April 2015

The experience, potential and skills of Georgia's Todd Gurley and Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon ought to entice a couple of teams to end the unprecedented two-year absence of running backs from the first round. Elite running backs haven't stopped being developed by college programs, as evidenced by the depth of this class that could produce about a dozen picks by the end of the third round. So why doesn't this position measure up anymore to some of the others when NFL teams rank their prospects? Maybe they didn't feel the running backs the last couple of years were first-round talent.
The Salsa Dance is expected to return Sept. 13 in Dallas. That's Week 1, and that's when Victor Cruz says he'll be ready to return to action when his New York Giants go on the road to face the  Dallas Cowboys in Jerry World. Cruz is coming off a torn Achilles tendon in 2014 that put his healthy return to the field for the start of the 2015 season in doubt. Cruz, however, has assured his fans that he'll be back in fine fashion. And on time for the opener. “Absolutely, there’s not a doubt in my mind I’ll be out there playing,’’ Cruz said, via the New York Post . “Obviously it’s just a matter of getting myself back to 200 percent. As of right now there’s zero doubts in my mind I will be playing in that first game and be playing at a level I’d like to be playing at.’’ And interesting thing happened after Cruz went down in Week 6 against the Philadelphia Eagles. That's right when Odell Beckham Jr. took the mantle — not only as the Giants' best receiver but also one of the best wideouts in the game as a rookie. Beckham caught two touchdown passes in Week 7 and never looked back, turning in one of the finest shortened seasons ever at the position. So the news that Cruz could be back — or in his words, "will" be back — gives the Giants, in theory, maybe the best 1-2 WR punch in the NFL if Cruz returns close to full strength. But some advice if you see Cruz out and about: Please don't ask him about that combo. He's a bit tired of the question. “If I get another question somewhere out in the streets about how excited everyone is about myself and Odell I might just jump off a building," Cruz said with a smile on Thursday. But yes, he's excited. “I’m definitely excited, not just last year watching him do all those great things, but this year to start from the beginning,’’ Cruz said. “He and I have gotten closer over time, us as a receiving corps have gotten closer. I’m excited to get back out there, not just with him but with everyone, feel the pads again, put a helmet back on, but definitely with Odell, to get out there and be on the field where he’s doing good things and Rueben [Randle] is doing good things and myself, it’s just going to be a fun thing to watch.’’ Is Cruz worried that Beckham has taken over the role as Eli Manning's favorite target? “I want to be same go-to guy," Cruz said. “I just want to be a guy who catches everything Eli Manning throws my way and score as many touchdowns as possible. That’s all." And the good news is that he has felt as good now as he has since his surgery, and Cruz is doing what he can to participate in the Giants' offseason program to get ready for Week 1. Which, in case you forgot, is a 200 percent surety. Can we get odds on that? - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm
The Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, minus quarterback Tom Brady, were honored by President Barack Obama at the White House on Thursday. Amid some jokes about deflated balls, coach Bill Belichick's wardrobe and Rob Gronkowski, the president congratulated the Patriots for their sustained success and for their thrilling 28-24 win over the Seattle Seahawks in February's Super Bowl. "The Patriots organization is as good an organization as there has ever been in professional sports," Obama said, referencing the Pats' four Super Bowl titles under Belichick.
Victor Cruz has no doubt that he will play in the New York Giants' regular-season opener against the Dallas Cowboys. Six months after surgery to repair a torn patellar tendon in his right knee, Cruz sees himself in the slot receiver spot looking in at Eli Manning and knowing the quarterback has a double threat with Odell Beckham parked on the outside.
My philosophy: teams should utilize the draft primarily to upgrade their talent, factoring in need only when it properly meets skill.
Josh Norris and Evan Silva break down every team?s needs and which players fit those needs. Check out the weekly schedule.
The National Football League season will open with the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 10. New England quarterback Tom Brady will square off against Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in a Thursday night contest to kick off the 2015 season.
It will not be a happy start to the NFL season for some New York Jets fans, who may end up choosing to celebrate a religious holiday over celebrating touchdowns. The NFL decided that the Jets will play a home game against the Cleveland Browns at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 13 to start the season. This game coincides with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which starts that night and runs until Tuesday. That the NFL would start the Jets' season at home on this date is beyond a head-scratcher, especially considering it had eight road games it could have chosen for the Jets for that week (though, the league also had to juggle the same issue with the New York Giants). It is, simply put, a  shmo  decision. New York City is home to an estimated 1.9 million Jewish people , making it the second largest Jewish metropolitan area in the world after Tel Aviv. There are also an estimated  516,450 New Jersey residents with a Jewish background , further impacting potential fans for the game. With this in mind, the team requested a road game to start the season due to the sensitivity of this issue with a large segment of its fanbase. But the NFL, which determines the schedule, did not comply. The team did win over the league when it asked for a 1 p.m. start to the game if it had to begin the season at home. Since the holiday officially begins at sundown that Sunday evening, the team hopes any Jewish fans wishing to ring in the New Year will still be able to watch the Jets game before observing the day. The game will begin at 1 p.m. Sunset is expected to be 7:09 p.m., hopefully giving fans enough time to leave MetLife Stadium and head to their homes for the start of the holiday.
Among the Patriots' rewards for winning the Super Bowl is hosting the season opener. The opposition this year is another team with championship pedigree: the Pittsburgh Steelers. New England and Pittsburgh will begin the NFL season on Thursday night, Sept. 10 with a game matching quarterbacks with six Super Bowl rings and nine Super Bowl appearances: Tom Brady vs. Ben Roethlisberger. Since Brady became New England's starting quarterback in 2001, he is 6-3 against the Steelers - he missed the 2008 game while injured - including 2-0 in the playoffs.
The Sunday night and Monday night NFL schedule is where your eyes typically start, right? When the NFL releases the season schedule in full, as it did Tuesday night, you're naturally drawn to the night games — especially those on non-Thursdays. We expect great evening theater in our pro football. But some of those games tend to fall flat. Some now, when the schedule is brand new, and some later, after we've found out that everyone's Super Bowl favorite is actually a crappy team. That can happen as soon as September. But the league does its best to please its media partners — in this case, NBC for Sundays and ESPN for Mondays. (We'll discuss the Thursday schedule in a different blog entry.) Does it always work? No, which is why we feel we can point out to you where it falls flat. Here's a look at the week-by-week prime-time games for Sunday and Monday ... and which ones you actually should watch: WEEK 1 Sunday: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys Monday: Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons; Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers Our take: Not a bad way to start the first week of football, but ... maybe we expected more? Yes, we have a division rivalry with Cowboys-Giants, and maybe Odell Beckham Jr. (recurring theme alert) or Dez Bryant do something ridiculous; we're in good hands with Al Michaels on the call there. And the next night, we have the wack-a-doodle Eagles, and I like my Chip Kelly after dark, so that's good. But playing the Falcons? Kinda meh. And that's the undercard? The nightcap is a battle of a Jim Harbaugh-less 49ers against a maybe Adrian Peterson-less Vikings? Consider us underwhelmed. Verdict: We rank them thusly: in chronological order — Giants-Boys, then the battle of the birds, followed by that game out West. If you skip the last one, no one will question why. WEEK 2 Sunday: Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers Monday: New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts Our take:  Oh, yeah. This is what we came for. A rematch of the NFC title game, but this time it's in Green Bay. We're already asking our bosses if we can go. This is choice stuff here, and yet it's not revenge — don't be that fan. If the Packers win, it's not going to make up for blowing a two-TD lead for a trip to the Super Bowl. Now that we have that out of the way ... you wonder if the Seahawks' banged-up secondary will be in top form this early in the season. Frankly, the Packers probably catch a mini-break getting the Seahawks this early in the season. As for the Monday game, this does't look super sexy, especially with the Jets having a new coach and being rudderless (as of now) at QB. But think of it this way: A good Jets defense got better, adding Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, and a good Colts offense got better, adding Andre Johnson and Frank Gore. Verdict:  When we put it like that, the MNF game doesn't sound so bad, eh? We know Sunday will be great. Watch both games. Trust us.  WEEK 3 Sunday: Denver Broncos at Detroit Lions Monday: Kansas City Chiefs at Green Bay Packers Our take:  Oh. Yeah, that's our initial reaction. Look, these are four good teams on paper, and we could be treated to two very good matchups here. But Broncos-Lions in prime time? Hmm. We frankly thought this might be a Thanksgiving game or a Sunday game. We're not complaining with a Peyton Manning night game in his possible swan song season. It's just ... hmm. Same with the Monday game. Two straight night games at home for the Packers? Consider this: Many Packers fans make the drive up from Milwaukee, so that's two weeks in a row with games on school nights. Verdict:  Yeah, we're still watching both. They're just ... weird matchups, that's all. WEEK 4 Sunday: Cowboys at New Orleans Saints Monday: Lions at Seahawks Our take:  We still love the Lions? They lose three-quarters of their defensive line and Reggie Bush, and they get two prime-time games early in the season. Just a feeling here that this one might flop. The Seahawks fans get geeked for night games, though, so there's that. In the opening act, it's no slouch. You have America's Team heading down to the Big Easy — another town that loves getting well-lubricated before evening contests. These teams have had some nice battles in the past decade or so, so we can get behind that one. Verdict: We're actually slightly more tuned up about the Cowboys-Saints game. WEEK 5 Sunday: 49ers at Giants Monday: Pittsburgh Steelers at San Diego Chargers Our take: Someone needs to explain this Niners thing to me. Are they going to be good? The Giants, we get — Beckham and Eli, and heck, this is a better team than people realize. But the 49ers aren't sneaking up on anyone, and we don't mean that in a good way. This is not, we'll safely predict, going to be up there with the 1990 season's NFC championship game or the 2003 wild-card madness game in this rivalry. Putting the Chargers on at night is dangerous. This could be the final season in San Diego, and that talk — moving to L.A. — could dominate the pregame chatter, especially if Philip Rivers is not on the team. Maybe if Marcus Mariota becomes a Charger ... Verdict: Check back with us after the draft. We'll probably watch both, but we might need a decent reason why.

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