Lochte, Phelps stunned in freestyle relay


Lochte, Phelps stunned in freestyle relay

From Comcast SportsNet

LONDON (AP) -- The United States broke out the big guns in hopes of taking down the favored Australians in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay Sunday night.

Michael Phelps was swimming for the Americans.

So was Ryan Lochte.

The U.S. coaches decided to send out a completely different lineup in the evening final, going with Nathan Adrian in the leadoff spot, followed by Phelps and Cullen Jones, with Lochte taking the anchor leg.

While that quartet sounds imposing, the Americans remained underdogs against the defending world champions from Down Under. Australia had three of the four members from its 2011 team in Shanghai, leading off with James "The Missile" Magnussen, followed by Matt Targent and Eamon Sullivan. The only newcomer to the squad was no surprise: James "The Rocket" Roberts going against Lochte in the final spot.

Magnussen has the fastest 100 free time ever in a textile suit, posting 47.10 seconds at the Australian trials in March. Roberts has the second-fastest time in the world this year, 47.63.

The Americans hoped to ride Lochte's wave to an upset victory. He was coming off a dominating win in the 400 individual medley on the opening night of the games, beating Phelps by more than 4 seconds. But Lochte could be a bit tired, having to swim both the prelims and semifinals of the 200 free before he competed in the relay.

But there are also questions about Phelps after his disappointing fourth-place finish in the 400 IM. This was the first time since 2000 that he didn't win a medal in an Olympic race, having captured 14 golds and two bronzes in Athens and Beijing.

Phelps had a chance to swim another eight-event program in London, but he dropped the 200 free because he said he wanted to be at his best in the 400 free relay. The Americans were looking to defend their Olympic title after winning in dramatic fashion at Beijing when Jason Lezak pulled off an improbable rally to edge France's Alain Bernard at the end, keeping Phelps on pace to win a record eight gold medals.

"We were open-minded coming in," Gregg Troy, head coach of the U.S. men's team, said after the prelims. "We did talk to eight guys and told them they could be on the relay. Quite frankly, we feel like any of the eight could do a real good job. It's just a matter of which ones. We can only swim four. So we put our heads together and decided which four it was."

Jimmy Feigen, Matt Grevers, Ricky Berens and Lezak competed in the morning, posting the second-fastest time behind an Australian team that included Magnussen and Roberts.

While Grevers posted the fastest split time, he seemed resigned to being left off the evening relay even before he got the news. He had no problem giving up a spot to Lochte, even though he has never swam in the 400 free relay in the Olympics and doesn't have a lot of experience at that distance.

"You've got to play with what's hot, and that's a good hand right now," Grevers said. "Ryan Lochte is a good hand."

Adrian and Jones earned their spots on the relay by going 1-2 in the 100 free at the U.S. trials.

"All four of those guys have proven themselves time and again," Grevers said. "I don't have any doubt Michael will throw out an incredibly fast split. Nathan and Cullen showed themselves at trials. They're always very trustworthy. And Ryan, you saw him blow the 400 IM out of the water. That guy's hot, and you've got to go with what's hot.

"It's a strong group no matter what happens."

Troy insisted it was more than a two-country race. France has another strong team with Amaury Leveaux, Fabien Gilot, Clement Lefert and rising star Yannick Agnel. Russia could also be a contender, the coach added.

"It's a great field," Troy said. "It's probably the best 400 freestyle relay field ever."

Jaguars WR confesses to directing racial slur at Raiders

Jaguars WR confesses to directing racial slur at Raiders

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jaguars receiver Marqise Lee says he was flagged for using a racial slur in Jacksonville's 33-16 loss to Oakland on Sunday.

Lee acknowledged Monday that it was the reason for his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty late in the third quarter, a flag that seemingly started Jacksonville's fourth-quarter meltdown in which defensive tackle Malik Jackson and cornerback Jalen Ramsey were ejected.

"I got flagged for saying the N-word," Lee said. "It was back and forth. In the midst of the game, emotion is going from both teams. It just so happened the ref heard me, so therefore I got the flag. I've just got to fess up to it."

Lee said he and several Raiders were "going back and forth as far as the words and stuff." The fourth-year receiver from USC said he let his emotions get the best of him and said "it went both ways."

The NFL made racial slurs a point of emphasis in 2014, reminding officials that the league already had a rule against abusive language.

Lee jogged off the field after his 15-yard penalty and was clearly frustrated as he explained to coach Gus Bradley what happened and why.

"Throughout the whole game, we had a lot of players saying a lot of different things, but that's just the midst of the game," Lee said. "It's kind of hard when you have refs out there trying to limit what people say when you've got grown men hitting each other.

"You've got a lot of things that's going on that's flaring as far as in your mind. ... It wasn't intentional at all. I know he woke up the next day not worrying about it at all, just like I woke up not worrying about it. I feel like you're going to always have that issue because you're going to always have situations flame up and both teams are going back and forth and things are going to get said regardless if the ref likes it or not."

Lee finished with seven receptions for 107 yards.

The Raiders were flagged 11 times for 117 yards. The Jaguars were penalized 13 times for 112 yards.

"That's a reflection of me as a head coach," Bradley said Monday. "It's a reflection of our discipline. It's a reflection of how our culture is and how we talk and how we handle things. Yeah, that part of it, that hits home with me because obviously it's my responsibility, the demeanor of this team and how we approach things and how we play with poise.

"I take personal responsibility for that."

Jackson was penalized twice on the same play in the fourth, first for roughing the passer on a third-and-10 play, and then for using abusive language toward an official. He was ejected four plays later following another exchange with an official. Jackson ran to the locker room, seemingly eager to get off the field early.

"It's an emotional game and we have to go out here and balance playing emotions from when to say things, not when to say things and not when to do things," Jackson said. "It's just hard to balance. Sometimes you lose control, and I think that's what happened. We lost control, but I don't see this being a tendency. I don't see this being an issue, and we're going to move forward."

Ramsey and Raiders receiver Johnny Holton were ejected for fighting in the final minutes of the lopsided matchup.

"They probably don't want me to say this, but I'm going to just keep it real with y'all," Ramey said. "If I was out there nine more times, I would do the same thing. I don't think I should have been thrown out of the game for it. Neither do I think he should have been thrown out of the game for it, to be real with you. But I'm not going to be disrespectful."

Notes: DeMelo will play for Sharks soon; Couture battling illness

Notes: DeMelo will play for Sharks soon; Couture battling illness

SAN JOSE – Dylan DeMelo may finally be coming to a San Jose Sharks game near you.

The 23-year-old defenseman, who has yet to play in any of the first six games, will likely make his season debut shortly, coach Pete DeBoer indicated on Monday.

“That’s something we discuss every day,” DeBoer said. “We like him, we’re very comfortable with him. We’d have no problem putting him in. I know Bob [Boughner] has no problem playing him, and not worrying about playing him against anybody out there. It’s a nice luxury to have. 

“We can get to the point where it’s too many games where he’s sitting out. We’re getting close to that. We’re going to have to get him in soon here.”

DeMelo has not played for the Sharks since the final game of the 2015-16 regular season on April 9. He served as the seventh defenseman in the playoffs, but the Sharks dressed the same six blueliners throughout their run to the Stanley Cup Final.

In the preseason, DeMelo – who would have to clear waivers in order to be reassigned to the Barracuda – beat out Mirco Mueller for the seventh job on the Sharks. He signed a two-year contract extension in the offseason.

A former sixth round pick of the club in 2011, DeMelo had a breakthrough season in 2015-16, playing in 45 games and establishing himself as an NHL defenseman. He finished the season with two goals and two assists for four points and an even rating.

* * *

While the Sharks shook up their forward lines at Monday’s skate, the top power play unit remained the same. Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are still together and will try to work out the kinks to their game.

The Sharks are 3-for-20 on the power play, with just one of those coming on a five-on-four.

“We’re not shooting the puck enough, that’s the big thing,” Couture said. “We’ve got to shoot the puck, get traffic. We always have a guy in front of the net and we’ve been getting away from that.”

* * *

Couture has managed five points (2g, 3a) through the first six games, all while battling a persistent cold that he just can’t shake. It’s obvious he’s dealing with some sort of sinus issue when hearing him speak the past few days.

“It’s like a month, it won’t go away,” Couture said. “It’s crazy.”

* * *

Breaking with standard practice, the Sharks opted to stay in Detroit the night after Saturday’s game, rather than immediately flying home on the team charter.

The Sharks were a miserable 1-8-1 in their first home game after a multiple-game road trip last regular season, with their lone win coming against Edmonton in a shootout, so DeBoer figured he would try something different this year.

“When we sat down in the summer and looked at areas to improve, our record coming back from road trips was not good last year,” he said. “We looked at opponents when we came back, our travel schedule. We’re just looking for answers to fix some of the areas that maybe we weren’t real good at last year.”