Long before Davis Love III resigned himself to neck surgery there was fear.
It was no surprise the Ravens did not pick up the fifth-year option on safety Matt Elam by Monday’s deadline. The bigger question is whether Elam even makes the team next season.
The 32nd pick in the 2013 draft, Elam has been one of the biggest first-round busts in team history. Some of the standout players who went after Elam in that draft include Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short (44th), Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (48th), and Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins (52nd).
Elam missed all of last season with a torn biceps, after underperforming in 2013 and 2014. Elam was a big hitter in college at Florida, but has struggled with missed tackles as a Raven, and has been even worse in pass coverage. With the Ravens acquiring safety Eric Weddle in free agency, and Lardarius Webb switching from cornerback to safety, Elam is expected to be a backup at best. He will compete with Terrence Brooks, Kendrick Lewis, and others for a backup role.
Elam is scheduled to make $1.327 million next season, before becoming a free agent in 2017. However, Elam’s first priority is to secure his place with the Ravens in 2016.
The question the NHL Department of Player Safety will need to answer on Tuesday is not whether Penguins defenseman Kris Letang should be suspended for his open-ice check to the head of Capitals left wing Marcus Johansson, but for how long.
The Capitals have a number in mind and it’s the same number of games defenseman Brooks Orpik is being forced to sit out for his headshot on Pens defenseman Olli Maatta – three games.
“Yeah, I’d say so,” Johansson said after the Caps’ 3-2 loss in Game 3 left them trailing the series two games to one.
“I hope the league is gonna respond,” Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said. “We’ll see.
“If it’s fair maybe he gets three games or something. I don’t know. It’s not my call. It’s not our call. Our job is to think about next game.”
Letang’s hit on Johansson came with 4:19 remaining in the first period. Johansson streaked across the blue line and dished the puck less than a second before Letang drove his shoulder into Johansson’s head.
“I didn’t see him coming,” Johansson said. “He came from the blind side. I just looked at (a replay). He obviously leaves his feet and hits me in the head. I mean, it’s the kind of play you want out of the league. It doesn’t look good.”
Said Letang: “I saw him coming full speed. I tried to step up in the middle. It was just a step-up to hit him, no intention (to injure). Things happen fast in the game. It was a fast play.”
Johansson was slow to get to his feet and retreated to the dressing room for concussion testing. He returned to play the final two periods and finished with 18:20 of ice time.
“I’m having some issues with my neck right now,” he said. “I got hit in the head and got a little whiplash, I think.”
Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, who stopped 21 of 23 shots in the loss, had this to say about what may lie ahead for Letang, who leads the Penguins and ranks sixth in the NHL with an average ice time of 29:13 a game.
“Hopefully, they treat everyone the same,” Holtby said. “That’s all I can say.”
Capitals coach Barry Trotz, who earlier in the day wondered if Orpik’s suspension would be as long if the Caps were facing another opponent, said he will let the Depaertment of Player Safety handle any supplementary discipline.
“Where he hits him, he’s vulnerable,” Trotz said. “Let the league handle it. I just get myself in trouble if I say anything more. I don’t know if there’s a standard. I think they’re looking for protocols and certain situations. They set a little bit of a standard (with Orpik), so we’ll see.”
MORE CAPITALS: Johansson walks through 'blindside' Game 3 hit from Letang
Unlike the Washington Wizards' laser focused head coaching search, the Sacramento Kings are playing the field.
One of the NBA's most dysfunctional franchises is in the process of interviewing several candidates for the head coaching job now open since George Karl's departure.
Some of the names are familiar with regards to such openings. One of the names is the most famous of the bunch, but new-ish to such discussions.
That would be Patrick Ewing, currently an assistant with the Charlotte Hornets.
Sacramento will interview Mark Jackson and Jeff Hornacek this week in addition to David Blatt and Patrick Ewing, according to league sources— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) May 3, 2016
You may remember Ewing from his Hall of Fame playing career with Georgetown on the college level and primarily the New York Knicks in the pros. The "remember" part is obviously an attempt at humor because Ewing is one of the most inconic players of all-time. Yet despite his on-court prowess, despite paying his dues for years as an assistant -- four teams over 13 seasons - he hasn't landed a coveted head coaching job.
Ewing spent the last three seasons as an associate head coach with the Hornets, who were knocked out the playoffs with a Game 7 loss at the Miami Heat.
Who knows what Sacramento truly desires in a head coach these days.
What's clear is that any new hire must figure out a way to deal with talented, but frustrating center DeMarcus Cousins. An All-Star big man, Cousins has the skill set of an elite player, but the attitude of a perennial malcontent.
Other candidates mentioned above and some others not like for Kings forward Carliss Williamson, are interesting. If the goal is to find someone who can literally look the 6-foot-10 Cousins in the eye while providing true guidance, the line should start and likely end with the imposing Ewing.
Sacramento hasn't made the playoffs since 2006 and yet the current vintage might be the most LOL part of the last decade.
From ownership on down, nobody can seemingly get the franchise out of the ditch. This job won't be easy for coach, especially one without any previous head coaching experience. Yet the circumstances are interesting for a coach with Ewing's resume.
If he truly wants, here's hoping he at least gets a long look.