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Austin Hooper, now a Pro Bowler, could thrive in Dirk Koetter’s offense

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When asked this week what he expects from a Dirk Koetter-run offense, the Atlanta Falcons’ Pro Bowl tight end didn’t come back with some elaborate response.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

“I don’t know much,” Hooper said. “I just know he was the coach at Tampa and he’s now our offensive coordinator. I know he was in Atlanta prior to getting the head-coaching job [in Tampa]. So, we’ll see.

“I’ll let you know when I know what we’re running.”9

True, it’s not exactly clear how the typically pass-oriented Koetter will adjust during his second stint as a coordinator in Atlanta, with coach Dan Quinn wanting to maintain the same outside/inside zone principles the Falcons established under Kyle Shanahan and attempted to sustain under Steve Sarkisian. But no matter how the sharp-minded Koetter plans to call it, there’s a good chance Hooper will continue to thrive as a pass-catcher in what is likely to be a tight end-friendly offense. Under Koetter’s watch, tight ends such as Cameron Brate (80 targets for Tampa Bay in 2016) and Marcedes Lewis (81 targets for Jacksonville in 2011) have been used heavily.

Of course, no one is putting Hooper in the same conversation as Gonzalez. However, Hooper has the potential to be a reliable threat for years to come. He was named a Pro Bowl alternate and subsequently added to his first Pro Bowl roster this week after Zach Ertz of the Philadelphia Eagles pulled out.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

“It’s a huge honor that not a lot of people get to be a part of,” Hooper said. “Just looking forward to the opportunity. It just solidifies the hard work that I’ve put in has paid off in a big way. I’m very fortunate.”

Hooper, who just completed his third NFL season, is fresh off a career-best 71 catches for 660 yards and and four touchdowns. He was targeted 87 times, second most on the team behind Julio Jones’ 170 targets. Hooper credited his former position coach, Wade Harman, for elevating his game to a Pro Bowl level.

With Cowboys in first place, pressure is not off Jason Garrett

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The all-or-nothing trade for Amari Cooper and the change at offensive line coach did not favorably impact the Cowboys in their Nov. 5 loss to the Tennessee Titans. It all looked bleak, especially for Jason Garrett.

Eight full seasons was enough. Two playoff appearances were too little. The whispers for Lincoln Riley to be the next head coach became louder, as anybody but Garrett would do.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping
The four-game winning streak has brought expectations. The win against the Saints has some thinking bigger things than just making the playoffs. The Cowboys don’t have any opponent with a winning record the rest of the way.

“He does a good job conveying the message to us and making it very clear of where we stand and where we need to go,” cornerback Byron Jones said. “You can see it throughout the team, people are bought in.”9

After the victory over the Saints, owner and general manager Jerry Jones was somewhat muted in his praise of the coach.

“Well, he’s won a big game tonight,” Jerry Jones said outside the locker room. “I’ll just leave it at that. He won a big game tonight.”

Was there any reason Jones was holding back?cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“What? I’m not. Give him everything you should give him for having just beaten the top-rated team in the NFL,” Jones said. “You’re the wordsmith. Give it to him. I’m serious. Give it to him, yes, because we know how tough it is when it goes the other way. But give that to him, for sure.”

It’s always tricky to read into Jones’ words one way or the other. He backed Garrett in the difficult times at the start of the coach’s career during three straight 8-8 finishes. At the start of this season, he said Garrett was not on the hot seat. Jones said after the Tennessee loss that he would not make an in-season head-coaching change.

Cowboys’ path to playoffs becomes clearer after stunning upset of Saints

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the Dallas Cowboys went to the Superdome with their season on the line against the undefeated New Orleans Saints and left with a win that propelled them to an 11-5 finish and a wild-card playoff victory.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

On Thursday, the Cowboys faced a Saints team that came to AT&T Stadium with a 10-game winning streak and was considered perhaps the best in the NFL. The Cowboys had some momentum of their own and pulled off a signature 13-10 win that gives them an 80.2 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

The Cowboys have won four straight — after a 3-5 start — for the first time since 2016 and when they return to action Dec. 9 against the Philadelphia Eagles, they know they will remain in first place in the NFC East with four games to play.

It was not a pretty affair, but there were enough magical moments for Dallas — almost all from the defense. The Cowboys are now allowing 18.6 points per game, which is second-best in the NFL behind only the Ravens (18.0), according to ESPN Stats & Info.

“It was a collective effort,” Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith said. “The one thing about our defense, what makes us elite, is that we run to the ball like no other team. We put that on display.”9

The offense was stifled for most of the night, and the defense sealed the win with a Jourdan Lewis interception with 2 minutes, 35 seconds to play. A pass interference penalty against the Saints allowed Dak Prescott to take a knee and kill the clock.

In their first 11 games, the Cowboys used their dime package sparingly, which cut back on Lewis’ snaps. He nearly had a pick on the first series of the game, but he did not let the ball get out of his grasp in the fourth quarter.cheap nfl jerseys nike china

As Cowboys coach Jason Garrett and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli waxed poetic about the Saints’ offense all week — and with good reason — there was always a feeling that the Cowboys’ defense was ready for a breakout performance.

On the first series, Anthony Brown, Chidobe Awuzie and Lewis had pass breakups. In the first half, the defense kept the Saints out of the end zone, coming up with a stifling goal-line stand in the second quarter, stopping the Saints on four plays from their 7. On fourth-and-goal from the 1, DeMarcus Lawrence tracked down Alvin Kamara from behind and Tyrone Crawford set up a wall in front to change over the possession. Entering the game, the Saints had converted 11 of 12 fourth-down opportunities.

Even as the Rams seek balance, Todd Gurley will keep doing it all

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Set to face the Denver Broncos on Sunday, the Rams are undefeated and feature the top-ranked offense in the NFL, averaging 468.4 yards and 34.6 points per game.

Gurley leads the league with nine touchdowns and ranks third in yards from scrimmage with 645.

While the profile of quarterback Jared Goff continues to rise, and receivers Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp attract growing attention from opposing defenses, make no mistake: Gurley remains at the center of coach Sean McVay’s explosive scheme.

And he won’t let teammates forget it.

“I tell those guys they need me out there,” Gurley said, laughing. “I tell them, ‘Thank me all the time.’ When I go in motion and they get their little touchdowns.”

Gurley, of course, was joking.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

But teammates constantly commend the fourth-year pro for his ability to contribute in every facet of the game — whether he’s running, catching, blocking or serving as a decoy.2

“When you’re a running back that has the ability to do, really, everything in terms of running the ball, catching the ball out of the backfield, protection,” McVay said, “he’s an important part of our offense, no doubt.”

Gurley has been effective in space and is a proven threat at the goal line. He’s also attracted enough attention to open up the passing game.

“When we’re able to do our play-action stuff and he’s the guy that we’re faking to,” Goff said, “adds a little bit of emphasis on those linebackers stepping up and everyone having to fill in a little bit more when he’s the one that could potentially get the ball there.”cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

Last Sunday, Gurley rushed for three touchdowns — all within 5 yards of the goal line — in a victory over the Seattle Seahawks. In a Week 2 win over the Arizona Cardinals, Gurley rushed for 1- and 2-yard scores, plus powered his way across the goal line for two two-point conversions.

His longest run of the season came in a Week 1 win at Oakland, when he took a handoff and broke through a hole on the left side of the line to rush for 23 yards. And against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 4, he took a short pass and turned it into a 56-yard gain after breaking a tackle.

Gurley’s numbers are on pace with those of last season, which earned him NFL Offensive Player of the Year. Through five games, he has rushed for 415 yards and seven touchdowns and has caught 19 passes for 230 yards and two more scores.

Lions’ Eli Harold has endured far more than backlash

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What used to be enjoyable wasn’t anymore. His personality — once gregarious and fun — disappeared into a solitary sadness. He would go out occasionally. It masked his feelings — what he didn’t want to talk about with anyone, what he still hasn’t shared all that often, even now as a linebacker in the NFL, first with the San Francisco 49ers and now with the Detroit Lions.

He has been open about his past. When Harold was a junior in high school, his nephew Forrest Harold died of an enlarged heart while playing rec basketball at Old Dominion. Then less than two months later, his mother, Sheila Korvette Harold, died of pancreatic cancer. What he hasn’t been as open about is that he didn’t have the capability to cope. Throughout the rest of high school, he didn’t understand what he was going through. Then he got to college. And he sank.

“My freshman year in college, I had hit a point so low, it was like every day was just dark,” Harold says now. “I hated football. I hated friends. I hated everything. It was just — I was being a follower. I was drinking, and I never really liked drinking. I was a follower, doing things that I know weren’t me and — I don’t know, man.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

“I really had to find myself.”9

When, years later, Harold became one of the 49ers who knelt along with Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid to raise awareness about social injustice and protest for change, he received hate mail in which hundreds of people called him racial slurs. He handled all of it — because after what he had been through, that was nothing. Words slid off of him. He built his shell. He knew real loss, real pain.nfl cheap jerseys nike

While not clinically diagnosed, Harold said he dealt with depression throughout his freshman year and part of his sophomore year due to the two deaths that he never really understood how to mourn. By sharing the story of his battle with mental health for the first time, he is hoping it might help others open up with what they might be going through.

“Of course, and just like men, we’re taught to be alpha males, you know what I’m saying. I feel like it helps,” Harold said. “When [the NBA’s] DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love had spoken out about it, I felt like a lot of guys, a lot of professional athletes, took a deep breath and a sigh of relief, because they didn’t want to be that first guy to open up about it.

“And no one really ever wants to be the first to do something. Not saying that you are a follower but that it opened up a gate for other grown men to express their feelings about the situation.”

Ravens rookie Mark Andrews refuses to be defined by diabetes

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The story that gets told again and again about Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews is his near-death experience three years ago.

As a freshman at Oklahoma, Andrews he was unresponsive due to hypoglycemia, a condition caused by very low blood sugar. His roommate had to shove fruit snacks in his mouth, and paramedics rushed to the scene where he finally regained consciousness.

Andrews, a Type 1 diabetic since childhood, knows more than anyone how it’s a minute-by-minute battle with this disease. He understands how every bite of food he takes affects his body. He realizes the precautions he must take before any form of exercise.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

But Andrews has never been hospitalized for diabetes. He never has had to miss a game or practice because of low blood sugar.

Diabetes has changed Andrews’ life forever. It just hasn’t stopped him from pursuing any of his goals.20

Instead of focusing on a scary incident in his college dorm room, Andrews wants to talk about how he continually sidestepped defenders in the open field and raced to the end zone, becoming the nation’s top tight end in college last season and a third-round pick in this year’s draft by his commitment to control diabetes.

“My thing is living your best dream and don’t let this disease define you,” Andrews said. “It’s definitely a part of who you are, but it shouldn’t be 100 percent who you are. That’s something I live by and I think strongly of.”

Andrews’ aspirations are to become the most complete tight end in the NFL and a role model for fellow diabetics. He’s just beginning his journey in the league, but he already has made great strides in helping children cope with this disease.

Andrews has mentored countless boys and girls on eating right and staying active. Parents contact him through direct messages or track him down on the Internet after reading an article on him (there are 516,000 results when you Google tight end Mark Andrews and diabetes).cheap nfl nike jerseys china

A few years ago, a mother contacted Andrews about her son, who had become depressed after being diagnosed with diabetes. After a talk at the high school with Andrews, the boy got in the car and told his mother “he just changed my life.”

Redskins’ Derrius Guice fast becoming man of the people

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As the line of players dwindled Wednesday, one slowly worked his way down the autograph line until nobody was left. He signed; he chatted with some and laughed with others. Running back Derrius Guice already has become a man of the people, it seems, in only one month of being a Washington Redskin.

It’s too early to have a foregone conclusion on what any rookie might do in his first season. Most players should look good in the spring; they’re at their healthiest and no one is in pads.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

But it’s clear via social media Guice has become a player Redskins fans can’t wait to see in action. When it comes to Redskins rookies, the list of those who have generated a lot of buzz with their talent and personality isn’t long. In the past 20 years, LaVar Arrington and Robert Griffin III would be on that list. The late Sean Taylor was a buzzworthy player, mainly because of how much people liked his game. He was a big presence, but did not need the sort of spotlight others craved. Griffin just needed to smile and fans would swoon; he was charismatic, too. When camp was at Redskins Park, Arrington would pit groups of fans against one another, asking them to loudly cheer to decide where he’d go sign. He enjoyed it; fans ate it up.

Fans light up around Guice, mainly because he lights up around them. Whether it’s treating fans to a movie (and refreshments) on a whim or greeting them behind the ropes as players exit the field. Stories on the running back generate more action on Twitter and Facebook than almost any other. Just a Twitter mention of how no one seemed to be enjoying themselves more on the field than Guice warranted more than 275 likes. And counting.9

Guice also has quickly embraced his new city, tweeting about the Washington Capitals and even attending the watch party at the Capital One Arena for the Stanley Cup-clinching Game 5.

It’s impossible to speculate how Guice will develop as a player. Thus far he looks patient, but decisive when he cuts. Rob Kelley looks good, too. But what happens when the defenders are in full pads and going a lot harder than they are in the spring? We won’t get a taste of that until the preseason games begin in two months. In college, Guice ran with violence; more of the same is expected with the Redskins, but who knows to what degree.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Guice also showed Wednesday he can catch. He doesn’t let the ball get into his chest, grabbing it with his hands. He’s able to gather his feet quickly and turn in stride. Protection, not his hands, will dictate how well he does when the Redskins have him in passing sets.

Why the 49ers passed on edge rushers in the draft

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Arguably, the San Francisco 49ers entered the 2018 NFL draft with no greater need than a dynamic edge rusher.

And yet, when the three days were over, the Niners spent none of their nine picks on the position despite pre-draft time studying this year’s crop.

So, general manager John Lynch, what gives?nfl jerseys wholesale

“Those guys are difficult to find, first and foremost,” Lynch said. “We felt like there were a couple guys who had an opportunity to be special there. You know, just where we were, we didn’t have an opportunity or chose not to take them.”78

That decision came as a bit of a surprise given the Niners’ struggles to consistently generate an outside pass rush. Sure, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner has been able to push the pocket, but without a dominant edge rusher at the “Leo” position, quarterbacks often have been able to sidestep Buckner and get rid of the ball.

In 2017, the 49ers finished tied for 26th in the NFL in sacks (30), and they have not had a player post more than 8.5 sacks in a season since 2012. In the past three seasons, the Niners have combined for 91 sacks, which is 29th in the NFL in that span.

Of course, identifying that as a problem hasn’t been an issue. Lynch, coach Kyle Shanahan and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh have all pointed out the need to improve at edge rusher. It’s fixing the problem that has been an issue.

Because of the value of the position, teams simply don’t let top edge rushers hit the free-agent market. Which means teams must look to the draft to find their man.

Last year, the Niners had the second pick, official nfl jerseys cheap but only Myles Garrett profiled as a true edge rusher worthy of that selection. He was the No. 1 pick in the draft to the Cleveland Browns.

This year, the 49ers didn’t have a pick until No. 9 and once again found themselves in pass-rusher no man’s land. North Carolina State’s Bradley Chubb was the consensus best pass-rusher in the draft, and he went No. 5 to the Denver Broncos. The Niners could have drafted Texas San Antonio’s Marcus Davenport or Boston College’s Harold Landry, but both would have been considered a reach at No. 9.

Report: Brice Butler, Cardinals Agree to Contract After 3 Seasons with Cowboys

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Free-agent wide receiver nfl jerseys cheap china Brice Butler has agreed to a two-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals, NFL Network’s James Jones reported Monday.

Butler appeared in 13 games for the Dallas Cowboys in 2017, catching 15 passes for 317 yards and three touchdowns.

Butler’s biggest performance last season came in Dallas’ 28-17 Week 3 victory over the Cardinals. He had two receptions for 90 yards, and his 37-yard touchdown grab helped give the Cowboys a 21-14 lead in the fourth quarter.

Butler’s arrival gives Arizona some much-needed depth at receiver after John Brown and Jaron Brown signed elsewhere in free agency. The Cardinals have few proven options at the position outside of Larry Fitzgerald and J.J. Nelson.

Butler only played a limited role in the Cowboys offense in his three years with the team, though, and the same could be said of his two seasons with the Oakland Raiders.

Perhaps Butler will flourish in new surroundings, cheap nfl jerseys china but the Cardinals may still target a receiver early in the 2018 draft as they continue reshaping their offense.

Josh McDaniels: Gaining clarity on Pats future led to Colts about-face

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New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels publicly addressed his nfl authentic jerseys decision to back out of the Indianapolis Colts head-coaching job for the first time on Monday, telling The Boston Globe that everything changed two days after the Super Bowl when owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick clarified his situation with the team.

That included an adjustment to his contract, which had one year remaining, according to The Globe.

“I wasn’t 100 percent sure what the future was,” McDaniels told the newspaper. “So, where did I fit in? Were there any plans? I just didn’t have much clarity on what my role was here moving forward. … Once I heard from Robert and Bill on that Tuesday, it just gave me reason to pause and consider this whole situation. …

“When they kind of crystallized that — ‘Hey, here’s what we see going forward and here’s how we would like you to fit into it’ — it gave me a reason to stop and say, ‘All right, what’s the best decision for me?’ And certainly it was difficult. But I made the decision on my own, nobody pushed me into it.”

At the same time, McDaniels was given no assurances for the future, according to The Globe. McDaniels told the newspaper it “was as difficult a decision as I’ve ever made professionally.” He also said he spoke with the three assistant coaches who had been hired to be part of his Colts staff, all of whom are staying in Indianapolis.

“It was never my intention to go into this and put anybody in an awkward position or do any harm to anybody or do anything to hurt anybody’s career,” he told The Globe. “I just felt like once I knew the whole picture and I had the opportunity to make a decision, it was tough but I feel like I made the right one.”

McDaniels praised Colts general manager Chris Ballard, calling him an “incredible human being” and added, customized nfl jerseys cheap“Indianapolis did a tremendous job. They have a tremendous organization and I was lucky to be considered. I just think once I found out [the Patriots’ plans for me], I made the right decision for me and my family at this time.”