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    The veteran had some thoughts on the Browns' rookie QB after Sunday's win by the Chargers. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Chargers 15th-year quarterback Philip Rivers didn't get to see the best of the Browns' Baker Mayfield. In fact, he saw by far his worst performance in four outings this season during the Browns' 38-14 loss to the Chargers. But he's still high on the rookie QB.

    "He's a gritty, tough and competitive guy,'' said Rivers. "He has a heck of a career ahead of him. He made some really good throws today that were close. If I wasn't pulling against him to beat him, I would've said 'You should've caught those.' There were a couple of them that I thought they should've caught, but I'm glad they didn't.

    "He's going to have a heck of a career. You can just tell in the way he commands. He was running no-huddles and doing all of that in his third or fourth start. He's going to be just fine."

    Mayfield fought through ankle, blames himself 'for majority' of loss

    Rivers looked around to acknowledge Mayfield after the game, but they didn't get a chance to connect. If he had the chance to give him a piece of veteran advice, it would be to stay even-keeled.

    Mayfield completed 47.8 percent of his passes, threw two interceptions, was sacked five times and earned a 52.6 rating Sunday.

    "I was able to learn a bit of that from watching (former Chargers and Saints QB) Drew (Brees) those first two years,'' he said. "He's lost some tough games at Oklahoma. There weren't many. He's used to winning most of them. I think that at this league in the quarterback position and any other position, you're going to win some tough games and lose some.

    "You have to come back in on Monday and do the same thing. On Tuesday, do the same thing and you are in this thing for the long haul. If you ride the rollercoaster, it can be tough. That's what I would've said. Not that he needs to hear that from me."

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    Schobert has been a vital piece to the Browns' defense this season.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The wide receiving corps, thought to be a strength back in the spring, thinned out quickly for the Browns due to trades and injury. It could be happening to another group, now.

    Two members of the linebacking group, a position of relative strength not so long ago, left Sunday's loss to the Chargers due to injury.

    Joe Schobert left with a hamstring injury. Schobert hadn't missed a snap all season before the play with 8:06 left in the third quarter, and played every defensive snap a season ago.

    He has played even better this season following a Pro Bowl berth in 2017. He collected half a sack on Sunday.

    Schobert has become the definition of a MIKE (middle) linebacker in 2018. He is responsible for making calls, and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has raved about his smarts.

    "He has to be an extension of me on the field," Williams said on Friday. "One of the things that it took a while for people to understand here, the defense that we play on a particular rep is not what Gregg Williams calls; it is what Joe Schobert calls."

    If Schobert is forced to miss time, the logical switch is to move Christian Kirksey inside. He has played both inside and outside in his career, and he has worn the green sticker  -- which means he's the player who can hear Williams' calls through the speaker in his helmet.

    "Whenever we lose our starting MIKE linebacker, whenever you lose a player in general, that's something that's very detrimental to the team," Kirksey said.

    James Burgess went down, too, also a hamstring injury. Burgess hasn't been able to catch a break this season, dealing with a concussion coming out of the preseason, then a knee injury. The undrafted free agent out of Louisville was playing just his third game of the season on Sunday.

    Burgess is an important reserve. He filled in admirably for Jamie Collins a season ago. He's best running downhill and became even more important when Mychal Kendricks was indicted on insider-trading charges and released.

    We'll know more about both injuries as the week goes along. Losing both could lead to more of safety Jabrill Peppers in the box. It could do the same for safety Derrick Kindred. The two have split much of the time at strong safety, and both are comfortable playing near the line of scrimmage.

    Make no mistake: Schobert's development has been vital to this defense's growth. Losing him for any amount of time would be felt.

    Other injuries to watch: Wide receiver Rod Streater left Sunday's game with a neck injury and didn't return. Fellow wide receiver Damion Ratley suffered a hip/back injury, too. He was able to return.

    Center JC Tretter suffered an ankle injury. He did not miss time.

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    The Browns must do more to upgrade their receiving corps, or they won't be able to win. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Browns aren't going to win many games this season if they don't upgrade their receiving corps soon.

    They must be open to every possible option at receiver, including Oakland's Amari Cooper, who's on the trading block, and Dez Bryant, who still looking for job.

    The Browns headed into Sunday's 38-14 loss to the Chargers in dire straits at receiver, and it got even worse when Rod Streater went down with a stinger covering a punt on the Browns' opening drive.

    That left them with three active receivers in rookies Antonio Callaway and Damion Ratley, and Jarvis Landry. Callaway and Ratley, the Browns' sixth-round pick, both dropped passes in the end zone, and Callaway dropped another pass over the middle in the fourth quarter that would've gone for a first down.

    All told, the Browns dropped another five or six passes, including two by a frustrated Jarvis Landry.

    With the young receivers struggling, the Chargers double-teamed Landry and took him out of the game. When he wasn't tightly covered, Mayfield either missed him -- such as when he was open at the Chargers' 12 on a fourth and 2 -- or he dropped the pass.

    Landry, who declared himself the best receiver in the NFL before the season, caught only two of his nine targets for 11 yards. On the sidelines, he looked tense, and he left the locker room after the game without talking to reporters.

    Mayfield fought through ankle, takes blame for 38-14 loss

    If the Browns can't upgrade the receiving corps, they'll lose Landry to anger and frustration, and that will be bad for everyone. They signed Ravens 2015 first-round pick Breshad Perriman on Saturday, but he was cut by the Ravens before the season and then by the Redskins four days after they signed him. Chances are, he's not the answer.

    There are not many good receivers waiting at home for a phone call. The Browns will have to trade for one such as Cooper, the 2015 No. 4 pick out of Alabama; or break down and bring Bryant on board.

    I wrote on Saturday that the Browns should try to trade for Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr., not so much for this year, but to help make them a contender over the next five or six years. Realistically, the Giants probably won't be willing to part with him. But the Browns must look into that and every other opportunity to supply Baker Mayfield with some help.

    It's tough enough for a rookie quarterback to succeed, but virtually impossible with a poor supporting cast. Right now, Mayfield doesn't have enough weapons, and his skill players are too inconsistent.

    One way for the Browns to upgrade the position is to use Duke Johnson more at receiver. At this point, they have no choice. Johnson caught four of his five targets for 73 yards and will be needed more in that role as the weeks go by.

    The Browns made several big errors with their receiving corps this season. For starters, they never should've counted on Josh Gordon to be their No. 1 receiver. There were too many red flags, including him missing the first part of camp while he was back in rehab. They also shouldn't have counted on Corey Coleman, who was on thin ice last season.

    And when Gordon messed up the weekend before the Saints game, they shouldn't have given him away to the Patriots. I wrote that before they did it, so it's not 20-20 hindsight. I know they were at the end of their rope with him, but they should've tied a knot and hung on.

    There's no way Callaway was ready to step in for Gordon at the X position, and he's got a long way to go. The Browns weren't good enough at receiver to let Gordon walk out the door, and they're struggling to recover from that move.

    It must be a priority in the offseason to upgrade the receiving corps, but if they don't do something this season, it's going to be tough to win games to help their rookie quarterback succeed.

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    The officials blew another call in a Browns game, this time a missed false start that led to a TD. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Browns had a tough enough time during Sunday's 38-14 loss to the Chargers without the officials making it even worse.

    With 51 seconds left in the half and the Chargers up 14-3, left tackle Russell Okung committed a blatant false start on a third and 6 from the Browns 29, and the officials missed it.

    Everyone in FirstEnergy Stadium saw it, except the people paid to see it. Rivers threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Tyrell Williams on the play, and Browns players looked around for the flag that never came. The Chargers went up 21-3, instead of a facing a third and 11 at the Browns' 24.

    Chances are, a red-hot Rivers may have thrown a TD pass then too, but the defense may have forced them to settle for a field goal for a 17-3. The Browns also kicked a field goal as time ran out in the half. They may have gone to the locker room trailing 17-6, which has a less desperate feel to it.

    "Yep. Yep. Missed it,'' said coach Hue Jackson. "Yeah, I was told they missed it. Was very honest on my side. It sure wasn't the guy on the other side. It was definitely the guy on my side. That was [a false start].''

    Even Rivers admitted it was a blown call.

    "It was close and he may have been early,'' he said. "That's what happens sometimes. You get some of those that could've gone either way. Obviously, that was a huge play because we ended up scoring a touchdown, but sometimes that's the way it goes.''

    Mayfield took most of the blame for the loss

    Granted, the Browns were so outplayed by the 4-2 Chargers that it probably wouldn't have made a difference. But it certainly didn't help.

    "I was playing my job of man, so I didn't really know what was going on,'' said free safety Damarious Randall. "But, shoot, I've seen a replay and it was obviously a false start. We've been having a lot of things like that this whole entire year, so we've grown accustomed to it.

    "I don't think that made or broke this game, but at the end of the day we've just got to overcome any type of adversity, because it seems like don't nobody want to see us succeed.''

    It was at least the third time this season that a questionable call hurt the Browns. In Oakland, they reversed Carlos Hyde's third down conversion that would've enabled the Browns to run out the clock and celebrate a victory. Instead, they lost in overtime. The NFL also admitted that the Browns strip-sacked Derek Carr late in the game, but that wasn't as costly because the Browns scored a TD shortly thereafter.

    "At this point, I'm tired of having bad calls on us each and every game,'' said linebacker Christian Kirksey. "I feel like the league has to do something about that. But until then, we've just got to make sure we don't make the games that close to where it comes down to a certain call. There's really nothing that you can do. It's us against everybody."

    Did the offenders expect a whistle?

    "When it comes to officiating, there's a lot of stuff I want to say, but I don't want to say the wrong things. We all know how that goes. We've just got to find a way to win."

    In the end, of course, LA's 449 yards, Rivers' big plays, and Melvin Gordon's 132 yards rushing and three TDs did the Browns in, not the missed false start.

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    The L.A. Chargers wanted to keep Baker Mayfield in the pocket, and that hurt the performance of the Browns rookie quarterback.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Scribbles in my Browns notebook after their 38-14 loss to the L.A. Chargers on Sunday afternoon:

    1. The officials made one horrible no-call when ignoring a Chargers false-start penalty. That became a 29-yard TD pass to Ty Williams. In a year of blown calls against the Browns, it was the worst. "At this point, I'm tired of having bad calls on us each and every game," linebacker Christian Kirksey told the media. "I feel like the league has to do something about that...It's us against everybody."

    2. I thought the players dwelled too long on the officials. Yes, the players were asked about the calls. But the final score was 38-14. The game was their most unfocused, unprepared and embarrassing performance of the season.

    3. Most of the players didn't mention the lack of energy unless asked about it. Then they did admit effort was a problem. I do like how quarterback Baker Mayfield immediately said: "We did not execute. We did not do our job. We were not detailed. We did not do the things that were talked about all week. That's the most disappointing thing...I'm at fault for the majority of that."

    4. Yes, Mayfield is the quarterback and he's supposed to take the blame for everything from dropped passes to sacks to bad food at a certain concession stand. But you could see it in his face and hear his discouraged voice: Mayfield learned some painful lessons about preparation and executing a game plan.

    5. The Chargers set up their defense a special way to take away Mayfield's mobility. Coach Anthony Lynn said: "We were disciplined in our lanes, trying to eliminate his opportunities to escape out of the pocket. When he leaves the pocket, he's pretty dangerous...we did a heck of a job containing him in the pocket and getting sacks."

    6. Watch other teams do the same. The idea of rushing from the outside and keeping Mayfield in the middle of the pocket is to make it hard for him to see over the taller linemen on both teams who are in front of him. Mayfield is barely 6-foot. He also throws extremely well on the run.

    7. It also seemed Mayfield held on to the ball too long in the pocket. Perhaps he was trying to heave the ball downfield to get some quick scores. The Browns were behind, 20-6, at halftime. But this was the most confused, least comfortable he has looked in his four pro games. Mayfield was 22-of-46 passing for 238 yards, one TD and two interceptions. 

    8. Now, it will be up to offensive coordinator Todd Haley to find ways to use Mayfield's mobility out of the pocket against defenses designed to stop it. Each week this season, Mayfield will face new challenges and different defenses. It's why being a rookie QB is so difficult.

    9. Damarious Randall has had a tremendous season at free safety. But I thought one of the plays symbolic of the game was when he went up for a pass in the end zone with Chargers receiver Ty Williams. It seemed Randall caught it first, then Williams had a hand on it. They both wrestled for the ball and eventually it was ruled a TD reception for Williams. He battled Randall for the ball and received a favorable call from the official.

    10. Randall thought he should have been awarded the ball. But the call went the other way.

    11. OK, let's now be realistic talking about the Browns' defense. The run defense. The run defense was sliced up for 246 yards rushing -- a 6.8 yards per carry average. Please, the officials had nothing to do with this total collapse. The Browns' run defense was so bad, Chargers star quarterback Philip Rivers needed to throw just 20 passes. The Chargers ran it 36 times.

    12. Chargers coach Anthony Lynn, on his team's running game: "The guys up front (blockers) were knocking them (the Browns) off the ball. We were giving them some misdirection, keeping them off-balance and their linebackers on their heels and toes."

    13: Translation: The Browns are an aggressive team, especially their linebackers. They tended to react quickly. The Chargers ran the ball around end -- a lot -- with different sweeps. The Browns seemed so focused on bringing pressure up the middle, they didn't protect the outside.

    14. I don't know if it was a coaching problem or if the Browns' defense just had a day when it was a few steps slow -- but the Browns never seemed to adjust to the outside running attack. If the Browns are going to be savaged on the ground like this, big trouble looms.

    15. Trouble also looms if middle linebacker Joe Schobert is out for an extended period because of his hamstring injury. He exited the game in the second half; it was the first time he missed a defensive snap since the end of the 2016 season.

    16. I have waited this long to deal with the receivers because I know most others in the media are concentrating on that issue. They are a problem. But the Browns gave up 38 points! At home!! And it could have been more, as the Chargers had a big lead in the second half and played a lot of ball-control to chew up the clock!!!

    17. That said, Antonio Callaway dropped would could have been a TD pass from Mayfield in the first half. Callaway is physically gifted, but also such a raw receiver. It's shouldn't be a surprise that he has some of these problems. He was suspended all of last season at Florida, so the rookie didn't even play college football in 2017.

    18. Damion Ratley had a high pass in the end zone go off his hands. It was a harder catch than Callaway's drop. But it was catchable. About both plays, coach Hue Jackson said: "Have to get better. Have to make those plays. We expect them to make those plays. They can."

    19. Ratley was flagged for two penalties. But overall, it was a promising day for the sixth-round draft choice. He had played only one snap on offense before Sunday's game. He caught 6-of-8 passes thrown his way, including a sensational, leaping 27-yarder. Ratley had a good training camp. He can help with all the injuries to receivers Rashard Higgins and Derrick Willies.

    20. I have no clue what's going on with Mayfield and Jarvis Landry. They can't seem to develop any chemistry. Landry was targeted nine times, caught two passes for 11 total yards. Maybe the Browns need to incorporate some of the plays used by Miami, where he was so effective the previous four years (400 total catches).

    21. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, on Mayfield: "He's a gritty, tough, competitive guy. He has a heckuva career ahead of him. He made some very good throws today that were close...there were a couple of them that I thought should have been caught, but I'm glad they weren't."

    22. Rivers threw an interception that went off the hands of his receiver and was picked off by Kirksey. Rivers explained: "A high and hot ball is not ideal."

    23. Rivers meant a high pass over the head of a receiver with a lot of velocity can easily go off the hands of the intended target. I do think Mayfield makes some of these "high, hard ones" in terms of throws. He is generally an accurate passer, but his touch needs to improve.

    24. It was a good day for the Browns' kicker (Greg Joseph) and punter (Britton Colquitt). Joseph made field goals of 33 and 28 yards. Colquitt dropped five punts inside the 20-yard line. Colquitt is excellent when it comes to punting the ball deep into the opponent's territory, but not into the end zone.

    25. This will be a challenging week for the Browns. Their performance was miserable, especially in front of a home crowd ready to cheer for anything positive. They play at Tampa Bay next week. The Bucs are 2-3. Meanwhile, the Browns have not won a road game since 2015.

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    The Buckeyes are 3-4 against the spread this season.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Undefeated Ohio State is 3-4 against the spread this season and hasn't covered the last three weeks. At least the first three times people lost money on the Buckeyes, it was close.

    Saturday, the Buckeyes as 29.5-point favorites over Minnesota only scored 30, so as long as the Gophers didn't get shut out, you were winning by taking Minnesota with the points.

    So what's ahead for Purdue?

    In the early line at, the Buckeyes opened as just a 12-point favorite. As we write this Monday morning, the line has moved to 13.5.

    Purdue is on a three-game winning streak and scoring 33.5 points per game, which ranks 42nd in the nation. Ohio State is scoring 46.3 points per game, which ranks sixth.

    So 46.3 minus 33.5 is 12.8. Hmm. Right in the betting range.

    Considering that Ohio State was a 12-point favorite over TCU in week three when the Horned Frogs were considered a top-20 team, opening as a 12-point favorite over the 3-3 Boilermakers is some respect for Purdue.

    Here's how the Ohio State betting lines looked through the first seven gams of the season.

    Ohio State vs. Oregon State: Favored by 38.5, won by 46: Covered

    Ohio State vs. Rutgers: Favored by 35.5, won by 49: Covered

    Ohio State vs. TCU: Favored by 13, won 12: Did not cover

    Ohio State vs. Tulane: Favored by 37, won by 43: Covered

    Ohio State vs. Penn State:Favored by 3.5, won by 1: Did not cover

    Ohio State vs. Indiana: Favored by 25, won by 23: Did not cover

    Ohio State vs. Minnesota: Favored by 29.5, won by 16: Did not cover

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    That's been the story. Lose LeBron, miss out on the playoffs.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- LeBron James is gone, making it the third time he has left his previous team in free agency.

    The 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers went on to make the wrong kind of history, not only tumbling out of the playoff picture but dropping to the depths of the NBA. The 2014-15 Miami Heat -- despite their championship culture, an accomplished head coach and some talent left over from the James era -- couldn't make the postseason either.

    That's been the story. Lose LeBron, miss out on the playoffs.

    Can these Cavaliers defy the odds and have the third time be the charm?

    They have a few things going for them: First, unlike the 2010-11 team, the Cavaliers actually want to win. It's not about being in "asset-accumulation mode," fighting for draft picks and believing that losing is the best way.

    Because of a couple shrewd trades at the February deadline, the decision to re-sign Kevin Love this summer and other minor additions, the Cavs are better positioned this time around. There is an actual plan in place, with a roster talented enough to fight for a playoff spot.

    Tristan Thompson has been through this before. He has a good point of view. 

    "My first year, when me and Kyrie (Irving) first came to the team, if you looked at the roster, the kind of guys that were borderline still pros," Thompson said during Media Day. "And the team was kind of in the still-building mode with me and Kyrie. And then having Andy (Varejao) as our leader or having Anthony Parker as our leader to kind of show us, and Antwan Jamison to kind of show us what it takes to be pros, and then let them off and let those guys go and retire.

    "Now it's different. We still have guys that are still playing at a high level, better players overall, and this is a team that wants to be competitive and wants to fight for a playoff spot. So for Collin (Sexton), it's a little more different, he's going to have more help compared to what me and Kyrie had and for us it's really on myself, Kev, JR (Smith), G-Hill (George Hill) and Kyle (Korver) to come out and be productive. I think if we play at a high level and take some of the pressure or the stress off of Collin and that's what we want."

    That brings us to the second part of this fight-for-a-playoff-spot approach.

    The Cavs are in the top-heavy Eastern Conference, with one of the last two spots attainable. Boston, Philadelphia, Toronto, Indiana, Milwaukee and Washington should be penciled in.

    That leaves the Cavs, Pistons, Heat, Knicks, Hornets, Bulls, Magic, Nets and Hawks battling for seven and eight.

    Detroit has a new coach and All-Star frontcourt (Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin). But Reggie Jackson's health is always a question. Even with Jackson ready at the start, getting the pieces to fit and making the Drummond-Griffin frontline work in this era will be a challenge for coach Dwane Casey.

    The Heat could be the favorite to land Jimmy Butler. That would be bad news for Cleveland, as Miami would have the All-Star its missing. Without him, a playoff spot shouldn't be guaranteed.

    The Hornets will have a decision to make on Kemba Walker, who is part of the deep 2019 free agency class. If things don't go well at the start, will the Hornets move him before he walks? Charlotte is also relying heavily on internal improvement -- a risky proposition for a team that won 36 games last season.

    The Knicks will be without All-Star Kristaps Porzingis for a big chunk of the season. They are being cautious with him as he recovers from a torn ACL. 

    Brooklyn plays extremely hard -- the definition of an over-achieving team. After a 28-win season, it's hard to see the Nets making significant strides this season. Maybe the following year if they can woo a player or two to Brooklyn in free agency.

    The Magic have stockpiled lottery picks (Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba). That could lead to them emerging. Or they could hover near the bottom of the East just as they have the past six years because it's hard to change a culture of losing, especially for youngsters that don't know anything else. 

    The Bulls could be a sneaky team. They added Jabari Parker and locked up Zach LaVine, who is back healthy to start the season. But the elbow injury to Lauri Markkanen, who is expected to be sidelined 6-8 weeks, shouldn't be overlooked. Without an All-Star on the roster, the Bulls will have to rely on their system-oriented offensive style.

    But that's the Cavs' competition. Is a roster led by Love, who is still one of the East's best players, not capable of edging out some of those teams?

    Love brought Minnesota to the doorstep of the postseason in his younger days. He's older, wiser and perhaps in the best place of his career. He's going to be used in ways unexplored by the Cavs the previous four years. They also have head coach Tyronn Lue, who will finally have a chance to get the credit he believes he's earned. The players are out to prove the doubters wrong and have taken to this new fast-paced style Lue has implemented. 

    It won't be easy without James. It never is. But if Love can still resemble his Minnesota days -- without the doughy frame and what he called "a hideous chinstrap" on his face -- then the Cavs will have a fighting chance to make history, becoming the first team to make the playoffs in the season after James left.

    I think the 30.5 number, which Vegas oddsmakers tabbed as the over/under win total, is too low. 

    Heading into this season, I see the Cavs topping that mark and finishing with a record of 37-45, which will be respectable, but keep them from making the playoffs. It's also the same record as the post-LeBron Heat. 

    All signs point to Miami acquiring Butler in the near future, which would give them an edge over the Cavs. Seeing Detroit's firepower the other night, it should make the Pistons a better playoff bet as well. Those two teams slot in seventh and eighth.

    It took 43 wins to capture the East's eight seed last season. I think it will take something close to that once again. Too much would have to fall into place for the Cavs to reach that mark. It's too much to ask without James. 

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    Former Browns kicker Zane Gonzalez suffered a slightly torn

    CLEVELAND, Ohio --  Former Browns kicker Zane Gonzalez suffered a slightly torn groin in warm-ups before his nightmare game against the Saints, a league source confirmed for

    ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported it.

    Gonzalez tweaked the groin in pre-game warmups, but didn't tell anyone until halftime, according to the source. He also told the Browns that the sore groin didn't impact the missed kicks, another league source told

    Coach Hue Jackson said the day after the game that he wasn't made aware.

    "I knew nothing about an injury whatsoever so that was new to me,'' he said.

    Gonzalez missed two field goals and two extra points that were the difference in the 21-18 loss. He pushed his first three kicks wide left and then overcompensated and pushed a 52-yarder wide right.

    After the Browns released him, Gonzalez was examined by Dr. William Meyers in Philadelphia, who diagnosed the slight tear and told Gonzalez it was about a three-week injury. It should be noted that strains always involve some tearing of the muscle fibers.

    Nevertheless, the Browns reached an injury settlement with him worth $35,000, and he should be ready to try out for teams soon.

    Gonzalez also had a field goal blocked in overtime against the Steelers in the opener that ended the game in a 21-21 tie.

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    Oh, Golden State will be there. But the Cavs won't be. Their title hopes left when LeBron James announced his decision to join the Los Angeles Lakers.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors have met four straight times in the NBA Finals.

    It won't happen a fifth.

    Oh, Golden State will be there. But the Cavs won't be. Their title hopes left when LeBron James announced his decision to join the Los Angeles Lakers.

    The Warriors, with the addition of DeMarcus Cousins to counter teams that try to play bully-ball with them, are the most talented team ever assembled. They also play as a unit better than anyone in the league. One of the best offensive teams and a defense capable of smothering elite groups with a switch-heavy approach? That's a tough combination.

    The real question is which team has the best shot to dethrone them? Will it be James' new-look Lakers, continuing his personal Finals streak? How about the Rockets, a team that looked primed to keep Golden State from getting back to the Finals last season? What about Oklahoma City? I mean, they do have both Russell Westbrook and Paul George. Kawhi Leonard is in Toronto now and James is out of the East. Will that finally get the Raptors over the hump?

    Remember what it took back in 2016? Besides Draymond Green's suspension that opened the door and Stephen Curry's balky knee?

    Two dynamic playmakers. One incredible clutch shot at the buzzer. A team that that was able to handle Finals pressure. A roster built to switch on defense and match the Warriors small-ball approach.

    One team fits that mold better than any other. It's the team with a player who terrified the Warriors in a one-on-one situation and ripped one championship away. It's Kyrie Irving's Celtics. They are capable of at least pushing the Warriors in a seven-game series. Beating them four times is a different challenge entirely.

    Get ready for a new rivalry -- and another Warriors title.

    Here are my NBA predictions:

    Eastern Conference

    1. Boston Celtics

    2. Toronto Raptors

    3. Milwaukee Bucks

    4. Philadelphia 76ers

    5. Washington Wizards

    6. Indiana Pacers

    7. Detroit Pistons

    8. Miami Heat

    9. Cleveland Cavaliers

    10. Brooklyn Nets

    11. New York Knicks

    12. Chicago Bulls

    13. Charlotte Hornets

    14. Orlando Magic

    15. Atlanta Hawks

    East finals: Celtics over Bucks

    Western Conference

    1. Golden State Warriors

    2. Houston Rockets

    3. Oklahoma City Thunder

    4. Utah Jazz

    5. Portland Trail Blazers

    6. Los Angeles Lakers

    7. San Antonio Spurs

    8. Denver Nuggets

    9. New Orleans Pelicans

    10. Los Angeles Clippers

    11. Minnesota Timberwolves

    12. Memphis Grizzlies

    13. Dallas Mavericks

    14. Phoenix Suns

    15. Sacramento Kings

    West Finals: Warriors over Lakers

    NBA Finals

    Warriors over Celtics

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    Follow along with this post to see what Urban Meyer said in his press conference on Monday.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State coach Urban Meyer addressed the media on Monday as the Buckeyes begin preparations to take on Purdue on Saturday night. Here is a roundup of what Meyer said.

    * Meyer said Nick Bosa should be getting a recheck on his abdominal injury, and is "hoping" he can return this season. He added that left tackle Thayer Munford is probable for Saturday after leaving the game due to injury.

    * When asked about Justin Hilliard, Meyer called him "one of my favorite players," and said he played "pretty good," against Minnesota. He reiterated that this is really only Hilliard's second year because of the injury problems he has had since coming to Ohio State.

    * Meyer said that teams are loading the box on 3rd-and-short since OSU is not running the quarterback.

    * The competition for kicker is "open," Meyer said.

    * Meyer referenced several times that there were several run calls that Ohio State threw out of in RPOs.

    * When asked about if his defense can rely on forcing turnovers, Meyer said that it is part of the game. "At times, you're in survival mode," he added when talking about several injuries on the defense.

    * Meyer sees progress in sophomore safety Isaiah Pryor. He also liked what he saw in Shaun Wade, and that spot is not yet settled.

    * Meyer was asked about the play of the tight ends and was happy about the depth, also mentioning freshman Jeremy Ruckert along with Luke Farrell and Rashod Berry.

    * Meyer said that Michael Jordan, who is playing what he terms as the "apex" of the offensive line at center, has done a "very good year."

    * Meyer has not yet watched film on Purdue, but says that star freshman Rondale Moore sticks out to him in the return game.

    * Meyer knows his team can play much better, but noted as all that Ohio State had more than 500 yards of offense and gave up just 14 points on defense.

    * Meyer ends with a few injury updates: Jonathon Cooper and Malik Harrison are back after being out last week due to being in concussion protocol. Cornerback Damon Arnette is questionable and defensive tackle Robert Landers is probable.

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    Doug Lesmerises with an important Buckeye that Ohio State will need back against the Boilermakers. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Purdue started the year with three straight losses and is now on a three-game winning streak coming off Saturday's 46-7 win over Illinois.

    The No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten) will have a lot to take in while breaking down the Boilermakers (3-3, 2-1) this week.

    Which Ohio State player are we really keeping an eye on?

    Check out the video to find out, and then stick with for a big week of coverage leading into a primetime road game for the Buckeyes on Saturday night in West Lafayette that could give them some problems.

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    Check out everything Urban Meyer said in his press conference from Monday. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Here is everything Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said in his press conference on Monday. Come back to later for full video of his press conference.

    Meyer: Thanks for coming. Start out, like we always do, with the champions on defense, Dre'Mont Jones, Pete Warner, Kendall Sheffield, and Jeff Okudah. And the players on defense was Jordan Fuller, 13 tackles.

    On offense, Dwayne was the champion. The two receivers, McLaurin and Parris Campbell, Luke Farrell was the champion. And two offense linemen, Malcolm Pridgeon and Michael Jordan. And offensive player of the game was KJ Hill.

    In special teams, only one kickoff that got covered and we did a good job.

    The punt was okay. And then we made three field goals right before the game Sean Nuernberger strained his groin in the warmups. I think it was groin or quad. And Blake came in and really hammered the ball. Did a good job. He was special teams player of the game.

    Obviously big road game, a team that is very good on film, obviously, and scoring a lot of points. We've got to get some guys healthy and get ready to go.

    Q. Do you expect to have Nick back this season?

    Meyer: He's going to -- I believe he's flying back up there tomorrow to get rechecked, I'm hoping.

    Q. Are you optimistic or how would you --

    Meyer: Yes.

    Q. We've talked a lot about the running game. Some of it comes down to execution from everybody. Is it possible you guys could do more, whether formationally or build a little more RPO in the running game to protect it a little bit?

    Meyer: A lot of those passes are RPO's, like when you see Parris in the flat or KJ on a hitch, those are all RPO's. You're reading someone, you trigger, you throw the ball. So I'd say there's at least 10 to 12 called runs that the ball is being thrown. Does that make sense?

    Q. Yeah, it does. How would you say Dwayne is doing with that? Is he always making the right decision when he pulls it?

    Meyer: Pretty good. There's times it could go either way, but he's very accurate with the ball.

    Q. And what's the status of Thayer Munford?

    Meyer: Thayer is sore. I'd say probable for the game Saturday.

    Q. When you study the defense and in the way it's been explored lately and you said you saw the runs and all that, is there something schematically that you could be doing differently? Do you think you have the right personnel to play the way you're playing right now?

    Meyer: Constant evaluation of that, and it's ever changing with personnel, when the guys get dinged and hurt. And like last week we were out five starters on the majority of the game on defense. It's hard to drastically change right now.

    We held them without scoring for the better part of three quarters, and had three turnovers and three sacks. I see what you see, as well. We expect them to be snuffed out. But this will be a big challenge this week with everything you just said, that's what we do all day is just constant evaluation.

    Q. When you look at Purdue, how scary are they at offense?

    Meyer: I haven't studied them yet. But I just talked to the defensive staff and I've seen the stats and they look really good.

    Q. The very best team, do they inevitably get better week after week, or are even the best teams able to get back sometimes, not from a result standpoint but from a positive standpoint?

    Meyer: At this time you just don't have time to really evaluate and look back and reflect. Every school is dealing with it. Every team is dealing with this guy is injured, how you put this one in. How do you adapt your scheme to your personnel, like I believe he just asked a minute ago. We haven't had time to think about that.

    Q. Justin Hilliard stepped in, guy that was a five star prospect, had an injury, playing career. What did you see from the way that he played, what's he meant to this team, with special teams going into this? And when you see a guy overcome injuries and stuff like that, how special is it to see them perform?

    Meyer: He's one of my favorite players, favorite families. He's a guy that means so much to us on the kicking game. He played pretty good. Not great, but pretty good. And you've got to remember, this is his second year of football. Because his first two years were -- didn't get to practice, really didn't get to do much at all because of his bicep injuries.

    Q. When you're recruiting somebody like that, with him being the most sought-after players in the country, when he has a few years like that, do you take what you can get or do you still see the potential that you saw when he was a senior? Can he reach the level that you envisioned?

    Meyer: Yes. You never give up on a player, and keep working with him, and the training staff gets better.

    Q. You touched on this a little bit. The rushing game, when you look at what defenses are trying to do against you, do you get the sense they would rather you try to throw? Are those the looks you're seeing?

    Meyer: We went back and studied everything, and had that conversation about these are ten run calls that we're flipping the ball out there and making plays with it. And that's kind of what Dwayne gives you, maybe JT gave you something else, where it was more of a run-run option; this is a run-pass option.

    Q. Are there things that you think need to be changed with the short yardage, that's the rest of the time, but the short yardage? Why do you think is happening? Is it the line, is it the scheme?

    Meyer: They're loading the boxes, we're not going to run the quarterback. So those are all things we're looking at.

    Q. Could that be a permanent change at kicker?

    Meyer: It's open for discussion. I don't know with Sean yet. He was doing pretty good.

    Q. What you just talked about, like the RPO's, do you all consider that part of your run game?

    Meyer: Ryan, I sat in there with him. I don't want to give you a number, but there's some pass yards that are run plays.

    Q. Rondale Moore from Purdue, second in the Big Ten, just a little fast guy that's hard to cover. Parris is a big fast guy. A couple of little guys in this conference. Lately you had Dontre here, but lately, your H backs are bigger. Is it harder to get a five-nine guy here and put him on the field at H consistently, because you're asking him to do blocking or is it coincidental?

    Meyer: You get the best players possible and you adjust and he's certainly a guy that can play.

    Q. If you like the five-eight or five-nine, you recruit that?

    Meyer: Sure.

    Q. And defensively, I think you're 24th in the country in points given up. You only gave up 14 against Minnesota, you got some key turnovers. Is there part of you that thinks you can rely on turnovers, that maybe you'll give up yardage, but if you had big play defenders, We'll get turnovers when you need them, or can you not rely on turnovers?

    Meyer: I think I understand your question. To say you rely on it, that's part of the game. And we're very aggressive on defense. And once again, do we have the right personnel to run our scheme. And then when you start -- we've dealt with a safety suspended for a half because of the targeting. We've dealt with multiple injuries. And it's at times you're in survival mode. So say you rely on it, that's the game of football.

    Q. Isaiah Pryor, how did he play Saturday? And did you see progress in that safety spot? What was the take on the safety spot halfway through the season?

    Meyer: I did see progress. I know at times it didn't look great. But he actually played okay. Once again that position is for the whole world to see, it's right out there for you. Shaun Wade came in and did some good things.

    That position is not finalized, we're constantly evaluating that, as well. But injuries kind of limit you.

    Q. Is Wade going to see more time there, the way you're looking at it?

    Meyer: We will have that conversation today and tomorrow.

    Q. Your tight ends, Farrell and Rashod Berry especially, how can they factor in to map the running game even better? You're always floating one of them, trying to get man advantage and things like that. But what do you see coming from that particular group down the road?

    Meyer: That's a very healthy position. You've got a really good young player coming up, Jeremy Ruckert, and Jake healthy again now, so four guys that are helping us in other areas of the game, too. Luke and Rashod have been playing pretty good.

    Q. And Jeff Brohm, what's the first thing that comes to mind? A schemer, what are your thoughts about him from an offensive standpoint?

    Meyer: I didn't study him, but I've been listening, and I watched on Wednesday, but I know of the coach, an excellent coach and very aggressive.

    Q. Kevin Wilson said he thinks that maybe you're doing too many formational things, and you don't have anything to hang your hat on right now in the run game is how he termed it. Would you agree with that? How do you then find something to hang your hat on in the running game?

    Meyer: That's what they're doing now. Like I said, I think that's an interesting point of reference is that a lot of what we're hanging our hat on is the running game. If there's a certain play that triggers, ball comes out, we throw it.

    We have two very good tailbacks, and we're making concerted effort to put the ball in their hands.

    Q. And he also mentioned the running game is also about attitude. You always talk about the apex of the offensive line being the center. How much does Michael Jordan bring that attitude to the entire offensive line?

    Meyer: That's the apex of the offensive line. He's done a pretty good job. He's a very serious guy. Very good player. And actually had a very good year.

    Q. When you said last year that you had talked to the Big Ten about how many road night games you've had to play. This is the third one you've had to play at night this year. How do you feel about that?

    Meyer: We're going to go back in there and talk about all the things you guys brought up (laughter). Not that one.

    Q. Did you have any conversations with the Big Ten in the off-season on that?

    Meyer: I think so.

    Q. This is the 8th straight game you've played without a week off. Have you sensed any fatigue with your team, and how are you working to combat that?

    Meyer: We're cautious. And we've ran a tough road. But it is what it is, and this is a big one. This is a big one.

    Q. I know you faced a lot of play-makers this season, but what specifically stands out on the page about a guy like Rondale Moore?

    Meyer: Just explosive player. I have not -- once again, I apologize, I have not studied him on offense, I will. I studied him in the return game. And he's a guy you have to be careful with in the return game. He's a dynamic player.

    Q. This past week, do you take solace in the fact that four of the top ten teams lost?

    Meyer: We're what?

    Q. Do you take solace in the fact that there are other good teams out there that are struggling out there, four of the top ten teams lost this weekend.

    Meyer: Tuesday practice tomorrow and do the best we can to get guys healthy.

    Q. I'm just wondering, in our world, fans and everything, you don't run the ball well, you struggle on defense, everybody freaks out. What is your level of concern when you have a game where things don't go exactly right? What are your conversations like?

    Meyer: When you have 500-plus yards, you don't score for almost three quarters, but we can play much better. I'm not disagreeing with anything. And as I made comment to you many times, and this is probably, go back 17 years, you enhance your strengths and work on your weaknesses, every team has weaknesses, and there are some things we have to work on.

    Q. When you look at them, do you feel like you're close?

    Meyer: I do. I feel -- and I think that's a good thing to talk to the coordinators about. But I do feel like we're getting better, and I see some young -- Josh Proctor is now contributing on special teams. And Marcus played his first game after his injury. So I try to build on those positives. I'm seeing some young progress.

    Some of those are just things that I look at, that we're making progress. Davis is getting close to playing time. Josh did a pretty good job. So those are all good.

    Q. You want to be in prime time, right, on a national game?

    Meyer: You know me pretty good. We're going to go in and work on some things that we have to work on.

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    Head coach Tyronn Lue said he was unsure whether Nance would be able to play.

    INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Larry Nance Jr. did not participate in Monday's practice because of a sprained ankle, leaving his status for Wednesday's opener against the Toronto Raptors in doubt. 

    Head coach Tyronn Lue said "I don't know" when asked how the ankle was coming along.

    The Cavs are scheduled to practice early Tuesday morning before leaving for Toronto. They will hold a shootaround hours before Wednesday's matchup against the Raptors. Nance's availability then should provide a better window into whether he will be able to suit up.

    After suffering the sprained ankle -- the first of his basketball career -- landing on a teammate while trying to grab a rebound during Thursday's practice, Nance was held out of the preseason finale against the Detroit Pistons on Friday night. He will continue treatment, rehab and re-evaluation before returning to the floor. 

    Nance is expected to share starting center duties with Tristan Thompson this season.

    As Lue explained recently, Thompson will start against the bulkier bigs, keeping the undersized Nance, who added 10-15 pounds during the off-season in anticipation of a bigger workload, from giving up too much size in the paint. Nance's potential absence could lead to Ante Zizic, who started Friday's game against the Pistons, getting more playing time. 

    Lue hinted that the Raptors could start Serge Ibaka at center while moving new addition Kawhi Leonard to power forward in a smaller frontcourt. 

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    The stunt is similar to what Excedrin did in January when it offered to pay for the Browns' season parade after the team finished 0-16.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Remember in June when TUMS promised Cleveland to give away free heartburn medicine if LeBron James skipped town?

    Well, James, of course, left for the Lakers and the antacid brand is making good on its pledge. TUMS representatives will be handing out free samples outside Quicken Loans Arena prior to the Cavaliers home opener on Sunday.

    So, that's another reason to go, I guess?

    "While fans in Cleveland may have experienced some heartburn last July, TUMS is excited to be in The Land for a new season and provide relief if heartburn occurs as this team embarks on a new and exciting chapter," said TUMS Brand Manager Valeria Saccol in a statement.

    The stunt is similar to what pain medication brand Excedrin did in January when it offered to pay for the Browns' "perfect" season parade after the team finished 0-16.

    It could be a long season for the Cavaliers-- or not. While national experts don't give them much of a chance to make the playoffs, players and fans locally remain cautiously optimistic. One things is almost assured: the team figures to finish better than 2011 when they managed just 19 wins after James left the first time.

    The Cavs tip off the season Wednesday on the road at Toronto.

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    Schobert is the QB of the Browns' defense and makes all the calls.

    BEREA, Ohio -- A day after the Browns' defense played horribly against the Chargers, they discovered they'll be without starting middle linebacker Joe Schobert for at least a little while with his pulled hamstring.

    Schobert, tied for the Browns' lead with 49 combined tackles, could miss several weeks, beginning with Sunday's game against the Bucs.

    It's a huge blow for the Browns, because the Pro Bowl linebacker is the "quarterback'' of the defense and makes all the defensive calls.

    "Whenever we lose our starting MIKE linebacker, whenever you lose a player in general, that's something that's very detrimental to the team," linebacker Christian Kirksey said.

    Schobert is also like a coach on the field and runs the show for defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who raves about his intelligence.

    "He has to be an extension of me on the field," Williams said on Friday. "One of the things that it took a while for people to understand here, the defense that we play on a particular rep is not what Gregg Williams calls; it is what Joe Schobert calls."

    Schobert grabbed the back of his leg while running to make a stop during the third quarter of Sunday's 38-14 loss.

    He was replaced by James Burgess Jr., who suffered a hamstring injury of his own in the fourth quarter. Jackson said Burgess will likely sit out Sunday's game. He also said one option would be to move Christian Kirksey inside.

    Burgess, who filled in for an injured Jamie Collins last season, miss the first game of the season with a concussion and the two before this with a knee injury. The Chargers games was just his third of the season.

    It wasn't the news the Browns needed after surrendering 449 yards to the Chargers, including 246 on the ground. Melvin Gordon rushed for 132 yards and three TDs.

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    The Buckeyes were without five defensive starters for parts of Saturday, but they'll be healthier at Purdue. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Buckeyes don't have who they need on defense.

    Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said that Monday, but he's hoping that changes.

    "Last week we were out five starters for the majority of the game on defense," Meyer said of the 30-14 win over Minnesota. "It's hard to drastically change right now."

    Health and depth issues are what teams must accept this time of the year, seven weeks into the season.

    "Every team is dealing with, 'This guy is injured, how you put this one in? How do you adapt your scheme to your personnel?'" Meyer said.

    The Buckeyes are really missing defensive end Nick Bosa, who missed his fourth game since suffering an abdominal injury against TCU. Meyer said Monday he is still hoping that Bosa returns this season.

    It maybe hasn't been emphasized enough how much Bosa's loss has hurt Ohio State. They have depth on the defensive line, but there's no one in college football quite like Bosa, who regularly blew up pockets in two seconds in the first two games.

    When Jonathon Cooper was also out last week, the Buckeyes were stretched trying to put defensive ends on the field. So Cooper returning for Saturday's game against Purdue is a big deal.

    So too is the return of starting outside linebacker Malik Harrison, who, like Cooper, missed the Minnesota win while in concussion protocol.

    "We held them without scoring for the better part of three quarters, and had three turnovers and three sacks," Meyer said of Saturday's defense. "I see what you see, as well. We expect them to be snuffed out."

    The Buckeyes rank 24th in the nation in points allowed and 58th in yards allowed. 

    They aren't losing games because of the defense. But they want more on that side of the ball. There will be a hundreds of ways to analyze the defense between now and the end of the season. And that's a group, and a set of coaches, that should be scrutinized.

    This is just one part of the situation. But if the Buckeyes get a few key guys back, even while waiting on Bosa, there's a chance they'll get closer to what they want to be.

    Watch the video for more of an update on the Buckeyes injury situation on defense.

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    Mary Kay Cabot and Dan Labbe talk about the Browns. Watch video

    BEREA, Ohio -- The Browns followed up a bad game on Sunday with bad news on Monday: linebacker Joe Schobert will miss time with a hamstring injury. They could also be without James Burgess in Tampa.

    They're also getting short on wide receivers. Rod Streater is out for the season and Derrick Willies was placed on injured reserve on Sunday.

    Mary Kay Cabot and I talked about both positions following Monday's press conferences. We talked about replacing Schobert and then about how the Browns can find a receiver to boost their pass catchers.

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    According to a league source, it's a four-year deal worth $44.8 million.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Larry Nance Jr. is staying home. 

    Nance and the Cleveland Cavaliers have agreed to a four-year contract extension, solidifying him as a franchise building block while the organization attempts to rebuild a championship roster in the post-LeBron era. 

    According to a league source, it's a four-year deal worth $44.8 million. 

    "I haven't come up with the word for it yet," Nance said Monday night. "Surreal doesn't even cut it. I grew up here. I grew up in this building watching my dad play. To re-up here for four more years and get wear the 22 in the city of Cleveland, I can't put it into words. I'm one of you guys. I'm a Cleveland guy at heart. There's no place I would rather be."  

    The Cavs had a 6 p.m. Monday deadline to work out an extension with Nance, who is entering the final season of his rookie contract.

    Had a deal not been struck, Nance could have become a restricted free agent in the loaded 2019 class. 

    Nance, 25, was acquired by the Cavaliers during a massive roster overhaul at the February trade deadline. While Cleveland also received young guard Jordan Clarkson in that same trade with the Los Angeles Lakers, Nance was always considered the centerpiece -- a bouncy, versatile and switch-capable big man that gives the Cavaliers more depth in the frontcourt and fits their up-tempo style extremely well.

    Since he arrived in Cleveland, where his father created quite a legacy, Nance has always been viewed as key piece, someone the team wanted to sign to a long-term pact. The Cavaliers and Nance's camp had been working on a new deal since the summer and finally agreed to terms shortly around 5:45 p.m. on Monday night. 

    Nance, an Akron-native, worked with the Cavs so his salary declines as the deal goes along and the team can maintain cap flexibility. The first year of his contract is expected to be worth $12.7 million. He is set to make around $9.6 million in the final year. There are no options included in the contract and he will become an unrestricted free agent following the 2023 season. 

    In 24 games with the Cavs, Nance averaged 8.9 points on 55 percent from the field to go with 7.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 0.8 blocks in 20.8 minutes.

    During his first postseason, Nance played in 20 games off the bench, averaging 4.8 points and 4.5 rebounds. 

    This year, he will share starting center duties with Tristan Thompson, as head coach Tyronn Lue has decided to take a matchup-based approach with two guys who have earned the right to be declared starters. 

    Along with All-Star Kevin Love, rookie Collin Sexton, second-year man Cedi Osman and even Rodney Hood, among others, Nance is viewed as a core piece to help usher in the new era and try to silence the doubters that think the Cavs will crumble again without James.  

    Nance grew up a die-hard Cavs fan and was "super excited" when he got the initial call about being traded from Los Angeles to Cleveland. He even joked about being the only person in LA that wanted to live in Cleveland.

    "This is home," he said last February.

    And for at least four more years, it will also be his basketball residence.

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    With the receiving corps in dire straits, the Browns need Landry to step up in every way. Watch video

    BEREA, Ohio - With the Browns' receiving corps in crisis mode, Jarvis Landry must step up his leadership on and off the field.

    During the Browns' 38-14 loss to the Chargers when they were poised to string together back-to-back wins for the first time since 2014, Landry needed to make big plays and help out his struggling quarterback.

    He also needed to be the man after veteran wideout Rod Streater left early in the first quarter with a season-ending broken neck and the Browns were down to Landry and rookies Antonio Callaway and Damion Ratley.

    Instead, Landry caught only two of nine targets for 11 yards, dropped two passes and became frustrated as the game went along. At times, he looked angry on the sidelines. When the game was over, he left the locker room before reporters had a chance to ask about his performance and his apparent lack of chemistry with Baker Mayfield.

    Players are contractually obligated to be available after games, so Landry's bolting was unacceptable and a poor example for the young receivers. Mayfield, who once again shouldered the blame for a loss, could've used someone else to share the load.

    "Obviously we have a lot more emotions tied to this game than a lot of people,'' Landry said Monday. "So in some (aspects), I guess, yeah, out of frustration. But truthfully it really wasn't nothing to be said. They got after us.''

    Some players, such as former Browns receiver Terrelle Pryor, opted not to talk after games for fear of losing their cool and saying the wrong thing. Is Landry one of those guys? Or what was the mindset there?

    "It's not really a mindset,'' he said. "I think it was evident. They came in, they were the better team that day. I think that that was really all that needed to be said. It wasn't any penalties or anything that really could've helped us that day. They were just the better team that day.''

    Browns coach Hue Jackson was dismayed to learn that several of his players, including Myles Garrett and Duke Johnson, left before the locker room opened and vowed to talk to them.

    "I'm disappointed that happened,'' he said. "There's nothing to run from. When we played well, everybody stayed. When you don't play well, don't run. We have to do everything the right way.''

    For Landry, that means being the elder statesman of a receiving corps that's being held together with glue and duct tape. The Browns began the offseason with Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman on the roster, and Gordon declaring them the best receiving corps in the NFL. Landry also dubbed himself the best receiver in the NFL, and the outlook was bright.

    But right now it's Landry and the others, and the three-time Pro Bowler must dig deep to hold the group together until help arrives - Jackson acknowledged they need some - or until the rookies grow up, which they must do very quickly. It will also help when Rashard Higgins returns soon from his sprained MCL.

    The Browns must look into Amari Cooper, Dez Bryant and every available WR

    Against the Chargers, Callaway and Ratley both dropped passes in the end zone, and Landry needed to help them keep their heads in the game and set the tone. Instead, he seemed to lose his focus as Mayfield, fighting through a tweaked ankle suffered on a first-quarter scramble and being kept in the pocket by the Chargers, struggled to get him the ball.

    Ankle-related or not, Mayfield wasn't his usual pinpoint-accurate self, and didn't give Landry the best targets. Some were throwaways, including one at his feet, and others were off the mark. On a fourth and 2 in the second quarter, Mayfield way overthrew an open Landry at about the Chargers 12.

    But rookie quarterbacks will have bad games, and that's when you need the leader of your receiving corps to step up and make a play. Granted, Landry is drawing double-teams without an experienced X receiver, but Mayfield needed him to make the difficult catch whenever possible. Instead, he dropped a couple, just like Callaway did.

    "We're still growing,'' Landry said of Mayfield. "We didn't have a lot of reps, a lot of opportunities together, so we've gotta take advantage of the practice reps. We gotta take advantage of the film that we watch and getting on the same page with each other, that's the biggest thing."

    Mayfield and Landry connected seven times in their first game together against the Jets, but it's been tough sledding since then. Landry has caught only 11 of the 39 passes thrown his way for 114 yards and one TD in Mayfield's three starts. Again, a number of those were throwaways, but it's still not enough.

    "Sometimes the ball has gone over his head,'' said Jackson. "Some of those balls are being thrown away. Do they need to connect more? Yes, they do. Yesterday was not really good in that area between those two. I don't think that it was anything to do with Baker.

    "I know that people maybe feel that Baker needed more time with Jarvis. That wasn't the case when we played the Jets. They have to make those plays when those plays present themselves, and I'm sure that they will."

    Landry led the NFL with 112 catches last season and broke Larry Fitzgerald's NFL record last week for most catches by a receiver in his first five years, which now stands at 431. He is tied for 26th in the league with 31 catches on 66 targets for 392 yards and the one TD. The yards are 28th and the 12.6-yard average is 53rd.

    It's probably not the kind of production Landry envisioned when he signed his five-year, $75 million extension in April after the Browns acquired him in a trade with the Dolphins. But he must stay focused and count on better days ahead when the Browns upgrade the position and get some help.

    "We've just gotta continue to stick together and  make the plays when they come our way,'' said Landry. "We had a couple opportunities (against the Chargers). I know I had a few that I let get by me. I had a drop on third down on the sideline, so I know that's something as an offense we don't want to see or have happen, especially when you throw me the ball, you're counting on me to catch it, so gotta make those plays. That's it."

    In the meantime,  Landry, who delivered that famous impassioned speech to his fellow receivers that was captured by HBO's Hard Knocks, has a tall task before him. He must take the extremely raw Callaway under his wing, like offensive coordinator Todd Haley asked him to do during training camp. He must do the same with Ratley, and he must also show the way to newcomer Breshad Perriman, signed on Saturday. Perriman, if he's good enough to stick around, must memorize the playbook in a hurry.

    And if the Browns can find another receiver in a trade or on the street, Landry will have to help him integrate, too.

    On the field, off the field and in the locker room, Landry's leadership must be contagious, and if it is, the Browns and their fans will surely Bless'm.

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    Perriman signed with the Browns on Saturday morning. Watch video

    BEREA, Ohio -- The Browns are seeking answers at wide receiver, and they're hoping Breshad Perriman can fill some kind of void for them.

    It has been an up-and-down journey for Perriman in his NFL career. He was selected No. 26 overall by Baltimore in the 2015 NFL Draft out of Central Florida. He sprained a knee ligament on the first day of training camp his rookie season and was unable to get on the field at all in 2015.

    He played in all 16 games in 2016 and caught 33 passes for 499 yards and three touchdowns. He played in in 11 games in 2017, catching 10 passes for 77 yards. The Ravens declined his fifth-year option and released him on roster cutdown day back in September.

    Perriman signed with Washington a few weeks later, but he was released after just days with the team.

    Perriman signed with the Browns on Saturday morning.

    Hear more from Perriman in the video above.

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