HOUSTON (AP) Without J.J. Watt for the second straight season <a title="Authentic Orlando Cepeda Jersey" href="http://www.atlantabravesteamShop.com/authentic-orlando-cepeda-jersey">Authentic Orlando Cepeda Jersey</a> , a new star has emerged for the Houston Texans. Rookie Deshaun Watson has this team long known for its defense rolling on offense.
Though the Texans are 3-3 entering their bye, the development of Watson has them encouraged that they’ve finally found the player to end their years of quarterback woes and help the franchise take the next step.
Romeo Crennel, Houston’s 70-year-old assistant head coach who has worked in the NFL since 1981, says Watson has the ”it factor.”
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”You can’t describe the
it factor.’ Guys who have it, they have it, and you just know it when you see it,” Crennel said. ”But it’s hard to tell what it is. You take a guy like J.J. – J.J. has theit factor’ and his it factor is different than Watson’s `it factor.’ But you know it when they got it and you see it.”
Watson is emerging as the new face of this team that is looking to move on after Watt, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year <a title="Authentic Rick Porcello Jersey" href="http://www.bostonredsoxteamshop.com/authentic-rick-porcello-jersey">Authentic Rick Porcello Jersey</a> , broke his leg on Oct. 8. The Texans also spent most of last season without Watt; he missed the last 13 games after having a second back surgery.
They won their second straight AFC South title last season, but were eliminated by New England in the divisional round of the playoffs after a three-interception performance by Brock Osweiler. The Texans dealt Osweiler to Cleveland in March and traded up to take Watson with the 12th overall pick in this year’s draft after he led Clemson to a national championship. He started the year as Tom Savage’s backup, but took over at halftime of a season-opening loss to Jacksonville after Savage struggled.
Since then, Watson thrown for 1,297 yards and 15 touchdowns to give him the most touchdown passes by a rookie in the first six games in NFL history. Under his guidance the Texans have scored 30 or more points in four straight games for the first time in franchise history, highlighted by a 57-14 win over the Titans where they set a franchise mark for points.
His performance is a welcome change for a team searching for a solution at quarterback for years, and has had nine players start behind center since 2013. The 22-year-old is well aware of Houston’s longtime quarterback problems, but is set on looking ahead and not concerning himself about what happened before he joined the team.
”I just try to stay focused on my job and operation of this offense and do what I can really do <a title="Authentic Roger Clemens Jersey" href="http://www.bostonredsoxteamshop.com/authentic-roger-clemens-jersey">Authentic Roger Clemens Jersey</a> , kind of control what I can control … and learn as I grow each and every week,” he said. ”But, as far as my impact, I know I have a lot of it, but honestly, I just try to do what I have to do to do my job.”
Watson’s numbers are certainly impressive, but if you talk to coaches and players they’ll tell you his statistics only tell part of the story. The Texans love his attitude and the confidence he’s brought to this offense.
”He has his own swag to him. He just keeps everything fun,” receiver Will Fuller said. ”That’s the biggest thing with football is just if you’re having fun I feel like you can play free. I feel like that’s what he does <a title="Authentic Edwin Encarnacion Jersey" href="http://www.clevelandindiansteamshops.com/authentic-edwin-encarnacion-jersey">Authentic Edwin Encarnacion Jersey</a> , too. He plays free and he makes plays.”
Watson’s all about the fun, for sure.
”The energy and the vibe that we bring on the field and the fun that we have,” he said. ”I believe that it’s easy to kind of get in that place where it’s all about business and everyone’s kind of uptight and not having fun. But with this offense, we love to have fun and go out there and put up points and every time we step on the field.”
He also has a knack for extending plays with his legs and making ones that could lead a highlight reel. One such play came in Week 3 against the Patriots when he evaded four tackles before launching a 31-yard pass to D’Onta Foreman in the fourth quarter. Then there was the play he made against the Chiefs when Rakeem Nunez-Roches tried to strip the ball out of his hands as he scrambled away from the pass rush. Watson smoothly moved the ball from his right to left hand to keep it away from Nunez-Roches before switching it back to his right and launching it 48 yards for a touchdown to Fuller.
Coach Bill O’Brien is impressed by these plays, too. But he knows that Watson will have to continue to improve if the Texans hope to make their third straight playoff appearance.
”He’s got a great instinct, he’s got good eyes, good vision, good feel <a title="Authentic Randy Johnson Jersey" href="http://www.arizonadiamondbacksteamshop.com/authentic-randy-johnson-jersey">Authentic Randy Johnson Jersey</a> ,” O’Brien said. ”He’s done a really good job for a 22-year old guy, but … it gets harder and harder. The more you put things on film, the more you have to adjust. If anybody can adjust and anybody can adapt, it’s him. Being around him for the time that I’ve been around him … he’s very smart, very poised and he’s got a good instinct for the game.”
In other words, the it factor.
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DALLAS (AP) Now that Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys has become the first NFL owner with a public suggestion of repercussions for displays during the national anthem <a title="Authentic Jake Lamb Jersey" href="http://www.arizonadiamondbacksteamshop.com/authentic-jake-lamb-jersey">Authentic Jake Lamb Jersey</a> , players are opening up more about the delicate balance of team chemistry and politics in the locker room.
And they’re not necessarily slamming the powerful and outspoken Jones for suggesting his players will be benched if they disrespect the flag.
”He’s the owner. Either you listen or you don’t,” Washington Redskins tight end Vernon Davis said Monday. ”And if you don’t listen, then you won’t play. It’s all up to each and every individual.”
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Jones was responding Sunday night to questions about Vice President Mike Pence’s decision to leave an Indianapolis home game in protest of about a dozen San Francisco players who kneeled during the anthem. President Donald Trump tweeted after Pence’s walkout that he had told his vice president to leave if any players kneeled.
On Monday night, Trump also tweeted his support for Jones.
”A big salute to Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, who will BENCH players who disrespect our Flag,” the president tweeted. ”`Stand for Anthem or sit for game!”’
Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the movement early last season when he sat on the bench, and later kneeled, during the anthem to protest racial inequality and police mistreatment of black males. He remains unsigned and wants to resume his career.
The 74-year-old Jones <a title="Authentic Roger Maris Jersey" href="http://www.newyorkyankeesteamshop.com/authentic-roger-maris-jersey">Authentic Roger Maris Jersey</a> , also the team’s general manager, said after a loss to Green Bay on Sunday that the NFL cannot leave the impression that it tolerates players disrespecting the flag and said any Cowboys doing so will not play.
They were the most provocative comments so far from Jones, a powerful behind-the-scenes force in the NFL and recent Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee who had already been clear in his support of standing for the anthem.
The NFL players’ union had a swift rebuke Monday. Executive director DeMaurice Smith said Jones contradicted assurances last week from Commissioner Roger Goodell and New York Giants President John Mara that players could express themselves without reprisals.
”I look forward to the day when everyone in management can unite and truly embrace and articulate what the flag stands for, liberty and justice for all, instead of some of them just talking about standing,” Smith said. ”We look forward to continuing our talks with them on this very issue.”
Many of the NFL’s 32 teams have held meetings in various forms to discuss the issue since Trump said more than two weeks ago during a rally in Alabama that owners should fire players who kneel for the anthem.
In some cases, teams have struggled with their responses.
After Trump’s criticism, the Pittsburgh Steelers agreed to stay off the field before the anthem. But Army veteran Alejandro Villanueva, an offensive lineman <a title="Authentic Logan Forsythe Jersey" href="http://www.losangelesdodgersteamshop.com/authentic-logan-forsythe-jersey">Authentic Logan Forsythe Jersey</a> , stood at the edge of a tunnel with his teammates in darkness behind him during the anthem two weeks ago.
Villanueva said he was not making a political statement or defying his teammates, calling it a misunderstanding that was ”very embarrassing on my end.”
Miami coach Adam Gase recently created a team policy requiring players either to stand or wait in the tunnel. Three chose to stay off the field Sunday at home against Tennessee – Michael Thomas, Kenny Stills and Julius Thomas. All three have kneeled in the past.
Asked why he was responding to questions on the topic after previously declining to comment, Gase said, ”Because I thought it was time for us to address it.”
After several meetings over two days before a Monday night game in Arizona two weeks ago, the Cowboys and Jones kneeled arm-in-arm before the anthem. All of them stood during the anthem, with arms still locked. Otherwise, the Cowboys have stood on the sideline.
The Denver Broncos decided two weeks ago that they would stop kneeling after coach Vance Joseph met with his leadership group. The Broncos stood before their most recent game against Oakland, with linebacker Brandon Marshall raising a fist. Denver was off Sunday.
”We just feel like as a team <a title="Authentic Kurt Suzuki Jersey" href="http://www.atlantabravesteamShop.com/authentic-kurt-suzuki-jersey">Authentic Kurt Suzuki Jersey</a> , it’s bringing more negative attention … than it is positive,” safety Justin Simmons said. ”So, we made our point the one time we did it. The awareness of the social injustices are out there.”
During their bye last week, Atlanta players and coaches had a discussion mediated by a representative from the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality. Falcons owner Arthur Blank invited the outside perspective, and the team has decided to stand during the anthem.
”There’s no policy that was written or spoken about,” coach Dan Quinn said. ”It’s more one that was really in the heart of brotherhood, that what we do, we’ll do it together.”
Jones isn’t the only owner who feels strongly about players standing for the anthem, but there have been no indications of teams requiring their players to stand. Mara has told Giants players he wants them to stand but supports their right to do otherwise.
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Corrects previous version to linebacker for Denver’s Brandon Marshall, not receiver.
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When the Ottawa Senators and the Montreal Canadiens meet at Bell Centre on Sunday afternoon <a title="Authentic Paul Goldschmidt Jersey" href="http://www.arizonadiamondbacksteamshop.com/authentic-paul-goldschmidt-jersey">Authentic Paul Goldschmidt Jersey</a> , they will be coming off wins — something that has not happened often for the teams that sit near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.
At the end of the day, somebody is going to have a winning streak.
The Senators will be trying to win their third game in a row. They defeated the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 at home on Thursday and won in a 4-3 shootout in Philadelphia against the Flyers on Saturday.
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The Senators haven’t won three games in a row since Oct. 10-14 when they swept a road trip against the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers.
The Canadiens, who ended a three-game losing streak Saturday with a 5-2 victory over the Ducks at Bell Centre, haven’t won two games in a row since early January.
The Canadiens had scored one goal in their previous two games before exploding Saturday, thanks in large part to two keys. They got four goals from defensemen — Jeff Petry (two), David Schlemko and Joe Morrow — and did a better job of getting to the front of the net.
That paid off in forward Logan Shaw opening the scoring for the Canadiens against the Ducks after they had been outshot 9-0 to start the game.
They will be trying to continue to put those things into practice against the Senators on Sunday.
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“It’s a good feeling to finally get some, I wouldn’t say bounces, but create some chances and get goals,” Petry said. “You look at (Shaw’s) goal is something we talked about going into the game <a title="Authentic Greg Maddux Jersey" href="http://www.chicagocubsteamshops.com/authentic-greg-maddux-jersey">Authentic Greg Maddux Jersey</a> , cycle the puck, get guys in front, and he was rewarded tonight.
“I’ll bet that one feels really good for him. It’s something we’ve addressed and it was good to see it pay off.”
After Antti Niemi made 43 saves against the Ducks, Carey Price will get the start Sunday in goal against the Senators.
Canadiens top center Jonathan Drouin left the game in the eighth minute of the second period after getting hit with a teammate’s shot in the ribs. Canadiens coach Claude Julien said after the game “all tests were positive” and Drouin will be evaluated Sunday.
The Senators will be without top scorer Mark Stone (18 goals, 26 assists in 44 games), who will miss his seventh game Sunday with a leg injury. Winger Bobby Ryan will miss his second game with a hand injury.
Forward Mike Hoffman stepped up with a goal in the sixth round of the shootout to deliver the win Saturday after the Senators gave up a goal with 2.6 seconds left in the third period to allow the Flyers to force overtime. The Senators led 3-1 with seven minutes to go in the second period but couldn’t hold the lead.
Senators goaltender Craig Anderson said Saturday’s experience hopefully will help Sunday if they wind up in the same situation.
“When we had the puck on our sticks a couple of times, we had time to make a play and we just kind of threw it off our stick feeling the pressure <a title="Authentic Albert Almora Jr Jersey" href="http://www.chicagocubsteamshops.com/authentic-albert-almora-jr-jersey">Authentic Albert Almora Jr Jersey</a> ,” he told TSN 1200. “That comes with experience, it comes with confidence. With us winning, hopefully that can help us learn from this mistakes and not make them again.”
“We didn’t handle the pressure well in our zone,” Senators coach Guy Boucher said on TSN 1200. “We were stuck in our zone. Turnovers, mainly. We had it, we gave it back to them. We had it again, we gave it back to them <a title="Authentic Kris Bryant Jersey" href="http://www.chicagocubsteamshops.com/authentic-kris-bryant-jersey">Authentic Kris Bryant Jersey</a> , and so it created momentum for them and got us tired.”
Boucher said he expects to have his same lineup available for the game against the Canadiens. Rookie forward Colin White got his first NHL point, an assist on Matt Duchene’s goal that opened the scoring.
Mike Condon, who was in goal Thursday, will play against the Canadiens.
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Thomas had been listed as doubtful because of a hamstring injury. Running back Eddie Lacy (groin) and defensive end Marcus Smith (concussion) also were inactive for Seattle. They had been declared out for the game Wednesday.
Other Seattle inactives were guard Luke Joeckel, linebacker Josh Forrest <a title="Authentic Didi Gregorius Jersey" href="http://www.newyorkyankeesteamshop.com/authentic-didi-gregorius-jersey">Authentic Didi Gregorius Jersey</a> , guard Jordan Roos and defensive end Quinton Jefferson.
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All of Arizona’s inactives were healthy scratches: wide receiver Chad Williams, running back D.J. Foster <a title="Authentic Shelby Miller Jersey" href="http://www.arizonadiamondbacksteamshop.com/authentic-shelby-miller-jersey">Authentic Shelby Miller Jersey</a> , linebacker Bryson Albright, guard-tackle Will Holden <a title="Authentic Zack Greinke Jersey" href="http://www.arizonadiamondbacksteamshop.com/authentic-zack-greinke-jersey">Authentic Zack Greinke Jersey</a> , center Max Tuerk, tight end Ricky Seals-Jones and defensive lineman Xavier Williams.
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Keller set up two goals to set the franchise record for points in a season by a rookie, and fellow rookie Dylan Strome scored in a 4-1 victory Wednesday night.
Though the two teams began the day separated by one point at the bottom of the league standings, the Coyotes improved to 13-5-2 in their past 20 by overwhelming Buffalo.
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”It’s actually awesome,” goalie Antti Raanta said, referring to Arizona’s late-season run.
It’s even better when taking into account how the youngsters are contributing.
”We want that those guys are taking this team and showing the way,” said Raanta, who stopped 29 shots.
Referring to Keller <a title="Authentic David Ortiz Jersey" href="http://www.bostonredsoxteamshop.com/authentic-david-ortiz-jersey">Authentic David Ortiz Jersey</a> , Raanta added: ”I think he’s been one of the best forwards in this stretch. And I think it’s going to be just awesome to see how good he’s going to be in the future because he’s already so good.”
The Coyotes’ 2016 first-round pick extended his points streak to six games, in which he has two goals and five assists. He also upped his points total to 55, one more than Peter Mueller had in setting the rookie team record in 2007-08. And Keller has 35 assists, one more than teammate Max Domi had in his rookie season two years ago.
Strome, the No. 3 pick in the 2015 draft, scored a day after being called up from the minors. Derek Stepan had a goal and assist, Richard Panik also scored <a title="Authentic Francisco Liriano Jersey" href="http://www.houstonastrosteamshops.com/authentic-francisco-liriano-jersey">Authentic Francisco Liriano Jersey</a> , and Domi sealed it with an empty-netter.
Frustration set in on the Sabres, who remain last in the standings with 58 points – one behind Vancouver.
”You’d think you’d come out gangbusters to start this game,” Housley said. ”It was a very meaningful game in respect that you’re in last place in the league. That’s hard to swallow. It’s just unacceptable.”
Jordan Nolan scored the lone goal in briefly tying the game at 1 with 8:18 left in the first period. Chad Johnson allowed two goals on 15 shots before leaving the game 6:04 into the second period. He continued playing after being shaken up three minutes into the first period, when Brendon Perlini’s slap shot from the left circle struck Johnson in the mask and then went off his left shoulder.
Rookie Linus Ullmark took over and allowed one goal on 13 shots.
Stepan scored the go-ahead goal with 2:16 left in the first period, when his shot from the slot dribbled in after deflecting off Buffalo forward Scott Wilson’s stick.
Panik sealed the win by scoring 6:32 into the third. Keller’s shot from the left circle was blocked and dribbled into the crease, where Panik slipped it under a spread-eagled Ullmark.
Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet deflected attention away from his own personal loss. The first-year coach rejoined the Coyotes earlier in the day after spending the past few days in Toronto to attend mother Norma’s funeral. She died last week at the age of 93 due to complications from brain cancer.
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The trajectory of the two franchises has hardly changed in the three years since both sat at the bottom of standings before a game in Buffalo.
The only difference then was, the last-place team was assured of picking no worse than second in a draft that featured two so-called generational prospects in Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel. Some Sabres’ fans were so in favor of their team finishing last, Buffalo was booed when captain Brian Gionta tied it at 3 with 3:37 remaining. And some cheered when Sam Gagner scored 56 seconds into overtime of Arizona’s 4-3 win.
Coyotes forward Brad Richardson didn’t sign with Arizona until the following summer, but was aware of how Sabres fans responded.
”I think that’s pretty sad, to be honest,” Richardson told The Associated Press earlier in the day.
The Sabres finished last, but lost the draft lottery to Edmonton <a title="Authentic Dansby Swanson Jersey" href="http://www.atlantabravesteamShop.com/authentic-dansby-swanson-jersey">Authentic Dansby Swanson Jersey</a> , which selected McDavid with the first pick.
On Wednesday, the Sabres were booed when they were unable to score during the final three minutes with their goalie pulled.
”We’ve got to find a way to get smart or something,” Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly said. ”It’s disappointing.”
NOTES: Eichel played his 200th career game. … Arizona converted two of three power-play chances after going 2-for-23 in its previous nine games. … Coyotes D Jason Demers did not play and will miss the remainder of the season with an upper-body injury.
Coyotes: Continue six-game road swing at Carolina on Thursday night.
Sabres: Close six-game homestand against Montreal on Friday night.
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SAINT PAUL <a title="Authentic Kirk Gibson Jersey" href="http://www.losangelesdodgersteamshop.com/authentic-kirk-gibson-jersey">Authentic Kirk Gibson Jersey</a> , Minn. — What a difference two games can make. That’s the lesson learned by the Minnesota Wild and Anaheim Ducks this week.
Earlier in the week, Minnesota seemingly was cruising toward the playoffs and Anaheim was in trouble. But after Thursday night’s games, the two teams will face each other on Saturday afternoon with one point separating them in the hunt for the postseason.
The Wild had been riding the wave of a franchise-record home points streak until hitting a wall named the Washington Capitals on Thursday.
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At the same time, the Ducks were winning on the road in Chicago, and have suddenly nearly pulled even with the Wild in the fight for the wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
In Minnesota <a title="Authentic Fernando Rodney Jersey" href="http://www.arizonadiamondbacksteamshop.com/authentic-fernando-rodney-jersey">Authentic Fernando Rodney Jersey</a> , the loss to Washington created some previously unconsidered concern, as the Capitals scored more than once on goalie Devan Dubnyk with shots that some considered soft, and the mainstay in net was called out by his coach after the loss.
“For a guy that’s played so great recently, it could be arguably said that those were four soft goals tonight,” coach Bruce Boudreau said after the Wild lost a regulation game at home for the first time in 2018.
On Friday <a title="Authentic Robin Yount Jersey" href="http://www.milwaukeebrewersteamshop.com/authentic-robin-yount-jersey">Authentic Robin Yount Jersey</a> , Dubnyk admitted to an off night but made it clear that he’s always his own toughest critic and the perceived off night was a one-time thing.
“We know how we need to play,” he said. “If we look at a couple things and get back to the way we’ve been playing, that’s all we need to do.”
The Ducks had lost three in a row before beating the reeling Blackhawks 3-2 on Thursday, with Adam Henrique netting his sixth game-winning goal since coming over in a trade with New Jersey on Nov. 30 and making it clear that they consider themselves solidly in the race for a return to the playoffs.
“He’s come in and fit into our hockey club in a pretty seamless manner,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said <a title="Authentic Carlos Zambrano Jersey" href="http://www.chicagocubsteamshops.com/authentic-carlos-zambrano-jersey">Authentic Carlos Zambrano Jersey</a> , crediting Henrique for being willing to accept any role they can find for him. “Specifically, we were down bodies and he was a guy that came in and played a number one role.
“When we got one body back, we moved him into a two role and when we got another guy back at center we moved him into the three hole, and he’s continued to make a contribution not only on the offensive side but on the defensive side too.”
Between the pipes, Ducks goalie John Gibson said the desperation of the Ducks <a title="Authentic Paul Goldschmidt Jersey" href="http://www.arizonadiamondbacksteamshop.com/authentic-paul-goldschmidt-jersey">Authentic Paul Goldschmidt Jersey</a> , and their opponents, is becoming more obvious as each point becomes more and more valuable.
“It’s at the point where everybody’s scrambling and you’re trying to get whatever you can,” Gibson said. “We’ve had a little bit of trouble in the past keeping leads and holding leads, so we definitely put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make sure we’re playing the right way and holding leads.”
It’s the second meeting of the season between the Ducks and Wild. Minnesota won 3-2 in overtime in Anaheim earlier in the year.
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