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Posts tagged with "NFL Draft"

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Taylor Heinicke throws a pass during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Miami Dolphins, Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots announced today that they have signed QB Taylor Heinicke to the practice squad and released WR Demarcus Ayers from the practice squad.

Heinicke, 24, was originally signed by the Minnesota Vikings as a rookie free agent out of Old Dominion on May 6, 2015. The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder, made the Minnesota 53-man roster as a rookie in 2015 but was inactive for all 16 games. He began the 2016 season on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list before being elevated to the 53-man roster on Nov. 8, where he was inactive for the last seven weeks of the season. Heincke was released by Minnesota on Sept. 11, 2017.

Ayers, 23, was signed by the New England Patriots to the practice squad on September 4. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder was originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the seventh round (229th overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft out of Houston. Ayers spent time on the active roster and practice squad for the Steelers as a rookie, seeing action in two regular season games with one start and finishing with six receptions for 53 yards and one touchdown. He played in two postseason games and caught three passes for 27 yards. He was released by Pittsburgh on Sept. 2.

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New England continues to take a close look at free agent passers.

Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

On the day after their blowout week one loss against the Kansas City Chiefs, the New England Patriots brought in multiple players for free agency workouts. The first group included three players, among them quarterback Thad Lewis. The second group of workouts featured three passers, according to ESPN’s Field Yates.

Let’s take a look at them.

QB Matt Barkley

After playing his college career at USC, Matt Barkley was selected by the Philadelphia Eaglesin the fourth round of the 2013 NFL draft. However, Barkley struggled to carve out a role on the Eagles’ roster and was subsequently traded to the Arizona Cardinals. The 27-year old had stints with the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers afterwards but again was unable to make a positive impact. Last week, the 49ers released the 6’2, 225 lbs passer during final roster cutdown – since then, Barkley was a free agent.

QB Matt McGloin

After not getting picked during the 2013 NFL draft, Matt McGloin signed a free agency contract with the Oakland Raiders. The 6’1, 210 quarterback spent the first four years of his career in California, seeing spot-duty as a backup and part-time starter. Overall, McGloin appeared in 13 games, completing 161 of 277 pass attempts for 1,868 yards as well as 11 touchdown and 11 picks. After a short stint with the Eagles, McGloin now is a free agent.

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DE Cassius Marsh

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots announced today that they have acquired DE Cassius Marsh from Seattle in exchange for undisclosed draft selections.

Marsh, 25, was originally drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth round (108th overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-4, 245-pounder has appeared in 37 regular season games with one start and posted 40 tackles, three sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He has also played in four postseason games as a reserve and made one tackle. Last season, he played in all 16 regular season games with one start and posted 17 tackles, three sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

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Two players on offense lost weight this season while the defense looks to fix its biggest problem from last season.

Mark Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

This offseason was one of reshaping and reimagining for the Green Bay Packers.

While several of the team’s players focused on bulking up and adding muscle this spring and summer — think of defensive linemen Dean Lowry and Kenny Clark, among others — a few players were spending their time slimming down. One such player was rookie wideout DeAngelo Yancey, who had to burn off a few extra pounds that he put on during the grind of traveling and interviewing with teams leading up to the NFL Draft this April.

While that was going on, the Packers’ coaching staff was hard at work trying to fix one of the most significant problems that plagued the team’s defense last season. A goal of all defenses is to limit the number of explosive plays it allows; this is no different for the Packers, and that is the focus for the team this summer. Changing personnel groupings is just one way to do it, and today’s Curds feature a look at one example of the team tweaking the lineup in an effort to limit opposing offenses.

Packers’ defense must take the ‘explosive’ out of ‘explosive gains’ – ESPN
Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt is on a mission to prevent the kind of big plays that crushed the defense last season, and he has a simple mantra for this season: “If the quarterback and cornerbacks play well, we’ll win.”

Damarious Randall seeks redemption as Packers’ ‘star’ cornerback |
Is Randall the man in the slot because he’s the right man for the job, or is it because he’s being beaten out by Quinten Rollins for a starting job on the outside?

Renewed focus paying dividends for DeAngelo Yancey |
Yancey had a quiet spring, but he showed up in a big way on Monday when he caught a deep pass from Aaron Rodgers when playing on the scout team. This came after Yancey slimmed down significantly during the summer, dropping around 10 pounds from 228 to around 218.

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Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Montravius Adams at the first practice of training camp on July 27, 2017, in Green Bay, Wis.
Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Montravius Adams at the first practice of training camp on July 27, 2017, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo)

When the Green Bay Packers kick off their four-game preseason schedule on Thursday night against the Philadelphia Eagles, rookie Montravius Adams won’t be on the field.

The defensive tackle from Auburn had surgery last week after fracturing the fifth metatarsal bone in his left foot. Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said Adams would be sidelined for “multiple weeks.”

The Packers open their regular-season schedule on Sept. 10 against the Seattle Seahawks. Adams said he didn’t know if he’d be ready to play by then.

“They just said after this week, we’re just going to take it one week at a time,” Adams said. “Try to go after rehab strong and try to get back as fast as I can.”

Adams joined Green Bay in the third round of the NFL Draft on April 28.

After going through the Packers’ offseason program in May and June, he felt pain in his foot during the first practice of training camp on July 27. Adams finished that practice and practiced the next day before seeking treatment.

He ended up with a screw in the long bone on the outside of the foot that connects to the little toe.

“It was really depressing,” Adams said. “Most of the time, I’m just sitting in the training room. I see the guys in the meetings, but other than that I’m just in the training room trying to come back, so I can be with them. I don’t want to be over here. It’s boring. I want to play football.”

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New England filled one of its open roster spots today.

Following the injury-related release of offensive lineman Chase Farris last week and yesterday’s unexpected retirement announcement by veteran wide receiver Andrew Hawkins, the New England Patriots had two open spots on their 90-man offseason roster with training camp on the horizon. Earlier today, the team filled one of the vacancies.

According to his agency, rookie defensive edge Caleb Kidder has signed with New England:

Congrats to @ckidder_37 signing with the New England Patriots today! @UMGRIZZLIES @Patriots

Despite a productive five-year collegiate career at the University of Montana, Kidder went unselected during this year’s NFL draft. Instead, the two-time All-Big Sky defensive lineman signed a free agency contract with the Minnesota Vikings. Kidder spent the entire offseason with the Vikings until he was released last week.

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Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (24) walks off the field after an NFL football divisional football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017, in Atlanta. The Falcons won 36-20. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)


The Atlanta Falcons led the NFL in points per game last year and have been in the top 10 in offensive yards per game the last three years. While quarterback Matt Ryan was named MVP last season and wide receiver Julio Jones led the league in receptions and receiving yards in 2015, there is another strong reason why the Falcons have had success offensively – running back Devonta Freeman.

Freeman has never had more than 265 carries in a season in his three years in the NFL. Compare that to Dallas Cowboys rookie Ezekiel Elliott, who carried the ball 322 times last year, and Adrian Peterson led the league with 327 in 2015. Still, the fourth-round pick out of Florida State in the 2014 NFL Draft has rushed for more than 1,000 yards the last two years. He also had 11 rushing touchdowns in both 2015 and 2016. His total in 2015 led the league.

Add that to his production in the passing game – Freeman has caught 127 passes the last two years for 1,060 yards and five touchdowns – and it is easy to see why the Falcons value his versatility.

This is why it is imperative for the Falcons to extend Freeman’s contract before it runs out at the end of this season. No matter how diversified Atlanta’s offense has been – the team had an NFL-record 13 players catch touchdown passes in 2016 — losing a guy who makes defenders look drunk in the open field would be silly.

In case negotiations break down, the Falcons do have a fall-back plan. Tevin Coleman chipped in 520 yards and eight touchdowns rushing last season and added another 31 catches for 421 yards and three touchdowns. He has been a good weapon to give Freeman a break and allowing the Falcons offense not to miss a beat.

Atlanta also picked up rookie running back Brian Hill in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft out of Wyoming. Hill doesn’t have the flash-and-dash style of Freeman nor Coleman. He is more of a downhill runner who can grind out tough yards and potentially close out games against tired defenses in the fourth quarter.

But Hill is no Freeman, who has shown star characteristics the last two seasons. Now the two-time Pro Bowler wants to be paid like a star.

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After the draft, former Georgia Tech linebacker P.J. Davis had an opportunity Saturday to go to the Falcons’ rookie minicamp. But he went with what appears a better opportunity with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Falcons did not offer Davis a contract as an undrafted free agent after he was not selected in this weekend’s NFL draft. Rather, they wanted him to come to their rookie minicamp on a tryout basis, Davis said, meaning that he would have to impress the team’s decision makers enough to actually earn a spot on the roster.

Also, the Falcons wanted him to work out as a fullback, a position that the team’s contingent, including coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff, had him try at Tech’s pro day in March.

The Jaguars, meawhile, were among teams offering him a contract as an undrafted free agent as a linebacker.

Davis said he appreciated the Falcons’ offer, “but a free-agent deal is better than an invite to minicamp.” Further, he said, he wanted to play linebacker, where he led the Yellow Jackets in tackles for two of the past three years.

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Perhaps there’s a little bit of a ho-hum feeling heading into this year’s NFL draft when it comes to the Patriots.
They enter the week without a first- or second-round pick. Bill Belichick doesn’t get a turn at bat until the third round. So the anticipation and excitement level has been somewhat muted.
The reality of the Patriots position, however, isn’t boring at all. It’s full of possibilities.
They’re the wild card in this draft.
That means the moments leading up to the first round Thursday night will be anything but uneventful for the Hoodie. Sure, Belichick might still end up starting the draft in the third round at pick No. 72, but don’t doubt for a second that he’ll have opportunities. The quarterback-starved Browns will be making plenty of last ditch efforts to try and pry away Jimmy Garoppolo. And even if it’s more than a long shot, don’t be surprised if the equally needy Texans try and do the same.
Crazy things happen right before teams make their picks the first night of the draft. It’s the nature of the beast.

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Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer (14) throws against Stanford during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

As the 2017 NFL Draft approaches, the speculation surrounding the Arizona Cardinals and their quarterback of the future only continues to grow.

With 37-year-old Carson Palmer not committing to anything past the 2017 season, Cardinals general manager Steve Keim might be tempted to pluck a member of this year’s quarterback class with a first-round pick and keep him on the sidelines while learning from veterans.

But who will that quarterback be if such a pick occurs?

We won’t know the answer to that question until Thursday, April 27, when the Cardinals send their draft card up to the podium, but there has been no shortage of stories connecting the team to different QBs. Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky, Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes and Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer have all been linked to Arizona in mock drafts in the last few months.

When it comes to which quarterback fits the best with Arizona, the choice for one writer is clear.

Matt Bowen of ESPN published an article Tuesday morning pinpointing the best fit for each of this year’s quarterbacks, and he believes the desert is the best place for Kizer.

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