton" at cornerback to help offset the loss of All-Pro Darrelle Revis, who's likely out for the season with a knee injury. McKnight, whose role on offense has been limited this season, played the position in high school and practiced at cornerback in Week 2 when Revis was sidelined by a concussion.Still, finding out about his new role on Monday wasn't exactly an exciting moment for McKnight."I mean, I was drafted as a running back," the former Southern California star said. "The way I took it as was I wasn't good enough to play running back. I don't know if that's the case or not, but that's the way I'm looking at it right now."McKnight didn't ask Ryan if that was the situation, and insisted he's not disappointed. After all, it could mean getting on the field a lot more after carrying the ball just three times for 14 yards in three games."I kind of get tired of just standing on the sideline watching," McKnight said. "I'm just happy to play right now."McKnight practiced on defense Wednesday, wearing a green No. 25 jersey instead of the offense's usual white, and intercepted Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow and Greg McElroy once each."He'll have a role on offense, but we're also teaching him to play corner in almost, not quite a full-time capacity, but he's going to be over there a ton -- in the meetings and everything else," Ryan said.Ryan first mentioned the idea of using McKnight in the secondary in the running back's rookie season in 2010. McKnight, who's also the team's primary kickoff returner, even got into New York's game at Baltimore last season on defense as a blitzing defensive back who forced Joe Flacco into throwing an interception."He's a guy we saw on scout team as a rookie that he has the necessary skills to be able to play corner," Ryan said. "He's got the speed, the size, the athleticism, the ball skills -- everything you look for in a corner. ... I definitely would not bet against Joe McKnight becoming a good corner."Revis tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee at Miami on Sunday, and will be replaced by Kyle Wilson as a starter. While the Jets also have Ellis Lankster and Isaiah Trufant as backups, the athletic McKnight gives Ryan another option in the secondary.McKnight was actually an outstanding cornerback in high school in Louisiana, returning three picks for touchdowns in his junior season."It's been a while since I've played cornerback," he said. "Maybe if I would've played it four years in college, that would've helped. But me playing cornerback in high school doesn't help me right now. I've got to work on some things."He was even better as a running back back then, with his speed and shiftiness making him a top recruit after his senior year. After an up-and-down career at USC, the Jets drafted him in the fourth round in 2010 -- but he hasn't yet made the impact on offense that was expected. Instead, New York is hoping McKnight can help make up for the loss of arguably the league's top defensive player.And that might start Sunday, when the Jets take on the San Francisco 49ers."Hey, they can go ahead and do it," McKnight said. "I'm ready for it. If they want to come throw to my side, I can easily show them I can play."

Gameday: Kings visit imploding Suns

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USATI

Gameday: Kings visit imploding Suns

The Sacramento Kings finish their three game road trip Monday in Phoenix. Waiting for them is a team in complete disarray. After dropping the first three games of the season, Phoenix dumped head coach Earl Watson Sunday afternoon and are reportedly in trade talks to deal starting point guard Eric Bledsoe. Jay Triano will act as the interim head coach, but he’s taking over a runaway train.

Sacramento lost to the Denver Nuggets on Saturday evening to drop to 1-2 on the season. De’Aaron Fox and Skal Labissiere came to play, but the rest of the roster struggled with their shot as the Kings finished with just 79 points on 36.5 percent shooting.

The Suns have been outscored by more than 30 points per game in their three contests this season. They have lost games by 48 and 42 points already and almost every player on the roster has underperformed.

BETTING LINE

Kings by 2

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 1-2

Suns: 0-3

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Skal Labissiere vs. Marquese Chriss -- Labissiere has been a breath of fresh air early in the season, posting solid numbers across the board as Zach Randolph’s backup. He posted a career-high 32-point, 11-rebound game against Chriss last season, which left a lasting impression. Chriss is off to a slow start, but he has plenty of potential. The Sacramento-native gets up and down the floor and loves the over the top block.

INJURY REPORT

Kings:  SG Bogdan Bogdanovic (right ankle sprain) probable, PF Harry Giles (bi-lateral knee rehab) out.

Suns:  PG Eric Bledsoe (team decision) out, SF Jared Dudley (toe) questionable, PG Brandon Knight (ACL tear) out for the season, G Davon Reed (knee) out, PF Alan Williams (knee) out.

SERIES HISTORY

Sacramento dominated the season-series 3-1 last season, including a 129-104 win over the Suns in the finale. Phoenix leads the all-time series 131-90 and they hold an 84-51 advantage during the Sacramento-era.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

BOGDAN’S DEBUT -- The Kings have used the cautious approach to Bogdan Bogdanovic’s ankle injury. He’s played a ton of basketball between league play and EuroBasket overseas and there is no reason to rush him into action. He’ll likely suit up to play Monday against the team that drafted him in the 2014 NBA Draft. Expect to see lots of the 25-year-old Serbian over the next few months. Word around the team is that he is one of the best players on the squad.

MORE FOX -- Sacramento hit a homerun with the addition of De’Aaron Fox on draft night. The rookie has put on a show in his first three games and is pushing coach Dave Joerger for more playing time. The Kings have plenty of guards and wings, but there hasn’t been a player that can stay in front of Fox.

REBOUND FROM A STINKER -- The Kings couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat against the Nuggets. Playing at elevation is tough, but scoring 79 points is unacceptable. Sacramento has a chance to improve to 2-2 on the season in Phoenix before returning home to face DeMarcus Cousins. A 2-1 road trip would go a long ways towards building the confidence of a young squad.

QUOTABLE

“Whatever coach wants me to do, that’s what I’m going to do out there. I’m just going to go out there and play hard and help this team get a win.” --Skal Labissiere

Dave Righetti is the face of the Giants' rebuild so far

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AP

Dave Righetti is the face of the Giants' rebuild so far

There was something almost disturbingly surreptitious about the Giants’ decision to announce Dave Righetti’s removal as pitching coach (for a front office job) Saturday. Saturday, after all, is the day you typically bury sports news that isn’t football, or related to football in some way.

But that could just be us being needlessly conspiratorial. We’re willing to bestow, if not the benefit of the doubt, at least the lack of doubt.

Still, Righetti’s reassignment, and those of bullpen coach Mark Gardner and assistant hitting coach Steve Decker, makes it clear that however the Giants want to avoid the use of the word “rebuilding,” they are indeed rebuilding – just not in the traditional new-players-for-old way.

General manager Bobby Evans made it clear without saying the words that Righetti’s messaging had lost its efficacy with the younger pitchers, who for the most part had not been part of the franchise’s most glorious times. And since the only pitchers still on the 40-man roster who had been with the club for its last World Series parade are Madison Bumgarner and Hunter Strickland, Evans clearly concluded that the message to the new staff needed to come from elsewhere.

Now this assumes that the problem with the Giants’ pitching was not the talent level or the execution, of course. Typically, it takes a lot for a manager or coach to screw up his job so profoundly that he needs to be replaced – mostly it’s considered an environmental matter that a new voice saying the old stuff is sufficient. It’s really more alchemy than science, and alchemy is fairly hit-or-miss.

But it is change where the Giants feel they can change; their four starters (Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore) and closer (Mark Melancon) are in for $70.8 million this coming year, so a full-on demolition is not cost effective, and the young’uns (Chris Stratton, Strickland, Cody Gearrin, Derek Law, et. al.) remain in that tenuous middle ground between dependable and disposable. In other words, there aren’t a lot of options for dramatic player change, and the Giants don’t look to be aggressive buyers in the off-season, crackpot Giancarlo Stanton rumors notwithstanding.

So this is the face of the Giants’ rebuild so far – Dave Righetti, Mark Gardner and Steve Decker. Make of the act and the circumstances of the release of the information what you will, but as it is neither the manager (Bruce Bochy is golden) or the players (who with only a few exceptions are decidedly meh, with a side of feh), it will have to do as the first answer to the question, “What do they intend to do about 64-98?"

I mean other than keeping a low profile about it.