Ed Reed avoids NFL suspension

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Ed Reed avoids NFL suspension

From Comcast SportsNetOWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) -- Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed avoided a one-game suspension for late hits after an appeal. He instead will be fined 50,000.Reed was suspended for one game without pay on Monday by NFL vice president of football operations Merton Hanks for his third violation in three seasons of the rule prohibiting helmet-to-helmet hits against defenseless players. The third violation occurred in Sunday night's game at Pittsburgh: Reed's hit to the head of receiver Emmanuel Sanders.Reed appealed the ruling in phone session Tuesday morning with NFL hearing officer Ted Cottrell. The NFL Players Association represented Reed, who also participated.Hours later, Cottrell reduced the penalty.In a letter to Reed, Cottrell wrote: "I have determined that your actions were egregious and warrant significant discipline. However, I do not believe that your actions were so egregious as to subject you to a one-game suspension without pay. Player safety is the league's primary concern in the formation of playing rules and all players are expected to adhere to those rules or face disciplinary action. I hope in the future you will focus on ensuring that your play conforms to the rules."Reed will be in uniform for Sunday's game in San Diego."The league has an appeal process to review situations like this, and Ed had his opportunity to answer questions about his play," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement. "I think John (Harbaugh) and his coaches do an excellent job of teaching the right, safe and legal way to play football, and we believe Ed clearly tries to play within the rules on every down."

Chip Kelly: 'Zero distraction' from Colin Kaepernick last season

Chip Kelly: 'Zero distraction' from Colin Kaepernick last season

Former 49ers head coach Chip Kelly was front and center last season with the controversy that surrounded quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the 2016 season. 

Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem as a stance against racial injustice in the United States. The former 49ers quarterback first sat while the anthem played in a preseason game and then decided to kneel throughout the regular season. 

“There was zero distraction," Kelly said to the Monday Morning Quarterback. "He met with the team immediately after [his first protest]. He met with the other team leaders. He explained his position and where he was coming from." 

After Kaepernick met with his teammates, Kelly saw one focus in his signal caller -- football only. 

"Literally, that was it. Colin was focused on football. He was all about the team and trying to help us win," Kelly said. 

Kaepernick is currently a free agent after opting out of his contract this offseason. Kelly believes Kaepernick is still plenty capable of leading an NFL team. 

"Do I think he is one of the top 64 quarterbacks in the world? There is no question. Does he have the ability to play quarterback on a winning team in the NFL? There is no question," Kelly said. 

In 2016, Kaepernick played in 12 games for Kelly, starting 11 of them under center. He threw for 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. On the ground, Kaepernick added 468 yards rushing and two more scores. 

Giants Notes: Marrero gets big chance; Rollins goes home

Giants Notes: Marrero gets big chance; Rollins goes home

SAN FRANCISCO -- After more than six weeks in the desert the Giants returned to their chilly home park on Thursday, and manager Bruce Bochy wasn't ready to take some of the mystery out of heated spring races. 

Bochy said he knows who his fifth starter is, but he won't publicly announce it until Friday. Asked about the situation, general manager Bobby Evans offered only that "we're in the same camp" on who that player is. 

In the outfield, it appears Chris Marrero is a near-lock to make the roster after an eight-homer spring, but again, the Giants aren't ready to announce anything. Marrero gets another chance to prove himself Thursday. He's facing a lefty starter, which would be his role, and he's playing left field at AT&T Park for the first time. Is Bochy more interested in the defense or the at-bats against a lefty?

"Both," he said. "I want to take a look at Marrero in left field and see his at-bats. It's not so much the results, but just to see him here on this stage and in this ballpark."

Bochy was behind the cage when Marrero took BP, and while it is only BP, he put on a Madison Bumgarner-like show. 

Bochy also hopes to get Jae-Gyun Hwang into left field one of the next two nights. Hwang is headed for Triple-A when this series is over, where he'll play first, third and left. "If he continues (hitting like this) down in Sacramento, with that bat, you've got to find a spot for him," Bochy said. 

Sense a theme here? Somebody who hits from the right side is going to get a lot of time this year, and while Mac Williamson and Michael Morse are hurt, the two newcomers have a chance to make a statement. Justin Ruggiano is still in the mix, too, although it sounds like he's headed for Triple-A to get 50 or so at-bats to strengthen his shoulder. 

--- Will Smith had Tommy John surgery in Los Angeles yesterday. The procedure went without surprises, and the initial read from doctors is that Smith should be back in the big leagues next May. This far out, it's hard to be exact, though. 

--- Eduardo Nuñez said his shoulder feels great after a couple of late-camp cortisone shots and he'll start at third the next two nights. Nuñez will play four or five innings at shortstop on Saturday. If Kelby Tomlinson is optioned, Nuñez would be the backup to Brandon Crawford, along with starting at third. 

--- Jimmy Rollins was given the option of coming up here for this series and finishing his spring in Oakland, near his home. Rollins was told he would not make the team. He went back to the Tampa area, however, and he won't play in this series. 

--- Tyler Beede was out on the field early taking photos and soaking it in. Beede hasn't been to AT&T Park since shooting a cameo for "Silicon Valley." The Giants will start him Saturday, with the idea that it should knock some nerves off for his eventual debut. Beede will be joined by a bunch of minor leaguers, including Christian Arroyo, Ryder Jones, Reyes Moronta, Kyle Crick and Austin Slater. Steven Duggar would have been here, but he has a flexor injury and will miss the start of the season. 

--- Brandon Belt will hit second at the start of the year, Bochy said. Belt walked into the park with Santiago Casilla, which threw everyone off in the hallway leading up to the clubhouse. Casilla eventually kept going, all the way to the visitor's clubhouse. I talked to him briefly, and he said that it'll be a weird series for him. Casilla will pitch an inning Friday night. He deserves a big ovation.

--- Javier Lopez was my latest podcast guest. You can stream it here or download it on iTunes here. If you like the podcast, please consider leaving a rating! 

--- Finally, as part of our rebranding, my Twitter account has changed. It's still the same account, just a new name. The tweets about reliever at-bats are not going anywhere.