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PFT’s Week Nine picks

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The good news last week?  MDS gained only one game on me.  The bad news?  MDS got only seven of the 14 games right.

Yep, that 12-1 performance from yours truly in Week Seven is now the chunk of filet between a moldy pair of 6-8 slices of counterfeit Wonder bread.

At one point, it was looking disastrous.  Thanks to the Giants, Broncos, and 49ers, a nauseating 3-8 start was salvaged.  Sort of.

This week, we again disagree on only one game.  And it all comes down to Monday night.

For the year, I’m now 73-45, and MDS is 69-49.

Chiefs at Chargers

MDS’s take: Matt Cassel is back as the Chiefs’ starting quarterback, and the result will be more or less the same as the first time Cassel started against the Chargers this year: He’ll throw multiple interceptions and the Chiefs will lose.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 27, Chiefs 13.

Florio’s take:  The Chargers already have beaten the Chiefs in Kansas City.  Then again, who hasn’t?  Norv Turner’s week-to-week employment lasts at least another week.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 27, Chiefs 16.

Broncos at Bengals

MDS’s take: The Bengals’ defense has been a mess this season, and Peyton Manning is getting better every week. Manning will throw for 300 yards and four touchdowns and the Broncos will cruise.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 31, Bengals 17.

Florio’s take:  The schedule softens for a Denver team that looks to be much better than the one that made it to the final eight a year ago.  The Bengals, on the other hand, are starting a rough patch that will make a rough season even rougher.  Roughly speaking.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 31, Bengals 17.

Ravens at Browns

MDS’s take: I’m tempted to pick the upset here, as the Ravens have struggled to put teams away while the Browns have played competitive football even in defeat. But while the Browns will keep this one close, the Ravens will manage to hold them off.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 23, Browns 21.

Florio’s take:  Cleveland’s old team returns to town, nearly 17 years to the day after Cleveland’s old team declared its intention to leave.  The Browns will make it interesting, but the Ravens know they need to step it up now in order to hold off the Steelers, who are making their move and who face the Ravens twice in three weeks, starting later this month.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 20, Browns 14.

Cardinals at Packers

MDS’s take: This looks to me like the easiest pick on the board. Aaron Rodgers will have another big game, Clay Matthews will have a couple sacks, and the reeling Cardinals will lose their fifth straight.

MDS’s pick: Packers 31, Cardinals 12.

Florio’s take:  After nearly losing to the Jags, the Packers will be on guard for a Cardinals team that hits the road on a short week after a Monday night mess.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 35, Cardinals 20.

Bills at Texans

MDS’s take: Speaking of easy games to pick, there’s no way the Bills’ defense slows down Matt Schaub, Arian Foster and Co. I do think C.J. Spiller could have a big game against the Texans’ run defense, but the Bills’ offense won’t be able to keep up the scoring pace.

MDS’s pick: Texans 35, Bills 21.

Florio’s take:  $100 million can buy a lot of Super Bowl rings.  That may be the only way Mario Williams ever gets one.

Florio’s pick:  Texans 30, Bills 17.

Dolphins at Colts

MDS’s take: If the playoffs started today, these two teams would earn the two AFC wild card berths. Who saw that coming before the season? I look for the Dolphins to take a big step toward the playoffs with a big win in Indianapolis, and I expect a lot of people to be talking about Joe Philbin as a coach of the year candidate after his team gets its biggest win of the season.

MDS’s pick: Dolphins 27, Colts 14.

Florio’s take:  A pair of top-ten quarterbacks have winning records through eight weeks, and neither has a III at the end of his name.  Despite III wins in a row, the Dolphins remain underrated.  Will they still be if they’re VIII-III when hosting the Pats?

Florio’s pick:  Dolphins 23, Colts 20.

Lions at Jaguars

MDS’s take: The Lions’ m.o. is the same every week: Start slowly and get better as the game goes on. Some games, like last week against the Seahawks, that results in a last-minute come-from-behind win. Other games, like two weeks ago against the Bears, that results in a last-minute touchdown followed by a failed onside kick and a loss. So which will it be this week? I’m betting neither. The Lions have finally found an opponent they can beat from pillar to post and will win easily in Jacksonville.

MDS’s pick: Lions 27, Jaguars 10.

Florio’s take:  With the Jaguars outscored 95-20 at home at home this season and the Lions beginning to show some signs of life, this is precisely the kind of game that Jacksonville should win.  I’ll take my chances.

Florio’s pick:  Lions 28, Jaguars 17.

Bears at Titans

MDS’s take: The Bears’ defense will make life miserable for Matt Hasselbeck and hold Chris Johnson to less than 20 yards. Chicago wins this big.

MDS’s pick: Bears 27, Titans 13.

Florio’s take:  It’s tempting to take the Titans, who have played well lately.  Especially since the Bears were sluggish at best against the Panthers.  But a good team finds a way to win games it seems to be trying to lose.  On Sunday, the Bears will be less complacent.

Florio’s pick:  Bears 27, Titans 17.

Panthers at Redskins

MDS’s take: In a game with all eyes on Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III, I like Redskins running back Alfred Morris to steal the show with a big game against a suspect Panthers run defense.

MDS’s pick: Redskins 24, Panthers 14.

Florio’s take:  The quarterbacks should put their respective Heisman Trophies on the line for this one.  If they do, Robert Griffin III will have bookends.

Florio’s pick:  Redskins 33, Panthers 23.

Buccaneers at Raiders

MDS’s take: The Raiders are actually playing some surprisingly good football lately, to the point where I wouldn’t rule out a run at an AFC playoff spot. Carson Palmer will put a lot of points on the board as the Raiders win their third straight game.

MDS’s pick: Raiders 34, Buccaneers 20.

Florio’s take:  This rematch of Super Bowl XXXVII will turn out a little bit better for the Silver and Black, which surprisingly remain in striking distance for a playoff berth.

Florio’s pick:  Raiders 27, Buccaneers 20.

Vikings at Seahawks

MDS’s take: Both the Vikings and the Seahawks are coming off disappointing Week Eight performances, but I have a lot more faith in Seattle’s ability to turn things around at home.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 23, Vikings 16.

Florio’s take:  The Vikings were exposed last week against the Bucs, and offensive coordinator Bill Mugrave could be exposed to unemployment if he doesn’t get the team back on track.  Good luck with that in Seattle, against that defense.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 20, Vikings 9.

Steelers at Giants

MDS’s take: The Steelers have played well at home and badly on the road this season, and that will continue against the Giants, who will win their fifth in a row.

MDS’s pick: Giants 28, Steelers 17.

Florio’s take:  It’s a simple formula in New York.  Play great against great teams.  Play not-so-great against not-so-great teams.  The Steelers currently fall closer to the former category.

Florio’s pick:  Giants 35, Steelers 27.

Cowboys at Falcons

MDS’s take: Despite the Falcons’ 7-0 record and the Cowboys’ 3-4 record, I see this as a close game.  The Cowboys are playing competitive football and the Falcons have had a tendency to let weaker teams hang around. But the end result will be something we’ve already seen a couple times this season.  Dallas failing to pull it out in the end.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 24, Cowboys 21.

Florio’s take:  If the Cowboys spot the Falcons 23 points, the Falcons won’t let them back into it.  And with their only non-flex visit to Sunday Night Football, the Falcons aren’t about to stumble against an inferior team.

Florio’s pick:  Falcons 31, Cowboys 20.

Eagles at Saints

MDS’s take: The Saints have probably already run out of chances to turn their season around, and the Eagles are rapidly running out of chances, too. But the Saints’ defense is so weak that Michael Vick can’t help but have a better game on Monday night, and the Eagles will win in New Orleans.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 31, Saints 21.

Florio’s take:  For a team that may not be making it to the playoffs, delivering a knockout punch to the Eagles on national TV in the Superdome could be the next best thing.  Maybe a certain T-shirt will be making another appearance; at least ESPN isn’t regulated by the FCC.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 27, Eagles 24.

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Steve Smith: Ceremonial Panthers retirement “not on my radar”

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After wide receiver Steve Smith announced his retirement from professional football earlier this year, his former Panthers teammate Ricky Proehl said that he hoped Smith would be honored by the team for what he did while in Carolina and Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he hoped Smith would come back for a ceremonial retirement as a member of the team.

The end of Smith’s time with the team came with a fair amount of acrimony and Panthers General Manager Dave Gettleman sidestepped a question about signing Smith to a one-day contract when asked in January. It wasn’t something that seemed all that important to Smith at the time and it doesn’t look like anything has changed.

During a visit to the Rich Eisen Show, Smith was asked about the prospect and said that it isn’t a priority for him while noting that he still lives in Charlotte and that things could change in “due time.”

“I work for NFL Network, and it’s really not on my radar as of today,” Smith said.

The Jets reportedly spoke to Smith this offseason to gauge whether he was committed to retiring. Smith said that he is and also told Eisen that he believes he’d be suspended if he did try to return because he skipped several drug tests before filing all of the paperwork necessary for the league to consider him retired.

That has nothing to do with mending fences with the Panthers, obviously, but it’s a pretty good sign that any contract signings with NFL teams in Smith’s future will be of the ceremonial variety only.

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Report: No suspension for Jonathan Williams

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There have been points in the past when the NFL has suspended players without a criminal conviction, but that reportedly won’t be the case for Bills running back Jonathan Williams.

Williams was found not guilty of driving while intoxicated in Arkansas earlier this month with his attorney saying that the prosecution didn’t have enough evidence to prove that his client was over the legal limit while behind the wheel. Williams refused a breathalyzer after being pulled over in July 2016 after police said he showed signs consistent with intoxication during a field sobriety test.

The lack of evidence cited by Williams’ attorney also appears to have him avoiding any discipline from the league. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Williams has been told that he will not be suspended this season. Players found guilty of DWI, DUI or related charges typically get suspended for two games.

With Mike Gillislee now in New England, Williams is set to back up LeSean McCoy in the Buffalo backfield.

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Video shows emotional Jeff Fisher telling staff he was fired

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In a rare behind-the-scenes look at a coach’s reaction to losing his job, the forthcoming NFL Films/Amazon show All Or Nothing provides a look at Jeff Fisher on his last day as coach of the Rams.

In a clip released by the NFL, Fisher chokes up as he tells his shocked staff that he was fired after the Rams’ Week 14 loss to the Falcons.

“Unfortunately, I won’t be there this weekend,” Fisher said. “I was just fired. I appreciate everything you guys have done for this football team and for me, and the loyalty that you’ve shown. Sorry if I let you guys down. You guys haven’t let me down. You’ve busted your ass every single day for me. Sorry. I will do whatever I can for every single one of you. I will be there for you when the season’s over, recommend you and call to the end of the night to help you guys find work.”

Special teams coordinator John Fassel, who would serve as interim head coach for the final three games of the season, looked particularly shocked. After Fisher finished speaking, defensive assistant Mike Singletary walked to the front of the room to shake his hand and thank him. That ended an emotional meeting that is sure to be one of the highlights of All Or Nothing.

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Report: Mike Pouncey expected to be ready for start of season

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The Dolphins have been cautious with center Mike Pouncey, after hip problems cost him most of last season.

But there’s at least some indication that he’s doing well enough to be ready for this year.

According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, a source “very close” to Pouncey said the expectation is that he’ll be ready for the start of the regular season, barring an unforseen setback.

Pouncey didn’t participate in the team’s offseason program because he hadn’t been cleared. He underwent a stem cell procedure in April to help overcome what has become a perennial problem. He hasn’t played 16 games since 2012, and played just five last year.

Pouncey also reportedly had to be treated for a bacterial infection in his inner thigh, but that has cleared up.

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Two former Broncos victims of illegal marijuana ring

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Since recreational marijuana use is legal in Colorado, it’s reasonable for someone to think it’s a legitimate investment opportunity.

But a pair of former Broncos were among the victims in a massive alleged securities fraud scheme run by an illegal marijuana ring.

According to KUSA, former Broncos tight end Joel Dreessen and tackle Erik Pears (who both played at Colorado State) thought they were investing in a legal business.

“Mr. Dreessen was an innocent lender to a business that he was told was both lawful and properly licensed,” Dreesen’s lawyer Steve Peters said. “Joel has been repaid all funds he provided and is glad to have this matter behind him.”

But it’s far from over legally.

The bust, which Colorado authorities have hilariously labeled “Operation Toker Poker” has led to 74 indictments, with 2,600 illegal pot plants and 4,000 pounds of marijuana seized.

The defendants are charged with 31 felony counts, including trafficking marijuana out of state, along with securities fraud, money laundering, tax evasion and mortgage fraud.

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Russell Wilson “an animal about” improving conditioning this offseason

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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s devotion to healthy eating habits have drawn a fair amount of attention in recent years, which likely helped his $200 nutritional guide sell out when it was released last year.

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson may not have bought one of those tomes, but he has spent this offseason working on improving his conditioning with the help of a new eating plan. Nutritionist Philip Goglia told Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com that Wilson has been working with him since March and has been “an animal about” getting in better shape.

Goglia bumped up the number of calories that Wilson is eating each day from 2,700 to 4,800 because the metabolism of an athlete demands that “you have to eat a certain amount of calories to generate enough heat to burn fat.” Wilson eats throughout the day and recently weighed in at 214 pounds with 10 percent body fat after being 225 with 16 percent body fat when he started working with Goglia.

“Still doing it religiously,” Wilson said. “Just trying to really focus on trying to eat really, really well and have great nutrition. I think it’s critical. It allows you to wake up feeling good, feeling strong. It allows you to excel throughout the day and have tons of strength and energy. So I think it’s really important for me. And I love food. I’m from the South, Virginia. So for me, I have to be really conscientious of what I eat. And also, my dad had diabetes. So I try to really pay attention to what I eat and try to do a really good job of that.”

Last year’s injuries played a role in Wilson putting on weight and his ability to avoid more of the same this year will have something to do with how well the Seahawks are protecting him along the offensive line. If they can, Wilson will likely be starting his offseason conditioning from a better place in 2018.

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Remembering Joe Delaney, 34 years later

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Joe Delaney would be 58 years old. But Joe Delaney’s life ended he was 24, exactly 34 years ago today.

The Chiefs running back, whose 1,121 rushing yards as a rookie in 1981 helped the team to its first winning season since 1973, died while trying to save three children who were drowning on June 29, 1983.

I can’t swim good,” Delaney said as he rushed into the water, ‘”but I’ve got to save those kids.'”

One of the three children survived.

We remember Joe Delaney’s heroic act of selflessness every year, and this year there’s a new twist. Via the Kansas City Star, Mark and Kelly Neath named their 15-year-old daughter Delaney in honor of Joe.

“I think for Mark and I, every time we get an opportunity to talk about how Delaney got her name, it’s a way to give testimony as to why Joe was important,” Kelly Neath said.

“I feel like it helps keep him alive,” Mark Neath added.

Delaney Neath wears Joe Delaney’s No. 37 in every sports she plays. No. 37 is a number that should be worn by a lot more football players, who then can explain when asked why they picked such an unusual number that it’s a living tribute to a young hero who gave his life while trying to save three others.

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Jameis Winston closing in on Buccaneers career TD pass record

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Jameis Winston’s first two seasons have provided the Buccaneers with plenty of reason to believe that they found their franchise quarterback when they drafted him with the first overall pick in 2015.

That is something that the Bucs have been trying to find for much of the franchise’s history, something that is well illustrated by how high Winston ranks on the all-time franchise list in several areas after just two years in the league. Winston ranks seventh in completions, passing yards and passing touchdowns and, as Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times points out, is within reach of the touchdown record this year.

Winston has 50 touchdowns through his first two seasons and Josh Freeman has the franchise record with 80 touchdown passes during his time in Tampa. If that seems like a low number, there’s good reason because no other team has a record holder with less than 124 touchdown passes. That team is the Texans, who are led by Matt Schaub and started play in 2002. The Bucs, meanwhile, have been around since 1976.

The notion of Winston throwing 31 touchdowns in 2017 isn’t outlandish given the jump he made from 22 to 28 scores last year and the addition of DeSean Jackson to the receiving corps.

Winston also ranks seventh in career interceptions, but has a lot more ground to make up even after throwing 33 picks in his first two seasons. Vinny Testaverde’s 112 interceptions should remain the Tampa record for a while even as Winston takes over the top spot in several other areas.

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Thursday morning one-liners

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The Bills have plenty of questions at WR, for this year and beyond.

The man getting married in a Dolphins helmet shows true commitment (to something).

Patriots coach Bill Belichick posing for a magazine cover with his girlfriend, of course.

Jets WR Charone Peake is ready to state his case for more time.

Former Ravens LB Zach Orr says he’s “100 percent confident” he’ll find work in the NFL.

Looking at 50 years of Bengals history.

The Browns have less drama than normal, and that’s a good thing.

An in-depth look at the Steelers’ roster.

Texans DE Jadeveon Clowney is grateful to have some familiar faces around.

Here’s a story about the Colts mascot that’s probably not going to be deleted in 12 minutes.

Is there a prophecy for Jaguars QB Blake Bortles in a cup? (OK, this is silly even for June standards.)

Titans CB LeShaun Sims is looking for a bigger role.

Broncos S Will Parks had an impressive rookie year.

An argument for the Chiefs making an internal hire for G.M.

The Chargers feel like a “start-up” organization with their move to L.A.

Raiders QB Derek Carr may face a recruiting battle fiercer than when he chose a college — from churches who want that tithe.

A look at how the Cowboys make up for the loss of suspended DE David Irving.

Giants coordinator Steve Spagnuolo think they’ve just scratched the surface of what they can do.

A look at how the Eagles’ roster stacks up compared to the rest of the league.

Washington (for now) RB Matt Jones has someone on his side who has been through a similar struggle.

Taking a look at the new Bears WR corps.

Lions LB Paul Worrilow is leading by example as a bone marrow donor.

The Packers’ new Titletown project is taking shape.

The Vikings are throwing numbers at the defensive line, hoping to create pressure in waves.

The Falcons get high marks for their offensive line.

Former Panthers WR Steve Smith continues to talk around a potential return to his first team for a day.

Saints DE Cam Jordan could still be underrated.

Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston could set some records this year.

Cardinals S Harlan Miller is making the transition from CB.

The Rams’ roster is better than one team, according to one ranking.

The 49ers have the potential for an interesting RB tandem.

Seahawks DE Cliff Avril might be the most underpaid player on his team.

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Marshawn Lynch’s latest: Free waterpark tickets for kids

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Marshawn Lynch isn’t just making sure kids look good. He wants them to have fun too.

Via Daniel Mano of the Bay Area News Group, Lynch’s latest goodwill gesture was to give away 2,000 free tickets to a local waterpark to kids who showed up at his Beast Mode Apparel store.

“Come get urs!!!! Yes Lawd!!!!” he wrote on Twitter announcing the donation.

While the image of Lynch hurtling down a waterslide is amusing enough to think about, he’s made serious strides in his hometown since the Raiders acquired him.

He recently promised free haircuts to kids with good report cards, the latest in a series of gestures big and small.

Oakland is going to lose the Raiders one day, but they’ll always have Lynch. And to be honest, that might be just as much fun.

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Jim Irsay’s Twitter account spices up the slow times

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At this juncture of the calendar, the slow news days often are made more lively when a player does something he shouldn’t have done, often resulting in temporary incarceration or longer. This year, a Twitter misadventure from Colts owner Jim Irsay has helped fill the vacuum.

Overnight, Irsay’s account posted a photo of a naked woman from the neck down. Via Deadspin, it was an image from elsewhere on the Internet. According to the New York Daily News, the tweet was deleted 12 minutes after it was posted.

Earlier in the month, Irsay tweeted a warning that he’d been hacked. Presumably, he was hacked again, since per the Daily News the next tweet on the account was directed to multiple Indianapolis news stations and reporters, and for some reason the Indiana Pacers.

Irsay has not yet claimed that he was hacked, and there has been no statement issued from the team. It may be difficult for Irsay, the team, and the league to say nothing about this one, given the extent to which it’s been noticed and mentioned. Six hours later, “Jim Irsay” is still one of the top trending topics on Twitter.

If Irsay was hacked (again), it’s probably time for him to make his password considerably stronger than something like “GoColts” or “PluralLombardies” or “WhereHaveYouGonePeytonManning” or “WhyDidIFireBillPolian” or “passwurd.”

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Falcons promise affordable food and drinks at new stadium

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When the Falcons open their new stadium this season, they say they’re going to have something unusual: Food and beverages that aren’t a ripoff.

Falcons President Rich McKay told Fast Company that fans have spoken up repeatedly that food is too expensive in stadiums, and NFL teams haven’t done enough to listen. This year, the Falcons will have $2 hot dogs, $2 sodas, $5 beers and other affordable options.

“Every year we survey them on everything,” McKay said. “Every year they say the same thing: Food and beverage, don’t like the value, don’t like the price.”

McKay said the Falcons view ticket sales as the way to make money and don’t want to gouge fans on food after that.

“Our tickets in the NFL are not inexpensive, and we can’t use this as an opportunity to hit them harder,” McKay said.

Fans will certainly approve of that.

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Delanie Walker: Jonnu Smith will be better than me in time

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After signing with the Titans in 2013, Delanie Walker has become arguably the best tight end in franchise history. He’s set franchise records and provided a consistent receiving options for the various Titans quarterbacks over that span.

However, Walker thinks Jonnu Smith, drafted in the third-round by Tennessee in May, will eventually be better than him for the franchise.

“One day he will be better than me,” Walker said of Smith, via Jason Wolf of the USA Today. “And that’s his ultimate goal. And if he didn’t feel that way, I wouldn’t want him here.”

If Walker’s proclamation is correct, Smith will have built quite a career for himself with the Titans. Walker holds single-season receiving records for Tennessee in both receptions and yards. In four years with the Titans, Walker has amassed 282 catches for 3,349 yards and 23 touchdowns. His best season came in 2015 with 94 catches for 1,088 yards and six touchdowns in Marcus Mariota’s rookie campaign.

It’s a high bar to clear. However, Walker has been impressed by what he’s seen so far.

“I think he’s a great guy,” Walker said. “I think he sits back, he don’t talk much, he learns. He’s respectful. If I ask him to do something, he does it.

“I think he’s going to go a long way and be a star in this league.”

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Cardinals safety Budda Baker feels mostly up to speed despite missed time

AP

Because the University of Washington runs on a quarter system that didn’t get out until June, new Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker was unable to take part in most of the team’s offseason program.

However, Baker feels he’s as prepared as he can be for the start of training camp given the circumstances.

In an interview with Bertrand Berry and Mike Jurecki on Arizona Sports 98.7-FM, Baker said he frequently spoke with Cardinals’ safeties coach Nick Rapone and watched as much film as he could from afar.

For me, I always try to watch film, watch film of the practices,” Baker said. “So I feel like I’m not really that far behind.

“The only thing I haven’t done is really taken the reps with the whole team; the rookies have done seven-on-seven and all that type of stuff, so I’ve been able to run the plays consistently during seven-on-seven so now it’s just a matter of doing it at camp.”

Baker was able to participate in the team’s rookie mini-camp soon after the draft, but the rest of the offseason was pretty much a wash. The benefit is that Baker said the system he’s jumping into with the Cardinals is very similar to the defense he played in at Washington. The only significant change to Baker is some differing terminology.

Baker is looking forward to training camp and preseason games to give him the chance to learn on the field and show what he can do in the lead up to the regular season.

“So for these preseason games, I know the rookies get a lot of reps, so get as much reps as I can. I like to think of it as these preseason games are like my OTAs and mini-camp that I missed,” Baker said. “Just getting all these reps, taking as much reps as I can — whether it’s defense or special teams — and ultimately competing. That’s my goal.”

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Steve Spagnuolo finally comfortable again running Giants defense

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After the Giants defense made a massive leap from 2015 to last year, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo finally feels like he’s back in a comfort zone in New York.

According to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post, Spagnuolo believes he has a handle on the personnel and an understanding of how the team fits together after returning to the team two years ago.

Listen, the first year I was here in 2015, I didn’t really know what we had, (Jason Pierre-Paul) had the (fireworks) accident,” Spagnuolo said. “Last year, we really didn’t know, because we brought in a lot of new people. This is the first year in the three years I’ve been here you feel comfortable, where there’s a comfort level in knowing what we are, who we are, guys working with each other, players with players, coaches with coaches, coaches with players. So there’s a comfort level there. It doesn’t guarantee success but I think if we stay healthy we’ll be ok.”

The Giants were last in the league in total defense and ranked 30th in points per game allowed in Spanguolo’s first season back in 2015. The leap last year was substantial as the Giants improved to 10th in total defense and second in points allowed.

The improvement helped the Giants return to the playoffs for just the second time since Spagnuolo left the team following the 2008 season to become the head coach of the St. Louis Rams.

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