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Jets return, swear eyes are on Seahawks

Jets return, swear eyes are on Seahawks

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) As the New York Jets gathered for their first day of work in a week, they insisted their focus was on football, on their next opponent, the Seattle Seahawks.

Even players such as Nick Mangold, who didn't have power in his New Jersey home, said there would be tunnel vision for everyone on the roster. Coach Rex Ryan and his staff are insisting on it, with Ryan noting that he used ``blunt force trauma'' to get the message across.

``Where we are, where we want to be, and how we plan on getting there,'' was what Ryan explained to his players Monday morning as they came off their bye week. While Ryan acknowledges the importance of dealing with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, he also recognizes there is no way of dealing with football in a halfway manner.

Mangold agreed that the Jets (3-5), coming off two straight losses, will ``put all our efforts into Seattle.''

``I think guys got that message,'' the center said. ``We haven't helped ourselves much in the first half of the season.''

No, they haven't, particularly in ugly home losses to San Francisco and Miami. Ryan gave them the entire bye week off in great part because of the hurricane, but maybe he wanted them to get away from the game, recoup and come back with a new sense of purpose.

There's lots to fix on the Jets: a leaky run defense, inconsistent rushing offense, too many turnovers in the red zone, bad decision making by quarterback Mark Sanchez. And, surprisingly, sloppy special teams play, usually a strength.

It adds up to a distressing record so far.

But not one to stress, veteran safety Yeremiah Bell said ``We definitely have the resources to get back into this thing. We have the players, we have the coaching staff and we have the `want to.' The thing is, it's going to be just us on Sundays just going out there and executing.

``We can't help teams get a shot here, get a shot there and kind of stretch the game a little bit. So we're going to have to be a lot more disciplined in that area.''

The Jets did some good things in the first eight weeks, including wins over Miami and Indianapolis, and a close defeat at New England that, with more imagination and less conservatism in the late going also could have been a victory. But the lopsided defeats to the 49ers and Dolphins in which New York couldn't have been more mistake-prone seem to erase memories of the positives.

Ryan wants to change up some of the things the Jets do on the field, perhaps sensing they have become too predictable. He wasn't giving away any trade secrets Monday, nor will he at any other time. So when asked if Tim Tebow and the wildcat - or variations of it - will become a bigger part of the game plan, Ryan was mum.

He communicated daily with his coaching staff even as the hurricane and its aftermath left Ryan and many other Jets employees without power. The coaches offered options on how to improve the team's performances.

``We got a bunch of suggestions, so I hope they're good,'' Ryan said. ``We're certainly looking at them. It's kind of a tough thing, because you have to put all your focus in on this one opponent, but we have to be open for different suggestions, which we have taken in.

``We will be doing some different things. Again, I don't want to get into the specifics of it. I hope you understand that if there's an advantage to be gained, I want to gain that advantage without letting our opponent know. We'll be looking at a lot. There are several things to improve and I'm excited about trying to implement some of these things.''

Injuries also held back the Jets in the first half of the season, particularly losing their best player, cornerback Darrelle Revis, to a season-ending left knee injury. Top receiver Santonio Holmes also was lost for the season with a left foot injury.

Ryan is hoping there will be no issues with injuries for the Seattle game. On Monday, linebacker Bart Scott, running back-kick returner Joe McKnight and defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis didn't practice. Seven others were limited, but with an extra practice day because they didn't play last weekend, that wasn't a major issue.

Another loss or two would be damaging, of course, in New York's quest to return to the postseason after missing out last year. The previous two seasons, Ryan's first and second as coach, the team went to the AFC title game.

``I think the months of November and December, that's when most teams are made anyway,'' said cornerback Antonio Cromartie, one of the few Jets who has played well this season. ``I think the biggest thing for us is just to make sure that we take care of the things we need to take care of one week at a time. Just take it and understand that when we say one week at a time, we have to focus in on that one week and not try to look forward to anything else.''

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NOTES: The Jets signed linebacker D.J. Bryant and running back John Griffin to the practice squad. ... Other players limited Monday were safeties Eric Smith and LaRon Landry, NT Sione Pouha, TE Jeff Cumberland, G Brandon Moore, RB Bilal Powell and Mangold.

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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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