Giants’ Daniel Jones explains why he will play in 2020

Players around the NFL are deciding to opt-out of the 2020 NFL season because of concerns about COVID-19. At this point, the New York Giants had three players opt-out: Nate Solder, Da’Mari Scott, and Sam Beal. 

The deadline to opt-out was Thursday at 4 P.M.

Giants QB Daniel Jones, 23, is young and does not have any kids, so for him, playing football during a pandemic is not an issue.

“It’s important to realize that everyone has different circumstances, whether it be family related or personally or whatever it may be,” Jones said via a video conference call on Thursday. “I certainly don’t have those situations. I live by myself, and I’m healthy, but everyone has got to consider their own personal situation, and I certainly respect that and expect people to do that and do what’s best for them and certainly don’t hold that against them. Obviously, Nate (Solder) made a decision to opt-out, and he’s got an extremely tough circumstance, and he’s got to do what’s best for his family. All the respect in the world, all the support in the world to him..

“Like I said, you’ve got to look at everyone individually and personally, and you have no way of knowing exactly what’s going on and why they made that decision. That’s up to them, so like I said, I certainly respect it and support it for all the people who made that decision.”

It’s hard to argue with anybody opting out. To Jones’ point, every player’s situation is different. If you are young and healthy, more than likely, you will beat the coronavirus, so for Jones and many others, you can understand why they’ve decided to play.

Jags’ Allen on goals for 2020: ‘To be the best defensive player in the league’

In 2019, Jaguars LB/DE Josh Allen was impressive. As a rookie, Allen led the team with 10.5 sacks(most sacks by a rookie in franchise history), which helped him make the Pro Bowl. Now, the second-year player wants to do even better in 2020.

When asked what his goals for 2020 are, Allen had this to say:

“To be the best defensive player in the league,” Allen said via a video conference call on Wednesday. “That’s high standards. I had a high standard last year, and I kind of achieved that goal. But now, I set the bar really high for myself, and I’m looking to stay there and stay at the top, and I’m going to push myself as much as I can push each year.

“This year I’m not holding anything back, I’m coming in as best as I can, the best version of me. I feel like coming into practice with what I did so far; I feel like my game has grown. I feel like I’m getting more comfortable, but there’s still a lot I got to learn. I got high standards this year and just know I’m shooting for the top.”

For Allen to be the best defensive player in the league, he must do more than sack the quarterback. According to Allen, he wants to be a complete player.

“I feel like I work on pass rushes, but I worked on my whole game,” Allen said. “It’s so big to get caught up in the sacks – this is just talking about people in the NFL – it’s so big to get caught up in the sacks if you’re considered a pass rusher and I’m not trying to be considered as just pass rusher. I am trying to be considered a great defensive player.

“My main focus is going to be to stop the run, tackle for losses, plays that destruct the whole offense. That’s really what I have been working on. So, I have been working on just getting off my three-point stance as explosive as I can and things like that. I worked a lot of pass rush, but like I said, I worked on trying to be able to stop the run, tackle for losses, and be quick on my first step.” 

Allen won’t have Calais Campbell(traded to Ravens) on the other side, and he might not have Yannick Ngakoue(contract dispute) as well, so the pressure could be on him in 2020. Jacksonville did draft LB/DE K’Lavon Chaisson in the first round of this year’s draft, but he is rookie, and he won’t have a preseason, which could impact his production. 

Allen appears to have the goods, and he has high standards, which should excite the Jaguars in 2020.

Giants’ Beal opts out of 2020 NFL season

New York Giants CB Sam Beal has become the third Giants player to opt out of the 2020 NFL season, the team announced on Tuesday.

He joins starting left tackle Nate Solder and wide receiver Da’Mari Scott in choosing not to play this year.

Under the agreement reached between the NFL and the Players Association, players can choose not to play in the upcoming season without penalty. The deadline is 4 p.m. tomorrow and the opt-out is irrevocable.

Beal was expected to compete for increased playing time this season. A third-round selection in the 2018 supplemental draft, he missed his entire rookie year with a shoulder injury he originally sustained at Central Michigan.

In 2019, Beal spent the first nine games of the season on injured reserve with a pulled hamstring and missed the season finale vs. Philadelphia with a shoulder injury. He played in six games with three starts and totaled 26 tackles (20 solo) and one pass defensed.

Free agent acquisition James Bradberry will almost certainly start at one corner. With DeAndre Baker on the Commissioner Exempt List and Beal opting out, the corners competing for jobs and reps are Corey Ballentine, Grant Haley, Montre Hartage, 2020 draft choices Darnay Holmes (fourth round) and Chris Williamson (seventh) and perhaps second-year pro Julian Love.

*Linebacker Josiah Tauaefa was activated off the reserve/COVID list, one day after he was placed on it.

Jags’ Minshew: ‘Laviska Shenault Jr. is a freak’

In the 2020 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars wanted to get second-year quarterback Gardner Minshew II more weapons. Jacksonville grabbed Colorado WR Laviska Shenault Jr. in the second round, and in the fifth round, the Jaguars selected Texas WR Collin Johnson. 

Based on what he has seen out of Shenault and Johnson, Minshew is pleased. 

 “Laviska Shenault Jr. is a freak, man,” Minshew said via a video call on Tuesday. “I knew it when we played him at Colorado. I was glad he wasn’t super healthy that game because he changes the game when he has the ball in his hands. He’s really impressed me. He’s a lot better route runner, a lot better at catching the ball than I even expected so I’m really excited for what he’s going to be.

“Collin Johnson, really big guy, doesn’t move like he’s a big guy, he moves really well, smooth and catches the ball really well. Both those guys, they love ball, they love learning, they’re excited to be here, so I’m excited to work with them.”

Coming out of Colorado, some compared Shenault to Falcons star WR Julio Jones. At 6-1, 227 pounds, Shenault has excellent size, and while his 40 time at the combine was not great(4.58), many believe he plays faster than that on the field. Regarding Johnson, he’s long(6-6), and may not be expected to make an impact right away, but the potential is definitely there. You can’t teach height, and Johnson has that.

It’s still very early, and without a preseason, it could be difficult for Shenault and Johnson to get completely comfortable playing NFL football right away. As much as many loathe the preseason, it has its benefits, especially for younger players. No preseason could impact how these young players perform in 2020.

 

Giants re-sign Markus Golden

Outside linebacker Markus Golden – whose 10.0 sacks in 2019 were more than twice the total of any other Giants defender – today re-signed with the team. Golden, who is entering his sixth NFL season, rejoins a group of outside backers that includes three-year veteran Lorenzo Carter and second-year pro Oshane Ximines – who tied for second on the team with 4.5 sacks last season – free agent acquisition Kyler Fackrell, who had 10.5 sacks for Green Bay in 2018, and 2020 draft choices Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin. Golden has 29.0 career sacks. Carter, Ximines and Fackrell have a combined 29.5 sacks.

According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, it’s a one-year deal worth around $5.1 million.

Golden, 29, had been an unrestricted free agent. Soon after the NFL Draft in late April, the Giants placed a seldom-used unrestricted free agent tender on Golden. When he did not sign with another team by the first day of training camp, the Giants regained exclusive rights to his services for the 2020 season.

In his first season with the Giants in 2019, Golden was one of six players – including four on defense – to start all 16 games. He was one of 18 NFL players with at least 10.0 sacks. Golden was the first Giants player with a double-digit sack total since Jason Pierre-Paul had 12.5 in 2014 and the first Giants linebacker to accomplish the feat since Lawrence Taylor had 10.5 in 1990. Golden finished fifth with 72 tackles (37 solo). He had a season-high eight tackles (five solo) vs. Green Bay on Dec. 1.

Golden joined the Giants as a free agent on March 15, 2019, after four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals.

*The Giants removed one player but added another to the reserve/COVID-19 list. Wide receiver David Sills, who was added to the list a week ago today, returned to the team. Second-year linebacker Josiah Tauaefa was placed on the list.

As a rookie in 2019, Tauaefa played 12 games as a reserve linebacker and on special teams. He totaled three solo tackles, including two for a loss, all in his NFL debut vs. Minnesota on Oct. 6. Tauaefa added three tackles and one forced fumble on special teams.

Buccaneers sign RB LeSean McCoy

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have signed running back LeSean McCoy, the team announced on Tuesday.

According to his agent, it’s a one-year deal. 

McCoy, 32, a six-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro, ranks in the top 30 in NFL history in rushing yards (22nd, 11,071), yards from scrimmage (27th, 14,868), and rushing touchdowns (28th, 73).

Over 160 career games, including 141 starts, he has totaled 11,071 rushing yards and 73 rushing touchdowns on 2,447 career carries (4.5 avg.). 

The 12-year veteran has also been a factor in the passing game throughout his career, hauling in 503 receptions for 3,797 yards and 16 touchdowns. His 5.0 scrimmage yards per touch rank seventh in NFL history among players with at least 2,500 career touches.

Since entering the league in 2009, McCoy ranks second in both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, trailing only Adrian Peterson. Among running backs during that span, McCoy ranks second in receptions, third in receiving yards and fourth in receiving touchdowns. He also leads the league in both scrimmage yards (14,868) and first downs (550) since his debut season, while ranking second in scrimmage touchdowns with 89.

McCoy won a Super Bowl title with the Kansas City Chiefs last season, contributing 465 rushing yards (4.6 yards per carry) and five total touchdowns for the Chiefs in 2019.

Eagles’ Pederson on whether NFL can keep players safe: ‘I’m extremely optimistic’

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has tested positive for COVID-19, the team announced on Sunday. At this time, the 52-year-old Pederson is asymptomatic. According to Pederson, he will run the club “virtually,” and Eagles running backs/assistant head coach Duce Staley will assume the day-to-day activities in the building.

On Monday, Pederson addressed his positive test for COIVD-19 and how he will handle the team while in quarantine.

Pederson: First of all, I appreciate everyone’s well wishes. I had a lot of text messages and phone calls the last 24 hours or so. I know this virus affects people differently, and I am very respectful and mindful of that. I also want everyone to know that I feel great, energy level is high. I really have no symptoms whatsoever, and I am very fortunate because I do know and understand that this virus attacks people a little bit differently. I have been in great communication, constant communication, not only with our medical team and doctors, but also my staff and the team itself.

One of the things I learned this offseason is I can still run the team virtually, and that’s what I have been able to do today, even yesterday, holding staff meetings, things of that nature, team meetings. I also want to reiterate the fact that I’m very comfortable and confident that the protocols that we have in place at NovaCare are for the best interest of the football team and all those that enter that building. It still is a very safe environment, and one of the things that we all need to learn and what I need to learn, taking away from this, is obviously we need to protect ourselves when we are in the community away from the building, continue to wash our hands, wear our mask, do the social distancing that medical teams and doctors have prescribed.

So obviously we’re taking this very seriously around our building, and in our everyday lives, and again, we need to continue to do so. We understand that things like this are going to happen. I have been able to talk to my staff about contingencies not only with players, but also with staff members. I mentioned I believe last week when we got together about this.

So I’m not going to speculate on a timetable for me, I treat it just like players, so I’m not going to speculate on that. When I’m back, I’m back. With that, we will open up for questions, and I hope everybody is doing well and staying safe.”

Q. Glad you’re feeling well. We’re all concerned about you. It sounds like you know that you contracted this outside the NovaCare Complex. Are you pretty confident that that’s the case and what gives you that sense?

PEDERSON: Respectfully, I’m going to say this one time, and I’m going to leave it at that. It’s something that I don’t necessarily want to comment on for myself or speculate on for anyone else. I’m just going to reiterate the fact that I feel very good about the safety of our building and the protocols that we have in place. That’s one thing that I do know and going through this has reinforced that for me at this time.

Q. Glad you’re feeling well and at least showing no symptoms as of now. Talking to some of the players yesterday, they said your message to the team is it’s not just about one guy. When we talk about the contingency plans for the players and for both you coaching virtually, I am curious what you’re trying to tell the guys right now, because it is inevitable, maybe not you testing positive again, but it is inevitable that these players will test positive at some point during this season? 

Pederson: You’re exactly right, and that’s been my message, really, all off-season, when we went virtual way back on March 12, March 13. The message still is we have to protect ourselves, not only in and around the building, but outside the building, as well.

But you know what the thing is, too, is that it’s never been — since I’ve been head coach in Philadelphia, it’s never been about one guy or one group of guys. It’s been about everybody. This is no different. I’m fortunate that this is happening at this time of our season, our training camp at the beginning, and not necessarily say in October, November, where you could miss games. It’s a matter of just protecting each other and our goals don’t change. We’re going to continue to press forward one day at a time.

Q. I know you want to do as much as you can virtually, but does assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley take on a bigger role inside the building, and what is going to happen with that kind of structure? 

Pederson: I do everything I can virtually. I just finished up a bunch of player meetings, group meetings this morning already. Guys are getting ready for a walk-through on the field and yeah, [assistant head coach/running backs coach] Duce [Staley] being the assistant head coach, he just assumes my role, the day-to-day activities in the building.

So he and I talk every single morning. I give him, through communication with him, give him sort of my thoughts on where I’m leading and what I’m thinking, and then he carries that message forward. He’s done a great job so far and will continue that going forward.

Q. Obviously you’re at home. Are you quarantining from the rest of your family, or are you getting the rest of the family tested? Are you concerned about that at all? 

Pederson: Yeah, I’m quarantining away from my family. I’m making sure that I keep my distance from them, and wear my mask, wash my hands, do those things while I’m here at home.

Q. You said last week that there are contingencies for everyone in the organization. How much thought had you put into this possibility before it happened, and does this affect or change the way you’re going to plan those contingencies going forward? 

Pederson: Great question. For me, I have thought a lot about the contingencies and this doesn’t just happen, — I thought, actually, I thought about this quite a bit over the summer, if something like this were to come up, not only with me, but with any of my staff or any of the players.

This is why I feel really, really good about my staff, the guys that I have in place to carry the torch, so to speak, in somebody’s absence and of course in my absence at this time.

The same way with players. I guess you treat it just like if a guy were to get hurt and they are going to miss some time, and you have to have the next guy prepared and ready to go, and this is no different.

Q. I imagine that you have taken safety and had protocols when you are outside and not at the facility, and you got the virus. Does your perspective change at all on your confidence about the NFL and you guys being able to have a season safely and keeping everybody healthy?

Pederson: My confidence hasn’t changed at all. I’m extremely optimistic. I feel like we’re going to play; I’m confident that we are going to play. It’s unfortunate. Like I told my team last night, this virus, it holds no prejudices, right. It doesn’t matter. It can affect any one of us. I’m sure many of you have had family members or people you know or loved ones affected by this virus. So that part of it doesn’t matter.

It’s just the fact that we have to abide by the protocols that are in place. They are in place for a reason, for our safety. Our building is a great place to be. It is a safe place to be for our players and coaches and all who are involved.

So I’m looking forward. It’s full steam ahead for me. I’m itching to get back in the building at some point and be around our players and get these guys ready for a season.

Vikings’ owner on Spielman: ‘We continue to have the utmost confidence in him as we work to assemble championship-caliber teams’

The Minnesota Vikings have signed General Manager Rick Spielman to a multi-year contract extension, the team announced on Monday. According to reports, and like head coach Mike Zimmer’s extension, it will run through the 2023 season.

Spielman originally joined the Vikings as Vice President of Player Personnel on May 30, 2006, and directed scouting, free agency, and draft preparations for the club before being hired as the team’s general manager on Jan. 3, 2012. Since taking over as general manager, the Vikings rank ninth in the NFL with a .570 winning percentage (72-54-2), which is fourth-best in the NFC over that eight-season span.

“We appreciate Rick’s work ethic, diligence, and commitment to the Vikings. We continue to have the utmost confidence in him as we work to assemble championship-caliber teams to reach our ultimate goal of winning a world championship.” Vikings Owner/Chairman Zygi Wilf said.

During the 2020 NFL Draft, Spielman turned 12 picks into a seven-round NFL-record 15 selections with two additional picks gained for the 2021 NFL Draft through trades. The Vikings 2020 class is the largest since the NFL condensed its annual draft to seven rounds in 1994. It also marked Minnesota’s first 15-member class since 1985, tying for the largest-overall draft class since 1976, when the team added 17 players over 17 rounds.

Spielman has assembled some talented rosters over the years. Just like with Zimmer’s extension, this is about Minnesota’s belief that Spielman can bring in the talent that is good enough to get the Vikings a championship. Now, we wait and see.

Bucs’ Wirfs is excited to play with Brady

Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie OT Tristan Wirfs has a big job ahead of him in 2020. He has the responsibility of protecting maybe the greatest quarterback of all-time in Tom Brady. While Wirfs has not had much contact with Brady, he is excited about the opportunity to play with the six-time Super Bowl winner. 

“The first time I met him, we were just coming around a corner and met each other,” Wirfs said during a video call on Friday. “He said, ‘What’s up, big dog?’ I thought it was kind of crazy because he’s Tom Brady. Then he asked me how old I was, and I told him 21, and he kind of started laughing. He said something like, ‘You think you have experience? I’ve got double your experience.’ I was like, ‘Yeah.’ That’s really about it. I waved to him when he was leaving the other day. He seems really nice. I’m excited to get to be his teammate.”

For the 21-year-old Wirfs, who was 13th overall pick in this year’s draft, playing with Brady also excites his friends and family. 

“I think my friends and family were more excited to see if I had met him or not,” Wirfs said. “I think it was every day they would text me, ‘Did you meet Tom yet?’ I don’t want to underplay it at all, but he’s just a guy, and I think that’s how he wants to be treated. I think that more so, my family was in shock that I was going to be his teammate.”

As rookie, the Buccaneers are expecting Wirfs to be a starter for this team, and according to Wirfs, he had a similar experience at Iowa.

“That’s kind of how my college career started – I was kind of just tossed in there,” Wirfs said. “It happening this way, at this level – I’d be all right with it. I’ve just got to go out there and do my best – that’s all I can ask of myself. You’ve got to prepare every week and come out and execute. That’s really what it comes down to. If that’s the case where I have to get tossed in there, then so be it. I’ll be as ready as I can be and give it my all.”

Wirfs has a great chance to make an impact with Tampa Bay, and if he does, Brady and the Buccaneers will be thrilled. 

Photo/courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jaguars place Minshew, four others on COVID-19/Reserve List

The Jaguars have placed QB Gardner Minshew II, RB Ryquell Armstead, TE Charles Jones, WR Michael Walker and S Andrew Wingard on the team’s Reserve/COVID-19 list, the team announced on Sunday.

The Reserve/COVID-19 list is a new reserve category created by the NFL for a player who either tests positive for COVID-19 or who has been quarantined after having been in close contact with an infected person or persons. Clubs are not permitted to comment on a player’s medical status other than referring to roster status. Clubs may not disclose whether player is in quarantine or is positive for COVID-19.

Clubs, club personnel, other players and player-agents are not permitted to disclose a player’s reason for placement on Reserve/COVID-19 or a player’s status with regard to such illness. However, players are permitted to disclose their own medical information.