Pro Player Insiders NFL Players Exclusive Lifestyle, News and Under the Helmet Access Tue, 01 Sep 2015 20:25:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Miami Dolphins release former Pro Bowler Brandon Fields Tue, 01 Sep 2015 20:23:44 +0000 “(Special Teams Coordinator) Coach (Darren) Rizzi told me this morning before anybody really knew,” said Darr.

From 2011-2013, Fields’ net punting average was above 41 yards each season. Last year, his net yardage went from 42.4 to 38.6.

Fields’ punts inside the 20-yard-line also dropped from 33 in 2013 to 21 in 2014.

The move will save the Dolphins money because Fields was set to make more than $2 million this season while the undrafted free agent punter Darr will only earn the league minimum.

Last season while playing at the University of Tennessee, Darr punted the ball 80 times for a 42.2 average in 13 games. 30 of Darr’s punts were inside the 20-yard-line and 21 one of his punts were 50 yards or longer.

Darr is looking forward to the challenge, but he doesn’t want to be compared to Fields.

“Brandon (Fields) is a great punter, but, at the same time, I kind of look at myself as a separate entity from Brandon,” said Darr. “We’re different players, different people, but we both have good unique skillsets. Brandon’s (been) really successful. If I have half the career that he’s had, I’ll be happy.”

Dolphins also released running back Demitrius Bronson, so now the team is at 75 players before the end of Tuesday’s deadline.

You can follow Antwan on Twitter @antwanstaley

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Remembering Fred Jackson as a Buffalo Bill Tue, 01 Sep 2015 14:10:39 +0000 Fred Jackson’s career as a Buffalo Bill came to an end Monday after the team announced the decision to release the 34 year old veteran after eight seasons with the team.

General manager Doug Whaley acknowledged yesterday that Jackson was expendable due to the teams’ depth at the position as well as the $2.35 million base salary he was set to make in the final year of his contract.

Signed to the Bills practice squad as an undrafted free agent out of Coe College (Division III) in 2006, Jackson encountered and overcame a number of obstacles throughout his career.  Whether it was suffering a season ending broken fibula in 2011 or having to battle numerous first round draft picks (Marshawn Lynch and C.J. Spiller) for touches, Jackson embraced every challenge thrown at him to become an admired favorite of both Bills fans and players.

The reason this cut was difficult to understand by so many is because of how well respected and admired Jackson truly was:

Below you will see a list, in no particular order, set out to commemorate Jackson’s top moments as a Bill.  They may not all be flashy touchdowns and big plays, but that is what made Jackson such a complete football player that will forever leave him respected in Buffalo. Up-ending the reigning defensive player of the year: …and the subsequent bruise caused by Jackson’s punishing blocking:


The stiff-arm heard round the world:


Helping the Bills snap their fifteen game losing streak against arch rival New England:


The InFredible Hulk, a.k.a. Jackson’s go-to TD celebration:

 A collection of long runs, big catches and touchdowns from 2011 (Jackson’s best statistical season):

Reports this morning state Jackson is visiting Seattle where he will perhaps be reunited with former teammate Lynch and if he signs, will have a very strong chance to make the playoffs for the first time in his career.

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Cleveland Browns 2015 Preview Tue, 01 Sep 2015 12:23:44 +0000 Some teams are cursed.  Some teams just do it to themselves.  It doesn’t matter if Cleveland’s woes are a product of black magic or self infliction – they are just a mess, from top to bottom.  Head coach Mike Pettine, opens up his second season as head coach with his best player suspended for the season and his back up quarterback as the talk of the town.


The Browns have a quarterback battle between a journeyman veteran who looked awful last season and a sophomore quarterback who had a two month long stint in alcohol rehab in the off-season.  Fun times.  Josh McCown, pulled the okey-doke on Tampa, when he looked great in his few starts with Chicago in 2013, leading the Bucs to believe they did the right thing by giving him a contract last season.  McCown really has nothing left to give, and if he beats out Johnny Manziel for the starting job. . . eh.   Manziel, is really the team’s best option.  If not for nothing else, the Browns should start him just because they spent a first round pick on him and this isn’t a team with playoff aspirations anyhow.  The world still wants to see Manziel – fail or succeed – give the fans of the NFL what they want and just start him.


Somebody needs to tell Manziel to not be so jumpy in the pocket.  The Browns, if they have anything, it’s an offensive line.  Left tackle Joe Thomas is probably the best at his position in the last decade.  The Browns will have some things to deal when this season is done though.  Their center Alex Mack can opt out after this season and tackle Mitchell Schwartz is in the final year of his deal.   Will anybody blame them for abandoning this ship when this season ends?

The backfield isn’t too shabby either.  There is a lot of youth there with a lot of upside.  Unfortunately, as of now two of those three have some nagging injuries that may leak into weak one of the regular season.  Rookie Duke Johnson, might be the best out of the three, but he has been wrestling with a hamstring issue in early practices.  Terrance West should be fine physically when the season starts, but the Browns are losing patience with him (on and off the field apparently).   He’s not a bad kid, just “plays around too much.”  Isiah Crowell is the bruiser back, who might be the lead rusher on this team by default.  Crowell is good, but better suited for goal line and short yardage situations.   The health of this backfield is everything to this offense.  Everyone knows they’re going to run the ball a lot this year so. . .


Say what you will about Josh Gordon, the truth is: he’s the best receiver we’ve barely seen play.  Without Gordon, this receiver group is just awkward and lame.  Brian Hartline is a career possession guy with limited speed.  Andrew Hawkins isn’t threatening any secondary  in this lifetime; and the Browns signed Dwayne Bowe who was the number one receiver on a team in which not one receiver caught a touchdown.  That right there says it all.

This defensive unit was disappointing last year, but when you have a bad offense continuously putting you in bad spots, there is only so much you can do after a while.  The Browns are hoping for the best by putting their rookie defensive linemen right into the line of fire.  Danny Shelton of Washington and Xavier Cooper of Washington State are two defensive tackles that have the potential to explode offensive lines right up the gut.  Cooper is the more active of the two, while Shelton tries to gobble up space inside.  This is a big defensive line, that needs to get to ball carriers early – but once those ball carriers get to the outside, it’s all on the line backers and secondary to finish the job.

The linebacker group is interesting to say the least.  Barkevious Mingo was drafted in the first-round in 2013 and the Browns have seen little return on that investment.  The potential to be a complete bust looms in the clouds circling Mingo this season.  Nate Orchard out of Utah, might do what Mingo hasn’t and that’s be the pass rusher they want from the linebacker spot.  Paul Kruger is someone people can never figure out.  Sure, he had eleven sacks last season – but what does he do really?  He’s just one of those players you just assume is above average, but he doesn’t really “wow” you, when you watch him.  Karlos Dansby is the veteran of the group who last year only had forty seven tackles in twelve games. . .


The Browns have studs in the secondary.   Donte Whitner and Tashaun Gipson make up one of the best safety combinations in the league (it’s going to be hard to dethrone that duo in Seattle. . .) and corner back Joe Haden is consistently in the discussion of “top five corners” in the league.  With Buster Skrine signing with the New York Jets, it’s time for last year’s first round pick Justin Gilbert to wake up and take control of his future.  He showed a lot of promise in college, but seemed like a fish out of water in the pros.  The Browns will surely give him his chance, but they signed veteran Tramon WIlliams just in-case Gilbert is better served as the nickel corner.

The Browns have so many interesting stories on their team, but none of it will amount to much.  There is no doubt they will stay in some games, but it’s going to a one dimensional offense and a lot of inexperience on the defense line that will ultimately hold them back.  Best case scenario is that the youth on this team gain experience in what will be a trying season, while the veterans. . . collect pay checks?

Predicted Record: 4-12

Predicted Pro Bowlers: Joe Haden, Joe Thomas, Donte Whitner

G.W. Gras


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A busy day for the Buffalo Bills Tue, 01 Sep 2015 03:35:58 +0000  

So much for keeping it a secret.

Following the Bills 43-19 defeat of the Pittsburgh Steelers Saturday, Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan told reporters only the Bills organization would be aware of who the victor of the Bills quarterback competition would be while the public would be kept in the dark.

News broke around 11:30 AM ET this morning:


Ryan had a change of heart in terms of announcing who their starter would be to the public.

I had a change of heart [as] I wasn’t going to announce it [today, and] I thought [that] was going to help us. But in actuality I know the way it is. I know people get bombarded. I don’t want our players being bombarded about who is getting reps, all this kind of stuff.  So you know what I am going to announce it today get that speculation over with, and then we will move forward,” Ryan told members of the media at One Bills Drive following practice Monday.

It appears Taylor will not take the opportunity to start at the NFL level lightly after being a backup in Baltimore for four seasons.

“I prayed for the opportunity, God made it happen.  Like I said he blessed me with this opportunity to come here, the coaches seen something and signed me and I haven’t looked back since then,” Taylor said.

Tyrod Taylor  beat out veteran Matt Cassel and third year quarterback EJ Manuel in a quarterback competition that lasted longer than most usually do.  Most NFL teams do not wait until after the third preseason game before deciding who will start at the most crucial position in all of professional sports in order to prevent a lack of chemistry among the offense.  Usually teams have their starter picked in advance of their third preseason game.

Keep in mind Ryan is not your typical NFL coach.

News of Taylor becoming the starter in Buffalo came almost two hours after the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport released the following, somewhat surprising news:


Although this was a tough pill to swallow for many Bills fans one thing must be remembered when discussing roster decisions in the NFL-the NFL is a business, a tough one at that.

Jackson was due to make a $2.3 million base salary as a part of his final contract and was a part of a crowded backfield featuring LeSean McCoy who the team traded star linebacker Kiko Alonso for during the offseason. The writing was on the wall for Jackson as soon as this trade was finalized.

The team could’ve approached Jackson with an opportunity to take a pay cut, however they never presented him with the opportunity, although general manager Doug Whaley did acknowledge that the salary cap factored in to the decision to cut him.

The reason why it was a tough pill to swallow for many Bills players and fans is because of the amount of pride Jackson played with on a team during a terribly mediocre stretch of several years.  He had the respect of his teammates in the Buffalo locker room and the love of the fans in the stands.

Safety Aaron Williams had this to say when asked if he took the news hard: “I mean, personally, yeah. It’s just like, having your brother be gone. He picked me up from day one, and that’s all I’ve known since I’ve been here was 22.”

In terms of moving forward, the Bills coaching staff chose the quarterback with the highest potential and the best ability to create plays as their starter for the regular season.  In my opinion this is the right decision although Taylor has never started a game in the NFL.  He fits directly in to the Bills scheme under offensive coordinator Greg Roman by consistently demonstrating his ability to make plays both with his legs and arm throughout the preseason.

It will be difficult to fill the leadership void left by the release of Jackson and will be interesting to see who steps up.  Make no mistake as backlash of this decision will not last into the regular season as the Bills will have moved on by the time the season opener against the Colts rolls around.



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Personal QB Coach Jeff Christensen Says Kirk Cousins Is ‘Different’ This Year Tue, 01 Sep 2015 02:47:19 +0000 Kirk Cousins has a reputation of being an emotional gunslinger — a guy who turns the football over a lot and panics. Well, that guy seemingly no longer exists. Cousins is a totally different football player this year and a lot of that could be credited to his personal QB coach, Jeff Christensen.

“Selfishly speaking, it’s awesome,” Christensen told Pro Player Insiders hours after hearing that Kirk Cousins had been named the starting Quarterback of the Washington Redskins. Christensen was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 5th round in the 1983 NFL draft. But in the late 1980′s he decided to start coaching and is now the President/CEO of “Throw It Deep Academy.”

“We talked this week before his game and I said – don’t turn the ball over,” said Christensen. “If you go 20 for 24, that leaves you 40 for 50 – and 40 for 50 with no turnovers speaks volumes for your improvement. So just be, without being conservative, be a little conservative and be smart with the ball and good things will happen.”

Unfortunately, Cousins would go on and throw an interception on his very first drive. But instead of that becoming a “same old Kirk” moment, it was a glimpse of this new player he’s become. “I think the thing that told me a lot is that he threw the pick on the screen pass, and it doesn’t matter whose fault it is – it’s still a pick and the other team has momentum,” said Christensen.“Kirk last year – that Kirk would’ve pressed and then came back and tried to make a big play. This Kirk took a deep breath, came back out and ended up with a lead at halftime. He got some completions in a row and was real smart with the ball. I think that’s what the NFL has become from the Quarterback perspective.”

Making mistakes is inevitable. No player is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. However, Christensen’s goal was to help limit Cousins’ mistakes and help him handle his mistakes properly. “When you make a mistake as a Quarterback, there’s a huge momentum swing in the game,” he said. “The only way you can get the momentum back is if you can put some plays in a row together, like the great ones do. Then you can take momentum back. That’s where young guys often times press, thinking that they can do too much and those guys playing defense in that league are pretty good; so that usually ends up with a bad experience.”

Jeff Christensen believes Kirk Cousins is going to surprise people this season because of his new found poise. “This Kirk, a year wiser — we’ve spent dozens of hours talking about situations – thought processes.  Being around in May, June and July a lot — he’s just different. He’s more confident, he’s more assured, he’s delivering the ball better now — we’ve fixed some things with his feet — and I just think he’s going to play at a high level.”

The progress has been evident with Kirk Cousins this pre-season. He’s more confident than ever in the pocket. He’s run a clinic when it comes to footwork and he’s showing a lot of poise. This could all be attributed to Jeff Christensen’s program.

“Every drill we do — I try to emulate what they’re going to go through in the pocket and I’ve forced them to make certain movements,” said Christensen. “Then after they do it, I narrate what they’re doing before and after: what he should feel, what he should think as he’s doing it. Often times as we’re doing it, they don’t know what they’re doing until I do what I do. So it forces them to react and so it’s what’s going to happen to them in a game. When they get into the games, if the drill was orchestrated properly (and after 40 years — I hope I can put  a drill together properly) then I’ve forced a imitation on all the different aspects of all those different throws in a game — so he’s always repeating those movements. Then we film it and then good or bad we go over it and we analyze what was good about it or what was bad about it. If it’s really bad, we’ll do it again and again. If it was really good, we’ll just say — it was great, let’s go on to the next one.”

Christensen says that through that process, every week, Kirk Cousins just got better and better and better. It got to the point that Cousins started telling Christensen how a drill was perfect and why it was perfect. Then Christensen would watch the film and realize that Cousins would be spot on with his personal evaluation. Christensen is all about making sure players know the “why and how” in terms of throwing the ball. It’s important for a Quarterback to recognize what he did wrong and why it was wrong. As well as, knowing what was right and why he did it right.

“Every time we went this year, he’d [Cousins]  just say — “I fell better, better and better,” said Christensen. “We got him to understand the value of his feet and his balance, what it was going to cause and what he was trying to accomplish with his feet — how that affects his arm, ball flight — the trajectory of the ball flight. Was that against zone — was that against man coverage? If it was against man coverage than you probably threw that ball too low — you may want to get that ball up.”

He continued, “the business that I’m in is very tricky. “I’m kinda like a golf swing coach. I am not going to start talking with a lot of guys they compete with — about coverage’s or what they should look at. That’s the coach’s job. I don’t ever want to get in the coach’s world or do that to a kid. So I say, ‘okay, how do you set this play up — explain this play to me — how he’s suppose to throw it against which coverage.’ He’ll do his drop and I’ll tell him when to throw it on the command based on reactions. I force him to make all the different throws in sequence to hopefully emulate exactly what he’d do out of his playbook, based on what his coach tells him.”

Kirk Cousins’ training sessions would last about 3 1/2 hours — which is pretty thorough. “We would take our time,” said Christensen. “You have to talk a lot during this process. I think a lot of those conversations, I think he just started getting a more clear picture. As he got more accurate with the ball, he just got more and more confident. It’s still a position of getting more confident. That’s what drives the whole train.”

Confidence is exactly what Kirk Cousins has a lot of now. Especially after truly finding out where he stands with the organization as of Monday. But really the change began early this spring. “We went to a high school to throw and I said, who’s coming,” said Christensen. “He said, ‘I think Colt [McCoy] is coming, seven receivers and I invited RG [Robert Griffin III].’ And I said, ‘you invited RG?’ He said, yeah, of course I did. When he said that, I said wow, alright — he’s there now. He’s not trying to be overly competitive with his teammate. He just wants everyone to get better. He knows that RG is going to get better and he’s [Cousins] going to get better — he’s going to do the best he can. But when a guy starts thinking like that, now you have a true leader on your hands.”

That reminded me of a quote from Head Coach Jay Gruden in his presser earlier Monday after announcing Cousins as the team’s starter: “Kirk has done everything in his power to be a supportive teammate, number one. He’s never done anything behind anybody’s back. He’s done everything right.”

Lost in the dysfunction surrounding the Washington Redskins is that Kirk Cousins is actually a really good person. As Jeff Christensen says, “he’s the guy every dad would want their daughter to marry.”

I think many automatically assume that Kirk Cousins is this guy who was envious of the attention Robert Griffin III gets. But he’s not that guy. “A lot of times, people like Kirk are perceived as being too good to be true,” said Christensen. “It’s all true. He’s a good dude. He is a good, good, good human being. To the point that every time I’m done working with him, I come away feeling like I’m a better person. It’s genuine.”

Speaking of good human beings, Washington Redskins Pro Bowl RB Alfred Morris goes with Kirk Cousins to train all the time. Jeff Christensen considers Morris to be one his most favorite people on the planet. “Alfred Morris comes with him all the time and catches for us – I helped work with him on catching the ball better,” said Christensen. “No one deserves more success than him. He’s such a thoughtful guy.”

Between guys like Cousins and Alfred Morris the Redskins do have a lot of players in their locker room who are are genuinely good people. It’s one of the reasons why Jeff Christensen believes the Washington Redskins could have some success this year. “They did do a good job on the “it” factor – getting some good human beings in that locker room.”

He continued, “I don’t want to jinx it, but I think the Redskins could be, and this is based off him [Kirk Cousins] – and I’m ultra confident in him now – I think it could be a nice little surprise here for the NFL season.”

The “Throw It Deep” Academy is affecting a lot of lives in a positive way. Although it’s noted as a Quarterbacks and Receivers Training Academy, it’s really become a “ball skills” academy, according to Christensen. “There’s so many kids now who think they’re supposed to body catch a football. Old school football – there’s no such thing as a body catch – you use your hands. We actually have a lot of DBs now that w’ere teaching how to catch the ball. Who may end up being a huge success story this year is, Tommy Nelson with the Baltimore Ravens. He was a free safety for two years – drafted, played safety in college and runs a 4.35 forty. He’s competing for the fifth receiving spot with the Ravens. He’s one of my Wide Receiver coaches at the academy and when Kirk [Cousins] would could come to town, he would run routes and catch balls for Kirk. Then we got him a tryout with the Ravens as a receiver. My WR coach Tim Ehlebracht teaches players perfect hand placement when catching the ball. Tom Nelson is proving Tim right — he’s yet to drop a ball in camp. Nelson may go from being a safety in the NFL to being a Wide Receiver because we taught him how to catch the ball. So, it’s more of a ball skills academy now than a receiving academy.”

He continued, “I’ve got five really good assistant coaches – young guys who all came to me as student and now they coach with me as I’ve gotten older. We’re a swing coach – we teach them perfect swing. We teach them that perfect golf swing – why the ball comes out their hand a little bit. I think the thing we do a little different is, based on a lot of things with these high school kids – different hand size – 5ft 10 vs 6ft 5, they are all a little different. So you can’t just coach them like you coach everyone else. You have to tweak based on what they can or can’t do. I had a kid Thursday night that went 31-42 throwing the ball.”

The Throw It Deep Academy has hundreds of high school kids now that Christensen coaches around the country. There’s also 22 NFL players in the program. “We go to Phoenix from February to April – Monday thru Thursday with a bunch of NFL guys to get them ready. Ryan Lindley came to me this year in the off-season after he was released and we got him throwing the ball really well. Then the Patriots, of course, signed him recently. So it’s really fun and gratifying. It’s getting a lot of interest now because people are watching [Jimmy] Garoppolo and last night Drew Stanton goes 8 for 9. If you apply the teaching that I’ve created and the drills I’ve created, you’ll get better because you’ll have a better understanding of how to know if the ball is coming out your hand right.”

To find out more information on Jeff Christensen and the Throw It Deep Academy, visit his website:


Follow us: @Manny_PPI | @PlayerInsiders

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Washington Redskins: Kirk Cousins Is the Best Option At QB Sun, 30 Aug 2015 13:54:33 +0000 Kirk Cousins deserves to be the opening day starter for the Washington Redskins on September 13 against the Miami Dolphins. I have to admit, Cousins has played well enough to justify starting him over Robert Griffin III.

I hate to see any player lose his job due to injury. But truth be told, that’s a side note in this situation. One quarterback has progressed in the past year, the other seemingly has not. It’s pretty clear to see.

Jay Gruden is not willing to change his offense and meet Robert Griffin III halfway on what he does best. Therefore, the team needs someone who can simply run Gruden’s offense. That guy is, admittedly, Kirk Cousins.

After Washington’s pre-season win against the Baltimore Ravens Saturday night, Gruden tiptoed around questions regarding who would start week one. Besides the point Griffin has to past further post (what we’re told is) concussion tests, Gruden said he has to “check film” to help decide on who starts. The last time Gruden gave a non-answer on the starting QB situation, it was November 24, after Griffin struggled against the 49ers.

Well, we have to look at our offense in general – what the reason is for our lack of production the last two games,” Gruden said last year. “You know, we scored 20 points in the last eight quarters, been poor on third down, and we can’t attribute it all to Robert. He is the quarterback, though, so we have to look at every avenue and figure out where we can improve… We’re still in the process of really evaluating the tape the last couple of weeks with all our players, and we’ll make a decision here shortly.” 

In that scenario, Gruden ended up naming Colt McCoy the starting Quarterback. In all honesty, McCoy is truly the guy Gruden likes. But I think that could have changed Saturday against the Baltimore Ravens. Here’s why — Kirk Cousins finally overcame adversity and looked poised in the process.

After Cousins’ interception on the first drive, he came back and forgot about it. He didn’t get in his feelings and it didn’t affect him the remainder of the first half. He went on to make some very good plays. That’s what Jay Gruden wanted to see. Kirk Cousins’ inability to overcome adversity in the past is partly what turned-Gruden-off the Cousins-train last season. Gruden appeared very happy, even grinning, when discussing how Cousins overcame the interception. Gruden said he thought Cousins was “awesome” after that first drive.

Kirk Cousins has run a clinic on how to throw from the pocket this pre-season. He’s looked better than ever in the pocket — his feet, composure and mental game has been exceptional.

Here’s an example:


This subtle movement in the pocket is what separates Kirk Cousins from Robert Griffin III. Yes the pass protection wasn’t great, but Cousins helped his right tackle by slightly moving and quickly passing the football. Griffin probably would have been strip sacked here.   When I look back on this play from the Lions game, I feel like Robert Griffin III could have done something similar. Except this time the pressure was coming from the left side:  

Just like the Cousins’ play, this is a split second decision that has to be made. It’s all about feeling the pocket and having composure. Griffin had enough room to move slightly to his right and make a wide open throw to the tight end.


These are the plays Jay Gruden will look at and say, “we’re better off with Kirk Cousins.” I’ve been a defender of Robert Griffin III and still believe he can be a good Quarterback. However, Cousins simply runs Gruden’s system better. Is it forcing a script? Probably. But Gruden holds that right as a Head Football Coach. Let’s not forget, he’s fighting for his job too. He might as well go out punching and kicking, if that’s what it takes.

Lost in all of this dysfunction is, Kirk Cousins is a good guy, strong leader and does have a good skill-set. His issues have been turnovers and not overcoming them. This pre-season, Cousins looks and sounds totally different. He doesn’t even talk the same. There’s something different about him and it’s showing on the football field. He deserves to start week one.


Follow us: @Manny_PPI | @PlayerInsiders

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Who should the Bills start at quarterback? Sun, 30 Aug 2015 13:31:48 +0000 Quite the dilemma has been brewing in Buffalo this summer, as the regular season home opener against the Indianapolis Colts is just 13 days away, yet the Bills still don’t have their starting quarterback.

And last night’s preseason game didn’t do anything to solve the situation, as all three quarterbacks showed up with strong play in their 43-19 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

After the game, head coach Rex Ryan said that the coaching staff would make a decision sometime Sunday, and would announce it to the team but not the media.

Team leaders don’t have a clue.

“I don’t have to make that decision,” Fred Jackson said with a smile last night after the win.  “But I don’t know, they all look good so I think we could win with whoever they decide to pick.”

It has to be a two quarterback race.

The roster is built to win now, but it’s also built to win over the next couple of years.  The veteran Matt Cassel, who will has the most experience, also has the lowest ceiling between the three options.

He is also set to become a free agent at the end of the season.  It is unlikely Buffalo would be looking to a 34-year old quarterback to become “their guy”.

Greg Roman runs a complex offense that has used read-option plays effectively in the past.

EJ Manuel and Tyrod Taylor both have the athleticism to be able to do it with their legs.

Taylor has looked outstanding this season, especially during training camp when he was asked to run the zone-read.  He is great at reading the option guy (usually a defensive end or linebacker depending on who the last guy on the line of scrimmage is for the defense) and doesn’t hesitate to pull the ball from his running back’s gut and take off with it.

EJ has the tools to run it well too, but whether it was just being a young quarterback, or whether the old regime told him not to run after his knee injury against the Cleveland Browns early in his career, Manuel just hasn’t looked comfortable keeping the ball in game action.

Their athletic ability is enough that both of these guys would create some headaches for opposing teams, and take some pressure off the running backs, if the Bills can come out and run a bunch of unique looks.

It’s the two of their arms that seem to be the biggest question mark.

EJ’s struggles are well known at this point.

The talent is there, it’s just the consistency that has hurt Manuel the most.

He can thread the needle on a pass into tight coverage on one play, and then throw the ball 10 yards behind his intended target on the very next snap.

The throwing ability is there, it just has to show itself on every play.

The thing about Taylor, is while he has sat on the bench and been learning the past few seasons, he hasn’t even received the game experience Manuel has in his short career.

We’re quick to write off EJ as a bust already after just 15 games, what about the guy who has just 35 career attempts?

There is going to be times that Taylor really struggles.  If he does win the job, he will go through the growing pains that a first year quarterback is expected to go through.

After a bad game or two, are fans going to be clamoring for one of the guys off the bench?

Is he still going to be as effective once teams start game planning for him?  When they take away his legs, will Taylor be able to do it with his arm?

Or will he turn into a slightly faster EJ?

Both Taylor and Manuel still are developing at this point in their careers.

But both also allow you to run a much more creative offense than if you just had a pocket passer back there.

The Bills have to pick one and just roll with it.Tyrod

If I’m the head coach, I’m rolling with Manuel.

But since I’m just a writer, and taking practice reps and everything else this training camp showed into consideration, it would shock me if Taylor isn’t the guy.

For now, it certainly is fun to watch guys making plays at a position that the Bills have been looking for an answer to for over a decade.

“It’s something on the sideline that we enjoy,” Jackson said when asked about the play of Manuel and Taylor.  “It was definitely a topic of conversation with everybody on the field seeing who was going to do something next. Anytime you have that, I think it just makes you that much better as a team. Like I said, we’re excited about all those guys back there and we feel like we could win with either one of them.”

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Pittsburgh Steelers 2015 Preview Sun, 30 Aug 2015 12:25:53 +0000 The Steelers of Pittsburgh have a lot of fantasy football nerds hyped over their offense’s potential.  They do everything right on the offensive side of the ball but for the Steelers, to enter a season and have their offense talked about more than their defense – it’s a rare occurrence – actually one might be hard pressed to see if that was ever the case for Pittsburgh.

This defense is young and is depending on their young core of linebackers to carry the weight of this unit.  Jarvis Jones was a first-round pick in 2013 who seemed to be coming into his own last year until he got hurt.  Ryan Shazier was their first-round pick out of Ohio State last season, but like Jones, had his share of injuries that slowed him down.  This season, the Steelers kept putting faith into the linebacker surplus coming out of college and they drafted Kentucky linebacker, Bud Dupree in the first-round.  Dupree is a nice athlete, but is raw when it comes to what they need: pass rushing.  His instincts in the “search and destroy” department still need help, but he’s excellent when needed to drop back into zone coverage.  With the right coaching he could develop into a nice linebacker.   Lawrence Timmons and Arthur Moats are the veterans on this squad which is coming into the season under the radar.  This has the potential to be the best linebacker rotation in the league if things pan out right.  The health of Jones and Shazier will play a huge role.


The defensive line will look different without the intensity and the amazing beard of defensive end Brett Keisel.  Nobody on this roster can fill the void the beard left (literally, the beard) but someone needs to be the aggressor up front.  The Steelers are hoping to see more improvement from their sophomore end Stephon Tuitt.  What he lacks in intensity, he has in intellect.  He just needs to see the plays quicker as he at times is a step too late at the line.  Steve McLendon may be the starter at nose-tackle, but the world wants to see more of the 6’7″ 350-plus pounder Daniel McCullers.   McCullers is just a fun guy to watch, but it’s impossible to keep this monster on the field for too long, especially against fast paced offenses.

The secondary wasn’t too good when Ike Taylor and Troy Polamalu were a part of it last year, and now with both men retired, the situation hasn’t gotten better.   Their best player in the secondary may be a seventh-round pick from Louisville, safety Gerod Holliman.  Holliman is more of a finesse player at the position, which is far from what fans in Pittsburgh are used to.  Especially after seeing Polamalu for all those years.

Ben Roethlisberger is under center for what may be one of the more explosive offenses he’s had at his disposal.  Ben was a marvel last year throwing thirty-two touchdowns and only nine interception for over 4900 yards.  He still plays with a chip on his shoulder and is still elusive in the pocket regardless of his huge frame.   If he had any issues with offensive coordinator Todd Haley before, he’s obviously passed it all now.


In front of Big Ben is all-pro center Maurkice Pouncey leads a steady and dependable offensive line that helped this offense finish second in time of possession, yards per game and passing yards per game.  The impressive thing about this line is how a guard like David DeCastro or Ramon Foster are able to tail out and block on the outside in the screen game.

The Steelers offense was jump-started by running back Le’Veon Bell, who is suspended the first two games of the season for a DUI arrest.  Bell had over 2200 yards last season and will continue to be the focal point of this attack.  The Steelers got some insurance this season by signing long-time Panther DeAngelo Williams to the mix.  Williams will be used mostly to spell Bell, but in those first two weeks, he will carry the load.  Williams too often has been hit or miss week to week.


Remember when the Steelers had to decide between Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace a few years back?  Safe to say, Pittsburgh made the right choice.  For too long Brown, was going under the radar – this year, don’t expect to get him in the fourth round of your fantasy draft, especially after having a monster season with nearly 1700 receiving yards.  Brown is accompanied by speed and athleticism all along the depth chart at the receiver position.  People are expecting big things from former Clemson Tiger Martavius Bryant, who is a tall receiver with great speed; Markus Wheaton would be the number two wide-out on this team if not for the talent of Bryant – but Wheaton playing in the slot role, fits him better anyway.

The Steelers are primed for a deep playoff run, even with the lack of a secondary.   They are multifaceted on the offensive side of the ball and an MVP caliber season from Big Ben should be expected.

Predicted Record: 11-5

Predicted Pro Bowlers: Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Ryan Shazier, Martavius Bryant, Le’Veon Bell

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

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Game Notes: Washington Redskins Defeat The Baltimore Ravens, 31-13 Sun, 30 Aug 2015 04:00:55 +0000 The Washington Redskins improved to 3-0 after defeating the Baltimore Ravens 31-13 Saturday night. Here’s our game notes:

  • David Amerson was caught in slot vs Steve Smith on the first drive and was flat out beat on a route. Dashon Goldson took a poor angle to the ball and Smith ran for a 61 yard touchdown. David Amerson continues to struggle in coverage and with tackling. He has all the tools, but things just haven’t clicked yet.


  • Kirk Cousins‘ footwork helped him beat what would’ve been a strip sack on the first drive after Morgan Moses was beat by Elvis Dumervil. Cousins was able to get the ball out right before getting hit. That was a nice play. However, on the same drive, Cousins was intercepted by Terrell Suggs on a screen. The screen wouldn’t have worked regardless, but Morgan Moses did a poor job at cutting Suggs at the line of scrimmage. Cousins should have also known that ball wouldn’t have been caught. But it wasn’t all his fault there. What I liked most is  Cousins went on to have himself a poised end to the first half after the INT. Cousins did a great job with pre-snap reads and setting protection. He threw a lot of quick balls giving WRs a chance for yards-after-the-catch. But he was decisive and made quick, good decisions..


  • Matt Jones is really good. He showed good ability in pass protection. He also continues to show soft hands in the passing game. Not to mention, he continues to show great vision, agility and burst as a runner. This guy is legit.


  • Alfred Morris, on the other hand, struggled to get going tonight. I mentioned on twitter that Morris is like Samson from the bible — Robert Griffin III is the hair. When RGIII (the hair) is absent, Morris tends to struggle. I don’t know why, but it tends to happen that way.


  • I don’t know how you cut Chris Thompson or Trey Williams. They’re both very good and do some of the same things, yet so different at the same time. Thompson has great burst and is decisive. However, Trey Williams’ balance and low center of gravity is just exceptional. Williams reminds me of a young Maurice Jones-Drew.


  • Trent Williams had an excellent game. He didn’t play well last pre-season to me, but he dominated in this game. That’s a great sign for the new highest paid tackle in the NFL.


  • Ryan Grant played well. I’ve always compared him to Greg Jennings and I continued to see shades of that Saturday night. Grant caught the ball well, ran nice routes and created yards after the catch. It’ll be interesting to see if he can ever push Pierre Garcon for more playtime.


  • Jamison Crowder played in his first career NFL game and it showed. He ran a few wrong routes — including the play he scored a touchdown on (at least that’s what it looked like to me). He also slipped on a punt return. But Crowder did make some catches and plays that showed what he can bring to the table. I think he’ll overcome those mistakes.


  • Brandon Scherff looked more like a guard than tackle Saturday night. He played a lot lower than he did last week and faired well. One of the leading reasons why I like him at guard is, he’s great at pulling and getting to the second level. Pulling him to the left (Trent Williams side) is fun to watch.


  • Morgan Moses was beat by Elvis Dumervil early in the game. Not to mention, he was part of the reason Kirk Cousins had an interception. However, Moses still flashes excellent ability at Right Tackle. His power is evident and his technique is better than ever.


  • Preston Smith stepped up this week after Junior Galette’s injury. He is a breath of fresh air. The guy has long arms, can bend the arch (although people tried to say he couldn’t) and has excellent closing speed. He showed all of that Saturday night. I’d start him opposite Kerrigan. He just has more burst and juice off the edge than Murphy. Smith also hasn’t looked bad vs the run. Smith got pressure on Qbs all night.


  • Dashon Goldson got exposed a bit coming down from free safety trying to make tackles early in the game. Especially when Steve Smith was in the open field.


  • Jackson Jeffcoat has improved his get-off and his speed rush is something the Redskins otherwise don’t have.


  • Kysheon Jarrett had a nice interception late in the game. I like him a lot. He can play either safety spot and can play slot corner. Not to mention, he’s a good special teams player.


  • Jordan Reed, first of all, made it through a game without getting injured. He had a few nice catches, including a diving grab. If he can stay healthy, he’ll add to the Redskins deep group of pass catchers.


  • Rashad Ross had two touchdowns Saturday night. They guy just makes plays. DeSean Jackson took him under his wing day one last off-season and Ross has grown. It’ll be interesting to see if the team keeps him this time.


  • Justin Rogers had an excellent game on defense and on special teams. Most notably, he showed excellent hustle on the long 104-yard kickoff return by Asa Jackson by preventing him from scoring. That hustle made all the difference prior to the half, because the defense ended up keeping Baltimore from scoring.


  • Colt McCoy has arguably performed the best at quarterback this pre-season for the Washington Redskins, as quiet as it’s kept. He’s played outstanding this pre-season and looked very sharp Saturday night. He plays in Gruden’s offense very well. He’s capable of playing within the scheme. But he’s also very good at ad-libbing and being creative on the move. He’s looked great.


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Sunday Night Football With The Arizona Cardinals’ Sun, 30 Aug 2015 01:32:41 +0000 Training Camp for the Arizona Cardinals has officially ended, two pre-season games still remain but as far as injuries go it wasn’t too bad. As far as rookies go it went pretty well. As for the team’s first string offense and defense, the Cardinals were very successful against both the Chiefs and the Chargers. But the biggest story out of training camp this year was the hiring of a female intern on the Cardinal’s coaching staff.Jen Welter

The Jen Welter internship took the NFL headlines by storm. Many wondered how this would all play out, and how the players and even the fans would respond. The players speak very highly of her. The NFL fans? I think Welter gained more followers on twitter than Drake during that Meek Mill time period. And I’ll just go ahead and say it, when you get the Bruce Arian’s stamp of approval people will take notice.

From what I saw Jen Welter preached the fundamentals and technique on the field, drawing from her experience as a player. The players didn’t know hat to call her at first, but she soon had the handle “Dr. J”. Probably because she also used her college degrees in psychology off the field, inspiring the players with notes she left in their lockers, messages that were clearly meant to inspire and to maintain focus. Coach Welter got her respect. One can only hope she can parlay this experience into an NFL job at some point.

Injuries: Card’s Camp kicked off with a string of hamstring injuries that almost appeared to be contagious. Four of the Cardinal’s six runningbacks had hamstring issues, including the newly acquired Chris Johnson (who was most likely brought in because of the hamstring injuries to the other runningbacks). Andre Ellington, David Johnson, and Marion Grice have all gotten back on the field but Chris Johnson is hoping to see his first game time action on Sunday vs the Raiders. CB Jerraud Powers and rookie LB Shaquille Riddick have also battled hamstring injuries, but both are on the mend now and should be fine come regular season. The Cardinals are still dealing with one more though, TE Troy Niklas came into camp with an injured hammy and just re-injured it this past week.

There were some other, more major injuries as well. Corey Peters, Michael Floyd, and Mike Iupati will all miss some time. DT Corey Peters will be out for the season due to a torn Achilles. WR Michael Floyd dislocated a few fingers on his left hand which required surgery but hopes to be back for the season opener. Then you have the LG Mike Iupati who is out with a left knee injury, the time table on his return varies from day to day and report to report, anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks. These injuries change the depth or perceived depth on the team dramatically considering Peters and Iupati were the two big free agency signings.

I think the roster is pretty much set at this point but there are still some positions still up in the air. The Cardinals have about 6 receivers and 5 runningbacks that could theoretically make the team. The defensive line and inside linebackers are deep as well, but I won’t speculate on who stays or goes. As far as talent goes, Arizona may have no qualms with only having two quarterbacks on the roster.

Rookies: First round pick D.J. Humphries was given a nickname in camp by Bruce Arians, the name being “Knee Deep”. The reasoning being that it takes more than a foot up his rear to get him going. The offensive tackle has had a rough camp, but he will have some time to mature as Arizona never planned on starting him right away.

Second round pick Markus Golden has had a solid camp and he only improved as it went on. Markus flashed in the recent game against the Chargers by making tackles and by getting some pressure on the QB. I really like the idea of Golden and Alex Okafor on the field at the same time. The third round pick Rodney Gunter has had a good camp as well, and has been named the starter since the Corey Peters injury was announced.

The other, perhaps even brighter spots from the rookie class has been RB David Johnson and WR J.J. Nelson. David Johnson missed a lot of camp due to injury but quickly impressed with his game against San Diego. This RB can run, he can catch, he has all the tools but will need to work on his blocking if he wants that serious playing time. The WR J.J. Nelson on the other hand is just plain fast, and I mean really fast, even in the decision making. Carson Palmer actually thought he over threw the rookie on a deep route but Nelson just hit the gas, gaining separation from the coverage and making the catch. Nelson looked good on punt returns as well, it looks like GM Steve Keim has found another late round bargain here, dare I say John Brown 2.0?

All in all the Cardinals are 0-2 in pre-season, but their first string units played very well. The next game is in Oakland where the Cardinals plan to keep the starters in for most of the first half. A lot of folks are anxiously anticipating the first look at Chris Johnson, if he is on his game the Cardinals might have the most offensive weapons in the League. (take that Drew Magary)

It will be interesting to see if Arizona can protect the quarterback, or if they pull Palmer early due to the defensive pressure. Most people are hinging the Cardinal’s season on Palmer staying healthy, but as I look around, I don’t see too many teams that would fair well after losing their starting QB. But I get it. The Cardinals were 9-1 at one point last season, and as the QBs went down so did the chances of making a deep run in the playoffs. For the most part the Cardinals are leaving training camp pretty healthy, and sometimes that’s all you can really ask for.

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Three quarterbacks, zero problems in Bills’ 43-19 win Sun, 30 Aug 2015 00:25:37 +0000 Fans looking for an answer to who will start at quarterback for the Buffalo Bills will have to wait until the season opener.

EJ Manuel, Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor were all sharp in Buffalo’s 43-19 preseason win over the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers at Ralph Wilson Stadium this evening.

The trio combined to go 25 of 28 (89.3%) for 330 yards and two touchdowns.

And head coach Rex Ryan isn’t about to let the cat out of the bag earlier than he has to.Manuel

“But to me it’s not a problem,” Ryan said.  “All three guys had a tremendous preseason and that’s all you can ask.  We’ll address it at the appropriate time but obviously I feel good about all of them.”

Manuel started the game and got a little help from veteran Fred Jackson to set the tone, as Jackson, returning from injury, took his first carry of the preseason for 41 yards and later cashed in from one-yard out two plays later to give the Bills an early lead.

On their next drive, Manuel dropped back in the pocket before stepping up and delivering a beautifully lofted pass to tight end Charles Clay, who found himself wide open down the seam behind the safeties for a 67-yard score.

Manuel left the game after those two drives with the starters, leaving the game with a perfect passer rating.

“I don’t know, we’ll see.” Manuel said when asked if he did enough to win the job.  “It’s coach’s decision, but I know I played well, so we’ll see.”

Cassel was in next, and looked his usual, reliable self, completing short passes and moving the team down the field in an effective manner.  He finished the night 6 of 7 for 38 yards on his two drives.

“I don’t know that,” Cassel said when asked if he did enough to earn the job.  “I honestly can’t answer that question.  I can’t give you an answer of yes, I completely feel like I’m confident that they are going to go my direction.”Cassel

“I don’t have any doubts personally of course, but at the same time it comes down to the coaching staff, and what they feel.”

Taylor was the third man in, but made the most of his chances.  He showed he is still  the Bills most electrifying quarterback athletically, doing it both through the air (12 of 13 for 122 yards) and with his legs (scoring a 20-yard touchdown run on his only attempt).

“I’m confident in the way I have been playing,” Taylor said.  “But all I can focus on is what I do out there on the field.”

So when exactly is a choice going to be made?

“Probably tomorrow,” Ryan said.  “We’ll make the decision, but I won’t announce it.”

“I don’t know if everyone thought we were going to have this scenario,” Ryan said.  “When we said we wanted all three guys to play well, play to their abilities.  I think that’s exactly what we’ve seen.”

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Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III Clearance Reversed Sat, 29 Aug 2015 02:12:14 +0000 If Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins part ways, which at this point seems inevitable, the team will find someone else to deflect their pathetic-ness on because that’s what they do best.

On Friday evening, Washington released a statement by NFL Independent Neurologist Robert N. Nurtzke, reversing the call on clearing Griffin to play Saturday against the Baltimore Ravens:

“Per discussion with Neuropsychologists and with Anthony Casolaro M.D., we had anticipated yesterday that the patient would be cleared for full participation in gameplay this weekend; however, upon further scrutiny today of the neuropsychology data, I agree with the neuropsychologist that he should be held from gameplay this weekend and be retested in one-two weeks before a firm conclusion to return to gameplay can be made.”

This statement coming nearly 24 hours after the Washington Redskins released a statement definitively saying that Griffin was cleared:

“The Washington Redskins announced tonight that an independent neurologist has cleared quarterback Robert Griffin III to play for Saturday’s game at Baltimore.”

These decisions were made by an Independent NFL neurologist, not a team doctor. So the chances of funny-play with the tests are slim to none. But this leaves several team-related questions wide open for discussion.

What convinced the coaching staff to trot him out on the practice field three days after suffering the injury?

Why rush to announce him being cleared?

What alerted the doctors to re-examine less than 24 hours after clearing him?

We may never truly know the answers to these questions, but one thing is for sure — the Redskins handled this poorly. It could explain why Robert Griffin III was so testy and evasive in his press conference yesterday. When asked when or even if he actually sustained a concussion against the Detroit Lions last Thursday, Griffin said: “You’ve got to talk to the people who report that stuff. I don’t report that stuff.”

Well the Redskins are responsible to report what the independent doctors conclude and they sure didn’t do a good job at that. All this does is make the team appear to be even more incompetent than we all think they are. Concussions can be tricky and can take days for symptoms to emerge. But isn’t that why you should be extra cautious with practicing a player post-concussion?

The Washington Redskins are just one big straw house. It doesn’t matter how nice you furnish it. You could have the biggest TV screen and most comfortable bed in the world. But as soon as the storms come, that house won’t withstand it. Why? Because the foundation and structure isn’t strong enough. Too bad the Redskins always seem to usher themselves right into a storm.

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Sherry Pollex, Martin Truex Jr. Continue Ovarian Cancer Fight Fri, 28 Aug 2015 12:27:29 +0000 It has been almost one year since Sherry Pollex, the longtime girlfriend of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr., had surgery to remove Stage III ovarian cancer and since that time, Pollex has not let anything slow her down.  But is that a surprise?  Not a chance, that is just the type of person Pollex is and will continue to be.

Truex has expressed how well Pollex is doing as well, which is a great signMartin Truex Jr. (No. 78) on track.  Photo Courtesy:  @FR78Racing

“She’s doing great.  She’s still on her once-a-€‘month chemo for just a maintenance for a year, so she’ll be on that until February, but she’s feeling great. She’s doing awesome, and really, really, honestly, back to her normal life that she had before the cancer.”

In addition, Pollex also looks out for others and wants to make sure women suffering from the terrible disease have the ability to be properly taken care of.  The Cancer Treatment Party Act is a bill making sure that women have access to affordable oral chemotherapy treatments.  You see, these treatments are not always covered by insurance companies.

Therefore, earlier this summer, Pollex went to Washington to meet with legislature to advocate for this cause and clearly expressed how much this mattered to her

“I am both excited and honored to have been asked to partner with the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance and meet with legislators to discuss the much needed additional funding for ovarian cancer.  We will also be there to advocate for policies that ensure women have access to the newest personalized treatments for cancer.  There are new drugs available for ovarian cancer but for many women they are not affordable even with insurance coverage.  We need to change that, and make sure that everyone has access to the breakthrough treatments to fight this disease.”

The next step in the fight – raising even more money for ovarian cancer research and awareness, which Truex and Pollex can check that box as well with the implementation of “Never Give Up” wristbands.  Fans can purchase at and can feel as if they get a little piece of Truex and Pollex, as the couple designed the wristbands.

Pollex sums up the fight and goal for raising awareness perfectly

“We hope everyone finds inspiration while wearing the ‘Never Give Up’ wristband, and knows that they are making a contribution to a very worthwhile cause.”

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NFL: AFC South Team Predictions Fri, 28 Aug 2015 12:15:13 +0000 We have now reviewed 7 of the 8 division in the NFL. Today we go over the lone remaining division, the AFC South, as I review each team and give my prediction for every team in the division while giving my reasons for the record. The division that is considered arguably the weakest from top to bottom probably has 1 of the best teams in the AFC in it, which can lead to a long season for the other 3 teams that are chasing them. But with that being said, let’s move onto the AFC South Team Predictions.


Houston Texans – With Andre Johnson now in Indianapolis, WR DeAndre Hopkins will now be forced into #1 WR role. Workhorse RB Arian Foster will miss the 1st few games of the season. Their starting QB is still unknown as it will come down to Ryan Mallett or Brian Hoyer. Mr. Everything, aka DE JJ Watt, will hopefully get his sidekick this year as OLB Jadeveon Clowney looks to be finally healthy. The Texans have the type of team that can be in every game this year, but I don’t think they have what it takes to win those close games late.

Record Last Year 9-7
Vegas Wins Over/Under 8.5
My Prediction 7-9


Indianapolis Colts – This year the Colts are definitely 1 of the top, if not the top, AFC contender to get to the Superbowl. Their young star QB Andrew Luck is poised and ready to take the torch of the league from the Bradys, Mannings, Rodgers, and Breess of the league. With the acquisitions of WR Andre Johnson and RB Frank Gore to go with their top 10 WR in TY Hilton, this offense will be one of the best in the league. The biggest question for the Colts will obviously be on the defensive side of the football. Can they hold up?

Record Last Year 11-5
Vegas Wins Over/Under 10.5
My Prediction 12-4

Indianapolis Colts v Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jags are getting better. I loved what they did this offseason. However, their offensive and defense lines need to get better if they are going to make any noise. I still think they are 1-2 years away from actually being a threat. I like QB Blake Bortles and he’s now got some good weapons in his WRs with Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee, and TE Julius Thomas. They also used a draft pick on RB TJ Yeldon, who could be huge to their offense and will take some pressure off of Bortles. The pieces are there Jags fans, just have some patience.

Record Last Year 3-13
Vegas Wins Over/Under 5.5
My Prediction 4-12


Tennessee Titans – This offseason was about filling holes and creating competition on the Titans roster. Their offensive line was completely decimated last year with them going all the way down to starting their 5th and 6th OTs to go along with their backup C. They added a pass rusher in Brian Orakpo and some help in the secondary with CB Perrish Cox and S Da’Norris Searcy. On the offensive end they still have 2 dependable players in WR Kendall Wright and TE Delanie Walker, but their season will be now thrown on the shoulders of their rookie QB, their 1st round pick Marcus Mariota. After winning just 2 games last year, an improvement to 6-7 wins would be a drastic improvement to Titans fans.

Record Last Year 2-14
Vegas Wins Over/Under 5.5
My Prediction 6-10

The AFC South has a lot of catching up to do before they can challenge the Colts this year. It shows to the importance of having a stable QB. While Andrew Luck is looked at as the next one in line of the great QBs, the Jags have a 2nd year QB, the Titans will be starting a rookie, and the Texans are in no man’s land. A good QB can cover up a lot mistakes and holes. The Colts have seen that in the past with Peyton Manning, now the Titans, Jags, and even the Texans will look towards young guys in Mariota, Bortles, and Mallett to see if they can be the future franchise QBs to lead their organizations to the next level.

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Welcome to the new and improved Sun Life Stadium Thu, 27 Aug 2015 22:43:36 +0000 image12

The first phase of the Miami Dolphins’ $400 million renovations is finished and fans who are going to any of the games this season will be highly impressed.

Most of the stadium is complete. The second phase of the stadium will be finished prior to the 2016 season. Phase 2 will consistent of a canopy covering most of the stadium seats, along with two new jumbotron video screens.

While the seating capacity has decreased from 76,018 to 65,326, the seating experience at the new Sun Life Stadium has improved. The first difference that fans will notice is the seats are much closer than they were a season ago. The 100 seats have moved 24 feet closer to the field to create more of a home-field advantage for the Dolphins.

If you’re a fan that purchased seats in one of the club areas, you will be impressed with the upgrades the Dolphins have made, especially in The 72 Club.


As a member of The 72 Club, you will have your own private lane when you arrive at the stadium. You will also have the option to valet your car, park in a VIP spot or get dropped off by a driver. The seat in the 72 club are double-padded and have 11 inches more legroom than they did previously.

The coolest part of being part of The 72 Club is at any point pre, during or post-game, you will be able to walk on the field on your way to your private club. The 72 Club will feature all-inclusive food and & beverage, as well as in-seat service.


Sun Life Stadium will also offer The 72 Club Living Room Boxes for more of a private four-person setting, with all of the benefits over The 72 Club. In the living room boxes, fans will be able to watch replays and highlights on their own private TV screen. The 72 Club and The 72 Club Living Rooms were said to be priced from $400,000-$600,000 a season.

The stadium will also offer the Field Club and North Sideline Club.

For fans that can’t afford the club level seating, the 100, 200 and 300 level seating has its benefits as well. In the 200 level corner, the seats are wider and padded. The 200 level corners will include free grab-and-go soda, water and snacks.


At the 300 level, there isn’t a bad seat in the house. The Dolphins have replaced every seat and improved concessions.

While Sun Life Stadium still has work that needs to be done, the stadium is on its way to being one of the best in the league. The Dolphins were willing to do whatever it takes to get a Super Bowl back in South Florida and it looks like the team has gone the extra mile to make that happen.

You can follow Antwan on Twitter @antwanstaley

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EJ Manuel to start Sunday against Steelers Thu, 27 Aug 2015 19:17:46 +0000 The Buffalo Bills returned to One Bills Drive in Orchard Park this morning with the same question that they entered training camp at St. John Fisher with.

Who the heck is going to play quarterback?

After today’s practice that question is no closer to an answer; EJ Manuel will be making his first start of the preseason this Saturday against the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers.

I thought he earned his shot,” Ryan said of Manuel at his post-practice press conference. “I love the competitiveness in him. We’ll see how it goes.”

“Like I said from Day 1, this is a real competition,” Ryan said. “My plan was to give everybody opportunities, whether it was equal reps or whatever, nobody can say nobody was given a fair shot here. So we’ve been giving it.

“I looked at it going in thinking I’d start EJ in that [intrasquad] scrimmage [Aug. 8] and we’ll look at that third preseason game. But as I got to it, I thought EJ earned his shot at this. He played well in those two [preseason] games. And that [scrimmage] really wasn’t like starting a preseason game. So we’ll see.”

Ryan also noted that both Tyrod Taylor and Matt Cassel will receive playing time with the first unit too, which shows just how little one of these players has been able to separate themselves from the pack.

While he didn’t say how he would do it, maybe a quarter-by-quarter type approach for each of the four quarterbacks on the roster is something the Bills will be looking to do to make sure each of the quarterbacks fighting to start get enough time in with the first unit.

The important thing for Manuel, is that even if he is still a long-shot, he has the ball in his hands this week to show the coaching staff he belongs on the field.

The familiar thing for Buffalo is like the week before, the term “No. 1′s” is used almost ironically.

The Bills are still working their way back towards full health at the skill positions, and Ryan noted that Manuel will be without his top four receivers (Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Percy Harvin and Chris Hogan).

Running backs LeSean McCoy and Anthony Dixon will also remain out, but the Bills offense will get a spark in the return of veteran Fred Jackson, who will be making his first appearance this preseason.

The starting offensive line will be in place, as will starting tight end Charles Clay.

It still seems like an odd plan though.

The third preseason game for NFL teams is usually when they are starting to get into a regular season groove.

Not try to decide their starting quarterback.

“EJ, all he’s gotten reps with was the [third team] and the [second team],” Ryan said.   “Now it’s a shot to get reps with the ones as well. I feel good about that.”

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Fantasy Football Draft: Top-10 Stars and Sleepers Thu, 27 Aug 2015 18:05:52 +0000 Drafting in Fantasy Football is an inexact science. There’s really no correct way to draft. However, there’s one rule that’s become an overall consensus: don’t draft a quarterback round one. I somewhat agree with that. However, in some cases, I disagree.

Last year, eight of the top-10 scorers (per were Quarterbacks. The other two players were running backs. However, only one QB’s collective draft slot averaged out to a round one pick — Aaron Rodgers — who was the top scorer in 2014. According to the averages, you can get QBs like Peyton Manning and Drew Brees in round four or five. So in theory, yes you can probably find value waiting on a QB. However, if you have a chance to grab the top scoring fantasy player — why pass on him?

2015 Elite FF Players:

  1. Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
  2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
  3. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

I believe these three players are the elite guys in 2015. Andrew Luck may end up being the top scorer this year. The most consistent players in fantasy football are the QBs. If you have a chance to draft one of these two — I’d do it. You won’t have to worry about losing the QB battle each week, that’s for sure.

It is hard to come by running backs especially in the 12+ member leagues. So common sense says to draft the best available as early as possible. However, I would be careful in selecting running backs this year.

Can you truly trust Adrian Peterson after being away from football for a year? Probably, but it’s not certain.

Who knew DeMarco Murray would have the season, let alone fantasy season he had last year? Many didn’t take him round one and I’d caution betting on a repeat in 2015.

Running Backs pop up out the blue every single year in fantasy football. So while it’s a valued position, think prudently about who you select.

2015 Next Tier:

4. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers

5. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers

6. Jammal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs

7. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

8. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears

9. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos

10. LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills


As for the sleepers, I think these players could surprise some this year:

  1. Julio Jones: In Kyle Shanahan’s system — this could be a big year for him.
  2. Brandin Cooks: This could be a big fantasy year for Cooks, as he’s looking to be Brees’ top target.
  3. Amari Cooper: I think he’ll be the top scorer among rookies this year.
  4. Doug Martin: I know Doug Martin has failed his fantasy owners the past few years, but he’s going to have a big season in 2015. I guarantee it.
  5. Kyle Rudolph: This could be a good late pickup that would payoff big time for your fantasy team.


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Is Dale Earnhardt Jr. Interviewed The Most? Thu, 27 Aug 2015 12:58:26 +0000 Each driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series would love to be “NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver”.  The reason, this award is voted on by the fans, so it clearly shows how much fans care about the driver they cheer for and holds the true weight of the importance of fans when it comes to NASCAR.  Dale Earnhardt Jr. has won the award as “NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver” from 2003-2014.Dale Earnhardt Jr's throwback paint scheme racing at Darlington.  Photo Courtesy:  @DaleJr

However, what is important to drivers, is also securing sponsorship for funding in order to be able race during the season.  Now what do sponsors want?  Well, sponsors want to be seen on television, which is why it is so important for a driver to get in front of the camera.  What is one of the best ways for the driver to get in front of the camera to talk about and show their sponsor, besides running well on the track and having the broadcast cover?  Interviews and network mentions.

Drivers cherish the interviews by the networks, as this is the time when the driver can give plugs and recognition to the sponsors who support their team.

So although Dale Earnhardt Jr. is dubbed as “NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver”, is he the driver who has been interviewed and mentioned the most?

According to Joyce Julius & Associates, through the race broadcasts at Watkins Glen, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is not the driver who has been interviewed and mentioned the most.  That honor goes to Kevin Harvick, who has been interviewed 35 times, which lasted for twenty nine minutes and six seconds, while compiling 3,558 mentions.  Earnhardt Jr. has been interviewed only 24 times, for a total of nineteen minutes and fifty six seconds, compiling 2,281 mentions.

Although Earnhardt Jr., is not interviewed the most does this mean his sponsors do not get their value of sponsorship?  Of course not.  Any sponsor who teams with Earnhardt Jr. is going to see a positive return on investment because Earnhardt Jr. has his image not only on the track, but is always engaging in activities off the track as well.

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NFL: AFC East Team Predictions Thu, 27 Aug 2015 12:25:19 +0000 With the AFC West and North in the books, we now move our attention to the AFC East as I review each team and give my prediction for every team in the division while giving my reasons for the record. The AFC East is probably the division with the most changes this offseason. With Brady likely missing the 1st 4 games, Dolphins and Bills both greatly improving and the Jets just being the Jets, the division will not lack for drama. So with that said, let’s get right into the AFC East Team Predictions.


Buffalo Bills – The Bills technically started their transformation last year when they took 2014 1st round pick WR Sammy Watkins. This offseason, they kicked their offensive transformation into overdrive. After trading for top 5 RB LeSean McCoy, they signed WR Percy Harvin and TE Charles Clay to completely overhaul their offense. To solidify their already top 10, if not top 5 defense, they hired defensive guru Rex Ryan to be their head coach. They still have a HUGE hole at QB, but can the weapons help them overcome or at least hide bad QB play? No matter what, the Bills are now ready to start turning heads.

Record Last Year 9-7
Vegas Wins Over/Under 8.5
My Prediction 10-6

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins – I said last year that the Dolphins were 1 year from making that jump and this year they get a chance to prove me right. Starting QB Ryan Tannehill is showing signs of making the leap from inconsistent young QB to solid dependable QB. They seem to be a little more trusting of their very talented RB Lamar Miller and Tannehill has all the trust in the world in slot WR Jarvis Landry. They also traded for WR Kenny Stills, signed TE Jordan Cameron to replace Charles Clay, and drafted WR DeVante Parker. Just like the Bills, the Dolphins have overhauled their offense and are on the verge of really putting it together.

Record Last Year 8-8
Vegas Wins Over/Under 9
My Prediction 10-6


New England Patriots – This offseason has not exactly been the best for the Superbowl Champions. They lost half their secondary and most importantly, as everyone knows by now, their star, and all-time great QB Tom Brady is currently suspended for the 1st 4 games of the 2015 season. This team still has talented players, but it all boils down to Brady. He is the one that makes this engine rev up. Backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo will try to direct the team early, but a 1-3 or 1-4 start, with a schedule that includes v. Pittsburgh, @Buffalo, @Dallas, and then v. Indianapolis, could be too much for Brady to recover.

Record Last Year 12-4
Vegas Wins Over/Under 10
My Prediction 9-7


New York Jets – When most people read this article, I already know most Jets fans will say, “We have good skilled position players and a hole at QB, so what is the difference between us and the Bills?”, so let me explain now. The Bills will hide their QB with a top 5 RB in McCoy, and they have gadget players like Percy Harvin, not to mention a better defense. The Jets have an injury prone RB in Chris Ivory, a WR in Brandon Marshall, who is great, but always close to losing it, and although I like Jace Amaro, he still needs to show he can be a good safety blanket for his QB, which Charles Clay will do for Buffalo. Eric Decker is solid but not a stud WR and the combo of Geno Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick is just ugly.

Record Last Year 4-12
Vegas Wins Over/Under 7.5
My Prediction 5-11

The AFC East will not look anything like it did last year. It will be very hard for anyone who is basing their predictions for them based on last year because half the players seem to have moved. The division will come down to the last week of the year and it may turn out like an early season game like Pats vs. Bills in week 2 could have a huge effect on the division winner. Will the Pats own the division for another year or will the Dolphins or Bills finally take the throne? How bad will the Jets be? Only 1 way to find out, sit back, relax, and enjoy the ups and downs of the AFC East.

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Fantasy Football: Tight End Rankings Thu, 27 Aug 2015 12:15:47 +0000 Today will be concluding the 4 day Fantasy Football preview articles for positional rankings. We’ve gone through QBs, RBs, and WRs, so now it’s time to get to the Tight Ends. The TE position has been evolving for years, becoming more of a WR role. Last year preseason it was hyped to be at its peak, but it seemed to fall way short of expectations. Because of that, this year is more unpredictable than ever. With that in mind, these are my Tight End Rankings and tiers for the 2015 NFL season.

Remember, these rankings are in the order of my personal preference, so if they are within the same tier, I think all of them will be around the same range from a fantasy point projections perspective, so feel free to choose who you prefer.


Tier 1 – Elite

Rob Gronkowski

And then there was 1. In previous years, the TE position has been highlighted with 2-3 players, whether it was Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham, Tony Gonzalez, or 1-2 others. However, this year there is 1 player that stands alone for elite TEs, Rob Gronkowski. Despite Tom Brady likely missing the 1st 4 games of the season, he will still end the year with around 1100-1200 yards and 10+ TDs. He the only TE I would take in not only the 1st, but the 1st 2 rounds of fantasy drafts.


Tier 2 – Top 5

Jimmy Graham
Travis Kelce
Greg Olsen
Martellus Bennett

I put Jimmy Graham 2nd out of respect, but I honestly think he is a big unknown in a Seattle offense that is so run heavy. He will be the #2 option in the red zone behind Marshawn Lynch, and he could be as low as the 4th or 5th TE, but that is still good enough for 2nd tier. Kelce, Olsen, and Bennett are all players that can finish between 800-1000 yards and around 10 TDs. All of them make good pick from the 4th round and lower.


Tier 3 – Starters

Jordan Cameron
Eric Ebron
Kyle Rudolph
Tyler Eifert
Dwayne Allen/Coby Fleener
Julius Thomas
Jason Witten

I like Jordan Cameron this year with the * if he stays healthy. Tannehill loves to go in the middle of the field and that made Charles Clay a lot of money. When healthy, Cameron’s better than Clay. Ebron, Rudolph, and Eifert are young TEs that haven’t proven anything yet, but I have high expectations for all 3. They’ve been outstanding in camp and could be great mid to late round picks. Whoever starts for Indy between Allen and Fleener will benefit from QB Andrew Luck. I think Thomas will hit reality hard without Peyton Manning. Witten is getting up there in age and isn’t a top weapon anymore for Romo.


Tier 4 – Starters

Jordan Reed
Zack Ertz
Vernon Davis
Owen Daniels
Charles Clay
Delanie Walker

Reed has enough talent to be a top 5 TE, but he is 1 of the most injury prone guys in the league. Ertz just can’t seem to shake Brent Celek. I think Davis could be ready for a bounce back year, but he’ll be very hard to trust early. Daniels will do the opposite of Julius Thomas and greatly benefit from now playing with Peyton Manning. Charles Clay got his money, but is on a team that essentially has no QB. Walker has been a consistent player and will put up solid numbers with a better offensive Tennessee team.


Tier 5 – Next Best

Richard Rodgers
Antonio Gates/Ladarius Green
Larry Donnell
Mychal Rivera
Heath Miller
Jared Cook

There is a chance that if you are in a 10 team shallow league, none of the above in this tier will be drafted, but Rodgers is now the TE for the best QB in the world in Aaron Rodgers, he’s worth monitoring. Gates is suspended the 1st 4 games and Green will fill in for him. Rivers likes using his TEs. Donnell started hot, but faded at the end of the year. Rivera is a question mark for the Raiders currently. Miller has been solid but is up there in age and the 5th best option in the Steelers offense. Cook hasn’t done much to garner attention, but I think he’s the 24th best TE for leagues that require 2 TEs.

For an extra tip for this upcoming Football Season, I wanted to give you 6 defenses that I feel will help you get you where you need to be. Some are going much later than I think they will perform, so if you aren’t lucky enough to get Seattle, you can still get a top defense. So the following are my projected top 6 defenses this year.


Buffalo Bills
Cincinnati Bengals
Seattle Seahawks
St Louis Rams
Baltimore Ravens
Kansas City Chiefs

The Bills only weakness on defense is a 2nd MLB, but with the mind and blitzing style of Rex Ryan, they could end up being the #1 fantasy defense this year. They are ranked by most as #2. The Bengals on paper have no weakness on defense. They will likely finish in the top 5 in sacks, rush defense, and pass defense. For some reason, people are ignoring them. There isn’t much to say about Seattle defense, but I do think their 7th round ADP is too high.

The Rams have the best defensive line in football and should terrorize QBs all year long. The Ravens may give up points, but they should rack up sacks between Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, and Courtney Upshaw. The Chiefs will not start the year well without run stuffing NT Dontari Poe and their #1 CB Steve Smith. However, if you get them midseason, they will be a boost late as they have maybe the best duo of pass rushers in the league in Justin Houston and Tamba Hali.

During the year I will be giving weekly waiver pickups, as well as weekly start and sit articles. Hopefully this will help you dominate your leagues. Fantasy Football has become so popular around the world. Approximately 30 million people play it a year and around one billion is spent. If you already play it, you know what I mean, if you haven’t, maybe it’s time for you to give it a try, and hopefully I’ll be here to help you. If you have any questions, I can be reached on twitter with the handle @Pacman453323, good luck to everyone.

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