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Preseason Power Rankings No. 12: Chicago Bears

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The 2013 Bears scored the second-most points in franchise history (445). Only the 1985 Bears tallied more in regular season play, putting up 456 in their bulldozing of all non-Dan Marino-led competition in a 15-1 season.

But for all of their skill on offense, the 2013 Bears were overmatched on defense, surrendering 478 points, 57 points more than any previous Chicago club had given up.

Long before the Packers’ Randall Cobb sprinted through the Chicago secondary en route to the division-clinching touchdown in the regular season finale, the Bears’ defense was broken. Chicago surrendered at least 28 points in half of its games, including 54 to Philadelphia, 45 to Washington, 42 to St. Louis and 40 to Detroit. No team allowed more yards per play than the Bears, and no team was worse against the run.

In the offseason, the Bears set out to bolster that “D,” signing two of the best available defensive ends (Lamarr Houston, Jared Allen) and drafting defensive players with four of their first five picks. On offense, the Bears tried to build continuity. They re-committed to quarterback Jay Cutler, signing him to a seven-year contract worth up to $126.7 million in January. In May, they signed wide receiver Brandon Marshall to a four-year deal worth as much as $40 million.

These were logical moves for Chicago. For once, it was the offense didn’t need much work. Now, the focus turns to whether the defense can provide more resistance in head coach Marc Trestman’s second season on the job.

Strengths.

The Bears’ 2014 offense could be one of the best the franchise has ever fielded. Marshall (100 catches, 1,295 yards, 12 TDs in 2013) and fellow starting wideout Alshon Jeffery (89-1,421-7) were Pro Bowlers a season ago, as were tailback Matt Forte (1,933 combined rushing-receiving yards) and right guard Kyle Long.

Cutler — now in sixth season in Chicago — appears to have taken well to Trestman’s scheme. The strong-armed Cutler connected on 63.1 percent of his throws a season ago, his best completion percentage in six years. He’s quite capable of being the first Bears quarterback to make a Pro Bowl since Jim McMahon 29 years ago.

If Cutler gets an all-star nod, he’ll be aided by strength of his pass catching corps. Marshall and Jeffery form an outstanding tandem. Forte is one of the game’s best receivers out of the backfield. Tight end Martellus Bennett is solid, too.

In Trestman’s inaugural campaign, the Bears’ passing attempts rose nearly 20 percent, but total sacks were down more than 30 percent. Moreover, the club’s completion percentage was up more than five percent. In short, the 2013 Bears threw it more and threw it better — and their quarterbacks hit the ground less. That’s testament to Trestman’s scheme, but it also reflects well on the offensive line, which the club overhauled last year, drafting Long and right tackle Jordan Mills and signing left tackle Jermon Bushrod and left guard Matt Slauson.

The Bears can only hope their offseason D-line investment will pay similar dividends. And Allen, Houston and ex-Lions end Willie Young should strengthen a defense that got just 20 sacks from its front four a season ago.

Finally, in Robbie Gould, the Bears have one of the NFL’s most reliable kickers. He hit 26-of-29 field goals in 2013, including 9-of-11 from 40 yards and beyond.

Weaknesses.

Even with an upgraded defensive line, the Bears’ defense looms a major concern. The top player in the LB corps, Lance Briggs, will be 34 in November. Shea McClellin, the Bears’ 2012 first-round pick, could get reps at strong-side and middle linebacker in an attempt to jump-start his career. More is also needed from second-year pro Jon Bostic, whether at middle or outside linebacker.

The Bears’ secondary also looks shaky. Per Pro Football Focus grades, the club had two of the four worst starting safeties in 2013 (SS Major Wright, FS Chris Conte). Wright departed in free agency, and Conte comes off shoulder surgery. The Bears added four veterans and a draft pick at safety, which at least gives them some options as they try to craft a workable solution on the back end.

The Bears’ cornerback play should also be monitored. The club added some much-needed youth and depth in the draft, taking Kyle Fuller in Round One. Fuller, veterans Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman figure as the top three corners. If the 33-year-old Tillman stays healthy and returns to form, and if Fuller is a quick study, the Bears should be just fine at this key position. But if Tillman misses time, and if Fuller isn’t quite ready for prime time, the Bears could have a problem.

The worries don’t stop there. The Bears’ special teams are quite unsettled entering training camp. The club will have a new punter, holder, long-snapper, punt returner and kickoff returner. And backup quarterback could be a trouble spot after the departure of Josh McCown. Veterans Jimmy Clausen and Jordan Palmer and sixth-round rookie David Fales will vie to back up Cutler. Clausen and Palmer have generally struggled against NFL competition, but Trestman is masterful with quarterbacks.

Changes.

The defensive depth chart got a makeover. The Bears released defensive end Julius Peppers and didn’t bring back defensive tackle Henry Melton, defensive end Corey Wootton or linebacker James Anderson. The Bears’ most expensive free agent signings — Houston and Allen — are defensive ends, a nod to the premium that ready-made pass rushers command. To bolster the defensive tackle depth, the Bears turned to the draft, selecting Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton in the second and third rounds, respectively.

The Bears took a value shopping approach at safety. Free agent additions Ryan Mundy, M.D. Jennings, Danny McCray and Adrian Wilson are all slated to make less than $1 million in salary this season, per NFLPA records.

On offense, the changes were reserved to backup spots. McCown left to be the Buccaneers’ starter, while tailback Michael Bush and Earl Bennett were released. Rookie Ka’Deem Carey could help replace Bush, while former Washington wideout Josh Morgan was signed to bolster the WR depth.

The Bears underwent several major shakeups in the kicking game. Long-time star returner Devin Hester signed with Atlanta. Punter Adam Podlesh was released, and the club spent a draft pick on a potential replacement (Pat O’Donnell, Round Six). Then, late in the offseason, 16-year long-snapper Patrick Mannelly retired, adding another layer of uncertainty to the special teams.

Camp battles.

Here are the positions and players to watch:

— Safety: Ex-Giant Mundy might have the edge at strong safety, but Wilson is a wild card if he has something left after missing the 2013 season with an Achilles injury. Rookie Vereen is the biggest threat to the incumbent Conte at free safety.

— Cornerback: The progress of Fuller must be monitored. There are plenty of snaps to be had in this secondary if he’s up to it.

— Defensive tackle: Can Ferguson or Sutton push starters Jay Ratliff and Stephen Paea? If not, can the rookies at least prove capable rotation players?

— Linebacker: Will Bostic, McClellin and second-year outside linebacker Khaseem Greene step up their play? The Bears didn’t draft a linebacker and added only veteran backup Jordan Senn in free agency.

— Wide receiver: Morgan and second-year pro Marquess Wilson appear the favorites to replace Bennett as the third receiver.

— Running back: Carey and second-year pro Michael Ford will compete for the little work that won’t go to Forte, a true three-down back.

— Quarterback: Palmer, Clausen and Fales will compete for no more than two reserve roles. The question is, which of this trio most quickly applies Trestman’s lessons?

— Returner: Eric Weems is the most experienced option in the competition to return kickoffs and punts.

— Punter: O’Donnell will try to hold off veteran Tress Way.

— Long-snapper: First-year pro Brandon Hartson and CFL veteran Chad Rempel will battle it out.

Prospects.

The Bears must hang tough early. Six of their first nine games are on the road, including trips to visit the 49ers (Week Two), Falcons (Week Six), Patriots (Week Eight) and Packers (Week 10).

If Chicago can get through that nine-pack in decent order, there’s a real chance to close with gusto. From November 16 through December 21, the Bears play five home games and take just one road trip — Detroit on Thanksgiving Day. The Bears end their season at Minnesota — no picnic, yes, but not the worst draw ever.

It all looks fairly cut-and-dried with the Bears. If their defense is better, and if their offense hums along, they are serious contenders for a playoff spot. But if the defense remains a sieve, and if the offense regresses, they are vulnerable.

The Bears aren’t the youngest of teams. Tillman and Briggs don’t have many NFL years left. Cutler and Marshall aren’t kids, either, and Forte is approaching 2,000 career touches. There ought to be a real sense of urgency to get into the playoffs with an offense this talented. As Bears observers with any sense of history would tell you, scoring points traditionally hasn’t been a Chicago strength.

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Ex-Giant Matt Mitrione knocks out MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko

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Matt Mitrione got his start as a professional athlete in the NFL, but he’s had a lot more success in MMA.

Mitrione, who played nine games as a defensive end for the Giants in 2002, earned the biggest win of his pro MMA career on Saturday night when he headlined a Bellator MMA card at Madison Square Garden and knocked out Fedor Emelianenko.

The fight lasted just over a minute and saw Mitrione and Emelianenko knock each other down with simultaneous punches, followed by Mitrione landing several punches on the ground and knocking Emelianenko unconscious. The 40-year-old Emelianenko was once the best fighter in MMA, but he’s now well past his prime.

Mitrione said before the fight that several of his Giants teammates had reached out and said they’d be watching.

“That means a lot to me. It’s a lot of pride. I carry the Big Blue with me all the time,” Mitrione told the New York Post.

The 38-year-old Mitrione has had the most successful career of several former NFL players who have tried MMA. Herschel Walker’s foray into MMA is better known to the general public, but Walker built his 2-0 career MMA record against a couple of hand-picked opponents who were no match for him. Mitrione has built his 12-5 pro record against legitimate opponents.

For big, strong guys who find that they’re not quite good enough to make it in the NFL, MMA gives them a second chance at a career as a professional athlete. Mitrione is making the most of his.

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Koa Misi waiting to be cleared after neck surgery

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Linebacker Koa Misi took a pay cut to stay with the Dolphins this offseason, but he never made it on the field for the team.

The expectation in March was that Misi would be cleared to return from neck surgery before the end of the team’s offseason program. That did not happen, however, and it remains uncertain if Misi will get the green light from doctors before training camp gets underway next month.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that Misi saw a doctor in the last couple of weeks and that he has another appointment set for July.

“I don’t know,” head coach Adam Gase said this month. “We’re not there yet. When you see him start running around or something, then I’d say we’re close.”

The Dolphins drafted Raekwon McMillan in the second round and he could be an option to start alongside Kiko Alonso and Lawrence Timmons in the event Misi doesn’t get cleared. Neville Hewitt and Mike Hull are also on hand at linebacker in Miami.

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Bakhtiari bemoans Green Bay’s constant close calls

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On one hand, the Packers should be happy that they contend every year. On the other hand, they should be upset that they keep knocking on the door but can’t kick it in.

Put left tackle David Bakhtiari in the second category.

It’s starting to piss me off a little bit,” Bakhtiari recently said, via Pete Dougherty of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “You’re not guaranteed another year. Keep getting close and not making it is stressful. We’ve got to collectively — we’ve got to do more. . . . The Green Bay Packers — I mean, the trophy is the Lombardi Trophy. We have to get back there and win it.”

The Packers last did in 2010. Since then, armed with one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history, the Packers chronically have come up short. In some years, in-season sputters keep them from securing home-field advantage in the playoffs. In other years, they earn home games in January, and lose there.

Many will point to the Packers as the team to beat once again in the NFC. And, if recent history holds, someone eventually will beat them before they get a chance to win the trophy named after their legendary coach for a fifth time.

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Vikings support Michael Floyd’s kombucha tea defense

When it comes to his effort to avoid jail for violating the terms of his house arrest, Vikings receiver Michael Floyd has an ally: His employer.

According to Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Vikings C.O.O. Kevin Warren sent a letter to the presiding judge supporting Floyd’s claim that he didn’t know kombucha tea contains alcohol.

“I am writing to request Mr. Floyd not have his court mandated requirements negatively impacted since he did not know the kombucha he ingested contained alcohol,” Warren wrote in the letter dated June 21.

In a sworn affidavit, Floyd said the team encourages players to drink the tea for health reasons, and that it is “on tap” at the team’s training facility. (That may not be the best choice of words.) Floyd also hired a forensic pathologist to explain that, because Floyd purchased a case of kombucha tea without refrigerating it, additional fermentation occurred, elevating its alcohol content.

Perhaps most importantly for Floyd’s case, the forensic pathologist concluded that, based on Floyd’s explanation regarding the amount of kombucha tea he ingested before failing multiple home alcohol tests, the time frame during which he drank it, and the blood-alcohol concentration that was measured, the numbers are “achievable and consistent” from consuming kombucha tea “to a reasonable degree of medical and scientific certainty.”

The question now becomes whether prosecutors have hired an expert of their own to dispute the conclusions from Floyd’s expert, or whether prosecutors will simply say, “It doesn’t matter. He was prohibited from consuming alcohol.” Ultimately, the question will be whether the judge is motivated by any of this to give Floyd a pass or to say, “It doesn’t matter. He was prohibited from consuming alcohol.”

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Colts may hit more in camp, despite being “scared to death” of injuries

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After seeing his team miss too many tackles last season, Colts coach Chuck Pagano says he may work more on tackling in camp.

Pagano said he’s still as concerned as ever about keeping players healthy for the regular season, but he also thinks there’s limited time to work on tackling, and training camp is the right time for it.

“You’re always scared to death, but at the same time if you don’t tackle, it’s hard to get good at tackling,” Pagano said, via ESPN. “We do, obviously, a lot of what we call ‘thud.’ It’s first contact, it’s wrap up, and you try to stay off the ground as much as you can and take care of each other. But we’ll continue to have discussions regarding that, and there may be some periods come training camp that we decide we want to go live here.”

New Colts G.M. Chris Ballard says going live is a must.

“This will be a physical camp for us,” Ballard told the team’s website. “We’ve got a young football team and you need to spar. I think we will have a physical camp and I think you need to. It helps get your body ready. I think a lot of the problems we have is that we don’t hit enough. You’re always worried about injuries, but this is football and it’s a physical game. It’s much like boxing. You need to spar.”

The Colts will be sparring more in training camp this year, while trying to avoid anyone getting knocked out.

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Saturday one-liners

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Seven more veteran Jets could be dumped after the 2017 season.

Dolphins K Andrew Franks thinks he could “kill it from 65” without wind.

The Patriots will have several public practices during training camp.

Bills LB Lorenzo Alexander is holding a free youth football camp on Saturday in Oakland, California.

It’s a make or break year for plenty of Ravens.

Could Browns TE Seth DeValve have a big season?

Here’s a look behind the scenes of NBC’s photo shoot with the Bengals.

The Steelers think it’s time for DT Daniel McCullers to move up or move out.

Texans WR Braxton Miller is hoping to make a leap in 2017, in part by recognizing coverages.

Here’s the projected roster and depth chart for the Titans.

Colts RB Robert Turbin thrives as a pass blocker.

Projecting the Jaguars defense for 2016.

Chiefs TE Travis Kelce went yard at the Big Slick Celebrity Softball Game on Friday at Kauffman Stadium.

Raiders QB Derek Carr’s contract is backloaded, which helps the team manage the cap — and helps Carr avoid giving money to the State of California.

Broncos coach Vance Joseph thinks Glover Quin would make a great head coach.

Chargers OL Matt Slauson learned a lot from older players; now that he’s one of them, he can pass the knowledge along.

Get to know Cowboys DE Benson Mayowa.

A Giants fan has a tattoo of WR Odell Beckham Jr.’s most famous catch.

New Washington safety D.J. Swearinger knew that either he or Tony Jefferson would be joining Swearinger’s new team based on the quality of the safety play in 2016; “Watching it on film we was like, ‘Bro, one of us is going to Washington for sure,'” Swearginger told Jefferson.

Here’s a look at the development of the Eagles’ draft class.

The Bears held their annual 5K on Saturday morning. They signed seven of the runners.

Lions CB Teez Tabor made a play while trying to cover WR Marvin Jones, eventually.

Have the benefit of a full offseason with the Packers will benefit LB Jordan Tripp, who joined the team with three weeks left in the 2016 regular season.

Vikings WR Randy Moss was wired for sound when he returned to the team’s facility to learn he’d been added to the Ring of Honor. (The real question is whether they him served food that he’d feed to his dog.)

Saints LT Terron Armstead has undergone surgery to repair the torn labrum in his shoulder, and he’ll focus his rehab efforts in New Orleans.

Panthers G.M. Dave Gettleman says WR Kelvin Benjamin’s “ability to make people miss is to run through them.”

Here’s how you can witness whether Falcons players will be squabbling with each other about Super Bowl LI during training camp.

How did Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston perform under pressure?

The daughter of former 49ers DL Michael Carter, the reigning Olympic gold medalist in the shot put, will compete in the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships on Saturday.

Rams rookies visited Warner Bros. Studios. (It’s June 24. That’s all I got.)

As he enters a contract year, Seahawks TE Jimmy Graham’s big offseason translate to a big regular season?

Cardinals LB Haason Reddick threw out the first pitch on Friday night at the Diamondbacks game, delivering a strike; “Can’t go up there and look like 50 Cent,” Cardinals OT Will Holden said.

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Bill O’Brien: Clemson’s sophisticated offense helped Deshaun Watson

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NFL coaches often say that college football offenses don’t really get quarterbacks ready to play at the next level. But Texans coach Bill O’Brien says that’s not the case with his rookie quarterback, Deshaun Watson.

O’Brien says Watson ran an offense at Clemson that forced him to develop a mind for football at the highest level.

“He had to learn a pretty sophisticated offense at Clemson,” O’Brien said, via the Houston Chronicle. “He had to do a lot of things at the line of scrimmage. I think he was trained really well. That’s a credit to the Clemson staff. He’d already been in some big games when he got here. When he came here, he put his head down and came to work every day.”

O’Brien has already been impressed with Watson’s football intellect, based only on spring practices.

“For being a rookie, he’s wise beyond his years. He asks great questions in the morning meeting, and you can tell he’s studied the night before. Every practice isn’t perfect. He knows he needs to get a lot better. And he did get better every day during the spring. It’s no pads, of course. It’s not real football, but he did improve in his knowledge of the offense,” O’Brien said.

If Watson keeps that up, he should be ready to start in Week One.

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Broncos still haven’t re-sold stadium naming rights

The Denver Broncos continue to play in a stadium that may as well be known as Vandelay Industries Park. And there’s no indication that this odd dynamic will be ending any time soon.

As noted by 9news.com in Denver, the high-priced latex salesmen from WME-IMG have yet to find a suitable buyer for the rights to “Sports Authority Field,” named for a company that went bankrupt in 2016.

“We continue to work closely with WME-IMG and have had several productive discussions with potential partners,” Broncos spokesman Patrick Smyth told 9news.com. “We’re focused more on finding the right, long-term naming rights partner than meeting any deadline for this process, which is extensive.”

The Broncos assumed full responsibility for the naming-rights deal last August, deciding to keep the name in place — presumably to avoid any negative P.R. that would flow from reverting to a non-corporate moniker and then jamming a new one back in to the official title of the facility.

Regardless, nearly a year after the Broncos decided to continue to keep the name of a non-existent company on their stadium, there’s no indication that a real name will be replacing it any time soon.

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Kerley wishes teams would ask him about Kaepernick

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One of the biggest problems with the various leaks to the media of assumptions and narratives and opinions about Colin Kaepernick is that many of those who are whispering to willing reporters have done no real due diligence about the player. The latest example of a lack of homework comes from one of the men who caught plenty of passes from Kaepernick a year ago.

Receiver Jeremy Kerley, a pleasant surprise in 2016 for the 49ers with 64 total receptions, got and kept his hands on 38 thrown by Kaepernick. Yet no one from any other team has asked Kerley what he thinks about Kaepernick.

I wish they would,” Kerley recently told SiriusXM NFL Radio. “I would speak very highly of him. First, if you don’t stand for something then you don’t stand for nothing. He spoke up about a subject at a time where maybe just the right people weren’t stepping up. He did it, he stood behind it. He made the sacrifice that maybe not a lot of guys would have made knowing that the consequences would be what they were.”

That’s one thing that often gets lost in the lingering resentment and hatred of Kaepernick regarding his decision not to stand for the national anthem in 2016. He had (and clearly still has — as do many) concerns about the training and experience requirements for the issuance of a gun and the power to use it. (If you don’t have at least some concern over the ease with which a police officer can produce a handgun and immediately pull the trigger repeatedly to neutralize a perceived threat in a confined space with a small child present, then you’ve paid no attention at all to the Philando Castile case.)

“You have people that practice law and are lawyers and go to school for eight years, but you can become a cop in six months and don’t have to have the same amount of training as a cosmetologist,” Kaepernick said last August. “That’s insane. Someone that’s holding a curling iron has more education and more training than people that have a gun and are going out on the street to protect us.”

Kerley spent most of the year with Kaepernick, arriving via trade from the Lions after his decision to take action, to speak out, and to risk his career for it.

“He’s been a man of his word,” Kerley said. “He still gives back. He’s promoting change. . . . Do I agree with it? Who’s to say. Everybody goes about their business a different way. But do I have much, much respect for him? Hell yeah.”

It’s still not clear what Kaepernick truly wants or expects from his football career. And it’s quite possible that the phone will never ring, regardless of his abilities, team needs, and the inevitability of quarterback injury. The point continues to be this: Few if any teams did any real homework on Kaepernick prior to or during free agency, which suggests given the countless hours otherwise spent researching hundreds of players that coaches and executives knew they would have been wasting their time on a guy ownership would have never approved signing.

That’s where this issue continues to be. A quarterback who nearly won a Super Bowl, whose numbers compared favorably to Tyrod Taylor’s in 2016, and who is still on the right side of 30 has gotten no sniffs as a potential starter in a league where Tom Savage, Brian Hoyer, Cody Kessler, Mike Glennon, and Josh McCown currently sit atop depth charts. And Kaepernick has drawn interest from only one team about being a backup. (He was deemed to be overqualified for the job.)

If anyone wants to continue to rely on reports from those who gladly pass along negative leaks about Kaepernick in support of a belief that these decisions are based only on actual or perceived football skills and abilities, that’s their right, I suppose. But others have the right to continue to say that we’re being fed a steaming plate of BS, and that too many in the media are gladly slopping it onto the plate.

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Before football, Larry Ogunjobi was so obese his parents feared he’d die

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Browns rookie defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi weighs in at 305 pounds — which is a whole lot less than he weighed when he first started playing football.

Ogunjobi was a 350-pound teenager whose main interests were video games and junk food when his parents made him play football in a desperate attempt to get him healthy.

“His parents were afraid he’d eat potato chips, play video games and die,” his high school football coach Tommy Norwood told the Chronicle-Telegram.

Intense high school football practices burned plenty of calories, and when Ogunjobi realized he had finally found a sport a guy his size could play, he became so devoted to offseason cardio workouts that he eventually got down to 237 pounds. Then he turned to lifting weights, and by the end of high school he had earned a college scholarship as a 267-pound defensive lineman. In college he took lifting even more seriously and turned himself into a chiseled 300-pounder.

“He lost all that weight and rebuilt it,” his college coach Brad Lambert said. “That’s what’s amazing about the story.”

Ogunjobi is now a dedicated, hard-working player, although he admits that he never would have taken up football if it hadn’t been forced upon him as a weight-loss activity in high school.

“I was only there because I had to be,” he said.

Now he’s in the NFL, where he wants to be.

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Derek Carr: I’ll give it to Marshawn on the 1-yard line, not throw it

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Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has brought up a painful memory for Seahawks fans.

After signing his new contract on Friday, Carr said that he doesn’t think his status as the NFL’s highest-paid player forces him to try to win games himself. Instead, Carr said, he’ll be happy to hand off to Marshawn Lynch for a game-winning touchdown if the Raiders are in that position.

“My No. 1 goal is to make sure that I give everything I have to this organization,” Carr said. “So there’s no pressure, there’s no, ‘We’ll be on the 1-yard line and I won’t give it to Marshawn, I’ll throw it.’ None of that stuff. I don’t care about the stats. That’s not my No. 1 objective. I don’t care if I throw 10 touchdowns next year. If we win every game, that’s all I care about.”

Carr was referencing the Seahawks’ infamous decision to have Russell Wilson throw a pass, which was intercepted, rather than handing off to Lynch at the 1-yard line at the end of Super Bowl XLIX. Now that Lynch is a Raider, they plan to give him the ball at the goal line.

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Tavon Wilson seeks to throw out suits against him

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Detroit Lions safety Tavon Wilson denies he punched a former girlfriend during an altercation last year, according to TMZ.

Per TMZ, Alanda Jackson, the mother of Wilson’s 3-year-old, has filed suit against Wilson, alleging that he broke her nose during the melee. Jackson got into a verbal altercation with Wilson’s current girlfriend at a nightclub in Washington, D.C., on May 14, 2016. Jackson accuses Wilson of grabbing her, throwing her to the ground and punching her in the face. Jackson said a female friend was stabbed by someone in Wilson’s entourage, and both women were hospitalized.

Jackson was arrested, TMZ reports, with Wilson’s current girlfriend, Simone Leach, claiming she was the victim. Jackson seeks more than $2.5 million, and Wilson also faces a suit from the other alleged victim. Wilson has asked a judge to dismiss both suits.

The Lions released a statement: “We are aware of the report regarding Tavon Wilson. We have spoken to Tavon, and we have also notified the league office of this matter. Due to the personal nature of this situation, we will have no additional comment at this time.”

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Archie Manning: Adam Gase reached out to Peyton after Ryan Tannehill was injured

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At a time when many are wondering whether recently-retired quarterbacks Tony Romo and Jay Cutler would return to the NFL if a starter gets injured during the upcoming season, it turns out that last year’s high-profile retiree had an opportunity to return, sort of.

Via Josh Katzenstein of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Archie Manning said Friday that he saw last December a text-message exchange between his son, Peyton, and Dolphins coach Adam Gase.

“He said, ‘Hey 18, [Ryan] Tannehill went down,'” Archie said. “[Gase] said, ‘I think he’s going to miss some time. The first question I’m going to get at the press conference in the morning is if I’m going to try to bring you to Miami. What do you want me to tell them?'”

It’s a creative way for Gase, Peyton’s offensive coordinator in Denver, to ask Peyton whether he was interested without officially asking him whether he was interested. Regardless, Peyton wasn’t interested.

Said Archie: “The text message came back from Peyton, ‘You tell them I could probably come play, but there’s no way I can miss carpool the next two weeks.’ So, he was done.”

Peyton was done, and he still is done. But it’s fascinating to think what could have happened late last season, if Peyton Manning had swooped in to help a Dolphins team that lost to Pittsburgh in the wild-card round — and that with an upset there would have been destined for a trip to New England to face the Patriots.

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Lakers G.M. compares Lonzo Ball to NFL’s best quarterbacks

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Typically, new players who arrive in a given sport are compared to other great players from that same sport. For reasons neither obvious nor apparent, the General Manager of the L.A. Lakers has compared the team’s latest first-round draft pick to the two best quarterbacks in the NFL.

“In press conferences, I don’t like a lot of hyperbole and a whole bunch of words,” Rob Pelinka said regarding Lonzo Ball, via Rob Baxter of ESPN.com. “I like to tell stories. I think when this really into focus for us was, we knew the talent was transcendent. The way he passes the ball, you look at quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, that just have a gift. There’s clearly a gift, with what he’s been blessed with.”

Apart from the comparison being odd, Pelinka’s comments amount to a potential curse for a player who already will be counted on to return to relevance one of the proudest franchises in the NBA, and who enters pro sports with one of the most high-profile and universally disliked fathers in all of sport.

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Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott not resting on their laurels

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Dak Prescott won 13 games and offensive rookie of the year honors. Ezekiel Elliott won the rushing title and earned six MVP votes as a rookie. Both were ranked among the top-14 players in the NFL Network’s poll of players.

But don’t think for a second that Prescott and Elliott have spent the offseason resting on their laurels. Instead, according to teammate Cole Beasley, Prescott and Elliott have worked harder than ever since the Cowboys fell short of their goals last season.

“Dak’s the type of guy, he could be the best in the world at his position, he’ll still come in here and not be satisfied or complacent,” Beasley said, via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. “He’ll come in here and grind like he’s a rookie. He’s one of the hardest-working guys I’ve ever seen.

“Zeke’s approach is just like it was last year. Both of those guys have a chip on their shoulders. They’re not satisfied until we get to where we want to be. All the guys in here are the same way. Until we get a Super Bowl, we haven’t done our jobs.”

The Cowboys haven’t been to a Super Bowl since the 1995 season when they won the franchise’s fifth. They have not produced back-to-back winning seasons since 2008-09. Both are goals this season after a 13-3 regular season in 2016 ended in disappointment in the playoffs with a loss in the divisional round to Green Bay.

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