esdays practice -- T Terron Armstead (Knee), LB Dannell Ellerbe (Quad) and LB James Laurinaitis (Quad) -- also did not practice on Thursday. ... RB and spe | Forum

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Theres no doubt that Team USA will miss the services of rugged Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Callahan, who will sit out Septembers World Cup of Hockey after undergoing surgery to repair a labral tear in his right hip. Jake Odorizzi Jersey .Callahan is a two-time U.S. Olympian who epitomizes the kind of hard-nosed, glue guy the U.S. selection committee was looking for when it assembled the 23-man roster that will try to wrest international hockey dominance away from Canada and outlast the six other teams taking part in the tournament.But the immediate question is: Who will take his place on the roster?The choice will be closely watched by hockey observers for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is to see if general manager Dean Lombardi and his management team -- which includes former Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren, Calgary Flames president Brian Burke (who was the GM of the U.S. team that won an Olympic silver in Vancouver in 2010) and longtime USA Hockey executive Jim Johannson -- will hold to the pattern of naming a roster very much blue collar in nature.In selecting gritty guys such as?Justin Abdelkader, Brandon Dubinsky, Erik Johnson, Jack Johnson and Callahan, Team USA excluded higher-skilled players like Kevin Shattenkirk, Justin Faulk, Tyler Johnson and, of course, Phil Kessel, another two-time U.S. Olympian.So who will take Callahans place? A decision on a replacement may not come until August, but heres an early look at the top four candidates.Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh PenguinsLets start with the sniper who led the Penguins in both playoff points ( 22) and goals (10) during their Stanley Cup championship run. Kessel was a surprise snub by the U.S. team, but will his playoff performance -- which included a somewhat surprising attention to defensive detail under Penguins coach Mike Sullivan -- be enough to open the door to a replacement roster spot?Its hard to assess this one. Kessel has connections to most of the coaching staff, which includes head coach John Tortorella, an assistant in Vancouver in 2010; Scott Gordon, who was an assistant coach in Toronto when Kessel was a with the Maple Leafs; and, of course, Sullivan. Kessel, like Callahan, is a right-handed shot, but if he wasnt part of the plan in March when the initial 16 players were named and still wasnt in the mix when the final seven players were named less than a month ago, our guess is its not going to happen for Kessel.Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay LightningNo, Johnson is not a winger. But I was surprised when Johnson wasnt named to Team USA given how he has proved himself to be a big-game performer. Perhaps it was because of the lingering injury issues that dogged Johnson throughout the regular season after a stellar turn during the Lightnings run to the 2015 Stanley Cup finals. But during the 2016 playoffs, Johnson was once again a gamer, contributing 17 points in 17 games for Tampa Bay -- including three game-winners -- as the Lightning, sans captain Steven Stamkos, advanced to the Eastern Conference finals before falling to Pittsburgh in seven games.You can never have enough centers, and adding Johnson would allow Tortorella to move Joe Pavelski to the wing, where the San Jose Sharks captain played for most of the season. My guess is that Lombardi et al already have considered this and are comfortable with their depth down the middle, which includes Pavelski, Ryan Kesler, Derek Stepan, David Backes and Dubinsky -- and thus there will not be room for Johnson.Kyle Okposo, New York IslandersOkposo is about to hit the market as an unrestricted free agent and, for my money, is the second-most important free agent available after Stamkos (assuming that Stamkos does indeed go to market). Okposo is a big right-handed shot who has the skill set to play among the top nine for Team USA and enough sand and grit to fit in with the identity that Lombardi wants this team to embrace.He also has quiet leadership abilities and has earned high praise in that regard from longtime friend and teammate John Tavares, the Islanders captain. I spoke with Okposo at midseason about the potential of playing on Team USA and it was clear that he yearns for the opportunity. No question, he would be a highly motivated player if the U.S. management group decides to offer him an invite. I wouldnt be surprised if this is the direction management goes.Kyle Palmieri, New Jersey DevilsIf Team USA is looking for versatility -- and that seems to be a requirement, given the roster as its constituted -- Palmieri would be an excellent fit. Among U.S.-born players available to Team USA (i.e. not counting the young guns selected for Team North America), Palmieris 30 goals were tied for third behind Patrick Kane and Pavelski. The 25-year-old can kill penalties. He can play anywhere in the four forward groups and is considered a strong dressing-room presence. If its not Okposo, I would have to consider Palmieri as the next most likely candidate to replace Callahan. Bert Blyleven Twins Jersey .Y. -- Leading 3-0 with only 11:25 left, the Colorado Avalanche committed a seemingly meaningless penalty to give the New York Islanders a power play. Jason Castro Twins Jersey . How great will be revealed in the next couple of days at the board of governors meeting in Pebble Beach, Calif. http://www.twinssale.com/twins-rod-carew-jersey/ . The Browns coaching search remains incomplete. METAIRIE, La. -- Lately, Saints rookie defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins has been reminding New Orleans interior offensive lineman that theyd be doing him a considerable favor by blocking as hard as they possibly can against him during practice.The 12th overall pick in Iast springs draft out of Louisville still has yet to make his NFL regular season debut because he fractured his left fibula during training camp in mid-August. But that is expected to change this weekend in san Francisco, when Rankins will be eligible to play for the first time.When Im going up against guys, I always tell them, `Just give me a real look. I havent done anything for a while, so I want as close to full speed without trying to kill each other as I can get, Rankins said. Theyve been good about that.Meanwhile, the offensive linemen whove been indulging Rankins request for difficult practice repetitions say the rookie has been wearing them out.To come back the way he has within the amount of time -- just the timeframe and to have as much strength as he has is really incredible right now, Saints guard Tim Lelito said. Hes basically picked up right where he left off. Theres a reason why he was a first-round draft pick, honestly. Hes quick, hes strong, got great hands ... so Im excited to hopefully see him out there in some live situations.Saints coach Sean Payton said Rankins is getting around well and we anticipate this is the week for him to come back.Rankins said coaches have begun rotating him into the first-team defense during 11-on-11 work in practice so he is up to speed with this weeks game plan.The recovery is going as expected. I havent had any setbacks, getting my strength back, getting my endurance back, Rankins said. Its fun to be out there playing. I feel fine. I feel I can be effective. If I didnt feel I could be effective, I wouldnt put myself out there.Saints coaches have said they see Rankins eventually being an every-down player because he is versatile enough to play several spots aalong the defensive line as either a run stuffer or pass rusher. Marwin Gonzalez Twins Jersey. But Rankins figures that in terms of stamina and experience, he would blame coaches for easing him into his first few games in a more limited role.Definitely coming off an injury as long as Ive been off, you definitely dont want to put the cart before the horse, so to speak, Rankins said. You want to do what you can but dont overexert yourself too much. You dont want to be out there trying to overcompensate and those other issues. So I think theyre going to do a good job of keeping an eye on me, giving me what I can handle, and Ill make the most of those snaps.The Saints defense could use help. The unit ranks 28th in the NFL, allowing 397.4 yards per game, and 31st in points allowed at 30.7 per game.In his last two seasons at Louisville, Rankins registered 14 sacks and 26 + tackles for losses.When Lelito was asked if Rankins looked ready to apply stress on the front of an opposing teams pass-protection pocket, he responded, Absolutely. He can put stress anywhere. The front of the pocket, the side of the pocket. Wherever you want to put him hes putting stress. Hes definitely someone that youre going to have to account for.Game notes S Kenny Vaccaro, who sat out Wednesdays practice with knee soreness, returned Thursday on a limited basis. ... Three other players who sat out Wednesdays practice -- T Terron Armstead (Knee), LB Dannell Ellerbe (Quad) and LB James Laurinaitis (Quad) -- also did not practice on Thursday. ... RB and special teams regular Daniel Lasco, who was not on Wednesdays injury report, missed Thursdays practice. ... LB Stephone Anthony (Hamstring), CB Delvin Breaux (Fibula), WR Jake Lampman (Knee), CB Sterling Moore (Abdomen) and C Max Unger (Shoulder) were listed as limited in practice.---AP NFL websites: http://pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL ' ' ' 
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