Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Hawks in the NFL: Week 10

November 13, 2018
By Sean Neugent

Chiefs 26, Cardinals 14: Although active, The Chiefs decided to sideline LB Anthony Hitchens, who is battling a rib injury. Next man in: another Iowa LB in Ben Niemann. The undrafted rookie received his first start and led the team with six tackles. The Chiefs move to 9-1.

“I was still on four phases of special teams,” says Niemann. “So I got a little tired out there. But it was good. You want to play. You want to play as many snaps as possible.”’s Week 10 Game Ball:

His six tackles may not look like a lot in the stat book to receive the week 10 game ball, but Ben Niemann deserves it. The undrafted rookie made a huge impact for a team that is hunting for home field advantage in the playoffs. Niemann helped limit the Arizona offense to 14, playing all special teams and defensive snaps. The K.C. offense has not needed much help this year, but they did on Sunday and Niemann and the defense came through. Game Balls:
Week 1: George Kittle, 49ers
Week 2: Josh Jackson, Packers
Week 3: Christian Kirksey, Browns
Week 4: C.J. Beathard, 49ers
Week 5: Christian Kirksey, Browns
Week 6: Desmond King, Chargers
Week 7: Jaleel Johnson, Vikings
Week 8: Brandon Scherff, Redskins
Week 9: Desmond King, Chargers
Week 10: Ben Niemann, Chiefs

Friday, November 09, 2018

Matthew Slater saw future coach in old pal Mike Vrabel

By Kevin Duffy
November 8, 2018

FOXBORO — On Sunday in Nashville, Bill Belichick will face a team coached by one of his former players.

That’s a first for Belichick.

And Mike Vrabel not only will face his old head coach, but a trio of former teammates from his 2001-08 tenure with the team: Tom Brady, Stephen Gostkowski and Matthew Slater.

Slater yesterday reflected on the one season he spent as Vrabel’s teammate.

“In the 11 years I’ve played I think of all the guys I’ve played with and what they may be doing after football and who I would pin to be a head coach and it would be Mike Vrabel,” Slater said. “The two things that stuck out to me in the short time I was with him would be his leadership skills and the way he held people accountable. Those are two things that you really need to be successful as a head coach if you want to run the right type of program and get your team where you hopefully want it to be.”

After transitioning into coaching at his alma mater, Ohio State, Vrabel took over as the Texans’ linebackers coach in 2014. He was promoted to defensive coordinator a year ago, and accepted the Titans’ head coaching job this past spring.

“I think he’s well-suited for the job,” Slater said. ”He’s got the brain for it. He’s got the drive, the passion, the discipline, and he’s a leader of men. It’s really no surprise that he’s moved up the coaching ranks as quickly as he has.”

Pro Football Weekly's midseason awards

November 8, 2018

Every NFL team has now played at least half of their games this season, so it’s time for Pro Football Weekly to hand out its midseason awards.

Remember, Alex Smith and Carson Wentz were the MVP favorites at this time a year ago, so things can change — quite dramatically. But it’s fair to point out the leaders of the pack and the players and coaches who have done yeoman’s work to this point.

We polled five PFW writers for their picks for each of seven categories. Here’s what we came up with:

Most Improved Player

Hub Arkush: James Conner

Bob LeGere: James Conner

Greg Gabriel: Bills LB Matt Milano

Arthur Arkush: 49ers TE George Kittle

Eric Edholm: Rams OG Austin Blythe

Gabriel has a nice off-the-radar choice in Milano, who spearheaded the Bills’ upsets over the Vikings and Titans with some huge plays, noting that the “second-year linebacker has taken big strides” this season.

Conner clearly will be a popular national choice, given his breakout season. The only issue is that we didn’t know how good Conner might have been last season when he was buried behind Le’Veon Bell. Of course, Bell might not have realized that either, as his holdout has cleared the way for a tremendous season from the second-year back who has become Pittsburgh fans’ darling.

Arthur says Kittle might be “the best blocking-receiving combo TE in football with Gronk ailing,” even though he admits he considered Colts DE Margus Hunt for his choice here.

I went a bit out there with the Blythe pick, but it felt wrong not to have one member of this Rams offense represented. And besides, the Colts — who were absolutely starved last year for OL talent — cut Blythe, who was then a center. The Rams smartly picked him up, and he not only pushed Jamon Brown out of a job after his two-game suspension, but the Rams even waived Brown. Blythe has quietly been excellent in one of the league’s most explosive attacks.

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