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Saints 'not playing smart,' playoff chances fade

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Saints 'not playing smart,' playoff chances fade

METAIRIE, La. (AP) Another mistake-filled loss has left the New Orleans Saints in a situation they've never dealt with since Drew Brees arrived in 2006 - playing for little more than pride in with three weeks still left in the regular season.

Although the 5-8 Saints aren't officially eliminated from the playoff race after falling 52-27 to the New York Giants on Sunday, they know it would take a miracle for them to have a postseason future. Four turnovers and horrendous kickoff coverage against the Giants essentially ended their final chance as they ran their turnover total to 11 in their last three games.

``In the National Football League you have to first keep from losing before you can ever win,'' assistant head coach Joe Vitt said Monday. ``Right now we're not playing very smart and we're not playing very disciplined, and it starts with me. I have to do a better job of making sure our team understands the critical factors that go into winning, and then we have to execute them on Sunday.''

The Saints missed the playoffs in 2007 and 2008, too, but this is the first time in seven years they won't be at least 7-7 after 14 games. Ten NFC teams have a better record than they do entering next Sunday's game with Tampa Bay in the Superdome. Instead of worrying about playoff seeding in the final three weeks, their only motivation is finishing .500 and ending on a positive note.

``We have a prideful group in this locker room,'' said running back Mark Ingram, the only player available for interviews on Monday. ``Our focus going forward is just getting better every single day and improving individually. We've had three straight losses. It would be nice to close the season with three straight wins.''

While Brees threw two more interceptions in the second half against the Giants - he had been picked off seven times in defeats to Atlanta and San Francisco the two previous weeks - the Saints also found two new ways to lose.

Their kickoff coverage, which had been among the NFL's best, allowed a franchise-worst 287 yards on six returns.

Giants rookie David Wilson returned the opening kickoff 58 yards to the New Orleans 44, then scored on a 97-yard return and ran one back 52 yards to the New Orleans 46 on his next two attempts. When Thomas Morstead began pooching his kicks in the second half, Jerrel Jernigan returned one 60 yards to the New Orleans 25.

Before Sunday, the longest kickoff return the Saints had allowed was 38 yards.

``If you're talking about kickoff coverage, lane integrity is the No. 1 thing and No. 2 is leverage,'' Vitt said. ``You have to leverage the football and not the blocker, and you have to make sure you're in the proper lanes and you can't piggyback one another. They broke down yesterday.''

Saints wide receiver Marques Colston and fullback Jed Collins fumbled after catches on consecutive first quarter possessions. Until then, New Orleans had not lost fumble on the road all year.

``We're pressing,'' Vitt said. ``We have to let it go and let it flow. Play hard, play smart and play together and do the things we do in practice every day.''

The litany of mistakes on offense and special teams gave the New Orleans defense almost no chance. The Giants started seven series inside Saints territory, including four from the 35 or closer.

Still, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said his group took a step back after playing better in the previous four weeks. He was particularly unhappy about a 2-minute drill at the end of the first half, when quarterback Eli Manning led a 69-yard touchdown drive that gave New York a 21-13 lead.

The Giants scored touchdowns four of the five times they got inside the New Orleans 20.

``We've had our struggles, but when other phases struggle we have to somehow find a way to rise up,'' Spagnuolo said. ``We have to make them kick field goals.''

After starting 0-4 without suspended coach Sean Payton, the Saints thought they had recovered from their bounty-related distractions when they climbed to 5-5. Three consecutive ugly losses to division-leading teams have proven them wrong.

``We knew we had a tough stretch ahead of us, but we knew we controlled our own (playoff) destiny at that point,'' Brees said Sunday. ``The most disappointing thing is just losing the way we have and doing some uncharacteristic things, doing all the things that get you beat.''

Notes: Vitt dismissed the idea of giving backups more playing time in the final three weeks, saying his goal was to win every game and he would put the most deserving players on the field. ... A year after setting the NFL offensive record for yards in a season, the Saints are still on pace to give up the most yards in NFL history, although the 394 yards they gave up to the Giants lowered their average to 436.9.

When is the 2019 French Open? Date, Time, Field, Bracket, TV Channel

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When is the 2019 French Open? Date, Time, Field, Bracket, TV Channel

The break between the Australian Open and the French Open is far too long. But, like always the 2019 French Open is a dynamic tournament on the calendar, and besides Rafael Nadal winning the men's singles bracket, there is nothing for certain at Roland-Garros.

Hosted in Paris, France, Roland-Garros is the second stop of the Grand Slams from May 26 to June 9. The tournament will be broadcast on Tennis Channel and NBC. 

This season brings in a plethora of storylines, but most importantly it features the return of Roger Federer to clay. The 20-time major champion has missed the previous three French Opens to try and preserve his body instead of playing on one of the hardest court surfaces. And when Nadal, an 11-time Franch Open winner, has laid his claim to this major who can blame Federer. 

Federer has only won at Roland-Garros once (2009). He has won at all other majors at least five times. 

On the women's side this marks the first repeat major for Serena Williams since the birth of her daughter, Olympia. In the 2018 French Open, Williams made it to the Round of 16. 

That year Simona Halep broke threw her first ever major title on clay as being ranked No. 1 for several month. Since she has struggled at the Grand Slams, not advancing back the Round of 16 in the three following majors. As the defending champ this could be where Halep returns to form. 

    When is the 2019 French Open?

    The 2019 French Open runs from Sunday, May 26 to Sunday, June 9.

    Matches start at 5:00 a.m. ET for First Round through the Round of 16. Quarterfinal matches start at 7:00 a.m. ET on June 4 and 5. The women's semifinals are on June 6 at 8:00 a.m. ET. The men's semifinals are June 7 at 6:00 a.m. ET. Both the women's final (June 8) and the men's final (June 9) are at 9:00 a.m. ET.

    Qualifying for the tournament is from May 20-24. The qualifying tournament will determine the final 16 men's singles spots and the final 12 spots for the women's. 

    2019 French Open Men's Singles Field (128 slots):

    Player, country (ATP world ranking as of April, 15)

    -Novak Djokovic, Serbia (1)
    -Rafael Nadal, Spain (2)
    -Alexander Zverev, Germany (3)
    -Roger Federer, Switzerland (4)
    -Dominic Thiem, Austria (5)
    -Kei Nishikori, Japan (6)
    -Kevin Anderson, South Africa (7)
    -Stefanos Tsitsipas, Greece (8)
    -Juan Martin del Potro, Argentina (9)
    -John Isner, USA (10) - Withdrew due to injury
    -Marin Cilic, Croatia (11)
    -Karen Khachanov, Russia (12)
    -Borna Coric, Croatia (13)
    -Daniil Medvedev, Russia (14)
    -Milos Raonic, Canada (15)
    -Marco Cecchinato, Italy (16)
    -Nikoloz Basilashvili, Georgia (17)
    -Fabio Fognini, Italy (18)
    -Gael Monfils, France (19)
    -Denis Shapovalov, Canada (20)
    -David Goffin, Belgium (21)
    -Roberto Bautista Agut (22)
    -Kyle Edmund, Great Britain (23)
    -Diego Schwartzman, Argentina (24)
    -Alex de Minaur, Australia (25)
    -Giles Simon, France (26)
    -Pablo Carreno Busta, Spain (27)
    -Grigor Dimitrov, Bulgaria (28)
    -Frances Tiafoe, USA (29)
    -Richard Gasquet, France (30)
    -Lucas Pouille, France (31)
    -Laslo Djere, Serbia (32)
    -Felix Auger-Aliassimie, Canada (33)
    -Nick Kyrgios, Australia (34)
    -Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, France (34)
    -Guido Pella, Argentina (35)
    -Stan Wawrinka, Switzerland (36)
    -Marton Fucsovics, Hungary (37)
    -Fernando Verdasco, Spain (38)
    -John Millman, Australia (39)
    -Phillipp Kohlschreiber, Germany (40)
    -Jeremy Chardy, France (41)
    -Mikhail Kukushkin, Kazakhstan (42)
    -Benoit Paire, France (43)
    -Jan-Lennard Struff, Germany (44)
    -Radu Albot, Moldova (45)
    -Andreas Seppi, Italy (46)
    -Christian Garin, Chile (47)
    -Dusan Lajovic, Serbia (48)
    -Pierre-Hugues Herbert, France (49)
    -Martin Klizan, Slovakia (50)
    -Joao Sousa, Portugal (51)
    -Hubert Hurkacz, Poland (52)
    -Matteo Ebden, Australia (53)
    -Damir Dzumhur, Bosnia and Herzegvina (54)
    -Matteo Berrettini, Italy (55)
    -Cameron Norrie, Great Britain (56)
    -Reilly Opelka, USA (57)
    -Adrian Mannarino, France (58)
    -Steve Johnson, USA (59)
    -Mackenzie McDonald, USA (60)
    -Jaume, Munar, Spain (61)
    -Leonardo Mayer, Argentina (62)
    -Robin Haase, Netherlands (63)
    -Ugo Humbert, France (64)
    -Taylor Fritz, USA (65)
    -Sam Querrey, USA (66)
    -Jordan Thompson, Australia (67)
    -Casper Ruud, Norway (68)
    -Yoshihito Nishioka, Japan (69)
    -Aljaz Bedene, Slovenia (70)
    -Malek Jaziri, Tunisia (71)
    -Taro Daniel, Japan (72)
    -Bernard Tomic, Australia (73)
    -Federico Delbonis, Argentina (74)
    -Hugo Dellin, Bolivia (75)
    -Ernests Gulbis, Lativa (76)
    -Mischa Zverev, Germany (77)
    -Marius Copil, Romania (78)
    -Juan Ignacio Londero, Argentina (79)
    -Prajnesh Gunneswaran, India (80)
    -Pablo Cuevas, Uruguay (81)
    -Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Spain (82)
    -Nicolas Jarry, Chile (83)
    -Guido Andreozzi, Argentina (84)
    -Denis Kudla, USA (85)
    -Jozef Kovalik, Slovakia (85)
    -Pablo Anujar, Spain (86)
    -Peter Gojowczyk, Germany (87)
    -Feliciano Lopez, Spain (88)
    -Janko Tipsarevic, Serbia (88)
    -Daniel Evans, Great Britian (89)
    -Andrey Rublev, Russia (90)
    -Miomir Kecmanovic, Serbia (91)
    -Bradley Klahn, USA (92)
    -Thomas Fabbiano, Italy (93)
    -Lloyd Harris, South Africa (94)
    -Jiri Vesely, Czech Republic (95)
    -Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, Germany (95)
    -Lorenzo Sonego, Italy (96)
    -Ivo Karlovic, Croatia (97)
    -Tomas Berdeych, Czech Republic (98)
    -Ricardas Berankis, Lithuania (99)
    -Alexander Bublik, Kazakhstan (100)

    2019 French Open Women's Singles Field (128 slots):

    Player, country (WTA world ranking as of April, 15)

    -Naomi Osaka, Japan (1)
    -Simona Halep, Romania (2)
    -Petra Kvitova, Czech Republic (3)
    -Karolina Pliskova, Czech Republic (4)
    -Angelique Kerber, Germany (5)
    -Elina Svitolina, Ukraine (6)
    -Kiki Bertens, Netherlands (7)
    -Sloane Stephens, USA (8)
    -Asleigh Barty, Australia (9)
    -Aryna Sabalenka, Bulgaria (10)
    -Serena Williams, USA (11)
    -Caroline Wozniacki, Denmark (12)
    -Anastasija Sevastova, Latvia (13)
    -Madison Keys, USA (14)
    -Anett Kontaveit, Estonia (15)
    -Qiang Wang, China (16)
    -Julia Goerges, Germany (17)
    -Elise Mertens, Belgium (18)
    -Garbine Muguruza, Spain (19)
    -Belinda Bencic, Switzerland (20)
    -Caroline Garcia, France (21)
    -Daria Kasatkina, Russia (22)
    -Bianca Andreescu, Canada (23)
    -Su-Wei Hsieh, Chinese Taipei (24)
    -Donna Vekic, Croatia (25)
    -Lesia Tsurenko, Ukraine (26)
    -Carla Suarez Navarro, Spain (27)
    -Maria Sharapova, Russia (28)
    -Jelena Ostapenko, Lativa (29)
    -Mihaela Buzarnescu, Romainia (30)
    -Camila Giorgi, Italy (31)
    -Danielle Collins, USA (32)
    -Dominika Cibulkova, Slovakia (33)
    -Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Russia (34)
    -Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Bulgaria (35)
    -Sofia Kenin, USA (36)
    -Dayana Yastremska, Ukraine (37)
    -Yulia Putintseva, Kahzakstan (38)
    -Ajla Tomljanovic, Australia (39)
    -Petra Martic, Croatia (40)
    -Katerina Siniakova, Czech Republic (41)
    -Shuai Zhang, China (42)
    -Sasai Zheng, China (43)
    -Maria Sakkari, Greece (44)
    -Viktoria Kuzmova, Slovakia (45)
    -Johanna Konta, Great Britian (46)
    -Marketa Vondrousova, Czech Republic (47)
    -Barbora Strycova, Czech Republic (48)
    -Venus Williams, USA (49)
    -Alison Riske, USA (50)
    -Yafan Wang, China (51)
    -Alison van Uytvanck, Belgium (52)
    -Pauline Parmentier, France (53)
    -Amanda Anisimova, USA (54)
    -Alize Cornet, France (55)
    -Ons Jabeur, Tunsinia (56)
    -Ekaterina Alexandrova, Russia (57)
    -Daria Gavrilova, Australia (58)
    -Jristen Flipkens, Belgium (59)
    -Tatjana Maria, Germany (60)
    -Victoria Azarenka, Bulgaria (61)
    -Monica Puig, Puerto Rico (62)
    -Aleksandra Krunic, Serbia (63)
    -Polona Hercog, Slovenia (64)
    -Rebecca Peterson, Sweeden (65)
    -Kristina Mladenovic, France (66)
    -Tamara Zidansek, Slovenia (67)
    -Magdalena Rybarikova, Slovakia (68)
    -Evgeniya Rodina, Russia (69)
    -Vera Lapko, Bulgaria (70)
    -Andrea Petkovic, Germany (71)
    -Margarita Gasparyan, Russia (72)
    -Vitalia Diatchenko, Russia (73)
    -Anastasia Potapova, Russia (74)
    -Sara Sorribes Tormo, Spain (75)
    -Veronika Kudermetova, Russia (76)
    -Samantha Stosur, Australia (77)
    -Jessica Pegula, USA (78)
    -Kaia Kanepi, Estonia (79)
    -Viktorija Golubic, Switzerland (80)
    -Eugenie Bouchard, Canada (81)
    -Shelby Rogers, USA (81)
    -Jennifer Brady, USA (82)
    -Irina-Camelia Begu, Romania (83)
    -Taylor Townsend, USA (84)
    -Vera Zvonareva, Russia (85)
    -Katie Boulter, Great Britian (86)
    -Kristyna Pliskova, Czech Republic (87)
    -Iga Swiatek, Poland (88)
    -Magda Linette, Poland (89)
    -Mona Barthel, Germany (90)
    -Ekaterina Makarova, Russia (91)
    -Fiona Ferro, France (92)
    -Kateryna Kozlova, Ukraine (93)
    -Lin Zhu, China (94)
    -Johanna Larsson, Sweeden (95)
    -Ivana Jorovic, Serbia (96)
    -Madison Brengle, USA (97)
    -Luksika Kumkhm, Thailand (98)
    -Sorana Cirsta, Romania (99)
    -Svetlana Kuznetsova, Russia (100)
    -Laura Siegemund, Germany (101)
    -Astra Sharma, Australia (102)
    -Dalila Jakupovic, Slovenia (103)
    -Misaki Doi, Japan (104)
    -Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, Slovakia (105)
    -Karolina Muchova, Czech Repubilc (106)
    -Zarina Diya, Kazakhstan (107)

    2019 French Open Singles Brackets

    French Open Men's Singles Bracket:

    The 2019 French Open Bracket will be revealed May 20-23.

    French Open Women's Singles Bracket:

    The 2019 French Open Bracket will be revealed May 20-23.

    What is the 2019 French Open Tournament Schedule?

    The 2019 French Open will havethree weeks of on the court action. The generic schedule is as follows:

    -Monday, May 20: 4:00 a.m. ET: Men's and Women's Qualifying
    -Tuesday, May 21: 4:00 a.m. ET: Men's and Women's Qualifying
    -Wednesday, May 22: 4:00 a.m. ET: Men's and Women's Qualifying
    -Thursday, May 23: 4:00 a.m. ET: Men's and Women's Qualifying
    -Friday, May 24: 4:00 a.m. ET: Men's and Women's Qualifying
    -Sunday, May 26: 5:00 a.m. ET: Men's and Women's First Round
    -Monday, May 27: 5:00 a.m. ET: Men's and Women's First Round
    -Tuesday, May 28: 5:00 a.m. ET: Men's and Women's First Round
    -Wednesday, May 29: 5:00 a.m. ET: Men's and Women's Second Round
    -Thursday, May 30: 5:00 a.m. ET: Men's and Women's Second Round
    -Friday, May 31: 5:00 a.m. ET: Men's and Women's Third Round
    -Saturday, June 1: 5:00 a.m. ET: Men's and Women's Third Round
    -Sunday, June 2: 5:00 a.m. ET: Men's and Women's Round of 16
    -Monday, June 3: 5:00 a.m. ET: Men's and Women's Round of 16
    -Tuesday, June 4: 8:00 a.m. ET: Men's and Women's Quarterfinals
    -Wednesday, June 5: 8:00 a.m. ET: Men's and Women's Quarterfinals
    -Thursday, June 6: 9:00 a.m. ET: Women's Semifinals
    -Friday, June 7: 6:45 a.m. ET: Men's Semifinals
    -Saturday, June 8: 9:00 a.m. ET: Women's Final
    -Sunday, June 9: 9:00 a.m. ET: Men's Final

    The schedule of play for each day will be announced on RolandGarros.com

    How to Watch the 2019 French Open Tournament?

    The 2019 French Open will be broadcast on Tennis Channel and NBC. 

    First Round coverage on Day 1 and 2 of the main tournament will be on NBC and Tennis Channel. Tennis Channel will also broadcast the remainder of the tournament up until Friday, June 7 and the final day of the singles semifinals round. 

    NBC will also provide coverage on June 1 and 2 (Third Round and Round of 16 matches) and on June 6 and 7 (women's and men's semifinals). The women's and men's singles championship matches will be exclusively on NBC on June 8 and 9. 

    Television coverage starts at 5:00 a.m. ET and runs through 3:00 p.m. ET for the First Round through the Round of 16. Afterward, there are varying start times dependent on the weather and any potential delays. The finals are both expected to start at 9:00 a.m. ET on June 8 (women's) and June 9 (men's).

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    Nationals rally, but find themselves treading water again

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    Nationals rally, but find themselves treading water again

    WASHINGTON -- The Washington Nationals lost to the Chicago Cubs, 6-5, Sunday to drop their record to 19-27. Here are five observations from the game…

    1. A word about Anthony Rendon first.

    His three-run homer dragged the Nationals to within 6-4 on Sunday night. He also walked and a soft liner off his bat was caught by a leaping Addison Russell at shortstop. He was stellar in the field. After an initial rusty patch when returning from the injured list, he is back to his normal self and one of the most dangerous hitters in the National League. He could finally be going to his first All-Star Game.

    Second, a word about Howie Kendrick.

    He homered -- again -- his seventh already this season. Things around the Nationals’ poor start are not great. They would be severely amplified if Kendrick wasn’t walking around with a .317 batting average and an almost 1.000 OPS.

    Their work was not enough Sunday. The Cubs took a 4-0 lead early, then hung on late, spoiling the Nationals chance for a rare second consecutive series win.

    2. “Little things” kicked in again Sunday.

    A fourth-inning passed ball by Kurt Suzuki moved a runner to third with one out. Kyle Schwarber’s sacrifice fly drove him in.

    Juan Soto’s late break from second with two outs in the sixth inning led to third base coach Bob Henley giving a rare stop sign at third base. Albert Almora Jr.’s throw for center field went soaring over bot the catcher and pitcher at home plate. If Soto broke early or Henley took his usual chance, another run would have scored.

    The Nationals’ overall defense was cleaner Sunday. Rendon made multiple quality defensive plays, Brian Dozier also two slick stops. But, two smaller incidents flipped two runs in what became a 6-4 game.

    3. Jeremy Hellickson is going in reverse.

    He lasted just three innings Sunday, and was lucky to make it there. Hellickson opened the game by loading the bases via walks. Despite him laying the groundwork for a devastating first inning, he allowed just a run.

    Runners made it to second and third to start the second inning, but just one scored. A leadoff homer for Anthony Rizzo bumped the Cubs’ lead to 3-0 in the third. Hellickson wiggled away from a double in the inning to finish his evening in arrears, 3-0.

    He threw 64 pitches, just 30 strikes.

    The outing was the second time this season Hellickson lasted just three innings in a start. He gave up five earned runs the last time. Four of his previous five outings delivered a Game Score of 34 or lower (50 is the starting point with potential to go up -- or down). A non-analytical measure of those outings is to simply call them uncompetitive.

    The trouble for Washington is it has no clear option to replace Hellickson and his 6.23 ERA in the rotation, if it decided that was the best course of action going forward. Joe Ross could swap spots wit Hellickson, flipping Ross into the rotation and Hellickson into the bullpen. Kyle McGowin, called up from Triple-A Fresno on Friday, relieved Hellickson on Sunday. He’s not big-league ready.

    Austin Voth is the only minor-league starter on the 40-man roster but not on the 25-man roster. Voth has a 3.89 ERA in Fresno this season.

    4. Trevor Rosenthal continues to creep toward a return.

    He threw a bullpen session in Nationals Park on Sunday after a day off Saturday. Rosenthal pitched in back-to-back games Thursday and Friday for the Double-A Harrisburg Senators.

    Rosenthal is going to Harrisburg to throw another inning Monday, then be re-evaluated. He had another rough outing Friday for the Senators: ⅓ of an inning, 21 pitches, 11 strikes, a walk and hit allowed.

    Nationals manager Davey Martinez said the misses were up and down in the zone. Rosenthal was previously pulling pitches to his left.

    “I watched video,” Martinez said. “His mechanics are pretty good right now.”

    Is he close to returning?

    “I think he’s really close,” Martinez said. “We’ll see how this next outing goes for him.”

    5. More progress for the injured.

    Matt Adams (left shoulder strain) took 40 swings Sunday, felt good afterward, and is nearing a pre-game stint on the field, possibly Monday with the team in New York.

    Ryan Zimmerman (plantar fasciitis) continues to swing and play defense. He was expected to run Sunday, the final step in his rehabilitation. He could be ready “very soon” according to Martinez.

    Tony Sipp (oblique) took Sunday off after pitching an inning Saturday for Single-A Potomac.

    Outfielder Andrew Stevenson (back spasms) was sent back to Triple-A Fresno on Sunday. He will begin playing games with the Grizzlies on Monday.

    MORE NATIONALS NEWS: