‘The Best Player, Like, Ever’: The Painful Story of Troy Tulowitzki

Do this, the baseball card photographer said one warm day in Florida during spring training. And so, sure enough, Troy Tulowitzki did it.

Kicked his left leg. Balanced on his right. Reared back, came forward and, arm extended and baseball in hand, struck a pitcher’s pose.

Clickclickclick!

Sigh.

Time was, Tulowitzki would not have been a victim of mistaken identity. He arguably was the best shortstop in the majors. His first five seasons, it looked as if the guy might be on a collision course with Cooperstown.

Then his pure awesomeness collided hard with a spectacular array of injuries. And Tulowitzki began spending more time wrapped in ice bags and Ace bandages than covered in  nike nfl jerseys for cheap glory.

Now, all that’s left are the long-ago echoes of sold-out Denver crowds roaring “Tu-Lo! Tu-Lo!”…and veteran photographers who can’t recall who he once was.

“You see the work he puts in to try to get his body right,” said third baseman Nolan Arenado, Colorado’s second-round draft pick in 2009, the summer Tulowitzki played 151 games for the Rockies and slammed 32 homers. “… I talk to him a lot, and to see what is happening to him is pretty sad.”

What could have been has fractured into what is: nfl jerseys cheap nike Tulowitzki, 33, is back on Toronto’s 60-day disabled list, having had surgery April 2 to remove bone spurs in both heels. It is his 10th trip to the disabled list in the past 13 seasons. He was cleared to resume “light baseball activities” the last week of April, but his 2018 debut awaits. Still.

He played along with the baseball card photographer during spring training, following instructions to the letter even though through 1,286 career major league games over 13 seasons, covering 5,402 plate appearances and five All-Star Games, he had never pitched in a game. Not once.

Not even in college at Long Beach State.

“Not since high school. But in high school, I think everyone pitches,” Tulowitzki quipped.”I like the fact that people can say what they want to say. Does he still have anything left? Anything in the tank? That’s cool. Rightfully so. That’s their job. But I appreciate that because it nfl nike jerseys cheap  gives me the feeling to keep on wanting to go.”

He didn’t play in a Grapefruit League game during spring training because of the bone spur in his right heel, which started giving him problems as he rehabbed this winter, trying to come back from surgery to repair ankle ligaments torn in a game in July. That injury occurred as he crossed first base while attempting to beat out a ground ball. On the play, he stepped on the foot of the Los Angeles Angels’ C.J. Cron.

It was the latest in a remarkable string of frequent and jaw-dropping injuries that started in 2008: Torn tendon in left quadriceps. Right hand laceration. Fractured left wrist. Strained left groin muscle. Fractured right rib cage. Left hip injury. Strained right quadriceps. Cracked left shoulder blade. Chip fracture in right thumb.nike nfl jersey cheap

Somewhere along the line, Tulowitzki became more like a med school lab project than a major league shortstop.

The people who know him best, those who have lockered next to him or played against him, simply shake their heads in disbelief.cheap nfl jerseys nike

“In the past couple of years, I just can’t believe it’s the same guy, really,” said Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon, who debuted with Colorado in 2011 as Tulowitzki was hitting .302 with 30 homers and 105 RBI. “After playing with him, he was the best player, like, ever. He was the best player on our team. He was so productive. An incredible talent.”

Houston Texans: Offensive Line

You may have noticed something of a theme in the first half of this piece: For more than a few NFL teams, the trenches are the biggest area of need with the offseason winding down. It’s a position group that’s as important as it is difficult to remedy.

At the very top of the list of NFL teams hard-up up front is the Houston Texans, who allowed 54 sacks in 2017.

Only the Indianapolis Colts allowed more.

The Texans whiffed on the big-name free agents on the offensive line, and with no first- or second-round pick in the draft, the best the Texans could do in that regard was Martinas Rankin, a tweener prospect whose best fit may well be as a “swing” reserve.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Houston will be putting a lot of confidence in a Day 3 pick (second-year pro Julie’n Davenport), an underachieving free-agent add (Seantrel Henderson, who came over from Buffalo) and a menagerie of replacement-level talents to protect Deshaun Watson this season.

Good thing the kid’s mobile.

He’s going to need those wheels.cheap nfl nike jersey

Prior to the NFL draft, there was essentially a tie for the Indianapolis Colts’ biggest problem area in 2018.

Both the offensive and defensive lines needed work—quite a lot of it.

The former got a big boost on April 26 with the selection of Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson, whom some pundits considered the top overall prospect in this year’s class.

The defensive line, on the other hand, didn’t get a ton of assistance. The Colts added some help in the form of second-round pick Tyquan Lewis, but the former Ohio State star was a rotational player with the Buckeyes who will probably need time to get his sea legs in the NFL.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

That leaves Jabaal Sheard and Denico Autry as the front-runners to start on Indy’s new four-man front. Sheard’s the more proven of the two. Twice he’s notched at least eight sacks in a season, but he’s never hit double digits. Autry had five sacks for the Oakland Raiders a year ago, but that’s the high-water mark of his career.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

If you can’t pressure the quarterback in today’s NFL, you’re going to get carved up.

Right now, it doesn’t look like a Colts team that was last in the AFC in sacks last year is going to make a leap forward in that regard.

Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams

Then Jeff Fisher was fired as the head coach in L.A.—replaced by the youngest head man in league history in Sean McVay.cheap nike jerseys nfl

The lightbulb clicked on for Goff in Year 2 so loudly it could be heard in Buffalo.

Goff was a completely different quarterback in 2017. The indecisive and inaccurate kid was gone, replaced by a young gunslinger who made defenses pay over and over again down the field. Goff’s completion percentage increased by almost eight points. His yards per attempt went up almost 50 percent. His touchdown-to-interception ratio went from minus-two to plus-21.
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It was a transformation that was as complete as it was dramatic. Goff went from looking like a wasted pick to looking like a future NFL MVP.

If the 23-year-old takes another similar leap forward in 2018, the Rams could be headed to the Super Bowl.hi-res-581298fb51447fef44aa45d58cab800d_crop_exact

And this ranking will prove to have been about three slots too low.
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It’s a good time to be Mike Evans.

A month or so ago, Evans hit the mother lode—inking a five-year, $82.5 million extension with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that included $55 million in guarantees.

It’s hard to dispute that the 24-year-old Evans earned that bonanza. Evans’ 71 catches for 1,001 yards in 2017 marked the fourth time in as many seasons that he surpassed the 1,000-yard mark. His average stat line over that span is 77 receptions for 1,145 yards and eight scores.

As Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reported, Tampa offensive coordinator Todd Monken insisted that Evans is about much more than those gaudy stats:
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“Mike in one game will get fired up because he’s very competitive. Mike and Jameis’ passion stem from the same thing. To me, in today’s day and age, they are rare in the fact that they get individual stats and they get what that means in terms of their future and their money. But they equally want to win and winning is critical to them. Where coaches are tied to winning, players are tied to their name. They’re one of the group of guys that you love where it means as much to them to win.”

Jacksonville Jaguars: The Return of Bad Blake Bortles

The Jacksonville Jaguars finished one game away from their first Super Bowl trip in franchise history in 2017. That had far more to do with the NFL’s best defense and a punishing ground game than anything Blake Bortles did with his arm.

The 25-year-old did more damage with his legs than his arm in a playoff win over Buffalo, and he was uneven against the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, Bortles played well enough against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game that the Jaguars re-upped him on a three-year, $54 million deal.nike jersey nfl cheap

Whether that deal turns out to be a bargain or a bust depends on which Bortles shows up in 2018.

Get the quarterback who completed over 70 percent of his passes for 326 yards in a Week 15 blowout of the Texans, and the Jaguars can beat any team in the NFL. With that stifling defense and Leonard Fournette cheap youth nfl jerseysrunning the ball, Jacksonville could represent the AFC in Super Bowl LIII.hi-res-b021a12c709b878e78ae6256857fcc8c_crop_exact

But if the Jaguars get the Bortles who threw three interceptions the following week in San Francisco or the player who struggled with accuracy against the Bills and Steelers, the team will fall far short of Super Bowl contention.

For a quarterback with a career completion percentage of 59.1 nfl replica jerseys cheap and 64 interceptions across his 62 career regular-season games, it’s all about accuracy and turnovers.youth nfl jerseys cheap

First, the Chiefs traded up in the 2017 NFL draft to acquire the Texas Tech star, which cost them their first-round pick this year. Then, despite winning the AFC West last year, another postseason disappointment led them to flip Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins for cornerback Kendall Fuller and a third-round pick.

This offseason, the Chiefs added wide receiver Sammy Watkins to an offense that already featured wideout Tyreek Hill, tight end Travis Kelce and tailback Kareem Hunt. It’s Mahomes’ time now, and Chiefs GM Brett Veach believes he’s ready, per Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News.

“From the day Patrick stepped on the field, in the rookie minicamp, the OTAs, the training camps, youth nfl jerseys he has always ‘wowed’ us,” Veach said. “He has a lot to learn yet. I think he grew tremendously. But having watched him day in and day out, take to the studying, take to working on his craft, he did a good job.”

Mahomes looked good in his lone start last year against the Denver Broncos,nfl youth jerseys  but drawing grand conclusions from one Week 17 start is a fool’s errand. And given the team’s defensive deficiencies, Kansas City will be counting on the young quarterback to win more than a few shootouts.

Indianapolis Colts: All Out of Luck

We’ve already seen what the worst-case scenario looks like for the Indianapolis Colts. It looks a lot like the organization insisting that star quarterback Andrew Luck is “fine” as days turns into weeks turn into months.

That was the story in 2017, as shoulder surgery ended up sidelining cheap wholesale nike nfl jerseys Luck for the entire season.

It’s been well over a year since Luck had surgery on his right shoulder, and he still hasn’t thrown a football since. However, Colts general manager Chris Ballard continued to sound optimistic about Luck’s availability for offseason workouts during a recent appearance on The Grady and Big Joe Show on 1070 The Fan, according to Matt Danely of Stampede Blue.

“We’ll ease him along,” Ballard said. “I mean, he’s in a great place right now, but we’ll ease him along. He’ll be involved, he wants to be with his teammates, he wants to be involved in the offense. He was just in town this cheap nfl nike jerseys free shipping last weekend for four days. It was great to see him, he looks great.”hi-res-873ad81d0a835908a13bd7ca449bd7fb_crop_exact

Per The Adam Schefter Podcast, Ballard went one step further, giving April 9 as the magic day that Luck will start participating in offseason workouts.cheap nike jerseys nfl

Of course, that doesn’t mean he’ll throw. Or that he’s close to being able to play. We’ve reached the point now where you can believe Andrew Luck will play quarterback again when you see him in a game.

The worst-case scenario is here for Indy, and there’s no getting around it.cheap nfl jerseys from china nike