Odell Beckham Jr. has been exceptional over his first two seasons:

Photo credit: Jim McIsaac / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

Odell Beckham has taken the NFL by storm. The former Louisiana State University receiver came to the NFL and established himself as a true football player. He did that by putting together back to back 1,000 yard receiving seasons. Odell Beckham Jr. also had back to back seasons of at least 10 touchdowns as well. So this is a player who has had elite level production over his first two professional seasons and because of that he is a top 5 receiver in the National Football League right now. Beckham has number of ways to beat defenders whether it’s up the sideline on a fade route or going across the middle and using his speed. On film there is plenty of times he caught the ball and made defenders miss during the yards after catch. That big play capability with the ball in his hands and his knack for getting behind the safeties is what makes Odell Beckham Jr. such an effective player in this league. You can tell Eli Manning and Beckham have built up a good trust as well. Almost every single pass play Manning is looking at Beckham as his first option. That is because Manning knows he can count on Beckham to use his speed and agility to create separation from defensive backs. Then when it does come down to the throw, Manning understands the frequency that Beckham is going to catch the pass is much higher than any other guy on the team. That allows Beckham to bail Eli Manning out of bad situations at times and it also turns small completions into big gains for the Giants offense. Odell Beckham Jr. is such a dynamic player and he plays the game with true passion. Not only that he is a great entertainer and brings a little bit of showmanship to the game as well. It makes it exciting for football fans and Beckham has done a lot of great things for the game of football in his short professional career.

Charity of the day: American Red Cross

Go donate! www.redcross.org

Devin Funchess is poised for a breakout season in 2016:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Carolina Panthers had high expectations for Devin Funchess and that is why the team chose to draft him in the 2nd round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Funchess was a flat-out star at the University of Michigan before taking the field for the Panthers last season. For the Panthers Funchess hauled in 473 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns during his rookie campaign. Maybe more importantly he received the trust of starting quarterback Cam Newton and that bodes well for Funchess’s future in this offense. Now entering his second season Funchess is again receiving high praise from people within the Panthers organization. Head Coach Ron Rivera stated that “Funchess is light years ahead of 2015.” Meaning Funchess understands what it takes to have success in the NFL much better now than he did during his rookie year. That gaining of awareness is pivotal in any young player’s development and expect Devin Funchess to continue to have success on the football field. When you plug in Funchess’s highlight tape and breakdown his film you immediately notice that he has sure hands. He can high point the football and make a big grab or he can take a quick slant and make a play over the middle. Either way it becomes apparently quickly that Devin Funchess is going to be a big time player in the league and he has a bright future. Is he a 1,00 yard receiver in his second season? It’s hard to say, that would be a tremendous leap for Funchess but at least expect him to be around the 800 yard mark and 8 touchdowns to go along with those 800 yards would be a great year for him. Then in his 3rd season he could aim for that goal of 1,000 yards but regardless the Panthers are happy with Funchess’s development and if he keeps working hard good things are coming for him. When it’s all said and done Devin Funchess is an emerging force at the receiver position.

Charity of the day: American Red Cross

Go donate! www.redcross.org

The Broncos offer Von Miller a $114.5 million dollar contract:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Denver Broncos knew they had to take care of their best player and the team showed their commitment to Von Miller by offering him a $114.5 million dollar contract today. The contract was the biggest offer ever given to a player who isn’t a quarterback and in a strange twist Miller rejected the contract. Apparently Miller believes he can land a bigger payday or there are minor clauses in the contract that need to be worked out. Regardless the two sides didn’t agree on the deal and both will continue to work towards landing something that will work for both the Broncos and Miller. Von Miller is no stranger to success, he almost single handedly won Denver the Super Bowl when he absolutely dominated the Carolina Panthers. That is why Denver would like to ink a long term deal with Miller and prevent him from hitting the open market anytime soon. The Broncos defense needs this guy to be elite and that is why the team has really put a priority on Miller first and foremost. If the team doesn’t reach a deal before July 15th, Miller will have to play 2016 on his $14.1 million dollar franchise tag. Which would ultimately give Von Miller the chance to be a free agent after the 2016 season. General Manager John Elway would like to avoid those circumstances and do everything he can to keep his prominent defense intact. The team does a great job of rushing the passer and that was a big part why they were the best defense in the league last year. Another contract for Von Miller would keep Denver near the upper echelon of teams defensively in the NFL. Ultimately this guy deserves all the money he gets with this deal and give credit to Elway for again understanding where his priorities lie.

Charity of the day: American Indian College Fund

Go donate! www.collegefund.org

Chris Ivory will carry the load for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2016:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Jacksonville Jaguars made a huge acquisition when they signed Chris Ivory away from the New York Jets. The Jags handed Ivory a 5 years $32.5 million dollar contract and that was enough to bring the free agent running back to Florida. Now heading into the 2016 season Ivory will be the front runner to win the starting halfback job and this is a running back who can bring a special element to Jaguars running game. Ivory recorded 1,070 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns last season and really set the tone for the Jets offense. Now he will be playing with a very talented quarterback in Blake Bortles and that will prevent defenses from being able to put 8 defenders in the box. That means Ivory will be in a position to carry the ball against odds that are more likely in his favor and expect Ivory to receive a lot of inside runs out of the shotgun formation. If Ivory can excel in the shotgun running game he will have another big year and it will be huge for boost the Jaguars offense. Chris Ivory is a physical runner and he should do well in that role, not to mention the Jaguars also have a talented running back in TJ Yeldon to spell Ivory with. Together the tandem make up a very dynamic backfield and this is certainly the most talented Jaguars football team that we’ve seen in a long time. When it comes down to it though the Jaguars signed Ivory to become more of a ground and pound type of team. He is a gritty player that can provide a big spark to any team. All you have to do is hand this guy the football and let him work his magic. There is a reason the Jaguars handed Ivory  $32 million dollars this off-season and that is because he is a big time player. The challenge for Chris Ivory will be transitioning to the new environment and matching the production he had in New York. If all goes according to plan though this guy will be a week 1 starter and churning out first downs frequently for the Jaguars offense. He is a very talented football player.

Charity of the day: Freedom Alliance

Go donate! www.freedomalliance.org

At 30 years old Michael Bennett is still getting it done for the Seattle Seahawks:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Seahawks have a tremendous player on their defensive front in Michael Bennett. Bennett recorded a career high 10 sacks in 2015 and a career high of 52 tackles. Those efforts were good enough to propel Seattle back to the postseason and while the team fell short to the Panthers in the divisional round. The team wouldn’t have even made it that far without the production of Michael Bennett on their defensive line. This is a player who imposes his will on opposing offenses and is consistently in the offensive backfield. That means teams playing the Seahawks have to prepare the whole week for Michael Bennett and then they have to go and do their best executing that game plan. That is never easy to do when you get on the field and play against a guy like Bennett because at times he is nearly unblockable. The team’s success defensively all starts with Bennett and he makes it easier for the guys behind him to make plays. The Legion of Boom can’t intercept passes if there isn’t a pass rush upfront. Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright can’t flow to the ball as freely if the team can’t win in the trenches. Michael Bennett really is a big reason a lot of that stuff is possible and there is a reason Bennett is rated a 95 overall in Madden. That is because Bennett consistently dominates at the professional level and he is really showing no signs of slowing down. If the Seahawks can plug in some good youthful defenders to plug the hole left by departing linebacker Bruce Irvin, then the Seahawks will certainly be able to hold their own defensively. That is because the Seahawks know they are going to pressure the quarterback and they know Michael Bennett is going to show up and do big things. He’s as good as they come.

Charity of the day: Freedom Alliance

Go donate! www.freedomalliance.org

The Denver Broncos met with President Obama to celebrate their Super Bowl victory:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl and then they got to meet with President Obama. The team flew to Washington D.C to meet with the 44th president today and Obama did a great job of breaking down his outlook of the Broncos season. In the news conference Obama talked about Denver’s outstanding defense praising pass rushers Von Miller and Demarcus Ware. Obama also hinted at the caparison of the 2015 Broncos to the 85 Bears which is high praise considering how talented the Bears were on defense that year. The President also stated that the Broncos won 11 games by a touchdown or less. Highlighting that was only possible with tremendous defensive effort. Finally after discussing the defense in-depth Obama worked his way to the team’s starting quarterback last season Peyton Manning. Obama joked that Manning was the ultimate commercial salesman and you could live off the products that Manning was selling. The President cracked jokes about how Manning sells “insurance and pizza” laughing at how Manning could really do it all. Eventually President Obama got serious and praised Manning for his ability to have one of the best professional careers ever and he applauded Manning for being able to go out on top. It was nice to see the President show his appreciation for Manning’s performances on the field and overall it was pretty cool to see the two sides get together. The team even brought Obama a custom made Denver Broncos jersey that said Obama on the name plate and had the number 44. While it was clear the 44th President enjoyed the gift he still managed to remind us that he was Chicago Bears fan first and foremost. Stating he’ll continue to root for Chicago but he had to praise the Denver Broncos for being a great team. Overall it was a pretty cool experience to watch.

Charity of the day: Children Incorporated

Go donate! www.childrenincorporated.org

Harrison Smith inked a $51 million dollar contraction extension today with the Minnesota Vikings:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Minnesota Vikings knew they had a special player with Harrison Smith and they threw a large amount of money at Smith to show their appreciation for his efforts. The Vikings paid Smith $51.25 million dollars with $28.5 million of that money being guaranteed. That is a huge payday for a safety and Smith has to be happy with what he has achieved in the NFL over the duration of his career. This is a player who has intercepted 12 passes over the course of his 4 year career. Those are pretty solid numbers for a defense back and you can see why the Vikings were reluctant to let Harrison Smith walk away anytime soon. Keeping Smith in the fold means one more talented defender in the mix for Mike Zimmer and we all know how much of priority Zimmer puts on his defense. Moving forward without a sure player like Smith was out of the question for Mike Zimmer and Smith is a guy Zimmer can count on to execute his defensive game plan. Smith is on the back end of the defense so he is often times tasked with lining up the players in front of him. Losing a player with that kind of leadership could spell disaster for the Vikings and the team didn’t want to risk that. The new deal will keep Smith in Minnesota until 2021 and it will also make him the highest paid safety in the league. Meaning Harrison Smith will have a lot of expectations to live up to. In order to achieve those high levels of expectation it will be up to him to prepare himself the best that he can. With Smith being a 2x All-Pro you’d have to expect that he understands the responsibilities that come with this big of a contract and expect him to be back on the field working hard soon. The future is very bright for Harrison smith and keep an eye on whether or not his production increases or decreases statistically in 2016.

Charity of the day: Children Incorporated

Go donate! www.childrenincorporated.org

Gun violence is again an issue for the NFL as Aqib Talib was shot in the leg last night:

Photo credit: Aaron Ontiveroz / Denver Post

Author: Jon Kuzma

Denver Broncos Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib was apparently shot in the leg last night while visiting a Dallas nightclub. Talib and two other people were shot in the incident and all three are expected to survive. Still this could certainly slow Talib down on the field and we aren’t sure just how long he will be out of action. Talib is a big part of the Denver Broncos defense which gave up the least amount of yards out of any team in the league. From the sounds of things right now, it seems like Talib and the two other people were just the victims of this crime and they didn’t have any wrongdoing. Still this is a setback for Talib personally because now he has to recover from this injury and then get back into game form. The Broncos really need their best cover guy playing at a high level if they’re going to defend their world title in the National Football League. Every team is going to put a big target on the Broncos’ back and use Denver as the measuring stick. So the Broncos will definitely need Talib in the mix and healthy in order to be at their best. A lot of things have changed for the Denver Broncos from last season to this upcoming season and the front office has to be letdown about this news. Elway and company took some gambles by letting Brock Osweiler walk, and letting Malik Jackson walk. The last thing they wanted to hear is their top corner has been shot. Not don’t get me wrong, Talib was not in the wrong and we should have some sympathy for what he is going through right now. He can’t control someone else being irrational and pulling out a firearm on everyone. However he can control the choices of where he puts himself and he will have to improve in that category. At the end of the day it’s just good to hear that he is out of the hospital and his injuries are non life threatening. We wish Aqib Talib a quick recovery and hope to see him playing football soon.

Charity of the day: Student Conservation Association

Go donate! www.thesca.org

Moving Clay Matthews back to outside linebacker is a good move by the Packers:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Green Bay Packers have decided that moving Clay Matthews back to outside linebacker would be the best move for their football team. Matthews played inside linebacker in 2015 and while he was still productive at the position, his talents are best suited at the outside linebacker position where he can do what he does best rush the passer. Moving Matthews back outside should result in at least a 10 sack season from the former USC linebacker and that added pass rush will go a long way for the Packers defense. It will also keep Matthews out of the middle of the field where he frequently has to engage offensive lineman. Hopefully that will prevent Matthews from taking as many shots and will also keep him healthier in the long run. Matthews is clearly one of Green Bay’s best players and when you pair him along with Julius Peppers on the edge. Bad things are going to happen to opposing quarterbacks. With the NFL becoming such a pass first football league lately, those two players are critical for Green Bay’s success. If they want to get back to the Super Bowl they will have to be able to dominate defensively. The first step in that direction is optimizing Clay Matthew’s talents and that is ultimately why were are seeing this move take place. Kenny Clark will be able to come in and control both A gaps so that means you can use other linebackers in the middle spots. The Green Bay Packers front office and coaching staff clearly recognized this and you’d have to think Matthews is happy about the move. Outside backer is a much more finesse position than the insider linebacker spots. Which require players to be tougher and fill holes in the running game. Truthfully Clay Matthews should have never even played inside backer but that is what the team felt like they needed to do at the time. That is the past though and this is now, keep an eye on the impact this position change has on Clay Matthews and the Packers in 2016.

Charity of the day: Grameen Foundation USA

Go donate! www.grameenfoundation.org

Mike Thomas is looking good in New Orleans:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The New Orleans Saints got a heck of a football player when they drafted Mike Thomas in the second round of the 2016 Draft. Thomas was Ohio State’s best wide receiver and now he will look to successfully make the transition over to the professional level. So far in Saints OTAs Drew Brees has been impressed with the development of Mike Thomas. Stating that the two have worked after practice on numerous occasions and are developing a trust. That is good news for the Saints who released Marques Colston this off-season. The team is hoping that Thomas can come in and minimize the lost of their franchise leader when it comes to receiving. If Brees and Thomas keep meshing well that very well could be in the team’s future and expect Thomas to continue to have success on the football field in 2016. Ohio State was loaded with talent last year and Mike Thomas was still one of the team’s best players. The Saints got an absolute steal drafting him in the second round, and he will provide a good boost for this offense. In practice Brees and Thomas have been in a rhythm as well. Brees stated that on one played he signaled to Thomas to run a certain route. While the two had never discussed that route or even practiced it. The two executed it on the fly without even having to talk it. That natural chemistry between the quarterback and wide receiver position bodes well for the Saints in 2016. When you pair Mike Thomas along with Brandin Cooks you begin to see that the Saints are in the best shape they’ve been in a couple years receiver wise. That is great news when you have one of the best quarterbacks in the league and the Saints had a terrific off-season when it’s all said an done. They are definitely a team that trending upward.

Charity of the day: Grameen Foundation USA

Go donate! www.grameenfoundation.org

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