Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Guest editorial: Hawkeyes again show coaching superiority in 10-win season

Richard Cherwitz, Guest Editorial
Published 10:10 a.m. CT Dec. 30, 2019

Readers of these pages will note that I normally write commentaries about politics, explaining how a rhetorical perspective informs our understanding of current events.  But I am also a native Iowan and an enormous fan of Iowa Hawkeye sports.
During my eight-year tenure as a University of Iowa undergraduate and graduate student (1970-78), Iowa fielded what at best might be described as mediocre football teams. Yet I attended almost all of the home games, hoping things would turn around. They didn’t, however, until I received my Ph.D. in 1978 and took a faculty position at the University of Texas, a school noted for nationally prominent football teams. It was only then that Iowa hired Hayden Fry.
When I arrived in Texas, I would drive to the outskirts of town to listen to Iowa games on WHO; keep in mind this was prior to internet and the availability of a wide array of sports cable TV networks. Shortly following Fry’s transformation of Iowa football, a colleague of mine sent me a bumper sticker marketed by Fry and Iowa celebrating the new era: “Hook 'em Hawks — Well, It Works in Texas.” 
I proudly posted this on my faculty office door. I continue to watch all of Iowa’s games.
Like many Iowa fans, I enjoyed the impressive win Friday night in the Holiday Bowl, with the Hawkeyes defeating USC 49-24. That means a 10-win season for Iowa, having lost to only three ranked teams this season by a total of 14 points. I know I have said it before but will repeat it now: Kirk Ferentz is one of the best coaches in college football. He is currently the longest tenured FBS coach with one program. Only Michigan’s Bo Schembechler has won more Big Ten coach of the year awards than Ferentz.
Although Iowa does not have the kind of talent recruited by Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and other elite programs, Ferentz knows how to get the most out of his players. His teams are a model of consistency, discipline and stability. As many have observed, Ferentz has acquired a reputation as a developer of talent during his tenure at Iowa. Since 1999, Iowa has routinely taken walk-on, two- and three-star talent and developed those players into NFL prospects.
Iowa has had 70 players drafted into the NFL since 2000, including nine first-round picks, all while consistently recruiting high school players who are not desired by those more prominent college programs. Iowa offensive linemen and tight ends are highly sought-after by NFL teams, citing their work ethic and technical proficiency as being highly developed.
Needless to say, I am forever a proud Hawkeye — and am glad Iowa’s win on Friday was a tribute to their legendary coach Hayden Fry, Ferentz’s mentor, who died earlier this month and was the person who first hired Ferentz. It is worth noting that, unlike other big-time coaches, members of Fry’s original staff subsequently went on to become successful head coaches elsewhere: Barry Alvarez (Wisconsin), Bob Stoops (Oklahoma), Bill Snyder (Kansas State), Kirk Ferentz (Iowa), Dan McCarney (Iowa State).
Although I am a Texas Longhorn, my heart is always with Iowa.
Richard Cherwitz, Ph.D., is a professor emeritus at the Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Bob Diaco Blanks Miami in Independence Bowl

Do enough Notre Dame fans remember the great Bob Diaco?
He was the defensive coordinator on the 2012 squad who took the head job at Connecticut after the 2013 season where he lasted three seasons before being fired.
He ran Nebraska’s defense in 2017 and Oklahoma’s last year before getting the Louisiana Tech D-C job this season.
As you can tell life hasn’t been easy for Diaco since departing Notre Dame but he did have a brush with glory Thursday afternoon as his Louisiana Tech squad shutout the Miami Hurricanes in the Independence Bowl, 14-0.
It’s an incredibly small sample size but I feel safe in saying Diaco owns “The U”.
In two games against Miami this decade his team has allowed three total points as you may recall the 41-3 destruction Notre Dame had of the Hurricanes in 2012.
With the loss Miami finishes 6-7 on the year while Louisiana Tech wraps up 10-3.
Since Miami roughed up Notre Dame late in 2017 the Canes have gone from No. 2 in the nation to 13-16 over their last 29 games.
It may be 29 years since Notre Dame and Miami played annually but I have a hard time believing any Fighting Irish fans feel too bad for Miami after this latest embarrassment.

Rose Bowl Recall: Mark Tauscher

Jake Kocorowski
Dec 29, 2019

The Wisconsin Badgers return to Pasadena when they face the No. 6 Oregon Ducks on Jan. 1 in the 106th edition of the Rose Bowl Game.

To commemorate the accomplishments of the program both past and present, presents its "Rose Bowl Recall" series. We've asked former players about either one moment or one experience that stands out from their time out west. It could be from the game itself, it could be from one of the various annual pregame festivities that take shape, or it could be from after the clock strikes zero on the scoreboard.

Be sure to check out our previous installments of the series with fullback Bradie Ewing, kicker Vitaly Pisetsky, and safety Scott Nelson.
On Sunday, a familiar face in the Wisconsin sports (and now sports talk) landscape reminisces about two events that pop out to him.
Interviews have been lightly edited for clarity.

Offensive tackle Mark Tauscher

A former walk-on turned future 11-year pro at the next level, Tauscher became part of two Rose Bowl teams during his time at UW. You can now hear the former lineman on the weekday airwaves with the ESPN Wisconsin radio show "Wilde and Tausch," from the booth as an analyst during Wisconsin football home games in the fall, as well as the Packers Radio Network game day shows and on ESPN's radio waves

Here are two moments/experiences Tauscher told on Dec. 20 from his 2000 Rose Bowl experience against Stanford. The first came from a pregame event, while the other took place late in the game with the Cardinal driving into Wisconsin territory. The defense ultimately held on a 4th-and-12 from the UW 47-yard-line when the defense forced quarterback Todd Husak to slip. Badgers Ben Herbert, Wendell Bryant and Co. brought the pressure to clinch the program's second consecutive Rose Bowl victory.

"Well there'd be two for me. One was my last year, kind of just being in a float and being a part of the whole kind of pomp and circumstance, which I think is one of the things that separates the Rose Bowl from some of the other bowls. Just how big it feels. Then I think, the best feeling you have is when you seal the game up. In my case, it was with the defense sacking Todd Husak, their quarterback.
"When that happened, I think that's when everybody was kind of, 'Here we go,' and being able to say you won out in Pasadena, won a Big Ten championship and won a Rose Bowl. Growing up in the '80s and '90s, that was always something that was a big deal, and when that moment hits, you see everybody kind of realizing all the work that you put in, and here you go, you've accomplished something that's really hard to do." Do you remember what float or floats you were on?

"No, but what I remember, and I actually got the sign off of the side [of the float] because ... my name is spelled correctly, but it had me as an outside linebacker. So I actually have it in our Park Bank ESPN Madison studios. I put that up because it just made me laugh. 

"I just remember when I went up there, I was like, this will be the only time in my life I'll be an outside linebacker. I'm going to keep this, and it was part of something that you know, who knows if you're ever going to be in a float again at Disney. Doubtful but it was kind of a cool deal for me growing up watching the Rose Bowl and then being able to be on a float in the parade there was really cool."  If you're on the sideline watching that sack/stop, what do you remember from your emotions and letting that all sink in that you've won the Rose Bowl?

"You just want to hug everybody. You know your time, that is going to be it. This is it for your time at Wisconsin in a place that has meant so much, and to be able to win your last game in that environment, it was really just sheer joy. That was the thing that was just evident with everybody on that sideline. I always end up looking back and seeing Coach Alvarez and [offensive line coach] Jim Hueber. Through all the Rose Bowls, the three Rose Bowls that we've one -- the two that I was a part of -- just the emotions and just the joy that everybody on that sideline had. That's stuff that you can't find anywhere else."

Friday, December 27, 2019

Kentucky's All-Decade Team: The best Wildcats of the 2010s

By DEREK TERRY 20 hours ago


LEXINGTON, Ky. — In the late 2000s, Kentucky football was on a historical bowl streak. Rich Brooks retired following the 2009 season, having led the Wildcats to four straight bowl games. Joker Phillips took over in 2010 and took Kentucky to its fifth consecutive bowl, but the 2010s did not go well in the first half of the decade. 

The 2011 team went 5-7 and the bottom completely fell out in 2012 as Kentucky went 2-10, 0-8 in the SEC. Mark Stoops replaced Phillps in 2013 and had three losing seasons of his own before turning the corner in 2016. Kentucky has won at least seven games in the regular season in each of the past four seasons. The Wildcats' 10-3 season in 2018 was the best since the 1970s. 

As we leave the 2010s and enter a new decade, Kentucky’s football program has maybe never been in a better spot. Most of the Wildcats’ roster this year will be back next year, plus a top-25 recruiting class is set to join the fold. formed an all-decade team to recognize those whose contributions helped shape Kentucky football over the past 10 years. 

*Editor’s note: Players on this list must have played at least one season this decade. A few players on this list only played in 2010, but a truly outstanding season was enough to put them on this list. 


QUARTERBACK: Mike Hartline

Stephen Johnson and Terry Wilson were quarterbacks on teams that won bigger and more important games over the decade, but it’s tough to go against Mike Hartline statistically. After a knee injury cut his junior season short, Hartline returned as a senior and completed 66 percent of his passes, threw for 3,178 yards, 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He was honored as the National Quarterback of the Week after throwing for four touchdowns in a come-from-behind win over No. 9 South Carolina in 2010. It was Kentucky’s first win against Steve Spurrier. 

Honorable mention: Stephen Johnson

RUNNING BACK: Benny Snell 

Easy choice, right? Benny Snell rewrote the record books in his three seasons in Lexington. He tied or broke 14 records while at UK, and is the school leader in rushing yards (3,873), touchdowns (48) and 100-yard rushing games (19). Snell joined Georgia legend Herschel Walker as the only two players in SEC history to rush for at least 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns in each of his first three seasons. 

Honorable mention: Boom Williams 

WIDE RECEIVERS: Randall Cobb, Lynn Bowden and Chris Matthews

Cobb and Bowden both have strong cases as all-purpose players. Cobb played quarterback at times in his UK career, but his 2010 season is the only one counted here. He had 84 catches for 1,017 yards and seven touchdowns his junior season. Out of the ‘Wildcat’ he rushed 55 times for 424 yards and five touchdowns. Cobb earned first-team All-SEC honors as an all-purpose player. 

Bowden’s legend was cemented this season as a quarterback. He led the Wildcats to a 5-2 record after taking over midseason, but he was also the best receiver on Kentucky’s 10-win 2018 team. Bowden had 67 catches for 745 yards and five touchdowns. Add in two punt returns for touchdowns, and Bowden had an excellent sophomore season. 
Chris Matthews might be considered a surprise on this list. However, his 2010 season is hard to ignore considering how much of a struggle it was for Kentucky to throw the ball for most of the decade. Matthews had 61 catches for 925 yards and nine touchdowns his senior season. His nine touchdowns were the most in a single season by any receiver the past 10 years. 

Honorable mention: Garrett Johnson, La'Rod King 

Another position that didn’t take much thought. Conrad started 42 games over his four-year career and finished with 80 catches, 1,015 yards and 12 touchdowns. His 12 touchdown receptions are the second most for any UK tight end. It didn’t show up in his career stats, but Conrad was an excellent blocker who helped Kentucky set rushing records from 2015-18. 

Honorable mention: Jordan Aumiller 

OFFENSIVE LINE: Landon Young, Larry Warford, Drake Jackson, Bunchy Stallings, George Asafo-Adjei 


This is a more difficult position to evaluate but this group is full of All-SEC players and All-Americans. Larry Warford earned All-SEC honors in some capacity each of his four seasons. Bunchy Stallings was a first-team All-American and All-SEC as a senior. Drake Jackson, who has one year left after this year, was just named All-SEC first team at center after a standout junior season. George Asafo-Adjei played in 48 games and earned SEC offensive lineman of the week multiple times. Young has been a key contributor since stepping on campus and is one of the SEC’s best left tackles. 

Honorable mention: Jon Toth, Logan Stenberg 


DEFENSIVE LINE: Denzil Ware, Quinton Bohanna, Cory Johnson 


Denzil Ware elected to finish his career elsewhere, but he was one of the Wildcats’ best defenders as a sophomore and junior. He finished his career with 157 tackles, 27 tackles for loss and 13 sacks. He was named preseason All-SEC Second Team going into his junior season and ended that year on Phil Steele’s All-SEC Third Team. Quinton Bohanna has been the anchor at nose guard the past few years. CJ Johnson’s senior year in 2015 was solid. He had a career-high 19 tackles against EKU and finished the year with 67 tackles, eight tackles for loss and two sacks. 


Honorable mention: Za’Darius Smith, Calvin Taylor Jr. 

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER: Bud Dupree and Josh Allen

Two more easy selections. Josh Allen is arguably the best defensive player in school history. Allen swept the national defensive player of the year awards in 2018 as he was honored with the Bronko Nagurski Award, the Chuck Bednarik Award, the Ronnie Lott IMPACT Trophy and the Jack Lambert Award. He broke Kentucky’s school record for sacks with 31.5 and was the first consensus All-American at UK since 2002. Allen was drafted seventh overall in the 2019 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. 


Bud Dupree is also an all-time great at the school. He had 247 tackles in four seasons with 39.5 tackles for loss and 25.5 sacks. His fourth-quarter interception return for a touchdown against South Carolina in 2014 gave Stoops his first big win in Lexington. Dupree was a first-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2015. 

Honorable mention: Boogie Watson 

INSIDE LINEBACKER: Avery Williamson and Danny Trevathan 

Danny Trevathan was a tackling machine over his final three seasons. He collected 82 tackles as a sophomore, 144 tackles (SEC-leading tackler) as a junior and 143 tackles as a senior. He finished his career with 374 tackles, 32.5 tackles for loss, six sacks and four interceptions. Trevathan was All-SEC multiple times during his UK career. 
Avery Williamson became the leader of the defense after Trevathan graduated. In 2012, Williamson had 135 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. Williamson was an All-SEC second-team selection in 2013. 

Honorable mention: Jordan Jones, Josh Forrest 

CORNERBACK: Derrick Baity and Chris Westry
Derrick Baity was a four-year starter at Kentucky and totaled 148 tackles, 25 PBUs, 6.0 TFL, six interceptions, two forced fumbles, and two quarterback hurries in his career. Chris Westry started all 12 games his freshman year and earned SEC Freshman All-SEC honors after recording 36 tackles, one sack and two interceptions.

Honorable mention: J.D. Harmon, Lonnie Johnson 

SAFETY: Mike Edwards and Winston Guy 

Mike Edwards started the final 44 games of his career and never missed a game while he was a Wildcat. He finished his career with 318 tackles, placing him second all-time in tackles for a defensive back at UK. Edwards earned All-SEC honors in each of his final three seasons. Edwards was drafted in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Winston Guy, a Lexington native, recorded 226 tackles during the 2010 and 2011 seasons. He had 18 tackles for loss in those years and five interceptions. He was a second-team All-SEC selection as a senior in 2011. 

Honorable mention: Darius West



Kicker: Austin MacGinnis

Punter: Max Duffy

Two of the best specialists in UK history played this decade. Austin MacGinnis drilled two game-winning field goals in 2016 to help the Wildcats reach a bowl game for the first time since 2010. He finished his career as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 359 career points. MacGinnis made 51 of 64 field goal attempts and 102 of 104 extra points from 2014 to 2017. 

Max Duffy was the nation’s best punter in 2019 and finished as the Ray Guy Award winner. Duffy is UK’s all-time leading career punter at 46.47 yards on 107 kicks. Duffy earned first-team All-SEC honors by the AP, first-team All-America by the FWAA and was a second-team choice by the league coaches.

PFT Top 10 offensive linemen of the decade: Marshal Yanda

Posted by Charean Williams on December 25, 2019, 9:00 AM EST


As the decade comes to a close, we’re creating Top 10 lists for 2010 to 2019. This is our Top 10 offensive linemen broken down specifically by position, with two centers, four guards and four tackles listed as a first team (1-5) and a second team (6-10).

1. Joe Thomas, OT, Browns: One of the best players of the decade played for one of the worst teams of the decade. In the eight seasons Thomas played this decade, the Browns went 29-99. But Thomas made the Pro Bowl seven times and All-Pro five times before retiring after the 2017 season. His next stop is Canton.

2. Zack Martin, OG, Cowboys: Remember in 2014 when the Cowboys had a decision with the 16th overall choice: Martin or quarterback Johnny Manziel? Manziel lasted only two seasons, playing only 15 games. Martin has turned into a generational player, already one of the best guards in NFL history. Martin made his sixth consecutive Pro Bowl this season and likely will add his fourth career All-Pro honor next week. If he stays healthy, Martin should challenge the 11 Pro Bowls and six All-Pro honors Larry Allen had with the Cowboys. Martin has five holding penalties and has allowed 11.5 sacks, according to STATS, Inc., in the 93 career games he has played.

3. Tyron Smith, OT, Cowboys: The Cowboys made Smith the ninth overall choice in 2011. He has made the Pro Bowl the past seven seasons and twice has earned All-Pro. Smith is in his ninth season but only 29. He has had various injuries in recent seasons, including back issues, and it has kept him from being as dominant as he once was. But Smith, who has 32 holding penalties and 34 sacks allowed this decade, per STATS, Inc., is having a career worthy of Canton.

4. Marshal Yanda, OG, Ravens: Yanda was in his fourth season and not a full-time starter when the decade opened. He ended up starting 140 of the 159 possible games played so far in the decade (before Sunday’s season finale) and made the Pro Bowl eight times and All-Pro twice. He could earn All-Pro honors for a third time next week, though Quenton Nelson entered that honor last season at left guard. Yanda has eight holding penalties and 17.5 sacks allowed this decade, per STATS, Inc.

5. Maurkice Pouncey, C, Steelers: The Steelers made him the 18th overall choice in 2010. He has made 121 starts with 11 holding penalties and 13.25 sacks allowed, per STATS, Inc., in his career. Pouncey has eight Pro Bowls and two All-Pro honors, and he was voted second-team All-Pro three times.
Second-team offensive line

6. Jason Peters, OT, Eagles: Peters has remained among the top offensive linemen all decade. He has made the Pro Bowl six times and All-Pro twice this decade. He, Jason Kelce and right tackle Lane Johnson have formed one of the league’s dominant offensive lines since 2013 when the Eagles drafted Johnson in the first round.

7. Jason Kelce, C, Eagles: The Eagles drafted Kelce in the sixth round of the 2011 draft. He started all 16 games as a rookie. In his nine seasons this decade, Kelce has made the Pro Bowl three times and All-Pro twice. He has 26 holding penalties and 11 sacks allowed, per STATS, Inc., in his 125 games played.

8. Jahri Evans, OG, Saints, Packers: Evans was a rock at right guard for the Saints for seven seasons in the decade. He closed out his career with the Packers in 2017. In eight seasons in the decade, Evans made five Pro Bowls and three times was All-Pro.

9. Andrew Whitworth, OT, Bengals, Rams: Playing in Cincinnati the first 11 seasons of his career, Whitworth did not get his full due. It wasn’t until his seventh season — in 2012 — that Whitworth made his first Pro Bowl. He ended up making the Pro Bowl four times and All-Pro twice in 10 seasons in the decade. He has 35 holding penalties and 33.5 sacks allowed this decade, per STATS, Inc.

10. Mike Iupati, OG, 49ers, Cardinals, Seahawks: The 49ers made Iupati a first-round choice in 2010. He started all 16 games as a rookie and played 129 games this decade for three teams. Iupati earned Pro Bowl honors four times and All-Pro in 2012. He has 18 holding penalties and 28.5 sacks allowed, per STATS, Inc.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Raiders injury report for Denver? Initially encouraging – Jacobs, Mullen could play – The Reporter


ALAMEDA – Josh Jacobs could face the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Raiders coach Jon Gruden said Monday. Trayvon Mullen also, even after the terrifying sequence of the rookie corner that went on a stretcher in a 24-17 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers.
The same goes for the slot machine Lamarcus Joyner, who left the Chargers game with a calf injury. Left guard Richie Incognito, who missed the game because of an ankle injury, is questionable and potentially available.
None of these things is a certainty, but it was a rather encouraging initial report from Gruden at his weekly press conference while the Raiders visit the Denver Broncos on Sunday in a game that could have postseason ramifications.
Most likely, the Raiders enter the game thinking they have a chance. Without entering each permutation, there is a way they would not, but all that would be needed is for New England (12-3) to beat Miami (3-12) for the Raiders' hopes of being alive despite a record of 7-8.
Then, three things must happen to give the Raiders the No. 6 seed with a record of 8-8: Houston (10-5) beating Tennessee (8-8), Baltimore (13-2) beating Pittsburgh (8 -7) and Indianapolis (7-8) beating Jacksonville (5-10). Those games will be held simultaneously with the Raiders-Broncos game at 1:25 p.m. (PST)
However, Gruden does not plan to base decisions on who plays and who is not based on the possibility of reaching the postseason.
"We are going to play with the best players we have available and we will try to win the game," Gruden said, "We don't have enough bodies to rest the players." We will try to win the game despite the circumstances. "
Jacobs retired from the Chargers game after a shoulder injury (he says he is fractured) worsened after playing against Jacksonville. He has lost two of the last three games. DeAndre Washington (23 carries, 85 yards) stepped forward in his absence, as did Jalen Richard, who had five carries for 11 yards, but also a 10-yard catch in the fourth and 2 after returning from an injury in the ankle at the beginning of the game.
Mullen, who was injured in a collision with teammate Curtis Riley, went on a cervical table and was tied, similar to former Raider Gareon Conley in Week 1 against the Broncos. Conley played next week. Mullen could too.
"I received very good news about Trayvon Mullen," Gruden said. "There is a possibility that I can play this week."
Denzelle Good replaced Incognito, who was at the facility last week, occasionally wearing a protective boot but always under his own power and without a serious limp.
Gruden promises to wear blinders on the last Sunday of the regular season with respect to other results.
"You cannot control what is happening. We have many young players playing," Gruden said. "We've been saying that from the beginning… If we can get help, it will be great. It would be great."
Vacations week
There was no practice or access to the media with the players, their schedule changed during the Christmas week. The Raiders will have their initial tour on Tuesday, which is usually a day off. Players will be excused on Christmas Day, then resume practice on Thursdays and Fridays.
Raiders linebacker Will Compton (51) knocks down the Chargers Hunter Henry.
In his second game as a full-time linebacker instead of Tahir Whitehead, Will Compton had 12 tackles, seven more than any other, and left an even greater impression with Gruden with his presence on the field.
"I went out to the field to see one of our players and he took my case for not smiling, not having a good time," Gruden said. "He's a weird guy, man. He loves football. That's why he fits in here. But he really made some plays and hit a position where we really needed him."
Since joining the Raiders on October 30, Compton played a part-time role in six games before becoming a defensive caller and playing every hit against Jacksonville. He played all 61 snapshots against the Chargers.
With 23 carries of 85 yards, his highest career, Washington intervened without problems for Jacobs and has become so reliable in terms of assignments that he played in front for a kickback team in a hurry.
"We went out to start the last quarter, we didn't have enough players for the return kickoff team, so we threw it forward," Gruden said. "He just knows football, and that is the kind of players that allow us, I think, to win a game like we did yesterday, because at a difficult time, we can ask him to do several things well and he did it."
The carries reached the record of his career – Washington later said he was ready for more – and the yard was second after the 99 yards in 12 carries he had on Christmas Eve against the Indianapolis Colts.
"He was injured last year on the training ground, so we never met him as close as we did this summer," Gruden said. "When you're near him, you see a guy who is really professional. He knows how to block, he knows exactly what to do and he can do it inside and out. He doesn't make mistakes. He can run a variety of routes. He feels comfortable. in a backless formation, he feels comfortable behind the fullback and can run from a displaced position on the shotgun. "
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr had 26 of 30 passes against the Chargers.
Quarterback Derek Carr completed 86.7 percent of his passes (26 of 30) against the Chargers, his third time over 80 percent this season. He is currently completing 71.1 percent of his passes (332 to 467), but has fed on unsubstantiated stories that indicate that Gruden might be looking to replace him or put him into competition with a rookie when the club moves to Las Vegas.
Gruden said moving parts around Carr this season have not made it more difficult in terms of evaluating his game in the future.
"It's not difficult. We spend a lot of time together," Gruden said. "He has done many good things. I know there are many remote reports out there. But Derek has done a great job. He has done a great job for us. "
David Sharpe is back as the starting right tackle after replacing Brandon Parker in the second quarter against the Chargers.
Sharpe started against Green Bay on October 20 instead of Trent Brown, who had an ankle injury, and played a lot against Detroit. When Brown was injured again, however, Sharpe was suffering a calf injury and Parker was approved to replace Brown after a pectoral injury that ended the season. Parker started against Tennessee and Jacksonville.
"We asked him to be a tight end when he entered the game to give us a different look in the game of play and action passes and in the running game," Gruden said. "He is not a great road runner yet. Brandon Parker had problems, we made a change and now the ball is in Sharpe's corner. We plan to start Sharpe. He deserves it."
Gruden was joking about the route, by the way. Sharpe is 6 feet 5 and 330 pounds.
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