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.”

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Professional football player and Bonne Terre native to host football camp


May 8, 2019

From a previous camp, Linebacker Will Compton (far right) and a Central assistant football coach instruct a mobility drill during a summer camp held at North County High School.

Professional linebacker and Bonne Terre native Will Compton, a free agent who played for the Tennessee Titans in the 2018 season and has played for the Washington Redskins, will be inspiring children from the 3rd to 8th grade at a football camp from 4:30 to 9 p.m. Friday at North County High School Raider Field.
Last year, 150 attended to learn and play football. This year, it will feature former NFL players and premier collegiate athletes, who will work one-on-one with the campers.
Compton has visited North County, his hometown school, to speak to students at pep assemblies and has presented his summer camp since 2014.
“I get a lot out of coaching,” Compton said at a previous camp. “That’s probably the first thing I would like to do when my playing career is done. Getting back here to North County and putting on a camp was important to me.”
After registration at 4:30 p.m., students will undertake skills camp and position drills from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. They will receive instruction from the best coaches in the area. They will accommodate beginners and more seasoned players and divide them by age and skill level.
Parents are encouraged to watch the instruction and to take pictures.
At 8:30 p.m., there will be a nutritional break until 9:30 p.m., they will meet and greet the featured professionals. They may also get autographs.
Some of the professionals will be people that Compton had played with or became friends with. They will be wide receiver Kenny Bell, defensive tackle Kedric Golston, defensive back Josh Mitchell, defensive end Matt Loannidis, defensive end Trent Murphy and lineback Martrell Spraight.
Sponsors are the Farmington Regional Chamber, Capital Wealth Advisors, First State Community Bank, Huck Chiropractic Life Center, C.Z. Boyer and Son Funeral Homes, and Lifetouch. Sponsorship donations will go directly to offset fees for area youth and allow those who would otherwise not be able to attend.
Campers can register online at for $50.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Rex Burkhead shares lessons learned from his mother, a teacher

TUE MAY 07 | 12:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Angelique Fiske

For Rex Burkhead, it is no coincidence that Mother's Day falls during Teacher Appreciation Week. His mother, Robyn Burkhead, has been an elementary school teacher for more than 15 years at Jackson Elementary School in Plano, Texas.

Though Rex never attended Jackson Elementary School, he saw day in and day out the work his mother put in to help her students.

"I always thought my mom was the greatest woman in the world, so it is cool just because when you're in your teenage years, you think you know everything and everything revolves around you," Rex said. "To see [her students] come back as adults and show how much she meant to them and how much guidance she gave to them, I know there's been a few of them who were like, 'I was really dealing with some stuff and you changed my ways.' That just shows how much she's meant to these kids in her life."

Not only did seeing how respected his mom is among her current and former students impact Rex, he realized that being both a teacher and a mom are full-time jobs that regularly overlap. For her students, Robyn is often a "mother figure," Rex said, and when he was a student himself, Robyn served as "another tutor" at home.

"She really made me understand the importance of school, understand what it took to be a good student," Rex said. And having some insider knowledge about what teachers look for while grading homework didn't hurt either, he admitted with a laugh.

Robyn taught mostly fourth grade over her career and just this year made the switch to fifth grade. Just before leaving to watch her son play in Super Bowl 53, her students and fellow teachers surprised her by decking out her room in Patriots gear. This type of support and kindness is unsurprising, as Rex said his mom preaches teamwork in her classroom.

"The team atmosphere, my mom is big on that," he said. "She's big on having her class work together in groups on certain things. Grit is her big word. If there's something you struggle with, just really pushing through and studying, making sure you have it down."

This type of attitude impressed upon Rex and the hundreds of students coming through Robyn's classroom over the years creates life lessons beyond math, English and science. It teaches humility, good morals and respect, Rex said. Seeing her wake up at 5 a.m. and return at 5 p.m., work longer days to accommodate her students' parents and give so much of herself to her classroom taught Rex the discipline and professionalism to excel as a football player, and more importantly, as a person.

"It’s an honor to be her son," Rex said. "She’s impacted that community a ton in Plano and done so much for that school impacted so many kids."

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