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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Stories by Steve DelVecchio:

Brock Osweiler: Film from last two seasons proves I should be starter

Brock Osweiler

Brock Osweiler has apparently watched game film of himself from last year that none of us have access to, because he believes his performance in 2016 helps strengthen his case to earn a starting role this upcoming season.

On Wednesday, a reporter asked Osweiler why he feels he deserves to be the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. His response might leave you speechless.

What exactly were you watching, Brock? With the Houston Texans last season, Osweiler was arguably the worst starting quarterback in football. He threw more interceptions (16) than touchdowns (15) and also lost three fumbles. The 26-year-old finished with a lowly passer rating of 77.2.

Osweiler could make a stronger case for his film from 2015 when he filled in for an injured Peyton Manning. With the help of a tremendous defense, he was asked to do very little and enjoyed some success, throwing for 1,967 yards in eight games with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions. If you stretch that out over an entire season, Osweiler was on pace to throw for nearly 4,000 yards.

In fairness, Osweiler only has to beat out Cody Kessler and rookie Deshone Kizer for the starting job in Cleveland. Even if there have been indications that he was not a great locker room guy in Houston, the Texans saw enough from his days in Denver to pay him $18 million per year. But if Brock wants people to study his film, he should probably encourage them to ignore 2016.

LFL players protesting national anthem

Colin Kaepernick may not be planning to kneel during the national anthem if an NFL team signs him for the 2017 season, but some of the players in the Legends Football League are continuing the protest that the quarterback started last year.

Two players from the LFL, formerly known as the Lingerie Football League, took a knee during the national anthem before a recent game. Fans could be heard yelling things like “get off your knees!” as Danielle Harvey and Sherri Awagah of the Los Angeles Temptation made their political statement.

A report from March claimed Kaepernick has decided he will stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” this upcoming season, and some have speculated that he backing down from the protest to make himself more appealing to NFL teams. Still, he is not the only NFL player who has taken a knee, and even some athletes from other sports have followed in Kaepernick’s footsteps. Awagah and Harvey can be added to that list.

Rob Gronkowski on field for start of OTAs

Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski appeared in his last game of the 2016 season on Nov. 27 before undergoing yet another surgical procedure on his back. His status for the start of the upcoming year remains unclear, but New England Patriots fans received some good news this week.

As Mike Reiss of pointed out, photos the Patriots shared on their website from Tuesday’s organized team activities in Foxboro showed Gronkowski wearing a helmet, catching passes and running around the field. While practice will not be open to the media until Thursday, Gronkowski has obviously been cleared in some capacity.

It could be a while before doctors want Gronkowski taking and delivering hits in practice, but he seems to be trending in the right direction. If there was a risk of Gronk missing the start of the regular season, it seems highly unlikely that he would be taking part in May workouts.

Earlier this week, Gronkowski and the Patriots agreed to a contract restructure that gives the All-Pro plenty of incentive to stay on the field in 2017.

Ezekiel Elliott not present for OTAs after being involved in car accident

Ezekiel Elliott

Ezekiel Elliott was not present for the start of organized team activities with the Dallas Cowboys this week, but the star running back has a very good excuse for his absence.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Todd Archer are reporting that Elliott has been held out of the first two days of OTAs after he was involved in a car accident on Sunday. Fortunately, he did not suffer and significant injuries.

To say Elliott has had some bad luck on the road would be an understatement. He rear-ended another vehicle while he was driving near the Cowboys facility earlier this year and later sent a funny tweet about it. Elliott was also cited for driving with a suspended license while he was playing at Ohio State after he lost control of his vehicle and hit another car.

Elliott was a passenger in the latest car accident, so it’s unlikely he was at fault in any way. Still, the Cowboys may want to consider hiring him his own driver with an armored vehicle.

Lance Armstrong, girlfriend Anna Hansen are engaged

Lance Armstrong girlfriend

Lance Armstrong and his longtime girlfriend Anna Hansen are finally planning to tie the knot.

On Tuesday, Armstrong shared a photo on Instagram that showed Hansen with a ring on her left ring finger. The former cyclist captioned the photo “She said…. YES!!!!”

She said….. YES!!!!

A post shared by Lance Armstrong (@lancearmstrong) on

Armstrong and Hansen have been dating for nearly 10 years and have two children together — a 7-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter. Armstrong also has three children with his ex-wife Kristin Richard, whom he divorced in 2003.

The engagement has seemed like a long time coming. If you want to know how deep the love between Armstrong and Hansen runs, just read about the time the future Mrs. Armstrong took the blame for Lance after he hit two parked cars.

Congratulations to the happy couple.

Johnny Manziel reportedly looked ‘strong’ in workout with Odell Beckham

Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel has said he is working toward making an NFL comeback, and it appears Odell Beckham Jr is trying to help the former Cleveland Browns quarterback accomplish his goal.

On Tuesday, Beckham’s custom cleat designer Kickasso — a well-known artist who has more than 500,000 followers on Instagram — shared a photo of himself on a practice field with Beckham and Manziel.

Was one of those days . #morelife to my brothers who enjoyed it with me . @obj @jmanziel2 @smile_xxvii @christaurosa

A post shared by Kickasso (@k_o.brand_kickasso) on

TMZ reports that Manziel ran through some passing drills with Beckham and a few other receivers. Manziel is said to have been impressive, as a source told TMZ “his arm looked strong, and his feet looked fast.”

Manziel is friends with Beckham. The two went to a drake concert together a couple of months back along with Von Miller, who is another close friend of Manziel’s.

While the odds remain stacked against him, Manziel continues to insist he is not giving up on his NFL career. In addition to training with Beckham, he has also been working with noted quarterback guru George Whitfield. One NFL coach reportedly sat down for a chat with Manziel back in March, so it seems like he has plenty of support. What a story it would be if the 24-year-old somehow made it back.

Jermaine Whitehead cited for driving 110 mph on way to Packers practice

Green Bay Packers safety Jermaine Whitehead was recently pulled over for driving incredibly fast on the freeway in the wee hours of the morning, but at least he was heading to work.

According to a police report obtained by Michael Cohen of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Whitehead was cited on May 19 for driving 110 mph in a 70-mph zone. It was 3:39 a.m. at the time, and Whitehead said he and the two teammates he was riding with needed to be at the Packers’ team facility by 8 a.m.

“Jermaine originally said he was going 75 to 80 when I asked him how fast he was driving,” deputy sheriff Chad Baumann wrote. “I told him his speed (110 mph) and the fact he was passing a semi at a high rate of speed. He did not contest this speed.

“I learned he and the 3 occupants were heading to Green Bay as they have to work at 8 a.m. I then learned they were Green Bay Packer players.”

Whitehead was driving near Milwaukee at the time, which is about two hours away from Green Bay. He was issued a ticket for $515.50 and is scheduled to appear in court on June 14.

Whitehead spent most of the 2016 season on the practice squad with the Packers, appearing in just two games on special teams. He’s fortunate to have only been written a ticket (like another professional athlete who recently caught a break) for driving that fast, as he could have been arrested. It’s unclear if he managed to get to work on time.

Jets coaches reportedly ‘pleased’ with Christian Hackenberg in practice

Christian Hackenberg may have a long way to go before he can earn the starting job with the New York Jets, but his coaches are reportedly impressed with the progress he has made this offseason.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Jets are “pleased” with Hackenberg.

Bates was the quarterbacks coach with the Denver Broncos when Jay Cutler had his most productive season as a pro in 2008. He spent time as the offensive coordinator with the Seattle Seahawks for one season in 2010 and worked with Cutler again with the Chicago Bears in 2012. He was out of football from 2012 until the Jets hired him in February.

Hackenberg is entering his second NFL season, and the Jets are hoping he shows great improvement. Some of the reports we heard during his rookie season made it seem like the team regretted using the No. 51 overall pick on the former Penn State star a year ago.

With veteran Josh McCown on board and ready to play the role of starter for a bridge year, Hackenberg will have to prove himself in training camp. It sounds like he is off to a decent start.

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