First call: Penguins newcomer Juuso Riikola’s impressive goal; more Patriots drama
In Tuesday’s “First Call,” watch Juuso Riikola’s goal in his Penguins debut and Josh Bell’s great slide. NFL drama in Tampa and New England, too, and an awesome trick punt may be outlawed.
More like, ‘Ri-GOAL-a,’ am I right?
One of the major talking points coming out of Penguins training camp has been Juuso Riikola. The Finnish defenseman impressed throughout his time in Cranberry.
He played for the team last night in the preseason debut against the Sabres and performed well. Riikola scored a goal, threw a big open-ice hip check and gelled nicely with fellow Finnish product Olli Maatta.
The Penguins lost 3-2. But they are feeling good about Riikola providing blue-line depth.
Here’s a look at his goal from the point through a screen from Derek Grant.
This is how you do it, Polanco
Gregory Polanco is out for up to nine months because he doesn’t know how to slide. Maybe he should learn from Josh Bell.
He pulled off that move Tuesday against the Royals. The game ended up going extra innings until Ryan Lavarnway ended it in the 11th with a single.
For the 31-year-old journeyman catcher, that was just his second at-bat of the season in the Majors.
More Patriots drama, too
The circus remains in town as the Steelers make negative headlines every day. But the Patriots have an element of soap opera around them quite a bit, too.
This offseason they dealt with fall from Malcolm Butler’s benching, Danny Amendola’s quotes after he went to Miami and preseason questions about Gronk’s future.
The big story though was the continuing saga about the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick-Robert Kraft power struggle. Now there is a new book from Ian O’Connor, stating that Brady has grown tired of Belichick and wanted “a divorce” this offseason.
And there’s a sidebar about defensive back Patrick Chung. There’s some question as to whether or not he tried to play through a concussion. Via ProFootbbalTalk.com : “A joint review by the NFL and NFLPA of the application of the Concussion Protocol regarding New England safety Patrick Chung during the Patriots-Jaguars game is underway,” the league said in a statement.
As is his way, Belichick tried to blow it off.
“Look, I don’t know whether they did or didn’t,” Belichick said. “I’m trying to coach the game. I don’t have time for a conversation with those guys. If the player is cleared, he’s cleared. If he’s not cleared, then he’s not cleared.”
Bucs news, too
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston is suspended because he was accused of groping an Uber driver back in 2016. Now that driver is suing him. She is seeking $75,000 in damages.
For now, wide receiver DeSean Jackson is endorsing Winston’s backup Ryan Fitzpatrick. He is completing nearly 80 percent of his passes over Tampa’s two wins to open the season.
“He’s been on fire right now,” Jackson told the NFL Network. “With the way the team is rallying behind him and just playing lights-out football, you have to kind of honor it. You can’t take the hot man out. You got the hot fire right now. It’s like NBA Jam. We used to play NBA Jam — whoever’s got that hot fire shot, you got to keep shooting, man.”
I like the analogy.
Meanwhile, former Bucs and Penn State receiver Joe Jurevicius was robbed at his home in Ohio.
Former Bucs WR Joe Jurevicius robbed at gunpoint in his Ohio home https://t.co/Dgx6ytYASB
— The Bucs Wire (@TheBucsWire) September 18, 2018
Too good to do again?
North Texas sophomore Keegan Brewer won the day Saturday afternoon when he pulled off this great punt return trick for a touchdown.
He acted like he was calling for a fair catch, but never called for one. That worked, and the play went for a score against Arkansas.
ESPN Radio’s Tommy Craft reported Monday that the NCAA was considering outlawing the play.
Was told earlier today that NCAA FB Rules committee is considering a rule amendment possibly as soon as this weekend to close any loophole that would allow a Punt Return similar to UNT’s 90 yd score vs ARK
— Tommy Craft (@tommycraftespn) September 17, 2018
An NCAA spokesperson debunked that story Tuesday afternoon.
NCAA spokesman on the report of a possible rule change related to the North Texas punt return: ‘I’ll debunk the rumor … There is no rules change being considered.’
— Kyle Bonagura (@BonaguraESPN) September 18, 2018
Maybe the NFL should considering outlawing that play, too, before the Steelers get burned by it. The way this season is going, it feels like that may happen Monday night.