The Raiders are 1 draft away from a breakout season

The NFL playoffs are going to see some new faces in 2016. It happens every year.

Four new teams — Kansas City, Houston, Washington and NFL Jerseys Nike Minnesota — went to the playoffs in 2015. Five new teams went in 2014, and five new clubs Wholesale NFL Jerseys China went in 2013. In fact, going back to the 1990’s, turnover amongst the NFL’s 12-team playoff field has pushed 50 percent. Parity.

Other notables like linebacker Reggie Ragland and defensive linemen A’Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed didn’t participate in much more than positional drills:

While Watt was obviously in attendance to watch his younger brother Derek Watt, O’Brien was taking in the performance of quarterback Joel Stave, according to Tony Pauline of Walter Football. The Texans NFL Jerseys 2016 signed Brock Osweiler on Wednesday, so the team’s quarterback need isn’t as dire as it was when O’Brien arrived in Wisconsin, but adding more talent at the position isn’t a bad idea even though Houston already added Tom Savage last year.

The top prospect for the Badgers is NFL Jerseys Authentic likely linebacker Joe Schobert, though. Of the 25 teams in attendance, the Lions and Eagles sent linebacker coaches, according to NFL.com’s Gil Brandt, and Schobert impressed with a 35.5-inch vertical and solid quickness.

All 32 teams sent representatives to the Oklahoma Pro Day, where wide receiver Sterling Shepard reportedly stole the show in positional workouts even though he decided to stand on his Combine numbers in timing drills. Those in Basketball Jerseys Custom attendance included Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, who could probably use a receiver after losing Marvin Jones on Wednesday.

Kevin Dodd of Clemson was one of the big names on the day. He took part in both defensive line and linebacker drills, and had a 30.5” vertical jump, a 4.44 short shuttle and 7.31 in the 3-cone drill. On top of that, he put up 22 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press. On top of Dodd, Mackensie Alexander, a cornerback, drew plenty of attention. Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was particularly interested in Alexander, who impressed in position drills and is notable for his versatility in the secondary.

Defensive end Shaq Lawson is the other big name, and all three Clemson players could wind up going in the first round of the NFL Draft. Lawson did both linebacker and defensive line drills, but drew much better reviews for his work on the line than at the linebacker position.

2016 NFL mock draft: Washington chooses DT Andrew Billings

The strengths of the 2016 NFL Draft fit perfectly into the needs on Washington’s roster. The overwhelming strength of this draft is at defensive tackle, arguably Washington’s top need. Washington has players like Kedric Golston and Jerrell Powe set for the nose tackle spot, and that’s not a good thing. But there is a lot of talent at corner, a position where Washington could upgrade from Chris Culliver and Bashaud Breeland. There’s also good wide receiver talent available with this pick, like Josh Doctson of TCU and Laquon Treadwell of Ole Miss.

Ken Meringolo of Hogs Haven hits on one of those needs with his pick at No. 21.

Meringolo: I was dying to take Ryan Kelly and pair him with Kirk Cousins in what I believe could be a dominant duo up the middle for years to come. Unable to do so, I audibled back to the strength at the top of this draft class, which is along the defensive line (also an area of need for Washington). They employ multiple schemes, and Billings fits in both odd- and even-man defensive fronts. The team has cycled in a number of veterans here the last few seasons, and would likely jump at the chance to install a longer-term solution.

Video emerged of the bar brawl, allegedly showing McCoy, along with three others — one being former running back Curtis Brinkley — throwing punches and being restrained. The fight reportedly started over the ownership of a bottle of champagne at the Recess nightclub in Philadelphia, and resulted in serious injuries for the off-duty officers working security.

The police report details all four suspects punching one of the officers and knocking him to the ground, where they continued to punch, kick and stomp his head and body. Both officers were treated for their injuries, which collectively includes broken ribs, a broken nose, eye lacerations, a sprained thumb and a possible skull fracture.

“For the past several weeks my office has worked diligently with Philadelphia Police Department’s Central Detectives to investigate this matter and, in the end, there is insufficient evidence to prove that any individual committed a criminal offense,” Williams said in a press release on Monday. “My job is not to decide if anyone acted appropriately or not. My job is to determine if evidence exists to charge any individual with a crime. I do that by looking at all the facts. That is what we did here. My decision today is consistent with my commitment to the citizens of Philadelphia to charge, and only charge, those people who, based on evidence, are guilty of crimes.”

McCoy met with Williams shortly after the incident, according to the local WPVI TV. Williams said he was carefully examining all the evidence and that he didn’t want to “rush to judgement.”

After ‘something different’ vs. Ravens, Hue Jackson goes back to Cody Kessler

In April, Hue Jackson said “trust me” when the Cleveland Browns drafted Cody Kessler.

The shade of blue. The Chargers actually used four different blue tones from 1960 through 1973. All of them looked pretty good, but only the final one, in use from 1968 through ’73, could be described as a true powder blue.

The helmet bolts. The lightning bolts on the Chargers’ helmets have always been gold, right? Wrong. The bolts were blue for the team’s inaugural season in 1960 (and so were the bolts on the blue jersey that year). After changing to gold in 1961, the helmet bolts were blue again in 1966 (but the bolts on the blue jersey stayed gold that time around).

The reality, of course, is that all of these uniform combinations looked good on the field (and so did their assorted white-jerseyed counterparts, for that matter), so you could mix and match just about any of these elements and it would still turn out fine. Still, it’s interesting to see just how much variety there was in such a short time period.

Meanwhile, there’s one other detail from the Chargers’ early days that’s worth mentioning: In 1962, San Diego was among the recipients of the All-America City Award, a civic honor bestowed annually on 10 communities around the nation. The Chargers responded to this by wearing a commemorative decal on the crown of their helmets in 1963.

McCoy also had a message for the person who did it: “I forgive you.”

“I would just ask that people pray for the kid who tried to break into my house,” said McCoy, who wasn’t home when the incident occurred.

“Just a lost kid. [He] probably just needs some guidance. Ain’t nothing to be upset over. It happens.”

“You can look at it a different way — you can look at it as, ‘Aw, I hate the person who tried to break into my house’ or you can look at it as ‘somebody who needs help,’ ” said McCoy, who, along with his wife Ebony, adopt several families each year for the holidays and are known for their philanthropy work, even donating nearly $20,000 to the Pediatric Cancer Foundation over the past two years.

A Football Life examines Jim Brown’s legacy

The NFL Network’s A Football Life is in its sixth season. The highly-acclaimed series has produced a wide range of films on iconic figures such as Vince Lombardi and interesting characters like Dexter Manley. But it never examined the life of perhaps the greatest football player of all time.

Until now.

Jim Brown: A Football Life will make its debut after Thursday’s Cleveland-Baltimore game on NFL Network. It also will air Friday at 9 p.m. ET.

Here we will look at five candidates each week, one or two from each of the four fantasy-relevant positions that make good spot starts in their upcoming games. These players are widely available on league waiver wires or sitting on the end of your beach, but whether by newfound opportunity or a good matchup, present sneaky value for the coming week.

Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears (1.7 percent owned)
Cutty’s back. Deal with it. The mercurial veteran quarterback was actually quite solid in his return to the starting lineup against the vaunted Vikings defense. Jay Culter completed 64.5 percent of his passes and posted a 100.5 passer rating in Week 8.

In Week 10 Cutler draws a far more favorable matchup with the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay. Over their last two games, both at home, Tampa Bay allowed 857 passing yards. That’s almost a full 200 yards more than the Panthers, who allowed the second-most yardage in the same span. In the last four weeks of the season the Bucs allowed a 9-1 touchdown to interception ratio.

Both the Bucs and Bears offense feature aggressive quarterbacks facing suspect defenses. If the two are forced to take chase to the air, Cutler has the matchup advantage, especially with a healthy and locked-in Alshon Jeffery.

Kapri Bibbs, RB, Denver Broncos (0.4 percent owned)
Long-time respected Broncos beat writer Mike Klis intimated on Monday that Kapri Bibbs has a chance ot take the lead role in Denver’s backfield from rookie Devontae Booker. It hasn’t been a great two-week showing from Booker in his efforts to replace C.J. Anderson as the feature back. Booker has 35 touches over the last two weeks, but averaged a collective 2.5 yards per rush and overall hasn’t been a net positive for an offense that needs a run game to sustain their movement.

Giants make changes off the bye week … and they worked

The bye week did the New York Giants good.

Through the first seven games, they managed to score more than 20 points just twice, never topping 27. They beat that mark early in the third quarter of Sunday’s 28-23 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.

Rookie running back Paul Perkins also split reps with starter Rashad Jennings as the Giants increased the roles of several young players on both sides of the ball. Perkins said he didn’t know prior to the contest that he would receive more snaps and carries. He had a career-high with 14 touches in Sunday’s victory.

“Coach likes to keep it fresh. Everybody has to prepare like a starter and prepare like we’re going to get a lot of reps, so that is what we all do,” Perkins said. “Not surprise[d], but just ready for the moment.”

This appears to be the way the Giants are headed. Their young players are going to be further integrated. Even rookie linebacker B.J. Goodson snuck in for a few defensive snaps.

McAdoo has said on multiple occasions the Giants are not going to be afraid to play young players. But those weren’t the only changes.

The Giants used six offensive linemen on a handful of plays and also moved their wide receivers around more than they had early in the season. Beckham took more snaps in the slot Sunday than any other game this season.

“We did some good things. Hit a couple of big plays, hit a post, hit [Sterling] Shepard on the touchdown. We were much better in the red and green zone areas, scoring touchdowns. We converted some nice third downs,” Manning said. “There were things that were positive and, hey, you’re always in a process of improving, getting better. We have to be better on some third downs, too many negative plays where we’re going backward and putting ourselves in a bind. Overall, I thought we did some good things against a good defense.”

Julio Jones uses superhuman body control to haul in spinning TD

In the third quarter of a Thursday Night Football matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones hauled in a reception for a touchdown that no mere mortal would be able to complete.

This is simply ridiculous.

Rookie Vernon Hargreaves is in coverage against Jones, and at 5’10, Hargreaves is definitely going to have his hands full trying to contain Jones, who is 6’3 and 220 pounds. Hargreaves doesn’t stand a chance.

Jones goes up for the catch, hauls it in, gets both feet down in bounds while gracefully spinning, and extends the Falcons’ lead over the Bucs to 33-14.

He told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: “… it just got to the point where I didn’t think it was going to work with me. So I removed myself.”

“Some have called me a distraction because speaking up for a cause the Giants have reportedly championed for years makes me a distraction. Others have called me a hero for speaking up. Honestly, I’m not a hero. I’m not special. I just know that in life, there are times when certain things are more important than your personal comfort or the game of football.”

Baldinger is apparently not the biggest fan of Elliott, anyway. During the same radio interview, Baldinger said the way Elliott dressed at the NFL draft demonstrated “arrogance,” and that Elliott “bugs me.”

The Eagles did not injure Elliott in their overtime loss to the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football, but they did limit him to 96 rushing yards. It marked the first time Elliott, who leads the league in rushing, had fewer than 134 yards in any single game since Week 2 of the 2016 season.

Shurmur runs a West Coast offense, which thrives on getting the ball out quickly. Focusing on quick slants and passes in the flat for short and intermediate gains could take a lot of pressure off of the Vikings’ offensive line.

That approach could also be beneficial to a team that’s struggling on the ground. Jerick McKinnon, Matt Asiata, and Ronnie Hillman aren’t the caliber of running back that Adrian Peterson is.

Cleveland lost a road game in Toronto

“It’s just Game 2 of a new season,” said Irving, chuckling at the mention of his 3 against Toronto being anywhere comparable to his 3 against Golden State. “I’m glad that we went through a close game with a great team like that tonight though. It shows a lot of growth on our end as a team.”

Cavs coach Ty Lue said, bluntly, “Last year we would have lost this game.” Indeed, early on in the 2015-16 campaign, Cleveland lost a road game in Toronto when the Raptors went on a late 31-16 run, prompting a players-only meeting to sift through the wreckage.

“I think partly it indicates that a guy is playing hard to compensate for having less natural ability than other guys,” Schur writes. “Which is not to say those players actually do have less natural ability — just that they are perceived as having less natural ability.”

In the common usage, players can be either talented or gritty. By Duckworth’s definition, players can — and should — have both traits.

“One thing that surprised me when I started doing this research,” she says, “is if you’re really talented, why aren’t you the hardest-working, longest-trying player? Because rationally speaking, you’re getting so much out of every moment on the court. You should be the one! Why wouldn’t you be the one to show up early and stay late because every moment you’re there, you’re getting this huge return?

One of the aspects Stevens likes about grit is that it can apply equally to a player or team that has experienced success and one that has dealt with adversity.

“I learned it at Butler when we went to the national championship twice. Obviously we were hurt because we didn’t win it all, but a lot of people treated us like we had. It was fun to watch those kids just move on to what’s next and try to do it again and try to be a little bit better next time and not rest on what was already achieved. I think that’s a big part of mindset or grit, just as recovering from a tough day is.”

That sounds a lot like an MVP and champion coming back even better the next season.

Television writer and producer Michael Schur, the co-creator of “Parks and Recreation” and the creator of new NBC sitcom “The Good Place,” has spent enough time thinking about grit that he calls it “one of my favorite topics.”

Under the pseudonym Ken Tremendous, Schur wrote about baseball — and more specifically about writing about baseball — on the influential blog Fire Joe Morgan. One of the blog’s favorite hobby horses was how writers lionized the grit of white players who had average or poor statistics, like former St. Louis Cardinals shortstop David Eckstein.

“I’ve wondered whether it’s partly because to pass some threshold of good enough, you can kind of trade off talent with grit. If you’re trying to get to a threshold, you can be talented or gritty. I think one of the things about the players that I most admire is there’s no ceiling on what they want to do.

“I don’t know that Steph Curry goes to bed and says, ‘I’ve reached it.’ [If I’m Curry] I just want to continually get better. If that’s true, rationally, analytically, then you don’t trade them off against each other. You just try to maximize both.”

The Giants are saying all the right things. Now, they have to back it up.

The New York Giants launched training camp on Thursday intent on fusing brave words with bold action.

They definitively have the words honed.

It started with new head coach Ben McAdoo, who required only a few seconds to starkly talk about “a fifth Super Bowl trophy in the case” for the Giants being the goal this season.

Bold words. Brave action.

No one knows if he can win big. No one knows if he can win at all. No one knows how he will handle the fire and intensity of NFL in-game critical moments. No one knows if this Giants’ revamped attitude and roster can emerge and stop the franchise’s slide into mediocrity.

But McAdoo has a crystal-clear approach and plan he believes and sells. The Giants players are clearly on board with it. They look awake. They sound determined.

Besides the talent upgrade, which is distinctive, there are two elements I believe give McAdoo a running start and a clear chance to make the Giants matter this season. First, his belief in playing physical football and, next, his plan for dealing with adversity.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Johnson’s numbers in Houston is that he largely put them up with lousy quarterbacks. During his 12-year stint in the Lone Star State, Johnson played with 10 different starting QBs, including David Carr, Matt Schaub, Sage Rosenfels, T.J. Yates and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Johnson’s run of playing with subpar pass throwers continued last year in Indianapolis with Andrew Luck missing the majority of the season due to injury. Forty-year-old Matt Hasselbeck started eight games, failing to complete more than 57 percent of his passes in his final three contests.

Though Johnson’s career accolades speak for themselves, he probably feels as if he has something to prove after his lackluster year in Indianapolis. But after more than a decade in the league, it’s uncertain if he’s physically up to the task.

Titans coach Mike Mularkey was optimistic about how much Johnson could contribute, on the field and in the locker room:

Mularkey on Andre Johnson: “He’s an extreme competitor.” He’ll give young WRs competition and leadership.

— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) July 29, 2016
The Titans have a promising young quarterback in Marcus Mariota, but the No. 2 overall pick didn’t have much help as a rookie. During the offseason, Tennessee bulked up the offensive line and running back corps, but didn’t add much to the receiving group except former Miami Dolphins wide out Rishard Matthews. Johnson should have a strong chance at being a contributor with the organization.

Week 8’s best fantasy football free-agent finds

Normally I lead this column with a broad opening, something that applies to either the theme of the week or the portion of the fantasy football season that we have reached. This week, given the first player on our Week 8 Waiver Wire column, I’m going to address the question that so many have been — or soon will be — asking: Is Ty Montgomery eligible to be played in a running back slot, given his usage with Green Bay?

Mike Gillislee, RB, Buffalo Bills (6.1 percent). As of this writing, we don’t know what LeSean McCoy’s status is for Week 8 against the Patriots. But this much we do know: McCoy left Sunday’s game due to an aggravated hamstring issue, and Gillislee is the next man on the depth chart. He’s a must-add for all McCoy owners and a reasonable pickup in any league for someone who needs running back depth. With a Week 10 bye on the horizon, it wouldn’t be a major shock if McCoy sits the next two weeks.

Does he have an opportunity to get more involved with the company? Quin wants to work with up-and-coming companies to learn and gain experience. That includes sitting in on meetings and potentially going on the road to trade shows and expos to help conduct field tests and marketing. It’s helping him with what Quin and Lukanga call Quin’s “Field MBA,” because he has no plans to attend business school.

Quin has to understand the business plan and what the company is trying to accomplish. Before Quin decides on any investment, Lukanga has Quin explain to him why he’s excited about the company.

Quin won’t go in as a solo investor. He needs to see other experienced investors putting capital behind a company before he’s willing to go in. This has also helped to make sure he’s diversifying his investments. “Whether it’s private equity firms, whether it’s venture capital firms, his money always has to be with good money,” Lukanga said.

“To be a successful investor … you need a few things. A curious mind, disciplined approach to reading people and an aptitude for thinking strategically. Glover has these in spades,” said Manish Shah, a co-founder of a company Quin has invested in. AP Photo/Alex Gallardo
Many high-level investors are NFL fans, and Quin parlayed his experience as an NFL player to bond with mentors in the investment world. He believes he’s viewed as someone willing to learn and get involved more than just using his name.

From August until the end of the season, Quin makes it clear football is his priority. If there’s a deal requiring attention, he addresses it on Monday or Tuesday, when there’s little or no on-field activity. After that, it’s all football. He recognizes football got him here in the first place. In the offseason, he’s as involved as any other investor.

“To be a successful investor, and the kind that I want to work with as a founder, you need a few things,” Shah said. “A curious mind, disciplined approach to reading people and an aptitude for thinking strategically. Glover has these in spades.”

Ty Montgomery, RB/WR, Green Bay Packers (17.8 percent). Regardless of what position he stays at, Montgomery is an add in all leagues. He has collected 20 catches the past two games and has 12 rushes for 66 yards. He reminds me of James White in New England. Even if he tallies more receptions than rushes, those catches serve as an extension of the running game. He’s a fun player to watch.

Let’s try to make sense of Joey Bosa’s holdout with the Chargers

The San Diego Chargers have finally signed Joey Bosa after a long, dramatic stalemate over offset language and Bosa’s signing bonus. The two parties compromised, with the team getting its way on offset language, and Bosa receives the largest signing bonus in the history of the Chargers. Let’s take a look back at what took place leading up to the Chargers and Bosa reaching an agreement.

The Chargers hit the field for training camp last month. Their first-round draft pick, however, didn’t join them. Instead, defensive end Joey Bosa, who was selected with the third overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, decided to hold out over a contract dispute. Until Monday, he remained the only rookie draft pick who hadn’t actually signed with his team.

The team released a statement last Wednesday saying it had provided Bosa’s representatives with its best offer, which Bosa’s side has declined. According to the Chargers, the team offered an initial signing bonus that is the largest any player has received in the last two drafts, more money in this calendar year than every rookie but second overall pick Carson Wentz, and the largest payment and highest percentage of signing bonus paid to any Chargers player since the implementation of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.

What the statement from the team did not clarify was the timing of the payment of the entire signing bonus and the offset language, which dictates what the Chargers would owe Bosa in terms of guaranteed money if they would decline to pick up his fifth-year option. These are the main issues keeping the Chargers and Bosa from reaching an agreement.

Bosa did participate in OTAs and impressed in rookie minicamp, but his holdout began at the beginning of mandatory veteran minicamp on June 14. He hasn’t taken the field since.

At one point in early August, the team and Bosa reportedly hadn’t spoken in over a week, and negotiations had gone so poorly that Bosa’s mother, Cheryl, wishes her son hadn’t been drafted by San Diego at all, saying it would have been better if the family had chosen to “pull an Eli Manning,” a scenario that Chargers fans remember all too well.