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.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Former Colts Receiver Anthony Gonzalez Elected To Congress

November 8, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS — Anthony Gonzalez is headed to our nation’s capital.

The former Indianapolis Colts wide receiver on Tuesday held off challenger Susan Moran Palmer to serve as Congressman for Ohio’s 16th District.

Gonzalez, a Republican, is a newcomer to politics, but the results from Tuesday’s election certainly didn’t show it; he ran away with about 57 percent of the vote, while Palmer, the Democratic challenger, garnered about 43 percent.

Gonzalez will replace incumbent Republican Jim Renacci, who lost in his bid to defeat Democrat Sherrod Brown for a U.S. Senate seat in Ohio.

“Thank You!” Gonzalez wrote in a statement on his website Tuesday night. “It is with deep humility and gratitude that I accept the awesome responsibility of representing the 16th district in the 116th Congress.”

Gonzalez’s popularity in Ohio was sparked back in high school, when he was a standout football and track athlete at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland. He would go on to star at Ohio State in Columbus, where he was named First Team All-Big Ten Conference in 2006 after catching 51 passes for 734 yards and eight touchdowns.

After a strong performance in the NFL Scouting Combine, the Colts — who were fresh off their Super Bowl victory over the Chicago Bears — selected Gonzalez with the 32nd-overall pick in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He would go on to catch a combined 94 passes for 1,240 yards and seven touchdowns in his first two seasons before knee injuries would significantly slow down his career.

Gonzalez retired from the NFL prior to the 2012 season.

After earning his MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, Gonzalez last August filed to run for Congress in his home state of Ohio, earning financial backing from the likes of former Colts teammates Peyton Manning and Austin Collie, as well as Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, according to The Plain Dealer.

Now he’s headed to Washington, D.C., where he says his commitment “is to be a voice for the enduring values that have inspired every generation of Americans since our founding days.”

“It will be with an unyielding respect for the universal dignity and common humanity of every American that I will walk through any door to work on behalf of Northeast Ohio — our families and our workers,” Gonzalez wrote on Tuesday.

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