Kempski: Jordan Matthews best receiver at Eagles OTAs

Kempski: Jordan Matthews best receiver at Eagles OTAs

There’s only so much we can learn about the Philadelphia Eagles during OTAs. The practices are all non-contact, so the offensive and defensive lines are mostly there for show. Obviously, there’s no tackling, either. As such, offseason workouts tend to showcase skill players on offense—even then, everybody is in shorts and T-shirts.

Having gone over the obligatory disclaimer, it’s becoming impossible to ignore all of the positive press emanating from the NovaCare Complex concerning second-round draft pick Jordan Matthews. At first, he was garnering a lot of attention simply for the way he hustles around the field, as Alex Smith for PhiladelphiaEagles.com describes.

Every time he caught the ball in a team drill, he didn’t slow down and come to a stop after making the catch. Instead, he finished the play, running to the end zone full speed, no matter how many yards away he was from the goal line.

Matthews is quickly getting noticed for more than sprinting around the practice field though. Reporters are gushing over how incredibly involved and reliable the Vanderbilt product has been when the second-team offense is on. He’s clearly the go-to receiver when he’s out there, while Jeff McLane for the Inquirer notes Matthews has yet to drop a pass in front of the media.

Even the normally mild-mannered Jimmy Kempski for Philly.com Tweeted that Matthews looks like the best receiver on the team, although he was quick to add Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper are probably taking these early practices a bit more in stride.

What does it all mean? Again, receivers aren’t being asked to fight through press coverage. They don’t have to worry about a safety laying down a big hit.

That being said, it really doesn’t come as any surprise Matthews stands out. He stood out at Vanderbilt, where he hauled in 206 receptions for 2,800 yards and 15 touchdowns over his junior and senior years. He stood out at the NFL Scouting Combine, where he clocked 4.46 seconds in the 40-yard dash and completed 21 reps on the bench press. At 6’3”, 212 pounds, Matthews probably stands out practically anywhere he goes.

The fact is it won’t be long before Matthews is working out of the slot with the first-team offense—for now, Brad Smith is with the ones as Chip Kelly has given the nod to veterans during OTAs. From the sound of things, it might not be much longer before Matthews is taking over for Cooper in two-receiver sets as well.

It’s early, but all indications are Matthews is tearing it up so far. That’s all you can ask of a first-year player right now, particularly one who is poised to play a big role this upcoming season.

Ron Hextall pleased with Flyers' draft after filling team need with 7 forwards

Ron Hextall pleased with Flyers' draft after filling team need with 7 forwards

BUFFALO, N.Y. — They came to the NHL draft with a simple mission: fortify themselves at the forward position.
 
And of that end, the Flyers seemed to succeed, taking seven forwards, two defensemen and one goalie during the two-day draft, which concluded Saturday.
 
General manager Ron Hextall moved one of his 11 total picks to 2017 in a late deal with the Islanders.
 
“We had a lot of picks, and sometimes you get a little too greedy on the day of the draft and you want to use your picks, and you forget about next year or the year after,” Hextall said. “Going into today, I wanted to move one or two. We have nine picks next year.”
 
Six of his seven forwards were taken Saturday. The team selected centerman German Rubtsov (22nd overall) during the first round Friday night.
 
“We’re happy,” Hextall said. “The needs we filled, moving into the draft, we knew we’d be heavy with forwards. We ended up that way.”
 
Here's Hextall's quick take on his nine picks from today:
 
Second round

36: Pascal Laberge, 6-1, 174. Center/wing. 18. Victoriaville (QMJHL).
Hextall: “Character, the grit, the will, he fit the bill. We see a kid who is potential top six forward. He has speed and skill. Good size.”

48: Carter Hart, 6-1, 180. Goalie.  Turns 18 in August. Everett (WHL).
Hextall: “We feel he has a good shot at being a No. 1 goaltender. Brady Robinson spent time with him the last couple weeks and was real impressed with his ability and work ethic. Most important, the mental part of it. Big part for a goaltender, and he seems to have everything in place.”
 
52: Wade Allison, 6-1, 205. Right wing. 18. Tri-City (USHL).
Hextall: “We didn’t expect him to be there. We zeroed in on some bigger bodies later in the draft not knowing if we’d get a kid like him. He’s got speed, got size, real good shot. Good intelligence. A good support player who can play up in your lineup.”

Third round
 
82: Carsen Twarynski, 6-2, 201. Left wing. 18. Calgary (WHL).
Hextall: “A prototypical power forward. We knew we needed to add some size and grit. Our guys to a man all liked him. Terrific character and work ethic with a nice set of skills, too. He’s not just a bottom-end guy.”

Fourth round

109: Connor Bunnaman, 6-0, 183. Center. 18. Kitchener (OHL).
Hextall: “We really like him. Good skill later. His feet need to come a little bit, which I can probably say about a few of these guys. Excited we got him where we did. Another guy who fell.”
 
120: from Arizona: traded to NYI for 4th round in 2017
 
Fifth round

139: Linus Högberg, 6-1, 183. Defense. 17. Växjö HC (SHL)
Hextall: “That’s our sleeper. He’s a guy we talked about through our meetings. His name kept popping up as a late guy. An undervalued and underrated guy. He’s our sleeper.”
 
Sixth round

169: Tanner Laczynski, 6-0, 174. Center. 19. Chicago (USHL).
Hextall: “Going to school, Ohio State, I believe. Again, a skill player and we got four years with him. As you saw, our emphasis was a little on skill and size and we feel we filled both with some of these kids.”
 
172: Anthony Salinitri, 5-11, 170. Center. 18. Sarnia (OHL).

Hextall: “Smaller guy but a skill forward. You try and hit on his skill. He has lots of ability and upside. Obviously, he is not the biggest guy. But to add some skill, we like him.”
 
Seventh round

199: David Bernhardt, 6-3, 203. Defense. 18. Djurgårdens IF J20 (SHL)
Hextall: “Decent-sized guy, good with the puck but a little inconsistent. Enough there though where you can grab onto.”

MLB Notes: Mets sign SS Jose Reyes to minor league contract

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MLB Notes: Mets sign SS Jose Reyes to minor league contract

ATLANTA -- The New York Mets have signed shortstop Jose Reyes to a minor league contract.

Reyes, 33, played primarily at shortstop for the Mets from 2003-11, but may be used in a utility role in his reunion with the team.

Reyes was cut by Colorado after serving a 59-day suspension for violating Major League Baseball's domestic violence policy. He became a free agent on Saturday. The Rockies are responsible for the $39 million remaining on his contract, minus the prorated share of the $507,500 major league minimum to be paid by the Mets.

Reyes will report to the Mets' Class A Brooklyn Cyclones. The Mets say Reyes is expected to play in Sunday's game.

Reyes could help at more than one position. Third baseman David Wright could miss the remainder of the season following surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck. First baseman Lucas Duda and outfielder Juan Lagares also are on the disabled list.

Yankees: Teixeira activated from DL; Ike Davis cut
NEW YORK -- First baseman Mark Teixeira has been activated from the 15-day disabled list and is in the New York Yankees' lineup against the Minnesota Twins.

Teixeira is set to bat sixth on Saturday, his first major league game since June 3. The switch-hitter had been sidelined with torn cartilage in his right knee.

To open a spot on the roster, New York designated first baseman Ike Davis for assignment. Davis was signed June 13 and went 3 for 14 (.214) with an RBI for the Yankees.

New York manager Joe Girardi says the team chose to keep Rob Refsnyder over Davis in part because Refsnyder can play other positions besides first base.

The 36-year-old Teixeira went 1 for 9 in three rehab games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The three-time All-Star was struggling at the plate before he got hurt, batting .180 with three homers and 12 RBIs.

NHL Notes: Sabres acquire defenseman Dmitri Kulikov in trade with Panthers

NHL Notes: Sabres acquire defenseman Dmitri Kulikov in trade with Panthers

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Sabres general manager Tim Murray filled his team's wish list by acquiring veteran defenseman Dmitri Kulikov in a trade with the Florida Panthers.

The deal was announced shortly after the second round of the NHL draft opened Saturday. Besides swapping second-round picks, with Buffalo moving up to No. 33 from No. 38, the Panthers acquired defenseman Mark Pysyk and the Sabres' third-round pick, 89th overall.

Entering his eighth NHL season, Kulikov adds experienced depth to Buffalo's young group of defensemen. And he has a left-handed shot, something Murray said was among his key offseason needs.

The Panthers' first-round pick in the 2009 draft, the 6-foot-1, 204-pound Kulikov has one year left on his contract and is set to make $4.5 million next season. He had one goal and 17 points in 73 games last year. Overall, Kulikov has 28 goals and 138 points in 460 career games (see full story).

Canucks: NHL reviewing whether to penalize team for tampering
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The NHL is reviewing whether to penalize the Vancouver Canucks for tampering after general manager Jim Benning expressed interest in acquiring players under contract, including Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos.

"I have received a number of concerns and not solely from the teams involved," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told reporters during the second day of the NHL draft on Saturday.

"What I'll say is I have a discussion both with Jim and (Canucks president) Trevor Linden. They understand where we are in this situation and have talked about announcing something early next week with respect to what we intend to do about it."

The Canucks confirmed that they have been contacted by the NHL regarding Benning's statements (see full story).

Sabres: Kane investigated on harassment claim
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A person familiar with the situation tells The Associated Press that Buffalo police are investigating an allegation that Sabres forward Evander Kane physically harassed two women at a downtown bar.

The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity Friday because police have not revealed any details of their investigation.

The person said Kane is accused of grabbing the woman by the arm or shoulder early Friday. The person said no charges have been filed and no one has been arrested.

Buffalo's WIVB-TV first reported the investigation.

This is Kane's second run-in with legal trouble in six months. In March, prosecutors announced after a three-month investigation that Kane would not face a sexual assault charge stemming from a December incident because there was no evidence to support the allegation.

Kings: Lewis signs 4-year extension
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Forward Trevor Lewis has agreed to a four-year contract extension with the Los Angeles Kings.

The club announced the deal Saturday.

Lewis has been a key player on the Kings' depth lines for the past six seasons, playing a defensive game during Los Angeles' run to Stanley Cup championships in 2012 and 2014. He scored two goals in the Kings' Cup-clinching victory over New Jersey in 2012.

The 29-year-old Lewis had eight goals and eight assists for the Kings last season. The Salt Lake City native has never had more than 25 points in an NHL season, but he has 23 points in 75 playoff games.

Lewis was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent.