May 2014


Seven weeks removed from ankle surgery, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning practiced for the second day in a row. "The last few weeks, I've been doing most things from a practice standpoint," Manning said, according to ESPN.com. "We're still being smart about things and not trying to overdo it, but definitely, football activities, I feel like I can do them all full." Manning is taking snaps from center, dropping back, rolling out and throwing passes to his receivers, backs and tight ends.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson struggled to remain healthy in 2013 and had operations on his finger and knee this offseason. Freese also missed a 46-yarder wide right during team drills while Tavecchio hit a 56-yarder.
For both professional and self-preservational reasons, my last official bet was probably from the 1990s. Oh, I might have bought into a Super Bowl squares thing one year, filled out an NCAA bracket for a few bucks, and yeah, I've won at fantasy football. But those, to me, are different. Betting on sports is nuts, you guys. I don't know how you do it. I used to make weekly NFL against-the-spread picks at my old job at Pro Football Weekly, and I was the Andy Dalton of handicapping — one week, I'd go 12-4, the next I'd win two games. Afterward, I'd blame everyone else. So I implore you: As I make predictions on the Bovada  (an online sportsbook/casino) 2014 NFL over-under win totals for each of the 32 teams, take it only in the hey-this-guy-is-an-idiot vein and please do not wager the mortgage money on my picks as if they were gospel. This is not me dispensing gambling advice. But you probably already knew that. Alas, without further ado, here are the Bovada win totals — along with my guess (lo, not a bet) on what the actual result will be — from highest to lowest: Denver Broncos Bovada win total: 11.5 My prediction: Under The schedule is absolutely murderous — the first three opponents combined for 35 wins a year ago, including a Super Bowl, and they have an early bye weeks and other tough games littered throughout. Yes, I know there were improvements in the offseason, and yes, I am aware of Peyton Manning and the offensive potential to actually improve on last season. But five losses would not stun me, and that's what I came up with: an 11-5 mark. It's under, but just barely. Seattle Seahawks Bovada win total: 11 My prediction: Over  Like the Broncos, the Seahawks have a tough opening trio and a Week 4 bye — hardly ideal. But I think the Seahawks can go 3-0 there and, really, head into November undefeated. They play the 49ers twice after Week 13, and the schedule is shockingly backloaded with division games (five of the final six) with a tough one at the Eagles sandwiched in between. But I still think an over is possible, even if I was tempted to cop out with a "push" pick in the brutal NFC West. This is a super talented bunch, and I believe they remain highly motivated to win another title. Your browser does not support iframes. New England Patriots Bovada win total: 10.5 My prediction: Over Everything sets up for a big year again. A soft opening to the schedule, and a middle section that has the Patriots not leaving Foxborough from Oct. 13 to their road game (with a bye beforehand) against the Colts on Nov. 16. Only two non-Sunday games, both early in the season. I know the "Tom Brady is in decline" talk is out there, but he should be more settled in with his receivers and blockers this year. The defense unquestionably is better. And even with the division teams — mostly the Bills and Jets — adding notable pieces, are any of them markedly better? Maybe the Bills, but they're still not in the Patriots' class. San Francisco 49ers Bovada win total: 10.5 My prediction: Over
Tony Romo looked like the man in charge of the Dallas offense for the first offseason practice until the drills got a little more competitive. There's no use in rushing, as coach Jason Garrett has been saying for weeks. Romo echoed that talk Tuesday in his first extensive interview since sustaining a herniated disk against Washington and missing the finale against Philadelphia with a playoff berth on the line. ''It's very difficult to watch,'' said Romo, who was under center for season-finale losses at the New York Giants and Washington the previous two seasons, and for another one at Philadelphia in 2008.
Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey claims to have no regrets about last season's incidents in a bullying scandal in which an NFL-sanctioned investigator identified him and two teammates as principals involved. Pouncey talked to reporters Tuesday for the first time since the Ted Wells report implicated him, left guard Richie Incognito and right guard John Jerry as being behind alleged hazing and harassment of tackle Jonathan Martin. ''No, not at all,'' Pouncey said when asked if he had any regrets. I'm not worried about anything in 2013, honestly, it's all about 2014 for me.'' On October 28, three days before the Dolphins played Cincinnati, Martin abruptly left the team after storming out of the cafeteria, and never returned.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – It turns out that Rex Ryan has unlikely allies in the coaching world.  Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin jumped to the defense of the New York Jets head coach on a recent airing of "Coach Speak" on the NFL Network. In a roundtable discussion hosted by Andrea Kremer, the topic of striking the balance between home life and being a head coach came up. Kremer held up a mounted copy of The New York Daily News from last September with the back page headline “Cutting Out: Rex's college trip on cut day proves he has no power, future with the Jets.” The headline was written after Ryan visited his son in South Carolina to see his first college game at Clemson. His son is a wide receiver on the football team. His trip fell on the same day as the official cutdown day to the 53-man roster last season and was taken as a sign that Ryan, thought to be on the hot seat and likely to be fired, had lost his mojo in New York. Before Ryan could respond to Kremer's question, Harbaugh jumped right in with his thoughts. "That's a joke right there. That's comedy,” Harbaugh said, almost angrily. “That just shows you how ignorant whoever wrote that is.” “If that's all you got to write about, then you have to re-think your job,” Coughlin interjected. It was harsh criticism from the roundtable given that at the time, many fans as well as the media thought Ryan was in his last year in New York and the back page coverage by the Daily News wasn't seen as overly harsh. Instead of folding, Ryan's Jets surprised everyone with an 8-8 record and he got a contract extension.
Isaiah Burse patterned his game after Wes Welker's. After going undrafted, he's even followed his idol's path into the NFL. The Fresno State speedster signed with Denver moments after the draft ended. An undrafted free agent has made the Broncos' 53-man roster for 10 consecutive seasons and Burse aims to extend that streak this summer as a wide receiver and returner, where there's a big void following free agent Trindon Holiday's departure to the New York Giants. At 5-foot-10 and 187 pounds, Burse is built just like Welker (5-9, 185), who also started out as a return man after going undrafted out of Texas Tech before building a name for himself as the league's premier slot receiver.
Odell Beckham Jr. still can't believe he wound up right where he wanted. The Giants took him their first-round pick in the draft, reuniting him with LSU teammate Rueben Randle. Beckham also attended the same New Orleans high school as Eli Manning, Isidore Newman. ''I used to go to the Manning camp my sophomore and junior year of high school,'' Beckham said.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Top choice Odell Beckham Jr., and three other draft picks have signed with the New York Giants on Monday.
When receiver Brandin Cooks began running routes at the New Orleans Saints' rookie camp, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan stole a few glances to check out the abilities of the club's top draft pick. ... They're going to create roles to get this guy involved and it'll be awesome.'' Cooks, who won the 2013 Biletnikoff award as the top receiver in college football, isn't sure why none of the first 19 NFL teams with a draft pick wanted him. The former Oregon State star - who caught a 128 passes for 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns last season - was finally taken 20th overall when the Saints traded up from their original No. 27 slot. Cooks figures some teams had misgivings about his relatively small 5-foot-10, 190-pound frame, though he likes to think his versatility, technique, toughness and speed make up for that.

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