Monthly Archives: May 2015

Jaguars appear to be down the list for ‘Hard Knocks’

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It appears the Jacksonville Jaguars’ chances of appearing on “Hard Knocks” have taken a hit based on several reports.

ESPN Houston Texans reporter Tania Ganguli reported Friday that the Texans were the favorite to appear on the HBO show, which showcases a team going through training camp and features behind-the-scenes footage. John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reported earlier Friday that the Texans were one of three finalists.

Also on Friday, Toni Grossi of ESPN radio in Cleveland reported that the NFL is honoring the Cleveland Browns’ request to not be considered.

In addition to the Jaguars, Texans and Browns, the following teams are reportedly also under consideration: Tennessee, Minnesota, St. Louis, Washington, Tampa Bay and the New York Giants.

An announcement could be made as early as next week.

While teams can request to appear or not appear on Hard Knocks, the NFL makes the final decision. In order to be under consideration, a team must not have made the playoffs within the past two seasons, have a new head coach, or have already appeared on the show.

The Jaguars meet those conditions but there are some other unwritten and unofficial criteria in play as well, such as a compelling storyline with a team or a high-profile player. The Bucs, for example, have quarterback Jameis Winston, the No. 1 pick in the draft. The Titans have quarterback Marcus Mariota, the No. 2 overall pick. The Giants have Odell Beckham Jr. and the Vikings could have Adrian Peterson in the fold, and his situation would make for compelling television.

Let’s not forget the Texans have J.J. Watt, who is arguably the best defensive player in the game.

As for the Jaguars, they lost first-round pick Dante Fowler Jr. to a torn ACL on the first day of rookie minicamp, they’ve won just nine games in the past three seasons, and the most nationally-recognizable player on the roster is tight end Julius Thomas.

But the Jaguars do have some compelling storylines, as well:

Quarterback Blake Bortles entering his second season and trying to rebound from a rookie season that saw him throw 17 touchdowns and post the worst Total QBR of any starter (21.9).

The three second-year receivers (Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns) growing along with Bortles.

Coach Gus Bradley is one of the most personable, energetic, and interesting people in the NFL. He’d be a huge hit on the show, both on and off the the field.

There’s one part of Hard Knocks, however, that makes some teams uneasy: The cameras are rolling when players are cut. It’s an emotional moment for both players and coaches and some teams are not comfortable with that arrangement.

The Jaguars will likely be featured on the show sometime, but it doesn’t appear that it’s going to be in 2015.

Melvin Gordon the center of attention on first day of rookie minicamp

SAN DIEGO — Ten minutes into the San Diego Chargers first minicamp practice, head coach Mike McCoy, offensive coordinator Frank Reich and running backs coach Ollie Wilson all had their eyes on running back Melvin Gordon as he went through individual drills under a steady drizzle at Chargers Park.

Even the team’s director of college scouting Kevin Kelly — who along with area scout Justin Sheridan was responsible for scouting Gordon — saddled up to the drill in order to get a closer look at San Diego’s new playmaker at running back.

Gordon said he did not notice Chargers brass watching his every move during the opening minutes of practice.

“I just kind of felt they were out there watching everybody,” Gordon said. “I’m so locked in trying to figure out what I need to do, I didn’t even notice them watching me. You probably saw it better than I did.”

Gordon looked as good as advertised on Friday, making quick, decisive cuts at the line of scrimmage and showing that trademark, electric burst once he reached the second level of the defense.

“He did a nice job,” McCoy said. “We weren’t going full speed out there. We were just doing an introduction and making sure everyone has a hat on a hat, and everyone is running to the right spot.

“But he made a few of those moves and those cuts. And you understand why we picked him where we did.”

Gordon did not have long to get acclimated. He arrived Thursday night, signing a four-year deal with a fifth-year option. Gordon had a little time to study the playbook and digest the first two installations of San Diego’s offense before hitting the field on Friday.

“I’m still just trying to learn everything, get the calls, protections and things like that,” Gordon said. “I’m just trying to play as fast as I can, but also know what I need to do.

“I came in a little late, so it’s overloading a little bit right now. But Coach is doing a good job of bringing me along.”

One thing Gordon appreciated on his first practice was the calming, steady approach used by Wilson.

“It’s good,” he said. “I heard he’s a great coach. And I like his coaching style, real laid-back. You can tell he knows a lot. And I’m excited to get coached up by him.”

Gordon also is excited to be back on the field after a five-month hiatus.

“We’ve been out for a while now just around the nation,” Gordon said. “Guys have been sitting out for a while. I haven’t played football in a while. So to get back out here, you have to get your legs back used to it and get back rolling.”

Former Green Beret Nate Boyer soaks in his first day in NFL

RENTON, Wash. — Nate Boyer won’t likely forget walking in the Seattle Seahawks’ locker room on Friday and seeing the blue No. 48 jersey with his name on it.

“To go in there and I see [the jersey], it’s awesome,” he said. “To be able to officially say I’m an NFL player, as long as it lasts, it’s amazing. It’s hard to describe.”

At age 34, Boyer is the inspirational story of rookie camp, a Green Beret war hero who became a talented long-snapper for the Texas Longhorns in his 30s. Now the Seahawks are giving him a shot in the NFL as a rookie free agent.

“I’m so fortunate to be here,” Boyer said after his first NFL practice. “I’m soaking up every minute of it. You can’t ask for more. This is the best team in football.”

Boyer was the first player on the field Friday. He realizes he is a long shot to make the team. The Seahawks have one of the best long-snappers in football in Clint Gresham, who recently signed a new three-year deal worth $2.7 million.

“Clint was one of the first people to congratulate me,” Boyer said. “It’s two guys competing and both having fun and getting after it. I’m going to give it everything I have.”

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he is impressed with what Boyer has accomplished in his life and what he has given to his country.

“It’s hard to grasp, for some of us, what he’s gone through and what he’s endured,” Carroll said of Boyer. “The mentality that it’s taken for him to accomplish the things he’s accomplished. He’s an amazing man. We’re thrilled to have him. And he snaps the ball pretty sweet too, so he had a good first day for us.”

Boyer earned a Bronze Star while serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. He said his experiences in combat have helped him on the football field.

“Football is not like war in any way,” Boyer said. “But it does have a lot of similarities to the military with those brotherhoods you build in the locker room or on the battlefield.

“The concept I love about football is you are literally fighting for the man on your left and right. That’s exactly what it’s all about in combat. You’re selfless and playing for each other. That’s something I’ve already heard here in the last 24 hours.”

He also has heard a lot of encouraging messages from his former buddies in the service.

“But the best things, the ones that inspire the most, are notes and letters from people I’ve never met,” Boyer said. “I got one [Friday] in my locker that said, ‘Hey, you’re inspiring me to go after something. I don’t care that people are telling me I can’t and I won’t.’

“I love that. Those are the words that drive me. I turn it into fuel and it fires me up.”

Boyer didn’t start playing football until he was 29, so did he ever imagine he would get an opportunity in the NFL?

“Of course,” he said. “I’m a dreamer. I’m just like that. I believe that I can do it. What I learned in the military is how to work toward that. It takes a huge amount of sacrifice.

“It’s what you have to be willing to give up and to accept the fact that you might fail. But when you get to this level, that’s not failing. It may not work out the way you hope, but it’s not failing.”

Boyer doesn’t consider himself a hero, but he wants to do something special for people he sees as heroes.

“There are so many guys out there that have done way more heroic things than I can imagine,” Boyer said. “There are guys that have lost a lot more than me and sacrificed a lot more than I have. I’m fortunate to be able to do this.

“There are a lot of guys that will never get that opportunity, not just in football, but a lot of things. That’s one of the main reasons I’m here, to honor those guys, the guys who paid the ultimate sacrifice. They gave everything so guys like me can play football.”