Clive Walford wows NFL coaches

The NFL is a different kind of football from what many college players are accustomed to, so it should be of little surprise to see some positions that are more in vogue in the NFL than in college coming to the forefront at this week's Senior Bowl practices.

Like at tight end, where Miami's 6-foot-4, 254-pound Clive Walford made a strong impression Wednesday. On a day when he caught two touchdown passes, Walford turned heads for his combination of size, speed and agility that should translate nicely to the pro level.



You'll make an impression when you routinely beat linebackers in coverage up the seam. Watch here as he gets open down the field to catch a pass from Alabama's Blake Sims:

#SeniorBowl video: Alabama QB Blake Sims hits Miami TE Clive Walford down the seam.

A video posted by ChaseGoodbread (@chasegoodbread) on





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Phillip Dorsett Talks About Santana Moss' Influence on His Game

NFLU2009
MOBILE, Ala. -- When it comes to football, there are different levels of speed. Antonio Brown and DeSean Jackson come to mind as receivers who can vertically stretch the field because they’re often simply faster than the defensive backs who attempt to cover them. Here at the Senior Bowl, wideout Phillip Dorsett is striving to become one of the names on that short list.

He was introduced to the media at the stat of his Wednesday news conference as likely the fastest player in Mobile, and backed it up by saying that his fastest recorded 40 time basically broke the sound barrier.

“I have the U of M record -- 4.21 last summer,” Dorsett said.

That, folks, is super fast.

Of course, the Hurricanes have a long history of producing talented wide receivers. You’ve probably heard of Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, Devin Hester, and Santana Moss -- all four are Miami products drafted since 2001.

And of that group, Dorsett said that he has developed a strong relationship with Moss.

“Every offseason he comes down and he works out at The U,” Dorsett said. “That’s kind of a guy I emulate my game off of. We talk all the time, we text all the time. He’s a really good guy as well. We have the same skill set, same body frame.”

Though he’s now 35, Moss has continued to play in the league. The 14-year veteran recorded 10 receptions for 116 yards, including three catches for 43 yards in the Rams’ 24-0 shutout victory on Dec. 7.

Dorsett said that Moss has made a real impact when it comes to running routes and noticing tendencies from defensive backs.

“Stay low, don’t give the DB any indication for when you’re breaking down,” Dorsett said of Moss’ advice. “Even things like playing in the slot, because he transitioned to the slot once he got a little older. Doing things like reading zone coverages, things corners do when they’re playing zone.”

“There’s a lot of different things and I’m just blessed to have him … in my corner,” Dorsett added.

That advice appears to have paid significant dividends, as Dorsett had a standout senior season. He caught 36 passes for 871 yards -- good for 24.2 yards per reception. That number was No. 1 in the ACC and No. 2 in the NCAA. He recorded a catch of at least 30 yards in nine of Florida’s 13 games in 2014.

Given those numbers, it’s clear Dorsett is a strong vertical threat. But he said he wants to be known as an all-around receiver, not just someone who can take the top off.

“I feel like I can play outside, inside,” Dorsett said. “Route-running [is one] of the things that they may have had a knock on me because I didn’t do much of it at UM, because I was a straight vertical route runner. So I’m just trying to show teams that I can do everything, that I can basically be an all-around receiver.”

While it can be difficult for receivers and quarterbacks to adjust to one another in a short time, Dorsett relayed that he had a bit of a leg up, given his relationship with one of the South team’s quarterbacks.

As for the next few weeks, Dorsett didn’t want to offer a prediction for just how fast he would run at the combine. But he did state a goal.

“Anything under 4.3,” he said, “That’ll be fine.”

Given how fast he’s proven to be in the past, he certainly has a good chance to do just that and plenty more at football's highest level.


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Miami Hurricanes are thriving at Senior Bowl

NFLU2009
MOBILE, Ala. -- It was no secret in South Florida that the Miami Hurricanes had talented football players.

Despite their 6-7 record, those who follow the program knew there were many high-caliber athletes on the team. Yet, something wasn’t right with the team, whether it was inconsistent coaching or overall team chemistry.

This week at the Senior Bowl, the Hurricanes' talent is shining through. Hurricanes receiver Phillip Dorsett, tight end Clive Walford, linebacker Denzel Perryman and cornerback Ladarius Gunter all had their "wow" moments in practices this week and are generating a buzz at the Senior Bowl.

Perryman and Gunter made plays defensively for the South team on Tuesday, while Dorsett and Walford were the stars of Wednesday’s practice with big receptions. After a disappointing year at Miami, the four are doing all they can to improve their draft stock.

So how do you explain Miami’s losing record in 2014? The program continues to have solid recruiting classes but is far removed from its glory days when the Hurricanes competed for and won national championships. Things bottomed out last season as Miami finished under .500 for the first time since 2007.

“A lot of things didn’t go our way last year. I can say that,” Dorsett said. “A lot of things went the wrong way. We just got to get guys to really buy in. It’s not on the coaches, it’s on the players. Coaches coach and players got to go out there and play. That’s all I can really say about it.”

Perryman, a team captain at the University of Miami, had the same sentiments.

“For me, I feel like just a lot of miscommunication and not executing the game plan,” Perryman said. “That’s where I feel we fell short, both on offense and defense.”

Multiple teams, including the Dolphins, have interviewed Hurricanes players this week to get to know them better. The Dolphins have specifically interviewed Dorsett and Perryman at the Senior Bowl. That’s not a surprise considering their need for a speedy receiver and a take-charge linebacker.

Overall, the Hurricanes are fitting in well with some of the college talent from around the country -- both on and off the field.

“[It's] pretty cool,” Walford said of Senior Bowl week. “Ifeel like I’m at home. Idon’t feel like I’m in Alabama at all.”




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Mike Mayock: Clive Walford: “could be the best tight end in the country.”

NFLU2009
With a lack of star power at the wide receiver position, Walford, who played his college ball at Miami, has brought plenty of attention to tight end, where he’s made numerous plays through the first two days of practice. One one particular play, Walford burst from his three-point stance and simply ran a loop around Norfolk State linebacker Lynden Trail to catch an over-the-shoulders pass for a touchdown. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock told NFL.com’s Chase Goodbread that Walford “could be the best tight end in the country.” That’s high praise, as that distinction has typically been bestowed upon Minnesota’s Maxx Williams. Walford, who measured in at 6-foot-4 and 254 pounds, played just one year of high school football because his first love was basketball. “I felt like basketball wasn’t doing it for me,” Walford said. “Once I started playing the game, I realized how easy it was … I started to love the game and I have a passion for it.”


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proCane Draft Pick Profile: Phillip Dorsett

NFLU2009
The Atlanta Falcons need to start looking into long-term solutions at slot receiver. Phillip Dorsett of Miami (Fla.) has an immense amount of talent for the position and should be a good fit in the Falcons offense with Julio Jones and Roddy White early in his career.

He could push Devin Hester and Harry Douglas for playing time on offense and would also be an ideal fit as someone to learn from Douglas for a year before the former Louisville receiver's contract expires. Atlanta's got the ability to take a receiver in 2015 to eventually replace Douglas, and Dorsett could be the guy.

Phillip Dorsett
Wide Receiver
University of Miami

Combine/Pro-Day Measurements
Height: 5'9.625" Weight: 183 lbs
Arm Length: 31" Hand Measurement: 9.125"

Stats
2014: 13 Games Played, 36 Catches, 871 Yards, 10 Touchdowns, 2 Carries, -6 Yards, 1 Punt Return, -6 Yards, Touchdowns, 8 Kick Returns, 116 Yards, 3 Tackles
2013: 8 Games Played, 13 Catches, 272 Yards, 2 Touchdowns, 9 Punt Returns, 57 Yards, 2 Kick Returns, 28 Yards
2012: 12 Games Played, 58 Catches, 842 Yards, 4 Touchdowns, 5 Carries, 8 Yards, 15 Punt Returns, 85 Yards, 11 Kick Returns, 251 Yards
2011: 12 Games Played, 14 Catches, 147 Yards, 1 Touchdown, 4 Kick Returns, 82 Yards, 2 Tackles

Scouting Report

Strengths
Burner isn't a strong enough word to describe just how fast Dorsett is. He's one of those guys who can beat anyone deep and would provide matchup issues no matter where he lined up there. More than that, he has an uncanny ability to turn a short or intermediate crossing route into a ton of yardage.

He seems to be a willing blocker and also has shown some rushing ability off of end-arounds. The biggest thing he does well is use suddenness and raw straight-line speed to create separation. If he can figure out how to use this effectively on option routes in the pros, he could be a terror to opposing defenses.

Weaknesses
Dorsett isn't a big guy by any means. His size compares most favorably to a DeSean Jackson or even a Steve Smith. So he's not going to be a guy who you want going over the middle and fighting traffic. He's not an overly physical player either.

He does have some issues with his hands and can drop some easy balls after he makes tough catches. There are also questions regarding his route running, but those seem fixable with the right combination of a mentor and a good receivers coach.
 

How Does He Fit the Comrade Filter?
Dorsett is a leader on and off the field. He's taken Central Arkansas receiver Dezmin Lewis under his wing at the Senior Bowl and been helping him get his splits and footwork right. The fact that he is selfless enough to help someone competing for the same potential roster spots says a lot about his character.

Someone who has leadership is never going to be turned away from the Falcons. Add in that he was never arrested or suspended, and that already puts him above and beyond the competition in this aspect. Dorsett doesn't just pass the Comrade Filter; the filter potentially bumps him a bit higher.

Overview
Dorsett is a true slot receiver who will be able to create big plays after the catch when lined up there. However, he does have the intelligence and suddenness to make big plays on the outside as well. As one of the fastest players on the field, he can beat anyone deep.

The question is how well he does the little things most wide receivers need to do on their routes to create separation in the NFL. Atlanta would be a good fit for him, as he could learn those little things from Julio Jones, Roddy White, Harry Douglas and Devin Hester.

How He Would Fit into the Falcons' Plans
With White, Douglas and Hester all over 30 years old entering the 2015 season, the Falcons need to bring in someone who could easily take over one of their spots in the long term. Since Douglas has just one year left on his contract, he should be the first to be replaced.

Dorsett would be an amazing fit as a slot receiver and wouldn't have to do much for the Falcons early in his career. He would ideally be a pick in the fourth or even fifth round but could go as high as the third round with an exceptional combine.


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Ladarius Gunter impresses former NFL defensive back

I spoke with seven-year NFL veteran and current Bleacher Report and Chicago Tribune analyst Matt Bowen about the defensive backs here in Mobile. One player he said really impressed him today was Miami’s Ladarius Gunter.

012115-SeniorBowlSouth5Observations-Image2

At just over 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, Gunter fits the physical mold of what the Kansas City Chiefs look for in a cornerback.

He spent two years at Fort Scott Community College before heading down to Miami.

If he catches the eye of Bowen, a former NFL cornerback and one of the top analysts out there, he’s definitely a player to keep an eye on the rest of the week.


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Denzel Perryman Rapidly Increasing His Draft Stock

NFLU2009
Denzel Perryman is a personal favorite of mine in this class, so it's refreshing to hear that he's making an impression on scouts at Senior Bowl workouts. The Miami star has to battle the stigma of not being a prototypical inside linebacker due to his 5'11", 244-pound frame. 

However, it's hard to overlook the simple fact that Perryman is an outstanding football player. You can look at all the measurements you want, but at some point the simple question has to be, can the guy play in the NFL?

Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated offered some insights into what Perryman was doing during the practice sessions in Mobile, with a little help from scouts in attendance:

His coverage can be a little spotty -- the Jaguars' coaches, in charge of the South team this week, chatted him up after a couple of plays where he was late getting to his man. 

But there were no such concerns against the run. Midway through the South practice, the crowd in attendance let out a collective cheer, leading to this exchange between two scouts in front of me:

"What happened? I missed it."

"Perryman blew somebody up. Probably happens a lot."

An easy trope that even the most advanced scouts fall into is simply comparing two players who have the same body type, whether their actual talents match up or not. In Perryman's case, though, it's not out of line to say that he can be this year's version of Chris Borland. 

The 49ers got Borland in the third round last year, primarily because teams were concerned about how he would perform in the NFL at 5'11" and 247 pounds. He proceeded to record 107 total tackles despite not starting until after Patrick Willis got hurt in Week 6. 

Perryman has a nose for the football and more strength than you realize, like Borland, and he should benefit because of the success San Francisco's latest star linebacker had in 2014. He may not be a first-round pick, but a team should jump at the opportunity to grab him early in Day 2. 




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Phillip Dorsett recalls hosting Amari Cooper on recruiting trip

NFLU2009
A Miami product from Fort Lauderdale, Phillip Dorsett wouldn't have many obvious connections to Alabama. He wasn't a Crimson Tide recruit and he never encountered Alabama on the field.

But he's crossed paths with two of the biggest names in the 2014 Tide offense at different points in his life. Dorsett's been training with former quarterback Blake Sims in Boca Raton while he hosted Amari Cooper on a recruiting visit.

This week he's sharing the Senior Bowl's South team roster with Sims. After the second practice Wednesday, he's impressed with what Sims is showing after his one year starting.

"We already had a chemistry before we got here," Dorsett said. "He's got a lot better and our chemistry got a lot better from our first two practices. I'm glad I get to play with him and get in the game with him."

Sims appeared to improve on his Tuesday practice performance when the South team worked out at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, site of the 3 p.m. Saturday Senior Bowl.

Though there is chatter of Sims potentially being more marketable as a running back, he is fully committed to the job of a passer. Dorsett, one of the fastest receivers in the draft who is getting strong Senior Bowl reviews, agrees with that.

"I think he's a quarterback," he said. "He takes command of the huddle and throws a really good ball ― a really nice ball. If he gets in the right system, I think he could play quarterback."

Dorsett was familiar with Sims' game from watching another former acquaintance play. He knew Cooper, a Miami native, from his time in South Florida.

Dorsett distinctly remembers being Cooper's host on an official visit the Coral Gables campus just minutes from his home.

"I knew he wasn't coming to Miami. I knew he was going to Alabama," Dorsett said with a chuckle. "We went to somebody's house and we were playing video games, NCAA, and he picked Alabama. So I was like, yeah, he's not coming."

But he followed Cooper's career closely and the now-former Alabama player is projected as the draft's top receiver. Dorsett remembers being blown away by Cooper in a camp coming off an injury in his junior year of high school.

"I knew he was going to be good," Dorsett said. "That's one of those special guys who comes around every 10 years. He's going to be good."


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(al.com)
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Jimmy Graham says surgery 'still being debated'

JimmyGrahamSaints
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said he's still rehabbing his injured shoulder and has not made a final decision about whether he'll undergo surgery, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. He showed no signs of discomfort at the first Pro Bowl practice, the paper said.

After the game, Graham said he'll return to Miami to train and relax.

"I'll be flying quite a bit, twirling in the air a little bit, and doing as much rehab as I can for the next four weeks," he told the paper. "This is a big week for me, just seeing where I'm at. I feel good, which is a positive, trying to stay away from getting surgery."

Surgery is "something we talked about and is something that's still being debated," Graham added. "This is kind of a trial to see where I'm at. I've had three weeks off and I've finally had some time to heal. It feels great, and I'm going to continue to do my rehab and get back to 100 percent."

Graham suffered the injury Week 5 and played through it all season.


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Clive Walford steals show

NFLU2009
With precise routes, fluid movement and soft hands, the ex-Hurricanes tight end staked a claim to being the best at his position in the 2015 draft.

MOBILE, Ala. -- With a sterling practice Wednesday, Clive Walford might have done more to separate himself from the tight end class than he did in any game, or could do in any workout.

During one-on-one drills against linebackers and safeties at the South team's practice in advance of the Senior Bowl, the former University of Miami (Fla.) standout grabbed an array of passes down the seam, catching up to deep balls that appeared to be thrown too far and diving and turning for other passes that were low and in front or thrown behind him.

Walford grabbed two touchdown passes during his work Wednesday and presented nothing but problems for defenders of any position who tried to contain him. The 6-foot-4, 254-pound former high-school basketball player used his 81-1/8 inch wingspan effectively.

Four of the five other tight ends at the Senior Bowl this week are taller. Three are heavier. Two have longer arms and lengthier wingspans. One has bigger hands than Walford's 10.5-inch mitts.

But none of them are in Walford's class, although Delaware's Nick Boyle -- a 267-pound behemoth with measurables to match -- showed palpable improvement from Day 1 to Day 2, showing more assertiveness in his route-running and more consistency hauling in passes.


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Hurricane watch during Senior Bowl South practice

NFLU2009
The Miami football program has been mediocre in recent years, but the Hurricanes continue to pump out NFL talent, including tight end Clive Walford, wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, cornerback Ladarius Gunter and middle linebacker Denzel Perryman on the South squad at the Senior Bowl. And during Wednesday's practice, that talent shined bright.

A prospect who stole the show during South practice, Walford routinely drew praise from the Jaguars coaching staff for his routes, athleticism and ability to finish at the catch point. He has an easy release off the line of scrimmage with the route acceleration to threaten the seam and be a downfield target. Walford doesn't have an elite frame for the position, but he knows how to use his size to shield defenders from the ball and create mismatches down the field. Walford entered the week in contention to be the No. 1 senior tight end drafted and he's only helped his chances of that happening through two practices in Mobile.

He has looked “as advertised” from his Miami game film.

The favorite to run the fastest 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine next month, Dorsett has “blur” speed to make defensive backs look silly. He has shown that sudden footwork at the line of scrimmage to beat press and the instant acceleration to win vertically downfield. Dorsett routinely won 1-on-1 drills against the South defensive backs, including his former teammate Gunter.

However, there is such a thing as playing too fast and Dorsett will do that at times, losing footing or getting wild in his breaks. Nonetheless, he has the game-changing speed to not only make an impact on offense, but also as a return man once he adds seasoning and polish to his game.

Gunter is one of the bigger corners in Mobile this week at 6-1 and 200 pounds with 32-inch arms, but he's shown the foot quickness that match much smaller players, moving very well for his size. He uses his length to contest any pass in his area code, blanketing receivers and impressing with his cover skills. Like most bigger cornerbacks, Gunter does need some refinement with his transitional technique, but overall, he has showed scouts more positives than negatives this week.
Unfortunately Perryman had to pull out of the Senior Bowl after a strained abdomen muscle on Wednesday. But his performance on Tuesday was enough to create a little buzz in the bleachers among scouts.

Miami finished with a 6-7 record in 2014, but after Anthony Chickillo, Jon Feliciano and Shane McDermott played well at the East-West Shrine Game last week and these four Hurricanes in Mobile, its clear there was more talent in Coral Gables than the record gives them credit. And that doesn't include Miami's top two prospects in the 2015 NFL Draft class – underclassmen running back Duke Johnson and offensive tackle Ereck Flowers.


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(cbssports.com)
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Phillip Dorsett Impresses At Senior Bowl

NFLU2009
It was a strong week for slot receivers. University of Miami’s Phillip Dorsett and Kansas State’s Tyler Lockett, who are 5-feet-10 and 5-9, respectively, both improved their stocks. Lockett displayed good quickness and the ability and toughness to catch in traffic. Dorsett did a good job using his blazing speed to take the top off the defense with big plays. Dorsett also showed good hands on shorter routes. Both players created a nice buzz for themselves.


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(espn.com)
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Heavy-hitting Denzel Perryman is a possible Bucs pick

NFLU2009
MOBILE, Ala. — The two things Miami linebacker Denzel Perryman hears about from critics are his lack of height and his pass coverage skills.

He's not getting any taller, but the draft prospect — 5 feet, 10.5 inches, officially — is eager to show he can drop back in coverage this week at the Senior Bowl. If the Bucs go in a new direction at middle linebacker, Perryman could be there when they pick in the second round at No. 34 overall.

"One thing I get knocked on a lot is my pass coverage," said Perryman, a heavy hitter who started 37 games with the Hurricanes, topping 100 tackles in each of the last two years. "This week I'm going to make sure I can display my ability in that and just get better."

Perryman had only two interceptions at Miami, but said just because the defense didn't call for him to drop back and cover the middle of the field — as middle linebackers often do in Bucs coach Lovie Smith's defense — doesn't mean he can't do it.

As for his height, Perryman said it's a motivation. He saw Wisconsin's Chris Borland shine as a 5-11 rookie this fall, getting 107 tackles for the 49ers.

"I get knocked for my height, but I play big. That's one of my chips on my shoulder," he said. "I've been getting knocked for my height since I was in high school. Every day, I play with a chip on my shoulder."

Derrick Brooks was listed at 6-0 in his Hall of Fame career, and a certain Bucs linebacker that Perryman admires is listed at 6-1.

"Lavonte David, he's not all that tall," Perryman says with a respectful smile.

Perryman was held out of Wednesday's second practice of the week with an abdominal injury, but is expected back today. Jaguars coach Gus Bradley, whose staff is coaching the South team, said Perryman has made a strong impression.

"He stands out, just in his ability to pick things up. You can sense his leadership, right when he steps on the field," said Bradley, who got his start in the NFL as the Bucs' linebackers coach from 2006-08. "He's got a presence about him."

Perryman wants to show he can be a three-down linebacker in the NFL, capable of staying on the field when defenses shift to nickel defenses with only two linebackers on the field and a high chance of a pass play. He worked closely with the Jaguars and was scheduled for interviews with the Bucs and Dolphins, and he likes the thought of staying home in Florida — he's from Coral Gables.

"I would love it, just to stay in Florida, period, but I don't choose where I go," he said. "Wherever I go, I'm going to be the best player I can be."


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(tampabay.com)
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Jimmy Graham plans goal-post dunk after Pro Bowl TD

JimmyGrahamSaints
PHOENIX -- Jimmy Graham was barred from doing what he loves to do this season: dunk footballs over the goal post.

The New Orleans Saints' tight end was flagged twice after dunks in a preseason game and fined $30,000 by the NFL for violating what is now colloquially known as "The Jimmy Graham rule."

However, when asked by NFL Media on Thursday at Pro Bowl practice if he planned to bring back the dunk for Sunday's Pro Bowl, Graham was unequivocal.

"100 percent," he said with a sly smile. "Hopefully, they get me the ball. I'm for sure (going to dunk). Hopefully I won't get fined this time. Last time that fine was a little bit steep, especially for a preseason game."

The winning Pro Bowl team will earn $55,000 with the losing team taking home $28,000, per the collective bargaining agreement.

Graham said he doesn't know if the NFL will fine him if he dunks on Sunday, but that won't stop him from doing what he loves.

"I really don't care," he said. "I mean, it's the Pro Bowl, it's supposed to be fun. So hopefully they don't take my check away afterwards."

We agree 100 percent with Graham. It's the Pro Bowl. Let's have some fun.

In fact I'd go so far as to say everyone who scores should be required to attempt a dunk over the goal post.

Are you telling me you don't want to see how high Jamaal Charles can get after he burns the defense on a 74-yard touchdown run? I do. What if an O-lineman rumbles for a score? You don't want to see that dunk attempt?

Hopefully Team Irvin feeds Graham the ball near the end zone so we can all have a little more fun before the season ends.


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Mel Kiper Talks About proCane Draft Picks

NFLU2009
According to PalmBeach Post writer Matt Porter, Mel Kiper had the following things to say about this year’s potential proCane draft picks. Follow Matt on twitter here and read his blog here.

Kiper said Flowers is “solidly in round one,” and has him slotted 19th overall to Cleveland.  “Flowers leaving early, people maybe didn’t expect that during the season,” Kiper said (note: outsiders, perhaps; within the program, Flowers was long seen as a three-year guy). “But he’s a kid who’s got enormous talent, decent feet, versatility to play left tackle or right tackle.”

Kiper’s top two running backs are Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon, but he has Johnson right behind them. “Duke can run outside, he’s got that burst,” Kiper said. “He can catch the ball. A heck of a player. I think he’s a second-round talent you might be able to get in the fourth round.”

Dorsett will be a a second- or third-round pick because he “can fly,” Kiper said. “He’s a vertical stretch receiver.” He said he thinks Perryman will be a second-round pick.

Kiper on tight end Clive Walford: “I have him as the fourth highest-rated tight end. He can get down and stretch that deep middle area, which he showed in some games this year. Caught the ball well. He’s not going to have the great, great 40 time that some of these other guys will, but he plays faster and he’ll test [well].

“I think he’s a guy you get into … early- to mid-day three, he’ll make somebody look good at that point, I believe. I think he can be a No. 2 tight end. He’ll contribute. I think Walford’s got a chance to play in this league.”

Asked if cornerback Ladarius Gunter, center Shane McDermott and offensive guard Jon Feliciano could sneak into the late rounds, Kiper said: “Those are some of the names. McDermott right now I have as the seventh or eighth center. That’s a late-round, free-agency guy. Feliciano, same thing.”


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Rave Reviews From The Senior Bowl

NFLUAllWallpaper
The Reviews are coming in from the #SeniorBowl especially for Future #NFL #proCane TE Clive Walford, who was just named Player of the Day at the Senior Bowl practice... FOLLOW OUR TWITTER FEED FOR UP-TO-THE-MINUTE UPDATES HERE

"#Miami TE [Clive Walford] is definitely the best TE here in Mobile. He's making a lot of money today." - Mike Loyko

"Clive Walford is looking very good. Taking all challenges and beating them. Just made a nice catch on a double move." - Turron Davenport

"Clive Walford/TE/Miami looking sharp. Battling and coming away with a number of tough grabs." - Tony Pauline

"Clive Walford, my gosh. Destroying one on one coverage at Senior Bowl practice." - Armando Salguero

"Miami TE Clive Walford looks the part and has shown up nicely. Helping himself in so so class of TEs." - Eric Edholm

"Clive Walford is stealing lunch money against backers and safeties in 1 on 1s" - Pete Smith

"Clive Walford stealing the show. Can't be covered in 1-on1's. #SeniorBowl" - Bryan Perez

"Clive Walford #Miami TE running wild out here. Nobody been able to slow him thus far" - NFL Draft Geek

“TE Clive Walford, used primarily as a blocker yesterday, has been tearing it up in Senior Bowl practice today. Caught a TD.” - Andrew Abramson

"Between Clive Walford, Phillip Dorsett, Perryman & Anthony Chickillo, #Canes SRs really shining in all-star games the past 2 weeks." - Bruce Feldman

“Two University of Miami talents #Raiders scouts have nice grades on: TE Clive Walford, RB Duke Johnson...prospects Oakland are locking in on.” - Victor Cotto

“WR Phillip Dorsett told me he met with the #Dolphins this week at the #SeniorBowl.” - James Walker

“Dorsett said he met with #Eagles last night and is expecting to meet with Chip tonight. Was one of the stand out players today” - Eliot Shorr Parks

“Miami (FL)'s Phillip Dorsett & KSU Tyler Lockett -- two smaller WRs with electric short area quickness + foot speed. Shined in 1v1s.” - Dion Caputi

“Phillip Dorsett out of Miami is having a huge day. Elite speed. #Eagles” - Eliot Shorr Parks

“Miami TE Clive Walford putting on a show in Mobile right now.” - Patrick Claybon

“I want Phillip Dorsett on my team. So explosive off the line and he doesn't drop the ball.” - Matt Miller

“WR Phillip Dorsett (Miami) is electric in the 3-step passing game. No wasted movement in his route/break.” - Matt Bowen

“CB Ladarius Gunter (Miami) displayed the best technique during 1-on-1s. Played to hip of WRs and used leverage to drive on the ball.” - Matt Bowen

NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah said Philip Dorsett was the "star" of Senior Bowl practice today. "So explosive," Jeremiah said.


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Are Dolphins, LB Denzel Perryman a match?

NFLU2009
MOBILE, Ala. -- There was a four-play sequence Tuesday during Senior Bowl practice where University of Miami linebacker Denzel Perryman appeared to be the best player on the field.

On the first play, Perryman attacked downhill and made a good read-and-react play to stop the running back for a short gain. On the second play, he blew up the fullback to help the defense stop the run, and on the fourth play, Perryman made another nice stick that caused a fumble. The last play got defensive teammates and coaches fired up.

In that sequence, Perryman showed why many scouts believe he is an overlooked prospect. A projected second-round pick, Perryman was the best player on a struggling defense for years at Miami, and this is his chance to shine through and potentially creep into the first round.

Perryman has certainly has garnered some interest at the Senior Bowl. According to the linebacker, he’s already met with the linebacker-needy Miami Dolphins, Green Bay Packers, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders and Carolina Panthers. He’s also schedule to talk to the Philadelphia Eagles this week.

I asked Perryman about his thoughts on staying local and playing for the Dolphins.

“I can’t lie,” Perryman said. “I would love it, just to stay in Florida period. But I don’t choose where I go. So wherever I go, I’m just going to be the best player I can be.”

According to Perryman, the Dolphins asked him questions about his family and background during their meeting. It appears Miami is doing its homework to get to know the local product better. The Dolphins certainly can use linebacker help. They were ranked 24th against the run last season, and linebackers Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe could be on the chopping block due to high salaries.

Perryman is not a target for Miami with the No. 14 overall pick in the first round. But if Perryman is still on the board in the second round, he could be a match for the Dolphins.


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(espn.com)
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Falcons Show Strong Interest In WR Phillip Dorsett

NFLU2009
The Atlanta Falcons are known for plucking players out of the NFL Draft based on strong showings in the Senior Bowl, and there's no particular reason to believe that will change in 2015. Given that, we regard this item from Mocking the Draft's Dan Kadar with real interest.

The 2015 NFL Draft is again loaded at wide receiver and that was proven during Tuesday's practice. Arguably no one had a better day than Miami's Phillip Dorsett. He's easy fast, meaning that it doesn't take him much effort to get into top gear. Considering that he might be the fastest player in the draft, it was impressive watching Dorsett zip through routes. He caught almost everything thrown at him and quickly learned from the coaching of Jacksonville Jaguars wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan...

Dorsett spent a lot of time after practice interviewing with an Atlanta Falcons scout.

Dorsett reeled in 36 catches for 871 yards and 10 touchdowns for Miami last season, so you can see that speed in action, even if he wasn't the team's top target.

Hearing the Falcons are focusing in on a rookie receiver with terrific wheels is music to all of our ears, I think. Kadar told me "it was seriously about 20 minutes, which is a little unusual," so you wouldn't be remiss in thinking that Dorsett is a potential target for Atlanta. It's worth remembering that the team's receiver depth chart currently features Julio Jones and three guys who will be 30 years or older heading into the 2015 season, so receiver is a genuine need. It helps that Dorsett is currently projected to go around the fourth round, though a dominant Senior Bowl week could obviously help his stock considerably.


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(thefacoholic.com)
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Mayock: Clive Walford 'most explosive tight end' in 2015 draft

NFLU2009
The tight end class in the 2015 draft isn't considered all that strong, and one of those in the running to be the first player selected at the position is Miami's Clive Walford.

On the NFL Network's coverage of the Reese's Senior Bowl practices Wednesday, NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock spoke highly of Miami tight end Clive Walford (6-4 1/8, 254), calling him "the most explosive tight end in this year's draft."

Mayock noted that Miami coaches lined up Walford in a variety of places -- in the slot, out wide and with his hand down as a "normal" tight end -- and said he expected Walford to run a 40-yard dash of around 4.65, which Mayock said would be "tremendous" for a player of his size.

Mayock also was impressed that Walford chose to compete this week when some other top-rated senior tight ends bypassed the week.

"All he does (this week) is enhance his draft value," Mayock said.

Fellow analyst Daniel Jeremiah also thinks Walford has shown well.



Walford played just one season of high school football at perennial power Belle Glade (Fla.) Glades Central, and he redshirted as a true freshman at Miami in 2010. He became a three-year starter for the Hurricanes and was a part-time starter in the other season.

He had 44 receptions for a team-high 676 yards this season and was second on the team with seven TD receptions. He had 14 TD receptions and averaged 14.5 yards per catch over his career.

Walford has some work to do as a blocker, but teams will draft him to be a receiving threat. He can get down the seam and be a deep threat. He also is a solid athlete.


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(nfl.com)
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Anthony Chickillo Made Money

NFLU2009
DE-Anthony Chickillo, Miami
During the game, Chickillo was interviewed on the sideline, and when asked what he wanted to accomplish on the day his response was, “I want to show people I’m more athletic than they think I am”. Well Anthony, consider that mission accomplished. Before this week, I was unimpressed by Chickillo and his lack of production at Miami. I questioned his athleticism and lack of a position in the NFL. After seeing his performance, I fully believe Anthony Chickillo will be a valuable DE in the NFL. I think he needs to be in a 4-3 scheme to fully utilize his talent, but Chickillo showed a get-off and motor that just didn’t show up on game film from Miami.
Mike Mayock raved about Chickillo all day, mentioning how Chickillo had a much better burst than originally thought. The analysts also talked about how impressive he was during the week of practice, and how there were numerous “ooh-aah” moments when Chickillo would shoot off the line of scrimmage. Chickillo will hear his name called on draft day, and the 4th round is now a realistic possibility.


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(theacc.com)
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Jeremiah: Phillip Dorsett probably fastest player in 2015 draft

NFLU2009
Miami's Phillip Dorsett caught just 36 passes during the 2014 season, but his speed makes him one of the more intriguing wide receiver prospects in the 2015 draft.

NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah said Wednesday during NFL Network's telecast of Reese's Senior Bowl practices that Dorsett (5-foot-9 5/8, 183 pounds) "probably is going to be the fastest player in this entire draft class."

Dorsett played at prep powerhouse Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas, where he formed a formidable duo with Florida State star receiver Rashad Greene.
Dorsett impressed onlookers during Tuesday's practice.

"Some guys can run fast, but they have to work hard to do it, which limits what they can do out of their breaks," an NFC player personnel director told NFL Media analysts. "Dorsett is more natural with his speed and movement."

NFL Media analysts mentioned names such as Antonio Brown, John Brown and T.Y. Hilton as potential comparisons; all four played high school ball in Miami or Fort Lauderdale.

Dorsett missed five games in 2013 with a knee injury, but he showed no ill effects from the injury during the 2014 season, when 10 of his 36 receptions went for TDs. He also averaged 24.2 yards per catch in 2014.

He is not the only fast receiver on the South squad this week, though. Auburn's Sammie Coates (6-1 3/4, 213) also is a burner, but NFL Media's Mike Mayock said Wednesday that "while you love the speed," Coates' inconsistent hands are an issue that will be closely monitored.


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(nfl.com)
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Calais Campbell donates $1.6M

CalaisCampbellCards
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Less than two months after receiving its largest donation from a former athlete, the University of Miami athletic department has received an even larger gift.

Arizona Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell has given $1.6 million to the Hurricanes to establish an endowed scholarship for defensive linemen in perpetuity, it was announced Wednesday.

Campbell's donation topped the $1.5 million gift from former Hurricanes running back Ken Hunt in December. Miami will rename its defensive line room after Campbell, making him the sixth former Hurricane to have an area of the football offices named after him.

Campbell's donation, which he said was his first to Miami, helped the Hurricanes' athletic department surpass $106 million in its Momentum2 capital campaign.

The 28-year-old had been trying to figure out a way to help the Hurricanes and decided a scholarship was the best way to leave his mark. As a student at Miami, Campbell received an endowed scholarship, and he says he stays in contact with the donors, Robert and Connie McGee.

Campbell graduated in 2008 with a degree in advertising and marketing.

"I know how rare these jobs are," Campbell told ESPN.com of being an NFL player. "I want to make sure that every kid, especially at the University of Miami, understands the importance of having a good fall-back plan, something you would enjoy doing if the NFL doesn't work out for you.

"This is my way of showing it."

Campbell, who had seven sacks in 2014 while getting voted into his first Pro Bowl, was All-ACC in 2006, when he finished with 10.5 sacks, ranking ninth in Miami history.

Topping Hunt's contribution wasn't meant to turn donating into a competition, Campbell said.

Miami athletic director Blake James praised Campbell's focus on education.

"Calais is an incredible man and, along with his family, understands the importance of education and the impact a positive environment can have on a student-athlete," James said in a statement.

Campbell will join former Hurricanes Clinton Portis (football wing), Ed Reed (football operations office), Edgerrin James (meeting room), Jon Vilma (players' lounge) and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (locker room) in having rooms or areas named after them.

"It's kind of come full circle," Campbell told ESPN.com. "For me, it's a representation of just how much the school means to me and to be able to be a part of it."


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(espn.com)
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Devin Hester Named To Team Carter For Pro Bowl

DevinHesterFalcons
Falcons returnman Devin Hester won't be one of the anxious, nail-biting Pro Bowl prospects waiting to be drafted in the green room this year. He's already got a team.

A pre-draft draft of sorts occurred Tuesday and 30 players, including Hester, know which side they'll be on for Sunday's annual all-star game in Arizona.

The Pro Bowl captains this year, Michael Irvin and Cris Carter, focused on defensive tackles, guards, centers, fullbacks and special teams in the early stages of the draft. Per Pro Bowl rules, which state that each team must have one returner, Hester was assigned to Team Carter after Irvin selected Philadelphia's Darren Sproles for the role on his team.

This is the second year the NFL has held the Pro Bowl in an unconferenced format. With both teams selecting from one pool of players, it potentially pits teammates against one another, so Hester and Ryan could be on opposite teams depending on how the draft shakes out Wednesday night.


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(atlantafalcons.com)
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Colts won’t let Rob Chudzinski interview for OC jobs elsewhere

RobChudzinski
With the Senior Bowl practices/unofficial NFL coaching job fair in full swing, vacant positions are drying up quickly.

And so is the candidate pool, by at least one more.

Via Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Colts aren’t going to allow offensive assistant Rob Chudzinski to interview for any of the open offensive coordinator jobs.

The 49ers, Bears and Rams each had interest in the former Browns head coach, who has had varying degrees of success as a coordinator with the Browns and Panthers in the past. The former University of Miami tight end has had more success coaching up his old position, and the Colts have a solid stable to tight ends with which to work in Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen.

In Indianapolis, he’s served in a variety of roles for head coach Chuck Pagano, but he also serves as insurance in case offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton ends up with a head coaching gig in the near future.

While the Colts have denied teams permission to interview for coordinator jobs, they can’t do so for much longer.

According to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Chudzinski’s contract with the Colts actually expires next week, at which point he can do what he pleases without their permission.

So by denying him the chance to interview now, the Colts might just be stalling in hopes other teams will otherwise fill the jobs they have open.

But in the wink-nod world of reality, anyone interested in the former Browns head coach can wait the Colts out, and there are avenues by which he might be aware of that interest.

Of course, this gives Chudzinski some leverage in any potential negotiations with the Colts, if they want to hang onto the former Browns head coach, and gives the Rams, 49ers and Bears reason to keep a job open if they’re really interested.


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(profootballtalk.com)
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Reggie Wayne Will Have Offseason Surgery

ReggieWayne
NEWS UPDATE
Wayne told reporters following Sunday's loss to the Patriots that he'll undergo offseason surgery to repair a torn triceps, ESPN.com reports. "I don't have a date set yet, but it's definitely on the calendar somewhere," he said. "At the end of the year, I felt the best I felt all year. Felt really good, felt really good tonight."

ROTOWIRE FANTASY ANALYSIS
Wayne got off to a strong start in 2014, but his numbers tailed off toward the middle of the season, and it was later revealed that he was playing through a torn triceps. The veteran missed only one game, finishing the season with 64 catches for 779 yards and two touchdowns. Wayne, who will be a free agent this offseason, said he has not yet decided whether or not he'll return for a 15th NFL season.


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(rotowire.com)
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Giants should target Miami's Duke Johnson and Denzel Perryman

NFLU2009
Despite not really being relevant for quite some time, the University of Miami is still producing NFL-caliber talent, and the New York Giants should take notice. Two players would be great fits with the Giants: Denzel Perryman and Duke Johnson.

I’ll start with the man they call “Duke.”

While Melvin Gordon ruled the regular season, and Ezekiel Elliott dominated the National Championship game, Duke Johnson quietly had the best rushing season in the history of the University of Miami. That’s right, Johnson had a better year than Clinton Portis, Edgerrin James, Willis McGahee and Ottis Anderson had.

His quickness, elusiveness and ball-carrier vision will make him perfectly capable of succeeding at the next level. Man, this kid is going to make some NFL team very happy because of his versatility, and I can see him putting up Pro Bowl numbers as early as his second year. The only problem is that he likely won’t make it to the Giants in the third round. I say third round because I view linebacker as a bigger need, so if Perryman is on the board when New York picks in the second round, I expect them to pull the trigger.

Speaking of Denzel Perryman.

Perryman is the more realistic option, and he would help the Giants immensely, even if he doesn’t start in 2015. Perryman was a Butkus Award finalist in 2013 and 2014. He’s coachable and extremely aggressive. Perryman does a great job of flowing to the ball. He’s great in run support, and he can fend for himself in coverage. Although Perryman is only 6’0″, he plays like he’s about six inches taller. If you don’t believe me, go check out some of his hits. The smart, savvy Perryman has all the intangibles to offer a lot to an NFL team.

His ability to fill gaps and make tackles is really remarkable. It’s easy to see why the U gave him the same number Ray Lewis and Jon Beason wore. Actually, Beason’s presence on the Giants is another reason why Perryman would be a perfect fit for Big Blue.

These two have more similarities than sharing an alma mater. They’re both so good at doing what they’re supposed to do, and they’re both leaders. Leadership isn’t a quality that can be measure, but the Giants certainly look for it. That was apparent last year as five of New York’s seven picks were team captains in college.

Ideally, Beason is the perfect guy for Perryman to learn under. If the Giants don’t want to throw Perryman in with the starters at the beginning, that’s fine. Let’s face it, as much as Giants fans – myself included – like Jon Beason, he is not the long-term answer at inside linebacker.

Here’s the issue with Johnson and Perryman, though: New York probably won’t be able to get both. Is it possible? Yes. Is it likely? No.

With Johnson being ranked as high as the third-best running back (per Walter Football), and Perryman projected as a possible first rounder (second round at the very least), it’s possible one of them slips to the second round, but there’s no way the Giants can nab both Hurricanes without trading up. Johnson or Perryman slipping to the third-round almost certainly won’t happen.

Ok, I acknowledge the fact that I’m a Miami fan, so seeing two ‘Canes on the Giants would make me very happy. With that being said, I do think acquiring Johnson and Perryman would help the Giants from day one, and I do honestly think there’s a slight chance it could happen.

The lone silver lining is that the running back has kind of lost its value since the NFL has transformed into such a pass-heavy league. This year’s running back class is very strong, so there is a slight, slight chance a team won’t want to reach for Johnson in the second.

Here’s an example: in 2012 I viewed Lamar Miller as a second-to-third round talent, but he ended up going in the fourth. Although he wasn’t incredibly sought after like Trent Richardson (remember when teams wanted him?), Miller was the fourth-ranked running back behind Richardson, Doug Martin and David Wilson. The players that went before him were all ranked lower by NFL.com, so it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility to see Johnson slip. Granted, Miller, although exceptional at the U, did not break records like Johnson.

The two players would be two more young, gifted players for the Giants to build around.

As previously mentioned, Jon Beason isn’t the long-term answer at linebacker, and Rashad Jennings isn’t the long-term answer at running back either. The Giants running game lacks diversity (as I’ve talked about before), and they need a change-of-pace back.

Jennings will be 30 next year, and he can’t seem to stay healthy. Pairing Andre Williams with Duke Johnson would give the Giants the foundation for the future.

Duke Johnson would be another piece of a promising offense with names like Odell Beckham, Rueben Randle, Larry Donnell, Weston Richburg and Andre Williams. Perryman, on the other hand, would join young studs like Kennard, Johnathan Hankins and Damontre Moore.

While getting both of these players is likely nothing more than a good idea, drafting only one of them would bolster the Giants immensely.

Drafting Duke Johnson and Denzel Perryman would give New York its third-straight stellar draft class as the team continues to head in the right direction.


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(fansided.com)
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Erik Swoope Signed To Futures Contract

ErikSwoopeCanes
The Indianapolis Colts announced today that they signed 10 players to reserve/future contracts including: WR-Kadron Boone, DE-Gannon Conway, RB-Jeff Demps, LB-Carlos Fields, S-Winston Guy, T-Tyler Hoover, WR-Ryan Lankford, WR-Josh Lenz, DT-Kelcy Quarles and TE-Erik Swoope.

The majority of the aforementioned players previously had solely spent time on the Indianapolis Colts practice squad, with the exception of Kelcy Quarles, who additionally was on the active roster for a brief stint. With Arthur Jones‘ ankle injury in Week 2, Quarles was quickly signed from the Patriots practice squad and appeared in 2 games for the Colts defensive line before he was released and subsequently re-signed to Indianapolis’ practice squad.

Another name of intrigue is Erik Swoope. The former University of Miami basketball player has tried to make a successful conversion to NFL tight end. Apparently, after showing some initial promise in last year’s training camp and preseason, the team believes he’s still worth a further look to try to develop.


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(fansided.com)
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Denzel Perryman Listed Among Top 10 Prospects at Senior Bowl

NFLU2009
While the Seahawks and Patriots jump into their preparations for the Super Bowl, there’s another bowl on tap featuring some of the top NFL prospects from across the country.

This Saturday’s Senior Bowl will showcase some of the nation’s best players who have used up their college eligibility and among them is former Miami Hurricanes linebacker and hard-hitting All-American Denzel Perryman. According to ESPN’s Todd McShay, the 5-foot-11, 240-pound specimen out of Coral Gables is the fifth best prospect participating in the annual all-star game held in Mobile, Alabama.

Perryman, who pondered leaving school early after his junior season, is among the most decorated linebackers in Canes history, tallying 351 tackles (27 for loss) and seven forced fumbles in 47 career starts. He’s considered a likely first or second-round pick by most draft analysts and was a finalist for the Butkus Award, given to the country’s top linebacker. He will be joined by fellow Canes Phillip Dorsett, Ladarius Gunter, and Clive Walford.

The game will be televised at 4 p.m. ET this Saturday on NFL Network.


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(cbslocal.com)
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Allen Bailey A Large Man




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Bears want to interview Rob Chudzinski

RobChudzinski
Rob Chudzinski spent two years as the offensive coordinator with the Panthers, but started his tenure in Carolina a year after John Fox departed for the Broncos.

The two men may get a chance to work together in Chicago, though. Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that the Bears have requested an interview with Chudzinski for their offensive coordinator vacancy. Chudzinski is currently a special assistant to Colts coach Chuck Pagano, so he’s free to interview should all parties agree to schedule a conversation.

The Bears aren’t the only team that wants to talk to Chudzinski. The Rams have shown interest and Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that the 49ers have also put in a request to speak to the former Browns head coach about running their offense. Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin has been referred to as a front-runner for that job.

Both Chicago and San Francisco were major offensive disappointments this season, making the offensive coordinator hire a big deal in each place. We should find out if Chudzinski is the answer to anyone’s prayers in the next week or so.


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(profootballtalk.com)
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This Photo of Tom Brady and Vince Wilfork is Amazing

Love the expressions on these guys' faces. #Leaders #Captains #Winners #OnToSB49

A photo posted by New England Patriots (@patriots) on





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Jon Beason Could be Early Cap Casualty for Giants

JonBeasonGiants
When the New York Giants acquired Jon Beason from the Carolina Panthers it was a move the team had to make and it paid off with an improved run defense. Last offseason, the Giants signed Beason to a three-year deal worth up to $19 million with $7 million of that guaranteed. The average annual hit is about $6 million for the Giants and that coupled with his injury history could mean the Giants will have to move on from Beason.

When Beason was on the field for the Giants he performed very well. He had 104 combined tackles in 16 games across two seasons with the Giants. The problem is only four of those games came this past season. In fact, Beason hasn’t played a full season since 2010, though he did play in 15 games in 2013 between the Panthers and Giants. That was also the only season since 2010 that appeared in more than four games, including this season.

The issue was never Beason’s play on the field but his ability to stay on it. The Giants gambled that Beason could stay healthy for the majority of his contract. That has backfired on them. Beason might still be a serviceable player but certainly not one who is worth an average hit of $6 million in the salary cap era.

The Giants have a lot of holes to fill and two linebackers in Spencer Paysinger and Jacquian Williams, and to a lesser extent Mark Herzlich, who have played key roles for the Giants in recent years and figure to be much cheaper than Beason. Add in the emergence of rookie Devon Kennard and Beason becomes an expensive piece to gamble on.

There is a chance that Beason, who enjoys playing for the Giants, could restructure his contract, something that would allow him to reestablish his value while not hand-cuffing the Giants’ cap situation, but that is only a slim possibility at this point. The Giants would probably need to increase the guaranteed money while decreasing the cap hit, something Beason might agree to.

Linebacker is one area that GM Jerry Reese has pretty much ignored in free agency and has had only moderate success in the draft. It isn’t likely that Reese has changed his opinion too much on the position and could look to allow Kennard an opportunity to take that next step forward. The one question is where does defensive coordinator Steve Spagnoulo see Kennard having the biggest impact, at middle linebacker, outside linebacker or as a super utility guy who plays all over the front seven?

With key free agents to re-sign, especially Jason Pierre-Paul who enjoyed a resurgent season last year, the Giants must decide if Beason is part of their future. If Beason does stay, will he stay healthy enough to have an impact next season? We could find out very soon what the Giants’ decision on Beason is and it looks like he might be a casualty at this moment.


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(rantsports.com)
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Brandon Meriweather Celebrates Birthday With Redskins Cake

BrandonMeriweatherRedskins
Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather knows how to throw a party — just check out the birthday invitation above.

While Meriweather’s birthday is Jan. 14., he decided to wait a day later to celebrate in preparation for the weekend.

The party included a nicely decorated burgundy and gold Redskins cake –featuring his number and some action shots– and allowed Meriweather to enjoy time with some family members.

Spending time with relatives seems to be a theme for him this offseason, as he’s often sharing numerous photos of his daughter, nephew and niece at home and at the basketball gym.

Happy bday to me. Something to keep me sweet lol. Cake made by @pro_cakes

A photo posted by meriweather31 (@meriweather31) on





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TEs have flourished with Chudzinski

RobChudzinski
Should the 49ers hire Rob Chudzinski as their offensive coordinator?

That voice you heard is tight end Vernon Davis screaming “Oh Lord, please, yes!”

Chudzinski, 46, is a former tight end who won two national titles at the University of Miami, and tight ends have typically flourished when he’s been in the vicinity during his 11-year NFL coaching career.

Consider: Antonio Gates’ two 1,000-yard seasons both came when Chudzinski was his position coach; Kellen Winslow had the lone 1,000-yard season of his career when Chudzinski was his offensive coordinator; Jordan Cameron had his breakout season when Chudzinski was his head coach … there’s more, but you get the idea (and if you don’t, see the list below).

The 49ers, of course, have reportedly requested permission to interview Chudzinski, a Colts special assistant, for their offensive coordinator vacancy. And his work with tight ends is no doubt an attractive part of his resume, particularly given Davis’ dumbfounding disappearing act in 2014 (26 catches, 245 yards, 2 TDs).

In addition, the 49ers spent a 2013 second-round pick on tight end Vance McDonald, who has repaid their investment with 10 catches in 23 career games. Yes, McDonald has turned into a better-than-expected blocker, but, again … 10 catches in 23 career games.

For his part, Davis, 30, had 10 catches in his final eight games in 2014. During that stretch, he suggested since-departed offensive coordinator Greg Roman was responsible for his puny production: “As far as not getting the ball,” he said, “(I) leave it up to the offensive coordinator. It’s his call.”

Chudzinski has called on tight ends plenty during his four seasons as an offensive coordinator, and the position has been heavily utilized, regardless of his role on a staff. Since Chudzinski entered the NFL in 2004, he’s coached four of the 14 tight ends who have had a 900-yard season: Gates, Winslow, Cameron and Greg Olsen.

Here’s a look at how tight ends have fared during each of Chudzinski’s 11 seasons:

2004 (Browns TEs coach)
Starter Kellen Winslow sustained a season-ending injury in Week 2. In his absence, Steve Heiden and Aaron Shea combined for 54 catches, 539 yards and accounted for nine of Cleveland’s 21 receiving touchdowns.

2005 (Chargers TEs)
Antonio Gates had 89 catches, the most in his 12-year career, on a career-high 140 targets. Gates also had 1,101 receiving yards (second-most of career) and 10 touchdowns (tied for third-most).

2006 (Chargers TEs)
Gates had 71 catches, 924 yards and nine touchdowns. His 120 targets rank as the second-most of his career.

2007 (Browns offensive coordinator)
Winslow had 82 catches (second-most of 10-year career) with career-highs in receiving yards (1,106) and targets (140). His five touchdowns match the most of his career.

2008 (Browns OC)
In 10 games, Winslow had 43 catches, 428 yards and three touchdowns.

2009 (Chargers TEs/assistant head coach)
Gates had a career-high 1,157 receiving yards on 79 catches (third-most of career) and scored eight touchdowns.

2010 (Chargers TEs/assistant head coach)
Limited to 10 games because of a foot injury, Gates had 50 catches, 782 yards and 10 touchdowns. Over a 16-game season, those numbers would translate to 80 catches, 1,251 yards and 16 touchdowns.

2011 (Panthers OC)
Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey — then 31 and in his last NFL season — combined for 82 catches, 995 yards and nine touchdowns.

2012 (Panthers OC)
Olsen, who entered the NFL in 2007, had 69 catches, 843 yards and five touchdowns. At the time, his reception and yardage total were career-highs.

2013 (Browns head coach)
After collecting 26 catches and 259 yards in his first two NFL seasons, Jordan Cameron broke out with 80 catches, 917 yards and seven touchdowns.

2014 (Colts special assistant)
Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen combined for 80 catches, 1,169 yards and 16 touchdowns.


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(sfgate.com)
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Driver rescued by Vince Wilfork ‘grateful’

VinceWilforkPatriots2
WRENTHAM — An alleged drunken driver rescued by New England Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork after a crash following the team’s AFC Championship victory wasn’t talking to reporters Tuesday, but her lawyer says she’s grateful for his help.

Mary Ellen Brooks, 38, of Hanson, who tested more than twice the limit for intoxication, initially had no idea that the massive man who pulled her from her overturned Jeep Wrangler was a Patriots football player.

Brooks’ lawyer, Arnie Lett of West Dennis, did not comment on the allegations against his client, other than to say it was her first arrest for drunken driving, but he did say she was thankful that Wilfork was there to lend a hand.

“She was very grateful that he stopped,” Lett said.

“He had a nice way about him to attend to her. She was very appreciative,” Lett said.

Brooks pleaded innocent in Wrentham District Court Tuesday to charges of drunken driving and driving to endanger.

She had a breath-alcohol test result of 0.17 percent, according to a state police report filed with the court. The legal level for intoxication is 0.08 percent in Massachusetts.

Brooks attended the game Sunday at Gillette Stadium, and told state police she drank four beers with friends before the game, three during the game and two afterward, according to the police report.

She was on her way home to Hanson around 12:45 a.m. Monday, when she drove off a 4-foot rock wall at the entrance to Motorcycles of Manchester on Route 1 in Foxboro while attempting to make a U-turn from Route 1 South to Route 1 North, the police report states.

Her 2015 Jeep Wrangler rolled over onto the driver’s side, trapping her inside until the 325-pound Wilfork stopped and pulled Brooks, weighing 175 pounds, out of the vehicle with one arm, according to state police.

The interior of the vehicle and her pants were wet, allegedly from beer that had spilled inside the vehicle, according to state police.

She was examined for injuries by emergency medical technicians but declined to be taken to a hospital.

Brooks limped as she walked to the microphone for her arraignment and had a pair of crutches with her.

The police report indicates that Brooks told troopers she believed she sprained her ankle after tripping in the Rodham Ford parking lot before she started to drive home.

Brooks walked away from reporters without comment after her arraignment.

She is free on her own recognizance and is due back in court March 19 for a pretrial hearing.


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(thesunchronicle.com)
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Diamondbacks' Peter O'Brien could be the answer

PeterObrienCanes
For the better part of a decade, the Diamondbacks haven't had to worry much about with their catching situation. Since Chris Snyder emerged as the everyday guy in 2007 and after Miguel Montero overtook him in 2009, the Diamondbacks have, more years than not, rated in the top half of the league in offensive production from the position.

They go into 2015 with no such assurances. With Montero traded to the Chicago Cubs, the Diamondbacks have two apparently light-hitting, glove-first types — last year's backup Tuffy Gosewisch and Rule 5 pick Oscar Hernandez.

But neither represents the main reason General Manager Dave Stewart says he won't be seeking help from the outside. That would be Peter O'Brien, the power-hitting catcher the club acquired from the New York Yankees in the Martin Prado trade in July.

In recent weeks, the Diamondbacks have seemingly sped up O'Brien's timeline. Earlier in the offseason, they were saying he would likely be ready for the big leagues by midsummer. Lately, they've been saying it wouldn't be out of the question for him to break with the team on Opening Day.

This line of thinking runs counter to that of some rival evaluators. It's not that they disagree so much with when he'll be ready — it's that many don't see O'Brien ever being a capable defender behind the plate.

The Diamondbacks disagree, for a few reasons. For one, they like O'Brien's tools. Bench coach Glenn Sherlock, who serves as the team's catching coach, says O'Brien has good hands and actions behind the plate to go with a strong arm, and the club liked the way he worked with pitchers during the Arizona Fall League.

"He's a great learner," Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale said. "One of the things we were really impressed with in the fall league was his ability to work with different pitchers and earn their trust. You really need to know if your pitchers like to throw to him and feel good throwing to him."

They like that he's committed to being a catcher and willing to put in the work to make it happen, including showing up to Salt River Fields early this month to work with Sherlock.

"He's very determined, a very hard worker," Sherlock said. "We talked in the fall and he told me he wanted to come in early, he was going to be here, he wanted to work. That's what he's been doing."

The Diamondbacks also believe O'Brien will benefit from getting a chance to dedicate himself fully to the position. Coming up with the Yankees, he bounced between catcher, third base, first base and the outfield.

"He has to iron everything out," Hale said. "(In the fall league), we saw a huge jump in his ability to frame. We saw his throwing — we were really shocked how good he threw. It's just not as consistent as it has to be to be an everyday catcher, but you see that he can do it."

Rival scouts' opinions vary. One says O'Brien needs to move off catcher. Another compares him with White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers, generally considered a subpar defender. A third scout calls O'Brien's defense "not abysmal, but not desirable at all."

Of course, even if O'Brien is a below-average defender, it would be forgiven if he hits the way he has in his minor league career. In 1,058 professional at-bats, he has a career .267/.319/.534 line with 66 homers and 72 doubles. In 287-at-bats in Double-A last season, he hit 24 homers.

And though some scouts were wary of his low walk total, he showed a more patient approach in the fall league, drawing 17 walks in 107 plate appearances to roughly triple his walk rate from the minor league season.

The bat might be ahead of the glove, but the Diamondbacks don't think the glove is too far behind.

"He's got some tools," Sherlock said, "and I think the fact he's going to be behind the plate, getting consistent playing time at the catcher position will only help things. He's got good hands and good actions and he's very determined, and that all adds up to good things."


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(azcentral.com)
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Anthony Chickillo surprises analysts with burst/speed

NFLU2009
Miami senior DE Anthony Chickillo "showed better-than-expected initial burst and closing speed" at the Shrine Game, observed CBS Sports' Rob Rang.

Amongst the small group that gained an uptick in stock in the game itself, Chickillo is near the top. In Miami's two-gap, 3-4 scheme, Chickillo was given the thankless task of occupying blockers so that his linebackers could make plays. Chickillo was a 4-3 defensive end on Saturday, and the results were promising. "After signing at Miami as an extremely high regarded prep, Chickillo wasn't terribly productive at the collegiate level," Rang wrote. "He projects nicely as a rotational defender in the NFL, however, as he has nose for the ball, plays with a terrific motor and, as he showed in this game, has position and scheme versatility." CBS grades the 6-foot-4, 275-pounder as a high-Day 3 prospect.


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(rotoworld.com)
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Ereck Flowers shoots up to No. 11 overall prospect

NFLU2009
Miami junior OT Ereck Flowers is now the No. 12 prospect on Todd McShay's Big Board.

He was previously ranked No. 17. "Flowers has a massive frame that allows him to recover in pass protection and open up lanes in the running game, along with above-average agility and a quick first step for his size," McShay wrote. "His football instincts are good overall, he takes good angles, he plays with an edge and has excellent intangibles." The 6-foot-6, 324-pound Flowers missed some time due to injuries this year, but he was outstanding whenever he stepped between the hashes. McShay is the highest analyst on Flowers that we've seen.


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(rotoworld.com)
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Jon Feliciano impresses evaluators in practice

NFLU2009
Miami redshirt senior OG Jon Feliciano stood out at East-West Shrine Game practices, noted NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah.

"Unlike numerous linemen at the Shrine Game who cross-trained at different line positions this week, Feliciano has an actual track record at guard and both tackle spots," added College Football 24/7 writer Mike Huguenin. Indeed, Feliciano, a four-year starter, headlined as both a guard and tackle with the Hurricanes. The 6-foot-4, 320-pounder is a bit stiff, but his motor doesn't stop.


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(rotoworld.com)
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Anthony Chickillo Lauded For Shrine Game Performance

NFLU2009
Miami DE Anthony Chickillo: Chickillo (6-foot-4, 275 pounds) was a five-star prospect and a consensus national top-25 recruit in the 2011 recruiting class, one that also included Jadeveon Clowney, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Sammy Watkins, who were first-round picks in the 2014 draft. (Chickillo is one of two five-stars from the 2011 recruiting class in the Shrine Game; the other is Texas RB Malcom Brown.) Chickillo was a four-year starter at Miami, but never lived up to the recruiting hype. He had five sacks as a freshman in 2011, but that ended up being his career-high, and his total dropped every season (four in 2012, 3.5 in '13 and three this season). Still, he was a valuable player for the Hurricanes known for his high-revving motor and ended up being better against the run than was expected. Chickillo showed off his relentlessness and tenacity in almost every drill this week. "I can see him being a mid-round pick who will be around a long time," Jeremiah said.


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(nfl.com)
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Sam Shields to replace Darrelle Revis in Pro Bowl

SamShields2
Packers defensive back Sam Shields will replace Patriots defensive back Darrelle Revis in the Pro Bowl Sunday. Revis cannot participate as he and the Patriots prepare for the Super Bowl next week.

Shields totaled 40 tackles in 2014 with two interceptions. He also defended nine passes for Green Bay during the regular season.



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(cbssports.com)
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Chase Ford has surgery on broken left foot

ChaseFordVikings
Former Corrigan-Camden Bulldog and Minnesota Viking Chase Ford had foot surgery Friday.

Ford broke the fifth metatarsal in his left foot. However, this is not the first time the tight end has broken his foot this football season.

Ford was out during the preseason with a break in that same foot, but did make a comeback. He said he's confident he'll be able to come back stronger from this surgery.

“That's my plan. That's my intentions,” said Ford. “I feel like if I can play all year on good feet, it could be a better season for me this year and God willing, He blesses me with that.”

Last season was Ford's second year in the league. He recorded his first NFL career touchdown against the Washington Redskins in Week 9, and tallied 258 yards on the year.

Ford said once he's out of his walking boot from this surgery, he'll be going back up to Minnesota to start his rehab and get ready for the next season.


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(ktre.com)
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Vince Wilfork lends helping hand

VinceWilforkCanes
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork was driving home from Sunday night's rousing victory against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game when he noticed a Jeep Wrangler rolled onto its side on Route 1 not far from Gillette Stadium.

So he did what he said anyone else would: He pulled over and lent a helping hand, with the Massachusetts State Police arriving soon after and crediting Wilfork with helping pull the driver -- 38-year-old Mary Ellen Brooks of Hanson, Massachusetts -- out of the vehicle.

"Through football and the course of life, I've learned to try to stay poised in certain situations and I'm pretty sure she was kind of scared," Wilfork said Monday in the team's locker room. "The last thing I wanted to do was have her panic, and that was the first thing I told her, 'Don't panic. We'll get you out of here.' We got her out, the cops came and that was about it."

The accident occurred at 12:45 a.m., and trooper Kenneth Proulx reported that he held the driver's door open while Wilfork reached in and helped lift Brooks out of the vehicle with one hand. Wilfork then departed after ensuring no more assistance was needed. Brooks was then arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and negligent operation of a motor vehicle.

"He's got a lot of character and a lot of integrity -- how generous he is with his time and personal support, and the time and interest and compassion he has for other fellow human beings," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "It doesn't surprise me because that's really the type of person he is."

In revisiting his role in helping Brooks, Wilfork was subdued on Monday.

"I think anybody would do the same thing," he said. "I saw the lady in there and asked her if she was OK, could she move. She grabbed my hand, and kind of talked her through [it]. It wasn't a big deal; it was seeing someone that needed help and helping. I was just trying to get her to safety."

Wilfork said he didn't see the car flip over and was unaware how long it had been on its side. He was with his wife, Bianca, at the time.

"You kind of reflect on life a little bit," he said. "Here I am, we won the most important game of our season, and flashing right in front of your eyes is the life of someone who is in danger. ... After I drove off, my wife and I kind of talked in the car and said there are things that are a lot more precious in life than games or anything you accomplish in life. There are things out there that are more important. It showed last night, even though we won the AFC championship, it was life and danger. We were just happy to help.

"I don't want anything from it. If I saw it a million times, I'd do it a million times no matter what the situation would be."


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(espn.com)
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Rams ask Colts permission to interview Rob Chudzinski

RobChudzinski
Now that the Colts Offense went flat at the wrong time, their assistants have the opportunity to look around.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Rams have requested permission to interview special assistant Rob Chudzinski for their offensive coordinator vacancy.

Chudzinski has worked as a consultant with the Colts since being fired after one year as the Browns head coach, but had previously served as a coordinator in Cleveland and Carolina.

He’s been “all over the building” for the Colts this year, even with Pep Hamilton calling the plays. It will be curious to see if the Colts allow permission, or if they try to hang onto him as they try to get tougher as a team this offseason.


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(profootballtalk.com)
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49ers seek permission to interview Chudzinski

RobChudzinski
SANTA CLARA -- Rob Chudzinski, an Indianapolis Colts special assistant, is being sought by the 49ers to interview for their offensive coordinator post, the NFL Network reported.

The St. Louis Rams also put in a request Monday to interview Chudzinski, a day after the Colts lost in the AFC Championship game. Chudzinski, 46, coached 49ers all-time leading rusher Frank Gore at the University of Miami before beginning his NFL coaching career. Chudzinski was head coach of the 2013 Cleveland Browns, who finished 4-12.

Former Raiders coach Lane Kiffin is another candidate to replace Greg Roman, who was the 49ers offensive coordinator since 2011 and left last week to assume that role with the Buffalo Bills. Kiffin spent this past season as the University of Alabama's offensive coordinator,

The 49ers have not officially announced any staff changes since promoting Jim Tomsula from defensive line coach to head coach Wednesday.

Tomsula's four-year contract includes a $3.5 million annual salary that ranks lower than all but three other head coaches, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area reported.

Those believed to be making less than Tomsula are Mike McCoy (San Diego Chargers, $3 million annually), Ron Rivera (Carolina Panthers, $3 million) and Gus Bradley (Jacksonville Jaguars, $2.9 million).


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(mercurynews.com)
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Vince Wilfork: 'To be a champ, you got to beat the champs'

VinceWilforkPatriots2
The two teams advanced in vastly different manners Sunday, but in some ways, Patriots-Seahawks is the Super Bowl many people expected. Add Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork to that list.

"I think you've got the best two teams playing in this game. I think from a staff standpoint, you can't ask for a better game than this," Wilfork said. He added, "To be a champ, you got to beat the champs."

The Seahawks are the first defending Super Bowl champion to get back to the Super Bowl since the Patriots themselves after the 2004 season. Of the previous nine winners (including that second '04 Patriots team), none had made it past the divisional round. The last Super Bowl winner to actually defeat the previous year's winner along the way to becoming the champs was the 2011 New York Giants, who defeated the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round a few weeks before upsetting the Patriots in the Super Bowl for the second time in four seasons.

Wilfork said the fact that the Patriots lost those two Super Bowls to the Giants won't be a factor in this game, at least for him.

"I won't think one time about being in the previous Super Bowls that I've been in. I've been in three and lost two and won one. It's different. Every season is different. Every team is different. My teammates are different. Coaches are different. Everything is different, so you really can't dwell over how many you won, how many you lost. It's all about now. To be a champ, you got to beat the champ, and that's our goal. That's the challenge for us, to be able to go in there and beat the champ, and I'm pretty sure their goal is to defend their Super Bowl. So it's going to be a good matchup."




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(cbssports.com)
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Reggie Wayne's decision: Retire or return?

ReggieWayne
Reggie Wayne won't let himself start thinking about it until Nashville. Up to that point in the ride, it's only music. A lot of very loud music.

The Colts veteran receiver will soon pack his car and make the same 16-hour drive he makes after every season finishes. He'll head home to Miami. On the way, after he blasts music the first four hours, he'll begin to think about whether or not he wants to return for a 15th season with the Indianapolis Colts.

"Once I hit Nashville, I'll figure out the rest," Wayne said Monday, a day after Indianapolis fell 45-7 in the AFC Championship Game to New England. "I'll make my outline and go from there. I don't have a plan. I've never had one. I just gotta make a couple phone calls, say a couple of prayers and see what route the good Lord sends me."

Wayne is a free agent come March. Retire or return? It's the decision he'll weigh while he drives home to his wife and three sons in South Beach and ponders if he's played his last game in the NFL.

While it's uncertain whether the Colts want the aging wideout back, Wayne reiterated on several occasions late in the season that he can't imagine himself suiting up for any other team. It appears he'll either play for the Colts or he won't play at all.

"I haven't talked to Reggie yet," owner Jim Irsay said before the divisional round of the playoffs. "We haven't started to really have any deep conversations with Chuck (Pagano) and Ryan (Grigson) and I in terms of how the roster's going to shape up after this.

"He's had an unbelievable career," Irsay continued. "For the future, we haven't decided yet."

But would Pagano – a friend of Wayne's dating back to their Miami days in the late 1990s – really be surprised if he saw No. 87 come the opening day of training camp in late July?

"Would I be shocked? No," said the Colts coach. "You guys know how Reggie's wired, you know his work ethic."

If Wayne does elect to return with the Colts, he may be in line for a pay cut. His production waned significantly down the stretch – the 36-year-old was never the same after he hurt his elbow in a Week 7 win over Cincinnati. Wayne just completed the third and final year of a $17.5 million deal he signed before the 2012 campaign.

His body of work through 14 seasons remains one of the most prolific by a wide receiver in NFL history: He's seventh all-time in catches (1,070), eighth in yards (14,345) and 22nd in touchdowns (82). Since 2001, no receiver in the league has caught more passes or hauled in more yards.

"I do have family (to call)," Wayne said of the impending decision. "I'll call them, sit down with them and we'll talk. A lot of times I make calls to them just to make sure I stay up on the road."

He's coming off his least-productive full season since 2002 – his second year in the league – and was nearly invisible down the stretch while the Colts advanced one game shy of Super Bowl XLIX. Wayne finished with 64 catches for 779 yards and two touchdowns but had just one catch on five targets in three playoff games.
His season started strong. Wayne was Wayne again, it appeared, after his 2013 campaign was lost seven weeks in last October when he crumpled to the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium one night with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

He worked his way back and resembled the Reggie of old early on in 2014: Nine catches for 98 yards in Week 1, seven catches for 118 yards and a touchdown in Week 4. He was back.

When it soured, though, it soured quickly. Wayne injured his left elbow in a Week 7 win over Cincinnati. After missing one game, he returned to play in every one the rest of the way. Problem was: He wasn't the same player. He caught just 17 balls over the final six weeks of the regular season and didn't score a single touchdown.

That elbow injury turned out to be a partially-torn triceps – he'll undergo surgery soon – and he aggravated his groin in a Week 17 win in Tennessee. On Monday, a day after his fourth postseason loss to New England, he showed up at the team's 56th Street facility to clean out his locker and enter the unknown of the offseason.
Wayne was asked if Sunday's loss might've been the last time he steps foot on an NFL field.

"The last thing on my mind," he said. "The first thing on my mind (this morning) was, 'Who the hell is going to help me clean out my locker?' I haven't even thought of it. That's not something I go out of my way to even worry about. It's already written, man. There's nothing I can do about that."

Late this season, Wayne moved past longtime teammate Peyton Manning and became the franchise's all-time leader in games played. He's made the playoffs in 12 of 14 seasons. He's earned six Pro Bowl nods. He's played in two Super Bowls and helped the Colts to the 2006 world championship.

On Monday, as the team gathered to close the book on the 2014 season, he addressed his offensive teammates about how the little things always seem to catch up to teams in the playoffs. None could say for sure if Wayne's played his final game as a Colt.

"I'm not going to think about that right now, so I won't opine on that," quarterback Andrew Luck said.

"He already knows he's got to talk to me about it before he makes a decision," his understudy at receiver, T.Y. Hilton, said late in the season.

Wayne's in no rush – "I'll be somewhere warm thinking about it and I'll go from there," he said – while he swallows the reality of another season falling short of the Colts' ultimate goal. Regardless, his legacy is secure, his place in franchise lore undisputed.

He was one of the best ever to wear the horseshoe. Now he has a decision to make.

"The game will fade for all of us," Pagano said. "But the relationships will last forever."


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(indystar.com)
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Antrel Rolle Not A Giant In '15?

AntrelRolleGiants2
Antrel Rolle in '15... Giants or Other?
It's early so this is a sheer guess right now but ... other. Rolle can definitely still play, even if it's not at the same level as two years ago. He'll be 33 next season and age unfortunately doesn't discriminate, especially in this game. But somebody will pay him handsomely in a short-term deal, and the Giants don't overpay for sentimentality (see: Justin Tuck, 2014). It's probably best anyway for Rolle to take the money from a team on the brink of a championship.


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(nj.com)
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No. 20 Allen Bailey

AllenBailey
In the 100 days leading up to signing day 2015, RecruitingNation will be looking back at our ESPN recruiting rankings from 2006 to the present and counting down the best player of the past 10 years at each ranking position, No. 100 to No. 1.

Allen Bailey, No. 20 in 2007 class

Bailey came out of tiny McIntosh County Academy in Darian, Georgia, as one of the nation's most talented athletes playing both linebacker and fullback. He grew up in a very small town of 60 residents (Hog Hammock) on Sapelo Island. He picked Miami (FL) over offers from Alabama, Florida, Clemson and Georgia on Feb. 5 of 2007. He was a member of the Hurricanes' 2007 class that included Graig Cooper and Leonard Hankerson.

Bailey played in all 12 games as a freshman, mostly on special teams. He did see action at linebacker in two contests.

Bailey would make the move to defensive end as a sophomore. He played in 12 games with four starts recording 36 tackles, nine tackles for loss, and a team leading five sacks.

As a junior, Bailey would become one of college football’s top defensive ends, recording 34 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, and seven sacks earning All-ACC First Team honors following the 2009 season.

Bailey would start all 13 games as a senior at defensive end, also flashing the ability slid inside and be an effective pass-rusher on third down. He had 45 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, and seven sacks. He earned All-ACC Second Team honors.

Bailey was selected in the third round, No. 86 overall, by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2011 NFL draft where he still plays.


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(espn.com)
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D.J. Williams: John Fox's experience huge bonus for Bears

DJWilliams2
CHICAGO -- Free-agent middle linebacker D.J. Williams is a firm believer that brand-new Chicago Bears head coach John Fox's wealth of experience separated the 59-year-old from other candidates.

"Fox has been through the ups and downs of the NFL; he knows and understands the dynamics of the league," Williams said on ESPN 1000's "Carmen and Jurko Show" on Friday. "A younger coach may not. They may be new and innovative with ideas and things like that, but at the end of the day, it's football. It's run the ball, throw the ball, tackle the ball carrier ... it's a simple game, but sometimes I feel like people make it too difficult."

Williams, an 11-year veteran, spent two seasons (2011-12) in Denver with Fox before jumping to the Bears in 2013. Fox brings 13 years of head-coaching experience to Chicago, after successful runs with the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers. Fox won four straight division titles in Denver and qualified for the postseason three times in Carolina.

"Fox makes coming to work fun," Williams said. "I would say he's an easy-going guy, but he's still old-school football. It's very hard to find a blend of that, somebody who's like real hard-nosed, but laid-back at the same time. I find you don't demand respect, you earn it. Being around John Fox for two years, how he approaches guys in the locker room, he'll chat you up and talk to you ... when you do that you get respect from the guys."

Fox and general manager Ryan Pace face an uphill battle to rebuild the Bears' defense, a unit that struggled mightily the past two seasons. Williams is one of several older players on the roster new management may deem expendable, especially after Williams ended the year of injured reserve (neck) for the second consecutive year.

Williams, a free agent, is unsure whether Chicago wants him to return but expects a straightforward answer from Fox if the two meet to discuss the linebacker's future.

"I had a good relationship with John Fox," Williams said. "He was a great coach. I'm late in my career and I do want to go to a place where I'm comfortable. I feel like if I do talk to John Fox he would shoot me straight and tell me what my position would be on the team. I'm feeling pretty good. I had a neck injury earlier this year. It's one of those injuries that you just needed time for it to heal. Now I'm feeling good and ready to go."


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(espn.com)
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Padres' Yonder Alonso avoid arbitration

YonderAlonsoPadres
Padres right-hander Tyson Ross and Yonder Alonso both avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year contracts, per the team's official website. Ross has settled for $5.25 million, per MLB.com. Alonso is set to make $1.65 million in 2015, per ESPN.

Ross registered a 2.81 ERA and 195 strikeouts over 195 2/3 innings last season. Alonso slashed .240/.285/.397 with seven homers and 27 RBI over 267 at-bats.


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(cbssports.com)
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Jon Jay files for $5 million in arbitration

JonJayCards
Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay has filed for $5 million in arbitration, while the team has offered $4.1 million, MLB.com reports.

Jay will be eligible for arbitration for one more time before he's scheduled to reach free agency at the end of the 2016 season. He hit .303/.372/.378 with three home runs, 46 RBI and six stolen bases in 413 at-bats.


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(cbssports.com)
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Blue Jays, Danny Valencia swap arbitration figures

DannyValencia
Blue Jays infielder Danny Valencia has filed for $1.675 million in arbitration, while the team has offered $1.25 million, Sportsnet reports.

Valencia is in his first season of arbitration eligibility. He hit .258/.296/.371 with four home runs and 30 RBI in 264 at-bats between Kansas City and Toronto in 2014.




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(cbssports.com)
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Chris Perez A Free Agent

ChrisPerezIndians2
CHRIS PEREZ, 29, reliever.

Final 2014 stats: 1-3, 4.27 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, one save, .228 opponent batting average and 39 strikeouts and six homers in 46 1/3 innings.

Contract status: Free agent.

The good: Had a 3.23 ERA and held opponents to a .213 batting average in 23 home games. Allowed runs in only one of his first 14 appearances. Did not allow a run in his last seven games (two hits, four walks).

The bad: Between his nice start and finish, posted a 6.92 ERA in 28 games, allowing six homers in 26 innings. The Dodgers lost all faith in him and he was essentially done. On July 22, he walked four consecutive batters, no easy feat. Fell one appearance shy of earning an additional $500,000 (though he had previously earned $1.5 million in appearance bonuses). Missed most of August with bone spurs. When he didn’t make the playoff roster, he left the team and went home.

What’s next: Not life as a Dodger.

The take: Perez averaged 31 saves a year in the four seasons with the Indians prior to signing with the Dodgers for $2.3 million. It seemed a decent, one-year gamble, the Dodgers figuring the former closer might rediscover his form in a new environment and act as one of the late-inning bridges to Kenley Jansen. Alas, it just never happened. The rest of his numbers were never as sexy as his save totals.

The former closers as set-up men (Brian Wilson, Brandon League, Perez) never panned out and Perez's future seemed sealed by the midpoint to the season. That he was never designated for assignment says all that’s needed about the state of the 2014 bullpen.


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(latimes.com)
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Mock draft: Lions take Miami OT Ereck Flowers

NFLU2009
Quarterback Marcus Mariota announced he's leaving Oregon for the NFL Draft.

That's great timing for SI.com's Chris Burke — he has Mariota going No.1 to Tampa Bay in his Mock Draft 3.0 released Wednesday.

It's also good for the Lions, who again have just the draft, mock or otherwise, to look forward to. The more underclassmen who come out, the more talent is pushed down to them at the No.23 spot.

Burke has the Lions taking Miami offensive tackle Ereck Flowers, "who could develop into a long-term starter on the line. Detroit could consider him at left tackle."

But Burke adds: "Much of Detroit's offseason hinges on where Ndamukong Suh signs. But we've also seen enough from Martin Mayhew to know that he will not take a player just because his team appears thin at a position."

So he kind of qualifies it both ways.


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(freep.com)
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Ray Lewis backtracks from his comments about Tom Brady

Ray Lewis isn’t quite finished talking about the Tuck Rule.

After Tom Brady brushed off the former Ravens’ player’s comments that “we only know who Tom Brady is because of the Tuck Rule”, Lewis backtracked a bit on Twitter:










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‘Frank’s a 49er’

FrankGore2
Although Frank Gore and general manager Trent Baalke have expressed a mutual desire to bring back the 49ers’ all-time leading rusher, two months remain for that to happen before Gore becomes a free agent.

Said Baalke: “Frank’s a 49ers. Frank knows exactly how we feel and that discussion has been had.”


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(mercurynews.com)
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Calais Campbell make All-NFC Team

CalaisCampbellCards
After every season, the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) vote to honor players as the best in the league. I happen to be a member of the PFWA, so I also get a vote.

Two Arizona Cardinals players made the PFWA All-NFC team -- defensive end Calais Campbell and cornerback Justin Bethel (as a special teams player).

Not a single Cardinals player was named to the All-NFL team this year. Last year, Patrick Peterson and Bethel bother were on the All-NFL team and All-NFC team. Peterson was left off the teams this year.

Campbell had seven sacks, an interception and 59 total tackles, 12 for losses. He also was credited for an additional 17 pressures and 12 hits on opposing quarterbacks.

Bethel was credited with 18 special teams tackles on the season, a forced fumble and a blocked kick.


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(revengeofbirds.com)
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Tom Brady takes the high road when asked about Ray Lewis

FOXBORO, Mass. – Three-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady took the high road Thursday in response to a statement by former defensive adversary Ray Lewis that the 2002 tuck rule controversy is the “only reason” we know who Brady is.

RayLewisRavens2
Before practice for Sunday’s AFC title game against the Indianapolis Colts, the quarterback of the New England Patriots said he’d been informed about Lewis’ remarks by the Patriots media relations department.

“Yes, they told me that, yeah, everyone has an opinion,” said Brady.

“I think Ray’s a great player. He’s a first ballot Hall of Famer. I was fortunate enough to play against him.”

Lewis, former Baltimore Ravens linebacker and now ESPN analyst, mentioned Brady Tuesday on Sirius XM Mad Dog Radio.

“When we, the first time we created something called a tuck rule, it’s the only reason we know, I’m just being honest, the only reason we know who Tom Brady is, because of a tuck rule,” Lewis said on the Stephen A. Smith show.

“There’s no such thing as a tuck rule! If the ball is in your hand, and I knock it out your hand, whether it’s going backwards, forwards, lateral, sideways, however it’s coming out, that’s a freaking fumble.”

The play occurred Jan. 19, 2002, in the Patriots’ 16-13 overtime win against the Oakland Raiders in the AFC playoffs.

With the Patriots trailing by three late in regulation, Brady was in the act of passing when he cut short his throwing motion and pulled the ball down. Defensive back Charles Woodson knocked the ball out of the Brady’s hands and the officials ruled Oakland had recovered the fumble.

After video review, it was ruled an incomplete pass under the tuck rule, which said any forward movement of the arm starts a pass and that it was an incomplete pass “even if the player loses possession of the ball as he is attempting to tuck it back toward his body.”

Adam Vinatieri kicked a tying 45-yard field goal for the Patriots in the snow and they won in overtime on a 23-yard Vinatieri field goal.
The tuck rule was eliminated after the 2013 season.


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(usatoday.com)
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Vince Wilfork remains hungry

VinceWilforkPatriots2
FOXBORO -- He arrived at the height of the Patriots dynasty, accustomed already to championship games, having twice played for national titles while at the University of Miami (winning one).

In Vince Wilfork's rookie season with the Patriots in 2004, New England won its third Super Bowl title in four years.

The big defensive tackle never took the celebrations for granted. He always knew winning was hard.

Now a 33-year-old father figure who likens watching young Patriots linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower to watching "younger brothers or my kids grow up," Wilfork still reaches for a second Super Bowl ring.

Big Vince is again getting close. This coming Sunday night against the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium, Wilfork will be suited up for his sixth AFC title game. The winner moves on to Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Ariz., on Feb. 1.

"As far as having experience in this game, one thing I always try to do is try to treat it like a regular game," Wilfork said about preparing for yet another AFC title game.

"You want to look at it as the next game," Wilfork later added. "But the only thing with that is you lose (this game), you go home. And I don't think anybody in this locker room wants to go home."

The Patriots have reached the AFC title game for the fourth straight year, having lost the last two. This will be New England's ninth AFC title game appearance of the Brady-Belichick Era (5-3 record).

This one comes 15 months after Wilfork underwent surgery for a torn Achilles tendon that reduced him to spiritual sideline leader during the Patriots' AFC title game loss in Denver last January.

Wilfork has not made a big deal about a 6-foot-2, 325-pounder on the wrong side of 30 coming back from an Achilles injury. He has left that to us; all who speculated his injury might be a career-ender. Coach Bill Belichick apparently had his doubts. A contentious contract restructuring last March had Wilfork requesting the team release him. An incentive-laden deal was then hammered out -- and Wilfork reached all the incentives. He has started all 17 games and played more than 70 percent of New England's defensive snaps in his 11th NFL season, while being a team captain for the seventh straight year. All of which Wilfork chalks up to, "I'm a football player."

"I wasn't surprised that I can play and be effective at this level," Wilfork said last week. "Health was never an issue with me this year ... My goal was just getting back on this team and helping my teammates win, and we've done a lot of that around here."

Wilfork was the Patriots' top draft pick in 2004, the 21st overall selection, and the sixth Miami Hurricane taken that year after safety Sean Taylor (5th overall, Redskins), tight end Kellen Winslow (6th, Browns), linebacker Jonathan Vilma (12th, Jets), linebacker D.J. Williams (17th, Broncos) and offensive tackle Vernon Carey (19th, Dolphins).

Wilfork, who in 2002 had lost both his parents to health ailments, was undaunted about joining the reigning Super Bowl champs, who just lost massive nose tackle Ted Washington in free agency.

At the time he was drafted, Wilfork said, "I know what it's like for a team to come out and talk trash and try to throw you off your game. I know what that's about because at the University of Miami we get that year after year."

Wilfork is now a five-time Pro Bowler with one Super Bowl ring. The five Hurricanes drafted ahead of him in 2004 have totaled six Pro Bowls and one ring (though Taylor being murdered in 2007 almost certainly affected that Pro Bowl total). Wilfork and Bears linebacker Williams were the only players from that Miami first-round class still in the NFL this season.

Wilfork's only remaining teammate from his rookie season is Tom Brady, who was then a fifth-year Patriot.

Most of Wilfork's trash talking now is aimed at the Patriots' quarterback at practice.

"I'm in his ear. He's in my ear," Wilfork said. "But at the same time, we make practice live, we make practice competitive, because we try to get it as close to the game as possible ... We've been so successful around here doing that."


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(lowellsun.com)
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