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49ers’ Garoppolo progressing; Sherman pain-free

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As San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo took another step toward returning from the torn left ACL that wiped out most of his 2018 season, cornerback Richard Sherman is feeling as good as he has in a long time now that he is another year removed from his own injury history.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Come the start of training camp in July, the 49ers expect to have their offensive and defensive leaders back at full speed and ready for the start of the 2019 campaign. They hope that the dozen or so other players dealing with injuries also will be healthy and prepared when that time comes.

It’s a group that includes linebacker Fred Warner (knee), running back Matt Breida (pectoral), tight end Garrett Celek (concussion and back), running back Jerick McKinnon (ACL), linebacker Kwon Alexander (ACL) and cornerback Jason Verrett (Achilles), all of whom did not participate in Tuesday’s organized team activity and likely won’t be able to do anything until training camp.9

Rookie defensive end Nick Bosa joined the injured list on Tuesday when he tweaked his hamstring during team drills. He watched the rest of the practice from the sideline.

Much like his teammates, for Garoppolo to be ready for the start of the season, there’s still plenty of work that needs to be done.

On Tuesday, Garoppolo participated in individual and 7-on-7 drills. He did not, however, take part in team drills.

According to coach Kyle Shanahan, Garoppolo will not be cleared for full team work until training camp in part because the team doesn’t want to risk having defenders around Garoppolo’s legs during offseason work.
Wearing a titanium knee brace that he described as “really lightweight,” Garoppolo already has impressed teammates and the coaching staff with how well he has moved during the first two OTAs.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

After suffering the knee injury in a Sept. 23 loss at the Kansas City Chiefs, Garoppolo missed San Francisco’s final 13 games.

Since then, Garoppolo has slowly checked all the boxes necessary for a return. Garoppolo said Tuesday he hasn’t dealt with swelling in the knee in “a long time,” and his post-practice routine no longer requires him to do as much work to keep the swelling to a minimum.

Giants’ retooled offensive line looks like their best in years

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Dave Gettleman’s introductory news conference as New York Giants general manager ended with a definitive statement about a hazardous offensive line.

“We’re going to get it fixed,” he said just days before the 2017 season finale.

Gettleman tweaked and dumped massive loads of cash into the line last season. The results were mixed, at best. The Giants’ offensive line was a mess the first half of the season when quarterback Eli Manning was sacked 31 times. It stabilized in the second half and became a serviceable unit. As did the Giants’ offense, centered around running back Saquon Barkley.

The left side of the line was fixed with big-money free-agent left tackle Nate Solder and second-round pick Will Hernandez at guard. The right side remained a work in progress.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

So Gettleman went back to work this offseason. He added what the Giants hope will be a new right side of the line with veteran guard Kevin Zeitler being acquired in a trade and tackle Mike Remmers as a free agent.8

The bar is low, but this could be the Giants’ best offensive line since 2010 or 2012, when they still had core players such has Chris Snee and David Diehl in the lineup. It’s not the Super Bowl-winning line of Kareem McKenzie, Snee, Shaun O’Hara, Rich Seubert and Diehl, but this year’s hog mollies should be a significant improvement from recent seasons.

“It’s the best they’ve had in years,” said one pro personnel scout with an NFC team.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

There will be no more excuses for Manning, who hasn’t been protected well in years but also hasn’t finished with a top 10 QBR since 2012. No more excuses for coach Pat Shurmur, who had a hand in shipping Odell Beckham Jr. out of town. No more excuses for the offense as a whole, which hasn’t been good in several seasons.

This year the Giants have $37 million of the $188.2 million salary cap currently committed to their offensive line and 61 percent committed to the offense overall, compared to 38 percent to the defense. It will be on the offense (and the offensive line in particular) to carry the team this season. They’re building a team that will be reliant on the run with Barkley as the centerpiece.

“[The improved line] can do big things for that guy we have in our backfield,” tight end Evan Engram said last week at CC Sabathia’s Celebrity Softball Game benefiting his PitCCh In Foundation. “He’s a special talent and those guys, the offensive linemen, they’re in the building each and every day and they literally walk around the whole building together. You can see the talent growing. You can see the chemistry growing. And they’re hungry as well. I can’t wait to see those guys start putting their hands on people.”

Jets ship LB Lee to Chiefs after GM shake-up

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It didn’t take long for New York Jets interim general manager Adam Gase to make his first trade.

The team on Wednesday night agreed to send linebacker Darron Lee to the Kansas City Chiefs for a 2020 sixth-round pick. The trade appeared on the NFL’s official transactions wire Thursday.

Gase inherited personnel power earlier Wednesday, when general manager Mike Maccagnan was fired after four seasons. Gase, hired in January as the head coach, will serve as the interim GM until a new one is hired.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Maccagnan picked Lee in the first round of the 2016 draft. His days were numbered as soon as the Jets signed middle linebacker C.J. Mosley to a record-setting contract in free agency. They tried to trade Lee during the NFL draft last month, then declined to exercise his fifth-year option.10

Lee was the 20th overall pick in 2016. It was a curious choice, because at 6-foot-1 and 232 pounds, he seemed small to play inside linebacker in the 3-4 defense. The coaching staff downplayed the size factor, saying he fit the growing trend of fast linebackers who could play in space against spread offenses.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

The former Ohio State standout struggled in his first two seasons, especially against the run, but he showed signs of improvement in 2018. He made three interceptions — the first three of his career — including one returned for a touchdown.

Lee felt he had played well enough to earn Pro Bowl consideration, but his season came to an abrupt end after the 12th game, when he received a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He has yet to comment publicly on the matter.

Because of the suspension, Lee’s 2019 base salary of $1.84 million is no longer fully guaranteed; by rule, the guarantee was voided. The Jets had no intention of exercising his fifth-year option for 2020, which would have been an estimated $10 million.

In the Jets’ way of thinking, Lee became expendable when they signed Mosley to a five-year, $85 million contract in free agency. Mosley will replace Avery Williamson, who will slide over to Lee’s former spot — the weak-inside linebacker position.

Williamson’s $8 million salary is guaranteed, and there was no chance that the Jets would eat that much money.

Geno Smith to sign with Seahawks, source says

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Quarterback Geno Smith is expected to sign with the Seattle Seahawks, a source told ESPN’s Jordan Raanan.

The Seahawks will be Smith’s fourth team in four seasons.

In Seattle, Smith will compete with former Denver Broncos first-round pick Paxton Lynch for the backup job behind starter Russell Wilson.

It was expected that the Seahawks would add another quarterback to their backup competition, as Lynch was the only veteran option they had behind Wilson.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

“I thought the quarterbacks had a hard time. I thought they struggled with the system and the playcalling,” Carroll said. “A lot of guys calling the plays for the first time, in the huddles for the first time, under center for the first time. So there was some brand-new experiences, and so they were competing on many levels just to get going. So we’ll take a look at the film now that we get out of camp and see where it all fits.”9

The 28-year-old Smith saw action in two games for the Los Angeles Chargers during the 2018 season, completing 1 of 4 passes for 8 yards.

The Seahawks had interest in Smith last season before he signed with the Chargers. Seattle traded a sixth-round pick to the Green Bay Packers for Brett Hundley, who didn’t take a single snap in 2018 and left in free agency.

For his career, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Smith has competed 58 percent of his passes, throwing for 6,182 yards, with 29 touchdowns and 36 interceptions.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

A second-round selection (39th overall) by the New York Jets in the 2013 draft, Smith never lived up to lofty expectations during his four seasons with the team.

Smith moved on to the New York Giants, where he backed up quarterback Eli Manning in 2017.

He started Week 13 when Manning was benched for a week, completing 21 of 34 passes for 212 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions in a 24-17 loss to the Oakland Raiders.

The Seahawks have been busy since May 7, the date after which free agents no longer count in the formula for determining 2020 compensatory picks. In addition to Smith, they’ve signed defensive linemen Ezekiel Ansah and Al Woods, cornerback Jamar Taylor, fullback Nick Bellore and guard Marcus Martin — all since May 7.

Davante Adams and then who? Questions remain about Packers WRs

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With Randall Cobb’s $12.7 million cap charge from last year off the books and not a single receiver added in veteran free agency or the draft, the Packers dropped to No. 24 in the NFL when it comes to salary-cap space used by receivers. They’re at $18.65 million in cap space devoted to the position, and Adams accounts for $10.818 million of that.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

The Packers’ receivers account for just 9.75 percent of their salary cap, down from 16.5 percent last season.

That’s what happens when there’s no true No. 2 receiver on the roster.10

Instead, Gutekunst and first-year coach Matt LaFleur appear content to watch a collection of former undrafted players (led by Geronimo Allison and Jake Kumerow) along with last year’s trio of third-day draft picks (underachieving fourth-round pick J’Mon Moore, fifth-rounder Marquez Valdes-Scantling and sixth-rounder Equanimeous St. Brown) fight for the spot.

“I’m really content with the three guys we drafted last year,” Gutekunst said after he opted against a receiver in the draft. “I think they have huge upsides. I thought they took really good steps last year. Obviously, Geronimo coming back, he’s kind of a veteran guy stepping into that role, and I do like some of our guys that are kind of competing for some spots there as well. It’s not like we wouldn’t add one if we thought the right guy was there, but I like that group.”

He likes it better than most outsiders thought, apparently. Mock draft after mock draft had the Packers paired with a receiver for one of their two first-round picks.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

“I think there’s always holes that you think about,” LaFleur said after the draft. “One thing, there’s no doubt we’ve added a lot of key pieces moving forward, both in free agency and in the draft, not only on the defensive side of the ball, but I feel really good about a guy like [offensive lineman] Billy Turner and the three offensive players that we drafted.”

Houston’s Fifth Ward gave Dolphins’ Xavien Howard his ambition

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Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard returns to Houston to play the Texans on Thursday night (8:20 ET, Fox). This weekend, he plans to walk the streets of his old neighborhood.

A Houston native, Howard tells outsiders to stay far away from the Fifth Ward. It’s a high-crime neighborhood northeast of downtown. Danger can find you in the Fifth Ward.

In making his way out, Howard is starting to make a name for himself.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“Who’s Xavien Howard?” asked Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins, tongue-in-cheek, in the lead-up to Thursday’s game.

Howard, 25, in his third NFL season, is tied for the NFL lead with three interceptions. He made his big splash last December with two interceptions each against the Denver Broncos and Tom Brady’s Patriots in back-to-back games.

“He’s kind of an underrated guy across the league. Last year he played really well, and this year he’s been playing great. He’s been shutting everything down,” rookie defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick said. “He’s just waiting on his moment for everybody to recognize who he is and the job that he does.”9

You’ve likely heard stories similar to Howard’s before. The NFL is full of players who used football to get out of bad circumstances. Howard knows he is fortunate, given some of the things he witnessed growing up.

When he was in middle school, Howard was playing basketball near his home when, he says, a man shot another man 10 yards away from him. Then the shooter saw Howard.

“I was traumatized by that for a long, long time. After he did it, he looked at me and said, ‘Go in the house, they shooting.’ I’m just happy the guy didn’t shoot me or come get me,” Howard said.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Howard told his mother, Luckcher Howard, what happened and she feared for his safety. She sent him to stay with his grandmother, who lived 30 minutes away, for two months. He was still frightened the man would find him.

“That day made me change everything about me. I straightened up. I started taking sports seriously,” Howard said. “I said, ‘I got to get me and my family out of the hood and away from seeing this.'”

Howard uses the ritual of returning to his old neighborhood to remind himself of what he escaped.

When he walks the streets of the Fifth Ward in Houston, Howard sees a drug dealer on the corner selling an eight-ball of cocaine; his eyes settle on a homeless man sitting on the side of Lyons Avenue; his friends tell him a story of the kid who got jumped and robbed near the Fruits of the Fifth Ward mural. Howard could have been any of those people.

Taking the walk is his version of therapy, self-preservation and making sure he never gets too comfortable.

Real Deal: Panthers sign undrafted RB Holyfield

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The Carolina Panthers are taking a chance on an undrafted player whose father is a boxing legend in their search for a running back to pair with Christian McCaffrey as a one-two punch.

Georgia’s Elijah Holyfield, the son of four-time heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, has agreed to terms with Carolina after being bypassed in the draft, the team announced Monday.

The elder Holyfield told ESPN.com’s Vaughn McClure in February at the Super Bowl that he hoped his son got a chance to play for Atlanta, where he grew up. Elijah Holyfield will have to settle for playing the NFC South rival Falcons twice a season if he makes the rostercheap nfl jerseys china nike

Holyfield’s draft stock dropped after he posted a 4.78 time in the 40-yard dash and didn’t demonstrate great explosion. Known more for his quickness than speed, the 5-foot-10, 215-pound back may be a better fit to complement McCaffrey than fifth-round pick Jordan Scarlett out of Florida.10

The Panthers entered the offseason looking for a back who could do many of the same things McCaffrey does, in order to give the 2017 first-round pick a break. McCaffrey played 91.3 percent of the team’s offensive snaps and set an NFL single-season record for a back with 107 catches in 2018.

Scarlett is known more as an inside power runner, catching only 10 passes last season.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Holyfield is more of a do-it-all back like McCaffrey. Holyfield rushed for 1,018 yards and seven touchdowns on 159 carries and had five catches for 40 yards this past season as he split time with D’Andre Swift, who rushed for 1,049 yards.

Holyfield will compete with Scarlett, Cameron Artis-Payne, Reggie Bonnafon and Elijah Hood for the spot behind McCaffrey.

Holyfield isn’t the only new arrival from Georgia. The Panthers made wide receiver Terry Godwin a seventh-round pick on Saturday. Godwin likes the addition of his former teammate.

“I know what he can bring to the table and I know what type of athlete he is,” Godwin said of Holyfield. “It’s going to be an exciting camp for us.”

Smith back in Panthers fold, to receive honor

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Steve Smith can finally set aside the bitterness from being released by the Carolina Panthers in March 2014.

The organization announced Monday that their all-time leading wide receiver would be a part of the 2019 Hall of Honor.

Smith joins quarterback Jake Delhomme, tight end Wesley Walls and offensive tackle Jordan Gross as the first players named to the shrine since Sam Mills retired and was honored following the 1997 season.

“It’s good to be back,” Smith told the team. “There’s very few things in my life that really make me emotional to where I want to tear up.That penetrates a place I generally don’t go.’‘cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Smith was so bitter about being released by then-general manager Dave Gettleman after the 2013 season that he said he told a local radio station that if he got the chance to play against Carolina, everyone should “put on your goggles because there’s going to be blood and guts everywhere.”

Smith got his shot at Carolina during the 2014 season when, as a member of the Baltimore Ravens, he had seven catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns.

“They didn’t even deserve me to spin the ball on them,” Smith said afterward.9

Smith later admitted in the NFL Network’s “Steve Smith: A Football Life” that his release was personal and that he “bumped heads” with quarterback Cam Newton.

“We bumped heads for the obvious reasons,” Smith said. “He’s the first pick and he was a star where he was. I was 31 years old. I had three kids. So we were two different people in two different phases of their life.’‘cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Gross said Smith’s lack of patience with Newton was a factor in the decision to release him.

“Really, I think the organization felt for Cam to flourish they needed Steve to step down,” he told the NFL Network.

Said former Carolina wide receivers coach Ricky Proehl, “Emotionally, it was hard for everybody because of what he’d done for this organization, the impact he’s had in the community.”

Much of Smith’s anger was directed at Gettleman because there was no advance notice of his release before it became public knowledge. Smith heard the news on a Charlotte radio station.

Being selected to the Hall of Honor by new owner David Tepper has helped heal old wounds.

“For some, long overdue,” Smith said. “For others, surprised just as much as me. Some maybe didn’t foresee that this would ever come to fruition, the reconnecting.”

Sorting out crowded Buffalo Bills backfield could take months

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LeSean McCoy caused a stir last week when he tweeted spoilers to the ending of the recently released movie “Avengers: Endgame” because he was upset with how the film ended.

There is a chance McCoy’s career in Buffalo ends in similarly disappointing fashion.

A succession of roster moves this offseason has given the Bills increased flexibility to transition away from McCoy as early as this summer. Buffalo’s signing of three veteran free-agent running backs (Frank Gore, T.J. Yeldon and Senorise Perry) and drafting of Florida Atlantic’s Devin Singletary in the third round last week does not mean McCoy will be gone, but his roster spot seems far from guaranteed given the climate at the position.

McCoy has seen sharp statistical decline the past two seasons, and he approaches his 31st birthday in July. His average yards per carry has dropped from a career-high 5.4 in 2016 to 3.2 last season, his worst as a pro.

Such a downward trend is typical for rushers at his age. Among all players with at least 75 rushing attempts per season over at least four years since 2001, their rushing average has declined from 4.29 yards per carry at age 28 to 4.09 at age 30 and 3.82 by age 32.cheap nfl nike jersey

One of the exceptions has been Gore, whose average dipped below 4.0 yards per carry from his age-32 season (2014) through his age-34 season (2016), only to rebound to 4.6 last season at 35 for the Dolphins.9

Now Gore has a chance to unseat McCoy as the top back in Buffalo. Yet, similar to how McCoy could recover and re-establish himself as the engine that drove the Bills’ offense in 2015 and 2016, Gore could finally show signs of age and fail to make an impact.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

Add in two younger wild cards — Yeldon and Singletary — and the scenarios of how the Bills could distribute snaps in their backfield this season begin to multiply.

In the short term, general manager Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott seem content to let the competition play out. Both stood by McCoy at the end of last season, reiterating he was part of the team’s plans in 2019. Instead, they focused their attention on improving the blocking in front of McCoy, firing offensive line coach Juan Castillo and signing a staggering six free-agent linemen.

Even Friday, after the Bills drafted Singletary, Beane said there was “no question” McCoy remained the starter.

Given team decision-makers are typically averse to making such declarations this far in advance of the season, and that general managers are usually careful of stepping on coaches’ toes about naming starters, it would be reasonable to deduce some posturing from Beane. If the Bills desire to trade McCoy, they need other teams to believe he will not be available on the open market as a free agent. It would be smart for Beane to be firm on McCoy being the starter, not a candidate to be released.

In reality, the Bills added four running backs this offseason with a realistic shot of making the 53-man roster: Gore, Yeldon, Singletary and Perry, who played an important role on special teams for the Dolphins and would be the top candidate to fill a similar role as the third or fourth running back on Buffalo’s 53-man roster.

49ers aren’t ignoring secondary, believe growth will happen internally

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Noticeably ignored this offseason is a secondary that accounted for just two interceptions in 2018, an NFL record for futility. Aside from adding oft-injured cornerback Jason Verrett in free agency — who, in fairness, could be a big addition if he can stay healthy and recapture his 2015 Pro Bowl form — the 49ers look poised to run it back with the same group they had last season.

This lack of movement in the secondary comes as a surprise. Verrett was the only notable free-agent pickup and the Niners waited until the sixth round before they took cornerback Tim Harris. Despite rumors that the team pursued a top safety such as Earl Thomas, the 49ers didn’t bring in any outside safeties, instead opting to re-sign Jimmie Ward and Antone Exum Jr.

According to coach Kyle Shanahan, the decision to leave the secondary alone stems from liking what they already have, the importance of improving other roster spots and the hope that a supercharged pass rush can make life easier for everyone.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Clearly, the 49ers’ decision-makers are believers in the talent already in place. While many of their young defensive backs have flashed in their careers, the majority of them have been plagued by injuries, have a small sample of success or both. As it stands, the projected starters in the secondary are cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Verrett, with Ward and Jaquiski Tartt at safety and K’Waun Williams in the nickel role.8

From that group, Sherman is the leader and the Niners are counting on him to produce at previous All-Pro levels. His history would indicate that he can do that now that he’s another year removed from the Achilles injury he suffered in 2017.

“I look out my window, and he’s getting up there in years, but he’s right at the front of the pack,” general manager John Lynch said. “He’s pushing those guys. I think my own feeling, we’ll see a better version of Richard Sherman this year because he’s a year further away from those procedures and had that cleanup. We’ll see. But I’m hopeful.”cheap nfl nike jersey

After Sherman, questions arise. The Niners invested third-round picks on Ahkello Witherspoon and Tarvarius Moore in the past three years but neither has emerged as a surefire starter opposite Sherman, which is why the door is open for Verrett. At safety, Ward and Tartt have combined to play just 33 of a possible 64 games over the past two seasons. Adrian Colbert, who was supposed to claim the starting free safety job last year, struggled in seven games before a season-ending ankle injury.

In a vacuum, the Niners’ belief in their current crop of defensive backs is understandable. It’s a group comprised of relatively high draft picks and there’s no shortage of talent. But it’s also fair to point out that the Niners felt good about what was essentially the same group a year ago and then found themselves scrambling to overcome injuries and a lack of production.