Posts Tagged With: NFL

Pick Six: Players of the Week (Oct. 15, 2018)

Juan Thornhill

Six secondary standouts from football’s work that was:

Juan Thornill, SS, Virginia (NCAA) — It’s possible Virginia senior safety Juan Thornhill hits so hard that some people forget he’s a defensive back and not a linebacker.

Going into this season, Thornhill landed on watch lists for the Chuck Bednarik and Bronko Nagurski awards — both given to the national defensive player of the year — but he didn’t make the watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top DB.

When the Cavaliers upset 16th-ranked Miami (Fla.) on Saturday, Thornhill’s biggest hit may have been on the referee that he ran over during a 62-yard interception return that got the Cavaliers inside the 10-yard line. Continue reading

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Pick Six: Players of the Week (Oct. 8, 2018)

Marcus Maye

Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:

Marcus Maye, FS, Jets (NFL) — Two members of the New York Jets made history during the team’s 34-16 dissection of the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

The headliner was running back Isaiah Crowell, who carried the ball 15 times for a franchise-record 219 yards, an average of 14.6 yards per touch. Crowell’s highlight reel included a 77-yard touchdown run.

Then there was Maye, who set an NFL record on the game’s final play. Maye intercepted a pass in the end zone by Denver quarterback Case Keenum and returned it 104 yards before he was caught at the 1-yard line. According to the Elias stat service, Maye’s 104-yard adventure was the longest non-touchdown interception return in league history. Continue reading

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Pick Six: Players of the Week (Oct. 1, 2018)

Ugochukwu Amadi

Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:

Ugochukwu Amadi, FS, Oregon (NCAA) — Last week, the Ducks defense bent too far and broke at the wrong time during a devastating loss to Pac-12 rival Stanford in which Oregon blew a 17-point lead in the second half and dropped a nail-biter in overtime.

This week, the Ducks defense held up when necessary in a 42-24 win over California. Leading the way was senior safety Amadi, who had seven tackles and two interceptions, including a 32-yard INT return for a touchdown that gave Oregon a comfortable cushion in the fourth quarter.

“The mindset was to redeem ourselves,” Amadi told reporters afterward. “We were eager to get back on the field. We wanted to give the world what they needed to see and that was playing Oregon football.” Continue reading

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Pick Six: Players of the Week (Sept. 24, 2018)

Earl Thomas

Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:

Earl Thomas, FS, Seahawks (NFL) — Earl Thomas is single-handedly destroying the notion of “distractions” in professional sports.

In every season, in every one of America’s four major sports, there are stories full of speculation regarding teams underachieving and athletes suffering due to “distractions” off the field. Whether it’s legal problems (e.g. Addison Russell in MLB), disagreements over money (e.g. Le’Veon Bell), controversial issues (e.g. Colin Kaepernick), or a spat between teammates and/or coaches (e.g. Jimmy Butler in the NBA), the dreaded D-word is poison in pro locker rooms and just the threat of it is good enough for a team to hastily part ways with even its best players.

This past NFL offseason, Earl Thomas and the Seattle Seahawks engaged in a contract dispute that spilled into training camp, engulfed the preseason, and threatened to overshadow the team’s regular season. Continue reading

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In the Cards: Martin Mayhew

By sharing some of the football cards from my collection, my goal is to put a spotlight on defensive backs who may have become underrated or have been forgotten by history.

Martin Mayhew, CB, Washington (Pro Set 1991)

Martin Mayhew won a Super Bowl and intercepted more than 20 passes and scored a couple of touchdowns in his eight-year NFL career, but his post-playing career has been equally, if not more, impressive.

Coming out of Florida State in 1988, where he and Deion Sanders were teammates, Mayhew was a 10th-round draft pick by the Buffalo Bills. As the 262nd overall pick, he wouldn’t have gotten drafted today in the seven-round draft era.

A wrist injury cost Mayhew the ’88 season, the Bills cut him, and he didn’t make his pro debut until ’89 with Washington. Continue reading

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Pick Six: Players of the Week (Sept. 10, 2018)

Denzel Ward

Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:

Denzel Ward, CB, Browns (NFL) — Despite being the No. 4 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Ward is not even the most talked-about rookie on his team. That’s because the Browns also had the No. 1 pick in the draft, and they used it on Heisman-winning quarterback Baker Mayfield.

But in Cleveland’s season opener, Ward stepped into the spotlight while Mayfield never stepped onto the field. Ward started at cornerback and intercepted two passes to go with six tackles and three pass breakups in the Browns’ 21-21 tie with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ward also spent some time covering Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown, who happens to be probably the best receiver in the league.

A tie usually isn’t something worth celebrating, but considering the Browns went 0-16 last season, a tie almost felt like a win on Sunday. Continue reading

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NFL’s Top 100: Landon Collins (#92)

Landon Collins

If you were wondering how much team success or failure can impact an individual athlete’s reputation, look no further than New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and strong safety Landon Collins.

During the 2016 NFL season, when the Giants went 11-5 and made it to the playoffs, Manning was being talked about as a future Hall of Famer, and he won the NFL’s Man of the Year award. Collins received first team All-Pro honors, and he was heavy in the conversation for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

In 2017, the Giants went 3-13 and finished with the second-worst record in the league. Continue reading

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NFL’s Top 100: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (#100)

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

Beginning in 2011, the NFL Network has surveyed NFL players to compile an annual ranking of the league’s top 100 players. The list is unveiled in a multi-part series during the offseason, with each episode profiling 10 players on the countdown to the No. 1 spot.

Because the ranking is decided by players and not the media or fans, those who often don’t get mainstream attention receive their just due: e.g., offensive linemen, linebackers who don’t get a lot of sacks, guys who standout on bad or small-market teams.

That’s good for defensive backs. Continue reading

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Six DBs picked in 2018 NFL Draft first round

Denzel Ward

In the months leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft, Ohio State’s Denzel Ward was widely considered the best cornerback in the pool. Cornerback also happens to be one of the most coveted positions in the NFL.

So why was it such a surprise — drawing a harmonized “Whoa!” from the NFL Network’s TV panel of experts — when Ward was the first defensive back chosen in Thursday’s first round?

Probably because in a vast majority of mock drafts, the first defensive back to come off the board was a safety: Either Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick, or Florida State’s Derwin James. That Ward went No. 4 overall to the Cleveland Browns was also a surprise, as many prognosticators had the Browns taking NC State pass-rusher Bradley Chubb in that spot. Continue reading

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Brian Dawkins voted into Pro Football Hall of Fame

Brian Dawkins

Perhaps it should have been taken as a sign of things to come.

Before the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots met in Super Bowl LII this past Sunday, two men who are arguably the greatest defensive backs in each franchise’s respective histories were among the finalists up for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2018.

Ty Law, the five-time Pro Bowl cornerback who spent 10 seasons with the Patriots, didn’t make the cut. Brian Dawkins, the nine-time Pro Bowl safety who spent 13 seasons with the Eagles, was voted in on Saturday. The next day, the Eagles defeated the Patriots for the franchise’s first Super Bowl title. Continue reading

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