ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — First-round draft pick Jerry Jeudy is a man of few words and even fewer miscues. After dropping a pair of passes in his NFL debut, the normally sure-handed receiver from Alabama tweeted, ”Failure is growth.”
Jeudy, the 15th overall selection in the NFL draft, took his eyes off the ball and turned upfield, dropping a wide-open pass on third down that squelched Denver’s opening second-half drive against Tennessee on Monday night.
An even costlier drop came on first down in Titans territory in the fourth quarter with the Broncos running their four-minute offense while clinging to a 14-13 lead.
If he makes the play, Denver has a chance to salt away the victory or at the very least kick a field goal. Instead, Denver punted and Tennessee went down and won it on a field goal with 17 seconds left.
”I felt like I failed my team on those two plays,” Jeudy said Wednesday. ”Me learning from that, just going out here and practicing and really focus on catching the ball and focus on the little details of catching the ball is really going to help me.
”Those two drops will probably help me on not dropping passes for the whole season.”
The Broncos are sticking by their usually sticky-fingered rookie.
”That’s not Jerry Jeudy,” quarterback Drew Lock said when addressing the pair of dropped throws.
”Jerry has good hands,” coach Vic Fangio agreed.
When asked what he’ll remember most about his professional debut, one in which he caught four passes for 56 yards, Jeudy said, ”the two drops.”
What Lock doesn’t want is for Jeudy to harp on it any more than he already has. Lock, for one, won’t keep bringing it up.
”He apologized. He was upset and hurt. It’s like missing layups in basketball. You miss a couple and it’s not going to happen again,” Lock said. ”You don’t go address a guy about missing layups. It’s not a thing you do and that’s not a thing that we will overly address with Jerry.”
Jeudy said it wasn’t a case of the butterflies.
”It just seemed worse because it was my first game,” he said. ”Those two dropped passes made it seem like I was nervous. That wasn’t the case. I was just not concentrating on the ball, trying to make a play after the catch.
”Other than those two drops, I had a good day,” Jeudy added. ”I was getting open, getting separation.”
Jeudy wasn’t alone in his sputtering start in the pros after a stellar college career.
The only rookie receiver to score in Week 1 was Jacksonville’s Laviska Shenault, who had three catches for 37 yards.
The 42nd overall pick, Shenault was one of 13 wide receivers selected in the first two rounds of the NFL draft.
Henry Ruggs III, the only pass catcher taken ahead of Jeudy, at No. 12, had five receptions for 55 yards in his Raiders debut.
The other first-rounders all had rather pedestrian debuts, too.
-CeeDee Lamb (17th, Cowboys) had five grabs for 59 yards.
-Jalen Raegor (21st, Eagles) had one catch for 55 yards.
-Justin Jefferson (22nd, Vikings) had two receptions for 26 yards.
-Brandon Aiyuk (25th, 49ers), missed San Francisco’s opener (hamstring).
The rookie receivers seemed to pay the price for the league’s lack of a regular offseason because of the coronavirus pandemic that forced teams to do work remotely and scuttled the preseason.
Their timing with quarterbacks just wasn’t what it could have been in a normal year.
In addition to Jeudy’s pair of drops in Denver, Lock overthrew a veteran tight end and a veteran receiver for sure touchdowns in a two-point loss to Tennessee with top target Courtland Sutton sidelined with a shoulder injury.
”You can use the convenient excuse that the timing (was affected by) the offseason, no preseason games,” Broncos coach Vic Fangio said. ”Those are plays that we expect those guys to make.”
Notes: Sutton returned to practice Wednesday on a limited basis, and rookie WR K.J. Hamler (hamstring) was a full participant. Sitting out were: ILB Mark Barron (hamstring), RB Phillip Lindsay (turf toe) and CB A.J. Bouye, whom the Broncos placed on IR Wednesday along with ILB Von Miller (ankle).
Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL
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Not great news for McIlroy fans
Slightly pulled his approach to the back of the first green when the hole is cut to tight to the right, leaving himself a frightful triple-breaker from more than 50 feet. To his credit, McIlroy cleaned up for par with a return putt from a good eight feet.
Dustin Johnson tees off with driver at the first…and it is a huge hook that gets stuck behind some trees in the deep rough. That was a little wild.
Rory McIlroy getting started
Cracking drive to the right half of the fairway at the first. No more than an eight or a nine iron left from there and a chance for an early birdie.
Today’s pin positions
Only one player under par from the early starters
That is Swede Alex Noren who has played the front nine in one-under to reach five-over.
Some selected tee times to mark your card
5.02 Cameron Smith, Rory McIlroy
5.13 Thomas Detry, Dustin Johnson
5.24 Daniel Berger, Lee Westwood
5.35 Renato Paratore, Lucas Glover
5.46 Webb Simpson, Viktor Hovland
5.57 Billy Horschel, Tony Finau
6.08 Stephan Jaeger, Jon Rahm
6.19 Louis Oosthuizen, Joaquin Niemann
6.30 Bubba Watson, Hideki Matsuyama
6.41 Brendon Todd, Matthew Wolff
6.52 Xander Schauffele, Thomas Pieters
7.14 Harris English, Rafa Cabrera Bello
7.25 Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed
They rub people up the wrong way, but these leaders can golf their ball
Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed are unlikely to trouble the engravers at any popularity contests, but they do make for a fascinating final two-ball on the third day of the US Open at Winged Foot.
DeChambeau has been true to his word by attacking the course at every opportunity and pursuing a ‘bomb and gouge’ strategy off the tee, and even in yesterday’s tougher conditions it paid off.
Reed has a short-game from heaven and relishes events where par is a good score. He is also a fantastic match-player and Geoff Ogilvy, winner of the US Open the last time it was held at Winged Foot in 2006, was a previous WGC World Matchplay champion. A positive link potentially?
Reed said: “I love the grind, I love getting in there and I love when it’s hard, when you have to be creative on all different golf shots. And I always enjoy playing with Bryson. It’s kind of one of those things that we go out there, and I think around here it’s not really as much on who you’re playing with because you’re out there attacking the golf course.”
For my money Justin Thomas is still very well positioned after playing his final eight holes in two-under to recover from a double-bogey on his 10th yesterday. His head could easily have exploded at that point but he kept his poise, and you sense he may have got his so-so round out of the way.
With the greens drying out and a fresh breeze, all 62 players who made the cut will feel they have a chance of a very high finish with two good rounds. Anything under the par of 70 can propel a player 20 or so places up the leaderboard.
Harris English and Spaniard Rafa Cabrera Bello are also sitting pretty at two-under with just six players in red figures.
Five takeaways from the win
While most of LeBron James’ postgame news conference revolved around the discussion of the voting for the NBA’s MVP award, there was plenty more to talk about after the Lakers’ 126-114 victory over the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.
Points included the return of Rajon “Playoff” Rondo, the three-point shooting of two veteran role players and defense.
Here are five takeaways from Game 1:
1. Rajon Rondo might not like the “Playoff Rondo” moniker but ever since he hit a stride in his return to the Lakers, he has been a critical part of their playoff success. His defense was pesky for the Nuggets on Friday and he dished nine assists off the bench.
2. Markieff Morris and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope provided pops of scoring for the Lakers at critical points. They combined to make six of nine three-point attempts. Morris played 16 minutes and his three-for-four three-point shooting accounted for all of his scoring in the game. Caldwell-Pope played nearly 30 minutes and gave the Lakers other scoring as well. Overall, he was six of 10 shooting for 18 points.
3. The Lakers pride themselves on their defense, so they weren’t pleased with how they started the game. They gave up 38 points to the Nuggets, with stars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray combining for 20, and trailed by two. “We just had to lock in defensively,” Anthony Davis said. “We knew that Jamal and Jokic are going to come out firing, come out trying to score, and we had to make sure that we try and contain them. At times they made some good shots, but our coverages were kind of messed up, so we tried to get back to our coverages and do it the right way.”
4. The postgame news conferences went in different directions Friday night, but there was one unanswered question: How is James’ left ankle? He injured it when he stepped on the foot of Nuggets forward Jerami Grand during a drive down the lane in the second quarter. While it didn’t force James out of the game, he did leave the court before the game officially ended, presumably to begin tending to it. After the game he had a wrap on it that seemed a little more permanent than the ice wraps he normally covers his joints with after games.
5. As much as the Lakers were upset about their defense in the first quarter, the Nuggets were upset about their own early defense. But for Denver, defense remained a problem throughout the game. “Even in the first quarter we didn’t guard anybody,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “Our offense was able to score … but there was little defense. A huge point of emphasis going into this series was transition, getting back, makes, misses, turnovers, dead balls. They scored 25 transition points tonight and 15 turnovers for 20 points fueled their break.”
Djokovic loses his cool again during win at Italian Open
ROME (AP) — Less than two weeks after getting defaulted from the U.S. Open, Novak Djokovic lost his cool again midway through a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win over German qualifier Dominik Koepfer in the Italian Open quarterfinals Saturday.
When Djokovic was broken at love to even the second set at 3-3, he slammed his racket to the red clay in anger.
With the frame broken and the strings all mangled, Djokovic was forced to get a new racket and received a warning from the chair umpire.
Djokovic had already appeared frustrated the previous game, when he glared toward the umpire following a couple of overrules and a point that was ordered to be replayed.
The top-ranked Djokovic had said Monday that he learned ”a big lesson” after he was thrown out of the U.S. Open for unintentionally hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball in a fit of anger. Djokovic also acknowledged then ”that I have outbursts and this is kind of the personality and the player that I have always been.”
The 97th-ranked Koepfer, who screamed at himself in frustration throughout the match, was also warned for misbehavior early in the third set.
Aiming for his fifth title in Rome, Djokovic’s semifinal opponent will be Casper Ruud, who eliminated local favorite Matteo Berrettini 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5) in a match that lasted 2 hours, 57 minutes.
Nine-time Rome champion Rafael Nadal was playing Diego Schwartzman later in the other half of the draw.
Ruud is the first Norwegian to reach the semifinals of a Masters 1000 tournament. His father, Christian Ruud, got as far as the quarterfinals of the Monte Carlo Masters in 1997.
While fans have not been admitted to the tournament yet — Italy’s sports minister said Friday that 1,000 spectators will be allowed in for the semifinals and finals — workers, family members and other onlookers inside the picturesque Pietrangeli stadium provided some support for Berrettini, who is from Rome.
Nicola Pietrangeli, the 1957 and 1961 Rome champion and the man the stadium is named after — was also among those sitting on the white marble stands.
”There would have been a lot more adrenaline with fans,” Berrettini said.
In the women’s tournament, top-seeded Simona Halep reached the last four when Kazakh opponent Yulia Putintseva retired midway through their match due to a lower back injury.
Halep, who lost two straight finals in Rome to Elina Svitolina in 2017 and 2018, will need to beat two-time Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza or U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka to return to the championship match.
”Azarenka is full of confidence because she played really well in U.S. She was amazing. And Muguruza, as well, she feels really well on (the) clay court and here. It’s a big challenge,” Halep said.
”I really want to win this tournament,” added Halep, who will be playing her fifth semifinal in Rome. ”I love playing here. … It’s one of the biggest goals now.”
Halep was ahead 6-2, 2-0 when Putintseva decided she was in too much pain to continue — having already taken an off-court medical timeout between sets.
The 30th-ranked Putintseva was coming off two long three-set matches, having upset eighth-seeded Petra Martic and 10th-seeded Elena Rybakina. Entering the match, she had been on court for 7 hours, 22 minutes — far more than Halep, who had a bye in the opening round and won her next two matches in straight sets.
Putintseva also reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals in her previous tournament, while Halep decided to skip the event in New York due to coronavirus travel concerns.
Halep improved to 8-0 since the tennis restart and 12-0 overall stretching back to February.
More AP Tennis: https://apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AndrewDampf
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