Preps Talk

Pacman Jones back in court ... again

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Pacman Jones back in court ... again

From Comcast SportsNet
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. Jones entered the plea in Hamilton County Municipal Court just as his non-jury trial was scheduled to begin. A second misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest was dismissed in a plea agreement with prosecutors. Judge Brad Greenberg ordered Jones to serve a year of probation, complete 50 hours of community service and pay a 250 fine plus court costs. Jones, 28, was accused in court documents of being disorderly, shouting profanities and trying to pull away as officers arrested him at a downtown bar in July. At the time, Jones was on probation in Las Vegas in connection with a 2007 no contest plea to a strip club melee that left three people wounded. He was ordered in November to perform an additional 75 hours of community service for violating that probation with the Cincinnati arrest. Jones apologized in court to police for his conduct and said he realized that he should have handled the situation better. The judge told Jones that he did not know how "someone with your ability risks your career with this type of behavior." Neither Jones nor his attorney would comment after leaving the courtroom. Jones will be a free agent after completing his second season with Cincinnati, which gave him a chance to continue his career. Tennessee made Jones the sixth overall pick in 2005. He started 28 games in his first two seasons with the Titans, but repeated arrests scuttled his career. He missed the entire 2007 season with the first of two suspensions from the league. The Titans traded Jones to Dallas before the 2008 draft. An alcohol-related altercation with a bodyguard that the Cowboys provided cost him another six-game suspension. He was out of the NFL for a year before the Bengals gave him the two-year deal in 2010 and a final chance to show he can stay out of trouble and hold a job in the NFL. He excelled as Cincinnati's No. 3 cornerback before a neck injury ended his 2010 season after only five games. Jones had surgery for a herniated disc in his neck. He had another procedure on the neck last summer and opened the season on an injury list, forcing him to miss the first six games. He pulled a hamstring in his first game back, forcing him to sit out two more. Jones played the rest of the way and started eight games at cornerback in place of the injured Leon Hall. He didn't have an interception. Jones had two punt returns for 67 yards. His arrest over the summer made him one of eight NFL players subject to discipline for incidents that occurred during the lockout. Bengals running back Cedric Benson also had an offseason arrest in Texas and got a one-game suspension during the season. The league will review Jones' case and then could impose another suspension should he sign with a team.

43 Days to Kickoff: Shepard

43 Days to Kickoff: Shepard

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 5, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 30.

School: Shepard

Head coach: John Rone

Assistant coaches: Vincent Holmes, Andy Schindel, Chris Lewis, Justin Harris and Mark Thomas

How they fared in 2018: 8-3 (5-1 South Suburban Red Conference). Shepard made the Class 6A IHSA state football playoff field, defeated Springfield and then lost to Normal West in second round action.

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 vs Leyden
Sept. 6 vs St Francis
Sept. 13 @ Reavis
Sept. 20 @ Evergreen Park
Sept. 27 @ Eisenhower
Oct. 4 vs Oak Lawn
Oct. 11 @ Lemont
Oct. 18 vs Richards
Oct. 25 vs Argo

Biggest storyline: Coach Rone’s first season was a success. Can the Astros make another state playoff run in 2019?

Names to watch this season: LB Matthew Hightower (Sr.), WR/DB Jalen Smith (Sr.)

Biggest holes to fill: The Astros welcome back six returning starters back on defense, but they will feature nearly an entire starting offense with very limited experience.

EDGY's Early Take: Head coach John Rone was able to get the Astros into the  playoffs in his first season in charge of the Shepard program. It was also the fourth straight playoff appearance for the school. The Astros always have plenty on hand in the skills department. But the defense may need to carry a talented —but younger— offense. If the pieces can gel, they can challenge for another IHSA state playoff appearance.

Kyle Ryan's emergence is coming at exactly the right time for Cubs

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AP

Kyle Ryan's emergence is coming at exactly the right time for Cubs

With the MLB trade deadline two weeks away, bullpen help figures to be on the Cubs' wish list.

But thanks in part to Kyle Ryan's emergence, the Cubs don't absolutely need that reliever to be left-handed (though it would probably be ideal).

The Cubs began the week with three southpaws in their bullpen, but at some point this weekend, Ryan may be the lone lefty remaining. Mike Montgomery was traded to the Royals late Monday night and with Carl Edwards Jr. progressing in his rehab (he threw again Tuesday), he might take Randy Rosario's spot in a couple days. 

The Cubs like Edwards against lefties and they also feel confident in Pedro Strop against either handed hitter when he's on. But Ryan has worked his way into Joe Maddon's Circle of Trust and is currently the only lefty residing there.

That's not to say the Cubs don't need another reliable southpaw in the 'pen, but Ryan looks like he's going to get some big outs for this team down the stretch.

"He's done a great job for us since he's been here," Jon Lester said of Ryan last month. "I don't think he gets enough credit for what he's been able to do."

Ryan impressed the Cubs with his work as a multi-inning reliever in Triple-A last season and turned heads again in camp this spring. Still, Rosario made the Opening Day roster over him, though Ryan got called up on the team's season-opening road trip and made his first appearance on April 6.

Since then, he's been a mainstay while Montgomery battled injury and ineffectiveness, Rosario and Tim Collins have bounced between Triple-A Iowa and Chicago and veteran Xavier Cedeno's time off the injured list was short-lived.

Ryan looked to be finding his way throughout his first month in the bullpen, but after his infamous "freeze" moment against the Marlins, he endured some struggles (7 runs allowed on 12 hits in 7 innings from May 8 through June 1).

He's righted the ship since then, permitting only 1 run over his last 17 appearances (14 innings) and lowering his season ERA to 3.21 to go along with a 1.31 WHIP and 33 strikeouts in 33.2 innings.

A big part of that recent success can be tied to Ryan's increased improvement against left-handed hitters. 

Lefties hit .344 with a .405 on-base percentage off Ryan through June 5. But since then, Ryan has surrendered only 3 hits — all singles — and zero walks to the 19 left-handed hitters he's faced (.158 AVG).

He credits part of that turnaround to working on a changeup, which he thinks has helped lock in the "feel" of all his other pitches as well as his mechanics. 

As he works to add a new pitch to his repertoire, Ryan has leaned on Cubs bullpen coach Lester Strode and pitching coach Tommy Hottovy for assistance, while also picking the brains of veterans like Cole Hamels, Kyle Hendricks and Brad Brach who have all thrown changeups for quite a while.

But even with all that work, he still hasn't resorted to using the changeup much in games. The pitch is so foreign that it's still being picked up as a sinker, including on the Wrigley Field video board Sunday when he threw one in his inning of work.

"Eventually, I'm gonna find the changeup and it's gonna be a comfortable, confident pitch," Ryan said. "But I do think it's gotten me behind all the rest of my pitches and it's maybe a little bit better feel for everything. It's gonna stay where it is for a while. I'm gonna keep trying."

Ryan said one of the things he likes about the changeup is that it can eventually be a nice weapon because it "goes in the opposite direction" of all his other pitches.

We'll see if the new pitch can ever become a factor for the 27-year-old. But if it's helped lock in his other pitches, that's great news for the Cubs, especially as they look to fortify their bullpen this month.