Steph Curry might be the grittiest player in the NBA

When you think of grit in the NBA, you probably think of big men setting hard screens and battling for position in the paint, or players hitting the ground to secure a loose ball.

“A lot of times it’s being ugly, not pretty,” Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts says.
The definition translates well to sports, where all athletes are going to have to persevere through setbacks at some point in their careers because of their passion to compete.

That 53-point lead Golden State amassed in the preseason against their old friends from Clipperland gave you a glimpse of what they’re capable of.

Golden State will figure it out on offense, as they slowly did in this game. Defensively, the issues are more pronounced and probably more enduring. While commending the team’s improved effort, Warriors coach Steve Kerr cited miscommunication as a reason the night did not go so easily. “We’re going to have to get so much better,” Kerr said after the game. “You can see how much work we have ahead. We have plenty of talent but talent is not going to be enough.”

The Warriors are carrying a half-dozen centers on the roster (depending on how one defines a big). On Friday night, young Kevon Looney, he of 20 years and two hip surgeries, got thrown into the fire. “I thought he was great,” Kerr said. “He was a +13 in 7 minutes.” Kerr added, “He’s one of those guys, he doesn’t look that fast. He doesn’t look like he jumps very high. But he knows what he’s doing.”

Looney performed well, especially under the circumstances. Golden State had a one-point lead when Looney entered with five minutes remaining in the stanza. At the end of the quarter, the Warriors led by 11. Of course, much of this had something to do with a Curry scoring 8 consecutive points, but the effort was steadied by Looney’s hand — most especially on the quarter’s chaotic, closing possession when the UCLA product turned a sure Curry turnover into an assist aimed at Andre Iguodala. Of the play Looney said, “I was looking at Klay first. They jumped out, I made the right play. Just reading the defense, really.” Of his comfort in getting thrown out there in these situations, Looney added, “I practice with these guys every day. These are some of the best players in the league, so I get confidence playing against Draymond (Green) and (Kevin Durant) every day, so I was ready to play.”

Is Looney the solution to Golden State’s weakness in the middle? That’s likely too much to put on a 20-year-old who’s still trying to build his body up. What’s clear is Golden State, for all the preseason hype, has a weakness it’s still struggling to address. While one doesn’t want to overreact after two games, the Warriors’ defense looks, at this point, unrecognizable.

Whether that’s due to a lack of rim protection or a lack of comfort, the Warriors must improve on that flaw. When and if they do, they are sure to get very little credit for the feat. For this team, meeting expectations might be a lot easier in theory than in practice.

Don’t ask Bill Belichick if he’d bench Tom Brady for his backup quarterback

There’s times when you ask obvious questions in journalism just to get something officially on the record. Asking whether Tom Brady would start when his four-game suspension was up might have been too obvious. C’mon now.

And especially, you don’t want to ask Bill Belichick that. You know this’ll be his reaction. You just know it.

To answer everyone’s question, no, it wasn’t me.

— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) July 29, 2016
There’s a joke here somewhere that Belichick just announced Jesus Christ will be his new starting quarterback. But seriously, Jesus is probably the only person who could take Tom Brady’s role on the Patriots, and maybe not even.

Roster spots are valuable and few teams even keep three quarterbacks when it’s time to trim down to 53 players. In 2000, the New England Patriots elected to keep four quarterbacks into the regular season rather than cut ties with a sixth-round rookie named Tom Brady who they thought might turn out alright. But that decision was a rare exception and keeping Fitzpatrick, Smith, Petty and Hackenberg into September isn’t realistic.

The second element McAdoo exhibits that matters is his approach to adversity. I asked him on Thursday that what if it all blows up early, if nothing works, if struggle comes, if his team gets in an early hole?

His answer: “Well, the first thing you do is you address it head on. And the second thing you do is you never flinch.”

He looked forceful, direct and confident when he said it.

The Giants training camp unfolds, the preseason games come and the season commences on Sept. 11 at Dallas. They look hungry enough to play that game this weekend.

“I liked the look in their eyes,” McAdoo said after their first camp team meeting.

It was likely easy for him to recognize. It mirrors his own.

Johnson put up Hall of Fame caliber numbers in his 12 seasons with the Houston Texans, leading the league in catches and yards twice while amassing more than 1,000 receiving yards seven times. His best year was 2008, when he caught 115 passes for 1,575 yards.

Aaron Rodgers is playing better than you think

One productive half against the Chicago Bears could not realistically suppress all the panic surrounding Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers’ offense. The concerns draw from a yearlong decline in production. A recent column in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel suggested Rodgers had fallen from the ranks of the greats as a result.

Since the start of the 2003 season, home teams have covered the spread at a 48.8 percent clip. That’s hardly surprising for weekly readers who have heard this point reiterated ad nauseum, but bettors may not realize than the edge in picking the road team only exists because of divisional rivalries.

After a slow start to the season, my system picks rebounded with a 4-1 performance in Week 7. Using Bet Labs data analysis software, I’ll look to continue that success with a new system that has gone.

The Browns’ best chance to win a game in 2016 comes this Sunday when they host the Jets. FPI gives Cleveland a 39 percent chance to win that game. The Browns’ chance to win is 33 percent or lower in seven of their eight games after Sunday.

FPI gives the Browns a 6 percent chance to lose all of their remaining games. That’s three times more likely than any other team. The Jacksonville Jaguars and Los Angeles Rams each have a 2 percent chance to lose out.

Part of the Browns’ ugly projection comes from what would be a tough schedule for any team. But that’s only part of the story.

Cleveland currently ranks 22nd or worse in offensive, defensive and special teams efficiency.

In 1987, the Bears had six quarterbacks throw at least 11 passes: McMahon, Mike Tomczak, Mike Hohensee, Sean Payton (the current Saints coach), Steve Bradley and Jim Harbaugh. Of course this was the strike season, which explains the situation.

That Bears team also made the playoffs, going 11-5 and losing in the divisional round to Washington. McMahon played quarterback in the playoff game.

Technically, the Browns have not been eliminated from the playoffs. So there is hope they could be like those Bears teams. Right?

But this week’s starter is a mystery.

Kessler is in the NFL concussion protocol and McCown still is trying to come back from a broken left collarbone. It’s possible Hogan will be the fourth different starter this season. Hogan played Sunday in Cincinnati and did OK given the circumstances, completing 12 of 24 passes for 100 yards and running for 104 more.

It marked the second time in a non-strike season a team has had six players throw a pass in the first seven games. The last: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976, when they went 0-14.

One other thing: If Hogan starts, he’ll be starting QB No. 27 since 1999.

Dak Prescott is ready for whatever kind of ice cream the NFL throws at him

DELICIOUS DEFENSES: Dak Prescott is not afraid of “vanilla” or “rocky road” defenses. Dallas Cowboys backup quarterback Dak Prescott has been one of the preseason’s best stories, and the former Mississippi State star is confident he can handle anything that’s thrown at him. Even pralines?

The five most injured teams in the NFL … so far

1. Patriots — They lost two offensive linemen and Dion Lewis within a week. Worse, Rob Gronkowski has been seen limping around and hasn’t practiced for a week. And then there’s Brady’s suspension, but given the state of the AFC East, there’s no reason to panic.

2. Bills — Their woes started with first-round pick Shaq Lawson’s shoulder surgery and have continued through Manny Lawson’s suspension and Marcell Dareus’ decision to enter rehab. After winning the offseason, they’re losing training camp.

3. Colts — It’s not the length of the list, it’s who’s on it. Cornerback Vontae Davis is their best player on that side of the ball, and he’s out indefinitely.

4. Chargers — D.J. Fluker was seen with crutches and a walking boot, never a good sign. Joey Bosa still isn’t practicing, but the Spanos’ being cheap isn’t his fault.

5. Steelers — It’s not so much the injuries as it is the suspensions. Le’Veon Bell is getting an NFL-mandated three-game break to start the season. Martavis Bryant is suspended for the year. Tight end Ladarius Green could fill the void of offensive weapons, but nobody seems to know what the hell is going on with his injury status.

Mincey was a sixth-round pick by the New England Patriots in 2006, but was released later that year. He was signed to the San Francisco 49ers practice squad and didn’t really make a name for himself until 2010 when he battled his way into the starting lineup with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He tallied eight sacks in 2011 and earned a four-year, $20 million deal from the Jaguars, but managed just three sacks the following season and was released in 2013.

He caught on with the Denver Broncos that season, making an appearance in Super Bowl XLVIII. The next season, he signed on with the Dallas Cowboys. Mincey returned to form as a full-time starter in 2014, but was held without a sack in 2015 and saw limited time.

In nine seasons, Mincey appeared in 96 games and totaled 26 sacks.

NFL fines Antonio Brown for twerking TD celebration

The No Fun League strikes again. Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown has been fined for a new twerking touchdown dance he unveiled in their win against Washington on Monday Night Football this week, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.

Brown also said he was fined for wearing blue cleats, but added it’s “nothing to a boss.”

Midway through the third quarter, Ben Roethlisberger connected with Brown on a 26-yard touchdown pass. Following the play, Brown thrusted his butt five times, which is illegal. He was flagged 15 yards for the play.

Marshall had just three catches for 32 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1. Prior to injury, Marshall appeared to be bouncing back, hauling in two catches for 52 yards against the Bills.

Buffalo scored 17 unanswered points beginning late in the second quarter, including a fumble returned for a touchdown. Buffalo established a 24-20 lead, but the Jets answered with 17 unanswered points of their own. Two Matt Forte rushing touchdowns and a Nick Folk field goal let New York take a 37-24 lead.

The Bills were inconsistent throughout, and though they had a late-game rally to narrow the Jets’ lead to 37-31, New York’s Brandon Marshall recovered the onside kick. Buffalo’s defense forced a three-and-out, giving the Bills the ball and 10 seconds to try to make something happen. Taylor did fire off a deep ball to Goodwin, but he didn’t get out of bounds and time expired.

Brown caught eight passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener. So as long as he remains one of the best wide receivers in the game, the Steelers will likely have no problem with his flamboyant on-field behavior.

Marshall remained on the ground and immediately grabbed his left knee following the tackle, and he was down for a few minutes, but he was able to walk off the field under his own power. He attempted some jogging on the sideline, but headed to the locker room for further examination shortly after.

He was apparently healthy enough to return to the game because he was back on the field just minutes after walking to the locker room.

GOODELL IS MAKING ANOTHER GRANT: NFL to launch new $100 million concussion initiatives to improve player safety. It sounds great. But remember when the NFL donated money to the National Institutes of Health and then tried to manipulate the results?

Jay Cutler is day-to-day with thumb sprain

The Chicago Bears announced that quarterback Jay Cutler has a thumb sprain, and he is day-to-day as the Bears prepare to face the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. Cutler is expected to miss two to three weeks as he recovers, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The timetable will depend on how Cutler heals over the next few days.

Cutler initially sustained ligament damage in his right thumb in Week 1 against the Texans, according to Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times, and he aggravated the injury during the third quarter of the Bears’ loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2.

He returned to the field after having medical personnel examine the injury on the sideline, but was removed from the game late in the third quarter and did not return.

The Bears had six players leave the game against the Eagles with injuries, and none were able to return.

If Cutler is unable to play this week, he Bears will need to either bring in another quarterback to serve as Hoyer’s backup or activate former Eagles quarterback Matt Barkley, who is currently on the team’s practice squad.

Look at what he wrote about Kaepernick back in August:

But Kaepernick has benefited from our miserable, rotten society — the one he says fails so many people. Who has benefited more than Kaepernick?

He is a biracial young man who was adopted by white parents and grew up middle class in Turlock. He has been famous a long time. He is earning about $12 million this season and his skills hardly warrant that. He lives a privileged life.

It’s hypocritical to dump on a society that made you a prince, especially when you happily accepted that. It’s strange to fight for the downtrodden while you live like that prince. Kaepernick has not thought out the obvious contradictions in his position.
His notion that Kaepernick is out of line to speak out about this issue because he was adopted by a white family and is making millions to play football is flat out wrong. Anyone can, and should, speak out when there’s injustice. Folks who have a voice can use it to speak up for the voiceless. As Chip Kelly said in response to Cohn: “That’s the great thing about this country, isn’t it?”

Good on the 49ers coach for shutting this guy down so effectively.

Given Packers’ losses, maybe Brett Favre’s next visit should be in offseason

Wis. Brett Favre said Sunday that hes not sure when hell be back to Lambeau Field. The way the Green Bay Packers seem to play when hes in the building, perhaps itd be best if he stayed away for a bit, even if he and the organization are on good terms these days.

Sundays game marked the second straight year Favre has been honored at halftime of a regular-season game. And it was the second straight time the Packers lost, as they followed up last years Thanksgiving night loss to the Chicago Bears with a 30-16 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Favre, who played 16 of his 20 NFL seasons in Green Bay, came to Sundays game to receive his Pro Football Hall of Fame ring and see his name unveiled as part of the Packers ring of honor. Unlike many other NFL stadiums, the Packers reserve their ring of honor at Lambeau Field for Hall of Famers. Favres name is next to his former teammate and defensive end Reggie White, in the southeast corner of the stadium.

Adams left the game in the third quarter after a hit from Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee. The team announced he was being evaluated for a concussion. On his way out of the locker room Sunday night, Adams said he did not have one, but that changed Monday, when the Packers issued their first injury report in advance of Thursday night’s game against the Chicago Bears.

The quick turnaround might make it difficult for Adams to get cleared in time. He was one of three receivers to show up on the Packers’ injury report. The others — Randall Cobb (back) and Jared Abbrederis (quad) — also were new injuries. Cobb was on the report last week because of a neck injury but played 53 snaps and caught seven passes for 53 yards, including a touchdown against the Cowboys.

The Packers also have issues at running back, where James Starks won’t play this week after undergoing surgery Sunday to repair a torn meniscus and Eddie Lacy remains hobbled by a sprained left ankle; and cornerback, where they could be without their top three — Sam Shields (concussion), Damarious Randall (groin) and Quinten Rollins (groin).

Coach Mike McCarthy seemed more concerned about those two spots than receiver.

“I think obviously the stress points of our game-day roster for Thursday will be the running back position and the corner position,” McCarthy said Monday. “Any time you’re dealing with your 53-man roster, how you’re going to forecast how you’re going to line up with the 46, you’ve got two positions that need attention and, frankly, these injuries that we have, they’re not of long-term IR nature. That’s all part of a normal season. You’ve just got to work through it.

“It’s Monday. We’re still gathering information. I don’t know if we’ll have it sorted out until Tuesday, maybe Wednesday.”

The Packers will promote rookie running back Don Jackson from the practice squad, according to a source. They will need to clear a spot on the active roster Tuesday before they can make that move. The plan is for Jackson to be active Thursday night against the Bears so they’re not left with just one natural halfback, as they were against the Cowboys.

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