ATLANTA FALCONS (11-7)
OPEN CAMP: July 27 Bobby Hebert Jersey , Falcons practice facility, Flowery Branch, Georgia
LAST YEAR: One year after reaching Super Bowl, Falcons finished third in NFC South and lost to Philadelphia in second round of playoffs. Quarterback Matt Ryan, working under new coordinator Steve Sarkisian, had decline in production from 2016, when team led NFL in scoring. Ryan still signed five-year, $150 million deal in offseason. Good news is young defense, led by speedy linebackers Deion Jones and De'Vondre Campbell and safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen, allowed 318.4 yards per game, significant drop from 371.2 in 2016.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: G Brandon Fusco, rookie WR Calvin Ridley Lee Smith Jersey , TE Logan Paulsen, CB Justin Bethel, rookie DT Deadrin Senat, QB coach Greg Knapp, RB coach Bernie Parmalee.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: DT Dontari Poe, DE Adrian Clayborn, WR Taylor Gabriel, FB Derrick Coleman, TE Levine Toilolo.
CAMP NEEDS: Spotlight will be on WR Julio Jones after team announced it won't renegotiate his current $71.5 million contract. Jones has three years remaining in five-year deal. Jones did not attend minicamp, and training camp holdout could be major distraction to "brotherhood" atmosphere promoted by coach Dan Quinn. Defensive front will be concern following losses of Poe and Clayborn. Senat could have opportunity for immediate playing time, if not starting role. Ridley needs to prove he can handle No. 3 receiver spot behind Jones and Mohamed Sanu and be ready for even bigger role.
EXPECTATIONS: Ryan is 33, Jones is 29 Doug Baldwin Jersey , RB Devonta Freeman had two concussions, including one in preseason, and knee injury last season, and RB Tevin Coleman could be free agent after this season. These are all alarm signals as window for current offense is narrowing. While young defense is emerging as team's strength, Atlanta's offense needs to re-emerge in second season with Sarkasian if team can have real hope for second Super Bowl appearance in three years. Addition of Fusco should add more stability to interior offensive line. Competitive NFC South doesn't lessen expectations. Anything less than 10 wins and another postseason would be disappointment.
Mike Clevinger has become a vital member of the Cleveland Indians‘ rotation.
Clevinger struck out 10 and allowed one run in 7 2/3 innings, and Cleveland beat the Chicago White Sox 6-3 on Tuesday night.
Clevinger (6-2) beat Chicago for the third time this season and was in command after giving up a first-inning run. He retired 13 straight between the second and sixth while allowing five hits.
The right-hander, in his first full season as a starter, has earned the trust of manager Terry Francona.
”He’s doing everything you would ever ask of any guy,” Francona said. ”He works hard. He’s prepared. He competes like crazy. He’s got three good pitches that seem to be getting better.”
Clevinger is pleased to know Francona has confidence in him.
”Obviously, it took a process to get there with him, but I’m enjoying the benefits of getting that trust now,” Clevinger said.
Clevinger struck out a career-high 11 against the White Sox last week. This time Will Dissly Jersey , he was pulled after two walks in the eighth. He has held Chicago to three earned runs in 21 1/3 innings over three starts.
”His fastball had a lot of life and his changeup was working pretty well,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. ”Really, he’s got a pretty good repertoire.”
Francisco Lindor’s two-run single was the key hit in the second when Cleveland scored four times. Yonder Alonso, Michael Brantley and Edwin Encarnacion also drove in runs for the Indians.
Yoan Moncada had a two-run double with two outs in the ninth off Zach McAllister. Second baseman Erik Gonzalez booted Yolmer Sanchez’s ground ball putting two runners on. Cody Allen retired Jose Abreu on fly ball for his 15th save in 16 chances.
Cleveland improved to 16-4 in its past 20 home games against Chicago.
Carlos Rodon (0-2) allowed four runs in 6 1/3 innings. The left-hander made his third start of the season after having shoulder surgery in August.
The White Sox lost their sixth straight and dropped a season-high 24 games under .500. Chicago is 11-23 against the AL Central.
Abreu’s single put Chicago ahead three batters into the game, but the lead lasted one inning. Alonso tied the game with an RBI single in the second, and Cleveland went ahead on Rodon’s wild pitch.
Lindor singled into right-center with runners on second and third for a 4-1 lead. Brantley and Encarnacion drove in runs in the seventh.
Rodon pitched into the seventh inning for the first time this season, throwing 98 pitches.
”I feel healthy and my arm feels good, but I’ve got to be better,” he said. ”When you lose, you’re never satisfied. It’s good that I went into the seventh, but I really hurt myself in the second.”
Abreu had a home run overturned in the third. His drive down the left field line was called fair by third base umpire Lance Barksdale. The ruling was reversed after a review that lasted 44 seconds. Abreu then struck out.
Moncada led off the first with a double and scored when Abreu hit a sharp ground ball through the right side.
Brandon Guyer and Rajai Davis stole bases for the Indians, who have stolen 23 bases without being caught since May 23.
RHP George Kontos became the 17th pitcher to be in Cleveland’s bullpen this season when he had his contract purchased from Triple-A Columbus. Kontos Danny Etling Jersey , 33, was released by Pittsburgh last month. RHP Evan Marshall (sore elbow) is on the 10-day disabled list. He was removed in the eighth inning Monday with the injury.
CLEAN IT UP
The White Sox committed three errors Monday and continued to struggle in the field Tuesday. Catcher Omar Narvaez threw the ball into center field when Guyer stole second base in the third. Rodon and Bruce Rondon threw wild pitches.
The Indians were also sloppy. Jason Kipnis dropped a soft underhanded flip from Lindor that would have forced Abreu at second base in the first. Clevinger threw wildly trying to pick Charlie Tilson off first the following inning. Gonzalez’s error forced Allen into the game in an inning that began with a 6-1 lead.
White Sox: OF Leury Garcia (sprained left knee), who has been on the disabled list since May 24, has three hits and three runs in the first two games of his rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte.
Indians RHP Corey Kluber (10-3, 2.24 ERA), coming off a rare loss, starts the series finale. He allowed four runs in five innings – his shortest outing of the season – against the Twins on Friday. RHP Reynaldo Lopez (2-4, 3.26 ERA) starts for the White Sox.
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