More than just a pocket: Inside look at NFL pass protections

By Nick Shook
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It’s been said more and more in recent years, and it isn’t going away any time soon: the NFL is a passing league.

But passing isn’t just a competition of the strongest, most-accurate arms and most talented receivers. Much like how an effective running game begins and ends with the men opening holes and creating alleys, the passing game can only flourish behind a group of dependable, agile linemen.

Tackles, guards and centers must be able to drop in protection, slide and even fake certain protections before the true play is revealed. Below are a few of the more common techniques you’ll see in today’s passing games. Continue reading

Seahawks, Marshawn Lynch resolution on hold

By Nick Shook
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Will he, or won’t he?

That’s been the question swirling endlessly around Marshawn Lynch since word trickled out that the running back might be interested in returning to the NFL. While we wait for Beast Mode to decide — even his agent wasn’t sure a week ago — it seems as though the Seahawks really couldn’t care less. Or could they?

Head coach Pete Carroll spoke with reporters Wednesday at the NFC Coaches Breakfast at the Annual League Meetings in Phoenix and said yes, the Seahawks have communicated with Lynch, but not much else on the matter. That was pretty much that.

“He came through the office and had a good visit,” Carroll said Wednesday per ESPN. “I know that he is somewhat entertaining the thought of it. I can’t tell you how strong it is. You’ve got to talk to him. And that chance isn’t happening.”

One of the franchise’s best backs in its history is mulling a return, and that’s all the public gets? Well, there’s a bit to unpack here. Continue reading

Oklahoma Drill: Jamal Adams

Jamal Adams

Safety, LSU
Born: Oct. 17, 1995
Experience: 2017 NFL Draft prospect

Jamal Adams comes from a family with great expectations and greater bloodlines. His father, George, was a first-round pick by the New York Giants in the 1985 NFL Draft, but Jamal has believed since he was 10 that he can surpass his dad. A month before potentially realizing his dream as a top-10 pick, the All-American safety talked about his innate ability to lead, his penchant for getting kicked out of youth football leagues and a draft bet he made with a fellow prospect way back in high school.

Interview by Nick Shook • March 27, 2017
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NFL Media’s Oklahoma Drill series presents exclusive, quick-hitting one-on-one interviews with players and coaches from around the league. No nonsense — just football experiences directly from the source.

I get the assumption that my father (former first-round pick and Giants/Patriots running back George Adams) kind of forced me to play football, but it wasn’t like that. I was thrown in the game and I ran with it. I fell in love with the game right around age 6, 7, just saying that this is what I wanted to do. I remember telling my mom that I wanted to be in the NFL, and now it’s here. I was never forced, but I was always supposed to be, I was raised to be on a high level. Never cut yourself short. Always give 110 percent and just do your best. Continue reading

Cowboys agree to terms on coordinator extensions

By Nick Shook
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Fresh off a 13-3 season upon which any franchise would love to build, the Cowboys took it one step further and locked up some important coaches.

Dallas reached agreements on extensions with coordinators Scott Linehan, Rod Marinelli and special teams coach Rich Bisaccia, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per sources informed of their situations. The deals were struck weeks ago, but avoid lame duck status for the coaches, Rapoport added.

Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram first reported the news.

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Oklahoma Drill: David Njoku

David Njoku

Tight end, Miami
Born: July 10, 1996
Experience: 2017 NFL Draft prospect
David Njoku went from the scout team to the national scene in just three seasons at the University of Miami, and he is slated to be the first Hurricane off the board in the 2017 NFL Draft. The former high school high-jump champion discusses why he doesn’t fear blocking, the most unique question he was asked during the NFL Scouting Combine and that thrilling (and controversial) end to a contest against Duke during his college days.
Interview by Nick ShookMarch 21, 2017

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Inside look at the NFL’s most popular run blocking concepts

By Nick Shook
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Offensive linemen are often complimented by being referred to as maulers, and while it’s a good quality, it’s also unfair.

This is because linemen are much more than grizzly bears, capable of nothing more than simply overpowering an adversary. The modern lineman is an elite-level athlete who’s tasked with many responsibilities and movements. Playing a tackle, guard or center position effectively is a work of art — if you know what to look for.

The league’s best units are strong individually and as a collective group of five — or for teams such as Pittsburgh and Oakland in certain situations, six — but the types of plays they run can be quite different. Let’s take a look at some differences below. Continue reading

Ben Roethlisberger ‘leaning towards’ return in 2017

By Nick Shook
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Veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger spoke on his future as the man under center for the Steelers on Friday.

To no one’s surprise, it looks like he’ll be coming back.

Roethlisberger said he’s “leaning towards it” — it being returning to play for Pittsburgh in 2017 — when speaking at Liberty University on Friday, per the Observer-Reporter (Washington, Pennsylvania). Continue reading

Team signings bolster some O-lines, raise concerns for others

By Nick Shook
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It’s a common saying that teams who win free agency tend to lose on the field. And yet, we spend the first days of the new league year refreshing our browsers and Twitter feeds, waiting to see which teams catch the big fishes.

There’s an upside to free agency, though. While many skilled players will profit off career seasons and fail to match them with new teams, in new systems, many linemen changed teams, too. It’s in these switches that we tend to see more positive outcomes — and more often on the interior than anywhere else.

Let’s take a look at some of the teams who made big moves with big guys. Continue reading