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Icon Sportswire, USA TODAY Sports
2hBill Barnwell

Zeke for MVP? Better take a closer look

For a running back to win an MVP in 2016, he should at least be tops at his position. And Ezekiel Elliott hasn't been any better in 2016 than David Johnson. The evidence is clear.

Al Powers for ESPN
30mBrett Okamoto

Pettis misses weight for UFC 206 main event

Anthony Pettis missed weight for the interim featherweight championship fight against Max Holloway at UFC 206 and will no longer be able to win the interim belt.

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10hMike Triplett

Witness says Will Smith brought 'his own demise'

A witness in the trial of Cardell Hayes said that former Saints player Will Smith brought about 'his own demise' by acting as an aggressor on the night that Smith was shot and killed.

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3hMatt Bowen

The Uncoverables: Best NFL WRs in every category

Who's the best deep threat? Which WR is most dangerous after the catch? What about the toughest player to cover in the red zone? Here's your ultimate breakdown of the league's top wide receivers.

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Jordan's legendary run of seven straight triple-doubles (1:20)
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Howard thinks Applewhite is great hire for Houston (0:43)
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SVP moved by Holly Rowe, James Conner speeches (1:51)
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Hill turns on the jets for 78-yard punt return TD (0:35)
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Pop holding his players accountable for loss (1:06)
Al Pereira/New York Jets/Getty Images
1hPaul Lukas

Uni Watch: The NFL's shell game

Friday Flashback: With the NFL's helmet rule, there are now 16 throwback looks that are off-limits.

Now

Vaughn McClure ESPN Staff Writer 

Julio Jones going through drills without a helmet today in recovery from turf toe. Won't know his game status until Dan Quinn addresses media after practice. Jake Matthews (knee) back with a helmet today. Mohamed Sanu (groin) not doing anything.

Jacob Wolf Reporter 

North America's Evil Geniuses defeats tournament favorite Virtus.Pro 2-0 in the quarterfinals of Dota 2's Boston Major at the Wang Theatre in Boston. With the big win, Evil Geniuses will move on to face the winner of Warriors Gaming Unity and OG.

Mark Saxon ESPN Staff Writer 

Dexter Fowler switched to No. 25 since No. 24 is retired in St. Louis for Whitey Herzog. He talked about switching allegiances.

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Mike Rodak ESPN Staff Writer 

Rex Ryan says he is "concerned" that DT Kyle Williams cannot play Sunday after his back locked up last night. Ryan says Jerel Worthy and others will need to step up.

Bob Pockrass NASCAR 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. plans to soon resume negotiations with team owner Rick Hendrick on a contract extension. His current deal ends after the 2017 season and negotiations were put on hold during the summer when Earnhardt suffered a concussion and missed the final 18 races of 2016. He has been cleared to resume racing in 2017. Earnhardt: "We're probably going to revisit that before the season starts."

Mark Saxon ESPN Staff Writer 

After signing Dexter Fowler, the Cardinals say they are now in the market most likely for "complementary pieces," but with so many power bats still available on the free agent market, it's not out of the question the Cardinals could get involved for one of them. A bigger issue than money could be fit. If they bring in a first baseman, for example, Matt Carpenter would have to play elsewhere on the infield and his defense was suspect last season. "There are still some things we could possibly do," general manager John Mozeliak said.

Craig Custance ESPN Senior Writer 

Alex Ovechkin has said he's playing in next Olympics regardless of whether or not NHL players participate. Capitals owner Ted Leonsis says he would support Ovechkin if that's his decision.

Rich Cimini ESPN Staff Writer 

Jets RT Breno Giacomini (back) has been ruled out for Sunday, so Brent Qvale will start, per Todd Bowles. This means the offensive line will have three starters that were backups in training camp -- Qvale, LT Ben Ijalana and C Wes Johnson. DT Steve McLendon, LB Lorenzo Mauldin, S Antonio Allen, WR Jalin Marshall and RB Khiry Robinson also are OUT due to injuries. It looks like WR Devin Smith will make his 2016 debut.

Michael Rothstein ESPN Staff Writer 

Travis Swanson the only Lions player not participating in open portion of practice but was standing off on the side. DeAndre Levy practiced again. Will be interesting to see his status for Sunday. Hasn't played since Week 1.

Pat McManamon ESPN Staff Writer 

The Bengals gained 559 yards the first time they played the Browns this season. What did defensive coordinator Ray Horton tell his group about that? "If we do things right, teams do not do that to you," Horton said.

Sam Khan Jr. ESPN Staff Writer 

New Houston head coach Major Applewhite has worked for: Mack Brown, Greg Robinson, Todd Graham, Nick Saban and Tom Herman.

Mark Schwarz ESPN Reporter 

After leaving the courtroom sobbing loudly and in tears about 20 minutes ago as a forensic expert provided explicit details about gunshot wounds and autopsy pictures of her slain husband, Racquel Smith has now returned to her seat in the courtroom where traffic crash reconstruction expert Mike Sunseri is on the stand. Sunseri will give the jury his expert testimony about the two traffic accidents that led to the fatal shooting of Former New Orleans Saint Will Smith on April 9, 2016.

NFL 

Mike DiRocco ESPN Staff Writer 

Jaguars rule out TE Julius Thomas, WR Allen Hurns, DE Jared Odrick, RB Denard Robinson, CB Peyton Thompson for Sunday's game against Minnesota.

Tim McManus ESPN Staff Writer 

Eagles receivers Dorial Green-Beckham (oblique) and Jordan Matthews (ankle) are questionable for Sunday's game against Washington, as is RB Ryan Mathews (knee), according to Doug Pederson. RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee) is out.

Sam Khan Jr. ESPN Staff Writer 

One big plus for Houston in promoting offensive coordinator Major Applewhite: his in-state recruiting ties. He spent 11 of his 13 seasons in the state of Texas. As a Baton Rouge native, he also is familiar with the Louisiana landscape. Both states are fertile with talent.

Brett Okamoto ESPN Staff Writer 

Per UFC president Dana White, Saturday's UFC 206 main event in Toronto is still an interim title fight for Max Holloway. Anthony Pettis loses opportunity to win interim title because he did not make weight.

Calvin Watkins ESPN Staff Writer 

Rockets are close to signing forward Donatas Motiejunas to a four-year $35 million deal according to multiple sources. The key to the deal is a $9 million guarantee for 2017-18. Rockets have until mid-July to make a decision on that.

Jenna Laine ESPN Staff Writer 

Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is back out on the practice field this morning. He's still nursing a foot injury. Will Gholston, who has been nursing a sprained ankle, continues to practice.

Mark Schwarz ESPN Reporter 

Racquel Smith exited the courtroom sobbing uncontrollably as an expert from the coroner's office in New Orleans detailed the trajectory and impact of the 8 gunshot wounds that killed her husband, former New Orleans Saint Will Smith. Dr. Samantha Huber explained to the jury that the fatal shot hit Smith's heart and that he would have been paralyzed in the lower extremities. The shooter, Cardell Hayes, is on trial for second degree murder of Smith and claims he killed the Saints legend in self-defense.

NFL 

Mike Rodak ESPN Staff Writer 

WR Sammy Watkins on the field for Friday's Bills practice. DT Kyle Williams is not.

Rob Demovsky ESPN Staff Writer 

Sunday's ever-changing forecast now calls for snow during Packers-Seahawks. "We watch the weather – whether it's going to snow, how much snow, rain, wind," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "You look at the elements and you adjust accordingly. I don't really talk about the weather until the team meeting tomorrow because it can change. [Administrative assistant] Matt Klein is our weather man and he's kind of like your weather man. It changes every day."

Sam Khan Jr. ESPN Staff Writer 

New Houston coach Major Applewhite will receive a five-year contract, a source told ESPN.com. No word yet on salary or other parameters.

Sam Khan Jr. ESPN Staff Writer 

New Houston coach Major Applewhite assumes his position immediately, meaning he'll lead the Cougars in the Las Vegas Bowl vs. San Diego State. Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando, who was the interim head coach during the search, will assume his usual duties.

Brett Okamoto ESPN Staff Writer 

UFC's Anthony Pettis has missed weight for his interim featherweight title fight tomorrow at UFC 206 in Toronto. 148 pounds, three over the limit. His opponent, Max Holloway, made weight at 145.

Calvin Watkins ESPN Staff Writer 

The Rockets pulled the $31 million offer sheet to power forward Donatas Motiejunas on Friday and are working on a new contract according to a source. Motiejunas returns to restricted free agency status. Motiejunas had signed a $37 million offer sheet with Brooklyn last week but after the Rockets matched the sheet, which was without $6 million in incentive clauses, he declined to report for a physical.