Seahawks…Re-Stocking or Re-Loading in the 2016 Draft?

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Every few minutes on Tuesday, John Schneider’s phone would ding while resting next to him on the table.

Another message for Seattle’s general manager in the hours leading up to an important NFL draft for the Seahawks.

Seattle will have nine total picks when the draft begins on Thursday, including the No. 26 overall pick in the first round. After middling draft results in recent years, the Seahawks have needs at a number of positions – most notably on the offensive and defensive lines – that could be solved in the short and long term with a successful weekend of selections.

Since the 2012 draft where the Seahawks landed a bounty of future stars, including quarterback Russell Wilson, Seattle’s draft success has fallen off. But that was a transition year when Seattle went from building a championship contender to now trying to maintain its place among the NFL elite. And with veteran free-agent additions and finding a few undrafted gems, simply getting on the roster for players drafted by the Seahawks has become a challenge.

”It’s been harder to make our team since the ’13 draft, `14 draft,” Schneider said. ”Some drafts are stronger than others – how many of these guys really have a legitimate chance of making our team? It’s been harder for us to figure out who has a legitimate chance to make our team.”

Schneider said he views this draft as the deepest since arriving in Seattle in 2010. That means there could be more late-round gems for the Seahawks to unearth and potentially more options among undrafted rookie free agents, an area in which Seattle has excelled in finding future contributors.

But it’ll be the early rounds where much of the attention will fall on the Seahawks. Seattle has four selections among the Top 100 picks and that’s assuming the Seahawks keep their first-round pick at No. 26. Seattle has not made a pick in the first round since 2012.

”This is our seventh (draft) and this is the most impressive one to us in terms of the sheer number of players,” Schneider said.

Most of the attention has fallen on the needs along the offensive and defensive lines after losing some key starters during free agency. Guard J.R. Sweezy and tackle Russell Okung departed from the offensive line, while defensive tackle Brandon Mebane and outside linebacker/defensive end Bruce Irvin left along the defensive line. And while Seattle has options already on its roster that can fill those spots, coach Pete Carroll’s mantra of always wanting to create competition likely means those positions will be addressed during the draft.

”We don’t grade for the league, we grade for our team. And when you do that, that represents what your board ends up looking like,” Schneider said. ”You’re going to have specific needs at different positions based on people that you’ve lost on free agency or if a guy that you drafted isn’t coming through at a specific position. It’s really a combination of the two.”

NOTES: Carroll said RB Thomas Rawls (ankle) and TE Jimmy Graham (knee) are continuing to recover from major injuries suffered late last season: ”Everything is going well. Everything is in good shape. As they push to get back, we’ll just have to see what the timeline tells us.” … Schneider said the signing of veteran DE Chris Clemons was in part because of the hope that he could take on Irvin’s role as a third-down pass rusher. Carroll added that the Seahawks have a specific plan for how they intend to use recently signed CB Brandon Browner, who was with Seattle through the 2013 season, but he declined to expand on what Browner’s role will be. ”We’re going to do some different things with him you’ll see in the future.”

All Eyes on Curry’s MRI

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Golden State’s record-setting run toward a second consecutive NBA championship may come down to an MRI on the sprained right knee of Stephen Curry

The NBA’s reigning MVP missed the second half of a win over the Houston Rockets in Game 4 on Sunday and was expected to have the medical test later Monday.

The Warriors have plenty of talent, but being without Curry for an extended time would present a serious challenge to their repeat bid. It would also change the dynamics of the playoffs, and not just in the Western Conference, where San Antonio finished the regular season not far behind Golden State.

Curry was injured on the final play of the first half, sliding awkwardly to the court and immediately grabbing his knee. He got up and looked to have trouble putting weight on it before jogging with a limp to the locker room. He came out with the team after halftime, but sat on the bench for most of the warmup time. After talking with coaches, he returned to the locker room.

It was his first game back after missing the last two games with a sprained right ankle.

I just feel so bad for him,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s been healthy all year long and now as soon as the playoffs start, and these things start happening to him.”

The Warriors made an NBA playoff record 21 3-pointers to cruise to a 121-94 victory on Sunday to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

If Curry can’t go, the Warriors will look to Shaun Livingston to make a third start in his place as they try to wrap up the series on Wednesday in Oakland. The Warriors had four players in double figures on Sunday, led by 23 from Klay Thompson.

“We got contributions from up and down the bench which was fantastic, which we’re going to need as long as we are without Steph,” Kerr said. “Even when he gets back we’re going to need them.”

Draymond Green said the team will have to bring the same intensity they had in the second half if they hope to eliminate the Rockets in Game 5.

“We’ve got to come out and take the game,” Green said. “We have to know that Steph probably won’t be playing. We can’t expect that we’re at home and it’s a done deal.”

Thompson is certainly concerned about Curry’s status but knows that they have to focus on what they have to do to win instead of feeling sorry for themselves.

“Just his presence alone on the court makes the defense gravitate to him,” Thompson said. “No one is going to make up what he does individually, we have to do it with five people. I honestly couldn’t ask for a better backup than Shaun Livingston because of the way he controls the game. He’s a mismatch for a lot of point guards.”

After his two-game layoff, Curry struggled to get going early. He was 2 of 9, including 1 of 7 on 3-pointers and had five turnovers before he was injured. He finished with six points.

“It looked like his conditioning was fine, he just couldn’t get his rhythm and I thought he was trying to do too much,” Kerr said. “I didn’t mind that he missed the shots. He was trying to get himself going with a lot of 3s, which is fine because the way Steph goes, sometimes he makes one and the floodgates open.”

Brady Suspension Upheld

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Tom Brady isn’t completely out of legal options to fight the four-game suspension that was re-instated Monday by a panel of judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, but the New England Patriots quarterback’s odds of having his appeal heard again are slim, an appellate attorney told USA TODAY Sports.

“The takeaway is that Brady lost. Brady lost everything,” Rafi Melkonian, a partner at the Houston firm of Wright & Close said after reviewing the 2nd Circuit ruling.

Melkonian said Brady’s most likely recourse is to ask the court for a stay of the suspension while his legal team pursues an en banc session from the 2nd Circuit. This means Brady would request that 13 active judges in that circuit all review Monday’s ruling, which was issued by a three-judge panel.

“He would need to get a majority of those judges to agree they want to hear this case. That is incredibly rare in every circuit, especially in the 2nd circuit, which is notorious for not taking cases en banc,” Melkonian said. “That, I would say, has a less than 1% chance of it happening.”

If Brady does have a chance to have his case reviewed this way, Melkonian said, it is because Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann issued a dissenting opinion as part of the three-judge panel that re-instated Brady’s suspension. In that dissent, Katzmann was critical of the way NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell asserted his authority.

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“Commissioner (Goodell) exceeded that limited authority when he decided instead that Brady could be suspended for four games based on misconduct found for the first time in the Commissioner’s decision,” Katzmann wrote. “This breach of the limits on the Commissioner’s authority is exacerbated by the unprecedented and virtually unexplained nature of the penalty imposed.”

Asking for an en banc review would allow Brady to see if other judges might agree. Melkonian said Brady would likely have to file his request within the next two weeks, at which point the judges will either deny it or ask for a response, which could extend the timeline.

“He’s an incredibly highly respected appellate judge. He’s a very big deal, so if Judge Katzmann wrote a dissent the other judges will look at it. So you can’t say it’s a 0% chance.”

Brady’s other legal avenue would be to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, though the likelihood that the nation’s highest court would choose to hear it is extremely slim. The court typically hears only about 80 cases per year out of more than 7,000 petitions.

“While this case is very important to Tom Brady, and it’s very important to those of us who love the NFL, it’s not particularly important to the nation whether Tom Brady plays or not, or whether the CBA is interpreted this way or that way,”  Melkonian said. “Usually, the Supreme Court only gets involved when there is a big disagreement between courts of appeals in various parts of the country, and there really is not in this case.”

Mariners Take 2 of 3 From Yankees

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Alex Rodriguez took an immediate liking to his new spot lower in the batting order.

Dropped three rungs to sixth in a struggling lineup, Rodriguez hit a two-run homer that snapped his hitless skid and sent the New York Yankees past the Seattle Mariners 4-3 on Sunday, ending their four-game losing streak.

Sometimes you’ve got to do that, you’ve got to shuffle the deck a little bit,” Rodriguez said. “Whatever it takes to win.”

Masahiro Tanaka topped old pal Hisashi Iwakuma in the first major league pitching matchup of former Japanese teammates, a game that was broadcast live on television back home — at 2 a.m. in Tokyo.

Brett Gardner had three hits, including an RBI double that stopped New York’s 0-for-30 stretch with runners in scoring position. He scored the tiebreaking run on a wild pitch by Iwakuma (0-2) in the fifth inning.

Still, the Yankees continued to struggle at the plate in clutch situations, finishing the three-game series 1 for 35 with RISP.

“You don’t ever want to get swept, especially at home,” Gardner said. “I thought we played pretty well today.”

New York salvaged a win thanks in large part to Tanaka (1-0), who yielded three runs — two earned — and six hits in seven efficient innings. He struck out six and walked none, improving to 4-0 in four career starts against Seattle.

Tanaka worked out of a bases-loaded jam in a 24-pitch first inning, when Kyle Seager drove in a run with a groundout. The right-hander needed only 93 pitches to get through seven.

“Just extremely satisfied being able to get that win,” Tanaka said through a translator.

Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller combined to strike out all six batters they faced on 13 pitches apiece, with Miller working the ninth for his third save.

“It seems whatever I do, he does it better,” Betances said. “We feed off each other.”

Said catcher Brian McCann: “Those guys are ridiculous.”

Steve Clevenger had an RBI single for the Mariners, who had won three straight following a five-game slide. Nori Aoki tripled and scored on Seth Smith’s single.

Iwakuma, teammates with Tanaka from 2007-11 on the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan, was charged with four runs and eight hits in seven innings.

“I was very excited to face (my) ex-teammate,” Iwakuma said through a translator. “Just watching him, in general, he was pitching with composure and he kept the ball down. Looking at that, I said to myself, `I’ve got to keep the ball down, too.’ And I was able to make adjustments, but it was kind of too late.”

Rodriguez homered on the first pitch he saw after Iwakuma plunked McCann in the second inning. The 40-year-old designated hitter was without a hit in his previous 19 at-bats, two shy of matching the longest drought of his career.

The three-time MVP sent an 86 mph fastball into the lower-deck seats in left field. It was the 689th home run for Rodriguez, who ranks fourth on the career list.

A season after hitting 33 home runs, A-Rod began the day batting .100 (3 for 30) with one homer and two RBIs. Carlos Beltran, off to an excellent start this season, was moved up two spots to No. 3 in the Yankees’ lineup.

“It’s not necessarily permanent,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I just thought I would change it up a little bit today. I’m not sure what I’ll do on Tuesday.”

HATS OFF

Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury lost his glove, cap and sunglasses when he dove for Aoki’s triple and went chasing after the ball without any of them in a scene straight out of Little League. “I realized I was running after there with nothing,” Ellsbury said. “Maybe it made me faster.”

LIGHTS OUT

Betances has fanned 15 of 24 batters this season, recording each of his last eight outs and 14 of the past 15 via strikeout. Miller has whiffed his last seven hitters and 12 of 17 overall this year. “I don’t think it’s worth the effort trying to keep up with Dellin,” Miller said. “He’s better than everybody.”

Browner Back to the Boom

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The original Legion of Boom is back.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Seattle Seahawks have signed veteran cornerback Brandon Browner to a one-year contract

Browner had a horrible season with the New Orleans Saints last year after he signed a three-year, $15 million contract with the team. He was released after the season and recently revealed that he was playing through a fairly significant injury.

Browner was a huge reason the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl two years ago, just as he played a major role with the Seahawks’ championship team before that. Unlike in New Orleans, he was not the top cornerback on either of those teams. Perhaps he will return to his old form in Seattle’s system and won’t have to get into Twitter beefs with Shannon Sharpe.

Storm Take Stewart at Number #1.

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I’m not that surprised,” Stewart said, laughing.

Neither is anyone else.

With the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday’s WNBA Draft, the Seattle Storm did what everyone has been expecting them to do for months: select Breanna Stewart. The accolades are too numerous to list, but just know this: Stewart came in as a freshman declaring her goal to win four straight national championships at UConn. And she did it.

The 6-4 forward joins a Storm team that has had a rough few years, but should be on the upswing with Stewart joining last year’s No. 1 pick, Jewell Lloyd. Stewart thinks she’ll fit right in with the Storm.

“I think it’s a good fit. With a vet like Sue [Bird] and familiar players, it’ll be fun. I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to learning from Sue and continuing to build the Storm back up.”

But there will be plenty of time to figure out her future with Seattle. For tonight, Stewart was more focused on the fate of her UConn teammates, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck. During an interview immediately following her selection, she could barely keep her eyes off the monitor, waiting to see their fates.

“Let’s do it!” she exclaimed, a smile on her face. “1, 2, 3. Pick ’em!”

Pick ’em the San Antonio Stars and Connecticut Sun did, selecting Jefferson and Tuck number two and three overall, respectively. Along with Stewart, it’s the first time one school has ever had the first three picks in the WNBA Draft.

“It’s fitting,” said Stewart. “The way we came in, and now the way we’re coming out, we’re just finishing in the best way possible.”

Mariners Travel to New York

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Robinson Cano has regained his power stroke just in time for a return to his former home.

Having ended a five-game losing streak, Cano’s Seattle Mariners begin a long road trip Friday night against the New York Yankees feeling better as well.

After scoring seven runs over the skid, Seattle (3-6) got just enough offense to salvage Wednesday’s finale of a six-game homestand. Cano hit his fifth home run in nine games and pinch-hitter Dae-Ho Lee had a two-run shot with two out in the 10th inning to deliver a 4-2 victory over Texas.

”Really great effort by our club (Wednesday),” manager Scott Servais said. ”Exciting game. We really, really needed it.”

Though the Mariners enter this three-game series – the first of nine straight on the road – on an uplifting note, they remain searching for more consistency from a lineup that’s been mostly feast-or-famine. Twenty of their 32 runs have come via 14 homers and they’re hitting .170 while going 4 of 36 with runners in scoring position over the last six games.

Cano is just 1 for 16 over the past four, though his early power surge is encouraging after producing 35 homers over his first two seasons in Seattle. The star second baseman recorded five straight of 25 or more playing half his games in the left-handed hitters’ haven of Yankee Stadium, where his 81 home runs trail only Mark Teixeira for most in the venue’s history.

A visit to the Bronx also could help Kyle Seager break out of his 5-of-33 slump, as he’s 10 for 25 with three homers in his last six at New York.

Seattle gets its first look at Luis Severino, who struggled in the cold conditions of Detroit in last Friday’s season debut. The promising 22-year-old allowed a career-high 10 hits and three runs in five-plus innings of a 4-0 loss.

“I think I was throwing the ball good,” he said. “I missed a couple of pitches, and I paid for that. My slider was good, but I made a couple of mistakes with that.”

Severino went 3-2 with a 3.16 ERA in five home starts as a rookie in 2015, though he permitted five homers in 25 2-3 innings.

New York (4-4) returns home on its first losing streak of the season after dropping two straight in Toronto. Its offense managed only three singles in eight innings off Marcus Stroman in Thursday’s 4-2 defeat.

”(Stroman) didn’t give us many opportunities,” manager Joe Girardi said.

Brian McCann did return to the lineup after missing Wednesday’s 7-2 loss with a bruised left toe. The veteran catcher is 10 for 22 over a season-opening six-game hitting streak.

McCann is 2 for 9 against Nathan Karns, who takes a second shot at a first victory as a Mariner. Acquired from Tampa Bay in a six-player trade in November, the right-hander fanned six but surrendered four runs in five innings in Saturday’s 6-1 loss to Oakland.

“I feel like I didn’t pitch bad, I just had bad results at times,” he said. “If I take out that full-count pitch (a two-run homer to Josh Reddick), maybe it’s a 2-1 ballgame going into the sixth. That’s just the way I look at it, just a couple pitches away from where I want to be.”

Karns struck out 28 over 21 2-3 innings while going 1-0 with a 2.91 ERA in four starts against New York last season.

The Mariners have lost eight of nine in the series but have won six of eight at Yankee Stadium.