K.C. Royals alter schedule for possible Chiefs opener

If the NFL wants to get back to the tradition of having the Super Bowl champions play on the opening Thursday night of the season, Major League Baseball cleared the way to make that move easier this year.

With the Kansas City Chiefs hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, there appeared to be a potential scheduling conflict. The NFL’s opening night is set for Thursday, Sept. 10. However, the Kansas City Royals, who share a lot with the Chiefs, had a 12:35 p.m. baseball game that day. The dueling events could have made logistics a nightmare.

The Royals graciously stepped aside, changing their schedule that week to free up Thursday for the Chiefs.

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"The Kansas City Royals today announced a schedule change for the series against the Oakland Athletics in September to accommodate the Kansas City Chiefs potentially opening at home at Arrowhead Stadium on Thursday, September 10," MLB said in a statement.

The Royals will now play a split doubleheader on the Tuesday of their four-game series with the A’s that week and have Thursday off.

It’s a nice move by the Royals to give their city-mates the chance to own that September Thursday. The decision sits in contrast to Baltimore in 2013 when the Ravens were forced to open the season on the road due to an Orioles game.

The NFL has traditionally opened the season with the Super Bowl champs at home on Thursday night unveiling their banner and celebrating last season. It’s not a rule, however. Last year to celebrate the NFL’s 100th season, the league put traditional rivals Green Bay and Chicago in that spot with the New England Patriots opening up on Sunday Night Football. With two new stadiums opening in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, it’s possible the NFL could go a similar route this year.

The league has not confirmed they will start the season with the Chiefs, but the Royals’ move paves the way to make that decision easier.

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LA Chargers trade Russell Okung to Carolina Panthers in exchange for Trai Turner, according to reports

The Carolina Panthers and Los Angeles Chargers have swapped Pro Bowl offensive linemen.

The Chargers traded left tackle Russell Okung to the Panthers in exchange for guard Trai Turner, according to reports by ESPN and NFL Network.

The trade has been tentatively agreed upon and can become official on March 18 when the new league year begins.

Turner — a third-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft — has been a Pro Bowl selection the previous five seasons and is under contract through the 2021 season. His cap hit in 2020 is $8.9 million and $11.5 million in 2021, according to Spotrac. Okung — a first-round pick by the Seattle Seahawks in 2010 — is under contract for one more season and has a cap hit of $13 million, per Spotrac. Okung was a Pro Bowl choice during the 2012 and 2017 seasons.

Okung missed significant playing time during the 2019 season after he was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism during the summer. Okung returned to the starting lineup in Week 8 and started in six games as the Chargers finished a disappointing 5-11 and fourth in the AFC West.

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Sources: Panthers, Bolts swap OLs Turner, Okung

The Chargers and Panthers are swapping Pro Bowl offensive linemen, with Trai Turner headed to Los Angeles and Russell Okung headed to Carolina, league sources told ESPN.

Turner, a guard who has been selected to five straight Pro Bowls, is signed through the 2021 season and is scheduled to earn base salaries of $8.5 million and $11 million the next two seasons, respectively.

Turner, however, wants a new deal, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The trade cannot be made official until 4 p.m. on March 18, the start of the NFL’s new league year.

Okung, a two-time Pro Bowl selection at left tackle, has one year left on his contract and is scheduled to be paid a base salary of $13 million.

Turner, who turns 26 on June 14, has started 80 of the 84 games he has appeared in for the Panthers since Carolina selected him in the third round of the 2014 draft.

After the news of his impending trade broke, Turner responded to Panthers teammate Gerald McCoy’s tweet saying “The NFL crazy!!” with one of his own that included an airplane emoji between two palm trees.

Okung, who turned 32 in October, was the sixth overall pick by the Seattle Seahawks in the 2010 draft. He joined the Chargers as a free agent in the 2017 offseason and has spent the past three seasons with the team.

Okung began last season on the reserve/non-football illness list because of a pulmonary embolism caused by blood clots during the offseason. He was activated in late October. He has started all 124 games of his NFL career.

The move will reunite Okung with his former offensive line coach with the Chargers, Pat Meyer.

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Tannehill reaffirms he'd 'like to be back' with Titans

Ryan Tannehill’s future will soon meet a a significant turning point.

Which direction he’ll proceed is unknown. He could return to Tennessee, where he came off the bench in the middle of the season to lead the Titans on a playoff run that saw them reach the AFC Championship Game. Or, he could go elsewhere.

"I like what we started there last year," Tannehill said during an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio. "And the guys that were on the team and I’d like to be back. We’ll see what happens. Obviously, getting down to the last couple weeks here. CBA and a lot of conversations gotta go on back and forth to kinda figure out where we’re at. We’ll see, it’s gonna be an exciting couple of weeks no matter what happens."

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Tannehill came to Tennessee via a trade that landed the Titans a backup quarterback and a sixth-round pick. The trade completed a tumultuous, uncertain time for the quarterback, who’d been cast aside by Miami due to a lengthy injury history and some inconsistency on the field.

There was the key word in the trade mentioned above: backup. Tannehill came to Nashville for security in the event the Titans again had to deal with an injury to Marcus Mariota. But it didn’t last long, as Mariota struggled enough for Titans coach Mike Vrabel to make a change at the position. From there, the Titans took off.

Now, Tannehill is approaching another uncertain offseason in which he doesn’t know where he might be taking snaps in the upcoming season. At least this time, he has some experience in such a situation.

"I learned a lot last year. Being in the situation I was last year where I was still under contract; knew I wasn’t going back to Miami, but I was still under contract," Tannehill said. "Couldn’t really do anything. Free agency had opened. I wasn’t able to talk to any other teams or anything like that. They basically said, ‘Hey we’re gonna try to trade you.’ My hands were tied. Just kinda had to sit there and I learned a lot through that just to be able to be patient and wait for what’s gonna happen.

"Don’t try to anticipate or worry about something you can’t control. At this point it’s all just a matter of playing the waiting game."

Tennessee has a few key situations to resolve, including figuring out how to bring back its rushing champion, Derrick Henry. But the Titans also need to solidify their quarterback position, and though Tannehill didn’t exactly throw them to the AFC title game, he did do enough to get them in position to find other ways to get there.

He’s one of the higher valued free agents on the market in a class filled with options under center. We’ll learn in a couple weeks if that value will keep him in Tennessee or send him elsewhere.

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Former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville headed for runoff in Alabama Senate race: ‘We’re going to overtime’

Tommy Tuberville is headed to overtime against Jeff Sessions in Alabama’s Senate race.

The former Auburn football coach, who is seeking to win Alabama’s Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, claimed 33 percent of votes in the state’s primary election on Tuesday. Jeff Sessions, who held the seat from 1997 until his resignation in 2017 when he became Attorney General, won 32 percent of the vote. Bradley Byrne, the state’s third Republican nominee, won 25 percent, failing to advance to the runoff.

Tuberville and Sessions will face off again in the March 31 runoff election. The winner of the Republican nomination will attempt to reclaim the seat held by Democrat Doug Jones in the November general election. Jones was elected to finish the remainder of Sessions’ term after a special election in 2017.

Both Tuberville and Sessions have built their respective campaigns on their support of President Donald Trump. The football coach made headlines in January when he claimed in a radio ad that, “God sent us Donald Trump.”

The race in Alabama between Tuberville and Sessions has largely focused on which candidate was more loyal to the president, instead of discussions about state issues.

“We’re going to overtime, and I know someone who knows how to win in overtime,” Tuberville said following the results of Tuesday’s election (via MSN.com). “We’re going to finish what President Trump started when he looked at Jeff Sessions from across the table and said, ‘You’re fired.'”

Sessions responded to Tuberville in kind, saying, “Anyone can say they are for the Trump agenda. But talk is cheap. But I have fought on the great issues of our day and won. I have stood alone on facts and principles and won.”

Tuberville — a native of Camden, Ark., who also coached Ole Miss, Texas Tech and Cincinnati — has even adopted some of Trump’s xenophobic language, especially as it relates to those of Middle Eastern descent.

“They told me we got more Middle Easterners coming across the border than we do Mexicans,” Tuberville said in June (via The Washington Post). “This was before the caravans started coming. I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ He said they’re coming all over the Middle East. They’re coming across the border, and they ain’t leaving. They’re coming for a reason. Folks, they’re taking over, and if we don’t open our eyes, it is going to be over with.”

Tuberville doubled down on that sentiment in February when he claimed “Sharia Law” had already made its way into the United States.

“I’ve been in the cities, folks, you can’t drive through a neighborhood. Why? Because terrorism has taken over. Sharia Law has taken over,” Tuberville said (via Yellowhammer News). “Folks, there (are) places you can go in this country that you’re not wanted. In our country. I mean this is not the Middle East.”

That has created a difficult situation for many of his former players, some of whom have said they don’t recognize the man who recruited them and turned Auburn into a consistent power in the Southeastern Conference.

According to a Washington Post feature on Tuberville, some of his former players have wondered what the self-described salesman — who in 2012 infamously left Texas Tech recruits at dinner upon finding out he had been hired at Cincinnati — actually believes.

“That doesn’t reflect the person that I knew,” Devin Aromashodu, a former Auburn receiver from 2002-05, said of Tuberville’s comments. “It sounds like two different people.”

Former Auburn quarterback Ben Leard, whom Tuberville coached in 1999 and 2000, had this to say: “I’ve seen this guy in the heat of battle, and we’ve bled and cried together. It’s a question on all of our minds. It’s not just the African American minds; it’s in all of our heads: ‘Did he really mean that? Did Tubs type that?’

“As much as I love the guy, now he’s a politician.”

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2020 NFL Draft: Pro day schedule

Between the NFL Scouting Combine and the 2020 NFL Draft, coaches and scouts turn their attention to pro day workouts. These events are not as all-encompassing as the combine, but are important enough for the key decision-makers in the league to travel around the country for more than a month to watch the talent up close and in person.

This year’s pro days are listed below by date.

NOTES: All times shown in ET. Dates and times can change. Pro days are added as we receive them.

March 5
» Kansas

March 6
» Auburn
» Bucknell

March 10
» Oklahoma State
» Wyoming

March 11
» Arkansas
» Colorado
» Oklahoma, 10 a.m.
» Oregon State
» Wisconsin

March 12
» Clemson
» Nebraska
» Oregon
» Princeton
» Southern Illinois
» Tulsa

March 13
» Georgia Southern
» Michigan
» Portland State

March 16
» Arizona State
» Temple
» Vanderbilt

March 17
» Arizona
» Fresno State
» Missouri
» Penn State

March 18
» Boston College
» Georgia
» Illinois State
» Michigan State
» Pittsburgh

March 19
» South Carolina
» South Carolina State
» Stanford
» Western Michigan

March 20
» Arkansas State
» California
» UNC-Charlotte
» Virginia Tech

March 23
» Indiana
» Iowa
» Memphis
» North Carolina
» Syracuse

March 24
» Alabama, 10 a.m.
» Cincinnati
» Iowa State
» Texas A&M
» UCLA

March 25
» Baylor
» Connecticut
» Dayton
» Hawaii
» Maryland
» Minnesota
» Mississippi
» Navy
» North Carolina State
» Ohio State
» Rhode Island
» St. John’s (Minnesota)
» USC
» Utah State
» West Virginia

March 26
» Louisiana Tech
» Louisville
» Mississippi State
» North Dakota State
» North Texas
» SMU
» Tennessee
» UCF
» Utah
» Wake Forest

March 27
» Appalachian State
» Florida State
» Kentucky
» Lenoir-Rhyne
» San Diego State
» TCU

March 30
» Ball State
» South Florida

March 31
» Florida
» Houston
» Southern Mississippi
» Washington

April 1
» Florida International
» Louisiana-Lafayette
» Miami
» Notre Dame
» Texas
» Washington State

April 2
» Boise State
» Florida Atlantic
» Montana
» Purdue
» Tulane, 1 p.m.

April 3
» LSU

April 7
» Liberty

April 8
» Texas Tech
» Virginia

April 9
» Alabama (Tua Tagovailoa workout)

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Red Sox waiting for third opinion on Sale’s elbow

The Boston Red Sox are waiting on one more medical opinion on Chris Sale’s injured elbow before they make a decision on the ace pitcher’s status.

Red Sox interim manager Ron Roenicke told reporters Wednesday that the team is still waiting to hear from renowned surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Roenicke stressed that the Red Sox “need to get this right” before determining how to proceed with Sale.

ElAttrache is the third medical expert to review the MRI on Sale’s left elbow, along with surgeon Dr. James Andrews and the Red Sox’s medical staff.

“We want as many opinions as we can,” Roenicke said. “Dr. Andrews saw it and read the MRI. I don’t want to comment on it until we get one more opinion.”

Sale underwent the MRI on Tuesday after experiencing elbow soreness following his first live batting practice session.

Sale, 30, saw Andrews this past August after the seven-time All-Star was shut down for the season with elbow inflammation. Sale had a platelet-rich plasma injection at the time but avoided surgery.

Sale threw to batters Sunday for the first time since August and told the team of the soreness in his elbow Monday.

The Red Sox had already said that Sale would start the season on the injured list after he reported to camp with pneumonia.

Last March, the Red Sox signed Sale to a five-year, $145 million contract extension. The new deal starts this season and runs through the 2024 season. Sale will earn $30 million per year from 2020 to 2022 and $27.5 million in 2023 and 2024.

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Joe Burrow: 'Please don't compare me' to Tom Brady

Joe Burrow sits as the presumptive No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft but would like the expectations for his pro career calibrated down a peg to start.

Last week during the NFL Scouting Combine, NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah compared Burrow to Tom Brady, noting the two quarterbacks have similar mechanics.

"When you watch these guys side by side, #TomBrady mechanically, watch what you see from Brady and tell me this does not look identically the same from #JoeBurrow. It is eerie." – @MoveTheSticks on @nflnetwork #NFLCombine pic.twitter.com/GeAr9uPWxe

Asked about Jeremiah’s comparison during an interview with NFL Network’s Colleen Wolfe and Andrew Hawkins, Burrow respectfully would prefer not to be compared to a QB who has already won six Super Bowls.

"Please don’t compare me to the best player of all time," Burrow said. "Let me do my own thing. Don’t do that to me, please."

Told it’s a compliment to be compared to the GOAT, the 23-year-old responded:

"It is, but it’s Tom Brady."

Burrow’s reaction is as dead-on as one of his passes in the College Football Playoffs.

He has the talent and mental makeup to be a great NFL player, but let’s not put him in a gold jacket just yet.

Burrow might look like Brady with some of his pocket movements, but he’s got a long way to go to reach those heights.

One thing is certain, come April’s draft Burrow will be selected way ahead of where Brady went 20 years ago.

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A.J. Bouye 'excited' about being traded to Denver

A.J. Bouye will have a new home when the league year opens on March 18 after the Jacksonville Jaguars agreed to trade the veteran cornerback to Denver on Tuesday.

Bouye told Mike Klis of 9News Denver several teams were interested in acquiring him, but he liked what he saw in the Broncos down the stretch last season and is looking forward to playing in Vic Fangio’s system.

The veteran corner said he talked to Broncos GM John Elway after the trade agreement went through.

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"After everything becomes official he said he’s excited for me to come,” Bouye told Klis. "And I talked to Vic. (Agent) Fred (Lyles) gave me some possibilities about certain teams and I started watching film of Denver’s scheme. I watched Vic when he was DC with the Bears. So, I’m excited, man."

Bouye’s play fell off last season, as did the entire Jacksonville defense. The Broncos are buying low with a 28-year-old cornerback who fits perfectly into Fangio’s system with his ability to play across the formation and is one of the better run-defending corners. It’s the type of move that savvy teams make. If Bouye returns to form in the final year of his contract, it’s well worth it for Denver to give up their extra fourth-round pick.

Entering his eighth season, Bouye likes the promise that the young Broncos have behind quarterback Drew Lock to engineer a quick turnaround.

"The first thing that came to mind, I was definitely paying attention to Drew and his quarterback play,” Bouye said. "I saw how they played certain teams out of the division, like Houston. And I just like this scheme. I think it’s a good opportunity for DBs to make plays. And how they finished the season strong, I was paying attention to all that.”

The Broncos played better than their record indicated last season, but they were terrible in close games, with five of their nine losses coming in one-score tilts. Lock’s emergence down the stretch also helped Fangio’s squad close winning four of the final five games, setting up an offseason of optimism in Denver.

The Bouye trade likely means the end of Chris Harris’ run in Denver. Harris and Bouye are interestingly repped by the same agent. Elway adding the ex-Jags corner does not completely pull the Broncos from re-signing Harris — the Broncos have $70 million in cap space — but signals the market for the veteran’s service should be deep when the new league year opens on March 18, and likely too rich for Elway to match.

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