Pro Player Insiders http://proplayerinsiders.com NFL Players Exclusive Lifestyle, News and Under the Helmet Access Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:29:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Johnny Manziel Tops NFLPI’s Top 50 Player Sales List http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/johnny-manziel-tops-nflpis-top-50-player-sales-list/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/johnny-manziel-tops-nflpis-top-50-player-sales-list/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:29:00 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=134679 WASHINGTON D.C., July 22, 2014 – Quarterback Johnny Manziel of the Cleveland Browns ranks No. 1 overall on the NFL Players Inc. (NFLPI) Top 50 Player Sales list for the first quarter – and with less than one month of actual sales recorded post-NFL Draft. In that span, Manziel surpassed Super Bowl XLVIII champion quarterback Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks in overall sales, which is based on total sales of all officially licensed products from March 1, 2014, through May 31, 2014.

Among the Top 10 retail stars are some of the best players on offense and defense. Joining Manziel and Wilson to round out the Top 10 are San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (#3), Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (#4), Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning(#5), Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (#6), Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (#7), Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (#8), New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (#9), and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (#10).

Additional highlights:

  •  Manziel joins three other rookies including Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (#12), Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (#40) and St. Louis Rams defensive end Michael Sam (#41) in the Top 50.
  •  Manziel outsold Wilson in Nike game jerseys.
  •  Three Seahawks – Wilson, Sherman and Lynch – led all players in Bobblehead sales.
  •  Bryant made the biggest leap from end of fiscal year to first fiscal quarter, jumping 22 spots from #30 to #8; Sherman improved eight spots, from #12 to #4.
  •  Five defensive players – Sherman (#4), Watt (#6), Packers linebacker Clay Matthews (#11), Clowney (#12) and 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis (#15) – rank among the top 15 players.

The list, released quarterly by NFLPI, the marketing and licensing arm of the NFLPA, is based on total overall sales of all licensed products from online and traditional retail outlets as reported by more than 70 NFLPI licensees such as Nike, VF Imagewear, Fanatics, Outerstuff, Fathead, McFarlane Toys, Oyo Sportstoys, Bleacher Creatures, Forever Collectibles and Photo File. Licensed product categories include men’s, women’s and youth game jerseys and t-shirts, player murals, figurines, matted and framed photos, bobbleheads, drinkware, jewelry, electronic device accessories, among others.

NFLPI Top 50 Player Sales Rankings (March 1-May 31, 2014): 

  1. Johnny Manziel*, Cleveland Browns
  2. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
  3. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
  4. Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks
  5. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
  6. J.J. Watt, Houston Texans
  7. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks
  8. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
  9. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
  10. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
  11. Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers
  12. Jadeveon Clowney*, Houston Texans
  13. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
  14. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
  15. Patrick Willis, San Francisco 49ers
  16. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  17. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
  18. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
  19. Eric Reid, San Francisco 49ers
  20. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
  21. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
  22. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
  23. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
  24. Cameron Wake, Miami Dolphins
  25. Eli Manning, New York Giants
  26. Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers
  27. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
  28. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
  29. Earl Thomas, Seattle Seahawks
  30. NaVorro Bowman, San Francisco 49ers
  31. Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears
  32. DeSean Jackson, Washington Redskins
  33. Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns
  34. Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers
  35. Wes Welker, Denver Broncos
  36. Sean Lee, Dallas Cowboys
  37. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
  38. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
  39. Victor Cruz, New York Giants
  40. Blake Bortles*, Jacksonville Jaguars
  41. Michael Sam*, St. Louis Rams
  42. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers
  43. Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers
  44. Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers
  45. Percy Harvin, Seattle Seahawks
  46. Eric Decker, New York Jets
  47. Darrelle Revis, New England Patriots
  48. Geno Smith, New York Jets
  49. Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers
  50. Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

*-Represents Sales from May 8-31, 2014

In conjunction with the top 50 player rankings, NFLPI announces new licensing agreements with the following companies:

  •  Beveridge Marketing – producing NFL player identified EyeBlack that incorporates name, jersey number and signature, as well as player co-branded products with former colleges and Pop Warner teams.
  •  Stylinity – producing the first social commerce catalog; NFL players will use Stylinity’s in-home ‘style stage” which is an online selfie photo studio that allows fans to view photos of players’ outfits, access product information, and shop online.

About NFL Players Inc.

NFL Players Inc. is the licensing and marketing subsidiary of the NFL Players Association. NFLPI has been a trusted resource since 1994, delivering access to the influence, power and personal stories of NFL players. NFLPI is a “one-stop shop” for businesses seeking licensing rights, access to players through hospitality and events, marketing strategy and player procurement. For more information, please visit nflplayers.com/players.

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The Party Boy DJ Chris Styles http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/dj-chris-styles-real-party-boy/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/dj-chris-styles-real-party-boy/#comments Wed, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=131107

 

Wassup Insiders???

I have a new DJ for you guys to check out and he is truly the definition of a “Party Boy”. Over the past few months I have had the opportunity to get acquainted with DJ Chris Styles. As a dancer who appreciates good music, when I heard the “Party Boy” going off on Sirius XM “The Heat”  Friday Night Mix I went off while in traffic, all I wanted to do was dance. I couldn’t help myself it was happening way too fast for me to control my body.

  So Who is Chris Styles???

Sirius XM DJ for the Heat

Well, he’s a very passionate, hard working entertainer who studies the game , always prepared and always finishes what he started not to mention he’s an awesome father. The DJ grind started in 98 during his senior year of High School and each year he continued to evolve. Over the years he has sacrificed a lot to get to where he is today and in 2003 he made his way onto the radio waves.

 

What got you involved in this lifestyle?

DJ Chris Styles: I always had a passion for music and the culture. Since I wasn’t a rapper, singer or dancer I had to find my own niche. So I explored and got to know the business side of the music industry. I wanted to find something I could do under the umbrella of music

 What is your favorite memorable moment as a DJ?

DJ Chris Styles : My first radio show had to be the most memorable. It was on Mothers Day, I wasn’t djing but my first time on air as a personality. Another memorable moment was when I started at Sirius XM as a radio personality and in 2011 I brought the Friday night fire… It still excites me!

What makes your Style of DJing stand out from the rest?

DJ Chris Styles: I’m just different my style and sound is irreplaceable, you cant replace me. My mixes and what I play puts me in my own lane which makes me so different.

What chain of events lead you to popular Sirius XM station The Heat?

It played out well for me because  XM just launched in DC and that’s right in my backyard. I had to figure out how I can get my foot in the door through auditions and networking. It fell into place perfectly because it was here in DC and I could physical work there on a regular basis. So it was a win win situation.

How do you Brand yourself?

DJ Chris Styles: Social media is how I brand myself. I make sure I’m promoting myself consistently , I put out new mixes every week on my  sound cloud and on my app( DJ Chris Styles you can find it Google play). Being presentable at stores , malls, clubs and bars makes my job a lot easier because I’m making myself accessible and professional. I always leave a good impression because every thing counts and everything matters. I want to leave a lasting impression that impacts the person that is experiencing what I have to offer.

 

Since you have such a diverse following, what is your favorite genre to mix?

DJ Chris Styles: Anything that has a lot of energy and excitement, I like to get the people going crazy. I like to keep the energy at a high level, I like to call it organized chaos and I’m the one in control of this chaos and I’m always ready to take it another level!

capitol trill chris styles

What is Capitol Trill?

DJ Chris Styles : Capitol Trill is a DJ production group from the DMV. We do a lot of remixes, our take off mix is the hump day mix that gets about 3,000 plays a week .Eventually we want to bring every genre together and make the movement even bigger than what we imagined.

How did Capitol Trill come about?

DJ Chris Styles: Well there was a opportunity to take DJing to another level by incorporating different sounds, personalities and visions. Once we built our foundation, we decided to make some noise.

check it out it’s definitely worth the listen !  http://https://soundcloud.com/capitoltrill

One of the things I found interesting about DJ Chris styles was that he is the house DJ for the Maryland Terp’s women’s basketball team. I find this to be very dope because the atmosphere in those NCCA games are so live and to have a DJ of that caliber in there who creates what he calls “organized chaos” on purpose just adds to the excitement.

So what is it like being the in house DJ for Maryland’s Women’s Terps Basketball team who made the Final 4?

Lady Terps Chris styles

It’s fun , I was the hype man for the NBA and WNBA teams (Wizards and The Mist) so I was familiar with the format. It’s a cool, a new challenge, something different. I feel it’s an important role in the game because your keeping the audience, coach and players happy. I feel like part of the team, It’s a great experience.

If you had to make them a mixtape what would be on it?

DJ Chris Styles: It would be whatever is current in hip-hop, in a nut shell anything that will give them the instant turn up!

ESPN Chris Styles

Now all of you know by now that I LOVE TO DANCE and I personally know that one of DJ Chris Styles secret weapons is the “Twerking” set. It goes down when this set is being played, no cares are giving, you simple just go in!

For those who aren’t familiar with the “Twerking” trend can you explain it from your prospective?

DJ Chris Styles :Twerking- for females its like half doing squats with rhymthimic movement being able to shake your butt on beat and get creative. You can bend over, touch your toes, put your hands on the wall, the floor, you can even do a head stand. It’s an expression of how you feel when your having a good time and shaking your butt or as the girls say “making it clap”. It started off as an urban thing but now its apart of the culture. You do need a good size booty to twerk  though,there are physical requriements to do this if you want it to look correct.

Another popular trend that’s getting women and men into shape is N+TC (Nike Training Club)  The workouts are developed by a Nike professional trainer, inspired by world-class athletes and based on years of Nike research. Well guess who is the DJ for N+TC? yea you guessed it !

NIKE TRAINING Chris Styles

How did you get involve with DJing for NTC?

DJ Chris Styles: Well I was referred. One of the personal trainers Nike picked to rep. out here in DC was a friend of mine and lucky for me they were looking for a live DJ. They liked my package and brought me on board. This is why it’s important to build great relationships with people through networking and showing up as a professional you never know what opportunities are heading your way in the future.

Another fun fact I found out about DJ Chris Styles is that he loves sports he’s played in the Bethesda Big Train Celebrity Softball Game and he even has his own co-ed adult softball team and of course their name is “CAPITOL TRILL”.

Baseball chris styles

What’s your favorite sport?

DJ Chris Styles: I play baseball , I like watching football and basketball but more basketball because I never played football.

Who’s your favorite team?

DJ Chris Styles: All of the DC teams. I’m a home town type of guy, I support my locals.

Who’s your favorite player?

DJ Chris Styles: KD( Kevin Durant) I root for all the local guys !

Checkout Chris Styles at Shamrock Fest

 

Oh yea how could I forget, not only is he a DJ he has his own apparel line “Capitol Trill”  and of course you can order some gear on

Capitol Trill gear chris styles
captiol trill gear 2 chris styles

www.djchrisstyles.com & www.capitoltrill.com

 

I enjoyed interviewing the Party Boy , just as much as I enjoy dancing to all his wonderful mixes on the Heat and on his sound cloud  I’M LOYAL!

FUN FACT

1. I’m DJ Chris Styles side kick aka the trillest trillet you’ll ever encounter. Don’t believe me  feel free to  follow us on twitter & ask :)

@KJ_PPI

@DJChrisstyles

@CapitolTrill

@PlayerInsiders

IG:

@Barre_Bully

@DJChrisstyles

@CapitolTrill

@PlayerInsiders

And don’t forget to like our Pro Player  Fan Page on FaceBook

Featured song : Capitol Trill Remix to Fancy By Iggy Azalea

 

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Thomas Davis Making the Community a Better Place http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/thomas-davis-making-community-better-place/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/thomas-davis-making-community-better-place/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 12:30:00 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=130786 Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis certainly exemplifies what it means to lead both on the field and off the field. Davis’ teammates and coaches surely felt that way, as they nominated him for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award this past season.

Jerry Richardson, Panthers’ owner, spoke on the commitment that Davis shows in all facets of his life. “He is a leader who is unselfish with his time and energy to help those around him, whether that is the younger players on the team or the youth in the Carolinas,” Richardson said. “He is committed to his profession, his family and his charity work. And that is why he has made our community a better place to live.”

“I have had the pleasure of watching Thomas Davis grow into the confident mature, caring man he is today,” he said. “No one takes his position of influence more seriously than Thomas on the field or in the community.”

Davis’s charity, the Thomas Davis Defending Dreams Foundation, is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for children and their families. Whether it is through putting on their own functions or helping and sponsoring other fundraisers. Davis’s foundation works to improve lives. Their most recent function was Davis’s Moonlight Masquerade this May. Held in Charlotte, N.C., the evening featured food, special NFL guest appearances, as well as a number of special casino games. A number of Davis’s teammates made an appearance as well as players from other NFL teams including Giants LB Jon Beason and Ravens LB Elvis Dumervil. The event must have really been exciting as the TDDDF’s Twitter account tweeted a photo of QB Cam Newton dancing to the Cupid Shuffle.

Once Christmas time rolls around, Defending Dreams chooses a neighborhood they feel is deserving of gifts for children all under the ages of 17. Davis uses funds from his foundation to buy games, cell phones, mp3 players, and a number of other gadgets to donate to these families who don’t have the money to buy their children gifts. According to their foundations page on Facebook, it has always been Davis’s vision for all children to have a gift to open on Christmas day.

Thomas Davis buying Christmas gifts to donate to children in need (Courtesy of TDDDF Facebook page)

From the months of October through March, Davis and the Board of Defending Dreams go out to middle and high schools to teach everything from leadership skills, to manners, to the rules of social media. Davis and his foundation also help students in other ways, such as packing 300 book bags every August with, pens, pencils, calculators, and more to aid kids in the Charlotte area who may struggle to afford school supplies each year.

Davis packing up school supplies to donate to children in Charlotte (Courtesy of TDDDF Facebook page)

Davis’s HC Ron Rivera had some kind words to say about him after his nomination for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. “The award is named after Walter Payton for a reason,” he said. “[He] was a very generous and giving person in his community of Chicago. For a player like Thomas Davis to be nominated, it means just as much because of what he does in this community of Charlotte. The very unselfish approach he has to the people in this community and to this team, and in my opinion what he has given us in the last few years. Even though he hasn’t played a lot of football, is really just a great example of somebody who just won’t quit. I think that rings true for who he is as a person more so than anything else.”

Davis was thrilled to be nominated for the award, as he places the value of the Walter Payton award over any other individual honor. “We don’t come out and do the stuff we do for the community, for the children in order to get recognition and receive awards. We do it because we want to make a difference and we want to help these kids. When we see the smiles on the moms’ faces, on the kids’ faces, that’s what it’s all about for us.” Davis has always valued the personal satisfaction he gets from helping those in need rather than any kind of special award or recognition. He symbolizes the idea of a team player both on the field for the Carolina Panthers and off the field for his community.

If you’re interested in joining Davis’s team, please go to www.defendingdreams.org/TDYLA.html and sign up to be a volunteer! You may also contact Nick D’Auria, TDDDF Coordinator, at (704)-975-8010 or nick@defendingdreams.org if you have any questions about volunteering or making a donation to the Defending Dreams Foundation

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Local Kid Avery Williamson Joins Home Team Titans http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/local-kid-avery-williamson-joins-home-team-titans/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/local-kid-avery-williamson-joins-home-team-titans/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 12:17:40 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=133483 The story of new Titans linebacker Avery Williamson is far from done but the beginning sure sounds great. A highly decorated high school athlete from Milan, Tennessee goes on to play inside linebacker in the toughest division in college football. He leads the Kentucky Wildcats in tackles his final two seasons before getting drafted by his home state Tennessee Titans. It’s the beginning of a great sports movie.

Williamson of course has a long way to go before he becomes a recognizable face for most Titans fans but you get the sense he is open to the task. There is certainly opportunity waiting as the Titans are transitioning to a hybrid defense and the linebackers are far from set. So how does he look to factor into the equation? Let’s take a look.

Williamson was a four year player for the Kentucky Wildcats, finishing his college career with 296 tackles, 147 of them solo, 10 tackles for a loss, 4 sacks, 2 interceptions, 6 passes defensed, and 3 forced fumbles. He finished his senior year ranking fourth in the SEC in tackles and finished second in the SEC in tackles in his final two years combined. He was named all All SEC Second Team following the 2013 season as a reward.

At 6′ 1″ and 246 pounds, Williamson is a solidly built inside linebacker who showed some quickness at the combine running a respectable 4.66 40 yard dash and a 4.07 20 yard shuffle. Unfortunately, he doesn’t show great playing speed consistently and could stand to work on his agility. He also posted the worst vertical among all linebackers at the combine.

In watching film, one big concern is that Williamson seems to lose his balance a lot out of his break. He also needs better overall awareness but he does a lot better sniffing out run plays. His best characteristic may be his sure tackling ability. Right now he is much better in run support than coverage.

Some of the issues you see with Williamson can be corrected by good coaching. Far too often you saw Kentucky linebackers lined up poorly and failing to maintain gap integrity. A couple of years in the Titans strength and training program additionally could help his balance and agility. I would recommend he enroll in a good yoga program that would help him considerably.

Despite that, Williamson is a hard hitter with a nose for the ball in the run game. With improved footwork, he could develop into the run stuffing linebacker the Titans have long needed. Right now he projects as a 2 down linebacker but an improvement in coverage skills could increase his playing load.

The Titans linebacker situation remains unsettled as the new coaching staff will be evaluating players as training camp opens in a couple of weeks and the pads go on. New Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard figures to have a key role at inside linebacker and could man the left inside spot. Zach Brown is coming off a disappointing season and is expected to compete at the right inside linebacker spot though he could also flip outside too.

Several Titans players are hard to figure including Derrick Morgan. Morgan has played defensive end his four years in the Titans 4-3 system and could play end in the hybrid. However, he could be asked to play linebacker in the new hybrid system. Will he play outside or slide inside to play that right inside linebacker role? He is entering the last year of his rookie deal so versatility would not be a bad thing for him to develop. He doesn’t appear to have a definitive spot nailed down.

Colin McCarthy also enters the last year of his rookie contract and needs a healthy season after an injury marred career. He will compete at one of the inside linebacker spots and looks to play the right inside linebacker role. McCarthy has shown flashes of talent but it remains to be seen if he can regain his pre-injury form.

Finally, Moises Fokou is another player hard to peg right now. Fokou of course moved to middle linebacker his first season with the Titans in their 4-3 defense with somewhat mixed results. He has played in the 3-4 as an outside linebacker and it remains to be seen whether he plays inside or outside.

The other linebackers on the roster appear to be outside linebackers primarily. Akeem Ayers seems likely to play only outside linebacker and could be a swing player who lines up at outside linebacker and with his hand in the dirt like he did last year occasionally at defensive end. He also enters the final year of his rookie contract. Shaun Phillips could play that same role with the Titans. Kam Wimbley will return to the role he played before joining the Titans at outside linebacker. Additionally, Zavair Gooden should compete at outside linebacker as well.

While the Titans have talent at the linebacker position, as a group they have failed to meet expectations the past few years. Williamson is coming to a team with a new system and new coaches looking to put players in the best position to succeed. All he has to do is make the most of his opportunities. At the least he should get a chance to earn a spot playing well on special teams.

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Bills Complete First Camp Practice With Great Expectations http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/bills-complete-first-camp-practice-great-expectations/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/bills-complete-first-camp-practice-great-expectations/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 12:12:18 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=133962 On Sunday night, Buffalo showed how its new offensive weapons and 4-3 defense look in front of fans for the first time at St. John Fisher College.

There were some absences, as defensive tackles Marcell Dareus and Alan Branch were on the non-football illness/injury list, along with rookie linebacker Randell Johnson and Kiko Alonso, and left tackle Cordy Glenn is currently not practicing due to a medical condition. Head coach Doug Marrone told the media before practice that Dareus would be “in shape” and “ready to play”, and believes any of the injured players can make up for lost time because of a longer training camp.

Despite those players not making an appearance, excitement and expectations couldn’t have been higher, as Marrone said the team’s goal is obviously to make the postseason. Marrone loves the annual beginning anew and fresh feeling that comes with training camp.

“That’s whats great about this game,” said Marrone. “Everyone’s heading into camp, everyone’s excited, everybody’s fresh. We’ve done some things so far as a team, with meetings and what not, we had a walk through this morning, it was great and we have to keep that same type of enthusiasm going.”

Marrone also stated that he is looking for more of the same from quarterback E.J. Manuel in terms of expectations, but wanted to see specific things as well.

“I have high expectations all the time, so I don’t know if I would call them different,” said Marrone. “I’m excited, (E.J.) looks good and confident, obviously it’s a better situation, last year we were explaining what the offense is and not really the ins and outs of things, this year we’re able to get more into the ins and outs of things, not just with EJ but with a lot of guys on the team with the system already being in place.”

Manuel showed his knowledge of some of the ins and outs of the offense, audibiling on many reps and throwing quick passes to wide receivers without a dropback when there was a cushion. He also found his newest weapon, Sammy Watkins a few times, including one on a perfect corner route by the rookie receiver and a quick slant connection.

“It felt good,” Manuel said of throwing to Watkins. “You really just want to get it in a spot for him to catch it and get some yards after the catch. That’s the biggest thing about a receiver like Sammy.”

Watkins said the pair connected “when we needed to”, and were “clicking today” because Manuel knew what the former Clemson Tiger was doing, and Watkins knew what Manuel was thinking due to the reps they’ve had. Watkins heard his name plenty from the fans, with chants of “Sammy, Sammy” being a constant.

“It means a lot,” said Watkins. “I came from a big Division I school in Clemson so we need our fans. That’s what moved me and it’s great to hear the fans calling my name out and being active while we’re practicing.”

Manuel was also able to use screen and swing passes to offseason additions Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon to a great degree of success. The signal-caller enjoys having more options at an already great running back core for the Bills.

“To add two backs like that, at running back, along with C.J. [Spiller] and Fred [Jackson], it doesn’t any better,” said Manuel. “I really think we’re loaded offensively at the skill positions. Each day we’ve got to just continue to mesh and get better.”

Manuel knows he needs to take a step forward this season, and show a progression from year one to year two in terms of both his skills and leadership of the offense.

“You don’t want to be the same guy you were as a rookie and I think my teammates can all account for that, just as far as how I talk to this,” said Manuel. “Obviously, that’s not me trying to necessarily be a dictator or anything like that, but I think it’s maturing in the offense and maturing as a man in the NFL. Going into my second year, I feel a lot more confident just communicating and making plays.”

The fan attention at camp was new for middle linebacker Brandon Spikes, as the practices he had the past four seasons with the New England Patriots were closed. Spikes said it was “good” to see fans to come out, and there is a great fan base in Buffalo.

Like Manuel, Spikes was directing his unit to be in the right spots, despite it being only his first year in Buffalo. However, Spikes believes the defense has a “long way to go” to perform at the level it is capable of.

“Like I said, it’s the first day,” said Spikes. “It’s small steps and we have to pay attention to detail. Our whole goal is to get better each and every day, to take advantage of these two weeks before we play our first game. We want to come out and play well and play at a high level.”

In two weeks, the Bills play against the New York Giants in the Hall-of-Fame game. Today was the first step toward preparing for game action, with plenty to be excited about, but also questions still needing to be answered.

 Follow ProPlayerInsiders (@PlayerInsiders) and Robin Lalisse (@RobinLalisse) on Twitter

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Top-5 Wide Receiver duos heading into 2014 http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/top-5-wide-receiver-duos-heading-2014/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/top-5-wide-receiver-duos-heading-2014/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 12:12:08 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=133486 Taking a look at the top Wide Receiver duos in the NFL heading into the 2014 season, here’s my top-5.Brandon Marshall

1. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery – Chicago Bears

Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are two physically imposing receivers who can go up and get the ball from just about anywhere. After a few down years in Miami Marshall is back to being a legit number one receiver and Alshon Jeffery is one of the best up-and-coming receivers in the game, landing them at the number one spot.

Calvin-Johnson-350x350

2.Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate – Detroit Lions

I usually prefer two solid receivers versus one outstanding receiver paired with an average player. However, Calvin Johnson is the exception to that. Calvin Johnson is flat out the best receiver in the game and there is no close second. The amount of attention defenses will have to pay to Johnson will allow Tate to look better than he truly is, not to mention having Matt Stafford slinging the ball around will only help their case, landing them at number two.Desean Jackson Philadelphia Eagles

3. Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson – Washington Redskins

Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson are both coming off career years in 2013, and look to be even more dangerous as teammates. The numbers might be down in 2014 because there is only one football to go around, but Garcon and Jackson combine to make one of the scariest duo’s in the league. A healthy RG3 could also propel them higher up this list, but for now they come in at number 3.Julio Jones 350x350

4. Julio Jones and Roddy White- Atlanta Falcons

Julio Jones and Roddy White would be much higher on this list if there weren’t so many questions facing the duo in 2014. Roddy White isn’t getting any younger, and Julio Jones will have to show he has fully recovered his explosiveness from the foot injury that cut his 2013 season short. However, when both are healthy, Jones and White provide Matt Ryan with one of, if not the best wide receiver duos in the league. The Question is, will they be able to stay healthy together? Larry Fitzgerald Arizona Cardinals Photographer Trish Scott

5.Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd – Arizona Cardinals

This might come as a surprise to some, but Larry Fitzgerald is still a beast, has one of the best set of hands in the game and plays alongside one of the best young receivers in Michael Floyd. Fitzgerald and Floyd can make even Carson Palmer look good, and will continue to do so in 2014, landing them at number 5 on my list.

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Five Things To Watch For At Ravens Training Camp http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/five-things-watch-ravens-training-camp/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/five-things-watch-ravens-training-camp/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 12:10:11 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=133961 Training camp is right around the corner for the Baltimore Ravens. There will be position battles, rookies will be looking to earn a roster spot and veterans will be out to prove that they still belong. It will be do or die for some fringe players. Training camp is survival of the fittest and it all starts on July 23rd when the veterans report to the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills, Maryland. Here are five things to watch for at Ravens training camp:

1. The Battle for Right Tackle and the Rest of The Offensive Line

rick_wagnerLast year’s starter at right tackle was Michael Oher but he has moved on via free agency. Second year tackle Rick Wagner took most of the reps with the first team at right tackle during OTAs and mini camp. He is set to open camp as the team’s starter there. He will face some competition from Jah Reid for the starting spot. Keep an eye on this position battle as training camp goes on. Head coach John Harbaugh has said that right now, the starting job is Wagner’s but that could change once the pads go on.

Jeremy Zuttah was acquired to take over the starting center spot from Gino Gradkowski. Harbaugh talked about how important the acquisition was when the trade was completed.

“We traded for Jeremy to have him to be the starting center. That’s the plan, Jeremy is a more experienced center/guard in this league. The thing I liked on tape – we studied him pretty hard – he’s a big, rangy guy. He’s got length, he’s got size in there, he’s got experience and he’s also got, we think, a knack for the scheme we’re going to run offensively. He’s a good fit for us.”

The other spots are set in place as Kelechi Osemeli returns from injury and incumbents Eugene Monroe and Marshall Yanda continue to be top notch starters. Once the pads go on, it’s a whole different story for the offensive line. It’s very hard to get an accurate gauge of how well they are playing when contact is restricted. Now that they will be able to go full contact, you will see how they are able to do against the defensive line.

2. Who Will Win the Nickel Corner Spot?

asa_jacksonCorey Graham was the nickel corner last year but he signed a free agent contract with the Buffalo Bills. Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens front office didn’t draft a corner in the deep 2014 draft class. Instead they will turn to Asa Jackson or Chykie Brown to take over. Both of these young players have waited for the opportunity to push for more playing time. The front office showed faith in them and now is their chance to show what they can do.

Jackson is a very quick and shifty corner that will play a key role when the Ravens go against teams that have dangerous slot receivers. Brown on the other hand is a better fit on the outside and will line up there while starter Lardarius Webb bumps inside to cover the slot. One of the two will be the nickel corner which is basically a starting position because of how much three receiver sets teams employ in the NFL.

There won’t be any shortage of receivers to test these two in training camp. Rookie receiver Mike Campanaro will be an excellent test for them as he has similar qualities to the top slot receivers such as Wes Welker and Julian Edlman. Watch how Jackson and Brown fair against the Ravens receivers especially in one on ones and seven on seven.

3. How Will the Running Backs Fit Into Kubiak’s Zone Blocking Scheme?

Ray Rice, Justin Forsett, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Cierre WoodRay Rice has been the bell cow running back for the Ravens over the last few years. That is not expected to change this year unless the NFL slaps a long term suspension on him after his off the field trouble. Bernard Pierce is coming off of a down year. Justin Forsett was brought in from Jacksonville to compete as well. The Ravens also selected a Lorenzo Taliaferro in the fourth round this year.

Kubiak’s zone blocking scheme employs downhill runners that are able to get to the second level of the defense quickly. His scheme has proven to be a successful one dating back to his days as the Denver Broncos offensive coordinator and head coach of the Houston Texans. He will get the opportunity to improve on a Ravens rushing game that fell off last year.

Full contact happens once the pads come on. That’s when both teams can go full tilt. The Ravens have a strong front seven led by Haloti Ngata. There are few players in the NFL that can stuff the running game better. Watch how the running backs and offensive line fair against the Ravens defense. The inside and team sessions will feature a lot of banging.

4. Terrence Brooks Pushing to be the Starting Free Safety

30_SignBrooks_newsThe Ravens added a few rookies that will look to earn the chance to contribute. The team was able to restock quickly and is set to make a push for another playoff run.

Terrence Brooks will add a great degree of athleticism to the safety position. He and second year safety, Matt Elam will form a very solid safety duo. Brooks was an outstanding performer at the NFL Scouting Combine. His athleticism will show on the field.

Watch how Brooks is able to cover ground in single high coverage and how he is able to come up to the line of scrimmage to cover receivers. He was a consistent play maker at Florida State last year. That will continue in the NFL.

5. The Steve Smith Effect

steve_smith_in_frontSteve Smith is known as one of the toughest players in the NFL. He has engaged in epic battles with some of the game’s best corners. His tenacious play in OTAs and mini camp has already given the Ravens flashbacks of former catalyst, Anquan Bolidn. Terrell Suggs welcomes the attitude on offense. “It’s good to have that back. Someone that will jab back with us and compete. It’s good to have that fiery attitude on that side of the ball. We love him. That’s what we need. I am glad he is on my team.”

The Ravens suffered from the loss of Boldin. Smith was brought in to fill that void. He is still able to stretch the field but more importantly, he has the ability to make the contested catch and keep the chains moving. Watch how Joe Flacco goes to him on an assortment of short to mid range passes. He was a safety net for Cam Newton last year when he was with the Carolina Panthers. Look for more of the same this year with Flacco.

The younger players stand to gain a lot from Smith’s experience in the NFL. He is a great reference point for how to make necessary route adjustments or setting up defensive backs. Receivers coach Bobby Engram will often times give Smith a chance to offer his take in the film room. Some of the younger receivers such as rookie receiver Jeremy Butler have been able to get pointers from him during practice.

Be sure to stay tuned for more training camp updates and positional battles as we go through the preseason.

Follow Turron: @Turron_PPI

Email Turron: turron@proplayerinsiders.com

 

 

 

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Bills’ Bring Back UB Star, Make Pair of Roster Moves http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-headline-news/bills-bring-back-ub-star-make-pair-roster-moves/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-headline-news/bills-bring-back-ub-star-make-pair-roster-moves/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 02:31:34 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=133986  

Buffalo Bills

 

 

The Buffalo Bills announced this afternoon the team signed WR Naaman Roosevelt and DT Landon Cohen.

The signings come as a result of the releases of WR Ramses Barden and LB Nathan Williams. Roosevelt is a Buffalo native who starred at the University of Buffalo with a school-record 3,551 receiving yards. Roosevelt originally signed with the Bills in 2010 as an undrafted free agent, catching 25 passes for 396 yards and a touchdown for Buffalo during the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Roosevelt was on the Detroit Lions practice squad this past season.

Cohen, a 2008 seventh-round selection of the Detroit Lions, played with the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears last season. Cohen, who played collegiately at Ohio, has 40 games of NFL experience with eight starts, with 30 tackles and six tackles for loss in his career.

Roosevelt will wear number 13, while Cohen will wear number 76. The moves put the Bills roster back to 90 players.

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Ravens’ Award $100,000 in Play 60 Grants http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-headline-news/ravens-award-100000-play-60-grants/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-headline-news/ravens-award-100000-play-60-grants/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 20:44:46 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=134013 The Ravens Foundation, Inc. recently awarded over $100,000 in grants to 26 nonprofit organizations in the Baltimore area. In its eighth year, the Ravens’ PLAY 60 Grant (formerly Plan in Motion) continued to provide financial support of up to $5,000 for initiating and/or expanding programs or endeavors that promote physical fitness and nutrition education among youth.

The 2014 PLAY 60 Grant helped fund a variety of projects, such as interscholastic athletic programs for students with disabilities, running clubs, boxing training and after school intramurals, all of which work to increase physical activity and health awareness among local youth. Examples of projects that received grants for 2014 include:

The St. Francis Neighborhood Center’s Summer of Service Excursion (SOSE) program, introducing children in Baltimore’s Reservoir Hill neighborhood to 60 minutes per day of physical activity, as well as enabling them to develop healthy-eating habits and keeping the children academically inclined over the summer break; continued support for the Baltimore Rowing Club, which has consistently increased the number of children participating and maintained 95 percent attendance rates; Charm City Youth Lacrosse League, which has brought the game of lacrosse to boys and girls through Baltimore youth recreation centers; and, funds to provide the KEEN Sports Baltimore program free of charge to disabled youth in Baltimore.

The Ravens Foundation, Inc. is committed to improving, encouraging and enabling the healthy development of youth in Baltimore and throughout the state of Maryland. Annually, the Ravens Foundation, Inc. provides more than $500,000 in grant funding to local nonprofits. In addition to the PLAY 60 Grant program, other foundation projects include the Ravens Scholars Program, stadium renovations at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute (2006) and Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School (2008), the Ravens Youth Football Equipment and Apparel Grant Program, KaBoom! playground builds at Collington Square School (2007), the Good Samaritan Hospital Child Development Center (2009) and German Park (2011), and the recent build partnership with Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake in the Pigtown neighborhood located near M&T Bank Stadium (2014).

2014 Ravens PLAY 60 Grant Recipients:
· 13th Girl Foundation
· Annapolis Recreations and Parks
· Athletes Serving Athletes
· BCPS Allied Sports Program
· Baltimore Curriculum Project Spring Tennis
· Baltimore Fitness Academy (Bmore Fit)
· Baltimore Rowing Club
· Boys and Girls Clubs of Harford County
· Charm City Youth Lacrosse League
· DEA Youth Dance Program
· Foundation for Community Partnerships
· Friends of Patterson Park
· Georgetown East Elementary School
· Girls on the Run
· HASA of Metropolitan Baltimore
· HEAL of Washington County
· Heroes Helping Heroes
· KEEN Greater DC
· Monte Sanders’ Fit Families
· Night of Peace Family Shelter, Inc.
· Off Streets Sports Performance
· Parks and People Foundation
· Safe Alternative Foundation for Education, Inc.
· St. Francis Neighborhood Center
· Team Captain Kids Foundation, Hero Boys Run Club
· UMAR Boxing Youth Development

For more information on the Ravens All Community Team Foundation or the Ravens’ Play 60 Grant project, visit www.baltimoreravens.com/community.

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NFC West Training Camp Preview http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/nfc-west-training-camp-preview/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/nfc-west-training-camp-preview/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:38:53 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=133735 Teams will start reporting to camp in less then a week, officially marking the start of the 2014 season. Pads will come back to armor shoulders and helmets will be strapped up for the first time in months.

For the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams it will all be in these precious few weeks that will define how the west will be won.

It will not be easy for teams to unseat the reigning Super Bowl champions. It is even harder when that team is in your division and, in actuality, it may be just as hard for the Seahawks to hold off their division rivals.

The Seahawks enter the season as the kings of the NFL castle but the NFC West is nipping at their heels. They faced the 49ers in the NFC Championship, the Cardinals turned in a 10-win campaign under first-year head coach Bruce Arians, and the Rams are being built to takeover the division under head coach Jeff Fisher.

Each team in the NFC West will first have to face themselves in training camp before they will be able to have a shot at their rivals. Here are a few training camp battles to watch for each team.

Seattle Seahawks

Right Tackle: Michael Bowie vs. Alvin Bailey

Michael_Bowie_Lombardi_Trophy

Quarterback Russell Wilson tied for the third most sacked quarterback in 2013 (Atlanta’s Matt Ryan was the other). Wilson was whacked 44 times behind the line of scrimmage and that can’t happen again, if Seattle wants to return as NFC West champs. Last year’s right tackle Breno Giacomini signed with the Jets. That leaves youngsters Bowie and Bailey to fight for the position. Bowie saw part-time starts last season and enters camp as the favorite.

 

Cornerback: Byron Maxwell vs. Jeremy Lane

The depth of the Legion of Boom was tested last season as cornerback Brandon Browner was suspended down the stretch. Maxwell took over the reigns with Browner’s absence and performed admirably. Browner signed with New England, leaving an open spot open for 2014. Maxwell and Lane posted similar tackle numbers, but Maxwell gets the edge with  his four interceptions (third most on the team).

San Francisco 49ers

Center: Marcus Martin vs. Daniel Kilgore

The entire 49ers offense is solid outside of the center position. Gone is long-time starter Jonathan Goodwin. The team hoped Kilgore would step in immediately, then gave the team another offseason headache with an arrest for public intoxication in January. The team used a third-round pick on Martin, who was considered one of the top prospects for the position. With recent success around the league for rookie pivot men, Martin could steal the starting spot.

jward

Cornerback: Chris Culliver vs. Jimmie Ward

Cornerback is a mess. The Niners lost veterans Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown to Oakland. Then Eric Wright retired. Culliver was looking to be counted on heavily in 2014 then was arrested and hit with five charges stemming from an alleged hit-and-run incident in March. The team used their first-round selection on Ward, who played safety and corner while at Northern Illinois. Looks like Ward will have a bigger role this season then the team envisioned.

Arizona Cardinals

Tight End: Rob Housler vs. Troy Niklas

The Cardinals hoped they had found a gem when they snagged Housler in the third-round in 2011. That dream hasn’t come 100% true. A solid player, Housler simply hasn’t made the impact the team hoped and in coach Arians’ offense tight end is valuable position. Insert 2014 second-round pick, Niklas – a terrifying 6’7″, 270-pound monster. Niklas was used as a blocking specialist at Notre Dame behind Tyler Eifert (now with Cincinnati) before breaking out in ’13.

 

Linebacker: Larry Foote vs. Old Age

Veteran Karlos Dansby signed with Cleveland via free agency, leaving budding star Darryl Washington and youngster Kevin Minter to start. Foote was signed for depth. That came in handy when Washington was suspended for the entire 2014 season following another failed drug test. Foote, played in only one game last year before suffering a triceps injury. He will be 34 years old this year. Foote needs to stay healthy or the Cards could be in trouble.

St. Louis Rams

Titans Kenny Britt

Wide Receiver: Kenny Britt vs. Austin Pettis

Pettis, was third on the team in receptions last season with 38. The receiving corps as a whole was lackluster in 2013. Enter Britt. The former first-round pick has undeniable potential leading coach Fisher to draft him in 2009, while at Tennessee. Britt also has undeniable issues off the field. Signed on a one year contract to play for the man who drafted him five years ago, Britt should be on a mission to prove he is the immense talent all believe him to be.

Safety: Rodney McLeod vs. Lamarcus Joyner

McLeod started all 16 games in his second season and turned in 79 tackles with two interceptions and two forced fumbles. Solid but unspectacular. Joyner, a cornerback at Florida State, was drafted in the second-round this year. While just 5’8″, Joyner’s level of play is much bigger. While he could play the nickel in 2014, he could also challenge McLeod at free safety as his play reminds of former-Colts safety Bob Sanders (also 5’8″).

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Bills Players Perform Conditioning Tests, Prepare For First Practice http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/bills-players-perform-conditioning-tests-prepare-first-practice/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/bills-players-perform-conditioning-tests-prepare-first-practice/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:19:40 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=133899 The day before Buffalo had its first training camp practice, players performed their conditioning tests and then talked to the media.Stevie Johnson Buffalo Bills Touchdown

Wide receiver Mike Williams, who was acquired by the Bills this off-season through a trade with the Buccaneers, missed 10 games last season with a hamstring injury. Williams said he felt “great” after his conditioning test this morning, stating he thought he got an “A+”, and feels “ready to go”.

“I think I’m one hundred percent fully ready to go,” said Williams. “I’ve trained this whole offseason, there really is no offseason because I had to get my leg feeling better again. I had to get to feeling like Mike again. Today running that conditioning test made me feel like I was Mike again.”

Williams believes the receiving core works “together especially well”, and will bring “the best out in each other”. Williams is in a unique position as the oldest among the wide receivers at age 27, yet is still going to have to fight for his spot on the roster.

“It’s kind of hard because there are a lot of guys asking for advice,” said Williams. “But at the same time I’m trying to learn what’s going on and learn the offense, learn the plays and ask them questions because they’ve been here, so it’s a weird balance. I just need to get caught up and master the playbook to a level where I can teach it.”

Manny Lawson, 30, was the elder statesmen at the linebacker position last year in his first season as a Bill, but is playing at defensive end this season in new defensive coordinator Jim Schartz’s defense. Lawson said his role was defined in minicamp, and enjoys have more pass-rushing opportunities this season.

“I’m definitely focusing on that skill set, being that I’m primarily a defensive end right now and that’s what defensive ends do,” said Lawson. “That’s the role that I’m playing. That’s the role that I want. That’s the role they’ve given me a chance to play.”

Training camp provides the unique opportunity for teammates to compete against each other, especially the offense and defense matching up against each other. Lawson stopped short of calling the battles worthy of a rivalry, but believes the two sides playing their best benefits the team.

“Rivalry is tough, but the competition, being competitive is always there,” said Lawson. “If somebody is having a good day, you’re pretty much going to hear chatter about it from the other side. The other side is going to have to respond to that the next practice or the next thing. In some way, some shape, some form they’re going to have respond to it. That is a good thing. Instead of just having one side of the ball always dominating, going back and forth, offense winning then defense winning, builds camaraderie and builds a team.”

Eight-year veteran defensive tackle Kyle Williams is the senior member on a defensive line that helped the Bills defense rank second in sacks last season. While there is excitement around the team at this point, Williams wants players to temper their enthusiasm for now.

“I think we need to get some work in before we get too excited,” said Williams. “First day is always the first day. We have a long day to go. I think when you look around there are some things to get excited about, but we have a long way to go and I think we can get there.”

Williams stated that Schwartz set an “intense” tone, with the former Lions head coach “getting after guys” and “expecting a lot”, something Williams believes is needed.

“You have to push guys and challenge guys,” said Williams. “It’s what you need as a leader and as a coordinator of the defense. I think we have some really good players and a guy that can do that and push guys and get them going is going to be an asset to us.”

Williams believes the team has “an opportunity” in that the Bills have the most practices during training camp this year. The Pro Bowl defensive tackle knows training camp will show how ready players are to perform at their optimal level when the games really count.

“You’re not ready to play football until you put pads on and practice and get some of that under your belt,” said Williams. “It’s a different level of conditioning and a different level of shape. Obviously we’re going to be in good shape because we’re going to practice a lot against a no huddle offense. They’re going to have to be in shape because they’re going to run it. So I think it’s going to be good for us two fold.”

Tomorrow night’s opening practice will be the first chance to show how in shape and prepared both sides of the ball are to end the 14-year playoff drought, a goal the front office has been clear about this off-season.

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Does History Help Marqueston Huff? http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/history-help-marqueston-huff/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/history-help-marqueston-huff/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:09:57 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=133149 Recent history would appear to favor new Tennessee Titans defensive back Marqueston Huff. The Titans have a veritable stable of young cornerbacks and with opportunity waiting the competition in the defensive backfield is shaping up to be one fierce training camp.

At 5′ 11″ and 196 pounds, Huff has decent size for his position. Although relatively the same size as Alterraun Verner (5′ 10″ and 187) he posted one of the best 40 times for DB’s at the 2014 NFL combine running a 4.49. Huff is a former track athlete and it shows with his speed. On the down side he does have less than ideal hand size at 9 inches.

Huff played cornerback for 3 years at Wyoming as well as safety for one year by necessity, so he has versatility on his side. As a four year player, he recorded 249 tackles, 140 of them solo and 7 for a loss. He added 6 interceptions and 20 passes defensed while forcing 3 fumbles and returning 2 fumbles recovered for touchdowns. He was also a team captain.

Watching film you can see the athleticism. While Huff played both cornerback and safety at Wyoming he projects as a cornerback in the big leagues.

His combine highlights are nice as well.

So where does Huff fit into the defensive backfield for the Titans? Jason McCourty has a lock on the left cornerback spot but the Titans will be looking to fill the right cornerback slot left open by the departure of Verner to Tampa Bay in free agency. The Titans also have second year players Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Daimion Stafford and Khalid Wooten on the roster.

Coty Sensabaugh has played the slot position since his rookie season and seems likely to be the favorite to win the right corner back spot. He can expect fierce competition from Tommie Campbell who competed against Verner for that role last offseason. Also don’t count out second year man Blidi Wreh-Wilson who came on strong at the end of his rookie season. Should Sensabaugh win the right cornerback job, the slot position becomes available.

The Titans seem equally set at safety at least for the interim with Bernard Pollard manning the strong safety spot and Michael Griffin back at free safety. Ray Horton’s defensive schemes include the 2-4-5 defense as well as the 2-3-6 that utilizes 5 and 6 defensive backs. In the past he has used a safety like Kerry Rhodes to load the box. That third safety position should be George Wilson’s to lose.

Can one of the young guns unseat these three veteran players? While it’s certainly possible it seems unlikely. It doesn’t bode well the Titans historically have been terrible at evaluating defensive back talent. Even more concerning is the attention the Titans have historically paid to the defensive back position. They drafted a defensive back in every single draft going back to their reincarnation as the Tennessee Titans in 1999. Including Huff, they have drafted a total of 34 defensive backs. Of that 34, 12 have been taken in the 4th round.

Despite some high profile successes, the majority of the Titans defensive back picks have washed out of the league. Of the 34 defensive back selections, only 10 have gone on to have a career in the league. The good news is that 2 of those were taken in the 4th round. Vincent Fuller (2005) and Alterraun Verner (2010) can be considered success stories with Coty Sensabaugh (2012) on his way to being one. Fuller, Verner and Sensabaugh are 3 of the 4 last defensive backs the Titans have taken in the 4th round.

The good news for Huff is that the trend is on the upswing with the Titans doing better in their draft evaluations in the past few years. More good news in that the 4th round has recently been particularly good for them. With a new coaching staff in place, most players will have to earn their starting jobs and a good training camp and pre-season could go a long way for younger players.

Huff’s speed and versatility in playing both cornerback and safety makes him ideally suited for the slot position in my opinion. That position could become available if Sensabaugh wins the right cornerback spot as I expect. It also puts him in excellent position to play in the 2-4-5 or 2-3-6 defense Horton likes to utilize which requires speed and great athletic ability.

They say timing and opportunity are everything and if that is any indicator Huff could conceivably see playing time. This is a new regime for the Titans but they certainly haven’t been shy about playing rookie defensive backs in the past. Ray Horton started Patrick Peterson as a rookie while the defensive coordinator in Arizona. Last season with the Browns he played Leon McFadden as a rookie and second year man Tashaun Gibson.

The competition at defensive back is going to be fun to watch. Regardless, Huff can surely take comfort in having good potential at a second career in broadcasting.

Marqueston Huff photo Courtesy of Casper Star-Tribune

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Buffalo Bills’ Training Camp Move-In Day Notes http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/buffalo-bills-training-camp-move-day-notes/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/buffalo-bills-training-camp-move-day-notes/#comments Sun, 20 Jul 2014 14:00:02 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=133776 On a beautiful, eighty-degree plus day, Bills players began voluntarily reporting to training camp at St. John Fisher College, bringing with them anything from video game systems to big screen TVs to mattresses.

Second-year receiver Robert Woods even brought an ice tub in order to have “fresh legs”. Woods learned how to be prepared for camp last July.

“Last year I definitely over-packed,” said Woods. “This year I tried to pack light and come ready to work.”

One player that didn’t bring much was second-year wide receiver Marquise Goodwin.

“All I really need is my bed, my playbook and my Bible,” said Goodwin. “Those are the essentials right there. I didn’t bring a TV or video games. I’m not really a gamer. I like to think I’m the best gamer in the world, but I’m really not.”

Fred Jackson with his kids and Mercedes Benz van. Photo by Robin Lalisse

Running back Fred Jackson brought in everything he could, driving to camp in a large Mercedes Benz van with his wife and four kids. Jackson, now in his ninth year with Buffalo, said the van was for “family travel”.

“It makes it easy, said Jackson. “Put the kids in the back, throw a movie on and I don’t hear from them again, so it makes it easier for everybody and the trip is quick and easy that way.”

Running back Fred Jackson holding one of his kids. Photo by Robin Lalisse

Jackson also said his kids watched Frozen and Adventure Time on the way to the camp. Jackson, who held one of his children while talking to the media, believes in showing them what he’s doing the next month.

“The number one thing is that I want them to be a part of this, especially my two oldest daughters as they start understanding more of what’s going on,” said Jackson.  “That’s the type of stuff you’re going to remember and the stuff you want them to remember, like going and helping me move in, stuff we can talk about when they’re older, when I’m a grandpa and we can talk about with their kids.”

Rookie cornerback Ross Cockrell, a fourth-round pick from Duke, saw immediately that this was very much new for him, even though he was technically on a college campus.

“It’s not too bad,” said Cockrell. “All these cameras, all these people asking questions, it’s a little bit different. You know that you’re stepping into a big world, into a big game.”

No matter what stage they are in their career, no matter what they brought with them to camp, players know one thing. As Woods said, they have come ready to work.

Handling Low Expectations

Earlier this July, Fox Sports ranked the Bills as the No. 26 team currently in the NFL (via Mike Garafolo). Pro Football Talk had them even lower, projecting them as the No. 28 team in the league in their preseason power rankings (via Josh Alper).

Bills receiver Marquise Goodwin. Photo by Robin Lalisse

Goodwin said the drafting of Sammy Watkins has “definitely added” to the offense, and that second-year quarterback E.J. Manuel has become “more vocal” and “more of a leader”. Marquise Goodwin thinks the Bills will make believers out of skeptics.

“I like us,” said Goodwin. “We’ve been putting work in through this offseason, through camp. I kind of like coming from the bottom and we’re going to have to work our way up. There’s going to be a lot of bandwagon fans out there that will come out of the woodwork, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Robert Woods sees the prognostications as a double-edged sword for the team.

“It goes both ways,” said Woods. “The way I see it, it really doesn’t matter, but then I also see it as a representation of our play, we need to play better and it starts here at camp.”

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General manager Doug Whaley talking to media. Photo by Robin Lalisse

With a 14-year playoff drought for the Bills, the fifteenth training camp for the team at St. John Fisher College in Rochester appears to be a sign to many around the country that Buffalo will again be on the outside looking in come postseason. However, general manager Doug Whaley believes the pieces are in place to be able to play in January.

“Well, that’s why we’re here to change it,” said Whaley. “That’s why we’ve built this roster and the moves we made in the off season were with the eye of making the playoffs.”

That being said, Whaley understands the sentiment that the Bills are seen as a bottom-feeder in the league.

“They should,” Whaley said of the preseason projections placing the Bills in the bottom 10 teams. “We haven’t done anything. We’ve got a lot to prove. It is what it is. Like Russ [Brandon] said, ‘We won’t hide from it.’ We haven’t been in the playoffs in a long time and we owe it to the fans, our late Hall of Fame owner and everybody in this business to show that we’re not the Bills anymore. We want to be a playoff team. We’re planning to be a playoff team and that’s our goal.”

Kiko Alonso Injury Reaction

Whaley said today that Alonso had successful surgery on his torn ACL yesterday. Safety Aaron Williams said that the shock of a player like Alonso getting a serious injury “goes quick”.

“You kind of think about it for a while and then you understand that, just like during the season, injuries do happen,” said Williams. “When that happens a guy has to step up and that’s basically what the NFL is. When your name is called you must be take a chance with the opportunity, roll with it and do the best you can.”

In terms of the next man up, Whaley believes that the fact Alonso didn’t take many reps in OTAs gave potential replacements like rookie Preston Brown third-year player Nigel Bradham, and second-year player Ty Powell experience.

“It’s a tremendous loss but no one is crying for us,” said Whaley. “So we have to like you said “next man up.” We think we’ve built a roster that can sustain a loss like this. Our expectations aren’t going to drop.”

Defensive Adjustments and Expectations

Safety Aaron Williams. Photo by Robin Lalisse

Fans will be able to see the looks new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz will present for the first time in training camp practices and preseason games. Aaron Williams said the catch-up process “began in minicamp”, and that was the time where players learned and “grasped” the new schemes.

Williams, a leader in the defensive back group that was second in the NFL in interceptions with 23, believes there’s another level the secondary can go to.

“Oh, we’re not going to play any games this year,” said Williams. “There’s a new attitude, a new style, a new coaching staff. I’ve talked to Coach [Donnie] Henderson, I’ve talked to Coach Samson [Brown] and we’re expecting a lot from this year. Our expectations are high from last year, especially from our defensive backs, who were top four last year in DB stats. We’re looking for number one or top three.”

Receiving Corps Has More “Competition”

Sammy Watkins has brought his All-American talents to the Bills, while former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Mike Williams was acquired via trade. Add those players to Woods, Goodwin, T.J. Graham, Chris Hogan, Marcus Easley, and free-agent addition Ramses Barden, and a once seemingly set-in-stone wide receiver group suddenly may be difficult to sort out.

The additions haven’t changed Goodwin’s approach to camp, and he is glad that there are great talents added to his position.

“I’ve been a competitor all my life, so it’s just another thing to me,” said Goodwin. “I love competition and it’s only going to make this team better. If they brought in Calvin Johnson then that’s just better for the Buffalo Bills and, at the end of the day, that’s what’s it’s all about.”

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Wide receiver Robert Woods. Photo by Robin Lalisse

Woods said he is a “lot more prepared” compared to last year because of his knowledge of defenses and finding holes in coverage. He believes that, along with Manuel’s improvement and the consistent performance of other components of the roster, the Bills’ receivers can start doing their part of the bargain.

“I think the offense as a whole really revolves around EJ and his development,” said Woods. “I think he progressed a lot from his first year, with all the offseason training and this whole camp should be an example of how hard he’s worked. He’s handled a lot of adversity, and is starting to play well, and our running backs have been consistent so we just need to start helping them out.”

Roster Moves

The team cut wide receiver Cordell Roberson and undrafted free-agent cornerback Darius Robinson. The transactions cut the roster down from 90 players to 88 players, although Whaley said the team well go back up to 90 by signing a pair of young players, will an announcement potentially coming tomorrow.

 

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Offensive Rookie of the Year Candidates http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/offensive-rookie-year-candidates/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/offensive-rookie-year-candidates/#comments Sun, 20 Jul 2014 13:57:59 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=133548 As the dog days of summer quickly approach and training camp coming up right around the corner, it’s time to look at some potential Offensive Rookie of the Year candidates for the upcoming NFL season.

Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills: The Bills aggressively traded up to the fourth spot in the draft to select Watkins, an explosive and speedy wideout who some pundits have compared to A.J. Green and Julio Jones. In an interview on 104.5 FM in Nashville before the draft, NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell gave Watkins high praise, saying, “I think you could make the argument that he’s the best wide receiver to come out since the A.J. Green, Julio Jones, 2011 draft. He’s got size, speed, hands, shiftiness, explosion. I think Sammy Watkins is hands-down the best receiver in this draft.”

Watkins had 101 receptions for 1,440 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2013, emerging as Clemson’s top playmaker. He ended his college career by winning the Orange Bowl MVP after setting Orange Bowl records with 16 receptions and 227 yards in Clemson’s 40-35 victory over Ohio State. Watkins will impact the Bills’ passing game instantly and will compete with five-year veteran Mike Williams for the team’s No. 1 receiver spot. Watkins is a deep threat who will stretch a defense vertically and can burn double coverage over the top. Because of Buffalo’s lack of playmakers, Watkins should come in and put up numbers instantly.

Johnny Manziel, QB, Browns: The Browns are attempting to minimize Manziel’s presence on the team by saying he is the backup to Brian Hoyer. While it remains to be seen how many appearances Manziel makes during the season, there is no denying the fact he is an electrifying quarterback that will make Cleveland exciting to watch.

Manziel appears to be a great fit for new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s dual-threat quarterback system, which he ran with Robert Griffin III in Washington. Shanahan’s offense calls for a lot of designed quarterback movement as well as an extensive play-action package and Manziel’s free-wheeling style fits the sytem.

Although predictions about how successful the former Heisman Trophy winner will be in the NFL vary, new Browns’ head coach Mike Pettine has remained adamant that Hoyer will be tough to beat out. Working against Manziel is his inconsistency as a pocket passer and the lack of playmakers for the Browns. However, if Manziel finds time on the playing field this year, he is more than capable of putting up gaudy numbers and the offensive rookie of the year award could be his to lose.

Bishop Sankey, RB, Titans: Chris Johnson‘s departure opened a whole host of opportunities in the Titans’ backfield. Sankey, a three-down back out of Washington, will have to beat out Shonn Greene (who just had knee surgery) for the No. 1 spot. If he accomplishes both, his reward would be 200-plus touches this season, giving him many opportunities to make plays. Sankey possesses excellent vision and quickly identifies holes along with showing a good burst to and through the line of scrimmage. Sankey compiled 3,495 rushing yards on 644 attempts for a 5.4 average per carry. He scored 38 total touchdowns and caught 67 passes for 567 yards. Based on what the Titans’ offense looks like under new head coach Ken Wisenhunt—a strong offensive line and a mobile quarterback who can draw attention—he should be very productive as a rookie.

Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers: Mike Evans totaled 151 receptions for 2,499 yards (a 16.5 yards per reception average) and 17 TDs in just 26 career games while at Texas A&M. Scouts raved about Evans’ wingspan, 37″ vertical, and ability to catch the football at its highest point. With many teams trying to cover Vincent Jackson, Evans will have the opportunity to sneak up on opposing defenses. With his length, he’s able to expand his catch radius to bring in balls most receivers simply can’t. Incoming QB Josh McCown helped transcend the Bears’ Alshon Jeffery into a 1,400 yard WR last season and will have the opportunity to do the same with Evans. The Buccaneers’ more balanced offensive attack should help Evans succeed.

Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles: Some in the Philadelphia-area media have compared the second-round pick, Matthews, to Terrell Owens. Due to the fact of his impressive display of playmaking abilities during offseason workouts and drills. The departure of Pro Bowler Desean Jackson should help Matthews emerge as a dangerous weapon in Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense. Also working in Matthews’ favor is the fact that he is competing for a starting spot against Jeremy Maclin, who is coming off an injury, and Riley Cooper, who has had one productive season in 4 years. Maybe it is the lack of competition that allows Matthews to potentially be considered the best receiver on the team, but he will surely see playing time with Philadelphia.

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Charles Clay Expected to Have Big Season http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/charles-clay-expected-big-season/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/charles-clay-expected-big-season/#comments Sun, 20 Jul 2014 13:44:50 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=133503 NFL: Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers

Entering the 2013 season, Charles Clay was second on the Miami Dolphins depth chart at tight end. The team had signed Dustin Keller formerly of the New York Jets, to be one of quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s leading receivers in his second season. Keller suffered a shocking knee injury in the preseason which put an end to his 2013 season before it even got started.

Instead of looking for another veteran tight end to bring in, Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbin elevated Clay to the starting tight end position and it sure paid off.  Clay caught a combined 10 passes for 163 yards in the first two weeks of the 2013 season.

Clay would go on to have one of the best seasons in Dolphins history for a tight end as he ranked among the top five in all three statistical categories. His 69 catches were the second most a tight end has ever had behind Randy McMichael’s 73 in 2004 and his 759 receiving yards also were the second most behind McMichael’s 791 that same year. While his six touchdown receptions were tied for third behind Anthony Fasano’s seven in 2008 and Keith Jackson’s seven in 1994.

Unlike last season, Clay is expected to have a big season in 2014. The former Tulsa Golden Hurricane was named to the 2014 Top 100 players list earlier this summer. Clay is probably a surprise for most fans outside of Miami, as he is not recognizable name, but fans and players in the AFC East have taken notice of Clay’s abilities.  Last season when the New England Patriots played the Dolphins, cornerback Aqib Talib, who’s considered one of the best at his position often matched up against Clay.

It’s funny the difference a year makes. Clay was once considered a weak link at the tight end position, but now he is one of the team’s most important weapons. If the Dolphins are expected to make a run at the postseason, Clay will have to play an even bigger role in the team’s offense.

 

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Tampa Bay WR Louis Murphy Jr Has A Dream Come True http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/tampa-bay-wr-louis-murphy-jr-dream-come-true/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/tampa-bay-wr-louis-murphy-jr-dream-come-true/#comments Sun, 20 Jul 2014 13:34:24 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=133354 Lebron James is not the only son heading home this year, Florida son wide receiver Louis Murphy Jr is also headed back to his home town of St. Petersburg Florida where he grew up and started his football journey. Murphy was a high school football star and those talents awarded him the opportunity to play college football at home for the Florida Gators under the great mind of Urban Myer.

Louis Murphy Jr _camp

He was selected 124th over-all in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL draft by the Oakland Raiders. Owned by the late Al Davis and everyone knew his trademark was drafting for speed as Murphy was one of Florida’s fastest receivers so he fit the bill.

His career on the field continued but in his heart he had a longtime dream of returning home and giving back to his community. The passion for giving back to his home town inspired him to work with Mt. Zion Human Services to conduct an annual non-contact youth football camp in St. Petersburg called 1stdowns4life. Its goal is to teach today’s youth fundamental football skills while stressing the importance of academic excellence, teamwork, creating a strong moral compass, setting obtainable goals, and the perseverance needed to succeed not only in sports but also in life.

Louis Murphy Jr_ Camp

The 2014 off-season yielded an opportunity that no one would pass up, to be able to come home and play for the home town team, as the Tampa bay Buccaneers signed him to a one year deal.

The Florida native as a kid always wanted to have someone make it and come back and help the community. He never got that opportunity, so as a professional football player the burden fell upon him and he would get his opportunity to fulfill his longtime dream.

Louis Murphy Jr_ Camp

When asked about the opportunity to come home and be able to give back to his hometown community, he replied “I am so elated to be home! I’ve dreamed of playing for my city for a long time and now its here.” Murphy also added “I want nothing more than to impact this community by continuously giving back. God has blessed me and I want to be a blessing to others”.

The 1stdowns4life camp features several other events such as “The All Star Gala” which is a meet and greet dinner that recognizes all of those involved in the camps and their accomplishments.

There is also an event called “The Circle of Life Summit” which is for the youth to gain some knowledge on increasing their self-esteem and exploring career paths. It features professional speakers that offer their insight and professional experiences.

One of the camps best event features the “Charity Basketball Game” which features many professional athletes. The players involved in the game were of course Louis Murphy himself along with -

Marreese Speights – Golden State Warriors

Jamar Newsome – Dallas Cowboys

BJ Daniels – Seattle Seahawks Super bowl champs

Dominic Rodgers Cromartie – New York Giants

Charles James – New York Giants

Mike Pouncey – Miami Dolphins

Maurkice Pouncey – Pittsburgh Steelers

Jacoby Ford – NY Jets

…And MANY MORE

Murphy’s young football career is far from over and with his drive and determination who knows what kind of mark he will leave on the game, but it is without a doubt his contributions to his community will almost certainly make him a legend in his home town.

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NFC North RB Rankings http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/nfc-north-rb-rankings/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/nfc-north-rb-rankings/#comments Sun, 20 Jul 2014 13:08:26 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=133517 The position of running back has changed through the years.  Once upon a time the running back garnered most of the fame on offense.  These backs were “all down” backs.  They didn’t get pulled off the field in third down or goal line situations – they carried the load, at all times.  Now a days, the running back position is one that is run by a committee of usually two.  Some backs are labeled as a “change of pace” back, a “goal-line” back or even “speed” back.  It is very rare for a running back today to get 30 carries a game and there are reasons for that.  One reason is that the rules have changed so much that it works in the offenses favor to thrown the ball, as opposed to running.  Another is that the lifespan of a running back’s career in the NFL is short.  Knowing this, teams often implement a two back system to cut down on the wear and tear of their backs.  The NFC North is ruled by one running back in particular, while two others have the versatility which gives defensive coordinators fits and the other is entering only his second season as the running back for one of the NFL’s most respected franchises.  Here is how they rank:

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1. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

One day the football gods chiseled the total embodiment of  an unstoppable force at running back and created Adrian Peterson.  Too much?  Eh, that’s debatable.  He was a five-star recruit when he left high school.  He was a Heisman trophy finalist when in college; and when he made it to the NFL – he continued to exceed expectations.  Last season he was the reigning MVP and although he had a nice season of 1266 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns it was a far cry from his prior season of 2097 rushing yards.  To be fair though, Peterson was going up against 8 man fronts nearly every down because there was absolutely no threat at the quarterback position.  Things should be different this season under new offensive coordinator Norv Turner.  The Vikings have given Turner control of an offense with a very young but very intelligent quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater, a healthy Kyle Rudolf and a second year receiver in Cordarrellle Patterson who most feel will “break out” this season.  If things work out optimistically for the Vikings, this will leave the NFL’s most unstoppable player at the running back position seeing a lot more wholes or a lot less people to run over that are in front of him.  Peterson will still be leaned on heavily because no matter how some may love Teddy Bridgewater’s potential, he is still just a rookie.  In all honesty even if Bridgewater was the number one overall pick – it would still make sense to center the offense around Peterson.  The Vikings are the only team in the NFL that can confidently say they have the best back in the league – and with that should be the only team in the league not questioned if they center an offense in a league that has become pass-friendly.  Peterson will keep adding numbers to a hall of fame career, but the only number that eludes him is “1.”  As in one Super Bowl.

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2. Reggie Bush, Detroit Lions

Some may be surprised to see Reggie Bush as the number two ranked back in the NFL, but the truth is – forgetting the USC scandal, forgetting his publicized relationship with Kim Kardashian and forgetting the ridiculous expectations that were set for him coming out of college — he has remained to be one of the most difficult running backs to prepare for in the NFL. It’s hard to believe but Reggie Bush already has 8 seasons in the NFL under his belt.  In that time he’s won a Super Bowl with New Orleans, played for the Dolphins and is now entering his second season with the Detroit Lions.  While at New Orleans he was a part of one of the more complex offenses in the NFL but in that time he was never given the lion’s share of carries.  Pierre Thomas was the stronger, more traditional back while Bush provided that “X-Factor” back which helped propel the Saints offense.  When he moved to Miami, he wanted to prove to the nay-sayers that he can be a three down back.  In his first season with Miami he ran for 1000 yards for the first time in his career and fell short of the same mark by 14 yards in his second season. Last year Bush found himself in Detroit, where once again he ran for over 1000 yards.  1000 yards rushing in today’s game isn’t the same as it once was but considering that Bush had 223 carries and his back up Joique Bell had 166, there seemed to be a pretty significant amount of carries given to the guy slated as #2 behind Bush.  One should expect more of the same with Bush and Bell in this offense this season.  Bush has the ability to make the Detroit offense more than the “one-trick-pony” it usually exhibits and if executed correctly, Bush is a match up night mare for any opposing defense.  Screen passes, in the slot or even flanking the outside – Bush is the kind of rare athlete who is equally dangerous no matter where he is positioned on the field.

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3. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears

Most might find it ridiculous to position Matt Forte behind Reggie Bush when it comes to the running backs in the NFC North, but there is good reason as to why.  They both average 4.3 yards per carry and if you take away Forte’s first season as a rookie who took the league by surprise and his last season being under an offensive wizard like Marc Trestman – Forte’s yearly stats match up pretty evenly in comparison to Reggie Bush’s.  Forte has the versatility and pass catching ability that sets him apart from most backs – but he doesn’t do those things better or more fluidly than Bush does.  Last season Forte had his best season since 2008 (his rookie campaign) and it was expected.  Expected because people remember what Marc Trestman did for running backs in his offensive scheme.  Remember how he made Charlie Garner look better than he really was while playing for the Raiders?  Remember in 2012 the Bears went out and signed running back Michael Bush who was supposed to take care of short yardage and goal line situations.  That didn’t work out as planned but the message was clear – Forte could not do all that was being asked of him.  Forte has the advantage that about 80% of the backs in the league don’t have and that’s knowing he’s head and shoulders better than whoever number two is on the depth chart.  Under Trestman, Forte should be able to put up similar numbers to last season, much due to the improved offensive line.  Let’s also not forget he has two wideouts in Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall who can help clear paths on the outside.  Forte is in a very fortunate situation and should continue to find success while in it.

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4. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers

Eddie Lacy is the NFL’s reigning offensive rookie of the year.  He ran for over 1100 yards with 11 touchdowns and helped keep together a Packers team that was riddled with injuries throughout the season.  Having to do without Aaron Rodgers for most of the season, along with injuries to key players Clay Matthews and Randall Cobb – the fate of the Packers was all but sealed.  Once Lacy was called upon in early October, he did not look back.  Lacy displayed great instincts and agility for a back of his size size (5’11″, 231 pounds) and broke the Green Bay Packers rookie rushing records in yards and touchdowns.  The only reason why Lacy is ranked last in this category is because – it was only one season.  As football fans and enthusiasts it’s easy to fall in love with a rookie who takes the league by storm, but far too often those rookies hit a wall in their second season called “the sophomore jinx.”  Nobody is wishing this on Lacy, but it’s just something to be cautious of.  Lacy, who played his college football at Alabama should know about this first hand as he saw the same thing happen to former Crimson Tide running back Trent Richardson, last season. If you’re a Packers fan, there is much to be optimistic about though if Lacy pans out.  Eddie Lacy can help add balance to an offense that has strictly relied on the arm of Aaron Rodgers and not much else.  Sure Rodgers is arguably the best QB in the league, but adding a running attack like the one Lacy portrayed last season would help open door even for an offense that’s already as explosive as Green Bay’s.

 

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

 

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Danny Clark Leaves a Positive Legacy http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/danny-clark-leaves-positive-legacy/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/danny-clark-leaves-positive-legacy/#comments Sun, 20 Jul 2014 12:34:21 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=124945 Danny Clark

Danny Clark is a valued member of the Insightful Player® team.  To be named to this team, one must be a person of integrity, such as a current or former NFL player, who shares their personal message of hope for the sole purpose of lifting the spirits of all, especially children.

NFL Former Player, Danny Clark

Leaves a Positive Legacy
Every Time … He Leaves a Room!

Danny Clark Texans 350Every morning when Danny Clark wakes up, he decides to be happy. He has developed the habit of mentally setting an internal reset button when things go awry.

Danny takes the idea of leaving a positive legacy very seriously. He is so committed to leading a life of significance that he sets out each day with the intention of leaving a positive legacy every time he leaves a room!

He passionately believes his calling is to inspire others, especially kids, to take the road less traveled and be all they can be and help others to do the same.

Danny grew up in Country Club, Illinois, one of five boys raised by his father. Danny discovered his passion for football at the age of eight. His father respected that passion and leveraged it to inspire Danny to hit the books. C’s were not acceptable; Danny had to be great in school in order to play football.

”My father always encouraged me when I got knocked down both on and off the field. He inspired me to get right back up and fight stronger and longer.”

Danny’s father also taught him the importance of humility and respect. The elder Clark was consistently polite to others even in situations where most people would lose their temper. “His example of treating people with respect, no matter what, rubbed off on me at a very young age,” Danny said.

Danny is grateful for everything about his life. His road wasn’t as easy as you might imagine. He was a great student in high school and an all-conference quarterback and linebacker in high school. He was ecstatic when he received a football scholarship to the University of Illinois. However, his dream of going to college and playing football with hopes of making it into the NFL almost came to a screeching halt because he became a father to a baby girl at age 19.

Danny’s father helped him gain perspective and realize that his daughter was his priority, much bigger than football and college.

Danny became wholeheartedly committed to making sure his daughter had the best life possible. She gave him comfort and the confidence to figure out a way, with the help of the baby’s mother, to do it all – put his baby first, go to school and play football.

Danny credits his daughter, Dasia, for his becoming a professional athlete. She inspired him to work his tail off both in the classroom and on the football field.

“I want kids to know that adversity always brings you something great.”

He learned on the football field that when things are going great, don’t get too high; when things are tough, don’t get too low. He has worked out a way to keep things in perspective – he gives himself 24 hours to celebrate a win and 24 hours to mourn a loss.

He created the “Danny Clark 55 Foundation,” inspired by his son, Daniel Clark the 5th (Nicky), who was born in March 2002. Three months premature and weighing just 1lb., 13 oz., Nicky was given a 35%-40% chance of living.  Danny prayed hard that Nicky would grow and be healthy. Their prayers were answered and today, Nicky is a healthy boy.

Danny was impressed with the level of care his son got at the hospital neonatal intensive care unit but noticed that more support was needed for the newborns’ families. He started the foundation to help families affected by premature births and eventually broadened its services to underprivileged children. He runs several events a year including mind, body and soul retreats for kids and an annual fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House of New York.

For several years, every Monday night during football season, he held a fundraiser where teammates and the public watched Monday Night Football together. His teammates also supported  his annual “Shop with a Jock.” At Christmas time, they took kids from group homes to Wal-Mart to buy gifts for themselves.

Danny Clark is truly an Insightful Player® team member who is filled with love and gives of himself freely.

Instant replay of Danny’s guiding principles:

  1. Place God in everything you think, say and do.
  2. Choose happiness every day, regardless of what happened the day before
  3. Inject your greatest passions into all your responsibilities in life and strive to be your very best.
  4. Treat everyone with respect, always.
  5. Look for the blessings inside adversity.
  6. Gain wisdom from mistakes.
  7. Grow your talents and mentor others to do the same.
  8. Dramatically expand your perspective of what’s possible – let your passion guide you.

The Insightful Player® series is brought to you by Coach Chrissy Carew, Hall of Fame Master Certified Personal and Business Coach and Author of INSIGHTFUL PLAYER: Football Pros Lead A Bold Movement of Hope.  Chrissy has been deeply inspired by her father, the late Coach Walter Carew, Sr.  Her father is in several Halls of Fame as a high school football coach and baseball coach (as well as high school and college athlete). He used sports to help kids build strong character and teach them valuable life skills.  The Insightful Player® initiative was created to help make our world a much better place by inspiring youth. To contact Chrissy Carew visit http://www.insightfulplayer.com or call 603-897-0610.

©2009  Insightful Player, LLC

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Jared Allen Helps Sgt. Remsburg Attain “His Biggest Goal.” http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/jared-allen-helps-sgt-remsburg-attain-biggest-goal/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/jared-allen-helps-sgt-remsburg-attain-biggest-goal/#comments Wed, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=133456 There are 3 facets of Jared Allen’s life that quite appropriately depict what he is all about.  Faith, family, football.  In that order.  However, left off the list is something Allen has learned through these three mediums; the desire to give back.  Allen’s generosity has been recently felt by one Sgt. First Class Cory Remsburg, from a guy whose magnanimity certainly trumps his colossal physique.

Jared Allen and Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg Courtesy: http://www.homesforwoundedwarriors.com/

You probably know him as the Army Ranger whom President Barrack Obama praised and commended during his State of the Union Address this past January. Sitting in between First Lady Michelle Obama and his father, Craig Remsburg, he received a two-minute standing ovation that seemed to momentarily erase any and all divides that stood between all attendees on the Chamber floor.  Sgt. Remsburg represents the epitome of whom Allen and his team at Homes for Wounded Warriors are trying to assist.

On October 1, 2009, engaged in his tenth overseas deployment, Sgt. Remsburg’s life changed forever when his platoon struck a roadside bomb.  Face down in an Afghan canal, Remsburg laid paralyzed and unable to see.  After being rescued, Sgt. Remsburg spent the next three months in a coma due to the shrapnel that became lodged in his head from the blast.

President Obama had the pleasure of meeting Sgt. Remsburg when they both attended the Normandy commemoration five years ago.  However, the next time the two would meet would be in a different fashion.

Sgt. Remsburg and President Obama Photo courtesy: http://www.homesforwoundedwarriors.com/

Dozens of surgeries later, Sgt. Remsburg is walking, talking and doing his best to overcome the obstacles that seem incredibly easy to those who never experienced an injury liken to his.  Here is where the work of No. 69 comes into play.

Jared Allen’s Homes for Wounded Warriors has partnered up with the Ranger Lead the Way Fund as well as the Ride 430 Challenge Team to provide Sgt. Remsburg with a home that’ll allow him to live independently.  A home that Sgt. Remsburg has certainly earned.

The average cost for disability remodeling in a home is around $38,700 dollars according to fixr.com.  A staggering price that is nowhere near manageable for many wounded veterans returning home.  Disabilitystatistics.org tells us “2,313,600 out of 11,462,900 non-institutionalized civilian veterans aged 21 to 64 years reported having a VA service-connected disability in the United States in 2012.” Whether that disability is mental or physical, Allen and his team fundraise year-round through various mediums to provide home remodeling for those who need it most.  The commencement of the remodeling for Sgt. Remsburg’s home took place this past Friday and can be seen below.

With the hard work of Allen’s group as well as the other two organizations, the home is set to be one of a kind.  The plans are to bring down the existing home and rebuild it to fulfill Sgt. Remsburg’s basic needs and also to add a few unique luxuries.  An automated home control system will be installed as well as a wheel-in pool.  And rather than having to be transported to a rehab facility each day, Sgt. Remsburg will have his own personal gym within the confines of his new home.

Sgt. Remsburg's new home in the process of being remodeled.   Photo courtesy: http://www.homesforwoundedwarriors.com/

Adding to Sgt. Remsburg’s new sense of independency, a guesthouse will be constructed so that his caretaker will be able to live near him rather than right with him.

His father, Craig Remsburg said, “For us, it’s another milestone for Cory. When he got hurt, we always thought he’d keep improving, keep progressing.”  With these new modifications, Remsburg will be living a whole new life for himself, without requiring assistance for every task.  And what’s an awesome home without some fun amenities?

A mini waterfall will be placed near the end of the pool as well as a bamboo tiki bar for Sgt. Remsburg’s enjoyment.  “It’s a whole new chapter in his life; it leads him to his biggest goal,” said his sister Annie.

Sgt. Remsburg on the kickoff of his home remodeling ceremony Photo courtesy: http://www.homesforwoundedwarriors.com

 

Allen is consistently coming up with new events to raise funds for Homes for Wounded Warriors, with one of the most successful ideas being his annual Night Ops V Charity Golf Tournament.  The event features…

Celebrities, athletes and musicians playing 9 holes during the day and 9 holes of night golf, great food/BBQ and beverages, silent auction, hole in ones for new cars, longest slip-and-slide competition followed by awards ceremony. All Proceeds will go towards building handicap accessible homes for our injured United States Military. We proudly support all military branches!

For more information on Allen’s Night Ops V Charity Golf Tournament, visit http://www.helpingheroesnightops.com/.  If you’d prefer to donate in another way, you can buy Allen’s official charity merchandise where proceeds go directly to the cause.

All proceeds go to benefit heroes like Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient Sgt. Remsburg.  To learn more about Sgt. Remsburg’s progress and updates regarding his new home, you may periodically check the news bulletin on Allen’s page HERE.

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Rising Stars Foundation: Terence Newman http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/rising-stars-foundation-terence-newman/ http://proplayerinsiders.com/nfl-player-team-news-features/rising-stars-foundation-terence-newman/#comments Sat, 19 Jul 2014 13:25:34 +0000 http://proplayerinsiders.com/?p=133219 Terence Newman is no longer a Dallas Cowboy, but that won’t halt him from becoming a quintessential leader in the lone star state’s Arlington, TX region. Although the former 2003 1st round selection is now donning the orange and black of the Cincinnati Bengals, he understands that the NFL, despite what team you compete on, is often a pulpit for life’s greater callings. One of those convocations rests in Newman’s own Rising Stars Foundation.

  • A look at the Rising Stars’ Foundation’s early success:

Inaugurated in 2007, the Rising Stars Foundation upholds a diverse set of values extending from an emphasis on physical well-being and community service to principles derived through education initiatives. This mentorship program graciously offers student-athletes in the Dallas Independent School District an exhibition of opportunities. Outside of the rewarding guidance from wise preceptors, all graduating Dallas ISD students are admitted $5,000 college scholarships. Besides the monetary benefactions, these selective scholars endure countless hours of educational assistance under the tutelage of local Sylvan Learning centers. A balance between school studies and organized social outings (such as bowling trips, community projects, and routine basketball tournaments at the Dallas Mavericks’ practice facility) leave high schoolers with a pleasant disposition on their future holdings.

terence_starsSo, how exactly do these students become an exclusive rising star? 10 freshman are selected yearly from a pool of nominations placed by teachers, administrators, and coaches. These student-athletes ever embody that proactive quality which is capable of electrifying any room or audience by their remarkable demeanor. Selected participants in the Rising Stars Foundation also possess a sort of aspirational characteristic that enables them to lead while impelling fellow friends to act positively for communal change as well. Opportunity is the transmission that allows a Rising Stars Foundation to flourish for the prosperity of Texas teenagers.

In many ways, Newman’s foundation mobilizes student-athletes for challenges beyond the scope of any classroom, field or arena. Newman commented on kids in the Dallas region, saying, “I wanted to give the kids that have potential to become leaders and positive examples for this community an opportunity to reach that potential.” Positive reinforcement awakens these “rising stars” to the endless possibilities within their reach. The basic pillars of education, social work, and abundance of physical activities offer a structural balance where rising stars can now exercise their choice(s) a tad further because a floodgate of opportunities have been unleashed. They have received words of encouragement by way of a support system and a new thriving confidence trickles through their minds.

Ask Terence Newman what epitomizes the core of his foundation. His unequivocal intervention into these teenager’s lives has modified their circumstances by introducing them to advanced resources; the outcome being the attainment of individual goals with great expedition. When you look at Newman’s foundation from this angle, what you’ll see is that the collective experience these kids partake in becomes a catalyst to embrace life’s challenges sooner in order to embellish the world with their own deepest passions. The impact that 10 rising stars have on the Dallas area is astronomical as a domino effect of good character pervades youth communities. The lessons learned as rising stars are just as much theirs as they are to be shared with members of the Dallas community. However, none of this is possible without that ONE opportunity. Maybe “JerryWorld” was left a better place by Newman?

 

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