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Injuries played a part in Jake Matthews’ struggles as a rookie.

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Most end up being like Jake Matthews, an above-average player who is improving but is still far from being a perennial All-Pro. And in today’s league, sometimes, that’s just fine. Line construction begins with and is dependent upon solidifying the left tackle position, but that’s only the beginning for franchises who take this approach.

I know, it sounds a little strange to me too. But Atlanta’s offense was high-flying because its offensive line became a cohesive unit that blocked well in run and cheap nfl jerseys free shipping pass situations. A two-headed rushing attack of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman thrived inside and outside the tackles because the line, anchored at the center by Alex Mack, managed to open lanes to run. Just look at the Falcons’ first two plays of Super Bowl LI: Atlanta ran the same toss sweep (pulling franchise tackle Jake Matthews out into the open field as a lead blocker) twice in a row and found itself on the edge of New England territory as a result.

While evaluating Matthews throughout the season, former Falcons offensive line coach Mike Tice believed Matthews’ sets were inconsistent. Tice constantly rode Matthews about his hand placement, telling him there was too much catching that led to being susceptible to bull rushes. Matthews’ run blocking was below average early in the season, but got better. And after a stretch of four or five strong games late in the season, Matthews bombed in the season finale against Carolina.

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Atlanta Falcons starting left tackle Jake Matthews, who underwent surgery in January to repair a torn Lisfranc ligament in his foot, was back on the field for Tuesday’s session of organized team activities.

The Atlanta Falcons have lost starting left tackle Sam Baker for the season with a torn patellar tendon, and as a result rookie right tackle Jake Matthews said he is ready to switch to left tackle.

Matthews has started all 47 regular-season games and all three playoff games he has played with the Falcons, missing only one regular-season game due to a high ankle sprain. He is set to make $2,665,386 for the 2017 season, including a roster bonus of $1,970,386 due on the third day of training camp.

After Freeman lost a yard on his next run, disaster struck for Atlanta. Ryan was sacked, Jake Matthews committed a holding penalty and the Falcons were forced to punt the ball back to the Patriots. Although play-caller Kyle Shanahan came under heavy fire for that sequence, he wasn’t alone in his aggressive approach to the possession. Just before Ryan took the field, Quinn implored, “Let’s go attack, Matt. Do what we do.”

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Nike Falcons #70 Jake Matthews White Men's Stitched NFL Vapor Untouchable Limited Jersey
Nike Falcons #70 Jake Matthews White Men’s Stitched NFL Vapor Untouchable Limited Jersey

Injuries played a part in Jake Matthews’ struggles as a rookie. “The way they’re featuring Clay is back to his traditional role as a pass rusher, so there will be some family-on-family crime for sure there,” said Falcons coach Dan Quinn on the Packers’ Clay Matthews going up against cousin Jake Matthews come Sunday night.

But not so fast. Clay Matthews is the left outside linebacker, meaning he’s likely to face Ryan Schraeder more than Jake Matthews. And Jake Matthews is more likely to see Packers right outside linebacker Nick Perry.

Still, Jake Matthews obviously knows how to compete against his cousin. Jake Matthews did not return to the contest after suffering a knee injury in the second quarter. The game was tied at 13 when the Falcons offensive lineman made his early exit. He was later seen going to the locker room.

Matthews’ return wasn’t the Falcons’ only encouraging news on the injury front. Starting strong safety William Moore returned to practice for the first time since undergoing significant right shoulder surgery in the winter. Starting center Joe Hawley was back at practice for the first time since tearing the ACL and MCL in his right knee. And rookie cornerback Jalen Collins, who underwent foot surgery prior to the draft, went through individual drills wearing a helmet.

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Tom Brady has won 198 contests, including the postseason, during his 17-plus seasons with New England.

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That’s an awful lot of great memories for Patriots fans and nightmares for the opposition. It’s also too great a catalogue to choose from.

Not all of Brady’s showings featured the gaudy passing statistics for which he is known. Further, there are backstories surrounding some of these wins that make them larger in significance than others from both a personal and team standpoint.

The Tampa Bay Rays have activated left fielder Colby Rasmus from the DL following his recovery from hip surgery, and outfielder Shane Peterson was designated for assignment.

Rasmus wasn’t in the lineup for Tuesday’s game at Miami but was available off the bench to make his Rays debut, and he will start against right-handers, manager Kevin Cash said.

A left-handed hitter, Rasmus has at least 15 homers each of the past five seasons. He underwent surgery in October, and the Rays signed him to a $5 million, one-year contract in January.

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The Chicago Cubs have a one-game lead over the Brewers and Cardinals in the NL Central.
Does it feel like teams are better this year? They are. There are just three teams with a winning percentage below .400 entering May 1 this season, tied for the fewest such teams in any season since 1996 (also in 2009).

Since 1996, 14 of the 21 World Series winners led their divisions entering May 1. The 2014 Giants, 2011 Cardinals and 2004 Red Sox each had a share of their respective division’s lead at that point, did not win the division, but did win the World Series.

How rare is it for the reigning World Series champions to cheap jerseys be leading their division entering May? The last team to do it was the 2012 Cardinals. Before that, no team had done it since the 2008 Red Sox. Overall, seven teams have won the World Series and then held at least a share of the lead in their division entering May since 1996.

There are 11 teams within a game of first place or currently holding a share. The most such teams entering May 1 in a season since 1996 is 12, which has happened 4 times in the span — most recently in 2016.

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Those two big wins came immediately after a 7-0 drubbing in Game 4 that was easily the most lopsided loss of Edmonton’s season. “We lose 7-0, everyone has us down and out and we come back and win two in a row. I don’t think anyone had us doing that after that kind of game,” McDavid said before Game 1 in Anaheim. “I feel like in a playoff series, momentum isn’t game to game.”

After the Oilers’ humbling 6-3 loss to the Ducks in Game 3 on Sunday — Edmonton’s first in the series, which it now leads two games to one — McDavid has an opportunity to prove his playoff momentum theory in Game 4 on Wednesday at home at Rogers Place.  

McDavid’s confidence in his team’s resilience isn’t unfounded. The Oilers haven’t lost consecutive games since March 12, when the Montreal Canadiens handed Edmonton its third straight loss. The Oilers’ 21 wins in one-goal games tied the Ottawa Senators for the sixth-highest total in the league this season. They also went 29-2-1 during the regular season when leading after two periods. That .906 win percentage in such situations ranked fifth in the NHL. Edmonton also won seven games during the regular season when trailing after 40 minutes; only three teams bested that number.

By taking care of matters in their end of the ice, the Nashville Predators’ defensive corps is earning the right to contribute to matters on the offensive end.

That was evident again Sunday when the Predators bounced the St. Louis Blues 3-1 in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal at Bridgestone Arena to grab a 2-1 series lead. Ryan Ellis scored the first goal while fellow defenseman Roman Josi tallied the final marker.

P.K. Subban and Mattias Ekholm each registered assists, giving the blue-liners a combined seven goals and 14 assists in seven playoff games. Ellis has scored in six straight games and leads Nashville scorers in the postseason with eight points off three goals and five assists