Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mathis back at practice, on target for Nov. 10 return

Evan Mathis made a bold prediction when he was felled by a sprained medial collateral ligament in the Eagles' season-opening win against the Jacksonville Jaguars: he'd be back as soon as he could be physically able.

On Wednesday, the first step in that process was complete, as Mathis returned to the field for his first practice session. Though wearing a thick brace, he told he felt little pain or discomfort.

"I could play, if I had to. I went out there with the attitude that I wasn't going to hesitate. I wasn't going to be gun-shy. Even warmups. Full speed, running and it felt great. Hitting comes after that and it was awesome."

Even though Mathis is chomping at the proverbial bit to get back into the trenches, he's not going to see action until at least November 10 when the Birds host the Carolina Panthers. Under the NFL's rules regarding the injured reserve/designated to return list, a player is eligible to return to practice after six weeks but cannot take the field until the eighth week passes. 

"It would probably be pushing it to come back this early," Mathis said. "If it weren't for this designation, if it was a playoff game, or if there was something on the line then I would probably do it.

The 32-year-old Alabama product, who has started in all 48 games in which he's appeared for the franchise, will be returning to a club which ranks first in the NFC East and seventh overall in points allowed, while placing 14th in total yards given up.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Meet Pittsburgh Dad

You know that annoying fan, the one who's the quickest to demand a trade when things aren't going well and to demand a statue in the honor of the best player when things are going well?

The one who is always screaming "SHOOT" and "PASS" at the TV when either home or at the bar, and who does it louder as a paying customer. The one who is indoctrinated, like the citizens of Orwell's fictitious Airstrip One, to hate whichever city is the current rival of their favorite team. He's the everyman, trying to get through his days unscathed, just waiting for the catharsis any sporting event provides.

No, it's not your typical Philadelphia Flyers die hard. It's his diametrically-opposed counterpart, who shows his colors six hours to the West.

A well-known and well-connected series of blogs has just deemed the city at the confluence of the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers to possess the single-worst accent in America, and The Phanatic has decided in the interest of its readership, to alert the masses before tonight's first meeting between the Flyers and Penguins at CONSOL Energy Center.

Ladies and Gentlemen of Flyers Nation, meet Pittsburgh Dad:

Begun by Greater Pittsburgh natives Chris Preksta and Curt Wootton (who plays the title character in a series stretching by more than 100 episodes) as a strictly web series three years ago, Pittsburgh Dad is a caricature of the men who are now fathers of the next generation. In that time, PD has encountered all of life's tough road blocks, like a neighbor who roots for the "other" team, taking the kids on vacation to Florida, the peace that comes with the first day of school, and making sure the religious nuts think nobody's home.

The dead-on impressions of your typical sports-crazed male parent has turned Wootton into something greater than just a cult hero in the 'Burgh, but since they're there and we're here, with very little intersecting interests, the best and brightest of Philadelphia hockey fandom has yet to see -- and to mock -- a tried and true Yinzer.

Here's your chance. The following video, from three seasons back, demonstrates the typical thought process of a Penguins fan while his team is playing the Flyers. Take special note of the joke at now-deposed head coach Dan Bylsma's expense early on, and the one at Jaromir Jagr's expense roughly two-thirds of the way through:

Take a second to rearrange your gray matter after sitting through 4 1/2 minutes of pure unadulterated Pittsburghese. I'll watch the time.

I wonder what PD would have to say when confronted with the following facts: since the closing of Mellon Arena in 2010, with a Game 7 second-round loss to the Montreal Canadiens, the Penguins have won zero Stanley Cups, two division titles and exactly three playoff rounds.

The Orange and Black have racked up an 11-2-1 record, including playoffs, in the new building and have gone unbeaten in regulation in 12 of the 14 meetings with the Pens as hosts. The Flyers are looking to extend their win streak in the city to four games, after sweeping all three contests a season ago.

At least he's easier on the eyes and ears than Mark Madden.

Phillies bring back Williams with one-year deal

On Tuesday, right-handed starter Jerome Williams agreed to a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Phillies. The new pact also includes undisclosed performance bonuses.

The 32-year-old went 4-2 with a 2.83 ERA in nine starts for the Phils after being claimed off waivers from the Texas Rangers on Aug. 10. A native of Honolulu, Hawaii, Williams allowed two earned runs or fewer in six of his nine starts as the Phillies went 6-3 in those games. He also set a major-league record by beating the Oakland Athletics three times in one season with three different teams (HOU, TEX, PHI). 

A veteran of 10 major league seasons, Williams has pitched for seven different clubs including the San Francisco Giants (2003-05), Chicago Cubs (2005-06), Washington Nationals (2007) and Los Angeles Angels (2011-13). In that time, he has compiled a 48-54 record and 4.40 ERA in 891 1/3 innings over 192 games (128 starts).

Monday, October 20, 2014

'Nova QB Robertson wins CAA Player of the Week again

The Villanova Wildcats are 6-1 and the class of the Colonial Athletic Association, and once again, quarterback John Robertson gained the conference's nod for the best offensive player.

'Nova outlasted William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA last Saturday by a 35-31 count, and Robertson fueled the effort. Some highlights from that game and others across the league are below:

Robertson, a native of Paramus, NJ, completed 20-of-32 for 267 yards and two touchdowns to go with 18 carries for 63 yards and two scores in the victory. He has taken home top offensive honors for a CAA-record 14th time.

From a school release:  Robertson has completed 119-of-172 (69.2%) for 1,723 yards and 22 touchdowns. He has also rushed 111 times for 422 yards and three touchdowns. Robertson currently leads the country at the FCS level in passing efficiency (194.4), ranks third in passing touchdowns (22) and fourth in completion percentage (69.2%).

Laughton named AHL's top player for Week 1

Three games into their inaugural season, and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms are already on the American Hockey League's honor roll.

On Monday afternoon, Scott Laughton was selected as the player of the week for the period ending October 19.

Laughton paced the Phantoms' offense by potting four goals in two games for the Phantoms last week, including two power-play tallies and a short-handed marker.

In Lehigh Valley’s home opener on Friday night against the Adirondack Flames, Laughton scored the first regular-season goal in PPL Center history and tied the game at 2-2 late in the second with another power-play marker.

In the back end of the home-and-home set with the Flames on Saturday in Glens Falls, Laughton scored once while his team was a man down and once at even strength to erase an early 2-0 deficit as the Phantoms rallied to tie but eventually lost to Adirondack, 4-2.

A first-round pick (20th overall) by Philadelphia in the 2012 draft, Laughton was a First Team Ontario Hockey League All-Star in 2013-14, notching 40 goals and 47 assists for 87 points in 54 games for the Oshawa Generals.

Laughton is the first member of the Phantoms to be recognized with the honor since now-departed goaltender Cal Heeter for the week ending January 5.