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Archives for: July 31, 2017

Jonathan Stewart: No one can cover Christian McCaffrey one by one

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Christian McCaffrey has received a lot of praise since the Carolina Panthers selected him with the eighth pick of the NFL draft, but none higher than he got Sunday from his backfield mate.

“He’s pretty unstoppable as far as coming out of the backfield and running routes,” Pro Bowl running back Jonathan Stewart said. “I can tell you now there’s not going to be anybody in this league that can cover him one-on-one.

“He’s a special player.”

The Panthers took McCaffrey in the first round because of his versatility as a running back and receiver. He has shown throughout the first week of training camp few can stay with him in open space.

He already has gotten the best of Pro Bowl linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis with open-field moves. Kuechly said the former Stanford star has “shakes.”

“He’s very precise with his movements,” Kuechly said. “He’s in and out of breaks quick. I think he’s going to be somebody that helps us out.”

Christian McCaffrey

Stewart typically is soft-spoken and reserved with his comments. But he couldn’t say enough good things about the 2015 Heisman Trophy runner-up, who broke Barry Sanders’ NCAA record for all-purpose yards in a season.

Stewart said it starts with McCaffrey’s preparation.

“His preparation is like a vet, which it should be,” he said. “Like rookies learn when they get into the league every year, there’s no such thing as being a rookie.

“His approach to the game, his focus, his mental on the craft is a 10.”

Stewart will share the backfield with McCaffrey this season as he did with DeAngelo Williams early in his career. Stewart is considered the power back and McCaffrey a change-of-pace back who also can play slot receiver.

The Panthers also have lined McCaffrey up wide in training camp in attempts to get him paired one-on-one with a defender.

Stewart called McCaffrey’s first step “deadly.”

“You want to call me the big bruiser or whatever,” he said. “I don’t know what you’re going to call him. But he’s a special player and we’ve got to use him the right way.”

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Panthers release OT Michael Orr body unqualified

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Panthers offensive tackle Michael Oher, who has been in the NFL concussion protocol since last September, was released Thursday after failing a physical.

It was the second move made by interim general manager Marty Hurney since being hired Wednesday. Earlier in the day, he gave right guard Trai Turner a four-year, $45 million extension with $20.45 million guaranteed.

Oher, 31, is guaranteed $900,000 as part of injury protection benefits. His release saved the Panthers $1.69 million toward the salary cap. He had three years remaining on his contract after signing an extension last season.

 

Michael Oher
“The most important thing is his health,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said, according to the team’s website. “Michael’s health always came first. We were not going to force the issue. Michael understood and we expressed that to him.”

Oher had planned to report to training camp, a league source told ESPN.com last week, but his future with the team remained in doubt because of the concussion.

The Panthers appeared set to move on with Daryl Williams and rookie Taylor Moton at right tackle after a June minicamp. Oher reported for the camp but never took the field.

Oher was a first-round draft pick in 2009 and played in two Super Bowls, winning a championship with the Baltimore Ravens in February 2013. But he was best known because his life story was the catalyst for the 2009 movie “The Blind Side,” starring Sandra Bullock.

Oher is set to appear in a Nashville, Tennessee, court on Friday. He faces a misdemeanor assault charge, stemming from an altercation with an Uber driver in April.

Earlier this week Oher defended former Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman, who was fired Monday.

Oher joined the Panthers in 2015 and started all 16 regular-season games at left tackle during a 15-1 season and run to the Super Bowl. He started the first three games of the 2016 season before going into the concussion protocol.

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Richard Sherman vs. NFL Player: Want a bigger deal? Willing to strike

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Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman says NFL players would have to be willing to strike in order to get huge guaranteed contracts like the ones being signed this offseason by NBA players.

On Saturday, NBA free agents agreed to deals totaling nearly $1 billion in the first 24 hours of free agency.

In an appearance on the ESPYS Red Carpet on Wednesday, Sherman was asked by ESPN’s Jalen Rose if NFL players would have to consider striking to get similar deals.

“Oh, 100 percent,” Sherman said. “If we want as the NFL, as a union, to get anything done, players have to be willing to strike. That’s the thing that guys need to 100 percent realize.

“You’re going to have to miss games, you’re going to have to lose some money if you’re willing to make the point, because that’s how MLB and NBA got it done. They missed games, they struck, they flexed every bit of power they had, and it was awesome. It worked out for them.”

Sherman also said NFL players have to re-evaluate how they look at contracts and longevity, pointing to deals signed by the Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James.

“NBA players like KD and LeBron are sitting there taking two-year deals like it’s nothing,” Sherman said. “They figure, ‘I’ll take a two-year deal because I’m going to wait for the salary cap to increase and get another bite at the apple.’ In our sport, they won’t do it.”

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In 2017, Darrelle Revis will land with the NFL team?

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As training camp draws near, a 31-year-old cornerback with seven Pro Bowl nods still toils in plain sight without a team to call home.

Darrelle Revis is currently working out in Florida, according to Bleacher Report. As was expected, the offset language remaining in his Jets contract is keeping him from the playing field. Revis is set to make $6 million this year, meaning that it would not make much financial sense to play for less.

The update, which basically puts Revis in the place we all expected following his separation from the Jets, does little to provide any hope that we’ll see Revis soon. As someone who watched him define the persona of a shutdown cornerback during his halcyon days between 2009-2014, I was eager for another chapter. The Revis who slogged to the end of a forgettable Jets season in 2016 with a horde of teammates making excuses for him was not the player we all grew to appreciate.

There are teams absolutely threadbare at cornerback for the upcoming season, though apparently not at the point to offer Revis enough to start generating some serious conversations. The inevitable injury bug could change circumstances, though it would have to be a team willing to spend top dollar on a flier.

It would also have to be a team that plays a good amount of man defense and one that would trust Revis has rebounded from whatever ailed him during last season’s debacle.

Given the potential risks and rewards, coaches are almost always inclined to bet on themselves and get a younger player ready. But what if the Revis of old is still there?

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Le’Veon Bell was trained in the uncertainty of the long-term deal

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Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell is training in Los Angeles and feeling healthy after offseason groin surgery.

Is a big contract to follow? The Steelers have until July 17 to work out a long-term deal with Bell, who would otherwise play this season under the franchise tag at $12.1 million.

“I’m good with everything, just taking it day to day for real,” Bell told ESPN about how he is approaching the process.

The Steelers have expressed interest in giving Bell a long-term extension, but negotiations could push close to the deadline. A deal would likely make Bell the NFL’s highest-paid running back, a spot currently occupied by Buffalo’s LeSean McCoy at $8 million per year.

Bell, 25, is the only player who has yet to sign his franchise tender or reach a long-term deal this season. As such, he didn’t participate in the Steelers’ mandatory minicamp, as he would have had to sign a waiver to do so.

As part of his training, Bell has been playing pickup basketball.

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