Ravens

Bills re-sign DE Merriman to bolster banged-up D

Bills re-sign DE Merriman to bolster banged-up D

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Shawne Merriman is back in Buffalo after the Bills re-signed the free-agent pass-rushing star to bolster their banged-up defense.

The Bills (3-3) announced the signing Monday, after returning home from an extended West Coast trip, and a day after a 19-16 overtime win at Arizona worked them into a four-way tie for first place in the AFC East.

``You can never have too many guys that we believe can rush the passer,'' coach Chan Gailey. ``We'd rather not go into a game with just three defensive ends.''

Merriman returns to the Bills two months after the team cut the three-time Pro Bowl selection in part because it wanted to develop several younger players. Buffalo's priorities have since changed after the team's depth has been depleted at defensive end. Veteran end Chris Kelsay said the adjustment will be easier since Merriman knows the territory.

``Shawne's a great dude,'' Kelsay said. ``He's a guy who came right in and fit well (with) a great personality. We don't have a lot of egos on this team and he fit right in, so it's good to have him back.''

Mark Anderson is out indefinitely after he required surgery last week to repair a left knee injury. Veteran defensive line Spencer Johnson has missed the past two games with an ankle injury.

The 2005 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Merriman earned the nickname ``Lights Out'' while generated 39 1/2 sacks through his first three seasons before injuries slowed his production. Merriman combined for just six sacks, playing in just 23 games over his past four seasons.

The Bills that take the field will have momentum on their side despite scrapping their way through an ugly road win in Arizona. Left for dead in the desert after two blowout losses in which they were outscored 97-31 overall and allowed a combined 1,201 yards over the two-game stretch, Buffalo battled back to .500 against the Cardinals and further crowded to top step of the division.

``We all played hard, that's the biggest think to look for,'' defensive tackle Marcell Dareus said. ``We're working towards being a better team. Just finishing the game for the most part.''

The much ballyhooed pass rush lived up to its preseason hype Sunday, sacking the Cardinals six times and keeping quarterbacks Kevin Kolb and John Skelton on the run. Mario Williams had received considerable heat for a slow start after signing a $100 million contract in the offseason, but turned that temperature on the Cardinals with 2 sacks and a number of hurries.

``That was the best game our defensive front has played all year,'' Gailey said. ``I really believe that if we can keep working, we can create those types of problems for people week in and week out.''

Kelsay concurred.

``They really gave us the freedom this game to just line up and play,'' he said. ``We had a really simple game plan. We knew what we had to do.''

The Bills needed the strong defensive performance after a questionable Wildcat passing play for Brad Smith yielded an interception late in regulation that allowed the Cardinals to drive for a game-tying field goal.

``We thought we had a chance to hit the home run and ice the thing right there,'' Gailey said. ``In hindsight? Bad call.''

That's all in the past as the Bills prepare for a Tennessee team that is 2-4 and should be well-rested after beating Pittsburgh late Thursday. Wide receiver Stevie Johnson said the opponents aren't the issue. It's the Bills' effort that will dictate their success.

``When we play a full game, we can play with anybody,'' Johnson said. ``It was an ugly win.

``But we got it.''

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NOTES: In addition to the Merriman signing, Buffalo also resigned safety Delano Howell and released defensive tackle Jay Ross and center David Snow. ... Gailey said Monday that Spencer Johnson and starting right guard Kraig Urbik both have chances to be available Sunday. ... The Bills will welcome fifth-round draft pick and cornerback Ron Brooks back to practice on Wednesday from the injured reserve list. ... The win at Arizona was Buffalo's second on the road this season. They won just two total away from home last season.

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Michael Pierce responds to last week's dismissal from practice

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Michael Pierce responds to last week's dismissal from practice

Kick off your Monday with the latest Baltimore Ravens news.

1. Last week, defensive tackle Michael Pierce was dismissed from practice after showing up in "less than ideal shape" according to The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec. Pierce joined WSNP-FM 105.5 Friday where he responded to being dismissed from practice. “Throughout the offseason, I tend to lift more than run,” Pierce said. “Being a nose guard, I want to be strong or what not. I, honestly, just mismanaged my running a little bit.”

2. On the other hand, tight end Mark Andrews looks "bigger, faster and stronger" Zrebiec said. Andrews had a standout year last season as a rookie with three touchdowns and 34 catches for 552 yards. Zrebiec said Andrews has not slowed down and will be an even bigger asset to the Ravens offense this season.


Looking Ahead:

July 15: 4 p.m. deadline to get a long-term deal done with designated franchise tag players.

The 2019 NFL schedule is set! See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

Credit: Baltimore Ravens and Rotoworld for news points.

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Free Agency Bracket: Noel Acciari vs. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

Free Agency Bracket: Noel Acciari vs. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

It is almost time for NHL free agency to begin, and the Capitals certainly have needs to fill and a limited budget. Who would be the best fit? Who would be the best free agent target for Washington to pursue? That’s what NBC Sports Washington wants to find out!

Our experts got together and made a bracket of the 16 best free agent fits. The bracket is divided into four regions: Third line forward, fourth line forward, depth defenseman and Caps’ free agent. Now we want you to tell us who you want to see rocking the red next year!

Every weekday we will match two free agents up against one another and present a case for each player. Then you get to vote and decide who advances!

Check out today’s matchup:

Region: Fourth line forwards

Noel Acciari vs. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

2018-19 stats

Noel Acciari (27 years old): 72 games played with the Boston Bruins, 6 goals, 8 assists, 14 points, 12:59 TOI

Playoffs: 19 games played with the Boston Bruins, 2 goals, 2 assists, 4 points, 13:10 TOI

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (34 years old): 76 games played with the Vegas Golden Knights, 6 goals, 9 assists, 15 points, 12:26 TOI

Playoffs: 6 games played with the Vegas Golden Knights, 0 goals, 0 assists, 11:44 TOI

Hockey-Graph contract projections

Noel Acciari: 2 years, $1,180,934 cap hit

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare: 2 years, $1,450,996 cap hit

The case for Noel Acciari

Plays a lot bigger than his 5-foot-10, 205-pound frame. A perfect fit at right wing on the fourth line for Washington. The native New Englander, who played at Providence, is a home-grown Bruin and might not want to leave home, but Boston also might not have the cap space to double the salary of an obvious fourth-line player. 

Acciari is renowned for his character and toughness. He was a college captain for Providence and helped the Friars win an NCAA title in 2015. There’s never been a shot he’s unwilling to block. Acciari sustained a broken sternum in the second round against Columbus and a blocked shot with his right foot in Game 7 of the Cup Final left him in a walking boot. 

Acciari’s offensive upside is limited, but he did have 10 goals in 2017-18. He was a key player for the Bruins in the past two Stanley Cup playoffs and chipped in two goals in this year’s playoff run that came within a game of a championship. Acciari would help on Washington’s penalty kill, too. In 111:52 he was only on the ice for 11 power-play goals against. Only two Boston forwards were on the ice more short-handed.   

The case for Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

A late bloomer who grew into a bottom-six role for the Philadelphia Flyers and, the past two seasons, the Vegas Golden Knights. Bellemare held his own as an above-water possession player on a team that dominated in that area. But even when taking into account his usage and that he ranked lower than most of his teammates in that area, he was still about break even. 

No other forward logged as much time on the penalty kill for Vegas (147:54) and it wasn’t close. The Knights gave up just 18 power-play goals with Bellemare on the ice and scored three short-handed goals. He had two shortys in his time with the Flyers.

Bellemare won’t give you much offensively. He’s never reached double digits in goals or 20 points in a season. He’ll also turn 35 late next season. But he’s played in the Stanley Cup playoffs three of his four NHL seasons (31 games) and the Capitals remember him from the Cup Final in 2018. Bellemare had two assists in that series. He’s difficult to play against, would provide a veteran presence missing on the fourth line and was primarily a center for the Knights so he has positional versatility. 

Who’s your pick? Vote here. 

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