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GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers connected with tight end Robert Tonyan on three of his four touchdown passes and the Green Bay Packers remained unbeaten with a 30-16 victory over the winless Atlanta Falcons on Monday night.

The Packers (4-0) opened a season by scoring at least 30 points in four straight games for the first time in franchise history. Todd Gurley’s two touchdown runs couldn’t stop the Falcons from their first 0-4 start since 1999, when they followed a Super Bowl season by going 5-11.

Green Bay was missing its top two receivers. Davante Adams sat out a second straight game with a hamstring injury and Allen Lazard had gone on injured reserve with a core problem.

Yet that didn’t slow down Rodgers, who capitalized on Atlanta’s depleted secondary and helped Tonyan deliver the most productive performance of his young career.

Tonyan had touchdown receptions of 19 and 8 yards to cap the Packers’ final two first-half possessions. He added a 21-yard touchdown reception midway through the third quarter.

The 2017 undrafted free agent from Indiana State finished the night with six catches for 98 yards along with his three touchdowns to set career highs in all three categories. Tonyan, who entered this season with two career touchdowns, has reached the end zone five times over his last three games.

Rodgers went 27 of 33 for 327 yards. He has thrown 13 touchdown passes without an interception this season.

After blowing two-touchdown leads in the fourth quarter each of the last two weeks, the Falcons (0-4) never were ahead in this one. Green Bay took the lead for good when Rodgers threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Aaron Jones on the game’s opening series.

Atlanta already was playing without safeties Ricardo Allen (elbow) and Keanu Neal (hamstring) as well as cornerback A.J. Terrell (COVID-19 reserve). That beleaguered secondary took more hits when safety Damontae Kazee got carted off the field and safety Jaylinn Hawkins left with a concussion in the second quarter.

Green Bay capitalized by scoring touchdowns on three of its four first-half possessions to build a 20-3 halftime lead. The Packers’ other first-half series ended less than a yard away from the end zone when Deion Jones stuffed Jamaal Williams on fourth-and-goal.

After making that fourth-and-goal stop, Atlanta kept the ball for over 10 ½ minutes with a 20-play, 94-yard series that included two fourth-down conversions and ended with Elliott Fry’s 23-yard field goal. Fry’s kick cut Green Bay’s lead to 7-3.

But the Falcons gained just 14 yards on their other four first-half possessions. Atlanta’s offense fared better in the second half, but only after Green Bay had built a commanding lead.

REACHING MILESTONES

Julio Jones had four catches for 32 yards and broke the Falcons’ record for career receptions despite sitting out the second half with a hamstring injury. Jones entered the night tied with Roddy White, who caught 808 passes for the Falcons from 2005-13.

Rodgers became the 11th player in NFL history to have at least 4,000 completions. One of the other players to reach that mark is Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, who went 28 of 39 for 285 yards with no touchdown passes or interceptions Monday.

INJURY REPORT

Falcons: Kazee and Hawkins didn’t return after leaving the game in the second quarter. Jones didn’t play the second half. Fry, who made his lone field goal try and went 1 of 2 on extra-point attempts, played because kicker Younghoe Koo was unavailable due to a groin injury.

Packers: Defensive back Chandon Sullivan left with a concussion in the first half. Cornerback Kevin King injured his quadriceps. Tight end Josiah Deguara was shaken up with less than two minutes left in the game. Defensive tackle Kenny Clark (groin) missed a third straight game. Other notable inactive players included outside linebacker Rashan Gary (ankle), inside linebacker Christian Kirksey (injured reserve/pectoral) and tight end Marcedes Lewis (knee).

UP NEXT

The Falcons host Carolina on Sunday.

The Packers have an off week before visiting Tampa Bay on Oct. 18.



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Terence Crawford next fight: Welterweight champ set to return in November against Kell Brook

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Terence Crawford is ready to return to the ring. After saying that he wouldn’t fight without a live gate unless he was compensated correctly at the onset of the global pandemic, Crawford will fight again on Nov. 14 against veteran contender Kell Brook on ESPN. 

Crawford was linked to some potentially exciting fights with Manny Pacquiao and Shawn Porter, which would seem to indicate some bridges finally crossed between Top Rank, who promotes Crawford, and PBC, who controls Pacquiao, Porter and the majority of the other top welterweights in boxing. Instead, the WBO welterweight champion will meet Brook, who has won three straight against lesser competition after being knocked out by Errol Spence and Gennadiy Golovkin in consecutive bouts.

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Crawford (36-0, 27 KO) is one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world, but has run into issues in recent years with the top fighters being aligned with PBC and cutting into the most attractive possible matches. That left Crawford to display his talents against outgunned opponents Egidijus Kavaliauskas and Amir Khan in 2019 while rival and PBC fighter Spence Jr. had career-defining battles with Mikey Garcia and Porter.

A showdown with PBC-promoted Spence, who holds the WBC and IBF titles, is the long-discussed but seemingly unlikely biggest fight in the welterweight division. Potential bouts with PBC’s Pacquiao and Porter were supposed to serve as gateway bouts to making the Spence fight a reality, though Top Rank’s Bob Arum seemed more committed to the idea of Crawford vs. Brook, which was announced as a Crawford’s next fight during the ESPN broadcast of Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Teofimo Lopez.

Brook (39-2, 27 KO) is the former IBF welterweight champ. Returning to welterweight to defend his title, Brook was stopped in Round 11 by Spence. Three fights against middling competition between 2018 and 2020 lined Brook up to get another title shot, this time gunning for Crawford’s welterweight belt.



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Former CA chief James Sutherland heads multimillion-dollar deal to replace MyCricket

A company headed by two former Cricket Australia executives has won a multimillion-dollar contract to build a bespoke replacement for MyCricket, the much-criticised digital portal for community cricket in Australia.

PlayHQ, which boasts the former CA chief executive James Sutherland as chairman and the ex-CA manager of media rights and strategy, Sam Walch, as chief executive, had already picked up major contracts to run digital fixturing, scoring and administration of basketball and Australian football at community levels.

But the confirmation of the deal with CA, which will see PlayHQ provide the platform for cricket clubs and programs across the country to be, in the words of the head of community cricket Belinda Clark, “able to be run from a smartphone” and is believed to be worth more than A$5 million, will have a huge impact on the lives of around 300,000 club players registered with MyCricket across the country, plus many more junior and school program participants.

“This is a critical project for Australian cricket. We need to get the basics right first, and there is an immediate need to replace the legacy platform with a system that is modern and makes it easier to do all the tasks required to run local programs and competitions,” CA’s head of customer experience Kieran McMillan said. “Tens of thousands of volunteers give up their evenings and weekends for our sport, and we want to give them back some time to enjoy the best parts of getting involved in their club.

“Technology will play an increasingly important role in community sport and we have an opportunity to be leading the charge. Through the support of quality partners, the community can expect more digital innovation and increased functionality over time. Whether that be live streaming, or club management tools, or even micro-chips in balls – the products and services you will be able to access on your phone or laptop will make it easier to run the game and more enjoyable to play the game.”

Basketball provided the first means for PlayHQ to test out its capabilities, and early suggestions prior to the onset of Covid-19 were that its systems enabled faster and easier management of clubs and competitions, based in particular on a pilot program involving around 20 country basketball associations.

The AFL then announced a deal with Play HQ in June. Its head of states and game development, Sam Graham, described the project’s goals at the time as: “It’s about getting the admin done more quickly and easily, so there’s time to focus on the footy.”

Speaking about the cricket deal, Walch offered similar words. “PlayHQ’s vision is to provide a world class solution for the administration of grassroots sport, and to make it easier for volunteers, participants, parents, coaches and umpires to engage with the games they love.”

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A look at the Twins’ contract situations heading into 2020-21 offseason

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With the offseason now officially upon us with the end of the World Series, Major League Baseball teams can now turn their attention to the 2021 season.

Minnesota actually has several players signed for multiple years — including four through 2023.

But that’s not to say there aren’t decisions to make this offseason.

There’s one option (Sergio Romo) which could be picked up, 10 players facing free agency (including big names like Nelson Cruz and Jake Odorizzi) and six players due nice salary bumps in arbitration.

The Twins now face the decision on whether to non-tender any of those arbitration-eligible players, making that player(s) a free agent.

Most notable will be outfielder Eddie Rosario, who would have made $7.75 million if 2020 was played in full, reliever Taylor Rogers ($4.45 million) and outfielder Byron Buxton ($3.075 million).

Jose Berrios ($4.025 million in 2020) figures to be one player who Minnesota will look to re-sign.

Here’s a rundown of the Twins’ contract situations this offseason, with salary included (information from Cot’s Baseball Contracts and baseball-reference.com).

 

Signed

3B Josh Donaldson – Signed through 2023 ($21 million in 2021, $21 million in 2022, $21 million in 2023 and $16 million team option with $8 million buyout in 2024).

OF Max Kepler – Signed through 2023 ($6.5 million in 2021, $6.75 million in 2022, $8.5 million in 2023 and $10 million team option with $1 million buyout in 2024).

SP Kenta Maeda – Signed through 2023 ($3 million in 2021; $3 million in 2022; $3 million in 2023; also has several bonuses including $150,000 for being on opening day roster and performances bonuses based on games started and innings).

SP Michael Pineda – Signed through 2021 ($10 million in 2021).

SS Jorge Polanco – Signed through 2023 ($4,333,333 in 2021, $5 million in 2022, $7.5 million in 2023, $10.5 team option with $1 million buyout in 2024, $12 million team option with $750,000 buyout in 2025).

1B Miguel Sano – Signed through 2022 ($11 million in 2021, $9.25 million in 2022 with $14 million team option with $2.75 million buyout in 2023).

 

Options

RP Sergio Romo — $5 million team option and $250,000 million buyout

 

Free agents (2020 salary)
(note: salaries for 2020 are for the original 162-game season, not prorated to 60 games)

UT Ehire Adrianza ($1.6 million)

C Alex Avila ($4.25 million)

RP Tyler Clippard ($2.75 million)

DH Nelson Cruz ($12 million)

RP Cory Gearrin (minor-league contract — $1 million if made majors; was called up Aug. 9)

UT Marwin Gonzalez ($9 million)

SP Rich Hill ($3 million)

RP Trevor May ($2.205 million)

SP Jake Odorizzi ($17.8 million)

 

Arbitration eligible (2020 salary)
(note: salaries for 2020 are for the original 162-game season, not prorated to 60 games)

SP Jose Berrios ($4.025 million; eligible for free agency in 2023)

OF Byron Buxton ($3.075 million; eligible for free agency in 2023)

RP Tyler Duffey ($1.2 million; eligible for free agency in 2023)

RP Taylor Rogers ($4.45 million; eligible for free agency in 2023)

OF Eddie Rosario ($7.75 million; eligible for free agency in 2022)

RP Matt Wisler ($725,000; eligible for free agency in 2023)

 

Pre-arbitration (2020 salary)
(note: salaries for 2020 are for the original 162-game season, not prorated to 60 games)

C/3B Willians Astudillo ($571,000)

OF Jake Cave ($587,500)

C Mitch Garver ($620,000)

RP Caleb Thielbar ($563,500)



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