Monday, May 20, 2019

Pro Football Focus ranks Ben Niemann as best special teams player in NFL

by Matt Conner | Saturday, May 18, 2019

Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Ben Niemann was ranked as the best special teams player in the entire NFL last season, per Pro Football Focus.

There was perhaps no more favored rookie free agent for the Kansas City Chiefs last season than linebacker Ben Niemann. Despite going undrafted for seven full rounds in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Chiefs were happy to land him, and fans and analysts alike both predicted that he had a very real shot at making the active roster.
It turns out that Niemann was even better than the hype. While it is a major accomplishment for any undrafted player to make the active roster or even the practice squad, Niemann went above and beyond and even made his presence felt on game days. Niemann played in 71 total snaps on defense for the Chiefs, but it was on the Chiefs’ special teams units that he really excelled.

Niemann came out of the University of Iowa as a very sure tackler and an intelligent leader who doesn’t make mistakes. While other players are certainly flashier at ways that dazzle the scouts, especially in timed drills, the reality is that some players just get the job done on the field. Niemann is one of those guys that, when the pads are on, he’s a real player.
Niemann even ended up starting one game for the Chiefs, so it will be interesting to see how he comes out in the wash of new faces and a new scheme with Steve Spagnuolo. Niemann’s work ethic and tackling ability will continue to be an asset for special teams coach Dave Toub and even if he remains just that, he’s an excellent find for the Chiefs.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Titans LB Taylor Lewan, free agent LB Will Compton launch new podcast

By: Crissy Froyd | May 9, 2019

Tennessee Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan and free agent linebacker Will Compton have officially taken their talents beyond the football field.
The pair is currently in the process of launching a new podcast they’re calling “Bussin’ With The Boys.” The podcast was originally called “The Den Podcast” earlier in the year before the name switch, and will have more of a comedic tone to it.
It will, of course, be “For The Boys” as well.

While Compton and Lewan have yet to release a full episode, they have given fans this bit of promotional material, as well as an inside look as to how it all came together:

Titans internet sensation and RPO podcast host Matt Neely is running social media and digital marketing, while the team has also added University of Tennessee’s Zach Patton to the team.
The podcast, produced by Cardboard Films, is expected to bring on athletes, celebrities and more for interviews when it begins airing episodes.
Those who wish to follow along can view content by following @BussinWTB on Twitter.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Patriots: Running back Rex Burkhead hopes yoga and Pilates can help keep him healthy

By Mark Daniels, @MarkDanielsPJ
Posted May 11, 2019 at 6:28 PM
Updated May 11, 2019 at 6:28 PM

FOXBORO — Rex Burkhead isn’t sure if he’s found his true center. He doesn’t know if child’s pose, downward-facing dog or the happy-baby poses are truly making a difference.
Of course, the Patriots running back hopes they are.
Burkhead has shown the ability to impact the Patriots offense during his first two seasons in Foxboro. When he’s on the field, good things usually follow. The biggest problem, however, has been that he hasn’t always been on the field.
In two seasons, Burkhead has played in 18 of a possible 32 regular-season games. After only playing half the season in 2018, this 28-year-old hopes to find a happy medium between getting in playing shape and better preparing his body for the rigors of the upcoming NFL season. That’s where yoga and Pilates come in.
“I do a little bit to mix it up. To always keep the body guessing. Make sure your flexibility’s on point because I feel like that helps prevent injuries,” Burkhead said this week. “I’ve done (yoga) in the past, but I think I’ve gotten more into it. It’s something I’ve taken from guys, guys I’ve looked to as mentors as well that said it’s helped them out a lot as their career has gone on or even some retired guys saying, ‘This is what I did, and it felt like it did help.’
“Even if it really doesn’t, it’s kind of a mental thing as well. I figure, why not?”
During his first four seasons in the NFL, Burkhead was used more on special teams in Cincinnati. When he signed with the Patriots in 2017, he could do lots more than that. That season, Burkhead showed the type of versatility that’s rare for a running back. He can run between the tackles and average more than 4 yards per carry. He can also catch passes out of the backfield and take advantage of mismatches with linebackers.
In 2017, Burkhead finished with a career-high eight total touchdowns (5 rushing, 3 receiving). That season, however, Burkhead dealt with a rib injury in September and October. Later, in December and January, he missed more time with a knee injury. Overall, Burkhead played in 10 regular-season games and finished with 264 rushing yards to go with 254 receiving yards.
Last season was similar, but not in a good way. Burkhead found himself on the injured reserve by Week 4 with a neck injury. He made his return in Week 13. In eight games, he ran for 186 yards and finished with 131 receiving yards. He scored just one touchdown in the regular season.
“You learn from your experiences from the past,” Burkhead said. “Also with some of the older guys like Matthew Slater, who’s been in for a while now and how he really takes care of his body. There are things — I remember my rookie year, I think I took like one week off, and I was right back in it, hardcore lifting right after the season. You learn that’s kind of not the best way to go about it. Your body takes some time to recover mentally, physically, and there’s some little things you can pick up on, too.
“Whether that’s yoga or Pilates, things like that to make sure your body is in the best shape possible. When you make it far, you really have to stay on top of that. Especially here, you understand your body is your temple and your line of work.”
Burkhead finished the season on a high note. He played well in the playoffs, finishing with 3 touchdowns, 96 rushing yards and 45 receiving yards.
After the Patriots drafted running back Damien Harris in the third-round, Burkhead knows there will be more competition come training camp. That means he’ll need to stay healthy. That’s why he’s pacing himself this offseason.
“Things like that — understanding you can’t go a million miles per hour every single day or else injuries could pop up,” Burkhead said. “Just understanding how to take care of your body, getting advice from some of the older guys as well as some of the strength coach and trainers. They do a great job relaying that information from us. Just really picking up whatever you can to make sure you’re on top of your game.”

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