NFL Notes: Chiefs retain three key players

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NFL Notes: Chiefs retain three key players

 

It hasn't taken long for the new regime of the Kansas City Chiefs to make an impression.

The Chiefs announced Monday they signed wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and punter Dustin Colquitt to new long-term contracts and placed the franchise tag on left tackle Branden Albert.

All three of the players were due to become free agents.

The moves come less than a week after new Chiefs general manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid acquired quarterback Alex Smith from the San Francisco 49ers for their second-round pick in this year's draft and a conditional selection in next year's draft.

The Chiefs had until Monday afternoon to decide whether to place the franchise tag on one of their pending free agents. They did it with Albert, who will make $9,828,000 next season.

The decision was made easier by reaching long-term deals with Bowe and Colquitt.

Bowe was the recipient of the franchise tag last year, and despite poor quarterback play and some nagging injuries, still managed to catch 59 passes for 801 yards and three touchdowns.

Colquitt earned a trip to the Pro Bowl as the Chiefs' punter this season.

Steelers bring back William Gay
PITTSBURGH -- William Gay is heading back to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The veteran cornerback has agreed to a three-year deal with Pittsburgh, a move that should give the Steelers some insurance if unrestricted free agent Keenan Lewis decides to play elsewhere. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The 28-year-old Gay spent the first five seasons of his career in Pittsburgh before signing with the Arizona Cardinals last spring. Gay had two interceptions for the Cardinals.

Gay thrived while playing as a nickel back for the Steelers in 2011, finishing with two interceptions, a career-high 14 passes defensed and two fumble recoveries.

The signing gives the Steelers a backup plan if they can't retain Lewis. The 26-year-old was spectacular at times in 2012, his long arms making him Pittsburgh's best cover cornerback. He also managed to stay healthy, a feat in a secondary pockmarked by injuries to star Troy Polamalu and mainstay Ike Taylor.

Colts extend Fili Moala
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts have signed defensive tackle Fili Moala to an undisclosed contract extension.

Moala could have become an unrestricted free agent next week. The team confirmed the deal, but did not release terms.

It's the second personnel move the Colts have made in less than a week. On Friday, the Colts used the franchise tag on punter Pat McAfee.

Moala was Indy's second-round draft pick in 2009 and has 86 tackles and two sacks in 48 career games. He also scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery. Last season, Moala had 21 tackles and made eight starts before going down with a season-ending knee injury.

Before the moves with McAfee and Moala, Indy was projected to have more than $40 million to spend in free agency.

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Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH --- Vince Velasquez wasn’t able to stand the heat Sunday afternoon.

The game-time temperature was 89 degrees with humidity to match at PNC Park. The Phillies' right-hander admitted he didn’t handle the weather well.

"You're going to go through various conditions, and it's something that you've got to really take into consideration -- to really lock in, stay hydrated because it can mentally drain you,” Velasquez said. “It kind of took a toll on me but I have to make the best of what I've got.”

Velasquez wound up pitching six innings in the blistering heat but did not factor in the decision as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Phillies 5-4 on pinch-hitter Adam Frazier’s leadoff home run in the seventh inning, his first in the major leagues, off fellow rookie Edubray Ramos (see Instant Replay).

Velasquez had his worst of his five starts since coming off the disabled list June 26, allowing four runs and seven hits while walking four and striking out five. He threw 107 pitches, 64 for strikes.

In his first four outings after begin activated, he was 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA to raise his record to 8-2.

“Just looking at his body language, he showed that he was struggling to find the strike zone,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He didn't have his best location. He did a good job; he just made a couple bad pitches when they scored the two runs. Obviously, he wasn't at his best, but he kept us in the game.”

While that kind of outing can breed confidence in a 24-year-old pitcher, Velasquez took no consolation in it. He was bothered about not being able to hold a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, giving up a tying two-run home run to Matt Joyce.

“I knew it was my last inning when I went out there and I have to be able to close it out there,” Velasquez said. “I’m disappointed in that. I need to be better in that situation.”

Joyce’s blast came on pitch after Starling Marte doubled on an 0-2 pitch. That, too, annoyed Velasquez.

“That's just a matter of finishing at-bats,” Velasquez said. “You've got to lock in on 0-2 counts when you're ahead. You've got to finish the at-bat. Knowing that that was my last inning, that's where you have to bear down and give it all you've got.”

Ramos then gave up the game-winning homer to Frazier an inning later, the first long ball given up by the 23-year-old right-hander in 14 career outings. The Phillies wound up losing two of three games in the series and are 3-7 since the All-Star break to drop to 10 games under .500 at 45-55 through 100 games.

“It’s a game we should have won but I put us in position to lose it,” Velasquez said.

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

KINGMAN, Ariz. -- Four people were killed Sunday when bus carrying Dallas Cowboys staffers but no players collided with a van on a northwestern Arizona highway.

The fatalities were passengers in the van, Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Quentin Mehr said. But the bus occupants emerged uninjured.

"All on the bus came through OK with some bumps and bruises," Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple (DAHL'-rimp-ul) said in an email.

Dalrymple said the bus was only carrying members of the franchise's staff but would not say how many. There were no players on board.

The two vehicles collided in the afternoon on U.S. 93, about 30 miles north of the city of Kingman, according to DPS.

The crash shut down at least one lane of the highway that serves as the main route between Phoenix and Las Vegas.

The bus was on its way to a Dallas Cowboys fan event in Las Vegas. Charles Cooper, manager of GameWorks entertainment center in Vegas, said the session with 50 to 75 fans was scheduled for 3 p.m. PDT. People were already waiting when the president of a Las Vegas Cowboys fan club called to relay news of the accident. The event was subsequently canceled. Cooper says the team mascot was supposed to appear.

After the Las Vegas stop, the bus was scheduled to go on to Oxnard, California for the team's training camp. Members of the organization typically take a bus two weeks before the camp starts and make stops along the way.

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Jeremy Hellickson may be staying in the NL East past the trade deadline. 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Phillies are scouting the Marlins' minor league teams in advance of a possible Hellickson deal. 

This comes on the heels of a report from a radio host in Miami that Marlins starter Wei-Yin Chen may need Tommy John surgery. Chen left with an elbow sprain during Wednesday's loss to the Phillies and was placed on the disabled list. Ironically, Chen was starting against Hellickson, who will face Jarred Cosart in place of Chen on Monday.

Hellickson's value rebounded significantly this season after struggling in Arizona and Tampa Bay the last few seasons. After dealing with a shoulder injury, Hellickson pitched to ERAs above 4.50 in each season from 2013-15, leading to the Diamondbacks trading him to the Phillies for limited value. 

However, in 20 starts, Hellickson, who will be a free agent after the year, has anchored the Phillies' rotation, bringing a 3.84 ERA over 119 ⅔ innings into Monday's scheduled start. He also has a nearly career-best strikeout rate and has regained his signature command that made him a strong performer with the Rays.

The Phillies are aided this trade deadline by a lack of starting pitching options available on the market. With many teams in contention looking for an additional starter, Hellickson is an attractive piece who could help a team in a pennant race.