Cubs

Cleveland Browns name their starting QB

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Cleveland Browns name their starting QB

From Comcast SportsNet
BEREA, Ohio (AP) -- Brandon Weeden won the Browns' starting quarterback job without playing a game. Cleveland coach Pat Shurmur announced what had been an open secret after practice on Monday: Weeden, the No. 22 overall pick, will start Friday night in Detroit. "Brandon is the starter and we're moving forward," Shurmur said. "We're rolling and I'm not looking back." Weeden has taken snaps with Cleveland's first-team offense throughout training camp. He was pleased by the decision. "I busted my tail for 10 practices now and put in a lot of work," Weeden said. "I've had my ups and downs. We play Friday. My job is to get the team playing better and win games ... starting Friday." Incumbent starter Colt McCoy is now competing with 10-year veteran Seneca Wallace for the backup job. "I sat down with all three guys separately and told them," Shurmur said. "Colt was very professional. Disappointed, but he handled it well." McCoy believes he showed improvement, but has come to grips with the direction Cleveland is headed toward. "Guys," he said, "it is what it is. I worked so hard and I felt so good. Every day, I approach my job as a professional. I get here early and am the last guy to leave." The 25-year-old then went to pose for pictures with fans and sign autographs. A year ago, McCoy started the first 13 games before being inactive the last three with a concussion as Cleveland (No. 30 in the AP Pro32) finished 4-12. He was victimized by a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit by Steelers linebacker James Harrison during a 14-3 loss in Pittsburgh. A dazed McCoy went back in after sitting out only two plays. Trainers attending to other hurt players were unaware of McCoy's distress. That led to a league policy now requiring teams to have a certified athletic trainer in the press box to monitor play and help medical staffs evaluate injuries. Cleveland went 0-3 with Wallace as the starter down the stretch. Now, Shurmur likes the progress displayed by all of the team's passers. "I feel better about the quarterback position," he said. "We've got two guys here who can be number two. To me, it is a win-win situation." Wallace took some snaps with the second-string offensive unit Monday, but Shurmur said McCoy likely would be first off the bench against the Lions. Weeden said officially being No. 1. won't make him change his daily approach, though he is getting more comfortable working with veterans like All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas and center Alex Mack. "I'm getting in the huddle and joking with guys now. The chemistry is great," said Weeden, a 28-year-old rookie from Oklahoma State. "But it is all about wins and losses. I've got to show I'm the best guy to get wins." Weeden will likely play one quarter against the Lions. He's eager to play more. "Every rep is vital," he said. "You can't get enough of them. You see guys in the league 12, 14 years like Peyton Manning, and they take as many as they can. I take every single one and learn." Shurmur is confident Weeden will be able to guide Cleveland's west coast-style offense. The strong-armed former pitcher in the New York Yankees' minor-league system, has looked sharp throughout camp. Monday, he regularly found receivers on deep sideline patterns, routes that are generally acknowledged to be the toughest to complete. "He gets with the program, he's accurate," Shurmur said. "He's wired right to play the position." NOTES: Shurmur moved Tuesday's practice back about six hours to the afternoon so that he and others on Cleveland's staff can attend morning memorial services in Philadelphia for Garrett Reid, son of Eagles coach Andy Reid. Shurmur, a former assistant to Reid, expressed his sorrow over the death of the coach's 29-year-old son. Browns GM Tom Heckert, and four Cleveland assistants also worked with Reid in Philadelphia. ... LB Marcus Benard walked off with an undisclosed injury. "I don't know what happened, but at least he walked off," said Shurmur. Benard missed the final 12 games a year ago after getting hurt in a motorcycle crash. ... LB Chris Gocong was seen in the parking lot, on crutches. Gocong tore his right Achilles tendon Saturday and is out for the season.

Addison Russell is so over 2017: 'That's last year, don't want to talk about that'

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USA TODAY

Addison Russell is so over 2017: 'That's last year, don't want to talk about that'

MESA, Ariz. — “That’s last year, don’t want to talk about that.”

In other words, Addison Russell is so over 2017.

The Cubs shortstop went through a lot last year. He dealt with injuries that affected his foot and shoulder. He had a well-documented off-the-field issue involving an accusation of domestic abuse, which sparked an investigation by Major League Baseball. And then came the trade speculation.

The hot stove season rarely leaves any player completely out of online trade discussion. But after Theo Epstein admitted there was a possibility the Cubs could trade away one or more young position players to bolster the starting rotation, well, Russell’s name came up.

And he saw it.

“There was a lot of trade talk,” Russell said Saturday. “My initial thoughts were, I hope it doesn’t happen, but wherever I go, I’m going to try to bring what I bring to the table here. It’s a good thing that it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m happy being in a Cubs uniform, I want to be in a Cubs uniform, for sure. But there was some talk out there. If I got traded, then I got traded, but that’s not the case.”

No, it’s not, as the Cubs solved those pitching questions with free-agent spending, bringing in Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood to replace the departed Jake Arrieta and John Lackey. It means Russell, along with oft-discussed names like Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ and Javy Baez, are all still Cubs.

While the outside world might have expected one of those guys to be moved in some sort of blockbuster trade for Chris Archer or some other All-Star arm, the Cubs’ young core remains intact, another reason why they’re as much a favorite to win the World Series as any team out there.

“I’m really not surprised. The core is still here. Who would want to break that up? It’s a beautiful thing,” Russell said. “Javy and I in the middle. Schwarber, sometimes playing catcher but mainly outfield. And then (Kris Bryant) over there in the hot corner, and of course (Anthony) Rizzo at first. You’ve got a Gold Glover in right field (Jason Heyward). It’s really hard to break that up.

“When you do break that down on paper, we’ve got a lineup that could stack up with the best.”

This winter has been about moving on for Russell, who said he’s spent months working to strengthen his foot and shoulder after they limited him to 110 games last season, the fewest he played in his first three big league campaigns.

And so for Russell, the formula for returning to his 2016 levels of offensive aptitude isn’t a difficult one: stay on the field.

“Especially with the injuries, I definitely wanted to showcase some more of my talent last year than I displayed,” Russell said. “So going into this year, it’s mainly just keeping a good mental — just staying level headed. And also staying healthy and producing and being out there on the field.

“Next step for me, really just staying out there on the field. I really want to see what I can do as far as helping the team if I can stay healthy for a full season. I think if I just stay out there on the field, I’m going to produce.”

While the decrease in being on the field meant lower numbers from a “counting” standpoint — the drop from 21 homers in 2016 to 12 last year, the drop from 95 RBIs to 43 can in part be attributed to the lower number of games — certain rate stats looked different, too. His on-base percentage dropped from .321 in 2016 to .304 last year.

Russell also struggled during the postseason, picking up just six hits in 36 plate appearances in series against the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers. He struck out 13 times in 10 postseason games.

Of course, he wasn’t alone. That World Series hangover was team-wide throughout the first half of the season. And even though the Cubs scored 824 runs during the regular season, the second most in the National League and the fourth most in baseball, plenty of guys had their offensive struggles: Schwarber, Heyward and Ben Zobrist, to name a few.

“You can’t take anything for granted. So whenever you win a World Series or you do something good, you just have to live in the moment,” Russell said. “It was a tough season last year because we were coming off winning the World Series and the World Series hangover and all that. This year, we had a couple months off, a couple extra weeks off, and I think a lot of guys took advantage of that. I know I did. And now that we’re here in spring training, we’re going to get back at it.”

Five top-25 matchups highlight loaded episode of High School Lites

Five top-25 matchups highlight loaded episode of High School Lites

High School Lites had five matchups between top-25 teams on Friday night as the Public League Playoff semifinals and big matchups in the CSL South, Catholic League Blue and SouthWest Suburban Blue took shape.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @NBCSPreps for the latest news and scores for IHSA basketball.

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Palatine's Eduardo Orozco

Saint Xavier Team of the Week: Maine West girls basketball

Highlights

No. 1 Simeon holds off No. 4 Whitney Young

No. 2 Orr gets revenge on No. 3 Curie

No. 9 New Trier takes down No. 6 Evanston

No. 8 Fenwick handles No. 10 Loyola Academy

No. 23 Homewood-Flossmoor rallies past No. 18 Bolingbrook

Oswego East upsets No. 20 Joliet Central

Andrew shuts down Thornridge

Sandburg tops Lockport in OT

Richards runs by Shepard

Maine West captures second straight girls basketball regional title