The Raiders haven’t been very calculated this off-season. Jon Gruden and the front office appear to have conflicting agendas:

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Author: Michael Gelb

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The Oakland Raiders hired Jon Gruden to become their head coach for the second time this offseason. After Oakland’s playoff season in 2016, they regressed to a team that looked like the Raiders from the late 2000’s. Derek Carr came back from a broken leg and did not look the same. He was the heart and soul of this team, but his inconsistent play, poor throws and inability to win games down the stretch was the real difference in 2017. As a result of that Jack Del Rio was out the door and in came Gruden. Many people around the league were very excited to see Gruden come back to coaching even though he was always a character on Monday Night Football. It looked like the Raiders were going to turn things around and continue to be playoff contenders in the AFC West, but Gruden and the front office had seemed to be riding the old wave when it came to adding players this offseason. They added players like WR Jordy Nelson, RB Doug Martin, CB Leon Hall and some other “veterans”, but this team did not get any younger. In a league where injuries are very common and players do not stay in their prime very long, why are the raiders banking on the older guys instead of young ones with higher potentials? They entered the offseason with 4 players 29+ years old. Right now they have 13 players that are 29+ years old. The future is going to be in question in Oakland for a while and their draft class doesn’t seem to answer many of those questions. For some reason, Oakland had two draft boards, Gruden’s and Reggie McKenzie’s (General Manager) and they had to piece together who they were going to pick and try to match players based off different grades instead of a consensus. They took a project Left Tackle with Kolton Miller in the first round and took huge risks drafting Defensive lineman Arden Key and Maurist Hurst in the later rounds. It is going to be interesting to see how Gruden runs the show this year, but it looks like he’s got some work to do inĀ the future.

Charity of the day:Ā Feeding America

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The Colts future is hinging on Andrew Luckā€™s health. Indianapolis canā€™t afford to go another season without their top guy under center:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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To say the Andrew Luck situation has been a headache for the Colts would be an understatement. After injuring his shoulder back in 2015 Luck came back the following year and had a decent season throwing for 31 touchdowns and 4,240 yards. However Luckā€™s banged up shoulder started to act up again in 2017 and that caused the Colts QB to miss all sixteen games. So many times throughout the past year Indianapolis felt like Andrew Luck was going to be able to return. That never actually happened and now thereā€™s plenty of concerns whether or not this guy is ever going to heal up? What makes things even more scary for the Colts is Luck has yet to begin throwing. Now the idea behind that is Luck should get as much rest as possible in order to be ready for the opener. Still though this organization would be much more comfortable had Luck been throwing all offseason because it takes a lot of preparation to have success in the NFL. Clearly if anyone knows that itā€™s Andrew Luck and you have to wonder what his mindset is? If the 3x Pro Bowler (Luck) isnā€™t at a peak level of confidence obviously that can have a detrimental effect on him heading into the season. At the same time though production is secondary at this point, the Colts just need to get their top quarterback on the field full time first. There will definitely be some rust on Luckā€™s game if he comes back but that doesnā€™t mean the former number 1 overall pick canā€™t turn things around in the second half of the season. So those first eight games are going to be about keeping Indianapolis afloat while Luck gets caught up to the speed of the game. Then the Colts can try to put it all together and be a competitive football team. Itā€™s easy to see Frank Reichā€™s ball club is behind the eight ball a little bit and this is going to be one of the major story lines heading into 2018.

Charity of the day:Ā Earth Island Institute

Go donate!Ā www.earthisland.org

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Saints Running Back Mark Ingram will be suspended the first four games of the regular season for performance enhancing drugs. Which will give Alvin Kamara a chance to start the season off strong:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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New Orleans Saints Running Back Mark Ingram will be sidelined at least for the first four games of the 2018 season. Ingram failed a drug test for performance enhancing drugs and that is a huge loss for the Saints offense. Ingram was the lead back in this offense and rushed for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns. Obviously thatā€™s going to be a huge loss for New Orleans but the goods news is this organization does have a sensational back up in Alvin Kamara. Now that Ingram is going to be out of the line for the first month or so Kamara has to step up and fill the void. The difference between both players is pretty clear. Ingram is more of a power back who does his best work running inside the tackles. Kamara on the other hand is more of a scatback and can make defenders miss with his speed. The good news is Drew Brees can operate out of the shotgun very well with Kamara as the full time tailback. Brees can look downfield and if nothing is open check down to Kamara who will usually be able to scrape together some decent yardage. So any play that utilizes Alvin Kamaraā€™s athleticismĀ is going to be in the Saints best interest the only question mark is how the second year running back is going to handle the additional workload? Taking more handoffs means Kamara will have to endure a lot more punishment which could burn him out towards the end of the year. Even though Ingram will eventually comeback this mightĀ end up being a serious problem for the Saints because if Kamara gets hurt Sean Payton’s offense will be in a lot of trouble. So really itā€™s going to come down to how well the former Tennessee alum (Kamara) can handle being the main option in the running game?

Charity of the day:Ā ConservationĀ Fund

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Last season the Chicago Bears were ranked 10th in the league defensively. Roquan Smith could take that group to the next level:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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If you followed the Chicago Bears last season you know they were ranked 10th in the league defensively. While that was an impressive feat for the Bears they werenā€™t content with that side of the ball heading into the off-season. In the 2018 NFL Draft General Manager Ryan Pace decided to select former Georgia Bulldog Roquan Smith and this kid is expected to contribute immediately. If you’veĀ watchedĀ Smith during his collegiate days you know just how dynamic of a defender he truly is. Roquan Smith is exceptional at playing sideline to sideline and he has instincts that are far beyond most rookieā€™s capabilities. The Bears are going to benefit greatly from that skill set and donā€™t be surprised to see Smith as a leader of this football team next season. Everyone in Georgia says this guy has an alpha male demeanor about him and thatā€™s most likely what stood about Smith in Paceā€™s evaluations. When you also factor in how good of a blitzer the 2017 Dick Butkis Award winner is thatā€™s going to be another x-factor for Chicago. Playing Smith next to Akiem Hicks and Leonard Floyd will have a huge impact when it comes to rattling opposing quarterbacks. Thatā€™s going to cause teams to struggle through the air and we all know itā€™s hard to win in the NFL when you canā€™t throw the football. Roquan Smith is also going to be great at covering his hook zone and eliminating the short passing game over the middle. So the Bears are getting a player who excels against the run, against the pass, and as a blitzing LB. Youā€™re not going to find a lot of players with that kind of versatility and clearly that’s what makesĀ Smith such a promising prospect. From here itā€™s about putting the rookie in pads and getting him acclimated to the speed of the National Football League.

Charity of the day:Ā ConservationĀ Fund

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The Carolina Panthers sign C.J Anderson which is a huge pick up for their offense. Cam Newton, Christian McCaffrey, and Anderson will be a three headed monster when it comes to running the football:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Carolina Panthers are signing C.J Anderson and thatā€™s bigĀ considering how much of a workhorse Anderson was for the Broncos. You might remember Anderson running wild during the Broncos Super Bowl run and those abilities are exactly why the Panthers are adding the veteran running back. This is a great fit for Carolina because C.J Anderson is the exact opposite of Christian McCaffrey. If you want to power the football Anderson will be a much better player between the tackles than McCaffrey would. In contrast to that McCaffrey is much better in space and can be utilized on passes out of the backfield. Together though the Panthers have a running back for each situation the game presents them with and that has to excite Ron Rivera. Thereā€™s no doubt the Panthers are a better football team because of this acquisition and now Carolina has the perfect one two punch heading into 2018. Even if McCaffrey is the lead back which is very likely. Having Anderson to spell the the former Stanford playmaker (McCaffrey) is going to be huge for this offense. Suddenly you put C.J Anderson against a group of tired defenders and we all know who is going to end up winning that match up. Thereā€™s also the physical presence that the former Bronco brings to Charlotte. Anderson is a load and can punish would be tacklers on every single play. Between Cam Newton, McCaffrey, and Anderson the Panthers now have a three headed monster when it comes to running the football. Weā€™ve seen Newton run for 700 yards and 14 TDs all by himself. Anderson rushed for a 1,000 yards last year and McCaffrey is starting to evolve into that type of player too. With all these factors taken into considerations itā€™s very possible we could see the Panthers take the next step when the playoffs roll around.

Charity of the day:Ā ConservationĀ Fund

Go donate!Ā www.conservationfund.org

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Newton, McCaffrey, and Anderson are a three headed monster.

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