Your Thursday Morning Roundup

With the new NFL league year beginning at 4 PM yesterday, the Eagles are officially the defending Super Bowl champions. That still feels weird to say.

The Birds were relatively quiet with the exception of re-signing Nigel Bradham to a five-year, $40 million deal. The team also pushed back Michael Bennett’s roster bonus. Just this morning, they restructured Zach Ertz’s contract. Does that mean Vinny Curry and Mychal Kendricks might stay?

The biggest surprise of the day came with cornerback Patrick Robinson, who appeared to be staying with the Eagles, but signed a four-year, $20 million deal with the New Orleans Saints. Even though the Eagles reportedly offered more overall money, the Saints offered more guaranteed money.

Meanwhile, there’s more decisions to be made with some current players. Vinny Curry might have to restructure his deal or be let go, while Mychal Kendricks appears to be getting shopped around once again. But the most interesting nugget involved Nick Foles:

Arizona later signed Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon. Good luck with those two QBs. And will Buffalo signing AJ McCarron, it seem more and more likely Foles will stay in Philadelphia for the upcoming season.

As for free agents, Beau Allen signed with Tampa Bay and LeGarrette Blount will meet with the Detroit Lions on Friday.

Elsewhere, the Giants signed Nate Solder, the Cardinals released Tyrann Mathieu, Ndamukong Suh and Julius Thomas were released by the Dolphins, Trevor Siemian was traded to Minnesota to serve as Kirk Cousins’ backup, and Joe Thomas announced his retirement.

The Roundup:

Recapping Tuesday’s tough home loss to the Indiana Pacers.

How big of an impact is Robert Covington making on defense?

Victor Oladipo believes Markelle Fultz will be an impact player when he returns to the court:

“Everybody’s path is different,” he said. “Everything happens for a reason. What he’s going through is only going to make him stronger and better as a man and a person. … His time is coming.”

The Indiana all-star finished with 11 points Tuesday in a  101-98 victory over the Sixers at the Wells Fargo Center. One gets the sense that he anticipates playing against Fultz, if not in the playoffs then in future seasons.

Sixers coach Brett Brown said it hasn’t been determined if Fultz will return this season. However, there’s a good chance that he will do so and soon. Fultz’s shooting form has been looking close to normal in recent workouts.

“His time is coming,” Oladipo said. “I know he’ll be ready for it, because I know he puts the work in.”

Six players Sixers fans should watch as the NCAA Tournament begins this afternoon.

The Sixers also have a game tonight, as they take on the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Tip off is scheduled for 7:30 PM on NBC Sports Philadelphia +.

The Flyers have a big game tonight against Columbus at 7 PM on NBC Sports Philadelphia. One player that looks to finally make an impact in the scoring department is rookie Oskar Lindblom:

When he hasn’t had the puck on his stick, Lindblom has been diligent about providing back pressure. A regular all-situations player (including penalty killing duties) during his time in the American Hockey League with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Lindblom prides himself on his two-way abilities.
While hockey is a bottom-line business in which results needs to follow process at a certain point, the coaches and organizational decision-makers gain insight into a player, especially a “skills guy” whose role includes expectations of relatively frequent point-production, by how he handles dry spells. Does he let it drag down other facets of his game? Does he start to force ill-advised plays that only compound the lack of points?
In Lindblom’s case, the young player has shown considerable mental toughness while continuing to push for his first NHL point.
“Quite frankly, that’s why a guy like that stays up [in the NHL] versus maybe another guy who’s not producing and turns pucks over. Oskar’s going to break through at some point,”Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said. 

Good news for Jake Arrieta: Not only did he get his #49 from Ben Lively (in exchange for a boat), he’s already thrown his first bullpen session with the Phillies:

For Arrieta, it was just a minor test, a necessary hurdle to pass before being ready to start the season. For the crowd, it was a happening.

“He looks great to me,” Kranitz said. “He always stays in shape. There’s no question about that. What I was looking for today was how the ball was coming out of his hand — it was coming out great. I didn’t expect anything different, but it’s always great to get eyes on him.

Arrieta plans to pitch Saturday in a minor-league game at the Carpenter Complex. He threw roughly 40 pitches Wednesday and should throw 50 on Saturday. He would then have time to pitch in two Grapefruit League games before the team leaves Florida. Arrieta is confident he will be ready to start the season on time despite not signing until a month into spring training.

“I don’t think there’s going to be any issue with getting extended quickly,” Arrieta said. “I was able to build up throughout the offseason to a point where I feel like I could slide in and be ready for the start of the season. That’s the game plan for right now, and I plan for that to go very well.”

Meanwhile on the field, the Phillies fell to the Atlanta Braves 5-3. Jorge Alfaro hit a home run in the second inning.

Buster Olney thinks the Phillies could compete in the Bryce Harper sweepstakes:

“I would bet the family farm that Bryce Harper winds up with the Phillies or back with the Washington Nationals.”

There’ll be some new food at Citizens Bank Park, including edible cookie dough, which is actually crap.

Phillies take on Detroit today at 1:05 PM.

Both Philly-area NCAA Tournament teams are in action today. First up, 16th seed Penn takes on Kansas at 2 PM on TBS. The Quakers got a welcoming surprise at their open practice yesterday:

Kansas University is about a 2 1/2-hour drive from Wichita and many of the Jayhawks fans were in attendance Wednesday. But unlike some fan bases that might boo the opponent, this one greeted Penn enthusiastically.

A large portion of the fan base was schoolchildren bused in for the event. That’s how big basketball is in Kansas. Each team had a 40-minute open workout. After Penn came North Carolina State and then Kansas.

“I didn’t expect this,” Penn point guard Darnell Foreman said. “First of all, having so many kids come, that was pretty cool and all the Kansas fans intrigued about who you are and still waiting for their team. That fan base is crazy.”

The attention caught Penn a little off-guard, in a positive way.

“It was awesome,” said Penn leading scorer Ryan Betley, averaging 14.5 points. “We didn’t expect this.”

Meanwhile, No. 1 seed Villanova takes on Radford at 6:40 PM on TNT. Nova’s freshmen are ready for their first taste of March Madness:

“I don’t really think I’ll have nerves,” Gillespie said. “I’ve played for so long at this point, I really don’t have butterflies anymore. It’s just basketball to me, and just another game that we have to focus on defending and rebounding and playing together.”

“I don’t think I will be nervous or anything because I’ll be focusing on what I can do for my teammates,” said Cosby-Roundtree. “I try to just be focused, dialed in on what we have to do so that I won’t have to feel nervous.”

The older players have talked to the younger players this week about coping with distractions, but there were some signs of nerves Tuesday at the Wildcats’ practice at nearby Duquesne.

“I kind of sensed it at practice,” coach Jay Wright said. “Collin Gillespie wasn’t being his normal self, which is rare, nothing bad. I just thought they were a little distracted. I tell the older guys, keep an eye on them, keep talking to them.

“But I think the only remedy is they’ve got to get in a game. Once you get in an NCAA game, you get in there, it is really different than any other experience. You get in there, you feel it. Then I think when you come out of the game and you go back in the second time, you’re good. But you’ve got to get in there and feel it.”

Meanwhile in the NIT, Temple fell to Penn State 63-57 thanks to a 15-3 Nittany Lion run late in the game up in Happy Valley. The tournament also experimented with four quarters and a three-point line that was nearly two feet further than current college rules.

In other sports news, Syracuse held off Arizona State in their First Four matchup 60-56, while Texas Southern crushed NC Central for their first ever tournament win 64-46.

Minor League Baseball announced new pace-of-play rules for the upcoming season. They include a limit on mound visits, a pitch clock, and having a runner begin at second base in extra innings.

Aaron Judge jokingly tried to recruit Manny Machado to come to the Yankees next season, but MLB wasn’t having any of that.

Former Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler still doesn’t know why he was benched for Super Bowl LII.

UFC fighters Kevin Lee and Edson Barboza promoted their April 21 fight in Atlantic City by visiting a ton of spots in Philadelphia.

In the news, Meek Mill could be set free while he appeals his probation sentence, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Toys R Us will close or sell all of their stores after 70 years.

iHeartMedia has filed for bankruptcy.

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