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With the Detroit Tigers approaching 100 losses this season with a week left to play, the news that the organization won’t be renewing the contract of manager Brad Ausmus probably wasn’t a big surprise. Ausmus’ record in Detroit’s dugout across four seasons was 312-326 after he inherited a team that had reached the American League Championship Series under Jim Leyland in 2013. The Tigers’ veteran-laden roster returned to the postseason in Ausmus’ first season with 90 wins, but after suffering a three-game AL Division Series sweep, they’ve missed the postseason each of the past three years while spending heavily.

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With a full rebuild already underway, speculation has immediately started over who might be under consideration to fill Ausmus’ shoes in 2018. We asked ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, David Schoenfield and Bradford Doolittle to weigh in on the challenge ahead of the next Tigers skipper, who has succeeded facing similar situations, who might merit consideration this time around, and who might slip into the job under the radar.

1. What will the Tigers job entail going forward?

Jerry Crasnick: A lot of patience and a focus on fundamentals, for starters. The Tigers are in full-fledged rebuild mode now that they’ve traded away Justin Verlander, Justin Upton and J.D. Martinez. Unfortunately, those deals didn’t fetch the type of impact talent that White Sox general manager Rick Hahn obtained when he sold off his big pieces.

“The Tigers are going to be bad for a while,” said a veteran agent. “The farm system is not good even after those trades.”

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TORONTO – Most prospects can recall in vivid detail the emotion of that first time they stepped on the ice for a National Hockey League game, even if only in the preseason.
“I remember my first last year in Montreal. I was playing against some big names and was like ‘Oh my gosh. This is crazy,’” said Toronto defenceman Travis Dermott. “For any young kid, this is the dream right here. You’re star-struck at first, but then you see you can play with these guys, and it’s definitely a confidence builder. It’s really cool.”

After Monday night, Timothy Liljegren will have his own first story to tell. The defenceman, drafted 17th overall in June, will suit up in the Leafs preseason tilt against the Ottawa Senators and play alongside Dermott, offering a first glimpse into a potential pairing of the future for the Leafs.
“[I’m] a little nervous, yeah,” Liljegren said. “But I think you should be. I’m looking forward to the game, to see what type of game it is [at this level], watch the other guys, learn from them, get some experience.”
Liljegren’s debut as a Maple Leaf at their rookie tournament earlier this month was painful to say the least. He finished minus-4 in the opener, committing costly turnovers and struggling to pick up players in his own end.
But by the Leafs’ second game he had Dermott on his left side, and it made a world of difference. Dermott made impressive strides last year in the AHL, tallying five goals and 19 assists in 59 games, and helped calm Liljegren as the chemistry between them emerged.
“It’s weird playing with a player pretty similar to you,” Dermott said. “We’re both decent skaters and breaking the puck out and making first passes is probably one of our better assets. I think once we kind of understood [our similarities] and read off each other, that’s when the chemistry really started building and hopefully we can just keep it going.”
How Liljegren performed in that rookie debut wasn’t the same “star” Mike Babcock saw at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Mich., last July, and he expects Liljegren will play closer to that level on Monday. That Dermott would feel such a kinship with Liljegren, 18, in terms of their playing styles wasn’t exactly what Babcock had in mind when he set them up together, but he isn’t going to haggle over a positive result.
“I wouldn’t have said [they were similar], but [Dermott]’s out there with him, so he might even know him better than me,” Babcock said. “Dermott is a much bigger body and plays a more competitive-type game, whereas this guy [Liljegren] just has elite, elite, elite skill and so I don’t see them the same, but maybe he’s right.”
It would bode well for the Leafs future on the backend if the chemistry at camp translates to a bigger stage. The next generation of the Leafs’ offence was announced last season, but other than Nikita Zaitsev joining as a rookie and Connor Carrick appearing in his first full season with the club, the blueline didn’t get the same sort of talent infusion.
Dermott and Liljegren are the two prime candidates to eventually change that. Liljegren wants to use Monday’s road tilt to start honing his professional game in North America.
“The biggest difference is the speed and also the smaller surface – it’s hard to read sometimes,” he said. “Sometimes you think the forward doesn’t have a shooting lane but he does because it’s a small surface. One of the things I have to improve this year is not doing too much. I’ll try tonight to be creative when there’s room, and not do too many hard things and play simple when I can play simple.”
General manager Lou Lamoriello said in July that Liljegren will either return to the Swedish Hockey League, where he posted one goal and four assists in 19 games with Rogle BK last year, or he stay in Toronto with the Marlies this season. Meanwhile, Dermott is in the thick of a training camp battle with the likes of Swedish imports Andreas Borgman and Calle Rosen to steal a sixth or seventh defenceman spot on the Leafs by October.
If that doesn’t happen, he and Liljegren could see a lot more of each other in the AHL this fall. But that conversation is for another day. Right now Dermott isn’t considering anything beyond acing his first big test of the season.
“I’ll try to help [Liljegren], but I think he’ll be fine by himself,” Dermott said of offering advice. “You’re excited to just get out there, get your mind off the big hype and play your game.”

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Odell Beckham’s status for Week 1 is in jeopardy.

The Giants wide receiver missed practice on Thursday for the second straight day, according to the team’s Twitter account. Beckham is still dealing with an ankle injury suffered during New York’s Week 2 preseason contest against the Cleveland Browns.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Up To The Minute Live there’s a chance Beckham will play Sunday, but it won’t be at 100 percent. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported on the same show Beckham has tried experimental laser treatments to speed up healing, but the team is preparing as if Beckham is not ready. If he’s available, the team will consider it a bonus, Garafolo added.

This isn’t entirely unexpected, as Beckham narrowly avoided serious injury in the awkward hit against the Browns. Should Beckham sit out, the Giants will turn to Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard in their season opener against NFC East rival Dallas.

Here are other injuries we’re tracking on Thursday:

1. Bills running back LeSean McCoy missed part of practice on Thursday with a stomach illness, per multiple reporters in Buffalo. McCoy missed a period of team drills but returned to finish the session as a limited participant.

“He got a little bit ill at practice,” head coach Sean McDermott said, per the Bills’ official site. “He was here at the beginning and fell ill a little bit there and then came back.”

McDermott added: “It looked like he was good. … He had a good practice.”

2. Browns rookie defensive end Myles Garrett will miss the start of the season after suffering a high ankle sprain, the team announced Thursday. Garrett’s status will be updated in a couple of weeks.

3. The Patriots’ receiving corps suffered another blow as Rapoport reports Malcolm Mitchell is headed to injured reserve with a knee injury.

4. Titans rookie receiver Corey Davis (hamstring) told reporters he is at “90 percent,” according to ESPN.com. Davis is expected to make his debut Sunday when Tennessee faces Oakland.
5. Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara (ankle) was held out of practice, and guard Kyle Long (ankle) was limited, per Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.

Coach John Fox said linebacker Danny Trevathan is “ready to go.”

6. Redskins who were limited in practice included linebacker Ryan Anderson (stinger, neck), center Spencer Long (knee) and receiver Jamison Crowder (hip flexor).

7. Titans coach Mike Mularkey told reporters Thursday corner LeShaun Sims (groin) missed practice, while tackle Taylor Lewan (ankle) was limited.

8. Bengals rookie receiver John Ross (knee) was limited and is not expected to play in Week 1.

9. Cardinals defensive end Robert Nkemdiche (calf) was limited in Thursday’s practice after not practicing Wednesday.

10. Raiders safety Obi Melifonwu is expected to return after eight weeks, a source informed NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. The rookie was recently put on injured reserve because of a knee injury.

11. Packers cornerbacks Davon House (hamstring) and Kevin King (groin) both fully participated in practice on Thursday after being limited earlier in the week.

12. Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark (wrist) fully participated in practice on Thursday after being limited earlier in the week.