From Comcast SportsNetCANTON, Ohio (AP) -- John Lynch, Michael Strahan, Steve McNair and Morten Andersen are among 13 first-year eligible players for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.Safety Lynch, defensive end Strahan, quarterback McNair and kicker Andersen join offensive linemen Jonathan Ogden and Larry Allen, defensive tackle Warren Sapp and 121 other total nominees for induction. The list will be whittled to 25 semifinalists in late November.Fifteen finalists from the modern era will be announced in early January, with elections taking place Feb. 2, 2013, the day before the Super Bowl.Between four and seven new members will be selected, with inductions next August.Other first-time nominees are running back Priest Holmes, wide receiver Keenan McCardell, center Tom Nalen, DTs Sam Adams and Ted Washington and DE Bryant Young.Among the contributors nominated are former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and longtime team owners Bud Adams of the Titans and Robert Kraft of the Patriots. Former Browns and Ravens owner Art Modell, who died this month, also is a nominee.Other holdover nominees include receivers Cris Carter, Andre Reed and Tim Brown, running back Jerome Bettis, guard Will Shields, DE Charles Haley, linebacker Kevin Greene and defensive back Aeneas Williams, all finalists for the 2012 class.
With the expected return of first baseman Ryan Zimmerman on Tuesday, there will be some shuffling on the Nats roster, most notably with Trea Turner getting bumped from their infield.
Zimmerman, despite his .221/.284/.402 slash this year, is going right back into the starting lineup. He's a proven veteran, went 5-for-12 on his rehab assignment and manager Dusty Baker has already confirmed that plan, not that it needed to be done.
"I've got to get Zim back in the lineup. He’s a big part of our offense. And certainly, if I get Zim back in the lineup, that means [Daniel] Murphy is at second base," Baker said.
Turner will be out of the infield mix, but with Michael Taylor going back to Triple-A Syracuse, the door may be open for Turner to play some in the outfield. A lifelong middle infielder, Turner has been learning center field recently. He played six games there at Syracuse and has been doing outifled drills for several weeks now.
Turner has shown in recent games the impact he can make offensively. He has 11 hits and four steals in his last nine games and in his last five outings alone has three triples and five runs. The Nats have seen the worst production of any team from their leadoff spot with a dead-last .586 OPS collectively. Taylor's now gone and Ben Revere's still hitting just .216 through 61 games.
"Now we've just got to try to find [Turner's] place with Zim coming back, find a place for him to play," Baker said.
If that is in center field, Turner feels ready to step in.
"I did it in Syracuse and I'll do it here if they need me to," he said. "It's something that I've embraced, I guess. It's something that I'll do if they need me to. I'll continue to work out there whenever they give me the chance. On days I don't play, I go out there and shag some balls just to make sure I'm staying on top of it. It hasn't happened yet, but if it does I'll be ready."
Six games in Triple-A, of course, is not a lot of action at a brand new position. Whenever Turner does play in center field, there will be a learning curve and perhaps a noticeable drop-off from Revere. But Turner feels he did well in those six chances and can build off that experience.
"[I did] fine. I think I got a couple tough balls hit at me, line drives, and I made the right decisions at the time. I made all the plays that came to me. At the same time, I know it's not as easy as that. You've gotta play balls off the wall. In big league ballparks, it's going to be a lot different everywhere you go. Guys are a lot stronger, so they hit the ball a little bit farther. You've gotta take all that into account as well and learn," he said.
Baker himself has expressed confidence in Turner's ability to transition to the outfield. Earlier this month he offered a comparison to Robin Yount, a Hall of Famer who began his career as a shortstop before moving to center field. Yount won MVPs at both positions.
Zimmerman's return could simply mean Turner is heading back to the bench, ready to step in to give a Nats infielder a day off or wait for pinch-run opportunities. If that's the case, Turner believes he can still make an impact.
"Just keep it simple and do your job, whatever they ask," he said. "I'm still learning. I think you can always figure out ways to come off the bench and take advantage of those opportunities. If I have to do that, running is going to be a huge key. I think that's just a matter of stretching and paying attention by watching video on pitchers in case you get a stolen base opportunity, or whatever it may be."
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A running-back-by-committee system could be the Ravens’ best option in 2016. Not only do the Ravens have ample depth at the position, but the incumbent starter, Justin Forsett, will turn 31 years old in October.
Rather than give 200-plus carries to Forsett if he wins the starting job, it might behoove the Ravens to spread the workload among Forsett, Buck Allen, rookie Kenneth Dixon and any remaining backs, whether it be Terrance West, Lorenzo Taliaferro, or Trent Richardson.
Running back roles will begin to sort themselves out during training camp, with the first full-squad practice scheduled for Thursday. However, more NFL teams are relying on more than just one back.
During the 2012 season, 23 running backs had at least 200 carries. That number has steadily declined, from 22 backs with 200+ carries in 2013, to 17 backs in 2014, to just 15 backs last season with 200+ carries.
Forsett is just two years removed from his best NFL campaign, when he rushed for 1,266 yards on 235 carries. However, there’s no way Forsett figures to get 235 carries in 2016, and that’s a good thing for the Ravens. For Forsett to be fresh and healthy in November and December, the Ravens will have to be careful not to overwork him.
Allen had a solid rookie season and should push Forsett for the starting job. Dixon is a highly-touted rookie. West is in the best shape of his young career, while Taliaferro wants to prove he can stay healthy after an injury-plagued first two seasons.
Richardson is starting camp on the PUP list with a knee injury, so he needs to return quickly to capitalize on his long-shot opportunity. But even if the Ravens don’t have a 1,000-yard rusher, they could still run the ball effectively by making the most of their depth.
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Browns receiver Josh Gordon will play in 2016. If he can keep his act together, that is.
The NFL has conditionally reinstated Gordon and handed him a four-game ban to start the season, according to a Monday announcement. The 25-year-old had been suspended indefinitely for repeated violations of the league's substance abuse policy, distinct from its performance enhancing drug policy.
He will be eligible to return on October 3, the day after the Browns play the Redskins at FedEx Field. He will not appear in the Week 2 matchup hosting the Ravens, but will eligible for the Week 10 game in Baltimore.
While suspended, Gordon will be allowed to attend team meetings. He will also take part in training camp and participate in preseason games.
The NFL release also included a letter from Commissioner Roger Goodell to Gordon.
As we discussed at our [July 19] meeting, as Commissioner, I want nothing more than to see you turn your circumstances around and succeed. Countless others including your agent, teammates and coaches, Mr. Haslam and the leadership of the organization, the Program professionals and Jim Brown also have pledged to provide you with every resource at their disposal. But as you acknowledged, ultimately, your future is your responsibility. I have every belief that you can make the right choices, but it will be up to you to do so.