Devonta Freeman is looking to follow up 2015 with another big year:

Photo credit: Scott Cunningham / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

Devonta Freeman was one of the most productive backs in the National Football League last season. Freeman rushed for 1,056 rushing yards and 11 touchdown last year and he was as dynamic as anybody running the ball in 2015. Those efforts were a huge boost to the Falcons offense and now Freeman is looking to start 2016 right where he left off. Freeman is entering his third season of professional football so he will have more experience than ever and his confidence has to be higher than ever as well . When you have the kind of year that Freeman had last season you start to develop into a special kind of player. Now it will be up to Freeman to go out there work hard and continue to get better everyday. That shouldn’t be a problem at all for Devonta Freeman because he is super talented and now he has a few layers of polish on top of all that raw talent. This is player who runs a 4.5 40 yard dash and can vertical jump 31.5 inches. He was an outstanding player at Florida State and now he is having a big impact in the pros too. The Falcons have to be ecstatic with Freeman’s progression and now Freeman has a better understanding of what it takes to be successful in the National Football League. He should only get better with time but one thing that could cut into his production is the fact that Tevin Coleman is expected to have a larger role. Coleman is entering his second season and is growing as a player himself. Falcons running back coach Bobby Turner sees Coleman getting more carries to help limit the hits that Freeman has to take. Together Freeman and Coleman will make up a potent Falcons rushing attack and expect both players to get touches in 2016. Still when it’s all said and done this is Devonta Freeman’s team from here on out. He earned the gig by rising to the occasion and proving he could get the job done with his tough rushing efforts. Expect Devonta Freeman to be a spark plug for the Falcons offense again in 2016.

Charity of the day: National Alliance to End Homelessness

Go donate! www.endhomelessness.org

Jeremy Hill packs a punch for the Cincinnati Bengals:

Photo credit: John Grieshop

Author: Jon Kuzma

Third year running back Jeremy Hill is a big time weapon for the Cincinnati Bengals offense. Hill who was drafted in the second round of the 2014 Draft has been exceptional over his first two seasons and is averaging ten touchdowns a year. That kind of production will earn you quite a bit of respect and Hill has received high praise from insiders around the league. This is a player who has recorded 1,918 yards and 20 touchdowns entering his third season. He is a solid running back and does a great job of running between the tackles. That gives the Bengals an edge in their running game and you have to respect Hill’s effort on every snap. He is constantly making the first defender miss and he has a nose for the end zone. When you also factor in that Jeremy Hill can catch passes out of the backfield you begin to see why his stock is soaring right now in the National Football League. Hill could easily catapult into an elite running back in 2016 and truthfully he is already on the cusp of that. If he puts up a couple more seasons like he did the last two years Hill will certainly be a top 5 running back in this league and the Bengals will have a very dynamic running game heading into the future. That is great news for Head Coach Marvin Lewis and that rushing attack will mesh well with the Bengals outstanding defense. Hill could be a big factor in the Bengals postseason efforts as well. If this guy is playing at a high level the Bengals will have a chance to compete with the best teams in the league. That is because Jeremy Hill allows Cincinnati to control the clock and he makes opposing teams play at the Bengals tempo. That is such a huge benefit to have in your favor and Jeremy Hill’s role will only get bigger moving forward. He is a tremendous young player.

Charity of the day: Nature Conservancy

Go donate! www.nature.org

Jarryd Hayne’s indecisiveness cost him two careers:

Photo credit: Thearon W. Henderson

Author: Jon Kuzma

Former San Francisco 49ers running back Jarryd Hayne had another set back when he failed to make the Fiji rugby sevens team. It’s been a rough couple of months for Hayne who retired from the game of football and failed to regain his old rugby form. The problem throughout the process seemed to be the fact that Hayne was indecisive in what he wanted to accomplish. Just when Haynes was ready to put it all together on the field (in football) he decided to retire. Stating that Chip Kelly’s playbook was a major deterrent from returning to the Niners in 2016. So because of that football didn’t work out and since Hayne was putting all his time and effort towards football his rugby skills started to diminish. That ultimately led to Jarryd Hayne regressing as a rugby player and now Hayne will miss out on the olympics and the NFL. It’s been a rough year for Hayne, hopefully he can put all the pieces back together and get one of those careers off the ground. You have to respect his efforts for wanting to go out and do something he believed he could do by pursuing football. However as an icon and as a celebrity the move to football has tarnished his legacy a little bit and it would nice to see Hayne bounce back from all of this and make something happen. He is clearly a talented guy but he needs to pick a direction and stay with it. Maybe rugby is the better path for him due to his past success, however if he isn’t making rugby teams it’s a no brainer to get back into football. The most important move for Jarryd Hayne is his next move and we will see what decision he makes going forward. That choice will have a huge impact on what Jarryd Hayne becomes from here.

Charity of the day: Nature Conservancy

Go donate! www.nature.org

Eric Berry is a special player in the Chiefs secondary:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Kansas City Chiefs have a terrific player in 7th year defensive back Eric Berry, The Chiefs drafted Berry in the 1st round of the 2010 Draft and Berry has done nothing but live up to expectations since then. When you watch film on Berry you immediately begin to notice that this is a player who can play the run or the pass. He is great at flying up in run support and bringing ball carriers down. He also gives tremendous effort on passing plays and limits opposing offenses in the passing game. Those outstanding defensive back skills have allowed Berry to become one of the top safeties in the National Football League and you have respect Berry for all the things he has overcome in his personal life. In 2014 Eric Berry was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, a form of cancer that is very serious and threatened Berry’s playing career. Berry worked hard between the 2014 and 2015 season undergoing treatments frequently hoping to one day step back on the football field. Berry was able to do that the very next season in 2015 and it’s because this guy is so focused when he puts his mind to something. Berry was declared cancer free just 9 months after his diagnosis and he made the Pro Bowl in 2015 his very first season back. Not only that but he was awarded Comeback Player of the Year nominations by two different publications and that is a testament to the character Eric Berry has. Now with 1 year remaining on Berry’s contract the team and the 4 time Pro Bowl safety will try to work out a long term contract. Berry is expected to be paid handsomely his next contract he signs and we will see if the Chiefs are willing to make that long term investment in their star defensive back. Andy Reid is pretty loyal to his players so you would think he would like to get it done, however football is a business and sometimes tough moves have to be made. One thing is for certain and that is the Chiefs would hate to lose this guy on the backend of their defense. He produces far too much and the team would be significantly worse without him. In the end though Berry deserves to be compensated for his efforts and because of that it’s possible that he won’t return to Kansas City after 2016.

Charity of the day: Parkinson’s Disease Foundation

Go donate! www.pdf.org

Retaining Jason Pierre Paul was a good move for the New York Giants:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The New York Giants had one of the best off-seasons in the league this year. They landed big time free agents like Janoris Jenkins, Damon Harrison and Olivier Vernon to upgrade their defense. Those additions will be critical to the Giants success in 2016 but there was another significant move that really needs to celebrated. New York was able to retain long time Giants defender Jason Pierre Paul and the morale that move brings to this team is outstanding. Pierre Paul was drafted by the Giants back in 2010 and it was a smart deal keeping a guy who helped contribute in New York’s 2011 Super Bowl run. Jason Pierre Paul is now a veteran and can teach the game to the younger players in hopes of getting back to the postseason. It won’t be easy in the tough NFC East and it won’t be easy for Pierre Paul either because he is dealing with his own personal challenge. Nearly a year ago Pierre Paul suffered a severe hand injury while lighting off 4th of July fireworks. The injury cost Pierre Paul part of three of his fingers on his right hand and the transition back into a player didn’t go as smoothly as he had hoped. Pierre Paul only recorded 1 sack in all of 2015 but truthfully this guy has too much upside not to stick with him. The defensive end is a 6 foot 4 270 pound edge rusher who runs a a 4.7 40 yard dash. He has recorded 16 sacks in a season before and when you have a player with those kind of talents you don’t just let him walk. Jerry Reese understood this and that is why we seen the Giants sign JPP to a 1 year contract with up to $10.5 million dollars in possible earnings. The deals gives New York the time to evaluate Pierre Paul and assess whether or not he should be apart of their long term plan. So number 90 will get a year to audition for a future contact and his production will ultimately determine whether or not he will be with the team beyond the 2016 season. You can almost guarantee Jason Pierre Paul will have more than 1 sack in 2016. He will only get better with time as he adjusts to that injury. So expect a better JPP this year than we saw in 2015.

Charity of the day: Population Services International

Go donate! www.psi.org

Calvin Johnson was disappointed the Detroit Lions didn’t give him a chance to win a Super Bowl:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

He’ll never say it but we all know Calvin Johnson is thinking it. The former Detroit Lions wide receiver is unhappy that the Detroit Lions didn’t give him a chance to compete for Super Bowls and just like the Lions pushed Barry Sanders out the door 17 years ago. They now push their best player Johnson out the door as well in 2016. Johnson only made the playoffs twice during his professional career and both years the Lions were a one and done team. Johnson leaves Detroit never winning a playoff game and that certainly factored into his retirement decision when it was all said and done. Johnson was showing no signs of slowing down either he recorded 1,214 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns in 2015. He could of easily played for 3 or 4 more years but Johnson wanted to look at his long term health as well. Johnson recently told the media that his hands have been injured quite a bit over the duration of his career. With him being a wide receiver he needs to able to catch the football. Those hand injuries made it very tough to do so and now Johnson will focus on life outside of football. He was already the best in the league and has very left to prove. That is very unfortunate for the Lions because they could use Johnson to win some football games in 2016 but Johnson had to do what was best for him when it came time to make a decision. Maybe if Detroit’s front office would of made a few more moves to put this team in a position to compete, they would have been able to keep Johnson motivated. However it’s too late now and this team will greatly miss Megatron for years to come. You have to feel for the fans of Detroit.

Charity of the day: Foundation for AIDS Research

Go donate! www.amfar.org

Michael Crabtree is a key piece to the Raiders offense:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

Many football insiders are criticizing the Raiders for the contract they handed Michael Crabtree last season. The Raiders paid Crabtree a 4 year $34 million dollar contract and Oakland made this move to ensure starting quarterback David Carr was taken care of. Crabtree presents a viable target for Carr and plays a big role in the offense along with Amari Cooper. Together those 3 players make up a large portion of the team’s passing game and the Raiders paid Crabtree hoping to keep Carr’s production high. When you have a marquee quarterback you have to give that player weapons at the receiver position. General Manager Reggie Mckenzie understood this and truthfully it was a smart move bringing Crabtree aboard a year ago. Michael Crabtree recorded 922 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns last season. Those stats are outstanding for a number 2 receiver and as much as people disagreed with Crabtree’s contract he still played well in 2015. Some people like to state that Crabtree is an underachiever and he has only recorded one 1,000 yard season over the course of his seven year career. However Crabtree has had a knack for finding the end zone and has averaged 5 touchdowns a season over the duration of those 7 seasons. With the Raiders landing Kelechi Osemele in free agency Carr should have more time during his drop backs. That means Crabtree and Cooper will have more time to run their routes and find windows in the defense. So you can begin to see why the Raiders could be very potent offensively in 2016 and this team is in the best shape they’ve been in since the Rich Gannon days. Oakland is finally a legitimate playoff contender and somewhere up above Al Davis has to be looking down and smiling. It’s because of moves like landing Crabtree, Irvin, and Nelson. All players who came in and have specific role to play for this team.

Charity of the day: Foundation for AIDS Research

Go donate! www.amfar.org

Jarvis Landry truly does have the juice:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Miami Dolphins got a terrific player when they drafted Jarvis Landry with their 2nd round pick of the 2014 Draft. Landry was a stand out football player as LSU and the Dolphins knew that playing against the tough SEC competition would prepare Landry for the NFL. Clearly the Dolphins were right because Jarvis Landry was tremendous in the Dolphins passing game last season. Landry recorded 111 receptions in 2015 and starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill knows this is a guy he can count on. Not only that but those 111 receptions went for 1,157 receiving yards and Landry will certainly be a main factor in new Head Coach Adam Gase’s offense. The Dolphins need playmakers like Jarvis Landry to help elevate this team in the tough AFC East conference. With the Jets, Patriots, and Bills all being good teams, the Dolphins have a difficult mountain to climb. That is why Miami needs Landry to continue to put up seasons of 100 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards. Now if he can increase his touchdown reception total to around 10 a year he will really take the next step. Regardless you have to respect this guys production on the football field. He gives maximum effort every time he steps on the field and he sets a precedent for this team. Not many players can record 194 receptions over their first two seasons and because of that impact Jarvis Landry has became a key piece to Miami’s puzzle. He is a strong player, with outstanding pass catching skills and those type of players will always be useful in this league. Expect to see Landry in the slot this upcoming season terrorizing defenses just like he has done in the past. He also should get better as Tannehill progresses and becomes more efficient. So things are looking promising for Jarvis Landry and he deserves all the praise that he has received recently.

Charity of the day: JDRF International

Go donate! www.jdrf.org

The Texans are hoping Braxton Miller can provide an impact:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Houston Texans were a playoff contender just a year ago and the team is looking much more talented this upcoming season. Gone is turnover prone Brian Hoyer and Brock Osweiler has been inserted in the starting line instead. That is a huge boost because Osweiler will be a better player for the Texans than Hoyer has ever been. The team also added 2 dynamic weapons in Will Fuller and Braxton Miller as well. While Fuller is more polished at this point, Miller is a player who still could turn some heads in 2016. Braxton Miller is a competitor and we seen that at Ohio State when he was asked to play receiver and Miller responded by cracking the starting line up and actually being quite productive for the Buckeyes. So Miller is clearly a guy who has been a true football player his entire life and that is why he was able to make that transition. When you also add in that Miller is a very dynamic athlete that helped him convert to receiver as well. The combination of speed, strength, and vision make Miller a force in the open field and the Texans hope he will develop over time into a receiver with consistent hands. Once that happens there really will be no stopping Braxton Miller and truthfully it’s not impossible for him at all. He has already shown glimpses of what he could be at the college level and with his past track record it’s easy to believe he will be successful in the pros as well. You don’t win starting jobs at Ohio State and with coach Meyers unless you are a big time athlete. Miller is exactly that and Texans General Manager Rick Smith knew exactly what he was doing when he drafted this kid. He was adding another playmaker to this roster at a bargain price of a 3rd round pick. Now Smith is sitting back and letting the process unfold.

Charity of the day: Mercy Corps

Go donate! www.mercycorps.org

Richard Sherman is looking to recapture his top form this upcoming season:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

Richard Sherman played his best football during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. During both years Sherman was able to record 8 interceptions and at that period of time no other cornerback was playing at the level Richard Sherman was playing at. Since then though Sherman has slowed down a bit production wise. In 2014 Sherman recorded 4 interceptions which isn’t a bad year by any means, but he followed up those 4 interceptions with only 2 interceptions in 2015. So you have 6 interceptions over the 2014 and 2015 seasons compared to the 16 interceptions during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. That loss of 10 interceptions was definitely noticeable for the Seahawks defense over the last two years and the team needs Richard Sherman to be at his best in order for them to compete. Now part of that regression is because the Seahawks defensive front wasn’t as good as it was during the Super Bowl runs but still the team expects Sherman to be a leader and he has to rise up to that role. Sherman is entering his 6th season in the National Football League and you have to wonder at what point do you start to lose a step when it comes to being an elite cover guy. It’s so hard to play at that high of level consistently and Sherman has already done it for so long. While Sherman could be facing some of the challenges that come with aging in the National Football League. You’d have to think that he is aiming to recapture his top form after having a down year. Competitive wise this guy is as good as anyone. Having a down year won’t sit well with Richard Sherman’s ego, so you have to think that drive will push him to train a little bit harder this off-season. Which could ultimately mean that Sherman has a big year in 2016. We will see if he losses a step from all the milage or if he can get back to what he once was when the season rolls around. We’re rooting at Sherman here at Enzoneblog.com.

Charity of the day: Opportunity Internationa

Go donate! www.opportunity.org

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