As Browns build foundation, 2017 could trigger turnaround



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The most patient group of fans wholesale jersey in the NFL has been waiting for something — for anything — since 1999.

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But the Cleveland Browns jersey’ turnaround has yet to happen. The few times something positive has happened, impatience and bad decisions led to the Browns derailing themselves.

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The Browns hope their three first-round picks in this year’s draft — Myles Garrett jersey, Jabrill Peppers jersey and David Njoku jersey — will help spark a major rebuild toward sustained success. Ken Blaze/USA TODAY SportsThis does not mean anyone should expect the Browns to win a lot of games in 2017. There are significant questions at key areas. In a passing era, they lack a quarterback and they lack receivers. They have a brutal opening schedule (Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Indianapolis and Cincinnati in the first four weeks). They are coming off a one-win season.

Wholesale Levi Norwood jersey But the Browns should be more competitive and improved at several positions, and it’s not unrealistic to think they will have five or six wins at the end of this coming season, with five picks in the first two rounds of the 2018 draft.

Most teams would scoff at six wins. For the Browns, it’s a 500 percent improvement and a sign of growth. At this point, Browns fans seem to understand. They don’t expect miracles; they just don’t want to feel like they’re wasting their time and spending their money to watch a team they know will lose.

Success has been so fleeting.

Coach Butch Davis made the playoffs in 2002, then blew up the team the next offseason. Instead of building on a winner, Davis wanted to start over his way. He wound up relieved of his job in 2004.

Coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Phil Savage just missed the playoffs in 2007 when they had the Browns’ only double-digit win total since 1999. But the team imploded the next season and then-owner Randy Lerner got impatient and fired everyone.

Coach Mike Pettine started 7-4 in 2014 but grew impatient with Brian Hoyer jersey jersey jersey’s struggles and forced Johnny Manziel jersey jersey on the field. The team finished 7-9 that season. By 2016, Manziel and Pettine and GM Ray Farmer were gone.

Instead of becoming consistent winners, the Browns haven’t even been competitive, with nine losing seasons in a row and eight of them with at least 11 losses. At one point last year, Siri pointed users to the team’s home stadium in answering the question, “Where is sadness?”

This new Browns regime — with Hue Jackson as coach and Sashi Brown as vice president of football operations — committed instantly to sticking with a plan centered on keeping key veterans, building through the draft and supplementing with free agents.

The plan was obscured when they let four starters walk on the first day of free agency in 2016. A one-win season followed, causing more heartburn.

But that one-win season led to the Browns drafting No. 1 overall and adding defensive lineman Myles Garrett jersey. They added two more first-round picks, re-signed three young players and then added four or five potential starters via free agency.

Teams, like ancient imperial capitals, are not built in a day. The Browns are committed to building the slow way with young players growing in a culture fostered by Jackson.

What signs are there of a foundation?

The Browns have a better-than-average running game, an offensive line with depth, more pieces on defense (especially on the line) and perhaps a chance at quarterback, in part due to drafting DeShone Kizer jersey in the second round. They are committed to Jackson as the head coach, and he is so committed to Cleveland that he and his wife, Michelle, recently established a foundation in the city that would care for the victims of human trafficking.

The overall talent is better, and deeper, even with some needs still remaining.

Realism shouldn’t be lost. The Browns do not have the look or feel of a playoff team, nor do they have the look or feel of a .500 team.

But they do have the look and feel of an improved and growing team.

When 2017 is over, the team and fans should be able to look back and say this was the season when the turnaround began.

Duane Brown doesn’t report for start of training camp



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Houston Texans jersey offensive tackle Duane Brown jersey jersey, who skipped the team’s offseason activities, did not show up Tuesday as the team traveled to West Virginia for training camp as he seeks a new contract.

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The Texans placed him on the reserve/did not report list on Tuesday. Brown, 31, now can be fined $40,000 for each day of training camp he misses. The Texans’ training camp officially begins Wednesday at The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia.

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The risk he is taking to try to make more money has already resulted in lost money.

Wholesale Aaron Dobson jersey Brown’s wholesale jersey deal with Houston included a $250,000 de-escalator clause if he did not participate in a requisite number of workouts. Brown triggered the de-escalator, and his base salary has dropped from $9.65 million to $9.4 million, a league source told ESPN’s Field Yates.

Duane Brown jersey jersey is seeking a new contract but has lost money so far by skipping the Texans’ activities. Bob Levey/AP PhotoHe has two years remaining on his six-year contract, but there is no more guaranteed money left on the deal.

Brown, who was named a Pro Bowl alternate last season, is entering his 10th NFL season. He anchors a Texans offensive line that currently does not have a starting right tackle after the team put Derek Newton jersey jersey on injured reserve.

Cowboys rookie CB Jourdan Lewis found not guilty in pillow-related domestic violence case



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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Dallas Cowboys jersey rookie cornerback Jourdan Lewis jersey was found not guilty early Tuesday evening of one count of misdemeanor domestic violence and assault and battery.

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The six-member jury deliberated for just over 90 minutes before reaching a verdict in the day-and-a-half trial that centered around Lewis throwing pillows at his accuser that struck her in the face and whether any malicious contact occurred following the pillow throws, or if Lewis was trying to leave the apartment to deescalate a fight.

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After hearing the unanimous verdict, Lewis stood for a few moments with his attorney, John Shea, before going into the back rows of the courtroom in Michigan’s 15th District Court to hug family members and friends that had shown up for the trial.

Cheap T.J. Johnson jersey “I’m elated, of course,” Lewis said leaving the courtroom before saying he would release a lengthier statement later on. Lewis had been adamant about going to trial since being charged with the crime in March in an attempt to clear his name.

The Cowboys drafted Jourdan Lewis jersey in the third round out of Michigan. Tim Heitman-USA TODAY SportsLewis did not testify in his own defense. Shea called no witnesses and rested after Assistant Washtenaw County Prosecutor Lou Danner III rested his case. Danner called the accuser, the accuser’s mother and two police officers to testify.

“Obviously, you’re always grateful for the verdicts that go your way,” Shea said leaving the courtroom. “I believed in this case and so we’re grateful it went our way. Not much more you can say beyond that.”

The accuser, Lewis’ ex-girlfriend, testified for over an hour-and-a-half – becoming emotional three times, including when the 911 call she made was played in court. After hearing the call, she explained what she was feeling at the time.

“I was sad. I was scared. I was mad that I had to because I didn’t want to,” the accuser said. “I really didn’t want to but it got to the point where I didn’t feel like I had any other choice.

“…I didn’t want to see him in trouble or anything but I just couldn’t allow stuff like this to happen. I didn’t know what else to do.”

Lewis sat mostly emotionless during the accuser’s testimony, often staring straight forward or rubbing his chin with his hand. Occasionally he would confer with his attorney.

In the accuser’s testimony, she said she was forcefully hit with a pillow three times and that the pillow wasn’t thrown, but “mush” onto her face. Lewis, in the police car video the night of the incident, admitted to throwing pillows at her but said there was no intent to hurt her and once the argument started to escalate, he was just trying to leave the apartment.

During the interview, Lewis admitted to throwing pillows “out of frustration” after the accuser “badgered him” for 15 minutes about the light being left on. The accuser sought an apology for the light being left on when he fell asleep, which started the argument and escalated the incident.

Lewis admitted he threw the pillows and they hit her “hard.” He also admitted he might have grabbed her throat but said he was doing so in an attempt to leave the apartment while arguing with the accuser.

The accuser’s mother – a witness called by the prosecution — testified that in a short phone call with her daughter during the incident she heard Lewis in the background yelling he was trying to leave and the accuser telling her mother Lewis was hitting her. wholesale jersey In a conversation with Lewis later, she testified her impression was the only dragging that occurred was when Lewis was trying to leave the apartment.

Ann Arbor Police officers Kabe Jenkins and Officer Mark Pulford testified they did not see injuries on the accuser the night of the incident and that she declined medical treatment. Two days later, she had pictures taken of two small scars at the Ann Arbor Police Station and testified she was sore from the incident.

The accuser’s mother said the two had multiple arguments over the years, mostly due to finances.

“The leaving the lights on argument was very common between them,” the accuser’s mother said in testimony. “They argued about how they spent money on things like clothes, trips, buying clothes for trips.

“Finances was a huge, ongoing argument literally since the beginning of their relationship.”

The accuser’s mother helped them with paying bills and gave Lewis two credit cards to assist him after a falling out with his family. The accuser’s mother began taking a “parental role” with him. She testified she gave him one card to help him buy a potential engagement ring for her daughter and another to help him with travel and for emergencies.

The accuser’s mother said she also gave Lewis credit cards to help teach him about finances and to build a credit rating. She believed it would be a way to teach both of them how to learn about financial issues.

She testified her daughter told her when she gave Lewis credit cards that it would only cause more reason for arguments.

Saints to put Dannell Ellerbe on IR, cut him once foot heals



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METAIRIE, La. — The New Orleans Saints jersey plan to cut veteran linebacker Dannell Ellerbe jersey jersey once he heals from a minor foot injury, a source confirmed to ESPN.

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Ellerbe, 31, will be placed on injured reserve to start wholesale jersey training camp. But the source said he is expected to be healthy within about three weeks.

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Ellerbe’s loss is a disappointment because he had been a dynamic playmaker at times when healthy over the past two years. But it won’t be a devastating blow for the Saints, who loaded up on linebacker depth this offseason and adapted to playing without Ellerbe as he dealt with a series of nagging injuries.

Wholesale Jadeveon Clowney jersey Ellerbe’s promising career has been derailed by injuries over the past four years with the Miami Dolphins jersey and Saints.

Dannell Ellerbe jersey jersey has missed 17 games for the Saints over the past two years due to hip, toe and quad injuries. Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesHe reached his peak as a key member of the Baltimore Ravens jersey’ 2012 Super Bowl championship team, then signed a $35 million contract with Miami in 2013. But he missed 15 games for the Dolphins with a major hip injury in 2014. Then, after being traded to New Orleans in 2015, Ellerbe missed a combined 17 games as a result of hip, toe and quad injuries.

Ellerbe had 83 tackles, four sacks and a forced fumble in two years with the Saints. In his eight-year career, he has 368 tackles, 10.5 sacks, three interceptions and two forced fumbles. He also had an interception in the AFC Championship Game during Baltimore’s Super Bowl run.

The Saints made linebacker depth a priority this offseason, signing veterans A.J. Klein jersey jersey jersey and Manti Te’o jersey in free agency, then drafting Florida’s Alex Anzalone jersey in the third round. Klein, Te’o and Craig Robertson jersey are expected to compete for the starting middle linebacker job, with all three of them candidates to replace Ellerbe as the starting weakside linebacker. Backups Nate Stupar jersey, Stephone Anthony jersey jersey and Michael Mauti jersey jersey will also compete for roles on defense and special teams.

The Saints also signed third-year player Kristjan Sokoli on Tuesday, his agent Brett Tessler said on Twitter. Sokoli, 25, spent the past two years with the Seattle Seahawks jersey and Indianapolis Colts jersey, appearing in just one game. He has primarily played on the defensive line, but the Saints plan to convert the 6-foot-5, 300-pounder to the offensive line.

New Orleans also signed veteran offensive lineman Martin Wallace jersey, his agent said on Twitter, and undrafted rookie cornerback Dejaun Butler. Wallace, 27, has bounced around the NFL since originally signing with the Cleveland Browns jersey as an undrafted rookie in 2013, appearing in only one career game. Butler, who played at Hawaii, auditioned with the Saints during minicamp tryouts this summer.

Sources: Cowboys agree to 2-year extension with RT La’el Collins



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OXNARD, Calif. — The Dallas Cowboys jersey, who hope to sign Zack Martin jersey jersey to a long-term extension this summer, have agreed with their prospective right tackle, La’el Collins jersey jersey, on a two-year extension worth up to $17.4 million, sources told ESPN, confirming multiple reports.

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Collins was set to be a restricted free agent after this season, but he is now signed through 2019. He is guaranteed $9.5 million at signing and will also receive a $4 million signing bonus, a source said.

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In 2015, Dallas signed Collins to a fully guaranteed contract worth roughly $1.6 million. He fell from being a projected first-round pick to an undrafted free agent after Baton Rouge, Louisiana, police questioned him about a shooting wholesale jersey death.

Wholesale Rannell Hall jersey Collins, who was set to make a $615,000 base salary this year, started 14 games at left guard in his first two seasons. With the retirement of Doug Free jersey jersey, the Cowboys moved Collins to right tackle in the offseason. He played left tackle his final two seasons at LSU.

On Sunday, executive vice president Stephen Jones said the Cowboys were optimistic they could reach a deal with Martin, their right guard, this summer. Martin has been named to the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons and was an All-Pro pick last year.

The Cowboys have All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith jersey jersey under contract at $12.2 million per season and All-Pro center Travis Frederick jersey jersey signed to a deal worth $9.4 million per season. As one of the best guards in football, Martin is looking at a deal worth roughly $12 million per year as well.

Andrew Hawkins retires two months after Pats deal, pledges brain to research



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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Veteran wide receiver Andrew Hawkins jersey jersey, who had signed a one-year contract with the New England Patriots jersey in May, announced his retirement from the NFL on Tuesday.

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Hawkins, who had shared his intentions with the Patriots, relayed the reason for his decision on Uninterrupted, the network developed by LeBron James and his business partner and CEO, Maverick Carter.

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— UNINTERRUPTED (@uninterrupted) July 25, 2017

Cheap Deiontrez Mount jersey “After OTAs and through summer training, my body just didn’t respond and wasn’t feeling the way it should going into camp,” the 31-year-old Hawkins said. “Basically it just started breaking down on me.”

The Concussion Legacy Foundation says Hawkins has pledged his brain for research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. The degenerative disease is known to cause cognitive and behavioral problems in athletes, members of the military and others who sustained repeated head trauma.

Hawkins was wholesale jersey trying to crack a crowded wide receiver depth chart, with Julian Edelman jersey jersey, Brandin Cooks jersey jersey, Chris Hogan jersey, Malcolm Mitchell jersey and Danny Amendola jersey jersey at the top, and was considered a bubble player to make the roster.

Hawkins said it was a “tough call” and “bittersweet,” relaying that he is pursuing a Ph.D. in business and economics. He had made headlines in the offseason by earning his master’s degree from Columbia with a 4.0 GPA.

A six-year veteran who played for the Cincinnati Bengals jersey (2011-2013) and Cleveland Browns jersey (2014-2016), Hawkins totaled 209 receptions for 2,419 yards and nine touchdowns in his career.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Police say Lucky Whitehead was misidentified; arrested man gave false information



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The Prince William County (Virginia) Police Department said in a statement Tuesday that a man charged with shoplifting on June 22 was not former Dallas Cowboys jersey wide receiver Lucky Whitehead jersey, as they had originally indicated.

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Whitehead and his agent, David Rich, said Monday that it was a case of mistaken identity. Rich cited flight records to prove that Whitehead wasn’t in Virginia at the time of the incident.

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Agent David Rich on Lucky Whitehead jerseyThe Cowboys, however, released Whitehead and cited a pattern of behavior in justifying the move.

Cheap Ifo Ekpre-Olomu jersey “Let’s not sugarcoat anything. I was pretty much being called a liar,” Whitehead told the Dallas Morning News in a telephone interview.

Whitehead told the newspaper that he was “blindsided” and “no one [in Cowboys management] had my back in the whole situation. I knew about it at what? 12:45. By 2:30 I’m released.”

Whitehead, however, told the newspaper that his teammates believed him when it wasn’t he who was arrested.

Rich told ESPN’s Todd Archer on Tuesday that the original report was a complete surprise.

“Everybody was [surprised], the Cowboys, Lucky, myself. That’s what drove this thing. From the first call it was a breakup tone. I’ve been broken up with before, and I know what that sounds like. It was, ‘You better have a darn good reason for this,’ and we were completely blindsided by it.”

The Prince William County Police Department said the man who was arrested didn’t have identification with him. He verbally provided the name, date of birth and Social Security number of Rodney Darnell Whitehead Jr. to police officers, who checked the information through the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles database.

Police also compared the DMV photo on file with the man in custody and “acted in good faith that, at the time, the man in custody was the same man matching the information provided.”

“At this point, the police department is also confident in confirming that Mr. Whitehead’s identity was falsely provided to police during the investigation,” according to the statement.

Editor’s PicksJason Garrett sticks with answer on Lucky Whitehead jersey moveJason Garrett made clear that Lucky Whitehead jersey will not be returning to the Cowboys and the Dallas coach was in no mood to elaborate on the decision.

Whitehead cut, says arrest mistaken identityLucky Whitehead jersey was released by the Cowboys on Monday, hours after the team learned he was charged with larceny in Virginia. The receiver’s agent is claiming this is a case of mistaken identity.

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The police are currently seeking the correct identity of the man arrested on June 22 for allegedly taking items from a Wawa convenience store without paying at approximately 1:30 a.m.

“Since the identifying information provided by the arrestee during the investigation was apparently false,” the statement read, “the police department is working with the Prince William County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office to clear Mr. Whitehead from this investigation.”

The Prince William County Police Department also said it “regrets the impact these events had on Mr. Whitehead and his family.”

A Cowboys source told ESPN’s Josina Anderson that the team isn’t concerned that Whitehead will file a grievance, as their move was “dealing with ability.”

“Just time to improve the roster from an ability and team-culture standpoint,” the source said.

Asked if the Cowboys could rescind the waiver request on Whitehead, Rich said, “I don’t know that would be a healthy place for anybody right now.”

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Tuesday that a decision was made “that we thought was in the best interest of the Dallas Cowboys jersey. We’re going to stand by that decision and move forward.” He also said the Cowboys know things about their players that the media doesn’t know about.

Because the Cowboys’ release of Whitehead came after the close of the NFL’s business day on Monday, Whitehead would not appear on the waiver wire until Tuesday, making him eligible to be claimed by another team by Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s disappointing, but it’s a tough life lesson for the young man,” Rich told Archer on Tuesday. “He’ll be fine. I’ve had three or four teams reach out to me already, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was picked up, especially with the way rosters are right now. You can add a receiver from Long Beach State Community College or add a guy like Lucky Whitehead jersey, who has a pretty good body of work.”

Rich said he will consult with Whitehead and Whitehead’s family over what direction to pursue next, either legally or with the NFL Players Association.

“Right now he just wants to play football,” Rich said. “He had a challenge ahead of him, and he was ready for the challenge. He was tweeting 20 minutes before the first practice how excited he was. It’s been a tough 24 hours. I think it will make him stronger.”

“We got made an example of,” Rich said. “They needed to make an example of somebody to get those boys’ heads on straight. It is calculated. But I get it. It’s business … Jason Garrett said it. They needed to do what’s in the best interest of the Cowboys. I think they’re wrong, but I get wholesale jersey it.”

Whitehead made headlines last week when he announced on social media that his dog, Blitz, was kidnapped and being held for ransom. He later announced on social media that the dog had been returned unharmed.

Lynch and Charles join AFC West full of fantasy uncertainty



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Reuben Foster’s health will help shape 49ers’ linebacker group



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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Francisco 49ers jersey will report for training camp July 27, with the first practice slated for the following day.

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As we head toward the start of camp, we’re previewing each position for the 49ers and the competitions that could ensue. Today we look at the linebackers, where, much like on the defensive line, there are more qualified players than there will be roster spots available. Special-teams ability and versatility will go a long way toward determining who stays and who goes.

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Locked in: Bowman, Foster, Smith, Brooks

Wholesale Kyle Arrington jersey Battles to watch: The 49ers’ linebacker group went through a pretty extensive makeover in the offseason, as the team brought in Foster with a first-round pick and Smith, Coyle and Watson as unrestricted free agents. What’s left is a deep and versatile group that should more closely resemble the dominant group of four years ago, rather than the injury-prone unit that struggled mightily in 2016.

Bowman is returning from a season-ending Achilles injury, but he was pretty much full go in the spring and looked like he was rounding back into form by the end of the offseason program. While Foster will almost certainly one day become the Niners’ middle linebacker, it probably won’t happen right away, as Bowman returns to his usual spot.

Foster will find himself in a more intriguing competition this season against Smith. The Niners signed Smith to a fairly lucrative deal that raised some eyebrows, but to his credit, Smith had a strong spring and made his case for the weakside linebacker job while Foster was still recovering from a shoulder injury. Foster’s shoulder will replace that of quarterback Colin Kaepernick jersey as the most watched in this year’s training camp. Foster is expected to be ready to go when camp opens, after he was unable to do anything that could create contact in the spring. Both Foster and Smith should help the 49ers in some capacity this season. Foster is expected to be the starter somewhere along the way, but Smith is a proud veteran who won’t cede that job easily.

The Sam linebacker spot belongs to Brooks, but there will be a heated battle for the backup role. Harold got reps with the first team when Brooks was given down time in the spring. Harold, who is probably on his last chance to deliver on his potential, felt more comfortable in coordinator Robert Saleh’s attacking defense. Watson could push Harold for the spot behind Brooks and might have a leg up because of his ability to be an impact special-teams player. And we can’t rule out Gilbert, who was a dynamic pass-rusher in college and could also push for a spot. It’s possible San Francisco could keep Harold and either Watson or Gilbert, but the Niners might look to go a little lighter at linebacker, given the restructured defense.

As for the other backup spots, Coyle has the inside track to be No. 2 behind Bowman in the middle and also brings special-teams value. But Coyle is not a lock, because the Niners could easily move Smith or Foster inside, should something happen to Bowman. In addition, Newsom is an intriguing prospect who turned a few heads in the spring.

On the weakside, it could be an uphill battle for Armstrong, even though the Niners signed him to a contract extension in December. Like with Coyle and Watson, Armstrong can make a difference on special teams, and that might be his ticket to earning a roster spot, with Foster and Smith ahead of him on the depth chart.

All told, the Niners will probably keep six or seven linebackers. The players who stay as depth will need to have the ability to perform at multiple positions and contribute on special teams. The ones who do that the best should be positioned to win what could be one of camp’s most interesting roster competitions.

David Johnson’s workload could have long-term implications



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GLENDALE, Ariz. — The idea sounded good, if not great.

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Arizona Cardinals jersey coach Bruce Arians has said since March that he wants running back David Johnson jersey jersey to average 30 touches per game this season. It’s been done once in NFL history, when former Tampa Bay running back James Wilder averaged 30.8 touches in 1984. And since Johnson led the NFL in total touches (373) and was third in per-game average (23.3) last season, the idea didn’t seem far-fetched.

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David Johnson jersey jersey led the NFL in total touches (373) and was third in per-game average (23.3) last season. Keith Birmingham/Zuma Press/Icon SportswireSince Wilder in 1984, seven players — all running backs — have averaged at least 28 touches per game, led by Ricky Williams’ 29.2 in 2000, when he played in 10 games for the New Orleans Saints jersey. Former Kansas City Chiefs jersey running back Larry Johnson jersey averaged 28.6 touches per game in 2006, which is the most since Wilder during a full 16-game season, according ESPN Stats & Information.

Wholesale Kevin Short jersey Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell jersey was the most recent back to average 28 touches per game — in 2016 when he played in 12 games.

However, with the exception of Bell, the running backs who averaged more than 28 touches per game generally saw a decline in their production the next season with a slight rebound in the year after that. The reasons varied. Some, like Larry Johnson jersey in 2007 or DeMarco Murray jersey in 2015 were injured. Others, like Eddie George jersey in 2001, just didn’t have their number called as often.

However, nobody, with the exception of Edgerrin James in 2001, increased their per-game average during the season after their historic workload. James went from 28.1 touches per game in 2000 to 29.2 in 2001, when he played in just six games. Four running backs, though, rebounded from those down seasons with higher averages two years after averaging 28 touches per game.

Though it’s possible for Johnson to increase his average from 23.3 to 30, it could come with a price.

Three running backs who averaged more than 28 touches per game were injured during the next season. Four were injured during the season after that — including Larry Johnson jersey and James.

Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer jersey jersey believes in trying to get Johnson 30 touches a game, but he’s also a realist.

“I think getting him 30 touches is the plan until he’s sore or he loses a little bit of flexibility or whatever it may be as things pop up during the season,” Palmer said. “Ideally that’s great. I think that’s the plan. If something changes, like it can in this game, and you have a hamstring or shoulder or the thing that comes up, the plan changes, but it’s a great plan to start with.”

And it could lead to the best offensive season in NFL history.

If Johnson’s 2016 numbers — 373 touches for 2,118 scrimmage yards, an average of 5.68 yards per touch — were prorated to reflect 30 touches per game, Johnson would’ve averaged 170.4 yards per game and totaled 2,726 scrimmage yards for the season. That would’ve passed the current single-season mark of 2,509 scrimmage yards, which teammate Chris Johnson jersey set in 2009 with the Tennessee Titans jersey.

LaDainian Tomlinson jersey jersey led the NFL in touches during the 2001 and 2002 seasons. AP Photo/Tony GutierrezBut just one player since 2001 has led the league in touches in back-to-back seasons: LaDainian Tomlinson jersey jersey. As Johnson revealed to ESPN, he talked to Tomlinson about repeating that type of workload during the 2001 and 2002 seasons, and what Johnson learned could be the key to leading the league in touches again in 2017.

However, neither Johnson nor Arians are concerned about the long-term effects of averaging 30 carries per game.

“No, not at all,” Johnson said. “I’m focused on right now, getting better, helping out the team. If that comes with having 25, 30 carries, then so be it.”

Arians said there’s a significant difference between Johnson averaging 30 touches in 2017 and Wilder doing it 33 years ago. Wilder saw his production drop off in the two consecutive seasons after his record-setting pace in 1984. He averaged 26.1 touches in 1985 and 19.4 in 1986 while playing in just 12 games because of a chest injury.

“James Wilder ran the ball 30 times,” Arians said. “(There’s) a big difference in catching 10 passes than running the ball 30 times. If you’re going to run the ball 30 times, you’re not going to last long in this league. We all know that. But 20 runs, and not all up-the-middle type things, just getting his hands on the ball where he can create in space, those tackles, they don’t take much out of you.”

Johnson tailored his offseason workouts with the intent of preparing for a heavier workload, thanks in part to the conversation with Tomlinson.

Tomlinson, who led the NFL in touches in 2001, 2002 and 2007, told Johnson the key to his longevity and durability was stretching. Johnson responded by losing a few pounds and picking up yoga this offseason.

Johnson noticed late last season that his body wasn’t responding as well as it had earlier in the season. His legs felt heavier, like they were dragging, causing him not to run as fast.

He can already feel the difference this season.

“I feel like my body won’t fatigue so fast toward the end (of the season),” Johnson said. “I feel like my muscle will be able to last a little longer where I’m able to feel more energized, feel more flexibility to do stuff.”

But what about after this season? What kind of toll can 30 touches a game — if he gets there — take on him, regardless of how well he’s conditioned?

Even if Johnson doesn’t average 30 touches a game but leads the NFL in touches, he’ll still be giving his body a beating every week.

A year after Adrian Peterson jersey jersey led the NFL in touches in 2015, averaging 22.3 per game, he suffered a lateral meniscus injury and went on IR. In 2013, after Arian Foster jersey jersey led the NFL in touches, he had back surgery and was placed on IR. Maurice Jones-Drew suffered a left foot injury in 2012, the year after he led the NFL in touches. And Larry Johnson jersey had a foot injury in 2007, the season after he averaged 28.5 touches per game.

Were their injuries related to their previous season’s workload? It’s tough to tell. But there’s a difference between these backs and Johnson, who will be wholesale jersey used as a receiver more, limiting the number of between-the-tackle hits he receives.

Of the four running backs who played in all 16 games the season after they led the league in touches — LeSean McCoy jersey jersey in 2014, Chris Johnson jersey in 2010, Peterson in 2009 and Tomlinson in 2008 — none topped their totals from the league-leading year.

But they all came close, which could be the path Johnson takes in 2018.

McCoy had 340 touches in 2014, just 26 fewer than the season before. Johnson led the NFL with 408 touches in 2009 and had 360 in 2010. Peterson dropped from 384 in 2008 to 357 in 2009. Tomlinson finished 2008 with 344, 31 fewer than the previous season.

Johnson has proven he can produce when the ball is in his hands. Reaching Arians’ goal of 30 touches per game or even just leading the NFL in touches will be a matter of whether he can stay healthy.

“That’s going to be a lot of offense,” Arians said. “When he has his hand on the ball, either as a wide receiver, coming out of the backfield, in the slot and running, that’s a lot of potential offense for us.”