Football is back! Brees, Saints defeat Cardinals

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Football is back! Brees, Saints defeat Cardinals

From Comcast SportsNet
CANTON, Ohio (AP) -- Tour the Pro Football Hall of Fame and see all the bronze busts. Cheer tackle Willie Roaf's induction. Watch Drew Brees produce a touchdown on his only try. Pretty good weekend for the New Orleans Saints. And boy, did they need it. Brees didn't need much time to top off a good visit, smoothly leading a touchdown drive in his only series Sunday night during a 17-10 victory over Arizona in the Hall of Fame game. "Just to be up here and see all those guys get inducted and take a tour of the Hall of Fame, that was really special," said Mark Ingram, who scored the first touchdown on a 1-yard run. "For us to all be here, it puts a lot of things into perspective going into this football season." The game was canceled last year for the first time in 45 years, a casualty of the NFL's lockout of the players. Labor issues also came into play in Sunday night's game -- the seven officials were replacements. It showed. The referee announced the result of the coin flip incorrectly -- Craig Ochoa said the Saints won the toss and deferred, then caught his mistake and said the Cardinals had won the toss. There were some other communication problems as well for the first-time crew. The win completed a good trip for the Saints (No. 9 in the AP Pro32), who needed a few smiles after their offseason dominated by their bounty scandal. Suspended coach Sean Payton got the league's permission to attend a dinner for Roaf and the other five Hall of Fame inductees on Friday night. Payton isn't allowed to have any contact with the team this season as punishment for the team's bounty program. Players got to tour the hall and sat in the back three rows of the stadium for Roaf's induction on Saturday, wearing black t-shirts with his No. 77. It was a proud moment for a franchise that's been overshadowed by the bounty scandal all offseason. "The induction was great," interim coach Joe Vitt said. "Our young players went through the Hall of Fame yesterday and saw a lot of history of the NFL and really took it in. From that standpoint, it was a great weekend." Don't forget that opening drive. Brees was sharp on the 10-play drive, completing 4 of 5 passes for 41 yards with one off-target throw. Brees skipped offseason workouts and minicamp because he was unhappy getting the team's franchise tag. He later agreed to a five-year, 100 million deal. Nothing has changed. "Drew was Drew," Vitt said. "That's the first unit. There's high standards here." The Cardinals (No. 23) are using the preseason to pick a quarterback, with Kevin Kolb and John Skelton competing for the starting job. Kolb got to start the game but had a tough time, throwing an interception on his first pass and leaving after bruising his ribs on the third series. "He has a bruise in his chest and that makes it kind of tough to rotate, move," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "I think he'll probably be practicing sometime this week." Skelton took over and completed 4 of 6 for 32 yards. "You never want to have an injury in the preseason, especially an early game like this, having to play that fifth preseason game," Skelton said. "But he will be OK." The Cardinals finished 8-8 last season, Kolb's first in Arizona. He started nine games and threw for nine touchdowns with eight interceptions while learning a new offense on the fly because of the lockout. Skelton filled in when Kolb was hurt and went 5-2 as a starter. After the opening series for each team, the backups got into the game and things got ragged. The fill-in officials had a few rough moments, too. Ochoa, who has eight years of experience with BCS leagues and 16 years at Division III, flipped the ceremonial coin and announced that New Orleans had won and deferred. As he started walking away, he caught his mistake. "Correction," he said. "Arizona won the coin toss." After New Orleans scored on its first possession, several Saints came in to block for the extra point and gestured to the officials to point out that they had reported for the play. Coming out of the 2-minute warning in the first half, Ochoa announced that the previous play was under review, then corrected himself and said it was not. The officials had trouble spotting the ball after a punt that involved a penalty, repeatedly moving the ball after consultations. The league has locked out its officials and hired replacements in case the labor dispute extends into the season. They've trained them for the last two months. The league used replacement officials for the opening week of the 2001 season before reaching agreement with the union. Notes: It was the Saints' fifth appearance in the Hall of Fame game, their first since 2007. The Cardinals made their fourth appearance, their first since 1986. ... Arizona's Dave Zastudil had a 79-yard punt, a record for the Hall of Fame game. ... Saints rookie Laron Scott had a 67-yard kickoff return. ... Arizona LB Paris Lenon limped off with an ankle injury after the opening series and didn't return.

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Caps release key offseason dates

Caps release key offseason dates

The Stanley Cup has not yet been awarded, but the offseason has already begun for the Caps. The team released a list of key offseason dates for the summer on Monday. Here are some of the more important ones to mark on your calendar.

June 17: Deadline to submit protected list for the Vegas expansion draft

Every team is going to lose one player to Vegas in the expansion draft, but there are rules in place to help teams protect their top players. Each team will have the option of protecting either seven forwards, three defensemen and a goalie or eight skaters and a goalie. That list must be submitted by June 17. Here's the fun part. For the unrestricted free agents not on the protected list, Vegas will be able to negotiate with those players prior to the actual draft. That means Vegas could potentially come to an agreement with a free agent, select someone else in the draft, then wait to sign that player when free agency starts.

RELATED: How do the Caps overcome their mental block?

June 21: NHL Awards Show and Vegas expansion draft revealed

Braden Holtby will be there as a Vezina Trophy finalist. Also, during the awards the 30 players the Vegas Golden Knights have selected in the expansion draft will be revealed so we will officially know who from the Caps is Vegas bound.

June 23-24: NHL Draft

The Caps do not pick until the fourth round as of now, but there's a long way between now and then. Perhaps general manager Brian MacLellan pulls off a trade or two to try to get some earlier picks back.

June 26: Deadline for submitting qualifying offers to restricted free agents

Brett Connolly, Andre Burakovsky, Evgeny Kuznetsov Nate Schmidt, Dmitry Orlov, Philipp Grubauer all will be restricted free agents this offseason. To retain their rights, teams must submit a qualifying offer by this date. Otherwise, those players automatically become unrestricted free agents.

June 26 - July 1: Caps' development camp

Fans will get a chance to see the Caps of tomorrow in action as they descend upon Kettler Capitals Iceplex for the team's annual development camp. The camp wraps up with a scrimmage that fans can watch on July 1.

July 1: Start of NHL free agency

Given the team's salary cap constraints don't expect to see general manager Brian MacLellan handing out too many contracts.

July 5: Deadline for player-elected arbitration

July 6: Deadline for team-elected arbitration

Of the team's RFAs, Connolly, Kuznetsov, Schmidt, Orlov, and Grubauer are all eligible for arbitration.

July 15: Deadline for players to accept qualifying offers

If RFAs do not accept qualifying offers by this time, those offers expire. The players remain RFAs and the team retains their rights, however. New contracts can still be negotiated.

Sept. 9-12: Rookie tournament

Just prior to training camp, Caps' rookies will take part in a four-team tournament against the Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning. The tournament will take place in Estero, Fla.

Mid-September: Training camp and preseason

The official date has not yet been announced, but the Caps will return to Washington in mid-September to begin training for another quest for the Stanley Cup.

Oct. 4: Opening night of the NHL season

The Caps' schedule has not yet been released, but the new NHL season officially begins on Oct. 4.

MORE CAPITALS: Backstrom scores decisive shootout goal to win Worlds

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Former Ravens safety arrested again, this time on grand theft, battery charges

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Former Ravens safety arrested again, this time on grand theft, battery charges

Ex-Ravens safety Matt Elam was arrested for the second time in less than three months after an altercation with his girlfriend at her home in Delray Beach, Fla.

Police say Elam was arrested on grand theft and domestic battery charges after a fight broke out between the two around 4 a.m. Monday.

The former Florida Gators star — who was selected by the Ravens with the No. 32 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, came to the residence to retrieve his car, but fled on foot with his girlfriend's cell phone after she wouldn't give him any money, according to TMZ, which first broke the story.

Elam could face up to five years in prison under Florida law which lists grand theft of more than $300 a third degree felony, according to USA Today.

The 25-year-old was arrested in February for possession over 120 grams of marijuana and 3 grams of oxycodone, after which the Ravens announced their plans for the future did not include Elam.

Elam is currently being held on a $4,500 bond at the Palm Beach County jail.