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this should be a fairly even matchup between two of the NFC’s best teams

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First of all, when Arizona sets up prior to the snap, they do a great job of not tipping their hand to the offense–milling about, playing off the line, or apparently locked in to man coverage outside. Colin Kaepernick (or any quarterback, or sometimes center) has to set protections based on what the defense is showing. Are there six defenders that look like they’re going to rush? He’s got to call a protection scheme that protects against six. What Arizona does well is to make it look like pressure will come from the left, for instance, then rush from the right (dropping players on the left into coverage).

Another thing that they like to do is the double or triple A-Gap blitz. The A-gaps are the two gaps between the center and guards. Below, you can see the center and running back pick up the double A-gap blitz by No. 50 and No. 36. What they haven’t accounted for in their protection is the delayed third blitzer, No. 22 Tony Jefferson.

“I want people to look at it and see that this man, for the time he was on this earth, did a lot of good for a lot of people.”

“Sean Taylor: A Football Life” airs Friday, September 26 at 9 p.m. ET on NFL Network.

The OVER is 7-1 in the last eight meetings between these two teams and 8-2 in Philadelphia’s last 10 games on the road. Sunday’s total is set at 50.5 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

If the first three weeks of the season are any indication, San Francisco should take a big lead in the first half and lose it in the second. Of course, both of these coaches will be grilling their teams this week about putting in a full 60-minute effort.

Regardless of how it plays out, this should be a fairly even matchup between two of the NFC’s best teams, providing some value on the team getting the points at Philadelphia +5.5
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Alex Reyes news starts Cardinals season on a bleak note

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The Alex Reyes news hits the St. Louis Cardinals right where they live.

Something wasn’t right from the minute the team’s hulking, baby-faced pitcher set foot in the clubhouse Tuesday morning. He politely declined an interview request, saying he had somewhere to be. That somewhere turned out to be an appointment with a doctor that led to an MRI tube that led to the grim realization that one of the brightest young talents in the game could be dimmed for at least a year.

Nowadays, the prognosis for injuries like this is pretty encouraging long-term. Reyes is only 22 years old. He’d be nuts to prolong what could prove to be the inevitable if doctors think it truly is inevitable.

He might as well get it addressed now rather than wait until the prime of his career, his best earning years, when the team will need him the most. He and the Cardinals have known since the spring of 2013 that things could be heading this way. The first time doctors found a partial tear — also known as a strain — they were able to keep him on the field with an injection of platelet-rich plasma. Now, it looks as if they’ll have to cut open his elbow and replace the ligament.

What do the Brewers, Blue Jays, and A’s all have in common? According to Grant Brisbee, they all have underrated strengths that you should keep an eye on this season.
As they arrived for camp, the Arizona Wildcats decided to take a hint from a beloved (albeit fictional) Cleveland team from the past.

The injury to Alex Reyes makes this piece on imagining the Cardinals as sellers this season a bit more relevant.

Ravens announce release of Chris Canty as they continue to try to create cap space for 2015 moves

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The Ravens signed the former Giants defensive tackle in 2013 to a three-year deal. He recorded one sack and a total of four quarterback pressures last season. Canty saw his workload decline over the last two years, from 579 snaps in 2013 to just 360 regular season snaps last year. The move saves Baltimore $3.3 million in cap space.

“Even though I will think about it every day, I hope one day I will be remembered for something else,” Bostick wrote. “I do know this: If I ever get another chance to play in a conference championship game, no matter what uniform I’m wearing, I will take a moment to apologize to my teammates on the 2014 Packers.”

The NFL moved the NFL draft away from New York City this year for the first time in decades. Instead, the annual player selection meeting will be held in Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre. The league has made it known that the draft could become a roaming event that takes place in a new location each year. It may not even take multiple years. According to Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal, Rodger Goodell said the NFL has discussed having each of the draft’s seven rounds in a separate location.

Regardless of whether that plan comes to fruition, Hall of Famer Dan Dierdorf would like to see the draft hosted in Canton, Ohio. Canton is already host to the Hall of Fame, the yearly induction and even a preseason game. While Canton could indeed host the draft in theory, the league probably has its eyes on bigger cities.

Texans offensive tackle David Quessenberry was entering his second season in the NFL when he learned some horrifying news. After feeling fatigued and battling with persistent cough, doctors diagnosed him with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a form of cancer. Quessenberry spent the rest of the season on the Non-Football Illness list while receiving treatment. On Wednesday, Quessenberry revealed some exciting news on his Twitter account.

Quessenberry told David Nuno of ABC 13 that he finished radiation two weeks ago. It’s unclear whether he plans on returning to football anytime soon, but that’s unimportant relative to the potentially deadly health scare he has overcome.

Vikings reportedly give Adrian Peterson $20 million guaranteed in restructured contract

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The Minnesota Vikings and Adrian Peterson have agreed to a restructured contract, according to a news release from the team. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed by the team, but it covers the last three years of the seven-year, $96 million contract Peterson signed in 2011.

Sources told Pro Football Talk that Peterson will earn $20 million guaranteed, part of which is guaranteed only for injury. PFT suggests that Peterson’s $13 million due this season will be fully guaranteed, with the remaining $7 million due to Peterson at the commencement of the 2016 waiver period or league year, giving the Vikings the option of moving on from the running back before the start of free agency if need be.

Peterson’s last deal, which made him the highest paid running back in the NFL, came with $36 million guaranteed. The restructure is believed to add more guaranteed money while bringing down his annual base salaries and cap hit.

“I appreciate the Vikings for working together on this restructured contract, which provides additional security for me but also allows opportunities for me to further prove my value to the team and within the NFL,” Peterson said in a statement. “It was important for me to continue my career in Minnesota, and I cannot wait to get on the field in front of Vikings fans again.”

Peterson was due base salaries of $12.75 million this season, $14.75 million in 2016 and $16.75 million in 2017, the final year of his deal. His cap hit this season was sitting at a hefty $15.4 million. The cap charge for the final two years of the deal was $15 million and $17 million.

The Vikings described the restructuring as positive for both sides.

“This agreement is a win for both Adrian and the Vikings and is a positive step toward Adrian finishing his career as a Minnesota Viking,” Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said. “As we have consistently said, Adrian is a valuable part of the Vikings organization and we look forward to his return to the field.”

Crosby has made an NFL-record 23 consecutive postseason field goals and is 26-of-28 on postseason attempts in his career

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“Especially after he hit the first one, it was just a matter of [when] he’s going to do it again,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “He’s so consistent in just his personality, his work ethic, and I’m really happy for him too, to go back home and make that kick. That’s always fun.”

Crosby has made an NFL-record 23 consecutive postseason field goals and is 26-of-28 on postseason attempts in his career.

Usually when the Packers line up for a kick, defensive end Datone Jones, who is on the field goal protection team as a left wing, has the same message for Crosby.

“Right down the middle,” Jones says.

But he didn’t say anything on that last kick on Sunday.

“I didn’t want to get in his head right before that last kick, so I didn’t say anything,” Jones said. “I didn’t want to say anything to break his rhythm.”

Little did Jones know that Crosby had all the guidance he needed right there on his wrist.

“I didn’t know about that,” said Jones, whose locker at Lambeau Field is two stalls over from Crosby. “That’s huge for him and his family. He’s playing for a lot.”

Raul Zarraga, managing director of NBA Mexico, said Thursday that it’s time for the country to start developing NBA-caliber players and the league needs “to work more closely with local authorities to see how we can grow the basketball professionally to find new players that in the future can play in the NBA.” Silver agreed, saying the plan now is to start an NBA development academy in Mexico.

You know Nowitzki is feeling good when he launches a 3 from several feet behind the line, as he did during Dallas’ 11-0 run in the second half, drilling a 27-footer as the trailer. He mentioned he might not have taken that shot if he wasn’t coming off a couple of makes, but Nowitzki wouldn’t have even considered letting it fly if his legs didn’t feel much better than they have most of the season.

Aaron Rodgers improvised on the Packers’ play that set up the game-winning field goal

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We’re all still shocked at the game we saw between the Packers and the Cowboys. After the Packers jumped out to a 21-3 lead, the Cowboys fought back, before the Packers went on one last drive to put themselves in position for the game-winning field goal.

On that drive, Aaron Rodgers hit Jared Cook with a perfectly placed pass that Cook turned into an even more spectacular catch.

After the game, Randall Cobb said that play wasn’t designed at all:

It’s things like drawing up plays randomly at the most crucial times that always make for the best stories, right?

“I placed my hands on Porter’s chest to prevent him from advancing back towards Neskow,” the officer wrote. “Porter grabbed both of my wrists, pushing them back towards me. Porter’s grasp was so strong and he was holding my wrists so tightly that I could not pull them away from him, no matter how hard I tried. Porter was extremely agitated and after my observations of him grabbing Neskow and now grabbing me, I believed that he was going to cause me serious injury.”

Porter was taken to the Allegheny County Jail and charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, resisting arrest, public drunkenness and terroristic threats, per the Pittsburgh Police Department. On Monday morning, he posted $25,000 bail and released.

There are two possible options here, and both of them are very plausible:

He knows social media platforms have a “Face” on the end or start of their names. He thinks it’s possible the face belongs to somebody.

Chris Johnson posts his gunshot wound on Instagram and NOPE

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Chris Johnson will reportedly be a member of the Arizona Cardinals if everything goes well. It appears he wants to be as honest and transparent as possible before signing with a team. He may be disclosing more information than he should in his latest Instagram post, however.

Earlier this year, Johnson was shot in the shoulder in a drive-by shooting. He’s fine now, but he still has a nasty wound that he felt like sharing.

DISCLAIMER: If you’re squeamish, please don’t look at Chris Johnson’s wound.

Are you sure you want to see it? Just making sure. You can view his gunshot wound below using the slider:

This is a substantial blow to the Cardinals’ offensive line, as the club hoped to pair Iupati with tackle Jared Veldheer on the left side. In San Francisco, Iupati played alongside one of the best left tackles in the game, Joe Staley.

Arizona had one of the worst offensive lines in football last season, and the unit has already taken a couple of hits so far in training camp. Right tackle Bobby Massie was suspended for three games earlier this month for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

Though Iupati had a bit of a down season in 2014 — he often struggled in pass coverage — the Cardinals were expecting him to play an integral role this year.

Arizona was decimated by injuries in 2014, and losing its starting left guard for at least the first six weeks of the regular season was almost certainly not how head coach Bruce Arians envisioned starting the preseason.

it will be forced stardom playing with the Kansas City Chiefs

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For Marcus Peters, it will be forced stardom playing with the Kansas City Chiefs. The team’s first-round pick faces Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers in just the second and third games of his career. Compounding that pressure is the fact that Chiefs No. 1 corner Sean Smith is suspended for those games. When he comes back, Peters may actually be the best corner on Kansas City’s roster. Peters comes into the NFL possessing the size, speed, instincts and athleticism teams covet in a cornerback.

The Chargers taking running back Melvin Gordon in the first round of the draft was one of the more obvious choices this year, and justly so. San Diego needed a true lead running back, and Gordon was arguably the best one in the draft. A threat to score whenever he touches the ball in space, Gordon will help give San Diego’s offense balance.

Anderson is currently playing on a two-year, $2.6 million contract that he signed in March 2014. He is set to receive a base salary of $1.175 million this year and can earn up to $64,000 in gameday active roster bonuses plus a $25,000 workout bonus, per overthecap.com.

The 2005 sixth-round pick out of Oregon State is considered one of the most dependable backups in the league. This is a smart decision by the Panthers to lock up Anderson now, giving them a reliable safety net in case Newton goes down again in the next two seasons.

The show requires a army of producers, editors, make-up artists, camera operators, fact checkers,and interns behind the scenes to make it go. The producton studio resembles a upgraded version of a NASA control room except there job is to launch stars back to earth and into the homes of millions.

Williams was the best player in this year’s draft, and has done well for himself in the preseason. The versatile Williams can play the run and will create disruption in the passing game.

Browns are hiring Gregg Williams as new defensive coordinator

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After a miserable 1-15 season, the Cleveland Browns are making a change in their coaching ranks. Gone is defensive coordinator Ray Horton, and the Browns are hiring Gregg Williams to fill his place, the team announced. Williams spent the past three years with the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams.

“We are thrilled that Gregg Williams is joining our staff as defensive coordinator,” Brown head coach Hue Jackson said. “Gregg has been an outstanding defensive coach in this league for a very long time. His defenses have frequently finished among the top 10 in the league. He adapts his scheme to maximize the strengths of his personnel and has always been able to get the most out of his players. We look forward to him coming in, helping our players improve and helping us become the winning team we are all working towards.”

The Steelers would recover the fumble, and were in great field position as a result. If the Dolphins are unable to turn things around soon, their season might not last much longer.

Cal even alluded to the severity of the situation in its statement, adding:

Our objective is long-term financial sustainability for our department. In order to do this, we understand that investing in football is critical. We believe that this change will reinvigorate the program, stimulate lagging ticket sales and renewals, and energize our donor base.

So Cal is hoping that by spending additional money now, it’ll get a better coach, sell more tickets, and raise the money needed to cover expensive debt service payments.
Thanks to that extension, it’ll need to pay even more money. Dykes reportedly will get a buyout of $5 million dollars. Telling a student-athlete that you might need to cut his or her sport, while turning around to give Dykes millions to not coach, sounds like a difficult conversation.

On The Relevance Of The Winter Classic

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The NHL’s Winter Classic has been the league’s flagship event since 2008. Like much that the league does, there’s contention over the execution. It’s hard to argue that the first one, at Ralph Wilson Stadium, wasn’t a spectacle that was the start of something special. With over 71,000 people in attendance, goalies in toques (!), and Sidney Crosby doing Crosby things, it was a great inauguration to the concept of the outdoor game.

The 2009 Winter Classic was also a sight to behold at Wrigley. It was the first time that the Blackhawks and Red Wings were featured in an outdoor game, and it was again a major event. The Flyers and Bruins at Fenway continued the tradition of picturesque baseball stadiums and classic teams that are able to draw on deep history and natural rivalries to hold fan and media interest.

The Hawks have won at least 40 games in seven of the last eight seasons. They’ve been exceptionally steady despite a constantly rotating cast of contributors, without a single star carrying them through that stretch. Potentially making moves this season fits their usual practices.

This roster just isn’t working together like the Hawks had hoped. They’ve cratered since starting 9-2 this season. Dwight Howard has been superb in the front court, and Dennis Schroder is leading the team in scoring after replacing Jeff Teague, but Atlanta’s top-five defense hasn’t been enough to make up for a painfully average offense.