Matt Kemp probably won't be winning MVP now

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Matt Kemp probably won't be winning MVP now

From Comcast SportsNet
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Los Angeles Dodgers placed center fielder Matt Kemp on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday for the second time this month because of a left hamstring strain. And this time, the training staff is going to make sure there are no recurrences when he returns to the lineup. Kemp went 1 for 4 with a double in two games since being reinstated from the disabled list on Tuesday. He left Wednesday night's game against Milwaukee after scoring all the way from first base on a first-inning double by Andre Ethier. "He has a little bit of swelling in the same area, as well as a new strain in a higher part of that hamstring," said Sue Falsone, who is in her first year as the club's head athletic trainer after spending the previous five seasons as the team's physical therapist. "They're both Grade-1s, which means that there's not a lot of muscle fiber tear. It's the lowest grade of a muscle strain, so that's good news. But having multiple strains in one muscle, obviously it's going to be a little bit longer from a rehab standpoint. So we're just going to take it day-by-day." Falsone said the best-case scenario for Kemp is four weeks before he can play again. He spent two weeks on the disabled list the first time the hamstring bothered him and when he got back to the dugout after his latest mishap, he broke a bat over his knee in frustration. "It's nobody's fault," Kemp said after Wednesday's game. "I was happy to be back. It felt great, and I thought I was 100 percent. But now I'm going to be sitting out a while. It feels worse than the first time. This is my first time ever really having any hamstring problems, so I don't know how to really treat it. I know they're very tricky and they can always come back. So I definitely have to take it slow and make sure it's healed." Kemp was leading the league with 12 home runs when he aggravated the hamstring running out a grounder May 13 against Colorado -- ending his consecutive games streak at 399. He played in two rehab games with Triple-A Albuquerque over the weekend, going 5 for 7 with two homers and five RBIs. "We have benchmarks and milestones in place, and he achieved all of them or he wouldn't have been out there playing," Falsone said. "But I don't think you can say that the first strain caused the second strain. So we'll put him through all the same rigors that we did before -- all the baserunning, all the deceleration stuff -- but we're just going to take longer to do it." Los Angeles entered Thursday with a major league-best 32-18 record and a 5-game lead over San Francisco in the NL West despite their first three-game losing streak. And with Kemp's bat missing from the third spot in the order, the Dodgers will be hard-pressed to fill the void on a long-term basis. "It's frustrating for everybody," Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw said. "We all feel bad for Matt. I know nobody feels worse than he does. He wants to play -- bad. It's never easy for the team to deal with when your superstar's out. But at the same time, the games keep coming. So you've got to keep playing and keep grinding." "This is our first tough stretch of the year, but we'll come out of it and we'll be better for it," said. "We don't know how long Matt's going to be out, but we've got to play like we did the first time he was out, and the guys who stepped up have got to keep doing that." Kemp, who finished runner-up to Milwaukee's Ryan Braun in last year's NL MVP voting, is batting .355 with 28 RBIs in 36 games. Last season, he hit .324 with 39 homers and 126 RBIs -- falling one homer shy of becoming only the fifth player in big league history with at least 40 homers and 40 stolen bases in the same season. "We thought Matt was ready to roll," manager Don Mattingly said. "We wouldn't have thrown him out there if we didn't think he was a hundred percent -- or if he didn't think he was a hundred percent. This should be a challenging time for us. It's the time you find out what kind of club you are and what kind of character you have. We were pretty resilient for a couple of weeks when Matt was out (9-5), and guys stepped up and did their thing. And we're going to have to do it again." The Dodgers promoted second baseman-outfielder Alex Castellanos from Triple-A Albuquerque. Castellanos, who will be making his major league debut, was hitting .379 with 10 doubles, four triples, five homers and 14 RBI in 22 games with Albuquerque.

Jackson, Watson headline five 2016 Heisman finalists

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USATSI/AP

Jackson, Watson headline five 2016 Heisman finalists

NEW YORK -- Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson is a Heisman Trophy finalist for the second consecutive season, joining Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, Michigan linebacker Jabrill Peppers and Oklahoma teammates Baker Mayfield and Dede Westbrook.

The finalists were announced Monday on ESPN and the award will be presented Saturday in New York.

Watson finished third in last year's voting, won by Alabama running back Derrick Henry. Just like last year, he heads to New York not as the favorite but as the contender coming on strong at the end. Mayfield finished fourth last season, but did not get an invite to Heisman presentation in New York.

Peppers is the first defensive player to be a Heisman finalists since Notre Dame linebacker Manti Teo was a distant runner-up to Johnny Manziel in 2012.

Westbrook and Mayfield are the first teammates to be finalists since Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart from Southern California finished first and third, respectively in 2005.

Finalists are determined by the margins between vote-getters. The ballots of more than 900 voters, which included former Heisman winners, were due Monday.

Watson entered as the preseason favorite in what looked like a strong field of contenders, but Jackson quickly swept past them all to be front-runner. He was brilliant for the first two months of the season and Louisville was looking like a College Football Playoff contender.

It seemed as if Jackson would be a runaway Heisman winner, but the 15th-ranked Cardinals lost their final two games of the season. He was sacked 11 times in a lopsided loss at Houston and he committed four turnovers in a last-second loss against Kentucky.

Watson, meanwhile, has surged since Clemson's only loss to Pitt in mid-November. He also had the benefit of playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game last Saturday and took full advantage of the spotlight. Watson threw three touchdown passes and ran for two scores in a 42-35 victory against Virginia Tech to seal a spot in the College Football Playoff.

The raw numbers still favor Jackson, who is second in the nation in total yards per game (410.7) and has accounted for 51 touchdowns (21 rushing TDs and 30 TD passes) with 13 turnovers (nine INTs and four lost fumbles) in 12 games. Watson averages 341.8 yards per game and has 43 touchdowns (six rushing and 37 passing) with 15 turnovers (all interceptions) in 13 games.

When the two met on Oct. 1 at Clemson in what was one of the season's most entertaining games, Watson threw for 306 yards and five touchdowns, ran for 91 and was picked off three times. Jackson had 295 yards passing, 162 rushing and accounted for three touchdowns with one interception. Clemson won 42-36.

Mayfield and Westbrook have been a dynamic combination, and late in the season No. 7 Oklahoma started a dual campaign to promote both for the Heisman. Mayfield is on pace to break the NCAA record for passer efficiency rating in a season (197.75). Westbrook has 74 catches for 1,465 yards and 16 touchdowns and has more receptions covering at least 20 yards (26) than any receiver in the country.

Peppers played defense, offense and special teams for Michigan, lining up all over the field.

Edwards Jr. 'foaming at the mouth' to return to Raiders lineup

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Edwards Jr. 'foaming at the mouth' to return to Raiders lineup

ALAMEDA – Mario Edwards Jr. hasn’t played football in a long, long time. His last go round came back on Aug. 12, during the Raiders’ preseason opener at Arizona.

He suffered a hip injury and hasn’t been back since. That’s nearly four months now, too long a drought for the young, versatile defensive lineman.

That’s why Monday meant so much. It was just a walk-through practice, nothing to physical, but the act of practicing meant something special after his extended absence.

“It felt good just to get out there with those guys,” Edwards Jr. said Monday evening. “My last time with them was against the Cardinals in the preseason. Even just to get out there in a practice and enjoy the camaraderie definitely was nice.”

Edwards Jr.’s rehab has been slower than originally expected, which has kept him on injured reserve well after he was eligible to practice in Week 7 and play in Week 9. Edwards Jr. wanted to make sure his hip, which he called “a freaky thing,” healed right and was free of setbacks.

While he took a mature approach to his rehab, Sundays proved hard to bear. Watching Raiders games were difficult, even with the team sitting pretty at 10-2 after Sunday’s victory over Buffalo.

That was especially true when the Raiders came back to beat the Carolina Panthers. Defense sealed that victory, with Khalil Mack’s strip sack of Cam Newton and the recovery of his own forced fumble. That proved too much to take. Edwards Jr. started itching to get back on the field.

Now that he’s ever so close to a return, Edwards Jr. has let himself ponder lining up with Mack and Bruce Irvin on third and long, ready to get after the quarterback.

“I’ve been dreaming of that, especially after watching Mack strip Cam and things like that,” Edwards Jr. said. “I just wanted to be out there and be a part of it. I’ve been foaming at the mouth ever since then.”

Edwards Jr. must’ve known he was close to getting back on the field. He was running well on the treadmill prior to that game, and was out on the field shortly after the Panthers win.

The Raiders hope Edwards Jr. can be back in time to play the Chargers in San Diego on Dec. 18. That would give him three regular-season games to ramp up and be fully immersed in the defense should the Raiders make the postseason.

Edwards Jr., however, player doesn’t have a set timetable to return.

“I’m a little different, so I don’t really know,” Edwards Jr. said. “We don’t have a date on it. It’s more about how I’m feeling each day and how I’m healing.”

Edwards Jr. called his absence bittersweet – he hasn’t played a regular season game since Dec. 20, when he suffered a neck injury versus Green Bay – but remains forward thinking even missing the season to this point.

“It sucked, but everything happened for a reason,” Edwards Jr. said. “I’m healing up great, and I’m looking forward to coming back and playing.”