The Scoop: Is this the year CJ McCollum becomes an All-Star?

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The Scoop: Is this the year CJ McCollum becomes an All-Star?

The latest Scoop livestream is brought you by Toyota of Portland.

This week on The Scoop, our Trail Blazers reporter Jamie Hudson and host of ‘The Bridge’ Justin Meyers take you around the NBA, and get you caught up on all things Trail Blazers as we get closer and closer to training camp!

Of course, with the NBA releasing the 2019-20 regular season schedules earlier this week that means it’s time to look ahead! The Blazers tip-off the regular season at home against the Denver Nuggets on October 23rd and all of Rip City is counting down…

Here’s a quick rundown of Thursday’s show:

Jamie and Justin find out Trail Blazers fans initial thoughts on this year’s regular season schedule. Also, they discuss the Blazers 50th anniversary court unveiling that happened earlier this week. 

Plus, the two debate --

Will CJ McCollum make the All-Star team this year?

In 2016, McCollum singed his first $100 million dollar contract. At that point, he was the fourth non-All-Star to have signed that large of a contract.

But, is this the season for CJ?

Of course, being an All-Star depends a lot on your team’s success. The Blazers are coming off a season in which they made it to the Western Conference Finals and McCollum showcased his consistency throughout that postseason run.

Injuries to other stellar backcourt players could also help McCollum on receiving his first All-Star nod this season.

Watch the FULL EPISODE of The Scoop right here:

Summer Scoop

Is this the year CJ McCollum becomes an All-Star? Let’s discuss! The Scoop brought to you by Toyota of Portland starts now 😎

Posted by NBC Sports Northwest on Thursday, August 15, 2019

NBA's collective voice will further discussion towards social equality

NBA's collective voice will further discussion towards social equality

Say their names!

With a nationwide outcry against systemic racial injustice in the USA, police brutality and the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmed Arbury, NBA players across the nation have taken action on social media and been seen demonstrating in protests around the country.

Trail Blazers All-Star point guard was among the thousands of people in Portland last month participating in a peaceful protest throughout the city.

Lillard was first seen in a Twitter video from KOIN 6 photographer Richard Roberson protesting outside of Revolution Hall in SE Portland.  

Rodney Hood, Nassir Little, Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent, Jr. have also taken to the streets of Portland in protest. 

The NBA world is using its voice to provoke change and that conversation continues Monday night with “Race and Sports in America: Conversations,” a roundtable discussion with athletes and former athletes for a conversation on race and sports in America hosted by Golf Channel’s Damon Hack. 

The full list of athletes who participated in the “Race and Sports in America: Conversations” roundtables include:

• Charles Barkley – 1992 and 1996 Olympic basketball champion
• James Blake – 10-time ATP tennis champion, 2008 Olympian
• Stephen Curry – two-time NBA MVP, two-time FIBA world champion
• Troy Mullins – World Long Drive competitor
• Anthony Lynn – Los Angeles Chargers head coach
• Jimmy Rollins – World Series champion shortstop
• Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings tight end
• Ozzie Smith – Major League Baseball Hall of Famer

Below, you can find an excerpt of Barkley and Curry discussing the way they are treated by white America as famous, Black athletes.

DAMON HACK:  It’s interesting.  You guys have all played at the highest level.  You’ve had people that would cheer for you when you were in uniform.  But if you were walking down the street and not wearing your uniform and you had a hoodie on, they might look at you a little bit different.

How do you navigate that?

CHARLES BARKLEY:  The notion that rich and famous Black people are treated like regular Black people, that’s not right.  We get treated great.  But I always worry about how we treat poor Black people.

You know, there’s a great thing  and Spike Lee, who I really admire and respect  in that movie, “Do The Right Thing,” that’s a perfect illustration what Ozzie is talking about, what I’m talking about, when the guy says, you know, you hate Black people.  He says, yeah, I hate Black people.  He says, who is your favorite entertainer.  He says Michael Jackson.  He says, who is your favorite jock.  He says, Michael Jordan.  He’s says, they’re Black.  And he said, well, they’re not “Black.”

And that’s the disadvantage that us four we’re at a disadvantage because White people treat us great.  And, like I say, I’m not worried about how they treat us because it really comes down to economics, too, at some point, because rich Black people aren’t treated like poor Black people.  And that’s the thing we’ve got to really engage conversation.

How can we get more Black people and poor White people also, but they’re in the same boat, give them economic opportunity.  That’s what America’s really got to grapple with.

When the NBA returns on July 30th, players will have the option to replace their name on the back of their jersey with a social justice campaign approved by the league. 

Damian Lillard has chosen the statement of “How Many More?” 

CJ McCollum will wear “Education Reform.

I chose ‘Education Reform’ because I’m big on education. I think that's really important and something that we lack especially in certain communities, black communities, people of color and communities where kids are at a disadvantage.

I think there needs to be more light on that. So that's kind of been my focus and will continue to be my focus. Obviously, there's a lot of stuff that needs fixing in this world, but historically I focus on education. -- Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum

Jusuf Nurkic has reportedly chosen to wear "Equality." Rookie Nassir Little has chosen "Black Lives Matter."

The NBA’s collective voice will hopefully foster deeper conversation and hopefully change. 

Race and Sports in America: Conversations airs Mon., July 13 on NBCSNW, NBCSN, Golf Channel, Olympic Channel at 5 p.m. PT.

Two NBA players test positive for COVID-19 since entering the bubble

Two NBA players test positive for COVID-19 since entering the bubble

In a press release sent out Monday afternoon, the NBA announced that of the 322 players who have arrived in the NBA bubble since July 7, two players have tested positive for COVID-19.

Those two players were not cleared from quarantine and have since left the bubble campus to self-isolate in their own homes or in isolation housing.

Players have been tested daily since teams arrived in the bubble from July 7-9.

A total of 19 players had tested positive since July 1 when the NBA began its protocol of daily tests.

The league did not disclose the names of the two players; however, earlier in the day, Houston Rockets point guard Russell Westbrook announced that he had tested positive for the Coronavirus prior to the Rockets leaving for Orlando.

He has been in quarantine and once he is cleared by physicians he will join the team in the bubble at a later date.

In Westbrook’s social media post he added that he is “feeling well.”

As of right now, it sounds like there are even more participating players who have yet to enter the bubble.

According to Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes, Nuggets guard Gary Harris along with forwards Michael Porter Jr. and Torrey Craig have not made the trip to Orlando. 

Two players also inadvertently broke the bubble protocol.

Houston's Bruno Caboclo and Sacramento's Richaun Holmes have reportedly been told to isolate for eight days after breaking the NBA's quarantine rules.

Caboclo reportedly broke quarantine by leaving his hotel room before he was allowed to do so during the league's initial quarantine period, according to ESPN.

As for Holmes, he posted a statement on his Twitter announcing that he "accidentally crossed the NBA campus line to pick up a food delivery."

[Listen to the latest Talking’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon].

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NBA Bubble: Meyers Leonard chugs beer, Hassan Whiteside is a captain

NBA Bubble: Meyers Leonard chugs beer, Hassan Whiteside is a captain

The NBA’s three-week training camp is underway in Orlando, Florida! And players are already losing it.

Life in the Orlando Bubble for the participating 22-teams has consisted of three-hour time slots to practice, workout, take advantage of the weight room, and get extra shots up.

But outside of team meetings and those three-hour time slots in the gym at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports on the Disney World Resort Campus, the players are keeping themselves entertained.

And by doing so, they’re keeping us all entertained.

[Listen to the latest Talking’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon].

This season has been chalk full of jokes, horse noises, and off the wall comments from Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside.  

It’s good to see he still has his sense of humor in the bubble.

And, we all better watch out because Whiteside is the captain now…

 

As for former Trail Blazers big man Meyers Leonard, who is now with the Miami Heat, he has been playing his video games per usual, but he has also shown off another skill.

Leonard posted a video of himself chugging a Coors Light beer in the bubble. Does this make him even more of a Legend now?

Well, I guess it makes Leonard the “king of the bubble.”

Apparently, the NBA competition right now is beer slamming since scrimmages don’t start for another two weeks.

[RELATED]: Carmelo Anthony has evolved into 'Skinny Melo’-- and he’s taking over social media

Pelicans guard JJ Redick got in on the beer-chugging action. Redick posted a video of himself shotgunning a Bud Light while sitting in an ice bath after Sunday’s practice.

Leonard also challenged his NBA colleagues to beat his time. His first challenger is Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson.

Our guess is that the beer competition will continue, as will the use of Instagram and Snapchat filters.

But, what will the NBA players do next in the Bubble?

You know we will keep you posted here at NBC Sports Northwest.

Bring on more of these social media videos! 

Carmelo Anthony has evolved into 'Skinny Melo’-- and he’s taking over social media

Carmelo Anthony has evolved into 'Skinny Melo’-- and he’s taking over social media

While some NBA fans out there have been worried that their favorite players might return to the court out of shape and even gain too many lbs following a four-month layoff, Trail Blazers veteran Carmelo Anthony did the exact opposite.

In various photos and videos circulating the interwebs, NBA fans are taking notice of a slimmer Melo.

Clearly, Anthony took advantage of quarantine and worked on his body. Maybe it’s because he knew he would be earning a lot more small forward minutes instead of being the stretch four for the Blazers with Trevor Ariza not returning for the restart.

Melo is looking like a more finesse player with this physique; a perfect look for the three, even if he has been pitching the idea lately that the NBA is positionless.

Fans even think the 17-year veteran looks 10 years younger now and former players took notice as well.

Now think about a finesse and younger version of Melo.

Pair that version of the future Hall of Famer with Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins, the Blazers’ two 7-footers who are both going to be healthy after very lengthy rehabs.

Okay, now do you see why Trail Blazers fans are stoked to see a skinny Melo?

Look out NBA restart, the Trail Blazers look ready to go!

Listen to the latest Talking’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon:

Terry Stotts got his daily walk Monday in Orlando -- and it was a steamy one

Terry Stotts got his daily walk Monday in Orlando -- and it was a steamy one

Yesterday, Terry Stotts said he hadn’t yet had a chance to work in his daily walking routine to the NBA bubble in Orlando.

But Monday morning he got 5.6 miles in -- but had to do laps in order to get there. And Florida in mid-summer isn't exactly a moderate climate.

Stotts said he did four laps of .65 miles from one end of his track to the other. At 90 degrees, no less.

“It’s been a long time since I have sweat that much,” he said via text message. “Definite humidity. I don’t know the number.”

And not as entertaining as his usual walks around his Portland-area neighborhood, or the walks he does around cities on Trail Blazer road trips.

Was it an interesting tour at Disney World?

“No,” was the simple answer.

More good news for the Trail Blazers: Gary Trent Jr. "has picked up right where he left off"

More good news for the Trail Blazers: Gary Trent Jr. "has picked up right where he left off"

Let’s get defensive for a moment.

NBA fans around the globe may only know Gary Trent Jr. for his unique photo shoot on the Blazers' team plane.

Yep, that photo shoot took place in the airplane’s bathroom while the Trail Blazers made their way across the country to enter the Orlando bubble for the 2019-20 restart.

View this post on Instagram

Long flight 👺🤣✈️

A post shared by G Trent (@gtrentjr) on

Those Trent Jr. pics were priceless. The comments on the photos, and social media posts that followed made headlines.

But, for those NBA fans that don’t know much about Gary Trent Jr. besides the fact that he will pose next to an airplane toilet; he was one of Portland’s up and coming players this season, specifically on the defensive end, before the NBA was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Having a future hall of famer on the team also helps.

Carmelo Anthony has been a mentor for the second-year player and since Trent Jr. will now be expected to earn some backup minutes at the three spot, he can look to Melo for even more guidance.

But remember, Anthony isn’t worried about if he is playing the three or the four, or if Trent Jr. is playing the two or the three.

To Melo, positions in the NBA are a thing of the past.

The 17-year-old vet highlighted Trent’s work ethic and being coachable above all else during Sunday’s Zoom interview from Orlando.

The positions... they’re just positions in today’s game so you’ve got to be able to play multiple positions. Somebody like Gary, the way he works and how hard he works when he’s on the court, the little things that he do – it’s very beneficial for him and for us as a team. The way he scraps, the way he cuts, the way he moves, the way he defends, the way he wants to learn – I think most important part is his willingness to learn and how to get better, want to know how to get better. – Trail Blazers veteran Carmelo Anthony   

It’s the little things that Melo will continue to help Trent Jr. develop during the Blazers’ three-week training camp.

“So that’s kind of where I come in at, just kind of teaching him and helping him understand the lay of the game… When to do something, when not to do something, when to be patient, when to go – those are just small things that he's still young, but those are the things that he’ll start to pick up and he’s doing it as of now,” Melo added.

[Listen to the latest Talking’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]

In 53 games played this season, the 21 year old Duke standout averaged 7.7 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 0.9 assists in just his second year in the league while averaging 20 minutes per game.

But where his teammates, the Blazers coaching staff, and the Trail Blazers fan base saw the biggest leap was in his defense. In early Feb. of this year, Trent discussed the importance of earning more minutes by focusing on that side of the ball, saying, “When you’re a young player in this league, when you touch the floor you got to be able to defend. Last year they told me to work on my defense and I took that to heart and watched some of my defense with the coaching staff to continue to get better at it.”

There’s no doubt that Trent Jr. is going to continue to be a valuable piece off the bench for the Blazers, especially on the defensive end.

[RELATED]: Trail Blazers describe life in the Orlando Bubble after first practice Saturday

One missing piece that Portland is ecstatic to get back on that end of the court during this restart is Trail Blazers big man Jusuf Nurkic, who says ‘everything is so far great’ after Portland’s first two practices in the Orlando bubble.  

After watching Trent Jr. from the bench while rehabbing his broken left leg, Nurkic has noticed a great deal of change in the young Trent Jr.

But one thing that hasn’t changed in Nurk's mind has been Trent Jr.’s work ethic.

Of course, Nurkic also had to get a jab in about the unexpected Trent Jr. photo shoot. 

He works. He works his ass off, aside taking pictures in closets and things… Everything else changed. He understands what it takes to be on the floor, guard, and be ready when your number [is] called. -- Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic on Gary Trent Jr.

Nurkic added that both Trent Jr. and Anfernee Simons have worked hard over this past year and have been able to make a difference, saying, “when they got a chance they was ready, especially with all of the injuries we got this year, that’s given them even more minutes and they deserve it.”

With a four-month layoff there is cause for concern with any player that he will need to shake off the rust, particularly with a young player.

But, it doesn’t sound like that's the case with Gary Trent Jr.

At least, Blazers coach Terry Stotts doesn’t believe so.

He has picked up where he left off. We were just talking about that with him before practice. The difference for him as opposed to a year ago, he hit his stride during the season, he’s in terrific shape, defensively is where he made the biggest jump. I think offensively, he was shooting the ball well. He’s not playing as much one-on-one. He moves well without the ball. He knows the sets. So, I think it was obvious to everybody this year the jump that he made from his rookie year to the next year… But yeah, he’s picked up right where he left off.  -- Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts

[RELATED]: Trail Blazers return to play schedule in Orlando released

One thing Trent Jr. showed us all this season was he's not afraid to sacrifice his body to scramble for a ball on the floor or if the ball was going out of bounds, he was there. And more often than not, he found himself sprawled out on the court.

Sacrificing his body is something Trent Jr. knows how to do very well.

Take, Trent Jr. 's flu game in Oklahoma City back on Jan. 18 for instance, his teammates described him as flushed in the face and barely having any energy to lift his head during that morning’s team meeting.  

“There’s no way I thought he was playing today,” Carmelo Anthony chuckled when thinking about how Trent Jr. was barely moving at the team meeting on Jan. 18. 

But, Trent Jr. not only played, he dropped a 30-piece.

With injuries and a trade that sent Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver to Sacramento, the Blazers had the required league-minimum of eight players on the active roster.

One of those eight was Trent Jr. who was still dealing with a “flu-like” illness.  

Portland fell to the Thunder 119-106 despite Trent Jr.’s career-high and Damian Lillard’s 34-point performance.

But the second year player made the most of his minutes during that game, despite feeling like crap. 

There was no time when I didn’t think that I wasn’t going to be good to go. You know, your job is to play basketball. Some people go to work still sick, you still have to work, you still have to do your job in a sense. I was always going to be available no matter what my state was.  -- Trail Blazers shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. said postgame after the Blazers road loss to OKC

January 18th, 2019 will always be known as the Gary Trent Jr. Birthday Flu Game. 

The 2019-20 NBA restart could be known for Trent Jr. putting his name on the map, not just in Rip City.

Jusuf Nurkic, after practice in Orlando: 'Everything is so far, great'

Jusuf Nurkic, after practice in Orlando: 'Everything is so far, great'

Take it from Jusuf Nurkic, he’s overjoyed to be back playing basketball with his teammates -- whether it’s in the team’s practice facility or in the bubble at Disney World.

For Nurk, it seems like a real-life Magic Kingdom.

“It’s a blessing,” Nurkic said after Sunday’s afternoon workout. “Fourteen months, doing the first practice with the team, full squad pretty much. Just a joy, excitement and the passion. I’m loving the basketball -- something I was really missing.

“Everything is so far, great. I’m continuing to try to do my job and get as ready as possible with the team. As far as healthy, zero concerns, man. It’s a lame question.”

Nurkic is getting his first experience playing alongside Carmelo Anthony, after watching him from the sidelines during the earlier part of the season.

”It’s a funny moment,” Nurkic said. “You have a guy with experience like that, the way we’re going to use him. Funny how he slows the game down. The isolation… and he’s able to play his normal position, where he used to play.

“I think it gives us a better opportunity to play better offensive basketball. I think he’s going to make the right read -- take a shot or pass -- and I’m really excited to play with him.”

And Anthony will enjoy the experience, too.

“He’s a playmaker,” Anthony said. “Anytime you have a playmaker up top controlling the offense, getting the ball out of Dame and CJ’s hands, and even my hands, that’s good, especially as a big. When you’re a big who can pass and make plays like that, it gives us another option.”

Nurkic’s passing skills are always a topic. He’s been a perfect fit in the team’s flow offense with his ability to pass teammates open like a great football quarterback. And from any spot on the floor.

“I think in Bosnia, or the Balkan region, we’ve been taught more to play team sports,” he said. “We don’t have the type of individual who can score 50 a game. The more people who touch the ball, the more happier. I think that’s the way I grew up. Assists make two people happy.”

And Coach Terry Stotts has increased Nurkic’s chances of using those playmaking skills, allowing the guards to get more opportunities off the ball.

“I think Coach Stotts and his staff kind of recognized me and are able to use me on the post, on the perimeter or the top of the key,” Nurkic said, “The more I’ve had the ball in my hands, the more they trust me even more.

“I think I’ve been here three-plus years now. They know me as a person and a player. They try to use me as much as possible in that playmaker option -- to make the right decision.”

The Trail Blazers need to approach their first game as a must-win

The Trail Blazers need to approach their first game as a must-win

With the Blazers out of the mandatory 48-hour quarantine period and now undergoing full scrimmages, the team will sharpen its focus towards the remainder of the regular season with the ultimate goal of qualifying for the postseason.

[RELATED]: Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins get high marks from coach, teammates at first practice

To do so, the Trail Blazers must finish within 4 games of the eighth seed in the Western Conference to force a mini-play-in series of games for the final playoff berth.

Heading into Orlando, the Blazers are the ninth seed in the West at 3.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth seed. Luckily for Portland, they will play Memphis to re-open the season on July 31.

On the latest Talkin' Blazers Podcast, Channing Frye told his co-host, Dan Sheldon, that the game against Memphis is a must-win for the Trail Blazers if they want to play beyond eight more games this season.

"That first game is everything. That should be like Game 7 of the NBA Finals to them," said the 14-year NBA veteran. 

He's right. 

Portland has by far the toughest remaining schedule among the teams fighting for the final spot in the West with an average opponent winning percentage of 0.611. 

[RELATED]: Schedule proves Trail Blazers face difficult uphill climb to playoff berth

But, the Blazers can't get distracted by the tough road ahead. If they're going to make the franchise's seventh consecutive postseason, the Blazers need to defeat the Grizzlies for not just the standings but for their psyche.

"[Winning the first games helps] just from [the] mental standpoint of 'we're beating the team we're going after so we're that one game closer,'" said Frye. 

The former NBA Champion has some advice for how the Blazers can accomplish their goal and overcome the difficult road ahead. 

"They need to focus on just that game and after that, just be consistent." 

If Portland wants to make the postseason, everyone is going to have to contribute. 

"If you're a role player, you usually have a six-minute stint," said Frye. "And in that six minutes, if you're not in shape, it feels like eternity... Do what you do, [but in the second half] give the ball to Dame and CJ and get the hell out the way."

That plan of attack worked for Frye in 2016, when he and the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Championship on the backs of the teams' superstars LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. 

Due to the workload of a star, they need to be in great game shape, too, ahead of games beginning. They won't have the luxury of playing themselves into game shape.

"If you are Dame, CJ, Bron, Kawhi, you get a nine to twelve-minute run, cause they'll play you the whole quarter, said Frye. " If you're not in shape and coach has to sub Dame Lillard out at the six minute mark that ruins his whole rotation."

Terry Stotts shouldn't have to worry about that as Lillard has been staying in shape, ready for the moment and opportunity ahead of him to go win a championship.

“I’m going to extend my stay, to have a legit shot at the championship," Lillard said ahead of departing for Orlando.

Now, that title run for Dame starts with the first game. 

Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins get high marks from coach, teammates at first practice

Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins get high marks from coach, teammates at first practice

The Trail Blazers made it through Day One of practice at their temporary home in Orlando Saturday -- with apparently all players in shape and healthy.

Coach Terry Stotts reported no injuries during the workout, which was described as a combination of a first workout of a training camp and a normal mid-season practice.

Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins, who had spent most or all of the season on the injured list, were impressive, according to their coach, who was “encouraged.”

“They both looked like the way we remembered them,” Stotts said. “I told Nurk that. He’s the Nurk that I remember, playing at both ends of the floor. He made some good passes, had some good rebounds. He just made good plays. And Zach was full of energy.

“You couldn’t tell that either one of them missed any amount of time. It was very encouraging.”

Damian Lillard came away feeling the same way.

“They looked great,” Lillard said. “They played physical in the paint. They didn’t seem concerned with anything. They looked really comfortable.

“I’m excited about the style we’re going to be able to play at both ends of the floor with those guys -- being up higher in the pick and rolls, putting more pressure on the ball.

“Our rebounding is going to be better than it has all season long. Us being able to play through both the bigs, because they can pass the ball really well. It was just fun to see them back on the floor. Things we haven’t had the luxury of seeing this season. They both looked great. Neither one of them played hesitant and that’s a great thing for our team.”

Lillard said his team’s first full-squad practice since the pandemic halted the season was a mix of a first-day-of-training-camp and a workout during the season.

“It felt a little bit like both,” he said. “It felt like training camp because of the real high energy and excitement at the beginning. A lot of excitement. A lot of clapping.

“But then it felt like a practice we would be having early in the season. Some up-and-downs, some halfcourt drills, just kind of mixing it up. Shooting, A light lift.

“Everything was kind of mixed in like we do during the season. But the energy felt like training camp. Like we stepped away for a while and it was our first time being back together,”

Stotts was impressed with what he saw.

“We did a little bit of everything,” he said. “We kind of reviewed some of the offensive things that we’re looking to do. Kind of tweaked our offense to take advantage of what our new guys can do. And worked on some defensive concepts that hopefully take advantage of our big guys.

“The practice was really good. There was a lot of energy. I think everybody was ready to play basketball. The contact, going live, fullcourt, halfcourt. 

“I didn’t see a lot of rust, to be honest. Everybody looked good. Everybody is in good shape. And I was pretty pleased.

“No injuries.  A couple of bumps and bruises. But really, everybody held up really well. We had a little scrimmage at the end, guys stayed after and got shots. Everybody is concerned about doing too much, too early, but it’s a credit to the guys. They have taken care of themselves. They have been working hard to maintain their physical conditioning.”