Tag:Trent Cole
Posted on: December 7, 2011 1:54 pm
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Trent Cole fined $7.5K for flipping Russell Okung

By Will Brinson

Seahawks left tackle Russell Okung suffered a season-ending injury -- a torn pectoral muscle, specifically -- in the final minutes of last Thursday's loss to Philadelphia.

As we noted at the time, Okung was injured when he was unnecessarily thrown over Trent Cole's shoulder away from the play, after the whistle.

The NFL agreed with our assessment that Cole should be fined and according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the league fined the Eagles defensive end $7,500 for the play.

"I'm not a dirty player," Cole said Wednesday. "At the time, all the stuff that led up to that, there was a lot of stuff that happened in that game. ... Watch that game closely and key on Okung and key on me and you'll see what I'm talking about."

At the time of the play, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll disagreed with Cole's notion, pointing out nicely that he didn't think the injury should have happened, because the take down was unnecessary.

"I heard his comments," Cole said of the Seahawks coach. "You all seen what happened. The guy was on my back after the whistle. He was holding me the whole game. If you look at that play he had me hooked. I'm running to the ball and he had me hooked."

In the screenshot to your right, Cole and Okung (bottom left) aren't anywhere near the play (top right). And the ballcarrier is clearly on the ground while Okung's being flipped, meaning Cole's excuse for the specific play doesn't really make a lot of sense.

While the $7,500 fine stings Cole in his wallet, it doesn't hurt him nearly as much as the loss of Okung will hurt the Seahawks who, at 5-7, aren't technically eliminated from the playoff race yet.

Though if Okung's injury has a hugely negative impact on Marshawn Lynch's revived season, that will change quickly.

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Posted on: December 2, 2011 8:47 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2011 8:49 pm
 

Russell Okung out for year with torn pec muscle

Posted by Will Brinson

Russell Okung, the Seahawks top draft pick in 2010, will miss the remainder of the season after tearing a pectoral muscle during Thursday's win over Philadelphia.

The team confirmed the news on Friday evening, and Okung will require six months of rehabilitation, which means if the tackle suffers any setbacks, he could potentially miss some of 2012 training camp.

Okung's injury is the third season-ender the Seahawks have dealt with on the offensive line in the past few weeks, as both James Carpenter and John Moffitt suffered season-ending knee injuries recently.

Not helping matters for the Seahawks is the fact that they believed it was dirty play by Trent Cole that knocked Okung out for the year.

"He got thrown down after the whistle, really blatantly," Carroll said Friday. "Stuff like that happens in the game sometimes, but this was most unfortunate because he was damaged by it."

In the picture above, via NFL.com's Game Rewind, you can see the play in question: on the bottom left of the screenshot, Okung's being flipped over Cole's right shoulder as Cole ducks down and yanks him by the arm.

The result was the season-ending injury for Okung and it's a shame, because it came with less than two minutes remaining in a game that was most certainly over, on a take-down that, as you can see, wasn't anywhere near the actual action on the play.

Don't be surprised if the league decides to take some action (read: a fine) with Cole. Unfortunately, that won't bring back Okung, who will have missed 10 of 32 possible games by the time he finishes the second season of his career in Seattle.

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Posted on: October 12, 2011 4:16 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 9:43 am
 

Film Room: Redskins vs. Eagles preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



What is wrong with the Philadelphia Eagles? Theories about chemistry, the pressure of high expectations, focus, character and, everybody’s favorite, the “It Factor” make for great talk show palaver. But they lack substance. Fortunately, there are cameras in the sky that can answer Football America’s current favorite question. Heading into a matchup against their division rival Washington Redskins, here’s what the film says is wrong with this nightmare of a Dream Team.


1. Offensive Line
You already know that Philly’s offensive line is young, incongruent and, as of late, banged up. That’s all true. And, perhaps a little bit surprising. Youth is youth, nothing you can do about that. But with new offensive line coach Howard Mudd installing his straightforward and famously teachable blocking techniques, you’d figure things would click up front a little quicker than they have (or have not).

Under previous O-line coach Juan Castillo, there were five to six different blocking techniques that Eagles linemen had to correctly choose from on any given play. It’s not easy to be fundamentally sound when you first have to think about which fundamentals to use. Mudd changed that. He teaches only one technique that has built-in variations depending on the situation.

So far, many situations have been difficult for the Eagles line to handle. That’s in part due to youth (rookie center Jason Kelce had a costly blitz-pickup gaffe against the Bills, and right guard Danny Watkins initially failed to hold onto his starting job) and in part due to injuries (with Winston Justice on the shelf, Todd Herremans has played at the unfamiliar right tackle position, which has left a void at Herremans’ left guard spot; at left tackle, big but awkward King Dunlap has been filling in for injured Pro Bowler Jason Peters).
 
Though it hasn’t been smooth sailing off the dock, this Eagles’ line is not as atrocious as people think. It’s an athletic group that fits the system well and should improve. Of course, people may not notice the improvements given that the man this unit blocks for always has, and always will, make his linemen look bad.

2. Vick and his line
As Mudd explains so eloquently, offensive linemen are the only athletes in all of sports that play with their backs constantly to the ball. Linemen protect the man holding the ball, but they can’t see the man holding the ball. Because of that, their positioning and execution are built on trust and timing.
Michael Vick’s sandlot nature obliterates that timing.

This isn’t just about Eagles blockers not knowing where Vick is when he’s scrambling around (though that’s part of it); it’s about Vick not having a feel for timing his drop-backs. Quarterbacks take three-step drops when receivers run short routes, five step drops on intermediate routes and seven-or nine-step drops on long routes. Simply taking the steps isn’t enough – you have to synchronize them with the timing of the routes and with the timing of the pass protection concepts.

Vick has a poor sense of this timing. It’s part of his collection of flawed fundamentals. Often, he makes up for his flaws with insanely athletic plays. But in the process, life is always difficult for his blockers.

3. Defensive Wide-9 Technique
People are starting to grumble about new defensive coordinator Juan Castillo’s scheme – and rightfully so. It’s a Wide-9, which is a system built around generating a pass-rush with your front four. The defensive ends align in 9-technique positions, which means they’re outside the tight ends. This puts the defensive ends in space and allows them to be sprinters out of the box. It’s ideal for guys like Trent Cole and Jason Babin, both of whom are having productive years rushing the passer.

The problem is this system puts a considerable strain on a linebacking unit. As Ron Jaworski pointed out in the Lions-Bears Monday Night game, with the ends aligning so far wide, offenses run to the gaping holes inside. This is what the defense is designed to do. The Wide-9 aims to shrink the field by steering all the action inside. But this demands physical, stout linebackers who can take on blocks and play downhill.

The Eagles simply don’t have any. Exacerbating matters is the fact that their miscast linebackers are also inexperienced. Jamar Chaney is a sophomore seventh-round pick who has shuffled from one position to another. Brian Rolle is a sixth-round rookie playing only because he makes fewer mental errors than fourth-round rookie Casey Matthews.

Understandably, Juan Castillo is taking a lot of heat for the defense’s struggles. Only those within the Eagles organization truly know what kind of defensive coach he is. But you don’t have to be inside the organization to see that the system Castillo signed up to coordinate is not right for this team.

4. The Vaunted Secondary
Imagine buying a 65-inch plasma TV, but instead of watching Blue Rays or DVDs on it, you watch video cassettes. That’s sort of what the Eagles are doing with Nnamdi Asomugha. The ex-Raider was worth $25 million guaranteed because he’s the best outside press-man cover artist not named Darrelle Revis. But Asomugha has not been a press-corner in Philadelphia.

Greg Cosell, the executive producer of the NFL Matchup Show and one of the most respected analysts in the country, points out that Asomugha played outside press-man only 40 percent of the snaps through the first four weeks. The rest of the time he was in off-coverage, traditional zone or lined up over the slot (where he’s never regularly operated before). Consequently, Asomugha has been uncomfortable.
 
There are problems on the other side, as well. Asante Samuel is a classic off-coverage corner who needs to be able to see both the receiver and quarterback in order to be effective. Cosell adds that Samuel is also suited for a blitz-oriented scheme, where the quarterback is compelled to throw quickly, thus making routes easier to jump. In this Wide-9 scheme, Samuel has often had to play bump-and-run coverage, which he doesn’t have the physicality to do.

The Eagles may be sorting this snafu out. A few times against the Bills, they used Asomugha in man-to-man while everyone else played zone. But even if the corners are all utilized to their natural talents, there remains concern about the safeties.

Cosell, who can speak at length about the intricacies of Wide-9 run defense concepts, says a major issue has been Jarrad Page’s failures in run defense. Page was benched in the middle of the fourth quarter last week after several missed tackles.

5. The Redskins Matchup
With their bye, Washington has had an extra week to rest up and study Philadelphia’s myriad problems. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett should be licking his chops. The Redskins run one of the most aggressive (and effective) blitz schemes in the league. Outside ‘backers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan can feast on the Eagles offensive tackles, plus they have the athleticism to plausibly keep Vick in the pocket.

If Orakpo and Kerrigan are told to cut loose, don’t be surprised if strong safety LaRon Landry serves as a spy on Vick. Of course, let’s not get carried away with thinking these matchups spell doom for the Eagles. After all, Philly’s offense hung 52 points on Washington’s defense in Week 10 last year. (Philly’s D added seven more.)

On the other side of the ball, the Redskins’ zone-blocking scheme does not create the type of pounding downhill run game that’s ideal for attacking this Eagles defense.

But it does create passing lanes for tight ends. With the Eagles corners stifling the mediocre Redskins wideouts, don’t be surprised if Rex Grossman throws 15-20 balls to Chris Cooley and Fred Davis. It’s a good place to attack given that the Eagles linebackers have also struggled in coverage.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 6 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: October 11, 2011 9:56 pm
 

Andy Reid won't back off the wide-nine scheme

Juan Castillo has struggled to get Philadelphia's defense playing well this year (US Presswire).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

It still boggles the mind that after firing defensive coordinator Sean McDermott after last season, Eagles coach Andy Reid moved offensive line coach Juan Castillo to McDermott’s old spot. And it’s been kind of fun to point out the inadequacy (so far) of that move, considering Philadelphia’s defense -- even with highly-regarded new acquisitions like Nnamdi Asomugha, Jason Babin and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie -- has been underwhelming this year.

Try tied for 26th in the NFL with 26.4 points allowed per game.

But the Philadelphia Inquirer has an interesting theory why Castillo might have been Reid’s only choice: basically, it states that, since Reid was so intent on implementing a new wide-nine* defense, other defensive coordinator candidates who would have had to do Reid’s biding in playing with that defense might have balked at the idea and said no thanks.

*This is the scheme where the defensive ends are split out wide, on the outside of the opponent’s tight end, and their goal is to disrupt the pocket with speed rather than trying to move offensive tackles with strength or footwork.

“What probably happened as the Eagles defensive coordinator search turned farcical was that interviewed candidates balked at the idea of coming aboard with the stipulation that the wide nine would be used here -- take it or leave it,” writes Jeff McLane. “There aren't many coaches that use it, although it has been around in one form or other for many years.

So that left Juan Castillo. And, well, Castillo would do whatever Reid and (defensive line coach Jim) Washburn wanted. He was an offensive line coach wishing to become a defensive coordinator. Castillo would have agreed to the wide nineteen.”

As McLane suggests, Washburn might have been another obstacle. Reid hired the well-respected Washburn away from Tennessee specifically so he could help install the wide-nine. This was before Reid had even hired a defensive coordinator. Considering Washburn was on to stay no matter what, that also would have taken away from a new coordinator’s autonomy in hiring the coaches he wanted.

While Babin and defensive end Trent Cole have performed well split out wide, the linebackers have done a poor job of tackling, leading to the benching of Casey Matthews and safety Kurt Coleman. But the real problem, the newspaper writes, is that Reid has not given Castillo the appropriate parts to play successfully with the wide-nine.

Yet, Reid told reporters this week that he’s sticking with the wide-nine, because he’s saying that it worked. For proof, he points to the second half of last Sunday’s Buffalo game when the Bills were held to a field goal for the rest of the game after starting the second half with an 80-yard touchdown drive.

"You obviously saw it work in the second half very effectively," Reid said. "We've just got to continue to work with it. Listen, anything new you've got to work with and work out the wrinkles and get it right."

"Players, they have to learn it, coaches have to learn it, particularly the new coaches. So it's a joint effort there."

Yes, but if the Eagles don’t improve -- they are, after all, a stunning 1-4 -- it might not be Reid’s call after this season. Because Reid is not 100 percent certain to survive if Philadelphia’s wide-nine doesn’t start producing better results relatively soon.

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Posted on: October 7, 2011 12:08 am
 

Babin not pleased with his $15K fine

J. Babin was not pleased with his $15,00 fine (US Presswire).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Every Wednesday and Thursday during the NFL season, we get word that players from across the league have been fined for various illegal activities they had engaged in during the previous Sunday. Players are usually upset by the league’s actions, but most don’t raise a big stink.

Philadelphia’s Jason Babin has officially raised a big stink, upset by the $15,000 charge he incurred for his hit on 49ers quarterback Alex Smith that drew an unnecessary roughness penalty, and he let reporters know that he thought the fine was ludicrous.

"It's not like it was a late hit, it's not like it was a malicious hit," Babin said via the Philadelphia Inquirer. "The funny part was on that play Trent Cole was high-lowed ... and you can tell that [the 49ers] game planned it. So how are they going to fine me when you see a coach and players game plan to high-low arguably our best pass rusher on our team? That's a little sickening."

Two other reasons Babin -- who leads the league with seven sacks -- was perturbed. He thinks the NFL doesn’t like the way he plays the game and because he thinks the fine system seems so random.

"I don't think they like the way I play at all," Babin said. "I'm pretty sure they get nervous every time because they know I'm throwing and someone gets hurt. But that's what got me paid, that's what got me where I am today. I'm not going to change."

And as far as the inconsistency in the fine system?

"Oh, I'll call that one ($15,000), I'll call that 40,” Babin said. “There's no blueprint, there's no grid system to say, 'OK, this is how it works, let's plug it in.'"

So far for the Eagles, the only thing they know for sure when it comes to NFL fines is that whoever hits Michael Vick won’t have to worry about incurring one.

"That's crazy to me," Babin said. "If I get fined for that, we should have plenty thrown for Mike."

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Posted on: October 3, 2011 1:12 pm
 

Vick's finger 'popped out'; Peters, Cole injured

Posted by Will Brinson

Everything is coming up Eagles, huh? Not only is Philly's favorite football team 1-3, and not only is their defense an insult to the word sieve, but the injuries are starting to pile up.

This one, in particular, is gross and terrifying: one of the fingers on Michael Vick's left (read: throwing) hand "popped out" during the Eagles loss to San Francisco on Sunday.

"Yeah my finger popped out of place in the first half and I was just determined to finish the game, regardless of how I had to do it," Vick said on Sunday afternoon. "And I did it.  Wish the outcome could have been a bit different, but it is what it is."

One: ew. And two, um, it sure seems like Vick's body is determined to keep him out of some games this year doesn't it? Speaking of things that won't help Vick stay healthy, the offensive line took a pretty huge hit on Sunday as well, as it appears left tackle Jason Peters will miss some time with what Andy Reid classified as a "fairly significant" hamstring strain.

Peters could certainly miss time and Reid said he and defensive end Trent Cole will be closely evaluated over the next few days. Antonio Dixon, another defensive lineman, is expected to miss the rest of the season because of a torn triceps injury.

Cole also has a "fairly significant" calf strain, and it sounds like each could miss some, um, fairly significant time.

The news doesn't get that much better for the Eagles, who face the Bills and the Redskins on the road in the next two weeks before hitting their bye week. Theoretically, those two games are winnable without some of their key parts, but you can bet everything you own that Philly will see a heavy dose of Fred Jackson and Ryan Torain/Tim Hightower, respectively.

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Posted on: September 29, 2011 11:57 am
Edited on: September 29, 2011 11:58 am
 

Top Ten with a Twist: Most underrated

D. McFadden is one of the league's most underrated players (US Presswire).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

You know all the big-name players, even if they’re past their prime. Guys who once were great and impactful and who were rated exactly as their athleticism required. Now, though, some of those players have begun their descent into the final phases of their career, but fans, remembering their past exploits, still think of them as high-end performers on the field.

Now, they’re making way for players you’ve probably heard of but can’t place. Players who you’ve seen but can’t remember on which team they reside.Players who are overshadowed and under the radar. The players who won’t be considered underrated for much longer.

In this week’s Top Ten with a Twist, we feature the best players who are not as well known as they should be. You can call them underrated and call them under the radar, but their teams and their teammates know how important they are. They are, in fact, some of the best players in the league who aren’t necessarily considered the best players in the league.

10. Sean Lee: He won’t be a name only hardcore fans recognize for much longer. He was just named NFC defensive player of the month after a sensational start to the season (31 tackles, two interceptions, and two fumble recoveries). Lee had knocked long-time starting linebacker Keith Brooking out of the lineup, and with the way he’s playing, you can certainly see why. He has been scary this year.

9. Hakeem Nicks: Considering wide receiver is one of the most glamorous positions in the sport, it’s tough to find a guy who you could call underrated -- conversely, there’s no shortage of players we could consider overrated at this position. But Nicks is one of those guys who doesn’t get the national attention (even though he plays in New York!) of a Calvin Johnson, an Andre Johnson or a DeSean Jackson. And while Nicks might not quite be on the same level as those receivers, he’s close. His 79 catches, 1,052 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2010 is a testament to that.

8. Ryan Kalil: You might have been shocked when the Panthers gave him a six-year, $49 million ($28 million guaranteed) deal before this season to make him the highest-paid center in the game, but those around the league know his value. He’s versatile in pass protection and run-blocking, and he doesn’t get called for holding penalties. Is he the best center in the league? Probably not as long as Nick Mangold is playing, but Kalil is still one of the top guys out there.

7. Vince Wilfork: He gets plenty of attention -- especially when he’s picking off passes and strolling his way back up the field -- but when compared to defensive tackles like Haloti Ngata, Ndamukong Suh or (gasp!) Albert Haynesworth, Wilfork doesn’t get the admiration he deserves. Despite his size -- he very well could be playing in the 400-pound range -- he’s one of the most athletic big men you’ll see. He’s one of the best run-stoppers around, and he’s the anchor of the Patriots defense. You know him, but he still hasn’t made his way to superstar status.



6. Darren Sproles: It was thought that the new kickoff rules would hinder Sproles, and that was probably one of the reasons the Chargers didn’t re-sign him in the offseason. But Sproles has continued to prove his wealth, settling into the Saints backfield, where he’s shown he can still rush (7.4 yards per carry), catch the ball (21 receptions, second-best among running backs) and score (he’s recorded a touchdown in all three games). He’s like a Reggie Bush who actually is effective for the Saints. Oh, and he can still return kicks (sixth in the league among those who have at least five chances) and return punts (second in the league).

5. Tramon Williams: Although he helped the Packers to a Super Bowl, Williams isn’t mentioned in the same breath as the Eagles cornerback trio (Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie) or the Jets duo (Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie). Plus, he plays in the shadow of Charles Woodson, who is still one of the best cornerbacks in the league after 14 seasons. But Williams has shown why he’s a top-10 cornerback. He’s not avoided by other team’s quarterbacks quite as much as Asomugha and Revis -- that’s a byproduct of playing with Woodson -- but he’s shown that when his receiver is targeted, Williams is one of the better cover corners in the league.

4. Rob Gronkowski: Who are the best tight ends in the league? Antonio Gates? That’s true if he’s healthy. Tony Gonzalez? That’s true if this was five years ago. Jason Witten? Yes, he probably is the top tight end out there. But you know who’s really close to him? That’s Gronkowski -- who, in his second season in the league, is one big reason the Patriots offense has been so dominant this season. He was decent as a rookie last season, but he’s exploded for five touchdowns already this year, and with Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez in the lineup in New England, that is a tough, tough matchup for the opposing teams’ linebackers.

3. Brandon Pettigrew: Last Sunday was the perfect example of why Pettigrew can make a Lions fan’s mouth water. He played through a shoulder injury, yet he managed to catch 11 passes for 112 yards in Detroit’s huge comeback victory against the Vikings. He’s probably not on the same level as Witten or Gronkowski, and yes, he drops the easy passes way too much (even if he also makes the spectacular catches). But in his third season in the league, he shows real potential to be a top-five tight end.

2. Trent Cole: He’s always good for between 55-80 tackles a year. He’s always good for between eight and 13 sacks. He’s almost always assured to be making life difficult for whichever offensive tackle who is charged with slowing his momentum. Cole might be the best player many NFL fans don’t know anything about. But this year, he’s off to a hot start in Philadelphia with three sacks. He’s a monster, and even if you haven’t heard his name very much, you can be sure the league’s offensive linemen have.

1. Darren McFadden: Along with Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson, McFadden might be a top-three running back in this league. But since he plays in the black hole of Oakland, he wasn’t discussed as much as those who have lesser talent. That’s changing this year with the Raiders off to a 2-1 start and McFadden performing like the best back in the league. In 2010, McFadden gained 1,664 yards from scrimmage, and through three games this season, he’s rushed for 393 yards and three touchdowns while catching 11 passes for 84 yards and another score. If he keeps playing like that, he won’t belong on this list next year. Because everybody is going to know about him.

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Posted on: August 24, 2011 9:39 am
 

Vince Young stands by 'Dream Team' comments

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Vince Young seems destined for the spotlight, no matter the uniform he wears, his station on the depth chart, the state of his relationship with fans and media, or how well he might be playing at the time.

As it stands Young, the Titans' 2006 first-round pick, is now Michael Vick's backup in Philadelphia. And through several weeks of practice and two preseason games, the most memorable thing he's done is utter those infamous words: "Dream Team," in reference to the 2011 Eagles.

Even though Young's initial observations were slightly more nuanced than "We're just like the 1992 US Olympic Basketball Team! Y'all all might as well not even show up come game time!" such comments -- right or wrong -- can take on a life of their own.

And that's exactly what happened.

Now, nearly a month later, Young says he has no regrets about letting those words escape his lips, even though he said remarks were taken out of context. "That's pretty much how it goes with Vince Young," Young said Monday, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. "My words always get taken out of context. … "That's just how I feel. I don't care what nobody else says, that's how I feel about the guys here. … You can't tell me not what to say."

This is true, we can't tell Young what to say. And in the scheme of things, there really isn't much here. If Kevin Kolb had made those comments as Michael Vick's backup, reporters would've had a good chuckle and continued with what they were doing, probably not even thinking it was worth scribbling it in their notebooks.

Head coach Andy Reid boiled it down nicely. "The bottom line is you got to go play," he said. "And so if he's feeling the dream then he can do his little dream thing. Personally, I like Vince Young. I really like him. I like the way he's handling himself and doing the things he's doing."

Defensive end Trent Cole thinks the team will have a target on its back heading into the season not so much because of Young's remarks, but because the Eagles have such a talented roster.

"We are going to be a huge target," he told ESPN's Colin Cowherd, according to Sports Radio Interviews. I think we got a great team. We are going to cause a scene because I am very confident about what we have here this year."

Which is pretty much what Young was saying … except he made the mistake of including those two little words.

"It's just basically what I mean," Young said. "We do have some really talented guys, and I feel like if we continue to keep working and taking care of our responsibilities and finish like a team like we want to finish, I feel like that's pretty much how I called it. How everybody want to take it, that's how everybody is going to take it."

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com