Tagged in: offseason

Johnathan Abram’s goal is to play under control for Las Vegas Raiders

First, the Las Vegas Raiders signed Karl Joseph. Then they used a second-round draft pick on Trevon Moehrig. Tyree Gillespie came in the fourth round.

Surely, bringing in three new safeties had to send a message to incumbent starter Johnathan Abram, right? Meh …

“It doesn’t,” insisted Abram, a first-round draft pick in 2019, after Wednesday’s OTA practice. “Only thing it does is bring us together. As soon as those guys got drafted, as soon as Karl got signed back, I reached out to everybody. I told them, ‘It’s time to go to work.’

“Each guy’s going to push each other. We’re all going to come out every single day and just be our best. Day in and day out. Being a pro … if everybody does that, it’s going to make the room entirely better.”

And it should improve Abram’s oft-boom or bust, heat-seeking-missile style.

For one thing, Abram is settling in at a new position as a box safety in new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s heavy Cover-3 scheme.

“It’s interesting going from what we went to last year, playing a lot of split-safety, playing high,” Abram said. “So this is going to be more suitable to my talents and my strengths.”

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For another, Abram realizes he needs to slow down a tad and not always go for the kill shot, lest he take out a teammate — which has happened on occasion — or himself — yeah, that’s happened, too.

Like his rookie campaign, when he played all of one half of the 2019 season opener due to a self-inflicted shoulder injury.

“Last offseason was a struggle for me coming off the shoulder injury,” he said. “So this year I stayed around the facility a lot … I’m more than 100 percent, honestly. I’m as strong as I’ve ever been.

“This year, [the goal is] just being more consistent. Playing under control. Not really taking that many wild hits, getting myself knocked out of the game [and] hurting my own body … being consistent, being disciplined and constantly just doing my job. Filling my grade sheet with ‘plusses’ every day. Then every Sunday, I think my game will blossom.”

It’s only OTAs, and they are voluntary, but 83 of the 89 players on the Raiders’ current roster were practicing on Wednesday, with running back Josh Jacobs, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson, tight end Derek Carrier, cornerback Isaiah Johnson and rookie linebacker/safety Divine Deablo not participating.

But there was Abram, taking on a leadership role with the defensive backs on a far side of the field.

And as draft classmate Clelin Ferrell noted, he has seen Abram focusing on “making it a special year” for both himself and the Raiders.

“All of us, we’re tired of losing,” Ferrell said. “Seeing his discipline, he’ll bring the guys along on the back end and the way he’s trying to push the fact that we’ve really got to learn this defense, so we can just go out there and play.”

Abram had two interceptions last season. He was also criticized for his inconsistent ball skills and for being badly out of position on Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ 22-yard, game-winning touchdown pass to Travis Kelce in the final minute of the Raiders’ loss to the Chiefs on Nov. 22.

Still, as former Raiders defensive backs coach Jim O’Neil stated last year, it is easier to get a player to slow down than to get him to speed up.

Now, Abram has a new position coach in 21-year coaching veteran Ron Milus.

And Abram also has a couple of veterans in the secondary to lean on in new cornerback Casey Hayward Jr., who has played for Bradley, and a one-time roommate in Joseph. Remember, Abram and Joseph started one match together and now Joseph is entering his sixth season.

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Kansas City Chiefs tackle Mitchell Schwartz has back surgery, eyes healthy 2021 season

Chiefs right tackle Mitchell Schwartz is starting his offseason with a procedure.

Schwartz is undergoing surgery Wednesday after a back injury stripped him of 10 regular-season matches and the entire postseason. The ailment is the only one to hold Schwartz out of any games over his nine-year NFL career, offering an indication as to its severity.

In a social media post Wednesday before the operation, Schwartz said he anticipates returning for 2021, which could provide the first important step toward the Chiefs solving the offensive line woes that played a significant factor in the Super Bowl loss to Tampa Bay.

“I was hoping to recover enough to get back for the playoffs/Super Bowl, but that didn’t happen,” Schwartz wrote in his Tweet. “It’s time to address the issue. The recovery process isn’t too long, which is nice. Looking forward to a healthy 2021!” Schwartz, 31, has one year left on a contract that will pay him nearly $10 million.

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When healthy, he has been one of the game’s best right tackles — and before this season was one of its most reliable. In 2019, Schwartz did not allow a sack all season, according to Pro Football Focus.

He missed a snap during the 2019 season for the first time in his career but returned in the same game.

He attempted to play through this back injury in the 2020 season, starting in Buffalo before removing himself from the Week 6 contest. He never returned over the remainder of the season but put off surgery in hopes of a potential Super Bowl appearance.

The Chiefs could have used him. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes was pressured on 29 of his 56 dropbacks and scrambled 497 yards behind the line of scrimmage in an effort to buy more time. The Chiefs were on their third-string right tackle in the game.

Mike Remmers had filled in for Schwartz most of the season — and done so admirably — but when Eric Fisher injured his Achilles in the AFC Championship Game, Remmers moved to left tackle and guard Andrew Wylie kicked out to right tackle.

Both players struggled at their new spots versus the Buccaneers. Schwartz joined the Chiefs in 2016 in free agency, signing a five-year contract that made him one of the most-compensated right tackles at the time. He spent his first four seasons in Cleveland.

The Chiefs have won the AFC West division title every season Schwartz has been on the team.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady to have minor knee surgery during offseason

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady will undergo a minor surgical procedure on his knee this offseason, a source confirmed to ESPN.

The upcoming surgery was first reported by the Tampa Bay Times.

A source close to the situation told ESPN that this was not a recent injury and that Brady, who led the Bucs to a triumph Sunday in Super Bowl LV, had been planning the procedure for months. It wasn’t instantly clear which knee the procedure will be on.

Brady was not listed on the Bucs’ injury report all campaign. He was listed on the report as “not injury related” when he was given a handful of off days by coach Bruce Arians, something the Bucs also did with Rob Gronkowski, Ndamukong Suh and other veteran players.

Brady wore a brace on his left knee Wednesday during the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl boat parade.

But wearing the brace is not unusual for the 43-year-old Brady, who also wears it when golfing and during other recreational activities.

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Brady was named Super Bowl MVP for the fifth time in his career Sunday after passing for 201 yards and three touchdowns in Tampa Bay’s 31-9 triumph over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Brady’s knee certainly didn’t seem to bother him in the least during the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl run. He threw 10 touchdown passes and only three interceptions in four postseason games, with a passer rating of 98.1.

Brady has already said he’ll “definitely” consider playing beyond 45. With his longevity and durability, there’s no reason to doubt him.

With the victory, Brady has more Super Bowl titles (seven) than any franchise in NFL history, topping the six each won by the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots.

Brady also became the only player with five Super Bowl MVPs; Joe Montana is second all time with three.

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Denver Broncos’ Von Miller considered opting out of season

Dozens of players have decided to opt out of the 2020 NFL campaign due to COVID-19 concerns, and Denver Broncos pass-rusher Von Miller considered doing so as well.

The eight-time Pro Bowler was the second NFL player to reportedly test positive for the coronavirus back in May, but he feels as though the job the Broncos are doing to keep their players safe is enough for him to feel ready to return to the field.

“I weighed the positives and negatives and came to my own decision and felt like I could play,” Miller said during a video conference, per the Denver Post. “The job the Broncos are doing to keep us safe was enough for me to not opt out.”

Miller stated earlier this offseason that he was “shocked” to learn that he had tested positive for COVID-19 since he had been taking safety provisions seriously.  “It was hard for me to get my wind back for probably two or three weeks after the virus,” Miller said.

“Everybody’s symptoms aren’t the same, but for me, I lost my taste and smell. I couldn’t really eat because when you can’t taste or smell food, you lose your appetite.”

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The former first-round pick was an early advocate for daily testing and said that it was the key to the NFL being able to host a safe and successful season. The league ended up taking Miller’s advice, as players are required to register multiple negative tests before they are permitted to take their physicals and hit the practice field. 

If there was one positive thing to come from his COVID-19 experience, Miller said that it has definitely started conversations among his teammates in the locker room. Since he takes it seriously, Denver’s other players will as well. 

“From my teammates, I get all types of questions about the virus,” Miller said. “I feel like it’s me pushing (the conversation) out there and saying, ‘This thing is serious. It’s very, very serious.’ … We see the types of things happening in baseball (with outbreaks) and we just don’t want that to happen in the NFL.”

While Miller will not be opting out this year, players have until Thursday at 4 p.m. ET to opt out of the 2020 season.

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Safety Jamal Adams requests trade from Jets

Jamal Adams’ trade request escalated from a social media rant to a real-life demand.

Frustrated by slow-moving contract negotiations and without much other leverage, Adams informed the team Thursday he wants to be dealt, The Post confirmed. It sets up what could be a messy split-up because the Jets are not inclined to move on from their best player – at least not without a significant package in return.

Adams’ frequent use of social media to voice his displeasure with the two years and $13.45 million remaining on his contract – and the slow-moving negotiations on an extension – reached another level Wednesday. “Maybe it’s time to move on,” Adams wrote Wednesday in reply to a Jets fan on Instagram.

Adams’ message last week, as word leaked the Browns and defensive end Myles Garrett are in talks on an extension, was the Jets are “all talk no action.”

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Now? Adams is venting at Jets fans and bringing Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes into the conversation. Garrett (No. 1), Adams (No. 6) and Mahomes (No. 10) were picked in the 2017 NFL Draft and this is the first offseason players from that class are eligible for an extension on original deals.

“What does Pat have to do with me?” Adams replied to a fan. “Pat is about to get 40 to 60 M’s (million) a year. Well deserved. That’s my guy. But don’t compare me to QB’s if you aren’t paying me QB money.”

Running back Christian McCaffrey signed a four-year, $64 million contract with the Panthers earlier this offseason.

He was selected two picks after Adams.

So, Adams can’t figure out why the Jets are not acting like the Browns and Panthers. Adams did not participate in the Jets’ voluntary virtual offseason to send a message and it seems the two sides could be headed toward a holdout if training camps start on time July 28.

“Don’t use the pandemic excuse,” Adams wrote. “CM22 got paid not too long ago. … [I am going to] protect myself just like the organization will look out for themselves at the end of the day.”

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