From Comcast SportsNetJACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- When asked what Jacksonville's top need is heading into the NFL draft, general manager Gene Smith was quick to respond."Talent," he said.No doubt, the Jaguars are lacking it on both sides of the ball.And that makes this week's three-day draft, which begins Thursday night, pivotal for a rebuilding franchise that has missed the playoffs 10 of the last 12 years. The Jaguars have the seventh pick in the first round, their fifth consecutive year with a top-10 selection.What they do with it is anyone's guess.The Jaguars, though, have made it clear they would like to trade down from No. 7 and acquire extra picks. They have been fielding calls for weeks about potential swaps, but no deal will be made until draft night."We've already received more phone calls this year than any other year," McDonough said. "There's some jockeying going on."If the Jaguars stay put, expect them to select a pass rusher or a receiver.Although Jacksonville re-signed defensive end Jeremy Mincey in free agency, the team did nothing else to upgrade a D-line that has some glaring holes.Defensive end Aaron Kampman has missed 15 games over the last two seasons because of knee injuries, a bad sign for a 32-year-old player. Defensive tackle D'Anthony Smith, a third-round pick in 2010, hasn't played a down in two years. Tyson Alualu, John Chick and Austen Lane also are coming off injuries.And then there's defensive end Terrance Knighton, who will miss the majority of the offseason following unplanned eye surgery. Knighton, who has battled weight issues throughout his career, was struck in the face during a bar fight earlier this month. It's unclear if the 340-pounder will make a full recovery and how effective he would be after missing so much time."Our hope is that Terrance has a complete recovery, but there is a little uncertainty at this point," Smith said.The Jaguars could draft South Carolina's Melvin Ingram or Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox to help bolster the D-line. Ingram is considered the best edge rusher in the draft, and Cox is considered the top tackle.Smith believes the draft is the deepest at defensive tackle, so selecting one in the first round might not be as big a priority as other positions.Jacksonville's biggest need after last season was receiver, someone who can help young quarterback Blaine Gabbert develop quickly.The Jaguars had arguably the worst receiving corps in the league, with slot receiver Mike Thomas masquerading as a No. 1 guy. Thomas led the team with 44 catches for 415 yards. Fellow starter Jason Hill was released in November, and rookie Cecil Shorts, a fourth-round pick expected to contribute right away, had just to catches."Obviously we need to upgrade," Smith said. "I think that is one area we determined in our postseason roster evaluation, but it wouldn't force us into doing something that wouldn't be good for the organization."Jacksonville signed Laurent Robinson and Lee Evans in free agency. Robinson and Evans looked sharp in the team's orientation camp last week. But Robinson still has to prove he's more than a one-year wonder after catching 53 passes for 858 yards and 11 touchdowns last season with the Dallas Cowboys. And the 31-year-old Evans has to prove he hasn't lost a step since his numbers have decreased each of the last three seasons.Even with those additions, the Jaguars are looking to upgrade the receiving corps. Jacksonville hasn't had a legitimate No. 1 receiver since Jimmy Smith retired following the 2005 season.Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon, considered the No. 1 receiver in the draft, probably would need to slip for Jacksonville to land him at No. 7. Other possibilities include Notre Dame's Michael Floyd, Baylor's Kendall Wright, Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill and South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery.Cornerback is another potential draft spot for Jacksonville. The team re-signed veteran starter Rashean Mathis and added former New York Giants starter Aaron Ross. They are expected to compete for the starting job in training camp, unless the Jaguars add someone early in the draft.Despite all the speculation about who the Jaguars should take, Smith would prefer to trade down and acquire more picks -- and more talent."It's a good draft to trade back," he said. "There are some players clearly in rounds 2 through 5 that could help us. Again, I'm probably a little selfish on draft picks because you put all that work in and you would like to have more draft picks. But I'm not going to move for the sake of moving unless it makes sense. I'm not about being cute, probably more about executing based on our plan going in."
Three days after the conclusion of the NFL Draft, Lamarr Houston already fired the first shot in the new chapter of the Bears-Packers rivalry.
After the Bears beat the Packers on Thanksgiving night last season, Houston spouted off on Aaron Rodgers, saying, "I give two flying you know what about him. I really don't like that guy."
The Bears linebacker made an appearance on ESPN's SportsNation Monday and further explained his issue with the Green Bay quarterback, including Rodgers' championship belt celebration:
"He's a little arrogant for me," Houston said. "He's a little too arrogant. He's a cheesehead. I'm a Bear; he's a cheesehead. I have a lot of respect for his game, I will say that. He's a great quarterback and as a player, I have a lot of respect for his game. That whole championship belt thing kinda gets on my nerves."
When asked if Rodgers has ever displayed this arrogance on the field besides the celebration, Houston said:
"He's chimed a few words to me before. And I'll keep that to myself."
It's particularly interesting that Houston takes issue with Rodgers' celebrations considering the linebacker tore his ACL celebrating a sack in the Bears' blowout loss to the New England Patriots in 2014.
Houston recorded seven tackles and a sack of Rodgers in that Thanksgiving matchup last season.
The Bears meet the Packers at Lambeau Field in Week 7 and host Rodgers and Co. at Soldier Field Week 15 in 2016.
Artem Anisimov said last week that he and the Blackhawks had to make the most of this offseason to be prepared for 2016-17. On Tuesday, he took care of something that was apparently ailing him.
Anisimov underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair an injury to his right wrist. Blackhawks team physician Dr. Michael Terry said in a statement that, “the surgery went well. We anticipate his return to full hockey activities in approximately six to eight weeks.”
The 27-year-old center played in 77 regular-season and all seven postseason games for the Blackhawks. He was tied for second on the team with three postseason goals (with Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith).
During last week’s closing meetings, Anisimov said he was going to stay in the Chicago area “for a while” before returning to Russia. He also talked about finding the silver lining in the Blackhawks’ early playoff exit.
“We just need to spend our summer wisely, get prepared for the next season and move forward,” he said.
Players keep leaving the Michigan basketball program.
An offseason of roster turnover continued Tuesday, when the school announced that junior-to-be Kameron Chatman has been granted a release from his scholarship and will transfer.
"I honestly don't think I could have had a more quality life experience than I did in Ann Arbor," Chatman said in the announcement. "I am incredibly grateful for my two years at Michigan. I would like to thank coach (John) Beilein and his entire staff for taking a chance on a small-town kid out of Portland. I know my experience has inspired others as I will take all of my lessons learned to continue my pursuit of becoming the best man and player I can. Go Blue!"
"Kam is a wonderful young man with the potential to mature into a fine college player," Beilein said. "We have enjoyed coaching him over the past two years and wish him nothing but the best."
Chatman becomes the fourth player to transfer out of the program this offseason, joining Spike Albrecht, Ricky Doyle and Aubrey Dawkins. Albrecht announced his decision to attend Purdue on Tuesday, and Dawkins is planning a move to Central Florida so he can play for his father.
Chatman started 17 games over his two seasons with the Wolverines, averaging 3.2 points and two rebounds per game.
Last season, he hit a buzzer-beating, game-winning shot in the Big Ten Tournament to lift Michigan to an upset of top-seeded Indiana. The shot gave the Wolverines a signature win and likely was the difference in the team making th NCAA tournament field.
Chatman was a four-star recruit out of high school, ranked as the No. 25 player in the Class of 2014. He was part of a six-man Michigan recruiting class that season, only two of which remain in Ann Arbor.
Due to NCAA rules, Chatman will have to sit out next season before playing his final two years of eligibility at his next school.