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

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    Williams is the No. 24 receiver in the 2019 recruiting class.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State could be adding another player to its 2019 recruiting class by the end of the week.

    Jameson Williams, a four-star receiver from St. Louis, will make his decision this Friday, he announced on his public Twitter account. Williams announced a top five of Ohio State, Oregon, Nebraska, Alabama and UCLA back in June.

    The No. 24 receiver the country officially visited Ohio State back in June. He took an official visit to UCLA two weeks ago. He seems to have visited all of his finalists in the last year, but he's making this decision ahead of scheduled official visits to Nebraska and Alabama.

    The Buckeyes are currently the favorite to land Williams in the 247Sports crystal ball.

    Ohio State has one receiver committed in 2019, five-star prospect Garrett Wilson. It could take as many as three receivers in the class. OSU will host three-star receiver Wandale Robinson, who projects as an H-back, on Oct. 6.

    The 6-foot-2, 170-pound Williams had 36 receptions for 1,062 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior at Cardinal Ritter Prep. He also scored three kick return touchdowns.


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    Pete Werner, Tuf Borland and co-defensive coordinator Alex Grinch on where the Buckeyes LBs are after four games and heading into Penn State. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The raw number - zero - doesn't tell you everything but it's enough to make you wonder if you should be worried, and it even knocked Urban Meyer a bit off stride this week.

    "Zero tackles?" Meyer asked in reply Monday when informed that Ohio State starting linebackers Pete Werner, Malik Harrison and Tuf Borland weren't credited with any stops in Saturday's 49-6 win over Tulane. "I did not know that. ... I know they didn't play that much probably, but that's interesting. Because I know Malik's playing at a very high level."

    Against No. 9 Penn State on Saturday, the Buckeyes will need all their linebackers at a high level. That's why this conversation ramped up this week.

    Against what was basically a triple-option Tulane attack, the linebackers played less than a half. While Tulane snapped the ball on offense 58 times, the snap totals from Dan Hope of elevenwarriors.com had Harrison with 29 plays, Werner with 26 and Borland with 15. And Baron Browning, who is basically a co-starter at middle linebacker with Borland, tracked down the Tulane quarterback for a loss on one third-down play and finished with three tackles in 21 plays.

    So that's part of it. 

    So was what the linebackers were asked to do.

    "We were playing against a Wing-T type of team," said outside linebacker Werner, who was surprised by the no tackles stat. "Again, it's assignment football. We have guys being at the right place, linebackers were setting edges and filling gaps and you're not going to run the ball where a gap is closed."

    While Borland missed a couple tackles, Werner and Harrison mostly lacked opportunity, and they did get in the pile a few times, but weren't credited for anything. 

    So that might be a reasonable explanation. But the question itself didn't just jump off the stat sheet from one game. It's also based on what we have and haven't seen through four games. 

    Harrison's leaping fourth-quarter interception sealed the TCU win. But beyond that, the starting linebackers haven't made that many plays. Werner has one tackle for loss and Harrison and Borland each have half a tackle for loss.

    The starters have watched for much of the second half in two games, but looking at the straight tackle numbers is still a bit surprising. A linebacker has led Ohio State in tackles 15 of the last 16 years, including players like Raekwon McMillan, Joshua Perry, Ryan Shazier, James Laurinaitis, A.J. Hawk and, last year, Jerome Baker. (The exception was safety C.J. Barnett in 2011.)

    Right now, Ohio State's top five tacklers are a safety (Jahsen Wint), a defensive tackle (Dre'Mont Jones), a safety (Jordan Fuller), a defensive end (Nick Bosa) and a cornerback (Damon Arnette). Harrison ranks sixth in tackles with 12, tied with safety Isaiah Pryor.

    Adding up the unofficial snap counts from elevenwarriors.com, and using official tackling numbers, Harrison has 12 tackles in 204 plays, Werner has 9 in 183 plays, Browning has 8 in 108 plays and Borland has 8 in 84 plays.

    Straight numbers aren't always fair comparisons, but a year ago through four games, the leading linebacker tacklers were Baker with 21, Chris Worley with 20 and Borland with 15.

    Simply put, everyone is accustomed to Ohio State linebackers making plays. So far, they haven't made as many. In part that's because they sat in blowouts against Rutgers and Tulane (Oregon State was a blowout, too, but Werner and Harrison still played a ton.) In part, that's because of the offenses they've faced. But at least some part of it is just not getting to ballcarriers the way past OSU linebackers did.

    Not that they should, or would, agree with that assessment.

    "Pretty good. There's always room for improvement," Werner said when asked how the linebackers have played. "But as far as doing our jobs and being in the right places at the right time, I think we're off to a good start."

    "Obviously, there's always room for improvement," Borland said. "Every week we watch the tape, there's things that need to be fixed, things that need to be addressed, and we're working hard to do that."

    "Like every position, there's plays that we want to have back," co-defensive coordinator Alex Grinch said. "I certainly think that you've seen the ability to run and hit in space. A guy like Malik Harrison, a couple clips in that TCU game, just (showed) elite speed and size, which certainly helps us."

    Grinch went back to an explanation he used after the Buckeyes gave up 31 to Oregon State in an easy win in the opener - the standard at Ohio State is incredibly high and the Buckeyes aren't reaching it yet.

    "It's probably closer to good than it is the other side of it," Grinch said. "It's a position that features several young guys ... and we have one senior on defense, and so there's some first-time starters who have performed certainly on the side of better to good than the other, but the plays that stand out to you as a coach are the ones that didn't get done."

    Grinch made a solid point in that a young defensive lineman could miss a tackle and no one would notice as much as when a young linebacker or safety misses a tackle in space that everyone sees.

    And he said something else we've tried to keep in mind here.

    Grinch said in getting the defense better, they go scheme, execution and then personnel in order of what should get fixed first, while outsiders typically look right at changing the players.

    Asked if any other players might get more chances at outside linebacker where Werner and Harrison have played almost every play snap that matters, Grinch said it's clear from practice that Werner and Harrison are the best two options. In the middle, Borland and Browning will continue to rotate.

    So, for now, keep these things in mind heading to Penn State, gleaned from a variety of conversations about the linebackers.

    * Werner and Harrison are young and not going anywhere. The coaches attribute almost every possible issue there to youth and anticipate growth all season.

    * There have been some fundamental mistakes, and some of them have led to big plays.

    * Borland, back from a major achilles injury, is healthy but still rusty. He missed spring football and most of the preseason. He'll get better.

    "I wouldn't say it's my best," Borland said of his play so far. "But it does take some time to kind of get your feet under you, and I'm feeling more and more comfortable."

    * Penn State will attack the middle of the field in the passing game and with the running skills of quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Miles Sanders. This could be a big linebacker game.

    "I think we'll be perfectly fine," Werner said. "We'll be at the right places."

    * Don't question personnel first. Question coaching. The Ohio State linebackers coach is Bill Davis.


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    If Ohio State loses, don't wake up Sunday morning thinking the Buckeyes' playoff hopes are shot. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Whoever wins the Ohio State vs. Penn State game on Saturday night is certainly in the driver's seat for the Big Ten East Division race. But the road from this weekend is long, and filled with potential losses for either team.

    So if the Buckeyes lose on Saturday, don't wake up Sunday morning feeling like their chances of making the College Football Playoff are completely shot. (Same for any Penn State fans reading this. Welcome.)

    Doug Lesmerises and I discuss that more in the short BuckWhys video above. Doug has an out-there theory about the Big Ten getting multiple teams in the playoff. I'm not there. I'm just more thinking along the lines of there being a lot of season left after this game.

    Remember the last time these teams played in State College? The winner won the Big Ten and the loser went to the playoff. Last year neither team made the playoff. We can pretend like we know what will happen the rest of the year, and what the playoff selection committee will do two months from now. But we don't know.

    Things get weird, and Ohio State and Penn State are playing a month earlier than they normally have played over the last few years. That leaves more opportunity for weirdness after this game for the team that ends up needing some help.

    It might feel like a playoff elimination game, because it will be a prime time, top-10 matchup featuring teams with playoff aspirations. But one loss is not an automatic playoff death sentence for either of these teams, at least not in September.


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    Trevor Bauer, in his second start since coming off the disabled list, threw 60 pitches in four innings Tuesday night against the White Sox. He's scheduled for one more appearance on Sunday before the Indians face the Astros in the ALDS.

    With playoff baseball right around the corner, cleveland.com is taking a look at the biggest issues facing Terry Francona and the Cleveland Indians. As the 2018 regular season winds down, the answers to these questions will reveal whether or not the Tribe is Ready for October.

    CHICAGO - The Indians' race to the postseason is over. They made their reservations on Sept. 15 when they beat Detroit, 15-0, to win the AL Central.

    Trevor Bauer is still running his race, but with five games left in the regular season, he's closing fast.

    Bauer, recovering from a stress fracture in right fibula, pitched four innings Tuesday night against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. He struck out four and allowed two runs on five hits.

    Then he went to the bullpen and threw about 20 to 25 more pitches. He's scheduled to pitch on Sunday against Kansas City. Right now that start belongs to Carlos Carrasco, who followed Bauer on Tuesday and threw four scoreless innings with eight strikeouts before Chicago scored three runs against him in the ninth to beat the Indians, 5-4.

    Things will probably work in reverse on Sunday with Bauer following Carrasco. Manager Terry Francona, pitching coach Carl Willis, Carrasco and Bauer were scheduled to meet and discuss the matter on Wednesday.

    "I think Trevor is definitely going to pitch Sunday," said Willis. "Carrasco is going to start. We'll figure out how best to use Trevor."

    Bauer was pleased with his performance Tuesday. His percentage of strikes jumped from 50 percent in his first start Friday against Boston to 72 percent against the White Sox.

    Asked what his next step would be, Bauer told reporters, "I'm ready. So, I don't know. Hopefully, get 85 pitches in on Sunday, is the next progression. I finished up with 20 to 25 in the pen today so I should be good to go for 85 next start and then cleared for just normal activity."

    There is no normal activity in the postseason and after Sunday that's all the Indians have left. They will open the best-of-five ALDS on Oct. 5 in Houston. The Astros clinched the AL West on Monday night with a win over Toronto while the A's lost to Seattle.

    It appears the Indians will start Corey Kluber (20-7, 2.83) and Carrasco (16-10, 3.42) in Games 1 and 2 of the ALDS. The series will move to Progressive Field for Game 3 on Oct. 8, but that's the only game guaranteed to be played in Cleveland. Would Bauer get that start? How about Mike Clevinger?

    Or do the Indians think Bauer is recovered enough to start one of the first two games of the ALDS? Last year who would have expected Bauer not only to start Game 1 of the ALDS against the Yankees ahead of Kluber, but to come back on short rest to start Game 4? When it comes to the Indians and playoff rotations, little is written in stone.

    Remember, Bauer is 7-0 with a 3.18 ERA in eight career starts against Houston. And all of that isn't due to random variation as he likes to say.

    Francona has already said he'd prefer to go with a four-man rotation in the ALDS, but he was leaning that way as well last year before Bauer started two of the first four games.

    Bauer may also start the postseason in the bullpen.

    "That's still being (discussed)," said Willis. "We have to see how he comes back on Wednesday, how he feels. He went out and threw 60 pitches and 20 more in the bullpen. We'll see how he feels physically, how that leg and his overall body feel. Then we'll make the best decision."

    In Bauer's 60 pitches, he threw 17 four-seam fastballs, 17 knuckle curves, 12 sliders, eight changeups, five cutters and one two-seam fastball. His fastball topped out at 96.3 mph, according to baseballsavant.com. The slowest pitch he threw was a 76.6 mph knuckle curve.

    "I've been recovering super well," said Bauer. "My stuff has been good. I'm still just a tad out of sync mechanically, which is to be expected after missing six weeks. I would fully expect to be better the next time out. ... Everything has been super encouraging."

    When Bauer was hit by a line drive off the bat of Chicago's Jose Abreu, and the stress fracture was found, one of the first things Francona said was that the organization knew Bauer would do everything in his power to keep his arm strong and ready while rehabbing his injury. He did that and just to make sure people knew it, he sent a video to SportsTime Ohio of him not only explaining his routines, but going through some of them.

    GM Mike Chernoff praised Bauer's diligence and said some of the techniques he used to keep his arm ready were "unique and really innovative."

    If Bauer can make it all the way back, the rotation will be formidable as well as unique and innovative. Kluber, Carrasco, Bauer, Clevinger and rookie Shane Bieber represent a stern test for any lineup.

    One more thing, did the White Sox reveal how the opposition may go after Bauer in the games to come when Yolmer Sanchez started the game with a bunt single that eventually put him on third base because of some bad throws by Josh Donaldson and Jose Ramirez?

    "No, I don't think so," said Willis. "I think a couple of things. They're trying to get something started. Honestly, I think Sanchez is like 1-for-21 or something close to that. He's just trying to do what a good leadoff hitter does and trying to get on base and try something there in the first inning."

    Sanchez is the only White Sox who bunted against Bauer, so Willis is probably right. But it's something to look for in the postseason if teams don't think Bauer is getting off the mound like he usually does.

    More Ready for October posts:

    What can Josh Donaldson bring to the Indians in October?

    Is Jason Kipnis the Tribe's best option in center?

    Who should be the Tribe's 4 starting pitchers in the ALDS?

    Does Terry Francona plan to rest starters down the stretch?

    Will the Tribe get vintage Andrew Miller for its playoff push?

    How will Cody Allen's September sabbatical help in the postseason?

    Which Houston Astros pitchers have had the most success against Indians pitchers?


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    Jordan had an issue with low snaps against TCU, but seemed to have it corrected against Tulane.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Kevin Wilson used a golf analogy to explain Michael Jordan's adjustment in his move from left guard to Ohio State's starting center.

    "You can snap out here when it's kinda like going to the driving range and it's just casual," Wilson said this week. "Put a very angry person very close to me, and do the same thing repeatedly. Sometimes it's hard until you really get into it."

    Makes sense.

    So now Jordan faces another challenge this week.

    His issues with low snaps against TCU, which seemed to be corrected last week against Tulane, were not a matter of mechanics as much as they were a matter of nerves. Jordan, in his first big game playing a position he never played before this year, knew he was facing a fast defense and wanted to make sure he wasn't slow.

    So he rushed it.

    "I think I just made TCU a much bigger game in my head, instead of calming myself down," Jordan said. "I was able to calm myself down last week and get the snaps back up."

    Urban Meyer seemed confident that the issues against TCU are in the past, and while the snaps were consistently low, they didn't seem to slow the offense much. Meyer said he was hard on Jordan last week, and Jordan responded well.

    Jordan owned his miscues this week, while sounding a bit ticked even talking about them. Better to not dwell on it with what's coming on Saturday.

    Jordan got wide-eyed on Tuesday when talking about going back to Beaver Stadium to play against Penn State. The White Out atmosphere ranks among the best in the college football, and Jordan genuinely seemed excited about playing on that stage again. But it will be loud, and the defense again will be fast and talented.

    How is Jordan making to sure to avoid the same issue he had against TCU?

    "By getting in as much practice reps as possible so I'm prepared," he said. Full stop. He wasn't getting into it.

    There's a reminder in all of this that Jordan's move, even four games into the season, is not easy. Pat Elflein and Billy Price made it look that way. They also knew at least a year or two in advance that they would eventually be a center, and practiced the position when they could.

    Jordan didn't start snapping until this past summer, when in the search for the five best offensive linemen, Wilson and offensive line coach Greg Studrawa wanted to see if Jordan could play center. He took to it well, but snapping consistently was always going to be an adjustment.

    "The No. 1 thrower on the football team is the center," Wilson said. "He throws it every play. When you're doing those reads, quarterback run game or the pass game, and you have to fight catching the snap, that adds stress and it's harder to do your job. You have to be accurate with the snap."

    For the most part, Jordan has been accurate, and the offense is rolling.

    That the low snaps against TCU weren't a mechanical issue led to a quick fix in more friendlier confines against easier competition when Ohio State played Tulane last week. Now things flip back to a more unforgiving environment against a more talented team.

    As he continues to learn his new position, it's good that Jordan now knows what to expect.

    "When the defender is a fast guy, you start to block before you finish the pass," Wilson said. "It would be no different than following through on a throw or a shot. He just wasn't completing the snap. As we play this weekend in a stressful environment, that will be key for him."


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    Team USA has a hot Tiger Woods and three of the four major winners this year competing.

    The PGA Tour may be over, but golf might be reaching one of the best times of the year. The Ryder Cup is back as Team USA and Team Europe prepare to do battle for one of the most coveted trophies in the sport. Team USA has a hot Tiger Woods and three of the four major winners this year competing. Europe has Open Championship Francesco Molinari and the steady hands of Justin Rose. Who will raise the Ryder Cup? 

    PERSPECTIVES

    Europe needs to face facts about the Ryder Cup: Team USA is just better. There are 31 total major titles between the competitors in the red, white and blue, including six of the last eight.

    Woods is back to his winning ways, Brooks Koepka is coming off a two-major year and Jordan Spieth is one of the most dangerous golfers on the course. Europe doesn't stand a chance.

    Four reasons why Team USA will win the Ryder Cup

    The Ryder Cup is taking place in Europe -- not the United States. Team Europe has the home course advantage and a chip on its shoulder from losing the last time these two teams did battle. With that underdog mentality, there is no way Europe loses two times in a row. Team USA is going down.

    Four reasons why Team Europe will win the Ryder Cup

    The Tylt is focused on debates and conversations around news, current events and pop culture. We provide our community with the opportunity to share their opinions and vote on topics that matter most to them. We actively engage the community and present meaningful data on the debates and conversations as they progress. The Tylt is a place where your opinion counts, literally. The Tylt is an Advance Local Media, LLC property. Join us on Twitter @TheTylt, on Instagram @TheTylt or on Facebook, we'd love to hear what you have to say.

     

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    While it's not the way Smith wanted to start an important training camp for him and the new-look team, he downplayed the significance of the injury.

    INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- The Cleveland Cavaliers spent the first of two practices on Wednesday continuing to install their new offense and making some tweaks in a non-contact session.

    JR Smith, who was limited on the first day of camp because of a sore hip, was able to participate in the morning workout, but will not play in the team's planned scrimmage later in the evening.

    While it's not the way Smith wanted to start an important training camp for him and the new-look team, he downplayed the significance of the injury. 

    "A little soreness from working out in the summertime," Smith said. "But I will be ready. Nothing that we need to worry about right now. Talking to the coaches, talking to the guys who have been here, some of the vets, they want me for the regular season and not worry about training camp. I will be back soon."

    Smith, who has been the team's starting shooting guard since he arrived in 2015, hasn't had conversations about his role or expected playing time yet. Those are expected to come later.

    Even with some uncertainty surrounding his role, Smith is approaching this season the same he always has. 

    "Try to maintain and stay healthy throughout the training camp, take down as much knowledge and give as much knowledge as I can," he said. "Try to prepare for the regular season as best as possible." 


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    Middleweight champs Claressa Shields and Christina Hammer will unify their titles on Saturday, Nov. 17.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - As expected, the Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder fight is official and will take place on Dec. 1.

    Its location of the Staples Center in Los Angeles instead of Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas is a bit of a surprise, but more importantly the fight is on.

    Wilder said in a video posted on his Instagram page:

    "Just signed my portion of the contract of the Wilder versus Fury fight. It is officially on, ladies and gentlemen. This fight is definitely on, and I can't wait, man. It's going to be an exciting fight; it's going to be an explosive fight. It's going to be one for the legacy, definitely one for my legacy. You got the WBC heavyweight champion of the world versus the lineal champion."

    This is clearly the biggest heavyweight fight of the year, especially since we were only teased about a possible fight between Wilder and fellow champion Anthony Joshua.

    In a perfect world, the winner of the Wilder-Fury fight would face Joshua next year in a mega unification bout.

    But we all know that Joshua's management team is not interested in taking risks until they milk Joshua before taking on a fight of this magnitude.

    Quick jabs

    This week in boxing history

    Sept. 27, 1950 -  Ezzard Charles wins over Joe Louis by decision to retain the heavyweight title.

    Boxing schedule

    10 p.m., Friday (Showtime):

    • Devin Haney vs. Juan Carlos Burgos, lightweights

    • Thomas Mattice vs. Zhora Hamazaryan, rematch, lightweights

    • Cem Kilic vs. Deandre Ware, super middleweights

    • Reginald Rouzan vs. Robert Miller, light heavyweights

    10:30 p.m., (ESPN plus): 

    • Jose Uzcategui vs. Ezequiel Maderna, light heavyweights

    • Jerwin Ancajas vs. Alejandro Santiago, for Ancajas' IBF junior bantamweight title

    • Rico Ramos vs. Daniel Olea,  featherweights

    • Genesis Servania vs. Carlos Carlson, featherweights

    • Joshua Greer Jr. vs. Giovanni Delgado, junior featherweights

    9 p.m., Saturday (Facebook Watch):

    • Jorge Linares vs. Abner Cotto, junior welterweights

    • Romero Duno vs. Ezequiel Aviles, lightweights

    • Travell Mazion vs. Allan Zavala, junior middleweights

    • Oscar Duarte vs. Roger Gutierrez, lightweights

    9 p.m., Sunday (Fox Sports 1/Fox Deportes):

    • Victor Ortiz vs. John Molina Jr., welterweights

    • Brandon Figueroa vs. Oscar Escandon, featherweights

    • Joe Joyce vs. Iago Kiladze, heavyweights


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    Ogbah was on the practice field and said he's back this week vs. the Raiders.

    BEREA, Ohio -- The Browns defense has been a bright spot all season long and they're about to regain a key piece. Defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah said on Wednesday that he's back this week. Ogbah missed the last two games with an ankle injury he suffered against Pittsburgh.

    Ogbah was on the practice field on Wednesday. So was linebacker Christian Kirksey who has missed the last two games.

    The defense was without two other players -- safety Damarious Randall worked on the side and has been wearing a walking boot on his right foot since at least Thursday night to protect his heel injury. Linebacker James Burgess was not at practice, either. He injured his knee against the Jets, an injury that looked bad, but eventually returned to the game.

    Chris Smith, a free agent signing this offseason, has played well in Ogbah's absence, especially as a pass-rusher.

    "I believe in those guys," Ogbah said. "Next man up philosophy, that's what this defense is about and they stepped up and made big plays when they needed to, so I'm proud about that."

    Still, he's had to sit and watch while teammates Myles Garrett and Larry Ogunjobi have combined for seven sacks. Garrett is tied for the league lead with four sacks and Ogunjobi is tied for sixth with three.

    "I told them I'm coming for them," Ogbah said. "I'm coming for them."


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


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    For Hood, that shouldn't be a problem. He was Utah's second-leading scorer during the 2016-17 season. According to former general manager David Griffin, Hood was considered by some members of the Jazz coaching staff to be even more important than All-Star Gordon Hayward when both were still there.

    INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Kevin Love, the Cavaliers' second-leading scorer last season, is the team's new offensive focal point. He's the only starter head coach Tyronn Lue is even willing to name this early into training camp.

    That leads to the logical follow-up question: Who steps into Love's 2017-18 role as No. 2?

    Is 19-year-old rookie Collin Sexton truly ready for that responsibility on a team that has playoff aspirations? It's probably too early for Cedi Osman, right? After all, the second-year man has started just 12 games in his NBA career and has only reached double figures in scoring seven times. Banking on JR Smith to bounce back after two lousy seasons seems ill-advised, especially given so much uncertainty with him.

    That's why Lue has identified Rodney Hood.

    "He's really good. Really good," Lue said of Hood on Wednesday following the first of two practices on the schedule. "Scoring the basketball, attacking the basket, doing everything with pace and speed. Right now he is probably going to have to be our second leading scorer behind Kevin. That's what I see."

    For Hood, that shouldn't be a problem. He was Utah's second-leading scorer during the 2016-17 season. According to former general manager David Griffin, Hood was considered by some members of the Jazz coaching staff to be even more important than All-Star Gordon Hayward when both were still in Utah.

    But that was prior to the second half of last season. It was before Hood's life was thrown into chaos after a midseason trade. It was before the pressure and expectations were too great. Before the intense worry about his contract situation became oppressive. All of it was too much.

    Hood lost himself -- often receiving pick-me-up texts from his concerned mother, Vicky, who wanted him to smile more and find joy on the court again. Then he lost his rotation spot.

    But the Cavs have seen glimpses of the old Rodney. They believe he's ready for this increased role. Hood is a 6-foot-8 swingman dripping with potential. The talent is obvious. He looks the part of the interchangeable wing that every NBA team covets, the guy the Cavaliers want to make part of a young nucleus expected to steer them into this new era.

    "Having those last two games against Golden State where he played well that's the Rodney Hood that we know," Lue said. "For him to get a taste of that on the big stage and in The Finals I think did a lot for him. That's how talented he is and that's what we are going to need every night."

    After limited playing time in the Eastern Conference finals and the first two games against the Warriors, Hood popped off the bench on the biggest stage and scored 15 points on 7-of-11 from the field in 26 minutes during a Game 3 loss. He followed with another double-digit scoring night in the series finale.

    The Cavs are hoping Hood can use that as a springboard. They are hoping his confidence, which can be fragile, will get a boost from those June showings. They are hoping no longer having that burdensome championship-or-bust mentality will fit his game and personality. 

    Cleveland is also expected to implement a new offense this season. Forget the constant isolation that became both a blessing and a curse. Forget one player dominating possession while the shot clock winds down. That's a recipe for failure with this group and everyone in the organization knows it.

    This season will feature more motion, ball movement and post-ups with actions off those sets.

    Hood worked this summer on his body in anticipation of more post touches. He worked on his away-from-the-ball game.

    All of that should help a talented player who never looked comfortable in Cleveland.

    "He came from Utah where Coach (Quin) Snyder ran a lot of stuff for him coming off the bench and kind of ran offense through him," Lue said. "Coming into a situation where LeBron had the ball in his hands a lot and the second unit was different with (Kyle) Korver and different guys, it was a change for him. Only having 30 games with that change was tough.

    "Now he understands what we are looking for, he's going to be a big option on this team and we need him to score the basketball. He knows where his shots are coming from. That's a good thing."

    It's up to Hood now. He enters camp with a clear mind and fresh perspective. He knows this was a bumpy start and he has much to make up for. A restricted free agent this past summer, the fruitful offer sheet never came and Hood ultimately ended up signing his qualifying offer -- a one-year prove-it deal.

    If that's not a wake-up call, then what is?

    "Just getting back to myself," Hood said of his mindset heading into the season. "Being a scorer, being aggressive and being a different player than I was the past few months when I was here. I feel like this is the first time introducing myself to Cleveland people other than what they heard about me."

    So who is Rodney Hood? The Cavaliers' new second scoring option.


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    Haskins made a throw late in the first half against Tulane that showed his best recourse when the pocket collapses, as it might at times against Penn State. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- There is nothing about Dwayne Haskins that suggests he won't be ready for Beaver Stadium on Saturday night, and the swarms of white-clad Penn State fans whose shouts will echo off the Appalachian Mountains.

    Haskins hasn't played there, but he'll handle the pressure of a night game at Penn State.

    But what if the Nittany Lions tee up a blitz package or some other way to attack Haskins in the pocket and make him uncomfortable? After watching Haskins pick apart defenses through four games while completing 75 percent of his passes, why wouldn't a top-10 opponent decide to get after a 6-foot-3 quarterback who is basically a traditional dropback passer?

    That's the potential pressure I'm wondering about with Haskins, who has handled everything thrown at him so far.

    According to stats compiled by CFBFilmRoom.com, Haskins has faced pressure on 15.4 percent of his dropbacks this season. That's way below the 25.6 percent of dropbacks on which J.T. Barrett, and Haskins for some backup snaps, faced pressure last year.

    That could be Haskins getting the ball out quickly and in rhythm. He does that well, while Barrett sometimes seemed more reluctant to let the ball go. That could be receivers working to get open more effectively this year. That could be strong play by the offensive line. It could be a lower level of competition so far in three blowouts and one tough game against TCU.

    But it's some indication that Haskins hasn't been forced to deal with a defender in his face that much. I'm still curious what might happen if he faces that more often against a team that risks more blitzes or has a defensive line that wins more one-on-one matchups against the OSU offensive line.

    So far, @CFBFilmRoom said the stats show Haskins has dealt with the pressure pretty well.

    I'm curious about the best way for Haskins to deal with pressure, because he's not the threat as a scrambler that the Buckeyes usually have at quarterback.

    Barrett was always dangerous with the ball in his hands. Braxton Miller was actually a better runner off called plays than off scrambles, but he'd take defenses apart in the open field. Terrelle Pryor? Pressure him, and sometimes that would turn into the Buckeyes' best play. 

    What should Haskins do with a defender bearing down on him? 

    Stand in and try to shed a tackle and make the throw? Scramble to run? Roll away from pressure to throw? Or get rid of it?

    "It depends on circumstance," said Haskins, who said he learned from a red-zone interception in the opener against Oregon State to not force things near the end zone under pressure.

    "If there's an avenue for me to get out and extend the play, I'm more than willing to do that," Haskins said.

    In the final drive against Tulane last week, you saw the Green Wave decide to attempt to pressure Haskins on a consistent basis. And you saw he was slightly less effective. 

    Haskins was 21-of-24 playing just the first half, but two of those three incompletions came against pressure on the last drive of the half.

    On second-and-3, an outside blitzer got around right tackle Isaiah Prince and help from the running back to hit Haskins as he held his ground in the pocket and tried to throw. Incomplete.

    On third-and-3, Haskins had a pretty clean pocket but thought he saw a lane to scramble, and he was tackled for a loss of one without looking very dangerous on the move.

    On fourth-and-4, under no pressure, Haskins calmly completed a 9-yard pass for a first down.

    A first-and-10, a blitzing safety hit Haskins as he threw and forced a completion over the middle.

    On second-and-10, Tulane, seeing pressure was having an effect, blitzed and again got pressure from the right side. And Haskins did this.

    via GIPHY

    In four games filled with great throws, with deep balls dropped perfectly onto receivers' hands, with quick slants on the money and touch passes made easy, that rollout and throw on the move may be Haskins' most important throw of the year in my mind.

    What does he do when it doesn't go exactly as planned? 

    Yes, Haskins will eliminate pressure sometimes because he's quick and decisive. 

    But when pressure does come, it's not only about avoiding sacks. Against TCU, he got rid of the ball rather than take a sack a few times, and he scrambled at least twice up the middle for short gains. He was sacked just once for a loss of a yard against the toughest opponent so far.

    He handled pressure. But what about making a defense pay for bringing it? Haskins' best best is still identifying where the pressure is coming from and getting rid of it. Against Tulane, he did that easily on an earlier play and flipped a swing pass to the side of the field away from the pressure, hitting Mike Weber for a simple 10-yard gain.

    But when that doesn't work, and a defender is in his face, can Haskins win the battle?

    By the end of the first half, Tulane figured it was worth finding out. Expect Penn State and future opponents to do the same. 

    If Haskins rolls away from pressure and rips a throw on the run, he'll have made them pay. Because if a defense sits back and waits, he's almost certainly going to handle that. So they'll have to try something.

    Watch Ryan Day explain how Haskins can handle pressure in his face


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    Gruden says Mayfield has the 'it' factor and the charisma and magic to be great.

    BEREA, Ohio -- Raiders coach Jon Gruden, an Ohio native who grew up a Browns fan, believes that Baker Mayfield can be the start of something big for his former favorite team.

    "Mayfield, if you draw a line under that name, he's the man,'' Gruden said on a conference call Wednesday. "He's the story that I think right now is going to become bigger and bigger in Cleveland this year."

    Gruden, a quarterback expert who hosted the wildly popular Gruden's QB Camp on ESPN before he got back into coaching after a decade on Monday Night Football, is on the Mayfield bandwagon.

    "First impressions are great,'' Gruden said. "I saw him play against the Giants in the preseason, that was the first impression and the first impression was awesome. I think the guy's got the 'it' factor, he's got the charisma, he's got the competitiveness, he's got the feel, he's got the ability to be great, I think.

    "And what he did the other day coming off the bench down 10, 11 points (14 against the Jets) and bringing his team back at home in front of his fans in his debut was awesome. It'll be a challenge for us. He's a great young prospect.''

    With Mayfield starting, the Browns should try to trade Taylor

    Gruden, who counters with Derek Carr and is off to an 0-3 start, couldn't imagine a team not being prepared for the backup quarterback, which Jets safety Jamal Adams said the case when Mayfield entered the game last Thursday night and rallied the Browns from the 14-point second quarter deficit for a 21-17 victory.

    "You always have to be ready for the backup quarterback, it doesn't matter if you have one day to get ready or a month to get ready,'' Gruden said. "Mayfield's a guy that can scramble and extend plays, you better know that. You better know that some of the great plays Mayfield has made at Oklahoma and has made as a Cleveland Brown are scramble plays.

    "He does an excellent job keeping plays alive and he has incredible vision down the field, I mean, that guy has eyes in the back of his head. So you've got to know he's a great, creative player and the system that they run in Cleveland involves a lot of skilled people they didn't have last year.

    "You better get to know (Antonio) Callaway, he's a problem for people, and (Jarvis) Landry has been a problem for a lot of people around the league and Duke Johnson. They have some arsenal in this system that can do damage. We know Mayfield is a great competitor and a very creative player indeed."

    Gruden, known for some QB hyperbole, noted that Mayfield's infectious personality is a huge factor.

    "Those are the intangibles that you look for that are hard to find,'' he said. "Do they like the pressure? Do they like the big moment? Some guys come alive, some guys don't. Some guys can bring out the best in their teammates, some guys struggle to do that.

    "But Mayfield has the magic about him, he has the charisma about him that really allows I think everybody on that team, defensively included to play at a higher level. They know if we can get the ball back to this kid, something good's going to happen.''

    So what's the difference between Mayfield and another 6-foot tall QB Browns QB Gruden liked in Johnny Manziel?

    "Well, obviously, Johnny had some issues off the field and his ability to come in on a consistent basis and concentrate and master a system didn't happen,'' he said. "You know, it doesn't matter of you're six-feet tall or eight-feet tall, if you can't string really good days of concentration together and master a system, you're going to have a hard time in any pro football, I can promise you that.

    "I think Mayfield has probably been very consistent in his approach, I can't speak for that but I would expect that Todd Haley and Hue Jackson have mentored him and he's probably responded quite well, and that's the difference. You gotta really come in and be a consistent grinder and really get after the details and prove to your teammates how important it is to you to earn their respect."


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    Mayfield is experiencing his first week as an NFL starting quarterback. Watch video

    BEREA, Ohio -- The Browns will have a new starting quarterback on Sunday when they travel to Oakland to play the Raiders. Baker Mayfield will make the first start of his NFL career. That means a week of preparing like an NFL starter.

    Mary Kay Cabot and I talked about Mayfield making his first start in the video above. We also talked about Tyrod Taylor still in the concussion protocol and whether he will be able to be the backup quarterback. Then we talked about the return of Emmanuel Ogbah.


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    Trevor Bauer is in line to start Game 4 of the ALDS, if necessary, against Houston. He could also be available to come out of the bullpen earlier in the series.

    CHICAGO - Although things are subject to change, it appears the Indians will start Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Mike Clevinger in the first three games of the ALDS against Houston. The best-of-five-series begins Oct. 5 at Minute Maid Park.

    Trevor Bauer could start Game 4 on Oct. 9, if necessary, at Progressive Field or he could be available in the bullpen. Bauer is recovering from a stress fracture in his right fibula that he suffered on Aug. 11.

    The Indians open the final regular season series of the season on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium against the Royals. Josh Tomlin will start Thursday followed by Clevinger (12-8, 3.07), Kluber (20-7, 2.83) and Carrasco (16-10, 3.42). Bauer (12-6, 2.26) will relieve Carrasco on Sunday.

    Manager Terry Francona said he talked with Bauer on Wednesday after he pitched four innings on Tuesday night against the White Sox. All he would say about the meeting was, "we need to get through the season first because you don't want to announce something and then have to undo it. But we did give him some guidance in what we're looking to do, just so he can prepare and things like that."

    Francona indicated that Clevinger (12-8, 3.07) would start Game 3 on Oct. 8 at Progressive Field, but it was subject to change.

    The ALDS matchup between the Indians and Astros became a reality late Tuesday night. After Houston beat Toronto to reduce its magic number to one, Seattle beat the A's in extra innings to clinch the AL West for the Astros. They have home-field advantage of the Indians because they won the season series, 4-3.

    The series will match the best two starting rotations in the AL. Houston is ranked first at 72-36 with a 3.20 ERA. The Indians are second at 73-43 with a 3.43 ERA.

    "They're good, they're really good," said Francona. "The one thing I've been impressed with - when we've played them and when I've watched them - is that they play start to finish really well. Even when we've beaten them it's been like, 'Man, they're coming.'

    "That's why they've been fun to play because they're talented and they keep playing. They present a lot of issues, but it's fun to play them because they're so good."

    Houston, the defending World Series champion, has a record of 100-68. The Indians are 88-69.

    Justin Verlander is one of the key starters in the Houston rotation. He's a familiar foe to the Indians because he spent most of his career with the Tigers before they traded him to the Astros last year in August. The Indians have not faced him since.

    "There's a pretty good chance we will now," said Francona.

    Verlander (16-9, 2.60), Gerrit Cole (15-5, 2.92), Dallas Keuchel (12-11, 3.75) and Charlie Morton (15-3, 3.18) are Houston's top four starters.


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    The Browns finally won. Can they build on it?

    BEREA, Ohio -- It has been so long since the Browns felt like a real NFL team -- one where the games matter and we're not combing mock drafts before Halloween -- that it's easy to lose sight of what an NFL season is really like week-to-week. No one can blame Browns fans or players for celebrating like they did on Thursday night, but that's not how things work in the normal NFL.

    "I saw a couple of pictures," wide receiver Jarvis Landry said, "and you couldn't even see the street."

    That win deserved celebrating. Things were bad. A beer company built a wildly successful marketing campaign around the team's futility.

    This team was going to win a game eventually, but it had to happen sooner rather than later to really matter, and here we are. Now the Browns are heading into the last week of September at .500 with a defense full of swagger and an offense that was energized by the play of Baker Mayfield. It's not time to start talking playoffs, but you can imagine this team ending up on one of those "in the hunt" graphics later in the year. From there, who knows?

    All of that starts with one thing:

    "Now we have to try and stack it," Joel Bitonio said on Wednesday.

    "If you go out there and lay an egg against Oakland," he said, "you're back to Square One."

    Because, while it's easy to forget, this team has won single games before. Go back to 2015. The Browns were 1-1 that year before they lost two in a row. Later, they were 2-3 following a dramatic overtime win in Baltimore -- then they lost in overtime to Denver the next week and that started a seven-game skid.

    They won a Thursday night game against Buffalo in 2013 to move to 3-2. They followed that up by losing 10 of their final 11 games.

    This team keeps saying they're different, and it sure feels that way. They're still the only team to hold the Saints under 40 points and the Steelers under 30. The more we see of players like Jarvis Landry and Antonio Callaway and now Mayfield, the easier it is to dream a little bit about where this could all end up.

    "Those first two games, we had our opportunities there, big opportunities to be sitting in a pretty position right now that we didn't take advantage of but we learned from," Landry said. "Hopefully having that 'W' then going on the road right now is going to give us the confidence that we need to create the streak here."

    That's why Sunday represents another checkpoint for this team. You ended the losing streak in Week 1. You ended the winless streak on Thursday night. Now you have to go on the road and play a team that has blown double digit leads in back-to-back weeks and hasn't scored more than 20 points in their first three games.

    This is a winnable game. This is, like the Jets game, one you should win if you truly are a better football team. But the Browns still need to prove that they are.

    "There is a whole other level of focus now," head coach Hue Jackson said. "You are not sliding in here under the radar with people thinking you are not a good team. I think we have a team that if we keep growing and keep getting better that someday people will say that we are a good team. We are not that yet. We have not earned that."

    Winning Sunday -- stacking W's -- is the next step for the Browns. Are they ready to make it?


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    Shane Bieber will face the White Sox for the second time this season. In his first start, he threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings in a no-decision effort on Aug. 10.

    CHICAGO -- Here are the lineups for Wednesday night's game between the Indians and White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. First pitch is scheduled for 8:10 p.m.

    INDIANS

    SS Francisco Lindor.

    LF Michael Brantley.

    2B Jose Ramirez.

    DH Edwin Encarnacion.

    3B Josh Donaldson.

    1B Yonder Alonso.

    RF Melky Cabrera.

    CF Jason Kipnis.

    C Roberto Perez.

    RHP Shane Bieber, 10-5, 4.80.

    WHITE SOX

    3B Yolmer Sanchez.

    DH Omar Narvaez.

    RF Avisail Garcia.

    LF Daniel Palka.

    1B Matt Davidson.

    C Wellington Castillo.

    SS Tim Anderson.

    2B Yoan Moncada.

    CF Adam Engel.

    RHP Jace Fry, 2-2, 4.32.

    *This is going to be a bullpen game for the White Sox.

    UMPIRES

    H Jeff Nelson, crew chief.

    1B Laz Diaz.

    2B Manny Gonzalez.

    3B Andy Fletcher. 


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    Hide your wife. Hide your kids.

    Thoughts of Michael Myers and Freddy Kreuger usually keep people up at night, but there are two mascots close to taking over their spots. Philadelphia Flyers mascot Gritty is a muppet-looking hair monster straight out of every child's nightmare, but New Orleans Pelicans mascot King Baby's overzealous smile and bug eyes have people running for the hills. Which mascot do you want to avoid most in an alley? 

    PERSPECTIVES

    You know that monster everyone is afraid of coming out of their closet while they're sleeping ... while also being a B-list "Sesame Street" extra? Yeah, Gritty is that beast.

    What looks like the demonic uncle of Cookie Monster and Elmo will be skating at Flyers games for the foreseeable future. Hide your wife. Hide your kids. There is a hairy nightmare running around out here.

    Gritty might be the new monster on the block, but nothing compares to the unexorcised demon baby shoving King Cake in everyone's face at Pelicans games during Mardi Gras.

    From its piercing eyes that stare right into your soul or the evil smile that never tires, King Baby can send an adult into the fetal position. You might be able to run from it, but you can never hide.

    The Tylt is focused on debates and conversations around news, current events and pop culture. We provide our community with the opportunity to share their opinions and vote on topics that matter most to them. We actively engage the community and present meaningful data on the debates and conversations as they progress. The Tylt is a place where your opinion counts, literally. The Tylt is an Advance Local Media, LLC property. Join us on Twitter @TheTylt, on Instagram @TheTylt or on Facebook, we'd love to hear what you have to say.


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    Mayfield surprised the Jets with his quick release and pinpoint passes, but the Raiders have had all week to gameplan for him. Watch video

    BEREA, Ohio -- Baker Mayfield may have caught the Jets off guard like second-year safety Jamal Adams said he did, but the Raiders will be ready on Sunday.

    There will be no surprise attack this week when Mayfield makes his first NFL start against the 0-3 Raiders and new coach Jon Gruden, who's an expert in all things QB.

    Jackson, who goes way, way back with Gruden to when they were both at the University of Pacific in the late 80s, knows that despite the Raiders' 0-3 record, the Raiders will be gunning for the Browns and their rookie QB in the Black Hole. 

    "(Gruden's) extremely competitive, and he does not losing, no more than I didn't like losing,'' Jackson said. "Trust me, he's going to get his football team ready to go. We have to be ready to play.''

    What's more, they have an accomplished veteran defensive coordinator in Paul Guenther, who spent the previous 13 seasons in Cincinnati, including four with Jackson. Jackson knows as well as anyone that Guenther, who's Bengals defenses held QBs to a league-low 80.1 rating over the past four years, will be ready for Mayfield.

    "Oh, absolutely no doubt,'' said Jackson. "I think he gets that. The game is going to change for him a little bit. People will start preparing for him more, but we feel like we do a good job as an offensive unit of preparing him and preparing our offensive team for what could happen and what may happen, then we'll be fine. This guy is no finished product by any stretch, but he works at it and it's important to him, and I think it is important to his teammates."

    Gruden says the Mayfield story will get 'bigger and bigger in Cleveland this year'

    Adams made headlines this week when he told WFAN's "Carlin, Maggie & Bart" on his weekly radio appearance that the Jets weren't prepared for Mayfield, who rallied the Browns from a 14-point second-quarter deficit to win 21-17. On Wednesday, Adams clarified to reporters in New York that he wasn't ripping the coaches with those remarks, and coach Todd Bowles said the safety misspoke, but the damage was already somewhat done.

    "We didn't see it happening. I'm just being honest," Adams said. "We had to be open to knowing that Baker could come in, but we were prepared for Tyrod. When Baker came in, obviously we didn't have a game plan for him. But hats off to him. He came in, he definitely played lights out. They gained momentum and we just couldn't grab it back."

    The remarks were contrary to what Bowles said after the game, that the momentum shift in the second quarter was more about the Jets' penalties than anything.

    "No, I felt the same as soon as we committed two penalties before halftime, and we gave them life with the penalties,'' Bowles said. "I don't think it had to do with the quarterback."

    He insisted after the game the Jets were ready for the No. 1 overall pick.

    "They were the same plays,'' he said. "We knew what the quarterbacks were. We knew one ran more than the other. He just did a good job and we didn't."

    On a conference call yesterday, Gruden indicated that the Jets were undoubtedly prepared for Mayfield even in the short week.

     "You always have to be ready for the backup quarterback,'' he said. "Doesn't matter if you have one day to get ready or a month to get ready.''

    He stressed that his team, which will likely dig back into his Oklahoma film, will certainly be ready.

    "Mayfield is a guy that can scramble and extend plays,'' he said. "You better know that. You better know that some of the great plays that Mayfield has made at Oklahoma and has made as a Cleveland Brown are scramble plays. He does an excellent job keeping plays alive. He has incredible vision down the field.

    "That guy has eyes on the back of his head. You have to know that he's a great creative player. The system that they run in Cleveland involves a lot of skilled people that they did not have last year. You better get to know (Antonio) Callaway. He's a problem for people. (Jarvis) Landry has been a problem for a lot of people around the league and  Duke Johnson. They have some arsenal in this system that can do damage. We know that Mayfield's a great competitor and a very competitive player indeed."

    Despite what Gruden and Guenther saw on film from Mayfield in the Jets game and from the Browns offense in the first three outings, they can expect some new wrinkles with Mayfield in the game. Like most rookies who are immediately successful in the NFL these days, Mayfield will be give a gameplan that plays to his strengths and possibly even borrows a play or two from his Oklahoma playbook.

    "It's important anytime - I do not care who plays quarterback - to put them in position to be successful, and that's what we're going to do,'' he said. "(Offensive coordinator) Todd (Haley), the rest of the offensive staff myself, our job is to make sure we give Baker the best chance to have success with this offense, whatever that means.

    "We'll do whatever we need to do to give us a chance to have him perform well because if he performs well, then we have a chance to do what we need to do. Will we look at things? Will we implement things? If we think they fit and if they fit him. We'll take the things that he does real well in our offense now, let him continue to do those and keep giving him a little more here and there as we go."

    Linebacker Joe Schobert knows what's going on inside the defensive meeting rooms as the Raiders prepare for a rookie making his first NFL start.

    "I think they'll be as ready as an NFL team should be coming into a big-time game on Sunday,'' he said. "In their situation this year, they're really gunning for a win and they're looking at us as a great opportunity to get that win, and we're going to go there and try to start our streak of stringing some wins together.''

    Said Jarvis Landry: "Listen, these guys, Oakland, they're going to compete. They're going to play their defense. They're going to play their style of football, and we have to go out there and do the same thing. We've got to go play our style of football, execute, play at a high level and make the plays. That's it.''

    Just like the Browns did last week for Sam Darnold, the Raiders will be getting their rookie game faces on.  

    "You try to get in their face and confuse them, show them different looks to maybe make them make mistakes,'' Schobert said. "Sometimes rookie quarterbacks can handle it and sometimes they can't, but that's always the goal.''

    The thing that makes Mayfield unique is his arm talent, Schobert said.

    "Baker has great arm strength, so he can really whip the ball in there and make some throws across the field with velocity that maybe defenders aren't seeing day in and day out which makes it harder to catch and harder to make a play on the ball and anticipate things,'' said Schobert. "He's a little bit of a gunslinger.

    "He likes to get back there and throw it in there and take chances and obviously taking chances in the NFL can go one way and go the other way, but a lot of great quarterbacks have been there and he's kind of in the mold and if he keeps progressing, I think he's going to be great for us.''


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    The Indians have been in preparation mode since clinching the AL Central on Sept. 15. They are trying to put their roster in the best position for the postseason, but at times it has been frustrating for manager Terry Francona.

    CHICAGO - Terry Francona has been managing with one hand behind his back since the Indians clinched the AL Central on Sept. 15 and it's getting to him.

    There are so many things to take into consideration that the basic goal of winning the game sometimes gets lost. Some players need more work, some players need more rest. Others are coming off injuries and have to be handle carefully.

    Everything is geared toward the postseason and Francona has to manage that way.

    Francona understands that precautions must be taken. He's been through it enough times, but it's hard to get around the basic concept of doing everything possible to beat the other team.

    "I hate it," said Francona before Wednesday's season finale against the White Sox. "I hate it. I'm so tired of this. Last night I'm sitting there watching (Carlos) Carrasco give up runs. You know we've got a guy in the bullpen that probably could have come in, but we needed to (get Carrasco's pitch count up). I can't wait to start playing games where we can try to do what we're supposed to do."

    Trevor Bauer, coming back from a stress fracture in his right leg, started Tuesday night's game and was relieved after four innings. Carrasco started the fifth and worked into the ninth with a 4-2 lead. Chicago rallied for three runs against Carrasco for a 5-4 win.

    Lefty Daniel Palka, with first base open, singled to center to drive in the tying and winning runs. Francona could have had Carrasco walk Palka or bring in one of his four lefties to face him, but he knew Carrasco needed to throw more pitches to stay on schedule for the ALDS.

    Francona said under normal circumstances he would manage the inning differently.

    "We could have brought in the lefty (Brad Hand was warming) and then make them pinch-hit and do some things," he said. "We could have really (manipulated) it, but (we) let Carrasco finish the game."

    Francona is on board with the strategy, but Tuesday's loss left him frustrated.

    "We've got things going every which way," he said. "This guy can do this. This guy can do that. ... Let's go!

    "I went home mad last night and I was mad the whole way home. Millsie (bench coach Brad Mills) and those guys were looking at me and said, 'Man, relax."

    Carrasco reached 81 pitches in 4 1/3 innings.

    "That part is good," said Francona. "And it has been good (overall). There is a good reason for doing it, but it goes against (your nature). We show up to win. I know there are days in spring training when we lose and I get mad ... because this is what we do."


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    Ohio State and Penn State will meet on Saturday night in State College, Pa.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State football plays Penn State on Saturday night in a game that could decide the Big Ten East Division race.

    Who: No. 4 Ohio State (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) at No. 9 Penn State (4-0, 1-0)

    Time: 7:30 p.m.

    Where: Beaver Stadium (State College, Pa.)

    TV: ABC

    Announcers: Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Maria Taylor

    Radio: Ohio State's state-wide radio affiliates can be found here.

    Live stream: Watch ESPN (TV provider sign-in required), fuboTV (free trial).

    The last two Ohio State vs. Penn State games have been decided by three points or fewer.

    FuboTV is a paid affiliate of Advance Local Media LLC. Advance Local Media LLC may receive compensation if you access the FuboTV service through the link above.


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