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It was a Throwback Thursday game at Citizens Bank Park  on Thursday night and  Jake Arrieta turned back the clock to his Cy Young season of 2015.

Arrieta, signed by the  Phillies in mid-March to be a veteran presence and a top-of-the-rotation starter, threw seven innings of one-hit ball as the Phillies pounded the Pirates, 7-0, in the opening game of a 10-game homestand that could give an indication of whether the Phillies could be a contender this year.

More starts like Arrieta provided on Thursday could certainly stamp the Phillies as a team capable of competing for a playoff spot.

I knew I’d be pretty crisp in the bullpen when I had my sinker glove-side going early, said Arrieta, who was making his third start of the season. To be able to do that three starts in was a good sign. Combined with spring training it was only five or six starts, I was a little behind. Now I’m caught up.

Other than being able to locate the changeup a little better, that was as good as I’ve been.

The Phillies provided Arrieta with all the runs he would need in a five-run second inning where they sent 10 men to the plate. Rhys Hoskins started the inning with a home run and Cesar Hernandez added a rare 3-run single as J.P. Crawford – running on the pitch – scored on a hit into the right-center field gap.

The Phillies went ahead 5-0 and never looked back.

As part of the Throwback Thursday promotion, the Phillies wore the powder blue uniforms from the 1970s when they won the National League East three straight years and four out of five.

Arrieta provided encouragement the Phillies could be headed back to the postseason.

The potential ownership group expects conditional approval of an expansion team to be handed down in June and final approval to follow in September following NHL league meetings. The group is targeting the 2020-21 season as their opening season.

Are the Browns leaning toward Josh Allen?

The Browns are expected to take a quarterback with the first overall pick in the draft. It’s still not clear which one they’ll take.

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Stoneman Douglas will have a significant presence for the Miami Dolphins during the upcoming NFL Draft.

The family of Parkland shooting victim and Eagles assistant coach Aaron Feis, along with 18 graduating seniors on the Douglas football team, will announce the Dolphins’ draft picks during Rounds 4-7 on Saturday, April 28. The group will read the picks from the team’s training facility in Davie.

That’s sort of background noise, he said. Something I’m not paying much attention to, I didn’t look at it. Maybe I didn’t have those seven seconds in my life to pay attention to it. I’m not concerned about that.

It’s a challenging situation, Garrett said, via SportsDay. A lot of different factors go into these kinds of decisions. The guidepost for all of this is what’s in the best interest of the Dallas Cowboys. That’s why we made this decision.

We wish Dez nothing but the best going forward. He’s a special guy. I love him. I will always love him. The impact he has made on this franchise has been significant.

Additional quotes from Garrett on Bryant, as culled by The Dallas News’ Jon Machota, indicate the Cowboys head coach has been in contact with the longtime Cowboys receiver. Garrett also addressed why the Cowboys waited so long to cut Bryant loose.

Miles made three 3-pointers and scored 11 points in the second and DeRozan added seven as Toronto broke its playoff record for points in a half by taking a 76-58 lead at halftime.

Wall scored 14 points in the third while Toronto shot 0 for 7 from 3-point range, allowing the Wizards to cut it to 100-90 heading to the fourth.

Wizards: Wall went 11 for 11 at the free throw line. … Ian Mahinmi was called for a flagrant foul on a driving Ibaka in the second. … Lawson made his Wizards debut in the first, replacing Wall.

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Borland’s story is well-known. He retired at the end of the 2014 season at the age of 24 because of concerns over the long-term effects of football on the brain. He was one of the best young linebackers in the NFL after a college career as an All-American and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year at the University of Wisconsin.

Retiring in his prime was a brave thing to do for a player whose life was dedicated to football. But he has rededicated himself to being an advocate for mental health since leaving the NFL. According to his bio on Athletes for Care, He has partnered with The Concussion Legacy Foundation, Gridiron Greats, and worked with The Carter Center. Borland is founder and CEO of T Mindful, a company aimed at integrating meditation into athletics. 

Chris Borland made something clear in his interview: He supported Kaepernick and Reid and still does.

I support [Kaepernick] because he was always protesting systemic racism and police brutality, Borland said. That’s all he was protesting. I always admired him and Eric for what they did. They were truly brave men, and they are now.

I’d add that a player of Colin’s caliber not playing is wrong. For the people who say what he’s doing is un-American, he spends so much of his time helping kids—helping a lot of people—get better lives. There’s nothing more American than that.

A veteran player thinks he knows why the NFL is so afraid of Colin Kaepernick. A team executive thinks Saquon Barkley is still going first. The New York press thinks the Giants might skip taking a quarterback with the No. 2 pick. All these theories and more in this week’s 10-Point Stance. 

You may have missed the latest news regarding one of the league’s most discussed players, but the news is important because it raises a question: Why is the NFL still so scared of Colin Kaepernick?

Is it because he’s radioactive to a team’s brand? If so, why did the North American head of Adidas say he wants to sign Kaepernick if he returns to the NFL? Is Adidas in the habit of signing athletes who won’t help them sell product?

Is it because of the looming collusion case? Maybe. But also…if a team signed Kaepernick, the collusion case might end.

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The Colts won’t have Frank Gore in the backfield this season and that means they are set to have a new No. 1 back for the first time since Gore joined the team in 2015.

Of the players currently on the roster, Marlon Mack would appear to be the one who will get the first shot at grabbing that title for the 2018 season. The 2017 fourth-round pick ran 93 times for 358 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie and said the spot left open with Gore out of the picture is one he’s going to do all he can to grab.

But Stafford remains the one who can make the difference, and in a way, he already did. By agreeing to the extension, he allowed the Lions to preserve their franchise tag, and they used it on defensive end Ziggy Ansah, who officially signed Tuesday.

Stafford can be a polarizing figure around here because stellar numbers haven’t translated to stellar seasons. No, he’s not a top-five quarterback. But yes, he’s better than his critics suggest, considering he’s never, ever had a consistent running game, or a dominant offensive line. He’s also played in 112 consecutive regular-season games, third-longest streak among active quarterbacks.

I think there is, Dolphins general manager Chris Grier, when asked if the Dolphins have the ammo to just up five or six spots from 11. I think you can always make a deal to move up. It all depends on how much you want to give up. You see some deals with some teams, we may think that they gave up a lot to get up there.

And then other times, you’re like, ‘Wow, they didn’t give up enough,’ Grier continued. If teams want to move up or down, depending on what they want to do…We had a situation here in the past where we made a trade in the first round and really didn’t give up a ton for a player. At the end of the day, I think you can move up and down fairly easily. But you also still need someone to want that player or move out of that spot.

That situation, of course, was the trade for Dion Jordan in 2013, when the Dolphins only needed to part with a second-round pick to move from 12 to 3. That, of course, ended up being a bad pick — perhaps the worst in franchise history.

Some of the numbers back Lue up. Even so, this strategy feels exploitable for any team prepared to take what the defense gives.

And that, more than anything, is what the Pacers do. They have a lot of clever, versatile players. They adapt.

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With all the recent attention on incoming quarterbacks like Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, and Josh Allen, one guy is getting overlooked. Perhaps he shouldn’t be.

A scout with a team that won’t be in the market for a first-round quarterback tells PFT that Rosen is the best overall throwing prospect in the upcoming draft. (Rosen will be showing of his throwing skills on Saturday during the Scouting Combine.)

If you’re wondering what kind of advantage Artur Sitkowski and Jalen Chatman have as early-enrolled freshmen quarterbacks in Rutgers spring camp, consider offensive coordinator John McNulty’s take:

There’s a lot to work through for those (freshmen) guys in terms of just calling plays in the huddle, taking snaps under center,” McNulty said. There’s just a lot of little things never mind the big things that they have to deal with. I don’t know what would’ve happened if they didn’t get here early. Because (if) they got here in June or July, they’re kind of on their own (workout schedule). I just think all the work we’ve done in two months — and we’ve got four more weeks of spring ball left — it’s invaluable really. It gives them a big advantage.”

Johnathan Lewis ?didn’t have that same advantage. At this time last year, Lewis was wrapping up his senior year at St. Peter’s Prep while occasionally stopping by to watch a Rutgers spring practice from the sideline.

As NFL Network launched its coverage of the Scouting Combine’s Saturday workouts, the broadcasting operation that depends on incoming rookies choosing to fully participate in the workouts offered up, via its primary draft analyst, an editorial on the decision of former USC quarterback Sam Darnold to not throw.

Ultimately, it bugs those who fully embrace the mostly meaningless pre-draft workouts because it provides them less of what they want, especially when it comes to filling up the allotted TV time. The fact that we never hear anyone from the Draft Industrial Media Complex criticize the decision of players to refuse to participate in the much more valuable private workouts proves this dynamic. No one from the media complains about the lack of private workouts because, unlike the Scouting Combine and Pro Day workouts, the media doesn’t get to see the private workouts.

No, the Scouting Combine isn’t a competition. It’s a job qualification system for an inherently unsafe job with an audition process that entails a degree of physical risk. It’s like telling a prospective coal miner to go 3,000 feet underground with a pick and a shovel for a week or two, for free, so that the boss can decide how well the potential miner can mine coal.

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Teddy Bridgewater wouldn’t provide an update on the horrific knee injury that cost him nearly two full seasons, but he claimed he’s still capable of performing at a high level and will embrace a crowded and potentially awkward New York Jets quarterback situation.

Being an athlete and ultimate competitor, as a player, I welcome competition, Bridgewater said Wednesday, speaking to the media for the first time since signing a one-year, $6 million contract with the Jets.

That’s not something I’m comfortable talking about right now, he said, declining to say if his surgically repaired knee is 100 percent or close to it. I’m pretty sure that will be a discussion I have with the training staff and we’ll come up with a plan moving forward.

Bridgewater was healthy enough to get into a late-season game for the Vikings, but it was only nine snaps in mop-up duty. He threw only two passes, one of which was intercepted. Before the injury, he was considered an ascending quarterback.

I’m very confident in myself, he said. I’m confident in the athletic training staff and the coaching staff that they can get me back to the player that I once was. But at the same time, we’re only in March and the only way to get better is to put the work in now. I’m excited about this opportunity I have. … I can’t wait. I’m excited.

Hey, why not shoot for the stars, right?

I think he would have a big impact, Ogletree said Thursday. Of course, being in the division with him and just seeing his body of work, playing with him in college — well not playing with him, but I know the type of football player he is and I definitely think he brings a lot to the table for sure.

It is a nice thought, but it is not going to happen. Sure, the Giants have interest in the wonderful player called Honey Badger, but unless he wants to work for far below his market value, there is no match. Mathieu played for James Bettcher, the Giants’ new defensive coordinator, in Arizona, and his skill set as a safety alongside Landon Collins and as a slot cornerback, replacing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, is ideal. But the Giants simply do not have the money to pay him.

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For a short while there, after prized guard Andrew Norwell spurned the man who raised him from a pup for Tom Coughlin, of all people, Giants fans were in a panic wondering whether Dave Gettleman himself might have to become a plug-and-play general manager.

It is a smart move by Gettleman because it was the only move, because once again there are no offensive tackles in the draft to trust to keep Manning upright. Oklahoma’s ponderous Orlando Brown ran a 5.63 40 at his Pro Day on Wednesday, and that was Usain Bolt-like after his 5.85 Combine debacle.

Solder will be the most dependable, professional left-tackle bodyguard for Manning since David Diehl.

And if Pat Shurmur isn’t blowing smoke about Manning having years left at age 37 to chase a Super Bowl, planting Solder in front of him and moving Flowers to the right side or inside or anywhere else will give him a fighting chance.

Imagine this: He might actually have time in the pocket to eat a pepperoni pizza and get the ball to Odell Beckham Jr.!

The NCAA is currently exploring a rule change that would allow the receiving team to fair catch a kickoff inside the 25-yard line and have it treated as a touchback. The idea behind the rule is that it would reduce the number of kickoff returns, and therefore the number of collisions on kickoff returns, and therefore the number of injuries on kickoff returns.

It was college football that led the way on the rule that moved touchbacks on kickoffs out to the 25-yard line, rather than the 20-yard line. The NFL followed suit and adopted the 25-yard line rule.

If college football also adopts this new touchback rule, and it seems to work well, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the NFL do it as well. The NFL has said that its injury data shows that kickoffs result in more head and neck injuries per play than any other play in football, and the league wants to reduce those injuries. Touchbacks aren’t as exciting as kickoff returns, so not all fans would be on board, but the league will surely keep an eye on this NCAA proposal.

I’ve been doing everything I can while I haven’t been playing, Ellsbury said.I’ve been taking BP, hitting in the cage. My oblique feels great, so I’m looking forward to getting back on the field. I’ll talk about that with Aaron.

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The Buccaneers decided to keep three of their own veterans.

According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, the Bucs picked up the one-year options for 2018 on right tackle Demar Dotson, safety Chris Conte, and defensive back Josh Robinson.

With Jake Arrieta  in tow, a team that hasn’t posted a winning record since 2011 has a real chance to coalesce into a contender quickly.

If that happens in 2018, don’t be surprised if a front office led by general manager Matt Klentak  attempts to add for a push at a postseason berth.

While young, controllable starters will likely be at the top of any potential list of targets for the Phillies, one past-his-prime veteran could also be in the mix of players the Phillies could think about this summer: Cole Hamels .

Yes, a return with the former Phillies ace.

In a way-too-early ESPN MLB trade deadline primer , the Worldwide Leader singled out Hamels as a potential trade target for a buying Phillies team in July.

The timing wasn’t right for Darnold at the Combine. Darnold’s decision should be respected, not criticized.

I think that every young man has to make the decision that’s best for him, Helton said. I haven’t talked to Sam since he’s gotten back from the Combine. I know one thing about Sam. He’s always gonna make the best decision in the moment. If he feels like it’s better to throw on Pro Day, I’m all for it.

If Darnold chooses not to throw at the Pro Day, that’s his business. If he chooses to decline to submit to private workouts, that’s his business, too. If he decides to say, Watch my film and draft me or don’t, that’s also his business.

Whatever he chooses to do, he shouldn’t be accused of being afraid to compete by those who hope to fill the days and weeks until the draft with more data points from players who have blindly submitted for decades to the NFL’s ultimate dog-and-pony show. It’s OK for everyone in this business to make business decisions, except of course for the men on whom the business relies the most.

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He knows how tough it is to move from one side of the offensive line to the other. So Justin Pugh expects it will not be smooth sailing as Ereck Flowers switches from left tackle to right tackle on the Giants’ revamped offensive line.

I think it’s gonna be a tough transition going from left tackle to right tackle, Pugh said Wednesday on WFAN. He’s exclusively played left tackle his entire career, so he’s really got to work on it this offseason. Just keep working his technique. I will say this, Ereck Flowers is the strongest player on that team right now, I guarantee it pound for pound the strongest guy on that team.

It’s definitely tough, coming from a guy that played left tackle all throughout college, he played for three years in the NFL, going over to the right side, it’s gonna be a big adjustment for him,Pugh said. I can speak just from personal experience. He’s got to look forward to the challenge. He’s got to go into it and embrace it, because if he goes into it with the attitude ‘This isn’t fair, that’s not what I signed up for,’ he’s gonna dig himself into a deeper hole. I know Ereck is going to be working his butt off in the offseason. I wish him nothing but the best and the rest of the offensive line.’

But they don’t sit and play video games all day in the unit. They still have to partake in programming and they get to use that as a reward for continuing good behavior, keeping the unit clean, and doing what they’re supposed to do.

The Post reported in October that the commissioner, who was formally appointed that same month, was rewarding inmates with pizza for good behavior.

The issue of the video games was raised by Council member Robert Holden (D -Queens), who recently toured Rikers Island and saw inmates playing a Madden NFLgame on a Sony Playstation in a common area.

He was surprised to learn the games are only for inmates climbing the punitive ladder �� meaning those who have misbehaved behind bars.

Correction Officers Benevolent Association President Elias Husamudeen said the system relies too heavily on rewards and not enough on discipline, like punitive segregation, which was eliminated for those under 22 in 2016.

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First of all, he calls the Giants’ defensive coordinator Bettchy,which will either catch on or fade away, depending on how James Bettcher fares in his role with his new team.

Kareem Martin, a linebacker in a defensive end’s body, knows more about the coach entrusted with reformulating the Giants’ defense than anyone working at the team facility in East Rutherford. Martin has four years of NFL experience, all with the Cardinals, the past three with Bettcher calling the shots on defense in Arizona. The Giants’ defensive players, Martin promises, are going to like what they are about to receive.

ESPN.com first reported Tuesday that Donahue had recently checked into a facility. It also first reported the second DUI incident on Monday.

The Jets said in a statement that they are aware of Donahue’s decision to enter a rehab facility.

We respect and support Dylan’s decision to seek treatment,the team said. It is important for him to focus on his health right now. The organization has a full support system in place when he is ready to return.

In the New Jersey incident, Port Authority police said Donahue’s crash happened around 2 a.m. after an officer saw Donahue drive his car around traffic cones and enter the Lincoln Tunnel. Donahue soon collided with the bus that had 15 people on board. The Jets player and a passenger were not injured.

Less than 10 months earlier, Donahue drove into a parked pickup truck that was unoccupied at 2:25 a.m. in Billings. Donahue and a passenger suffered minor injuries after Donahue’s SUV flipped onto its roof. According to the Billings city attorney, Donahue’s blood alcohol level was at 0.137; the legal limit is 0.08.

It’s going to be a relentless defense, Martin said Friday. We’re a heavy-blitz team in the past years, and he likes to get guys run up the field, and I think that’s what the guys are going to be really excited about, especially the guys up front. It’s a one-gap defense, so the guys up front, the outside linebackers and D-line, we’re just expected to go straight, hit the gap and cause disruption.

You look at the last few weeks of our season last year, that’s what we did in Arizona, and I can fully expect with the guys that we have here that we will do the same and easily compete with the talent, and with this scheme, this could be a top defense in the NFL.

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