Friday, October 25, 2013

Former Defensive Standout Karl Klug is Honorary Captain

Karl Klug scored his first NFL touchdown earlier this season with a recovered fumble.

October 24, 2013

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Former University of Iowa defensive lineman Karl Klug will serve as honorary captain when the Hawkeyes hosts Northwestern Saturday in Kinnick Stadium (11:01 a.m., BTN). Klug currently plays for the NFL's Tennessee Titans, who have an open date on their schedule this weekend.

Klug is a native of Caledonia, Minn., who was a three-year letterman as a defensive tackle from 2008-10. He started all 26 games over his final two seasons while helping the Hawkeyes post a three-year record of 28-11. During his career, Iowa concluded the 2008 season with a 31-10 win over South Carolina in the Outback Bowl, defeated ninth-ranked Georgia Tech 24-14 in the Orange Bowl following the 2009 season and beat 12th-ranked Missouri 27-24 in the 2010 Insight Bowl.

He was a permanent team captain as a senior and was Iowa's defensive Most Valuable Player. He earned second team all-Big Ten honors from league coaches and media. Klug was selected to compete in the East-West Shrine game following his senior season. He was a fifth round NFL Draft selection of the Tennessee Titans, one of six Hawkeyes selected in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Now in his third season with the Titans, Klug has played in all seven games this season, with one start, and has played in all 39 games in his NFL career. He forced and recovered a fumble earlier this season in a win over the New York Jets, scoring his first career touchdown with the recovery. Klug recorded 10.5 QB sacks in his first two seasons, most among Titan defenders in those two seasons.

At Iowa, Klug totaled 57 tackles as a senior, leading the Hawkeyes in both tackles for loss (13-67) and QB sacks (5.5-47). He earned the Iron Hawk Award and the Hayden Fry "Extra Heartbeat" Award as a senior. He amassed 140 career tackles, including 31 tackles for loss (126 yards) and 9.5 QB sacks (76 yards).

Klug will accompany the Iowa captains to the center of the field for Saturday's pregame coin toss. He will also be with the Hawkeyes in the locker room before and after the game, and on the sidelines during the contest.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ted Ginn Jr. is a nice surprise for the Carolina Panthers

By Randy Inman
October 21, 2013

Ted Ginn Jr. has been the best free agent pickup by the Carolina Panthers this season. When I heard Ginn had signed with the Panthers my first thought was the kick return game just got better. Ted Ginn Jr. had other ideas such as becoming a solid wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers.

Ted Ginn Jr. was a very good college football player at Ohio State with 135 receptions and 27 all purpose touchdowns in three seasons. The Miami Dolphins picked Ginn with the 9th pick of the 2007 NFL draft.

Ted Ginn Jr. didn't ever quite get it done in Miami mostly due to poor quarterback play in my opinion. In three seasons with the Dolphins Ted Ginn caught 128 passes and had five receiving touchdowns. He did make a reputation for himself as a top notch kick and punt returner.

After joining the San Francisco 49ers Ginn slipped even farther off the radar as a wide receiver. The 49ers never seemed to use Ginn as much more than a returner and his reputation was as a wide receiver bust for such a high draft pick by the Dolphins.

But the Carolina Panthers needed a returner and also have been looking for wide receiver help ever since Mushin Muhammad retired. During training camp the Wolford Warrior Armanti Edwards got all the press while Ginn bided his time.

Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell really needed a third guy to help them out and Ted Ginn Jr has done that very well. Coming into the Rams game Ginn had 13 receptions, two touchdown catches and was averaging over 18 yards per catch. Ginn has also thrown some crushing blocks to help spring lose other players who had the ball.

Ted Ginn Jr signed a one year contract with the Carolina Panthers to prove he can play wide receiver and get a bigger contract with a team next year. I am sure Ginn would like to stay in Carolina if they are willing to pay him. Cam Newton is the best quarterback that Ginn has played with and that makes a difference.

I am a fan of Brandon LaFell but I think he would be a good number three wide receiver. I would like to see Ted Ginn Jr. starting opposite of Steve Smith or at least get more playing time for the Carolina Panthers. So far Ginn is without a doubt the best free agent pickup made by Dave Gettleman.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Punter Dave Zastudil and cover man Justin Bethel flip the field for Arizona Cardinals

By Kent Somers

October 9, 2013

When it comes to sexiness, punting is the flannel pajamas and pounding headache of football.

No one yells at the spouse and kids to run to the TV room because the punt team is running on the field.

But it’s an important part of the game, especially for a team with a terrible offense and a stout defense.

That’s why what punter Dave Zastudil and cover man Justin Bethel are doing is so important to the Cardinals. They have flipped field position when the offense hasn’t and are a big reason the team isn’t worse than 3-2.

“It started last year, really,” Bethel said. “Trusting — I trust he’s going to put the ball where he says he’s going to put it, and he trusts me to get down there and make the tackle. It’s a great combination.”

Zastudil has put 16 punts inside the 20-yard line, the most in the NFL this season. Of those 16, 10 have been downed inside the 10-yard line.

Last year, Zastudil set an NFL record with 46 downed inside the 20.

The Cardinals, of course, would prefer to see less of Zastudil and more of quarterback Carson Palmer and receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

Zastudil’s heavy workload is a result of the Cardinals’ anemic offense. He punted 112 times in 2012, 21 more than the second-hardest-working man in the NFL punting business.

He’s punted 28 times this season, which means more than half of his kicks have been downed inside the 20 and 36 percent inside the 10.

This season, coach Bruce Arians has spent Mondays trying to explain what went wrong offensively the day before. That was true this week, too.

Until the offense can do more than “scratch some points out,” as Arians put it, the Cardinals will rely on defense and special teams.

That’s what they did last Sunday against the Panthers. A 56-yard punt by Zastudil from the Cardinals 29 contributed to Carolina starting a possession at their 21.

The defense sacked Cam Newton, and after a punt the Cardinals took over at their 46.

The offense didn’t do much but the Cardinals did get a field goal to tie the game at 3.

That’s scratching out points.

It isn’t attractive, and it probably won’t be enough to beat good teams. But it’s a big reason the Cardinals have more victories than 10 of the other 15 NFC teams.

What’s remarkable about Zastudil is that he missed half of the 2009 season and all of 2010 because of a severe knee problem. He was 32 and thinking that maybe his career was over when the Cardinals called in 2011.

Zastudil beat out Ben Graham for the job then and learned something in the process, too. Graham, who had played Australian Rules Football, was deadly at getting the ball to die deep in opponents’ territory.

He used the “Aussie kick,” which was brought to the NFL by former Chargers punter Darren Bennett. Zastudil watched how Graham did it and started to work on it.

“You drop the nose straight down and try to hit toward the bottom and middle of the ball,” Zastudil said.

The kick is even more effective when a team has a gunner with Bethel’s speed.

“Justin is one of the elite gunners in the league,” Zastudil said, “and the crazy thing is he’s getting better.”

Both Bethel and Zastudil know they aren’t going to receive much attention unless something goes wrong. Their names aren’t likely to show up in scoring summaries, but through five games, they have been the Cardinals’ most consistent offensive tool.

“I love doing what I do,” Zastudil said. “Coach Arians always says, ‘Know your role.’ I love doing my role. I’m just trying to get better. I still don’t think I’m hitting the ball exactly where I want to yet.”

Neil Cornrich named to list of sports agents who will bring you more millions

Excerpted from Sammy Said's "Sports Agents Who Will Bring You More Millions"

September 25, 2013

If you are an athlete and you want a sports agent who will genuinely care about you and your family, then go get Jerry Maguire to represent you. Of course, he was able to treat Rod Tidwell, the wide receiver of the Arizona Cardinals, like family because Tidwell was his only client.

If you want an agent who can rake in the money for you, then you will need someone who is cold-blooded and focused in his dealings. Here now is a list of the top 15 sports agents in the business that can do the job for you.

Neil Cornrich, NC Sports

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz (R) celebrates with quarterback Rickey Stanzi (C) after their team's win over Georgia Tech in the FedEx Orange Bowl BCS NCAA football game in Miami

Neil Cornrich is the President of NC Sports. He has an impressive clientele from professional and collegiate football coaches to players. Among the coaches he represents are Bill Belichick, Bob Stoops, Bo Pelini, Kirk Ferentz, Todd Graham and Bret Bielema. He is also the agent of NFL players like Marshal Yanda, Ted Ginn Jr., Riley Reiff and Montee Ball. He was most impressive when he got a favorable $1.65 million contract for Ron Prince, the Kansas State head coach who got fired. He also got Pep Hamilton, the offensive coordinator of the Indianapolis Colts, a contract larger than some head coaches.

Zastudil named Punter of the Week

October 8, 2013
By Josh Weinfuss |

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Dave Zastudil has quietly become one of the league’s top punters and that hasn’t gone unnoticed.

After another day of controlling field position with his left foot, Zastudil was named Punter of the Week by ESPN Stats & Information. He had kicks of 48, 56, 55 and 40 yards, the last of which pinned the Carolina Panthers on their own 6 in the fourth quarter.

Zastudil, who set the NFL record in 2012 for punts inside the 20, is in another close race this season. He leads the league with 16, one ahead of Kansas City’s Dustin Colquitt and two ahead of Houston’s Shane Lechler.

“He’s great inside the 20,” Arizona coach Bruce Arians said. “He’s also become great (directionally) -- I mean, that ball landed probably four yards from the sideline and (gunner) Justin (Bethel) was on top of it. Dave is doing a great job.”

Zastudil, with the help of Bethel, didn’t allow the dynamic Ted Ginn Jr. to hurt the Cardinals. Ginn had just one return for six yards.

“Justin made a great tackle there,” Arians said. “They had a field return on and Dave really did outkick the coverage other than Justin, but he pinned him and made him move and Justin made a great play.

“Had Teddy gotten out to the open field, it might have been trouble.”

Friday, October 04, 2013

Ginn flourishing with Panthers

October 3, 2013

By Max Henson

CHARLOTTE – Defensive backs wish Panthers wide receiver Ted Ginn still had something weighing on him.

Maybe that would help slow down one of the fastest players in the NFL.

"When I came to Carolina I had a burden on me," Ginn said. "I just wanted to get it off."

The burden? A stigma that was firmly stuck to Ginn's reputation; a stigma that he was nothing more than a return man.

"I knew I could play punt return and kickoff return," said Ginn, whose 6, 978 combined kick return yards rank fourth in the NFL since 2007. "But I always wanted to be more involved in the offense."

The burden has been lifted, and Ginn looks as explosive as ever in his seventh season.

It started in the preseason finale against Pittsburgh, when Ginn burst onto the scene with 35- and 87-yard touchdown receptions. The week prior, he displayed his trademark return skills, returning a punt 74 yards for a touchdown against the Ravens.

He finished the preseason with nine catches for 214 yards,
and the question quickly became could he continue that success in the games that counted?

Through three regular season games, Ginn has seven catches for 143 yards and two touchdowns – the first, a 40-yard score against Buffalo, the second, a 47-yarder against the Giants.

Those two touchdowns match a career-high for Ginn. The ninth overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft by the Dolphins moved on to San Francisco after three years in Miami. He recorded one touchdown catch in the next three years with the 49ers.

In 2012, he had two catches for one yard.

Was he underutilized?

"I would say so," head coach Ron Rivera said. "From what we're gathering and what he's done for us, to me, he does look like he was underutilized."

Now, Ginn is one of four players with multiple scrimmage touchdowns of 40 or more yards. The others are Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, Saints tight end Jimmy Graham and Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

"I think Ted has already kind of shattered the stigma of just being a special teams player," quarterback Cam Newton said. "He gives this offense an added dimension that keeps the defensive backs on their heels. You have to respect his speed."

That speed is a weapon he used to get behind the defense on his two long touchdowns, and that's exactly what Rivera and general manager Dave Gettleman envisioned when they signed Ginn as an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

"Dave and I sat and talked about what the vision was for Ted, and that was a guy that could blow the top off the coverage," Rivera explained.

Said Ginn: "That was something they told me I was going to have a shot at. I took their word for it."

He's used his speed to great effect thus far, blowing past defenders on deep patterns.

That was the expectation, and now that Ginn has put that production on tape, the Panthers are realizing just how extensive Ginn's effect on a defense can be.

"With Ted, we found out it wasn't just line him up and go," Rivera said. "You watch Ted, he puts his head down and corners are bailing. Pretty soon, the next thing is going to be the stops. He'll put his head down like he's going, and then at 20 yards he'll stick his foot in the ground, turn around and come back. Those are the things that are starting to happen, and Teddy sees it."

"They're scared," added wide receivers coach Ricky Proehl. "When Ted comes in, defenders are thinking he's going deep. He creates such a cushion, so now we can throw him comebacks, we can throw him curl routes."

The threat of the deep ball has opened up more opportunities for Ginn. It's also created more opportunities for his teammates.

When Ginn enters the game, there is suddenly a lot more room for fellow-wide receivers Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell to work underneath.

"What he's done is open things up for us. When you have that speed, it sets other things up," Proehl said. "It takes so much pressure off of Steve and Brandon when Ted comes in and has that immediate impact."

Ginn understands his role, and he's flourishing in it.

"I take the top off the defense. Being able to do that opens things up for everybody," Ginn said. "That's what it is about. You know your role. You know who you are."

Ginn has always believed he was a capable NFL receiver. He has always felt he could help an offense succeed.

He's getting a chance to prove it.

"All he ever said was, 'Give me a chance,'" Rivera said. "And he just grabbed on. I think Ted sees something here that he likes. Hopefully, this is the beginning of something very good for him and for us."

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Hauschka stays perfect, wins NFC special teams award

By Darin Gantt

October 2, 2013

Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka stayed perfect on the season, but none of last week’s kicks was bigger than the final one.

His 45-yard field goal with 3:19 left in overtime helped the Seahawks to a come-from-behind win at Houston, and earned him NFC special teams player of the week honors.

He’s a clean 8-of-8 this year, and hasn’t missed from inside 50 yards since the 2011 season.

2013 Seahawks: Making the grade so far
The Seahawks are 4-0 for the first time in franchise history.

By Bob Condotta

Sunday’s 23-20 overtime win at Houston marked the end of the first quarter of the season for the Seahawks. And judging by the most important stat — wins and losses — it was the most successful first quarter of a season in team history. Never, since the team began play in 1976, had the Seahawks started 4-0.

The road to getting to 4-0, though, was hardly a straight line. Seattle needed somewhat unlikely fourth-quarter comebacks to beat both Carolina and Houston on the road, sandwiching easy home wins over the 49ers and Jaguars.

The end of the first four games, though, also marks a good time to hand out a few quarterly grades and awards for the offense, defense and special teams.

SPECIAL TEAMS: This area has been an underrated reason for the team’s success.

To list a few highlights:

• Kicker Steven Hauschka is 8 of 8, including the 45-yard game-winner last week at Houston.

• The coverage has been solid as Seattle has allowed just 8 punt-return yards — least in the NFL — and hasn’t been hurt in the kickoff game (Jeremy Lane has been a quiet standout on those units, leading the team with four special-teams tackles).

• And Golden Tate, while sometimes taking angst-inducing risks on punt returns, has statistically been just fine — he ranks fifth in the NFL with an average of 12.3, including his 32-yard return in overtime against Houston that helped set up Seattle’s winning field goal.

Grade: A.

MVP: Hauschka. He has been perfect and only one kicker has also made eight or more without missing (the Jets’ Nick Folk, also 8 of 8). Hauschka has 18 touchbacks on 24 kickoffs (Seattle’s opponents have had eight touchbacks on 14 kickoffs), a key reason Seattle’s drive start following kickoffs has been 3 yards better than its opponents.

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