Monthly Archives: January 2017

Le’Veon Bell began the season suspended. Can he end it at the Super Bowl?

Turns out, there is at least one man in the NFL that Le’Veon Bell can’t evade in the open field: Mike Tomlin. Bell sauntered out of pregame production meetings in a Kansas City hotel last week in his usual sweats, braids woven with the precision of his outside zone runs, when he heard the booming voice of the Pittsburgh Steelers head coach.

“Hey Steph Curry, you better lead us to an NBA championship,” Bell recalls Tomlin saying.

Bell laughed along. He was used to the barbs. Earlier this month, Bell referred to himself as “what Steph Curry is to basketball” in an interview with Bleacher Report. “I think I’m changing the game,” he said, with a patient running style that could influence young players, just as Curry perfected (and popularized) the deep 3.

In truth, Tomlin simply delivered a clever line. But Bell’s mind quickly parachuted into deeper thought. Tomlin’s words, to Bell, were a friendly challenge: Trend-setting is great. Title-winning is better. Let’s go win a championship.

“I was like, ‘You know, yeah, let’s do it!'” Bell realized.

A day later, Bell went off for 170 yards in Kansas City.

Quinn has to coach this game against the Packers with a specific scoring environment in mind. The Falcons-Packers game has a Vegas point total of 61, projecting it to be the highest-scoring playoff game and the second-highest scoring NFL game since 1978. With that in mind, Quinn can’t settle for field goals, and he can’t be excessively concerned about field position. In a game in which teams should be able to move the ball 30 yards in the blink of an eye, possession (not field position) is king.

The Cowboys reportedly didn’t believe those threats

In June, Bryant threatened to sit out of the Cowboys’ season opener if he didn’t have a new deal in place by the July deadline. He skipped a majority of the team’s offseason workouts, though he did show up for the last mandatory minicamp session and participated a few times throughout OTAs in individual drills. On Monday, he doubled down on that threat, tweeting that he “will not be there if no deal” is reached.

The Cowboys reportedly didn’t believe those threats, but the point is moot now that Bryant has the deal he wanted. While there were plenty of reports suggesting a deal wouldn’t get done prior to and on Wednesday, as the deadline approached things started looking up. There was a late push for a long-term contract and two hours prior to the deadline, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported that there was a tone shift and everyone was optimistic about a deal getting done.

Authentic Mens Matt Cain Jersey Throughout the 2014 season, Bryant was Tony Romo’s favorite target, grabbing 88 balls for 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns. Bryant has spent his entire career with the Cowboys, who selected him with 24th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. He had injuries and other issues that limited him to just 561 yards during his rookie season, but he has turned in three straight seasons of 1,200-plus yards and 12-plus touchdowns.
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Despite his love for coaching and support from his family, the transition has been difficult. “That’s all I knew since I was a kid,” he said. “It is tough knowing that guys are going to training camp and I’m not. It’s hard. I did all I could do for the team. Now what?”

I was amped up, jumping around, and I hear, ‘Son, son!’ Someone saw her wearing my jersey and told her to get down over the tunnel before we came out. I saw her and she started going crazy. It melted my heart. We wound up losing, but just being able to give her that experience. There are no words.”

Luck went crashing down in 2015 with an assortment of injuries

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Luck went crashing down in 2015 with an assortment of injuries, including a lacerated kidney, that caused him to miss nine games. He also wasn’t very effective when he did play, as he committed 13 turnovers and completed only 55.3 percent of his passes in the seven games he played. But Luck bounced back to complete a career-high 63.5 percent of his passes and finish fifth in touchdowns (31) and eighth in passing yards (4,240) in the league this season. Luck’s improved play would have received more attention had the Colts not been a mediocre team that missed the playoffs for the second straight year.

Sam Shields, the Packers’ former No. 1 cornerback, will be done in Green Bay. The Packers will release Shields, who hasn’t played since Week 1 because of a concussion that landed him on injured reserve. It was his second concussion in nine months and the fourth known concussion of his NFL career, which began in 2010. He has one year left on the four-year, $39 million deal he signed in 2014, and the Packers would save $9 million on next year’s salary cap if they let him go. The move might force them to draft another cornerback high, even as high as the first round. — Rob Demovsky

Game Kids Travis Kelce Jersey The Vikings will spend much of the offseason overhauling their offensive line. They could look to bring left tackle Matt Kalil back, even though he has a history of injuries, and they’ll consider releasing or restructuring the contract of right guard Brandon Fusco after a disappointing season. The Vikings could also explore options at right tackle, where Andre Smith struggled before going on injured reserve. — Ben Goessling

The Falcons limited running back Thomas Rawls to 34 yards on 11 carries

Allen and his defensive mates got things corrected. It started with defensive lineman/offensive lineman Ben Garland recording a safety while plopping down on a tripped up Wilson. There were three sacks in the game, by Brooks Reed, Jonathan Babineaux and Garland. Plus there were some punishing hits delivered, the most vicious probably being nickelback Brian Poole’s open-field collision with Wilson.

The Falcons limited running back Thomas Rawls to 34 yards on 11 carries, coming off his 161-yard performance in Seattle’s wild-card win over Detroit.

“Certainly we came back and did much better,” Quinn said of his defense rebounding after surrendering the touchdown on the first drive. “After that, I thought we settled back in and made more plays and tackled better.”

After the pain subsides, Prescott will be a better quarterback for the experience. Dan Marino lost his first playoff start to Dave Krieg, who wasn’t as good as Aaron Rodgers. Peyton Manning lost his first playoff start to Steve McNair, who wasn’t as good as Aaron Rodgers. Elway lost his first playoff start to Mark Malone, who wasn’t as good as Aaron Rodgers. They all ended up doing just fine.

Elite Youth Teemu Selanne Jersey Prescott was brilliant in defeat. In fact, he even posted a better quarterback rating (103.2) than Rodgers did (96.7). But Prescott was powerless to do anything about those final 35 seconds, punctuated by Mason Crosby’s kick. The Cowboys’ defenders were powerless, too.

“It’s a great feeling to have that guy on your team,” Julius Peppers said of Rodgers. “There hasn’t been one time that I’ve been a part of this team that I went out on the field and didn’t think that I had a chance to win.
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“We feel like we’re going to win every game with him behind center.”

Running back Alfred Blue played quite well, carrying the ball nine times for 59 yards

Leonte Carroo, WR (senior): Carroo is the only returning receiver in the Big Ten with 1,000+ receiving yards and 10+ touchdowns. Carroo doesn’t have elite size (6’0, 205 pounds) or speed, but he has great athleticism and a tremendous feel for the position. He has solid hands and works well in traffic. His numbers could drop this year with a new quarterback, but with another productive year, Carroo could be a first-round pick, especially with the way NFL teams value receivers.

Steve Longa, LB (RS junior): Longa has compiled over 100 tackles in back-to-back seasons and has been one of the most consistent playmakers for the Rutgers defense. He’s got great speed and athleticism for a linebacker. He has natural instincts. He is also versatile with experience at all three linebacker positions. He still has one year of eligibility left, but another productive year could cause the linebacker to dart for the NFL.

Running back Alfred Blue played quite well, carrying the ball nine times for 59 yards. Given Arian Foster’s injury, that’s a great sign for them. For the 49ers, they saw strong play out of backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert, but the starting offense failed to get going. Rugby league convert Jarryd Hayne looked great as a running back and as a returner though, which is definitely good news after Frank Gore left over the offseason.

We already covered Winston’s night above — it wasn’t great by any stretch of the imagination. But Winston did have a big completion to Vincent Jackson, and he did have the touchdown run. Behind him, Mike Glennon performed well, completing 9 of 17 passes for 98 yards. The Vikings got good play out of starter Teddy Bridgewater, who completed 7 of 8 passes for 86 yards. Backup Shaun Hill tossed two touchdown passes, one of which went to underperforming wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. With the Hall of Fame Game, the Vikings have now won two preseason contests, though the loss of Loadholt is a big concern.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, asked about Bell’s comments Tuesday

Draymond Green, Curry’s teammate on the Golden State Warriors, played pickup basketball with Bell when both were athletes at Michigan State. He said Bell’s comparison to Curry has merit.
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“That patience he has as a runner has never been seen before,” Green told Bleacher Report. “You had Barry Sanders, who shook you out of your socks. Quick as grease. You had ‘the Bus’ and his power running. You have super-fast runners. But a runner with the patience he has? I mean, I don’t know if we’ve ever seen that. He’s a special runner who’s definitely transcending the game and it’s fun to watch.

“No one else in the NFL runs like that, but I guarantee you, there will be some runners coming out — and there’s probably some in the NFL now — that’ll try to take on that technique.”

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, asked about Bell’s comments Tuesday, said: “I’ve seen Le’Veon’s jump shot.”

Elite Youth Michael Bennett Jersey “If we understand what happened, and there was no misconduct, we have a responsibility to assure the public of that,” Pittinger told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Porter is charged with aggravated assault for allegedly grabbing Abel’s wrists when the officer intervened after Porter argued with and allegedly lifted up a bouncer who refused him admission to a bar hours after the Steelers beat the Miami Dolphins in Sunday’s playoff game.

Porter is also charged with simple assault, for his alleged contact with the bouncer, along with resisting arrest, defiant trespass, disorderly conduct and public drunkenness. The team has placed him on indefinite leave but otherwise has not commented.

Dwight Freeney will sign 1-year deal with Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals will sign former Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers pass rusher Dwight Freeney to a one-year deal on Monday, according to Rand Getlin of NFL Network. The deal reportedly features a minimum salary for Freeney, but has incentives for sacks.

Freeney, 35, is far from the pass rusher who posted seven double-digit sack seasons while in Indianapolis. However, he bounced back from a season-ending quad tendon tear in 2013 to be a solid pass rusher for the Chargers in 2014, despite finishing the year with just 3.5 sacks.

The Cardinals are 4-1 and have allowed the fifth-fewest points per game in the NFL, but are No. 24 in the league in sacks with just eight through the first five weeks. Outside linebacker Alex Okafor leads the team with two sacks, but left a win over the Detroit Lions in Week 5 with a calf injury that is being further evaluated with an MRI.

Although West was relegated to special teams duty in his rookie year, he has 12 carries for 48 yards and two catches for 9 yards in five games this year. West’s limited experience and Davis’ career 3.4 yards per carry average likely won’t lead the Chiefs to an offensive turnaround, but both backups will be preparing for a heavy workload and the Chiefs will design the offense around reviving the ground game.
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Elite Womens Cyrus Kouandjio Jersey The best hope for Baltimore would be to string together enough wins to contend for the wild card. But with a defense that went from the top 10 to the bottom 10 of the NFL and is missing some its starters — like Terrell Suggs and Matt Elam — that’s a huge uphill climb.

The Cowboys are one game away from being the leaders of the NFC East, so calling them down-and-out is a little harsh, but even with Dez Bryant soon to return, it’s difficult to imagine Brandon Weeden keeping the team in the playoff hunt while Tony Romo heals up.

starter Bradley Sowell sprained his knee during an Oct. 23 road game against Arizona

“You can’t stop the run game in the playoffs? Get beat on special teams? Or give up the deep ball in the second half? Man, it’s time to clock out and hand in the gear.”
The tempo at practice picks up, and most coaches bring an added edge to the field or the film room. It isn’t a surprise to see coaches sleep on a couch in the office as they squeeze out 20 more minutes of tape study before grabbing a few hours of sleep. Wake up and do it again. Anything to get the slightest of edges.

And it’s OK to have those Super Bowl dreams. Heck, that’s why you are in this thing. It doesn’t matter how your team got to this point, either. Regular-season records? Stats? Pro Bowl voting? Forget about it. No one cares anymore.

Not only were the Seahawks’ coaches impressed by Fant’s athleticism and the speed he had developed on the basketball court, but they also liked how he played through pain when he got his knee rolled during an early practice. And they appreciated his focus, sharpened by the need to provide for his wife and baby.

Jay Novacek Kids Jersey “I had never taken a rep at left tackle in my life.”
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He was raw, but they figured raw can be good: No wear and tear from years of pounding, and no bad habits.

Even then, Fant might have gone his entire rookie year as an apprentice — a few plays here or there after games were already decided — but he was thrust into action when starter Bradley Sowell sprained his knee during an Oct. 23 road game against Arizona.

“I was nervous, man,” he says, his voice rising. “Oh, I was nervous.

“But I thought of my family and what can come from this. At that point, the adrenaline was just pumping. I got out there, and the first snap was a pass play, and I can remember it was Chandler Jones. This was the first time I played him, so I didn’t know what to expect, and he ran straight at me, and my hands didn’t go up. I was too nervous to remember to put my hands up. Man, the nerves didn’t let me do it. And he grabbed me by my shoulder pads and yanked me forward and flung me around and ran straight past me.

“[Jones] didn’t make the play, but wow!”

Arizona Coyotes claim Alex Burmistrov off waivers from the Winnipeg Jets

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The Coyotes claimed Alexander Burmistrov off of waivers from the Winnipeg Jets Monday morning. Burmistrov has two assists in 23 games with the Jets this season.

A veteran of 298 games with the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise, Burmistrov was the 8th overall selection of the then Atlanta Thrashers back in 2010. Burmistrov bounced back and forth between the Jets and their AHL affiliate before signing a two-year deal with Ak Bars Kazan of the KHL during the lockout in 2013-14. The decision came reportedly due to dissatisfaction with his usage under head coach Claude Noel.

The idea would be that since Cheslor Cuthbert is out of a position with Mike Moustakas returning to third base, and Cuthbert out of options next year, he would hit at DH a few times a week, with Salvador Perez hitting there on his days off from catching, and other players like Alex Gordon or Lorenzo Cain could even DH to rest their legs.
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Rotating the position seems like a fairly bad idea however. The average American League designated hitter last year hit .254/.328/.452, a better OPS than anyone on the Royals – except Kendrys Morales, their departing designated hitter. The Royals could get a bit more value on the bases as Morales was one of the slowest and least valuable baserunners in baseball last year, but Cuthbert was pretty slow himself and his bat does not come close to making up the difference.

Packers clinch playoff berth with Washington loss

The Green Bay Packers have an opportunity to grab the NFC North crown Sunday night against the Detroit Lions, but thanks to a loss by Washington earlier Sunday, the Packers are in the playoffs, regardless.

Both the Packers and Detroit Lions entered Week 17 with matching 9-6 records, but Washington’s 19-10 loss to the New York Giants means both NFC North teams are in the postseason.

Either way, this is a fascinating matchup that should have a playoff atmosphere from beginning to end. The Packers are coming in red-hot, winning five straight games after stumbling to a 4-6 start. Aaron Rodgers has returned to his vintage MVP form, throwing for 11 touchdowns, 1,367 yards, and zero interceptions during the winning streak.

Meanwhile, the Lions are in something of a tailspin. They entered Week 15 holding the No. 2 seed at 9-4, but have since dropped their last two games. The offense was completely shut down by the Giants in a 17-6 loss, while Ezekiel Elliott and Dez Bryant buried the defense in last week’s 42-21 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

It’s been a rough season for the Chicago Bears, who entered Week 17 3-12 and are just trying to get the year over with. Matt Barkley in particular has been rough, throwing nine interceptions in his last three games. He had yet another pick Sunday as the Minnesota Vikings ran out to a 17-0 lead.

However, Bears fans at least had something to smile about when the team dialed up a trick play. Looking to get their first points of the game, Cameron Meredith took the ball on a reverse and tossed it to a wide-open Barkley in the end zone.

For obvious reasons, this is the first touchdown catch of Barkley’s career.