Defensive end Cliff Avril was released by the Seattle Seahawks on Friday with a failed physical designation due to a neck injury that cost him most of the 2017 season.
Avril’s release was expected and likely means the end of a 10-year career during which he was a standout player for the Seahawks and the Detroit Lions.
Avril was injured in Week 4 last season while trying to chase down Indianapolis quarterback Jacoby Brissett. The back of Brissett’s foot caught Avril in the chin as he lunged to make the tackle. Avril was seen shaking his arms and flexing his hands after the impact.
While the play looked innocuous Brian Poole Jersey , Avril’s head snapped back violently and he suffered a neck injury. Avril never revealed the specific diagnosis for his injury but coach Pete Carroll repeatedly called it a serious situation. Avril had neck surgery following the season.
Carroll praised Avril after Seattle concluded the first day of its rookie minicamp.
”He’s been a great leader. He’s been a bit of a statesman for us. He always says the right thing, stands for the right stuff and been a really high character guy that you can always count on,” Carroll said. ”A great competitor in the program. I love him and would like to keep him connected with our club as long as we can because he’s just exactly what you hope to represent you. He’s had a great career with us.”
Avril arrived in Seattle before the 2013 season and instantly helped transform the Seahawks defense into one of the best in recent memory. He was part of a rotation at first but became a full-time starter in 2014. His best season came in 2016 when Avril had a career-high 11 sacks and was voted to the Pro Bowl for the only time in his career.
Avril spent five seasons in Detroit before coming to Seattle. He was a third-round pick out of Purdue and suffered through a 0-16 season in his rookie year with the Lions. He became a standout in Detroit but experienced his greatest team success in Seattle, helping the team win the Super Bowl in his first season with the Seahawks. He made a return trip to the championship game with the team the following year.
”Thank you 12s for making the last 5 years in Seattle so amazing!” Avril wrote in a post on Instagram . ”Your cheers on Sundays are unmatched, and you guys are by far the best fans in the NFL! Most importantly, I appreciate and value the lifelong friendships I’ve made. You all have supported my family, my foundation (the Cliff Avril Family Foundation), and I throughout my entire tenure Arik Armstead Jersey , and I could not have asked for more! THANK YOU to the entire Seahawk organization as well as my teammates. You all made me a Pro Bowler and a Super Bowl Champ! I am forever grateful.”
Releasing Avril will save Seattle about $6 million against the salary cap. But the Seahawks will also be faced with replacing another productive standout from a defense that had already seen the departures of Michael Bennett and Richard Sherman earlier this offseason.
Lost amid Sidney Crosby’s latest attempt to win the NHL batting title and Evgeni Malkin’s one-on-three brilliance during the Pittsburgh Penguins‘ clinical dismantling of the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1 is this: The two-time defending Stanley Cup champions played pretty well in their own end, too.
That may be the most frightening aspect going forward for the Flyers and the other 14 teams hoping to end Pittsburgh’s run at history.
While it’s easy to point to Matt Murray’s 24 saves – including a fabulous diving stop on Philadelphia’s Scott Laughton in the first period that preserved a one-goal lead and set the stage for the blowout to come – it’s the little things the Penguins did that caught the attention of head coach Mike Sullivan.
Pittsburgh blocked 24 shots before the puck even got to the net. The defensemen in front of Murray turned Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds into a bystander. Philadelphia went on the power play four times and failed to produce a single scoring chance.
”It was just a commitment to defend and play the right way,” Sullivan said.
One the Penguins understand they’ll need to repeat in Game 2 on Friday night. For all of their dominance on Wednesday night, it still only counts as one. Last spring they drilled Ottawa 7-0 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals to go up 3-2 in the series only to lose Game 6 two days later.
”We know we’re going to see their best,” said Crosby, whose third career playoff hat trick in Game 1 started with a backhanded swat out of the air from in front that knuckled past Philadelphia’s Brian Elliott and into the net to put the Penguins up five.
It’s unlikely the Flyers could play much worse. Coach Dave Hakstol publicly endorsed sending Elliott back out for Game 2 in the immediate aftermath despite giving up five goals on 19 shots before getting pulled. Hakstol declined to elaborate on his plans Thursday, though he’s well aware Elliott’s play was not Philadelphia’s only issue.
”We just had too many holes and if you have holes in your game, that team is going to drive a truck through them Marshawn Lynch Jersey ,” Hakstol said.
Philadelphia returned to the playoffs this spring thanks in part to its resilience. The Flyers went nearly a month between victories while enduring a 10-game losing streak that spanned November and early December and then dropped seven of eight to start March before sprinting to third in the crowded Metropolitan Division.
”Nothing’s easy this time of year,” Elliott said. ”A close loss feels the same as a lopsided one. We all didn’t get to this level by not going through some type of adversity like this. It’s just a matter of fact of going back to work and having the confidence we can definitely be better than we were.”
Another loss would put Philadelphia in a perilous spot going home. The Flyers haven’t beaten Penguins once all season, getting outscored 27-11 in the process. Going down two games would require them to take down the reigning champions four times in nine days. Good luck with that.
”We’ve got to be sharper,” Hakstol said. ”That usually means you’ve got to be quicker and execute a little bit better. You can probably apply that to a lot of our game.”
Some things to watch Friday night:
Wild at Jets, Winnipeg leads 1-0 (7:30 p.m. EDT, USA)
It took Winnipeg nearly two decades to win the franchise’s first playoff game. If the Jets can do it twice in three days, they’ll have firm control against sloppy Minnesota.
The Wild let a third-period lead get away in Game 1, with the Jets getting the tying goal and the winning goal off Minnesota giveaways. The Wild understand they need to be smarter in their own end. Minnesota has won just one series in franchise history after dropping the first two games.
”I think in reality we had seven pretty bad minutes from the time we scored the second goal to the third goal Christian Okoye Jersey ,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. ”But it was a pretty even game after that. And I think we can play a lot better.”
The young Jets feel likewise. Having a crammed and raucous Bell MTS Place certainly helped.
”You saw the crowd last night, it was unbelievable,” said 22-year-old defenseman Josh Morrissey. ”We had a lot of energy built of that. For us, it was a big comeback win and we won and we’ve got to keep going.”
Kings at Golden Knights, Vegas leads 1-0 (10 p.m. EDT, NBCSN)
The expansion Golden Knights looked every bit ready for the playoffs when they rode goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to a 1-0 victory in Game 1. The Kings will be without defenseman Drew Doughty for Game 2, suspended by the NHL for an illegal check to the head of Vegas forward William Carrier.
Doughty appeared lower his shoulder into Carrier’s head, connecting with his jaw Mark Andrews Jersey , sending the Golden Knights wing to the locker room for the remainder of the game.
”I thought it was a bad hit, but it’s not for me to decide,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. ”The referee didn’t think it was a penalty but I’m sure people will look at that hit and make a decision on it.”
The Kings outhit Vegas 68-59, though some Los Angeles players scoffed at the notion Game 1 was an overly physical.
”It was a physical game, (but) I don’t think there was nearly as many hits as the stats credited,” Los Angeles wing Dustin Brown said. ”Some buildings you can kill a guy and not get credit for a hit.”
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