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Baker Mayfield rejects Johnny Manziel comparisons with NFL combine on horizon

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Baker Mayfield doesn’t like comparisons to Johnny Manziel, although the Heisman Trophy winner wasn’t surprised by them after an arrest and other antics during his time with the Oklahoma Sooners.

At a stop in his home state of Texas to accept the Davey O’Brien Award as the nation’s top quarterback, Mayfield said Monday that he and Manziel were “two completely different people.”

Mayfield will be at the NFL combine next week and is projected as a possible first-round pick in April’s draft.

It has been four years since Manziel, the first freshman to win the Heisman at Texas A&M in 2012, was taken 22nd overall by Cleveland and dumped after two trouble-filled seasons. A former Texas high school star like Mayfield, Manziel has been out of football for two years.

After an offseason arrest for public intoxication and disorderly conduct, Mayfield planted an OU flag at midfield after a win at Ohio State. He made a lewd gesture toward the Kansas sideline after the Jayhawks refused to shake his hand before the coin flip.

“We’re two completely different people,” Mayfield said. “I’ve always been a team-oriented guy. Not saying that Johnny wasn’t. But I’ve quickly earned the respect of my teammates because of how I worked.

“I wasn’t given the natural talent that Johnny had. Because he’s a talent. And there’s a reason he got taken in the first round, amazing player. We’re just not the same mentally. Just wired differently.”

Mayfield acknowledged last weekend that NFL personnel have talked to him about having more awareness of his social media use and trying to stay out of trouble. But coaches have long praised his leadership and infectious energy.

“I’ve always been an outgoing person, somebody that’s confident, somebody who has passion and energy for the game of football and for whoever I’m playing for, I’m going to be passionate about it,” said Mayfield, who broke his own single-season passing efficiency rating and threw for 4,627 yards and 43 touchdowns in 2017.

After the Sooners lost to Georgia in the Rose Bowl in the national semifinals, Mayfield stayed in the Los Angeles area and has spent most of his time there preparing for the combine and draft.

“This process right now is different than anything of the stuff I’ve been through before because it’s more individualized right now than anything else,” Mayfield said. “Normally in the offseason I’m with the team. We’re working toward one goal together.”

The Kansas sideline incident cost Mayfield a start in his final home game when coach Lincoln Riley benched him. He also apologized for the flag plant. But Mayfield said the arrest in Arkansas last February is what braced him for the Manziel chatter.

“I didn’t want to be portrayed as the villain or somebody like that,” Mayfield said. “I do good things within my community. I’m not trying to say those cover up any mistakes that I’ve made. But there’s always a learning curve when you’re growing up.”

And Mayfield knows where his career is taking him next.

“You get a bunch of grown men that work really hard, so it’ll be different going from 18 [to] 22-year-olds to people that are feeding their families, their children,” Mayfield said. “A lot of these guys make their money just based off work ethic and never quitting.”

Mayfield thinks that’s what he’s bringing to the NFL, not Manziel-like baggage.

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Jerry Jones – Dallas Cowboys’ release of Dontari Poe due to weight, performance

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Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Wednesday evening that the team’s release of defensive tackle Dontari Poe was primarily because of Poe’s weight and lack of production. Jones declined to say whether Poe’s persistence in kneeling for the national anthem before games was a consideration.

“When you’re 30 pounds overweight and you’re not doing anything about what’s keeping you from performing well on the field, there is no reason to get into the other stuff,” Jones told ESPN.

The “other stuff” was specific to a question as to whether Poe’s being the only Cowboys player to take a knee for the cause of social justice during the national anthem factored in to his release Wednesday.

“I understand your question, and I’m deliberately not going to answer it,” Jones replied. “We have a platform here, but the platform on the football field has a high standard, and he [Poe] was not up to the standard. He needed to correct that, and he did not. I’m going to leave it at that.”

Jones signed Poe, 30, to a two-year, $8.5 million contract as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. Poe was guaranteed $3.5 million on the deal.

Poe played 253 snaps, more than any other interior defensive lineman for the Cowboys, but had just seven tackles, one pass-rush hurry and no sacks.

The Cowboys (2-5) also jettisoned two other defenders from a unit that has been historically bad. They traded Everson Griffen to the Detroit Lions for a conditional sixth-round draft pick in 2021. Griffen signed a one-year, $6 million contract in August as a free agent, with $3 million guaranteed.

Cornerback Daryl Worley joined Poe as a player who was released. Worley was another offseason pickup, signing a one-year, $3 million contract as an unrestricted free agent.

“You make mistakes. You move on,” Jones said. “We’re moving on, but by no means are we giving up.”

The Cowboys owner did not disclose whether quarterback Andy Dalton has a chance to play Sunday night in an NFC East game against the Philadelphia Eagles after he absorbed a vicious hit to the head by linebacker Jon Bostic of the Washington Football Team on Sunday.

“Andy is in the [concussion] protocol, and the doctor will make that decision,” Jones said.

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Los Angeles Rams take title baton — Must ‘be great to be relevant’

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THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — After the Los Angeles Dodgers clinched the World Series on Tuesday night, Rams quarterback Jared Goff sent text messages to outfielders Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson to congratulate them on their title.

Bellinger’s response?

“‘It’s your turn now,'” Goff said.

After the Lakers won a 17th NBA title earlier this month and the Dodgers won the World Series for the first time since 1988 on Tuesday, the Rams are now receiving the message that they’re on the hook to hit a trifecta for L.A.

“@RamsNFL ……. you know what to do!” Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma tweeted after the Dodgers’ win.

“I mean that’s the first thing you hear is, all right, now it’s your turn,” said Goff, who has led the Rams to a 5-2 record as they prepare for a Week 8 matchup against the Miami Dolphins. “And I mean — we’ve talked as a team since these two teams have done it, or I shouldn’t say as a team, but as a group chat within the team, these two teams have done it and now it’s our turn. It’s something that we’d like to do.”

Rams coach Sean McVay said the Lakers’ and Dodgers’ championships provide a reminder about the expectations of L.A. fans.

“Just seeing that for the city and the success, I don’t know that you’re any more motivated to try to kind of be on par with those teams,” McVay said. “But you certainly want to make sure that you continue to compete and produce at a high level because you got to be great to be relevant here in this city and I think that’s awesome.”

After McVay took over as coach in 2017, the Rams won back-to-back division titles, clinched an NFC championship and appeared in Super Bowl LIII, where they lost 13-3 to the New England Patriots.

But last season, the Rams finished 9-7 and were knocked out of the playoff race in Week 16, when they were defeated by the San Francisco 49ers, who went on to lose in the Super Bowl.

Goff cautioned about looking too far ahead, but expressed confidence when asked if this season’s team — with standout defensive tackle Aaron Donald, cornerback Jalen Ramsey and receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp — has the potential to make a Super Bowl run.

“Of course,” Goff said. “We got all the pieces, we’re winning games, we’re playing well on offense, defense and special teams. We always believe in ourselves and we’ve been there once with a lot of the same people and we know how to get there. Just got to finish it off and hopefully this is the year.”

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Carlos Dunlap Seahawks’ latest attempt to trade for a better defense – Seattle Seahawks Blog

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RENTON, Wash. — One question facing the Seattle Seahawks as the NFL’s Nov. 3 trade deadline approached was this: how could they address their most glaring need and acquire an impact pass-rusher with as little as they have in the way of cap space and draft capital?

Maybe the better question was this: with as vulnerable as their defense has been, how could they not?

General manager John Schneider did what he had to do on Wednesday, sending backup offensive lineman B.J. Finney and a seventh-round pick to the Cincinnati Bengals for two-time Pro Bowl selection Carlos Dunlap and the remainder of a contract that’s paying him $7.8 million in base salary this season.

“Like I tell you, John’s in on everything he could possibly know about and when there was an opportunity there, he jumped on it to see if we could work something out,” coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday. “We’re always looking. There’s other guys that were out there that we’ve been looking at as well in all spots that are available. The names start to pop up here this time of the year, so this was one that fit exactly what we needed and really pleased to get it done. Glad to bring a guy of Carlos’ stature and background to this club.”

Dunlap is the latest player the Seahawks have acquired via trade to bolster their defense since they began transitioning from the Legion of Boom. Adams, Jadeveon Clowney, Quandre Diggs and Quinton Dunbar are other defenders they’ve traded for since the start of last season to try to bolster a defense they’ve had difficulty replenishing in the draft.

Clearly, they see Dunlap as a still-impactful player who didn’t fit the long-term plans of Cincinnati’s new regime as opposed to someone whose diminished role and production indicates a decline of a 31-year-old player. Dunlap has one sack in 263 defensive snaps this year after averaging eight over his first 10 seasons.

“There’s been some issues or whatever and that’s their story,” Carroll said of Dunlap’s departure from the Bengals. “I don’t know that it has anything to do with what’s going on here. I’ve talked to him. He’s really excited about being part of our program and getting him in here. … He’s been a stellar dude for a long time in that program and whatever happened happened, but it’s a fresh start for him here.”

Carroll confirmed that a player acquired this late in the week couldn’t clear the league-mandated COVID-19 protocols in time to play Sunday, when the Seahawks host the San Francisco 49ers. That means Dunlap won’t make his Seattle debut until Week 9 at Buffalo at the earliest.

If only they could have had him since Week 1.

The Seahawks’ defense has looked suspect enough to derail Super Bowl aspirations, even though they’re getting MVP-caliber play from Russell Wilson and have plenty of offensive firepower around him.

The Seahawks have managed only nine sacks in six games. That puts them on pace for fewer (24) than last season (28), when their lack of a pass rush was their biggest Achilles heel during an 11-5 season that ended in the divisional round. The Seahawks didn’t register so much as an official quarterback hit in their overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals this past Sunday, even with Kyler Murray dropping back to pass 49 times. They’re 16th in Pass Rush Win Rate but 29th in pressure rate, according to ESPN charting.

That’s been a big reason why they’ve allowed the most yards (2,875) through six games in NFL history. Carroll made no secret of that reality when he was asked Monday for his assessment of defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. and his defensive staff.

“I’m in there too with them,” Carroll said. “So I’m all part of that. I’m not separating from anything here. We have to keep working to put our players in the best positions to be aggressive and to be effective and we need to help them more in our pressure. We did not try to get after them very much [Sunday] night. That was not part of our plan going in, and when we needed it, we needed to adjust and I wish I would have got that done. Kenny and I are … working that stuff out.”

Carroll’s two main points were that 1) Seattle’s coaches can do more scheme their way to pressure and 2) the pass-rush problem should be alleviated when certain players get back on the field.

Jamal Adams could be back as soon as this weekend. The Seahawks were taking full advantage of the All-Pro strong safety’s blitzing skills before he went down with the groin injury that’s kept him out since Week 3. He’s still tied for the team lead in sacks … with two.

Other defensive linemen who could help are Rasheem Green and Damon Harrison, though Harrison is a run-stuffing defensive tackle as opposed to a pass-rusher. The Seahawks are hoping second-round pick Darrell Taylor can play at some point this season, though expectations for him would be limited. Green is an ascending player that’s far from an established Pro Bowl-caliber pass-rusher like Dunlap.

Bruce Irvin was the closest thing Seattle had to that before he went down in Week 2 with a season-ending knee injury. That’s forced the Seahawks to play Benson Mayowa more than they would like. Dunlap’s addition will help keep Mayowa fresh, as both play the LEO end in Carroll’s defense.

“Carlos has been a very, very consistent player for a long time,” Carroll said. “He’s always been fast, he’s always been athletic. He still moves his feet well and gets off the rock and knows exactly how to play the spot we want to play him in. It was exciting to share that with him.”

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