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Charles Tillman trading NFL life for FBI, report says

Sep
30

Some guys just can’t stay away from the action.

Former Pro Bowl defensive back Charles Tillman is reportedly training to join the FBI, the Chicago Tribune reported, citing multiple sources.

The FBI declined comment on the personnel matter, but we can confirm Tillman has a handful of months before turning 37 in February and thus being too old to be a new hire by “the bureau.”

Tillman, who has a degree in criminal justice from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, tried his hand at TV last season with Fox but hasn’t appeared this season. Now we know why.

While a seven-minute drive might sound like it features one team running the ball down the other’s throat, LeSean McCoy & Co. were basically held in check by the Broncos’ run defense, which is one of the quiet success stories of 2017. Keep in mind that the league-best Denver defense was first against the pass and 21st against the run per DVOA last season. So far this season, the Broncos have held Melvin Gordon to 54 yards on 18 carries, Ezekiel Elliott to 8 yards on nine rushes, and now McCoy to 21 yards on 14 attempts. Those are three franchise running backs who have combined to run for 83 yards on 41 carries, or just over 2.0 yards per attempt. That’s sensational.

On the other hand, much as they did with Dak Prescott last week, the Broncos stacked the box with run defenders and dared Taylor to beat them. The difference is that Taylor delivered. He went 20-of-26 for 213 yards with two touchdowns, and two of those incompletions were drops. Taylor’s first touchdown pass came on a throw that was fortuitously deflected by Zay Jones to Andre Holmes, but Taylor was brilliant regardless. He posted a passer rating of 126.0, which is comfortably the best mark any quarterback has posted against the Broncos and their dominant pass defense since the beginning of the 2015 season. Drew Brees was previously the only other passer to make it to triple digits (111.7) over that time frame.
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I have been to StubHub Center to see the L.A. Galaxy and the stadium has an intimate feel

Sep
27

Once again, I reached out to Inside The Pylon’s kicking expert, Chuck Zodda, for the scoop, and he told me a topic of discussion this week was Cowboys’ kicker Dan Bailey, who nailed a 56-yard field goal in the team’s ugly loss to the Broncos. Zodda made the argument this week that Bailey is just about as good as anyone in the business, and with the possible exception of the Ravens’ Justin Tucker, probably the most clutch kicker in football.

Bailey has one of the simplest motions in the league, Zodda told me. He is compact in his backswing and has a very vertical swing that controls his torque effectively while still maintaining power.

(The Chargers’ first preseason game on Aug. 13 drew only 21,000, but no-shows in preseason are pretty much the norm at NFL stadiums.)

Even a game between two bad NFL teams late in the season easily gets more than 27,000 fans. Last Christmas Eve’s dog between the 5-9 Chargers and 0-14 Browns drew 57,000 in Cleveland. There’s no doubt that the Chargers will play to sellouts each week, even if a good portion of the fans are rooting for the other team.

On StubHub.com, the cheapest Philadelphia Eagles at Chargers ticket right now is $231. For the Oakland Raiders game on New Year’s Eve, it’s $280. In comparison, a December visit from the Browns is a steal — $92 for the cheapest seats.

I have been to StubHub Center to see the L.A. Galaxy and the stadium has an intimate feel, bringing you close to the action. There will be some seats erected in an upgrade done for the Chargers, but otherwise the configuration will stay the same as for soccer. Some seats will make a fan feel they can listen in to the huddle.
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3 winners and 3 losers from the NFL’s reunion week

Sep
25

Most of the time, reunions leave us with a bittersweet feeling. Part regret, part nostalgia, and often a need to show how great we’re doing, thanks for asking. It probably wasn’t much different in the NFL during its unofficial reunion week.

On Sunday, bragging rights were on the line between head coaches and their former players, players with their one-time teams, and head coaches against their old teams.

And because there were no ties — although we did get our first overtime game of the season — we were only left with winners and losers from these handful of reunions.

Jason Garrett wasn’t happy, and blamed the poor performance on Prescott’s inability to make plays in the passing game.

“When they play that style of defense, you have to be able to consistently attack with the passing game,” Garrett said, according to the Dallas Morning News. “At different times today, I thought we were able to do that, and at other times we weren’t. We didn’t make the plays, for whatever reason.

“We really needed to have [consistent] success throwing the ball. We were not able to do that.”

Prescott agreed, saying there was “no excuse” for his play.

“I feel if I would have made some of those plays on the outside, I probably would have forced them to get in a zone more than their man coverage that they were in the majority of the night,” Prescott said. “Usually, that’s when our run game hits.

“If I made more plays, we give ourselves a chance in that game. I just simply didn’t make the plays.”
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What the Falcons’ 34-23 win over the Packers means for a pair of NFC favorites

Sep
23

The Falcons moved to 2-0, kept beating up on the Packers, and opened up Mercedes-Benz Stadium with a win all in the same night on Sunday. In the first regular season NFL game at Atlanta’s bananas new field, the Falcons beat Green Bay, 34-23.

“You can see the pure passion that he has,” said Del Rio. “These are his people. These are my people. He played well. I know he was really happy to have his first game go like that.”

Beast Mode earned his nickname in Seattle where he spent six seasons and had the best years of his career, including four Pro Bowls and a Super Bowl ring. Even then, he has never been this happy.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen him dance like that,” said Bruce Irvin, who was teammates with Lynch in Seattle. “He never did that in Seattle. I guess cuz he’s at home . . . He is Oakland so, that was a great thing to see.”

Lynch finished with 45 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries while the Raiders spread the carries around to Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington, and Cordarrelle Patterson.

As much as we’ve made this day all about Lynch, he was more hesitant to take the spotlight. From the very start, he entered with Richard and Washington and let Derek Carr have the final entrance.

Dwayne Johnson took up Kevin Hart’s “Hurrican Harvey Challenge” by donating $25,000, with additional donations to come from Johnson’s different companies. He also sent a message to people displaced by the storm.

Stay strong Houston and hold onto faith. Me and my family know what you’re going thru. We survived the eye of Andrew and became stronger – so will you. All my love and strength. * Link in my bio in you can donate a buck or two to our Houston families in need.
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Why NFL’s first London game 10 years ago was a messy success

Sep
20

It’s no surprise the NFL has found a home in London, a city with a decade of regular-season games in its past and a full-time franchise potentially in its future.

It’s also no surprise that the league found its way there in the first place, after a foundation had been laid by the developmental NFL Europe and years of preseason games starting with the Global Cup in 1983 and continuing with the American Bowl series.

What is a surprise is that the league ever decided to return to England after a bleak regular-season debut there 10 years ago.

As the NFL prepares to kick off its 2017 International Series with the first of four games in London — Sunday’s matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium — the powers that be must be checking the precipitation percentages closely.

Stafford found Marvin Jones for a 27-yard touchdown in the first quarter and passed to Eric Ebron for a go-ahead 7-yarder in the second. Matt Prater added a 56-yard field goal just before halftime that bounced off the upright, helping the Lions to a 17-7 lead at the break.

Ezekiel Ansah had three sacks as Detroit joined Atlanta and Carolina as the only unbeaten teams in the NFC through Week 2. The Lions made the playoffs last season, but finished the year with four straight losses.

Beckham, a three-time Pro Bowler who missed the season opener, had four catches for 36 yards in limited action.

Manning threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Evan Engram on the first play of the second quarter, but the rookie tight end was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for a seemingly obscene gesture. It allowed the Lions to get the ball at the Giants 45 after the kickoff went out of bounds and Stafford drove them for a second score.
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Hurricane Irma forces NFL to move Bucs-Dolphins game

Sep
18

The Buccaneers-Dolphins game scheduled for Sunday in Miami will not be played.

Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm on a path for South Florida, has forced the NFL to move the game, though a neutral site or new date have been determined.

Irma is a potentially catastrophic hurricane with sustained winds of 185 mph.

Bridgewater, the 32nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and 2014 Rookie of the Year, will continue to strengthen his knee as the Vikings overhauled their offensive line to protect Bradford.

When Foster departed, the 49ers and Panthers were tied at 0, but the game quickly slipped away after he left. On the next play, the Panthers scored on a 40-yard pass from quarterback Cam Newton to receiver Russell Shepard. Carolina went on to reel off the game’s first 20 points before the Niners scored.

“Reuben is a guy that we definitely want out there,” Shanahan said. “I thought it was a little deflating when you have a big turnover like we did, especially when on the play, it was a chance to have an explosive touchdown. So that was deflating on offense and then to have a turnover instead of that and then to lose a guy on the next play and then I think they went down two plays later.”

Surgery would have meant Darby would miss the rest of the season. After Sunday’s game, the team’s medical staff expected that Darby’s absence would be about 6-8 weeks if it did not require surgery, a team source said. Another source noted every player heals differently under the rehab treatment and said, you can always hope for a 4-to-6 week deal but there were discussions whether Darby would be a candidate for injured reserve, with the ability to return after eight weeks.
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Cleveland police union pulls out of Browns ceremony because of players’ national anthem protests

Sep
16

The Cleveland police union is declining to participate in a pregame ceremony before the Steelers-Browns game next Sunday in response to Browns players kneeling during the national anthem at their preseason game against the Giants on Aug. 21.

Police men and women were supposed to hold the American flag during the anthem before the Week 1 game against the Steelers.

While the Browns players are following Colin Kaepernick’s lead in refusing to stand for the anthem in protest, in part, of what’s perceived as unjust treatment of black people by police, the union’s position is that the reasoning behind the protest is unsound.

Bridgewater was a Pro Bowler in 2015 when he threw for 3,231 yards with 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Following his injury last year, the Vikings acquired Bradford from the Eagles. Bradford then set an NFL record for completion percentage by completing 71.6 percent of his passes for a career-high 3,877 yards with 20 touchdowns and five interceptions in 15 games.

All the undrafted rookie out of Wyoming has done is catch just about everything thrown his way this summer. His 45-yard touchdown catch against Tennessee last week was just the icing on the cake. Altogether, Gentry has caught four of the six passes thrown his way for 77 yards and is averaging roughly 19 yards per catch.

Cameron Meredith is out for the year, and Markus Wheaton’s availability is in doubt because of both an appendectomy and a broken finger. Then there’s the constant question marks with Kevin White and the ineffectiveness of guys such as Victor Cruz, Alton Howard, Titus Davis, Daniel Braverman and Josh Bellamy. Putting Gentry on the active roster is a no-brainer.
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Who is Marlon Mack, besides Frank Gore’s prospective replacement in Indianapolis?

Sep
15

Two of Sunday’s biggest rookie performances didn’t come from blue chip recruits or Day 1 draft choices. Instead, they belonged to fourth-round picks from overlooked college programs.

Hours after the Bears’ Tarik Cohen lit up the Falcons for 113 total yards, Colts tailback Marlon Mack took his turn in the spotlight, taking his first touch as a pro 21 yards to the Rams’ one-yard line. Though he’d be stonewalled in his next two attempts to reach the end zone, the explosive playmaker made sure the Los Angeles defense wouldn’t lose track of him again.

He finally found the end zone three quarters later, plunging in from three yards out to score his team’s first touchdown of the season. He’d add a breakaway 24-yard run as well.

Burfict is entering the final season of a four-year, $19 million deal. He missed the first three games of the 2016 season after being suspended for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Steelers receiver Antonio Brown during the 2015 playoffs. His latest suspension is tied to what was deemed an illegal hit on Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman during a preseason game this summer.

The 26-year-old linebacker, undrafted out of Arizona State in 2012, was a Pro Bowl selection in 2013 when he posted a career-high 171 tackles and three sacks. He had 101 tackles last season in just 11 games. Over his career, Burfict has 502 tackles with seven sacks, 23 pass breakups and five interceptions.

In addition to his suspension last season, he was also fined twice for unsportsmanlike conduct. Burfict has a total of eight fines and two suspensions over his five-year career, costing him over $1.4 million.
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