07 June 2015

VIDEO: Santana Moss Posts #TBT Tribute For Sean Taylor

#tbt 2007.. Me and @clintonportis made sure we held it down for our Boi until they road us out Tht bih!!! #4eva21

A video posted by Santana Moss (@eighttodanine) on

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Lamar Miller wants to carry more of Dolphins' rushing load

DAVIE, Fla. -- Lamar Miller seems to have tightened his grip on the starting running back job.

Fellow running backs Jay Ajayi, a fifth-round pick from Boise State; Damien Williams; LaMichael James and Mike Gillislee haven't taken nearly as many snaps with the first team. But Miller, who rushed for 1,099 yards last season and averaged 5.1 yards per carry, is experimenting with more bulk to see if he can carry the load.

The Dolphins signed Knowshon Moreno last year and drafted Ajayi this year in search of someone who can run with a more physical style than the speedy Miller. Noticeably bigger in his chest and arms, Miller is up to 221 pounds, five pounds heavier than his playing weight from last season.

"I'm just trying to find a weight where I'm comfortable right now," Miller said. "I'm undersized. I'm just trying to find something I'm comfortable with."

--Miami signed defensive tackle C.J. Mosley to a one-year contract, providing some run defense reinforcements and reuniting the 11th-year player with fellow tackle Ndamukong Suh. The pair played together the last two seasons in Detroit.

Mosley, who made eight starts last year and finished with 26 tackles and 2.5 sacks, will likely be a reserve. However, there's a chance he could push Earl Mitchell for the starting job.

Either way, Mosley (6 feet 2, 312 pounds) will be part of a rotation that includes reserves Anthony Johnson, a second-year player, and rookie Jordan Phillips, a second-round pick from Oklahoma.

Miami finished 24th in run defense last season and Detroit was No. 1. The Dolphins, who lost tackles Jared Odrick (free agency) and Randy Starks (released) during the offseason, have spent much of OTAs (Organized Team Activities) installing third-down, goal-line and red-zone defense.

Perhaps Mosley's acquisition means they saw a deficiency that needed to be addressed.

--Left tackle Jason Fox, the likely opening day starter while Branden Albert recovers from last season's knee injury, has been on the losing end of his battles with defensive end Olivier Vernon so far.

Granted, players aren't wearing pads, but it bears watching because Fox, a right tackle for most of his previous four NFL seasons, could be the opening day starter. And he acknowledges it's a bigger role protecting quarterback Ryan Tannehill's blind side.

"I think left side maybe the stakes are a little higher," Fox said. "It's Ryan's back side. And obviously you play a great player every game."

The Dolphins are hopeful that Albert will be ready for opening day. But they'll watch Fox closely. Last season, they switched right tackle Ja'Wuan James to left tackle when Albert was injured and inserted Fox at right tackle. But the Dolphins decided it'd be better to leave James at right tackle for the long term.

If Fox can hold down the position until Albert returns, it would go a long way toward keeping some degree of normalcy on an offensive line that's already struggling at both guard spots.

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Najeh Davenport to lead local youth football camp

WELLINGTON — Former NFL running back Najeh Davenport is coming to Wellington in July to teach local children some techniques of his sport.

Davenport is teaming up with Wellington’s Community Services and Parks & Recreation departments to offer a one-day football camp.

The NTD Football Skills Camp runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 11 at Village Park. It is open to children ages 9-17. The cost is $50 per child, which includes lunch.

The deadline to register is June 25. Space is limited. Athletes must wear proper attire consisting of gym shorts, t-shirt, sneakers, or football cleats during all camp activities.

Davenport and former professional and collegiate athletes will serve as coaches during the camp, which will focus on developing athletes’ skills and techniques.
In seven seasons with the NFL from 2002-2008, Davenport played with the Green Bay Packers, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Indianapolis Colts. Before that, he was also part of the University of Miami’s National Championship-winning football team in 2001.

For information or to register, call 561-791-4764 or visit the “Parks & Recreation” page on wellingtonfl.gov.

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Running the ball, and catching it out of the backfield, makes rookie Duke Johnson a potential impact player for the Browns

The running game will be more diverse, dependable, and capable of big plays.

This assumes the natural maturation of second-year backs Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West, and an immediate breakout season from rookie third-round pick Duke Johnson.

The Duke: While the revamped passing game of new coordinator John DeFilippo has been less than scintillating in OTA sessions open to media scrutiny, the running game has been a source of optimism.

Part of that optimism is due to the fact that there is no hitting at this early time of the new season, which allows almost every running play to work just as it’s been drawn up in the playbook, without stops and fumbles.

Also, the multi-faceted skill set of Johnson, the third-round pick from University of Miami, has been evident.

After a particularly good day in OTAs last week, coach Mike Pettine said of Johnson, “I think we’ve all seen what he can bring – the explosiveness and how we can turn a handoff or a short pass into a significant gain with a back like that.”

At the organization’s first tub-thumping Fan Fest last weekend, Farmer said Johnson has “playmaking ability and supreme confidence. I think he is going to be tremendous for us.”

Besides a proven record as a plant foot-and-go runner at Miami, Johnson brings the ability to run a route, catch a pass and turn it upfield. Neither Crowell nor West did that last year. Throwing to the backs has been a recognizable addition to the offense in OTAs.

“I definitely do think it creates an opportunity (for me),” Johnson said last week. “I think that’s why they brought me in. I’m kind of a change-of-pace back that can kind of line up anywhere and run things that maybe most running backs can’t. I’m looking forward to seeing just the different ways we use me on offense. If it’s from receiver, routes out of the backfield … whatever it takes, I’m all in.”

The trivia answer: One thing I like about Johnson is his humble take on his place in The U’s totem pole of outstanding running backs.

Johnson’s 3,519 rushing yards are the most in the glorious running back history of the Hurricanes.

This is a college program that has produced noteworthy backs such as Chuck Foreman, Ottis Anderson, Melvin Bratton, Alonzo Highsmith, Edgerrin James, Willis McGahee, Clinton Portis, Stephen McGuire, James Jackson, Lamar Miller and Frank Gore. And Johnson out-produced them in essentially 2 ½ seasons because he left early and one of his seasons was shortened by a broken ankle.

When I mentioned to Johnson that he could stump trivia buffs with his place at the top of UM’s rushing annals, he didn’t disagree. He also struck the right tones about his Miami career.

“Yeah, from the outside looking in, I probably wouldn’t guess me, either,” Johnson said. “Just because what those guys were able to do as far as wins, and I guess the way they were able to do it, that’s why those names will always be at the top of my list.”

Asked whom he puts on the top of his list, Johnson wouldn’t name his favorite.

“Just for the record, in my book I’m not at the top,” Johnson said. “I’ll probably be fifth, sixth. I’ll probably be toward the middle bottom. I won’t be one.

“I still haven’t done anything close to what those guys were able to do, as far as winning.”

It’s good to hear a Browns running back be humble and realistic. They just may have found their most impactful new player on offense. Then again, we can’t say for sure until we see Johnson absorb a hit, break or miss real tackles, and catch a pass with a linebacker storming in on him.

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Why Jon Beason is more important to the New York Giants than you think

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants middle linebacker Jon Beason is a year removed from the foot injury that cost him basically all of the 2014 season. He hasn't played a full 16 games since 2010. For those reasons, the Giants are taking it slowly with Beason this spring, limiting his practice work in an effort to maximize his chances of playing as many games as possible once those games start to count.

"It's basically a non-issue," Beason said after Monday's OTA practice. "I'm only limited based on the time of year."

In the meantime, Beason said, the time spent learning Steve Spagnuolo's defense has him thinking back to his school days.

"It makes you feel young again," Beason said. "You're sitting there in meetings and obviously you have to pay attention so you can take it all home with you and get ready for the next install. It's exciting."

Which is a big part of the plan for the Giants' defense this year, and a big reason why Beason matters.

Remember the story from rookie minicamp about how Spanguolo, who's back for a second tour of duty as Giants defensive coordinator, has been challenging his players to learn about the history of the Giants' defense? It's a good idea. Spagnuolo is wise to lean on the Giants' star-studded defensive history, as it is among the more potentially effective motivational tools available to him. And there's a real chance that this year's Giants defense is going to need to be quite highly motivated in order to succeed.

Yes, it is only June, and many surprises both positive and negative await the Giants and every other team between now and September. But on paper, at this point, a Giants defense that ranked 29th in the league last year looks as though it could be grossly outmanned in 2015. And if that's the case, its coaches and leaders need to make sure the emotion and the intensity get and stay as high as possible to help overcome the personnel deficiencies.

As of right now, the starting safeties would be Cooper Taylor and rookie Landon Collins. The pass rush after Jason Pierre-Paul is loaded with question marks. Pierre-Paul himself hasn't been to a practice yet, though that is his right and the Giants aren't worried about getting him up to speed, but if he were to get hurt, the defensive line would suddenly look like a major weakness. They're not as deep at cornerback as they were this time last year, and the linebacker group, as usual, scares no one.

You are welcome, as a fan, to hope as much as you'd like. Especially in June. But an impartial look at the Giants roster reveals a defense that's going to have to play way over its head in order to succeed. Spagnuolo likely knows this and is trying to do what he can to make that happen. Sowing seeds for that in April, May and June can absolutely have an effect in September and beyond.

But Beason's a part of this as well. He was the one whose arrival jump-started a lackluster Giants defense in 2013. He was the one who took over the on-field general role and calmed everyone down. He was the one who encouraged teammates to go to then-coordinator Perry Fewell with their ideas about how to simplify things, and who helped convince Fewell to listen.

Beason's a fine player when healthy, but those intangibles are a big part of the reason the Giants re-signed him after 2013. He understands his role as on-field and locker room leader. He's spoken to Antonio Pierce, the former Giants middle who was part of the 2007-08 defense that helped beat the unbeaten Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, about the importance of the middle linebacker in Spagnuolo's scheme. (Pierce, now an ESPN NFL analyst, was in East Rutherford last Thursday to address the defense as part of Spagnuolo's ongoing history lessons.) And he's already talking up the idea that this defense, with the return of himself, Prince Amukamara, Robert Ayers and Trumaine McBride from injury, could be better than it was last year.

"I think we're a lot healthier, and that's the important part," Beason said.

It's one of the most important parts. But improved health isn't likely all the Giants' defense needs to take a big leap in 2015. It will need to get and keep the energy and intensity as high as possible. And that's why Beason matters.

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Antrel Rolle says new Chicago Bears defense is coming together

The Chicago Bears are undergoing a major transition on the defensive side of the ball. Coordinator Vic Fangio is installing a new 3-4 scheme, and several fresh faces litter the lineup.

One of the 2015 additions is Antrel Rolle, a safety acquired in free agency. As he makes personal adjustments to a morphing situation, Rolle can see the defensive unit, as a whole, getting acclimated to what Fangio is asking of it, according to ESPN's Jeff Dickerson.

"Everything is coming together, for sure," Rolle told ESPN. "There's still a lot of work left to be done, which is expected, but things are coming together. The feeling is good and the tempo is great. We're just getting to know each other, and that definitely takes time. We're just waiting for it to all click."

There's no telling when that "click" will come, but early progress is encouraging for a Bears defense that struggled mightily to slow opponents last season. Chicago ranked 30th out of 32 teams in terms of total yards allowed in 2014 (6,033).

As for Rolle's specific impact in the new defense, the 32-year-old veteran brings Super Bowl experience to the unit. His leadership and expertise will be absolutely integral in the deep secondary.

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WATCH: Andre Iguodala tries to congratulate James Jones for block

Cleveland Cavaliers forward James Jones is not much of a shot blocker. He had eight total in the regular season, which was his highest total since 2011-12. That's why it seemed so shocking when he blocked Golden State Warriors swingman Andre Iguodala's shot so emphatically in Thursday's Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

The best part of the play wasn't the block itself, though. The best part was when Iguodala tried to shake Jones' hand to congratulate him. Of course, the businesslike Jones left him hanging.

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Yasmani Grandal switches up approach to stay ahead

For Yasmani Grandal, baseball is all about the small adjustments you make to stay ahead of the league.

As the Dodgers' catcher, he sees it with the batters who parade in front of him almost every day. Working with six different pitchers during a 7-6 victory over Arizona on Wednesday night, Grandal had to change how he called the game to match each hurler’s strengths and weaknesses, all the while accounting for the particular foibles of each individual hitter.

It’s a delicate balance, one that, despite his best efforts, sometimes fails. The Diamondbacks put up six runs Wednesday, including a pair of home runs from Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock.

Pollock’s four-bagger came in the top of the ninth, tying the game. Grandal can explain the exact intent and purpose of the pitch that Pollock launched into the left-field bleachers, can show how it played to Dodger closer Kenley Jansen’s strengths and Pollock’s weaknesses. But by missing just a fraction, Jansen put the ball where Pollock could adjust and send the game to the brink of extra innings.

“That’s just something you got to do as a player, as a catcher, as a pitcher,” Grandal said. “Just adjust to the league, over and over. It was a fastball that didn’t cut … and that’s kinda his sweet spot right there. Not too many guys on that team miss that pitch.”

Part of the problem might be rust; Grandal and the bullpen have not had to work too closely as of late, as the Dodgers’ starters went on a streak of six straight quality starts. But Grandal said it was a nice change of pace to see the bullpen come to the rescue this time, relieving beleaguered starter Brett Anderson after five innings.
“They did a really good job to get us out of that inning with [Joel] Peralta on second and [Mike] Ahmed on third, one out,” Grandal said. “They came back. Yimi [Garcia] did a great job … J.P. [Howell] did a great job. I even think Kenley did a great job after giving up that home run, coming back and settling down.”

When it comes to outsmarting hitters, Grandal said it all comes down to studying trends and making adjustments to exploit a batter’s weak spots, something he thinks the bullpen did a decent job of Wednesday, Pollock’s homer aside.

On the flip side, Grandal has had to make some adjustments of his own as a hitter after a slow start in June.

Coming back from a concussion at the end of May, Grandal’s offensive production suffered from his time off. His average in May (.375) dropped more than 100 points to .241, and he managed just one extra base hit and no RBIs after putting up eight and 18, respectively, in May.

Recently, however, his bat has shown signs of life, as he collected three hits in the Arizona series, including a home run Wednesday, and also drew a pair of walks while striking out just once. His three-game hit streak is the longest he has had since May 2-5.

Again, Grandal credited the recent swings in production to adjustments that pitchers made to combat his May success, and his subsequent changes in response.
“I feel fine. Hitting-wise, there were a few tweaks here and there,” he said. “I just wasn’t feeling it. That was just the result of not being able to swing for a whole week. … It was just a matter of time. We’re 60 games into the season, and I’ve changed the way I hit. And I’m hitting pitches I wasn’t hitting before, so now the league is adjusting you, and you have to adjust to the league again.”

After a day off, Grandal and the Dodgers head to San Diego to face his former team of three years. And while he said there will be no special meaning to the matchup, the third series between the two squads this year, he assuredly will have to make some adjustments.

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Seahawks encouraged by Jimmy Graham’s blocking

Tight end Jimmy Graham is going from an offense that didn’t ask him to block all that much to an offense that will ask him to do so far more frequently.

Early returns on Graham’s blocking ability from the Seahawks have been mostly positive.

“I think Jimmy is going to be fine,” offensive line coach Tom Cable said Tuesday. “He cares so much. The only setback was missing that first week so some of the foundational stuff he missed out on and we will catch him up on that – he kind of came back right in the middle of the install. If anything that is maybe where he is a little bit behind. But I think he is doing wonderful and maybe is a lot more than people understood him to be and he certainly has proven that every day here.”

The sentiment from Graham is that he’s fully capable of being a good blocker, he just hasn’t been asked to very often.

“Listen man, I’m 270 pounds,” Graham said. “I can block anybody I want to. It’s all about want to.”

Marshawn Lynch is still set to be the team’s primary offensive cog and will work off their rushing attack. By nature, Graham will have to line up and block more frequently. It’s a task he’s happy to accept.

“Personally, I’m excited to block. When you go in the game and you’re guarded by corners and safeties for most of your career and you keep getting doubled, that’s never a good thing. I know that’s just going to help this offense out. It’ll help give looks to where guys can’t stack the box with 10 guys.

“So for me, it’s all positive. I can’t wait. That’s what I’ve been focusing on since I got here. The routes and the passing offense, that obviously comes natural. So for me, it about focusing on what they’re trying to do here, which is the running game. It’s the staple of this offense and I’m proud the be a part of it.”

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Ryan Braun leaves game early, insists he's fine

Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun left Wednesday's game early with a bout of dizziness, but doesn't believe it's anything to worry about.

"It could be from allergies or something. I'm not sure what the cause is," Braun told Brewers.com. "I thought it was from being dehydrated and I kept drinking water. It wasn't getting better. It was kind of weird. But I'm fine."

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Peter O'Brien draws powerful comparisons

When it comes to comparisons, baseball is king. Front office personnel as well as managers and coaches love to compare a rising prospect to a household name.

Rarely do those comparisons come to fruition. But, sometimes, when talking about one specific aspect of a young player's game a comparison can be spot on.

In that regard, when it comes to the prodigious power Diamondbacks prospect Peter O'Brien possesses, the names Mark McGwire, Mike Piazza and Wily Mo Pena came up in a KRNV report out of Reno.

"There's no explanation for the sound, I can't really tell you what it is," Triple-A Reno manager Phil Nevin told the TV station. "It's a different one. It almost sounds like it's a tennis ball coming off the bat.

"Mark McGwire was one and Mike Piazza is another one. Those are sounds you don't forget when you're playing against somebody on the field and when you hear those things happen when you're standing around the cage as a coach -- it catches your eye."

Reno Aces radio broadcaster Ryan Radtke offered his own comparison.

"It's almost like a gunshot," Radtke said. "You hear balls off the bat in batting practice and it's just the sound of the ball coming off the bat. When it comes off his bat you turn to look because there's that different sound. Was that a baseball? Or was that something else? It's just amazing.

"He's the only guy that I have ever compared to Wily Mo Pena. If you watch the balls that Peter O'Brien hit he has ridiculous power. It's really a lot of fun to watch."
Pena hit 21 home runs in 63 games with Reno in 2011.

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Clive Walford climbing the ladder

Third-round pick Clive Walford, a tight end out of Miami, has made an immediate impact with backup quarterback Christian Ponder and third-stringer Matt McGloin.

The Raiders knew Walford could go up and get the ball and had the size to hold his own as an in-line blocker. What defenders have learned is Walford's functional speed is better than he shows in a 40-yard dash.

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Titans place CB Brandon Harris on IR

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans signed veteran C Fernando Velasco and placed CB Brandon Harris (knee) on injured reserve.

Velasco (6-4, 310) re-joins the franchise where he started his career as an undrafted free agent in 2008. He has 73 games of NFL experience and 49 of those games were in a Titans uniform.

Over the past two seasons, Velasco started 11 games for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013 and played in 13 games with seven starts for the Carolina Panthers last season.

In four seasons (2009-2012) on the Titans active roster, Velasco started 19 games. He originally joined the Titans as an undrafted free agent in 2008 from the University of Georgia, where he was a two-year starter.

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Reggie Wayne still wants to play again when healthy

Could legendary Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne resurface in the NFL?

Wayne's contract expired in Indianapolis at the end of the season, and the Colts announced that they would not re-sign the former first-round pick. Many believed Wayne, who has battled injuries the past few years, would simply retire.

However, a report from NFL.com's Ian Rapoport says Wayne does not want to retire and is simply waiting to get fully healthy following triceps surgery in search of another NFL opportunity.

The report indicated that Wayne could be ready to go around the time training camps open in late July, which means he could be an option for a team that feels it is short at receiver or has a receiver suffer a training camp injury.

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Andre Johnson says Andrew Luck is best QB in NFL

INDIANAPOLIS -- New Indianapolis Colts receiver Andre Johnson dealt with a revolving door at quarterback during his 12-year career with the Houston Texans.

Johnson believes that door will finally stop moving for him now. Although he's only been working with Andrew Luck for a short period of time, Johnson already believes he's catching passes from the best quarterback in the NFL.

"He's a hell of a player," Johnson said. "I think he's the best quarterback in this game."

That's a lot of praise for a player who has yet to reach the Super Bowl, especially since future Hall of Famers like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are still in the NFL.
Johnson, who was released by the Texans, said he wanted his next team to be in the position to compete for a Super Bowl and for it to have one of the premier quarterbacks in the league.

Luck's 12,957 yards passing are the most by any quarterback in the first three seasons of his career. He's also led the Colts to 12 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime in his first three seasons.

"When you look at all the teams that have won Super Bowls over the past few years, they've all had great quarterback play, and we have a great quarterback here," Johnson said. "I can't say I've been fortunate enough to play with a great quarterback in my 12 years in this league, so I'm able to play with one now."

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Lamar Miller Looking To Take Game To Next Level

A big source of optimism for the Dolphins offense for the 2015 season, and rightfully so, has been the steady improvement of quarterback Ryan Tannehillicon-article-link since he entered the NFL as a 2012 draft pick.

Another reason should be the fact that running back Lamar Millericon-article-link has been on that exact same path.

It hasn’t gotten quite as much attention, no doubt in large part because Tannehill plays the most important position on the field, but Miller also has done nothing but get better since he joined the Dolphins as a fourth-round pick in the 2012 NFL draft.

Miller quietly put together a very impressive 2014 season when he recorded the 13th 1,000-yard rushing season in franchise history, but he’s looking for bigger and better things in the fall.

“It was a great personal achievement, but I’ve still got a lot of work to do,” Miller said. “I’ve been watching film, trying to correct myself. I feel I’ve still got more things that I could do to help this team win. I’m just trying to get better every day to try to go to that next level.”

One main focus for Miller this spring has been trying to find the right weight to carry during the 2015 season.

Listed at 224 pounds on the roster, Miller says his weight has been fluctuating throughout the spring.

“It’s been going up and down,” Miller said. “Right now, I’m just trying to find the comfortable weight. I try every day to weigh something different to see how I feel when I’m running the ball, just try to be more comfortable with my right weight.

“I’m still trying to figure it out. By the time the offeason comes, that’s when I’ll find out where I want to play about. I’m going to try to be playing like 219 maybe.”

Miller finished the 2014 season with 1,099 rushing yards, which ranked 10th in the NFL. But Miller accomplished that feat with an average of 13.5 rushing attempts per game, the lowest total among the 13 1,000-yard rushers around the league last season. It also was the lowest total for any of the 13 1,000-yard rushing performances in Dolphins history.

Miller averaged 5.09 yards per carry, which was the second-highest figure among all 1,000-yard rushers around the NFL, behind only the 5.36 turned in by Baltimore’s Justin Forsett.

Also, Miller produced first downs with 26.4 of his rushes, second again among 1,000-yard rushers in the NFL?Cincinnati’s Jeremy Hill had a 27.5 percent figure).

Lastly, there’s the stat about Miller’s work on third-and-1, which is illuminating considering Head Coach Joe Philbin was asked after the OTA practice Monday about those exact situations being difficult for Miller.

Well, as it turned out, Miller was 9-for-11 in third-and-1 runs when it came to producing first downs. That 81.8 success rate happened to be first in the AFC among players with at least eight third-and-1 rushing attempts and third in the entire league behind only Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch (92.3) and Carolina quarterback Cam Newton (90.9).

“I think, when we look closely at his third-and-1, it’s maybe not as low as everybody thinks it is,” Philbin said. “Again, I don’t have the stats in front of me, but I know I’ve looked at them and they’re not as bad as you would think. I can think of a couple of goal-line touchdown runs that he’s had, one in Chicago, one in New England I think he had, Green Bay I believe he scored in a red zone, goal line type situation. Those are just popping into me.

“I thought he played well. The thing I like about Lamar is he rushed for, again, don’t quote me on the exact numbers, but 200 yards as a rookie, 700 yards in his second year, 1,100 yards in his third year. So I think that bodes well for this year coming up and the kind of development that’s a credit to him and the hard work that he’s put in. You’ve seen some definite improvement and results. I’m real pleased with him and looking forward to him having a big season.”

The exact numbers for Miller’s career are 250 rushing yards as a rookie in 2012, 709 yards in 2013 and 1,099 yards last season.

Miller’s reception totals also have gone up each year, from only six in 2012 to 26 and finally 38 last season.

Like everything else, Miller is hoping the numbers just continue to improve in 2015.

The goal, Miller said, is to become an all-around back.

“I’m entering my fourth year; I’m familiar with everything,” Miller said. “Toward the end of the (2014) season I was getting more comfortable with everything, with the blocking scheme, just trusting my guys, the offensive line, and the coaches were giving me the opportunity. I think Year 4, I’m still learning the offense a little bit more, but I’m pretty much familiar with everything now. I’m looking forward to this upcoming season.

“I’m just trying to continue to get better, build off the season that I had last year, just try to be productive and just try to make plays.”

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Frank Gore in store for monster season with Colts?

As one of a boatload of veterans to bolt from San Francisco this offseason, Frank Gore couldn't be happier with his new home in Indianapolis.

The five-time Pro Bowl running back spent a decade with the Niners seeing nothing but eight- and nine-man defensive fronts, an approach that opponents can't take against a stocked Colts offense led by the game's best young quarterback in Andrew Luck.

"With these weapons and Luck, I think it should be a light box," Gore told reporters Tuesday, per NFL Media's Jeff Darlington. "I've never seen a six-man front. Hopefully, this year it happens. And hopefully, I can take advantage of it."

If he can stay fresh during his age 32 campaign, Gore gives the Colts one of the NFL's hardest-charging runners and a player who finished ninth, 11th and fifth in yards after contact over the past three seasons. His arrival fills an immediate need in Indy, where Colts backs have produced just one 100-yard game during Luck's 48 starts.

Luck already sees the benefit of having Gore in the huddle. He gushed to Darlington about the runner's pristine pass-protection and knowledge of the playbook, and told ESPN.com that Gore has "picked up on a bunch of stuff that guys who have been here three years haven't picked up."

Before last season, tight end Coby Fleener defended Trent Richardson's underwhelming play in Indy, telling Around The NFL that T-Rich joined "an offense that's probably one of the most complex in the NFL," adding that "it took me a year and a half to learn the offense."

Gore won't have those issues. At 32, he's nearing the end of his stellar career, but we don't doubt his ability to operate as a backfield fireball for at least one more season.

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Texans considering bringing back center Chris Myers

The Houston Texans released veteran center Chris Myers in March. Now, they appear to want him back.

According to a report from John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, the Texans have reached out to Myers about returning to the team.

Myers, who was Houston's starting center for seven seasons before being cut, is said to be weighing offers from multiple teams.

The 33-year-old never missed a start during his time in Houston. His release helped free up $6 million in salary cap space for the Texans. 

Ben Jones, who played guard last season, has been working at center for Houston in OTAs.

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Healthy Jon Beason should revitalize Giants' defense

On Friday, it will be a year.

June 12, 2014, was the day Jon Beason was running across a grass field at a Giants OTA workout and felt a pinch in the bottom of his foot. He had to be carted away from practice, tried to rehab the injury without surgery (which included a lengthy immobilization and missing all of training camp), and played only four regular-season games before he was forced to have a corrective procedure.

The injury weakened the Giants' defense, undermined his role as a leader and was one of the medical issues that contributed to a miserable season.

Which is why when Beason was asked on Monday if he believes the unit is better than its abysmal ranking in 2014, he responded in the affirmative.

"We're a lot healthier, too," he said. "That's everything. That's the most important part."

For Beason, throughout his career, it has been. When he's able to be on the field, he's a dynamic player. But too often injuries have kept him away.

So far this spring, he's been feeling good.

"I'm able to run around and it feels great," the middle linebacker said. "Change of direction feels good. It is literally a non-issue. We are just being smart. I'm still limited just based on the time of year."

He said if the season were to start this week, he'd be ready to play -- at least physically. Mentally, he still has some learning to do when it comes to Steve Spagnuolo's new schemes.

"You're sitting there in meetings and you obviously have to pay attention and go home every day and get ready for the next install," Beason said. "Not even just watching myself, but watching everybody. Every rep that I can get, mentally, on the iPad, has been clutch so far. Just trying to go through it and get familiar with it so you know it like the back of your hand.

"It makes you feel young again," the 30-year-old Beason noted.

If it makes his play young again, the Giants will be all for that, too.

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Reggie Wayne Is Renting Out His Miami Condo

Dreaming of living the lifestyle of an NFL baller? Reggie Wayne can help you get there—at least in the arena of real estate. The former Indianapolis Colts wide receiver is renting out his cozy downtown Miami condo for $5,999 a month.

The two-bedroom waterfront unit blends in nicely with its surroundings thanks to a sandy color scheme. The stark white color in the kitchen is reminiscent of the white caps on the waves visible from the balcony.

The master suite features a sliding door with access to the balcony, and a walk-in closet large enough to hold an entire team’s collection of jerseys. In the master bathroom you’ll find a large Roman bathtub with separate shower, a roomy vanity with double sinks, and access to a laundry room.

The fully equipped kitchen has glass-front and open cabinets that add visual depth to the room, matching appliances, and enough counter space to easily prepare a large meal.

In the open floor plan, the living and dining rooms are brought together by glossy tile. There’s also an expansive sliding glass door to the balcony that fills the 1,919-square-foot condo with bright Florida sunshine.

There’s also a guest bedroom and another full bathroom in the condo, but the most valuable player in this space is the view. A wraparound balcony offers up impressive views of the Atlantic Ocean, as well as views of skyscrapers and yacht-filled marinas in the neighborhood.

It is hard to say where the three-time All-Pro wideout will land after the Colts announced that they wouldn’t re-sign the 14-year veteran. Now that the 36-year-old is a free agent, rumors are flying about who might sign him next. The Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns, and even the Jacksonville Jaguars are rumored to be in the running for his services.

Wayne has racked up 82 touchdowns in his career, and it’ll be interesting to see if the former Colt can make the cut in a new city. While his on-field fate is up in the air, he’s keeping his options open in Miami.

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Andrew Luck Gushes About Frank Gore in Passing Game

Earlier in the team’s OTA’s, recently signed Indianapolis Colts running back Frank Gore only issued a glowing report about his new quarterback’s intelligence in Andrew Luck. However, it appears that professional admiration now goes both ways.

Today at Mini-Camp, Luck had nothing but high praise for his new starting running back in Gore. While many fans have been solely discussing Gore’s significance in upgrading the Colts ground game, it’s very easy to forget that he’s also a tremendous asset in the passing game, both in receiving and pass blocking, something his star quarterback has specifically taken notice of per the Indy Star’s Stephen Holder:

Earlier in the team’s OTA’s, recently signed Indianapolis Colts running back Frank Gore only issued a glowing report about his new quarterback’s intelligence in Andrew Luck. However, it appears that professional admiration now goes both ways.

Today at Mini-Camp, Luck had nothing but high praise for his new starting running back in Gore. While many fans have been solely discussing Gore’s significance in upgrading the Colts ground game, it’s very easy to forget that he’s also a tremendous asset in the passing game, both in receiving and pass blocking, something his star quarterback has specifically taken notice of per the Indy Star’s Stephen Holder:

Luck’s not the only one gushing about Gore however. When asked about his new running back, Chuck Pagano praised his professionalism today at Colts mini-camp:

“He’s a pro,” said Pagano. “He knows how to work, and he knows how to take care of his body, and that’s why he’s been able to do the things that he’s done to this point in his career. He doesn’t take time off. So, it’s year-round for Frank. He loves football and when the season’s over, it’s a nightmare for a guy like that. He’s just one of those guys.”

It sounds like his new coaches and teammates are glowing about Gore all around. So far, it’s been a very smooth transition for the longtime 49ers running back, and the Colts and Luck are clearly happy to now have him in their offense.

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Calais Campbell will represent Cardinals on 'Celebrity Family Feud'

Survey says…Calais Campbell had a great time over the weekend filming 'Celebrity Family Feud'. Campbell will represent the NFC team along with Vernon Davis, Matt Forte, Eddie Lacy, and Thomas Davis. 

"It was a good time. I had fun," Campbell said, via ESPN.com. "I don’t want to give any spoiler alert, but it was definitely entertaining. (Host) Steve Harvey definitely made fun of a lot of us, including me."

Campbell said Harvey did not hold back on any of his jokes and was making fun of everyone. He said he was "just hanging out, doing comedian stuff, making everybody laugh. All of us laughed."

The celebrity series of 'Family Feud' will begin June 21 on ABC.

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Sam Shields says Packers CBs 'better' than in '14; coach not so sure

When Sam Shields was packing up his locker in January following the Green Bay Packers' postseason exit, he knew he'd be putting everything back into his cubbyhole four months later. As Shields looked to his right and saw Tramon Williams and Davon House gathering their belongings at the time, he assumed that at least one of those cornerbacks would be back with him when players reported for organized team activities in spring.

Instead, by the time OTAs began, Shields realized that being 27 years old meant he was now the oldest player the Packers have at cornerback. Williams, who had been the veteran of the secondary, signed with the Cleveland Browns. House, who entered the NFL one year after Shields, went 1,300 miles south to try to help in the rebuilding process of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In typical Ted Thompson fashion, Green Bay replaced Williams and House with younger, cheaper options by drafting Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins in the first two rounds.

As practices got under way, Shields watched the new-look cornerback group work on the field and wasn't discouraged by the results. In fact, Shields' impression was quite the opposite.

"I think it's better," Shields said of the Packers' 2015 cornerbacks compared to in 2014. "There's a lot more talent in there."

Swapping out 30 career interceptions and 140 passes defensed between Williams and House for two rookies would typically represent a step down, at least temporarily. That would seem especially true considering Rollins spent his first four years of college playing basketball, and Randall initially chose baseball over football.

The culture that cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt has created, though, is one of competition. He has instilled the idea that the best players will play, regardless of contracts or draft status. And that's part of the reason for Shields being so encouraged by the roster turnover at the position.

"That one position, everybody wants it, and it's open," Shields said of the starting spot that had belonged to Williams. "Not just that position; my position, too. I have to keep doing what I have to do, because somebody could take mine, too. A thing like that is, everybody is going to be a big competition. Whoever wants it."

However, Whitt isn't feeling the same amount of optimism right now as Shields. Of the 10 players that Whitt currently has in his room, only two of them (Shields and Casey Hayward) have ever played a regular-season snap at outside cornerback in the NFL.

"I have a bunch of guys that don't know how to play football right now, and we have to figure out how to get them to play in the NFL," Whitt said.

Whitt noted that defensive back Micah Hyde is "a backup safety" who is "primarily" with safeties coach Darren Perry. Whitt focuses on the players who are being considered at outside cornerback, a list that Hyde is not a part of.

Whitt recently had a heated exchange with his young, relatively inexperienced group of cornerbacks. He wanted to make sure he got his point across about expectations.

"I'm not trying to win football games, OK? I'm trying to get a group of men ready to go after a championship," Whitt said. "And in that mindset, we're not where we need to be. If we're going to go out there right now, they can play well. I'm not trying to play well. I'm trying to have a unit that's a top-five unit in the league.

"Play like we played when we did win the Super Bowl (in the 2010 season). Play like we played when we had the defensive player of the league (Charles Woodson), when we led the league in interceptions (in 2009 and 2011). That's what I'm looking for.

"Until we play that way, I'm really not going to be happy with what I see until we get that level of play. That's what I'm looking for. They understand that. It's a group that's going to go get it. I don't know who the guys are going to be that are going to do it, but there's somebody in that room, and I'm confident that the men that will get it done are in that room. I just don't know who they are right now."

Whitt added that if rookies such as Randall and Rollins didn't understand how high his expectations were before, it became loud and clear after a confrontation early in OTAs.

"I lost my mind in there," Whitt said. "They have a firm understanding of what I'm looking for."

Second-year player Demetri Goodson, who didn't earn himself any defensive snaps as a rookie, said Whitt is "super hard" on everybody, but described him as "a great, great coach."

Whitt isn't normally the type of coach to yell, and his current top players haven't been that vocal throughout their careers.

"That's something that's hard for me," Shields said. "I try my best. I do get in the young guys' head and tell them what's wrong and what's right, things like that. And they do listen. That's a good thing."

Hayward is "about the same" in terms of speaking up to the group, according to Shields, who insisted "it's not being loud" that matters. Shields knows it's on him now, though, to let his voice be heard.

"I've always been ready for this position," Shields said. "I didn't know it was coming. We lost two wonderful guys (in Williams and House). I'm the oldest of the group, so I have to step up and play that role."

Hayward will be looking to earn a new contract next offseason as he plays out the final year of his rookie deal, Randall and Rollins will just be getting their feet wet in the NFL, Goodson's future is still very much in to-be-determined mode, and undrafted rookies like Ladarius Gunter and Bernard Blake have a ton to learn.

It puts a lot on Whitt's plate to make sure they all stay on the same page. It's a group that also has to improve quickly if Green Bay's cornerbacks are going to be
ready for the regular season in early September.

"We have an immense amount of work to do," Whitt said. "That's the only thing I think about right now. We have a lot to work through."

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Dolphins sign receiver Tommy Streeter

Former Miami Hurricanes wide receiver Tommy Streeter is getting another shot in Miami.

The Dolphins signed Streeter today, a league source tells PFT.

Streeter was a sixth-round pick of the Ravens in 2006 but suffered a foot injury in the preseason and never played in Baltimore. He has also bounced around the league with the Bills, Buccaneers and Jaguars

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Browns talk up Duke Johnson

Speaking at Browns Fan Fest on Saturday, GM Ray Farmer praised third-round pick Duke Johnson's "playmaking ability and supreme confidence."

"I think he's going to be tremendous for us," added Farmer. The 77th overall pick, Johnson was a dynamic all-purpose back at Miami, and offers a more versatile repertoire than projected starter Isaiah Crowell. Johnson will be an intriguing late-round target for owners planning to use the "Zero RB" strategy in 2015.

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Anthony Chickillo Paying Attention To The Details

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) – Rookie Pittsburgh Steeler outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo is focused on the little things during organized team activities this Spring.

“You’ve got to be detailed oriented” Chickillo said. “I’m trying to learn a whole new system and a whole new playbook so I’ve got to invest the time and be very detailed.”

The 6th round pick out of the University of Miami is aware of how complicated the Steelers system can be.

“It hasn’t been too hard but certain aspects you really have to learn. You’ve really got to get down and study. It’s a great system and I’m really eager to learn it. Anything the team asks me to do I’m going to do it.”

In addition to the studying and reading of the playbook, Chickillo also plans on getting some help from the veterans on the team.

“There’s a lot of great guys here,” Chickillo said. “I’m just trying to take it all in and learn from them.”

Chickillo’s father Tony, and grandfather Nick, played football at the University of Miami as well as spent time in the NFL.

The third generation football talent started 47 games in college with the Hurricanes. He accumulated 170 tackles and 15.5 sacks during his career.

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Ereck Flowers has all the attributes to play left tackle

There was no time for rookie Ereck Flowers to work on his technique or get acclimated to the NFL level. The New York Giants needed him to step up when starting left tackle Will Beatty tore his pectoral muscle, and since, Flowers has lined up as the first team left tackle in all six OTA practices so far. The ninth overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft was billed with technique concerns by draft analysts, but he has all of the tools to transition to the NFL game. He will need thick skin and an excellent work ethic to make things work at left tackle during his rookie season.

"You have to understand that it's going to get ugly," said  Marshall Newhouse, who is currently receiving all first team reps at right tackle, per Dan Grazziano of ESPN. "You look at the tape of the guys playing tackle in these college spread offenses, and it looks real pretty. You get out on your block, one-on-one with your guy, and you lock him up and it all works. But up here, when you look at the tape at the end of a play -- even one that was blocked well, with everybody doing their job -- and it looks ugly."

Geoff Schwartz was added in free agency last season as one of the team's biggest signings. Injuries derailed his first season with the team, and now the plan is to switch him from left guard where he played briefly in 2014 to his most natural position at right guard. He stressed that Flowers can clean up his technique issues, and that it all came down to what the rookie was willing to put into his game.

"You have to bring your A-game every day," Schwartz said, per Grazziano. "If you have any technique issues, especially when you're young, they'll expose that. There are guys up here whose only job is to rush the passer, and they have tape on you, and if you have a technique flaw, they're studying you and they're going to find it."

Schwartz has all the confidence in the world in Flowers' long-term potential based on what he has seen so far.

"Ereck has all the attributes to play left tackle," Schwartz said. "He's got the size, the strength, the athleticism and the attitude."

For the Giants, while Flowers' long-term upside is excellent, they will need him to realize his potential as soon as the 2015 season if they want to make it back to the postseason.

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Ladarius Gunter's Attitude Influencing Younger Brothers

On LaDarius Gunter’s path from Jeff Davis to the NFL, one thing is still the same from when he first started: The jersey color.

The 6-foot-1, 202-pound defensive back went from JD to Fort Scott Community College, and then to Miami. After earning a starting spot midway through his sophomore season in 2012, he started every game he played in for the rest of his career. But when the NFL draft ended in early May, he saw seven rounds go by without his name being called.

After the draft, he received calls from about a dozen teams, and finally decided on the best spot for him.

“He was like, ‘I’m going to be in the same colors as JD.’ That’s how I knew it was the Green Bay Packers,” LaDarius’ mother, Kimberly Gunter said.

Green Bay’s track record of developing undrafted cornerbacks like Sam Shields and Tramon Williams appealed to LaDarius. Now with Green Bay for its OTAs, he’s hoping he’ll be the next undrafted defensive back to make a name with the Packers.

“Green Bay is known for free-agent play. They let the best guy play. I felt like if I came in and competed, I had a good chance to make the team whether I was drafted or not. They let the best guy play, and I feel like I can compete with anybody,” Gunter said. “I’m never going to be content with just making it, but at the same time I have to come to work and put on my big-boy pads. Just making it isn’t good enough. I’m trying to compete, and I’m trying to be the best that I can be.”

It’s that attitude that’s translated to his younger brothers, Trey and Terrell, who are hoping to make an impact with Jeff Davis this season. Trey, heading into his junior year, played quarterback on junior varsity last year. Seeing his brother’s success, Trey is eyeing a switch to defensive back.

“It just motivates me to do better. Just keep striving. Try to be better than what he is,” Trey said. “We’ve just been talking from time to time. He’s been telling me how tired he is, how different it is up there. And he keeps telling me, ‘If you keep doing what you’ve got to do, you might be up here with me one day.’”

Terrell, a sophomore, has settled on cornerback and is using tips from LaDarius to get better in the offseason.

“He tells me how to backpedal, how to keep my arms settled, how to turn and open, everything how to play cornerback,” Terrell said. “It’s an amazing feeling that I have somebody in my family that’s doing this, and that’s where I’m setting my goals to do the same thing he’s doing.”

Kimberly said she’s seen how LaDarius’ success has affected his younger brothers, and how he inspires them to improve.

“They they look up to him. They saw what he went through, the struggles he had to overcome. That makes them more determined to go after their dreams as well. They want to follow his footsteps,” Kimberly said. “My favorite thing he told them was, ‘Don’t let anything intimidate you. There’s going to be others that are bigger and better, but if you believe in yourself, you can do it.’

“It brings tears to my eyes just to know that he’s looking out for them. He has their best interests at heart. He has made a big impression on all of our lives.”

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Brandon Washington Getting Starter's Reps During OTAs

The St. Louis Rams began organized team activities this week, but they’re still without starting left tackle Greg Robinson, who is recovering from toe surgery, and left guard Rodger Saffold, who is making his way back from shoulder surgery. As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s Joe Lyons recently detailed in his notes from OTAs, the Rams are providing several backups with an extended chance to prove themselves:

With left tackle Greg Robinson (toe) and left guard Rodger Saffold (shoulder) limited as they return from offseason surgery, the Friday first unit remained Brandon Washington at left tackle, veteran Garrett Reynolds at left guard and rookies Rob Havenstein and Jamon Brown at right tackle and right guard, respectively.

Despite the fact that he’s stuck around for nearly the entirety of Jeff Fisher and Les Snead’s reign at Rams Park, it’s a bit surprising to see Washington getting starting reps at left tackle. Over his three seasons with the Rams, Washington has been active for just one game while serving time on the practice squad for each of those seasons. While it’s not necessarily an ultimate indication of the organization’s faith in the player–former undrafted rookie Sean Hooey got plenty of reps with the ones last spring at left tackle but ended up being released at the end of training camp–it says something that the Rams are acting as if Washington will be the next man up if Robinson goes down.

The choice to work Washington with the ones is also a likely indication of exactly how raw fourth-rounder Andrew Donnal is. Donnal, who started for just one full collegiate season, playing right tackle for Iowa in 2014, was widely talked about as needing to develop more on-field strength before being able to perform at the NFL level. Considering that the Rams seem to be uncomfortable with even giving him reps with the starters as a fill-in during the spring, it might be an indication that Donnal will receive a “redshirt year” in 2015, just as previous Fisher/Snead draftees such as Barrett Jones, Demetrius Rhaney, and Rokevious Watkins (on injured reserve) have received before him. This way, the 6-foot-6, 313-pounder can take his time learning the offense and adding strength before the team counts on him in a game.

If Washington is ultimately pressed into duty at the position this year, he’d be one of the shortest NFL left tackles in recently memory, standing at 6-foot-2 and 320 pounds. It’s somewhat curious that Fisher, who just last month commented that 6-foot-8 rookie tackle Rob Havenstein was “too tall” to play guard, would approve of the 6-foot-7 Reynolds playing guard while Washington works at tackle.

Reynolds, who has NFL experience at both tackle and guard, will likely be the Rams’ top swingman on the offensive line this year unless another veteran is signed before training camp. The 6-foot-7, 305-pounder has started 27 career games in the NFL and should be a nice veteran depth option on the Rams’ inexperienced line.

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Ereck Flowers: Game has slowed down a bit every day

For New York Giants' rookie offensive tackle Ereck Flowers, there is no transition period. The Giants have been forced to turn to Flowers as their first team left tackle following the injury to incumbent starter Will Beatty. Of course, nothing is set in stone during OTAS and Flowers could eventually be moved to the right side or even the bench. However, the Giants have used the same first team unit for every repetition during OTAs, so it seems like they are set on giving this unit an extended look. The Giants have high expectations for Flowers.

Flowers believes that he is making steady improvements as he gets used to the game speed and new responsibilities that come along with his status as the team's first unit left tackle.

"It's just like any transition -- every day has gotten better for me," Flowers said, per NFL.com. "It's actually slowed down a little bit from the first day. It's a process. You've got to just keep at it. That's how it was in college."

Offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse has been thrust into a starting role at right tackle following the loss of Beatty. Originally, Newhouse was also thrust into a starting role, similar to what is going on with Flowers, with the Green Bay Packers several years ago. He understands the process.

"He's on a very steep curve and it's gotten even steeper," Newhouse said, per NFL.com. "To say he's getting tossed into the fire is a little bit of an understatement. He's getting tossed into a furnace with not a lot of room to move."

Veteran Justin Pugh hopes to help Flowers by offering him advice on how to eat, how to train and how to prepare himself for what is guaranteed to be the most grueling year of his career.

"Coming from college, it is the longest year of your life," Pugh said, per NFL.com.

Flowers will continue to get all of the repetitions at left tackle as the Giants round out their final set of OTAs this week.

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Kenny Phillips makes the most of his NFL comeback with Saints

He once was one of the premier safeties in the NFL. Kenny Phillips is now just trying to salvage his professional football career.

Phillips, a first-round pick of the New York Giants back in the 2008 NFL Draft, has been out of the league the past two years as he's battled a multitude of injuries. 

A knee injury sidelined Phillips part of the 2012 seasons while he was still with the Giants. After leaving New York as a free agent, he signed with the rival Philadelphia Eagles, where his surgically repaired knee hampered him throughout training camp leading to his release in August of 2013. 

Phillips, 28, has not had a single NFL tryout up until the New Orleans Saints worked him out in December 2014 and signed him to a reserve/future contract. 

A very humbled Phillips is well-aware that the NFL is a business and that injuries have derailed what was once a promising career. Still, the safety refuses to let go of those aspirations and is confident he'll make the most out of his current opportunity.

"I know why I was at home. It wasn't because I couldn't play, but because physically injuries kept me off the field," Phillips said. "If I was healthy, I'd still be playing football and at a high level. Unfortunately for me, the injuries kept me at home on the sofa the last two years."

"I'm finally healthy," he proclaimed. "I'm finally good to go."

The 31st pick in the 2008 draft, Phillips became a full-time starter in New York in 2010, when he registered 60 tackles and recovered three fumbles. A year later, he improved those numbers to 63 tackles, 11 pass defenses and four interceptions.

During the 2011-12 season, however, a knee injury derailed Phillips' career. Phillips sprained his left MCL in that December, an injury that should have cost him only two weeks. Instead, a problematic rehabilitation process prolonged how long he was sidelined. By Week 12 of that season, Phillips played but was forced from the game.

That offseason marked the end of Phillips' rookie deal, and after spurning the Giants' contract offer he became an unrestricted free agent. 

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The Eagles signed Phillips to a one-year deal only to see the safety leave OTA practice with an injury two months later. His knee continued to slow him down and eventually led to his release before Week 1 rolled around. 

Phillips wouldn't disclose much about the rehab process the past two years, but said he was finally at 100 percent. 

"It's truly a blessing. I'm finally good to go, and I'm enjoying being back here playing football," he said. "The last two years I've been home praying I get another shot, and I'm definitely excited about the Saints giving it to me."

In those two years at home, Phillips and his wife had their first child, which was a welcomed distraction while he couldn't play football. It was a "blessing in disguise," Phillips said.

Phillips is under the impression that everything happens for a reason, from having his child while he was rehabbing his knee to getting a tryout with the Saints now. 
Now, Phillips is competing for a spot for a free safety spot with Pierre Warren behind starter Jairus Byrd and backup Rafael Bush. Once considered one of the best at his position in all the NFL, he realizes what he's fighting for and is comfortable in his own skin, and he remains confident in his chances.

"This is part of the game, unfortunately, and it's the route I had to take," Phillips said. "I'm thankful to be here with the Saints. They have a great secondary, guys that can really play. They have questions and I tell them basically what I know and vice versa, because I haven't been around the game in two years.

"It's definitely exciting to be back. This is where I'm supposed to be and I'm going to take advantage of this opportunity."

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Being son of a D co-ordinator helping Kacy Rodgers II settle into unfamiliar territory of Eskimos camp

SPRUCE GROVE — He’s only been here for a couple days now, but Kacy Rodgers feels right at home with the Edmonton Eskimos.

The newest addition to training camp is actually Kacy Rodgers, the Second, considering he shares the same name as his father, who just so happens to be the New York Jets defensive co-ordinator.

So, it isn’t that much of a stretch to growing up with a defensive co-ordinator type of father to coming to the CFL and playing for a head coach who’s also one.

“We come from a football family so I remember being very young and my dad playing,” said the junior Rodgers, whose dad served a stint with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1992 — the year he was born — before playing in the CFL for one season with the Shreveport Pirates in ‘94. “I’ve been a coach’s kid my entire life, so it’s second nature at this point.”

His football-oriented upbringing has proved every bit as advantageous as having a father with connections in the biz, but Eskimos head coach Chris Jones said the six-foot-two, 208-pound product of the Miami Hurricanes program has earned his own right to be here.

“Kacy is a guy we’ve been tracking for quite some time,” said Jones, who also co-ordinates Edmonton’s defence. “(Eskimos offensive co-ordinator) Steve McAdoo is good friends with his dad and his dad knows myself and (Eskimos director of player personnel) Paul Jones.

“He’s a D co-ordinator in the League for one of the NFL teams, so Kacy’s a kid we’ve known for quite some time. He’s very athletic and really a guy who’s searching for a position. Athletically, he’s as gifted as anybody out here.”

Rodgers will need every advantage he can get after turning up to a training camp that was already four days in.

“It’s been a few months since I’ve played football,” said Rodgers, who graduated in 2013 and spent the past year working out for different teams. “I’m learning from these vets and it’s just great to be out here showcasing my skills.

“I’m just fighting for a starting position or a position on this team at all. They’ve got a lot of good players, I’m coming in here trying to do what I can and show the team what I have to offer.”

The senior Rodgers spent the past seven years coaching the defensive line of the Miami Dolphins before earning the first co-ordinator position in his 22-year coaching career.

“When I got up here, he was asking different kinds of questions because it’s kind of new for him too, being in his position,” Rodgers said. “How do we do things, and blah-blah-blah? But his main focus was to tell me good luck, go out there and make the team.

“He’s proud of me, so that means a lot.”

Of course, the life of a coach’s kid isn’t always easy, especially when it comes to the level of expectations placed on him.

“It kind of is (high), I’m just so used to it now,” Rodgers said. “Being a coach’s kid, they probably expect you to have not as many mental errors and just be a good pro.

“I’ve learned that from my dad, so I’ve got a good handle on it so far.”

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Colts' signing of Frank Gore ranked one of best veteran acquisitions this offseason

Every move made this offseason by NFL teams is in an effort to get better and to try to reach the playoffs, then getting a chance to compete for a Super Bowl berth.
Some teams have had better offseasons than others in trying to improve, and some moves have been better than others as well.

FOX Sports' Alex Marvez recently compiled a list of the top ten veteran free agent acquisitions of the offseason, and the Indianapolis Colts' signing of running back Frank Gore came in at number nine.

"After striking out on 2012 first-round pick Trent Richardson, the Colts went the free-agent route to snare Gore away from San Francisco and Philadelphia after the 49ers' all-time leading rusher was poised to sign with the Eagles."

Many people have criticized the Colts this offseason for signing older players, as they signed a 32-year old running back in Gore, a soon-to-be 34-year old wide receiver in Andre Johnson, and a 32-year old pass rusher in Trent Cole, and without a doubt the Colts added veteran players this offseason who are nearing the end of their careers.  But that doesn't mean that they were bad moves, and particularly in the case of Gore, it was a much-needed move.

Gore has been the model of consistency at the running back position for the past decade.  In ten seasons with the 49ers, Gore topped 1,000 yards rushing eight times, including in eight of the last nine seasons and in each of the past four.  Furthermore, he hasn't missed a single game in over four years, an incredibly impressive streak for a running back.

After the Trent Richardson debacle, the Colts simply need a consistent player in the backfield.  They haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher since 2007 and have struggled to find any semblance of consistency from the rushing game in the Andrew Luck era.  That's where Frank Gore comes in, and he brings a proven running back who should still be productive in 2015, adding a whole new element to the Colts offensive attack.  They have a tremendous passing offense led by Andrew Luck, and the hope now is that Gore can play well enough to make the team a threat on the ground as well, something that would in turn open things up more for Luck and the pass game.  Because of that, the addition of Gore was a huge one for Indy and, according to FOX Sports' Alex Marvez, one of the biggest of the offseason for any team.

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Duke Johnson looking explosive at Browns OTAs

Joe Thomas loves what he sees from rookie running back Duke Johnson so far. 

The Browns' third-round pick out of Miami is showing patience and burst that already has Thomas thinking more explosion will be seen from an offense that ranked 23rd in the NFL last season.

"He read his blocks perfectly, he saw the seam, he was patient," Thomas said of Johnson, per the team's official site. "That’s what you need as a running back. I hope we see that as the season goes on. I think you are going to see a more explosive offense this year."

Head coach Mike Pettine remembers one run during Tuesday's practice in particular. 

"(If) we weren’t playing flag football, that would have been a 40- or 50-yard chunk," Pettine said. "I think we’ve all seen what he can bring – the explosiveness and how we can turn a handoff or a short pass into a significant gain with a back like that.”

Johnson joins a young backfield headed by Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell, both coming off solid rookie campaigns. While last year's "Baby Backs" figure to get the lion's share of the carries, Johnson can be used as a weapon all over the field, including special teams.

"I'm a change-of-pace back. I can line up anywhere," Johnson said. "I'm looking forward to the different ways they use me as a receiver or the backfield. Whatever it takes. Punts, kicks. I think that's something we look forward to doing."

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Jimmy Graham, Russell Wilson are on 'accelerated learning curve'

The connection forming between tight end Jimmy Graham and quarterback Russell Wilson is going even quicker than expected. Sometimes it can take a while, even for two superstars to develop on-field chemistry, but Wilson and Graham seem to be going at an accelerated pace.

"Throwing to him is easy," Wilson said, via The Seattle Times.

All reports out of OTAs is that Graham has been putting on a show and that him and Wilson have nearly been unstoppable in the red zone. Even Graham is a little surprised with how quickly him and Wilson are connecting.

"That stuff takes time," Graham said, "but honestly me and Russ have been on kind of this accelerated learning curve. He just gets it up and gives you an opportunity to be great. We'll be keep working on that, and we'll be just fine come the season, because that's a big thing. That's all about the connection, that's all about knowing what each other is going to do and what each other likes."

Graham understands that he is one of the biggest playmakers on the Seahawks and it will be up to him to go out there and make something happen.

"I know there will be times -- big moments in a game where I'm going to have to go out there and make a play," Graham said. "That's what I'm focusing on."

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Sam Shields eager to fill void in Packers secondary

Cornerback Sam Shields, a former undrafted rookie, is in line for a new role with the Green Bay Packers this season. Tramon Williams signed with the Cleveland Browns as a free agent this spring, so it's time for Shields to step up as the leader of the secondary.

"Somebody's got to fill that spot," Shields told Ryan Wood of Press-Gazette Media. "...[H]ey, I'm the oldest of the group. So that's what they want me to do, just take that role. That's what I'm trying to do."

Shields has been with the Packers since 2010. The Miami product signed a four-year, $39 million deal before the 2014 season, and he followed it up with his first Pro Bowl appearance. Through five NFL seasons, Shields has recorded 15 interceptions but has never played all 16 games.

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is impressed with Shields' progress as a professional and willingness to take on a leadership role.

"Leadership is a huge part of your locker room culture," McCarthy told Press-Gazette Media. "You can't assign leadership. I don't think that works. That's something that has to come from within the locker room. We try to create as many opportunities—emphasize, educate and anything that we think can help our locker room improve.

"I think you're just seeing Sam step up, and he's seen the people before him in that role, and it's good to see he's comfortable taking the initiative to do so."

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Chicago Bears secondary has a new father in starting safety Antrel Rolle

Chicago Bears starting safety Antrel Rolle took the field for the first time as a father this week at OTA workouts. His son, Antrel Rocelious Rolle Jr., was born on Thursday, May 21, at 7:09 a.m, according to Nate Atkins of ChicagoFootball.com.

Rolle's pure emotion is evident in his lack of words to describe it.

"It’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. It’s the best feeling I’ve ever experienced," Rolle said, per ChicagoFootball.com. "I don’t think words can really explain the joy that having a son brings you to this world, but like I said, the hardest thing was to leave him to come back to work. 

But once I get out here on the field, it makes it all worthwhile. When I’m on the field, that’s the only thing I focus on."

On Instagram, Rolle posted a picture with Antrel Jr. and said his motivation is on a "totally different" level.Rolle, 32, won a Super Bowl with the New York Giants, where he was a team captain during the 2013 and 2014 seasons. He signed with the Bears this spring, a free agent with a decade of NFL experience. His first five seasons came in Arizona, the team that drafted him eighth-overall in 2005 and then lost in the Super Bowl three years later.

The three-time Pro Bowler is now trying to prove himself as a Bear, rather than lean on his 26 career interceptions.

"You have to earn your stripes wherever you go," Rolle said, according to ChicagoFootball.com. "It doesn’t matter what I’ve done in Arizona. It doesn’t matter what I’ve done in New York.

"I definitely have to earn my stripes, and I plan on doing so."

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Greg Olsen excited about future in Carolina

CHARLOTTE – When Monday's OTA practice concluded, tight end Greg Olsen had interesting things to say about two teammates – one he's known since 2011 and another he's still getting to know.

Olsen talked about how delighted he was to see quarterback Cam Newton sign a five-year contract extension.

"Right after he signed his deal, I texted him and I said, 'All joking aside, hopefully, you'll be the last quarterback I ever play with.' I'm happy to be able to say that," Olsen said.

"My four years with him have been the best four years of my career. I don't necessarily think that's a coincidence. Playing with him has been great for my career – kind of growing along with him, granted we were at two different stages of our careers when we both got here."

Olsen, who signed a three-year extension earlier this offseason, has averaged 68 catches and 802 receiving yards per season during his Carolina career. Last year, he went to his first Pro Bowl after posting career highs with 84 receptions and 1,008 receiving yards.

The nine-year veteran tight end also shared his initial impressions of left tackle Michael Oher, who signed as an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

"Up front, we brought back everybody, and Michael Oher has been a huge addition for us," Olsen said. "He's done a fantastic job. His presence, his veteran demeanor has been noticed.

"He's played a lot, and you can tell. He gets it. He understands blocking schemes, he understands how fits work. It's easy playing next to guys like that."

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Blake Tekotte Placed On IR

Outfielder Blake Tekotte was placed on the disabled list and appears to be gone for the season with a fracture of his right kneecap. He suffered the injury when he fouled a ball off his knee Thursday. Tekotte, 28, was a minor league free agent this season, having played 50 games in the majors (Padres and White Sox).

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