Ohio Sports

Naylor hits into triple play, makes key E, Reds edge Indians

By MITCH STACY AP Sports Writer
Josh Naylor lined into a triple play in the eighth inning, then let a routine grounder roll through his legs at first base with two outs in the ninth that led to Cincinnati’s tying run as the Reds beat the Cleveland Indians 3-2 in the 10th Saturday.
Pinch-hitter Tyler Stephenson’s single in the 10th won it.
Naylor had a chance to boost Cleveland’s one-run lead in the eighth when he came up with runners at the corners with no outs. He hit a liner to first baseman Joey Votto, who tagged Franmil Reyes as he tried to dive back into the bag and then threw to third to double off Eddie Rosario, who took off because he thought the ball hit the ground and had already crossed the plate.
“We got the break and we made the most of it, and we came back and won,” Reds manager David Bell said. “It definitely could have been a different game if they score a run or two there.”
Pitching with a 2-1 lead, Cleveland closer Emmanuel Clase was pumping in 100 mph fastballs and retired the first two batters in the bottom of the ninth. Max Schrock then hit a grounder through Naylor for a two-base error and Jesse Winker followed with an RBI single.
“He just missed the ball. I don’t know what else to tell you,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Eugenio Suárez started the Reds 10th as the automatic runner on second and moved to third on Tyler Naquin’s flyout. After an intentional walk, Stephenson singled to deep right off Oliver Perez (0-1).
“Really just looking for a good pitch to hit,” Stephenson said. “I was prepared for it and got a sinker out over (the plate) and hit it to right field. I was on time, and I got it.”
Sean Doolittle (2-0) pitched a scoreless 10th.
Eddie Rosario hit an RBI triple for the Indians in the third. Andres Giménez homered in the fourth.
Sonny Gray made his first appearance of the season for the Reds after being sidelined with a muscle strain in his back. He gave up two runs and six hits, striking out six over 4 1/3 innings.
Tucker Barnhart homered in the Reds second.
Indians starter Triston McKenzie struck out seven and gave up a run on five hits through five innings.
Votto was thrown out in the fifth when he tried to score from first on a deep single by Naquin. With the ball already relayed to the infield, Votto was sent by third base coach J.R. House and was out by so much he just stopped and let catcher Austin Hedges tag him to end the inning.
Gray officially came off the disabled list before Saturday’s game, and right-handed reliever Cam Bedrosian was designated for assignment. Bedrosian made the team out of spring training, but had an 11.12 ERA in six appearances.
To get some more depth in their taxed bullpen, the Indians recalled rookie left-hander Sam Hentges from the alternate training site. To make roster room, they sent outfielder Ben Gamel down. Cleveland used five relievers despite a good start by McKenzie. Hentges wasn’t one of them.
Reds 3B Mike Moustakas isn’t feeling well and was out of the lineup for the second straight day. Utility infielder Alex Blandino was put on the injured list, and outfielder Mark Payton was recalled from the alternate site.
The Indians send RHP Shane Bieber (1-1), the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, against Reds LHP Wade Miley (2-0) in the finale of the series on Sunday afternoon. Bieber went nine innings in the Indians’ 2-0 win over the White Sox Tuesday, extending his streak of to 15 starts with at least eight strikeouts. Miley gave up two hits and no runs in five innings in the Reds’ 3-0 win over the Giants Monday.
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Ohio Sports

Ohio State quarterback derby to remain unsettled until fall

By STEVE HELWAGEN Associated Press
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — With spring practice in the books, Ohio State’s quarterback derby will carry over into fall workouts.
That’s not a surprise, considering the candidates to succeed star Justin Fields are two second-year players and a true freshman. Neither has thrown a pass in a college game.
C.J. Stroud, Jack Miller III and early-enrollee Kyle McCord all got plenty of action in Saturday’s annual spring game, none gaining a clear edge. Stroud and McCord each threw two touchdown passes in the controlled scrimmage.
“This was very similar to what this whole spring has been,” coach Ryan Day said. “Some good, some not so good and a lot of learning opportunities there. There are flashes here and there, and then there are just some learning opportunities. The race is on over the next few months to see who can make the next stride.”
None of the quarterbacks was made available after the game, but teammates liked what they saw. Fifth-year offensive tackle Thayer Munford is confident any of the three can lead the Buckeyes when they open the season Sept. 2 at Minnesota.
“Whoever it will be behind me and the offensive line when we play Minnesota, everybody knows he’ll be the guy,” Munford said. “I’m just happy with where our quarterbacks are right now.”
Day returns for his third year as the Ohio State head coach. He has 12 starters returning from the 2020 team that finished 7-1 in a season shortened by COVID-19. The Buckeyes won a fourth straight Big Ten championship and advanced to the national championship game, where they were routed by Alabama.
“The No. 1 goal was to come out (spring) healthy and we did that,” Day said. “We had a really physical spring. It was great to get out there and get in the stadium and play.”
The game was played before a limited crowd of about 19,000 fans, which was progress after the Buckeyes played home games in a nearly empty Ohio Stadium all of last season.
The Big Ten Network reports that 2021 will be the first season since 1952 that the Buckeyes will start a quarterback who hasn’t thrown a college pass. That was the second year of legendary coach Woody Hayes’ 28-season run in Columbus. The Buckeyes finished 6-3 then.
McCord was among a school-record 15 early enrolled freshmen who participated in spring practice. Other notables from the nation’s No. 2-ranked recruiting class included defensive end Jack Sawyer, wide receivers Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka, and running backs TreVeyon Henderson and Evan Pryor.
Ohio State went through spring drills without several injured players expected to start in the fall. They included guard Harry Miller, defensive tackle Haskell Garrett, middle linebacker Dallas Gant and cornerbacks Sevyn Banks and Cameron Brown. All are expected to be ready for the start of preseason camp in August.
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Ohio Sports

Browns release veteran DT Richardson in salary-cap move

By TOM WITHERS AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — This off-season remodeling of the Browns’ defense includes a surprising removal.
Veteran tackle Sheldon Richardson’s contract was terminated on Friday, a head-scratching move that creates more salary-cap space but also a hole in the middle of Cleveland’s defensive line.
Days after adding free agent end Jadeveon Clowney, the Browns parted with Richardson, who started 16 games last season and played well for the team since signing a three-year, $37 million contract with Cleveland in 2019.
The Browns will save around $12 million in cash and salary cap space with Richardson off the roster. Cleveland had roughly $10.3 million left under the cap after signing Clowney to an incentive-laden, one-year deal this week.
The Browns, who ended their long playoff drought last season, have some major financial decisions ahead with possible long-term contracts for quarterback Baker Mayfield, running back Nick Chubb and cornerback Denzel Ward on the table.
It’s not yet known if the Browns asked Richardson to restructure his contract or if he’d be willing to re-sign for less money.
Shortly after the move was made official, Richardson posted a goodbye to Cleveland fans on his Instagram account.
“It was just starting to feel like home,” Richardson wrote as the caption to a photo of him on the field. “Dawg Pound I had a great time….#til next time.”
Richardson’s loss leaves the Browns thin on the interior of their line as the team chose not to re-sign tackle Larry Ogunjobi this winter. The team signed veteran Malik Jackson to a one-year contract in free agency and is counting on Andrew Billings to return after he opted out in 2020. Jordan Elliott played sparingly as a rookie last season.
Primarily a run stopper, the 6-foot-3, 294-pound Richardson finished with 64 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks last year as the Browns earned a wild-card berth.
A first-round pick of the Jets, he was the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2013. Richardson spent four seasons with New York and one each with Seattle and Minnesota before signing with the Browns.
The 30-year-old Richardson was solid against the run and considered a leader for the Browns’ young defense. He was voted the team’s Dino Lucarelli Good Guy Award winner by local writers in 2019 for his cooperation with the media.
Browns general manager Andrew Berry has revamped Cleveland’s defense this offseason with the signings of Clowney, safety John Johnson III, cornerback Troy Hill, end Takk McKinely and Jackson.
Richardson’s departure could mean the Browns will address their interior line depth in the upcoming NFL draft. Cleveland currently has the No. 26 overall pick.
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started all 16 games and totaled 64 tackles, 4.5 sacks and one forced fumble. Initially a first round pick by the Jets in 2013, Richardson was voted the 2013 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, named a Pro Bowler in 2014 and was voted the winner of the 2019 PFWA Dino Lucarelli Good Guy award.

Ohio Sports

Votto, Castellanos homer in Reds’ 10-3 rout of Indians

By MITCH STACY AP Sports Writer
CINCINNATI (AP) — Joey Votto hit a two-run homer to cap a seven-run third inning and the Cincinnati Reds cruised to a 10-3 rout of the Cleveland Indians on Friday night.
Jeff Hoffman (2-1) gave the Reds another solid start, surrendering just a run and seven hits through six innings and helping himself with a looping RBI single in the third. Hoffman loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the third but got out of it with no damage.
Seven of the Reds starters scored in the bottom of the inning. Eugenio Suárez doubled down the third base line to drive in two, and Votto followed with his shot off the top of the left field wall.
“That inning was huge and set the tone for the rest of the game,” Hoffman said.
Reds manager David Bell said Hoffman pitched even better after contributing offensively.
“I think it got him into the game and gave him some confidence,” Bell said. “That was all he needed. He came out in the fourth, all the way through the end of his night, pitched really well.”
Tyler Stephenson had a two-run single in the fifth inning.
Amed Rosario and Jordan Luplow homered for Cleveland, and Josh Naylor had three hits.
Indians starter Logan Allen (1-2) didn’t make it out of the third inning. He gave up five runs on three hits, but reliever Phil Maton surrendered the big hits to Suárez and Votto before getting out of the inning.
“Allen didn’t have a good fastball early,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “I thought we were swinging the bats well enough. I was hoping they wouldn’t get to him but that’s what ended up happening.”
Cincinnati got a good start to the homestand after losing four of six games on a road trip to Arizona and San Francisco. That came after the Reds had started 5-1 at home to start the season.
“Clearly we were dissatisfied with our road trip, certainly the way it finished,” Votto said. “And it was good to be back, good to play well in front of the Reds fans. But we think often about being a dangerous team everywhere. Of course we want to win as often as possible at home, but we’ve got our eyes on bigger and better things.”
In the postgame video session with reporters, Votto wore teammate Kyle Farmer’s football jersey from the Marist School near Atlanta. Farmer was a high school quarterback and had a bit part in the the 2009 movie “The Blind Side.”
The Reds have scored 67 runs (9.6 per game) to start the season at Great American Ball Park. According to STATS, that’s the most runs by a team in its first seven home games of a season since the 1900 Boston Beaneaters (Braves franchise) had 71.
Francona was clearly frustrated with the Indians bullpen. Three relievers gave up five earned runs on eight hits in five innings after Allen departed.
“We are going to meet about the bullpen later,” he said. “We may have to change things around.”
Reds outfielder Aristides Aquino had surgery to repair a fracture in his left hand and was put on the 10-day injured list. Infielder Max Schrock was recalled from the alternate training site. … RHP/OF Michael Lorenzen had the first of two PRP injections to stimulate healing in his injured throwing shoulder Wednesday and isn’t expected to return until June. … OF Shogo Akiyama (hamstring) could be back in the first part of May.
Right-hander Sonny Gray makes his first appearance for the Reds after starting the season on the injured list with a muscle strain in his back. Going for the Indians will be right-hander Triston McKenzie (0-0), who gave up three runs in four innings in a 4-3 loss to the White Sox on Monday.
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National Sports Ohio Sports

Quick flurry: Cabrera 1st HR of MLB season in snowy Detroit

DETROIT (AP) — Miguel Cabrera hit the first home run of the new Major League Baseball season, a drive through the snow in Detroit’s chilly opener against Cleveland on Thursday.
The temperature at game time was 32 degrees, and the snow at Comerica Park was becoming a bit more intense when Cabrera hit a first-inning shot to right field off Cleveland ace Shane Bieber. It wasn’t easy to see through the ball through the snow, and Cabrera slid into second base, unsure if he’d cleared the wall.
But a replay review confirmed the ball left the park, and Cabrera’s 488th career homer was upheld.
The 37-year-old Cabrera is five homers shy of tying Lou Gehrig and Fred McGriff for 28th on the career list.
The new season began at Yankee Stadium, where Gerrit Cole threw the first pitch of the year, a ball to Toronto’s Marcus Semien.
César Hernández of the Indians got the first hit, a double.
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Ohio Sports

New to NFL coaching, Urban Meyer scouts Ohio State players

By MITCH STACY AP Sports Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — New Jacksonville Jaguars coach Urban Meyer likes to go with what he knows and trusts. That may end up benefiting some of his former recruits who worked out at Ohio State’s pro day on Tuesday in front of Meyer and other NFL coaches and executives.
Meyer, who retired as Ohio State coach at the end of the 2018 season, took the Jacksonville job in mid-January. He has shown up personally at just one other school’s pro day — for Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who the Jaguars are expected to take with the top overall draft pick next month.
It stands to reason Meyer will give a good once-over to the group of draft-eligible Ohio State seniors he already recruited and who thrived under his tutelage.
“It would be cool to play with coach Meyer, just because I know what he brings to the table and the culture he brings,” said linebacker Justin Hilliard, one of 14 players to work out at Ohio State in lieu of the canceled scouting combine.
Does being a former Meyer guy give him an edge?
“Yeah,” he said. “I think he knows exactly how I go to work every single day. I mean, when coach Meyer was here he ran special teams, and when he was here I believe I was the best special teams player in the country.”
Meyer is considered a master recruiter and motivator at the college level. He spent seven seasons at Ohio State and won a national championship after winning a pair of national titles at Florida. But he’s coaching in the NFL for the first time and has already lamented the difficulty of trying to evaluate free-agent talent without getting to know the players, a process made more difficult by COVID-19 restrictions. Much different than the lengthy and personal recruiting process that takes place in college.
“You’re talking about organizational decisions made by people, (and) there’s chances we have not spent much time with (the players), and to be honest with you, I don’t feel great about that,” Meyer said last month.
Already the Jaguars signed running back Carlos Hyde, who played for Meyer at Ohio State in 2012-13. Could other former Buckeyes follow?
“He’s a great resource to have, being so close with him,” said linebacker Pete Werner, who had a chance to catch up with Meyer on Tuesday. “I think we do (have an advantage), just because he seen all our work, he knows the culture here at Ohio State, he knows how we work. Him seeing us today in person, it clarified it for the rest of his staff. I do think we might have an edge, but you never know.”
The player with the highest profile Tuesday was quarterback Justin Fields, like Lawrence expected to be an early first-round pick. He was not, however, a Meyer recruit. Fields starred for two years under coach Ryan Day, who had lured him as a transfer from Georgia right after Meyer departed.
AP Pro Football Writer Mark Long contributed.
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Ohio Sports

Akiyama, Gray among hurting Reds who will miss opening day

By MITCH STACY AP Sports Writer
Spring training took its toll on the Cincinnati Reds, and some key players who suffered injuries won’t be back in time for Thursday’s opener.
Outfielder Shogo Akiyama (hamstring), and pitchers Sonny Gray (back) and Michael Lorenzen (shoulder strain) will miss the opener but aren’t expected to be sidelined too long after that.
The good news is first baseman Joey Votto, who missed 13 days of spring training with COVID-19, has eased his way back, hit the ball well and looked solid in the field during the final spring training games. He appears to be in position to start on opening day for the 13th consecutive season, but that decision has yet to be made.
Outfielder Nick Senzel also is expected to be on manager David Bell’s lineup card Thursday after dealing with a groin strain this spring. Tejay Antone, who was a candidate for Cincinnati’s starting rotation, was hampered by minor groin and hip issues. He didn’t get enough innings to earn a starting role but is expected to be fine for bullpen work.
The Reds open the season Thursday afternoon, with right-hander Luis Castillo on the mound against St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Jack Flaherty.
When Votto got healthy again and returned from isolation on March 20, he saw the Reds infield had gotten a shuffle. Slugging third baseman Eugenio Suarez was moved to shortstop in the middle of spring camp, a situation that will stick for now.
“It is looking like he’s going to end up being the everyday shortstop,” Reds general manager Nick Krall said.
Mike Moustakas then made the shift from second base to third base, where he has played for most of his 11-year major league career. Thanks to a productive spring, Jonathan India will be the likely starter at second base. If that happens, he’ll be the first Reds rookie to start at second since Pete Rose in 1963.
With Gray sidelined — and NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer gone via free agency — the rest of the Cincinnati starting rotation has to be ironed out but is likely to include Tyler Mahle, Wade Miley, Jeff Hoffman and José De León.
New faces in the Reds bullpen include left-hander Cionel Perez, acquired in a trade with Houston, and right-hander Cam Bedrosian, a veteran who came to camp on a minor league deal. Both earned spots on the roster with good springs.
Lucas Sims, Amir Garrett and Sean Doolittle will make up the committee of closers.
The Reds must find a way to boost last season’s .212 team batting average, the worst in the major leagues. Krall has specific ideas about where he expects to see strides in the first month or two of the season.
“One, we want to have some of the injuries starting to die down, where we can get some of these guys back after the first few weeks,” he said. “Two, it’s guys from last year who will revert back to (the numbers on) their baseball cards, and three, it’s the young guys who make the team taking a step forward.”
Because of continuing COVID-19 restrictions in Ohio, the Reds will open with a capacity crowd of around 12,000 at Great American Ball Park — the first game at the stadium with fans in more than 18 months.
Kyle Farmer, who auditioned at shortstop but made the roster again because of his versatility, said he’s eager to play in front of people again in Cincinnati, where opening day has always been a holiday.
“I remember driving to the field (in 2019) and seeing like all the streets just packed,” he said. “I’ve never seen that before for baseball, and it was pretty awesome. I’m excited to see them them come back again. I know they’re excited. I know people need something to watch, people need something to look forward to, and this is something people will be able to look forward to.”
David Bell rejoined his team in Goodyear, Arizona, on Monday after some time away due to the death last Friday of his brother, Minnesota Twins bench coach Mike Bell, who had cancer.
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Ohio Sports

Jazz run win streak to 6 games with 114-75 win over Cavs

By MATTHEW COLES Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Donovan Mitchell scored 19 points and Rudy Gobert added 18 points and 17 rebounds to power the Utah Jazz to their sixth straight win, a 114-75 victory over Cleveland on Monday night.
“Coach Quin (Snyder) is pushing us every timeout, pushing us in every halftime of games like this to continue to try to be perfect, to try to be great. In order to do that, you have to be consistent and … tonight we were able to accomplish that for four quarters,” Mike Conley said.
Conley contributed 18 points for the Jazz, who have won 20 straight at home after dropping their first two home games of the season.
“It’s a special feeling, honestly, to be able to come into our building here at Vivint (Arena) and know we have an advantage,” Conley said.
Since the All-Star game, Mitchell has averaged 29.2 points on 50% shooting and 46% from 3-point range. The Jazz only needed Mitchell for 25 minutes in the blowout.
“I think my film work is the biggest reason. When you can’t always get the physical reps in a shortened season and you need to rest your body, it’s the mental things of understanding how teams are going to guard you, what’s going to be open and manipulating the situations to get anything you want,” Mitchell said.
Gobert also has been on a hot streak, averaging nearly 17 points and more than 14 rebounds since the mid-season break. Against the Cavs, he had four blocked shots and affected several others as Cleveland shot just 35% from the field.
“I think I’m getting more and more comfortable offensively, and my teammates are doing a great job looking for me even more. It’s on me to be a better playmaker and then finish around the rim for my team,” Gobert said.
Collin Sexton scored 20 points and Darius Garland had 18 for the Cavs, who lost their last three of a four-game road stretch.
“That’s where we want to be. We want to be a team like them,” Sexton said about the Jazz.
Jordan’s Clarkson’s 3-pointer — his 72nd consecutive game with at least one from long distance — sparked a 17-0 run to end the third quarter, giving the Jazz a 90-52 lead entering the final period.
Without a Cavs shot-blocking threat, the Jazz were feasting on straight-line drives into the lane that led to layups or open 3-point jumpers.
After the Cavaliers missed their first 12 shots of the second quarter, the Jazz took a 44-20 lead and Cleveland never got much closer the rest of the way.
“Tonight was probably one of our best game in terms of consistency defensively. Just about every minute on the court, for everyone that came in, they were locked in defensively,” Gobert said.
The margin underlines the fact that the Jazz are not only winning, but winning big this season on their way to the league’s best record (35-11). The win over the Cavs marks the 25th game that Utah has led by 20 or more, and the fifth straight. It was the eighth wire-to-wire win for the Jazz and the largest margin of the season.
“Sometimes when you get a lead, teams have a tendency to stop sharing the ball as much. That’s something we did a good job of — we kept playing the right way,” Snyder said.
Utah led 53-34 at half — limiting the Cavs to less than 30% shooting and an opponent’s lowest scoring first half of the season.
With few threats in the half-court against the stingy Jazz defense, the Cavs hoped to get out and run. But they only scored five points in transition in the game.
In the third quarter, Cleveland found its best offense was putting Isaiah Hartenstein out near the 3-point line as a facilitator. The big man drew Gobert away from the basket and found cutters heading for the basket.
“The second half, where we started playing together, people started cutting. Made my life easier finding them. I think that’s how we have to play, especially with how young we are,” said Hartenstein, who had a career-high seven assists to go along with his season-high 14 rebounds.
Cleveland’s 74 points nearly matched the Los Angeles Clippers for the lowest output of the season. The Clippers lost 124-73 to Dallas on Dec. 27, 2020.
Mitchell said that basketball is always on screens at home or on the road, even when he’s doing something else like playing video games.
“Any type of game, I’m looking to check habits and find ways to better myself and be the best player I can be,” Mitchell said.
Conley, a veteran in his 14th season, has never seen any teammate watch so much basketball.
“He’s unbelievable. He’s a student of the game,” Conley said. “He’s watching every game that’s on, so he’s always learning and he’s just a fan … He’s applying the things he’s learning and he’s working for it.”
Cavaliers: Larry Nance Jr. sat out with a non-COVID illness, joining Jarrett Allen (concussion), Matthew Dellavedova (appendectomy), and Kevin Love (calf). … Hartenstein, who came from Denver in the JeVale McGee trade, picked up two fouls in the opening 38 seconds in his first start of the year. … Cleveland used its 22nd different starting lineup and this one featured five players under 25 years of age.
Jazz: Utah is 15-1 when Georges Niang makes at least two 3s this season. He had three against Cleveland. … Up 63-38, the Jazz successfully challenged a foul call on Mitchell stripping Sexton. … The Jazz have a 27-0 record when tallying spurts of 10 or more consecutive points in a game.
Cavaliers: Host the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night.
Jazz: Visit the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.
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Ohio Sports

Infant son of Browns’ Switzer stable after surgery in Boston

By TOM WITHERS AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — Browns wide receiver Ryan Switzer said his infant son is recovering after undergoing surgery in a Boston hospital.
Switzer tweeted an update Monday following the procedure on his 9-month-old, Christian.
“Our sweet baby boy is stable and out of surgery,” he said in the posting that included a photo of his son asleep. “This nightmare is over with. These wonderful people in Boston fixed our son. He’s going to make a full recovery. Praise God.”
Switzer has been updating his son’s medical fight on social media the past few weeks. Earlier, Switzer said a scan had revealed an abnormality and the surgeon working on his son’s case assured the family “they found what they’re looking for in order to operate.”
The boy has had two severe bleeding episodes, and despite a surgery and numerous procedures, doctors had been unable to pinpoint the cause. After consulting with doctors in Pittsburgh, the Switzers transported their son from a hospital in North Carolina to Boston Children’s Hospital last week.
Switzer’s young son had also tested positive for COVID-19.
Switzer said he and his wife, Gabie, have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support they’ve received since Christian first got sick.
The 26-year-old Switzer spent last season on Cleveland’s practice squad. He was with the Pittsburgh Steelers for two years after being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 2017.
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Ohio Sports

Ex-Browns coach Hue Jackson says team lied about rebuild

By TOM WITHERS AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — Former Browns coach Hue Jackson said owner Jimmy Haslam gave him a contract extension midway through a winless 2017 season and that he was lied to from the start about the team’s rebuilding plans.
During a wide-ranging radio interview Monday with ESPN 850, Jackson said the Browns’ efforts to improve while he was with them were flawed by philosophical differences.
Jackson said he was never told by either Haslam or then-general manager Sashi Brown that the Browns were in a roster teardown or else he wouldn’t have accepted the job. He was Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator before being hired in Cleveland, where he went 0-16 in his second season and 3-36-1 over two-plus seasons before being fired.
“There is no doubt I was lied to by ownership and the executive team,” Jackson said, adding there was a divide between the coaching staff and management.
“They were going to be football plus analytics, but they intentionally made it football versus analytics,” he said. “They were going to take two years and they were going to find a way to use us as an experiment to make sure that they got the data that they needed for it to get better — at the expense of whoever — and that’s not right.
“That’s not the way it should be.”
A team spokesman said the Browns would not comment on Jackson’s claims.
Jackson said he signed a contract extension midway through the 2017 season — he was 1-23 at the time with Cleveland — and wanted to make it public, but the team refused.
“I think we can all understand and think why it was not made public,” he said. “Because it would’ve really set the tempo for what exactly was going on there.”
The 55-year-old said he’s writing a book about his time with the Browns. The team went 1-15 in Jackson’s first season, winless the second — joining the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only teams to go 0-16 — and he was dismissed after a 2-5-1 start in 2018.
But, as far as he’s concerned, there’s plenty of blame to share.
“I want to make sure everybody knows and understands exactly what went on in Cleveland,” Jackson said. “The truth needs to come out. I am tired of being the brunt of jokes and memes and things that people say when they don’t know.”
Jackson, who is currently out of the NFL, said his chances to win in Cleveland were undermined by the team’s overreliance on statistical data and dismal drafting. He said the team “also lied to try and paint the picture that I was against analytics.”
“People need to go back and look at those drafts and see where those players are today,” he said. “That should tell you all you need to know. They’re not on this team. They haven’t been. Some of them aren’t even in the league, but we were were expected to win.
“You can’t win that way.”
Jackson understands that the team’s win-loss record goes next to his name in the record books. But he feels others, including Paul DePodesta, the Browns’ chief strategy officer, and current GM Andrew Berry, who was in player personnel with the club when he was there, also are culpable.
“I’ll take responsibility for my role in it, but why isn’t everybody else taking their responsibility for it?” he said. “There’s people that are leading the organization today in Cleveland that was just as big a part of that as I was. And those guys are getting paid for doing that. So obviously they were paid for losing. Is that what we’re saying?
“I’m vilified about losing. This is a joke to me.”
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