Crosby's return right around the corner?

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Crosby's return right around the corner?

From Comcast SportsNet
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Sidney Crosby's head is clear. The superstar's return, however, remains murky. The Pittsburgh Penguins captain participated in his first full practice since concussion-like symptoms resurfaced in December and there is growing optimism he'll be back before the playoffs begin next month. The ever-cautious Crosby insists there still is no timetable on when he'll be cleared to play in a game, but he looked crisp while spending more than an hour on the Consol Energy Center ice. "It's a good step," Crosby said. "Hopefully, I can keep the momentum and get out there soon." Though the headaches and motion issues that have bothered him intermittently since a loss to Boston on Dec. 5 have subsided, Crosby has been through this drill too often over the last 14 months to get too excited. The 24-year-old former MVP was spectacular in his return from a 10-month layoff in November, scoring twice in his season debut against the New York Islanders and collecting 12 points in eight games before he woke up with an all-too familiar feeling on Dec. 6. During that initial comeback he was cleared for contact in early October and had to wait about six weeks before getting the OK to suit up for a game. It may not take that long this time. "I'm going to give myself days, for sure, of contact," Crosby said. "If you look at our schedule, we have two more practices, I think, this week. No sooner than Sunday I would say but I'm not going to sit here and put a date on it. It would be total guesswork." Coach Dan Bylsma echoed Crosby's sentiments, but made sure Crosby got bounced around during a lively practice session. "It was man-on-man type stuff, some puck battles," Bylsma said. "We had him get through today, we'll see where we progress on day three, four, five and six." Crosby called the lineup "a dangerous place to be" and felt he "was getting a lot of bumps out there." It was a welcome feeling after three anxious months in which Crosby crisscrossed the country visiting specialists in hopes of getting a better handle on his health. Tests conducted out in California in late January discovered a previously undiagnosed soft tissue injury in his neck that mimics a concussion. He took a shot as part of the treatment and claims the results have been largely positive. "It's nice to be symptom free, but it's not as fulfilling until you get out there," Crosby said. "I just want to make sure that I take the right steps here and get back out there soon." The Penguins have surged over the last two months even with Crosby watching from a suite well above the ice. Pittsburgh has a six-game winning streak going into Wednesday's game against Toronto behind the play of MVP-candidate Evgeni Malkin and wingers Chris Kunitz and James Neal. Kunitz has typically teamed with Crosby since arriving in Pittsburgh in 2009, but Crosby doesn't expect Bylsma to break up arguably the league's hottest line whenever he's cleared to play. "They have a perfect mix of guys there to create every shift," Crosby said. Crosby has been pushing himself during non-contact drills in recent weeks and enjoyed getting knocked around on Tuesday. Yet he knows nothing can replicate game action. All he can do is get prepared. After that, it's up to chance. Either way, he's feeling better both on and off the ice. Considering what he's gone through the last 14 months, that's good news. "It's just one of those things where you get used to having things for so long you forget what normal is," he said. "I feel like normal has been a lot more regularly."

Jonathan Bullard Chicago Bears NFL Draft Profile

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Jonathan Bullard Chicago Bears NFL Draft Profile

As part of our coverage leading up to the 2016 NFL Draft we will provide profiles of more than 150 prospects, including a scouting report and video interviews with each player.

Jonathan Bullard (DL), Florida

6’3” | 285 lbs.

2015 stats:

63 tackles, 18 TFL, 6.5 sacks, 2 PD

Selection:

3rd Round, 72nd overall to Chicago Bears

Scouting Report:

"Where He Wins: Bullard tested like a great athlete, which was a bit surprising. I love his ability to win as a defensive end against the run and impact passing downs when lining up inside. Bullard can win with power immediately or can win with length to shed and make the tackle." - Josh Norris, Rotoworld.com

Video analysis provided by NBC Sports and Rotoworld NFL Draft expert Josh Norris.

Costly mistakes, Nolan Reimold's HR send White Sox to 6-3 loss vs. O's

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Costly mistakes, Nolan Reimold's HR send White Sox to 6-3 loss vs. O's

BALTIMORE — The White Sox haven’t given away many games this season, but Friday’s effort qualifies for sure.

Two innings after the defense made several costly errors, Carlos Rodon yielded a three-run homer to Nolan Reimold and the Baltimore Orioles sent the White Sox to a 6-3 loss in front of 19,912 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Reimold’s seventh-inning, opposite-field homer off Rodon broke a 3-all tie and led to a second straight White Sox loss.

Following a defensive breakdown in the fifth that led to three runs, Rodon looked like he had things under control. He cruised through the heart of the Orioles order in the sixth inning and needed only eight pitches to retire the side.

But Baltimore’s bats heated up in a hurry in the seventh. Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy both singled and Reimold jumped on a first-pitch fastball from Rodon and drove it out to right field to put the Orioles ahead 6-3.

Rodon allowed six runs (four earned) and eight hits in seven innings while striking out seven and walking one.

The left-hander had been on cruise control for the game’s first four innings, using a strong slider to efficiently keep the Orioles under wraps. Rodon used only 55 pitches and had only allowed an opposite-field single as the White Sox led 1-0.

But Rodon issued a leadoff walk to Adam Jones in the fifth and Brett Lawrie’s error on Wieters’ potential double play ball put runners on the corners. Still, Rodon induced a grounder to third from Hardy and Jones was caught too far off third base, which led to a rundown and the first out of the inning. An infield single by Reimold then loaded the bases and Jonathan Schoop’s two-run single gave the Orioles a 2-1 advantage. Rodon induced another grounder off Joey Rickard’s bat but Jimmy Rollins’ relay throw wiped out another double play and reached the stands, allowing a third run to score. The Orioles’ rally would have continued had it not been for a perfect throw home by Adam Eaton to nail Rickard on Manny Machado’s two-out single.

The White Sox fought back from the two-run deficit but missed out on a big opportunity in the sixth. Jose Abreu’s one-out RBI single got the White Sox within a run and Todd Frazier walked to load the bases. But Jones raced in to catch Melky Cabrera’s liner and fired a perfect throw home to nail Rollins and keep the Orioles ahead 3-2.

Lawrie wiped out the lead in the seventh, however, with a solo homer off reliever Brad Brach. But the White Sox, who went ahead in the second on Avisail Garcia’s RBI triple, got no further against Brach, Darren O’Day and Zach Britton.

Bears shore up offensive line, select Kansas State's Cody Whitehair

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Bears shore up offensive line, select Kansas State's Cody Whitehair

Happy Birthday, Jay Cutler.

On the day that the Bears’ quarterback turned 33, the Bears used a second-round pick on a QB protector, trading down twice before selecting Kansas State offensive lineman Cody Whitehair with the 56th pick of the draft.

Whitehair, 6-foot-4, 305 pounds, was a four-year starter who has played both right and left tackle, starting all 13 games in 2014 at left tackle and performing well enough to earn first-team All-Big 12 honors as a senior.

The Bears have sounded pleased with Charles Leno at left tackle, backed up by Nick Becton, and signed Bobby Massie in free agency to settle at right tackle, backed up by 2015 sixth-round pick Tayo Fabuluje.

With Whitehair, Massie and signings of guard/centers Ted Lawson and Manny Ramirez, the Bears have set up the potential for nothing short of furious competition for two of the three interior-line positions on offense. Kyle Long has appeared set at right guard but center Hroniss Grasu and left guard Matt Slauson face major position battles, barring a shift of Long or Whitehair to tackle and inflaming the competition there.