Pick 6: Unheralded rookies who could make a big difference

first_imgThe top three picks in the most recent NFL draft are all expected to make a major impact in 2018, assuming of course Mayfield (Cleveland) and Darnold (Jets) earn the starting jobs.But often it’s the unheralded rookies that can make a real difference.Recent examples are the Cowboys’ Dak Prescott (fourth-rounder in 2016) and the Saints’ Alvin Kamara (third-rounder in 2017). Both paid major dividends and won Offensive Rookie of the Year.Here are a few under-the-radar rookies to look for in the 2018 season:DUKE DAWSON, PATRIOTSNew England grabbed the Florida cornerback late in the second round to possibly fill the spot left by Malcolm Butler, who inexplicably missed virtually the entire Super Bowl loss to the Eagles as Nick Foles had 373 yards passing and threw for three touchdowns (and caught a memorable one) on his way to being the MVP.Butler signed with the Titans in the offseason, and Dawson could see significant playing time — if he can grasp Bill Belichick’s defense.Dawson led the Gators with four interceptions last season. Would it surprise anyone if he made a key interception in a big game for New England? In this May 24, 2018, file photo, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph prepares to pass during NFL football practice, in Pittsburgh.  (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)MASON RUDOLPH, STEELERSPittsburgh traded up to select Rudolph with the 76th overall pick, the highest the organization has taken a quarterback since making Ben Roethlisberger the 11th overall selection in 2004.In a radio appearance shortly after the draft, Roethlisberger expressed surprise, asking why Pittsburgh used a third-round pick on a quarterback when there were players at other positions who could make a more immediate impact.Rudolph’s main competition to win the backup job to the 36-year-old Roethlisberger is Oklahoma’s Landry Jones.“We valued (Rudolph) as much as the rest of the quarterbacks that were drafted (in the first round),” Steelers GM Kevin Colbert said after the selection.MAURICE HURST, RAIDERSNew Oakland defensive coordinator Paul Guenther will make use of the fifth-rounder from Michigan, who was taken to help bolster what has been a struggling pass rush.Hurst had 5½ sacks as an interior rusher. He slipped to the fifth round because of concern over a heart condition that got him sent home from the NFL combine.Hurst said it was something he has dealt with for a long time and hadn’t impacted him on the field. He said he has been cleared by doctors at Harvard and Michigan, but that didn’t prevent every team passing on a player projected as a first-round talent until the Raiders got him at 140th overall.If his health issues subside, Hurst can team with star Khalil Mack to help fix a defense that has been a sore spot.HAROLD LANDRY, TITANSThe Titans had only four draft picks and took the Boston College linebacker in the second round.New head coach Mike Vrabel, a big-play linebacker in New England, and new coordinator Dean Pees are looking to get younger in the heart of the defense; veterans Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan are heading into the final year of their contracts. Landry ranked second in school history with 26 sacks and second with 47½ tackles for loss.Landry was rated as a potential first-rounder before being shut down with an ankle injury during his last year in college.“We felt like we got a first-round-caliber player that for whatever reason slipped into the second round,” general manager Jon Robinson said during the draft.ROYCE FREEMAN, BRONCOSAfter a 5-11 season and a last-place finish in the AFC West, the Broncos retooled and added Freeman in the third round from Oregon. He could make an immediate impact in a backfield that lacks a runner who has ever had a 100-yard game in the NFL.General manager John Elway said in April he’s a “big banger that we haven’t had for a while.”Freeman played all four seasons with the Ducks and had a Pac-12-record 60 touchdowns as part of a big workload with 947 carries.“It is not often you get backs playing as many games or taking as many carries,” Freeman said during OTAs. “I feel like the fact that I was able to do so proves I am a durable running back.”DANTE PETTIS, 49ERSWith quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo signed to a long-term deal, the 49ers needed to upgrade the offense and took the wide receiver in the second round.Pettis caught 63 passes for 761 yards and seven TDs last season for Washington. He has experience playing outside and in the slot and provides another deep threat in coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense for Garoppolo.Pettis set an NCAA record with nine punt returns for touchdowns, averaging 14.2 yards on 90 returns at Washington.He is the son of former major league baseball player Gary Pettis and the cousin of former NFL receiver Austin Pettis. Gary Pettis is the third base coach for the World Series champion Houston Astros.___For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and — http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL In this May 22, 2018, file photo, New England Patriots rookie cornerback Duke Dawson warms up during NFL football organized team activities in Foxborough, Mass. The Patriots grabbed the Gators cornerback late in the second round. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File) NEW YORK (AP) — Baker Mayfield, Saquon Barkley and Sam Darnold.last_img read more

Steelers to get closer look at young quarterbacks

first_imgRookie third-round pick Mason Rudolph and Josh Dobbs, Pittsburgh’s fourth-round selection in 2017, will see all of the playing time when the Steelers visit the Green Bay Packers for their second preseason game on Thursday.“They’re going to play exclusively,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “(We) haven’t detailed the division of labor, but those two guys will be featured.”On Tuesday, Tomlin ruled out veterans Ben Roethlisberger and Landry Jones for the game. The announcement came before Roethlisberger left Tuesday’s training camp practice with a possible concussion.“Ben Roethlisberger sustained a hit today in practice,” Tomlin said through a team spokesman after practice. “He is being evaluated as part of the concussion protocol.”Roethlisberger was face down on the turf, surrounded by his teammates, after throwing a touchdown pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster during a best-of-seven competitive 2-point conversion drill between the offense and defense.Roethlisberger was helped to his feet and sat on a water cooler with a towel over his head as practice continued. He touched his head several times and eventually walked off the field under his own power with trainers and team doctors.Right guard Marcus Gilbert said Roethlisberger rolled out and ran into him as he blocked linebacker Keion Adams.“It didn’t look too pretty,” Gilbert said. “But when he got up he seemed to be a little bit better. That’s my guy. I wouldn’t want to see anything happen to him, especially in a practice like this.”Center Maurkice Pouncey was optimistic about Roethlisberger’s injury.“No one really saw it, but I think he hit his head,” Pouncey said. “We were all in a nervous situation, but he got up fine, he looked totally good, and he walked off the field.”Tomlin praised Roethlisberger’s work at training camp Tuesday morning.“He’s been really sharp, not only in terms of what he does, but just how he’s communicating and helping in aiding the development of some people that are going to work alongside him,” Tomlin said. “It’s been a very positive experience.”Rudolph and Dobbs both ended practice with touchdown passes during the two-minute drill. Rudolph, the former Oklahoma State star, said he is anxious to see additional playing time on Thursday.“I’m going to be preparing to play well and execute our plan,” Rudolph said. “We have a great plan for Green Bay, and whenever my number’s called, I plan to go out and execute.”Tomlin also announced Tuesday that outside linebacker Bud Dupree is out of concussion protocol and will play Thursday against Green Bay. Dupree practiced in full on Tuesday for the first time since sustaining his concussion on Aug. 3.___More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/tag/NFLfootball and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL JOSHUA DOBBS LATROBE, Pa. (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers plan to get a closer look at their two most recent draft picks at quarterback.last_img read more

Sign of things to come?: Lakers beat Warriors to finish pre season on a…

first_imgAdvertisement 89qbsNBA Finals | Brooklyn Vs5xumWingsuit rodeo📽Sindre E1sr469( IG: @_aubreyfisher @imraino ) 4pxfbWould you ever consider trying this?😱urdzs3Can your students do this? 🌚6jbscqRoller skating! Powered by Firework It is only preseason, and neither team took the games seriously, but the Los Angeles Lakers did beat the two-time defending champions Golden State Warriors twice in succession.Advertisement The final score in Portland was 119-105, and the fringe players played a starring role for the Lakers.Advertisement The Lakers were without numerous key players, as the likes of LeBron James and Rajon Rondo were rested. Brandon Ingram was nursing a quad injury, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has knee tendinitis and Josh Hart had a hamstring problem to deal with. Neither one of them will be out for long, and they will play in the season opener against Portland.Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and JaVale McGee played, and all of them notched up useful numbers. Michael Beasley and Lance Stephenson played minutes, but both of them were ejected in the second half.Advertisement  Svi Mykhailuk was the top scorer for the Lakers with 22 points. Aside from him, Johnathan Williams, Isaac Bonga, and Travis Wear all reached double figures and got some useful playing time, something which will be hard to come by in the regular season.Kevin Durant did not play for the Warriors, but their other stars did, albeit for limited minutes. Klay Thompson was their scoring leader with 21 points.Although it is preseason, the signs are promising for the Lakers. The Warriors are still huge favourites to clinch their third consecutive title, but something might be cooking up in Los Angeles. Advertisementlast_img read more