Roethlisberger may have serious shoulder injury

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Roethlisberger may have serious shoulder injury

From Comcast SportsNetPITTSBURGH (AP) -- Their franchise quarterback on his way to the hospital, the momentum firmly on the other side of the field after a stunning last-minute rally by one the NFL's worst teams, the Pittsburgh Steelers appeared lost.Then linebacker Lawrence Timmons provided a reminder that -- Ben Roethlisberger or no Ben Roethlisberger -- Pittsburgh's identity begins and ends with defense.Timmons intercepted Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel on the second snap of overtime and Shaun Suisham drilled a 23-yard field goal one play later to lift the Steelers to a 16-13 victory over the hapless Chiefs."We just stayed positive," Timmons said. "It's easy to get down on yourself, but we are not like that. We stand up, face adversity."Good thing, because there's plenty to go around.The Steelers (6-3) have won four straight but played most of the second half without Roethlisberger, who left with a right shoulder injury in the third quarter after getting sacked by Kansas City linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston.Coach Mike Tomlin wouldn't speculate on the severity of Roethlisberger's injury and his status for Sunday's showdown with AFC North leader Baltimore is uncertain."It didn't seem like a tough hit ... but he came to the sideline and next thing you know he was gone," Pittsburgh left tackle Max Starks said. "I'm hoping it was nothing serious. Honestly it didn't seem like it."Veteran backup Byron Leftwich came on in relief and completed 7 of 14 passes for 73 yards in his first regular season game in nearly two years."It wasn't a pretty body of work by any of us, but his consistency remains the same in terms of being a stabilizing force for us," Tomlin said.Jamaal Charles ran for 100 yards and a score for the Chiefs (1-8), who have lost six straight.The Chiefs had their chances, taking their first lead in regulation all season in the first half then overcoming a series of embarrassing miscues to tie the game at 13 at the end of regulation.Taking over at the Kansas City 20 with 1:51 remaining, Cassel led the Chiefs 52 yards -- converting a 4th-and-15 in the process -- to set up a 46-yard field goal by Ryan Succop as time expired."I thought our guys played and competed all night long," Cassel said. "We went up against a good football team and unfortunately we weren't able to pull it out in the end but I thought the way the guys handled the environment of Monday Night Football was great."Kansas City's only other victory this season came in overtime, a stunning upset in New Orleans in September. Any chance at a repeat faded when Cassel's pass on the second play of extra period landed in the hands of Timmons, who returned it 23 yards to set up Suisham's second game-winning field goal of the season.It was sweet vindication for a Pittsburgh defense that allowed AFC lesser lights Tennessee and Oakland to mount fourth-quarter comebacks earlier this season. Though the Steelers only managed to get the Chiefs -- last in the NFL in turnover differential -- to cough it up once, timing is everything."We got the one that count baby," linebacker Larry Foote said. "We got the one that count. They did a good job tonight, but we got the one that was big time."Tomlin didn't waste any time, sending the field goal team out immediately. Suisham's kick was good all the way, and now the Steelers begin a critical three-game stretch wondering when their two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback will be ready.Roethlisberger is in the midst of a career year but struggled through a so-so first half and was 9 of 18 for 84 yards and a touchdown when he tried to buy time in the pocket hoping to convert on third-and-4. Hali and Houston swarmed in and sent him into the turf, driving his throwing shoulder into the ground.Enter Leftwich, who managed to lead the Steelers on one scoring drive early in the fourth that gave them a 13-10 lead."After four or five plays, it was like riding a bike," Leftwich said. "I took a few hits. I hadn't hit the ground in awhile. It was a whole lot of things I hadn't done in awhile. It was good."Pittsburgh came in riding a three-game winning streak that erased the sour taste of a 2-3 start, and the Steelers insisted all week they wouldn't look past the Chiefs.Funny, Pittsburgh certainly looked distracted at the start of a raw, soggy night at Heinz Field.The Chiefs didn't take long to erase one bit of misery in their lifeless, luckless season, taking their first lead since New Year's Day during a spirited first half in which they avoided the kind of gaffes -- turnovers, penalties, assignment breakdowns -- that have plagued them all year.With Charles gashing Pittsburgh's defensive line and Cassel avoiding mistakes, Kansas City raced in front 10-0. Cassel hit Tony Moeaki for 38 yards on the Chiefs' second drive, setting up a 12-yard touchdown run by Charles to give Kansas City its first lead since a 7-3 victory over Denver in the 2011 regular-season finale.The lead grew to 10-0 after an Isaac Redman fumble deep in Pittsburgh territory led to a 22-yard field goal by Succop."I think we played well in all phases," Cassel said. "That was the first time we played well together this year."Like any brief flirtation with success for Kansas City, it didn't last. The Steelers pulled even at halftime on a 35-yard field goal by Suisham and a remarkable 7-yard touchdown grab in the corner of the end zone. The ball slid through Wallace's hands, but he secured it with his legs -- and controlled it -- before rolling out of bounds.There would be no second-half carryover, however. Whatever energy the Steelers had vanished the second Roethlisberger trudged to the sideline holding his right shoulder.In that moment all the chatter about Kansas City's visit and former Chiefs coach turned Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Todd Haley's shot at revenge vanished.NOTES:The Steelers have won 15 consecutive home games on Monday night ... Roethlisberger topped 1,000 career rushing yards with a 13-yard scramble in the first half ... Pittsburgh S Ryan Clark left the game in the fourth quarter with a concussion.

Kings could lose 2017 first-round pick obtained in Cousins trade

Kings could lose 2017 first-round pick obtained in Cousins trade

The highly touted 2017 NBA Draft is four months away and the Sacramento Kings have gone from a team with no stake in the conversation to a franchise with plenty of possibilities. Like everything else in Sacramento, it’s complicated. The Kings could have zero, one or two first round picks in the upcoming draft.

Kings Pick

All the way back on June 30 of 2011, Geoff Petrie dealt a protected first round pick (2012-2017) along with Omri Casspi to the Cleveland Cavaliers for power forward J.J. Hickson. Hickson didn’t even make it through the season with the Kings. After attempting to deal him at the trade deadline and finding no takers, Petrie waived Hickson on March 12, 2012.

The Cavs used the pick as part of a larger package to obtain forward Luol Deng from the Chicago Bulls on Jan. 6, 2014. Chicago has waited patiently to use the pick, but per the original trade, if the selection falls in the Top 10 this season (post lottery), it is not relayed this season and it becomes a protected second round pick. If the pick falls in the between selections 56-60 (mathematically unlikely at this point), the Kings keep the second round pick as well and the original trade is satisfied.

To complicate matters, if the pick falls between 1-10 this season and the Kings retain the selection, the Philadelphia 76ers have the right to swap picks. The pick swap stems from the July 9, 2015 trade that sent Carl Landry, Jason Thompson, Nik Stauskas, a protected first round selection (now an unprotected 2019 first round selection) and the rights to swap picks in 2016 and 2017 for the rights to Arturas Gudaitis, Luka Mitrovic and a future second round pick. The Sixers currently have the fifth worst record in the NBA.

What does it mean?

If the Kings make the playoffs, the pick is instantly relayed to the Chicago Bulls. If the Kings miss the playoffs, but land 11, 12, 13 or 14 in the draft following the lottery, the Bulls get the pick. If Sacramento lands anywhere in the Top 10 following the lottery, they retain the pick, but the Sixers have the opportunity to swap selections.

Pelicans Pick

On Feb 20, 2017, the Kings traded All-Star big man DeMarcus Cousins, along with forward Omri Casspi (again) to the New Orleans Pelicans for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, a protected first round selection and the Philadelphia 76ers 2017 second round pick.

The protections are a bit complicated on the Pelicans first round pick. If New Orleans makes the playoffs, the Kings instantly take the pick. If the Pelicans miss the playoffs and go into the lottery, the Kings are safe in 2017, as long as they don’t win the lottery and move into the top three spots.

If the Pelicans move into the top three in 2017 and keep the pick, it becomes a Top 1 protected pick for the next three seasons. In the nearly impossible scenario that the Pelicans draw a top three pick in 2017 and then follow that up with three straight no. 1 overall selections, the Kings receive the Timberwolves 2021 pick.

What does it all mean?

New Orleans currently sports the NBA’s sixth worst record and they trail the Denver Nuggets by 3.5 games for the eighth spot in the Western Conference playoff race. If the season were to end today, they would fall in the middle of the lottery. As long as the Pelicans don’t move into the Top 3, Sacramento gets the pick. If they win one of the top three picks, there is a high likelihood that the Kings will receive the selection in 2018.

Mayock: Plenty of draft options to help Raiders interior pass rush

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Mayock: Plenty of draft options to help Raiders interior pass rush

The Raiders want a better interior pass rush. That’s no secret, especially after they finished 2016 with a league-low 25 sacks despite getting 18 combined from edge rushers Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin.

Head coach Jack Del Rio said that was an issue at season’s end, and general manager Reggie McKenzie mentioned a desire to improve at every level of his defense.

He has a reputation for building a bully up front as he did on the offensive line. He can add players through free agency, but quality veterans cost a pretty penny during a time when prioritizing extensions for Derek Carr and Khalil Mack . The NFL draft might provide an opportunity to strengthen the interior defensive front.

Respected NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said in a Monday conference call that there are plenty of interior options in a deep defensive draft. He says quality can be found when the Raiders pick first at No. 24 overall, or later in the selection process.

“I think there is really good depth in the first three or four rounds for the interior D-line,” Mayock said.

That’s good news for the Raiders. They’ll get a closer look at interior linemen during this week’s NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, when prospects go under the microscope in workouts and meetings during a pivotal pre-draft gathering.

Florida’s Caleb Brantley and Michigan State’s Malik McDowell have been mentioned as possible late first-round options who might entice the Raiders at No. 24.

Mayock believes Brantley could help the Raiders inside, especially as a pass rusher.

“I think he's intriguing,” Mayock said. “He's a quick, one-gap guy. I don't think you want him playing three downs every snap. But as far as an ability to rush the quarterback and get an edge on interior offensive linemen, I think he's got that burst that you're looking for.”

The Raiders aren’t necessarily looking for a three-down player. They have some run-stopping specialists under contract next season, especially Justin Ellis. It’s possible Dan Williams gets released to create more cap room, but the Raiders could survive adding someone who can get after the passer inside.

McDowell is an intriguing prospect as well. He has immense natural talent and physical size – McKenzie prefers drafting big guys up front – though he needs refinement. Like Raiders 2015 second-round pick Mario Edwards Jr., McDowell was a five-star recruit out of high school who had some injury issues last season. He’s a versatile piece with a high ceiling at just 20 years old, and could work well with the line rotation and create havoc inside.

Edwards Jr. is capable of doing that when healthy. He missed most of last season with a hip injury, which left too much responsibility on raw rookie Jihad Ward and other unfit to getting a steady pass rush.

“I think he's one of those guys that can kick inside in sub packages,” Mayock said. “I think he's got that kind of size and versatility to play inside and out, and they really missed him.”

Mayock also mentioned interior options outside the first round, including Charlotte’s Larry Ogunjobi. He considers Ogunjobi a second-round pick with pass-rush ability and potential in the run game.

“There are some guys out there that can help even through the third round,” Mayock said.

The analyst mentioned UCLA’s Eddie Vanderdoes, Tulane’s Tanzel Smart, Auburn’s Montravius Adams and Iowa’s Jaleel Johnson as options through the third round.

There are other options at No. 24 overall, especially if quality interior defensive linemen are available in later rounds. The Raiders need help at interior linebacker and in the secondary. Latavius Murray could leave in free agency, and while there’s plenty of depth in that position group a Stanford product could interest the Raiders at No. 24.

“Who is going to help them? Is Christian McCaffrey on the clock at that point? Who could help the Oakland Raiders at No. 24?” Mayock said. “I think the running back situation is interesting. I'm not sure there are going to be any tackles at that point. I think they also have to look at linebackers and at 24, I think there are some interesting guys off the line linebackers also.”