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Friday, August 23, 2019

Stories by Larry Brown:

Watch: Minkah Fitzpatrick nails Dede Westbrook with huge hit

Jacksonville Jaguars logo

Dede Westbrook had a nice final stat line for the Jacksonville Jaguars in their preseason game against the Miami Dolphins on Thursday. But he did take some punishment in the process.

The third-year wide receiver was absolutely nailed by Dolphins safety Minkah Fitzpatrick while trying to make a catch across the middle of the field:

Westbrook bounced back up after that hit, which was completely legal.

Westbrook, a 2017 fourth-round pick, finished with four catches for 29 yards and a touchdown in the game. He looks to build upon last season’s strong showing where he had 63 catches for 707 yards and five touchdowns.

Pat Shurmur has message for Daniel Jones doubters

Daniel Jones

Daniel Jones has looked great through three preseason games, which has given the New York Giants a renewed sense of confidence.

The team took a public beating when they selected Jones with the No. 6 overall pick in the draft this year. Many media projections did not have Jones going nearly that high, which led to calls that the Giants had “reached” with the pick.

Jones is proving all the doubters wrong so far.

In 10 preseason drives, Jones has gone 25/30 for 369 yards and two touchdowns. His performance has left Giants head coach Pat Shurmur impressed and a little cocky.

“Every six or seven days now I’ve been able to tell you ‘that’s what we saw when we drafted him.’ He’s steadily getting better every time he takes the field, whether it’s practice or games. You can ask me all you want about why I like him. I think it’s time to start asking the people that didn’t like him what they think,” Shurmur said Thursday night.

He’s right — what do all the people who laughed at the Giants think now? Jones has looked better than any other rookie quarterback this preseason. He’s even made a great case for starting ahead of Eli Manning, though ownership’s preference on the matter will likely prevent that from happening.

Dolphins coach does not want to rush young quarterback Josh Rosen

Josh Rosen Dolphins

Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores continues to emphasize a patient approach when it comes to quarterback Josh Rosen.

Rosen and veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick are battling for the Dolphins’ starting quarterback job this season. Flores has not officially named a starter, though Fitzpatrick has been listed at the top of the depth chart.

Fitzpatrick went 12/18 for 126 yards and a touchdown pass in the team’s preseason game on Thursday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Rosen was 5/7 for 59 yards and 23 rushing yards.

Flores said after the game that Rosen played well and is making the decision over who will start at quarterback more difficult. However, he said he does not want to rush the young quarterback.

Rosen was drafted No. 10 overall by the Arizona Cardinals last year and did not play until Week 3. He passed for 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions and lost several fumbles on the 3-13 team. Even if he is showing improvement, Flores seems more inclined to open the season with Fitzpatrick as the starter.

Eric Reid addresses late hit on Ben Watson

Eric Reid

Eric Reid addressed his late hit on Ben Watson following Thursday night’s Carolina Panthers-New England Patriots game.

Watson caught a pass late in the first quarter and was going for the first down marker before being tackled. After Watson was down on the ground, Reid came flying in and hit him late.

The Panthers safety was asked about the hit after the game and said he was just trying to stop Watson and didn’t realize it was late, which is conceivable considering slow motion is totally different from the speed of a game.

We and other outlets brought up that Watson and Reid were in a political disagreement prior to the game and wondered whether that played a role in the hit. Reid did help Watson up after being penalized.

Reid also said the hit was unintentional and that he was unaware Watson had tweeted about him.

Reid has been involved in headlines recently for calling out the NFL and those partnering with the league in efforts to improve communities and social matters. He is entering his second season with the Panthers.

Conor McGregor vows to be better role model

Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor’s redemption tour began on Thursday with a recorded interview with MMA reporter Ariel Helwani that aired on ESPN.

McGregor, who has fought in MMA just once in the last three years, has become more synonymous with public confrontations than in-cage victories lately. He seems to be cognizant of that trend and wants to end it.

The latest negative publicity came last week when video of him punching an older man at a bar was released. Helwani asked McGregor about what happened.

“What happened was a little hazy for me also and it was many months ago,” McGregor said.

The Irish MMA fighter then declared he wants to turn things around and be a better role model.

“I have been making amends to make it not happen again and to be better — to be a better father, to be a better human, to be a better role model to these kids. I know a lot of kids look up to me. I have to realize that’s not the attitude of a leader, of a martial artist, of a champion. I must get my head screwed on get back in the game, fight for redemption, retribution, respect — the things that made me the man I am — and that’s what I will do.”

Throughout the interview, McGregor took responsibility for what happened in the video.

“I was in the wrong. It was completely unacceptable behavior from a man in my position. … I deserve to be called out on my behavior.”

McGregor was also asked about the incident where he smashed a fan’s phone outside a club in Miami Beach. McGregor expressed that he believes fans bait him.

“I need to stop reacting to the bait,” he said.

The cell phone matter reportedly was settled.

McGregor’s last UFC fight came in October when he lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov and then brawled after the fight. McGregor talked about fighting Cowboy Cerrone in the summer, but that did not materialize. In March, the 31-year-old even threatened his retirement, which was later exposed to be a negotiation tactic with the UFC.

As for returning to the cage, which McGregor seems eager to do, he says he would have already fought this year if not for a hand injury. And while he wants a rematch with Khabib, he says he is willing to fight anyone. The interview was probably the first step in his return to the cage and a renewed focus on fighting.

Cam Newton in walking boot; foot injury reportedly not serious

Cam Newton

Cam Newton is beginning this season the same way he ended last year: injured, though there may be some positive news.

Newton left Thursday night’s preseason game between his Carolina Panthers and the New England Patriots after suffering a foot injury. He went 4/6 for 30 yards in three drives before leaving after hurting his foot on a sack.

After the game, NESN’s Doug Kyed shared a photo of Newton in a walking boot.

The top/middle portion of Newton’s foot was being examined on the sideline. That is the location of Lisfranc foot injuries, though the nature of Newton’s foot injury has not been made public.

NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport did share a comforting report for Panthers fans, saying the foot injury does not appear serious.

Kyle Allen, who is battling for a spot on the Panthers’ roster, was 3/6 for 16 yards in the game. Will Grier was 4/8 for 44 yards. The Panthers’ other option is Taylor Heinicke, who passed for 320 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions last season subbing for Newton, who was dealing with a shoulder injury.

Jordan Reed evaluated for concussion after hit to helmet

Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed is being evaluated for a concussion after taking a hit to the helmet during Thursday’s preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Reed was running after a catch in the second quarter and was tackled at the Washington 36. He was nailed by Keanu Neal in the helmet.

The Redskins later announced that Reed was being evaluated for a concussion and out for the game.

Reed being evaluated for a concussion is a serious concern. He had two in college and as of October 2016, he had suffered three in the NFL. Reed has admitted that he has hid concussion symptoms in the past. Washington isn’t giving him a chance to do the same this time.

The 29-year-old had 54 catches for 558 yards and two touchdowns last season. He made the Pro Bowl in 2016.

Eric Reid nails Ben Watson with late hit days after Twitter disagreement

Eric Reid Ben Watson

Eric Reid nailed tight end Ben Watson with a late hit during Thursday’s preseason game between the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers. The timing of the play has greater significance given the context of their opposing viewpoints.

First, here’s a look at the hit from Reid, which happened after the Patriots tight end was already down following a catch late in the first quarter.

Reid was flagged for a late hit on the play.

What’s notable is that Reid and Watson have been involved in a dispute.

Reid has stood with his ex-49ers teammate Colin Kaepernick since the quarterback began kneeling in the 2016 season. The two were even part of a collusion lawsuit against the NFL that they later settled. Reid has been critical of anyone working with the NFL in the name of improving social justice matters. He called out the Players Coalition, which is a group of current and former players working with the league to improve communities and social issues. Watson issued a response on Twitter in which he disagreed with Reid and said “we need each other”.

Whether or not their opposing political viewpoints had a role in Reid’s late hit on Watson is up for you to decide.