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Best of everything at the 2018 NFL combine – NFL Nation

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It’s not every day that a 227-pound linebacker runs the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine in 4.38 seconds.

Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin did that and more, running the fastest 40-yard dash for a 225-pound defender since 2006. It also equaled the time his twin brother, Shaquil — a 198-pound cornerback for the Seahawks — ran at the combine last year.

Griffin had one of the most impressive weeks at the combine for his position in several years, and he did it with one hand.

Griffin had his left hand amputated when he was a 4-year-old due to amniotic band syndrome that affected him from birth. During the combine, he attached a prosthetic hand to put up an impressive 20 reps in the 225-pound bench press.

With the help of ESPN Stats & Information, we take a look at Griffin and some of the other top performances at the combine, and also some of the worst (Orlando Brown had one of the worst weeks for a top prospect in recent memory).

Here are some of the standout names and numbers from the combine:

Orlando Brown and his no-good, very bad week

Brown nearly has generated as much buzz as Griffin for his combine performance this week — in the worst way.

Brown came into the combine as one of the top prospects in the draft after he was twice named Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year. His 6-foot-8, 345-pound frame makes him an intriguing prospect at tackle in the NFL.

Brown finished last overall in the 40-yard dash after running a 5.85. For comparison’s sake, 59-year-old NFL commissioner Roger Goodell ran a 5.41 in a suit and tie on Monday.

Brown also finished last among offensive linemen in the bench press after putting up only 14 reps and posted a 19.5-inch vertical and a 6-10 broad jump.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. had Brown at No. 16 on his overall big board and listed him as the No. 2 offensive tackle coming into the combine. But after a week like this, a lot of teams are likely going to be trying to figure out just where Brown actually ranks.

Could a running back go No. 1 overall?

The last running back to go No. 1 overall was Penn State running back Ki-Jana Carter, who was selected by the Bengals with the first pick in the 1995 draft.

Fellow Penn State running back Saquon Barkley has made his case to go No. 1 overall to the Browns in 2018.

The 6-foot, 220-pound Barkley put up 29 bench press reps, ran a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash and had a 41-inch vertical.

As they often are this time of year, the Browns are certainly in the mix for a quarterback. But Barkley could certainly be a dark horse candidate to sneak into the No. 1 spot.

Tall receivers are the new normal

Tall wide receivers like the 6-foot-3 Julio Jones are no longer the exception. They’re becoming the rule.

Seven wide receivers measured at least 6-4 or taller at the 2018 combine, the most in a single year since 2003.

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, the historical average for this position is slightly more than 6 feet and 201.4 pounds.

Florida State receiver Auden Tate was the tallest receiver at the combine, measuring in at 6-4⅞ inches.

Here are some other notable measurements:

Fastest overall (40-yard dash)

DB Denzel Ward, Ohio State — 4.32

DB Parry Nickerson, Tulane — 4.32

DB Donte Jackson, LSU — 4.32

WR D.J. Chark, LSU — 4.32

Fastest big man (270 pounds or more)

DL Rasheem Green, Southern California (275) — 4.73

DL John Franklin-Myers, Stephen F Austin (283) — 4.75

OL Brian O’Neill, Pittsburgh (297) — 4.82

DL Jalyn Holmes, Ohio State (283) — 4.82

DL Da’Shawn Hand, Alabama (297) — 4.83

Strongest over 270 pounds (bench press reps)

DL Harrison Phillips, Stanford (307) — 42

DL Vita Vea, Washington (347) — 41

OL Will Hernandez, Texas-El Paso (327) — 37

DT B.J. Hill, North Carolina State (311) — 35

OL Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame (325) — 35

DT Deadrin Senat, South Florida (314) — 35

OL Braden Smith, Auburn (315) — 35

Strongest under 270 pounds (bench press reps)

DL Kylie Fitts, Utah (263) — 31

RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State (233) — 29

RB Nick Chubb, Georgia (227) — 29

LB Christian Sam, Arizona State (244) — 28

Tallest

OL Kolton Miller, UCLA — 6-9

OL Orlando Brown, Oklahoma — 6-8

OL Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame — 6-8

OL Brandon Parker, North Carolina A&T — 6-8

OL Rick Leonard, Florida State — 6-7

Shortest

WR Quadree Henderson, Pittsburgh — 5-8

WR Braxton Berrios, Miami (Fla.) — 5-9

RB Chase Edmonds, Fordham — 5-9

DB Avonte Maddox, Pittsburgh — 5-9

DB D.J. Reed, Kansas State — 5-9

Heaviest

DL Vita Vea, Washington — 347 pounds

OL Orlando Brown, Oklahoma — 345 pounds

OL Jamil Demby, Maine — 335 pounds

OL Taylor Hearn, Clemson — 330 pounds

DL Tim Settle, Virginia Tech — 329 pounds

Lightest

WR Richie James, Middle Tennessee State — 178 pounds

DB Donte Jackson, LSU — 178 pounds

DB Rashard Fant, Indiana — 179 pounds

DB Levi Wallace, Alabama — 179 pounds

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San Francisco 49ers monitoring George Kittle’s knee sprain

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The already banged-up San Francisco 49ers pass-catching corps added even more uncertainty Sunday when tight end George Kittle suffered a sprained left knee in a loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

That injury could put Kittle’s status for Week 2 against the New York Jets up in the air depending on how this week plays out, coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday.

“We’ll see how he comes in on Wednesday,” Shanahan said. “He was a little sore today but we’ll wait to see how he is on Wednesday to see if he’s able to practice or be able to go this week. We know there will be some question.”

Kittle came up hobbling near the end of the first half after taking a hit from Cardinals safety Budda Baker. Kittle was able to walk to the sideline, where he was evaluated by medical staff before heading to the locker room early.

But Kittle returned after halftime and seemed to make it through the game OK, though he had no catches and was not targeted in the final two quarters after posting four catches for 44 yards on five targets in the first half.

After Sunday’s 24-20 loss to the Cardinals, Kittle was his usual, optimistic self.

“I feel fantastic,” Kittle said. “Fantastic. Not an issue at all.”

Last season, Kittle suffered what Shanahan called a “popped capsule” in his left knee in a Week 9 win at Arizona in which he also returned and finished the game. He missed the ensuing two games, though it’s worth noting he also was dealing with an ankle injury that was considered the more troubling of the two ailments at the time.

Keeping Kittle, 26, in the lineup could be even more important for the Niners this week than it normally would be. That’s because they continue to deal with an onslaught of injury issues at wide receiver.

San Francisco put receiver Deebo Samuel (Jones fracture in his left foot) on injured reserve Saturday. Shanahan acknowledged Monday that Samuel, who the team had hoped would be ready for Week 1, suffered a setback in a recent workout.

“We didn’t think it was a setback because he was just real sore after running one day,” Shanahan said. “But the soreness never got better. It just got worse and worse after one specific day, and usually after one day when it was sore, we thought it was just because he worked it hard, but when that got worse each day and not better, it ended up being a little bit of a setback, so that’s why we ended up putting him on IR.”

Shanahan said the hope remains that Samuel will be able to return for the Oct. 4 game against the Philadelphia Eagles and that the setback wasn’t serious enough to extend that timetable right now.

In addition, Richie James Jr. suffered a hamstring injury Sunday. Like Kittle, James will have to be monitored as the week goes on.

After James’ departure Sunday, the Niners were down to just three healthy wideouts — Dante Pettis, Kendrick Bourne and Trent Taylor — on the 53-man roster. That group struggled to produce, collecting a combined four catches for 41 yards on 11 targets.

If all goes well this week, there could be some reinforcements on the way. Shanahan said Monday he would “be surprised” if first-round pick Brandon Aiyuk is not able to play this weekend as he works his way back from a hamstring injury.

And, depending on James’ status, the 49ers could turn to veteran wideout Mohamed Sanu, who played for Shanahan with the Atlanta Falcons in 2016 and is a free agent. The Niners still have an open roster spot after placing Samuel on injured reserve, so adding Sanu would be relatively painless from a roster standpoint.

“We’ll see how these injuries go but I love Sanu,” Shanahan said. “He’s a hell of a player. So, him being out there is always a possibility. We’ll look into everything that we have, though. We have got to know our numbers that are gonna be up this week, which we don’t have that settled yet. But I wouldn’t rule that out at all. He’s available and he’s definitely a guy I really respect and I think everyone in this league respects. We’ll see how it goes this week.”

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New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers make social justice statements prior to kickoff

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The New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers each made anti-racism statements prior to their Monday night matchup at MetLife Stadium.

In a continuation from their posts Monday morning, the Steelers held a long white banner that read “Steelers Against Racism” during the national anthem. Tight end Eric Ebron was among the players who held their fist in the air.

During pregame warm-ups, a handful of Steelers players along with coach Mike Tomlin wore T-shirts with social justice messages such as “Black Lives Matter” and “End Racism.”

The Giants had approximately 20 players kneel during the national anthem, including star running back Saquon Barkley. Coach Joe Judge stood with his arms on the shoulders of safety Jabrill Peppers and defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson.

Earlier this month, when the anthem topic was brought up, Giants co-owner John Mara had said that his “preference is that everybody stand. But if you decide that in your conscience taking a knee is the right thing to do, I’m going to support your right to do that because I believe in the First Amendment and I believe in the right of people, especially players, to take a knee in silent protest if that is what they want to do.”

The Giants stayed on the field after pregame warm-ups and lined up on the goal line for “Lift Ev’ry Voice And Sing,” known as the Black national anthem. Nobody kneeled. The Steelers remained in the locker room. Giants outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter, who has been outspoken about racial injustice, was clearly emotional and in tears.

For Week 1, the league directed every home game to play two songs during the pregame: “Lift Ev’ry Voice And Sing” and “The Star Spangled Banner.” The league does not require teams to be on the field during the anthem presentation, nor does it prohibit kneeling.

MetLife Stadium had “It Takes All of Us” and “End Racism” written in the back of the end zones. The Steelers wore “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts during early warm-ups while the Giants had “End Racism.”

ESPN Staff Writer Brooke Pryor contributed to this report.

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Eric Reid calls NFL’s use of Colin Kaepernick in social justice video ‘diabolical’

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Eric Reid on Monday called the NFL’s social justice campaign this season “half-hearted at best” and the league’s use of video of Colin Kaepernick kneeling while the quarterback remains unsigned “diabolical.”

The free-agent safety tweeted that commissioner Roger Goodell “has gotten comfortable” saying he was “wrong” not to listen to players about social injustice “as if his mere acknowledgement reconciles his admitted wrongdoing. He hasn’t even called Colin to apologize, let alone reconcile, proving this is only PR for the current business climate.”

Reid added that “Goodell uses video of Colin courageously kneeling to legitimize their disingenuous PR while simultaneously perpetuating systemic oppression, that the video he’s using fights against, by continuing to rob Colin of his career. It’s diabolical.”

Reid’s tweets came a day after Kaepernick called out the NFL’s campaign.

“While the NFL runs propaganda about how they care about Black Life, they are still actively blackballing Eric Reid for fighting for the Black community,” tweeted Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who has been out of the NFL since 2016. “Eric set 2 franchise records last year, and is one of the best defensive players in the league.”

Reid and Kaepernick were included in a video played at each stadium Sunday that featured the song “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” which was performed by Alicia Keys.

Kaepernick first brought attention to social and racial injustice and police brutality in 2016 when he started kneeling during the anthem. Reid was the first player to join Kaepernick’s protest by kneeling during the national anthem in 2016, when both played for the 49ers. The two filed a grievance against the NFL and its owners, saying they colluded to prevent their employment because of their protest. The sides reached a settlement in February 2019.

On Sunday, seven teams remained in their locker rooms during the playing of the national anthem. Elsewhere, many players and some coaches kneeled, sat on the bench and/or raised their fists when on the field for the anthem.

The Carolina Panthers released Reid, 28, in March after he had set career bests with 130 tackles (97 solo) and four sacks during the 2019 season.



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