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Bills sign RG Urbik to 4-year contract extension

Bills sign RG Urbik to 4-year contract extension

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) The Buffalo Bills took the first step in securing their offensive line's long-term future by signing starting right guard Kraig Urbik to a four-year contract extension on Tuesday.

The deal locks up Urbik through 2016 and is worth $13.3 million, including a $3.5 million signing bonus for this season, a person familiar with the contract told The Associated Press. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the team did not reveal the length or monetary terms of the contract.

It's a significant raise for a fourth-year player, who had signed a $1.26 million contract tender in April. Urbik is set to make a base salary of $2.05 million next year and $2.9 million in 2016, the person said. He's also eligible to make additional money through roster and workout bonuses, and playing-time incentives.

Urbik is completing his third year with the Bills, who claimed him off waivers in September 2010 after he was released by Pittsburgh. The Steelers had selected Urbik in the third round out of Wisconsin in the 2009 draft.

Listed at 6-foot-5 and 324 pounds, Urbik has provided a steadying and versatile presence since moving into a starting role last season. He's played both guard and center, and has 26 starts - including 11 this season - in 34 games with Buffalo.

The signing came with Buffalo (5-9) set to close out its season with two meaningless games after being eliminated from playoff contention for a 13th straight year. The Bills play at Miami (6-8) on Sunday, and then host New York Jets (6-8) on Dec. 30.

Later in the day, the Bills made a number of roster moves, including placing starting receiver Donald Jones on the reserve/non-football illness list. The Bills did not reveal the nature of the illness.

Jones' agent, Cliff LaBoy, said the illness is not serious, and is related to a calf injury that forced his client to miss two of the past three games. Jones first began experiencing tightness in his calf last month, and was held out of a 34-18 win over Jacksonville on Dec. 2.

Jones is third on the team with 41 catches for 443 yards and four touchdowns.

His injury further depletes the Bills at receiver. Coach Chan Gailey has already ruled out reserve Marcus Easley from playing this weekend after he hurt a hamstring in a 50-17 loss to Seattle on Sunday.

The Bills also placed reserve linebacker Arthur Moats on season-ending injured reserve after he hurt his ankle last weekend.

Buffalo filled the two open roster spots by promoting receiver Chris Hogan and linebacker Greg Lloyd from its practice squad.

With Urbik locked up, the Bills can now turn their attention on securing two more starting linemen.

Left guard Andy Levitre, who has been the line's most consistent player, is completing the final year of his contract. Center Eric Wood has one year left on his deal.

Though open to re-signing with the Bills, Levitre said last week that he was unaware of any contract talks taking place.

The Bills have spent the past three seasons revamping their line, which also includes left tackle, Cordy Glenn, a rookie second-round pick.

The line allowed an AFC-low 23 sacks last season and helped the Bills finish with 1,921 yards rushing - the team's highest total since 2000. This season, the Bills are tied for seventh in the AFC with 28 sacks, and feature the NFL's sixth best rushing attack.

The Bills have also been in negotiations to re-sign starting safety Jairus Byrd, who is in the final year of his contract. With five interceptions, Byrd is tied for the AFC lead and is tied for seventh in the NFL. He's also forced three fumbles and recovered two.

Buffalo filled its two practice squad openings by signing receiver Kevin Elliott and linebacker Brian Smith. Elliott had 10 catches for 108 yards in 13 games with Jacksonville before being released last weekend. Smith played two games with Cleveland last season.

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Wizards' 2019 top prospects rankings: Rui Hachimura, Troy Brown Jr. lead the way

Wizards' 2019 top prospects rankings: Rui Hachimura, Troy Brown Jr. lead the way

Though the maturation of the G-League has brought the NBA closer in line with MLB and its minor league farm system, there has been one noticeable element missing for those of us who follow the two sports closely. In baseball, multiple media outlets publish top prospect lists both league-wide and team-specific, yet the equivalents are nowhere to be found in basketball.

Prospect rankings are a great window into the future and they are fun to revisit years later to see who was right and who was wrong. But, so far, they haven’t become widespread in basketball.

The reason why may be rooted in semantics. Generally, basketball players are considered prospects before they are drafted. After they join teams, they just become regular players.

Part of that perception is simply because NBA players can impact their teams at a much younger age. While it is very rare to see a 19-year-old in the majors, it is commonplace in the NBA.

The Wizards, though, may be the perfect team to get this started with. They have a collection of players that are now out of college but have yet to establish themselves in the professional ranks. They are essentially prospects by baseball's definition.

So, in the interest of doing something new here, let's rank them...

1. Rui Hachimura, F

Age: 21
Strengths: midrange shooting, offensive versatility
Areas to improve: three-point shooting, passing

The ninth overall pick this past June, Hachimura is the highest draft pick the Wizards have selected since Otto Porter Jr. in 2013. He is 21, but young in basketball years because he didn't pick up the sport until Age 13. Yet, with three years of college under his belt, he comes in with the experience to likely make a difference right away. And with the Wizards' current roster state, he should have a big opportunity for minutes and shot attempts as a rookie.

Hachimura appears to have several NBA-ready skills, particularly on offense. He makes smart decisions with the ball in his hand and can score at all three levels. His outside shooting needs to be more consistent, but he can knock it down enough to be a threat. Defensively is where he will need to grow the most, but the potential seems to be there for him to develop until a versatile player on that end of the floor. 

Passing is another area he can improve. He didn't record many assists at all in college or in the Summer League. 

2. Troy Brown Jr., G/F

Age: 19
Strengths: rebounding, passing
Areas to improve: outside shooting, turnovers

Though Brown was drafted one year before Hachimura, he is still a year-and-a-half younger. He also didn't crack the Wizards' rotation until late in his rookie season. That makes him still very much a prospect as he enters his Age 20 campaign looking to make a much bigger impact in his second season than he did in his first.

The good news for Brown is that the minutes should be there. At this point he looks like at-worst the second small forward behind C.J. Miles and he should have a chance to battle for the starting job in training camp. With Isaiah Thomas' checkered injury history (he only played 12 games last year), there is a good chance Brown sees time at point guard as well, maybe even some starts there. We'll see.

Brown's passing and rebounding are up-to-speed for his size and position, but he needs to cut down on the turnovers and improve his three-point shot. Though he dominated in his brief time in the Summer League, he still only shot 40.6 percent from the field. Also, the Wizards could really use a leap from him on defense because he has a relatively high ceiling on that end of the floor and most of their players do not.

3. Moe Wagner, C

Age: 22
Strengths: outside shooting, free throw shooting
Areas to improve: defense, rebounding

The path to minutes isn't quite as clear for Wagner, who is probably going to be stuck behind Hachimura, Davis Bertans and Thomas Bryant in the frontcourt. But the way he can crack the rotation is by hitting his threes, something he was not able to do as a rookie for the Lakers last season or in the 2019 Summer League for the Wizards.

Wagner presents intriguing long-term upside because of his shooting and his knack for getting to the rim off pump-fakes. But he needs to learn how to affect more shots around the rim, even if he can't block shots. And his rebounding could use some improvement, as his 9.8 rebounding percentage last season wouldn't even stand out for a wing player, much less a seven-footer.

4. Admiral Schofield, F

Age: 22
Strengths: outside shooting, team defense
Areas to improve: defense against taller players, ball-handling

The expectations should be low for Schofield in his rookie season, despite the fact he played four years in college and has an NBA-ready frame. Most second round picks don't make much of an impact early on and he is slotted to be on the outside of the rotation looking in.

Schofield's fastest way to NBA playing time is through his defense and three-point shooting, the two biggest reasons the Wizards drafted him. If he can provide toughness and an edge in the midrange, it will give the Wizards something they have lacked in recent years. And he shot at both a high percentage and for volume from three at Tennessee, and you can't have enough perimeter shooting these days.

5. Justin Robinson, G

Age: 23
Strengths: outside shooting, passing
Areas to improve: finishing around rim, turnovers

Like Schofield, Robinson is probably going to spend a good deal of his time with the Capital City Go-Go this season. But working in his favor is the team's lack of depth at point guard. They have Thomas, who again has some injury concerns. And they have Ish Smith, but there appears to be an opening at the third point guard spot.

Brown could fill the void and so could Jordan McRae. The Wizards could even give Bradley Beal more of an extended look running the offense. But the door seems to be open for Robinson to make an impact and early. He needs to focus on taking care of the ball, playing physical defense and making his open threes. The Wizards don't need Robinson to be a big-time scorer, but he can add spacing if he shoots from three as he did in college.

Honorable mention: Garrison Mathews, Isaac Bonga

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Orioles Roundup: O's fall to Nationals in opening game of Beltway Series

Orioles Roundup: O's fall to Nationals in opening game of Beltway Series

Another night, another loss for the Baltimore Orioles. Tuesday night featured a one-sided affair, as the Nationals beat the O's 8-1 at Camden Yards.

The Orioles fell to 28-66 on this season, while the Natoinals continued their climb to 50-43.

Here are the latest news and notes:

Player Updates:

SP Asher Wojciechowski gave up three earned runs over 5 1/3 innings in Tuesday night's loss. The righty gave up two home runs, with Matt Adams and Juan Soto hitting one deep ball each, while managing to strikeout seven batter and issue no walks on the night. He has now whiffed 21 batters in 15 2/3 innings since joining the Orioles, but also holds a 5.74 ERA.

2B Hanser Alberto was the only offense to speak of for the Orioles on Tuesday night. The utility player had two of the team's four hits and scored their only run after blasting a home run off Austin Voth in the second inning. Alberto has been a breath of fresh air for a struggling O's team, sporting a .306/.325/.402 batting line.

Before first pitch on Tuesday, the Orioles released INF/OF Jace Peterson. The versatile player had a July 15 opt-out in his minor league contract that he decided to exercise in order to find a better opportunity. Through 86 games this season in Triple-A Norfolk, Peterson boasted a .309/.394/.505 battling line with nine home runs, 44  RBI, 12 stolen bases and 55 runs scored.

Also before first pitch on Tuesday, it was announced that DH Mark Trumbo (knee) has resumed baseball activities. Though there is no timetable for his return to the team, the Orioles are optimistic that he will be able to contribute before the end of the season. He has missed the whole season so far due to complications following right knee surgery.

Injuries:

SP Dylan Bundy: Knee, 10-day Injured List

RP Josh Rogers: Elbow, 10-day Injured List

OF DJ Stewart: Ankle, 10-day Injured List

SP Alex Cobb: Back, 60-day Injured List

SP Nate Karns: Arm, 60-day Injured List

DH Mark Trumbo: Knee, 60-day Injured List

Coming Up:

Wednesday 7/17: Orioles vs. Nationals, 7:05 p.m., Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Friday 7/19: Orioles vs. Red Sox, 7:05 p.m., Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Saturday 7/20: Orioles vs. Red Sox, 7:05 p.m., Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Source: Rotoworld

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