Cleveland Browns move Joel Bitonio to left tackle spot

By Nick Shook
Around The NFL Writer
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A week after dancing around the idea of sending Joel Bitonio out to the edge of the Browns‘ offensive line, Hue Jackson has committed to the change.

Thanks in part to right guard Kevin Zeitler‘s early exit from Wednesday’s practice, Cleveland trotted out a left-side lineup that offensive line coach Bob Wylie termed on July 29 as “Option Z“: Bitonio at left tackle and rookie Austin Corbett at left guard. And according to Jackson, it’s here to stay.

Jackson told reporters Wednesday “it’s full speed ahead with Joel” at left tackle, per the Associated Press’ Tom Withers, explaining moving the excellent guard to tackle gives the Browns their best five up front. Continue reading

EP 3 – Everyone hates their alarm clocks (and NFL training camp is here!)

Sean Barie and Nick Shook discuss NFL training camp news, the best and worst arrivals, Sam Darnold’s future in New York, uniform changes, Pittsburgh’s little-brother complex with Philadelphia, morning alarms and the most frequently banned wedding reception songs. Story of the Week continues with a man and his alligator friend, and a bonus tale of a scooter-mounted traveler riding by the glow of a special light. Rate and subscribe on iTunes and Soundcloud!

Steelers GM Colbert defends Mike Tomlin’s approach

By Nick Shook
NFL.com
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Despite leading a perennial contender in Pittsburgh, Mike Tomlin has become a target of sorts for critics of the Steelers.

Last season’s near-constant drama helped to amplify the thought, as did Pittsburgh’s stunning playoff exit via a home loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. (The latter eventually cost Todd Haley his job as offensive coordinator.) But Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert took it upon himself Friday to strongly back his coach, no matter how out of control things might have appeared in 2017.

“There’s no concern whatsoever about our team’s attitude, discipline, all that other stuff that gets talked about,” Colbert told reporters at Saint Vincent College, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Absolutely no concern.” Continue reading

Hall president on Terrell Owens: ‘He felt disrespected’

By Nick Shook
Around The NFL Writer
Read full story on NFL.com

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

EP 2 – Todd Gurley, Le’Veon Bell, flag football and the saddest amusement park rides

Sean Barie and Nick Shook discuss Todd Gurley’s new contract with the Los Angeles Rams and how it affects Le’Veon Bell’s financial stalemate with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the stunning finish to the American Flag Football League million-dollar tournament (and their own flag football memories), Kennywood’s new Steelers-themed ride, and Tiger Woods’ exciting run to the final day of the British Open. Story of the Week continues with a man so bent on opposing Planet Fitness’ standard that he shed all of his clothing, and the cross-country duo decides which amusement park rides represent NFL teams.

AFC West 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 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
Read full post on NFL.com

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