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Denver Broncos running back De’Angelo Henderson (33) runs agaist Chicago Bears free safety DeAndre Houston-Carson (36) to the end zone for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

The games may be “meaningless,” but a more significant race is underway

CHICAGO — An hour before kickoff Thursday, Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch trotted out onto Soldier Field to warm up, setting up shop at the 20-yard line in front of a swath of fans who quickly pulled out camera phones and dangled photos for signatures.

In the center stood a young girl donning an orange No. 18 Manning jersey. At her side was an older man wearing John Elway’s No. 7. There was no No. 13 or No 12. No sign of the Broncos’ future.

Thursday’s preseason opener — a 24-17 win over the Bears — put them one step closer to finding him.

Siemian, as planned by first-year head coach Vance Joseph, started and played 19 plays before handing the reins to Lynch midway through the second quarter. Kyle Sloter closed out the final quarter and was the only one of the three quarterbacks to throw a touchdown pass.

While eyes were on the quarterbacks, the victory highlighted many persistent issues on offense for Denver — protection problems, penalties and general inefficiency — with only 144 net yards and a 13 percent conversion rate on third downs when Siemian and Lynch played.

Siemian began with a seven-point cushion, thanks to Chris Harris’ pick-six on the third play of the game, and went 6-of-7 in passing for 51 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions for a passer rating of 97.0. He was sacked once — on the first play — as Leonard Floyd flew around right tackle Menelik Watson for the takedown as protection issues and penalties littered Siemian’s three drives.

Both teams racked up a total of six flags on Denver’s opening drive, but Siemian held his own, connecting with Demaryius Thomas for a conversion on third-and-11 and setting up a 38-yard field goal by Brandon McManus.

Siemian’s second drive was a three-and-out, and his final go was a seven-play, 37-yard drive that included two completions to Cody Latimer. One of those, however, was nullified by penalties. The drive ended on a run by Stevan Ridley on third-and-1 that resulted in a loss of 3 yards.

Where Siemian appeared in control under pressure, Lynch struggled early with his reads and reacting quickly to the defense. He took over with 7:41 left in the second quarter and played four series, going 6-of-9 passing for 42 yards and a 77.1 rating, while adding 11 yards on four carries. He closed the first half with back-to-back three-and-outs, often tucked the ball and scrambled to evade pressure. To compensate for his late reads, he appeared to throw harder, affecting his accuracy.

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Starting their respective coaching careers within months of each other as unpaid assistants at Penn State, where they were also college roommates and teammates, Jeff Nixon and Matt Rhule just had a feeling that they would eventually work together.

“I knew early on that Matt would be a head coach, without a doubt, and I knew we would have an opportunity to coach together,” said Nixon, an NFL assistant for 10 years before joining Rhule’s staff at Baylor as co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach. “We coached one year together at Temple in 2006, but I always kind of knew we’d get back together. It took 10 years, it took a little longer than I thought, but I’m excited to be a part of his staff and see his progress as a head coach. I know he’s excited to be here, and I’m excited to be here with him.”

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See Martellus Bennett sleeping in the locker room, Aaron Rodgers loving his hashtags, and much more.

Mark Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Training camp is here, and on Monday and Tuesday most of the Green Bay Packers’ players made the journey from wherever they make their offseason homes out to Green Bay in order to be set up to report to camp Wednesday morning. Several of the team’s stars chose to express their excitement for the new season on social media, including a certain two-time MVP.

Both left tackle David Bakhtiari and new Packers tight end Lance Kendricks made the trip from California and ended up on the same flight (no word on whether they were actually seated next to each other or if they were just able to get a quick photo before getting split up).

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VLADIVOSTOK: Indian men’s singles player Rahul Yadav Chittaboina and men’s doubles pair of Arjun MR and Ramchandran Shlok advanced to the semifinals of the Russian Open Grand Prix here today.

The 19-year-old Rahul, who had won the Mauritius International last year, defeated England’s Wang Yuehang 13-11 11-5 11-6 in a 22-minute match to set up a clash with second seed Vladimir Malkov.

Fourth seeds Arjun and Shlok also notched up a comefrom-behind 7-11 11-9 11-8 11-9 win over Japanese combo of Masato Takano and Yoshiki Tsukamoto. They will next face Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov, who had won the 2016 All England Super Series Premier.



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Baylor wide receiver and tight end outlook for 2017

Key returnees: Chris Platt (junior), Blake Lynch (sophomore), Pooh Stricklin (sophomore), Jordan Feuerbacher (senior), Quan Jones (senior), Jared Atkinson (sophomore), Sam Tecklenburg (senior), Tony Nicholson (sophomore), Denzel Mims (sophomore)

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Hugo Sanchez questioned the mentality of the Colombia international, who left Real Madrid for Bayern Munich on Tuesday

Former Real Madrid star Hugo Sanchez believes James Rodriguez lacked the character to play for the La Liga and Champions League titleholders.

James ended his time with Madrid on Tuesday, moving to Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich on a two-year loan deal with the option of a permanent transfer.

The 25-year-old fell down the pecking order at the Santiago Bernabeu following Zinedine Zidane’s arrival in January 2016 – starting just 13 La Liga matches as Madrid dethroned Barcelona last season.

Ancelotti to rediscover the Real James

James will now reunite with former boss Carlo Ancelotti but Sanchez – who won five La Liga titles during his time in the Spanish capital – questioned the Colombia international.

“James needed to prove to Zidane that he can trust him in every game, not just the once but also the next one,” Sanchez told Radio MARCA.

“One’s character has to harden and that’s what James was missing.

“To play for Real Madrid, you have to put a little more in.”

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Hyper Pro Kalman Csoka explains what it means to have honor as a martial arts athlete.

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