Tajae Sharpe is emerging as a productive wide receiver at Titans training camp:

Photo credit: Mike McGinnis / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Tennessee Titans appear to have found a sleeper with their fifth round draft choice Tajae Sharpe. The team drafted Sharpe with the 140th pick out of Massachusetts and he has shown tremendous upside in his limited amount of action so far. With the Titans taking part in OTA’s and off-season training camp Sharpe has managed to impress the Titans coaching staff. So much that Tajae Sharpe has been practicing with the team’s first string for almost all of the team’s workouts. While Sharpe seemed like a long shot to succeed during the draft process, he is no stranger to playing at a high level. He recorded 111 receptions for 1,319 receiving yards last year at UMass. Not to mention Sharpe was also able to haul in 5 touchdown receptions. So this is a guy who had a big impact in the past for his team and sometimes that translates over to the professional level. Those past statistics are a testament of what Sharpe can do on the football field and that was enough for the Titans front office when it came draft time. Head Coach Mike Mularkey stated that Sharpe is receiving those reps because of his consistency. Which means out of all the wide receivers Sharpe has limited his amount of drops better than others. He also time and time again showed that he would be the best option for the Titans receiving efforts. That is a great sign for Tennessee who really struggled last year with wide receiver production. The praise Sharpe has shown could be a good indicator of what is going to come from the rookie wide out during the regular season. If this guy can step up and be is good as he has been in practice during games. That would be a huge boost for Marcus Mariota in the passing game and the Titans will successfully landed a steal in the draft. Keep an on Tajae Sharpe his stock seems to be trending upward.

Charity of the day: ChildFund International

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Remember the name: Sterling Shepard

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The New York Giants may have landed an absolute steal in the 2nd round of the 2016 Draft. The team drafted former Oklahoma wide receiver Sterling Shepard with the 40th overall draft pick. Shepard was very dynamic last season hauling in 1,288 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. Those are big time numbers and that is why the Giants were so compelled to take the Sooner wide out. Shepard has been often praised for his route running skills, showing good acceleration in and out of his cuts. That makes it very hard for opposing defense backs to cover Shepard and this is a guy who can provide a huge boost to the Giants offense. The team lost Rueben Randle this past off-season and are still unsure if Victor Cruz will ever return to top form. In order to make sure Eli Manning is properly taken care of the team went after Shepard and so far he has done nothing but impress the Giants staff. Odell Beckham Jr. recently gave a glowing review of Shepard’s talents as well saying “he is going to be a phenomenal player someday.” When you have one of the top receivers in the National Football League saying you’re the next big thing, that is usually good news for an up and coming rookie. Sterling Shepard has the ability to be the guy opposite of Beckham once the season rolls around and don’t be too surprised when he seizes that opportunity. Jerry Reese saw something special in Shepard and now everyone around Giants training camp sees it as well. Now the Giants hope Shepard can help lead the team to an NFC East championship and back to the postseason. If he continues to impress he could be the x-factor down the stretch. Certainly a good pick for New York.

Charity of the day: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Go donate! www.cff.org

What Bruce Arians can teach us about life:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Arizona Cardinals have a terrific football coach in Bruce Arians. Arians who joined the Cardinals in 2013 has recorded a 34-14 record and is an inspiration to all of his players. That is because Arians isn’t a conventional style of coach and his unique coaching methods actually enhance his player’s comfort level. A lot of coaches are disciplinarian style coaches and sometimes that backfires when it comes to building relationships and trust with their players. Arians is the opposite, he praises his players often and builds up their confidence. This allows the Cardinals players to just focus on football because the off the field politics between the coaching staff and players are minimized. So Arians certainly deserves praise for understanding that he has to do things his way and not just conform to the way other coaches around the league are doing things. The second thing that Arians can teach us about life is resilience. Arians was recently on NFL Network discussing all the jobs he has been fired from. Arians went on to name several positions including his former head coaching job at Temple and his former offensive coordinator gig with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Even though many stops along the journey resulted in Bruce Arians getting fired. He ultimately always chose to stick with coaching and always found another job to keep his growth and development as a coach progressing. In the end Arians would coach for 12 different teams before eventually landing the Cardinals head coaching job for lucky number 13. Now he is showing all of us what it takes to succeed not just in football but life as well. Determination, resilience, and originality. Those are just a few of the characteristics that make Bruce Arians one of the best in the business.

Charity of the day: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Go donate! www.cff.org

Muhammad Wilkerson is being treated very unfairly by the Jets:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The New York Jets don’t seem to be understanding how blessed they truly are to have a player like Muhammad Wilkerson making plays for them on their defensive front. Wilkerson is coming off a 12 sack season and has also recorded 36.5 sacks over the duration of his 5 season career. Proving that Wilkerson’s presence has been overwhelming for opposing offensive lineman and you also have to keep in mind Wilkerson had that success with the Jets playing a 3 man front. Which defensive lineman typically produce less in compared to the 4 man defensive front. Formations didn’t stop Wilkerson from playing his way into an elite caliber player though. A player who is certainly deserving to be compensated for his efforts and you have to wonder why the Jets are reluctant to ink Wilkerson to a long term deal. Obviously the front office wants to save cap room and build their team by not over-investing in one player. That became clear when the team tried to low ball Ryan Fitzpatrick and it became even more apparent now that they are hesitant to sign Mo. Truthfully the team could save money by staying away from free agents who typically are paid a lot. However this is a player who is already on the Jets roster. He is a guy that helped build the Jets back into a contender and he very well might be the team’s best defender. It’s absurd that any team would make their best player feel so unwanted and players of less caliber than Wilkerson have already inked bigger deals this off-season. So this is a situation that could very well turn ugly and if Wilkerson chooses to sit out the 2016 season it will be the Jets who are the big loser in these negotiations. Coming of an injury or not this a vital piece to the Jets defense and the team is treating him just like another mediocre player. It’s not right and the team is looking to pinch pennies in the wrong places. You should never alienate your most talented players.

Charity of the day: Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund

Go donate! www.semperfifund.org

Le’Veon Bell should not be ahead of Adrian Peterson on fantasy draft boards:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

With Le’Veon Bell getting plenty of high praise from fantasy football insiders some owners might be tempted to draft Bell as the first running back off the board. However that would be a bad move because Adrian Peterson is still the standard of running backs in the National Football League. While Bell has received great recognition for his passing catching abilities out of the backfield, when push comes to shove Peterson is still the safest choice when looking to bolster your roster. That is due to the fact that Adrian Peterson is still the most gifted runner and if you look deeper into the stats you’ll begin to see that this is the truth. In Bell’s three seasons in the league he has only cracked the 1,000 yard rushing mark 1 time. In Peterson’s first three seasons he went over 1,000 yards rushing in all 3 years. Peterson even went over the 2,000 yard rushing mark in 2012. That just goes to show that Peterson is a once in a generation type of player and there is reason number 28 is a 3 time NFL rushing champion. There are a few other factors that hurt Bell as well. First off the Steelers rushing attack didn’t skip a beat with Bell out. In fact DeAngelo Williams handled the starting running back role nicely for the Steelers and Fitzgerald Toussaint even did well when he was given playing time. That suggests that Bell could of been benefiting from a strong offense line and a good offensive system. So as good as Bell was he could of been reaping the rewards from being in a good offensive environment. In 2016 Williams will still be in Pittsburgh to take carries away from Bell. While Adrian Peterson is going to get the Vikings franchise placed squarely on his shoulders. Coach Mike Zimmer wants to play outstanding defense and run the football. That means Peterson will have a huge workload in 2016 and with Zimmer trusting Peterson even more this year. He should carry the ball more than he did just a season ago. So you can begin to see why Adrian Peterson is the much better choice, most true football fans know this and don’t get caught up in the Le’Veon Bell hype when it comes draft time. Stick to your guaranteed performer Adrian Peterson, he’s the best for a reason.

Charity of the day: Friends of Animals

Go donate! www.friendsofanimals.org

Brandin Cooks is ready to become a superstar in his 3rd professional football season:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

Brandin Cooks was a good choice for the Saints when they drafted him in the 1st round of the 2014 Draft. Cooks was a former Biletnikoff award winner as a college receiver and it was easy to see that this guy was going to be a great football player someday. While Cooks was a 550 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns caliber player in his first season. He quickly elevated his game to become a 1,138 receiving yards receiver with 9 touchdowns to go along with that. That jump is already elite but now Cooks has the ability to be even better. New Orleans had visions of what Cooks was going to be someday and now number 10 is living up to all of those expectations. When you plug in Cooks’s film and watch him operate in this offense. You quickly notice that he is slightly undersized standing just 5 feet 10 inches. However Cooks has the ability to have a big impact for his team because he is a pure football player when it’s all said and done. Despite Cooks’ size he has no fear of going over the middle and truthfully he does some of his best work there. He can run a drag route or a slant route make a defender miss and then get up field quickly. On film you will even see Cooks hurdle a defender or two so he also has that kind of athleticism going for him. Finally Cooks has enough speed to blow away any defender who isn’t in the same class as him sprinting wise. To get an idea of how fast that class is you have to look at Cooks’s 40 yard dash time which was a blistering 4.33. If a linebacker or slower safety line up on Cooks it’s almost automatically bad news. So this is a player who is really making the transition into a marquee player and look for him to be even better in 2016.

Charity of the day: Friends of Animals

Go donate! www.friendsofanimals.org

Geno Smith has been receiving high praise for his improvement as a football player:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The New York Jets were hoping to get their quarterback of the future when they drafted Geno Smith in 2nd round of the 2013 Draft. Since then Smith has done very little to live up to the New York Jets expectations and many people around the league gave up on Smith. Especially when Ryan Fitzpatrick came to the Jets last year and really seized the Jets started quarterback job. Well apparently things are looking much brighter these day for Geno Smith and rumors coming out of New York are Smith is looking much improved heading into his fourth season. Two notable people to praise Smith for his improvement are former Jets quarterback Joe Namath and Head Coach Todd Bowles. Namath stated that he believes Smith will be the starting quarterback regardless if Fitzpatrick comes back or not. Joe Namath also believes that Smith’s maturity and stronger frame will be the big factors in his growth as a quarterback. Meaning Geno Smith has put on some muscle and understands what it takes to be success in the NFL much more this year than he did in the past. Players tend to become more aware of the game as they get more experience and apparently you can really see Geno Smith’s progression. Todd Bowles told the media “it’s like night and day” when comparing Smith this year to just a year ago. With all of the positive feedback Smith’s confidence will likely grow and we will see if he can really make a push for the starting job as time moves forward. You’d have to think if Fitzpatrick signs with the Jets he could easily beat out Smith, however with all of this hype about Smith being a whole lot better. It will be interesting to see Fitz and Smith compete and the best player will emerge from that position battle. Whatever the outcome Smith deserves praise for taking the job more seriously and doing whatever he can to work towards his goals. You can’t hate a guy for giving effort.

Charity of the day: American Bird Conservancy

Go donate! www.abcbirds.org

Ron Rivera is rewarded for his contributions to the Carolina Panthers:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Carolina Panthers decided that they were going to reward Head Coach Ron Rivera with a new 3 year contract extension worth $19.5 million dollars. Rivera has been outstanding for Carolina and because of his efforts the Panthers have been able to clinch 3 straight NFC South titles. With talented players like Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly on the roster, some might say Rivera is benefiting from has those marquee talents. However the consistency the Panthers have shown is a testament of the team’s good leadership and a lot of that comes from the head coach and the way he approaches the game. Rivera was a talented player before he got into coaching. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 1984 Draft. He played linebacker for Chicago and was part of the 1985 defense. Which is often regarded as the best defense to ever play in the NFL. So this is a guy who learned the ins and outs of the game as a player and that set him up to one day be a great coach. Rivera then polished himself as a coach by coaching for the Bears, Eagles, and Chargers which ultimately set him up for the Panthers head coaching gig. At every level of his life Rivera has put in the work and really developed himself. That has allowed him to elevate to the position he is in today and now Rivera will make $19.5 million dollars for his next contract. That isn’t a bad income at all and you have to be happy for Riverboat Ron. This is a guy who has worked hard his whole life and he did it the right way. With honesty, and transparency with his players and the Carolina Panthers certainly took notice. The front office felt comfortable making the 3 year commitment and now we will be seeing more of Rivera since he will be under contract till the end of 2018. A good move for the Panthers.

Charity of the day: American Bird Conservancy

Go donate! www.abcbirds.org

Darius Slay is the best thing the Detroit Lions have going for them right now:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The Detroit Lions have a big time player in Darius Slay. The Lions drafted Slay in the 2nd round of the 2013 Draft and he has had tremendous growth in his transition into a professional football player. Slay started off slow as a rookie but he was on the field a lot. That led him to eventually understanding the pace of the game and now Slay is looking fluent in defensive coverage. This is a player who can really do it all when it comes to defensive back. He has the speed and skill to stick on your hip and run with you in man coverage. He  also can press and be physical in cover 2 or bail and play a deep third in cover 3. When you have a corner that has that kind of range it really opens things up for you defensively because you can trust Slay to do his job in any coverage. If the Lions choose to blitz Slay will handle the opposites team’s to[ wideout man to man , if defensive coordinator Teryl Austin wants to zone blitz Slay can handle any responsibility given to him. Expect this guy to be all over the football field and always the opposite of some of the biggest receiver names the league has to offer. Right now the Lions are down a little bit talent wise and Slay is really bringing some light to Detroit’s football team. The Lions are hoping that they can replace the loss of Calvin Johnson with players like Marvin Jones and Taylor Decker. However it was the defense that really let the team down last season and that was because the team lost so much on that defensive front the past off-season. Now with A’shawn Robinson coming in the mix the team should be a little better there and that should make Slay’s life much easier. Good defensive pressure upfront results in plays being made on the back end and look for Slay to have his best year yet in 2016. His confidence is clearly high and the guy is really coming to his own in this league.

Charity of the day: World Resources Institute

Go donate! www.wri.org

Joey Bosa is being a prima donna and holding out of Chargers minicamp:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

The San Diego Chargers had high expectations when they drafted Joey Bosa in the first round of the 2016 Draft. However Bosa still hasn’t signed with the Chargers and it appears a holdout could be on the horizon. That would be terrible for San Diego and the team has to do everything they can to get this guy to sign on the dotted line. By addressing a deal with Bosa quickly the team can prevent these negotiations from spiraling out of control. If both sides are too patient then Bosa could end up sitting out longer than he would like to. We’ve seen Michael Crabtree in a similar situation back in 2009 when he was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers. Crabtree had no contract when training camp rolled around in July and Crabtree’s agent Eugene Parker threatened that Crabtree would sit out the entire season and reenter the draft the following year in 2010. Eventually Crabtree and the 49ers were able to come together and strike a deal in late August but that example shows you just what could happen if the Chargers and Bosa don’t iron this thing out as quickly as possible. Bosa’s pass rush efforts were supposed to propel the Chargers in 2016 and the team desperately needs this guy on the field. Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco stated he is “disappointed that he’s not here” when referring to Bosa. Showing that the G.M believes Bosa is missing out on crucial reps and losing opportunities to elevate himself as a football player. If Bosa wants to be the second coming of JJ Watt he will have to take advantage of training camp and use that time to perfect his craft. It doesn’t appear Bosa is understanding these underlining factors and keep an eye on whether a deal materializes anytime soon. If it doesn’t this could get really ugly for the Chargers.

Charity of the day: Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors

Go donate! www.taps.org

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