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Newton's future with Pats in spotlight after blowout loss – TSN

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Cam Newton didn’t want to talk about his future with the Patriots following New England’s 38-9 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Monday night.

But he couldn’t stop his frustration from seeping through about how a season that began with lofty expectations has fallen apart.

Newton had a touchdown run, but finished just 5 of 10 for 34 yards passing before being pulled in the third quarter for backup Jarrett Stidham.

Newton’s 34 yards passing were the fewest by a Patriots starting quarterback since 1993. It marked his fourth time this season with fewer than 100 yards passing in a game.

“It’s extremely frustrating, knowing what you’re capable of, having belief in yourself,” Newton said. “It’s just not showing when it counts the most.”

What’s worse, after being rescued by coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots after he initially received no offers in free agency, Newton signed a one-year deal hoping to prove himself and bring stability to an offence that had just lost Tom Brady to Tampa Bay.

Instead, the loss Monday was a microcosm of Newton’s year. A season full of mistakes, a stagnant passing game and only flashes of the MVP player he was earlier in his career.

After closing to 10-9 in the second quarter, the Patriots were outscored 28-0 the rest of the way, dropping them to 6-9 and cementing their second losing record during Belichick’s 21 seasons in New England.

The defeat marked the first time New England has been swept in the season series by Buffalo since 1999. The Patriots’ run of 19 straight seasons without losing both games to a division opponent was an NFL record.

The Patriots entered missing primary running back Damien Harris, who sat out for the second consecutive game with an ankle injury. They were also down two of their top tacklers in defensive lineman Lawrence Guy and linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley, both sidelined with shoulder issues.

Their absences were felt as Bills quarterback Josh Allen passed 320 yards and four touchdowns, joining Alex Smith as the only visiting quarterbacks to throw four or more TD passes with no interceptions in a game at Gillette Stadium.

New England’s two worst home losses under Belichick have both come this season: 33-6 against the 49ers in Week 7 and Monday night versus Buffalo.

Asked if he felt he’ll be auditioning for a contract either in New England or elsewhere in Sunday’s season finale against the Jets, Newton said he hadn’t thought about it.

“I don’t care about no contract. I just want to win,” he said.

Stidham was 4 of 11 for 44 yards in relief of Newton. Offensive co-ordinator Josh McDaniels said last week he felt he had a good idea how much Stidham has developed in his two seasons. What remains unclear is whether Belichick wants to use the final week to get another look at Stidham heading into the off-season.

Belichick said he hadn’t made a decision about who will start at quarterback next week against the Jets.

“It was the opportunity to give him a chance to play,” Belichick said of inserting Stidham. “Cam did a good job for us. I mean, that wasn’t the problem. We were just not very competitive in the beginning.”

Newton said he’s appreciative that Belichick has stuck with him this season and added that he’ll play whatever role he is given next week.

“I’d be first person to tell you I need to play better. At the same time it’s just things that if I’m asked to do something, that’s what I’m going to do,” Newton said. “I’ve never been a person to be controversial in the locker room, contrary to any other person’s belief. I try to be the best teammate I can possibly be. That’s what I will continue to do.”

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More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Ranking the Canucks’ J.T. Miller first-line fill-in options – The Athletic

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The Vancouver Canucks’ first line hasn’t found its stride out of the gate in the 2021 campaign.

It’s not that they’ve played poorly, necessarily. Brock Boeser had two goals in the opener while Elias Pettersson had a brilliant assist on Wednesday and was a decimetre from a perfect shot for his first goal on Thursday night. It’s just that the usual withering persistence and territorial dominance that the Canucks have counted on their top-line to generate hasn’t shown up yet.

And so the Canucks and head coach Travis Green find themselves in a situation not all that dissimilar from the one they faced after two games in 2019-20. Back in those innocent days of October 2019, the line with Pettersson and Boeser on it hadn’t quite clicked out of the gate with new Canucks forward Micheal Ferland. After two games, J.T. Miller was installed on the first line and voila: the Canucks constructed the most imposing forward line in the Western…

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Toronto Blue Jays, Teoscar Hernandez settle ahead of arbitration – TSN

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The Toronto Blue Jays and outfielder Teoscar Hernandez have settled at $4.325 million ahead of arbitration, it was announced Friday.

After a couple of up and downs seasons to begin his Blue Jays career, Hernandez broke out in a big way last season, hitting 16 home runs and driving in 34 runs over the course of 50 games to finish 11th in American League MVP voting.

He also posted a career-best OPS of .919, well above his .774 average over his first two full seasons as a member of the Jays. Prior to his time in Toronto, the Cotui, Domincan Republic native spent time with the Houston Astros.

But that wasn’t the only move the Jays made on Friday.

The team also announced they have settled at $3 million with right-hander Ross Stripling prior to arbitration.

He was acquired by the Jays at last summer’s trade deadline in exchange for a player to be named later that turned out to be pitcher Kendall Williams. The 31-year-old Stripling pitched to an ERA of 5.84 in 12 games combined between L.A. and Toronto in 2020.

Meanwhile, according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, the Blue Jays also signed 16-year-old international free agent shortstop Manuel Beltre for $2.6 million on Friday. He was listed at No. 24 on MLB Pipeline’s top 30 international free agents list.

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Harden says he’s ‘forever indebted’ to Houston in farewell message to fans – Sportsnet.ca

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After a dramatic departure out of Houston, James Harden is Brooklyn-bound — but not before bidding farewell to Rockets faithful in a heartfelt post.

Harden bid a final farewell to Houston via Instagram on Friday, saying he’s “forever indebted” to the team and its fans.

“What can I write? What words can convey all the ways I feel,” he wrote in a post that accompanied a highlight reel of his career with the Rockets. “Houston you welcomed me with no guarantees. Took a leap of faith and it changed my life and the lives of my family forever. This organization, this city has given me everything I could ask for and more. Before the scoring titles long before MVP you believed. For that I am forever indebted.”

During his eight-year Houston tenure, Harden was a three-time scoring champ and earned MVP honours in 2017-18. Despite being paired with fellow stars like Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook in recent years, Harden was never able to propel the Rockets beyond the Western Conference Finals — a regret he noted in Friday’s goodbye address, which concluded with an interest note, adding that it’s “far from a good bye as I pay all my debts.”

“The city opened its arms and welcomed me and my family as one of its own and for that I am forever indebted,” Harden continued. “I gave my mind body and soul in hopes of bringing the glory to the city. I fell short and for that I am forever indebted. It’s far from a good bye as I pay all my debts. TMC H Town!”

Harden’s time with Houston came to a dramatic end on Wednesday, after what began as speculation that he wanted out swiftly became a “crazy” situation that Harden told reporters was something “I don’t think can be fixed.”

He now heads to the Brooklyn Nets following this week’s blockbuster deal, reuniting with old OKC teammate Kevin Durant and fellow Nets star Kyrie Irving to chase the championship that has so far eluded him.

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