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New York

FMIA: Trey Lance Is NFL’s 2022 Mystery Man And Why The Chiefs Are Just Effective Without Tyreek Hill


SANTA CLARA, Calif.—“So,” I asked Niners GM John Lynch Sunday, “what’s the story with Jimmy Garoppolo? What’s he been doing daily?”

From his office desk within the shadow of the 49ers’ stadium, Lynch craned his neck toward the image window on the side of his office. He pointed to the far practice field, where a solitary figure was understanding and throwing footballs efficiently.

Garoppolo, who quarterbacked this team to a win over Aaron Rodgers and the top-seeded Packers eight months ago, is an odd sight to behold today. He works out, throws and rehabs aside from his teammates, most frequently once they’re inside in meetings. When the opposite 89 men on the San Francisco roster are practicing outside, Garoppolo is often inside, or on his way home. I heard he doesn’t have a playbook, doesn’t attend quarterback or team meetings and barely knows latest quarterbacks coach Brian Griese.

While Garoppolo awaits his fate — he’s most certainly to be released before Labor Day unless a needy team suffers a serious quarterback injury or Deshaun Watson is banned for the season in Cleveland — the brand new kid, Trey Lance, spent Sunday taking every snap of practice. Seriously: each one. Lance played little within the preseason opener Friday and won’t play next weekend at Minnesota, so afternoons like Sunday are crucial in his development.

Lance has thrown 389 passes in real football games since he graduated from highschool, and this Final 4 team in 2021 is working to attempt to be a Final One team in ’22. So every rep is gold for him now. And for his coach, Kyle Shanahan, who thinks that Lance, eventually, can take this team deeper into the playoffs and do more things together with his arm and legs than Garoppolo could.

But whether Lance can do it’s considered one of football’s great mysteries entering this season. Shanahan really likes coaching Lance and loves his potential, but sitting in his office after practice Sunday, he made a startling admission that basically must be startling a couple of player who’s had one starting season—that in FBS football—within the last 4 years.

“Is Trey able to take it on his shoulders?” Shanahan said. “He shouldn’t be. He hasn’t passed through it enough.

“I feel in him as a person, as an individual. I feel in his talent. I don’t think he’s going to make or break our season, similar to in 2019 and last 12 months, I didn’t think Jimmy was going to make or break our season.

“But what sucks is whenever you’re learning easy methods to play and also you’re not there yet, how do you not worsen sometimes when that pressure’s on you and you’ll want to undergo the growing pains?”

Complicated story, as you possibly can see.

Column three from the camp trail, with storylines from Tampa to the Rocky Mountains and beyond:

  • In Kansas City camp, I find the Big Reds plotting a logical and offensively unpredictable Life After Tyreek.
  • In Denver, Russell Wilson, the empowered one, has all of the wide receivers and tight ends reporting for work an hour early for extra practice time.
  • Get to know Paulson Adebo, Davis Mills and Robert Hainsey. And get to like Cam Jordan’s ‘stache.
  • Patrick Mahomes has no patience for you belittling his contract.
  • I’m not bashing Deion Sanders over what he said concerning the Hall of Fame.
  • Andy Reid went to Italy, not for the explanations most of us do.
  • Take as much time as you would like, Tom Brady.
  • I get taken to task by a Browns fan.

We’ll proceed with my trip to the Niners on Sunday, and a training point that claims lots about Shanahan, and perhaps as much about Lance.

Most places I am going, practice gets somewhat humdrum at times. I’ve been watching summer football practices since 1984, once I covered the Bengals, and I once had the audacity during a blazing-hot two-a-day full-padded practice to ask Cincinnati owner Paul Brown — only considered one of the best coaches within the history of this game — whether he ever got uninterested in 4 hours of football practice, each day, in the warmth of camp.

“Young man!” Brown said sharply. “That is our lifeblood!”

Bad query.

I assumed of that Sunday, watching Lance take every snap of a camp practice. For Lance, that is lifeblood stuff. A part of the heavy load was since the Niners had a game Friday night, so Shanahan wanted most of those that played big swaths of the sport to take a seat out Sunday, with those that didn’t play Friday night getting plenty of work here. Lance got 11 snaps Friday, ergo he played lots Sunday.

I loved it. Facing plenty of first-teamers on a wonderful defense is one of the best medicine for Lance without delay. I compared Lance of 2021 camp to Lance of today (no tape, just recalling from my mind’s eye), and the words that got here to mind were “more decisive.” He’s more confident, more sure within the pocket. No wasted motion. The footwork is significantly higher.

He made three superb throws, I assumed, on Sunday: a lofted corner path to Deebo Samuel, throw right on course…a red zone TD throw, with soft, excellent touch, to tight end Ross Dwelley in the appropriate corner of the tip zone. “You stayed in,” the back judge working the practice said to Dwelley, nodding…a three-quarters-motion throw, also for a TD, to tight end George Kittle, who needed to stretch to make the catch. The notice, avoiding the push by coming down with the arm angle on the throw, was perfect.

Trey Lance threw for 603 yards in his rookie season with the 49ers. (NBC Sports)

“Mentally,” he said later, “I feel like things are lots more clear for me. I understand the offense, and I’m capable of play fast.”

That’s the great. I worry a bit concerning the accuracy. On this practice, he threw high on a 15-yard cross for Brandon Aiyuk, a throw that must be easy. He missed an open Samuel twice, by my count.

There’s lots to learn in all features of the sport. Before practice Sunday, Shanahan met with the total team and reviewed the win over Green Bay. What bugged Shanahan was among the sloppiness, even on big plays. One among the massive stars for the Niners was rookie third-round wideout Danny Gray, who caught a 76-yard TD bomb from Lance in the primary quarter. “Your game is speed,” Shanahan told him. Yet Gray broke from the road in a nasty stance, negating his best asset, and the TD made everyone overlook it.

Same thing with Lance. On an early handoff to running back Trey Sermon, Lance was purported to perform a bootleg fake, so perhaps a defender or two would chase him and never Sermon. No. Lance just watched the play develop, and didn’t perform the fake. Shanahan said: Great, you threw a touchdown pass and we won. But you’ve got to do the whole lot well, not just a few things.

Once I asked Shanahan about it, the reply was some about his own players, some about coaching, some about society. I feel his answer’s vital — all of it — to coaches and players.

“I don’t should think too hard about things,” Shanahan said. “I just say what’s there. These guys are told after games they’re successful because they won a fantasy football game for his or her uncle or something. For those who get the numbers and stuff, you played good, in keeping with everybody. That doesn’t let you know anything. Nothing. We speak about what actually happened on the play. We are able to say we had a great game because we won, but that’s probably not what we’re focused on here within the preseason. We’re focused on the product and the way you probably did it.

“It’s as much as me to show these guys that the people who find themselves deciding whether you make the team or people across the league who’re deciding when you don’t make it here, whether or not they could sign you to their energetic roster, how those people see the play. I would like them to know what coaches who’re studying you see on tape. You then actually get the truth. Stats don’t dictate success. Doing it the appropriate way dictates success.”

So…the near future. What’s it say?

The Niners have two weeks to chop the roster to 53. Theoretically, they might need to make a choice on Garoppolo by then, because in a great world they don’t need a guy they don’t have any intention of keeping count against their 53. But that’s out of their hands unless Cleveland or Seattle figures it will be smart to trade something for him. In the event that they keep Garoppolo, they’d should expose a make-it player on cutdown day and so they could lose a useful special-teams performer, let’s say. The subsequent landmark is the week before the Sept. 12 opener. If Garoppolo is on the roster then, the club would should guarantee his $24.2-million salary for the season.

The truth is that the Niners likely won’t keep Garoppolo with the massive salary. But then there’s the danger of releasing Jimmy G before the season, and a motivated Garoppolo going to Seattle, for instance (San Francisco’s Week Two foe), and interfering with the Niners’ contention plans.

With or without the solitary figure on the practice field, this team is Lance’s now. And I’d advise patience for Niners fans. It’s absurd to expect a savior to point out up at Soldier Field within the Sept. 12 opener. Shanahan can be able to take some pain in 2022. Will Niners Nation?

ST. JOSEPH, Mo.—I’m attempting to sustain, charting offensive formations and plays in my notebook in a quick Kansas City practice at Missouri Western State University. When it was over, and when Patrick Mahomes had piloted about 50 snaps of labor with the first-team offense, I noticed one thing within the 27 plays I’d been capable of sprint-chart: The post-Tyreek Hill offense was utterly unpredictable.

Most noticeable was the usage of JuJu Smith-Schuster. I’d expected him to mimic his Pittsburgh slot-receiver role. In Smith-Schuster’s last two seasons as a Steeler, he was used 78.8 percent of the time within the slot, per PFF. But on at the present time, nine of the 27 plays I used to be capable of chart had Smith-Schuster within the slot. The remaining of the time he was split wide, left, split wide right, or a motion man, or once in what seemed to be jet-motion.

I feel this team is energized by the surface impression of, They’re screwed without Tyreek. This camp visit left me feeling very very similar to once I left Green Bay and just figured Aaron Rodgers will figure it out without Davante Adams. I’m barely less certain about Kansas City, but my gut feeling is Andy Reid and Mahomes will figure it out without Hill.

Imagine lining up the speed of Mecole Hardman wide right and Marquez Valdez-Scantling wide left; tight end Travis Kelce in every single place; Smith-Schuster within the slot and outdoors; sure-handed fifth receiver Justin Watson mostly outside, and Reid’s latest Swiss Army Knife, rookie Skyy Moore, in every single place including the backfield. (I saw that the opposite day — Moore explodes out of the backfield.)

Ever hear the expression, You couldn’t wipe the smile off his face? Once I met with Smith-Schuster after practice, he was the child who got a date with the Homecoming Queen, scored the winning touchdown against the archrival and discovered he got straight A’s on his report card…all in the identical day.

“It’s been fun, man, I’ll let you know that,” Smith-Schuster said. He loved life as a Steeler but thought he was in a Pittsburgh pigeonhole playing almost only within the slot. “That is what I’ve been waiting to do. Everyone has to know everybody’s position. You’ve to know the surface, inside. You can play anywhere. To be on so many personnel groups where we got so many great receivers who could play inside and outdoors, I find it irresistible. That’s what I’ve been wanting to do, to be utilized in so many various ways. It’s so great, the way in which Coach Reid gives Patrick Mahomes so many various options on every play.”

I used to be struck by how rejuvenated this offense seems. Truly, Reid likes Hill, is completely satisfied for him to be the highest-paid receiver in NFL history and knows Hill wanted to depart. So why keep Hill when his heart is elsewhere…and when giving him up and getting five draft picks in the method is one of the best thing for this team and for its ’23 and ’24 salary cap?

But was it one of the best thing for the team? We’ll see — and Reid acknowledged it, form of, in his cinder block dorm room on the campus of this small, classic middle-America university. Reid knows if Hill didn’t take the deal to max out his income and be closer to his family, the unhappiness about his personal life could have spilled over to his skilled life. Now he’s got 4 latest receivers giddy to be fidgeting with Mahomes and coming to work daily saying, Whaddaya got me today, coach?

“It’s good for him and it’ll be good for us,” Reid told me, sitting within the sort of dorm room he’s been living in for the last 10 summers here as coach of his second NFL team: small and rectangular, the sort of room I’d bet some freshman from Lee’s Summit will occupy in a month. “It’s a win-win. I feel it’ll help him in his profession with the Dolphins. Financially it’s phenomenal for him and his family.

“For us, it gives you somewhat juice that perhaps you would like whenever you’ve been someplace for 10 years.”

Read that last sentence again. Reid’s rejuvenated. He’s saying he likes the prospect to reinvent his receiver room. In Reid’s Tenth season here, he gets to be a teacher again. He’s got to get 4 latest guys within the offense — all of whom could play 40 snaps on a given Sunday in probably the most competitive division within the NFL in years — able to hit the bottom running in 27 days when KC opens at Arizona. From what I saw in 90 minutes of tempo offense last week, this offense has the juice Reid wants. Hardman, the speedster within the Hill mode, gets to be handed a few of Tyreek’s old plays to see if he generally is a big star. The 4 newbies—Valdez-Scantling, Smith-Schuster, Moore and the out-of-nowhere Watson—are all cramming to be targets for Mahomes. Kelce will play in every single place and be the NFL’s best security blanket east of Cooper Kupp.

I got here here wondering if I should feel for the 2019 Super Bowl champs as they retooled after losing the electrical Hill. I left pondering, Who wouldn’t miss Tyreek Hill? But there aren’t many teams with the flexibility and the tools that this passing game has.

Mahomes has turn out to be a devotee (and spokesman for) WHOOP. You might have heard of it. WHOOP connects data from a tool worn on the wrist that tracks your recovery, your sleep, and the each day strain in your body, and reports constant movement, heart rate and stress level by the second to an app in your phone. WHOOP is largely a health conscience. You drink lots one night, it shows up. Get a nasty night’s sleep, it shows up. Anyway, you possibly can see the work Mahomes is putting in at training camp. He shared considered one of his each day summaries that showed only a 58 percent recovery … because he’d gotten only 5 hours, 41 minutes of sleep and clearly had a day filled with strain, physical and mental, at training camp in practice and drills. That’s life this summer for Mahomes, due to all of the work and teaching he takes on in training camp. He called that day, in a text shared with me, “a coach reid training day lol.”

“I can’t just concentrate on my job anymore,” Mahomes told me. “I’ve got to concentrate on each person, each detail.”

Gave the impression of it was contributing to his occasional exhaustion. But he said: “I feel it’ll make me a greater quarterback.”

Reid credited Mahomes for taking a serious step forward in being open to the brand new receivers and understanding the whys of trading Hill.

“They showed me the plan,” Mahomes told me. “They showed me the explanations that this needed to be done at the moment. I obviously talked to Tyreek as well, tried to do whatever I could to bring him back. Once we sort of got past that bridge and he was going some place else, that they had an awesome game plan of getting these receivers that now we have out here now. Type of keep this thing moving forward.”

Mahomes is a pragmatist. If he didn’t trust Reid and GM Brett Veach to know easy methods to construct a team for the following decade, he’d never have signed a 10-year deal two years ago. But there’s absolute confidence — he won’t say it — that Mahomes hears the surface world. He knows people think the opposite three teams within the mega-strong AFC West have gotten higher while the world thinks Kansas City has regressed, and its six-season streak of AFC West titles is about to finish.

“When you will have a man as special as Tyreek whenever you get any sort of man coverage, you’re sort of saying forget the read, I’m going to get this guy a probability to go on the market and make a play. Now, the thing is, you don’t know where that go-to guy’s going to be each game. We’ll have a number of different personnel [groups], a number of different receivers, and tight ends and running backs on the sector. It’s going to be hard for defenses to gameplan against.”

I’m just saying: I left that practice the opposite day, with the dizzying array of players playing in every single place, and I feel Mahomes is onto something. How do you gameplan against this offense, even minus Hill?

Last indicate of Mayberry RFD, aka KC camp:

I’m only tangentially fascinated by the social-media noise on all things NFL, but one thing I’ve noticed is the drumbeat of Mahomes’ contract looks bad. Too many players are jumping over it. He must be unhappy.

“Do you hear that stuff?” I asked. “What do you think that?”

“For those who’re ticked off making all the cash that I’m making, you’re probably somewhat bit tousled. I do know I’m going to be taken care of for the remaining of my life. Being on this organization and being on the platform that the NFL has given me, I’ve been capable of earn money off the sector as well. For those who watch among the great quarterbacks, man, it’s not all the time about getting probably the most money. It’s about going on the market and winning and having a legacy you could sort of live with endlessly. For me, that’s what I would like. Obviously, I would like to earn money and have the opportunity to purchase the whole lot I would like and all that different sort of stuff, but that’s not the rationale I began playing football. The explanation I began playing football was to win Super Bowls, to enjoy these relationships that I’m constructing on this field with all my friends who’re my teammates. I feel at the tip of the day if I try this, I’ll be a completely satisfied guy ultimately.”

That’s the guy you wish leading your team.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Last Thursday, 7 a.m., Broncos training camp, indoor turf field. Players should be at training camp at 8, but this 7 a.m. meeting has turn out to be an everyday camp thing. No coaches out here, except coach Russell Wilson, working with the 17 wide receivers and tight ends on the roster. 4 hours from now, the young receivers and tight ends would have an enormous test in a joint practice against Dallas’ defense, and now Wilson was going over coaching points, points about routes, with every receiver on the sector.

One among the plays Wilson would call against Dallas was a deep route designed for likely starting tight end Albert Okwuegbunam. Wilson told “Albert O” (Wilson’s moniker for him) he wanted him to take a rather different cut upfield on a selected route. Okwuegbunam practiced it, got it down, and Wilson said, “Exactly!”

Against the Cowboys, about 45 minutes into practice, the play for Albert O was called. The tight end took the brand new path, Wilson hit him, and the play gained about 40 yards. Later, Wilson singled out that play as one which was made possible by the cadre of tight ends and receivers coming out an hour early, voluntarily, before coach Nathaniel Hackett’s required report time. “It’s the ownership of the players owning our own offense,” Wilson said. “This needs to be a player-ran sort of team. Coach Hackett gives us the keys to do this.”

Wilson has given this team, this organization, this region an enormous shot of adrenaline this summer. On consecutive days last week, Peyton Manning and John Elway, the 2 best quarterbacks in franchise history, showed up to observe. Kenny Chesney’s been a spectator, as has the mayor of Denver. It was 95 degrees with no shade for a midday workday Thursday practice, and 6,500 fans packed the sideline berm to observe. Wilson spent 80 minutes post-practice signing for fans, doing media, fidgeting with his kids on the sector, greeting team legends Rod Smith and Terrell Davis and their families, and talking to considered one of his Wilson’s QB advisors, Marc Trestman. Mainly, he’s the mayor of this place. He’s taken over. It’s happened in a matter of months.

For Wilson, this summer is mindful in a bigger way of summer 2011, when Wilson, a transfer from North Carolina State, showed up as a fifth-year player at Wisconsin. Five weeks later he was a captain of the team. 4 months later, he quarterbacked the Badgers to a win within the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game.

“That is Wisconsin all once more,” agreed one veteran Wilson-watcher. His coach then, Paul Chryst, talked about Wilson setting a tone for the 2011 season from the moment practice began that summer.

Ditto Denver. “He’s a machine,” said GM George Paton. “You don’t really understand it until you see his automotive here at 5:30 within the morning after which see him roaming the halls at 9 at night.”

One other one who knows Wilson well said the collaboration between Wilson and Hackett is different than what he experienced in Seattle: “Coach and Russell aren’t coach-player. They’re partners.” They appear to be having a great time. Hackett, a Star Wars freak who likes to maintain the atmosphere very light, and Wilson were debating naming audible calls after Star Wars characters at some point last week.

This franchise, in fact, has been in a quarterback desert since Manning retired after 2015. Eleven quarterbacks began here prior to now six years, and the franchise is on its first five-season losing streak in a half-century. That’s why not a soul in these parts questioned Paton trading 2022 and ‘23 first- and second-round picks, plus three useable players, to Seattle for Wilson. No price for a franchise QB is simply too steep, particularly when the choice was Drew Lock.

The honeymoon’s in full bloom now. And though I feel Hackett/Wilson goes to work, just a few things should occur for the union to flourish.

Wilson’s got to simply accept all principles of the West Coast Offense, including selling play-action, getting the ball out to open receivers, and never attempting to wait-wait-wait for the massive plays. NFL Movies should have 50 Seattle plays of Wilson from his last two or three Seattle seasons running around, extending plays, attempting to make something, anything occur behind a leaky offensive line. Here, in OTAs and in camp, Hackett told me he’s working on cutting those down and forcing Wilson to take earlier options. He said: “It’s gotten to the purpose that I am going, ‘Hey, you’re late.’ Or Russ says it before I do. Or he talks about it because he knows that that’s the usual I would like. I don’t want him to be touched. I don’t want him to should run around. Now sometimes, you will have to, but those ones I can’t control. The more that he feels that and understands that, the higher it’s going to be.”

There’s also the matter of playing in an ungodly division. The AFC West is so strong top to bottom, as one coach told me last week, that any road division win shouldn’t be considered an upset. Wilson might be his classic self with a 101.8 profession rating and 11.3 wins on average a 12 months (including playoffs), and it won’t result in the promised land in a division with Mahomes, Herbert and Carr. Kansas City’s won six straight division titles, and even without Tyreek Hill, the offense looks ridiculously formidable.

What’s the old coaches’ saying? Control what you possibly can control? So Wilson is doing that, as much as he can. The Broncos lost the sure-handed 6-4 goal Tim Patrick to an ACL injury in camp, which is able to hurt Wilson. What he really needs is the return of Denver’s poor man’s Tyreek Hill, ex-second-rounder K.J. Hamler, attempting to return from a mix ACL and torn hip labrum injury. The Courtland Sutton/Jerry Jeudy 1-2 punch is nice, but no team survives on two receivers today. There’s optimism about Hamler, who had two solid days of practice last week, but he’s a small guy getting back from a severe injury. So no guarantees there.

After 10 years in Seattle, Russell Wilson begins his first 12 months in Denver. (NBC Sports)

I heard something from Sutton at camp that intrigued me. Wilson actually varies his cadence to throw curves on the defense. I’ve never heard of this before. I wish I knew exactly how Wilson did it, but I don’t — it’s proprietary information. But the actual fact is, Wilson is drilling down together with his receivers in order that they understand how each cadence varies from the norm.

“All different cadences now we have, we try to present ourselves a bonus of getting off the ball and catching the defense off guard,” Sutton said. “He makes all of it sound the identical, which is dangerous. If we understand when the ball’s purported to be snapped, we will play at a distinct level, a distinct speed. It’s fun to have the opportunity to govern it the way in which he does since it gives us that small advantage. It allows us to have the opportunity to play fast.”

Sutton mirrors many within the organization, player and coaches and staffers, on Wilson because the rising tide lifting all boats. “He brings that buzz of energy we’ve really needed,” Sutton said. “Individuals who were here when Peyton played say it’s the identical sort of feeling.”

The early-morning sessions, conducted against a virtual defense on the indoor field, have helped the receivers understand what Wilson sees too. “I actually feel like whenever you talk football with him it’s like he’s playing the sport — playing the sport in his mind,” Sutton said. “He’s envisioning the line of defense, linebackers, safeties, corners, the fans. Everybody. He wants us to master the little details the identical way he has. All those little details, they hit for him because he sees the sport in a distinct light than other people.”

Wilson told me he loved his “great first decade within the league” with Seattle, which was, altogether, an excellent time for football within the Pacific Northwest. But here, he will be more of a coach to a young group, with a coach who lets him run his own walk-throughs and be the titular head of the organization. The honeymoon’s on. Now, about breaking Kansas City’s six-year stranglehold atop the division…

Teams I’ve seen, and camps I’ve visited, compartmentalized:


Once I saw them: Saturday interviews at their downtown Houston hotel, then the preseason opener on the Texans.

Five things: Weird to see the Saints for the primary time since 2005 without Sean Payton lording over the team. “People ask me what I’m doing otherwise,” Payton’s successor, Dennis Allen, told me. “Not lots. This team was in great condition once I took over. It’s like walking into your own home on Thanksgiving and the table’s set and the food’s ready. All I’ve got to do is carve the turkey.” One difference within the two fellows, perhaps: Payton was a fiery gameday coach, and Allen will likely be calmer, particularly together with his players and officials. Allen was 8-28 in his first head-coaching spin with the Raiders in 2012-’14 after the death of Al Davis…Bumped into Andy Dalton, one of the best backup quarterback in football, on the hotel. “So completely satisfied to be here,” he said and with good reason. He led the Saints’ lone TD drive Saturday night on his first and only series of the sport. Excellent insurance for Jameis Winston, getting back from his torn ACL…Winston’s had a minor foot injury and didn’t make the trip to Houston, but his knee’s been good and all expectations are that he’ll be able to play at full health in September when the Saints have a 15-day NFC South test: at Atlanta, Tampa at home, at Carolina…The receiver group was Recent Orleans’ weakness last 12 months. Now it may be the strength of the team. Imagine a gap day threesome of Michael Thomas and rookie Chris Olave outside and sage vet Jarvis Landry within the slot with Tre’Quan Smith and Marquez Callaway playing significant snaps. Thomas has been hurt a lot of the last two years; his 149-catch 2019 season is a distant memory. “The previous couple of days in practice we saw the Michael Thomas of before the injuries,” Allen said. “We predict he’ll be ready.”…Tyrann Mathieu and Marcus Maye can be the starting safeties, barring a surprise. There can be hitting.

Player to observe: CB Paulson Adebo. While talking to me on the team hotel about Adebo Saturday afternoon, Coach Allen said: “There’s Adebo now. That’s a corner.” Adebo’s 6-1 and a well-built 195; walking through the hotel, he carried himself confidently and will have passed for a security. The Saints are very high on the previous third-rounder from Stanford to be a fixture at left corner opposite Marshon Lattimore. “He’s had an impressive camp,” Allen said. “He challenges every play. Totally unafraid.” With the massive receivers of the NFC South — 6-5 Mike Evans, 6-3 Robbie Anderson and 6-5 Drake London — the Saints think they’ve a physical matchup corner to challenge larger wideouts.

He said it: Pro Bowl defensive lineman Cam Jordan, once I asked, What continues to drive you?…“My mustache.”

Then he said: “The concept that I would like more. I all the time want more. I feel like, last 12 months, I’m the playoffs on the surface and I would like more. I sat there and announced some in-game announcements within the Super Bowl and that was the primary time I actually was capable of stomach being within the Super Bowl. My energy is, let’s try to win one.”

Cam Jordan has 107 profession sacks over 11 seasons with the Saints. (NBC Sports)

What I’ll remember: Jarvis Landry, somewhat emotional, about his homecoming in his ninth 12 months as a professional. He grew up in the realm and played at LSU, and he smiled like a child in his Saints hoodie at the sport Saturday night. “I actually can’t explain what this implies to me, because I never thought I’d play here,” he said. “It’s surreal, emotional and so motivating.”


Once I saw them: Friday interviews at their NRG Stadium facility, then Saturday preseason opener against the Saints, NRG Stadium.

Five things: Reality bites. The Texans won the meaningless summer opener, when the underside 30 guys on their roster beat the underside 30 on the Saints. But they’re not ready for prime time. On the primary three snaps of the sport, running back Marlon Mack got leveled for a two-yard loss, then wideout Chris Conley got stopped for a lack of one and a sideline gain wanting the sticks. The offensive line remains to be a matter, even after the investments in Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard at tackle…Lovie Smith’s got two years for his patient, teaching approach to work. Houston’s not going to repeat the one-year run of David Culley last 12 months. There’s still a buzz of Josh McCown coaching here in some unspecified time in the future hanging over the franchise, but for now Smith is GM Nick Caserio’s sort of coach with a team that has an extended technique to go…Best young offensive skill player on the roster: wideout Nico Collins, the massive second-year goal from Michigan. If he’s healthy for 17 games, Collins, 6-4 and physical, could turn out to be QB Davis Mills’ favorite goal, with an outdoor probability at a 1,000-yard season. Collins has had a superb camp…Hard to not dream concerning the future, with Houston having its own and Cleveland’s first-round picks in 2023. The Texans have five picks in the primary three rounds next 12 months. Everyone, including Mills, knows the Texans can be scouting Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud and Alabama’s Bryce Young hard this fall…At some point there’ll books dissecting the Deshaun Watson post-mortem, but talking to people contained in the team, they’re just relieved he’s not here to compromise a second straight season.

Player to observe: QB Davis Mills. Out to prove his 102.4 rating over his last five games (with a head-to-head outdueling of Justin Herbert) was no fluke. Interesting perspective about why he selected to return out from Stanford within the 2021 draft despite having only one starting season and having the world tell him: Kid, you’re not ready. Return to play for David Shaw one other 12 months. “I heard it,” he said. “But when you remember, there was a number of uncertainty then with Covid [in January 2021]. Would we have the opportunity to coach as a team at Stanford? Would it not be a standard 12 months with a standard schedule? There have been no guarantees.” Now he’s got a season to prove he must be the long-term guy. Interesting thing I talked about with Mills: He’s lucky to have been the 67th pick within the 2021 draft with zero pressure on him, as an alternative of the primary (Trevor Lawrence) or second (Zach Wilson), with fast production demanded. “Didn’t Peyton [Manning] set the rookie interception record?” Mills said. “I got to play, then watch and learn, then play, in my first 12 months, and I assumed I had a number of growth by the tip.”

He said it: Coach Smith on his style with a young and impressionable team: “I don’t think you possibly can coach on fear. I don’t know a teacher at any level who yells and dog-cusses his student.”

Lovie Smith enters his first season as head coach of the Houston Texans. (NBC Sports)

What I’ll remember: The boldness of Mills. “We’re able to exit and shock the world,” he told me. We are able to chuckle at that, since the Texans have too many holes to shock the world. But there’s a certainty about him that may make this season intriguing, even when the Texans go 4-13.


Once I saw them: Aug. 3 at Bucs training camp. Indoor practice after a stretch of debilitating heat in Tampa area. (Obviously, before Tom Brady left on his 10-day sabbatical.)

Five things: The Bucs brought every major coach and player back from the 2020 Super Bowl team and did win 14 games, but they lost, justifiably, to the Rams within the Divisional Round at home. This 12 months, the plan was different. Imports: receivers Russell Gage and Julio Jones, guard Shaq Mason, safeties Keanu Neal and Logan Ryan, defensive tackle Akiem Hicks. “I’ve thought lots about what we did last 12 months, and I’d probably do the identical thing again,” GM Jason Licht told me. “But we’re excited concerning the fresh blood. A lotta guys want to return and play with Tom.”…Ryan’s been considered one of coach Todd Bowles’ favorite additions. “He desires to learn every position, he holds guys accountable, he communicates. He can play safety, nickel and emergency corner. The last word skilled,” Bowles said…Strange to see Bruce Arians at practice, watching from a golf cart mostly and contributing to the dialog with the quarterbacks and coaches. He resigned within the spring and is staying on as a consultant…Julio Jones is a complete unknown. The day I used to be there he was considered one of five players to have a vets’ time off, and the Bucs are being cautious with a man who rarely practices in-season now and played only 38 percent of the snaps his last two years. They’ll probably jettison a younger receiver and keep Jones. For Brady’s sake, I hope the younger receiver isn’t the Edelman-like Scotty Miller, who must have a fourth or fifth receiver role on some team…

Player to observe: Center Robert Hainsey. A pall fell over the Bucs on the second day of coaching camp when center Ryan Jensen, considered one of the players Tom Brady viewed as vital to his success, went down with a knee injury — perhaps for the season. Coupled with the lack of each starting guards within the offseason, a solid front was crumbling before Brady’s eyes. Taking up for Jensen was Hainsey, a third-round college right tackle at Notre Dame who’d spent last 12 months and this offseason making the transition to center. What a leap of religion the Bucs are showing in Hainsey. I spent 20 minutes with him after practice, and probably the most notable thing about this now vital player, I assumed, was that he will not be in any respect scared concerning the prospect of being the primary line of defense for the GOAT. “I feel when the bullets are flying, we’re rolling and I’m communicating, getting everyone on the identical page. Tom will know he’s got a man in front of him he can trust,” said Hainsey, who’s very confident for a man who’s never began a game at center within the NFL. “I’d expect him to make it as hard on me as possible so by the point we get to game time, he knows I’m able to go.” In practice, he looked prepped. A part of that comes from getting tutored by A.Q. Shipley, a former NFL center and Bucs assistant line coach last season who was tasked with getting Hainsey up to the mark on playing center in the massive leagues. Hainsey trained with Shipley for eight weeks in Arizona this offseason. “I feel it’s going to go well,” Shipley said. “I’ve hammered the mental side of the position with him, and he’s responded well. He’s ready.” He’ll should be.

He said it: Quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen on the mechanics and throwing of Tom Brady: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him throw the football higher. It’s remarkable — 45 years old and the ball comes off his hand with such zip, throw after throw. How does that occur with someone who’s 45? It’s like a number of things about him. It defies common sense. This just hasn’t happened before. What he’s done is incorporate his whole body into his throws. He has trained his arm to be an element of his throwing, not all of it.”

What I’ll remember: The convenience and funky of Bowles in his return shot at being a head coach. He’s got no fear in his second full-time around. A coach must exude an I-belong-here vibe, and that’s Bowles.


Jacoby is starting week one.

— Cleveland coach Kevin Stefanski, after the Browns’ first preseason game Friday in Jacksonville, on quarterback caretaker Jacoby Brissett.



Egregiously awful from Quincy, and he knows that. He knows higher. And people are the plays that Quincy has to get out of his game if he desires to turn out to be the linebacker that I feel he will be.

— Jets coach Robert Saleh, after Recent York linebacker Quincy Williams put an illegal late hit on Philadelphia QB Jalen Hurts.

The hit was ridiculous, and good for Saleh, publicly calling out considered one of his own players for doing something that has no place in the sport.



This will be probably the most talented Dolphins team since Wannstedt took them to the playoffs.

— Former Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson to the Miami Herald.

Dave Wannstedt, the Miami coach from 2000 to midway through 2004, coached playoff teams in 2000 and 2001.



I’ve got to voice my support for Kyle Shanahan’s hat. I actually have seen that they try to make him change. I just wish to say, let my guy live. The camouflage pattern they offered [for us to wear], it’s not doing it. For those who are in a deer blind in Recent Braunfels, Texas, you possibly can pull it off, but not on the sideline.

— Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury, on the league telling Shanahan he can’t wear the non-NFL-sponsored flat-brimmed cap he’s worn on the sidelines for games.



Once he left that press conference no person heard from him for weeks and weeks. He didn’t return calls, he didn’t return texts — he mainly just vanished. And we were one another going, ‘What just happened?’

— An unnamed 49ers assistant coach on the 2018 Niners coaching staff, to Mike Silver, latest sports columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, on Jimmy Garoppolo’s reported lack of attention to detail after signing his $137-million contract extension in early 2018.

Russell Wilson went to Wimbledon this 12 months together with his wife, Ciara. Knowing Wilson, I assumed he’d have gone for the education in addition to the fun. I asked him what he learned from the nice tennis players which means something in his skilled life.

“You recognize me too well.”

(I don’t, really.)

“Well, I feel I learned, ‘One serve at a time. One serve at a time. One serve at a time. Just the power to go in and exit, to regain your focus. To have the opportunity to…The group roars, and the gang boos, ‘ahh,’ ‘ooh,’ and the gang roars again. One serve at a time. One stroke at a time. It’s just, one moment at a time. I feel that that’s what you gain. That’s what I seek for once I watch sports. One free throw at a time for Steph Curry. One shot, one moment, one pitch, one at-bat. You recognize?

“The power to refocus, to refocus, to refocus, to refocus, to refocus, again and again and over and once more. That’s what tennis is. That’s why I went to Wimbledon. It was an incredible experience. Obviously, we had a blast, me and Ciara, and sitting within the Royal Box. But to have the opportunity to observe greatness too, it was really special.”

Regarding Deion Sanders’ statement to “Well Off Media” claiming the Pro Football Hall of Fame is being watered down by a plethora of latest enshrinees:

Sanders said, “The Hall of Fame ain’t the Hall of Fame no more…There must be an upper room. My head don’t belong with a few of these other heads that’s within the Hall of Fame. I’m sorry. I’m just being honest. And a number of y’all Hall of Famers are pondering the identical thing. This thing is becoming a free-for-all now, man.”

Leave it to Deion: My head don’t belong with a few of these other heads that’s within the Hall of Fame.

Let’s examine that.

Within the Nineteen Seventies, 43 men were enshrined within the Hall of Fame.

Within the Eighties, 45 men were enshrined within the Hall of Fame.

Within the last 16 months, 36 men were enshrined within the Hall of Fame. (That may have been the last two years, but Covid delayed by eight months the celebration for the Centennial Class of 15 men elected by a specially appointed subcommittee of the Hall of Fame.)

The Centennial Class goes to have an effect on future classes for years to return. The concept of the Centennial Class was, no less than partly, a brainchild of Hall voter Rick Gosselin, who believed a “cleanup class” of players and coaches who’d been vital in the primary 40 years or so of the NFL but neglected by early Hall voters would do justice to the history of the league because it celebrated its a centesimal season. The Hall agreed and established a voting bloc of 25 voters — some Hall electors, some distinguished NFL people like Bill Belichick and Ozzie Newsome. But Gosselin’s blueprint got waylaid. Only 4 of the 15 Centennial Class members were true old-timers from the sport’s first 40 seasons. The opposite 11 men who got in through the Centennial passgate were involved in the sport as players, coaches, GMs or a commissioner since 1970.

Now a few of those elected will influence future classes. And, presumably, incur more wrath from Hall critics like Sanders.

4 of the last 36 people elected were coaches. Examining the typical record of the last 4 coaches in—Bill Cowher, Jimmy Johnson, Tom Flores, Dick Vermeil:

Average record: 120-93.

Average Super Bowls won 1.5 (six total by the 4 coaches).

Coaches with no less than 120 wins and one championship not within the Hall: 12.

Those 12 coaches, with their profession wins: Bill Belichick 321, Andy Reid 252, Tom Coughlin 182, Mike Shanahan 178, Mike Holmgren 174, Pete Carroll 163, Mike Tomlin 162, Sean Payton 161, Mike McCarthy 153, John Harbaugh 148, George Seifert 124, Jon Gruden 122.

And what of Marty Schottenheimer (205 wins) and Dan Reeves (201)? They never won Super Bowls, but because the ninth- and Tenth-winningest coaches ever, should they be eliminated because they’ve zero rings? Schottenheimer coached 13 teams to the playoffs in 21 seasons, and he can’t get a sniff. That’s not right. Championships are vital on this process and must be. The proven fact that Schottenheimer has the ninth-most wins ever and doesn’t have a Super Bowl win shouldn’t be disqualifying.

When Sanders throws a Molotov cocktail on the Hall process, it’s easy to say he’s way off base. But his contention, stripping away the inflammatory words, is that it’s easier to get within the Hall than it was. And he’s right about that.


The Broncos hired an “instructional designer” on their coaching staff when Nathaniel Hackett was named coach. John Vieira, who went to varsity at UC-Davis with Hackett and has been a great friend since then, is on staff now. He coaches the coaches. “He teaches teachers easy methods to teach,” Hackett said.

Vieira’s an awesome example of teaching people easy methods to reach Gen Z and interact with players in order that they’ll soak in the training, as Hackett told me. “At first, everyone thought, who the hell is that this guy? John wondered, ‘Am I gonna have enough work?’ Then they saw my first team meeting with the presentation John created, with graphics popping off the screen, and video of a basketball game with our guys’ heads on the players. And everybody was like, Whoa. That opened up the floodgates. I walked by his office the following day and there’s two coaches in there telling him what they need for his or her meeting.

“Learning’s about inspiration. It’s about keeping things fresh. In an extended season, you gotta continually try this.”



Now this was cool: Walking into the Texans press box at NRG Stadium Saturday night before the Recent Orleans-Houston game, I used to be greeted with this latest display:

Former Houston Chronicle Texans scribe John McClain in front of the team’s latest John McClain Media Wall of Fame. (NBC Sports)

Yes, John McClain is the charter member of the John McClain Media Wall of Fame in Houston. It recognizes those that cover the franchise and football in the realm. In fact, he must be the primary member of his own club. McClain covered football in Houston and Waco for 51 years, reported on the Oilers of their heyday and covered every Texans event since their inception for the Houston Chronicle.

He retired from the Chronicle March 31 at 70, but I’m undecided I’d call writing an online column, doing 10 weekly talk shows in six cities and three Texans podcasts and planning to be a sports columnist for a soon-to-be-announced local website, “retired.”

The Texans didn’t tell him they were doing this. At some point within the spring they told him to return as much as the press box for an event, and when he walked off the elevator he saw the John McClain Media Wall of Fame — he had no clue — and so they asked him to say just a few things.

“I can’t let you know the last time I got choked up — perhaps when Old Yeller died,” he said Saturday night. “But I used to be blown away by this. It’s something else.”


Thursday, 7:24 pm MT, United Airlines, Denver to Houston flight, delayed.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the rationale now we have not pushed off the gate is that we don’t have fuel.”




Andy Reid and his wife, Tammy, took a vacation to Italy this offseason.

After they got there, Andy Reid had a conversation with considered one of the locals at the beginning of the trip.

Local: “What sort of wine do you want?”
Reid: “I don’t drink wine.”

Local: “Coffee — what about coffee?”

Reid: “I don’t drink coffee.”


Reid: “I prefer to eat.”


Wynton Bernard telling his mom he’s going to the Major Leagues after 10 seasons within the minors is one of the best thing you’ll ever see pic.twitter.com/rRJiqw3OeZ

— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) August 13, 2022

The all-purpose sports site will not be kidding.

Mom to Wynton: “For those who stand up there, and also you stay for at some point, you made it. You made it to the mountaintop.”

Bernard’s debut: 1 for 3, infield single to 3rd within the seventh inning at Coors Field off vet Chris Devenski, stolen base, final run scored in a 5-3 Colorado win over Arizona.



Alright Arizona, it is a latest one for me…

I’ve got a baby rattlesnake in my bathroom.

What do I do?

— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) August 13, 2022

Don’t pet it.



Did the Bears say something about moving to Arlington Heights? https://t.co/WeLyy0Q1To

— Dan Pompei (@danpompei) August 13, 2022

Pompei, long-time Bears’ authority, now writes for The Athletic, mentioning the condition of Soldier Field before Saturday’s preseason opener.



Probably the most underused coaching suggestions:

“Leave it alone.”

— Tom House 〽️ (@tomhouse) August 11, 2022

The previous MLB pitcher and current quarterback-throwing and pitcher guru. Man, I like those words.



That is the best athletic performance by a pitcher I’ve ever seen! pic.twitter.com/KPPF3k73y9

— Baseball Bros (@BaseballBros) August 10, 2022

BaseballBros celebrates all things baseball.



After getting hit in the pinnacle with a pitch, this little leaguer showed a real act of sportsmanship by comforting the pitcher 🥲 pic.twitter.com/AbzXaLL5uz

— ESPN (@espn) August 9, 2022

Reach me at peterkingfmia@gmail.com, or on Twitter @peter_king.

Objects to the “rigged” comment concerning the Browns. From John Janovec of Norton, Ohio: “In a league rife with hypocrisy, I find it laughable that the league, the opposite 31 owners, and you discover it unseemly that the Browns ‘rigged’ Deshaun Watson’s contract this 12 months to reduce any financial losses suffered consequently of games lost to suspension. Where was the outrage in 2016 when the Patriots restructured Tom Brady’s contract similarly to reduce any financial losses he would suffer consequently of his four-game suspension?”

You make a degree value considering, John, but let’s examine the difference within the two situations. Brady cut his 2016 salary from $9 million to $1 million while at the identical time adding two years to his contract, before serving his four-game ban. He saved $1.88 million by doing that. Compare that to Watson six years later. If Watson has his suspension upped to, say, 10 games, he can be docked $575,000 for the games missed. His total 2022 compensation is $46 million, so if that were used as a base for the high-quality, a 10-game ban would cost Watson $27.1 million of his $46 million. Just a little bit different, Watson gains a bonus of $26.5 million if his high-quality is just $575,000.

One other thing I’d like to deal with. The Browns didn’t cheat by establishing the contract this manner. Once I used “rigged,” it doesn’t mean they did anything illicit. That’s just the effect of the way in which they did the deal, with 98 percent being in a bonus and a comparatively tiny portion in salary. They’re allowed to do it. They’ve done it with other contracts as well to melt the blow of the massive contract in the primary 12 months. Obviously, though, I feel the league must high-quality Watson significantly due to games he’s missing. Is it fair, really, for a player suspended for greater than half the season — if that’s what happens — to make 98 percent of his compensation for the 12 months? In fact not.

He doesn’t like Aaron Rodgers. From Joe Saraco of Elkins Park, Pa.: “Here’s a clown who’s perfectly willing to go to the jungle to make use of hallucinogenics but refused to take a scientifically proven vaccine to guard himself and family and teammates from a deadly virus. Was he ‘immunized’ while he was within the jungle? I actually think you need to have questioned him on this. I’m 66 years old and have all the time had a keenness for the Packers due to their greatness in my youth but I can never root for Rodgers to have success. I feel back to an outline of then Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Curt Schilling by the GM on the time, Ed Wade, who said, ‘He’s a horse on the sector but a horse’s ass off the sector.’ “

Rodgers is a sophisticated guy, Joe. I fervently disagreed together with his vax stand and wrote that. But I feel it’s laudable that he’s trying — no less than in his mind — to higher himself and maybe construct a bridge together with his estranged family. Hard to search out fault with that.

Why Scully mattered. From Ron Lawton: “Eager about Vin Scully and other high-quality baseball announcers, it strikes me that I’d tune to a baseball game due to announcer (Vinnie specifically) but I watch football on TV due to match ups. For all the cash that the TV guys make, I can’t say that I ever tuned to a game (or away from the sport) due to broadcasters. Baseball radio announcers matter, football TV guys don’t.”

Great point. Scully is one guy I feel tens of 1000’s of individuals found so inviting that they’d take heed to him even in the event that they were only marginally fascinated by the sport.

 I flunked geography. From Dorron Katzin: “Why did your schedule last week have you ever travel from Green Bay to Chicago to Minneapolis? I live in Chicago. When my wife and I were first married, her parents had a summer home west and north of Green Bay, so I made that trip over and over. Chicago to Green Bay to Minneapolis is somewhat shorter. I’m curious why you traveled from Green Bay to Chicago to Minneapolis.”

It’s all schedule-related, Dorron. Because I desired to do the Vikings on Saturday and drive six hours to St. Joseph, Mo., on Sunday for Kansas City’s Monday practice, and since the Packers had “Family Night” practice Friday night (not good for spending time with players or coaches), Thursday was one of the best day for to be in Green Bay. I flew from Tampa to Green Bay late Wednesday, saw the Packers practice Thursday morning (and got Matt LaFleur and Rodgers afterward), and that meant Bears on Friday. I’d have preferred Bears-Pack-Vikes in that order, but you possibly can’t all the time get what you wish.

On the subject of my age. From Josh Hager, Las Vegas: “65??? 65!?!?! As I read today — as a decades-long reader — I still see the identical sharpness to your pondering and writing. I actually get to work early on Mondays so I can read your column, guilt-free. Don’t let anyone but you let you know when to decelerate!”

That’s so good of you to say, Josh. Thanks. I don’t feel 65, however the birth certificate, as they are saying, is what it’s. I would like to respect that and stay energetic and take a look at to outrun my family history.

A lot of objections to me saying the addition of Wealthy Bisaccia as Green Bay special-teams coach could be more significant than the subtraction of Davante Adams for the Packers in 2022. From Daniel Ruiz (via Twitter): “Coach Wealthy is awesome. Raiders fans and players know that greater than most. And Rodgers is great, but when he can’t win with Adams he’ll with a special teams coach?”

Well, Daniel, I could look really dumb for saying that if Rodgers is inefficient and the Packer offense struggles. It’s only a gut feeling. Green Bay can be much improved at its weakest area, special teams, by adding among the best special-teams coaches in the sport after falling out of the playoffs last 12 months resulting from a blocked punt by San Francisco at Lambeau Field. My point is that Rodgers has a history of determining easy methods to win with a lesser receiving corps, and I feel he’ll do it again, and so they’re not totally bereft there with the early-camp emergence of Romeo Doubs. But we’ll see. Those beating me up over this might be right, but I’ll stand by what I wrote.

1. I feel my first response to Deshaun Watson telling reporter Aditi Kinkhabwala he was “truly sorry to all the ladies that I actually have impacted in this example,” was, it’s about time. “The choices that I made in my life that put me on this position I’d definitely prefer to have back,” he said. “But I would like to proceed to maneuver forward and grow and learn and show that I’m a real person of character.” Okay. Flashback to the press conference introducing Watson last spring. Watson then: “I never disrespected and I never harassed any woman in my life.” So … which is it?

2. I feel it’s good to see Watson taking responsibility, finally. And it’s probably a case of being lawyered up for a very long time, but the very first thing Watson has to deal with if he’s really coming clean is to clarify why he said for months he never did anything mistaken. If he truly felt that way, what switch was flipped, and when, and why?

3. I feel probably the most significant quarterback news of the preseason weekend was not Kenny Pickett going 13 of 15 with a walkoff TD pass in his preseason debut for the Steelers — immediately becoming the preferred man in Pittsburgh. Essentially the most significant news was Joe Burrow returning to practice Sunday after 18 days away (appendicitis surgery). Any doubt he opens the season under center for the AFC champs…pfft. Gone.

4. I feel the team that goes away to camp the longest is Kansas City, and once I went to St. Joseph, Mo. last week to take the temperature of this perennial contender, I discovered a few interesting things — interesting to me, anyway — about going away. Reid enters his Tenth season as Kansas City coach (where has the time gone?), and he has steadfastly kept his love of going away to training camp intact at a time when scores of teams are retrenching and staying at home facilities. This 12 months, Reid’s team can be away at camp the longest of any team within the league: 27 days (minus the times away from St. Joseph, Mo., for preseason games and league-mandated off days). In his cinder block dorm room at Missouri Western State University, an hour before a recent morning practice, he said: “Peyton Manning told me, ‘I like that you just still go away to camp. That’s one of the best.’ I feel it creates an environment where you possibly can totally concentrate on football. No distractions. We’re here, we’re working. It’s all football. It’s great for camaraderie, for guys attending to know one another. One other advantage for us is it gives our fields back at our facility a break. They take a number of wear and tear. Having an extended period with nobody on them means they’ll be in good condition for the season after we get back.”

5. I feel I feel strongly about this Tom Brady deal about taking 10 days off for a private matter in the course of training camp. Very strongly. Brady has a lot currency within the bank with coaches and teams regarding dedication to the job and devotion to his craft that when he involves the Bucs and says he needs 10 days away, my response could be: “Take more when you need it.”

6. I feel I don’t care to invest on what it may be. He deserves the appropriate to call his shot here and to maintain the rationale to himself.

7. I feel just one thing within the preseason meant anything much this weekend: 17 penalties by the Cowboys. That has to stop, and it has to stop now. Ridiculous.

8. I feel, re Seattle defensive lineman Shelby Harris saying the 2022 training camp experiment of some position groups wearing the padded Guardian Caps surrounding their helmets, “They’re silly:” I’m going to withstand the temptation to say “That’s silly.” I don’t play football. So I don’t know if Harris’ contention is correct. He thinks because linemen and linebackers who wear the caps could get so used to the additional padding they’ll let their guards down once the Guardian Caps come off, and use their helmets to make contact greater than they might without the experience of Guardian Caps. Harris may be right. But once I was in Steelers camp, I assumed what T.J. Watt said to me was smart: “I don’t know in the event that they’re going to do any good. But they will’t hurt. Anything I can do to have a probability to play longer and do less damage [to the brain], I’m in favor of.” Harris’ contention that guys will get used to the additional padding and play more carelessly…I assume it’s possible. But to assume players will lead with their heads more, to me, is a faulty assumption.

9. I feel for those surprised Watson began the primary preseason game for Cleveland, why? If I were Stefanski, I’d be playing Watson and the first-team offense max snaps in games before he has to depart the team for his multi-week suspension. As I wrote last week, it’s tough to count on Watson being able to hit the bottom running with a latest team after almost two seasons of not playing in real games.

10. I feel these are my other thoughts of the week:

a. Football Story of the Week: Seth Wickersham of ESPN.com on the life and times of Sean McVay

b. Two words come to mind: masterful, vivid.

c. Wickersham’s great. We within the business know that. A story like this reinforces the importance of granular details and stories from the center of an individual’s being, when knitted together in a well-written jigsaw puzzle, make up the right story.

d. Wrote Wickersham of the time when, as a young head coach, he supremely ticked off his young offensive coordinator, Matt LaFleur:

During one practice, there was a disagreement between offensive line coach Aaron Kromer and LaFleur. McVay entered the fray, weighed in, backed Kromer and went about practice, not pondering much of it.

Later that day, LaFleur entered his office, livid that McVay had sided with Kromer. “You showed me up in front of the players,” LaFleur said. “With all due respect, you need to just fire my ass without delay.”

McVay felt his blood pressure rise. The Rams were playoff-bound — and LaFleur, considered one of his best friends, was complaining about this?

“You recognize what?” McVay replied. “I f—ing hate this job. I’m f—ing quitting. F— this s—. I hate myself. I hate that I’m treating you want this …”

“No!” LaFleur said. “You possibly can’t try this!”

e. The quote about trading for Stafford with the five F-bombs and the hanging courage just adds to the unvarnished truth.

f. American Story of the Week: Marin Cogan of The Highlight, via Vox (H/T “Sunday Long Reads), on probably the most dangerous road within the country, an eight- to-10-lane highway in Pasco County, Fla.

g. I never consider these gigantic roads with stoplights and excessive speeds as death traps, but they were never made for pedestrian traffic to traverse, and this story tells you why.

h. Writes Cogan:

Crashes are so ubiquitous that some speak about an old bumper sticker on cars that read: “Pray for me, I drive on US-19.” One other a part of US-19, in neighboring Pinellas County, is usually called “death valley.” However the road is just about unavoidable for most individuals attempting to move freely through the realm, and the alternatives aren’t significantly better. Nobody is more endangered on the road than those that use it unprotected by a ton of steel — and there are a number of them.

“This road has so many cars,” says Julie Bodiford, a nurse who lives in the realm, “and it’s death after death.”

Julie’s brother, Kevin Bodiford, knew US-19 well. He didn’t have a automotive and he liked to walk, so the 33-year-old traveled it often, to go to friends and to maneuver between his clan’s houses. Each morning, he met his mom for coffee on the 7-Eleven on US-19 and Recent York Avenue in Hudson; it was their each day ritual, the way in which he checked in along with her to let her know that he was okay.

Just after 2 a.m. on June 10, 2021, Kevin was walking on the side of the road. Surveillance footage from the 7-Eleven shows him in a baby blue shirt, blue shorts, a UNC baseball cap, and a backpack. He’d been at a friend’s house for a bonfire earlier within the night; Julie thinks he was headed for his or her mom’s house.

Within the official crash report from that night, the police said that Bodiford was attempting to cross the road. The footage Kevin’s family obtained from a close-by business is grainy, but it surely shows something else: Kevin walks, and a truck towing a trailer passes him without incident. Then he appears to stop. Headlights illuminate his body. A white Chevrolet pickup truck plows through. Within the video, Kevin is there one moment and gone the following. He was thrown from the road. His backpack was knocked off. The driving force tapped the brakes and drove off, leaving Kevin to die on the side of the highway.
i. Five years, 48 pedestrian deaths. Wow.

j. Coffeenerdness: Flew United just a few times last week, and man, those folks must up their coffee game. It’s more coffee-flavored water than real coffee.

k. Beernerdness: Possibly it was the 94-degree practice in Denver Thursday. Possibly it was my fondness for wheat ale. Or perhaps a mix of the 2. Whatever, I highly recommend a beer I had at Elway’s within the Denver airport before flying to Houston: Beehive American Wheat Ale (Bristol Brewing Company, Colorado Springs, Colo.). Discuss an ideal beer for just the appropriate time…light, very cold, classic wheat taste and spices. I got a second one.

l. Nice Roasted Corn and Chicken Chowder at Elway’s, BTW.

m. Lindsay Jones: So completely satisfied to see someone as distinguished as you get a job as influential as helping run NFL coverage at The Ringer. Great deal. And made for all the appropriate reasons. Good for you.

n. Societal Story of the Week: Danielle Abril of the Washington Post, on the change of life as a young white-collar employee today: “Gen Z staff demand flexibility, don’t wish to be stuffed in a cubicle.

o. Headline says all of it. Writes Abril:

When Ginsey Stephenson moved to San Francisco for work in February, she finally met and mixed along with her colleagues for the primary time. It was something the 23-year-old had longed for since entering the skilled world out of faculty seven months prior.

The boutique public relations firm she works for follows a hybrid schedule of three days within the office per week, meaning she not has to nervously message people on Slack she had never met in person. Most significantly, being within the office has helped her transition from working from her parents’ Virginia home — very similar to she did in class — to life as a working adult.

“I actually love going into the office — it feels more organic,” Stephenson said. “But I don’t know the way anyone went into the office daily. I don’t know if we were cut out to work in a pre-covid world.”

p. Office mandates…weird. Comprehensible, but weird.

q. When in Houston the opposite day, on the twelfth floor of a downtown hotel, I checked out the office constructing across the road. I could make out the insides of eight floors. The underside two had people in them on Friday, working, apparently. The six above them, empty.

r. This can be a vibrant city, or was. When my producer Annie Koeblitz and I drove to interview some Texans in mid-morning Friday, it was like a ghost town downtown. Once we got here back within the afternoon, same thing. I hope people come back to work, for the sake of the cities.

s. On my night table at house is “Path Lit by Lightning: The lifetime of Jim Thorpe,” by David Maraniss. Fired as much as dive into it. The Maraniss treatment on anyone is great, and his work on considered one of the nice athletes in history who we all know so little about is a very important contribution to the sporting world.

t. How over and over do now we have to see the Nets attempt to live with the superstar ethos and fail (Garnett/Pierce as ancients, Durant/Irving/Harden as incendiary devices) before we are saying: Perhaps the technique to construct a team is to, you understand, construct a team.

u. Scott Pioli used to have a saying on his wall in Recent England as Bill Belichick’s chief personnel man. “Individuals go to Pro Bowls. Teams win championships.”

v. Wow, Fernando Tatis. Eighty games. I don’t pretend to know the whole lot concerning the story, but for a player to take a drugs with ingredients he wasn’t aware of (if that’s the case here) is mind-boggling. Doesn’t Tatis have people around him who could monitor that stuff? Shouldn’t he? Eighty games. The Padres’ season. It’s just not comprehensible that one player could make a mistake that massive.

w. Warm thoughts and desires to considered one of the nice gentlemen in the sport, Len Dawson, who has entered hospice care at age 87 in Kansas City. Such a great man.

Ruling on Watson.

We wait. No way I’d wait now.

Settlement: 12 games.

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