Trouble brewing in Los Angeles? Why the Chargers are already showing early signs of disarray:

Photo credit: Streeter Lecka / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

HeatAndCool.com

The Los Angeles Chargers might have a few problems that could snow ball throughout the season. The first problem is the fact that Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates were allegedly banned from attending Ladainian Tomlinson’s Hall of Fame ceremony. First year Head Coach Anthony Lynn was pretty adamant that he needed Rivers and Gates at practice but truthfully both Rivers and Gates have earned the opportunity to celebrate this historic moment with their former teammate Tomlinson. While either way (letting the players go or making them attend practice) is an understandable policy, keep in mind that the press got a hold of the issue and it became NFL headlines. That lets you know that Rivers and Gates were very displeased with the situation and likely went to the media to voice their frustrations. The fact that this issue wasn’t handled in house and the fact that there is already negative media headlines about how the Chargers are handling situations could be the first indication of a serious problem in Los Angeles. From what we know about Anthony Lynn, we know the Chargers new head coach is going to be a no nonsense type of guy. The problem is this current generation of players don’t respond particularly well to disciplinarian style leadership. As much as Lynn wants to be a coach who has a short leash on all of his players sooner or later he is going to have to be able to develop relationships and humble himself. One thing is for certain disgruntling two of your top two offensive players before the regular season ever starts is never a good thing. Keep in mind Mike Williams the team’s number 1 draft pick is going to miss almost every practice until the season starts as well. So as you can see the Chargers have some struggles operations wise and this team needs to address these issues right away.

Charity of the day: Meals on Wheels America

Go donate! www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org

Kam Chancellor signs a 3 year contract extension with the Seattle Seahawks, which means the Legion of Boom will stay intact for the long haul:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

HeatAndCool.com

The Seattle Seahawks have been working hard in contract negotiations with stand out Safety Kam Chancellor. Now we know all of those efforts have paid off and Chancellor will get a new three year deal worth $36 million dollars. The Seahawks were able to lock up all three of their Legion of Boom stars for the long haul recently and the birds got a huge boost when they finalized Chancellor’s deal. Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Kam Chancellor will all be in a Seattle uniform perhaps for the remainder of their careers. That’s definitely an exciting prospect for Pete Carroll and his football team because the Seahawks secondary is known for changing the outcome of football games. Chancellor alone has 12 interceptions over the course of his seven seasons in the state of Washington. The Seahawks 29 year old strong safety also has been tremendous in playoff games as well always rising to the occasion with big plays. Chancellor also commands a lot of respect in the locker room because he is the vocal leader on the back end of Seattle’s defense. If you watch presnap Kam Chancellor is always lining up his teammates and acting as a field general in secondary. Those leadership intangibles play a big part in Chancellor’s game and the Seahawks didn’t want to see their star defender wearing another team’s jersey. So it’s easy to see Chancellor is well respected by his teammates and the organization. This was really a no brainer for Seattle’s front office and we know Seattle defense is going to bring it now that the Legion of Boom is under contract for the long haul. The question is whether or not the Seahawks offense is going to elevate their play and take this team to new heights?

Charity of the day: Center for Community Change

Go donate! www.communitychange.org

Von Miller’s presence goes beyond the football field, Miller is a global icon and great leader for the Broncos:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

VenueKings.com

Von Miller isn’t only the NFL Top 100’s second highest ranked player in the league, Miller is actually arriving at a global icon status. Von Miller’s presence goes beyond just the football field these day and a lot of Miller’s success has to be hands down due to his personal brand. Miller isn’t just a gifted football player who year in and year out finishes near the top of the league sack wise, he also is a guy who is known for having a brilliant mind and being a gifted thinker. Miller isn’t afraid to buck trends or be true to himself and one interview of watching Von Miller will tell you that. In an era where originality is so scarce Miller is a pro athlete who offers nothing but substance. While most people in college are looking to get a job in business or finance Miller instead chose to pursue a degree in poultry science at Texas A and M. Now on the side Miller owns a chicken farm and has a career waiting for him after football is over. Maybe the funniest thing about that whole situation is the fact Miller name’s his chickens after his teammates. So there is a lot of character that is attached to Von Miller’s spirit and that makes the Broncos linebacker perfect for a leadership role. Miller has really began to embrace that role and it has been clear in his actions this past off-season. One notable thing Miller did was crash the Broncos Employee Recognition day which is used to honor all the people who work for the Broncos who are not players. It was the first time a player on Denver’s roster had attended the event and Miller gave speech thanking all of the workers stating “We appreciate all that you do.” It’s little things like that which help build up your culture and the Broncos are a more desirable location because of Miller’s contributions. It won’t be long before other players around the league realize “hey I want to do it like Von” and don’t surprised when the Broncos start luring in other players in free agency. Everybody wants to be around Von Miller, it’s because the guy is the epitome of a charismatic leader and that’s big reason Miller has become a household name globally.

Charity of the day: Conservation International Foundation

Go donate! www.conservation.org

Reuben Foster is making his presence felt at 49ers training camp, the rookie linebacker has already made a number of big plays:

Photo credit: Michael Zagaris

Author: Jon Kuzma

VenueKings.com

Every year during NFL training camp a few players bust onto the scene with huge performances in practice. This year the San Francisco 49ers Linebacker Reuben Foster is a guy that has been gaining a lot of recognition. Just a few weeks ago we were really excited because it was announced Foster would overcome his injury troubles and be able to play this upcoming season. Now we know Foster isn’t just playing, he is out there making a huge impact for the 49ers defense. Reuben Foster was easily the most dominant linebacker in all of college football last year at Alabama and clearly those abilities that made Foster so dominant for the Crimson Tide translate over well to the professional level. John Lynch is looking like an absolute genius for drafting Foster and now the rookie gets to go out there and try to repay Lynch for taking a gamble on him. So far Foster has managed to intercept a pass in every padded practice the 49ers have had. Making it obvious that Reuben Foster has natural football instincts, a knack for finding the football, and the ability to create turnovers. Usually it takes most guys two or three years to develop that kind of overall awareness on the field to make these kind of plays. Foster is showing he has enough football I.Q to make these plays out of the gate as a rookie and San Francisco might have something special with NaVorro Bowman and Reuben Foster. In the 3-4 defense you have to have to outstanding middle linebackers that can shut down the running game between the tackles. The combination of Bowman and Foster could be very lethal for San Francisco and first year Head Coach Kyle Shannahan has to be excited about that prospect. The NFC West better look out because the 49ers have made a lot of moves and they are definitely headed in the right direction.

Charity of the day: Conservation International Foundation

Go donate! www.conservation.org

Vikings ink Xavier Rhodes to a $70 million dollar contract extension, a move that shows Minnesota is committed to Rhodes for the long term:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

HeatAndCool.com

Minnesota Vikings Defensive Back Xavier Rhodes signed a five year $70 million dollar contract extension with the team and Mike Zimmer will have one of his top defenders until at least 2022. That’s great news for the Vikings defense considering Rhodes had 5 interceptions a season ago, and if Rhodes can maintain that kind of output the Vikings will have plenty of takeaways in their future. Xavier Rhodes has improved every year since entering the league back in 2013. The former Florida State alum evolved into an exceptional cover guy in his second season in the league but Rhodes has been even better than that the last couple of years. Those outstanding man to man skills that Rhodes puts on display almost every snap help the 5th year pro suffocate opposing receivers. Xavier Rhodes really proved he was an elite corner last season when he clamped down on Odell Beckham Jr. holding the Giants star receiver to only 3 catches for 23 receiving yards. Rhodes also registered an interception in that match up and ultimately all of these plays led Zimmer and the Vikings front office to buy into everything Xavier Rhodes has been selling. Minnesota will be a contender as long as they have their tenacious defense, players like Danielle Hunter, Everson Griffen, and Eric Kendricks sets the tone upfront. Then the secondary led by guys like Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith handle everything over top. That formula helped the Minnesota Vikings become the 3rd best defense in the entire National Football League in 2016 and you have to expect this group to be right near the top again this upcoming season. None of that would have been possible if Minnesota let their talent walk out the door, so give the Vikings credit for opening up their check book and paying Xavier Rhodes the big bucks. Moves like that show the Vikings are serious about winning.

Charity of the day:  Pancreatic Cancer Action Network

Go donate! www.pancan.org

Blake Bortles threw 5 interceptions at practice today and now we know why Jacksonville is growing skeptical of their quarterback:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

VenueKings.com

Blake Bortles has really struggled with interceptions since entering the league back in 2014 and those turnover woes don’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Bortles threw for 51 interceptions over his three season and there is an old saying around football that goes “your chances of winning decrease 25% with every turnover you have”. If that’s the case Bortles has cost his team a whole lot of football games and it also should come as no surprise that Bortles is up to his old ways again in 2017. Blake Bortles threw for five interceptions at practice today and at some point the former UCF Golden Knight has to find a way to protect the football. Look, we all know Blake Bortles can play when he is on. That was evident in 2014 when Bortles threw for 4,428 yards and 35 touchdowns. At the same time though if Bortles can’t improve beyond the misreads and constant forced passes then the Jaguars are going to start looking at other options at quarterback. It would be sad to see Jacksonville move on from a player with so much potential but if Bortles can’t stay in the saddle and keep his poise. All those physical attributes that make Blake Bortles such a promising quarterback go out the window. Bortles is under contract until the end of 2018, however it’s astonishing that Jacksonville is going to pay this guy $19 million dollars a year in the fifth year of his contract (next season). The costly mistakes don’t justify that kind of pay day and it feels like it’s time for the Jaguars to find a successor to Blake Bortles moving forward. Maybe the front office can go after a back up quarterback from another team who is worthy of a bigger role. When you take those factors into account, one guy who stands out is the New England Patriots back up Jimmy Garoppolo. Garoppolo could come in and bring much more calculated leadership to the Jaguars, which is exactly what Jacksonville is lacking at the moment. So from here on out it’s obviously Blake Bortles is going to be on a short leash.

Charity of the day:  Pancreatic Cancer Action Network

Go donate! www.pancan.org

Michigan Semi Pro Football: Detroit Ravens are still the best team in the state, they have a perfect 6-0 record in Great Lakes Football League conference play:

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Photo credit: Detroit Ravens Media

Author: Jon Kuzma

HeatAndCool.com

It’s a different year but the Detroit Ravens are still on top after posting a perfect 6-0 record in Great Lakes Football League conference play. Usually the Ravens are paced by the Detroit Seminoles, who are typically the best two teams in the Detroit area. However this year the Seminoles have fallen to 3-3 on the season and that leaves the Ravens as hands down the best team in the area. The Ravens have a boatload of talent on their roster, and are most notably led by Ed Thomas and Reggie Eubanks. Ed Thomas is the team’s starting quarterback who is known around the league for having pinpoint accuracy and for putting up gaudy numbers stats wise. While Reggie Eubanks is Mr. Everything on the football field and can be effective at the wide receiver or running back position. Eubanks has been so good over his football career that he has seen stints with a number of arena football teams. Having these two guys on the Ravens offense is kind of like having the Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott of semi-pro football on your depth chart. Those two players alone could beat a number of teams but when you add in all the other talented players on the Ravens roster including Jose Morris, and Gilvanni Johnson. You can see why this team is heading into the postseason with a ton of momentum on their side. On the defensive side of the ball the Ravens are led by Daniel Johnson who has been the best defensive lineman in the state for a number of years. Johnson ensures the Ravens win the battle in the trenches, then players like Tee Sims come through and clean up everything else. That recipe has been the formula to the Ravens success for some time now and this team is looking to build upon their rich history of multiple national championships and multiple league titles. It doesn’t look like anybody can stop the Ravens out of Detroit.

Charity of day: Opportunity International

Go donate! www.opportunity.org

Texans defense turns up the intensity in their first padded practice, they should be league’s best defense again in 2017:

Photo credit: Bob Levey / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

VenueKings.com

When you look at the Houston Texans defense you can’t help but excited for what the future holds. J.J Watt who is arguably the league’s best defender and a future Hall of Fame candidate returns from a season ending injury (back surgery) and will look to reclaim his title of premier defender in the National Football League. Watt has been banged up over the course of six season career but he still managed to record an impressive 76 sacks since entering the league back in 2011. Watt only recorded 1.5 sacks a season ago, so really 74 and a half of that sacks came in five seasons of play. When you do the math on those statistics you realize Watt has amassed 20 sacks in a single season twice in his pro career. That’s the output that made Watt an icon world wide and now we get to see if the veteran defensive lineman can recapture his top form. Watt isn’t a 22 year old kid anymore he is 28 year olds now and as you get older your injuries don’t heal as fast and they start to slow you down. In a lot of ways this will be J.J Watts toughest challenge ever but we’re all rooting for him this upcoming season. Watt isn’t the only guy on this defense who can make a big play either, Bernardrick McKinney also put up 129 tackles and 5 sacks last year for the Texans defense. McKinney was every where when the ball was snapped and he continuously made big stops at his middle linebacker position. This is McKinney’s third professional season so he should have an even better grasp of what Bill O’Brien expects of him. Finally the Texans have two huge contributors in pass rushers Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus. Clowney compiled 6 sacks for the 2016 season and showed that he can make the transition to a successful National Football League edge rusher. Mercilus was actually a little bit better than Clowney in 2016, he managed to bring down opposing quarterbacks 7.5 times last season. So clearly there is at least three top tier players on the front seven of this defense and there’s also one future Hall of Famer. When you have four guys out of the front seven that can beat you every time, it makes it very tough to contain those guys and that’s why the Texans should be a terror on the defensive side of the ball again in 2017.

Charity of the day: Population Council

Go donate! www.popcouncil.org

The Giants secondary is a big reason why New York was able to get back to the playoffs last year:

Photo credit: Patrick Smith / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

VenueKings.com

Everyone talks about how much the New York Giants defense has improved from a couple years ago until now but one group in particular that been outstanding is the Giants secondary. New York tied for fourth in the league in interceptions recording 17 as a team for the 2016 season. Those were big plays hallmarked by players like Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Leon Hall, and Eli Apple. All players who would be starters or serious contributors on any other team in the league. So it’s clear the Giants are getting it done from a number of different players at the defensive back position and while Leon Hall is no longer with the team anymore, the Giants still have a lot of defensive playmakers that can come up big from a coverage stand point. Out of all of these players as far as forcing turnovers goes no one was better than Dominique Roders-Cromartie last season, Rodgers-Cromartie grabbed 6 interceptions by himself and was a surprise stand out for New York. If Rodgers-Cromartie can maintain the high level of play he captured in 2016 the Giants should be in for a good year. The other guy who played well in secondary last year was Landon Collins. Not only did Landon Collins lead the team in tackles with 125, he also recorded 5 interceptions and scored 1 defensive touchdown. It’s obvious the New York Giants have the talent on the back end of the defense to lock down some of league’s best receivers and the NFC East better watch out because this team is ready to bring it this upcoming season. With the Jets nearly tanking there’s no question which team is the more talented in New York. Big Blue is loaded on both sides of the ball and the New York Football Giants are definitely a team to look out for when the regular season gets on the way.

Charity of the day: Population Council

Go donate! www.popcouncil.org

Le’Veon Bell didn’t show up to practice and the Steelers have to be nervous about their star running back holding out:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

VenueKings.com

Pittsburgh Steelers Running Back Le’Veon Bell missed the official first day of Steelers practice and Pittsburgh’s front office has to be concerned with Bell’s absence. Le’Veon Bell has made it clear all off-season that he wants a contract extension, Bell has also been adamant that he would like to be paid handsomely for his past contributions to the team. Bell averaged over 100 yards rushing per game and he also averaged 50 yards receiving per game. That is the first player in NFL history to ever achiever that feat and Le’Veon Bell certainly leads a new breed of dual threat running backs along with David Johnson who can run and catch the football. Marshall Faulk was great at doing both in the past but Bell topped everybody by averaging 100 on the ground and 50 through the air every single game. So you can see why Le’Veon Bell wants to cash in on his past success and land a major payday. Pro football careers tend to be very short (especially for running backs) and now is the perfect time for Bell to make his money. However the Steelers want to keep costs down especially for salary cap reasons. It’s hard to be good at every position when you overpay one particular player. On top of that Le’Veon Bell has missed 17 games over his first four seasons and Bell has only played a full season (all 16 games) one time in his career, back in 2014. Le’Veon Bell has missed action because of suspensions and injuries as well so there is some uncertainly on whether or not the Steelers can trust Bell from a reliability stand point. Still though Le’Veon Bell does have a good argument for a big money contract, he has rushed for over 1,000 yards twice in his career and can easily catch 70 or 80 receptions a year. A good receiver in the National Football League records about 100 catches per season so Le’Veon Bell is definitely dynamic running and catching the football, which will help him in contract negotiations. Ultimately though it will be a crap shoot if Pittsburgh offers Bell a long term deal and it could pan out either way. It’s probably best if the Steelers just pay their star running back though, especially if the team wants to win in 2017.

Charity of the day: Medical Teams International

Go donate! www.medicalteams.org

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