The New England Patriots signed David Harris to a two year $5 million dollar contract:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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David Harris didn’t have to wait very long to find his next gig, the New England Patriots have signed Harris after the Jets released the linebacker 16 days ago. David Harris will instantly bolster the Patriots linebacker corps and this was a good move considering the Patriots improve over their in division rival. Harris has had over 100 tackles in four out of his last five seasons so clearly the 33 year old linebacker still has some gas left in the tank. Bill Belichick had especially high praise when talking about Harris noting how well the former Jet is from a durability stand point. Belichick talked about how Harris never comes off the field and was essentially a field general for New York. By adding a player who is a vocal leader the Patriots have a better chance to make adjustments pre snap and at the line of scrimmage. By shifting players in the appropriate gaps David Harris can cutdown on big plays, which will ultimately help the Patriots become a better football team in 2017. New England has several young and inexperienced linebackers on their roster which makes you believe that Harris will be a starter when week 1 rolls around. Why else would Belichick be so adamant about adding Harris if he didn’t expect the veteran linebacker to contribute in some way? Also keep in mind the Patriots signed Harris to a two year deal so it’s obvious this isn’t a one year and done type of deal. That leads you to believe that Harris could start for New England for the next two years and if Harris out plays his contract who knows what the future holds? The bottom line though this was a great pick up for New England because they solidify their linebacker position and get a hell of a competitor in David Harris. After adding Brandin Cooks, Dwayne Allen, Kony Ealy, Mike Gillislee, and David Harris this off-season expect the Patriots to be the frontrunner to win the Super Bowl in 2017.

Charity of the day: Feeding America

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Hunter Henry had 8 touchdown receptions as a rookie tight end, it’s safe to say his future is bright:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Los Angeles Chargers got a huge boost from rookie Tight End Hunter Henry last season and the future is certainly bright for the former University of Arkansas alum. Henry actually tied Cameron Brate for the most the touchdowns by any tight end in 2016 and that’s an amazing accomplishment for a first year player. Most rookies have to go through an adjustment period when transitioning to the pros but Henry found his identity as a red zone target. That helped the Chargers put up a ton of points and Henry could be even better as he matures as a professional. Hunter Henry was having NFL success off his raw football instincts a season ago and now as he gains awareness Henry will understand what it takes to beat defenders more consistently. Henry runs a 4.66 40 yard dash so he is naturally a step quicker than most linebackers he lines up against and he is also outstanding at hauling in contested passes. Those talents were on full display when Henry was catching touchdown after touchdown, which has to have the Chargers front office extremely excited. Los Angeles had Antonio Gates long before Hunter Henry came into the mix and now it looks like the Chargers will continue their dominance at the tight end position for years to come. Hunter Henry and Philip Rivers are a tandem that will be feared in this league for some time and very soon Henry could push Travis Kelce for the top tight end spot in the AFC West. Not an easy task at all but then again Kelce has never once had 8 touchdowns in a season. When you also factor in that Henry is an exceptional run blocker as well, you can see why this guy is emerging as one of the top tight ends in the game. The Chargers got a steal when they drafted Hunter Henry in the 2nd round of the 2016 NFL Draft a year ago and it’s been smooth sailing ever since for the Little Rock Arkansas native.

Charity of the day: Veterans Assistance Foundation

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Year two should be even more exciting for DeForest Buckner, he is coming off a 6 sack rookie season:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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DeForest Buckner was the 7th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and the 49ers sure did get a competent football player when they selected Buckner out of the University of Oregon. DeForest Buckner is a 6 foot 7 inch pass rushing machine and the former Duck was able to record 6 sacks as a rookie. That’s pretty impressive considering how many players flop in their first season of pro action and Buckner should be able to improve upon that stat total as he journeys further into his own development. Awareness is such a key factor in the NFL because it helps you stay poised when the ball is snapped and all the action takes place. By trusting his reads and technique Buckner should be able to progress into a much more well rounded defensive end which is bad news for NFC West quarterbacks. Buckner will be getting real familiar with Carson Palmer, Jared Goff, and Russell Wilson all guys who are attempting to take down the upstart San Francisco 49ers. Kyle Shanahan is looking to lead the Niners back to the promise land and General Manager John Lynch has put an emphasis on defense. By drafting Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster this off-season San Francisco has added a lot of young talent they can implement next to Buckner. Keep in mind the 49ers also drafted Arik Armstead in the 1st round back in the 2015 draft as well. That nucleus of four former first round picks are leading the way defensively for this team and Buckner has to be the leader of that group especially since he has produced the most this far. If DeForest Buckner can raise the level of his game that will be contagious for the other guys on that defense which will be key to San Francisco’s overall success. The goal for 2017 has to be a minimum of 10 sacks for Buckner and the Niners look like they are finally heading in the right direction after three embarrassing seasons. It’s because San Francisco has better leadership and a more talented roster than the past.

Charity of the day: Michael J. Fox Foundation

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Martavis Bryant hit the ground running after his reinstatement, the Steelers will get a huge boost from getting him back:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the best teams in the AFC and now they have a chance to claim the top spot in the conference because Martavis Bryant is back. For those of you who don’t know Martavis Bryant is a wide receiver for the Steelers and he has just been reinstated by the league after serving a year long suspension for repeated marijuana use. Martavis Bryant was playing great football before the suspension and apparently Bryant has picked up right where he left off at Steelers off-season workouts. Ben Roethlisberger in particular has been very vocal about Bryant’s playmaking abilities and referred to the 25 year old receiver as a “stud player.” Basically Roethlisberger believes that Bryant can continuously beat NFL defenders and now Pittsburgh has a number of wide outs that can get separation. Antonio Brown is still one of the best receivers in the entire league but believe it or not Martavis Bryant is a couple steps faster. In fact Bryant is known for his vertical routes because he can simply out run defense backs with his 4.42 40 yard dash speed. It’s amazing how much impact the third year receiver can have and that’s why Bryant has been able to average 7 touchdowns a year over his first two seasons. Pittsburgh really missed those 7 touchdowns a year ago and getting Bryant back for what looks like Ben Roethlisberger’s last season is a huge uplift for this team. Now the Steelers have Antonio Brown who can pretty much do anything on a football field and Martavis Bryant who can run by just about anybody. When you add in Ju-Ju Schuster and Eli Rogers as well you can see just how dynamic this team can be in 2017. All Pittsburgh has to do is stay healthy and this team will be an overwhelming threat through the aerial attack. Expect Bryant to flourish during his comeback and Ben Roethlisberger should have a huge year as well.

Charity of the day: Michael J. Fox Foundation

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Tyler Eifert did more in half a season than most other players did in sixteen games:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Tyler Eifert was sidelined for eight football games last year but he still managed to come back and record 5 receiving touchdowns. That’s more production than most receivers / tight ends do in all sixteen games and it just shows how good Eifert truly is. Tyler Eifert caught 13 touchdowns passes in 2015 and while he was hampered by injuries all last year he is still in the same class as Rob Gronkowki and Travis Kelce. That elite company are all guys who play the tight end position very dynamically and the Bengals will get a huge boost if Eifert can suit up for every game in 2017. You never want to see a player sit out that has the ability to put up over 10 touchdowns a year. Having Eifert on the field gives Andy Dalton a playmaker that can consistently move the sticks and Eifert is also a big time threat in the red zone. So losing Tyler Eifert certainly cost Cincinnati a ton of points but now everything is looking much more optimistic. The Benglas have been making tweaks to their roster hoping to regain control of the AFC North. One thing that is going to undoubtedly improve the Bengals chances is having all their pieces on the field. Cincinnati has been drafting a lot of wide receivers the last couple of years hoping to get some other players besides Aj Green and Eifert that can contribute. By developing other pass catchers the Bengals can actually make life much easier on both Green and Eifert. Right now opposing teams know the two guys they have to stop are 18 and 85. So one of those late round draft picks has to step and provide a spark for this team. Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd showed a little promise in 2016 but Mike Brown’s team definitely needs to get better at the second, third, and fourth receiver positions. Better receivers and a healthy Tyler Eifert are key to the Bengals reclaiming this division. They’ll need a potent offensive attack to take down the Steelers.

Charity of the day: Wilderness Society

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The Tennessee Titans sign Eric Decker to a one year contract, a move that significantly bolsters their receiver group:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Tennessee Titans are trending in the right direction at the moment and the team as a whole has a ton of momentum right now. That’s because the Titans have signed several key free agents (Logan Ryan, Jonathan Cyprien, etc.) and now to top that off the Titans have also signed Eric Decker to a one year contract. Decker played for the New York Jets for the last three seasons and averaged 6 touchdowns a year during that time. That’s a significant amount of production being added to the Tennessee Titans receiver group which was depleted of talent just a season ago. Now though, the Titans have drafted Corey Davis the NCAA’s all time leader in receiving yards. Tennessee also has Rishard Matthews who recorded 945 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns last year. So Eric Decker should compliment those other guys well and now out of a sudden the Titans have weapons all over the field that can beat opposing defenses. That should help Marcus Mariota make more plays through the passing game and this has to be the best group of receivers the third year quarterback has ever played with. Matthews was expected to the ace when it came to the Titans pass catchers in 2016. Decker and Davis will definitely help Tennessee be more balanced and instead of having one guy that makes all the plays. Now there will be three different receivers that can all get separation from defenders. All Mariota has to do is stay poised in the pocket and continuously deliver strikes. Don’t be surprised if Eric Decker ends up becoming the alpha dog out of that group either. No one on Tennessee’s roster has had NFL success like Decker and there’s a reason he has been able to record 5,253 receiving yards and 52 touchdowns in his seven pro seasons. It’s because Decker has worked hard to perfect his craft which in return has made him one of the more productive receivers in the league. When it’s all said and done this is a great signing by the Titans they are a much better team with Decker on their roster.

Charity of the day: Wilderness Society

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Joe Thomas has 10 Pro Bowl appearances under his belt and he is still going strong:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Out of all the active players in the NFL only Tom Brady has more Pro Bowl selections than Cleveland Browns Offensive Tackle Joe Thomas and that’s an achievement we need to take a second to absorb. Brady has 12 Pro Bowl appearances but Thomas and three other players (Drew Brees, Jason Witten, and Larry Fitzgerald) have an impressive 10 Pro Bowl nominations. Those are the most out of all the current players but the most by any player ever was done by Tony Gonzalez, Peyton Manning, Bruce Matthews, and Merlin Olsen who all had 14. So clearly Joe Thomas is up there with the very best football players of all time and he has been a staple on the Browns offensive line since entering the league back in 2007. Cleveland struggled last year going 1-15 but the Browns had three 1st round draft picks to help bolster their roster. Only David Njoku was an offense player out of those three 1st rounders but that’s another player to line up next to Thomas and help get the job done. The Browns will also have a much more competitive quarterback depth chart as well. Brock Osweiler, Cody Kessler, and DeShone Kizer will all battle for the starting job and Thomas has to be the one who leads the blocking upfront. The Browns also signed Kevin Zeitler and JC Tretter to add to that offensive front, that gives Thomas one of the best crews he has ever had and the Browns could impose their will in the running game. Expect Thomas and the rest of the pack to open up holes for Isaiah Crowell and Head Coach Hue Jackson will have a much better chance at success his second time around. That’s ultimately what Joe Thomas has to be most pleased with because he rarely has had a chance to compete while in Cleveland. The Browns aren’t a lock to win the Super Bowl, and truthfully this team isn’t going to make the playoffs. However they are taking steps in the right direction and that has to feel good after being down for so long. Win or lose though expect Joe Thomas to go for his 11th Pro Bowl selection and that feat is a hell of an accomplishment.

Charity of the day: World Resources Institute

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Jalen Ramsey underwent surgery to repair an abdomen injury, the timing has to be a concern for the Jacksonville Jaguars:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Jalen Ramsey was the most coveted cornerback in the 2016 NFL Draft but now there are some concerns about Ramsey’s health as we head into the 2017 season. Ramsey recently underwent surgery to repair a core muscle and this is bad news if you’re the Jacksonville Jaguars. Ramsey recorded 2 interceptions and 1 defensive touchdown last season so the Jaguars need Jalen Ramsey to keep progressing and improve on those totals. However now Ramsey is going to be sidelined for the rest of training camp but the good news is the 22 year old defensive back should be on the field when week 1 rolls around. The concern is whether or not Jalen Ramsey is going to be at 100% health or not? If Ramsey isn’t completely healthy that could regress his play on the field and it’s just bad momentum for the 2nd year corner. Every year guys come into this league and have problems with injuries. Keeping your body healthy is such a key aspect of being a pro athlete and while this happened at OTAs it’s still a setback for Ramsey. When number 20 is on the field and able to go 100% that is such a huge addition to the Jacksonville secondary. The last thing you want to see is such a young player with so much promise go through injury struggles. Now in hindsight when we look back this all could be water under the bridge and Ramsey could still put up big numbers. Still though undergoing surgery right now will cost Jalen Ramsey a lot of reps at training camp and those practice sessions help get players in game shape. It’s imperative that Ramsey allows his body to fully heal and then he has to put maximum effort into his rehabilitation. Really there is two and a half months until to week 1 and that is the window that Ramsey is working with. It’s about taking it day by day and building himself back up to competitive form from here on out.

Charity of the day: World Resources Institute

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Doug Martin is having a resurgence at Tampa Bay Buccaneers off-season workouts:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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Doug Martin was one of the best running backs in the league back in 2015 racking up 1,402 rushing yards and solidifying the Buccaneers running game. All that good fortune stopped in 2016 and not only did Martin slump production wise, he had some off the field issues as well. Now as we enter the 2017 season though Doug Martin seems to be back to top form and maybe this is why the Buccaneers weren’t serious about signing Adrian Peterson this off-season. The Bucs got a little bit of production from Jacquizz Rodgers after they signed him from free agency. Maybe Tampa’s plan all along was the idea that Rodgers and a recovering Doug Martin were good enough to carry the offensive load for this franchise. If Martin’s recovery wasn’t going this well, the Buccaneers would have definitely needed another running back. That’s why Tampa considered bringing in Peterson for more running back depth however it’s obvious that the Buccaneers front office knew that Doug Martin was having success in his rehabilitation. Martin is only 28 years old so he has plenty of good years left in front of him. The next step for the veteran running back is just keeping his hands clean and going about his business. If Doug Martin can keep his mistakes in 2016 and continue to execute on the field like he has at OTAs, and at all the camps. That would be the best course of action for Doug Martin and remember this guy has been a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for five seasons. He has done a lot of great things while wearing that Bucs uniform so it’s good to see the organization stand by Martin through his troubles and more teams/companies in the world can learn from this situation. The loyalty Tampa Bay showed to Doug Martin is now going to be rewarded by Martin’s success on the field. Which is really what it’s all about if you’re professional football team.

Charity of the day: Prevent Child Abuse America

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Cowboys 2nd round pick Chidobe Awuzie is drawing rave reviews, he will be tasked with limiting the losses of Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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It’s no secret that the Dallas Cowboys lost both their starting cornerbacks this off-season but fortunately for Dallas they have some promise in rookie Defensive Back Chidobe Awuzie. Awuzie played for the University of Colorado the last four seasons and saw significant action during every season in Boulder. Chidobe Awuzie only had three interceptions during his collegiate career but luckily for the former Buffalo defender the NFL is a fresh new opportunity to solidify himself. That’s exactly how Chidobe Awuzie has been treating his transition to the professional level and now the the 22 year old is making a name for himself at Cowboys camp. Insiders around the league are raving about Awuzie’s football instincts and when you watch the rookie play you immediately notice he knows how to read a play. He understands that a quick drop back means the ball is coming out quick, Awuzie is also good at reading those deeper drop backs and understanding that the receiver is trying to attack him vertically. Just having that sense of awareness puts Chidobe Awuzie a step ahead of most the other rookie defensive backs coming into the league and some guys wait years to develop that knack for the game. When an NFL team drafts a rookie they all hope that player can provide an immediate impact and because of Awuzie’s overall football I.Q it appears he is going to be that kind of guy. Now it’s pretty obvious that sooner or later Awuzie is going to take his lumps as a starting rookie defender. However if Awuzie can have a short memory and put his mishaps behind him quickly this could end being a very good pick for the Dallas Cowboys. Right now because of Chidobe Awuzie the Cowboys at least have a chance to compete in the secondary.

Charity of the day: American Bird Conservancy

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