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Saints’ Drew Brees — ‘American people need sports right now’

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Drew Brees said Wednesday on The Ellen Show that he thinks “the American people need sports right now.” The New Orleans Saints quarterback is also eager to return to the field this fall so he can compete against new NFC South rival Tom Brady.

“Yeah, well the division just got a little bit better, didn’t it?” Brees said with a laugh when asked about Brady signing with the rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “And in addition to that, Teddy Bridgewater — who played so well for us with the Saints last year when I got hurt — he’s now the starting quarterback for the Carolina Panthers. So our division has Teddy Bridgewater, Tom Brady, Matt Ryan and myself with the Saints.

“It’s always been a very challenging division, and it just kicked up a notch.”

Brees and his wife Brittany discussed a variety of topics with host Ellen DeGeneres, including home-schooling their four children and their $5 million pledge to help the state of Louisiana get through the coronavirus pandemic.

Brees said he hopes that sports can also return and be part of the recovery process.

“That’s typically something that’s really brought us through a lot of tough situations throughout our country,” Brees said. “I think people have been able to lean on their local sports teams or national teams to just unite them and get their minds off the challenges of daily life or daily struggle.

“We don’t even have that right now, and I think that’s another reason why this is so tough. And obviously we hope that football can be back to normal — or this can be back to normal so that we can play real football.”

Brees talked about the possibility of playing games in empty stadiums, saying he had never thought about the idea of playing without fans before and that it would be “really weird.”

“From Texas high school football, through college in the Big Ten, to games now in the Superdome, you’re used to those loud, electric atmospheres,” Brees said. “And so I think it would be really weird. Maybe you just click in and you’re in the zone.

“But I tell you where the fans really help — is whenever you get hit and knocked down, and you’re wondering what happened. You just listen to the sound of the fans, and they usually tell you whether the ball was complete or not. So that was one big benefit; obviously we miss out on that. But it would be really weird. I hope we’re obviously beyond that, and we can get back to that level of normalcy.”

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Miami Dolphins to open drive-in theater at Hard Rock Stadium

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The Miami Dolphins will soon let fans drive their cars inside the stadium where football players typically play every weekend in the fall.

The Dolphins announced Tuesday that they are launching an outdoor drive-in theater inside Hard Rock Stadium that will be used to show marquee games in team history, classic movies, commencement ceremonies, concerts and more. They are also hosting an open-air theater which can host small groups for an intimate viewing experience in the complex plaza.

The Dolphins have mocked renderings of the drive-in venture, which they say can host up to 230 cars. They are promoting it as a family-friendly event that people can participate in amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

Food and beverage can purchased through an online system and delivered to cars. Restrooms will also be made available for use. Fans can put their name on an email list via the stadium website to be notified when tickets are available.

“We’ve spent several weeks planning this to be able to provide people with a safe option to go out and enjoy movies, classic Dolphins content, concerts, and celebrate 2020 graduates,” said Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium vice chairman and CEO Tom Garfinkel. “It’s a fundamental human need to physically experience and celebrate events and experiences together, and we’re trying to provide options for everyone where they can be safely socially distant and socially present at the same time.”

Hard Rock Stadium became the first public facility to earn the Global Biorisk Advisory Council’s STAR accreditation, the standard used for facilities to implement cleaning, disinfecting and infectious disease prevention work practices to control risks involved with infectious agents like the coronavirus.

Garfinkel and the Dolphins have been proactive and innovative in ways to function during the pandemic. They released mock-up plans earlier this month for what it could like to host approximately 15,000 fans in the stadium for NFL fans if the NFL and the government allows it in the fall. Owner Stephen Ross also said on CNBC Tuesday that there will “definitely” be a football season this fall and the plans as of now is to include having fans in the stands.

Hard Rock Stadium was the host for Super Bowl LIV. It also has hosted Miami Open tennis tournaments, several multiple large music festivals, college football championship games and international soccer games.

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Ravens’ Lamar Jackson to host informal workouts for teammates

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With the Baltimore Ravens facility unavailable to players due to the coronavirus pandemic, reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson is hosting his Baltimore Ravens teammates for some informal workouts in south Florida next week.

Wide receiver Miles Boykin told reporters in a video conference call that he is scheduled to run plays with Jackson, wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and others in what is believed to be the team’s largest gathering this offseason.

“We’re still finalizing it,” Boykin said Tuesday. “There are going to be a lot of guys down there. There’s only so much you can do in [virtual] meetings without being able to go out on the field.”

And while the Ravens announced Tuesday that they have re-opened their training facility under Phase 1 of the NFL process, it is still closed to players and coaches. Like many other teams, Baltimore’s offseason training activities would’ve begun by now.

What works in the Ravens’ favor is their continuity and familiarity on offense. Baltimore returns 11 of 13 players who caught a pass from Jackson last season in what was the NFL’s highest-scoring offense (33.2 points per game).

Boykin said there are plans for additional workouts with Jackson beyond next week. Jackson’s recent throwing sessions appear to have been limited to Brown, who also lives in Florida. Based on social media posts, it looks like Jackson and Brown have been working on routes at a local park.

Boykin isn’t sure of the exact details of the workouts.

“Right now, we just have the plan to go down there and be able to run through some plays on offense and just play football a little bit to get back to something that we love doing,” Boykin said. “It’ll be exciting for us to be together, just work on that chemistry.”

This is the second straight year that Jackson has gotten together with teammates in the offseason, which had been a point of contention with the Ravens’ previous starting quarterback. Joe Flacco only held private workouts twice in his 11 seasons in Baltimore.



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Jalen Ramsey, Rams ‘on same page’ concerning contract extension

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The Los Angeles Rams have been in contact with Jalen Ramsey‘s representatives about a contract extension as the All-Pro cornerback enters the final season of his rookie deal.

Ramsey played coy Tuesday when asked where negotiations stood.

“The Rams know where I stand,” Ramsey said on a video conference with reporters. “I think that’s all that matters at the end of the day. It will be handled. They know where I stand. They’ve been in contact with my agent. … They’re on the same page as my agent.”

When asked whether he would attend training camp if he had yet to sign an extension, Ramsey showed no hesitation.

“Yeah, for sure,” he said.

Ramsey is expected to command a record-breaking contract, and it’s anticipated that he will have the upper hand in negotiations, given what the Rams paid to acquire him before the trade deadline last season.

The Rams sent their 2020 and 2021 first-round draft picks and a 2021 fourth-round selection to the Jacksonville Jaguars for Ramsey, who was the No. 5 overall pick in 2016.

“I can’t really worry about that,” Ramsey said about the negotiations. “I just control what I got to worry about right now. … I feel like everybody knew what type of situation it was gonna be once they traded for me, so I think it doesn’t really need to be talked about that much. It will get handled.”

Considered among the top lockdown corners in the NFL, Ramsey has 10 interceptions, including one for a touchdown, and 49 pass deflections in four seasons.

The Rams have been aggressive in signing players to record-breaking contracts over the past two years.

Running back Todd Gurley signed a four-year, $40 million extension in July 2018 that included a record-breaking $45 million guaranteed. A month later, defensive tackle Aaron Donald signed a six-year, $135 million extension that amounted to the richest contract ever signed by a defensive player. Last September, quarterback Jared Goff signed a four-year, $134 million deal that includes a record-breaking $110 million guaranteed.

The Rams, however, cut Gurley this offseason and also traded receiver Brandin Cooks, who was in the midst of a five-year, $81 million contract.

Gurley’s and Cooks’ contracts will cost the Rams nearly $30 million in dead money cap charges in 2020.

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