Andrew Luck has a deal with the Colts ... finally

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Andrew Luck has a deal with the Colts ... finally

From Comcast SportsNet
Rest easy, Colts fans. The Andrew Luck era can now officially begin. The Colts signed the Stanford quarterback and No. 1 overall pick in the draft to a four-year, 22.1 million deal on Thursday, "12 is officially signed!!!!!!" Colts owner Jim Irsay tweeted, adding a photo of Luck signing his contract for good measure. Luck's agent and uncle, Will Wilson, confirmed the deal had been completed. The deal is similar to the one signed by Cam Newton a year ago and the one signed this week by Robert Griffin III. Newton, last year's top pick, has a four-year, 22 million deal with Carolina and Griffin, who went No. 2 behind Luck in April's draft, signed a four-year contract with the Washington Redskins worth 21.1 million guaranteed, with a club option for a fifth year. Whatever the terms, Colts fans can look forward to seeing Luck behind center this season, brought in to help the proud franchise rebound after last year's horrible skid. The injured Peyton Manning never played a down and now he's gone, off to Denver for a fresh start with the Broncos. Indy gets a rare opportunity to transition from one star quarterback to another. Luck threw for 35 touchdowns last season -- breaking his school record of 32 in 2010 -- and eclipsed John Elway's career record (77) at Stanford with 80 touchdown passes in only three seasons. He finished with 3,170 yards passing, a 70 percent completion percentage and only nine interceptions without the benefit of an elite wide receiver in 2011. He was the Heisman Trophy runner-up -- twice. Luck has a pretty good idea what to expect beyond wearing a No. 12 jersey for the Colts. He will be expected to help lead the team back from a 2-14 season that included an 0-13 start with Manning out recovering from neck surgery. Irsay cleaned out the front office and changed coaching staffs in January and February. Bruce Arians was Manning's first NFL quarterbacks coach and he's back as Indy's offensive coordinator, and former Indy offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen is now the Colts quarterback coach. There's a new general manager in Ryan Grigson and a new coach in Chuck Pagano. But Luck is the cornerstone in Indy's biggest overhaul since Manning was drafted in 1998. He is expected to start immediately after playing in a pro-style system at Stanford, where he was originally tutored by former Colts quarterback and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. After drafting Luck, the Colts picked tight end Coby Fleener, his Stanford teammate, in the second round. They got another tight end in Clemson's Dwayne Allen and speedy receiver T.Y. Hilton to go with Reggie Wayne. Still, there were a lot of player moves, too. The Colts released Manning on March 7 rather than paying him 28 million. Two days later, Indy cut defensive captains Gary Brackett and Melvin Bullitt and former Pro Bowlers Dallas Clark and Joseph Addai. They lost longtime center Jeff Saturday and emerging receiver Pierre Garcon in free agency and dipped into free-agency to improve a leaky defense and an unproven offensive line. The biggest challenge in 2012, like it was in 1998, will be breaking in a new quarterback.

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2016-17 NHL Season Preview: New Jersey Devils

2016-17 NHL Season Preview: New Jersey Devils

It still feels like the season just ended, but with the draft and free agency already behind us, it's time to look forward to the 2016-17 season. We will preview every team in the NHL throughout August and take a look at what the new season may hold.

Team: New Jersey Devils

How they did last season: 38-36-8 (84 points), 7th in the Metropolitan, 12th in the Eastern Conference. Did not make the playoffs.

Notable acquisitions: C Vernon Fiddler, D Ben Lovejoy, LW Taylor Hall, RW Beau Bennett, D Brandon Gormley

Notable departures: D David Schlemko, D Adam Larsson

When they will play the Caps: Dec. 29 in Washington; Dec. 31 in New Jersey; Jan. 26 in New Jersey; March 2 in Washington

Analysis: The New Jersey Devils have finished in the bottom four in terms of goals per game in each of the past four seasons and finally bottomed out in 2015-16, finishing dead last with only 2.22 goals per game. So the Devils’ priority this offseason was no secret, they needed to get better offensively.

To address that, the Devils pulled off one of the biggest heists of the offseason, acquiring Taylor Hall, a player who has registered 50 or more points in four of his six NHL seasons, for defenseman Adam Larsson.

That’s a steal. With all due respect to Larsson, the fact that general manager Ray Shero was able to get Hall without giving up more than just one player is stunning.

There’s also hope that prospect Pavel Zacha, the sixth overall pick in the 2015 draft, will be able to make the jump to the NHL this year. Don’t expect the Devils to turn into the 2010 Caps, but there’s no reason to expect them to remain among the league’s worst offenses either.

As good as the trade for Hall was, the downside is that the defense in New Jersey will likely take a step back. Larsson was among the team’s top defensemen last season and was second on the Devils in ice time. Having a goalie like Corey Schneider, however, will certainly help. While a team never wants to rely on a goalie to carry a defense, it’s easier to mask a bad defense with a good goalie than it is to mask a bad offense with...well, a good goalie.

Season prediction: New Jersey had no scoring last season in John Hynes' first season as head coach, but that was a roster issue, not a coaching one. In fact, the Devils were much more competitive than I anticipated given the team’s roster and finished just 12 points out of the last playoff spot.

There’s no question the defense has taken a step back, but the offense has taken a major step forward. It’s up to Hynes now to show what he can do with it.

This roster is still not good enough to reach the playoffs, but the Devils look like they are headed in the right direction.

2016-2017 NHL TEAM PREVIEWS

Pacific Division
— Anaheim Ducks
— Arizona Coyotes
— Calgary Flames
— Edmonton Oilers
— Los Angeles Kings
— San Jose Sharks
— Vancouver Canucks

Central Division
— Chicago Blackhawks
— Colorado Avalanche
— Dallas Stars
— Minnesota Wild
— Nashville Predators
— St. Louis Blues
— Winnipeg Jets

Atlantic Division
— Boston Bruins
— Buffalo Sabres
— Detroit Red Wings
— Florida Panthers
— Montreal Canadiens
— Ottawa Senators
— Tampa Bay Lightning
— Toronto Maple Leafs

Metropolitan Division
Carolina Hurricanes
Columbus Blue Jackets
— New York Islanders (coming Aug. 26)
— New York Rangers (coming Aug. 27)
— Philadelphia Flyers (coming Aug. 28)
— Pittsburgh Penguins (coming Aug. 29)
— Washington Capitals (coming Aug. 30)

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LB Za'Darius Smith among those not playing Saturday

LB Za'Darius Smith among those not playing Saturday

OWINGS MILLS – Add outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith to the list of Ravens not expected to play Saturday night. Head coach John Harbaugh said Smith had an ankle issue that would keep him out against the Lions. Smith was not at practice Thursday.

Others not expected to play against the Lions include outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, wide receivers Steve Smith Sr. and Breshad Perriman, left guard John Urschel, tight ends Dennis Pitta and Maxx Williams, safety Kendrick Lewis, cornerbacks Kyle Arrington and Jerraud Powers, and defensive tackle Brandon Williams. All of them are at various stages of dealing with injuries.

RELATED: FLACCO LOOKS FORWARD TO PLAYING, BUT NOT GETTING HIT

Perriman returned to practice this week, but head coach John Harbaugh did not commit to playing Perriman after Thursday’s walkthrough practice.

“We’ll see, it’s up to the doctors,” Harbaugh said of Perriman. “He hasn’t gone full speed in practice yet. Today was not a full speed practice for anybody.”

Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil is not expected to play either, because he just returned to practice this week after offseason foot surgery. With Suggs, Dumervil, and Smith out of the lineup, Saturday should present an opportunity for pass rushers like Matt Judon, Chris Carter, and Victor Ochi to get extra reps.

MORE RAVENS: PERRIMAN HOPES TO IMPRESS WITH SPEED AND HANDS

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Max Scherzer starts as Nats hope to avoid sweep vs. Orioles

Max Scherzer starts as Nats hope to avoid sweep vs. Orioles

Nats (73-53) at Orioles (70-56) at Nationals Park

The Nationals' series against the Orioles has been quite lopsided so far through three games, with Baltimore taking each of them in relatively convincing fashion. The Nats mounted a comeback in the ninth inning on Wednesday night, but fell just short. Now they will aim to avoid a four-game sweep on Thursday night.

Max Scherzer (13-7, 3.05) will get the ball for Washington in his 27th start of the season. He's looking to bounce back from a four-run outing against the Braves his last time out. Scherzer last faced the Orioles on July 12 of 2015 when he tossed 8 2/3 innings of two-run ball at Camden Yards.

Pitching for Baltimore will be right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez (5-10, 6.94). He has had a horrendous season, but he's got a very good history against the Nats with a 2.32 ERA through eight starts. Last season he threw six innings with zero earned runs allowed on Sept. 22 of last year.

First pitch: 7:05 p.m.
TV: MASN
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Starting pitchers: Nats - Max Scherzer vs. Orioles - Ubaldo Jimenez

NATS

CF Trea Turner
LF Jayson Werth
2B Daniel Murphy
RF Bryce Harper
3B Anthony Rendon
1B Ryan Zimmerman
SS Danny Espinosa
C Jose Lobaton
RHP Max Scherzer

ORIOLES

TBA
RHP Ubaldo Jimenez

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