Month: June 2017

Browns training camp battles: Defensive backs

If the Browns’ front seven is going to be their strength on defense this year, the defensive backfield is going to be their weakness.

That’s not to say there isn’t potential in this group. But there are a ton of question marks, starting with the veteran leader: Joe Haden. When healthy, Haden was one of the top cornerbacks in the league. But the past two years, he hasn’t been healthy. And when he’s been on the field, his performance hasn’t matched up to expectations.

Behind Haden on the depth chart is Jason McCourty (a developmental player) and Briean Boddy-Calhoun, who made some plays in Haden’s absence last year.

At strong safety, rookie Jabrill Peppers will be in the mix with Calvin Pryor (whom the Browns acquired in a trade from the Jets) and returning players Ibraheim Campbell and Derrick Kindred. I expect Pryor and Peppers to get the bulk of the work with Campbell and Kindred playing sparingly unless there is an injury.

The free safety spot is a battle between Ed Reynolds (who was waived by Philadelphia), Trey Caldwell and undrafted free agent Kai Nacua. Who knows what the team will get out of this group.

Opposite Haden at cornerback, Jamar Taylor is the clear starter with Marcus Burley (waived by Seattle) and Darius Hillary backing him up. The team has to hope Taylor stays healthy throughout the year.

Position grade: C

If Haden is healthy and back to form, that will help. But after two underwhelming years, he needs to prove himself. Pryor and Peppers will be an upgrade at the strong safety position and Taylor should be solid opposite Haden. But this isn’t a very deep group, for sure.

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Browns training camp battles: Linebackers

The Browns come into the 2017 season with two solid linebackers and a bunch of question marks behind them. The good news is, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will probably deploy a lot of two-linebacker sets this season. The bad news is, the Browns are short at depth and talent at the position.

Jamie Collins, last year’s acquisition from the Patriots who re-signed as a free agent in the offseason, is back along with Christian Kirksey.

Collins is the most talented linebacker on the roster. But he comes with a question mark because New England gave up on him due to his freelancing style. Hopefully, Williams can get the most out of him.

Kirksey has impressed during his time with the Browns and received a contract extension in the offseason. Not bad for a guy who began his career as one of the more humorous Madden game glitches. His player was 2 feet tall and a Titan despite being drafted by the Browns.

Behind them is … not much. Tank Carder, Nate Orchard and Joe Schobert have the most experience. There are also a handful of rookies who will be looking to make names for themselves in camp. But right now, no one outside of Collins and Kirksey really stand out.

Position grade: C-

 

Just 26 days until training camp begins..

The Dallas Cowboys released their training camp scheduled on Monday.

Training camp for the 2017 NFL season will begin on Monday, July 24, 2017 in Oxnard, California.   Camp will kick-off with an opening ceremony, followed by the Cowboy cheerleaders posing for pictures and autographs for fans.

This year the Cowboys will face off against the Arizona Cardinals in the annual Hall of Fame game on August 3rd, 2017.   The NFL allows both the Cowboys and Cardinals a few extra practice sessions for participating in the game.

For the Cowboy fans that have an interest in attending training camp in Oxnard.   The Cowboys official camp residence will be at the following:

Hotel Marriott Residence Inn
2101 West Vineyard Ave.
Oxnard, California

A few notes:

  • The schedule below is tentative and may be changed at a later date.   Prior to the official start of training camp, rookies and younger players will practice July 19-21 in Frisco before moving onto Oxnard.
  • There will be 16 practices in California, with the last practice being on August 17th.
  • Following the Cowboys preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts on August 19th, the Cowboys will move to Frisco, Texas and resume training camp on August 21st.   They will conclude camp on August 29th before heading to Houston for their final preseason game.
  • Personnel news:   Cowboy safety Byron Jones, in an interview with the NFL Network, claimed that Cowboys 2nd year LB Jaylon Smith is “100% healthy”.   That is amazing news for Cowboy fans, as Smith was considered to be a Top 10 talent in the 2016 NFL draft before injuring his knee in Notre Dame’s bowl game against Ohio State.

Dallas Cowboys 2017 training camp schedule:

*Times are subject to change.

July 24th – Opening Ceremony, Cheerleader performance and autograph session, practice begins at 3:45 pm.   Autographs are subject to availability.

July 25 – 3:45 pm

July 26 – 3:45 pm

July 27 – 10:45 am

July 29 – 3:45 pm

July 30 – 3:45 pm

July 31 – 3:45 pm

August 1 – 10:45 am

August 7 – 3:45 pm

August 8 – 3:45 pm

August 9 – 3:45 pm

August 10 – 10:45 am

August 14 – 3:45 pm

August 15 – 3:45 pm

August 16 – 3:45 pm

August 17 – 10:45 am

Time to Give Eli Manning his Due?

 

On August 16th,2011, Eli Manning was asked a simple question.  Unknown to him, it would ignite a debate that still lingers at the watercooler today.  The question was, does Eli consider himself to be in the same class as Tom Brady? His answer was simple, “I consider myself in that class”.  The obvious answer was no, even back in 2011.  Eli is not in the same tier as Tom Brady.  But nor is any other quarterback playing today and even a select few in the leagues history.  But who is Eli Manning, and what does he do?

Elite, GOAT, or HoF

The term elite has now cycled through the mainstream and has morphed into Greatest of All Time, or GOAT for short.  There will never truly be a GOAT because the subject is too subjective.  People hold different statistical categories higher than others.  Statistics like wins, yards, touchdowns and interceptions are the most common.  There are many fans who think championships are the end-all-be-all for a great quarterback. The ring talk is garbage, because it’s a team accomplishment. But, different statistics are can skew to one side side of the argument or another.  If you are worth your salt in football knowledge you should know that Eli is a great quarterback.  People who say Eli sucks are normally bias NFC East fans who can’t see past their own ignorance.  Or they are Patriots fans who are offended Eli made those comments in the first place and went on to prove it by beating their beloved Tom Brady in the Super Bowl for a second time.  Taking everything into consideration, Eli is a Hall of Fame quarterback and here’s why.

Statistically Speaking

As it stands right now, Eli Manning owns every New York Giants passing record in the books.  There are only three Giant quarterbacks in the HOF, and only one was with the Giants more than five years (Tarkenton – 6).  The next closest statistical Giant quarterback is Phil Simms who many believe should enter the hall at some point.  Simms’ ranks top 50 all-time in yards (31st), attempts (32nd), completions (41st) and touchdowns (41st).  Where does Manning rank in these same categories all-time? How about attempts (7th), completions (7th), Yards (8th), touchdowns (7th).  For people who are driven by regular season statistics, then Eli should be a no-brainer for the HOF since he is top ten in every category.  Eli’s not a first ballot guy, those are reserved for once-in-a-lifetime players like Favre, Peyton and Brady.

Wins and Rings

With a regular season record of 108 – 91, Eli averages just 8.3 wins per season but the total makes him 9th all-time.  Wins are a hard statistic to judge because the quarterback only plays on one side of the ball.  For example, in 2015 Eli gave his defense the lead 5 times with two minutes or less in the game and lost each game.  This would have turned a 6-10 season into 11-5 with a division title.  It just so happens the Giants addressed that issue and went 11-5 in the following 2016 season.  Looking at Eli’s career when the defense can’t hold a lead in the final quarter, he orchestrated 30 fourth quarter comebacks and 39 came winning drives which ties him with Brett Favre for 7th all-time.  In 2011 alone Eli had an NFL record seven comebacks and one game winning drive in the regular season.  So, if wins total is the rating of choice or even rings for that matter, Eli should in the conversation. More than one quarter of his wins are from behind and he owns two Super Bowl rings with two Super Bowl MVPs to boot.

So, who is Eli Manning?

Eli Manning is a quarterback that will start all 16 games, throw for over 3700 yards and 25 touchdowns.  He will complete 60% of his passes and throw more than his fair share of interceptions.  A stat that the people in the Eli sucks camp will hang their hat on.  He is currently 21st all-time in career interceptions and it would take Eli averaging 25 interceptions a season for the next 5 seasons to reach #1.  Something his has done only twice in his career.  This would also mean Eli would play until he is 41 years old.  Regardless, Eli will end his career in the top 5 for career interceptions, sandwiched in between names like Brett Favre, George Blanda and Fran Tarkenton.  Giants fans know this and frankly do not care.  Eli is the type of quarterback that can look like complete garbage for one half and a Hall of Fame QB in the second half.  One thing is for certain, he always seems to have the Giants in the game at the end. Eli Manning already has a Hall-of-Fame resume, the numbers, wins and longevity speak for themselves.  No matter what statistical category you hold high, Eli Manning is in conversation for every one of them.

 

Browns training camp battles: Defensive line

With training camp beginning in earnest in a couple of weeks, I’m going to break down some of the position battles as the team tries to make a leap from a horrendous 1-win season. Today, I’m starting with the defensive line.

At defensive end, shiny new No. 1 pick Myles Garrett will lead the charge on the right side with Emmanuel Ogbah holding down the left side. Jamie Meder is Garrett’s primary backup with second-year player Xavier Cooper also in the mix. On the left side, Desmond Bryant and Carl Nassib will vie for playing time with Ogbah.

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Florida DT Caleb Brantley was a pick that stirred some controversy, but Brantley is in the clear after his assault charges were dismissed.

Danny Shelton continues as the starter at nose tackle with rookies Larry Ogunjobi and Caleb Brantley (who looks to stay now that he is not being charged with assault) are vying to unseat him. It’s one of the more interesting camp battles.

Position grade: B-

If he’s healthy, Garrett will be an immediate improvement in the pass rush. I expect all three of the top nose tackle players to get significant playing time this season under defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ multiple-front scheme. The left side needs to provide a player who can consistently rush the passer. This is a young group with some promise, but nowhere near the threat that other teams have on the defensive line.

 

Will Eric Decker end up in Nashville?

The New York Jets recently released wide receiver Eric Decker, in what has been a roster purging. Now as a free agent, he can choose where he continues his career. His first stop was in Tennessee, where he spent the day and watched practice with Mike Mularkey and John Robinson. This move makes sense for both parties. He and his wife, country singer Jessie James, have a home in Nashville. The Titans recently used draft picks to bolster a weak wide receiving unit, and added Western Michigan’s Corey Davis and Western Kentucky’s Taywan Taylor. Both picks have been getting very good reviews so far.

Eric Decker would bring a veteran presence to the unit, that Harry Douglas and Tajae Sharpe really can’t provide. While last season was cut short by injury, 2015 was a very good campaign for him. Decker left without a deal, but could see one offered in the coming days. The meeting was basically the Titans just touching bases with the former Jet, to see if he was healthy. If signed, he could give the Titans another reliable option, and could serve as a one way ticket out for the under-performing Harry Douglas or the accused bar brawler Tajae Sharpe.

 

 

Garrett injury a bad omen?

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1st overall selection Myles Garrett (Photo credit to 247sports.com)

Here we go again.

Fans of the Browns franchise have become all too familiar with the early camp injuries to star players. The injury bug decided to bite No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett on Wednesday.

According to the Associated Press, Garrett injured his left foot late in practice during a two-minute drill. He stayed on the ground while being checked by trainers before going off to the sideline. He stayed on the sideline before practice was cut short due to a lightning warning and was seen limping off the field.

There is no word yet on what the injury might be, the severity of it, or if any medical treatment will be required. But Garrett already was dealing with an injury early in OTAs and, of course, said a high ankle sprain slowed him down last season at Texas A&M.

It’s too soon to hit the panic button on a player expected to help transform the Browns’ pass rush this season. But considering 2000 No. 1 overall pick Courtney Brown had his career severely shortened due to injury, this news is definitely an early cause for concern.

Melvin Ingram Signs A Long Term Deal

 

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Edge rusher Melvin Ingram signs a long term deal. (Photo credit to CBSSports.com)

Right on time.

The L.A. Chargers seem notorious for off-season contract situations. Last year Joey Bosa, this year is Melvin Ingram. Fortunately these issues don’t seem to linger too long, and eventfully conclude with pen to paper.

The deal is 4 years, 66 Million dollars, averaging $16.5M a year (spotrac) – matches well with other top Edge Rushers in the league, most notably Chandler Jones in AZ. The deal is fair for both parties and here’s why. For the Chargers, edge rushers who are adept at both rushing the QB & setting the edge are few and rare. Melvin is in tremendous shape after yearly body shape-ups, motivated, and at a young 28 years his best football is prospective. For Melvin, he gets to stay with the team that drafted him, build on his progress under renowned defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, and develop into a potential top 3 pass rushing duo alongside Joey Bosa.

That duo, and more so the potential, should not be sold short. Melvin Ingram posted 69 Sacks, Hurries, and Pressures on the QB, good for 4th best among all edge rushers (PFF). Many of those should have been converted into sacks, & there’s reason to believe they will be. The more Bosa progresses, and pushes from up the middle with his active array of pass rushing moves, Melvin should find himself with plenty of one-on-ones. Consider that the Bradley defense encourages rushing the passer, Melvin will post double digit sacks every season moving forward, should he stay healthy.

Every Chargers fan should be overtly excited. Talks of the promise land are arising. Joey Bosa was a rookie & dominated like no other rookie has. I don’t remember a rookie defensive end wrecking shop since Jevon Kearse. Kearse is a distant memory, but Joey is the future. The opponents must adjust to either Ingram or Bosa, whose games of speed & power, respectively, work harmoniously. The two are yin & yang. They’re different with their on-field approach, same in their off-field, & collected will set the standard for this Chargers defense. #BoltUp

The Tyrant Ten: Pre-Season power rankings in the FCS

 Pre-Season Top 10 Power Rankings

Gold denotes Tyrant Scouting Pre-Season All Americans: 1st Team

Blue denotes Tyrant Scouting Pre-Season All Americans: 2nd Team

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James Madison QB Bryan Schor passed for 3,002 yards and 29 touchdowns last season.

1.  James Madison (14-1)

Key Returning Players

QB Bryan Schor

LT Aaron Stinnie

S Raven Greene

LG A.J Bolden

LB Andrew Ankrah

RB Trai Sharp

 

Analysis:

James Madison capped off a very successful season with a win in Frisco against Youngstown State. The nucleus of this team has returned. The Dukes lost Mitchell Kirsch and Matt Frank on the offensive line, but return Aaron Stinnie, Aj Bolden and Tyree Chavious. They also return one of the most important pieces in signal caller Bryan Schor, who passed for 3,002 and 29 touchdowns.  Don’t sleep on the defense either. Safety Raven Greene had 6 interceptions last year. Also, cornerback Jimmy Moreland had 2 interceptions, but was second on the team with pass breakups (9). Look for James Madison to come out of the gate hot, and keep that momentum into another deep playoff run.

 

 

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DT Nate Tanguay will be returning for his Senior campaign, and will be trying to guide his team back to another National Championship.

2. North Dakota State (12-2)

Key Returning Players

DT Nate Tanguay

LB Nick DeLuca

DE Greg Menard

QB Easton Stick

FS Tre Dempsey

 

Analysis:

No surprises here, as North Dakota State ranks at the top of our list. An already formidable defense returns their leader, middle linebacker Nick DeLuca. He was granted a fifth year, and looks to rebound from last year’s injuries. A very tough defensive line will be the catalyst for this team, and no quarterback in the FCS should feel comfortable. Defensive end Greg Menard had 11 sacks last season, and 15.5 tackles for a loss. Caleb Butler also chipped in 5 sacks. Easton Stick will have another year to fine tune his control of the offense, and as usual, the Bison will lean heavily on the run game.

 

 

 

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Our top rated FCS prospect, TE Dallas Goedert will be a focal point for South Dakota State’s offense.

3. South Dakota State (9-4)

Key Returning Players

TE Dallas Goedert

WR Jake Wieneke

QB Taryn Christion

DT Kellen Soulek

 

Analysis:

South Dakota State boasts one of the scariest offenses in the FCS, and will look to ride NFL prospects Dallas Goedert and Jake Wieneke to a championship. TE Dallas Goedert is an exceptional talent, and had 1,293 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. Meanwhile, Wieneke had a ridiculous 16 touchdowns. Quarterback Taryn Christion returns as well, after racking up 3,714 yards and 30 touchdowns last season. This trio will spearhead any playoff run.

 

 

 

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Senior Safety Cole Reyes (8) looks to get North Dakota back to the playoffs.

4. North Dakota (9-3)

Key Returning Players

S Cole Reyes

CB Deion Harris

QB Keaton Strudsrud

RB John Santiago

 

Analysis:

North Dakota will look to build on last year’s success, which saw them reach their first ever playoff berth. They have a fierce secondary, led by Deion Harris and Cole Reyes. Harris had 5 interceptions last season and Reyes had 3.  North Dakota’s offense leans heavily on an option style running game, and signal caller Keaton Strudsrud is very efficient managing it. RB John Santiago had 1,030 yards and 7 touchdowns, while his partner in crime Brady Olivera had 919 yards and 10 touchdowns.

 

 

 

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Eastern Washington DT Jay-Tee Tiuli is another prospect generating some NFL buzz.

 

5. Eastern Washington (12-2)

Key Players Returning

DT Jay-Tee Tiuli

QB Gage Gabrud

CB Nzuzi Webster

C Spencer Blackburn

 

Analysis:

Eastern Washington’s nasty passing attack took a hit during this off-season, they lost wide receivers Cooper Kupp, Shaq Hill, and Kendrick Bourne. The man who orchestrated it all, head coach Beau Baldwin, left Eastern Washington for an offensive coordinator job at the University of California at Berkeley. He was replaced by former offensive line coach, Aaron Best, who has over twenty years with the program.

“I’ve taken a few notes about how to throw the football forward, so we’re not going to put our hands in the dirt and become a wishbone triple-option team.”

Aaron Best -HC Eastern Washington

The Eagles return a very talented quarterback in Gage Gabrud, who passed for 5,160 yards and 48 touchdowns. While the scheme looks to change a bit, Gabrud’s arm should remain the offensive centerpiece.

 

 

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Sam Houston State QB, Jeremiah Briscoe, had an eye popping 57 touchdowns last season.

6. Sam Houston State (12-1)

Key Returning Players

QB Jeremiah Briscoe

DE P.J Hall

WR Yedidiah Louis

OG Sam Hardy

RB Corey Avery

 

Analysis:

A very dynamic offense powers this team, and it goes through quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe. Last year, he set the world of fire with 4,602 yards and 57 touchdowns. Star defensive end, P.J Hall, will be a key cog in a defensive unit looking to improve on last season.

 

 

 

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Richmond’s senior quarterback looks to bounce back from an injury that cut his season short.

7. Richmond (10-4)

Key Returning Players

QB Kyle Lauletta

S Brendan Coniker

OT Alex Light

WR Jarmal Bevels

TE Garrett Hudson

 

Analysis:

Richmond’s success this season will be riding on the health of star quarterback Kyle Lauletta. Before injury derailed his season, Lauletta had compiled 3,022 yards and 24 touchdowns. With the departure of star wideout Brian Brown, expect more targets to go to wide receivers Jarmal Bevels and Tyler Wilkins. Garrett Hudson should help fill the void as well. Safety Brendan Coniker also returns, he posted 94 tackles last season (ranked 2nd on the team) and 2 interceptions.

 

 

 

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Jacksonville State Safety Marlon Bridges (43)

8. Jacksonville State (10-2)

Key Returning Players

OG Justin Lea

DE Darius Jackson

RB Roc Thomas

CB Jaylen Hill 

S Marlon Bridges

Analysis:

Eli Jenkins is gone now, and Jacksonville State will look to replace last year’s leading passer and rusher. His backup last year, Bryant Horn will be first in line to fill the void. Former Auburn back Roc Thomas will look to shoulder more of the rushing load this season, behind a very good offensive line that includes standouts Justin Lea and Dylan Cline. The defense will be the spark for the team, and includes defensive end Darius Jackson, cornerback Jaylen Hill, and safety Marlon Bridges. Jackson had a team high 10 sacks last season. Hill and Bridges had 10 interception between the two of them.

 

 

 

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Villanova Safety Rob Rolle (4) goes for a tackle on current Pittsburgh Steeler James Conner.

9. Villannova (9-4)

Key Returning Players

S Rob Rolle

RB Aaron Forbes

TE Ryan Bell

LB Ed Shockley

QB Zach Bednarczyk

 

Analysis:

Zach Bednarczyk and Aaron Forbes will guide the offense in the upcoming season. Bednarczyk passed for 2,158 yards and 19 touchdowns, and added another 539 rushing yards on the ground. TE Ryan Bell chipped in 434 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns. Ballhawking safety Rob Rolle returns to lead the defense in 2017, he had 7 interceptions last season and returned one for a touchdown. Linebacker Ed Shockley was tied for a team high 86 tackles last season.

 

 

 

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Lehigh QB Brad Mayes takes over a very potent passing attack.

10. Lehigh (9-3)

Key Returning Players

WR Troy Pelletier

WR Gatlin Casey

QB Brad Mayes

RB Dominick Bragalone

S Sam McCloskey

 

Analysis:

The high octane Lehigh passing attack shouldn’t miss a beat this year, as quarterback Brad Mayes replaces Nick Shafnisky. Lehigh will still chuck the ball around, and star wideouts Troy Pelletier and Gatlin Casey will be hard to stop. They combined for 26 touchdowns last season, and will be looking to build on that. RB Dominick Bragalone keeps defenses honest, and had 1,192 and 14 touchdowns. Safety Sam McCloskey returns and will be assuming more of a leadership role this season.

 

 

 

 

NFL BUZZ

SIGNING: The 49ers have agreed to terms with veteran linebacker Elvis Dumervil. Dumervil recently spent four years with the Ravens before being cut from the team this offseason. This move was announced by new general manger John Lynch. The terms of the contract have not been released yet, but it is believed to be a two year deal. Dumervil took to Twitter following the news breaking. ” After much thought and prayer I have decided to join the 49ers! I’m looking forward to getting to know the NFC West QBs! See ya soon SF.” Dumervil made the Pro Bowl back in 2014 and 2015. He is a good experienced player who brings veteran leadership to a young 49ers team. This is another wise move I Believe GM John Lynch has made. Many were skeptical of him becoming the GM, but I believe 49er fans should be excited what he is putting together in San Francisco.
SIGNING: It looks like the Seahawks have given up on signing Colin Kaepernick as the backup to Russell Wilson. They have signed quarterback Austin Davis to a deal. Albert Breer of MMQB reported the deal is one year $775,000. Davis has not played in a NFL game since 2015. He recently spent time with the Broncos, but never saw the field. Throughout his years in the NFL the 28 year old Has 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Back to Kaepernick him and the Seahawks were on a verge of a deal, but they could not get the money right. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said ” he is a starter in this league”. I’m a bit surprised a deal could not come through with them. Kaepernick will continue to look for a new home. As for Davis he will compete with Trevone Boykin for the backup role.
OFF FIELD ISSUE: The off field issue to discus involves a couple Jet players. A video has surfaced of defensive player Leonard Williams holding back fellow team Darron Lee from a argument with a girl. According to reports Lee was harassing and becoming physical with a woman. Before things got out of hand Williams stepped in and picked up Lee and carried him away. This was all happening at a music festival. Lee apparently threatened Williams to let  him go. Williams than picked Lee back up after he tried to push his way through to go back to the girl. Nothing has been confirmed yet , but here is what I have to say about this situation. Lee has to grow up, and Williams Showed true maturity. The Jets should be proud of Williams as this action is a type of action that will mold him into a team leader.
CUT: The Jets have made another questionable move. ESPN Adam Schefter reported the Jets have released 10 year veteran linebacker David Harris. This move was really surprising to everyone. Harris was not even expecting to be cut. Another reason this is confusing. The Jets are a young team. A veteran like Harris is what they need to lead and be a teacher to the younger players. Jets apparently though have different plans. Harris is a well respected player. He does his job, and when the whistle blows he is done. He is a clean player, and he is also a good leader to younger guys. This move will save the Jets 6.5 million dollars. Harris is in a tough spot now with the offseason winding down. Teams still need linebackers, but he will have to learn new schemes so it may be a little difficult for him. Harris may have a hard time finding a team now , but we will see how that develops. Retirement may also be a option.

OTHER QUICK NEWS
Chargers first round pick Mike Williams may miss rest off offseason activities with a disc injury in his back.
Rex and Rob Ryan were involved in a bar fight against a unknown man.
Lions OT Taylor Decker could miss beginning of season with a shoulder injury.
The Jets have alerted receiver Eric Decker that he will be released or traded by the end of the week.