NASHVILLE [url=http://www.steelersfootballauthentics.com/le_veon-bell-jersey-authentic]Womens Le’Veon Bell Jersey[/url] , Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee wide receiver Rishard Matthews has been in the NFL the past six seasons, and now the veteran is hoping his experience learning other offenses will help him get up to speed very quickly with the Titans‘ newest scheme.
Matthews missed the Titans’ organized team activities, mandatory minicamp in June, training camp and first three preseason games with an undisclosed injury. He passed his physical Sunday and was removed from the physically unable to perform list then practiced Monday.
That left the receiver watching teammates practice, trying to learn new coordinator Matt LaFleur’s offense in meetings and walk-throughs without taking a single snap.
Now the 6-foot receiver who led Tennessee with 1,740 yards receiving over the past two seasons can take part in an offense that has him very excited.
“This is the longest I’ve been out of football,” Matthews said before practice. “It’s tough watching, but as far as the offense I’m really excited. I think the sky’s the limit for our group. We have a bunch of talented young players. I think Coach LaFleur has explained that a lot of people will be moving around, and people aren’t going to be able to get a beat on us so easy, so that’s also exciting.”
That’s a big change from last December when Matthews argued for the Titans to use a no-huddle or quick-tempo offense to give quarterback Marcus Mariota more freedom with the team mired in a three-game skid that cost Tennessee the AFC South title. He also said then that the Titans needed more creativity on offense and work more to create better matchups.
The Titans fired coach Mike Mularkey after the season ended in January and hired first-time head coach Mike Vrabel. He brought in LaFleur, who also had interviewed for the head coaching job.
With new coaches and a new offense, Matthews found himself struggling with an undisclosed injury that he said was not related to an injured hamstring that cost him two games last season. He watched the offseason program from April into mid-June and started training camp on the physically unable to perform list. The Titans weren’t too concerned about Matthews’ return [url=http://www.vikingsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-harrison-smith-jersey]Harrison Smith Jersey Big[/url] , signing him to an extension through 2019 last week.
Vrabel has been impressed by what he’s seen of the receiver who ranks second on the Titans only to three-time Pro Bowl tight end Delanie Walker with 118 catches over the past two seasons. Vrabel called Matthews’ attitude “great” and a good reminder to younger players how to be professional at working hard to get back into the lineup. The coach also likes how Matthews plays.
“There’s a toughness to it. There’s a grit to it,” Vrabel said. “I think Rishard would tell you that he’s not the fastest, not the biggest, not the quickest, but at the end of the day, there’s a lot of production, and there’s some consistency there which is really valued.”
Matthews, who started his NFL career with four seasons in Miami, has started 20 of his 30 games since signing with Tennessee in March 2016. He ranks ninth in the NFL averaging 14.7 yards per catch among players with at least 100 catches over the past two seasons.
He’s also the key veteran in a very young receiving group. Corey Davis is expected to be the No. 1 receiver after being the fifth player drafted in 2017, but is still looking for his first touchdown catch in the regular season. Taywan Taylor is going into his second season, and Tajae Sharpe spent his second season on injured reserve last year.
“I’m just thankful to be back now,” Matthews said.
NOTES: LB Brian Orakpo [url=http://www.chicagobearsteamonline.com/sam-acho-jersey]Sam Acho Jersey[/url] , Walker and rookie LB Rashaan Evans all returned to practice Monday. Orakpo originally hurt a shoulder July 27, and Walker was hurt Aug. 16 in a joint practice with Tampa Bay. Evans returned to practice last week but left early. “It’s good to see those guys back out there and working and just fresh faces,” Vrabel said.
The time for the Minnesota Vikings to commit anew to a starting quarterback has almost arrived.
They’re still in evaluation mode, according to general manager Rick Spielman.
With Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford each on track to become an unrestricted free agent in two weeks, the Vikings have yet to make any final decisions about any of them. That’s what Spielman said at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Wednesday.
”There have been no decisions made, and I know there have been a thousand reports out there,” Spielman said. ”We’re going to move forward and continue to evolve this process through the meetings this week with the agents.”
The most notable report, by the NFL Network this week citing unidentified sources, was that the Vikings don’t plan to use the franchise tag on Keenum. That’s a way they could essentially kick the quarterback-decision can down the road by keeping him for 2018 at a rate in the top tier of current league-wide salaries at the position, which would be well more than $20 million this year. That’s also a lot of money for a player who was a career backup until Bradford’s knee injury after the season opener paved the way for his breakout performance.
Spielman dismissed that report, praising Keenum in general terms after the run to the NFC championship game at eventual champion Philadelphia. He said the Vikings have discussed how Keenum could fit in new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo’s preferred scheme but otherwise declined to divulge any specific assessment.
”Case Keenum led our football team and did a phenomenal job and has a knack for making plays [url=http://www.indianapoliscoltsteamonline.com/clayton-geathers-jersey]Clayton Geathers Jersey[/url] ,” Spielman said. ”He made a lot of big plays for us because of not only his smarts and leadership but his mobility as well.”
Bradford, given the long-term uncertainty about the stability of his knee, is the likely the team’s least-desirable option. Bridgewater carries the same health risk, having not started a meaningful game since the wild card round in the playoffs on Jan. 10, 2016, because of the knee injury that kept him off the field until a brief appearance late last season. He’s younger and cheaper than both Keenum and Bradford, though, which would give the team the most flexibility under the salary cap to sign other stars to pricey contract extensions and upgrade other positions of need.
There’s a murky provision in the collective bargaining agreement that allows a player’s contract to be tolled to the next season if he’s physically unable to perform as of the sixth regular season game. Bridgewater was on the PUP list then, per the minimum stay, but he has said he was fit to play prior to then. Spielman has said the matter would be up to the NFL, but he said Wednesday that he expects Bridgewater to become a free agent like the others.
”I don’t personally believe, with what I know today [url=http://www.officialducks.com/authentic-adidas-andrew-cogliano-jersey]Womens Andrew Cogliano Jersey[/url] , that his contract will toll,” Spielman said, adding: ”One thing I would say is that Teddy has been such a great teammate and is a great person and has been great for our organization. Any time our organization can reach out and help a player, even though it may not benefit us, we are always going to look out for the best interest of our players.”
That of course leaves the open market, where former Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins will be beginning March 14. He’d be more expensive than any of the other three, but the package of his age, durability and resume is the most desirable.
”I haven’t had the chance to pick where I’m going to play since 2007 when I chose to go to Michigan State, so I’m looking forward to that opportunity,” Cousins said during Super Bowl week on an appearance on SiriusXM satellite radio. ”I think it’s a pretty short checklist. At the end of the day: I want to win.”
[url=http://www.officialusafootballs.com/san-francisco-49ers/customized]San Francisco 49ers Customized Jerseys[/url]