Steelers RB DeAngelo Williams on saving lives, overweight cats and his future

DeAngelo Williams is the oldest running back in the NFL, and he’s set to become a free agent after playing the last two years with the Steelers.

His first season in Pittsburgh was a success, as he led the NFL in rushing touchdowns, and finished just shy of 1,000 yards. He didn’t get quite the same workload this past season with Le’Veon Bell healthy, and his playing days are numbered as he approaches his 34th birthday in April, but he still has some unfinished work to do.

Eli Manning is 36, and the last word that would describe his 2016 season is “elite.” Despite being settled in coach Ben McAdoo’s offense, Manning threw it back a little to his disastrous 2013 season. The NFL’s ironman QB isn’t far from true deficiency.

If the Giants really do love Kizer as potential successor, they would need to pull the trigger in the first round. Kizer, being a less polished but more skilled overall prospect than Trubisky and Watson, could use the time to learn McAdoo’s efficiency-leaning system. Ryan Nassib isn’t the answer to go from unused No. 2 to sudden No. 1 in a few years.

Drew Brees, 38, keeps defying his age, but at some point soon, likely tied to whenever Sean Payton’s time in New Orleans ends, he will walk away from the game. There’s no worry about that in 2017, though.

Trubisky’s talents — especially his accuracy — are tailored to what New Orleans does well. Absorbing everything from Brees and Payton with a strong supporting cast is a much better scenario for Trubisky than being throw into the fire elsewhere. The potential of a parallel to the Brett Favre-Aaron Rodgers smooth hand-off is there with this move.
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Jack Ham and Jack Lambert are inner-circle Steelers all-timers

That freak athleticism goes a long way in explaining his success on the field. Watt is a three-down linebacker who can chase down quarterbacks around the edge or shoot gaps between blockers. At Wisconsin, he’d roam throughout the backfield to find weak points in blocking schemes, attacking to create havoc so he or his teammates could capitalize. Here’s an example of that cerebral pre-snap planning, courtesy of the Big Ten Network.

He also has the flexibility to shadow tight ends or drop into zone coverage, notching four passes defended and a pick-six last fall. Solid fundamentals — strong hits at the point of contact and good wrapping of ball carriers — make him a sound tackler. That, combined with his ability to attack and shed blockers, should make him the kind of defensive player whose name is called over the PA several times each game.

Jack Ham and Jack Lambert are inner-circle Steelers all-timers, just as critical to Chuck Noll’s teams as Greene and L.C. Greenwood. The franchise has had 17 linebacker Pro Bowlers, by far the most of any position. The Steelers sucked in the ‘80s, but Ham and Lambert eventually gave way to Jason Gildon and Joey Porter, two star outside backers, at the turn of the millennium.

Porter, James Farrior, Lawrence Timmons, LaMarr Woodley, and ageless wonder James Harrison have all keyed Super Bowl runs. A few of those occupy the top slots on the Steelers all-time sacks list, with Harrison at No. 1 with 79.5 career takedowns. The Steelers have had Hall of Fame-level QBs, but defense has been their central theme.

Linebackers are the ones who get cheered loudest when they run out of the tunnel at Heinz Field. They’re the ones whom we, as Pittsburghers, use to rationalize why other teams will always cower against us. (I’m not saying it’s a rational thing; it’s just a thing.) Pittsburghers love linebackers as much as they love eating french fries on their sandwiches, which is to say we really love them a lot.
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Dirk Nowitzki will return for his 20th season with the Mavericks

After playing his 19th season with the Dallas Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki has informed the team he will return for his 20th NBA season, according to Mavs.com. He will exercise his player option to opt into the final season of his two-year, $50 million contract.

Nowitzki joins just Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, Kevin Willis, and Robert Parrish as the only players in NBA history to play 20 seasons. He and Bryant are the only players to spend two decades with one team.

Note where Game 5, if it happens, would be played: April 26 at Oracle Arena. Now check out Chance the Rapper’s tour schedule this spring.

Chance is getting bigger and bigger, but I initially thought maybe he wasn’t slated to perform at Oracle. I saw him in Dallas last year, and he played at a large concert venue rather than an even larger arena. (Highly recommend it, by the way.) But …

Welp.

We reached out to Warriors PR, and they gave us this statement.

When booking concert events at the arena during a playoff run, we typically schedule contingency dates for that event. The Warriors will have the priority on April 26th.

A formal announcement for the Chance the Rapper show is in the works, pending that the show will be moved.
There’s a good, maybe even great, chance the Warriors do sweep. That’s definitely possible, even though Portland is feisty and ended the season playing better basketball than when the year started. So it’s possible this all works out.

If not, and if you have tickets to both, start praying for a Golden State sweep. (Or just have a flexible schedule and you’ll be fine.) The Warriors will bring in at least 10 times the revenue that the Chance show will, and it’s televised. Of course they have priority. That’s no surprise.

Either way, it’s a nice little wrinkle if Golden State does go up 3-0.
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Gary Kubiak’s offenses were fueled by elite play from the front five

With the offseason near, and Vegas throwing a wrench into the draft plans, most teams will likely be scrambling to sign and make deals to accommodate their biggest players. The Jets, however, will have just four unrestricted free agents to deal with and have a projected $6.3 million in cap space to work with.

The only big-name UFA coming off the books at the end of the season will be Pavelec, and with their cap space they’ll have plenty of room to get Marko Dano, Copp, Brandon Tanev, Ben Chiarot, and Hellebuyck under contract. Some smart management this offseason can set them up well for a bright future.

No one knows what the penalty would be for players who do defy the NHL and head to Pyeongchang in the middle of the 2017-18 season. It could range from fines — for the players themselves and/or the owners — to suspensions, much like how players sit out a game if they miss the All-Star Game.

And if players do get “permission” from either the league or their owner, will the national teams even accept them? The European teams might, and Russia no doubt will, but the catch is a bit more for the United States and Canada. The NHL has the most sway over Team USA and Team Canada as the countries are the league’s center of power, and it’s not unreasonable to wonder if the league would attempt to come down on the national teams as well.

In their heyday, Gary Kubiak’s offenses were fueled by elite play from the front five, consistently creating cutback lanes on Houston’s signature Outside Zone play while providing harassment-free pockets for Schaub (and the weird gallimaufry of QBs that Schaub’s injury thrust on the scene in 2011). But all good things must come to an end, and debatable resource allocation by the Texans’ front office, along with the cruel dictates of Father Time, hastened that end along.

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There’s really no tequila in this Gronk-tini?

Over at Mile High Report, Bronco Mike is looking ahead to the matchup between the Chiefs and Broncos on Nov. 17:

This game is just the beginning of the best to come. The only home game in this 4 game stretch occurs Sunday, November 17th. Finally, we get to see if that sterling 9-0 record is all it’s cracked up to be. The unstoppable force (Bronco offense) meets the immovable object (Chiefs defense), and the first in two epic battles will play out in primetime. Manning and company are no strangers to primetime. Over the course of 24 regular season games, they have played 8 under the lights with all of America watching. Their record? 6-2. The gameplan? Simple: Win.

Kyle Posey of Bolts From The Blue want to know why Ryan Mathews does not get the ball more:

As we learn a little more about the event, I learn that the “fastest girl at camp” gets to hug Gronk. Assuming “fast” refers to running, I am suddenly grateful for my knee problems. We are told repeatedly to “drink up.” If you insist.

Some 45 minutes into the event, Rob Gronkowski finally makes his big entrance, in camouflage Zubaz pants, no less. As someone who actually owns a pair of Zubaz, I immediately regret my outfit choice. We do the Gronk chant, as practiced.

Gronk briefly greets the group with some Q&A, starting with “who is the center for the Patriots?” Pffft, like anyone knows that. (Apparently no one does know that.) This segues pretty quickly into a seemingly rehearsed bit that results in the host asking “what is a tight end?” and Gronk turning around, wiggling his butt, and yelling ” THIS IS A TIGHT END!” The women go ballistic; I begin to question my life choices. There’s really no tequila in this Gronk-tini? How?8

Louisville player got so excited he fell off the bench

The first half of Sunday’s Michigan-Louisville game was a barn burner. Louisville’s Deng Adel had a couple highlights, including when he annihilated a basketball with a thunder dunk. Near the end of the first half, Adel made back-to-back threes to extend Louisville’s lead, and it was so exciting, Ryan McMahon fell out of his seat and a coach angrily ran up to yank him off the ground.

I don’t care if it was intentional or not, the guilty party must be brought to justice.

Thankfully, Verne is a pro’s pro who played through the pain and even made light of the incident during the West Virginia-Notre Dame broadcast.

This was a team that probably wouldn’t have even made the field of 68 if it had lost its first game in the Big East tournament. Now it’s rolling into the Sweet 16 after an 11-point win over sixth-seeded Maryland, and a 25-point drubbing of third-seeded Florida State. Teams that make deep runs in March typically have star guards who are playing their best basketball of the season, and that’s the case with the Musketeers and Trevon Bluiett.

On paper, Notre Dame seemed like the worst possible second-round matchup for West Virginia. The Mountaineers win games by using their trademark pressure to feed off of opponents’ mistakes. The Fighting Irish don’t make many mistakes. They entered Saturday’s game ranking second in the nation in fewest turnovers per game, and were leading the nation in both assist-to-turnover ratio and team free-throw percentage.

Somehow, the Mountaineers still forced a team with that makeup to play right into their hands. West Virginia forced Notre Dame into 14 turnovers (six above their season average), and held them to 10-of-28 shooting from beyond the arc, and to 40.7 percent overall from the field as a team.25

McCarthy’s team took an early lead before beginning to scuffle in the second half

“I just felt a rhythm that I didn’t have in the first nine games,” Rodgers said. “There’s a feeling that you get when you’re in rhythm and you’re making the throws on time and you’re seeing the field and things begin to slow down for you.

“Now obviously, as a veteran player, you’ve kind of gotten through the initial stages of the slowdown where your mind doesn’t race as much. … But even as a veteran player within a season, you can have moments where you really get into a groove and it slows down even more and your thoughts are very calm and your reactions are very swift, and that’s kind of the mindset that I was starting to feel I was getting into. And our offense was starting to get into it as well.”

Again, playing as an underdog on the road, McCarthy’s team took an early lead before beginning to scuffle in the second half. The Packers failed to score on two consecutive drives, which was enough to let Dallas back into the game for what turned into a 28-28 tie with 4:12 left. A pass-interference penalty set up the Packers on the Cowboys’ 35-yard line with 1:52 to go. The Cowboys had all three of their timeouts, but with Rodgers at the helm, the Packers could move further into field goal range, burn off significant clock or force Dallas to use their timeouts.

Somehow, they ended up with the worst of all three worlds. Instead of trusting their MVP-caliber quarterback to make plays and keep the ball in bounds, the Packers turned their offense over to Ty Montgomery, who ran the ball twice for a combined loss of 3 yards. Faced with third-and-long, Rodgers ended up throwing a deep incomplete pass on a play where there was no outlet for a short gain to make Mason Crosby’s field goal any easier, with three of the four receivers running 15-plus yards downfield.

fearless players in the NFL before he was brave enough to talk in front of a group

For most of his life, Chancellor Whitney Mercilus Jersey avoided these pregame speeches. Even as team captain in high school, in college and during his first years in the NFL, he never once spoke in front of an entire team. There was an entire locker room ready to follow him before he was ever ready to lead. He was considered one of the most intense, fearless players in the NFL before he was brave enough to talk in front of a group.

But now, in the moments before a Monday night game against Buffalo, he approaches the team huddle in the center of the locker room. He walks past Carroll and the other coaches who always stand on the outer ring, and then past Wilson and Sherman until he reaches the middle of the circle. One player speaks before each Seahawks game, a rotating core of four or five superstars, but Matt Paradis Authentic Jersey teammates say that Chancellor’s speeches feel most akin to a religious chant. He closes his eyes. His muscles tense up. He opens his eyes and looks possessed, demanding eye contact with every player on the team.

“I make those plays, but I love it when other guys step up and make those plays and we’re spreading the ball around. That’s when we’re jelling together, when we have confidence in everybody to step up and make that play in that situation.”

Jones’ selfless attitude hasn’t gone unnoticed by his teammates.

“It’s huge when your leaders and your best players are guys that are unselfish and want to win,” quarterback Matt Ryan said of Jones on 680 The Fan. “That trickles down to the rest of the team. And there’s no better example of that for us than Julio. He is about winning games and doing everything that he can to help us win games.”

Chancellor became closer to God, and more players started praying in the locker room. He began warming up with bands around his ankles to loosen up before games, and soon half the defense was wearing those same bands. He started drinking Reliant Recovery Water, and Wilson began drinking it too.

Adrian Peterson not asked to take pay cut, DeAngelo Hall restructures and other NFL news

Adrian Peterson is due $12.75 million in 2015, but hasn’t been asked to take a pay cut to stay with the Minnesota Vikings nor has the running back asked for a trade, according to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Peterson, 29, played in just one Benny Cunningham Youth Jersey game in 2014 before an indictment for child abuse sidelined him and eventually resulted in a suspension that ended the rest of his season. The tumultuous year created talk of Peterson and the Vikings parting ways, but according to Tomasson, those talks have never been formalized.

The running back told ESPN last week that he’s “still uneasy” about a return to the team and there’s plenty of reason to believe that the Vikings would want to avoid keeping Peterson on the roster and take a $15.4 million hit against the salary cap.

Those interceptions were plenty damaging, and the Bears only won five games this past season. And that’s why his contract is so bad. The Bears signed him to a huge seven-year deal last season, and he’ll carry a cap hit of $16.5 million in 2015. He then has cap hits of $17 million, $16 million, $17 million, $20 million and $21.7 million, respectively, through the 2020 season.

SB Nation presents: Might the Bears find their next quarterback at the NFL Combine?

New Bears general manager Ryan Pace also addressed the quarterback situation on Wednesday, echoing Fox’s comments that the team is still evaluating Cutler, both as a player and as a person. Pace didn’t offer specifics, but added that their goal was “to maximize Brian Quick Youth Jersey our time and make thorough decisions.”

The Bears met with free agent quarterback Josh McCown Wednesday, who started five games for the team in 2013 before signing a two-year, $10 million deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2014 offseason.

A ‘Moneyball’ approach for the Browns might not work in the NFL

While Cleveland Browns executive Paul DePodesta was waiting in line to head home from the NFL Combine, he says he heard several of his peers openly mocking him. Given the initial resistance that met the analytics movement in Major League Baseball, DePodesta is used to skepticism. But in the NFL, it will be more difficult for him to prove his doubters wrong.

Many of the NFL’s most prominent names, including Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw, Adrian Peterson, Kurt Warner and Brett Favre, have all said that they wouldn’t let their sons play football. LeBron James echoed the sentiment and even President Barack Obama Taj Gibson Authentic Jersey told The New Yorker that if he had a son, he wouldn’t let him play pro football.

Arians, 63, earned a label as one of the NFL’s more progressive coaches when he hired Jen Welter as a training camp intern last summer, making her the first female coach in league history.

On Friday, he told high school coaches that teaching better tackling is the way to decrease concussions and battle the stigma associated with football:

“Our job is to make sure the game is safe, at all levels,” Arians said. “The head really has no business being in the game. There’s a lot of different teachers, but when I was taught how to tackle, and block, it was on a two-man sled, and you did Toni Kukoc Authentic Jersey it with your shoulder pads. That’s still the best way to do it. There’s really isn’t any place for your face in the game. I would beg all of you to continue to learn more about what they’re now calling rugby style tackling. I thought it was f—— football myself.”

With Lynch off the board, the Jets turn to improving a subpar pass rush. Spence can pressure the pocket with either his hand in the dirt or standing up near the line of scrimmage. His play implies that he’s worth a higher pick than No. 20 overall, but his off-field issues may ding him in the draft.

The consideration here was an Alabama player, either Robinson or linebacker Reggie Ragland. Robinson is the choice, though, simply because he’s the better player. He can pack a wallop playing end in Washington’s defense because of his power and underrated athleticism.