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News, Scores, Teams, Stories & More on Northeast OH Sports on cleveland.com

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    Edwin Encarnacion came off the disabled list Wednesday night and hit two home runs for the Indians in a losing cause against the Red Sox. Watch video

    BOSTON - It didn't take a medical degree to figure out that Edwin Encarnacion was feeling a lot better than he was 12 days ago when he went on the disabled list with a bone bruise in his right hand and a swollen biceps muscle in his left arm.

    Encarnacion, In his first at-bat Wednesday night after coming off the disabled list earlier in the afternoon, hit a 2-0 pitch 417 feet over The Green Monster in left center field to give the Indians a 2-0 lead. In the fifth inning, he did it again, but this was a trick shot.

    He sent a 3-1 pitch down the left field line. It drifted into foul territory and then came back into fair territory. It cleared the 37-foot tall Monster and hit a banner on the back of it --- 358 feet from the plate.

    "I don't know how it hit that," said Encarnacion.

    The Indians lost the game, 10-4, but they have their cleanup hitter back.

    "Oh, man, what a nice way to get him back," said manager Terry Francona. "To take a swing like he did the first at-bat. I'm sure you just relax at the plate. That was really nice to see."

    Encarnacion has been dealing with a bone bruise since July 15 when he was hit on the right hand by a pitch from Yankee reliever Chad Green. He tried to play through it by altering his swing, but that caused him to strain the biceps in his left arm.

    On Aug. 10, he left a game against the White Sox after walking in the first inning. The Indians placed him on the disabled list the next day.

    Like most players Encarnacion did not want to go on the DL, but he finally relented. "It was best for me and for the team to get healthy and be 100 percent," he said. "We don't need to hurry and get worse. I need to get ready for September and the playoffs."

    Encarnacion said the only thing that ruined his return was the Tribe's loss. But the Indians won the first two games of this four-game set against the powerful Red Sox and can take the series with a win Thursday against David Price.

    "It's not good that we lost, but that's part of the game," said Encarnacion. "I feel healthy. That's good for me and for the team because I know I can help this team win games and it's great when you're feeling 100 percent like you can be yourself. I am right now and we'll keep going."

    Encarnacion, hitting .232 with 27 homers and 85 RBI, is getting closer to being the only player in baseball to hit 30 or more homers in the last seven seasons. But more than anything else his teammates are glad he's back in the lineup.

    "Man, it unbelievable," said Carlos Carrasco, Wednesday's losing pitcher. "The guy was for like 20 days (actually 11) without playing and he comes in tonight and hits two homers. He's running the bases. He's making plays (at first base). I'm glad he's back."

    Encarnacion was asked about hitting at Fenway Park Park. He answered, "I love it."

    He should.

    He's hit five home runs in his last three games at the Fens. Over his last 19 games here, he's hitting .315 (17-for-54) with nine homers and 19 RBI.


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    On this late-night episode of our Buckeye Talk Podcast, we're giving our take on the investigation, answering some of your questions and discussing what's next for Meyer, Gene Smith and the Buckeyes on and off the field.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State's Board of Trustees announced Wednesday night it has suspended football coach Urban Meyer and athletic director Gene Smith after an investigation of how they handled domestic-abuse allegations against former receivers coach Zach Smith.

    * See cleveland.com's complete coverage of the Ohio State investigation.

    On this late-night episode of our Buckeye Talk Podcast, we're giving our take on the investigation, answering some of your questions and discussing what's next for Meyer, Gene Smith and the Buckeyes on and off the field.

    You can always submit questions via Twitter to the @BuckeyeTalkPod account. You can also now submit questions, comments and complaints via email to BuckeyeTalkPod@gmail.com.

    Before listening to the podcast below, make sure to subscribe to Buckeye Talk at any of these places:

    Buckeye Talk on iTunes

    Buckeye Talk on Google Play

    Buckeye Talk on Stitcher

    * Buckeye Talk on Spotify


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    Mary Kay Cabot and Dan Labbe look ahead to Thursday night's preseason game. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Browns take on the Eagles on Thursday night in their third preseason game. It's the dress rehearsal game and the starters are expected to play at least a half.

    Mary Kay Cabot and Dan Labbe look at three things to watch in Browns-Eagles.


    Get the best Browns news and perspective in your inbox at lunch time every weekday. Sign up for our Browns newsletter.


    Go inside the Browns every week with cleveland.com's Orange and Brown Podcast, featuring Mary Kay Cabot and Dan Labbe. Listen and subscribe here.


    Want more Browns? Subscribe to our Browns YouTube channel for interviews, analysis and more.


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    Avery, a fifth-round pick by the Browns, has risen up the depth chart and followed in his cousin's footsteps.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Chris Avery has a unique way of describing his cousin, Browns linebacker Genard Avery.

    "I call him a walking muscle," Chris said. "He's a walking muscle."

    Genard's teammate and fellow linebacker Joe Schobert has one, too.

    "He is a human bowling ball," Schobert said.

    Browns special teams coordinator Amos Jones offers an impressive comparison.

    "The guy would kill me if I said it, but you know who I am thinking about, right?" Jones said. "He wore number 92 for Pittsburgh."

    Yeah, that No. 92 for Pittsburgh.

    "When I first saw (Genard) cover a punt," Jones said, "James (Harrison) played left tackle (on the punt unit) for us (when Jones was in Pittsburgh) -- when I first saw him cover a punt out here for us in OTAs, just the way that he ran with those big legs and big upper body, he reminds you a lot of a guy that has the potential to be a dynamic player in whatever phase he is playing."

    Avery has a long ways to go to reach Harrison's level, but the University of Memphis product, selected by the Browns in the fifth round of April's draft, looks like he could manage some of Harrison's insane Instagram workouts. He has muscles on top of muscles -- if he were a Spongebob character, he would gain easy entrance into the Salty Spitoon. Saying someone's legs are tree trunks is a cliche, sure, but there's no other way to accurately describe them in this case.

    Avery is using that strength to bully his way up the Browns' depth chart. He received first-team reps last Thursday night against the Bills. He's also carrying the dreams of his family on his broad shoulders, creating a path for his mother and brothers and following in the footsteps of his older cousin.

    'A country boy'

    Genard Avery, Baker MayfieldGenard Avery has shown off his speed around the edge to go with his strength.  

    Avery's size belies his athleticism.

    "He's a country boy, now," Chris said when Genard's surprising combination of strength and athleticism was brought up to him.

    Grenada, Mississippi, where Avery grew up, is about 100 miles north of Jackson. Memphis, Tennessee, is about 100 miles north of Grenada. According to the U.S. Census Bureau website, the population is a shade over 21,000. Of that, 22.5 percent are estimated to live in poverty.

    "It's country. Not a lot of avenues. Income real low," Chris said.

    "It's not like the city where there's a lot of things that you can venture off to do," Chris said. "Only thing he could do was sports and work."

    And Genard did both.

    His mom, Tiffany and Chris' mom are sisters, making Tiffany and Chris first cousins. They both shared a house with their grandmother, who had 12 kids. The house always had people living there.

    "Hey, man, this is Mississippi. We have a big family," Chris said with a laugh.

    Tiffany eventually set out on her own and Genard lived with her and his three younger brothers. She worked odd jobs and did, said Chris, "whatever it takes to put one and one together to get two."

    She wasn't easy on her boys, either.

    "It was hard growing up in that household because she applied so much (pressure)," Genard said. "She held us to a standard."

    Sports and work. That's what Genard did. He searched for whatever work he could find to help out his family. Farm work. Yard work. Working with Chris at his trucking company.

    "I used to cut a lot of grass and do a little farmwork and wash cars and stuff like that," Genard said. "My grandad had his own little construction business, so I used to help him a lot working growing up."

    "That was his drive to do the best he can to support his brothers and help his mom," Chris said. "At that time, he was so young, that was the only option he could do for us, do those side jobs."

    Even when he was in college at Memphis, he would come back home during weekends off and work.

    Getting to Memphis first, though, took some work of its own.

    Genard saw Chris make it out of Grenada. He played football at Kentucky State and spent time in the Arena Football League and NFL Europa. He spent a training camp with the Dallas Cowboys. He's back in Grenada now where he runs a trucking company, but he made something of himself. His son, C.J., currently plays football at Louisville.

    Genard, almost 20 years later, set out on Chris' path

    "I used to hear all the talk about my cousin, this and that, and I was like, 'Man, I want to be better than my cousin,'" Genard said. "I was always that person, I always wanted to be better and do more than my cousin."

    So, of course he played football. It's also why he took up powerlifting.

    "I used to come in and, on the wall, they used to have all the state champions and stuff like that and I said, 'Man, I want to be on that wall one day,'" Genard said. "So I ended up powerlifting."

    And he ended up all over that wall, winning the 6A state championship and rewriting the school's record book.

    He also ran track. Sure, he threw discus and shot put, like every muscled-up football player, but he also did sprint relays and hurdles. That's how he made it to states as a runner, too.

    "When I made it to state, them guys, they're 150 (pounds) rolling and I was 220 in high school," Genard said, "and I'm like, man, I can't keep up with these guys."

    Which was fine, because everything he was doing was about football.

    "I always worked hard at other stuff to help me with football," Genard said, "and being a track runner, conditioning, throwing, all that, I always relied back on football and that's when it helped."

    Growing up, he wanted to play for Ole Miss. He wanted to stay close to home. He was only a two-star recruit, though, so that opportunity wasn't coming. He ultimately settled on Memphis because the coaches at the time, Justin Fuente and his staff, seemed to genuinely care about his situation at home.

    Avery told the website RebelGrove.com that his mom got sick his junior year in high school and he almost left Memphis in 2016 after a new staff came in. He didn't go into detail during his interview with cleveland.com about his mom's situation.

    "It's getting handled now," Genard said.

    Norvell convinced Avery to stay and he finished his career at Memphis with the second-most tackles for loss in school history (45.5) and third in career sacks (21.5). He set a single season tackles for loss record with 22 in 2017.

    Most importantly, he graduated in three-and-a-half years. He became the first person in his family to do it.

    "I did that for mom," he said. "I had a hard summer, but I took a lot of courses through my senior year for that summer to graduate because I knew if I didn't graduate then, it's hard to try to come back and graduate."

    "He made a statement to the family," Chris said, "because no one had done that in our family and that was real big. For him to go through what he went through and come from where he came from, that was great."

    Genard said it was more meaningful to his mom to see him walk in December than when he got drafted to the NFL a few months later.

    "She wanted us to graduate and she said just keep going farther and farther," Genard said. "Hard work does pay off, that's what she always said and she taught me that growing up. I used to clean up the house, be on time and everything she used to teach I'm doing now."

    '100 miles per hour'

    Genard AveryAvery got work with the starters in the last preseason game and has worked up the depth chart throughout camp.  

    Mychal Kendricks sees some of himself in Avery. It make sense. Kendricks is listed at 5-foot-11, 240 pounds, not much smaller than the rookie.

    It goes beyond that, though. It's Avery's passion and drive that stands out to the veteran linebacker.

    "In walkthroughs, he's going 100 miles per hour," Kendricks said.

    Then he said this next thing very slowly with emphasis on the last part. "I'm like, 'walk-through.'"

    "He takes it and goes 100 miles an hour in any direction he wants to go," Schobert said.

    Jones sees it, in good and bad ways.

    "I would agree with that," he said when presented with the assessment of Avery always going all-out. "Usually when he makes a mistake, he makes it 100 percent, which might not be right technique, but at least it is 100 percent.

    "Shoot, that you have to love, especially as a linebacker."

    Chris definitely saw that in him.

    "Genard had that 'it' about him," he said. "When I look at him, I see how he attacked things. Don't nothing bother him and he did everything full speed."

    He put it on display early against Buffalo, collapsing off the edge to help bring down LeSean McCoy for a two-yard loss on the Bills' second play of the night.

    It was the next logical step in the quick rise for the rookie, now playing with the starting unit, a rise that didn't surprise head coach Hue Jackson.

    "I saw the tenacity, the relentlessness, the power and the speed," Jackson said. "Those things show up and it is real, and it is against the first team offense all of the time. He can do it."

    And he's putting in the work, too.

    "He has been anxious to learn more about the game," linebacker Christian Kirksey said. "He is explosive. He is a workaholic. He works his butt off."

    A lot of that came from Chris, who preached to Genard to always hone his craft, always take care of his body; that whatever he puts into it, that's what he's going to get out of it.

    And something simple that Chris taught him, too.

    "Football is football," Genard said. "Either you can play or you can't. A team's not going to draft you if they think you can't play, so you just keep doing what you did throughout this whole process in your life and don't ever change up."

    That process in Avery's life includes a work ethic that allowed him to help support his family. It includes a drive that made him want to follow in Chris' footsteps and go even further. It is the values instilled by his mother that made graduating college a priority.

    It's why he's in the NFL, making NFL money and talking about buying his mom a house.

    "It's great," Chris said. "She's deserving of it and he is, too, because they went through a bunch of hard times."

    Chris is having fun watching it, too.

    "Wherever I fell short at in sports and powerlifting," he said, "(Genard's accomplishments) make me complete because now I see him taking it to the next level."

    The early returns are good, too, that this could just be the beginning for Genard.

    "There are not a lot of people in the NFL that can stop him if he gets going where he wants to go," Schobert said.

    Nothing has stopped him yet.


    Follow: on Twitteron Facebook


    Get the best Browns news and perspective in your inbox at lunch time every weekday. Sign up for our Browns newsletter.


    Go inside the Browns every week with cleveland.com's Orange and Brown Podcast, featuring Mary Kay Cabot and Dan Labbe. Listen and subscribe here.


    Want more Browns? Subscribe to our Browns YouTube channel for interviews, analysis and more.


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    Check here for the live first-round leaderboard for the PGA Tour's The Northern Trust 2018 on Thursday, Aug. 23, in New Jersey. The Northern Trust is the opener of the FedExCup Playoffs.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka comprise one of the notable groups for Rounds 1-2 of the PGA Tour's The Northern Trust 2018 this week in New Jersey. Round 1 is Thursday, Aug. 23.

    The Northern Trust is the first of four events in the FedExCup Playoffs.

    Among other notable groups: Tiger Woods, Marc Leishman and Tommy Fleetwood; Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson and Tony Finau; Justin Rose, Bubba Watson and Jason Day; and Ryan Armour, Chez Reavie and Brendan Steele.

    Johnson, Thomas, Koepka, Rose and Watson finished Nos. 1-5 in the FedExCup "regular-season'' standings.

    The original field of 125 (120 will start at The Northern Trust) will be cut to 100 after The Northern Trust; to 70 after the Dell Technologies Championship; and to 30 after the BMW Championship. The top 30 play in the TOUR Championship.

    Johnson is ranked No. 1 in the world. His PGA Tour season features three victories among 10 Top-10's.

    Thomas has won three times this season, including the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron.

    Koepka won two majors this season -- the U.S. Open and PGA Championship. He went back-to-back at the U.S. Open.

    Rose has won twice this season; Watson, three times.

    No. 11 Mickelson, 48, won WGC-Mexico Championship 2018, his first victory since British Open 2013.

    No. 20 Woods, 42, tied for sixth at U.S. Open 2018 and was runner-up at PGA Championship 2018. He owns five Top-10's this season but zero victories; the most recent of his 79 PGA Tour titles occurred at WGC-Bridgestone 2013.

    No. 37 Armour, a Silver Lake native and a former standout at Walsh Jesuit and Ohio State, has experienced a career revitalization in his early 40's. After a missed cut in the 2017-18 PGA Tour season opener, Armour won the Sanderson Farms Championship three weeks later. It was his his first career PGA Tour title (in his 105th start) and secured his card through the 2019-20 season.

    In July, Armour finished second at the Quicken Loans National. Most recently, he finished tied for eighth at the Wyndham Championship, which ended Aug. 19.

    Armour owns nine Top-25's and has earned $2.41 million this season, the latter more than double his career earnings prior.

    PGA TOUR
    THE NORTHERN TRUST
    Site: Paramus, N.J.
    Course: Ridgewood CC. Yardage: 7,385. Par: 71.
    Purse: $9 million. Winner's share: $1,620,000.
    Television: Thursday-Friday, 2-6 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday 1-2:45 p.m. (Golf Channel); 3-6 p.m. (CBS); Sunday, noon-1:45 p.m. (Golf Channel), 2-6 p.m. (CBS).
    Defending champion: Dustin Johnson.
    FedExCup leader: Dustin Johnson.
    Last week: Brandt Snedeker won the Wyndham Championship.
    Notes: This is the first of four FedEx Cup playoff events that conclude with the Tour Championship at East Lake. Points count quadruple for the opening three events, then are reset for the Tour Championship. ... Tiger Woods returns to the FedExCup playoffs for the first time in five years. He starts at No. 20. ... Harris English and Nick Taylor moved into the top 125 to qualify for the playoffs and keep full cards for next year. Seamus Power, who missed the cut at the Wyndham Championship, finished at No. 125. ... Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Bud Cauley and Patrick Rodgers are not playing, leaving the field at 120 players. ... The top 100 in the FedEx Cup advance to next week at the TPC Boston. ... U.S. Open and PGA champion Brooks Koepka will have his first shot at reaching No. 1 in the world. ... The field includes Ian Poulter and Paul Casey, both just outside qualifying for the European Ryder Cup team with two weeks remaining. ... Matt Kuchar won at Ridgewood in 2010. ... The tournament returns next year to Liberty National. After that, it will alternate with the TPC Boston. ... Snedeker moved to No. 30 with his victory at the Wyndham Championship.
    Next week: Dell Technologies Championship.
    Online: www.pgatour.com

    (Fact box from Associated Press.)


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    Check here for the live first-round leaderboard for the LPGA Tour's CP Women's Canadian Open 2018 on Thursday, Aug. 23.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Sung Hyun Park, Nasa Hataoka, Jin Young Ko, Brooke Henderson, Ariya Jutanugarn, Minjee Lee, Moriya Jutanugarn, Lexi Thompson, Lydia Ko and Georgia Hall are among notables in the field for the LPGA Tour's CP Women's Canadian Open 2018 this week. Round 1 is Thursday, Aug. 23.

    LPGA TOUR
    CP WOMEN'S CANADIAN OPEN
    Site: Regina, Saskatchewan.
    Course: Wascana CC. Yardage: 6,675. Par: 71.
    Purse: $2,250,000. Winner's share: $337,500.
    Television: Thursday-Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday, 3-6 p.m. (Golf Channel); Sunday, 4-7 p.m. (Golf Channel.
    Defending champion: Sung Hyun Park.
    Race to CME Globe leader: Ariya Jutanugarn.
    Previous week: Sung Hyun Park won the Indy Women in Tech Championship.
    Notes: Sung Hyun Park joined Ariya Jutanugarn as the only three-time winners on the LPGA Tour this year. No one else has won more than once. ... Lydia Ko has won three times at the Women's Canadian Open -- the first one in 2012 when she was 15, making her the youngest winner in LPGA history. ... Americans won three of the opening four events on the LPGA Tour schedule. Since then, the only American to win was Annie Park on June 10 at the ShopRite Classic. ... Sung Hyun Park became the third player to eclipse $1 million in earnings, joining Ariya Jutanugarn and So Yeon Ryu. ... Lexi Thompson returned last week after taking three weeks off for emotional and mental fatigue. She tied for 12th. Thompson has gone more than a year without winning. ... The Women's Canadian Open joined the LPGA schedule in 2001, when Annika Sorenstam won. ... Ariya Jutanugarn, Ryu and Ko share the tournament record score of 265.
    Next week: Cambia Portland Classic.
    Online: www.lpga.com

    (Fact box from Associated Press.)


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    The Cleveland Browns have a lot of talent linebackers. They also need help at other positions such as wide receiver. Could they make a deal? Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - Scribbles in my notebook while waiting for the Browns to play Philadelphia in their third preseason game:

    1. Can the Browns actually have too many good linebackers? I won't go that far. But linebacker probably has the most talent of any position on the team. Christian Kirksey, Joe Schobert and Jamie Collins are the starters based on the latest depth chart. But in the second preseason game, Collins was playing with the second team. Rookie Genard Avery spent a lot of time with the starters.

    2. The Browns have a fifth linebacker of note -- Mychal Kendricks. He was a salary cap casualty of the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Browns quickly signed him as a free agent. Kendricks looks like a superb pass rusher. They also have James Burgess, who started eight games at linebacker after Collins was injured last season.

    3. It's possible Collins is still recovering from MCL knee surgery, which he had nine months ago. He's playing, but the knee probably isn't as strong as it was before. The Browns have been careful with him in training camp, not wanting to risk another injury.

    4. In a casual conversation with Cleveland.com's Dan Labbe, he mentioned the possibility of the Browns trading one of their linebackers. I thought about that for a while. General Manager John Dorsey isn't afraid to make deals. The Browns still need another veteran wide receiver. And maybe some help on the offensive line.

    5. It's possible the Browns could trade a linebacker. Collins signed a 4-year, $50 million deal before the 2017 season. He was guaranteed $26 million, according to overthecap.com. He has $12 million guaranteed left on the deal. He could be cut after 2018 without being paid any more cash. But it seems the contract makes it hard to trade him.

    Cleveland Browns training camp, August 12, 2018Cleveland Browns Christian Kirksey (L) and Jamie Collins are part of a deep group of linebackers.  

    6. Avery was a fifth-round pick from Memphis. The coaches love him. His quick ascension from a rookie who'd help on special teams to a key part of the defense is what makes the linebacker situation very interesting.

    7. Jackson on Avery: "He can play linebacker. He can rush. He can do a lot of different things...the more he plays, the better he's going to get. I think he's going to be a real contributing member of our football team...I saw the tenacity, the relentlessness, the power and the speed...He can do it."

    8. Jackson praised how Austin Corbett is adapting to left guard. The second-round pick was a left tackle at Nevada. And Jackson is happy with Joel Bitonio moving from left guard to left tackle with the Browns. But the offensive line has to prove itself in the post-Joe Thomas era. The line's run blocking struggled in the preseason opener, but was excellent in Game 2 vs. Buffalo.

    9. The coaches praise Emmanuel Ogbah, but the defensive end has had a quiet training camp in terms of making big plays. Ogbah had surgery to repair a broken foot last November. So that could be a reason he hasn't "flashed," as the coaches often say. Like Collins, he's still coming back from serious surgery.

    10. With Antonio Callaway dealing with a mild groin injury, rookie Damion Ratley has played a lot of receiver in practice. He has had some very good moments. He was a sixth-round pick from Texas A&M. At 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, he has the size of an NFL receiver.

    11. The Browns have had 20 penalties in the first two games. Jackson wants to see that number cut drastically. Jackson said: "The penalty issue, we have to curb that...that involves the discipline of our football team. We talk about it all time. We have to do it."

    12. The Browns have had some dumb penalties, including two for taunting in the opener. They had three for offensive pass interference in the second game. This team needs a lot of work when it comes to "discipline," as Jackson calls it. There are a lot of new players from several different teams. Continuity is an issue.

    13. Until Jackson mentioned the Browns needing to force some turnovers, I didn't realize they had not picked off a pass in the first two games. Nor have they recovered a fumble. Gregg Williams wants an aggressive defense, and it's time to show it. The Browns ranked No. 31 in interceptions last season, with only seven in 16 games.

    14. The first half should be interesting. The Super Bowl champion Eagles are expected to play most of their starters. Carson Wentz (knee surgery) is still out, but Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles will be at quarterback. I expect the Browns defense to receive its first real challenge of the preseason.

    15. Earlier in the week, I wrote about about the Browns needing to work on their passing game with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback. He has thrown only 12 passes in the entire preseason. Let's see if they open up the playbook a bit.


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    The Cleveland Browns defense has an excellent first half against Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles, forcing four turnovers.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Let's start with the good from the Browns' preseason game Thursday against Philadelphia.

    Yes, the good and the Cleveland Browns.

    Let's start with the defense, especially Myles Garrett.

    When I was at Tuesday's practice, Hue Jackson raved about his defensive end.

    "He's been phenomenal," said the Browns head coach.

    That was before Garrett had two sacks, including one for a safety. He also had two other quarterback hits. He drew a holding penalty.

    It was an eye-popping, jaw-dropping display of sheer speed and power going after veteran quarterback Nick Foles.

    The Sashi Brown front office made the obvious choice when grabbing Garrett at the top of the 2017 draft.

    But the Browns could have traded down...

    They could have taken a quarterback such as Mitchell Trubisky...

    But they played it smart and safe with Garrett, who looks ready for a monster season. He's the type of player who can become the personality of a defense.

    Garrett had seven sacks in 11 games last season, when he battled ankle problems. If Garrett stays healthy, he's headed to the Pro Bowl.

    MAKING AN IMPACT

    Gregg Williams used his key players in the first half, and they responded to the defensive coordinator's demand to force some turnovers.

    In the first two preseason games, they had none. No interceptions. No recovered fumbles.

    In the first half against the Eagles, they picked off two passes. They forced two fumbles.

    Four turnovers.

    Rookie Genard Avery broke through the line, hit Foles and stripped the ball out of his hands.

    Defensive back Terrance Mitchell ripped the ball out of the arms of running back Matt Jones, and it was recovered by Larry Ogunjobi.

    Linebacker Jamie Collins and defensive back Briean Boddy-Calhoun each had interceptions.

    Some of Philadelphia's prime-time players sat out the game, but it still is meaningful to see the starting defense shut out the Eagles in the first half.

    The only real concern is that rookie Denzel Ward left the game because of a back injury. No other details were immediately available.

    AS FOR THE OFFENSE

    It is painfully clear the passing game with Tyrod Taylor and the starters is still disjointed.

    A few times, Jarvis Landry and Taylor seemed have different ideas about where the ball should be thrown.

    Ten passes were thrown somewhere near Landry, but several were way off-target. He had just three catches for 23 yards.

    The Eagles also brought a lot of pressure on Taylor, who was sacked twice. He finished the first half 11-of-16 passing for 65 yards. He also suffered a minor injury to his left (non-throwing) hand. He was out for a bit, but he returned.

    Rookie Baker Mayfield filled in during the first half and also struggled: 2-of-5 for 19 yards. He was sacked and he fumbled.

    Like Taylor, he didn't have much time to throw.

    The running game with Carlos Hyde and Nick Chubb looks strong and exciting.

    Don't ask me what the Browns were doing when they had the ball on the 1-yard line and threw four passes (incomplete) trying to cover those last 36 inches for a touchdown.

    I guess they were working on something...

    But overall, my biggest concern is that the passing game doesn't appear to be ready for the regular season.



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    Ka'ai Tom has an RBI single for the RubberDucks.

    nellie rodriguez.jpgNellie Rodriguez 

    AKRON, Ohio -- Nellie Rodriguez had three hits and an RBI and the RubberDucks used six pitchers in a 3-2 victory Thursday night over the Erie SeaWolves at Canal Park.

    Akron (73-56) got off to a fast start with two runs in the first inning.

    Sam Haggerty started with a single and Andrew Calica followed with an RBI double. With two outs, Ka'ai Tom singled to make it 2-0.

    In the third inning, Calica singled and then stole second. With one out, Rodriguez doubled to give Akron a 3-1 lead.

    Calica finished 2-for-3 with an RBI.

    Erie scored a run in the eighth to close to 3-2, but right-hander Rob Kaminsky closed out the game with a scoreless 1 1/3 innings for his fourth save.

    Akron left-handed starter Matt Whitehouse gave up one hit and one run in three innings, striking out four. Left-hander David Speer (4-2, 2.76 ERA) pitched a hitless 1 1/3 innings to get the decision.

    Box score from Thursday night's game.


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    Tyrod Taylor provided a scare when he left the game in the first quarter with a hand injury. He returned but was unable to generate any points in a 5-0 victory over the Eagles. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Some of the Browns' worst fears and greatest hopes played out in a 5-0 victory over the Eagles in the Thursday night's third preseason game.

    Tyrod Taylor left briefly with a left hand injury but returned, Baker Mayfield was checked for a concussion at the request of the independent neurologist but was deemed to be fine, and rookie cornerback Denzel Ward left with a back injury and did not return.

    The extent of Ward's injury was not known after the game, but coach Hue Jackson said he'll know more tomorrow after Ward undergoes an MRI or others exams. He also said Taylor will undergo further exams on his left hand, but is confident he'll be fine for the opener Sept. 9 against the Steelers.

    Mayfield went to the medical tent in the fourth quarter after tripping over a defender and banging his head on Shon Coleman's leg before going to the ground on his fourth-quarterback interception with 11:49 left in the game. He finished 8-of-12 for 76 yards, with no touchdowns and the one pick for a 49.3 rating. He was sacked twice.

    Mayfield got some of those first-team reps that coach Hue Jackson had denied so far this preseason, but only because Taylor left the game for two series in the first quarter after falling on his left hand on a fourth-down play at the Philadelphia 1. It sent a scare through FirstEnergy Stadium, just about 4 1/2 minutes after Ward had left the field.

    Fortunately for the Browns, Taylor returned to action in the second quarter. Mayfield went back to the bench, where the Browns want him at the beginning of the season.

    While Taylor was in the locker room, Mayfield went 2-of-5 for 19 yards against the Eagles' defensive starters. He was running the offense that lost a yard after an Emmanuel Ogbah fumble recovery set the Browns up at the Philadelphia 35. Mayfield fumbled on a sack, but the ball was recovered by right tackle Chris Hubbard.

    Zane Gonzalez connected on a field goal from 54 yards out for the only offensive points of the game.

    The Browns' defense took the ball away from the Eagles four times in the first half, had a fourth-down stop and Myles Garrett got an end zone sack of Nick Foles for a safety.

    Taylor's injury

    Taylor fell on the hand after throwing an incomplete pass to Jarvis Landry on fourth and goal from the 1, his fourth straight incompletion from the 1.

    Taylor walked into the locker room with the medical staff, but came back out at the end of the first quarter and started taking some snaps on the sidelines. He trotted back on the field with 14:06 left in the half after Briean Boddy-Calhoun's interception. 

    Taylor was unable to generate any points despite the defense getting the ball back for him three times on takeaways. He finished his five drives 11-of-16 for 65 yards for a 76.3 rating.

    Taylor was without two of his top receivers in Josh Gordon, who could return to practice on Saturday, and Antonio Callaway, who sat out with a groin injury.

    He remained in the locker room for treatment in the second half, and left the Stadium immediately after the game. He did not speak to the media.

    Jackson said he'll undergo further tests, but expects him to be fine for the opener against the Steelers Sept. 9.

    Denzel Ward's back injury

    Ward, the Browns' second first-round pick, suffered the back injury with 10:31 left in the first quarter while making the stop on a 7-yard pass from Nick Foles to tight end Zach Ertz.

    Ward was prone on the field for a few minutes before getting up and walking gingerly to the sidelines with the medical staff. After some time in the medical tent, Ward walked slowly into the locker room, escorted by doctors.

    With the opener just over two weeks away, Ward's status is uncertain. He was replaced by Mike Jordan.

    Dominant, opportunistic D

    Last week, the Browns' starters did not allow a first down in four series vs. Buffalo. Thursday night, they topped that.

    It started on the Eagles' first drive when Jabrill Peppers stopped tight end Zach Ertz short on a fourth-down reception. Myles Garrett then got the safety by touching Foles down after the QB stumbled dropping back to pass to put the Browns up 2-0 with 5:19 left in the first quarter.

    The Browns also got the Boddy-Calhoun pick and two fumble recoveries, one on a strip-sack of Nick Foles by rookie Genard Avery that was recovered by Ogbah, and one that was forced by Terrance Mitchell and recovered by Larry Ogunjobi. Jamie Collins completed the turnover-fest with another pick.

    The Eagles were without five offensive starters, including quarterback Carson Wentz, running back Jay Ajayi and receivers Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Algholor.  

    Damarious Randall a last-minute scratch

    Randall, the Browns' starting free safety, was scratched with a knee injury after it tightened up on him on pre-game warmups. Boddy-Calhoun replaced him and had the second quarter interception.

    Next

    The Browns close out the preseason next Thursday night in Detroit.


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    Check here for the live second-round leaderboard for the European Tour's D+D Real Czech Masters 2018 on Friday, Aug. 24.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- John Daly, Thomas Pieters, Callum Tarren and Gavin Green were tied for the lead entering the second round of the European Tour's D+D Real Czech Masters 2018 on Friday, Aug. 24.

    EUROPEAN TOUR
    D+D REAL CZECH MASTERS
    Site: Prague.
    Course: Albatross Golf Resort. Yardage: 7,467. Par: 72.
    Purse: 1 million euros. Winner's share: 166,667 euros.
    Television: Friday, 5-7 a.m.; 9 a.m. to noon (Golf Channel); Saturday, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (Golf Channel); Sunday, 7-11:30 a.m. (Golf Channel).
    Defending champion: Haydn Porteous.
    Race to Dubai leader: Francesco Molinari.
    Last week: Paul Waring won the Nordea Masters.
    Notes: John Daly, Padraig Harrington and Danny Willett are among those in the field this week at Albatross Golf Resort. ... Qualifying for the European Ryder Cup team began a year ago at the Czech Masters. It ends next week in Denmark. ... This is the fifth straight year for the Czech Masters. It first was part of the European Tour schedule in 1994 when Per-Ulrik Johansson won. It was held from 1995-97, and then 2009-11 before returning in 2014. ... David Howell made his 600th start on the European Tour last week. Howell won his first European Tour event at the Dubai Desert Classic in 1999. ... Dru Love, the son of Davis Love III, is playing on a sponsor's exemption. ... The field includes three players from Europe's last Ryder Cup team -- Willett, Thomas Pieters and Lee Westwood.
    Next week: Made in Denmark.
    Online: www.europeantour.com

    (Fact box from Associated Press.)


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    Taylor suffered a left hand injury and was briefly replaced by Baker Mayfield. He returned, but will undergo Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Coach Hue Jackson said quarterback Tyrod Taylor will undergo further exams on his injured left hand, but expects him to be okay for the opener against the Steelers Sept. 9th.

    "Anytime your quarterback gets nicked like that, you're always concerned, but I think the fact that he was able to go back into the game was a good sign,'' Jackson said after Thursday's 5-0 victory over the Eagles in the third preseason game. "I know we'll make sure that we take care of it this week, whatever that is, and get him back to where he needs to be. I feel comfortable and confident that he is going to be OK, and that will happen."

    Jackson admitted he was "very concerned'' when Taylor fell on the left wrist and bent it back on a fourth-and-1 incompletion with about 6:05 left in the game. Baker Mayfield replaced him for two series and put a field on the board, the only offensive points of the game.

    X-rays on the hand were negative and Taylor returned for three more series in the first half, but then received treatment on the hand in the locker room at halftime and throughout the second half and did not return to the sidelines.

    Taylor left immediately after the game and opted not to meet with the media.

    "Anytime your starting quarterback goes into the locker room, you're not sure, but he came back,'' said Jackson. "Obviously, he went back into the game so we will continue to look at it and see where we are as we head into next week."

    When Taylor returned to the game in the second quarter, he handed the ball off with two hands, and Jackson kept an eye on him.

     "Absolutely, and I was aware of it, but obviously, our medical people said he was fine and he could be out there,'' he said. "We would not have put him back out there if he was not. We will check everything tonight and see where he is, but hopefully, everything will be okay."

    Jackson said although X-rays were negative, he'll undergo more exams.

    "I think it's important that we do everything that we need to do to make sure we know exactly where that hand is."

    In his five series of work, Taylor completed 11-of-16 attempts for 65 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions for a 76.3 rating.

    He was sacked twice to thwart two drives, badly overthrew Jarvis Landry on his final possession and failed to generate any points despite the fact the defense kept getting the ball back for him.

    Taylor is likely done for the preseason, not because of the wrist, but because Jackson will likely rest the starters in the preseason finale in Detroit next week.

    In 11 series, this preseason, Taylor completed 20-of-28 attempts (71.4%) for 186 yards with one TD and no interceptions for a 101.2 rating. He was sacked twice.


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    A defense that struggled to take the ball away in 2017 managed to do it in a big way in their dress rehearsal game on Thursday night. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- At least two Browns defenders walked out of the locker room with a football in their hands on Thursday night.

    Briean Boddy-Calhoun had one.

    "(It feels) great," Boddy-Calhoun said about the ball he was carrying, the one he intercepted from Eagles quarterback Nick Foles with 14:12 left in the second quarter. "It's been a long time, haven't got one of these since last year, so it feels great. You always want to get your hands on this as much as you can."

    Defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi had one, too.

    "Yeah, should have had two," he said.

    The ball he did get, though, was the one he recovered with 9:40 left in the second quarter, a fumble by Eagles running back Matt Jones. It was the third of four first-half turnovers by the Browns' defense that ended four consecutive Eagles possessions.

    "That means that everything's clicking on defense," Ogunjobi said.

    Put too much stock in the preseason at your own risk, especially against an Eagles team that wasn't playing many of their starters on offense. It's a starting unit that still hasn't scored a single preseason point for Philadelphia.

    But the Browns are coming off of a 2017 season that saw them finish last in the NFL in takeaways with just 13. They intercepted seven passes and recovered six fumbles. They had just two games in which they forced multiple turnovers and went a full five games, from before Thanksgiving until New Year's Eve, without a single takeaway.

    So, yes, it's still the preseason, but it's a much-needed confidence boost for a defense that, as well as they have played in these practice games, hadn't forced a turnover until rookie linebacker Genard Avery's strip sack of Nick Foles with 1:16 left in the first quarter. Defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah recovered it.

    "If you want to win in this game, you've got to take the ball away and you've got to protect it on offense," Boddy-Calhoun said. "Every day in practice we emphasize this, just in the secondary, we try to get at least two to three a day, so we know that the key to winning is taking the ball away and we've got to get better at that."

    The last takeaway on the night came from linebacker Jamie Collins, an interception inside the Browns' 5-yard line, preventing a potential Eagles score before the half.

    "Our defense is finally getting (turnovers)," head coach Hue Jackson said. "Now, hopefully, we can become ballhawks in that way. We have to go take the ball away."

    Takeaways has long been a point of emphasis for defensive coordinator Gregg Williams -- for any defensive coordinator, really. There aren't many things a defense can do that can change the momentum as quickly or as effectively.

    When defensive end Myles Garrett was asked what sets the tone for this group, he pointed to that very thing.

    "Takeaways," he said. "That's our main goal each drive is to get off the field three-and-out, which is basically a takeaway, or taking it away with a fumble or interception."

    A week after the starting defense managed to force the Bills into four three-and-outs on four possessions, they took the ball away from the Eagles four times.

    It's a nice start.

    Boddy-Calhoun, though, knows it doesn't mean anything until they do it in a real game.

    "No matter what we do in the preseason, it doesn't really matter," he said. "This can only get us better and ready for Pittsburgh, which is the true test."


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    Garrett was dominant again in Thursday night's preseason game against the Eagles. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- How do you sum up Myles Garrett's dominant performance on Thursday night?

    "It's Myles," Briean Boddy-Calhoun said. "It's Myles."

    How's this for a half of work? Three tackles, two sacks -- one that resulted in a safety -- two tackles for loss and two quarterback hits.

    Beyond the numbers, Garrett lived in the Eagles' backfield. With Jason Peters sitting this one out, Halapoulivaati Vaitai was rendered helpless against Garrett.

    "I got my ass kicked," Vaitai said, according to Philly.com. "Myles is a great player. I was out of control today. I just got beat today."

    The really bad news for Vaitai: Garrett gave himself a 'B' for his performance.

    "Got to play the next half and see how it goes," Garrett said. "I definitely started off hot, but you still got to finish the game."

    Garrett has looked the part of a No. 1 pick this preseason. After dealing with injury last year -- first an ankle and then a concussion -- he looks healthy and he looks like a problem. The rest of the Browns' defensive line is benefitting from it, too.

    "He's one of those guys who makes everyone elevate their game," defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi said. "You see a lot of opportunities are now open because you have someone rushing and when you have pressure up the middle. There's not anywhere for the quarterback to go when everyone is playing on all cylinders."

    Asked if he's ever surprised at how quickly Garrett gets into the backfield, Ogunjobi said it's hard to tell in real-time, but "when we look at the replay and watch film, we are like, 'Wow, he is legit.'"

    "My job is to get there in 2.5 (seconds)," Garrett said, "hopefully less if I beat (the lineman) cleanly."

    That timing is important because a defense has to work in sync. The secondary benefits from a better pass rush and the pass rush benefits from a secondary that can cover and take the ball away.

    "We don't have to cover as long (when there's pressure)," Boddy-Calhoun said. "We can cheat just a little bit longer knowing that Myles is going to get to the quarterback in a hurry and we really appreciate that. Rush and coverage go together. Either we've got to hold onto our receivers so they can get there or they've got to get there so we can get the ball."

    Head coach Hue Jackson said the version of Myles Garrett we saw on Thursday night is a version he has been seeing over the course of the preseason and one he knows he needs to see more of for the Browns to win games.

    "I have seen it last week. I have seen it this week. He has to do it every week for us," Jackson said. "We just have to keep him healthy and keep him after it, and I think he will do that."

    Ogunjobi says this version of Garrett -- the Year 2 version -- isn't much different from Year 1. He's still the same easygoing guy.

    "He just likes to play football," Ogunjobi said, "and goes out there and dominates."


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    Mayfield wasn't happy with his performance against the Eagles. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Baker Mayfield finally got those long-awaited first-team reps that Hue Jackson vowed he wasn't going to get this preseason, but he wasn't able to make the most of them.

    They came in the first half of Thursday night's 5-0 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles, but only because Tyrod Taylor left the field for two series beginning in the first quarter with a wrist injury.

    "Not my best game by any means,'' said Mayfield (8-of-12, 76 yards, 1 interception in the red zone, 49.3 rating). "Whenever you turn the ball over, it's not your best. We just have a ways to go. Disappointed in myself. I got in there with the first team and have to get the ball out quicker.''

    By the end of the night, Mayfield made his own trek to the medical tent on the sidelines, at the behest of the independent neurologist who watched him smash his head into Shon Coleman's leg after tripping over a defender on his interception and then go to the ground.

    Mayfield was cleared of a concussion after a long stint in the tent and then grabbed his helmet to go back in the game. But Hue Jackson shut him down for the night after five series, one field goal drive, and one red zone pick.

    "I was fixing to go back into the game,'' said Mayfield. "They decided not to put me back in. Not my call. Not worried about it. I should have taken advantage of the time that I was in."

    Taylor to undergo further exams on his left wrist, but Jackson confident he'll be okay

    While Taylor was in the locker room undergoing X-rays on the wrist, which were negative, Mayfield -- finally stepping in with the first-team offense against a starting defense -- completed 2-of-5 attempts for 19 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions for a 51.2 rating.

    The Browns turned the ball over on down on his first series, which included a 20-yard pass to Rashard Higgins. On his second possession, which began at the Eagles' 35 after a Nick Foles sack-fumble, managed to put a field goal on the board, but not because of any positive yards on his part. He had a sack-fumble of his own and then threw wide to Jarvis Landry on third down. Zane Gonzalez saved the drive with a 54-yard field goal -- the only offensive points of the night.
     
    "The amount of time that I had (to throw) with a D line like that, they're pretty good,'' said Mayfield. "You have to have an even faster time clock when you are playing guys like that."

    Mayfield, playing in a nationally-televised game on Fox, regrets that his first-team reps came via an injury to Taylor, but he was grateful to get them nonetheless. He's not sure if he'll start next week in Detroit, or even play at all. If Jackson holds him out of that meaningless game, fans may have seen the last of him for awhile.  

    "Getting out there with the ones, that's something I need to do,'' he said. "I did that tonight, and that's why I'm disappointed in myself. I didn't take advantage of it and play my best game so it's on me. What we do with the reps, I just have to play my best when I get them, and that's plain and simple and how it is."

    On Mayfield's fifth drive -- against the Eagles' backups -- he found C.J. Board down the deep right for 19 yards, his second-best pass of the night. But facing third and 4 from the Eagles' 15, his shallow option, rookie receiver Derrick Willies, got bumped coming across and the ball floated over his head and into the hands of cornerback Avonte Maddox.

    "As I'm releasing, that's one of those routes on the run you want to make sure you are leading him,'' Mayfield said. Right as I'm letting it go, you see him get bumped. That's not a good feeling."

    Did he know right it was coming back the other way?

    "Yeah, yeah,'' he said.

    Mayfield, who's second-team pocket collapsed on him several times, stumbled over a defender and into Coleman's leg after the red zone pick. He was mad at himself for the whole sequence of events.

    "In the second half, just [make] right decisions,'' said Mayfield. "Even on the play where I threw an interception, the shallow got bumped over the middle, but there was a nice one-on-one (deep) that I think with where we are at on the field and also how the game has been going to take advantage of those one-on-one shots when we get them.

    "They're a team that played pretty much off the whole game and tried to make us throw underneath. Those are the types of shots that when you get them that you have to take advantage of them. Things that I will look back on tape, I will definitely improve from, but not my best work at all."

    Despite some of the foibles, Jackson was pleased with Mayfield's outing.

    "I thought he did some good things,'' said Jackson. "Baker has completed some huge balls and made some plays. Obviously, the interception was unfortunate. I think he was getting hit as he was trying to throw.

    "That's a tough one, do not want to turn the ball over there, but the last two weeks he sees in the National Football League it's a grind. It does not always go the way you want it to, and you just have to fight through, keep playing and keep making plays, and I saw that in him. There is no flinch in him at all. He competes, and that is what you look for."

    He also liked how Mayfield responded to getting thrown into the fire after Taylor went down.

    "He didn't blink,'' said Jackson. "He was ready to go, and that's what you want. We didn't change anything in our offense. We went out there and played. We expect him to make plays, and he did."

    Perhaps the highlight of Mayfield's night came before the game when he talked to Fox analyst and Hall of Famer Troy Aikman on the field. Aikman, the former Cowboy, said on the air that he told Mayfield he'd have a great career.

    "Small talk,'' said Mayfield. "A little bit of trash talk about UCLA and Oklahoma playing this year. Other than that, not much."

    A Texas native, Mayfield "loved watching Troy play. He's just a great player, one of the best to ever do it, a Super Bowl champ. I have a lot of respect for him."

    He said Aikman told him "Just to keep pushing. Make sure of that. Keep getting better. He said to just keep being myself and just to keep working."

    After the way Mayfield felt about his outing, you can bet he'll do just that.


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    Carl Pelini is in his first season as defensive coordinator for a Bowling Green defense that has a lot of work to do for this season. Watch video

    BOWLING GREEN, Ohio -- After a 2-10 season last year, it wasn't hard for the Bowling Green Falcons to figure out where they needed some immediate help.

    The defense allowed 38 points per game, which ranked 123rd out of 130 Division I teams.

    The job of fixing that problem goes to new defensive coordinator Carl Pelini, who previously held the same position at Youngstown State and Nebraska, and also was a head coach at Florida Atlantic.

    Cornerstones of the rebuild likely will be a pair of Greater Clevelanders: senior linebacker Brandon Harris (6-4, 220) from Shaw High and senior cornerback/receiver Jack Walz III (6-0, 180) from St. Edward, who specializes in special teams.

    "I love special teams,'' Walz said. "I've been a four-team starter for three years. It is an underrated side of the game."

    Pelini says Harris is starting to shine as a starter for the Falcons while head coach Mike Jinks praises Walz's ability to contribute on both sides of the ball as well as special teams. 

    Just a little bit of improvement on defense could go a long way.

    "All the guys did our research on (Pelini) before we met him,'' Harris said. "We watched some Youngstown State film, and you could see their defense was one (cohesive unit)."

    Last season, the Falcons played like 11 disconnected units. Its 507 yards allowed per game ranked 126th in the nation, and it surrendered 35 touchdowns rushing and 22  passing.

    Pelini said Harris has taken to the new defense, which has multiple sets. Now it's up to the rest of the unit to get in step. If that happens, the Falcons could make their mark in the MAC East Division.

    "I love this defense,'' said Harris, who had 92 tackles, 57 solo, and three fumble recoveries last season from his linebacker spot. "The way he (Pelini) breaks it down makes it pretty simple, even with the packages he has. One package, I'm outside, one package I'm inside, one package I'm on the line. It allows me to expand my game.

    "And we do have a couple of blitz packages for me in each one of those defenses. I'm expected to play fast, because I'm a senior. When I first got here as a freshman, we won a MAC Championship. Now I have to lead like those guys led me."

    Walz could also be a key. In addition to being a special teams regular, he spent all spring and early camp on offense, and now is back seeing action defensively, where he has spent most of his career.

    "They want me to stay up with the playbook if something happens,'' Walz said. "They trust me to understand all aspects of the game; offense, defense and special teams."

    He and Harris go into the season looking to be leaders for the Falcons all over the field.


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    Right-hander Mike Clevinger will make his 26th start for the Indians on Friday when he faces Kansas City at Kauffman Stadium.

    KANSAS CITY -- Here is the preview and pitching matchups for the Indians' series against the Royals.

    Where/when: Kauffman Stadium, Friday through Sunday.

    TV/radio: SportsTime Ohio, WTAM and WMMS will carry the series.

    Pitching matchups and starting times: RHP Mike Clevinger (9-7, 3.25) vs. RHP Brad Keller (6-5, 3.32) Friday at 8:15 p.m.; RHP Corey Kluber (15-6, 2.68) vs. RHP Heath Fillmyer (1-1, 4.57) Saturday at 7:15 p.m. and RHP Shane Bieber (7-2, 4.36) vs. RHP Jorge Lopez (0-3, 3.99) on Sunday at 2:15 p.m.

    Series: The Indians lead the Royals, 7-2, this year. The Indians lead overall, 365-330.

    Hot pitchers: Lefty Brad Hand has struck out 11 and hasn't allowed a run in his last six appearances for the Indians. Keller is 4-1 with a 3.61 ERA in his last six starts for the Royals.

    Hot hitters: Indians rookie Greg Allen is hitting .362 (17-for-47) in August and has hits in 15 of his last 16 games. Kansas City's Whit Merrifield went into Thursday night's game against the Rays hitting .385 (15-for-39) in 10 straight games.

    Team updates: The Indians, coming off a four-game split with the Red Sox, are 3-0 at Kauffman Stadium and have won five straight against the Royals this year. They are 15-6 in August. The Royals, who entered Thursday's game 35 1/2 games behind the Indians in the AL Central, have lost 10 of their last 13 games.

    Disabled list: Indians - RHP Neil Ramirez, RHP Trevor Bauer (right fibula), OF Rajai Davis (non-baseball condition), OF Leonys Martin (illness), CF Tyler Naquin (right hip), OF Lonnie Chisenhall (left calf), RHP Nick Goody (right elbow), RHP Danny Salazar (right shoulder) and RHP Cody Anderson (right elbow) are on the disabled list.

    Royals: 3B Cheslor Cuthbert (back), LHP Danny Duffy (left shoulder), CF Brian Goodwin (left groin), RHP Jesse Hand (right elbow), RHP Nate Karns (right elbow), RHP Ian Kennedy (left oblique), LHP Eric Skoglund (left elbow) and RF Jorge Soler (left foot) are on the disabled list. OF Jorge Bonifacio (back) is day to day.

    Next: The Twins visit Progressive Field to start a three-game series on Tuesday night.


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    The winds are expected to back off a bit for the weekend, but walleye and yellow perch fishermen will need to do plenty of scouting to find the pods of baitfish, perch and walleye.

    CLEVELAND, OHIO -- Big winds the last couple of days have hampered the Lake Erie fishing, especially around the deep water ports from Fairport Harbor to Conneaut. The winds are expected to back off a bit for the weekend, but walleye and yellow perch fishermen will need to do plenty of scouting to find the pods of baitfish, perch and walleye. Inland lakes have been crowded with anglers on the weekends, but Mosquito Reservoir and the Portage Lakes are still tops for largemouth bass.

    CENTRAL LAKE ERIE

    The windy weather and big waves seemed to have the large schools of walleye moving a little farther offshore from Vermilion to Cleveland. The best depth for walleye has been about 58 feet, and Tru-Trip divers and smaller Stinger and Silver Streak spoons have been working well for trolling anglers.

    Surprisingly, some Black River anglers casting Sonar lures from shore off Spitzer Marina and other areas are catching walleye at night and during the day, as well as smallmouth bass. Only a few yellow perch have been caught along the Lake Erie shoreline. Walleye are being caught north of Huron and Vermilion in 20 to 50 feet of water.

    The big winds are requiring perch and walleye anglers in the busy Fairport Harbor area to scout for the bigger pods of fish. Anglers report that some of the perch they're marking won't bite, so fishermen have to keep moving to find the hungry ones.

    The best walleye depths off Fairport Harbor have been from 65 to 72 feet of water, with spoons the top trolling lure, followed by nightcrawler harnesses. A few steelhead trout are starting to stage around the mouth of the Grand River, and be caught in deeper waters offshore, with large orange spoons the top trolling lure for the silver bullets.

    WESTERN LAKE ERIE

    Yellow perch remain in the spotlight around the Western Basin, with good reports coming from Rattlesnake and Green islands in 25 to 35 feet of water. Perch are also being caught southeast of South Bass Island and off Lucy's Point off the east side of Middle Bass Island. Farther west, good perch spots include the Toledo Harbor light and in 15 to 25 feet of water off West Sister Island.

    The walleye fishing has been a bit slow, especially for the drift-and-cast fishermen. Some limits are being reported by trolling anglers east of Kelleys Island and from the deeper waters around the Gull Shoal and Kelleys Island Shoal areas.

    Largemouth bass have invaded the main lake, and are being caught in the mouth of the Portage River and in Sandusky Bay and East and West harbors. The bass are hitting jigs and soft plastic trailers, wacky worms and Ned Rigs, as well as crayfish, leeches and minnows worked close to the lake bottom. Smallmouth bass are hitting tubes and drop shot rigs.

    Channel catfish are plentiful in Maumee and Sandusky Bay, hitting nightcrawlers, raw shrimp and cut bait from both shore and boats anchored just off the shoreline.

    INLAND LAKES AND RESERVOIRS

    Lots of largemouth bass are being caught around the Portage Lakes, with most in the 1- to 2-pound class. East Reservoir has been the top bass waters, with anglers casting to the edges of weed beds in 8 to 12 feet of water. Early morning anglers are casting topwater lures, such as frogs.

    Mosquito Reservoir continues to sparkle as a top location for nice-sized largemouth bass. West Branch and Pymatuning reservoirs are both giving up some muskies, and Pyamatuning walleye fishing has been fair to good, trolling the deeper waters with small diving plugs and spinner right and nightcrawlers.

    Many of the area lakes have been crowded on the late summer weekends, pushing anglers to find smaller, more peaceful waters.


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    Ohio State suspends Urban Meyer and Gene Smith as result of investigation into handling of Zach Smith domestic abuse allegations from 2015

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- After a two-week investigation and 10 hours of deliberation, Ohio State suspended head coach Urban Meyer and athletic director Gene Smith on Wednesday for mishandling domestic abuse allegations in 2015 against former receivers coach Zach Smith.  

    Meyer is suspended for the first three games of 2018, which includes Oregon State, Rutgers and TCU. He will also be docked six weeks of compensation, but will be allowed to run practices after Sept. 1.

    Smith is suspended for three weeks without pay.

    Basically, the two OSU leaders will have to find an alternative way to pass the time on three game-day Saturdays. Not exactly a slap on the wrist, but certainly not as severe as some experts were predicting.

    Crowquill, by Plain Dealer artist Ted Crow, appears three times a week in The Plain Dealer and on cleveland.com.


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    Following Ohio States press conference announcing the suspension of Urban Meyer, and Meyer's reaction, OSU is the favorite to win the Tone Deaf Championship

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Following Ohio State University's press conference announcing the suspensions of Urban Meyer and Gene Smith, and Meyer's response to the suspension, Ohio State is the favorite to win the Tone Deaf Championship.  

    Look for Urban Myer to also receive the Trump Legion of Liars ribbon at The White House.   Hopefully, Zach Smith won't tag along to take more sexually explicit photos of his genitals in White House rooms, like the investigation report said he did in April 2015, after the team won its BCS championship.

    Meyer was suspended three games and Athletic Director Gene Smith was suspended for 17 days without pay, for the employment of Zach Smith and their handling of multiple domestic abuse allegations against him.

    OSU Board of Trustees response to the damning investigation report, the press conference announcing it, and Urban Meyer's disposition in that press conference, all added insult to injury to victims of domestic abuse.

    The OSU board, which previously fired Jim Tressel for turning a blind eye to NCAA exploited players  trading  jerseys and trinkets for tattoos, suspended Meyer for just three games for turning a blind eye to a pattern of domestic abuse allegations and job misconduct by a favored assistant coach who should have never been hired.

    OSU gave Meyer a slap on the wrist for employing, enabling, covering up and lying about an assistant coach charged with beating his pregnant wife in 2009.  

    Commenting on Meyer's press conference disposition, ESPN's Paul Finebaum said, "instead of showing an ounce of remorse, he came off like this was a hostage video."

    It was evident that Meyer believed he should not have been suspended for three games.   He's right, he should have been fired for cause.


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