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Texans cut Holliday, sign LB Ruud

Texans cut Holliday, sign LB Ruud

HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Texans cut return specialist Trindon Holliday and signed linebacker Barrett Rudd on Wednesday in the wake of Brian Cushing's season-ending injury.

Cushing tore his left anterior cruciate ligament in Monday night's 23-17 win over the New York Jets. The 6-foot-2, 242-pound Ruud was a second-round draft pick by Tampa Bay in 2005. He was cut by New Orleans on Monday.

The Texans (5-0) play Green Bay (2-3) on Sunday night.

The 5-foot-5 Holliday won a roster spot after returning three kicks (two punts and a kickoff) for touchdowns in the preseason. That didn't translate to the regular season: Houston ranks last in kickoff return average (17.6 yards) and 16th in punt return average (9.2 yards.

Coach Gary Kubiak didn't blame Holliday for the return issues. The Texans were also penalized on three kick returns on Monday night.

``By no means is it a statement or anything about what we thought of Trindon,'' Kubiak said. ``We have not been playing up to par on special teams, giving returners the opportunity. That had nothing to do with it. You never know, our paths may cross again. But we wish him the best. He did a good job, he earned his way onto this team, but we had to make a tough decision.''

Kubiak said fourth-round draft pick Keshawn Martin will take over punt and kickoff return duties, an area where he excelled at Michigan State. The 5-11, 190-pound Martin ranks second in school history in punt return yards (659), eighth in kickoff return yards (1,100) and 10th in all-purpose yards (4,013).

Martin has been working ``heavily'' on returning kicks for the past month, Kubiak said, and now he can make that his sole focus, with receiver Lestar Jean healthy again. Jean has missed the last two games following arthroscopic surgery on his left knee last month.

``We have a lot of confidence in him,'' Kubiak said of Martin. ``In college, he was excellent at doing it. But we were working with four receivers for a period of time, with Lestar being out. So I was concerned, putting too much on his plate.

``If I'd thrown that (handling returns) on him, I just felt like I was doing too much to him too early,'' Kubiak said. ``He's made a lot of progress, but the fact that Lestar's back and will be back, now we have five healthy receivers. So I feel like we can give Keshawn a little bit more.''

Kubiak will also consider backup running back Justin Forsett and starting safety Danieal Manning, who also have experience returning kicks.

The more immediate concern is filling Cushing's role. The 2009 first-round draft pick was not only the team's leading tackler this season (43), he was also one of the emotional leaders and most respected players in the locker room.

Tim Dobbins replaced Cushing on Monday night, and Kubiak reiterated on Wednesday that Dobbins is the best option to step into Cushing's spot. Dobbins played his first four NFL seasons with San Diego, including one season under Wade Phillips, now the Texans' defensive coordinator.

``It's a challenge for our team, that's what this is,'' Kubiak said. ``We know Dobbins is going to go in there and play well, and every player in our locker room is going to take on a little bit more responsibility. So we're going to spread that responsibility around, everybody's going to take a little bit bigger piece of it, and we've got to respond.''

Ruud started 68 games for Tampa Bay between 2005-10. He started nine games for Tennessee last season, making 57 tackles and deflecting three passes. He played in three games for the Saints before he was released on Monday.

Kubiak expects Ruud to learn Phillips' defense quickly.

``He's a veteran who's been in some systems somewhat similar to what we do,'' Kubiak said. ``It gives us a little bit of flexibility going into game day.''

Notes: Kubiak said RB Ben Tate (toe) practiced on Wednesday and is expected to play on Sunday. Tate sat out Monday night's game. ... S Quintin Demps (left forearm fracture) sat out Wednesday's workout. ... The Texans also signed G Cody White off the practice squad. The 603, 301-pound White is an undrafted rookie out of Illinois State.

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What's next for Barry Trotz?

What's next for Barry Trotz?

Barry Trotz is no longer the head coach of the Washington Capitals and, after resigning Monday afternoon, he is officially free to pursue other opportunities.

So what's next for the now former Capitals head coach?

For those who believe Trotz will simply retire, that seems unlikely. Trotz is only 55 years old.

General manager Brian MacLellan indicated the main issue in the contract negotiations between him and Trotz was term. If Trotz was, in fact, seeking a five-year contract, that doesn't sound like someone who is ready to walk away from the game.

There is only one head coaching vacancy left in the NHL, that of the New York Islanders. New President of Hockey Operations Lou Lamoriello cleaned house after getting hired and fired both general manager Garth Snow and head coach Doug Weight earlier in June.

Now, suddenly, there is a Stanley Cup-winning coach on the market.

While it certainly makes sense for the Islanders to pursue Trotz, there's one big reason why Trotz, or anyone, would likely be hesitant to accept the job on Long Island and that is John Tavares.

New York's franchise player is a pending free agent and, until his contract situation is resolved, convincing anyone to take the head coaching job with the Islanders is a tough sell. If the Islanders re-sign Tavares, improve the defense and bring in a dependable starting goalie, then there is no reason to think they cannot be a playoff team.

But those are a lot of "ifs" and Tavares is a big one. If he goes, suddenly the situation on Long Island is much different. Tavares' decision could be the difference between the Islanders being a playoff team or getting a high lottery pick.

For Trotz to walk away from a team that just won the Stanley Cup to go to a New York team that may or may not have its best player back next season does not make a lot of sense.

But just because there may be only one head coaching vacancy open doesn't mean Trotz does not have any options.

The 2017-18 season saw no head coaching changes made during the season for the first time since the league expanded in 1967. Chances are jobs will begin to open up during the season especially if those teams believe they can land a Cup-winning coach as a replacement.

If you're Trotz, you just won a Stanley Cup. There is no reason to rush into another opportunity. Trotz will instantly be near or at the top of every wish list for teams in need of a head coach.

Don't just assume that Trotz will be on Long Island to start the 2018-19 season just because it is the only opportunity currently available. He can wait for the perfect opportunity to come to him.

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Cavaliers are gunning for Kawhi Leonard, though it's doubtful they have enough to interest Spurs

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Cavaliers are gunning for Kawhi Leonard, though it's doubtful they have enough to interest Spurs

With word out that Kawhi Leonard wants a trade from the Spurs, teams are lining up with offers to San Antonio and one of the NBA’s best teams has reportedly already made a call.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have contacted the Spurs about a potential Leonard trade, according to Cleveland.com. Terry Pluto wrote on Sunday that multiple teams have done the same. That is to expected, of course, as Leonard is one of the best players in the NBA. He's a two-time defensive player of the year and he's only 26.

Let's look at Cleveland as a potential destination. It should first be noted that it's questionable whether they have enough to land a player of Leonard's caliber. They have the eighth overall pick in Thursday's draft, but it may take a lot more than that to get Leonard.

They also have Kevin Love, who is an All-Star still in his prime. But if they gave him up, they would then need to seek more help to surround Leonard and LeBron James, if James decides to stay. Though James and Leonard are both top-five players in the NBA, they still likely wouldn't be able to beat the Warriors unless they had another running mate. Those two plus Love and then you're talking.

Whether the Cavs have the goods to land Leonard or not, it's no wonder why they are trying for him. Getting Leonard, a two-time All-NBA selection, would likely be enough to retain James, the best player in the game. If James were to look around the league for a top-shelf running mate, he would be hard-pressed to find one better than Leonard.

That is assuming Leonard is healthy, of course. He did miss all but nine games this past season with a quadriceps injury. That injury was central in a saga of discord between him and the team. Until he hits the court again, Leonard offers no guarantees. Still, he may be worth the risk for Cleveland, as the alternative is potentially seeing James walk. 

If the Cavs got Leonard, that would probably solidify their standing as the best team in the Eastern Conference, even if they lost Love in the process. Leonard is better than Love and they would arguably have the two best players in the East. They may not have enough to beat the Warriors, but that would likely give them the edge over the young teams like Boston and Philly that have been nipping at their heels.

Sending Leonard to the Cavs would get him out of the Western Conference and that might be enticing to the Spurs. If they send him to the Lakers, his reported preferred destination, that could come back to bite them much more often than it would if he was traded to the East. Though putting him in Cleveland would form another very good team, they wouldn't affect the Spurs directly but for two regular season games, unless they were to meet in the NBA Finals.

The Spurs haven't indicated they will actually trade Leonard, but it does seem to be heading in that direction. It sounds like Cleveland will at the very least give it a shot. 

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