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Seattle rookie Bruce Irvin ready for starting role

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Seattle rookie Bruce Irvin ready for starting role

RENTON, Wash. (AP) Bruce Irvin has always fed off the doubt of others, whether it came as he tried to turn his life around as a youth or when he was panned as being a reach when the Seattle Seahawks drafted him in the first round last April.

``I love reading all the negative stuff. ... That's just the type of person I am,'' Irvin said on Wednesday. ``I love to see what people say about me because it's funny. I take that in mind and I bust my butt and it just makes me work harder.''

The latest doubt Irvin will try and erase comes Sunday when the Seahawks face the Falcons in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs.

Irvin will make the first start of his career after starting defensive end Chris Clemons was lost for the season to a torn ACL and meniscus in his left knee in last Sunday's playoff win over Washington.

For most of his rookie season, Irvin has thrived being used on passing downs as a rush end opposite Clemons. Getting pressure from both sides on quarterbacks has worked well for Seattle with Clemons getting 11 1/2 sacks and Irvin having another eight in the regular season to set a franchise rookie record.

Now that Clemons is out, Irvin will be called on not only to pressure the quarterback, but also be stout in the run game.

``I'm still depressed that (Clemons) is down. He's like an older brother to me. He showed me a lot, man,'' Irvin said. ``Next year, I'll be in this same role, me and (Clemons) rotating and whatever. I'm not looking to come in here and ball out and take over (Clemons') spot. I'm not looking for that. My time will come and when it's that time it will all handle itself.''

Going to Atlanta is a homecoming for Irvin, who had a troubled childhood that included a couple of weeks in jail as a teenager.

But he's pleased that his first start will come in front of family that won't need to get on a plane to see him play.

``It's going to be bittersweet,'' Irvin said. ``(I'm) happy that my family doesn't have to take a five-hour plane ride to come and see me play and just to be back around in that territory and the people that first were to doubt me.''

Irvin got his share of snaps last week versus Washington after Clemons went down early in the third quarter. His biggest play came in the fourth quarter after Seattle had taken a 21-14 lead, when Irvin stayed with the play and chased down Robert Griffin III for a 12-yard sack.

Griffin fumbled a low snap and crumpled to the ground in pain on the next play, where Seattle recovered the fumble and led to a field goal that gave Seattle a 10-point lead.

Irvin said being in on every play helped him get into the flow of the game more.

``I think it's a plus, I think that's what really helped me last week,'' he said. ``I got into a zone and got the feeling of what my man's strengths and weaknesses were. So I think that really is a plus and we'll see how it goes.''

Irvin will be helped this week by the Falcons' propensity to throw. Seven times this season Atlanta threw the ball at least 40 times. The Falcons ran the ball more than 25 times just once over the final eight weeks of the season.

That would seem to play to Irvin's strengths. But getting a consistent pass rush has been a problem for Seattle, now amplified by the loss of Clemons. Irvin had the only sack of Griffin last week after the Seahawks had just one sack the final two weeks of the regular season.

``I think he's got more sacks in him,'' Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. ``I think it's been a terrific year, I think he can be a double-digit sack guy once he gets it going.''

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This Caps Stanley Cup tattoo has everyone's beat

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Twitter/@PeachOmania

This Caps Stanley Cup tattoo has everyone's beat

Since the Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup for the first time over one month ago, Caps fans, (and players), have rushed to their local tattoo parlor to get some ink commemorating the win.

We've seen the classic Capitals logo with the Stanley Cup, but nothing that comes close to the masterpiece that is Shane Peacher's tattoo.

Peacher tweeted to Joe B and Courtney Laughlin the finished tat: a work of art featuring Alex Ovechkin kissing the Stanley Cup for the first time as it's hoisted over his head.

Joe B replied making sure Shane had enough room on his other tricep for next year.

Shane replied that he's thinking of Evgeny Kuznetsov's iconic celebration that has since been dubbed the "birdman."

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

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USA Today Sports Images

Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

The 2018 NBA offseason in just three weeks has become one of the wildest summers in the league's history between LeBron James signing with the Lakers, and all the characters that followed him, to DeMarcus Cousins surprising everyone to sign with the Golden State Warriors, to Kawhi Leonard getting traded to the Raptors.

As crazy as it all has been, two teams in the Eastern Conference stand out for so far doing very little, either by choice or circumstance. The Celtics and Sixers, the two teams most see as the favorites in the East, appear at least so far to be running it back with the same group of players.

This appears to be the Celtics' intention. After overhauling their roster last summer, they clearly see an opportunity to take a step forward as-is. Boston was one win away from the NBA Finals and will return Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving from injury. With James gone to the West, they can improve significanly just by keeping it all together.

Boston re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes. Their biggest addition this summer so far has been their first round pick, Robert Williams.

The Sixers, unlike the Celtics, didn't appear to plan on doing it this way. They wanted James and missed out. They reportedly had interest in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, but both went elsewhere. There are no stars left to sign in free agency and the trade market may be drying up.

Philly made some minor moves like trades for Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala. They may also have a deal for Kyle Korver in the works. They also had two first round picks in Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet.

There's a chance the Sixers got better than people think, as many of the moves they made seem smart. But they didn't reel in a big fish and will probably come back for the 2018-19 season with a team very similar to the one that made the second round of the playoffs this spring.

The fact the Celtics and Sixers may stand pat is probably a good thing for the rest of the East. Both teams may improve naturally if they are healthier and if their young players continue to ascend. But neither made a game-changing addition, one that would solidify either as an unstoppable superteam in the conference. 

The West is overloaded with title contenders and All-NBA players. The East, meanwhile, is much more open and it may end up staying that way mainly because Boston and Philly have been quiet so far this summer.

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