QB Young seeks chance for redemption with Eagles

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QB Young seeks chance for redemption with Eagles

BETHLEHEM, Pa. Just before 10 a.m. Saturday morning at Lehigh, a shout from a fan interrupted the routine drills occurring on the field in front of him.

Yo, Vince! the barking voice called.

Heads turned in anticipation and chatter rustled from the stands. Along the sideline strolled former national champion Vince Young, who greeted his on-looking admirers by spreading his index and pinky fingers into his alma maters signature Hook em Horns gesture. His contract with the Eagles freshly inked, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound quarterback wore not a helmet, but a green-and-white visor along with the customary red quarterback jersey, No. 9 displayed on each side but no name printed on his back.

Young may very well hide in the background during his time in Philadelphia, where he seeks a fresh start as a backup to Michael Vick, but not on this day. No, on the day that fans returned to Lehigh, bringing with them the vivacious spirit of Eagles training camp, the ex-Titan spent his introductory moments as the center of attention.

Vince Young, Vince Young, Vince Young! came the chants, soon replaced by the traditional E-A-G-L-E-S! In return, the man of the hour offered a sheepish smile and a few subtle waves.

If Young is ready to move on from his troubled past and mature into the leader of an NFL franchise, he certainly has found the right place.

You hear a lot of history about Eagles Nation, he said. And just to be a part of it, Im very, very happy to be here and be a part of a great, great organization.

Teammates and fans appeared equally as happy. At least in its opening stage, the Vince Young-Eagles marriage seemed like an ideal fit.

And what makes it ideal? Well, precisely the same factors that have allowed the Michael Vick experiment to flourish thus far.

First among them, Young was quick to point out, is Andy Reid. His eagerness to offer second chances and the respect he owns across the league attracted another beleaguered quarterback.

That respect exists particularly within Young, stemming from his teenage years in Houston. In 2005, his standout junior season at Texas earned him the Maxwell Award. Reid was a guest at the ceremony, where Young made sure to heed his mothers advice: When you see someone you really respect, Felicia Young used to tell Vince, dont be shy to go up and speak to him.

Reid recalls the eventual third-overall draft pick probing him about Donovan McNabb and what made the then-Birds QB successful. Little did Young know, he had planted the seeds for an eventual Reid reclamation project.

Upon his arrival in Tennessee, the college star struggled to bear the weight of being an NFL cornerstone so much that he considered retiring after his rookie season. Seventeen interceptions in 2007 followed, then injuries in 2008 and a benching in 2009.

The conflict came to a head last season, when Young had an altercation with coach Jeff Fisher in Week 11. His long-awaited release was completed on Thursday and he was an Eagle by Friday.

Now a weathered 28, Young is turning to his new head coach to redirect his life and career, just as he did with Vick two years ago.

"I've learned from all my mistakes," Young declared Saturday.

Vince and I had the opportunity to talk and have a long conversation, Reid said. I feel very comfortable with bringing him in.

I know hes going to come in and fill a spot for us as a backup quarterback.

Those arent words normally spoken of a Heisman runner-up, of a breath-takingly talented athlete who once single-handedly carried a team to a national title.

But adversity, whether self-inflicted or coincidental, has a way of interfering with blossoming NFL careers.

Things happen in this league, Reid said.

Jason Babin, now a teammate of Youngs for the second straight year, confronted the leagues cruelty and came out on top. A five-year, 28-million deal signed Thursday with the Eagles became his ultimate reward.

The defensive end who was chewed up and spit out by four organizations out-of-position in Houston, misused in Kansas City, and an afterthought in Seattle and his first go-round in Philly understands the mental process Young is undergoing.

When you get fired, theres a self-evaluation that goes on. Its humbling, Babin said. You tell yourself listen, this is what Ive got to do now. Ive got to earn it back. Whatever it takes.

Coaches and the guys upstairs obviously believed Young was ready, he said. Im sure hes here to work.

Here, Young gets a year-long apprenticeship with Vick. He will receive first-hand lessons in starting over and rededicating oneself to the game, in maturing and rehabilitating ones image. As Vick learned from McNabb, Young hopes to learn from Vick.
"Hell be able to watch and see how I handle certainsituations and my approach to the game," Vick said. "I think it will rub off on him.There will be no quarterback controversy, however, just a gifted protg preparing to step in when called upon and, along the way, pushing his personal mentor.

Oh yeah, were gonna compete, Young said. Thats what we do and its gonna make him play better and its gonna make me get better.

The one thing I know about Vince Young, is this guy wins football games, Reid said. Those are the guys I want. I love surrounding myself with that energy.

The energy arrived on a bustling Saturday morning at Lehigh, where an attentive Young stood amongst his fellow quarterbacks in meetings during and after practice. Much of the reclamation process involves planning, with instruction from teachers like QBs coach Doug Pederson, but more transpires naturally, with continual observations of Vick providing opportunities for mental notes.

The latter is most vital to Youngs restoration.

Im a working product. Aint no one perfect in this league, Young said. As guys get older and more mature, they start to take off. Im kind of in that mode right now.

E-mail Brian Kotloff at bkotloff22@gmail.com

Late goal lifts Penguins over Sharks in Game 1 of Stanley Cup Final

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Late goal lifts Penguins over Sharks in Game 1 of Stanley Cup Final

PITTSBURGH -- To their credit, the Sharks regrouped after a miserable first period at Consol Energy Center in which it looked like they might get run out of the building.

It wasn’t enough, though, as Nick Bonino’s late third period goal pushed the Penguins to a 3-2 win in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

On the game-winner, Brent Burns lost his stick and couldn’t prevent Kris Letang from finding Bonino in front of the net with Paul Martin defending the slot. Bonino flipped it through Martin Jones at 17:27 of the final frame.

The Sharks went to the power play with 2:09 to go, but couldn’t tie it up.

Game 2 is in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

The Penguins dominated the first period, only to have the Sharks completely turn the tables in the second, resulting in a 2-2 tie after 40 minutes.

The Penguins had the Sharks on their heels for virtually the entire opening frame, outshooting San Jose 15-4 and scoring a pair.

The first came at 12:46 of the first. On a rush, Justin Schultz’s shot from the high slot hit the glove of Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and rookie Bryan Rust was there to smack in the loose puck.

Just one minute and two seconds later, the Penguins upped their cushion. Sidney Crosby tracked down a loose puck in the corner ahead of Justin Braun, calmly played the puck off his backhand and whipped a cross-ice pass to Conor Sheary. Another rookie, Sheary whizzed a wrist shot past Jones’ far shoulder.

It was evident early in the second, though, that San Jose had regrouped, as Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski both had good looks at the net. They broke through on an early power play courtesy of Tomas Hertl, who curled in a pass from down low off of Olli Maatta at 3:02.

Pittsburgh withstood a continual push from the Sharks for much of the period until Marleau’s late score. After Couture outworked Maatta deep in the offensive zone and pushed the puck to the point to Burns, Marleau secured Burns’ rebound and wrapped it around at 18:12.

Burns had two assists, and made a strong defensive play with about three minutes left in the first, backchecking hard and lifting up Carl Hagelin’s stick on a breakaway.

Special teams

The Sharks were 1-for-2 on the power play, on Hertl’s second man advantage goal of the playoffs. They are 18-for-65 in the postseason (27.6 percent).

Pittsburgh went 0-for-3, generating five shots on goal. The Pens are 15-for-67 overall (22.3 percent).

Marleau was whistled for an illegal check to the head of Rust in the third period, sending the 24-year-old to the dressing room for a brief stretch.

In goal

Jones and Murray were each making their first career starts in the Stanley Cup Final. Jones took the loss with 38 saves, while Murray stopped 24 San Jose shots.

Lineup

Sharks forward Matt Nieto remained out with an upper body injury.

Pavelski saw his seven-game point streak (5g, 5a) come to an end. Pittsburgh’s Chris Kunitz increased his point streak to six games (3g, 4a).

Up next

The Sharks are 5-11 all-time when losing Game 1 of a playoff series, but 1-0 this year as they came back to defeat the Blues in the Western Conference Final.

Teams that win Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final have gone on to win the championship 78 percent of the time (59-18). The last team to win the Cup after losing Game 1 was the 2011 Bruins.

NL East Wrap: Matt Harvey gets back on track in Mets' win over White Sox

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NL East Wrap: Matt Harvey gets back on track in Mets' win over White Sox

NEW YORK -- On the mound in the seventh inning for the first time this season, Matt Harvey gave up his first walk of the game and his second hit, leading to a sacrifice bunt and a second-and-third jam.

"You kind of think about the worst at that point," he said. "You start getting some negative thoughts that creep in your head."

But 11 days after disappointed fans at Citi Field booed him like a villain, the Dark Knight was back - at least for one afternoon.

Harvey retired Todd Frazier on a foulout and J.B. Shuck on a grounder to escape trouble, Neil Walker homered off Jose Quintana on the second pitch of the bottom half and the New York Mets beat Chicago 1-0 Monday to send the reeling White Sox to their seventh straight loss.

"Today's a big first step," Mets manager Terry Collins said.

Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia got six straight outs to complete the two-hitter, preserving Harvey's first win since May 8. Harvey struck out six, walked two and threw four pitches of 98-98.5 mph after not topping 97.5 mph previously this season. He threw 61 of 87 pitches for strikes (see full recap).

Mallex Smith's 3-run triple powers Braves past Giants
ATLANTA -- Mike Foltynewicz is showing he can be more than just a fastball pitcher - and that he can be part of the Braves' long-term rotation.

Foltynewicz continued his recent upswing by allowing only three hits and one run in six-plus innings, Mallex Smith hit a three-run triple and Atlanta beat Jeff Samardzija and the San Francisco Giants 5-3 on Monday.

The Braves survived San Francisco's two-run, ninth-inning rally. They have won three of four and are 5-21 at home, still easily the worst in the majors.

Foltynewicz (2-2) gave up a leadoff homer to Brandon Belt in the second inning, but allowed only one other runner to advance to second.

Foltynewicz, 24, has had other recent strong starts, including eight scoreless innings in a 5-0 win at Kansas City on May 14. His start on Monday may have been his most impressive demonstration of altering the speeds of his fastball while mixing in a curveball and slider (see full recap).

Locke tosses three-hit shutout against Marlins
MIAMI -- Jeff Locke tossed a three-hitter and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Miami Marlins 10-0 on Monday night.

Gregory Polanco's grand slam, Sean Rodriguez's two-run homer, and David Freese's four hits helped power the offense for the Pirates, who won the first of a four-game series in Miami. The first two games were originally scheduled to be played in Puerto Rico, but were moved due to concerns of the Zika virus.

Locke (4-3) struck out one and did not walk a batter while throwing 67 of 105 pitches for strikes. It was his first complete game in 101 career starts. Locke retired 19 straight at one point and needed just six pitches to get through the seventh inning.

The announced crowd of 10,856 was a season-low for the Marlins, who entered the day averaging just under 20,000 (see full recap).

Pete Mackanin on deciding Ryan Howard's playing time: 'I think about it all the time'

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Pete Mackanin on deciding Ryan Howard's playing time: 'I think about it all the time'

A day after he made comments in Chicago that alluded to the trimming of Ryan Howard’s playing time against right-handed pitchers, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin sat at his desk, surrounded by reporters, and was pressed for 10 minutes on the issue of his declining, expensive and struggling first baseman and franchise icon.

Howard, of course, was penciled into the lineup in the cleanup spot against righty Tanner Roark for Monday’s 4-3 loss to the visiting Washington Nationals (see game recap).

A question of was barely out of a reporter’s mouth when Mackanin quickly interjected a “hell yes.”

It’s the hardest decision - what to do with the struggling Howard - he’s had to make in his brief time managing the Philadelphia Phillies.

“I think about it all the time,” Mackanin said.

“That’s the hard part of this job. It’s not just running the game, it’s handling the players.”

For now, Mackanin said, he hasn’t felt the need to talk to Howard about it. Howard, who sat Sunday for the second time in eight days against a righty, said Sunday he was unaware his manager was intending on reducing his playing time against righties (see story).

Once a platoon situation at first base, it appears the Phillies are going to take a longer look at rookie Tommy Joseph against right-handed pitchers in the near future.

“If I was going to sit (Howard) on the bench and he wasn’t going to play anymore, I’d have that conversation,” Mackanin said. “I think what I said was pretty obvious.”

“I didn’t say I was going to bench Howard.”

He didn’t Monday. Howard had good numbers against Roark, something he didn’t have against Sunday’s starter for the Cubs, John Lackey. So it looks like Mackanin’s decision will be based on matchups.

In his second at-bat Monday, a second straight strikeout on the night and 12th in his last 22 at-bats, Howard was way late on a 93-mph fastball on the outer half of the plate.

But he looked much better in his final two at-bats of the night.

In the bottom of the sixth, he drove a Roark changeup to the warning track deep in right-center, but Ben Revere closed quickly and made the catch.

In his last at-bat, after Maikel Franco led off the ninth inning with a double, Howard jumped on a first-pitch fastball from Jonathan Papelbon and drove a double to the gap in left-centerfield, scoring Franco and putting the tying run in scoring position with no outs.

Those two swings were the ones Mackanin said Monday afternoon he “knew” were there. He later corrected himself and said it was more of a situation of “hope.”

Howard went 1 for 4 on the night. His May average is now .106.

“He needed to come through with a big hit and that was a huge hit, put the tying run at second base,” Mackanin said. “It was good to see.”

The Phillies are slated to face a righty in their next six games before facing Jon Lester and the Cubs at home next Monday. Joseph, who is hitting .278 with three home runs in his first 36 Major League at-bats, figures to get the start in the majority of those.

It’s a decision Mackanin says he’s going to make on a day-by-day basis.

He was asked if the front office, which is also in a tough spot and may have to do something soon, gave him any input on what to do.

“They don’t tell me who to play and when to play them,” Mackanin said. “I know that they want me to mix in Joseph against right-handers so that he doesn’t stagnate. That’s pretty much all I go by right now.”

A suggestion from upstairs isn’t unprecedented. It has already happened before during the young 2016 season.

“They asked me to - as bad as (Tyler) Goeddel looked early in the season - they asked me if I could try to mix him in a little more,” Mackanin said. “I said sure. I did, and he started hitting better. So now he’s playing more. Here we go, if you want to play more than you gotta hit.

“There’s nothing set in stone.”