Kansas and Illinois schedule charity exhibition basketball game to raise money for Maui wildfire relief

Illinois will play host to Kansas in a charity exhibition basketball game on Oct. 29 at State Farm Center in Champaign, Illinois, that will raise money for the ongoing relief efforts after the tragic wildfires in Maui, Hawaii. The preseason game was set to be a closed scrimmage between the two programs but it will now be open to the public for fans to attend.

The confirmed death toll from the wildfires has surpassed 100, according to CBS News, with more than 1,000 people unaccounted for as of earlier this week. The disaster has destroyed more than 2,200 structures.

“For decades, the Maui Invitational and the city of Lahaina have been very important to college basketball and our thoughts and prayers go to that entire community as they recover from such a tragic event,” Kansas coach Bill Self said in a release announcing the event. “Brad (Underwood) and I discussed how our private scrimmage could become an exhibition game to raise money to benefit the so many affected by the recent catastrophic fires in Maui. We both felt this would be a great way for our programs to create awareness to help this cause.”

Self will be returning to the sidelines for the first time since the end of the 2022-23 regular season after missing the Big 12 and NCAA Tournament due to health issues. Kansas assistant coach Norm Roberts served as the acting head coach and the Jayhawks fell to Arkansas in the second round to end their season.

Self has been the coach at Kansas since 2003 but previously spent three seasons as the coach at Illinois before he was hired by the Jayhawks.

“It is heartbreaking to see the loss of life and devastation from the fires that have ravaged Lahaina,” Underwood said in another release. “The Maui Invitational is an integral part of college basketball, and we are thinking of everyone on the island of Maui who have felt the impact of this tragedy. Bill and I talked immediately about how we could come together to help, and turning our closed scrimmage into a charity exhibition is a way we can use our sport to make an impact. The spotlight of this game, heightened by Bill’s return to Champaign, should raise meaningful dollars that will go directly to help the community of Lahaina.”

Kansas enters the season as one of the top preseason teams in the country. The Jayhawks added former Michigan star Hunter Dickinson via the transfer portal and return Dajuan Harris, Kevin McCullar and KJ Adams Jr. As for Illinois, they return one of the oldest rosters in the country, including veteran starters Coleman Hawkins and Terrence Shannon Jr. from a team that finished 20-13 and reached the NCAA Tournament.

Saints’ Alvin Kamara meeting with Roger Goodell with potential league discipline looming, per report

Last month, New Orleans Saints star running back Alvin Kamara pleaded no contest to a lesser misdemeanor charge stemming from a 2022 Las Vegas altercation. Wednesday, he is scheduled to sit down with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss the incident, per NFL.com.

The weekend of the 2022 Pro Bowl, Kamara was arrested in Las Vegas for battery resulting in substantial bodily harm. He pleaded not guilty to the initial battery charges, and the felony was later dropped after he agreed to plead no contest to breach of peace. The running back will reportedly have to complete community service and pay $100,000 to the victim for medical bills.

While the legal side to this issue is behind us, that does not mean Kamara has dodged punishment from the league. The NFL personal conduct policy states that everyone who is part of the league must refrain from, “Conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the NFL.”

What does that mean?

“Conduct by anyone in the league that is illegal, violent, dangerous, or irresponsible puts innocent victims at risk, damages the reputation of others in the game, and undercuts public respect and support for the NFL.”

With Kamara and Goodell sitting down, it appears a resolution to this issue is indeed on the horizon. NBC Sports previously reported that Kamara was expected to receive a suspension of at least six games, but this was while the felony charge was still attached to his name.

“I think Alvin really wants to get out ahead of this and have a chance to visit with Roger and kind of give him his side of the story, and look, at the end of the day, I think part of it is, you know, let’s get some resolution to where we’re at and then let’s move forward,” Saints head coach Dennis Allen told reporters on Monday, per NFL.com. “So, I think Alvin, you know, is looking forward to putting this behind him and focusing in on what he has to do to be the best he can for our team this season.

“Yeah, look, I mean, we’re working, practicing, getting better. Alvin’s going to be a huge part of what we do this year. We’ll take things in stride and how they happen. We’ll deal with, you know, anything we have to deal with. We’ll deal with it when the time’s right.”

Kamara is a five-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro. The third-round pick out of Tennessee was named the 2017 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year after racking up 1,554 yards from scrimmage and 13 total touchdowns.

NFL considering XFL kickoffs as a model for future rule changes, per report

Kickoffs will look different in the NFL this season, with the league temporarily implementing fair-catch rules first seen in college football. They could look even more exotic down the road, with league officials privately considering the XFL’s kickoff rules as a future model, according to NBC Sports.

Currently, NFL teams kick off from their own 35-yard line, and kicking-team players can begin running from that line only after the ball has been kicked. In the revived XFL, however, kickoffs occur at the 30-yard line, with players other than the kicker lined up at the receiving team’s 35. Only the kicker and returner, meanwhile, can move before the ball is touched by the returner.

“The NFL is exploring XFL data regarding the play,” Mike Florio reported Wednesday. “The overriding goal is to reduce the potential for concussions … by shrinking the distance between opposing players. The XFL rule leaves only 5 yards of space for players to cover before contact, keeping them from getting to top speed.”

It’s unclear when the NFL might attempt to enact such a change. Such a proposal has never officially surfaced in discussions among NFL owners, though many believe the league would ultimately prefer to reduce, significantly modify or even eliminate the kickoff in the future. Commissioner Roger Goodell said earlier this offseason that NFL executives anticipated pushback to kickoff rule changes but is confident that data from the NCAA’s own implementation of fair-catch rules enhances player safety.

‘It’s through the sky’

Of all the players on the Steelers roster, there was probably no one happier to put on pads Tuesday than rookie tight end Darnell Washington.

Washington practiced last week, but he didn’t necessarily stand out, which is understandable. Washington without pads is like Superman without his cape. All of that changed on Tuesday, however, when the 6-foot-7, 255-pound Washington took part in his first padded practice.

His first challenge? A one-on-one matchup against T.J. Watt.

Washington more than held his own against the former Defensive Player of Year. He wasn’t as fortunate, however, during his matchups with Alex Highsmith and fellow rookie Nick Herbig. Such is life for rookies who all eventually learn that, in the NFL, things can change on a dime.

Washington’s physicality is his calling card, but he’s also a pretty good pass catcher. He displayed that element of his game later in practice when he caught a jump ball over defensive back James Pierre for a score. Washington’s work in camp has gotten the attention of Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett, who is looking forward to getting more reps down the road with his big tight end.

“He’s done a great job,” Pickett said, via Nick Farabaugh of Steelers Now. “You know, he’s working hard and I’m sure his mind is going one hundred miles per hour. It will slow down for him but I’m just excited how he’s showing up and working. He’s mentally locked in, and everything else will come.”

CBS Sports caught up with Washington following a recent practice. Washington touched on a number of topics that included similarities between the Steelers and Georgia, his long-term goals in the NFL and what it’s like to practice in front of Steeler Nation.

How has camp gone so far?

DW: “There’s still way more room to adjust. I feel like the deeper and the most time I spend as a pro, the more I’ve got to learn. Really just taking it step by step. Still learning the ropes from the reps and the players on the team.”

What have been the biggest challenges so far?

DW: “I’d say a little bit of everything. The game speed’s different, so adjusting to that. And then it’s a new playbook, at least for me, so just adjusting to that as well. It’s really just a little bit of everything. Every little thing adds up.”

Are there similarities between the Steelers and Georgia?

DW: “One-hundred percent. When it comes to the work ethic, and each teammate here just wants to grind better and work on their craft.”

You played in a lot of championship games at Georgia. Can you take that experience and apply it at all here?

DW: “I’d really just say the tunnel vision part. Playing in the natty twice, each game is loud. Everybody wants to win. There’s lots of fans. You’ve just got to lock in, have that tunnel vision, block out that noise, things like that.”

Any personal goals this season?

DW: “Really just want to contribute to the offense … not even offense, just any aspect of the team, whether that’s special teams or offense in any way. Whether that’s moving the chains or momentum plays on special teams.”

George Pickens recently said that you have the potential to be the greatest tight end of all time. What would success be for you?

DW: “Really, just playing in the league as long as possible. Giving it my all, leaving no regrets on the field, if that’s practice or in the games. Just finding a rhythm and continue on that rhythm and continue to put in that work and make plays or whatever it may be.”

What do you think of the offense so far and its potential?

DW: “I would say through the roof, but I don’t have a roof over me. It’s through the sky.”

What’s it like practicing in front of these fans? The Steelers have a notoriously passionate fan base.

DW: “For me, it’s still crazy. Still soaking it all in. Having the best fan base in the National Football League. They’re treating me right, treating me like family. You’ve got to be one to experience it. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a good feeling to be here.”

Former Pro Bowl pass-rusher joining Chicago on one-year, $10.5 million deal

Yannick Ngakoue has finally found his next NFL home. The former Pro Bowl pass rusher is signing a one-year, $10.5 million deal that includes $10 million guaranteed, according to his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. ESPN reported the signing Thursday night.

Ngakoue, 28, broke into the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where earned his first Pro Bowl nod in 2017 after leading the NFL with six forced fumbles. He was part of a Jaguars defense that season that spearheaded the team’s run to the AFC title game.

Ngakoue played for four teams from 2020-22. He spent parts of the 2020 season with the Vikings and Ravens before recording 10 sacks during his lone season with the Ravens. As a member of the Cotls last season, Ngakoue tallied 9.5 sacks in 15 games.

Jets’ Aaron Rodgers calls Jordan Love ‘a great one,’ feels like it’s ‘part of the job to help young guys’

With Aaron Rodgers now the starting quarterback for the New York Jets after a trade this offseason, the Green Bay Packers will have a new starting quarterback in Week 1 — 2020 first-round pick Jordan Love — after 15 seasons of Rodgers. Teammate and Pro Bowl running back Aaron Jones described Love as “a true leader” ahead of Packers training camp opening this week. Love sat behind Rodgers for three seasons, observing Rodgers win NFL MVPs in two of them. Yet, Rodgers went out of his way to praise Love, calling him a “great one” during Thursday’s Hall of Fame Game.

“I always felt like it was a part of the job to help those young guys out, and get them ready to play,” Rodgers said Thursday during the Hall of Fame in an interview with NBC Sports announcers Mike Tirico and Cris Collinsworth. “There was a great one behind me in Green Bay [Jordan Love.”

Following Love’s first training camp practice as THE GUY on July 26, he revealed Rodgers, the Packers’ longtime leader, contacted him Tuesday to encourage his Green and Gold successor and wish him well.

“Aaron reached out to me last night and that’s exactly what he said. … He said ‘just be yourself, have fun, enjoy it, that it’s obviously my time now and to enjoy it.'”

Packers’ Matt LaFleur says quiet part out loud, calls 2023 Jets ‘Green Bay East’

Even future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers all-time leader in passing touchdowns with 475 — now suiting up for the New York Jets in 2023 — has helped ensure Gang Green would have a cheesy vibe in 2023.

Eight former Packers are now a part of the Jets: Rodgers, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, wide receiver Allen Lazard, wide receiver Randall Cobb, wide receiver Malik Taylor, offensive tackle Billy Turner, quarterback Tim Boyle and safety Adrian Amos. Rodgers’ new Jets head coach Robert Saleh even provides Rodgers a connection to his former Packers head coach Matt LaFleur: Saleh and LaFleur came up in the NFL together, and LaFleur was the best man at Saleh’s wedding.

When asked if he would be keeping up with Rodgers and the Jets in HBO’s “Hard Knocks” and throughout the 2023 season by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, he interrupted Pelissero to nickname the 2023 Jets “Green Bay East.” However, LaFleur then seriously answered the question by talking about having his hands full with his young Packers offense that is set to break in new starting quarterback Jordan Love.

😂😂😂😂😂 https://t.co/Ylmhe716JQ pic.twitter.com/IsH7unJ05k

— CheeseheadTV 🧀 (@cheeseheadtv) August 3, 2023
“I think we have enough to worry about with the Green Bay Packers, but certainly a lot people I care about in that organization and on that staff,” LaFleur said Thursday, via NFL Network. “You always take account of what other teams are doing, especially guys you are close to in this league.”

Chargers’ Austin Ekeler reveals temporary solution to help fix issues surrounding NFL’s running back position

Once football’s glamour position, running back is currently under attack by a system that has diminished their monetary value. Austin Ekeler — with his and his peers’ livelihoods being challenged — has offered a temporarily solution that could lead to better days for him and the league’s other top-tier running backs.

The solution was formed during a private meeting between organized by Ekeler that included some of the league’s top backs, including Ekeler, Tennessee’s Derrick Henry, San Francisco’s Christian McCaffrey, Cleveland’s Nick Chubb, New York’s Saquon Barkley, Las Vegas’ Josh Jacobs and Pittsburgh’s Najee Harris. The issue at hand was the financial hit that the running back position has taken recently, as many of the league’s best backs are playing well below their market value.

“All the running backs out there, what we can do in the short term is to continue to make an impact,” Ekeler said during a one-on-one interview with CBS Sports. “I’m going to go out there and try to score as many touchdowns as I can, play my game, be consistent, make a big impact. And also, when we get asked about it, have some type of narrative. For us, we need to have some consistent messaging when it comes to that. … That’s why we had to have those calls. Things like that are things we can do in the short term to help ourselves out.”

Ekeler is among the league’s top backs who are grossly underpaid. While his current market value is $12.82 million per season (via Spotrac), Ekeler’s 2023 salary includes a $6.5 million base salary and a $1.5 million signing bonus. He requested a trade this offseason over his salary before accepting the Chargers’ offer of an extra $1.75 million in incentives for what is his final year under his current contract.

Why Anthony Richardson, Jonathan Taylor could be historic if they remain teammates

Before the Colts potentially trade Jonathan Taylor, they should think about what they could be walking away from.

While rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson is a bit of a mystery, he has a sky-high ceiling. With Taylor, they could form one of the most dynamic QB/RB rushing attacks in NFL history.

Richardson blew up the NFL combine with a 4.43 40-yard dash, 40.5-inch vertical and 10-foot, 9-inch broad jump at 244 pounds. He also ran for 654 yards and nine touchdowns while leading all FBS QBs in yards per rush (6.3) last year.

He can do this:


— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) October 16, 2022
Taylor won a rushing title in 2021 (1,811) while also leading the NFL in touchdown runs (18) before battling injuries in 2022.

He can make house calls too:


Jonathan Taylor makes a 67-yard house call to shut the door on the Patriots 🙌pic.twitter.com/Ih35dnqnnh

— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) December 19, 2021
Colts head coach Shane Steichen was the Eagles offensive coordinator last year when Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders helped Philadelphia finish fifth in rushing yards. Hurts led all quarterbacks in run-pass option (RPO) plays in each of the last two seasons, something you can expect a lot of from the Colts in 2023.

Those plays put defenders in conflict. Hypothetically, when Richardson sticks the football out to Taylor, defenders will be wondering at the mesh point whether Richardson is going to hand off, keep and run, or keep and throw.

All that would mean more running lanes for two of the most talented rushers at their respective positions.

Given the circumstances around Taylor and mystery around Richardson, it’s a big IF, but can you imagine the possibilities for this electric, rushing combo if both play to their potential?

Lucky for you I’ve been dreaming up benchmarks and comparisons for the Colts’ pair.

The ceiling for a rookie Richardson and Taylor this year is Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris. The duo rode the zone-read option to a playoff appearance and combined for 2,428 rushing yards in both of their rookie seasons in 2012, the most combined rushing yardage by a QB-RB pair in a season in NFL history according to SportRadar. They are also the only duo in NFL history to feature a QB with 500 rushing yards and a RB with 1,500 rushing yards in a season.

That got me and my fellow CBS Sports researcher Brian Coyle thinking about other rushing “clubs” for QB-RB combos. And this doesn’t extend to just rookies.

Rays to call up top prospect to make MLB debut in push to regain first place in AL East

The Tampa Bay Rays will promote infield prospect Curtis Mead for his big-league debut ahead of Friday’s series-opening contest against the Detroit Tigers, the team announced Friday. Mead will be taking the roster spot of left-handed ace Shane McClanahan, who was placed on the injured list on Thursday night because of forearm soreness.

Mead, 22, has batted .291/.379/.453 with three home runs this season in 46 Triple-A games. He missed nearly two months earlier in the summer because of a wrist injury. Since returning to the Durham Bulls lineup in late June, he’s hit .355/.460/.538 in 113 trips to the plate. It is worth noting that Mead has homered just once over those 24 games, though he has recorded 12 other extra-base hits.

Mead’s ball-tracking statistics include an 89.3 average exit velocity, a 12.3 degree launch angle, and a 16.4% barrel rate. He was ranked by CBS Sports over the offseason as the No. 1 prospect in the Rays system. Here’s what we wrote:

Mead, who originally signed with the Phillies out of Australia, was acquired in exchange for lefty reliever Cristopher Sanchez in November 2019. He’s since ascended thanks to an above-average offensive projection. Mead split last season between Double- and Triple-A, batting .298/.390/.532 with 13 home runs in 76 games. He hits the ball hard and often, and he walked more frequently in 2022 than he had in past years. Mead’s best defensive position is in the batter’s box, since he lacks the arm to be good at third base and the range to excel at second. The Rays may try to play him all over the place anyway, but make no mistake: his bat is the selling point.

Mead has primarily played third base since coming back from injury.