Notre Dame TE Eifert drawing opponents' interest

Notre Dame TE Eifert drawing opponents' interest

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert has had to work a lot harder this year to accomplish a lot less personally, discovering that being the best receiver on the field draws a lot more attention.

Defenders are double teaming him and forcing him out of his routes, making it harder to be as productive as last season when he set the school record for catches by a tight end with 63. He was held without a catch against Michigan State, had just one against Michigan and two against Miami, a span where sometimes his contribution came as more of a blocker than a receiver.

The soft-spoken senior from Fort Wayne doesn't let it faze him, though. After mulling a decision to turn pro after last season, he's just happy to be part of the unbeaten fifth-ranked Fighting Irish (6-0) as they prepare to play Brigham Young (4-3) on Saturday.

``It's just nice to be winning,'' he said. ``I'd rather come back and be winning than losing. But either way I would have been happy to be back.''

The Irish could use a big game by Eifert against the Cougars, who rank third in the country in rushing defense at 68 yards a game.

Eifert hasn't let the lack of production frustrate him, saying it simply isn't his style. He said he learned that last season from watching receiver Michael Floyd, a first-round draft pick with the Arizona Cardinals. That's when Floyd was the focus of opposing defenses and Eifert flourished from being the guy who was getting single-coverage.

``You just keep playing. It's a long game. Be patient,'' Eifert said.

Linebacker Manti Te'o said his teammates notice Eifert's work ethic and lack of selfishness.

``He hasn't had the kind of receptions and numbers that he would like, but you never would see Tyler complaining. As long as we're winning, he's happy,'' Te'o said. ``He leads by example. He leads by his work ethic, and just really, really doing his best to ensure that our team wins.''

While the number of catches he is making this season has dropped, the plays he is making have been big. Eifert has only 15 catches this season, yet 10 of those have been for first downs or touchdowns.

Against Stanford, Eifert tied the score at 10-10 on the first play of the fourth-quarter with a 24-yard TD reception on third-and-18 where he used his 6-foot-6 height to get above a pair of 6-1 Stanford defenders to catch the pass from Everett Golson. His only reception against Michigan was a 38-yard catch on a third-and-4 that allowed Notre Dame to run out the clock and make sure Michigan, which had won three straight games in the final 27 seconds, didn't get a chance for a comeback.

He also had four catches for a career-high 98 yards in a victory over Purdue, where his father was a former basketball standout.

Coach Brian Kelly said he's enjoyed watching Eifert develop from being a quiet player who sat in the back of the room into one of the best players on the team who sits up front and is a leader.

``You know you're moving your program along when your best players are your best workers,'' Kelly said.

Eifert continues a growing list of standout tight ends at Notre Dame that includes former second-round draft picks Anthony Fasano and John Carlson and Kyle Rudolph in the past seven years.

If Eifert can raise his productivity a bit he can break the school record of 128 career receptions by a tight end set by Ken MacAfee from 1974-77. Eifert has 105 career catches now.

``That would be pretty amazing when you really think about it,'' he said.

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Ovi named top dog of NHL's Three Stars of the Week


Ovi named top dog of NHL's Three Stars of the Week

The red hot Alex Ovechkin is clicking on all cylinders in season 14 and not showing any signs of slowing down. 

The 33-year-old leads the NHL with 29 goals, including one during Saturday's shootout victory over the Sabres, making it six consecutive games he's found the back of the net. 

Not only has Ovechkin scored, but he's scored in droves. Back-to-back hat tricks (Detroit, Carolina) are a big reason why the Great Eight has popped off for nine goals over the last five Capital games. 

Oh, and when he isn't notching hat tricks...catch him sitting courtside for Wizards games. 

For Ovi's efforts, he was named top dog of the National Hockey League's Three Stars of the Week. 


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Wizards' trade for Trevor Ariza, sending Kelly Oubre to Suns, now official


Wizards' trade for Trevor Ariza, sending Kelly Oubre to Suns, now official

For the second time in his career, Trevor Ariza is a member of the Washington Wizards. The trade to send Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers to Phoenix in exchange for Ariza was made official on Monday, two days after the teams reached an agreement in principle.

The Wizards played a game during that time, a win over the Lakers on Sunday. Because the deal was not official, head coach Scott Brooks could not comment when addressing the media. 

Up next are the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday, with Ariza eligible to make his season debut with the team.

Ariza, 33, comes to Washington in his 15th NBA season. He is averaging 9.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game while shooting 36 percent from three. He is also shooting just 37.9 percent from the field, the lowest mark of his career.

The Wizards hope Ariza can help shore up their perimeter defense and provide a change to their locker room chemistry. He had two of the best seasons in his career with the Wizards back in 2012-13 and 2013-14. The Wizards were one of the best defensive teams in basketball at the time.

While Ariza will likely debut against the Hawks on Tuesday, it will not be long until the Wizards see Oubre and Rivers again. They return to Washington this Saturday, as the Wizards host the Suns in their first meeting with the team of this season.