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Bears suddenly contenders with Packers hurting, NFC North up for grabs

With the Green Bay Packers losing quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a potentially season-ending collarbone injury, the NFC North has truly become a four-team race.

We like writing about streaks here, mainly because it always reminds us of Will Ferrell in “Old School,” but also partly because winning and losing streaks this time of year offer some level of evidence we haven’t had yet. If you read this column regularly, you know we preach the value of sample size. The more NFL season we see, the more we know. At this point, every team has played at least six games, many have played seven, and the teams that are winning and losing games in big chunks might be showing us a little bit about who they are.

Jenkins has stood with his fist in the air during the national anthem since last season, after former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the anthem to raise awareness of police brutality against people of color and other social injustices.

Sando: Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers. Hyde should have a rough time against the Eagles’ defensive front, especially if Philadelphia builds a lead.

Yates: Latavius Murray, RB, Vikings. After a 100-plus-yard effort in Week 7, some might be intrigued by Murray. My pessimism in Murray isn’t tied to his role, as he has seen enough opportunities since Dalvin Cook’s injury to be on the radar, but rather has to do with his matchup. The Browns have been terrific against opposing running backs. Le’Veon Bell was kept in check (10 rushes NHL Jerseys Cheap for 32 yards), as were DeMarco Murray (18 rushes for 59 yards) and Joe Mixon (17 rushes for 29 yards). The strength of Cleveland’s roster is in stopping the run, which gives me pause on Quality Cheap Jerseys Murray.

Andrew Luck’s injury history, a timeline

The Indianapolis Colts are still without Andrew Luck after the quarterback underwent surgery in January. Recently acquired passer Jacoby Brissett has played well as the team’s starter in Luck’s place, but the Colts are undeniably worse without the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL draft on the field.

His absence has been somewhat of a mystery. While Luck’s surgery was described by Colts owner Jim Irsay as an outpatient procedure that wouldn’t threaten the 2017 regular season, it has clearly become a more significant issue than that. Luck has yet to play this season.

A lot of the run-pass options and plays designed to get Smith outside the pocket will likely remain in the playbook for Mahomes, who starred in an Air Raid offense at Texas Tech. But Mahomes’ raw downfield passing ability should give the Chiefs even more vertical options.

That’s an intriguing prospect for an offense that ranked fifth last year and returns Travis Kelce, who is among the NFL’s best receiving tight ends, and receiver Tyreek Hill, who is now joined by another speedy threat in Sammy Watkins.

You know, when I saw [Troy] Aikman as a rookie, he never complained. He had a rough year, he never blamed anybody else. And you could tell he was a football player, and he was going to be not only a good football player, but a great football player, because just the way he handled himself.

Dak [Prescott] has got a lot of that in him. You don’t see him blaming anybody else. And I truly believe a quarterback has to be very confident in themselves, but you’ve got to transfer that confidence to your teammates. And if you can’t transfer that confidence to your teammates, you’re not going to be successful, because you can’t do it by yourself. And they have to really believe in you. They just have to have this instinct that even when things go wrong, that they still believe in you.

I think I did have that. I think the players believed in me and I Cheap Baseball Jerseys think, whether it’s Troy [Aikman] or Tony [Romo] or Dak, they cannot do it without the Cheap China Jerseys team believing in them. And they have that ability, that confidence you look at and say, ‘Hey, you’re going to figure out how to win this game.’ That’s what you have to do as a quarterback is to have the confidence of your teammates.

Odell Beckham Jr. trade is reasonable for only 3 NFL teams

Matt Lutovsky: Both of their respective next contracts make them difficult for any team to employ, but you can bet both will still be in high demand. Can you get Leonard to Philadelphia to add some veteran leadership to that young talented core? How about to Utah, where Cheap Basketball Jerseys UK he would form a 1-2 defensive punch with Rudy Gobert that would make life miserable for any opposing offense? How about a homecoming to the Lakers? For Beckham, both San Francisco and Indianapolis are viable, potentially exciting spots given their young, talented quarterbacks. For entertainment purposes, let’s hope he somehow winds up in Dallas.

An absolute warrior, on and off the sand. Plays with a mindless, violent streak. Very vocal and will get after everyone. Has a thirst for action.

Looks beautiful on tape. Can do that Naboo she does so well. Spunky. Not afraid to get dirty. Character judgment and durability are concerns, but underrated with a blaster.

There were four such games last season. There were none in 2016. There haven’t been more than four in a season since 1990. During the 15-year period ending last season, there were zero or one pitching duels in seven different seasons.

In other words, if you see at least one pitching duel this season of the type you’re likely to always remember, there’s about a fifty-fifty chance you’ve seen the only such game in that particular season.

This has all happened for a reason, of course. You can see it in league-level splits. For the average pitcher, here was last year’s progression of OPS allowed per times facing a batter in a game:.738 the first time; 779 the second;.801 the third. The difference between the first and Cheap College Basketball Jerseys the third time seeing a hitter is roughly the difference between facing Jordy Mercer and Joe Mauer. Between individuals, there is plenty of variance. But you can see why the practice of limiting the exposure of starters is growing.

Chris Long calls “clumsy” anthem policy “a dumb move”

Chris Long and Malcolm Jenkins spoke publicly Tuesday for the first time since the NFL implemented its anthem policy. The Eagles players, among the NFL’s most vocal and socially aware, backed up their statements they posted on social media last week.

“I think it’s a still a bad idea and something that was unnecessary,” Jenkins said Tuesday, via Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia. “But now there’s a media storm the league has kind of brought on itself.”

“It’s definitely discouraging because I definitely thought we were moving to a place where players obviously wanted a platform and we could create something that was maybe more effective and bigger,” Jenkins said. “I think there’s been a ton of effort and time put into creating that, but then there’s decision that kind of undermines that. I thought the league genuinely was building that, but then when you start trying to mandate things, it’s less likely to help.”

Carthel was in disbelief when he learned of the change in plans. There was a blizzard on the way to Missouri and, really, was Northwest Missouri State vs. North Alabama worth the trouble?

But Perez made the trip anyway, then sat through that blizzard as Northwest Missouri State beat down North Alabama, 29-3.

It was probably negative-five degrees with wind-chill at kickoff, Perez said. And we’re sitting in the stands, just watching. I tried to take a notebook and take notes, but that wasn’t gonna happen just because how cold it was and it was snowing.

Afterward, Perez walked on the field and went through the locker room, wanting to see what it was like, to prepare himself to play in the game the next year. He called Carthel, who was Cheap Authentic Jerseys From China at a Christmas party, to tell the coach that A&M Commerce wasn’t too far off.

I got to questioning myself, Carthel said. I’m like, ‘Geez, this guy’s our quarterback, he’s much more dedicated than I am, driving across the country just to experience the [DII] National Championship Game.’

Team tweets DeAngelo Hall has “not yet officially” retired

Star running back David Johnson will return to the Arizona Cardinals this year after the 2016 NFL scrimmage yards leader suffered a season-ending wrist injury in Week 1. But it’s tough for even an elite back like Johnson to make a huge difference, as Arizona’s 7-8-1 record in 2016 can attest. 

The Cardinals know that in order to keep up in the increasingly tough NFC West, they’ll need to get strong play out of the quarterback position. That’s why rookie No. 10 overall pick Josh Rosen will be the center of attention for much of the year, even if he’s not starting. 

Garrett’s 68-55 record since taking over the job midway through the 2010 season makes him the second winningest coach in franchise history behind Hall of Famer Tom Landry.

Still, Owens questions why the players — and not Garrett — take the blame for failing to reach greater heights.

“At the end of the day, how can you keep allowing the players to be the scapegoat for what’s not happening,” Owens said, “especially when you have a head coach that’s supposed to be offensive-minded? They’re supposed to direct and lead the team to where a team hasn’t gotten in a number of years, and they’ve pretty much been in a standstill under coach Jason Garrett.”

Ultimately he wasn’t willing to move, or Buffalo GM Brandon Beane wasn’t willing to pay the price to get him off his spot. Buffalo would still land Josh Allen, who might very well be great.

But the Jets won this game of chess against the Bills, certainly. Sometimes the process and results converge nicely at the end of an event. For the Jets, that certainly became the case, doubly so when we realize that we might not have been completely aware of their process.

West visited with the Colts on Tuesday and Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that he will meet with the Jaguars on Wednesday. West also had a visit with the Eagles last week.

West began his career as a Browns third-round pick in 2014, played two Cheap China NFL Jerseys games for the Titans after a 2015 trade and spent the last three seasons with the Ravens. He Cheap Authentic MLB Jerseys opened last season as the starter in Baltimore, but didn’t play after Week Five due to a calf injury and Alex Collins‘ emergence during his absence.

Brian Hoyer: Brady’s absence no distraction; “great opportunity” to lead team

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick didn’t spend any time talking about Tom Brady on Tuesday, saying he’d only talk about players that are attending the team’s offseason workouts.

That group includes Brian Hoyer, who stepped into the role with the first team since rookie Danny Etling is the only other quarterback with the team right now. Belichick said that Hoyer is doing “a great job” and knows the team’s offense “inside and out” after returning to the team last season.

Hoyer didn’t get to run the offense during that span and he said Tuesday that he’s enjoying the chance to be in the spot usually occupied by Brady.

The NFL has made 49 rule changes since 2002 to protect players, improve practice methods, better educate players and personnel on concussions and strengthen the league’s medical protocols. The NFL deploys 29 medical professionals on the sidelines for each game. Working with the NFL Players Association, the league enforces a concussion protocol for players that has been instrumental in immediately identifying and diagnosing concussions and other head-related injuries.

It’s also possible that Jones wants to get the team’s attention not because he’s $2.75 million per year behind the top of the receiver market but because he’s averaging less than 50 cents on the dollar in comparison to Matt Ryan‘s new deal. From Jones’ perspective, seeing Ryan get $30 million per year while getting only $14.25 million himself may seem out of whack.

However it plays out, Jones surely knows that now is the time to do something, especially with his 30th birthday looming in early 2019. Ryan, who already is on his third contract, may end up with a fourth. For Jones, the next one may be the last one, and if he waits three more years, the next one may not be nearly as close to the top of the market as it would be if he were to get a new deal now.

However, there are a number of other potential suitors in play.

Outside of my offers, I’ve been talking to Syracuse, Rutgers, Temple, Boston College, Minnesota, Vanderbilt and Virginia, he said. Those were some of the main ones.

But prior to announcing he’d be moving on to the Hun from Cheap Quality Soccer Jerseys Shawnee as a post-graduate, Deveney said no such opportunities existed, a lot of which had to do with his Cheap Qld NBA Jerseys old intentions of playing baseball in college — which has since changed.

Tony Romo on Jason Witten: It’s a tough decision

The circumstances aren’t exactly the same, but Tony Romo has some idea about the decision that his former Cowboys teammate Jason Witten is wrestling with right now.

That’s the quality, the “it” factor, the magic that allows a Authentic Cheap Jerseys quarterback to naturally lead others. It’s what, as one league source recently explained to PFT, set John Elway apart. Per the source, a former Elway teammate said that, when Elway was in the huddle, he simply had a way of convincing his teammates that they were destined to win the game.

And here’s where stats and analytics take a backseat to intangibles. If a quarterback can exert effortless, organic leadership, the quarterback possesses a quality that plenty of his peers may not possess.

Doug Peterson, Frank Reich and John DeFilippo built a system to highlight Carson Wentz’s athletic gifts, getting him playing fast by threatening the defense with his ability to run.

And that offense, stocked with run-pass-options and movement, worked all the same for Nick Foles, pulling the veteran journeyman out of a mid-career funk and into a championship.

The Raiders and G.M. Reggie McKenzie didn’t draft Reggie’s son Kahlil. The Chiefs did, in round siz. Which is already making one of the best rivalries in the NFL even better.

But I’ll say that I expect—as we get to the dead part of the football calendar when you see a lot of idea sharing going on—pro coaches will be calling Riley to talk ball.

The Vikings really went into the draft looking to address two areas.

One was corner, and they did that in taking UCF corner Mike Hughes with Bing Cheap Jerseys the 30th overall pick.

He had four 100-yard efforts while starting the final six regular-season games and made second-team All-Pac-12.

Story Continues As a senior, Michel rushed for 7.9 yards per carry and led the team with 16 rushing touchdowns, running at his best in the College Football Playoff against Oklahoma (181 rushing yards) and Alabama (98 rushing yards). ANALYSIS A shifty runner between the tackles, Michel doesn’t waste time attacking run lanes and bursting to the second level of the defense. He does an excellent job reading his blockers and finding creases, creating burst off his plant foot to string moves together.

He also spent some time with the USC track team in 2016. Jones saved his best for what would prove to be farewell season with the Trojans, rushing for 1,550 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2017.

His track speed also enables him to get to the outside and challenge the pursuit angles of defenders. He often does so by moving from the inside to the outside without losing speed, and he can stop on a dime to make defenders miss. Jones runs with good instincts, setting up his moves downfield and is willing to meet defenders when necessary. While he can play physical and is a willing – if marginally effective – blocker in blitz pickup, Jones lacks the ideal frame for an every-down back in the NFL and durability could be a concern.

Rudolph completed 65 percent of his throws for 4,904 yards with 37 touchdowns and nine interceptions during his senior season with the Cowboys. He added 10 rushing scores.

Entering his third season as Detroit Lions general manager, and having previously played a key role in the New England Patriots’ front office, we can get a general idea of Bob Quinn’s player personnel tendencies. We’re going to look a Cheap Elite Jerseys bit deeper than just athletic tendencies to understand Cheap Giants Jerseys what Quinn has favored for each position before the 2018 NFL Draft.

From his time with the Patriots until now, Quinn hasn’t shown much preference for interior defensive linemen beyond size. Athletically, the group is all over the map, but the one repeating theme is he’s liked them heavy. Looking at both free agency and the draft, A’Shawn Robinson was one of the smallest defensive tackles Quinn added, at only 307 pounds, and he’s listed above 320 now.

It’s part of the reason Washington’s Vita Vea, at 347 pounds, or Alabama’s Da’Ron Payne (311), are two to watch in the first round. Fort Hays State tackle Nathan Shepherd (315) and North Carolina State’s B.J. Hill (311) are both possible second-round options where the team has shown interest.

Joe Flacco is our quarterback.

Like Mayfield, Darnold and possibly Allen, Jackson has the luxury of sitting behind a solid vet — and a Cheap Authentic MLB Jerseys Super Bowl winner, don’t forget — and learning the NFL game. His biggest challenge, a huge one, is adapting to a totally different scheme from the one he ran in college.

That’s the thing that you got to remember, coach John Harbaugh said. Lamar is going to have a chance to develop.

After all the mystery surrounding the Cleveland Browns and the first pick in NFL Draft, the wait is finally over after the Browns selected Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield from Oklahoma to be the new face of the franchise.

Cleveland has been searching for a quarterback since they re-entered the league in 1999. They traded for Tyrod Taylor in the offseason to be a bridge to the next young quarterback, but it’s hard to believe Taylor will start many games in 2018.

Bradley Chubb was penciled in to this pick for the Browns, as he was at the top of everybody’s board when it came to defensive players in this draft. Instead, the Browns went with the hometown selection. Very, very interesting.

I still think the Browns should have taken Barkley at the top of the draft and then selected a quarterback in this spot. And because it’s Cleveland we’re talking about here, I’m going to go ahead and presume that I know more about what’s going on Cheap China NFL Jerseys than that front office. Wow.

Green Bay opens with consecutive games in Lambeau Field (Bears, Vikings) and stays home for four of its first six games. But that backloads a lot of tough road games. That stretch starts for the Packers with at Rams in Week 8 and at Patriots in Week 9. It continues with at Seahawks in Week 11 and at Vikings in Week 12. There are no true breaks as they try to rebound with Aaron Rodgers.

Yes, the Seahawks remain contenders as long as Russell Wilson is their quarterback. But they’ll need to play without The 12s early in the season, as they open with two road games (at Broncos and Bears) and are away from CenturyLink Field for five of their first seven games overall, including a London date with the Raiders.

Their second-half home games are no jokes, either, with the Chargers, Packers, 49ers and Vikings all coming to Seattle. The late road games include the Rams, Panthers and 49ers. The Seahawks regaining their playoff reign has become a lot tougher.

Fans of teams projected to draft a quarterback in the first round of this year’s draft will hope the 2018 QB draft class doesn’t some day join this ignominious list.

NFL Bob McNair on protests:’Ask your compadres’ to stop kneeling’ During a confidential NFL meeting between NFL owners and current and former players, Houston Texans owner Bob McNair tried to persuade players to tell their colleagues to stop kneeling during the national anthem, reports the New York Times.

As Patricia navigates his first draft in charge, he’ll be able to lean on Quinn, who has a two-year head start in Detroit. And while it’s too early to fully evaluate his past drafting performances, there’s been some promising early returns with his early-round picks — namely Taylor Decker, A’Shawn Robinson, Graham Glasgow, Jarrad Davis and Kenny Golladay.

You want dependable players in this program, Quinn said last week. Obviously, if you’re taking them in the first round, they should be good players, right? Or I shouldn’t be standing up here. I think dependability is something that’s really key with durability, ability to learn, competitive nature, does he love football, passion, all the things that we talk about on a daily basis when we talk about players and the guys we want to add to this organization.

This weekend, the Lions will have six (or maybe more if they make some trades) shots to add dependable players and shape the team to Patricia’s vision. It won’t guarantee anything, but a quality draft can help lay the foundation for future success.

Notables: Jim Druckenmiller (Round 1, 49ers), Jake Plummer (Round 2, Cardinals), Danny Wuerffel (Round 4, Saints), Koy Detmer (Round 7, Eagles), Jon Kitna (undrafted, Seahawks)

Kitna wasn’t even drafted but wound up with the best NFL career of the bunch, playing 14 seasons. Druckenmiller was to be the heir apparent to Hall of Famer Steve Young, but by 2001 he was playing for the XFL’s Memphis Maniax. Wuerffel — the 1996 Heisman winner who played for four NFL teams in six seasons — won the 2000 World Bowl with the Rhein Fire.

Notables: Richard Todd (Round 1, Jets), Mike Kruczek (Round 2, Steelers), Jeb Blount (Round 2, Raiders), Gary Danielson (undrafted, Lions)

The Jets drafted Todd at No. 6 overall in 1976 to be the successor to Joe Namath. Todd — who, like Namath, played at Alabama — didn’t live up to expectations, though he did lead the Jets to back-to-back playoff appearances Cheap Basketball Jerseys UK in 1981-82. Danielson Cheap Authentic Jerseys From China spent 11 seasons in the NFL, mostly as a backup.