Raiders

FBI investigating Auburn for point shaving

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FBI investigating Auburn for point shaving

From Comcast SportsNet
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -- Federal authorities are investigating suspended Auburn point guard Varez Ward for alleged point shaving involving in at least two games this season, Yahoo Sports reported Thursday. The report cited anonymous sources and said the FBI began an investigation in late February centering on losses to Alabama on Feb. 7 and Arkansas on Jan. 25. NCAA officials say they are "very concerned" by the allegations and have been in contact with the school and federal investigators since the issue arose last month. "The NCAA takes any allegation of point shaving very seriously because sports wagering threatens two of our core principles -- the well-being of student-athletes and the very integrity of intercollegiate sport," the NCAA said in a written statement Thursday. "As allegations of point shaving, if proven, are also potential federal crimes, the NCAA will defer action until any process with the FBI has concluded." Ward and guard Chris Denson were both suspended before a Feb. 25 game against Arkansas, but Denson returned for the next game. Denson was questioned and cleared of involvement in point shaving, the report said. "Auburn officials were made aware of a rumor regarding an allegation two weeks ago and immediately reported it to the FBI, the NCAA and the SEC," Auburn said in a statement Thursday. "Because of the nature of the allegation, Auburn is not in a position to make any further comment on the situation." The report said a player reported concerns to an assistant coach in late February. Auburn coach Tony Barbee has said only that Ward and Denson violated team rules, and he declined to address any allegations specifically after Thursday night's loss to Mississippi in the opening round of the SEC tournament. "Obviously our university released a statement which I totally support and stand behind, and obviously because of the nature of the allegations and the story, and because of the statement, I won't be able to elaborate or answer any questions or make any further comment," Barbee said. Ward didn't play in the final three games of the regular season or travel with the team to New Orleans for the Southeastern Conference tournament, where the Tigers lost their first round game, 68-54 to Mississippi on Thursday night. Denson played 32 minutes and scored 11 points against the Rebels, but declined to speak with reporters after the game. His teammates also deferred comments to their coach. Yahoo Sports reported that other Auburn players were questioned about whether Ward tried to get them to participate in the alleged point shaving. Ward, a Texas transfer, has averaged 9.0 points a game and leads the Tigers in assists. Ward scored three points and had six turnovers in the 68-50 loss to Alabama, playing 17 minutes. Vegas Insider said Alabama was favored by five points. Ward lasted only 19 seconds after coming off the bench in the 56-53 defeat against Arkansas before crumpling to the floor. Barbee later said Ward took a knee to the right leg he had injured early in his sophomore season with the Longhorns, when he ruptured his quadriceps tendon on a dunk during pregame warm-ups. Auburn still covered the 9-point spread. In between those games, Ward had his hottest streak of the season. He scored 53 points in a three-game stretch, including 24 against Mississippi State. Ward has not commented publicly since his suspension. His last Twitter post was on Feb. 24 when he tweeted, "Can't win for losing smh" (shaking my head). It was the last in a series of posts that day, the first saying that his knee was "hurting bad." Ward sat out last season under transfer rules and has two years of eligibility remaining.

Lynch anthem issue could use some clarity

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Lynch anthem issue could use some clarity

NAPA – Marshawn Lynch sat during the national anthem during Saturday’s exhibition opener against Arizona. We’re still not sure why.

It’s assumed by many to be in protest of racial inequality and mistreatment of minorities, a timely sentiment following racially fueled violence in Charlottesville, Va.

Uncertainty remains because the Raiders running back hasn’t explained his reasoning. He contemplated speaking after Tuesday’s practice but decided against it.

That leave us left to wonder what was going through Lynch’s head. Was this a case of Marshawn being Marshawn, an unorthodox fellow who often swims upstream? Was he simply enjoying a seat and a banana, or was it politically motivated and worthy of being lumped into national anthem protests by Colin Kaepernick and others in 2016 and Michael Bennett on Sunday?

It seems that way while connecting dots, especially with Lynch’s support for Kaepernick in a 2016 interview with Conan O’Brien. The public doesn’t know for sure. Bennett made his protest crystal clear on Sunday, with an eloquent explanation following Seattle’s exhibition against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Lynch could’ve cleared things up and didn’t. That leaves many left to wonder. Silence, in these cases, breeds speculation. We’ll try to avoid that here. Lynch doesn’t speak to the press, and I don’t mind a bit. This instance is an exception. Insight could direct this unguided narrative with a Tweet, a statement or a few moments in front of a microphone. His message, if there is one, loses power without backing. If it was designed to illuminate issues in this country, Lynch must direct the spotlight. If his choice to sit wasn't socially charged, then let's put the issue to bed and re-focus on Raiders football.

It’s uncertain whether Lynch will address it this week, this season or ever.

The Raiders hope to avoid the topic altogether and let this incident blow over. It hasn’t been a major topic in the locker room. Head coach Jack Del Rio didn’t add anything in his Tuesday press conference, referring to a Saturday postgame statement on the matter where he called it a non-issue.

The Raiders’ belief, it seems, is that a fire won’t burn without fuel.

Del Rio strongly believes in standing at attention for the national anthem. That’s been clear for a year, when he expressed that sentiment following Kaepernick’s anthem protests.

That didn’t stop Raiders linebackers Bruce Irvin and Malcolm Smith from holding up a fist during the national anthem a few times in 2016, though those actions didn’t last long.

Del Rio said Saturday that he respects the fact Lynch is his own man and hasn’t always stood for the national anthem. There were times in Seattle when he wasn’t present for the Star Spangled Banner. There were times he sat and times he stood at attention. He was never asked whether it was a form protest. Kaepernick started the movement last year, one Lynch couldn’t join while retired from football.

There’s no telling what Lynch will do Saturday against the Los Angeles Rams, the first time he’ll represent the Raiders in Oakland. No matter what he does, it’ll be news. With or without an explanation. Lynch doesn’t feel the need to satisfy public demand for insight, and won’t simply bow to public pressure.

Anthem protests can bring attention to social causes, but they’re polarizing to be sure. That’s the case in public, among football fans and cable-news junkies alike.

NFL locker rooms are full of different personalities, united under a common goal. Del Rio wants his guys focused only on that heading toward a season with lofty expectations.

“We want to have a collection of individuals that come together as a team to play football,” Del Rio told USA Today’s Lindsay Jones. “We don't need everybody in the organization to think the same way I think, or have the same feelings that I have about different topics.

“I mean, we're in America. That's one of the things we have. We have the freedom to be ourselves.”

Lynch is certainly his own man, a unique personality who has devoted great time, money and effort to improving his native Oakland.

Bennett explained his motivation for sitting during the anthem in a first-person narrative posted by Yahoo! Sports, and said seeing Lynch sit wasn’t a shock. Bennett also believes Lynch sat down for a cause.

“It didn’t surprise me that Marshawn Lynch sat, too,” Bennett said. “I think he’s one of the people in the forefront who are making changes in the community. That’s what he believes in. I think we both believe in our community, we both believe that people can be great. We don’t believe that this is the end; we believe there’s more out there – there are more things we can do as people, more ways to challenge ourselves.”

Foster named 49ers starter -- likely for a long, long time

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Foster named 49ers starter -- likely for a long, long time

SANTA CLARA -- Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster was promoted into the starting lineup with the season-ending injury to veteran Malcolm Smith.

The 49ers have reason to expect him to remain a starter for a long, long time.

Coach Kyle Shanahan on Tuesday said Foster was the starter at the team’s weakside linebacker position, alongside NaVorro Bowman. But he added, tthe onus is on Foster to hold onto that position.

“He could get beat out at any time,” Shanahan said. “If our guys behind him, we’ve got some good players behind him too, if they started performing at a higher level than him, then that wouldn’t be the case.”

The 49ers released their unofficial depth chart ahead of Saturday’s exhibition game against the Denver Broncos. The depth chart does not reflect the team’s decision to switch seventh-round draft pick Adrian Colbert from cornerback to free safety.

Also, veteran Tim Barnes is listed at left guard. He started all 32 games the past two seasons with the Rams at center. He is the team’s backup center, but his ability to also fill in at guard could determine whether he wins a spot on the 53-man roster.

The depth chart does not list nickel back or slot receiver. K'Waun Williams is ahead of Will Redmond as the nickel back, and Jeremy Kerley is ahead of Trent Taylor as the team's slot receiver.

Guard Joshua Garnett and safety Jimmie Ward are listed as starters despite being unavailable due to injuries. Garnett is expected back near the start of the regular season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to clean up cartilage in his knee. Ward remains on physically unable to perform while rehabbing from a hamstring injry.

OFFENSE
WR: Pierre Garçon, Jeremy Kerley, Trent Taylor/Aaron Burbridge, DeAndre Smelter/Kendrick Bourne
LT: Joe Staley, John Theus, Darrell Williams
LG: (Joshua Garnett), Zane Beadles, Tim Barnes, Erik Mangnuson
C: Daniel Kilgore, JP Flynn
RG: Brandon Fusco, Norman Price, Andrew Gardner
RT: Trent Brown, Garry Gilliam, Andrew Lauderdale
TE: Vance McDonald, George Kittle, Logan Paulsen/Blake Bell, Garrett Celek/Cole Hikutini
WR: Marquise Goodwin, Aldrick Robinson, Victor Bolden/DeAndre Carter, Tim Patrick/Louis Murphy
RB: Carlos Hyde, Tim Hightower, Joe Williams/Kapri Bibbs, Raheem Mostert/Matt Breida
FB: Kyle Juszczyk, Tyler McCloskey
QB: Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley, C.J. Beathard, Nick Mullens

DEFENSE
LDE: Arik Armstead, Elvis Dumervil, Aaron Lynch, Ronald Blair
LDT: Earl Mitchell, Quinton Dial, D.J. Jones
RDT: DeForest Buckner, Chris Jones, Noble Nwachukwu, Leger Douzable
RDE: Tank Carradine, Solomon Thomas,
SAM: Ahmad Brooks, Eli Harold, Dekoda Watson, Pita Taumoepenu
MIKE: NaVorro Bowman, Brock Coyle, Donavin Newsom
WILL: Reuben Foster, Ray-Ray Armstrong, Austin Calitro, Sean Porter
LCB: Rashard Robinson, K’Waun Williams/Will Redmond, Prince Charles Iworah, Asa Jackson
RCB: Dontae Johnson, Keith Reaser, Ahkello Witherspoon/Will Davis, Adrian Colbert
FS: (Jimmie Ward), Vinnie Sunseri, Lorenzo Jerome
SS: Eric Reid, Jaquiski Tartt, Don Jones

SPECIAL TEAMS
P: Bradley Pinion
K: Robbie Gould, Nick Rose
H: Bradley Pinion
PR: Jeremy Kerley, DeAndre Carter/Trent Taylor
KOR: Raheem Mostert, Victor Bolden
LS: Kyle Nelson