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Dołączył: 11 Maj 2018
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Post2019-09-18, 04:34    /www.49erslockerroom.com/ Odpowiedz z cytatem
NASHVILLE C. J. Beathard Jersey White , Tenn. (AP) — Talk about a culture change.Not long ago, drafting a tight end in the first round was taboo for NFL teams. On Thursday night, two might go very high — and they come from the same school.T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant of Iowa are projected to go early, and it’s not just because they are versatile, talented players. Or that the Hawkeyes have turned into a college mecca for the position: 10 of them in the pros since 2000, including Dallas Clark, who helped the Colts win a Super Bowl, and George Kittle, who set records for the position with the 49ers last year.With the emphasis on more passing and a shift toward more open offenses, the tight end spot has become a critical component of NFL attacks. Every team is eager to find the next Rob Gronkowski or Travis Kelce or Zach Ertz. And colleges are putting more emphasis on using the tight end as a weapon, not as a glorified tackle.“The tight end is the eraser for the quarterback,” Fant said Wednesday as 21 potential first-rounders spoke at Nissan Stadium, home of the Tennessee Titans and within a short walk across a bridge over the Cumberland River to where the draft will occur. “That’s where being a dynamic tight end comes into play.”Added Hockenson: “It’s become a valued position. A three-down tight end who can run past defenders when needed and block when needed is special.”So, apparently, are these two. Hockenson has been rated on some draft prognostications as one of the top 10 prospects in this crop. Fant hasn’t been far behind.Neither likely will go in the top half-dozen selections, which figure to be dominated by defensive players such as Nick Bosa of Ohio State, Quinnen Williams of Alabama, Josh Allen of Kentucky and Devin White of LSU. Both are expected to be gone in the top 20 or so.That would be a rare occurrence. Since the NFL went to 32 teams in 2002 when the Texans joined the league, a pair of tight ends has not gone in the first 20. Indeed, only three were drafted higher than 19th: Kellen Winslow Jr. (2004, sixth); Vernon Davis (2006, sixth); and Eric Ebron (2014, 10th).But pro teams have changed their tunes most recently. Two years ago, three tight ends were taken in the opening round: O.J. Howard by Tampa at 19, Evan Engram by the Giants at 23 and David Njoku at 29 by Cleveland.Now come Hockenson and Fant, who say they have no clue where they will land.“I just feel we’re ready,” Hockenson said. “This entire process has been flattering and it has been cool to learn how people see the game differently. But as for where, don’t know.”Fant also shrugged when asked where he might wind up, though when the subject of replacing Gronk in New England was broached, he said: “Playing at New England, you couldn’t ask for a better situation.”Fant, who came into the 2018 college season as the higher-rated prospect — and still might be with many teams — believes he benefited from playing with another standout tight end. He certainly showed a knack for the end zone with 19 career touchdowns.Hockenson was no slouch, of course, and had nine TDs. He also handled more of the blocking role for the Hawkeyes than did Fant, though many NFL personnel people believe both will be versatile and reliable at either chore.Both became tight ends in middle school and took to the position quickly. Hockenson grew up in Chariton, Iowa, while Fant is from Omaha, Nebraska. When they got to Iowa City, they were behind Kittle, then each of them excelled when Kittle headed to the 49ers.Kittle has told them to “block out all the noise” and just be themselves during the draft process — and when they arrive in the NFL. Both would do exceptionally well to emulate Kittle’s numbers with the Niners: 88 receptions, 1,377 yards and five TDs last season, playing mostly with backup passers.“What George did (at Iowa) was pretty special,” Fant said. “George has taken it to another level in the NFL. He made for big shoes to fill.”Perhaps. But remember, Kittle was a fifth-round selection in the 2017 draft. By that round this weekend, Hockenson and Fant likely will be ensconced in their new city, learning the playbook.NOTES: Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, considered likely to go to Arizona as the top overall pick, didn’t attend the morning availability. He notified the NFL on Tuesday that he had a family commitment that would prevent him from being at Nissan Stadium … Sooners WR Marquis Brown said of Murray, the Heisman Trophy winner: “He can seem like a quiet guy to people that don’t know him. He’s not just open to everyone. But when you know him and you’re on a team with him, you’re going to know him. Like he’s funny guy and he’s undoubtedly a leader; he leads by example, works hard in the weight room, on the field. He does everything for you not to question anything about him.” Visceral blowback to the NFL’s updated rule that players can’t lead with their helmets to make contact is straight out of tough-guy football 101. Hard-hitting defensive backs say the league is destroying the physical element of the game or lament that it’s changing the sport entirely.“Do they want us to play flag football?” Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard said. “It’s crazy.”Beyond the criticism from old-school players bristling at another rule change or point of emphasis is legitimate confusion as to how the enhanced regulations will actually be enforced. No longer can a player initiate contact with his head anywhere on an opponent’s body, penalized 15 yards or possibly by ejection in egregious cases, and players and coaches — offensive guys, too — are bracing for how it will be applied.“You just hope it’s not called as frequently Cassius Marsh Jersey White , because if they are going to call it on every single offensive and defensive lineman, the game is going to be played at a snail’s pace,” 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman said. “It seems like they are neglecting the impact it is going to have on the game, and I don’t think they fully understand the scope and how huge it will be.”Contact to a player’s head and neck has been a penalty for some time now, but this rule was ramped up to take it a step further. A ball carrier or an offensive lineman can’t lower his head into a defender, and a defensive player can’t make any part of his helmet the primary point of contact when attempting to tackle.It’s similar to the NCAA rule that has been in place since 2013, though at the college level, “targeting” carries an automatic ejection, reviewable by replay. The league estimated that just two plays last season would’ve led to an ejection under the new rule that’s forcing players to adjust their approaches.“It’s really hard to change the way you’ve been playing after 20 years,” Cowboys safety Jeff Heath said. “You’re not always thinking about where you’re hitting somebody. You’re just trying to get them down. As soon as you start thinking, and second-guessing yourself, I think that’s when trouble happens. Hopefully it does the job in keeping players safe but doesn’t result in a lot of ejections.”As the NFL alters this rule and another to kickoffs in the name of safety, some players are willing to accept the reasons for changes. Denver’s three-time All-Pro linebacker Von Miller said, “They’ve put in rules to take care of all the players, as well, so I’m good with all the rule changes.”Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he used to fight the evolution of football “like an old dog,” but has come to accept changes in the name of doing the right thing for players. He expects there to be a wide application of the enhanced helmet rule and doesn’t consider it such a bad thing.“I think it’s across the board because it can happen multiple times on any play, where guys use the top of their helmet,” Carroll said. “We’re just getting out of it. It’s really about going back to really good shoulder-leverage play.”That’s how Josh Norman feels about it. The Washington Redskins cornerback knows he has accidentally made helmet contact with opponents, but as a player not known for those plays considers this a reminder about sound fundamentals.“Head up, bowed neck, tackle with your facemask,” Norman said. “It’s not with the crown of your head. Obviously injuries come. People get paralyzed like that. Nobody should play like that.”To get the message across, coaches Anthony Lynn of the Chargers, Doug Marrone of the Jaguars, Dan Quinn of the Falcons, Mike Vrabel of the Titans and Todd Bowles of the Jets each narrated a clip-by-clip video illustrating how the enhanced rule affects a different position group: running backs , offensive linemen , defensive linemen , linebackers and defensive backs . Hall of Fame running back Curtis Martin and linebackers Willie Lanier , also a Hall of Famer, and Willie McGinest taped minute-long videos explaining to players the importance of stance posture and technique to avoid unnecessary head contact.In the first test of the heightened emphasis on head contact, Baltimore linebackers Patrick Onwuasor and Kamalei Correa were each flagged for 15-yard penalties in the Hall of Fame game that opened the preseason. Watching that gave Denver coach Vance Joseph a glimpse of what effect the helmet rule will have, pointing out it’s not just on players to adjust.“Coaching that part, in my opinion, is going to be the tough part — not the defenders,” Joseph said. “That’s been taught and that’s been coached for a long time, with the offensive guys using their stiff arm and putting the ball in the proper hand, using their shoulders versus their head. It’s going to take teaching.”It’s going to take some trial and error in games for players and officials to realize how it will actually be called. Veteran Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander figures it could happen somewhere on the field on any play, so he and his teammates will try to toe the line between watching out for it and not thinking so much that it proves costly.“You can’t really change your mindset,” Buffalo safety Micah Hyde said. “That’s when you start playing passive, and you start giving up stuff. I don’t know, it’s kind of hard to explain, it’s kind of when your ankle’s hurt, you tape it, you’re thinking about it, and then you might hurt something else. It’s the same along those lines, you can’t really think about it: Just go out there and play football.”___AP Pro Football Writers Schuyler Dixon, Josh Dubow, Arnie Stapleton and Teresa M. Walker, and Sports Writers Genaro C. Armas, Tim Booth, Dave Ginsburg, Dennis Waszak Jr., John Wawrow and Steven Wine contributed.
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