FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — When the New England Patriots were preparing to face the Los Angeles Chargers in October 2017, Bill Belichick noted the presence of pass-rushers Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa by saying they put the Chargers’ defense into a “special category.”
“There’s not many teams in the league that have one player like this. They have two,” he said.
Belichick talking up the opposition is standard operating procedure, but anyone watching the Chargers’ 23-17 wild-card victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday would be hard-pressed to disagree — particularly with Ingram’s ability to control a game.
The Patriots haven’t faced too many disruptive pass-rushers like the 6-foot-2, 247-pound Ingram this season, and how they handle him is one obvious storyline heading into Sunday’s divisional-round game at Gillette Stadium (CBS, 1:05 p.m. ET). What stood out most about Ingram on Sunday, when he totaled a team-high seven tackles with two sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery, was how he aligned in multiple spots on the line of scrimmage.
His speed, first-step quickness and dynamic pass-rush moves contributed to making him a first-round NFL draft choice out of South Carolina in 2012. Offensive tackles across the NFL can attest to how challenging it has been to face him, particularly over the past four seasons, as he has totaled 36 of his 42 career sacks over that span.
But the Chargers also move Ingram inside, where his speed is a tough matchup for guards and centers at times.
So it’s not just Patriots offensive tackles Trent Brown and Marcus Cannon who have to study up on Ingram and Bosa this week, but left guard Joe Thuney, center David Andrews and right guard Shaq Mason, as well.
That group on the interior has been a strength for the Patriots, with Thuney playing every snap this season and Andrews (99 percent) and Mason (84 percent) not far behind. This is their third year playing together, which has also helped from a cohesion standpoint.
“That group’s been pretty solid, pretty dependable, pretty reliable for us. We’ve been pretty fortunate in that part of the offensive line,” Belichick said in late November.
Quarterback Tom Brady has also helped his own cause at times with his knack for getting rid of the football quickly, which has negated pressure; the Patriots finished the regular season ranked third in the NFL in fewest sacks allowed per pass play. Brady will need a quick trigger Sunday against a Chargers defense that totaled seven sacks against Ravens rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson, tying a franchise postseason record. All seven of those sacks came with the Chargers rushing four or fewer defenders, which is consistent with their approach in the regular season.
“Any time they can rush four guys and force the ball out quickly … You hold the ball for an extra tick of a second, it’s a strip sack by Ingram or Bosa,” Brady said in his weekly interview on sports radio WEEI’s “Mut and Callahan Show.” “I think it’s one of those games where we have to play on time.”
— NFL Matchup on ESPN (@NFLMatchup) January 2, 2019
Brady and the Patriots have faced some excellent pass-rushers this season, with the Bears’ Khalil Mack probably the closest to what they’ll see Sunday with Ingram. But Mack clearly wasn’t 100 percent in the Oct. 21 meeting between the teams.
Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt gave them some trouble in mid-December, as did the entire Tennessee Titans front in Week 10.
But this looks like a greater challenge than anything they’ve seen.
Chiefs’ Hill meets with NFL investigators
It was a “very thorough interview,” according to the source.
Hill has been banned from the team’s training facility amid an investigation by the Kansas Department of Children and Families into possible child abuse, battery or neglect. The investigation began after officers in Overland Park, Kansas, were called to Hill’s home twice in March when Hill’s 3-year-old son suffered a broken arm.
Hill, a three-time Pro Bowler, remains subject to a suspension under the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
There is currently no criminal investigation, according to Johnson County District Attorney Stephen M. Howe.
Ex-RB Wood, woman indicted in child death case
LAS VEGAS — A former pro football player and his girlfriend have been indicted on murder and 20 felony child abuse charges in the death of the woman’s 5-year-old daughter, court officials said Tuesday.
Former NFL and Canadian Football League running back Cierre Marcelle Wood, 28, and Amy Taylor, 26, are accused of killing Taylor’s daughter, La’Rayah Davis, who was found lifeless on April 9 in Wood’s apartment.
Taylor and her daughter had moved in with Wood and his young daughter less than two weeks earlier.
A judge who heard evidence last month against Wood said it was clear that La’Rayah suffered before she died and that Wood and Taylor were responsible for her death.
The judge cited photos of numerous external bruises from what were described as finger-pokes to the girl’s abdomen, back, arms and legs. Autopsy findings showed La’Rayah had 20 newly broken ribs, internal bleeding, a lacerated liver and bruises to her heart, diaphragm and connective tissue.
Taylor told police she sat on the girl while disciplining her about a week before her death, according to court documents.
Wood told police he used exercise as discipline, and had La’Rayah do physical activities including running sprints in the apartment. On the day she died, La’Rayah fell backward while doing sit-ups and hit her head on the carpeted floor, he said.
Taylor told police she was at a grocery store at the time.
A scheduled bail hearing for Wood was called off after the indictment, filed June 14, moved the case to state court for trial with Taylor on charges that could get each of them life in prison if they’re convicted.
Wood plans to plead not guilty at his arraignment July 2, his lawyer Thomas Ericsson said.
Taylor’s public defender, Sarah Hawkins, declined to comment.
Wood played for the University of Notre Dame before NFL stints with Houston, New England and Buffalo.
He was released last year by the Montreal Alouettes in Canada. Ericsson said Wood worked in Las Vegas as a health care associate.
Cam Newton’s $1,500 plane offer shows it’s hard to stay under radar – Carolina Panthers Blog
If Cam Newton wanted to have a quiet offseason, he’s not succeeding.
The Carolina Panthers quarterback has caused quite a social-media stir. He was photographed all over Paris at Men’s Fashion Week, then was caught on video making a $1,500 offer to switch seats on the flight home (and denied).
The latter in particular drew attention — 4.5 million views on the video posted to Eli Edwards’ Twitter account as of Wednesday morning.
“Man, I don’t know,” Edwards told ESPN.com. “I’m not big on Twitter. I just posted the video on Twitter because I didn’t get the response on Instagram I expected. The Twitter one went viral.”
— Eli Edwards (@ElisaraEdwards) June 22, 2019
Edwards, 28, was headed home after proposing to his girlfriend at the Women’s World Cup. Newton was headed back to Charlotte to attend his annual 7-on-7 high school football tournament in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
Edwards, a former Colorado State defensive end, initially ran into the former Auburn star at the ticket counter and recognized him.
When Newton missed his initial flight, as Edwards later discovered, the 2015 NFL MVP had to fly home in economy with a connection through Dallas. The 10-hour flight is tough enough on an average-sized person, but when you’re 6-foot-5, leg room is a premium.
So Newton offered $1,500 to a passenger in what appeared to be an exit-row seat.
And was turned down.
Twice. The first offer was for $1,000.
Edwards initially thought it was joke that Newton was flying in economy. He’s almost positive the passenger who turned down the offer didn’t have a clue who Newton was.
“No one did, honestly,” Edwards said. “I felt no one knew the situation except me.”
The video got arguably as much or more attention as when Newton, coming off his second offseason shoulder surgery in three offseasons, threw for the first time in practice during a three-day minicamp on June 11-13.
For comparison, Edwards said his proposal video that was posted internationally got only about 7,000 views.
Newton, known for his big smile, gave a sheepish grin after being denied and walked to his seat. He suffered through the flight and made it back in time for his tournament.
“To me, it didn’t look like he was mad,” Edwards said of Newton. “It looked like he slept about seven hours, so he couldn’t have been that uncomfortable.”
Meanwhile, social media was abuzz wanting to know everything from why the passenger turned down the money to why Newton was in economy.
“The guy asked Cam how tall he was,” Edwards said. “Cam said he was 6-6. The guy said he was 6-4. He was with the three other gentlemen. It was like asking a couple to move because they were all together.”
Newton also caused a stir with his unusual style in Paris.
Newton considers himself the “King of Swag,’’ at least in the NFL. From his signature designer hats, to loafers and no socks, to outlandish color combinations, the first pick of the 2011 draft was among a star-studded cast of athletes in Paris that included NBA star Russell Westbrook and Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.
Here Newton is with Westbrook:
In an interview with ESPN.com in May, Newton mentioned Kelce as one of the few NFL players who might challenge him in style.
“Man, it’s a lot of [NFL] guys who take fashion extremely serious,” he said. “They dare to be different. Travis Kelce is one of them. Odell [Beckham] easily one of them. How can you forget about Antonio Brown?”
However, Newton owns bragging rights for the past two weeks thanks to an unusual encounter captured by Edwards.
“I feel like he was trying to be incognito,” Edwards said of Newton. “But with Cam’s appearance, you can spot him right away.”
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