Frank: 25 more observations from Eagles camp


Frank: 25 more observations from Eagles camp

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Hey, it went well last week. Lets do this every week! Here are 25 more random observations, this time after two weeks at Lehigh:

1) Ill be shocked if Ryan Harris isnt the Eagles opening-day right tackle. Winston Justice is making progress, but Harris is locking down the job with his outstanding play. If he keeps it up in the first couple preseason games, itll be very tough for Justice to reclaim the job.

2) Alex Henery. Huge leg. Can kick the thing a mile. They dont always seem to go straight. Keep a close eye on the rookie kicker Thursday night. Andy Reid would love to give him a nice challenging 47-yarder. See where hes at. The kid scares me a bit.

3) Limas Sweed has seven career catches. DeSean Jackson has seven career catches that went for touchdowns of 68 yards or more. Sweed (809,583) makes more per year than Jackson (769,960).

4) The Eagles 2010 opening-day defensive line finished last season with 15 sacks. The first-team D-line Jim Washburn had out there this week had 31 12 sacks last year.

5) Ronnie Brown has the highest career passer rating on the Eagles at 91.3. Seems more accurate so far than Vince Young.

6) Word on draft day was that Eagles third-round pick Curtis Marsh was a long-range project. He only played two years of D-back at Utah State after starting out as a tailback. Watching him cover at practice he looks nothing like a long-range project. Kind of like a young Bobby Taylor. Tall, rangy, athletic and very smart. Watch him Thursday night. Think he might be a player.

7) The more I think about it, the more unbelievable it is that the Eagles teams with Reggie, Clyde, Seth, Andre, Wes, Eric Allen, B&E, Randall, Keith Byars and Keith Jackson won just one playoff game. Omar Gaither won more playoff games as an Eagle than Reggie White. How overrated was Buddy Ryan? One TD in three playoff games.

8) So far, I count 10 guys who started at least one regular-season game for the Eagles last year who are already gone. And that doesnt include scrubs who started the year-ender against the Cowboys. Nick Cole, Max Jean-Gilles, Kevin Kolb, Garrett Mills, Brodrick Bunkley, Ernie Sims, Stewart Bradley, Omar Gaither, Ellis Hobbs and Quintin Mikell. Doesnt include David Akers and Sav Rocca, either.

9) Its interesting to watch how this new coaching staff works. Weve seen a lot of offensive coaches out on the field working with or talking to defensive players and vice versa. Almost seems like the traditional job titles are irrelevant. A lot of these young guys are so far behind, it just seems like everybody is chipping in trying to teach whenever the opportunity comes up. Vastly improved group of position coaches.

10) The difference between T.O. and DeSean? T.O. was a bad guy who systematically tried to destroy every team he went to. He was only concerned with himself, at the expense of all else. T.O. was starting the second year of a seven-year contract that he willingly signed when he started creating trouble here in 2005. Theres a reason hes now trying to find his sixth team in the last nine years. DeSean? Hes a good kid who wants to be an Eagle and wants to spend his career here and win a Super Bowl here, and hes on the final year of a slotted four-year rookie deal that makes him the most underpaid player in football. The only similarity is Drew Rosenhaus.

11) The Eagles allowed 31 passing touchdowns last year (and three more in the playoff loss to Green Bay). What does that number drop to this year? Thirteen? Fourteen?

12) Jamar Chaney is the Eagles best coverage linebacker since Carlos Emmons. Not even close.

13) They can call Vince Young the No. 2 QB all they want. If something happened to Michael Vick on opening day, Mike Kafka would have to come in the game.

14) Tough to imagine the Eagles will start Jason Kelce at center. With a healthy Jamaal Jackson available? Jamaal is a top-10 center in the NFL and doesnt even have a prohibitive salary (1.575 million in 2011) or cap figure (1.675 million). They cant start Kelce. Can they?

15) Temples Jaiquawn Jarrett might have suffered from the lockout more than any other Eagle. His whole thing is blasting people. And its tough for anybody to go out and make big, physical plays when youre not quite comfortable in the defense. For now, the safeties are Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman, but Jarretts time will come.

16) Speaking of Jarrett, cool moment at practice Monday when Dan Klecko walked up to Jarrett and introduced himself. Owl pride. I started looking around for Jason McKie.

16) Eagles record for interceptions in a season is 11 by Bill Bradley in 1971. Ive got Asante with 10 this year. Asante already has 42 regular-season INTs (49 including playoffs). Only 16 more picks get him into the all-time NFL top-10. He just turned 30. See ya in Canton.

17) Asante, by the way, is an absolute blast to watch at practice. Funny as hell. The other day, when the second-team offense failed to get a field goal attempt off on fourth down during a two-minute drill, he yelled out across the field to the offense, That's terrible clock management. Who's coaching over there?"

18) Danny Watkins. All-rookie team in 2011. Pro Bowl by 2013.

19) Starting middle linebacker? That decision hasnt been made yet. But Casey Matthews will get every chance to keep the job. Hes been very good at practice. Lets see what he does in the games.

20) The David Akers I-95 billboard? Only one of the classiest things any former Eagle has ever done.

21) It will be worth the trip to Lehigh to watch DeSean and Asante square off for the first time Saturday morning. Their battles are a blast to watch. See ya at 8:05 a.m.

22) By the way, the reason weve seen more 1s vs. 1s than ever before at training camp is because of the new CBA. Why? The CBA limits the amount of time teams can go live at practice. When the Eagles are live, they go 1s vs. the 2s and 3s vs. 3s. But when theyre not live, the 1s usually work against the 1s.

23) I count 13 offensive linemen whove worked with the first offense at some point at camp: Jason Peters, Todd Herremans, Jamaal Jackson, Mike McGlynn, Jason Kelce, Danny Watkins, Julian Vandervelde, A.Q. Shipley, King Dunlap, Fenuki Tupou, Ryan Harris, Evan Mathis and Austin Howard. Who hasnt? Dallas Reynolds. And Winston Justice. Anybody miss Nick Cole yet?

24) Glad we dont have to call players by stupid folksy nicknames like the Phillies writers (Polly) and Flyers writers (Hartsey, Cartsy, Bettsy).

25) With the Dolphins, Ronnie Brown played with Sage Rosenfels, Gus Frerotte, Cleo Lemon, Joey Harrington, Daunte Culpepper, Trent Green, John Beck, Chad Pennington, Chad Henne and Tyler Thigpen. No wonder he hasnt stopped smiling since he got here.
E-mail Reuben Frank at

NHL Playoffs: Sharks win to reach 1st Stanley Cup Final


NHL Playoffs: Sharks win to reach 1st Stanley Cup Final


SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and the rest of the San Jose Sharks gathered around the Campbell Bowl for a celebratory picture after winning the Western Conference final.

In that moment, all those past playoff disappointments and collapses were forgotten. It will take four more wins to put to rest those questions about if they had the fortitude to win it all.

Captain Joe Pavelski scored an early goal, Joel Ward added two more and the Sharks advanced to their first Stanley Cup final in franchise history by beating the St. Louis Blues 5-2 on Wednesday night in Game 6 of the Western Conference final.

"It's a pretty cool feeling," Thornton said. "Obviously it's our first time. It was pretty neat to get this done at home. The fans here have waited so long, 25 years. We've waited 18 years or so. So it's a great feeling."

Joonas Donskoi also scored, Logan Couture had an empty-netter and Martin Jones made 24 saves as a Sharks team notorious for postseason letdowns will play for the championship that has eluded Thornton and Marleau since they entered the league as the top two picks in 1997.

Thornton assisted on Pavelski's goal less than four minutes into the game to set the tone and Marleau had two assists in the third period that set off chants of "We Want The Cup! We Want The Cup!"

"We're just enjoying the ride right now," Marleau said. "We've had some really good teams over the years."

Despite making the playoffs 16 times in 18 seasons and winning the second-most games in the NHL since the start of the 2003-04 season, the Sharks have been known for their soul-crushing playoff disappointments.

They won just three games in three previous trips to the conference final, were knocked out twice in four seasons by a No. 8 seed and most notably blew a 3-0 series lead to lose in the first round to Los Angeles in 2014.

The impact of that loss lasted for a while as San Jose missed the playoffs entirely last season. But led by first-year coach Peter DeBoer and bolstered by some key acquisitions by general manager Doug Wilson, the Sharks recovered this year and are now only four wins from a championship.

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final will be Monday night. The Sharks will either host Tampa Bay or visit Pittsburgh, depending on which team wins Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final Thursday night.

"It's a great moment for those guys who have put in a lot of work but we still have another series to go," Couture said. "We still have four more wins to try to get. It's another step. This is the third one now. We're ready for that next challenge."

With the loss, the Blues' postseason woes continue as the franchise still seeks its first championship and first trip to the Cup final since 1970. Coach Ken Hitchcock's second goalie change of the series did not work as Brian Elliott allowed four goals on 26 shots in his return to the net.

Vladimir Tarasenko, a 40-goal scorer in the regular season, got his first points of the series when he scored twice in the third period but it was too late for the Blues, who still trailed 4-2.

"It stings right now," captain David Backes said. "Six more wins and we're having parades on Market Street. Right now ... not enough."

This was the first time in San Jose's history that the team played with a trip to the Stanley Cup final on the line. The atmosphere in the Shark Tank reflected the high stakes with the fans at a frenzy during pregame introductions and the "Let's Go Sharks!" chants starting soon after the puck dropped.

The Sharks fed off that energy and were buzzing early as Hitchcock predicted before the game. St. Louis nearly silenced the crowd when Alexander Steen got a chance in the slot early in the period but Jones robbed him with a glove save.

That led to a breakaway for Thornton, who missed the net on his chance. But Pavelski recovered the puck behind the net and before Elliott knew what was happening, Pavelski tucked the puck in on a wraparound for his NHL-leading 13th goal of the playoffs.

San Jose added to the lead early in the second when Ward tipped a point shot from Brent Burns past Elliott to make it 2-0.

Ward's second goal and another by Donskoi in the third period removed any drama and allowed the fans to celebrate and the Blues to ponder their missed opportunity.

"They're hurting right now," Hitchcock said. "We're all hurting. "You don't want this to be our best opportunity. You want this to be a building block."

Marleau played his 165th career playoff game, the most ever for someone who never played in the finals. Thornton is next on the list with 150 games, followed by Curtis Joseph with 133. ... The only franchise that has played longer than San Jose without going to a Cup final is Arizona, which began NHL play as the Winnipeg Jets in 1979-80.

NBA Playoffs: Cavs respond to destroy Raptors in Game 5


NBA Playoffs: Cavs respond to destroy Raptors in Game 5


CLEVELAND -- Back home, the Cavaliers were not hospitable.

They rudely roughed up the Raptors again.

LeBron James scored 23 points then sat the fourth quarter, Kevin Love scored 25, and Cleveland unleashed tenacious defense on Toronto to regain control of the Eastern Conference finals with a 116-78 rout of the Raptors in Game 5 on Wednesday night.

On their court in front of 20,000-plus screaming fans following two straight losses in Canada, the Cavs opened a 34-point lead in the first half and never slowed while taking a 3-2 series lead.

They can clinch their second straight conference title and trip to the NBA Finals with a win in Game 6 on Friday night in Toronto.

"We ought to be able to transfer that on Friday," James said. "Playing in that beast of an arena that we're going to we got to be composed, we got to be tough and we got to be sharp."

The Raptors, who came in with momentum and confidence after winning Games 3 and 4, left Quicken Loans Arena shaken and one loss from having their deepest playoff run stopped.

"They kicked our butts, bottom line," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "That's been all three ballgames."

James had eight assists and six rebounds in 31 minutes before checking out late in the third quarter with the Cavs up 37. He spent the fourth quarter resting on the bench while Cleveland's reserves finished the romp.

Kyrie Irving added 23 points and he, James and Love outscored the Raptors 43-34 in the first half. Cleveland has won its three games in the series by a combined 88 points.

"They are a different team here," Casey said. "We came in here with a chance to do something special and we didn't get it done. They pushed us around and took what they wanted."

DeMar DeRozan scored 14 points and Kyle Lowry had 13 for the Raptors, who were overwhelmed from the start. Bismack Biyombo had just four rebounds after getting 40 the past two games. The only positive for Toronto was center Jonas Valanciunas, who returned after missing eight straight games with a sprained right ankle. He scored nine points in 18 minutes.

Playing defense as if every possession was the game's last, Cleveland held Toronto to 34 points in the opening half while building a 31-point halftime lead -- the largest in conference finals history. Since their expansion arrival in 1993, the Raptors had never been down by 30 before in any game -- regular or postseason -- at halftime but they have rarely seen a defense like this either.

The Cavs were all over the court, swarming and stifling DeRozan and Lowry, who combined for 67 points in Game 4.

A courtside doctor might have stopped this one in the first half.

Love found his shooting touch after it went missing during the lost weekend in Toronto, where he went just 5 of 23 and was benched for the fourth quarter of Game 4. He finished 8 of 10 from the field, a confidence-boosting performance that should temporarily quiet his critics.

"Kevin Love being Kevin Love," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. "He had two bad shooting games and we made a big deal out of it. Nothing he does amazes me. We gotta keep him aggressive all the time."

The Cavs made a point of getting Love the ball right away and he responded by making all four field goal attempts, dropping a 3 late in the first quarter that pushed the Cavs to a 37-19 lead.

"He was just locked in," James said. "We saw that and just wanted to keep giving him the ball. The easiest one he had tonight, he missed."

Cleveland's onslaught continued in the second quarter, and when James got free for an easy two-handed dunk, Cavs fans could relax and begin making TV viewing plans for Friday.

These looked more like the Cavaliers who opened the postseason with 10 straight wins, obliterated the Raptors by a combined 50 points in Games 1 and 2 and given a chance to beat whomever survived in the West.

Center of attention
Valanciunas hadn't played since May 7. He scored two quick baskets in the first quarter when the Raptors were still close.

Raptors: Dropped to 2-7 on the road in this postseason. ... Played a game every other day since April 29, going 7-7. . Biyombo and Valanciunas are the only teammates with at least 120 rebounds this postseason.

Cavaliers: Trumped their 31-point win in Game 1, which was the previous most lopsided playoff victory in team history. ... James played in his 191st career postseason game, moving him ahead of Magic Johnson for 12th place on the all-time list. ... James (1,320) is tied with Kobe Bryant (1,320) for the second-most free throws in postseason history. Michael Jordan made 1,463. ... Improved to 7-0 at home in these playoffs.

Up next
Game 6 is Friday night in Toronto.

Best of MLB: Walk-off single gives Giants 13th win in last 14 games


Best of MLB: Walk-off single gives Giants 13th win in last 14 games

SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Crawford singled in Matt Duffy with two outs in the 10th inning, and the surging San Francisco Giants beat the San Diego Padres 4-3 Wednesday for their 13th win in 14 games.

Duffy singled off Brad Hand (1-2) with one out, pinch-hitter Hunter Pence popped out, Duffy advanced on a wild pitch and Crawford hit a 1-2 offering over center fielder Jon Jay as Duffy scored standing up.

Crawford also singled and scored after some alert baserunning in the second inning. Duffy and Denard Span drove in runs for the NL West-leading Giants.

San Francisco completed a three-game sweep, extended its winning streak to five and improved to 9-0 against the Padres this season. The Giants' two walkoff wins in the series were against Hand (see full recap).

Arrieta moves to 9-0 in Cubs' win over Cards
ST. LOUIS -- Jake Arrieta remained unbeaten on the season despite allowing as many as four runs for the first time in nearly a year and the Chicago Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 9-8 on Wednesday.

Arrieta (9-0) joined the White Sox's Chris Sale as the only nine-game winners in the majors.

Arrieta allowed four runs in a regular-season game for the first time since June 16, 2015.

Arrieta became the first Cub to win his first nine decisions since Kenny Holtzman in 1967 and it is the best start to a season for the franchise since Jim McCormick went 16-0 in 1886.

Kris Bryant hit a three-run homer and Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist each drove in two for the Cubs (see full recap).

Bradley extends hit streak to 29 in BoSox victory
BOSTON -- Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his major league-best hitting streak to 29 games, Xander Bogaerts homered to extend his hitting streak to 18 games and the Boston Red Sox beat the Colorado Rockies 10-3 on Wednesday night for their fourth straight win.

Travis Shaw had three RBIs and Boston moved to a season-best 12 games over .500. The Red Sox have scored eight or more runs 10 times in their last 14 home games.

Steven Wright (4-4) had another solid outing, giving up three runs, two earned. He has now given up three runs or fewer in eight of his nine starts.

Chad Bettis (4-3) held the Red Sox scoreless through three innings but was responsible for seven runs over the next two innings before getting pulled.

The Rockies have lost six of their last seven -- all on the road (see full recap).