Pederson: ‘I have a ton of confidence in Nate(Sudfeld) to become the backup quarterback’

As we learned over the past three seasons, the backup quarterback position is a big deal for the Philadelphia Eagles. Carson Wentz has missed time in the past three seasons, and while he played all 16 games for the Eagles in 2019, Wentz suffered an injury against the Seahawks in the playoffs, and without him, Philadelphia would lose to Seattle in the wild card round.

Barring anything dramatic, and despite Philadelphia selecting QB Jalen Hurts in the second round of this year’s draft, it appears that Nate Sudfeld will be the backup quarterback for the Eagles in 2020. And with some changes to the offseason due to COVID-19, Sudfeld, who has been with Philadelphia for the past three seasons, knows the Eagles’ offense,  which, according to Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, will benefit Sudfeld in 2020.

“I think early on in this season, this becomes a veteran-laden football season,” Pederson said during a video conference call on Tuesday. “Football teams are going to have to rely on their veteran players, and Nate is one of those guys for us. He’s been on our roster the last couple of seasons, and he knows exactly what we are doing. I have a ton of confidence in Nate to become the backup quarterback. Nothing is ever handed to anybody, and we always try to create, I always try to create competition at every position, and quarterback, as you guys know, is not exempt from that. But I fully expect Nate to come in and be aggressive and do the things that he’s capable of doing, and become the backup to [QB] Carson [Wentz].”

Regarding Hurts, Pederson had this to say.

“And then with Jalen(Hurts), Jalen is about, right now, just learning and picking up our system, and he’s another one, another young player that we drafted who, there’s a lot to learn from the quarterback position,” he said. “So, are we going to take it a little bit slower maybe with him until he grasps the offense? You might have to. What I like about it is always the unknown, and the unknown is how well a guy, I think, can progress. And then once we get him on the grass, put him through drills, put him through practices, then we see exactly what these guys are all about.

“Right now, Jalen is doing an outstanding job of picking up the offense, spitting it back to [Eagles Passing Game Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach] Press [Taylor], and understanding what we are trying to get done, and we go that route with him right now at this time.”

This is an excellent opportunity for the 26-year-old Sudfeld. However, if things go the way Philadelphia wants things to go with Wentz, Sudfeld will never see the field in 2020. 

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Mutombo donating meals to healthcare workers fighting COVID-19

The Dikembe Mutombo Foundation will donate 466 hot meals for the front-line health professionals at Grady Memorial, Piedmont and Phoebe Putney hospitals in Georgia. Mutombo said, “166 of those meals will go to the front-line health workers at Phoebe Putney hospital in southwest Georgia because it is at the center of one of this state’s COVID-19 “hot zones”. I’m from Congo, so I know about “hot zones” and pandemics.”

The NBA Legend and Atlanta resident knows about “hot zones” because his homeland, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been ravaged by several deadly Ebola virus outbreaks in recent history. Unable to send disease fighters to help battle one of the deadliest Ebola outbreaks in history, last June U.S. health officials turned to Mutombo, the basketball hall of famer for help. Regarded as one of the greatest defensive players in NBA history and a well-known philanthropist in his native Congo, Mutombo recorded radio and video spots in three African languages designed to persuade the people in the Congo to take the appropriate safety precautions and get care that might stop the disease’s spread. On March 2nd , Dr. Philip M. Ricks, of the CDC’s Global Disease Detection Operations Center reported to the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, “some good news about Ebola. No new cases in seven days”. This report was the first time since the beginning of the disease response that no new confirmed cases were reported over a seven-day period.

One major project of the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation was the construction of the Biamba Marie Mutombo hospital in the capital city of Kinshasa, DR Congo. This general hospital named in memory of Mutombo’s  mother opened in December 2007 and to date almost 500,000 men, women and children have been treated there. Absolutely no one is turned away for an inability to pay.

Giants exercise fifth-year options on Engram, Peppers

The Giants today announced they have picked up the fifth-year options on the rookie contracts of tight end Evan Engram and safety Jabrill Peppers, virtually ensuring they will be with the team through the 2021 season.

NFL teams are permitted to exercise the fifth-year option on first-round draft choices after they have played three years. When a player has his option exercised, his rookie contract is extended by one year and guaranteed. The player is protected against injury but isn’t eligible to enter unrestricted free agency until after the conclusion of the fifth season – for Engram and Peppers, that means after the 2021 season.

Engram, 25, was the 23rd overall selection of the 2017 NFL Draft out of Mississippi. In three seasons, he has played in 34 games with 25 starts. Engram has 153 receptions for 1,766 yards (11.5-yard avg.) and 12 touchdowns. He also has seven rushing attempts for 57 yards.

In 2019, Engram was limited to eight appearances and six starts due to injuries and caught 44 passes for 467 yards and three touchdowns. He missed the Oct. 10 Thursday night game in New England with a knee injury, returned to play in the next three games but hurt his foot against Dallas on Nov. 4 and missed the remainder of the season.

In the season opener in Dallas on Sept. 8, Engram finished with career-high totals of 11 receptions for 116 yards, including a one-yard touchdown. The receptions and yardage totals were the highest for a Giants tight end since Nov. 11, 2007, when Jeremy Shockey caught 12 passes for 129 yards in a home game vs. the Cowboys.

Two weeks later at Tampa Bay, Engram caught six passes for 113 yards. He was the first Giants tight end with multiple 100-yard games in a season since Shockey in 2005 (four).

On the first play of the second half against the Buccaneers, Engram caught a short Daniel Jones pass and turned it into a 75-yard touchdown. It was the Giants’ longest play since Sept. 24, 2017, when Eli Manning and Sterling Shepard hooked up for a 77-yard completion – like Engram’s play, a catch-and-long run.

Engram’s 75-yard touchdown reception was the longest ever by a Giants tight end. The previous long was a 71-yarder by Aaron Thomas vs. Philadelphia on Oct. 17, 1965.

The 75-yarder was also the longest reception of Engram’s career. His previous long catch was a 54-yarder last Nov. 18, also against Tampa Bay (in MetLife Stadium).

Engram also had six receptions against Minnesota on Oct. 6 and the Cowboys in his final game of the year.

Peppers, 24, was the Cleveland Browns’ first-round draft choice in 2017, the 25th overall selection. On March 13, 2019, he was traded to the Giants in the deal that sent Odell Beckham, Jr. to Cleveland.

In his three NFL seasons, Peppers has started all 40 games in which he has played. His career totals are 210 tackles (147 solo), three interceptions, 13 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and four recoveries.

Last season, Peppers started the first 11 games and was second on the Giants with 71 tackles (47 solo), just one less than fellow safety Antoine Bethea, when he suffered a fractured transverse process on his only kickoff return of the season at Chicago on Nov. 24. He was placed on injured reserve on Dec. 7.

Peppers still finished fourth on the team with 76 tackles (51 solo) and led the Giants with three forced fumbles.

On Sept. 29, Peppers scored the Giants’ first defensive touchdown of the season when he intercepted a Dwayne Haskins pass and returned it 32 yards to the end zone with 1:19 remaining in the third quarter vs. Washington. It was the Giants’ first defensive touchdown since their previous game vs. Washington on Dec. 9, 2018, when safety Curtis Riley picked off a Mark Sanchez pass that was tipped by linebacker Kareem Martin and returned it nine yards for a score.

The interception was the third and the touchdown the first of Peppers’ three-year career.

(Michael Eisen/NY Giants)

HOF Roaf on Winston’s eye surgery: ‘I don’t understand how he played at the level he played at if you can’t see’

Coming into NFL free agency, one of the bigger questions is what was going to happen QB Jameis Winston, and we were  given part of that answer when Tom Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Now, Winston is still looking for a job, and while he is young(26) and had a big year, both good and bad(33 touchdowns, 30 interceptions), Winston will get another opportunity, and after the surgery he had this offseason, he should be able to see a lot of better.

Winston had Lasik eye surgery to correct his nearsightedness back in February. Hall of Famer Willie Roaf knows how much Lasik eye surgery can help. Roaf had the surgery during his career, and according to the Hall of Famer, things were blurry before the surgery.

“I’m trying to block guys, and it’s a little blurry,” Roaf recently told the Go4it podcast. “I can only imagine him just trying to throw the ball down the field because it’s blurry. The Lasik surgery is going to help him a lot.”

Roaf was shocked that Winston was able to put up big time numbers with his vision problems.

“Now, as a quarterback, and you need Lasik surgery, and you’re trying to throw the ball,” Roaf said. “To me, I don’t understand how he played at the level he played at if you can’t see.”

Hopefully, the surgery will make Winston a better player in 2020 and beyond.

Listen to interview below:

 

Vikings re-sign Abdullah, Jones

The Minnesota Vikings have re-signed RB Ameer Adullah and C Brett Jones, the team announced today.

Abdullah returns to Minnesota for his sixth NFL season in 2020. The Homewood, Alabama, native was originally drafted by Detroit in the second round (54th overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft and has totaled 3,380 all-purpose yards and 10 touchdowns over the course of 58 career games (22 starts). Abdullah has served as Minnesota’s primary kick returner since being claimed off waivers by the Vikings on November 7, 2018, tallying 23 kick returns for 583 yards (25.3 average) in 23 games with the club.

The 26-year-old Abdullah set a single-season career high with six special teams tackles in 2019, tied for second on the team according to league stats.

Minnesota has a lot of depth at the running back position with Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison, so barring injury, Abdullah impact will continue to be felt on special teams

Jones, 28, enters his third season with the Vikings in 2020 after originally being acquired from the New York Giants via trade on August 26, 2018. The native of Weyburn, Saskatchewan, appeared in two games in 2019 before being placed on the reserve/injured list on November 14. In his first season with Minnesota, Jones played in 14 games, making three starts at center.

Prior to joining the Vikings, he appeared in 30 games in three seasons with the Giants, making 14 starts. Jones spent the 2013 and 2014 seasons with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League, helping the club to a Grey Cup title in 2014 and earning the CFL’s Most Outstanding Lineman award for his efforts.

Philadelphia 76ers statement on suspension of NBA season

After Utah Jazz C Rudy Gobert’s positive test for COVID-19(coronavirus), the NBA announced that they had suspended the season on Wednesday. At this point, there is no timetable on when the season will resume.

In a statement released on Thursday, the Philadelphia 76ers put their support behind the league’s decision to suspend the season:

“The Philadelphia 76ers are supportive of the NBA’s decision to suspend the season. The health and well-being of our fans, players, staff members, partners, and communities are of the utmost importance, and we remain in close communication with the NBA, public health, state and local officials in charting a path forward.

“As we navigate the coming weeks, we recognize that our staff members are family and the heartbeat of the organization. As such, we are committed to assisting our arena associates through this period.

“In this time of need, we need to band together and take care of people,” Managing Partner Josh Harris stated. “Our teams, our cities, and the leagues in which we operate are a family, and we are committed to looking out for one another.”

“The 76ers also extend our sincere gratitude and appreciation to the many talented doctors, nurses, medical professionals, and emergency services personnel who are working tirelessly to address this matter of public health.

“We will provide further updates as soon as possible.”

Former UFC star Leben to battle ex-Alabama LB Stamps in Bare Knuckle boxing match

Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) will bring sanctioned bare knuckle action to Alabama for the first time on Saturday, April 11 as UFC veteran Chris Leben and former University of Alabama linebacker Marcel Stamps go toe-to-toe in the main event of BKFC 12 from Boutwell Auditorium in Birmingham, Ala.

The BKFC 12 co-main event will showcase a highly anticipated heavyweight title bout as BKFC Heavyweight Champion Joey Beltran defends his belt against rugged MMA veteran Mark Godbeer.

Tickets for the live event are on sale Friday, March 6 and can be purchased at https://www.bareknuckle.tv/ and Etix.

“It will be a great fight,” said BKFC founder and president David Feldman. “Chris Leben is a legend, he always comes to fight and he’s ready to throw down. Marcel Stamps is one of the most athletic fighters in BKFC, and we expect him to do some big things with the organization. This fight is a statement of how we do things at BKFC. The best fight the best!”

“I’m excited to be part of the BKFC 12 main event in Alabama,” said Leben. “On April 11, I will make Stamps regret he ever got into this. I will knock him out in front of his hometown fans.”

“I have my hometown supporting me and I will not let them down,” said Stamps. “Leben has nothing left. He is old and is nothing more than a name. I will retire him for good!”

Leben returns for his third BKFC fight, having previously knocked out Justin Baesman at BKFC 5, before losing a decision to Dakota Cochrane at BKFC 6. Originally from Portland, Oregon and now training out of Chula Vista, California, Leben first emerged onto the scene in the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter before going on to become a WEC Middleweight Champion. A veteran of over 20 UFC events, his career includes a five-fight win streak that led to a challenge of Anderson Silva.

Born in Brantley, Alabama and now fighting out of Birmingham, Stamps will step in for his second BKFC bout after previously knocking out Kendall Grove at BKFC 3. The 34-year-old played linebacker for Nick Saban at the University of Alabama from 2004 through 2008 and played in the CFL before transitioning to combat sports. Stamps competed in Bellator prior to debuting with BKFC in 2018.

Marrone on McAdoo: ‘He has mentored several great quarterbacks throughout his career’

The Jacksonville Jaguars have hired Ben McAdoo as the team’s quarterbacks coach, the club announced today.

“Coach McAdoo brings a lot of experience and knowledge to the quarterback room, and we’re excited to add him to our offensive coaching staff,” said Head Coach Doug  Marrone. “He has mentored several great quarterbacks throughout his career, and his understanding of the position will be a valuable addition to our team and for the development of that group.”

McAdoo, 42, has 17 seasons of coaching experience, including 14 seasons in the NFL. Most recently, McAdoo served as the head coach of the New York Giants from 2016-17 after serving as the team’s offensive coordinator from 2014-15. As head coach of the Giants, he led the team to an 11-5 record in 2016 en route to a playoff berth.

In McAdoo’s two seasons (2014-15) as the offensive coordinator for the Giants, he inherited an offense ranked 28th in 2013 and improved them to 10th and eighth, averaging 367.2 total net yards per game in 2014 and 372.3 total net yards per game in 2015. Under McAdoo’s tutelage, two-time Super Bowl MVP QB Eli Manning averaged a 62.9 completion percentage, 4,290 yards and 30 TDs.

In 2012, in his first season as the quarterbacks coach for the Green Bay Packers, McAdoo mentored QB Aaron Rodgers, who was named the NFC Pro Bowl starter after completing 371 of 552 attempts for 4,295 yards and 39 TDs against eight INTs. Rodgers also led the NFL in passer rating for the second consecutive season (108.0). In 2013 as the quarterbacks coach, despite losing Rodgers for seven games with a fractured collarbone, the Packers’ offense finished the season ranked third in the NFL (400.3 yards per game) and sixth in passing yards (266.8 yards per game).

Now, whether it’s Nick Foles or Gardner Minshew, the Jaguars are hoping that McAdoo can help Jacksonville’s quarterbacks get to the next level. 

NY Guardians’ Gilbride on XFL: ‘I think the quality of play has been surprising how good it is’

The first weekend of the XFL is in the books, and after a weekend full of football action, the first impressions are not bad. The first time around for the XFL was filled with a lot of gimmicks, but this time, the focus is on football, and it showed.

In their first game, the New York Guardians, behind the throwing of former NFL QB Matt McGloin(182 yards, one TD, one rushing TD), and a stingy defense, which forced three turnovers, including Jamar Summers’ 27-yard fumble return for a touchdown.  New York defeated the Tampa Bay Vipers 23-3 in the first XFL game at MetLife Stadium in front of 17,634 fans on Sunday.

Obviously, Guardians head coach Kevin Gilbride was happy with the victory, but Gilbride, who last coached at MetLife Stadium when he was the New York Giants offensive coordinator(2007-2013), was also pleased with all the games this weekend in the XFL.

“I think the quality of play has been surprising how good it is,” Gilbride said after the game. “We were hopeful that it was going to be good. I think everybody in the league was, but it has been outstanding. Now again, we would have liked to put a few more points up offensively, but in terms of the full gamut of the game – Jerry Glanville’s been around a long time defensively and did everything under the sun, and yet, we still responded well and still had even numerous other chances that we didn’t quite finish off the way we would have liked.

“But I think the quality of play – I think people, I’ll bet people are surprised at about how good the play is and how good the quality of coaching is, which has helped serve as a very important catalyst of bringing the ability level of these guys to where they are able to perform the way they did.”

It’s always going to be challenging to build a football league when the best players are in the NFL, but the XFL should be proud of their first weekend. The crowd at MetLife Stadium was lively, and the fans were very much into the contest. Now, the league needs to build on Week One’s success and continue to put out a quality product, which I think they will do as the season progresses. 

The slogan for the XFL is, “For the Love of Football,” and after Week 1, the love for the game from the players, coaches, and fans appears to be very real!

Russell: ‘We just focused, and showed I’m one of the longest reigning champions for a reason’

WBC Featherweight World Champion Gary Russell Jr. successfully defended his title by winning a unanimous decision over mandatory challenger Tugstsogt Nyambayar live on SHOWTIME Saturday night in a Premier Boxing Champions event from PPL Center in Allentown, Pa. Russell won by the scores of 118-110, 117-111 and 116-112

In the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING co-main event, 39-year-old Guillermo Rigondeaux moved down in weight to win a world title in a second-division, capturing the vacant WBA Bantamweight World Title with a split-decision win against former champion Liborio Solís. Rigondeaux became the oldest boxer to win the world title at 118 pounds. The scores were 116-111 and 115-112 in favor of Rigondeaux with the third judge giving the fight to Solis, 115-112.

Russell (31-1, 18 KOs) made the fifth defense of his 126-pound crown by piling up rounds early, winning the first three frames on all three cards and out landing Nyambayar in the first four rounds according to the PunchStat Report.

“We put the work in every day in the gym,” said Russell. “I’m a perfectionist. We knew we had a very tough opponent and I knew he was going to bring his physical best. He had everything to gain and nothing to lose. We just focused, and showed I’m one of the longest reigning champions for a reason.

“The difference was ring generalship, hand speed and boxing IQ. He only had 11 pro fights, of course he was an Olympic silver medalist, but he only had those 11 pro fights. I’ve had over 30 and I think my experience was enough to overcome and win this fight.”

Nyambayar (11-1, 9 KOs) significantly picked up his punch output in the second half of the fight, but believed that he waited too long for Russell to come to him.

“It wasn’t my night,” said Nyambayar. “He was the better man tonight. I didn’t do my work the way I was supposed to. He is a great champion who fought a great fight. I made a mistake by waiting for him during the fight. I’d love the rematch if I can get it.”

The 31-year-old Russell is part of one of boxing’s premier fighting families as he is trained by his father Gary Sr. and brother Gary Allan. Earlier in the night, Gary Jr. worked the corner for his younger brothers, unbeaten super lightweight Gary Antuanne and undefeated bantamweight Antonio, who both posted convincing victories.For Russell, who has held the WBC 126-pound crown since 2015, he plans to stay sharp in the gym and move up in weight in order to land a fight against another big name.

“We never take a day off,” said Russell. “I’ll probably be back in the gym next week. We’ll keep our wheels turning and stay sharp. If we have to move up in weight for these top fighters to feel like they have an advantage and take the fight, then we’ll do it.”

Photo: Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME