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Washington’s Chase Young: ‘I can take the criticism … just keep watching’ – Washington Blog

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ASHBURN, Va. — The way Chase Young finished his rookie season led to one question entering his second year: Would the Washington Football Team defensive end become a top-five pass-rusher?

That hasn’t happened. And, the question now is this: Why hasn’t Young been more productive?

Through eight games he has 1.5 sacks and his pressure numbers are down. His sophomore season has become more about learning lessons than establishing his ranking as an NFL pass-rusher. He has been double-teamed and chipped more often than his rookie season.

“I’m a man, I can take the criticism,” Young said. “It’s a process. Everybody will talk. Just wait until down the road. Just keep watching.”

But on Monday, coach Ron Rivera’s message to him was basic: Stay patient and disciplined. With fellow defensive end Montez Sweat out 4-6 weeks with a broken jaw, there will be more burden on Young, starting with Sunday’s game against the 6-2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1 p.m. ET, Fox).

It takes a lot for Rivera to knock his players, and he did that with Young during the bye week in an article on the team’s website and again during a news conference, mentioning how Young needs to do more and handle situations different.

“He’s been tremendous about it. He works at it,” Rivera said. “He’s seeing some things that are a little different for him, a little new for him, and we’re trying to help him through those to learn and understand how to win in those situations.”

It will be difficult for Young and his fellow linemates to harass Sunday’s opposing quarterback, Tom Brady. He has been sacked 12 times in eight games. Brady averages 2.50 seconds before throwing the ball, the second fastest in the NFL.

But for Young it’s just about stringing together good rushes. In the second half of last season, he recorded four of his 7.5 sacks, forced three fumbles and recovered three. He set up other pass-rushers with his pressure.

“There’s a lot of pressure on him,” Rivera said. “I wanted to make sure he understands that he doesn’t have to do something extraordinary. I don’t want him to come in and think that every play has got to be great.”

Young said the expectations are not a burden.

“I ain’t under pressure,” he said. “I don’t feel pressure. I don’t hear people. … You got to block out the haters.”

Later, he added: “I’m blessed. I get to play on Sundays. I support my family; I’m comfortable. I can just go out there and play my ball.”

But he is under more scrutiny. That’s life as a No. 2 overall pick, especially one playing for his hometown team.

“He gets frustrated but I don’t think he’d be as frustrated if they were winning,” said Young’s personal manager Ian Thomas, who played collegiately at Illinois and coached Young for two years in high school. “He’s a guy that could be in double digits [in sacks] by this point in the season … But he won’t make excuses. He can point out all the reasons why, but he still wants it. He won’t use that as a reason for not making the plays he wants to make.”

Young, a team captain, missed voluntary offseason workouts while shooting commercials. It’s hard to say if he would be having a better season had he shown up for those workouts.

“I was making money, baby,” Young said. “Got to make the money. None of you all would have ducked the money. It’s a job, just like you all have to do your job, I do my job.”

Last season, Young won off the edge on 22.3% of his pass rushes compared to 18.6% this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He defeated double-teams 14.3% of the time compared to 2.9% in 2021. When he rushed inside last season, he won 20% of the time; he has not rushed inside much this season, but has yet to win.

He’s being chipped more by tight ends and backs compared to 2020. Lines are sliding his way more often. Rivera said their internal stats have Young and Sweat being chipped 55 to 57% of the time when it’s third-and-7 to third-and-10.

“Some plays they line the chipper out there and I expect them to chip me and he doesn’t,” Young said. “It’s like they’re playing a mind game. I just have to adapt. It’s just dialing in like I’m doing and keep trusting the process. … I talked to coach Rivera and we’ve got a plan to fix that.”

Rivera said: “I’d love to see him run through that guy a few more times and kind of set the tone and tempo instead of reacting to him a little too much. It’s something he never had to face.”

Young said he will reach out to Chicago Bears linebacker Khalil Mack, whom he has known since the ninth grade. Young also has talked to other former pass-rushers, from Michael Strahan to Bruce Smith.

Their advice, in part, was: You can beat it with power.

But Young also knows he has to mature in some aspects.

“It has a lot to do with me not trusting my teammates, us not trusting each other as a whole,” he said. “I might think someone might be out of place and I’m like I’ve got to cover that and then, ‘boop.’ We have to trust each other.”

His teammates trust him.

“He has a lot of expectations because of who he is,” said Washington receiver Terry McLaurin, who also played with Young at Ohio State. “He doesn’t shy away from that. … He hasn’t gotten too low, even though he would want more from himself. He’s still working and working, knowing that those opportunities are going to present themselves down the stretch.”

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Dolphins rookie Jaylen Waddle establishing himself as a No. 1 receiver – Miami Dolphins Blog

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MIAMI — Jaylen Waddle was the last Miami Dolphins player to enter the news conference room Sunday after the team’s 33-10 romp against the Carolina Panthers. He was fresh off a nine-catch, 137-yard performance — and he was dressed like it.

Waddle wore a black-and-white checkered hoodie with a red shirt underneath, white designer jeans with red splatter on them and a spotless pair of Nike Air Force 1 shoes. He even kept his black Ray-Ban sunglasses perched atop his nose; when you play like that, you can wear whatever you want.

The Dolphins rookie has cemented himself as the team’s No. 1 wide receiver during its current four-game winning streak, compiling 346 yards and a touchdown on 29 catches. He has 77 catches for 759 yards and four touchdowns, and is one of seven players in the NFL with more than 100 targets. He is on pace for 109 receptions, which would surpass the only other rookie in league history with 100 or more catches — Anquan Boldin — who had 101 in 2003 with the Arizona Cardinals.

“Preparation, practice,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said of Waddle’s emergence. “I think we worked at it and worked at it and worked at it, and we’ve been able to string some good weeks together from a practice standpoint, and you’re seeing that show up in the game.”

Miami traded up to draft him at No. 6 overall in this year’s draft, in an effort to rekindle some of the chemistry that made Waddle and Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa a potent tandem at Alabama. While the early results were promising — Waddle was the team’s leading receiver entering Week 12 — Sunday’s victory felt like an official arrival, of sorts.

And it surprisingly came against the NFL’s best pass defense.

The Panthers had allowed 174.2 passing yards per game entering Week 12, playing more man coverage than all but three teams in the NFL. Tagovailoa picked them apart underneath, completing 23 of 24 passes of 10 or fewer air yards for 141 of his 230 total passing yards Sunday.

The second-year passer said it was Carolina’s coverage tendencies that made his efficient day possible.

“They played a lot of man, and when they did play zone, we tried to take advantage of in-cuts, crossers, things like that, so it’s really what we expected, and what they showed us out there,” he said.

The chemistry between Tagovailoa and Waddle has been striking.

Since Tagovailoa’s return from injured reserve in Week 6, Waddle is the NFL’s third-most targeted receiver and leads the league in receptions with 50. His 528 receiving yards in that span trail only Los Angeles Rams receiver Cooper Kupp‘s 618.

“Jaylen has just been in the right place at the right time,” Tagovailoa said. “There’s times where he gets covered and he is still open, so you take a look at one of the third downs that we had. I think it was 26. Donte Jackson covering him. It was really good coverage. [Jaylen] still got open.”

Tagovailoa is hesitant to attribute their effectiveness to their time together at Alabama — that was two years ago, after all. But their experience in college laid a foundation to make them successful at this level.

Waddle said Tagovailoa has grown as a player, which has inspired him to try to do the same each week. Initially known as a field-stretching vertical threat coming out of college, Waddle has worked to sharpen his entire route tree during this recent stretch.

“I work extremely hard not to just be known as a speed guy or a vertical threat. I’m just going to continue to try to go out there every week and show I can actually run routes and do things that people don’t expect me to do.”

The rookie has also broken out a new touchdown celebration during this win streak, in which he pins his arms to his sides, palms outstretched, and waddles like a penguin.

He said he used to be laughed at for it, particularly by Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, who now does it with him.

Maybe those who thought Miami made a mistake by drafting Waddle instead of fellow receivers Ja’Marr Chase (Cincinnati Bengals) or DeVonta Smith (Philadelphia Eagles) can take a page from Wilkins’ book and hop on board, as well.



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Dallas Cowboys haven’t asked me to sit vs. New Orleans Saints

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FRISCO, Texas — Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott does not want to take a game off despite a bruised right knee.

“No one’s came to me and asked me to rest,” Elliott said Sunday as the Cowboys opened up preparation for Thursday’s game against the New Orleans Saints.

If they do, Elliott said he would listen.

“I’ve just got to go with what they believe is best for the team,” he said.

Elliott said he has been dealing with the injury since banging it in the Oct. 3 win against the Carolina Panthers.

A day after the Thanksgiving Day loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, coach Mike McCarthy expressed concern for Elliott’s health after Elliott had just 25 yards on nine carries. The running back has not topped 51 yards in his last four games, the lowest-output of his career.

“It’s that time of year,” McCarthy said. “Zeke’s running style is ferocious. He gives a pounding and he takes some hits. We need to evaluate that and this week we’ll see what the preparation looks like for him.”

A source told ESPN the Cowboys will consider providing Elliott some time off to heal, including the possibility of holding him out of Thursday’s game. The source does not believe placing Elliott on injured reserve is a consideration at this time. That would require him Elliott to miss at least three games.

The Cowboys have scaled back Elliott’s snaps in the last four games to help manage the injury. He has played 164 of 280 offensive snaps (58.5%) after playing in 379 of 451 snaps (84%) in the first seven games of the season.

Elliott has missed just one game in his career because of injury (calf strain last December vs. the San Francisco 49ers). He was held out of the season finales in 2016 and ’18 because the Cowboys’ playoff position was set, and he was suspended for six games in 2017.

“He’s the ultimate competitor,” right guard Zack Martin said. “We see it on a day in, day out basis and I think everyone is seeing it. He takes great pride in being there for his teammates and doing whatever he can in his power to help this team win. For me, he’s one of the top competitors I’ve been around, and he’s going to keep doing that.”

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Follow live: Lamar returns for Ravens in AFC North showdown vs. Browns

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