Giants’ Saquon Barkley: ‘I’m not just a running back’

Saquon Barkley doesn’t want to be defined by his position.

Barkley, who was picked second overall by the Giants in last month’s NFL Draft, rushed for 1,271 yards and 18 touchdowns while at Penn State last season. But, he said Friday at rookie minicamp there’s more to his game than taking handoffs.

“He’s a tough player, warrior, and a great worker, and we have a good relationship.”

The Saints were 11-5 last season and return both Kamara, who scored 14 total touchdowns, and Mark Ingram, who rushed for 1,124 yards, to their backfield. Ingram, however, is facing a four-game suspension to start the 2018 season after he violated the NFL’s PED policy.

Mater Dei (Middletown, N.J.) outside linebacker Shitta Sillah has absolutely blown up. His recruitment started out gradually, and has remained steady over time, recently exploding to the tune of 20-plus offers.

The Saints went from a defense that is perennially the worst in the NFL to a top-10 team by DVOA, a highly improbable jump up from 31st in a single season. Ryan Rymcyzk and Alvin Kamara, offensive picks in those same rounds, helped too. The Saints became a running-focused team, but in a modern way, with Kamara fitting in perfectly as a modern air back who can also run between the tackles. He and Mark Ingram were an incredible complement to each other, and a four-game suspension for Ingram shouldn’t derail that. Ramcyzk allows them to watch Zach Strief walk away without skipping a beat.

Now all that appears to be water under the bridge, with Apple saying he’s remorseful for his actions.

“Was I embarrassed? Of course,” Apple said of the way his season ended, via “Nobody wants to go out the way I went out. So, of course.”

Coach Pat Shumer said Apple deserves a clean slate and that he has been completely professional since joining the team at OTAs Monday.

“It’s about just putting things behind me, trying to continue to move forward, and go out here and have great energy on the field,” Apple said. “I definitely feel it. The coaches have told me. I’m trying to be a better person, better player, and better teammate this year.

Brandon Graham recently underwent ankle surgery

Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham recently underwent surgery on his right ankle, Tim McManus of ESPN reports. Graham could miss all of Philadelphia’s organized team activities.

The procedure promotes healing on high ankle sprains, per McManus.

Graham injured his ankle in a Christmas night game against the Raiders. He played through the injury, making a strip sack of Tom Brady to preserve the Super Bowl LII victory for the Eagles.

He currently is wearing a protective boot.

Teams, owners, executives and commissioners make decisions all the time about what they’ll accept, reject, overlook and deny. They do it constantly with players. Again, the Patriots are an example: When Aaron Hernandez slid down the board in the 2011 draft because of well-known behavioral red flags in college, the Patriots caught him in the fourth round.

The assumption always was that every team puts every important employee through the same scrutiny. Patricia came in as a low-level offensive assistant in 2004. He was promoted along the way. He had been on the head-coaching radar since 2015. The Giants were ready to hire him this year had he not picked the Lions.

Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk is confident the city can put on a show.

“It’s a great city. Everything is walkable, the honky-tonks, the parties and the bands, the celebration of the sport we love. It is pretty hard to beat. It is going to have a unique feel for the NFL Draft,” Strunk said. “And I think it brings reality to our fans: We may be a small market, but we are ready for the big stage.”

NFL Draft 2019: Top prospects
At the conclusion of the 2018 NFL Draft, the attention shifted to names that will be at the top of NFL Draft boards in 2019.

Because prospects need to be three seasons removed from high school competition to be NFL Draft-eligible, many of the top prospects in 2019 will be juniors by the time their opportunities to turn pro arrive.

49ers canceled workout with Mike McGlinchey to keep their interest quiet

The 49ers knew early in the draft process that they liked offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey, whom they chose with the ninth overall pick. But they didn’t want any other team to know, because they feared someone might trade ahead of them.

They log hours of community outreach, and many have been involved on USO tours. Davis in the altered swimsuit calendar photo (left), and performing at a game during the 2016 season (right). More These are women who should be held up as role models for young girls. It’s time to rebrand them as athletes, not sex symbols, so they can be treated with the respect that they deserve. I was a college cheerleader at Northwestern, and I never once felt objectified. NFL cheerleading needs to return to its traditional collegiate roots. No more online voting for your favorite cheerleader.

“Getting extra picks for future years is something we’ve done [in the past],” Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio said Friday night, via Jeff Howe of The Athletic. “Given the options we had, we felt that was the best opportunity for us.”

If Bill Belichick is thinking about retirement, the Patriots coach sure hasn’t shown it with his moves in this draft. As Mike Reiss of ESPN pointed out, “Based on [Belichick’s] forward-thinking moves in this draft, there should be little question about his intentions for 2019, and beyond.”

As of right now, the Patriots have a fifth-rounder, three sixth-rounders and a seventh-rounder left in this draft. There are no guarantees they’ll hang onto all of those.

With the trades made in the past three days and projected compensatory picks, the Patriots will have 11 picks in 2019, via Reiss. That includes the Bears’ second-round pick and the Lions’ third-round pick, giving them two seconds and possibly three third-rounders with compensatory picks.

Why stop there, though?broncos_011_935c73aa6c592262-180x180

Titans claim Gimel President off waivers from Texans

The Titans claimed outside linebacker Gimel President off waivers Tuesday.

The Texans waived him Monday.

President played four games last season, making three tackles. He spent most of the year on the practice squad after signing as an undrafted free agent out of Illinois.

Police indicted Patricia and Greg Dietrich on charges of sexual assault. However, neither was convicted after the woman stopped cooperating with investigators.

I was innocent then, and I am innocent now. I was falsely accused of something I did not do, Patricia said. 

Patricia never disclosed the incident to any of his NFL employers. He spent the last 14 seasons as an assistant coach with the New England Patriots, including the last six as their defensive coordinator. The Lions hired him to replace Jim Caldwell as their head coach in February.

Patricia told reporters he didn’t discuss the matter because it never came up in interviews.

Since the draft moved to seven rounds in 1993, the Vikings have selected one other kicker: Blair Walsh, in the sixth round of the 2012 draft. Walsh held the job (and earned a contract extension) until a missed chip-shot in the 2015 postseason followed by a protracted slump to start the 2016 campaign.

The 25-year-old is coming off a 112-catch, nine-touchdown season and is worth a lot more than the fourth- and seventh-round selections Cleveland sent Miami’s way. 

Landry is expensive even after ditching the franchise tag in exchange for a long-term deal, but after saving for a rainy day for a half-decade the Browns have money to burn. Landry’s contract won’t cost them the ability to make big financial splashes in the years to come, and it’s highly unlikely a team that has picked 25 players in the first three rounds of the last five drafts will regret giving up those two Day 3 selections in the trade.

He might not have been the Colts’ first choice, but don’t be surprised if the Colts eventually thank the football gods that they were spurned by Josh McDaniels in the eleventh hour of their search for a new head coach. broncos_088_f349548e7a6e1945-180x180

Texans make changes to personnel department

When teams make a change at General Manager in January, they typically wait to make other changes to the personnel department so that they can have an operation in place for the draft.

LESSON OF THE WEEK You’ve heard this one before: The most recent franchise quarterback to get paid will be the highest paid player in league history, almost invariably.

The last time you could say that the new king of the financial hill legitimately was the best player was five years ago, when the Packers struck a five-year, $110 million extension with Aaron Rodgers, who stayed on top for almost three years.

And that’s not a slight against Matt Ryan, who took the mantle in signing a five-year, $150 million deal late last week, or anyone else.

The other 12 additions are UTSA quarterback Dalton Sturm, Troy running back Jordan Chunn, San Diego State tight end David Wells, Tennessee offensive lineman Jay Robertson, Iowa State offensive lineman Jacob Campos, St. Cloud State offensive lineman Bryce Johnson, Purdue defensive end Austin Larkin, Louisville defensive end James Hearns, Oklahoma State defensive tackle Dequinton Osbourne, Iowa State linebacker Joel Lanning, Villanova linebacker Ed Shockely, and Northwestern linebacker Kyle Queiro.

Way too early talk about the 2019 quarterback class.

There was always pressure on the four teams that took QBs in the Top 10 to get one this year, since each of them passed on the position high in the 2017 draft.

(The Browns took Myles Garrett at 1, and traded out of the spot that became Deshaun Watson; Jets took Jamal Adams at 6; Bills dealt out of the spot that became Pat Mahomes; Cardinals sat at 13, and watched both the Chiefs and Texans jump ahead of them to get their guys of the future.) And here’s what turned up the temperature another notch: There really was no guarantee going there’d be a viable first-round prospect next year.broncos_001_80192e557a8429c8-180x180

Orlando Franklin retires after 7-year NFL career

Orlando Franklin retires after 7-year NFL career More Orlando Franklin has retired after seven years in the NFL, the offensive lineman announced on his Instagram page Saturday. Franklin (6-5, 315 pounds) explained on social media that it was too hard for him to be a father to his son and a husband to his wife in Denver while he played in Washington, D.C. Retiring will allow him to spend more time with his family.

During the NFL Network’s coverage, Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman had this to say about Jackson’s drop just before Baltimore moved up and made their pick:

When I was studying him, I thought he was a Day 2 guy. I’m not surprised that he hasn’t been taken off the board just yet. A couple of things hurt him—he didn’t time in the 40 at the combine, and he didn’t time in the 40 at his pro day. I felt that, going into your pro day, you play to your strengths. And his strength is, he can run. He runs real fast.

The other thing is, he was going to be a guy who was going to sit back and learn, and because of his athletic ability, would he have been able to help the team…with the ball in his hands, he’s a home run threat every time. Maybe teams didn’t think he’d be able to do that—maybe that’s what made him slide as well.

Their place in history is etched in granite and long past secure. There is still an opportunity, even as Tom Brady heads toward his age-41 season, to add to his mutual legacy with Belichick, which currently includes 15 AFC East titles, 14 seasons of 11 or more wins (no Patriots team had won more than 11 before they arrived), 12 AFC title game appearances, 8 trips to the Super Bowl, and 5 Super Bowl victories. They’ve accomplished more in 18 seasons together than most franchises have in their entire existence.

Maybe that reminder that the dynasty is still fully activated isn’t necessary. But too often I wonder if it is. I hear more lamenting about how Belichick’s decision to trade Jimmy Garoppolo for a second-round pick (an inexplicable decision given the limited return) than I do any appreciation for where the franchise still stands nearly two decades into the dynasty.

I suppose that’s a very Boston thing to do, to find something to gripe during a period of success that is the envy of every football fan outside our corner of the county. We are the city that didn’t laugh in collective are you kidding me?’’ hysterics when a local sportscaster warned we should be careful what we wish for after the Red Sox provided cathartic joy for generations in winning the 2004 World Series.tigers_135-115x115

Marqise Lee: Bortles has ‘no choice’ but to lead Jaguars to Super Bowl

During an incredible run to the AFC Championship Game last season, the Jacksonville Jaguars showed they have what it takes to be Super Bowl contenders for the foreseeable future.

With one of the league’s best defenses and the top-ranked rushing attack, many point to quarterback Blake Bortles as the only thing holding the team back from hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.

When asked Friday if Bortles was the man to lead the Jaguars to the Super Bowl, receiver Marqise Lee offered a very blunt answer.

He ain’t got no choice, Lee said with a smile on NFL Network’s NFL Total Access. He understands, as far as his last two years, how important it is for him to get his game up and get us going. That’s the reason why we were going this year and that’s the reason why we made it that far. He didn’t have a turnover in the playoffs.

Broncos — Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU: If he seems like a basketball player on grass… well, he is. A former member of the Mustangs’ hoops squad, the 6-3, 218-pounder has excellent hands and the size to be an immediate red zone factor. Sutton has 22 TD grabs over the past two years and averaged better than 16 yards per catch despite limited wiggle (but solid 4.54 speed). His presence could mean Demaryius Thomas’ days in Denver are winding down after two so-so seasons despite a hefty contract.

On the downside, the common complaint about Jackson is that he throws from a narrow base, which is to say that he keeps his feet close together. Because of this, he doesn’t generate velocity and accuracy from his lower body up. He struggles with short and intermediate accuracy at times because of this, and his NFL coaches will have to teach him to align his lower and upper body for optimal results.

In this way, Jackson’s ability to make any throw with only his upper body is a bit of a disadvantage in that he hasn’t had to make the technical adjustments less talented quarterbacks have to over time. That Jackson can often overcome his technical liabilities with pure athleticism is something a player can get away with at the college level, but against more advanced and talented NFL defenses—and throwing into much tighter windows—he’ll have to refine his palette.

He can make deep throws over cornerbacks into the arms of receivers on the run. He’s improved his touch, timing and arc on posts and fades, and he’s learning to throw with anticipation.

Can Witten catch fire like Romo?

As if replacing the colorful Coach Chucky (Jon Gruden) in the MNF booth isn’t enough, the manner in which Romo made it look so easy adds context to expectations for Witten.

The former tight end might not have to predict plays, but his success on the big stage will undoubtedly hinge on whether he can develop a TV persona that wins with the consumers. That’s insight wrapped in style and pizzazz. Some signature phrase or hook — veteran viewers remember the first ex-Cowboys star in the booth, Dandy Don Meredith, crooning, Turn out the lights…the party’s over — is good for his business, too.

We aren’t chasing a star, Jay Rothman, ESPN’s lead producer for MNF, insisted to USA TODAY Sports. We’re not trying to ride the Tony Romo wave.

Mike Smith earned his second Derby victory. The 52-year-old jockey crossed the finish line at Churchill Downs with only a few specks of mud on his white and green silks in the rainiest Derby in the race’s 144-year history.

According to coach John Harbaugh, the game plan for the Heisman-winning dual-threat player is still very much under construction.

You can do it in practice. You do it in the laboratory, Harbaugh told reporters when asked how the Ravens ‘ staff will formulate a plot for Jackson to succeed early on in Baltimore. Obviously we’ve got coaches who have a lot of experience with that. That’s helpful to us. You do it on the practice field. We ran a lot of stuff out here today that you probably saw.

We’re gonna always try to get our players making plays for us. Lamar’s a guy that can help us win games.

Harbaugh offered no specifics as to what the Ravens ‘ lab, led by offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, has already cooked up, but early signs point to Baltimore leaning on Jackson’s arm, rather than his legs.

Derwin James was close to being Ravens’ No. 16 pick

When Derwin James slipped to the Chargers at No. 17 overall, the Florida State safety was widely acclaimed as one of the draft’s early-round steals.

When the organization’s top decision-makers met at owner Steve Bisciotti’s Jupiter, Fla. home after the season, DeCosta explained, they discussed the importance of adding playmakers on offense.

I thought Derwin James was one of the best players in the draft, DeCosta added, but… the value of this draft was really the third, fourth, fifth round. So for us to go back and get additional picks made a lot of sense. As hard as it was moving away from Derwin James, we felt like it was the right thing to do for this club.

Taking a panoramic view of the offseason approach, Newsome and DeCosta have done a masterful job of overhauling an offense that had grown stale enough to halt Baltimore’s annual march to the postseason over the past few years. Starting with the trade down for tight end Hayden Hurst and a trade up for quarterback Lamar Jackson, Newsome earned praise from coach John Harbaugh for a draft class that might just rank as one of the best in franchise history.

Brian Cushing is slated to visit Oakland on Sunday, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported, per a source informed of the trip.

Cushing previously visited with the Seattle Seahawks in early March after being released by the Houston Texans in February. The 31-year-old spent eight seasons in Houston after being selected in the first round in 2009.

Boasting a bigger name than game at this stage of his career, the former Defensive Rookie of the Year had dealt with a series of injuries dating back to 2012 and was suspended 10 games last season for PED use.

Cushing has played just one full season since 2011. In that campaign in 2015 he compiled 110 tackles and three passes defended. Last season he appeared in just five games, totaling 16 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

Trump reportedly wants Kaepernick for summits on race

President Donald Trump has given the green light to multiple meetings with athletes and musical artists to discuss race, Cleveland-based pastor Darrell Scott, an outside adviser to the White House adviser, tells PEOPLE.

He is 100 percent for it, says Scott, who spoke with Trump for about 20 minutes in the Oval Office following an outdoor ceremony at the White House for Thursday’s National Day of Prayer. He was very enthusiastic about it.

While details of the meetings will be ironed out next week, it’s expected that there be a musicians’ summit followed by a gathering of athletes in the early summer—with both held at the White House, says Scott. The idea had been on the drawing board for quite some time now and got a boost following last week’s Trump-West Twitter exchange, the pastor adds.

It was only a matter of time before the Jets let Petty go.

A fourth-round draft pick in 2015, Petty appeared in 10 games for New York, throwing for 1,353 yards, four touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

… The 49ers swing another big trade down. San Francisco’s pick will have greater value should one of the “consensus” top four quarterbacks last through the first eight picks. In that scenario the 49ers can recreate last year’s coup and find a team looking to grab a quarterback to increase their volume of picks.

With the Browns, Giants, Jets and Broncos already in the top four to take quarterbacks if needed, the Bills, who hold Nos. 12 and 22, should be on speed dial for Lynch. Then consider two other AFC East teams who might also be in the mix for a quarterback, the Dolphins at No. 11 and the Patriots at Nos. 23 and 31.

There’s no good reason for the 49ers to trade up because whoever the best available player becomes after the early run on quarterbacks is bound to mesh with a need.

The 49ers have three picks in a 16-selection span from No. 59 to No. 74. Based on the values of this draft, edge rusher, offensive line and wideout will come into play here more.nike_jets_1632