Phillip Dorset Fitting In

PhillipDorsettCanes
His status as the Colts' first-round pick makes it unsurprising Phillip Dorsett is already flashing in practices.

But it was hard not to be impressed by the rookie out of Miami who, in his first week working with veterans, seamlessly worked his way into the lineup — and then some.

"It's definitely not too big for him," said quarterback Andrew Luck, who found Dorsett on a series of deep throws.

Dorsett displaying his speed at the college level is one thing, but it's already obvious that his speed also translates to the pros. Dorsett also has displayed impressive hands. He had a drop early in Wednesday's practice, but he responded with some notable catches, including a diving grab on a skinny post route.

He's also acclimating well in the classroom, where rookies often are most challenged. The Colts have Dorsett playing every receiver spot — both outside positions as well as in the slot. And he's handled the volume well for a kid who was drafted just three weeks ago.

"I'm definitely picking up the scheme," Dorsett said. "They have me playing all over the place. Concept-wise, I'm definitely getting there."


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(indystar.com)
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Andre Johnson set for big role on Colts?

AndreJohnson2
The Indianapolis Colts stockpiled offensive weapons for Andrew Luck this offseason.

General manager Ryan Grigson added Andre Johnson, Frank Gore and rookie speedster Phillip Dorsett to an arsenal that already featured T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener.

While the Houston Texans wanted to reduce Johnson's role in the offense -- precipitating his release -- the Colts appear poised to give the veteran a big part in their play.

According to ESPN beat reporter Mike Wells, who was on hand for Colts OTAs on Wednesday, it was "pretty obvious" that the veteran will have a "significant part" in Indy's offense.

Even if we normally can't glean a whole lot from OTAs, the note from Wells indicates that Johnson should clearly be considered the No. 2 receiving target behind T.Y. Hilton as we inch toward the summer months.

Coach Chuck Pagano boasted that the transition of Johnson and Gore to the offense has been "pretty seamless," so the receiver's significant role in the starting offense shouldn't be seen merely a way to immerse the veteran in a new system.

Earlier this offseason, colleague Chris Wesseling declared Johnson a "lead-pipe lock for 90 receptions and 1,000 yards if he stays healthy." Given what we've heard coming out of the Colts' camp already, there is no reason to backtrack from that forecast.


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(nfl.com)
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History with Shields, Williams led CB Gunter to sign with Packers despite logjam

LadariusGunterCanes
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Some undrafted players don't have much of a choice when it comes to where they sign. Those are the players who are just happy to get an opportunity anywhere. For priority undrafted free agents, however, the decision that follows the disappointment of not being selected is the most important one of their young football careers.

The Green Bay Packers boast -- at least through their own independent study -- the NFL's best opportunity for undrafted players to make the 53-man active roster. It's a significant part of their sales pitch to the best of the best players who don't hear their names called.

Aside from the raw research data of success rate, undrafted players also need to have a strong grasp on the depth chart of each team that's interested in them, especially at their position. It's for that reason that some might question why cornerback Ladarius Gunter would decide to join the Packers.

Gunter watched as Green Bay picked Damarious Randall in the first round, with the team quickly making it clear that it viewed the Arizona State defensive back as a cornerback rather than a safety. Then, Gunter saw the Packers go with another cornerback in the second round, Quinten Rollins. That's in addition to Green Bay already having Sam Shields, Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde and Demetri Goodson under contract at that spot.

Gunter, projected by NFLDraftScout.com as a sixth-round pick, didn't let any of that deter him from signing with the Packers.

"I'm a competitor," Gunter said frankly.

It was obvious that Gunter did not care who he'd have to beat out for a job. The three-year starter at the University of Miami was determined to find a way to make it in Green Bay.

But it's not like Gunter blindly went with the Packers. He shares an alma mater with Shields, who signed with Green Bay as an undrafted cornerback in 2010 and is now working under a $39 million contract. The Packers also helped turn Tramon Williams from a 2006 undrafted cornerback into a player now entering his 10th NFL season.

"I had watched those guys and watched where they came from, and see how Green Bay had worked with them and put them in good situations," Gunter said.
Gunter added that the development of Shields and Williams "played a big part in it."

Gunter didn't specify how many contract offers he received following the draft, saying only that it was "a lot of teams." Still, it didn't take him much thought before agreeing to terms with Green Bay.

"I felt it was the best fit for me," Gunter said. "I knew that if I came in and competed that it would give me a chance."

Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt had that exact message midway through draft weekend after the Packers had selected Randall and Rollins. Draft position means nothing to Whitt when deciding who should be on the field and who should be on the bench.

"If it's a first-rounder or a free agent, if you play well, you'll play," Whitt said. "If you don't, you'll sit there and watch. I hope both of these guys (Randall and Rollins) don't think they're going to come in just because of their pedigree that they're going to necessarily play in front of anybody else. That's not how it works in our room. The best guys play."

That bodes well for Gunter if he comes out strong in training camp.

Whitt's work since being promoted to his current position in 2009 is also beginning to enter the equation for undrafted cornerbacks.

"Joe Whitt is excellent," head coach Mike McCarthy said. "His reputation of what we've done here in the past with our young corners speaks for itself. So, the culture is set, there's a blueprint there of taking young guys and getting them ready."

Standing nearly 6-foot-2 and weighing 202 pounds, Gunter finds himself as the biggest player in Green Bay's cornerback room. Randall, Rollins, Hayward, Shields and Goodson are all 5-11.

"With faster guys I can get my hands on them and slow them down," Gunter said. "Bigger guys, I can use my body to jump and play with those guys. (Size) plays a role in both situations."

Gunter's size led to 50 percent of the NFL teams he spoke with during the draft process to view him as a safety. The Packers weren't one of those teams, but it doesn't mean they couldn't give that a shot at some point in an attempt to make Gunter more versatile -- and therefore, valuable -- to the defense.

Gunter doesn't have the speed of Randall and Rollins. Gunter ran a 4.69 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine, slower than both Randall (4.46) and Rollins (4.57). Gunter insisted that he plays faster than his timed speed, though.

"Some people are fast in a straight line," he said. "I feel I'm just a football player. I'm not a track star. I play fast on the football field."

It remains to be seen whether there's enough room on the Packers defense for Gunter to join fellow rookies Randall and Rollins on the active roster. But if there's one NFL team on which it might be possible, it's Green Bay.

"The best players play, the next guys watch," Whitt said.


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(foxsports.com)
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No time to wait on Ereck Flowers following Will Beatty's injury

EreckFlowersCanes
There will likely be no developmental period for New York Giants rookie offensive lineman Ereck Flowers. Following a torn pec injury to incumbent starting left tackle Will Beatty, the Giants will be forced to fast-track the No. 9 overall pick from the 2015 NFL Draft. The Giants will be forced to shuffle the offensive line, and their new goal will likely involve getting the five best offensive linemen on the field even if that means moving some players out of their natural positions.

Take a quick peak around the rest of what the Giants have to offer along the offensive line, and it won't take long to realize that Flowers is already one of the team's best five. If we assume Justin Pugh, Geoff Schwartz an Weston Richburg are locked in to starting spots, that leaves us with two positions to fll out. Flowers' challengers present a weak case to play over him. John Jerry started all 16 games for the Giants in 2014, but he finished as Pro Football Focus' 66th-ranked guard out of 78 qualifiers. The Giants singed swing tackle Marshall Newhouse who allowed 16 quarterback pressures, hits and sacks in just 373 snaps in 2014. He has performed poorly at every stop along the way in his NFL career so far. Fellow rookies Brett Jones an Bobby Hart can't claim to possess the natural talent and athleticism that Flowers has, and they certainly don't have his size.

Giants general manager Jerry Reese has mentioned in the past that he expects first-round draft picks in the top half of the draft to make an impact right away. That's what those picks are there for. The Giants selected Flowers with the highest pick they've spent on an offensive lineman since 1974. At 6-foot-6 and 329 pounds, Flowers has the prototypical size to play offensive tackle in the NFL. He was also a very productive player at the collegiate level. In 2014, he was a plus pass protector at the University of Miami. According to Pro Football Focus, Flowers allowed zero sacks and 10 total pressures. Only two tackles in the 2015 draft allowed less pressures.

Former Giants offensive lineman David Diehl said that Flowers reminds him of another great offensive lineman of their past--Kareem McKenzie. 

"He's a more athletic Kareem McKenzie," said Diehl to Jordan Raanan of True Jersey. "Have you seen him? You're talking about a 21-year-old monster. He is huge."

Diehl is excited about what Flowers can become once Giants offensive line coach Pat Flaherty gets his hands on him.

"He's tough and nasty, gets after people," Diehl said to John Schmeelk of Giants.com. "He's a fighter. He brings the intangible stuff that meeting room needs and also brings competition amongst the offensive line. The five best players will be on the field, and they will all have to fight and earn that job. Granted, there are technique things he needs to work on, but all of us needed to work on those things when we were that young.  I have the utmost confidence and respect in Pat Flaherty, and I know he will be all over him and make him the best player he can be."

Flowers is doing all of the right things so far in Diehl's mind. The rookie has made an excellent first impression on Diehl.

"[Flowers] said one of the best things he could have possibly said to me that already struck me the right way and gave me a good impression of him," Diehl said to Jordan Raanan of True Jersey. "We're sitting there talking about coming [to the Giants] and everything. Before I walked away he said, 'I know you're around a lot. [The team] said you were. Do you mind if at any time if I have any questions about technique or footwork or different types of stuff if I can ask you?'"

Diehl is not the only former Giants lineman who has taken note of Flowers' upside. Chris Snee broke game tape on two of Flowers' games in 2014 and offered up the following evaluation:

"Technically, he's got work to do, which a lot of these college kids do,'' Snee said. "With hand placement, his hands are often outside. I remember distinctly writing I was impressed with how he could anchor and hold his own with his hand placement being so poor. Physically, he's strong up top because he was able to get away with the technical errors. I read an article where he said he knows he has work to do, too. That's half the battle, he knows he's got to clean that up because you're not going to be able to get away with technique errors at this level, the defensive line will eat you apart.

"This is one thing I definitely noticed, he was a different player at the end of the year than he was in the beginning, in a good way. The Nebraska game, he didn't have a good game, to be honest with you. At the end of the year, the false steps that I saw early on were eliminated, which was good. Hand placement had improved.

"There were a couple of times where one of the South Carolina guys tried to cheap-shot his teammate and he ran over. As a lineman, you want to know your teammates have your back. I'm not asking a guy to get in a fight, but there are times when your buddy's in need, you want to see the guy run over there, as opposed to him just standing there, watching. That part was nice to see.''

Former Giants center Shaun O'Hara also took note of Flowers' nasty streak and willingness to finish plays.

"A couple things that jump out at you when you see him on tape, for how big he is, he has pretty good feet, he's pretty athletic and he finishes plays," O'Hara said about Flowers to John Schmeelk of Giants.com. "To me, playing offensive line it has always been it's the size of the fight in the dog not the size of the dog in the fight. I think he has a little nasty streak in him, and it's all about effort when it comes to offensive line play, so I like that aspect of it."

Current Giants offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz is impressed with Flowers' strength and physique, but he doesn't see Flowers winning the a starting job as an offensive guard. According to Schwartz, Flowers will have to compete to prove he is one of the team's best two remaining options at offensive tackle.

"I definitely think Eric is a tackle, I don't see him as a guard," Schwartz told Armen and Levack, on 104.5 The Team. "He is very athletic. You have to be a certain type of athlete to play tackle and he fits that mold of long arms, strong and powerful. I'm excited to see him get after it."

One thing we can be sure of is that Flowers will get every opportunity to win a starting tackle job this summer. During the Giants' rookie minicamp, he lined up primarily at left tackle, but the Giants may feel more comfortable preparing him to play on the right side now that Beatty is out. As a raw tactician, Flowers will certainly take his lumps, but he has the upside to hold down an offensive tackle spot for the Giants during the 2015 season. Given the current state of their offensive line, they are going to need him to realize that upside sooner than later.


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(foxsports.com)
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Phillip Dorsett Quickly Impressing the Colts

PhillipDorsettCanes
First round pick Phillip Dorsett hasn't taken long to impress his new team.  The Colts' wide receiver is just two days in to OTAs with the team, but already he's catching the attention of coaches, players, and media.

"He looks really good," head coach Chuck Pagano told the media after Wednesday's practice.  "He's really fast.  He's got really good hands.  He's really smart.  He's picked things up.  He looks really good."

That was a theme echoed by Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.  Dorsett said that there's "no question" that playing with Luck makes the receiver better and that, "it definitely makes a difference.  All of his balls are catchable and he's so smart.  He knows what to do.  He knows where to put the ball."  Luck laughed when told of that statement and said that, "he has to be nice to me in the public.  You have to say those things."

The star quarterback is already impressed with the new receiver, however, and not just with his compliments off the field.  "It's definitely not too big for him," Luck said of Dorsett adjusting to the NFL game.  "He fits in very, very well.  That being said, it goes for all the rookies on the offensive side of the ball.  It's a bunch of guys doing some really, really good things and not missing a stride, not missing a beat.  So it's fun to get those guys in the fold and work with them."

Wednesday's OTA practice was open to the media, and Dorsett's play (and his speed) caught the attention of many in attendance.









When the Colts initially made the pick to draft Dorsett, it was greeted with near universal disdain by fans, but that feeling has softened over the past few weeks as fans have realized that the receiver is certainly a good player.  He was the top available guy on the Colts' board at pick number 29 and therefore they took him, and they really like him a lot.  After just a few workouts and two OTA sessions, he's already receiving praise from his coaches, his teammates, and the media alike.

For Dorsett, it's simply a dream come true.  "It's your dream," he said.  "It's been your dream your whole life and now that you're here it's unbelievable.  But now you have to take the next step and just go out there and do everything that you can to help this team win."  If the early reports out of Indianapolis are any indication, Phillip Dorsett will do just that.


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(stampedeblue.com)
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Frank Gore, Andre Johnson have made smooth transition to Indy

FrankGore2
INDIANAPOLIS -- There wasn’t expected to be any significant rough stretches for newcomers Andre Johnson and Frank Gore as they transitioned to Indianapolis after spending their entire careers in Houston and San Francisco, respectively.

"Relatively smooth" is probably a better way to describe the transition for the two veterans. So smooth, in fact, that Chuck Pagano went as far as to say it’s like the two have been part of the organization for years.

“Pretty seamless,” the Colts coach said. “They don’t miss a beat as far as the playbook goes, knowing what to do. Every time I see them in the huddle, break a huddle, to me it looks like they’re going the right direction. They’re lining up right. They’re very talented, talented guys. They fit right into the locker room. They’re professionals. Again, the résumé speaks for itself. They’re not talkers. They’re workers, they’re doers.”

Gore's and Johnson's transitions are the most important of the new additions the Colts made in the offseason because of the roles they're expected to play next season. The Colts hope Gore will take some of the pressure off of quarterback Andrew Luck by being the team's first 1,000-yard rusher since 2007 when Joseph Addai did it. Luck, who watched Gore pound defenses with the 49ers while he was at Stanford, noted that the running back has underrated blocking skills.

While the Texans wanted to reduce Johnson’s role in their offense, it was pretty obvious during Wednesday’s OTA session that the veteran will have a significant part in Indianapolis’ offense as he took his snaps with the starters.

“There is a learning adjustment and we’ll continue to learn,” Luck said. “I’d like to think you get better and build that repertoire every week through the offseason, training camp and during the season. But they understand football, you can tell that. They know how to play and certain things they know how to do and certain things that coaches are asking them might be a little different. They work at it just like everybody else. But it’s been very good and it’s incredibly valuable to get these days with them.”




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(espn.com)
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Could Duke Johnson be the Browns best draft choice?

NFLU2009
Will he be the next Clinton Portis or the next James Jackson?

Of the 12 players the Browns recently drafted, could running back Duke Johnson turn out to be the most productive of all the draft picks?

In just three seasons at Miami (Fla.) Johnson accounted for 5,526 all-purpose yards. His 3,519 rushing yards is the most of any former Hurricane running backs, eclipsing Ottis Anderson's all-time record. The Hurricane's list of former NFL running backs is a who's who listed of backs including the likes of Anderson, Portis, Frank Gore, Willis McGahee, Alonzo Highsmith, Lamar Miller and Edgerrin James.

"I'm surprised," Johnson said after the Browns recent rookie minicamp. "I never had the idea of going to college and leaving the all-time leading rusher. My goals were the same as they are now and that is to win, but I think it is a great accomplishment knowing the guys that came before me.

"I felt it was a good accomplishment," he said. "It is something and a legacy I can leave at the University of Miami. Hopefully, I can take that same mindset and same attitude to the next level."

Johnson said it really hasn't set in for him what he's accomplished.

"I'm still waiting because it really hasn't hit me yet," Johnson said. "I don't know what it's going to take, but it really hasn't hit me yet."

Johnson hopes to have the same type of success that the others have.

"I'm really hoping, especially with the majority of those guys going to the next level and having the careers they did," he said. "I'm really hoping that I can have the type of careers those guys had."

Johnson said he's talked with the former 'Canes who've gone to the NFL before him and they've offered some tips to him.

"I've talked with Edgerrin and Willis and they just told me to take care of my body to be healthy and being able to take coaching and to be on time."

Johnson isn't satisfied with what he's accomplished so far and is ready to start contributing with the Browns.

"I think I can show what I can do out of the backfield," Johnson said. "I think that's something we're trying to do in the offense and that is utilizing me in the passing game. Putting me out wide, giving (the defense) different looks and getting the ball in different ways besides running it and returning it."

Jackson was a third-round draft choice of the Browns in 2001 (65th overall), who followed Butch Davis from Miami to the Browns, but didn't materialize at the NFL level. He is still fourth on the all-time Hurricanes rushing list, but had his best year as a rookie with the Browns with just 554 yards and two touchdowns.

Similar to Jackson, Johnson is smaller in stature and likely wasn't drafted until the third-round because of his size (5-9, 206). Despite his height, Ray Farmer said Johnson is "not small". Johnson is confident he will be able to be successful at the NFL level.

"I never doubt my skills," he said. "This is something that I've worked hard on since I was a kid to master my craft as we like to say it.

"I never would get to the ultimate level doubting myself," he said. "I'm a little too far ahead in my life to start doubting myself now."

Johnson said he thinks he can carry the load at the NFL level.

"I'm going to do whatever they ask of me," he said "I'm a three-down back, third down do whatever I can to help this team win."

Johnson describes himself this way.

"I think I am unpredictable," he said. "I'm a one-cut kind of guy, hit a hole and see it. I can make things happen, very versatile out of the backfield. I can line up at receiver and create mismatches out of the backfield."

Johnson said although he has left the University of Miami, he carries "The U" attitude when he steps on the field.

"I bring the same attitude," he said. "There's a swagger."

If he can prove to be as successful as he was in college, Duke Johnson might prove to be one of the Browns best picks of this year's draft class.


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(foxsports.com)
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Ladarius Gunter Could Push Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins For Playing Time

NFLU2009
Green Bay Packers cornerback Ladarius Gunter may have been passed over 256 times during the 2015 NFL Draft, but now that the annual rookie selection process is over, that means little for his NFL future.

Gunter, 6-foot-1, 202-pounds, has prototypical size for the corner spot in the NFL and performed very well at the Senior Bowl. He finished 2014 at Miami with 28 tackles, six pass break ups and two interceptions.

Despite his physical talents and quality production, a 4.69 40-yard dash at the NFL rookie scouting combine likely helped push Gunter down and completely off most draft boards.

Now a Packer, Gunter seems to enter a crowded secondary field after Green Bay GM Ted Thompson spent the team's first two picks on safety/cornerback Damarious Randall and safety/cornerback Quinten Rollins.

While Gunter seems unlikely to crack the active lineup his first season, with the Pack planning to have Randall and Rollins start their NFL careers at corner - they played mostly safety in college - should either player stumble, Gunter may actually have the inside track on one of the Packers 53 roster spots.

"Given both players' potential issues at converting to new positions, Gunter could have the opportunity to stand out during training camp and the preseason to earn a roster spot. It won't be easy, but Gunter has a shot at winning the final corner spot on the Packers' roster," writes Charlie Campbell of Walter Football.

With Davon House and Tramon Williams defecting to new NFL homes in free agency, Thompson and the Packers focused their draft efforts on the secondary in order to plug the holes left by their veteran departures.

While Randall and Rollins will get the first few shots at securing starting jobs, if Gunter can show the same kind of playmaking ability he did at Miami, he has a better shot at playing right away than his undrafted status would suggest.

Still, as Campbell notes, the knock against Gunter has and will continue to be his speed.

"Teams aren't confident that Gunter can run with receivers and will be limited to only being a press-man corner against bigger, slower receivers. There were doubts that Gunter would be able to run with NFL receivers and prevent separation," writes Campbell.

Despite concerns over his quicks, some, like NFL.com's Lance Zierlein pegged Gunter as a likely fourth or fifth-round pick.

"Has the desired size, length and playmaking qualities to be a starting cornerback but his perceived lack of play speed and inconsistency in man coverage could cause teams to peg him as a zone corner, which might drop him by a round."

Thompson and the Packers are consistently lauded for their ability to mine gems from the latter portion of the draft - if Gunter develops, he could prove the latest success story in Green Bay and, more importantly, potentially find himself making an impact on the team from Day One, perhaps in place of his more heralded new Packers teammates.


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(hngn.com)
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Geoff Schwartz impressed by Rookie OL Ereck Flowers

NFLU2009
It’s one thing for an average person to call someone a “big dude.”

It’s another for a 6-foot-6, 340-pounder to say it.

But things are different in the land of Giants. After spending some time with the new draft class, Geoff Schwartz, one of the largest humans on the roster, came away with that impression -- and others -- of ninth overall pick and fellow offensive lineman Ereck Flowers.

“Ereck Flowers is a big dude,” Schwartz said of the 6-foot-6, 329-pound rookie during an interview on ESPN Radio 104.5 FM The Team. “He is strong. We lifted together. He is a strong kid that I look forward to seeing.

“He’s a quiet guy kind of feeling his way in. I get it, I remember being a rookie. It’s tough, especially since I was a seventh-round pick, he’s the ninth pick overall. But it’s nice to have those guys in and start working with them and try to get them acclimated to the group. I’m excited to kind of see them in camp with the pads on.” 

Last week Flowers put on the Giants uniform for the first time at rookie minicamp, which included his fellow draft picks, undrafted rookie free agents and dozens of tryout players. The camp got his feet wet before organized team activities start Wednesday, May 27.

That’s when all eyes will be on where he lines up.

Coach Tom Coughlin hasn’t committed to anything yet, but Flowers is a tackle and is expected to work on the right side initially.

Flowers’ stature has drawn comparisons to Kareem McKenzie, the Giants’ former starting right tackle in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI.

“I’ve seen Kareem a couple times, I don’t know if [Ereck] is that big,” Schwartz said. “Kareem has a big chest, big shoulders. [Ereck is] 330. He’s a big man, but he’s very proportionate. Like you wouldn’t think he’s 330. That’s what makes him impressive, a guy who looks that lean and is that strong and big.

I definitely think that they hope that he comes in and plays like Kareem did and kind of holds down a tackle spot for a long time and kind of brings that nastiness, that run-blocking style that we need to get back to.”


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(giants.com)mai
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Pete Carroll says Jimmy Graham is 'determined to be great'

JimmyGraham
When the Seattle Seahawks acquired All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham from the New Orleans Saints for a first-round pick and center Max Unger, they knew they were getting a great talent. What they didn't know is how well Graham would acclimate to his teammates.

Head coach Pete Carroll was asked about Graham by reporters at the end of the Seahawks three-day rookie minicamp.

"Right from the first time I sat down with him in my office I was just blown away by what a great kid he is and how squared away he is," Carroll said. "We know he has great ability and athleticism, so we were really curious to see if he could assimilate, and he did it like instantly."

Carroll loves the attitude and team-first mentality Graham has brought with him to Seattle.

"He got along really well with the players," Carroll said. "The players really took to him and they didn’t know if he was a hotshot, or all full of himself. He was none of that. He was a great kid."

Carroll knows the knock on Graham is his blocking abilities, but doesn't seem too worried.

"He was very determined to be great," Carroll said. "Wants to learn everything. Wants to be a complete player."


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(foxsports.com)
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Ray Lewis to release memoir in October

RayLewisRavens2
Ray Lewis is releasing a memoir about his childhood, his 17-year football career and the murder charges that threatened to lock him up.

The retired Super Bowl champion Ravens linebacker and ESPN analyst announced Monday that he will release the book, titled "I Feel Like Going On: Life, Game, and Glory," in October. It is co-written by Daniel Paisner and will be published by Simon & Schuster Publishing.

The memoir is billed as a "player's point of view" of Lewis' career and also promises new insight on "his father abandoning him, his best friend's murder and his own wrongful incarceration."

Lewis and two friends were implicated in the killings of two men in Atlanta after the 2000 Super Bowl in Atlanta. Murder charges against him were dropped in exchange for testimony against his co-defendants, and he was found guilty of one charge of obstruction of justice.

"Newly retired, Lewis reveals his controversial opinions on the business of football and offers insights about the torturous aspects of the sport that you don't see on television," the announcement said. "From a rookie player accused of murder to arguably the best defensive player in the history of the NFL, Lewis' story is one of triumph and tragedy, tenacity and strength."

Lewis retired in 2013 as the Ravens' all-time career leader in tackles and fumble recoveries. The 13-time Pro Bowler and three-time AFC Defensive Player of the Year runs an eponymous foundation that supports disadvantaged youths in the city.


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(carrollcountytimes.com)
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Rob Chudzinski Discusses His Role

RobChudzinski
INDIANAPOLIS --- Colts Associate Head Coach Rob Chudzinski is the mystery man on Chuck Pagano’s coaching staff. Pagano has praised the work done by “Coach Chud”, as he’s known around the building, but still the fascination has lingered as to what the role of this coach is, almost like an ace in the hole to go with Pagano’s coordinators and position coaches.

“It’s a little bit different role than I’m used to,” Chudzinski admitted to Colts.com last week, after being the head Coach in Cleveland in 2013 and working as an offensive coordinator or assistant head coach for the Browns, Chargers, and Panthers before that. “I’m usually out front of everything, but again, whatever I can do to help in any way. Support, be a resource for, do work for, whatever it is around the building, I can do. That’s what I want to do to help us win.”

Associate Head Coach is his true title in Indianapolis, but perhaps “Master Consultant” would be another appropriate title for Rob Chudzinski’s contributions to Chuck Pagano’s staff.

“There’s a lot that goes into it, and a lot of different things I do around the building,” said Chudzinski with a smile, when that alternate title was suggested. “It’s the type of role that if everybody doesn’t know what you do, then you’re probably doing a good job.”

Internally though, the Colts definitely know what Chudzinski does and how good he is at it, evidenced by the fact that Indianapolis wanted and was able to retain him, after multiple teams were reportedly interested in making him their offensive coordinator. It’s easy to imagine that feeling of being wanted was probably not lost on a man who was only given one year with his previous team.

“It meant a lot. It says a lot. Just being here and having the opportunity to be here, I’m excited about it,” Chudzinski said. “I’m excited about this team. I’m excited about the people I get to come to work with every single day, and the coaches and players and interactions with that. I’m excited about the opportunity to succeed to win and win a Super Bowl. Ultimately, that’s our goal.”

Chudzinski said being a part of a Super Bowl winning team is what drives him every single day, that it’s absolutely one of his individual goals in his career, after he made the jump to the NFL in 2004 from the University of Miami. He was on the Hurricanes staff with Pagano from 1995 to 2000.

But if winning the Super Bowl is the ultimate goal, then reaching it must include achieving countless smaller goals along the way, including right now in the offseason. That’s what Chudzinski’s role entails right now.

“We segment everything. So, this time of year, it’s about individuals getting better at individual techniques. It’s about us looking at areas that we maybe struggled at last year as a team and how we can practice and prepare and what we can adjust to really focus on those things.”

But when the season came around in 2014, Chudzinski’s role as Special Assistant to the Head Coach shifted, and this year as Associate Head Coach, it will shift again.

“As you get into the season, it’s more about the gameplan and more about the individual teams that you are playing,” Chudzinski explained. “But again, anything that I can do. I’ve been fortunate. I’ve been around some great coaches.”

For Chudzinski, that now includes Chuck Pagano, just the second head coach in NFL history to win at least 11 games in his first four seasons.

“Chuck’s done a great job of really drilling it down to those guys of what this time of year is for and what we need to do in order to improve as a team,” said Chudzinski. “It starts with the individual...it will filter up to the team as time goes on.”

So it may be a different role than what Chudzinski has been used to in the past, but for him, there’s definitely one big perk to the job in Indianapolis.

“You look around and there’s definitely a feeling in the locker room, in the building, of purpose,” said Chudzinski. “That’s what the purpose is, to win.”


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(colts.com)
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DH Ryan Braun smacks home run for second straight day

RyanBraun
Brewers designated hitter Ryan Braun went 1 for 2 at the plate in Milwaukee's 5-2 loss to the Tigers on Wednesday.

Braun did his damage in the fourth inning when he blasted a solo shot off of Shane Greene, his 10th of the season and second straight day with a home run. Braun, who also walked twice, is now hitting .263 with 28 RBI in 137 at-bats this season.


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(cbssports.com)
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Jon Jay could return when eligible

JonJayCards
The Cardinals are optimistic that Jon Jay (wrist) will be ready for activation from the disabled list when first eligible on May 26.

Jay has resumed taking swings in the batting cage and has also done some throwing. The throwing had been the bigger issue prior to him landing on the disabled list, so that he completed that step with no issues is obviously a good sign. Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk will continue to handle center field until Jay returns.


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(rotoworld.com)
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Yonder Alonso 'still a ways away' from return to baseball

YonderAlonsoPadres
Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso is "still a ways away" from return to baseball activities, manager Bud Black said per Bleacher Report.

Alonso, who is currently on the 15-day DL with a shoulder injury, has a rotator cuff issue that is keeping him away from the field. Alonso has been out of action since May 8 and is hitting .333 with 10 RBI in 87 at-bats this season.


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(rotoworld.com)
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49ers Sign OL Justin Renfrow

NFLU2009
The San Francisco 49ers announced they have signed CB Mylan Hicks to a three-year deal and OL Justin Renfrow to a two-year deal.

Renfrow (6-6, 310) originally signed with the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted rookie free agent on May 12, 2014. He was waived by the Cardinals on August 25, 2014, and later added to the Green Bay Packers practice squad on November 24, 2014, before being released on December 29, 2014. He was then added to the Seattle Seahawks practice squad on January 1, 2015, where he spent the remainder of the season. Renfrow was signed to a Reserve/Future contract with the Seahawks on February 4, 2015, and was later released on May 5, 2015.

A 25-year-old native of Morrisville, PA, Renfrow transferred to the University of Miami for his senior season following four years at the University of Virginia (redshirted as a freshman in 2009). As a senior in 2013, he recorded a career-high 36 tackles, two passes defensed and one forced fumble in 13 games played (four starts) along the defensive line. Renfrow appeared in 22 games at Virginia and registered 18 tackles and one pass defensed. He prepped at William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia, PA.


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(49ers.com)
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Warren Sapp cuts plea deal to resolve prostitution case

WarrenSappBucs
Warren Sapp used to make his money by collecting sacks.

Now, he’s saving some money after allegedly throwing a couple of working girls out of the sack.

According to TMZ, the former Buccaneers/Hall of Fame defensive tackle has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, resolving his arrest on prostitution and assault charges in Phoenix during Super Bowl week.

The report says that Sapp will plead guilty to one count of solicitation and one count of assault. To resolve the charges, he has to complete a pair of counseling programs, the “Prostitution Solicitation Diversion Program” as well as an anger management course.

He has apparently already completed the prostitution course (which would lead to the charge being dropped), and is working on completing the other counseling program now.

Sapp has also been ordered to pay restitution to each of the two prostitutes, $150 to one and $1,171.24 to the other.

Considering the fight broke out after Sapp thought he had agreed to terms for $300 for each of them — before everybody got naked — and then an argument erupted, that’s a stiff fine.

But considering he has already lost his job over the sordid affair, cutting this deal might allow him to clear his name soon.

Such that anyone’s ever going to forget this one.


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(profootballtalk.com)
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Denzel Perryman imported from Miami

NFLU2009
Denzel Perryman was born in Miami. He was raised in Miami.

He attended Coral Gables Senior High, its campus four minutes from his college alma mater, the University of Miami.

The NFL veterans he speaks to regularly — Jonathan Vilma, D.J. Williams, Jon Beason, Sean Spence — all were former college linebackers, like him, at Miami. The same goes for his favorite childhood player, Ray Lewis, whose No. 52 he wore in college and will again in San Diego.

San Diego.

The wrench to it all.

He knew next to nothing about the Chargers when they drafted him May 1, surprised they even had his number. But they'd been watching him. At a game last year, General Manager Tom Telesco heard him.

Perryman wants to show San Diego it was right — and Miami, in this case, was wrong.

The 21-year-old seemed destined never to leave South Florida. The Dolphins intimated as much, he said, expressing intent to draft him. But they let a chance pass with the No. 47 overall pick, trading back to the Eagles instead. The Chargers selected him at 48. He's now acclimating to a new town while awaiting a reunion with his old one.

San Diego will host Miami this year.

He knows.

"I can't wait to play the Dolphins," Perryman said. "December 20. I've already got it circled on my schedule. It's the hometown team, and it's one of the teams that passed me up. ... They were talking to me, telling me all this good stuff. We're all grown. You can tell me you're going to take me or not. Don't sugar coat with me. It is what it is.

"But Dec. 20, it's on and popping. Every other week, too."

Perryman must first transition to NFL life in San Diego.

It began later than planned.

Typically, a Chargers draft choice taken in the first three rounds will be flown to San Diego the next morning. Once there, he can shake hands, meet coaches and the front office, and be introduced in a formal press conference that is held in the team meeting room.

First-round pick Melvin Gordon did it this year.

Third-round pick Craig Mager did it.

Perryman, go figure, couldn't get out of Florida. His flight was canceled and other ones were full, so he stayed in Miami a bit longer. He eventually made it to San Diego on May 10 and has been gaining comfort since, inside linebacker Manti Te'o and defensive end Corey Liuget among the teammates taking him under their wing.

"I've been going asleep at like 9 or 10 o'clock over here," Perryman said. "Back home, it's like 12 or 1. I'm just trying to get adjusted to the time change. I hear San Diego is just like Miami. Beautiful but no humidity. I love it."

As general manager, Telesco can't spend as much time on the road as he did early in his scouting career.

But when he can, he makes the time.

The Chargers predominantly play on Sundays, allowing him to scout a Saturday game that is relatively close to where the team is playing. Last year, it played the Dolphins on Nov. 2 in Miami Gardens. The day before, he and JoJo Wooden, team director of player personnel, watched North Carolina at Miami.

The Hurricanes had the game in hand, up 47-13 in the fourth quarter.

The Tar Heels were at the goal line, more than 100 yards from where Telesco was positioned in the press box. That is when he heard, not saw, Perryman smother running back T.J. Logan for no gain. The sound filled Sun Life Stadium.

Telesco asked Wooden if that was No. 52.

It was.

On May 1, teams approached the Chargers to trade down in the second round. They chose to take their thumper instead, born, raised and imported from Miami.

"I just like contact," Perryman said. "I'm one of those aggressive players. ... When I get to the ball, you'll know. Whether you hear it or you see it, I'm getting there with bad intentions."


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(utsandiego.com)
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Denzel Perryman gets 'an adrenaline rush' from big hits

NFLU2009
The Chargers got what they wanted when Denzel Perryman slipped to them in the second round of the NFL Draft.

But it'll be a couple months before Perryman gets what he wants -- to slam full-force into an opposing player and bring them down.

"I just get an adrenaline rush out of it," Perryman told ESPN. "I wouldn't say it's a stress reliever, because I can deliver a couple blows during the game. I don't know, I just like contact man. I'm just one of those aggressive players."

So aggressive that the rookie could revive his school's sterling reputation for all-everything inside linebackers. Miami alums like Jon Beason, Ray Lewis, Jonathan Vilma, and D.J. Williams have paved the way for Perryman.

Now, he just wants to do what they did and hit somebody for a living.

"When I get to the ball, you'll know," Perryman said. "Whether you hear it or you see it, I'm getting there with bad intentions. You got to look out for me."


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(foxsports.com)
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Raiders Sign Fourth-Round Pick G/C Jon Feliciano

NFLU2009
The Raiders have signed fourth-round draft pick G/C Jon Feliciano, the club announced Friday

Feliciano is the fifth of the team’s 10 draft picks from the 2015 NFL Draft to sign his rookie contract, along with WR Amari Cooper, DE Max Valles, T Anthony Morris and WR Andre Debose.

The 6-foot-4, 323-pounder was selected 128th overall by the Raiders in the 2015 NFL Draft. He played four seasons at Miami (Fla.), appearing in 48 games with 46 starts. Feliciano made starts at left tackle, left guard, right tackle and right guard over his collegiate career, earning All-ACC honorable mentions each year from 2012-14.

The Davie, Fla., native started all 13 games as a senior, rotating between left tackle, left guard and right tackle, helping the Hurricanes to the Duck Commander Independence Bowl.


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(raiders.com)
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Santana Moss not ready to retire

SantanaMoss2
Add Santana Moss to the growing list of aging veterans unwilling to call it quits.

The 35-year-old wideout remains confident that he will find an NFL team before training camp kicks off.

"I'm a free agent right now, you know how they do us old guys," Moss said, per 247sports.com. "I'm going on my 15th year. Right now my agent is talking with some teams to see what's going to be my best scenario. Right now I'm just chilling, just enjoying life, and enjoying this off time."

Turning 36 in June, the former Jets and Redskins wideout is coming off a season that saw him catch just 10 passes for 116 yards off 133 snaps in Washington. While Michael Vick's campaign for another gig is bound to draw interest, Moss will struggle to make a roster.

Before the draft, the Redskins reportedly were open to re-signing Moss, but after using a fourth-round pick on Duke's Jamison Crowder and a sixth-rounder on Ohio State's Evan Spencer, there's no need to reunite with a late-30s pass-catcher beyond his prime.


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(nfl.com)
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Pete Carroll, Seahawks Share Initial Impressions Of Tight End Jimmy Graham

JimmyGrahamSaints
Seattle's rookie minicamp wrapped up last weekend, and while the workouts gave the Seahawks coaching staff a good first-look at the team's 2015 draftees, it failed to offer the club an on-field glimpse of its "first-round pick" - Jimmy Graham.

The Seahawks acquired the three-time Pro Bowl tight end in a trade with the New Orleans Saints this past March. Seattle sent this year's first-round pick (No. 31 overall) and center Max Unger to the Saints in exchange for Graham and New Orleans' 2015 fourth-round pick.

At the conclusion of the three-day rookie workouts, head coach Pete Carroll was asked about his initial impressions of the 28-year-old veteran Graham, a 6-foot-7, 265-pound pass catcher who's averaged 89 grabs for 1,099 yards and 11.5 touchdowns the past four seasons.

"Right from the first time I sat down with him in my office I was just blown away by what a great kid he is and how squared away he is," Carroll said. "We know he has great ability and athleticism, so we were really curious to see if he could assimilate, and he did it like instantly."

Graham was one of several Seattle players who joined quarterback Russell Wilson for player-organized workouts in the Hawaiian Islands last month. Graham used it as an opportunity to start building rapport with Wilson, but more importantly, as a chance to get to know his new Seahawks teammates.

"I'm like that cousin they didn't know about," Graham said with a smile at the time. "I've just got to come in and just be me. I work hard and I'm a team guy. I've always been like that. I love to win no matter what.

"I'm going to do whatever it takes to win and really to be a part of this, because they've got something special going on here."

From what Carroll's seen so far, Graham's team-first attitude is paying dividends at team headquarters.

"He got along really well with the players," Carroll said. "The players really took to him and they didn’t know if he was a hotshot, or all full of himself. He was none of that. He was a great kid."

The Saints threw the ball 659 times in 2014, the second-most attempts in the League (Indianapolis Colts, 661). Graham found himself on the receiving end of 85 of those passes - a team-high.

The Seahawks, meanwhile, tossed the ball a League-low 454 times this past year. They opted to run the ball more than any other club instead, riding the legs of 'Beast Mode' back Marshawn Lynch.

While Graham is expected to be one of the team's top receiving targets in Seattle, he will inevitably be asked to block more than he did in New Orleans given the Seahawks' run-first mentality. It's a change assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tom Cable thinks Graham will have no problem adjusting to.

"He is so athletic that once he learns how to, he’s going to be fine," Cable said of Graham in an interview with 710 ESPN Seattle this week. "And he more than wants to. If you want to, and you have the ability athletically to do it, there’s no question you can do it.”

Cable's "want to" assessment of Graham was something Carroll picked up on during his first sit-down with the Seahawks' "first-round pick."

"He was very determined to be great," Carroll said. "Wants to learn everything. Wants to be a complete player."


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(seahawks.com)
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First look at Vince Wilfork in his Texans uniform

VinceWilforkCanes
The Houston Texans website published a video last week, showing their players as they filmed in-stadium game-day videos to be used during the 2015 season. 

At certain points, it looked like a Patriots reunion. 

Among the players featured in the video were former New England backup quarterbacks Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer. Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork also featured prominently in the brief clip.

Here's a link to the video and a first look at Wilfork in his Houston Texans uniform. 

Of course, the Patriots influence in Houston isn't limited to the players on the roster. Former New England offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien is running the show as Texans head coach. Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel had a long run on the Patriots sidelines, and linebackers coach Mike Vrabel has three Super Bowl rings with the Flying Elvis design.

Unfortunately -- as of now, at least -- there is no video on the Texans site of those three mean-mugging for cameras, trying to get their hometown fans pumped up.


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(csnne.com)
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Tyrann Mathieu on Jimmy Graham: Our division’s physical, he has to block

JimmyGrahamSaints
Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu isn’t worried about the departure of defensive coordinator Todd Bowles this offseason.

Bowles and cornerback Antonio Cromartie are now with the Jets, but Mathieu said during an appearance on NFL Total Access that the team’s “core players” are still around on defense. That gives him confidence that the team will be able to remain strong on defense in 2015 as they try to replace the Seahawks as NFC West champions.

One difference in that task this season will be the presence of tight end Jimmy Graham in Seattle. When asked about facing the former Saint, Mathieu jumped on a maligned part of Graham’s game that’s been mentioned frequently since March’s trade sent him to Seattle.

“I think Seattle as a team, it’s tough to beat those guys. You still have to beat No. 3 [Russell Wilson] and No. 24 [Marshawn Lynch],” Mathieu said. “That’s a full task in itself. But I’m looking forward to Jimmy Graham, obviously. It’s kind of exciting that he came to our division. It’s physical. He’s gonna have to block.”

Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable said this month that Graham is committed to learning what the Seahawks want him to do as a blocker and wide receiver Doug Baldwin pointed out that Graham’s presence alone can help in the running game, but there’s little doubt that Graham’s progression as a blocker in Seattle will be closely watched as the NFC West race unfolds later this year.


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(profootballtalk.com)
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Riquana Williams back from injury

RiquanaWilliams
One player who was on the court at Edison High School in front of about 200 cheering fans was guard Riquna Williams, who missed all but 11 games last season with a knee injury. She was happy to be back and felt good on the floor.

“It feels amazing, I’ve been waiting on this day for like five months now,” said Riquna Williams, who, unlike most of her teammates, did not play elsewhere over the winter, opting instead to rest the knee. “No knee brace, no knee sleeves, no pain, no aches.”

Fred Williams noted Riquna Williams wasn’t 100 percent, but he was happy to have her back on the court and looked forward to seeing what she could accomplish when she finally was.

“She’s still I think about 95 percent for us,” coach Williams said. “She’s going to have to still work her way into getting that shooting touch going, but she showed some good things today for us, penetrating to the basket. Her outside jumper was really on, and I think once she gets her first step back like she used to, she’s going to be a dynamite player for us.”

Riquna Williams, who set the WNBA record with 51 points in one game in 2013, averaged 15.6 points per game in 2013 and formed a potent backcourt early on last year alongside Odyssey Sims and Skylar Diggins. She’s looking forward to duplicating that same chemistry this season.

“My presence was missed,” Riquna Williams said of last year, when the Shock ended up finishing 12-22 and missing the playoffs. “We all knew that, we all understood it, but now everyone is back, we’re all good to go, everyone is healthy.”

Riquna believes this is the year everything comes together for Tulsa, which has yet to make the playoffs in its five WNBA seasons.

“I think this is the year, the playoff push,” she said. “We just have to keep pushing, one day at a time, one practice at a time, one game at a time.”


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(tulsaworld.com)
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Yasmani Grandal's single drives in only run in win

YasmaniGrandal
Yasmani Grandal's run-scoring single in the fourth inning would be the only run scored in a 1-0 Dodger win over the Rockies on Sunday.

Grandal finished the game 1-for-2 with a walk. The two-out RBI single off of Kyle Kendrick gave Grandal 17 RBI for the season. He's also hit four homers and scored 17 runs. The catcher's been in a groove offensively and has a season-slash of .301/.421/.484 while helping to lead the 24-13 Dodgers.


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(rotoworld.com)
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Rod Woodson Says Ed Reed Better Than Polamalu

EdReed3
NFL Hall of Famer, Raider Asst. DB Coach and Former Steeler & Raven Rod Woodson joined The Norris & Davis Show to talk about “Deflate-Gate” and Ed Reed’s career and retirement.

No career Safety has  been inducted into the NFL Hall Of Fame in 35 years. Rod talked about whether Ed Reed will change that & compared him to recently retired Steelers Safety Troy Polamalu:

“I think Ed will end that. A lot of people talk about Troy Polamalu but, I tell them to hold their brakes with the Troy Polamalu talk…he wasn’t a play-maker like Ed.” “…doesn’t mean he (Polamalu) doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame, I just think Ed Reed, to me, is a sure first ballot Hall Of Famer.

“I thought I did a lot of studying and I thought I jumped a lot of routes, but Ed Reed took it to another level. If it wasn’t for the injuries for Ed, I thought he had an opportunity to break the all time interception record.




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(cbslocal.baltimore.com)
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Washington Comes To Decision On Santana Moss

SantanaMoss2
Will they add Santana Moss? No. After the draft a key member of the organization said drafting two wideouts did not mean the end for Moss in Washington. However, that was directly after the draft. Things have changed and now, according to a source, he will not return. Could those plans change down the road if someone got hurt? Perhaps. But, as of now, Moss’ time in Washington has ended. The problem with keeping Moss is that who would you leave off? You’d need to keep seven receivers if he were around and then he’d be inactive every game. There’s no room for him among the top six. But, whether it's Moss or someone else, if anything happened to one of the top five or six receivers they'd need to find someone. The roster is thin on options beyond this group. (Rashad Ross is another holdover.)


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(espn.com)
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Thurston Arbrister Getting His Shot

NFLU2009
The Jaguars signed nine rookie free agents the day after the draft and three are linebackers: Miami’s Thurston Armbrister, Pittsburgh’s Todd Thomas and Maryland’s Matt Robinson.

During last week’s rookie mini-camp, Armbrister played the middle (Mike), while Thomas lined up on the weakside (Will) and Robinson manned the strong-side spot (Otto).

The Jaguars’ starters are set with Paul Posluszny (Mike), Telvin Smith (Will) and Dan Skuta (Otto). However, there isn’t much proven depth behind them.

The enormous opportunity to make the Jaguars roster was something the trio noticed.

Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley reached out to Armbrister shortly after the draft ended. He received a $12,500 signing bonus on his three-year, $1,587,000 contract.

“I felt this was the best situation for me,” Armbrister said. “It made me feel welcomed and wanted that the two of them called. The other teams that called me were scouts. That didn’t make me feel as comfortable.

“This is a great opportunity to make the team.”

Thomas and Robinson did not receive a signing bonus in their contracts (three years, $1,575,000). Still, the opportunity to see game checks in the fall was obvious.
“The Jaguars were the team from the start for me for a lot of reasons,” Thomas said. “But, you look at things like that [depth chart].”

Robinson echoed Thomas’ comments.

“It appealed to me,” Robinson said. “When you’re undrafted, it’s even less of a guarantee and nothing is guaranteed in this league. You’ve got to show what you can do and find a way to contribute to the team so they’ll keep you around. That played a part in coming here.”

The 6-foot-3, 241-pound Armbrister has been in this situation before. He was the rare no-star recruit to sign with a major program like the Hurricanes. His only other offer came from Northern Colorado. He started his career at safety before moving to linebacker.

Armbrister finished his career with 129 tackles (15 for loss) with seven sacks in 38 games (23 starts). Last season, he notched 56 tackles with five sacks and two forced fumbles.

Armbrister impressed Bradley with his agility in rookie camp.

“He’s very fast for a linebacker skill set,” Bradley said. “I think what shocked us a little bit about him was his lateral movement was maybe a little bit better than we thought.”


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(jacksonville.com)
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Clive Walford has strong Miami legacy in his favor

NFLU2009
The Oakland Raiders hope their third-round pick, tight end Clive Walford, can make an immediate impact as a rookie.

Walford, taken No. 68 overall, will have a chance to be a contributor right away. With a strong training camp and preseason, I wouldn't be shocked if Walford had a chance to unseat third-year starter Mychal Rivera. Rivera has 96 catches in two seasons, but Walford has a chance to be more dynamic.

Walford is the all-time reception record holder at Miami, a school that has been a tight end factory. Five tight ends have been drafted since 2000 from the school who have made an impact in the NFL. Let's take a look at each of their rookie seasons to guage perhaps what to expect from Walford in 2015 (see chart).

Summary: Most of these players took off in their second or third years. I could see Walford getting in the 40-50 catch range this season. If he develops quickly, he could thrive in the fast-pace offensive scheme of new coordinator Bill Musgrave. Walford can stretch the field and quarterback Derek Carr has the arm to find him. It is too soon to say Walford will have the NFL career impact that his recent Hurricane brethren has had, but I can easily see him rival the rookie season all but perhaps the one Shockey delivered.

Impact Miami Tes In Their First Season

YEAR

PLAYER
ROUND
CATCHES
YARDS
2000
Bubba Franks
1
34
363
2002
Jeremy Shockey
1
74
894
2004
Kellen Winslow
1
5
50
2007
Greg Olsen
1
39
391
2010
Jimmy Graham
3
31
356


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(espn.com)

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Pep Hamilton: Phillip Dorsett can play right away

NFLU2009
Colts OC Pep Hamilton said first-round WR Phillip Dorsett can "absolutely" have an immediate impact.

Hamilton added that as soon as the surprising Dorsett pick was made, he went downstairs and "ripped up" some of his 3-TE and 2-WR packages. The suggestion is that the Colts will creatively use Dorsett and Donte Moncrief behind the top-two of T.Y. Hilton and Andre Johnson. We'd have an easier time believing in Hamilton's optimism if his preferred sets didn't involve having both Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener on the field.


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(rotoworld.com)
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Clive Walford will 'get his chance early'

NFLU2009
ESPN Raiders reporter Bill Williamson says third-round TE Clive Walford will "get his chance early."

Williamson projects Walford as the Week 1 starter ahead of Mychal Rivera. Ultimately, we'll likely see a lot of two-TE sets featuring Walford in-line and Rivera in the "move" role. It's hard to get excited about either one from a fantasy perspective given Derek Carr's limitations and the team's desire to be run-heavy.


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(rotoworld.com)
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Doug Baldwin: We can just plug Jimmy Graham into our offense

JimmyGraham
The Seahawks’ acquisition of tight end Jimmy Graham this offseason meant some players had to smooth feathers ruffled in past altercations from Graham’s days with the Saints, but it won’t require any major adjustments for the team’s offense.

That was the message from wide receiver Doug Baldwin this week during an appearance on 710 ESPN in Seattle. Baldwin said that installing Graham into their offense was going to be easy because of how many things Graham can do.

“The beautiful thing about Jimmy is that we can just plug him in and play him into our offense,” Baldwin said. “We don’t have to necessarily design things around for him because he’s such a talented player he can just fit into the role of tight end in our offense as it is. He can be an offense completely amongst himself. His ability to be a big target in the red zone, his athleticism is really strange for a guy his size,” Baldwin said. “The way he moves it’s unbelievable. He’s gonna be able to do a lot of things for us offensively.”

One thing Graham’s never been known for is his blocking prowess, but Baldwin thinks his presence will still be a boon for running back Marshawn Lynch. He believes Graham’s presence will spread out opposing defenses and that Lynch’s production is “going to be devastating,” which is pretty much the result the Seahawks wanted when they swung the deal for Graham.


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(profootballtalk.com)
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Browns expect Travis Benjamin to excel as returner in 2015

TravisBenjaminBrowns
In the wee hours of the night after the Browns made their two first-round selections, Ray Farmer, in unprompted fashion, was talking about Travis Benjamin.

A veteran of 11 knee surgeries, the Browns general manager was compelled to come to Benjamin’s defense after he was asked whether he would make a concerted effort to upgrade the team’s corral of return men. Over the next two days, the Browns brought in two players with experience returning punts and kicks -- Duke Johnson and Charles Gaines -- but it’s clear they won’t be the only ones competing for the spots Benjamin has occupied over the past few seasons.
They’ll have to be better than a healthier Benjamin to earn one or both of the valuable roles.

“You’re never the same right away,” Farmer said, referencing the knee surgery that prematurely ended Benjamin’s 2013 season. “Most guys recover better in the second year, and you’ll see a difference. I’m not knocking what Travis did because I do think the guy was productive for us and did a lot of really good things for us. The reality is I think he’ll be even better this year.”

The Browns shuffled through four different punt returners and seven different players returned at least one kick in 2014. Benjamin easily accounted for the most punt returns but averaged just 8.5 yards on the 15 he was able to take. In 2012, he averaged 11.7 yards per return and took one back for a touchdown.

Benjamin returned 12 kicks (a career high) for an average of 20.5 yards last season. As a team, Cleveland ranked 24th in the NFL in punt return average and 25th on kicks.

Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor expects Benjamin to be at the center of the Browns making major improvements in both areas next season.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for Travis Benjamin,” Tabor said. “I think he’s a great football player. I’m excited for him to have the opportunity to play like Travis Benjamin in the return game. I’ve got great confidence that he can get that done. Do we still need to work on things? We do, but the good news is he’s a willing participant and he wants to do that. That’s why I’m so fired up about what he can do.”

Asked if he expects Benjamin to be better in the return game, Tabor delivered a simple, profound response.

“I expect him to be great,” Tabor said.

Tabor said he foresees Benjamin “strengthening the punt game” and “being used as a guy in the kickoff return game” along with the likes of Johnson, Gaines and potentially defensive back Justin Gilbert. He’s coming off his busiest season as a wide receiver, too, as he finished with 18 receptions for 314 yards and three touchdowns, all of which either matched or surpassed career highs.

Tabor said the decline in production on returns and incline in production as a wide receiver could go hand in hand.

“A guy begins to play more offensive snaps, gets more touches that way, and maybe the keenness or the sharpness of focusing in on catching the ball and having those opportunities in the return game, they get slighted a little bit,” Tabor said. “I think it’s when things like what happened to us last year in the return game ... I think that opens your eyes a little bit.

“We’ll get it rectified.”


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(clevelandbrowns.com)
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Yasmani Grandal Continues Red Hot Month

YasmaniGrandal
Yasmani Grandal batted 2-for-4 with an RBI in the Dodgers' loss against the Rockies on Thursday evening. He is chugging along with a batting line of .307 / .421 / .500 that should be considered mostly sustainable, along with 4 homers, 17 runs scored, and 16 batted in.

Fantasy Impact: A season of .270 / .380 / .450 with 15 to 20 homers would almost certainly secure Grandal a top-5 finish among fantasy catchers, and that doesn't seem far-fetched at all. The breakout is real, and Grandal should be owned and started in all leagues.


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(fantasypros.com)
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Cardinals place Jon Jay on DL

JonJayCards
The Cardinals added reinforcements to their short bench after yet another key injury Wednesday night.

Outfielder Jon Jay went on the 15-day disabled list with left wrist tendinitis and Xavier Scruggs was called up from Triple A Memphis, the organization announced Thursday morning. Left fielder Matt Holliday remains active and is in the lineup for an 11:10 a.m. game at Cleveland. He suffered a left elbow contusion when he got hit by Corey Kluber's 94-mph fastball in the first innnig Wednesday night but will serve as the DH today against the Indians.


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(foxsports.com)
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Cardinals add Darryl Sharpton to linebacking corps

DarrylSharpton
The Cardinals met with veteran linebacker Darryl Sharpton last week, but signing him at that point would have hurt the team when it came time for the NFL to hand out compensatory draft picks next year.

That penalty disappeared on Tuesday, leaving teams free to sign unrestricted free agents without any penalty in the draft pick equation. It’s probably not a coincidence, then, that the Cardinals went ahead and signed Sharpton on Wednesday.

Sharpton signed with the Redskins before last season, but wound up on injured reserve at the end of training camp. He was eventually released and signed with the Bears, for whom he made five appearances and two starts. Sharpton’s first four NFL seasons were spent with the Texans, who drafted him in the fourth round of the 2010 draft.

Arizona signed Sean Weatherspoon as a free agent early in the offseason and he sits atop the depth chart at inside linebacker along with Kevin Minter. The Cardinals also signed several undrafted free agents with college experience at the position and could get Daryl Washington, who was suspended for the entire 2014 season, back at some point in 2015, although the team’s said that they aren’t planning on his presence.


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(profootballtalk.com)
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Steelers gamble Chickillo can make transition to outside linebacker

NFLU2009
In assessing the Steelers' shortcomings on defense prior to the NFL Draft, general manager Kevin Colbert emphasized the lack of a pass rush.

The Steelers selected Kentucky outside linebacker Bud Dupree in the first round, hoping he will apply pressure off the edge. Then they used the 212th overall pick to add depth at the position.

The Steelers gambled by selecting Anthony Chickillo, who spent all four years at Miami (Fla) playing defensive end. He distinguished himself as run defender instead of a pass-rushing specialist.

On Monday, the Steelers signed the 6-foot-3, 267-pound Chickillo, who is confident he will effectively transition to outside linebacker, where the Steelers were inconsistent last year.

“I'm just going to work hard every day and do whatever they asked me to do,” said Chickillo, who had 47 starts with the Hurricanes.

Chickillo is flexible, but he was clear during his workouts for NFL scouts that he aspires to play outside linebacker. The Steelers were accommodating, opting to overlook his lack of experience at the position.

Colbert said he has no reason to believe Chickillo can't adjust to the new position and the change of pace in the NFL. But several scouts were not as impressed with Chickillo's technique or skills off the line of scrimmage.

At best, Chickillo might be a capable run defender, but he “may never be a great pass rusher,” NFL Draft analyst Mike Detillier said.

Steelers linebackers coach Joey Porter thinks differently.

“I think he can fit the system with what we're going to do with him,” Porter said. “We'll find out his strengths and his weaknesses.”

The Steelers' pass rush was a weakness last season. They had only 33 sacks, and 7 1⁄2 came from retired outside linebacker Jason Worilds and another 5 1⁄2 by 37-year-old right outside linebacker James Harrison.

If numbers are telling, then Chickillo didn't impact the pass rush in Miami's 3-4 alignment. The Hurricanes were 68th nationally among FBS programs with 27 sacks, including three by Chickillo.

“In college, I didn't have a chance to rush much,” said Chickillo, who had 41 tackles. “We played a two-gap scheme, and I was more like one of the guys in the middle. But I have all the skills of a pass-rusher.”

Perhaps the biggest challenge facing Chickillo is pass coverage. He has not had to do that since playing at Alonso High School in Tampa, Fla.

“It's new for me ... but I prepared for a lot before my pro day and the (NFL) Combine,” he said. “I'm happy the Steelers have faith in me. I'm not going to let them down.”

No one seems to have more confidence in Chickillo than Porter.

“I've seen him rush from a lot of different positions, inside and out,” Porter said. “(Outside linebacker is) something that won't probably come naturally to him. But it didn't come naturally to me when I played defensive end in college.

“Whenever you're taking these type of guys, you're already hoping on the upside. I think he's going to be a guy that we're willing to take the chance to see if he can do it.”

The Steelers, though, figured they fixed their pass rush when they drafted Jarvis Jones in the first round in 2013 and defensive end Stephon Tuitt in the second round last year. Together, they have four career sacks — one more than Chickillo had last year.


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(triblive.com)
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Chargers Sign Denzel Perryman

NFLU2009
Chargers signed second-round ILB Denzel Perryman, third-round CB Craig Mager, fifth-round OLB Kyle Emanuel, and sixth-round OLB Darius Philon to four-year contracts.

Perryman, the 48th pick in the draft, projects as a two-down thumper in the NFL who is strong against the run. He should compete with Manti Te'o for the starting job next to Donald Butler right from the jump in San Diego.


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(rotoworld.com)
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Duke Johnson's receiving a pleasant bonus for Browns

NFLU2009
Duke Johnson’s 1,652 rushing yards jump out as one clear reason the Cleveland Browns used a third-round pick on him.

But don’t underestimate the 68 career receptions or the 38 catches Johnson had for the Miami Hurricanes in 2014, or the three receiving touchdowns.

Johnson’s receiving ability fills a great void for the Browns.

As well as Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West ran at times one year ago -- they combined for 1,280 yards and two touchdowns -- they never really filled a role as a receiver.

That could have been inexperience. It could have been Brian Hoyer looking more to the wideouts. It could have been that the emphasis on play-action took the backs out of the passing game.

The bottom line is the bottom line.

ESPN Stats and Information reports that Browns backs had a league-low 32 catches in 2014 for a league-low 226 yards. The backs also were targeted a league-low 36 times and scored a mere one receiving touchdown.

Backs are paid to run the ball, but Johnson’s strength is he brings skills that West and Crowell lack.

Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com wrote that Johnson is a “natural pass-catcher with beautiful body control, soft hands and smooth routes, often splitting out wide as a receiver.”

Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said the Browns have been lining up West, Crowell and Glenn Winston wide in some plays. No doubt Johnson will do the same.

Johnson’s quicks were evident in the rookie camp. But that’s what should happen.

Quickness should stand out in drills without contact and without aggressive play. But Johnson also showed the ability to make catches on the run, including over-the-shoulder and down the field.

“You should have seen the choice route he ran in the seven-on-seven,” offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said on Saturday. “It was fantastic.”

The temptation game with any small and quick back with good hands is to compare him to Darren Sproles. Sproles is 5-foot-6 and cat quick, and he’s averaged 60 catches the last seven season.

Johnson is not Sproles. But he has some of Sproles’ attributes, especially quickness. That is an attribute the others backs lack.

The thought of the Browns using Johnson in certain mismatches and in certain formations to take advantage of his skills -- and speed -- has to be appealing to the offensive staff.


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(espn.com)
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Greg Olsen Named To Top 100

GregOlsenPanthers
Panthers tight end Greg Olsen (No. 89) cracks the Top 100 for the first time. It's an overdue honor for the most dependable option Cam Newton's ever had. Olsen went over 1,000 yards receiving for the first time in his eight-year career in 2014.




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(nfl.com)
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Sean Spence Talks Last Season

SeanSpenceSteelers
Linebacker Sean Spence returned to the field in 2014 after missing the previous two seasons with injuries and now takes a look back at what the season was like for him and where he can improve.

How would you evaluate your play last season?
“I thought it was pretty good. I still feel like I can be better in so many areas. I think with time it will come. I have been around three years but only played one. There are a lot of things I can do better.”

What can you improve on?
“I want to get better at getting off blocks, making tackles, communicating better and making sure all of the guys are on the same page. I want to be a better leader, and lead by example.”

What did you learn from fellow linebacker James Harrison last season?
“He leads by example. When he says he is going to do something, he does it. He is a warrior on the field. When he is out there he is giving you his all. It’s only right that you give him yours.”

Was last year the most fun you have had playing football?
“We had a winning record, I had a chance to play with some great teammates, and I finally got to play for Coach (Mike) Tomlin, who is a great coach. And I had the opportunity to play in a playoff game. There wasn’t anything better.”

What stands out from last season?
“It’s hard to pinpoint one thing because there were so many. I am just grateful to have been out there. To put on a helmet, go to practice every day, go to meetings and know the coaches are coaching you up after being invisible for two years. It felt great.”


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(steelers.com)
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Seantrel Henderson lining up at left and right tackle

SeantrelHendersonBills
Bills new offensive line coach Aaron Kromer said he was going to be experimenting big time with his offensive linemen this time of year and into the OTAs and mandatory minicamp. He’s been true to his word as even in the walk through sessions on the field, and Seantrel Henderson has been working both edges each day.

Henderson said Kromer has lined him up at both tackle spots quite frequently.

“I’ve been playing right tackle this day, left tackle this day,” Henderson said. “That’s fine with me. I need more reps on both sides anyways just so I can get comfortable again.”

Henderson was almost exclusively a right tackle in college at Miami, which is where he wound up for the Bills as a rookie last season. But not before he lined up at left tackle in place of Cordy Glenn, who was not medically cleared to practice in training camp and part of the preseason last summer.

Henderson believes he can play left tackle.

“(You’re) just kicking with that opposite leg,” he said. “I’m more comfortable kicking with my right leg just because I’ve been playing right tackle since my freshman year in college. The more reps I take on the left side the more comfortable I’ll get playing both sides.”

Like just about every other offensive lineman on the roster, Henderson has taken quickly to coach Kromer. He along with several other linemen on the roster like Kromer as a teacher.

“He’s just good at teaching techniques as far as staying low and getting your hands on guys as soon as possible,” said Henderson. “As far as just how to kick and what angles to take you know he’s been teaching us all of that right now so we are going to be well-prepared.”


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(buffalobills.com)
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Redskins Re-Assign No. 89; Could Santana Moss Be Done?

SantanaMoss2
WASHINGTON — As the Washington Redskins prepare for rookie minicamp this weekend, a proverbial passing of the torch may be happening in the team’s equipment room.

For the last decade, No. 89 has been synonymous with receiver Santana Moss, who has served myriad roles for the offense and locker room over the years. Now, his jersey, place on the roster and locker just inside the team room at Redskins Park could be filled by younger, cheaper talent.

According to the team’s official roster, No. 89 has been at least temporarily assigned to undrafted rookie tight end Devin Mahina, BYU, who will be fighting for his spot on the 90-man roster heading into training camp.

All numbers assigned at this point in the process are subject to change, as roster tryouts, drafted and undrafted rookies look to make an impression on the coaching staff. But as the team gets deeper into free agency and closer to training camp, Moss, a free agent, seems further from the picture.

And for good reason, at least by the numbers.

Moss hasn’t been a full-time starter since 2011, and he hasn’t started 16 games since 2010. Last year, he made zero starts with zero touchdowns for the first time since his rookie campaign in 2001. He had 15 targets and 10 receptions for 116 yards, all lows since 2001. Long removed from being the focal point of the offense or special teams, Moss offers only memories of the skill set that made him one of the most dynamic threats in the NFL through the first decade of the 2000s.

The Redskins have addressed the receiver position heavily in free agency, adding Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts in recent years. They have also drafted high-upside receivers Ryan Grant and Jamison Crowder in the last two drafts, making Moss expendable.

Judging from his comments heading into the offseason, Moss is aware of that fact, but wants a chance for one last rodeo.

“I know what time it is right now in my career,” Moss said at the time. “All the accolades, it’s in the past, it’s been done. I’m just trying to win, and trying to be a part of something that wants to win.

“And I never wanted to leave this place, so hopefully, I can continue to be a part of this place, because I know upstairs and the guys that are trying to put this team together year in and year out, that’s their focus, too. But I can’t predict it.”

For what it’s worth, Moss still believes he has the ability to compete and win at the NFL level.

“If I couldn’t do what I’m doing, I wouldn’t be here today. It’s just different times,” he said. “I have to deal with something I’ve seen a lot of guys go through.”

Whether or not Moss returns, don’t expect the retirement send-offs shown to other iconic Redskins like Clinton Portis and Chris Samuels in recent years. Instead, the man who carried himself with such ferocity on game day and a businesslike approach to practice will opt to go out his way.

“When I leave this game, there’s not going to be no press conference,” Moss said late last season. “I’ll probably be somewhere at home and you’ll find out I’m gone. Seriously. I’m not good with goodbyes and I’m not going to sit here and make it a big deal about me.

“At the end of the day when it’s over it’s over, and there’s no need to be announced.”


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(washington.cbslocal.com)
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Does Ed Reed want a statue of himself built outside M&T Bank Stadium?

EdReed3
There are two statues outside M&T Bank Stadium of Baltimore football icons, one of legendary Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas and another of retired Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis.

Does recently-retired Ravens free safety Ed Reed want one built of himself alongside Unitas and Lewis?

Not so much.

"No statue, man, I don't think so," Reed said. "It's not up to me. I'm grateful to have played for such great fans. I don't need a statue for all that. I'm blessed I made it this far."

An argument could be made that he deserves one, considering Reed's credentials as one of the greatest defensive players in franchise and NFL history. He was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection and a 2004 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

However, the Ravens haven't made a statue for Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden. And there's the practical matter of whether there's space outside the stadium for a third statue.


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(baltimoresun.com)
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Jonathan Vilma offers advice to Tom Brady

JonVilma
Former Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who was initially suspended an entire season before successfully fighting to have his ban in the NFL's bounty probe overturned, offered some advice to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady as he confronts a similar challenge.

"I'd tell Brady to fight the emotion of defending himself publicly, lawyer up and begin to devise a gameplan to beat the NFL through the [court] system," Vilma wrote in a text message.

Vilma hired his own lawyer -- Peter Ginsberg -- exhausted the league's system of appeals and took the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell to federal court. That provided the leverage necessary for Goodell to appoint former commissioner Paul Tagliabue as a neutral arbitrator.

Tagliabue threw out "all discipline" Goodell had imposed on Vilma and defensive end Will Smith for taking part in a Saints program that rewarded injurious hits. Tagliabue did the same for two players who by then were no longer with the club, Browns linebacker Scott Fujita and free-agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove.

Vilma, suspended by Goodell for the entire season, and Smith, suspended four games, played while their appeals were pending. Fujita, who was facing a one-game suspension, was on injured reserve. Hargrove's suspension initially stood at eight games but was reduced to seven with credit for his first five games missed as a free agent, essentially reducing the ban he'd been facing to two games.

Vilma doubts the protocols required by the collective bargaining agreement would allow Brady to prevail in his expected appeal to the league for his role in the deflating of footballs. Brady has until 5 p.m. Thursday to file his appeal. A source said he has involved the NFL Players Association for the first time and the union will assume the lead in defending Brady.

The Saints and Patriots were punished not only for violations of league rules but also for failing to cooperate with the NFL investigations into wrongdoing and concealing the illegal activity.

But while Goodell led the investigation into the Saints' scandal and determined punishment, the league hired Ted Wells to investigate the Patriots and Brady, and Goodell deferred to league executive Troy Vincent to determine the punishment. Vilma believes those differences will increase the challenge for Brady, whose appeal will be heard by Goodell or his designee, likely Harold Henderson.

"We based our argument off of Goodell being the face of the BountyGate witchhunt," Vilma said in the text message. "He hasn't done that this time around. I don't know how he accuses Goodell of being too bias to be [the] arbitrator. I was able to prove he was biased and then let all the facts start coming out in a neutral setting."

Vilma said it was difficult to compartmentalize preparing for a game each week while simultaneously being fully involved in challenging the league's discipline. It likely would be even harder for a quarterback like Brady, considering his responsibilities.

"Just wears on you because no matter what you do on the field, the only questions he'll receive are about Deflategate," Vilma said.

One other interesting parallel: Agent Don Yee, who represents Brady, also represented Saints coach Sean Payton. He remains the only head coach in NFL history to be suspended, missing an entire season.


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(espn.com)
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Eli Manning happy to have top draft pick Ereck Flowers on board

NFLU2009
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Any time a team drafts a mammoth offensive lineman with their top pick, chances are the quarterback is going to be thrilled. That was exactly Eli Manning's reaction on Monday to the Giants' selection of offensive tackle Ereck Flowers with their top draft pick.

Manning was in White Plains for a sponsor recognition party for 38th Annual Guiding Eyes for the Blind Golf Classic — a charity that provides guide dogs to people with vision loss as well as service dogs to children with autism. While clutching a puppy named Otis in his arms, Manning weighed in on the Flowers pick.

"Anytime you get a big 330-pound offensive lineman, the quarterback is usually pretty happy about that," Manning said. "I didn't get to meet all the draft picks, but I got to meet a couple of them, and say hi, and get on the field and work with them."

The Giants' top pick should get an opportunity to protect Manning right away. Flowers saw reps at left tackle throughout rookie minicamp, the position he projects at long-term, and he is expected to compete for one of the tackle spots in training camp.

Flowers has built a reputation as a mauler in the running game, but he performed solidly as a pass protector also, giving up zero sacks and 10 total pressures in 2014, the latter of which was the third-lowest in this draft class, according to Pro Football Focus.

At 6-6, 324 pounds, Flowers' sheer size also leaves quite an impression. Not surprisingly, it was one of the first things that Manning noticed when they were introduced.

"Big man, big man," Manning said.


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(nj.com)
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Damien Berry extradited to Maryland from Florida on theft, fraud charges

DamienBerryRavens
Former Ravens reserve running back Damien Berry was extradited from a Florida jail on outstanding warrants in Maryland for charges of writing a bad check of over $100,000, vehicle theft, unlawful taking of a vehicle and unauthorized removal of property charges, according to Maryland court records.

Berry, 26, is free on bail and has been assigned a July 14 date at Howard County District Court. He faces charges in Howard County for allegedly writing a worthless check of $106,024 for a 2015 Land Rover Range Rover purchased at a Clarksville car dealership.

Berry was arrested by the Lee County Sheriff's Office in Florida on the Maryland warrant a week ago. He was extradited to Maryland on Tuesday, according to Florida and Maryland law-enforcement officials.

On March 3, the manager of the car dealership filed a report with Howard County Police alleging that Berry purchased the vehicle with a personal check, according to police. Written for the full amount of the purchase price, the check came from a closed bank account.

The warrant was issued March 25 by Howard County Police.

Berry also has active cases in Maryland in Baltimore County for driving on a suspended license and failure to appear, failure to display license on demand and failure to appear, and failure to pay child support.

Before being released by the Ravens two years ago, Berry was arrested by Baltimore County police on a failure-to-appear warrant stemming from a charge of driving with a suspended license.

The former University of Miami player was pulled over in his 2010 BMW by Howard County police on Jan. 24, 2013, at 1:06 a.m. for driving 63 mph in a 40 mph zone.

The native of Belle Glade, Fla., was cited for speeding as well as driving with a suspended out-of-state license, driving on an expired license and failure to display license on demand.

Berry spent the 2012 season on injured reserve after being on the Ravens' practice squad as a rookie two years ago. He was released by the Ravens before the 2013 season.

The former NFL player sold his Super Bowl XLVII ring last year and it later was auctioned off by Goldin Auctions. He told The Baltimore Sun that he didn't sell his ring, but notarized documents told a different story.

Ken Goldin, the founder of Goldin Auctions, two years ago said Berry and witness Brian Levine went to a Wells Fargo bank in Florida to have the sales contract notarized. Goldin said Berry displayed his driver's license to an authorized, licensed notary before being given two cashier's checks that the NFL player then cashed at the bank.

A copy of one cashier's check in the amount of $10,000 from Wells Fargo made out to Berry was emailed to The Baltimore Sun. The documents show that the purchase agreement was signed and executed Aug, 30, 2013.

Goldin said the ring later was sold to an undisclosed third party, which then consigned it to Goldin Auctions.

"We feel like our credibility has been questioned by Damien, and I feel like he's injuring the sale of the ring," Goldin said last year in a telephone interview. "We wanted to set the record straight and assure the winning bidder on the ring to know that we have full authorization to sell the ring and they will own it clear and unencumbered. I don't know why Damien is doing this, but I can only imagine that Damien is embarrassed."

Berry told The Sun at the time that a friend put the ring up for sale without his knowledge to an undisclosed third party, which then sold it to Goldin Auctions.

"I would never knowingly sell my Super Bowl ring," Berry said. "I'm not that kind of guy. That's not me. The ring means a lot to me and I want to do whatever it takes to get it back. This isn't what I'm about."

Since being cut by the Ravens, Berry hasn't played for another NFL team.

"This isn't a good look, I know that, but I swear this didn't start with me," Berry said. "I have a lawyer who's working with me to try to get the ring back.

"I was shocked when people starting coming at me on Twitter about what's up with my Super Bowl ring. It's definitely upsetting, but everything will be all right."


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(baltimoresun.com)
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Jon Jay: 'He's still not where he wants to be'

JonJayCards
Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay could be placed on the disabled list to allow his thumb and wrist to properly heal and to allow the team to add a healthy outfielder to the roster after an injury to Matt Holliday Wednesday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

"He's still not where he wants to be," Matheny said of Jay. "We're going to be very guarded. Part of it is the thumb. And there's part wrist in there. That wrist is something we hope we had in the past with the surgery, but it takes times to get all the range of motion back. Strength is still an issue. Try to get him some rest. That will help."

Jay hasn't seen any action at the plate since Saturday due to the injury.


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(cbssports.com)
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Tommy Streeter Waived

TommyStreeter
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --- The Jacksonville Jaguars have made several moves following rookie minicamp that will impact the team's depth chart heading into OTAs.

On Monday, the team waived wide receiver Tommy Streeter, tight end Marcel Jensen, safety Jeremy Deering and kicker Derek Dimke.

The team also signed Western Michigan defensive tackle Richard Ash, Akron defensive end Cap Capi, Portland State wide receiver/return man Kasey Closs, UNC-Charlotte free safety Desmond Cooper and Northern Iowa offensive lineman Jack Rummells, according to the Jaguars.

Streeter is the likely the biggest name among the cuts. He is a former sixth round pick of the Baltimore Ravens and won a Super Bowl with the team in 2012. Despite playing in the league for three seasons, Streeter has only appeared in two games. Both of those appearances were made last season with the Jaguars.


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(firstcoastnews.com)
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49ers to bring in Jared Wheeler for tryout at rookie minicamp

NFLU2009
The San Francisco 49ers will open their three-day rookie minicamp in a week and a half, and it will feature a large number of tryout candidates. The team's 19 draft picks and UDFA signings will be in attendance, but we could see as many as 15 tryout candidates as well.

One such tryout candidate will be offensive lineman Jared Wheeler. His agent tweeted out Wednesday morning that Wheeler will attend the Seattle Seahawks rookie minicamp this weekend, and then the 49ers rookie minicamp next weekend.

Wheeler signed with the Carolina Panthers last May as an undrafted free agent out of Miami (FL). He was waived early in training camp, and claimed by the Buffalo Bills. He was cut at the end of training camp, and it appears did not play during the season. He signed with the Seahawks in February, but was released on Tuesday, likely to make room for draft picks and UDFAs.

A year ago, the 49ers had 14 players in for a tryout at rookie minicamp. Of that group, only Chase Thomas earned a training camp invite. Odds are pretty long for tryout candidates, but you never know what might come of it. The 49ers could use some more training camp depth along the offensive line, so maybe Wheeler earns himself a training camp opportunity.

There are not a lot of scouting reports on Wheeler. College2Pro.com had this to say about him:

Big kid a real mountain of a man. Played special teams. Keep your eye on him. Too much size to go unnoticed. A kid I've been eyeing for a long time and think there is something untapped in his potential.

A Miami message board had this to say:

6-4.5 and 320 pounds ...40--5.35, short shuttle-- 4.75, ..10 yd dash- 1.82, vertical 27 inches...the only thing he needs to work a little more at is the bench at 225 where he did 24 reps.....but that will come when on an NFL team.. has the long arms. Arms span longer than Jake Matthews (OT) Texas A&M, and same as Taylor Lewan (OT) of Michigan both expected to be top 15 picks.


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(ninernation.com)
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Steelers Sign proCane Rookie Anthony Chickillo

NFLU2009
The Steelers have reached deals with two more draft picks, signing Ohio State cornerback Doran Grant (Round Four) and Miami (Fla.) outside linebacker/defensive end Anthony Chickillo (Round Six), the club said Monday.

The 6-foot-3, 267-pound Chickillo started all four seasons for the Hurricanes, recording 170 tackles and 15.5 sacks. He will get a look at outside linebacker in Pittsburgh’s 3-4 scheme.

Grant and Chickillo are the second and third draft selections to sign with Pittsburgh. The Steelers signed Central Michigan defensive tackle Leterrius Walton (Round Six) on Friday. Pittsburgh has five unsigned draft picks.


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(profootballtalk.com)
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Edgerrin James on Phillip Dorsett: "He's Going to Be Unbelievable"

EdgeColts
A number of former Miami players are gathering together to play for the Colts this season, and that has prompted some to label it the "reUnion."  Running back Frank Gore and wide receiver Andre Johnson both signed with the Colts as free agents, joining a roster that already included tight end Erik Swoope and a coaching staff that has Chuck Pagano and Rob Chudzinski, and then in the first round of the draft the Colts selected wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, also from Miami.

Former Miami players at the Colts' skill offensive positions is not a new thing, however.  For much of the last decade and a half, a former Miami player had a major impact on the Colts' high-powered offense, whether it was running back Edgerrin James or wide receiver Reggie Wayne.  Because of the culture at "the U," Dorsett became familiar with seeing Johnson, Gore, Wayne, or James in the weight room as he was working out, and Edge even texted him when the receiver was drafted by the Colts.

Edge recently talked with FOX59's Mike Chappell about Phillip Dorsett, and the former Colts star had high praise.  "I don't think he's scratched the surface of his talent,'' James told Chappell. "I tell him once he gets in that real good offense and he gets to playing, man, he's going to be unbelievable.  He works hard.  He does it the right way.  He's a good kid.  He has a love for the game.  You're not going to have to worry about him.  Trust me on that.  And Andre is going to mentor him.''

For Colts fans who fondly remember the Edgerrin James days, that's good to hear him say such things about Dorsett.  It's also nice to know that, while Dorsett could get great advice from the likes of Gore, Johnson, Wayne, James, or others at Miami, he now has even easier access to that advice in the Colts' locker room.  The team has a number of veteran leaders (including former Miami players) who should be able to help Dorsett adjust to the NFL and excel, and the team has a star quarterback in place to help Dorsett reach his potential.

There were a number of Colts fans who were unhappy with the pick, and that's understandable.  But Phillip Dorsett is a Colt, and he's a very fast and talented player who should help the team.  And if Edgerrin James is a fan and thinks that Dorsett is just scratching the surface of his potential, that should certainly help to inspire confidence from fans.


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(stampedeblue.com)
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WATCH: Ereck Flowers run through drills at Giants minicamp

Here Flowers (76) is working on a footwork and hand placement drill. Notice the yelling that comes from offensive line coach Pat Flaherty during Flowers' reps. That didn't happen for every player.

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Giants making Ereck Flowers compete to start

NFLU2009
Giants OC Ben McAdoo declined to say whether first-round pick Ereck Flowers will start at right tackle.

"We're going to play our best five and if Flowers is one of them, then he'll have a spot," McAdoo said. "We'll give him opportunities, but that doesn't mean we're going to pencil him in right now." Flowers is the Giants’ left tackle of the future, but will start out on the right side. Justin Pugh is expected to move to left guard.


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(rotoworld.com)
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LaDarius Gunter Has Chance to Make Roster at Crowded Position

NFLU2009
Defensive back LaDarius Gunter, who signed with the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent, has an uphill battle in his fight to make the 53-man roster. 

However, it's no secret that undrafted free agents have experienced an abnormally high level of success in Green Bay. In 2014, Packers undrafted rookies played more than double the snaps of other teams' undrafted rookies, per a study the team conducted, via Paul Imig of FoxSports.com. 

In each the last five seasons, Green Bay has signed at least three undrafted free agents to the roster. 

Given this pattern, a few of the Packers' 17 undrafted free agents in 2015 can expect to make the final roster, or at the very least the practice squad, at the conclusion of training camp. And though his position has gotten crowded, Gunter is talented enough to be one of them. 

Gunter played three seasons at the University of Miami, starting 30 games and playing in 37. He leaves Miami with 111 tackles, three tackles for loss, a forced fumble, 18 pass breakups and six interceptions. 

Though Gunter's production seemed to dip in his final season, in which he had 26 tackles in 12 starts and two interceptions, this is largely attributable to the fact that opponents simply didn't want to throw to him. 

"Having established himself as one of the better and more physically imposing corners in the ACC, opponents elected to largely ignore his side of the field in 2014," Rob Rang and Derek Stephens of CBSSports.com wrote. 

Analysts were impressed by the 6'2", 202-pound prospect prior to the draft. NFL.com's Lance Zierlein had him ranked as a Round 4-5 talent.

"If he impresses in workouts and interviews, Gunter is likely to hear his name called on Day Two of the draft," Rang and Stephens projected. 

So why did Gunter go undrafted? He certainly impressed at the Senior Bowl, where he had four tackles—the most of any cornerback—per Patrick Magee of the Biloxi (Miss.) Sun Herald via MiamiHerald.com. 

He also had a flashy diving interception in the end zone for the South squad. 

At his pro day, Gunter improved on his measurables from the NFL combine. He improved his 40-yard dash times to 4.66 and 4.64 seconds after recording a 4.69 in Indianapolis. His three-cone shuttle time fell from 7.18 seconds to 6.91 seconds. 

It's possible Gunter's 40-yard dash time forced teams to look elsewhere, as teams hoping to bring him in to compete for a starting job might have written him off as a zone corner. However, Gunter proved at Miami that he has the ball skills and size to be a successful press corner, as well. 

The secondary, which was looking a little depleted after Tramon Williams, Davon House and Jarrett Bush departed in free agency, is certainly looking replenished now. In 2014, the depth chart included six corners: Williams, Sam Shields, House, Casey Hayward, Demetri Goodson and Bush. 

Now, in addition to Shields and Hayward, who are locks to make the 53-man roster, six other players will compete for a spot: first-round pick Damarious Randall; second-round pick Quinten Rollins; practice squad holdover Tay Glover-Wright; 2014 rookie Goodson; and 2015 UDFAs Bernard Blake and, of course, Gunter. 

Further complicating the expected roster spots in the secondary is the number of players on the roster who are defensive backs. Though the Packers list Gunter as a corner currently, he could be considered among these given his experience at safety, as well as Micah Hyde and free-agency addition Kyle Sebetic.

If these players make the roster, do they count themselves among the safety group, which sees starters Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, as well as Sean Richardson and Chris Banjo, returning?

All in all, the secondary comprised 11 spots on Green Bay's depth chart in 2014: six cornerbacks and five safeties. The odds are certainly more difficult for Gunter, but he brings something to the roster no other cornerback currently does: size. 

Gunter is currently the only cornerback/defensive back on Green Bay's roster listed at over 6'0"—and quite a ways over, at 6'2". That size gives him an advantage, as right now the Packers' two likely starting corners, Shields and Hayward, are both 5'11".

Gunter is "blessed with an exciting combination of height and fluidity," Rang and Stephens write. "Sports a long, tapered frame with broad shoulders and long arms, making him well-suited to handling coverage against today's behemoth receivers."

He also has a nose for the ball. He had six career interceptions and 151 yards in returns at Miami, but also had 18 pass breakups. 

ESPN's Mel Kiper is impressed with Gunter's combination of size and ball skils. "He is actually a guy that can be a number two corner in the league," Kiper told Devin Dae Tucker of SB Nation. "He is a big and physical guy, someone teams are really looking for. I love the way he runs and turns, and has good ball skills."

That physicality could be Gunter's ticket to a roster spot in Green Bay, or at the very least the practice squad. 


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(bleacherreport.com)
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Jon Feliciano Shows Off Versatility

NFLU2009
Fourth round pick Jon Feliciano was showing off his versatility - he was playing center. After the team drafted him, he said he had played every position on the offensive line, though he had never played center in an actual game. They didn't bring in any centers for the rookie camp, so he was playing there almost exclusively. Hard to say if that will continue in OTA's and beyond. Other Raiders players with some center experience, aside from Rodney Hudson, are Lamar Mady and Tony Bergstrom.


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(silverandblackpride.com)
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Clive Walford Looking Fluid

NFLU2009
Third round pick Clive Walford is a pretty imposing target at tight end. He is listed at 6-4, 251 which puts him around the same height as several linemen, just 50 pounds lighter. He got the number 88 with the team cutting Nick Kasa. Walford looked fluid as a receiver, as advertised.




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(silverandblackpride.com)
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'The Duke' soon might be king of Browns backfield

NFLU2009
Duke Johnson forgot himself for a moment.

As the temperature at rookie minicamp reached about 212 degrees, he chopped through a drill in which running backs step through a stringed contraption while carrying a football weighted like a medicine ball.

Coach Wilbert Montgomery told his backs to take a water break. When Johnson dropped his ball and stepped toward refreshment, Montgomery barked, “Don’t drop the ball, Duke! Never put the ball on the ground!”

The coach was grinning, but serious.

“The football is your girlfriend,” he told Johnson. “It could be your wife. You’re marrying your work.”

Johnson immediately picked up the ball, which is the official ball of the NFL, a Wilson. The particular make, stamped right on the ball, is “The Duke.”

When the final running back depth chart of the preseason is stamped out, there is a good chance Duke Johnson will be “The Man.”

Johnson is not a normal 77th overall draft pick.

He has a real chance to start right away, competing against 2014 rookies Terrance West, who was a No. 94 overall draft pick, and Isaiah Crowell, who was undrafted.

West and Crowell boast NFL experience that includes some bright moments from 2014. Their college experience, with West putting up big numbers at Towson and Crowell finishing at Alabama State (having been an SEC freshman of the year), doesn’t compare to Johnson’s.

Johnson was an 18-year-old freshman when he played his first college game and in three years became the Miami Hurricanes’ career rushing leader.

He already was full of confidence by the end of his freshman season, which produced one of his favorite games. Facing Virginia, he threw a halfback option pass for a touchdown and returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. Sharing the running load with two backs who totaled 83 yards on 17 carries, Johnson squeezed 150 yards out of 16 carries. He also was used as a receiver.

“I thought I showed everything I can do in that game,” he said.

As a senior, his overall production (242 carries for 1,631 yards at 6.8 per carry; 38 catches for 421 yards) compared to that of Ohio State’s Ezekial Elliott (273 carries for 1,878 yards at 6.9 per carry; 28 catches for 220 yards).

One limitation is size, reflected in the fact his 10 rushing touchdowns in 2014 were the lowest total among BCS players who finished in the top 14 in rushing yards.
General manager Ray Farmer protests that the 5-foot-9 Johnson “isn’t small … he weighs 207 pounds.”

Still, he’s way lighter than Crowell and noticeably lighter than West.

“I’ve been competing against the big dogs since I was playing football,” Johnson said after a muggy practice. “I’ve never been the biggest. Sometimes I was the smallest. It never stopped me. I’m not gonna allow it to now.”

The backs drafted ahead of Johnson were Georgia’s Todd Gurley (6-1, 222), Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon (6-1, 215), Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon (6-1, 226), Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah (5-9, 205) and Indiana’s Trevin Coleman (5-11, 206).

Farmer calls Johnson “a dynamic player who can run, catch, return kicks and catch punts.

“He has a complete skill set. We love that he’s quick, agile and well balanced. He runs through trash. He can jump over guys on the ground, land and cut.

“He’s got some Giovanni Bernard to him … some Brian Westbrook.”

Bernard plays for the Bengals. Tom Heckert regards Westbrook as his best value pick during his days as the Eagles’ general manager. Westbrook was a No. 91 overall pick in 2002. On Philadelphia’s 2004 Super Bowl team, Westbrook averaged 4.6 yards on 177 rushes and 9.6 yards on 73 catches.

Head coach Mike Pettine talks as if the different looks presented by Johnson and Crowell all have a place.

“You want to be able to match up differently different weeks,” Pettine said. “Some weeks, it might be a good matchup for Terrance, others for Crow. And now Duke kind of gives us that added element.

“You don’t want to use the label ‘third-down back.’ ”

Bookmakers have an inkling Johnson might help the Browns right away.

Odds against him being NFL offensive rookie of the year aren’t terribly long, at 25-1. Marcus Mariota, to name one of the 13 players with shorter odds than Johnson, is 10-1.

The Browns have had ex-Hurricanes in their backfield before.

James Jackson was drafted 12 spots higher than Johnson, at No. 65 overall, in 2001. He didn’t work out. Willis McGahee was the emergency replacement after Trent Richardson was traded in 2013. He was too old.

Jackson and McGahee had past ties to their Browns head coaches, Butch Davis and Rob Chudzinski.

Johnson arrives fresh and agenda free, drafted simply because Browns scouts and coaches think he can inject serious juice into the offense.

The former Miami back with whom Johnson has had his most serious talks since the draft is Edgerrin James, a candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
James’ advice to Johnson was very simple: “Take coaching. Be on time.”

Johnson soon will be going through the Browns’ spring program in competition with West and Crowell. He talked to West after the draft.

“I haven’t gotten any bad vibes from Terrance or anything,” Johnson said. “Just like me, he’s ready to compete and fight for the starting job. About me getting drafted, he said, ‘Congratulations. The offense just got better.’ ”


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(cantonrep.com)
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Raiders See Tight End Walford as "Total Package"

NFLU2009
This wasn’t considered a good NFL draft class for tight ends, but it could be argued the Raiders selected one with the potential to be an impact player in the third round.

That’s when Oakland took the University of Miami’s Clive Walford with the 68th overall choice in the three-day draft that concluded this past Saturday.

Walford came to Miami as what the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post described as a “gangly former basketball player who took up football full time as a high school senior.” But over his time at Miami, Walford improved his size and strength – he’s now 6-foot-4 and 251 pounds – and finished as Miami’s all-time leader among tight ends, with 121 catches for 1,753 yards and 14 touchdowns.

And remember: Miami has produced some great NFL tight ends, including Jimmy Graham, Kellen Winslow and Greg Olsen.

Now Walford will compete with incumbent Mychal Rivera, who’s proven to be a reliable receiver, for the starting job. He’ll also team with Rivera and free-agent veteran acquisition Lee Smith, a strong and proven blocker from the Buffalo Bills, to give the Raiders plenty of options in different sets and circumstances. In 2014, the Raiders were notably thin at the position.

Walford had a solid senior season at Miami, where he earned third-team All-America honors with 44 receptions for 676 yards and seven TDs, then turned in a very good week at the Senior Bowl, where he caught the notice of many scouts.

Said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, after Walford’s Senior Bowl experience: “He showed his athleticism. I think he’s a nice combination of size, good speed, strength, run-after-catch, has movement skills.” Mayock also noted Walford’s 34-inch arms, which give him “a nice throwing radius for a quarterback.”

Mel Kiper Jr., the longtime NFL draft analyst for ESPN, said Walford was the first or second best tight end available in the draft.

New Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio calls Walford a “complete tight end,” meaning he’s equally adept as a receiver and blocker. And general manager Reggie McKenzie said he believes Walford has big potential.

“He’s not only a receiver or a blocker-type guy,” McKenzie told the media. “He’s a guy that’s big and strong enough to pound it versus the D-linemen and he can flex out and run the routes and be that pass receiver. He’s pretty much the total package.”


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(nbcbayarea.com)
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