Hall president on Terrell Owens: ‘He felt disrespected’

By Nick Shook
Around The NFL Writer
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Terrell Owens won’t be in Canton, Ohio, next week with the rest of his fellow 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement class members — and as a result, his name will largely be a footnote during the weekend’s festivities.

Owens will be on the banners hanging around the Hall’s campus and on the video boards of the main stage. He’ll go down in history as one of eight to be inducted in 2018 into football’s most hallowed place, the home of gridiron immortality. Merchandisers will likely sell plenty of gear with his likeness on it during the weekend. But in terms of the event, that’s about where his time in the spotlight will end. Continue reading

Joe Thomas: Austin Corbett is a guard, not a tackle

By Nick Shook
NFL.com
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I was wrong.

Last week, in the return (!) of Behind the Offensive Line, we broke down some key offensive line battles across the league. I mentioned how the Browns would approach replacing future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas. Being a big believer in guards with potential, I listed No. 33 pick Austin Corbett as a contender for the left tackle position with veteran Shon Coleman.

Then I sat down with Thomas and chatted about his career, offensive line play and the situation at his old post in Cleveland. Continue reading

AFC West training camp preview: Key players to watch

By Nick Shook
Around The NFL writer
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Training camp is quickly approaching, which means it’s time to preview the most exciting part of the summer. With camps opening later this month, Jeremy Bergman, Herbie Teope, Nick Shook and Marc Sessler are examining the key issues for each team in this division-by-division series. Here’s the AFC West camp primer:

Denver Broncos

Training camp report dates: rookies (July 24) and veterans (July 27).

Location: UCHealth Training Center in Englewood, Colorado.

Most important position battle: Devontae Booker vs. Royce Freeman, running back. Denver has struggled to put together a legitimate threat on the ground in the last two seasons, and even though C.J. Anderson broke 1,000 yards rushing in 2017, it’s been a point of relative weakness. With Anderson now in Carolina and Booker in the lead back role (for now), Denver looks to reset the position group. Neither Booker nor Freeman has proven to be a remarkable receiving option, making this competition a closer one, in that the “loser” can’t just be shifted into a receiving-back role. Booker owns the advantage of experience, but Freeman is more equipped for a load, seeing as the third-round pick has 15 pounds on the third-year pro. Then again, Freeman also has a lot of mileage on him from his college days (he rushed 947 times for 5,621 yards and 60 touchdowns in four seasons at Oregon). Freeman could become the sought-after answer at the position, which is important because it can take a portion of the load off the shoulders of new quarterback Case Keenum. Continue reading

Joe Mixon drops weight, aims for breakout season

By Nick Shook
Around The NFL writer
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We’re mostly past “I’m in the best shape of my life” season, but are circling back for one more notable weight-loss journey.

Bengals running back Joe Mixon — not known as a chunky back — has shed some pounds in the offseason, trimming from 230 to 218, per the team’s official site. How did Mixon do it, you ask? It wasn’t a fad diet or something purchased from an infomercial. Mixon lost the weight by (unsurprisingly) working out consistently in the sweltering climates of Norman, Oklahoma, and Oakland, California.

The bigger surprise here, though, is that he needed to lose it at all. Mixon looked like a back who was just one block or cut away from making big plays in preseason action and during the regular season. Weight didn’t seem to be an issue. Continue reading

Behind the O Line: Training camp position battles to watch

By Nick Shook
Around The NFL writer
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Welcome back!

In case you couldn’t tell by the droplets of sweat gathering upon your brow, summer is here. Training camp is merely days away. The dog days of the preseason are near (don’t all groan at once).

More than 2,800 players are going to fight for their football lives in the next month, with some competitions more dire than others. We’re here to preview a handful of position battles up front that will be worth watching across the league. Continue reading

Roundup: DeMarcus Lawrence won’t play on tag in ’19

By Nick Shook
Around The NFL writer
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The tag deadline arrived and passed without so much as a whimper.

The four players who received the franchise tag this offseason and hadn’t yet negotiated a long-term deal didn’t accomplish such a task by Monday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline. Those players: Lions defensive end Ezekiel AnsahCowboys defensive end DeMarcus LawrenceRams safety Lamarcus Joyner and most notably, Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, will play the 2018 season under their respective tags. Continue reading

NFC North training camp preview: Key players to watch

By Nick Shook
Around The NFL writer
Read full post on NFL.com

Training camp is quickly approaching, which means it’s time to preview the most exciting part of the summer. With camps opening later this month, Jeremy Bergman, Herbie Teope, Nick Shook and Marc Sessler are examining the key issues for each team in this division-by-division series. Here’s the NFC North camp primer:

Chicago Bears

Training camp report dates: rookies (July 16) and veterans (July 19).

Location: Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois.

Most important position battle: Anthony Miller vs. Taylor Gabriel. Gabriel was cut by Cleveland in 2016 and became the diminutive darling of Atlanta’s passing attack alongside Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu, contributing at a clip of 16.5 yards per catch and snagging six touchdowns. His production dropped a bit in 2017 (11.5 yards per catch, one touchdown), eventually leading to his departure for Chicago, where he joins an uncertain receiving corps with a chance to make an impact. Miller, a second-round pick who is drawing praise from new head coach Matt Nagy for his intuitive route-running ability, looms. Should Miller have an impressive camp, he might find himself in the opening-day starting lineup outside or in the slot. The same goes for Gabriel, who will have to battle for a starting job from the jump, the kind of challenge with which he isn’t unfamiliar, having been an undrafted free agent back in 2014. Continue reading

Tony Romo predicts Packers-Jaguars matchup in SB LIII

By Nick Shook
Around The NFL writer
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We’re about 15 months into Tony Romo’s retirement, and after a stellar first season in the broadcast booth, he’s cruising at an enviable altitude.

But does that give him the right to see into the future?

It’s a joke, of course — everyone has a right to predictions, no matter how outlandish. Romo has displayed fortune-telling abilities during games, predicting plays right before they’re executed (“Jim, I’ve got $5 this is a run to the left”) on various occasions during the 2017 season. He combined the two on Wednesday during an appearance on NFL Total Access. Continue reading

Terrell Owens aims to return to football with CFL team

By Nick Shook
Around The NFL writer
Read full post on NFL.com

Terrell Owens doesn’t want any part of ceremonies in Canton, Ohio, but he wants in north of the border.

The 44-year-old former All-Pro, who is less than a month from being enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, wants to add an extra chapter to his playing career in a league that plays with an extra man. Owens has activated a clause that will force the Edmonton Eskimos, the Canadian Football League team that owns his rights, to either offer him a contract or release him from their control within 10 days, according to TSN. Continue reading