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NFL’s best pass-rusher? Trash-talker? Nastiest? O-linemen weigh in – New York Giants Blog



FRISCO, Texas — Some of the league’s best offensive linemen were in the same room for three days last week. All-Pros, Pro Bowl players and long-time starters, all right there to provide insight on what one player insisted was the “most skilled position” in football.

That can be debated. So can other topics, such as: Who is the most dominant pass-rusher in the NFL? Who has the best move? Which offensive lineman would be a superstar if he played a sexier position?

With so many top players in one place for the OL Masterminds summit, we decided to ask around the room for answers to those questions and more. Here are the results after polling 10 offensive linemen:



The NFL Live crew makes predictions for the league, including Aaron Donald winning the MVP and Philip Rivers winning a Super Bowl.

Best pass-rusher

Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams

There are only three options. The votes were spread fairly evenly between Donald, Von Miller and Khalil Mack. They’re clearly head and shoulders above the competition. Donald came out the slight winner, though. One lineman talked about how he had two hands locked into Donald’s shoulder pads on one play and thought it was over. But the Rams’ defensive tackle dipped and shook off the usually reliable grips of that established player and was on the quarterback within seconds. The offensive lineman considered the move voodoo magic.

“It’s not even close. It’s not even fair.” — Bucs center Ryan Jensen on Donald

Best move

Khalil Mack’s outside spin, Chicago Bears

This was mentioned by a handful of guys. It almost seemed like an urban legend that has taken on a life of its own. Guys can only laugh when they mention or describe it at this point. Bears tackle Charles Leno Jr. described it as an outside, inside, chop-spin. Lane Johnson said it’s something Mack sets up with a stunt that he runs earlier, which makes the tackle bite inside. Then he comes with the nasty spin. The thing is, most edge rushers don’t spin to the outside. Then again, Mack isn’t most players.

“It was the nastiest move I’ve ever seen. It was one of the dirtiest moves I’ve seen of all time.” — Leno on Mack’s outside spin move

OL who would be a star if he played a sexier position

Lane Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles

It’s easy to overlook an offensive lineman. Heck, they’re sometimes referred to as Big Uglies, which speaks for itself. Offensive linemen traditionally get noticed when they allow sacks. Otherwise, they generally fly under the radar regardless of personality. They’re not quarterbacks, wide receivers or even pass-rushers. But if they were, players believe Johnson would be a star. He’s athletic (a former quarterback and tight end), talks trash and doesn’t hold back. There is a WWE feel to his approach. Johnson understands he’s in the entertainment business and plays his role well. If only he were a skill-position player, everybody would know him well. Others who were given consideration for this title were Eagles center Jason Kelce, Bears guard Kyle Long and Titans tackle Taylor Lewan.

“If [Johnson] were a QB or receiver, he’d be in the headlines every week. I think today a lot of guys are concerned about what people might think about you, or [how they] view you. But Lane really doesn’t give a s—.” — Eagles guard Brandon Brooks on Johnson

Biggest trash-talker

Mike Daniels, Green Bay Packers

Chicago’s Akiem Hicks doesn’t stop talking during games. Former Seattle defensive end Frank Clark is pretty chatty. But perhaps the biggest trash-talker is Daniels. He has caught the ears of more than a few offensive linemen over the years. What’s interesting is that Saints left tackle Terron Armstead feels that most of the chatter comes from interior guys rather than on the edge.

“Pretty chatty guy [Mike Daniels]. Pretty X-rated. He says some off-the-wall stuff. Kind of funny. He’s always talking.” — Jensen

Dirtiest/nastiest defender

Ndamukong Suh, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Vontaze Burfict‘s name surfaced. He has quite the reputation. So does Suh, some of it self-inflicted and some of it perhaps undeserved. Still, his name was uttered more than anyone else’s when linemen fielded this question. One player said Suh was more a fierce competitor than a dirty player. Another added that his reputation is probably a little overblown. Daniels, Donald and Derek Wolfe also were mentioned.

“At this point it’s probably a little undeserved.” — Chiefs tackle Mitchell Schwartz on Suh being dirty

Offensive lineman they like to watch

Trent Williams, Washington Redskins

This was interesting in that it varied quite a bit by individual. Offensive linemen seem to look for players who play the same position with similar builds and skills. So Schwartz watches a lot of right tackles like Johnson, Rob Havenstein and Ryan Ramczyk. New England’s Shaq Mason keeps his eyes on Ron Leary and Trai Turner. The left tackles always seemed to begin with Williams and include Tyron Smith and Joe Staley.

“Trent is an [Oklahoma] guy. I like his style of play, too. His demeanor, it’s nasty. I like that.” — Johnson

Player they hate to face

Von Miller, Denver Broncos

There were a wide variety of options seemingly based on style of play. Vikings defensive tackle Linval Joseph was mentioned because of his sheer strength. That makes for a tough afternoon. Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan earned consideration because he brings power along with speed. A complete package. Johnson even surprisingly brought up Dallas’ DeMarcus Lawrence — despite their sometimes public back-and-forth — because Lawrence is always a menace and gives him a good matchup, with each of them winning their fair share. But more than anybody, when players face Miller they know they’re in for a looooooong day, year after year.

“[Miller] keeps getting better every year. He’s a guy, he obviously does the pass-rushing camp — he’s really interested in learning more about his craft. He continues to maintain and improve his athletic ability and his skill is also through the roof. I think that has come the longest way. He keeps adding stuff and obviously he has one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. So he’s always a tough matchup.” — Schwartz

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Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster admits on stream he was paid to watch Thursday Night Football on Twitch



While streaming live, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster accidentally revealed that he was paid $100,000 to watch an NFL Thursday Night Football game on Twitch. The news was first reported by CBS Sports. The 23 year-old wide receiver admitted this on stream while playing Fortnite with popular streamer Taylor “THump” Humphries.

“I did a stream yesterday, with [Timothy] “TimTheTatMan” [Betar], or like two days ago, we watched the Cowboys game, and I got paid $100K for that,” Smith-Schuster said.

“Oh, I don’t know if you’re supposed to say that, but it’s all good, it’s all good,” THump responded after a slight pause.

The $100,000 stream in question was his Dec. 5 stream with TimTheTatman. The two watched Week 14’s Thursday Night Football game between the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys. Amazon (streaming giant Twitch’s parent company) partnered with the NFL to stream Thursday Night Football games beginning in NFL Week 4.

Smith-Schuster is an avid gamer and has played Fortnite and other video games on streams, including a stream with Drake and Tyler “Ninja” Blevins in March 2018. He is partnering with Twitch and the NFL to participate in the Streamer Bowl series leading up to the Super Bowl.

Smith-Schuster was a second-round pick by the Steelers in the 2017 NFL draft. He has missed the past three games due to a knee injury, but his return is looking likely for the Steelers’ Week 15 game against the Buffalo Bills. He fully participated in practice today for the first time since Nov. 14, according to ESPN staff writer Brooke Pryor. The Steelers are 8-5 and in the playoff hunt.

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Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes says ‘scary’ bruised hand no longer an issue



KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes left little doubt Wednesday he would be ready to play in Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium.

Mahomes, who bruised his passing hand in last week’s game against the New England Patriots, said he took snaps from under center for the first time since and reported no problems.

“Today was the first day I was really able to get a grip on [the ball],” Mahomes said Wednesday. “I was able to kind of flick it around yesterday, but today was the first day I was able to really grip the ball, throw it and drive it down the field a little bit.

“It’s doing better. A lot of the swelling went down these last two days, so I was able to throw the football around today. … Definitely was a little scary after the game when it was a little bit bruised and the swelling and stuff like that. We’ve done more and more treatment since the swelling went away, so I was able to throw the football and everything.”

Mahomes was listed by the Chiefs as a full participant in Wednesday’s practice, meaning he took his normal amount of snaps.

Mahomes landed awkwardly after being hit early in the Chiefs’ 23-16 win over the Patriots on Sunday. He played the rest of the game, but the Chiefs adjusted their game plan to include more short and intermediate routes.

Mahomes said after the game his right hand didn’t “feel great right now,” but X-rays were negative.

The injury is the third serious enough this season for Mahomes to land on the Chiefs’ injury report. He sprained an ankle in the season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars, though the injury never forced him to miss any practice or game time.

He later missed 2½ games because of a dislocated kneecap.

“I’m just trying to take care of my body in general and making sure I’m as healthy as I can be every week,” Mahomes said. “The training staff does a great job of that. We’ll make sure I still rehab everything and that I’m ready to go.”

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New England Patriots sign viral kicker Josh Gable to practice squad



FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — In a season in which they’ve employed four kickers on the active roster, the New England Patriots added an unusual layer of insurance at the position Wednesday by signing Josh Gable — who never played college football — to their practice squad.

Gable, 29, played professional soccer in Italy and Belgium before returning to the United States in 2016 to kick for the Nebraska Danger, Iowa Barnstormers and Tucson Sugar Skulls in the Indoor Football League. But Gable is probably best known for the trick-shot kicks he has posted on social media.

The Patriots have kept close tabs on Gable for three years, having first invited him to their rookie minicamp in 2017. He was also among a group of kickers the Patriots worked out in early October this year after Stephen Gostkowski was placed on injured reserve due to his left hip injury.

The team ultimately signed 37-year-old veteran Mike Nugent out of that group, and he lasted four games. Nick Folk was signed to replace Nugent, and when the 32-year-old Folk required surgery on his appendix in late November, Kai Forbath replaced him for one game.

Folk was re-signed on Saturday, and in four games with the Patriots, he’s 8-of-11 on field goal attempts and 4-of-4 on point-after attempts.

It’s unlikely the Patriots would turn the job over to Gable, especially given what is almost certainly ahead — high-stakes playoff games. But with open spots on the practice squad, and Gable’s versatility to help handle kickoffs, punts and field goals in practice, his addition could take some strain off Folk and punter Jake Bailey (who handles kickoffs).

It also gives the Patriots the chance to work with Gable and evaluate whether he might be a legitimate option for the top job in the 2020 season.

In 2019 with the Sugar Skulls of the Indoor Football League, Gable was 6-of-16 on field goals and 50-of-57 on point-after attempts. Goal posts in the IFL are 9 feet wide, and the crossbar is 15 feet high, while the goal posts in the NFL are 18 feet, 6 inches wide, and the crossbar is 10 feet high.

As for the NFL, Gable also previously worked out for the Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts.

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