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run-stopping and pass-rushing skills will be needed against

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run-stopping and pass-rushing skills will be needed against

Postby elaine95 » July 12th, 2019, 1:39 am

For all those fans of the Raiders and Jets who believed in that rebuilding-program message , their teams have handed them a big “never mind” this week.For fans of the Giants and Steelers, well, maybe that rebuilding tag should be placed on them.During the frenzied two days of “legal tampering” before the NFL’s 2019 business year begins — and even beforehand in Oakland’s case —the future became now for Jon Gruden and Adam Gase. All that talk about setting a solid foundation through the draft and youngsters? A lot of it was just talk.Gruden’s first season in his return as Oakland’s coach was lowlighted by dealing away perhaps his two best players, Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper. The word was that having three first-round draft choices this April would provide a strong base for the franchise when it arrives in Las Vegas next year.The magic word now for the Raiders is spend. They are bringing in pro football’s best receiver of the last decade, Antonio Brown, and giving him more than $50 million over the next three years, with $30 million guaranteed.They agreed to a $66 million contract ($36.75 million guaranteed) with left tackle Trent Brown, whose blocking not only filled a void in New England but helped the Patriots to another championship. And the Raiders will be paying $42 million over four years for safety Lamarcus Joyner .These are not negative moves. If Trent Brown plays the way he did protecting Tom Brady, Derek Carr will do a lot more smiling. Having Antonio Brown as a target — until the wideout begins complaining he isn’t getting enough action — also will bring a wide grin to Carr’s face. And Joyner is better than nearly all of Oakland’s defenders.But when did the frugality that cost them Mack, arguably the NFL’s best defensive player, and the long-range plan that led to Cooper’s departure turn into opening the vault so wide?At least the Jets were more transparent in their approach . They believe they found their franchise quarterback last spring when they drafted Sam Darnold, and they had been pointing to the 2019 offseason — and more than $82 million of cap space — to fill in holes.Still, their spending spree also indicates they’ve become impatient in pursuit of a turnaround in a division where , frankly, combining the rosters of the Jets, Bills and Dolphins might not provide a team capable of knocking the Patriots from their throne.New York’s additions should help lift the Jets from the depths of the AFC, though. C.J. Mosley is a quality linebacker who was overshadowed by Terrell Suggs and Eric Weddle in Baltimore. He gets a monstrous deal of $85 million over five years, with $51 guaranteed. Such money means the Jets expect to get an All-Pro caliber player.The Jets also dived into the receivers pool, but not like the Raiders and Browns did. Adding Jamison Crowder and Josh Bellamy bolsters a mediocre pass-catching corps, but not significantly.Where the Jets are making a huge step toward respectability is bringing in Le’Veon Bell , the best player in this crop and exactly the kind of weapon Darnold needs to help his development. Yes, there are concerns Bell could be rusty, and he’s one wrong off-field move away from a lengthy league suspension. He’s also the right fit for a club whose best recent successes came with high-quality running backs such as Hall of Famers Curtis Martin and LaDainian Tomlinson and the dependable Thomas Jones.With Bell in the Meadowlands and Brown in the Bay Area, the Steelers have taken some huge hits. Their streakiness won’t disappear as they retool, and there are question marks throughout their roster.As for the Giants, the furor over the departures of two of their three best players , Beckham and Landon Collins — he went to division-rival Washington — already is intense. It will grow until the draft, when perhaps the team’s fans will calm down should New York land its replacement for 38-year-old quarterback Eli Manning.This question lingers, though: Why re-sign Beckham last year, making him the highest-paid wideout in NFL history, then make this deal? Perhaps the Giants saw how Brown maneuvered his way out of Pittsburgh for less than equal value and feared a disgruntled Beckham would try the same.Regardless, it certainly seems off-kilter that the folks who wear green to MetLife Stadium are being praised, and those who wear blue are being excoriated. COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Most rookies hit the figurative wall late in the season as the rigors of a full first year in the NFL catch up quickly. Derwin James, though, still feels like he did at midseason.James will need to be at his best as the Los Angeles Chargers meet the Baltimore Ravens in an AFC wild-card playoff game. Sunday’s matchup comes two weeks after the Ravens posted a 22-10 victory.“I don’t feel like it affects me because in high school and college I was active the whole year doing different sports, so I feel like my body is acclimated to it,” James said. “There have been some games where I have felt sore, but off the field I got the right treatment.”James , who was the 17th overall pick in last April’s NFL draft, has made an immediate impact across the league. He led the team in tackles (105), becoming the first rookie in franchise history to have 100 or more stops. He also joined the Rams’ Corey Littleton as the only players in the league with 100-plus tackles, three or more sacks (3.5) and three or more interceptions.According to Pro Football Focus, James graded out as the fifth-best safety during the regular season, including second in pass coverage. What James has done to date has even surprised defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, who had his share of talented young defensive backs when he was at Seattle.“What he’s brought to the table for us just as a skillset and the flexibility it offers us, I mean, I can’t say enough about it,” Bradley said. “People talked about his energy, his fear and his love for the game, but I’d be lying if I said I thought it was to this level.”Bradley has deployed James in a variety of roles depending on the opponent. There have been some weeks where he has played mostly in the box to support the run defense and others where his coverage skills have been used to play the middle third of the field. One consistent thing week in and week out has been James being used as an extra pass rusher.“I knew what type of player I was. I knew what I wanted to do when I came here,” James said. “I feel like I’ve done those things here.”James’ run-stopping and pass-rushing skills will be needed against the Ravens , who come into the game ranked second in the league in rushing. Since Lamar Jackson became the starting quarterback, Baltimore is averaging 229.6 yards on the ground over the final seven games.James is the 13th-best safety against the run, according to Pro Football Focus, and eighth in pass rushing.“When he blitzes, he gets to the quarterback,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “He also can disrupt the run game. He’s a dominant player.”With both teams likely not changing their strategy from two weeks ago, James likes the fact the Ravens are focused on the run.“That should put a chip on your shoulder there alone,” he said. “They’re going to run it right at us. We know that. We gotta stop ’em.”This will be the fourth time that James has faced Jackson. The first two times were in college when James was at Florida State and Jackson was at Louisville. James said the biggest difference now is the players around Jackson.“I feel like he has better blockers around him, which allows him to be more patient in the pocket and find receivers. He’s doing good,” James said. “This is Round Two, though, this year. This is the one the really counts.”
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