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New York Jets can live without Jamison Crowder in new-look receiving corps – New York Jets Blog



FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — A look at what’s happening around the New York Jets:

1. Crowder a goner? A year ago, the Jets’ wide-receiver situation was so dire that they opened the season with Chris Hogan in the starting lineup — the same Hogan who is now playing professional lacrosse. The position has improved to the point where — this might sound crazy — leading wide receiver Jamison Crowder is expendable.

The additions of Corey Davis, Keelan Cole and rookie Elijah Moore, one of the best players on the field during the three-week period of organized team activities, have given the Jets a surplus that could trigger other roster moves. They’re loaded in the slot, with Crowder, Moore and Braxton Berrios, who also shined during OTAs. Cole, too, has plenty of experience in the slot.

Crowder’s future is uncertain. The Jets want him back, according to coach Robert Saleh, but they’re trying to get him to take at least a 50% pay cut on his $10 million salary (non-guaranteed). He skipped the voluntary OTAs because of the contract squabble. This week’s minicamp is mandatory. Saleh said he expects Crowder to attend, but he didn’t sound certain.

The Jets have options. They can release Crowder if he doesn’t agree to the pay cut, using some of the $10 million savings to sign free agent Morgan Moses, who would be an upgrade over George Fant at right tackle. Fant could be the backup swing tackle, an important insurance policy with Mekhi Becton dealing with a foot issue (plantar fasciitis). The Jets remain interested in Moses, who visited recently.

Technically, New York has enough cap room to keep Crowder and sign Moses, but they could be looking to save some cash after doling out nearly $80 million guaranteed in free agency.

If the Jets and Crowder agree to a restructured contract, it won’t preclude them from trading him. If Moore continues to impress, what’s the point of keeping Crowder? Saleh called Moore, drafted 34th overall, a “dynamic young man” with excellent versatility.

Crowder, who turns 28 on Thursday, is a good player, but he’s coming off a 699-yard season and has the 16th-highest cap charge ($11.4 million) among wide receivers. He’s in the final year of his contract and will leave as a free agent after the season. If the Jets can get something for him, they should do it, clearing the way for Moore.

2. Easy does it: Saleh’s mantra is “All gas, no brake” — except when it comes to quarterback Zach Wilson.

Perhaps trying to control the hype, Saleh tapped the brake when asked to give a progress report on the No. 2 overall pick. He said he couldn’t give an accurate assessment because everything is peachy now and the “best learning comes through adversity and conflict. … Until we hit adversity will we be able to learn more about each other and how we handle things.”

Back in the day, former coach Bill Parcells expressed a similar sentiment a different way: “Let’s not put him in Canton yet, fellas.”

Wilson, taking all the first-team reps, was solid, if not stellar in OTAs. Not once in the five practices open to the media did he look like an overwhelmed rookie — and that’s encouraging. With no veteran quarterbacks on the roster, the Jets are in full “Get-Wilson-ready-to-start” mode.

3. Out of this world: Defensive end Carl Lawson, who received a big contract (three years, $45 million), has big, big expectations for himself. He wouldn’t share his specific goals, except to say he wants to be “otherworldly.” Yeah, he said that.

“I feel like the sky’s the limit, but this is life,” Lawson said. “Not every goal you set is going to happen because there are external factors, but I will do everything in my power to reach my highest level of potential and what I think I can possibly be, which is otherworldly.”

Otherworldly would mean producing more than he did with the Cincinnati Bengals — 20 sacks in four years. That’s a pedestrian number, but his pass rush win rate in that span (18.9%) was impressive and ranked 29th, per ESPN Stats & Information. That was a shade below Chicago Bears star Khalil Mack (19.3%). The Jets expect him to turn some of those “wins” into sacks.

4. Under the radar: A handful of non-starters stood out in the OTAs, including defensive end Bryce Huff, safety J.T. Hassell, rookie cornerback Isaiah Dunn, defensive tackle Tanzel Smart and wide receiver Manasseh Bailey. Defensive end Jabari Zuniga, whose rookie season was a washout because of injuries, flashed on occasion. With added competition on the defensive line, his roster spot isn’t a gimme.

Another 2020 draft pick, safety Ashtyn Davis, didn’t participate due to a significant foot injury last season. He attended meetings, but missed out on much-needed practice reps. Davis, who started six games as a rookie, probably is looking at a backup role.

5. Survivor: In a transient profession, special teams coordinator Brant Boyer is an outlier. He’s in his sixth year with the Jets, which means he’s working for his third head coach.

After last season’s 2-14 disaster, which resulted in coach Adam Gase’s ouster, Boyer went fishing for five days in Nevada. When he heard Saleh had been hired in late January, he flew back to New Jersey, figuring it would be a good idea to get some face time with the new boss and interview to keep his job.

“I’m pretty damn lucky,” Boyer said of his longevity.

Lucky and good.

6. Did you know? The Jets have gone five straight years without a 1,000-yard receiving season by an individual — the longest active drought in the league. They have a few “longest active droughts.” Maybe we should call them LADs.

7. Quiet, please: For two years under Gase, the loudest voice on the practice field belonged to that of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who wasn’t shy about raising the decibel level. His successor, Jeff Ulbrich, isn’t the yelling type. Truth be told, Saleh doesn’t want his coaches to be yellers.

Count that as Difference No. 136 between the current and previous staffs.

Here’s another one: Unlike Gase and Williams, who were joined together in an arranged marriage by the previous front office, Saleh and Ulbrich are old friends who share a similar defensive philosophy. The “secret sauce,” as Ulbrich put it, is simplicity and players first. In other words, there will be player-friendly schemes that aren’t difficult to master, that emphasize fundamentals and technique over smoke and mirrors.

This is a departure from the Williams way, which relied on exotic fronts to confuse opponents. He liked to brag he had more than 40 different fronts in his playbook. It worked pretty well in 2019 before everything went sideways last season.

The Saleh/Ulbrich method is good because it should allow them to integrate young players quickly into the season, and we all know the Jets have a lot of young players. The downside: Simple works if you have the horses, but the Jets still don’t have enough to win on talent alone. This will be a process, and there will be growing pains.

What’s important is getting the players to buy in. So far, so good, according to linebacker Jarrad Davis. Speaking of Ulbrich and the defensive assistants, Davis said their enthusiasm is “just leaking out of them, oozing off them. When we’re itchy, they know what to scratch.”

8. The last word: “He’s a dog, man. I like Zach Wilson. He has a lot to learn and there’s going to be a lot of pressure, but he’s good with it and he’s slinging the ball.” — Jets running back Tevin Coleman.

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Now in ‘place I felt like I could call home,’ optimistic Melvin Ingram energized with Pittsburgh Steelers



PITTSBURGH — At 32 years old with nine NFL seasons under his belt, outside linebacker Melvin Ingram is a seasoned veteran.

But entering his next chapter with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Ingram feels like he’s just getting started.

“I feel 18,” Ingram said. “I’m a kid. I’ve still got a lot left in me. I love football and my body feels great.

“Had an injury last year, but that’s a part of the game. It’s a physical sport. Right now I’m 100, 200 percent healthy. I feel amazing.”

Following a lingering knee injury that kept him sidelined for more than half the 2020 season, Ingram became a free agent when the Los Angeles Chargers let his four-year, $64-million deal expire. He put together his best season in 2017 with 10.5 sacks and a defensive touchdown and finished his Chargers career with 49 sacks, 7 fumble recoveries, 360 combined tackles and 108 quarterback hits.

“That has no motivation for me,” Ingram said of his ending in Los Angeles. “It’s a business. I understand the business. I’m not a person that gets salty about it. They changed my life. Nine years ago, they changed my life. 10 years ago, they changed my life. That’s no motivation for me. Me, waking up and doing my work every day is all the motivation. I’ve got two kids and a family. My family, my girl, my kids, that’s what motivates me.”

After an offseason rehabilitating his knee, working out and visiting teams, Ingram opted to sign a one-year, prove-it deal with the Steelers — an organization that prides itself on a strong pass rush and has led the league in sacks the last four seasons.

“I just felt like the program, the coaches, the team, everybody,” Ingram said. “It was a place I felt like I could call home, a place I can come in and fit in. Everything was amazing here, down to the coaches, the players, the city, just how they do everything. They welcomed me with open arms.”

To mark his new start with the Steelers, Ingram, a three-time Pro Bowler, chose a new jersey number, donning No. 8.

“This is a new place for me,” Ingram said. “New place, new start. Still the same me though. First time I ever played football, my number was 44. 4 + 4 is 8, and Kobe (Bryant) is one of my favorite athletes. Kobe year.”

Ingram said the Steelers didn’t discuss their specific plans for his role on the defense, but defensive coordinator Keith Butler said he knew the outside linebackers needed the depth for a three-man rotation similar to the one used last year with T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith and Bud Dupree.

Ingram was listed as Highsmith’s backup at right outside linebacker in the Steelers’ initial depth chart released Saturday.

“You always want to have three guys that can play,” Butler said. “We did last year. Alex came in and did a good job filling that role when Bud was here. So, we played all three of them quite a bit. We think we’ve got three now that are gonna be capable of playing for us. So, we can rest each other.

“It’s very difficult to sit two outside linebackers out and let them play the entire game when they’re wrestling with guys that weight 300 pounds. You ever wrestled a 300-pounder? Those suckers are strong. You get tired doing that, you know what I mean?”

Ingram has primarily played opposite of Highsmith during team periods in the opening days of the Steelers’ training camp, while Watt participates only in individual drills. Watt got to know Ingram through playing together in the Pro Bowl and through his brother Derek during the fullback’s stint with the Chargers.

“He’s just a player that has a lot of burst off the line of scrimmage,” Watt said of Ingram. “He’s got a phenomenal spin move and just seeing him in person, he is a colorful guy and I am excited to work with him.”

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Cleveland Browns unveil retro uniforms honoring 75th anniversary



The Cleveland Browns have announced they will be wearing retro uniforms this season to celebrate their 75th anniversary season.

The uniform honors Cleveland’s inaugural 1946 season in the All-American Football Conference. The uniform will feature white jerseys with brown numbers and an orange shadow-box with white pants. The helmets will numbers on the sides and gray facemasks.

“The Browns are one of those iconic franchises in all sports, not just the NFL,” Browns executive vice president JW Johnson said in a team release. “We wanted to give a nod to the past and the players that have paved the way for the team we have here today.”

In those uniforms, the Browns were a dominant franchise. They won the first four AAFC titles (1946-49) before the league dissolved and the Browns joined the NFL where they won three of the next six NFL championships (1950-55). The current version of the Browns was a wild card team last season and is seeking to reach the playoffs in consecutive years since going to the postseason five years in a row from 1985-1989.

It was not announced in which games the Browns will wear this look.

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Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers completes usual offseason training cycle



Aaron Rodgers hasn’t been with the Green Bay Packers this offseason, but his ongoing stalemate with the franchise hasn’t changed how he prepares for the season.

As he has done for most of the past decade, the reigning NFL MVP went through his normal offseason training regimen with Proactive Sports Performance, a program that includes field work, a weight room, yoga and sand dunes work.

According to the company, the routine lasts around six to seven weeks for NFL athletes and concluded Saturday as players head off to training camp.

While it remains unknown if Green Bay’s franchise quarterback will be in attendance when the Packers open camp Wednesday, a Proactive Sports Performance representative said Rodgers is “working and he’s ready” for football.

In April, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Rodgers does not want to return to the team because of issues he has with management. Despite his stance, the Packers have remained adamant that they will not trade the three-time MVP and offered a record-breaking extension to the 37-year-old. Sources told Schefter this week that Rodgers turned down a two-year extension this offseason that would have tied Rodgers to the Packers for five more seasons and made him the highest-paid quarterback and player in football.

Instead, Rodgers has continued to stay away from the team and missed voluntary OTAs for the first time in his career earlier this summer.

Rodgers has otherwise stayed busy this offseason, including appearing as a guest host on “Jeopardy!”, vacationing in Hawaii and participating in a made-for-TV exhibition golf event alongside Tom Brady, Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau.

Information from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler was used in this report.

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