The Chiefs believe Reggie Ragland is going to end up being a star and that’s what this team needs to take the next step defensively:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Kansas City Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach recently said he believes Reggie Ragland “can be a star.” Obviously Veach is setting the bar high with his talented LB and there has to be some substance to those claims. Ragland was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year at the University of Alabama back in 2015. Rex Ryan even once said that he thought Ragland was going to be a Rookie of the Year candidate. All of those dreams in Buffalo went down when Ragland tore his ACL his first season in the league. Eventually Kansas City traded a fourth round pick for Ragland and now it looks like this guy is finally getting back to the way he used to play the game before that knee injury. if Ragland truly does end up being a star this will end up being a great trade for the Chiefs. Buffalo was clearly tired of waiting around for Ragland but sometimes being patient is really what the situation calls for. The Bills mishap ends up being the Chiefs good fortune though. When you actually look at what makes Ragland so effective a few things stand out. The first notable characteristic of the 24 year old’s game is his consistency when it comes to making tackles. Reggie Ragland usually finishes the play when a ball carrier comes near him and that helps Kansas City’s defense get off the field more often. Then there’s Ragland’s instincts and pursuit angles. You would be surprised how much of football is measuring where you have to be based off opposing players speed. The young Chiefs defender can lock in and chase down running backs like a lion hunting a gazelle. So there’s all of these tools and when you also add in that Ragland has outstanding hit power you have a linebacker that strikes fear into his opponents. Kansas City thought so highly of Reggie Ragland that Derrick Johnson became expendable and that should tell you something about Ragland’s skill set on the gridiron.

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LeGarrette Blount will try to revamp the Detroit Lions lackluster running game. Blount has made a name for himself by being a tough runner between the tackles:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Detroit Lions haven’t had a 100 yard rusher since 2013 and General Manager Bob Quinn wanted to change that by bringing in LeGarrette Bount. Blount has made a name for himself in that National Football League by being a tough physical runner. In 2016 the New England Patriots gave Blount 299 hand offs and the talented running back responded by registering 1,161 yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. That was a monster season for the former Oregon Duck and if the Lions can get anything over 10 touchdowns from Blount they’ll be happy. Don’t be surprised if the newest Lion (Blount) is the guy who is responsible for ending Detroit’s rushing drought either. We know this offense loves to let Matthew Stafford operate in the passing the game but Blount is going to add balance to this team. It’s always nice to have a ball carrier who can wear down defenders and then you take advantage of those players through the air. A solid one two punch is going to do Matthew Patricia’s ball club very well and Blount seems energized after splitting carries with Jay Ajayi last season in Philly. The other running backs on Detroit’s roster have really struggled to get the job done and Blount should be able to solidify himself as the top option. Any time LeGarrette Blount has received over 200 carries in a season he has rushed for over 1,000 yards. Patricia should be patient and stick with the running game even if it isn’t clicking out of the gate. Blount has a bruising running style and he tends to get better with a larger workload. The biggest coaching standpoint is going to be finding the balance between the passing game with Stafford and the rushing attack with Blount. The Lions are usually gung-ho about letting it fly but if this team can get to a 60% pass and 40% run ratio that’s when they’ll do the most damage. It will be about using Blount and the other tailbacks to enhance Stafford but the Lions can’t restrict their talented QB too much.

Charity of the day: Center for Community Change

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Ever wondered who is the best player on every NFL team? Here is a list heading into the 2018 season:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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NFC East:

Dallas Cowboys- Ezekiel Elliott

New York Giants- Odell Beckham Jr.

Philadelphia Eagles-Fletcher Cox

Washington Redskins- Trent Williams

NFC North

Chicago Bears- Jordan Howard

Detroit Lions- Matthew Stafford

Green Bay Packers- Aaron Rodgers

Minnesota Vikings- Everson Griffin

NFC South:

Atlanta Falcons- Julio Jones

Carolina Panthers- Luke Kuechly

New Orleans Saints- Drew Brees

Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Mike Evans

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals- Larry Fitzgerald

San Francisco 49ers- Joe Staley

Los Angeles Rams- Todd Gurley

Seattle Seahawks- Bobby Wagner

AFC East

Buffalo Bills- LeSean McCoy

Miami Dolphins- Cameron Wake

New England Patriots- Tom Brady

New York Jets- Leonard Williams

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens- Terrell Suggs

Cleveland Browns- Josh Gordon

Cincinnati Bengals- Geno Atkins

Pittsburgh Steelers- Antonio Brown

AFC South

Houston Texans- DeAndre Hopkins

Indianapolis Colts- T.Y Hilton

Jacksonville Jaguars- Calais Campbell

Tennessee Titans- Brian Orakpo

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs- Justin Houston

Denver Broncos- Von Miller

Los Angeles Chargers- Philip Rivers

Oakland Raiders- Khalil Mack

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Todd Gurley was the x-factor for Los Angeles’ offense in 2017. It’s very likely we’ll get an encore this upcoming season too:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Los Angeles Rams Running Back Todd Gurley is a complete football player and Sean McVay utilized Gurley’s skill set perfectly. There was running plays which Gurley slashed through defenders and picked up big chunks of yardage. McVay also turned Gurley into a true dual threat player by developing passing plays out of the backfield for his talented tailback. Gurley responded by rushing for 1,305 yards and 13 touchdowns. Then the former Georgia alum hauled in 788 yards and 6 touchdowns through the air. Gurley finished second in the league’s MVP voting and it’s scary to think that he could be even better in his second season under McVay. Offensive execution is so valuable in this sport and not many offensive coordinators are as skilled x and os wise as the Rams head coach is. Clearly that has created a lot of opportunity for Todd Gurley and this defense will be so much better this upcoming season too. LA picked up Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters, and Aqib Talib. Ultimately that means that the Rams defense is going to get more stops in 2018, which will translate to the offense being on the field much longer. When you take that into account it’s easy to believe that the Rams could go from the 1,000 plays they ran last season to possibly 1,100 plays this year. That’s 100 additional offensive attempts which will be divided among Jared Goff and Todd Gurley. Obviously that will increase Gurley’s totals and result in a larger offensive output. The only risk for Gurley and the Rams is whether not their star running back can stay healthy? McVay and the Rams also have to make sure their offense doesn’t become stale. Defenses adjust so quickly at the pro level and things that worked in the past won’t be successful the next time around.

Charity of the day: Center for Community Change

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C.J Mosley has quietly went to three Pro Bowls and now the Ravens have one of the game’s brightest young linebackers:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Baltimore Ravens got a heck of a player when they drafted Linebacker C.J Mosley out of the University of Alabama back in 2017. Since becoming a professional athlete Mosley has recorded 474 tackles, 8 sacks, 8 interceptions, and 1 defensive touchdown. Those numbers tell the story and when you average 118 tackles per season people are going to take notice of your efforts. Most insiders around the National Football League are firm believers in Mosley’s abilities and he has already gone to three Pro Bowls. That’s on top of all the collegiate awards Mosely won which includes the Dick Butkus Award (2013), SEC Defensive Player of the Year (2013), and two National Championships (2011, 2012). Good fortune just seems to follow Mosley and Ozzie Newsome nailed this pick. Mosley will earn $8.7M for this upcoming season but the Ravens will have to hash out a new contract if they want to keep their talented defender around. It will likely take at least $11 million dollars annually to keep Mosley in the state of Maryland. There’s still a chance that C.J Mosley might simply prefer to leave and play elsewhere. Mosley grew up in the South and would fit nicely into everything the Buccaneers are trying to accomplish. There will also be other teams trying to lure Mosley away as well so it might come down to whoever is the highest bidder? It feels like the Ravens front office will open their checkbook up in hopes of retaining their up and coming star. At the end of the day though Mosley is holding all the cards and he’ll be able to go where ever he would like? Only time will tell and expect this guy to finish up his rookie contract with a bang. A fourth Pro Bowl appearance might even give Mosley a chance to become the highest paid inside linebacker in the NFL. So it’s definitely going to be a big season for the talented Ravens run stopper (Mosley).

Charity of the day: Homes for Our Troops

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Joe Haden is working hard to prepare for the upcoming season but you have to wonder if the Steelers made the right move by signing him?

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Pittsburgh Steelers Cornerback Joe Haden wants to have a big year in the Steel City but you have to wonder if the Steelers made the right move by signing Haden? It’s not that Haden is a bad player because that couldn’t be further from the truth. Where Haden has been a failure for Pittsburgh is strictly from a salary perspective. Joe Haden will cost the Steelers $9 million dollars for the 2018 season and $10 million in 2019. Had this deal not been done there’s a good chance Le’Veon Bell would have a fresh new contract in his hands. Not only that but Haden has only recorded 4 interceptions over the past three seasons. So from a production standpoint it’s clear that the game has passed the 29 year old (Haden). Then on top of all of those issues Haden broke his fibula last year and was sidelined for five games. Now does this sound like a player who is really worth $9 million dollars annually? Maybe earlier in his career when he was with Cleveland but right now there’s no way. There’s much better players than Haden that are only making a little bit more money ex. Casey Heyward ($11M), Darius Slay ($12M). Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert has done a terrific job for the most part. However he went all in hoping Haden could help this organization get over the hump. That move didn’t pan out and it put this team in the hole because now they’re financially tapped out of resources salary cap wise. The only real chance this ball club has of getting some returns out of this deal is if Haden puts up 5 or 6 interceptions in 2018. It’s a stretch that ends up happening and now this front office should seriously consider cutting Haden just because it will clear up $17 million dollars over the next two years.  Those funds could be used to sure up the run defense which has been lacking ever since Ryan Shazier went don’t.

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The Oakland Raiders intend to pick up Amari Cooper’s 5th year option. That means Cooper will make $14 million dollars for the 2019 season:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Oakland Raiders don’t plan on letting Amari Cooper go anytime soon. Oakland’s General Manager Reggie McKenzie intends to exercise Cooper’s fifth year option which will pay the talented wide out $14 million dollar in 2019. It also gives us the indication that Cooper is looked at very highly within the organization and that is despite the fact that Cooper had a down year last season. Cooper recorded career lows in receptions (48) and yards (680) but did manage to put up more touchdowns in a single season than he’s ever had (7). There was also times Cooper was plagued by drops but Jon Gruden and McKenzie still see this guy as part of the big picture. Since entering the National Football League three seasons ago Amari Cooper has shown a lot of promise averaging just under 1,000 yards per season. Which means Cooper’s first two seasons were really the selling point for him and this front office believe his best football still lies ahead. Gruden’s offensive savvy is another factor which could tap into Cooper’s skill set and yield huge results. By putting in a scheme that is much more detailed concept and route wise the Raiders are going to be serious about doing damage through the air. Amari Cooper thrived when he was in Nick Saban’s well structured program and Gruden has a similar approach. Then when you also take into account that this team went and picked up Jordy Nelson, it feels like Oakland is gearing up to make a run. The AFC West is tough with Kansas City, and Los Angeles playing some really good football of recent. So Amari Cooper has to do his best to make plays and help the Raiders claw back into contention. The situation will definitely be one to keep your eye on and expectations are high for Cooper heading into his fourth professional season.

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Antonio Brown is going to end up in the Hall of Fame someday and it’s because he is excellent in every phase of the game:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receiver Antonio Brown has had a terrific career after coming out of Central Michigan University back in 2010. Since then Brown has had 6 1,000 yard seasons and clearly this guy is one of the best players doing it right now. Brown has already passed fellow Steelers Hall of Famer Lynn Swann in yards and touchdown receptions but then again the game is a lot more pass oriented in today’s era. Still though Antonio Brown has been consistently dominant and when you actually watch number 84 play it’s easy to see why. Brown is very fast and can get vertical on a defender quickly. Then there’s his abilities when he has the ball in his hands after the catch. A.B is lethal as a returner on special teams and those skills translate over to the receiver position in the YAC category. So many times on tape the 29 year old (Brown) should have went out of bounds but he changed directions and added 20 more yards or so to the play. You’ll also notice that defenders are repeatedly getting crissed crossed and tend to get lost when they’re trying to tackle Brown. Therefore it’s apparent that the Steelers have a receiver in Brown that can evade opposing players at a very high rate. The final trait that makes the Miami native elite is his hands. Antonio Brown rarely drops a pass and if you follow him on social media you know just how much effort he puts into his craft. That hard work mindset allows Brown to be a cut above the rest of the competition and that’s surprising consider he’s only 5’10 186LBS. There’s no way Brown should be the best player at his position but there is something special in some people and nothing will deter them from being great. Antonio Brown is one of those people and now we get to watch him catch passes all the way to Canton. It will certainly be a lot of fun to watch.

Charity of the day: Center for American Homeless Veterans

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The New York Jets are keeping Leonard Williams around for the next couple of seasons. Gang Green picked up Williams’ 5th year option:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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2016 Pro Bowl Defensive Lineman Leonard Williams will stay with the Jets at least until the end of 2019 after having his 5th year contract option picked up by the team. Williams has only been in the league for three seasons but has already made a splash. Clearly the Jets front office thought highly of Leonard “Big Cat” Williams and the team will probably retain him after 2019 too. Williams is a high motor defensive lineman and gives maximum effort on every single snap. It’s nice to see a defender that doesn’t take plays off and Todd Bowles has often spoken highly of Williams’ attitude. That’s why New York is willing to pay Williams $14.2 million dollars in 2019 and that’s going to be a huge pay raise over the $2.9 million he’ll make this season. Now that Williams is going to end up making the big dollars he needs to accept the responsibility that comes with that larger role. Williams has to be a strong voice in the locker room and get his teammates to buy into the vision. Then Big Cat has to take it even further and play some of the best football of his life. Whether that’s inside at nose tackle or at defensive end Williams must wreak havoc and prey on opposing quarterbacks. The former USC alum has a career high of 7 sacks in a season and he has to come out and match that. That would set the tone for Williams heading into his contract year (2019). Then if this guy can go for 8 or 9 sacks a couple of seasons from now then the Jets are going to re-sign him to a massive payday. We’re talking Ndamukong Suh money which will certainly make Leonard Williams one of the faces of the league. It’s been an impressive run so far and Williams is only 23 years old.

Charity of the day: Mercy Corps

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Sammy Watkins is ready to make plays for the Chiefs’ offense. This was a great pick up for Andy Reid’s team:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Former Los Angeles Rams Wide Receiver Sammy Watkins will have a new home this upcoming season. Watkins signed with the Kansas City Chiefs after a deal couldn’t be worked out in Los Angeles. That means the former Clemson wide out will trade in his Hollywood nights for some Kansas City barbecue. The goods news about this move is the fact that Andy Reid is one of the most well respected coaches in the National Football League. Reid has always been known for putting together talented football teams and Watkins will fit perfectly into Kansas City’s approach. Watkins is going to assume the possession receiver role in Reid’s offense which Terrell Owens once flourished in back when Reid was in Philadelphia. That Philly team actually went to the Super Bowl that year (2004) and this Chiefs roster might have more talent. There’s no doubt Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Watkins are better than Terrell Owens, Todd Pinkston, and Freddie Mitchell. Hill and Watkins aren’t even halfway through their careers yet and are already more decorated than those Eagles pass catchers (Pinkston and Mitchell). Obviously Terrell Owens was one of the most prolific receivers to ever play the game and Watkins will have big shoes to fill if he wants to be in the same ball park of production. However you have to believe Patrick Mahomes can trust Watkins to move the sticks in third and long situations. Sammy Watkins had 593 yards and 8 touchdowns last year so he isn’t a slouch by any means. It’s clear the 24 year old (Watkins) needs to produce more in the yardage category but he wasn’t bad at all as a red zone target. Between Kelce and Watkins the Chiefs have two talented players who can box out defenders and make the tough grab for six points. Mahomes will benefit greatly from having guys that can battle through contact and make clutch plays down by the goal line. Then there’s Tyreek Hill who is one of the best deep threat playmakers around. It’s easy to see Watkins has a lot of talent around him and he should be able to take Kansas City to new heights. The Chiefs are easily one of the better teams in the AFC.

Charity of the day: Mercy Corps

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