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Stacking up NFL teams’ progress in 2020



Better, worse or the same? That’s the question that many fans are wondering about their respective teams for the 2020 NFL season after an offseason of free agency, the NFL draft, retirements of star players and virtual meetings because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Rather than offering an overarching answer about each roster as it stands, it’s more telling to examine it piece by piece, position by position.

Here’s a look at NFL Nation teams, listed in alphabetical order, in which reporters have tried to answer the better, worse or the same question for offense and defense:

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Offense: The Falcons and coach Dan Quinn enter a pivotal, must-win season coming off back-to-back, 7-9 campaigns. If the Falcons hope to be contenders, a potentially high-powered offense led by QB Matt Ryan, WRs Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, and RB Todd Gurley has to do its part. Read more

Defense: Coming on Monday.

Offense: The Bengals have a new face of the franchise in rookie quarterback Joe Burrow, but his new offensive line remains a big question. Read more

Defense: After a 2-14 season, Cincinnati made an extensive effort in overhauling the defensive roster by shelling out top dollar for players in hopes of improving a unit that ranked 25th in points allowed per game in 2019. Read more

Offense: Despite entering last season with plenty of hype, the Browns faltered to a 6-10 finish, extending the NFL’s longest playoff drought to 18 years. Are the Browns better, at least on paper? Read more

Defense: Cleveland’s new regime in the front office and coaching staff was busy this offseason, making upgrades on the margins to buttress a young core while using all three of its Day 2 draft picks on defense. Read more

Offense: The Cowboys added legitimate insurance to the quarterback position by bringing in veteran Andy Dalton, but how does the unit look as a whole given its bounty of stars? Read more

Defense: Defensive end Aldon Smith is one of the biggest wild cards for the Dallas defense, which will employ a 4-3 scheme and multiple looks under coordinator Mike Nolan. Read more

Offense: The Broncos were one of the most active teams in a stay-at-home offseason, but it will take a little more than on-paper sunshine and rainbows to shake off four consecutive playoff misses and three consecutive losing seasons. Read more

Defense: If things go as the Broncos hope on defense in whatever becomes of the 2020 season, the two starters they traded draft picks for will have to have a big impact. Better injury luck would help, too. Read more

Offense: For a team that was one game away from the Super Bowl last season, how did the Packers address the offense this offseason? Hint, they didn’t draft a receiver. Read more

Defense: When last anyone saw the Packers’ defense, it was run over by the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game to the tune of 285 yards rushing. Has the unit improved any since that dreadful performance? Read more

Offense: While trading DeAndre Hopkins was the most shocking change the Texans made on offense this offseason, another switch could end up making just as big an impact — coach Bill O’Brien giving up playcalling duties. Read more

Defense: The last time the Texans’ defense was on the field, they blew a 24-0 lead in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs against the Chiefs. Has Houston done enough this offseason to improve the unit? Read more

Offense: The Colts went the free-agency route in signing veteran Philip Rivers to a one-year, $25 million deal in March. But quarterback wasn’t the only pressing need for Indianapolis. Read more

Defense: Teaming Pro Bowl linebacker DeForest Buckner up with Justin Houston should make the Colts’ pass rush a lot more formidable in 2020. Xavier Rhodes should help at cornerback, too. Read more

Offense: In terms of how general manager Mike Mayock and coach Jon Gruden have addressed their personnel this offseason following a 7-9 finish in 2019, things look on the upswing. Read more

Defense: After finishing No. 19 in total defense, and just 24th in points allowed, adjustments had to be made on the Raiders’ defensive side of the ball this offseason. And they were. Read more



Doug Kezirian, Joe Fortenbaugh and Preston Johnson are betting under the Raiders’ win total of seven because of their new circumstances in Las Vegas.

Offense: Few, if any, are buying the Patriots as a clear-cut Super Bowl LV contender, nor even the favorite in the AFC East division they have dominated for most of the past two decades. But, is it an accurate assessment? Read more

Defense: The Patriots took some big free-agent hits, with three of their best defenders — Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins Sr. and Danny Shelton — landing with new teams. How will this unit rebound? Read more

Offense: The 2019 Jets were historically bad on offense. They finished last in total yards for only the third time in the past 49 years, and general manager Joe Douglas used this offseason to rebuild that side of the ball. Read more

Defense: Depending on how the Jamal Adams situation plays out, this will be a fascinating season for the Jets’ defense, which overachieved in 2019 against a favorable schedule. Read more

Offense: For a team that shocked the world by drafting a first-round quarterback in Jalen Hurts, there’s plenty to consider when questioning if the Eagles’ offense improved this offseason. Read more

Defense: Philadelphia moved in the right direction by trading for three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay, but in fixing one problem area, did it create an even bigger issue at another? Read more

Offense: The Seahawks hope that a reshuffling of the offensive line and tweaks to the skill positions allow their offense to excel in 2020. Read more

Defense: Seattle’s defense underachieved across the board in 2019, with the exception of forcing turnovers. It’s why general manager John Schneider made notable — even if not marquee — additions at every level. Read more

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Texans’ Kenny Stills reveals elaborate Black Lives Matter tattoo – Houston Texans Blog



Houston Texans wide receiver Kenny Stills posted an Instagram photo of his new tattoo, done earlier in the month, that features a sign reading “BLACK LIVES MATTER.”

The tattoo includes images from the Black Lives Matter and civil rights movements on his right leg, and also shows signs that read “WE PROTEST SCHOOL SEGREGATION” and “SAY THEIR NAMES.”

Since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem during the 2016 season, Stills has been vocal in his support of the fight against police brutality and racial injustice. Stills also has taken a knee during the national anthem.

On June 25, Stills participated in a social justice march for Breonna Taylor at the state capitol in Kentucky. In the lead-up to the protest, Stills offered to “pay for gas, rental cars, lodging, chartering buses…whatever it takes” to get people there. He also attended George Floyd’s funeral in Houston on June 9.

Stills has also been active on Twitter, speaking out about police brutality, especially since Floyd’s murder. He also tweeted “sports are a distraction from the movement.”

Earlier in the offseason, while addressing Floyd’s murder and systemic racism, Texans coach Bill O’Brien said he has “learned a lot over the last year of talking to Kenny Stills on why he takes a knee.”

“I think we all know why Kenny takes a knee and why Eric Reid takes a knee,” O’Brien said.

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Judges question legality of search warrants in Robert Kraft massage parlor sex case



FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Florida appellate judges on Tuesday questioned the legality of search warrants that let police secretly video record New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and others paying for massage parlor sex, pressing a prosecutor on his contention that the warrants were legally valid.

Deputy Solicitor General Jeffrey DeSousa found himself repeatedly queried by the three-judge panel as he tried to persuade them that the warrants and searches met all constitutional protections and that they should overturn lower court rulings that barred the recordings’ use at trial.

Misdemeanor charges against Kraft, 79, and other customers would have to be dropped if those rulings stand, although felony charges against the spa owners might proceed as there is other evidence against them.

Kraft and others were charged in February 2019 in a multi-county investigation of massage parlors that included the secret installation of video cameras in their lobbies and rooms. Police say the recordings show Kraft and other men engaging in sex acts with women and paying them.

Judge Robert Gross, who presided at the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal hearing, seemed taken aback by DeSousa’s contention that he and his colleagues should primarily consider the plain language of the Fourth Amendment. It says judges can issue warrants if police demonstrate there is probable cause of a crime and the warrants must specify the place to be searched and the people or property to be seized.

Gross told DeSousa he seemed to be ignoring numerous rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court expanding Fourth Amendment protections since the 1960s, including some that restricted electronic surveillance by police.

“You are getting us off on the wrong foot by focusing on the language of the Fourth Amendment when we should be focusing on the Supreme Court jurisprudence … that is heavily weighted against you,” Gross told DeSousa.

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Redskins’ Ron Rivera — Don’t bet against Cam Newton with Patriots



Ron Rivera has a message for those ready to doubt that Cam Newton can rebound with the New England Patriots: Don’t bet against him.

Rivera, who coached the Carolina Panthers for nine seasons with Newton as his starting quarterback, was asked Monday on 670 The Score in Chicago about whether he thought Newton has recovered from the injuries that have marred his past two seasons. Rivera said he had watched the workout videos that Newton posted on social media.

“He’s headed in the right direction,” Rivera said on the McNeil & Parkins Show. “I mean, he’s probably about as healthy as it gets from what I’ve seen on video. I think he’s ready to bust out.

“I would never bet against the young man, that’s for sure.”

Newton, who holds most of Carolina’s career passing records, missed 14 games last season with a Lisfranc injury and the final two games of the 2018 season with a shoulder injury that also required surgery.

He reached an agreement on a one-year, incentive-laden deal with the Patriots on Sunday, league sources told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter. ‬The Patriots were the only team to make him an offer after he was released by the Panthers in March, according to Schefter.

Rivera said on 670 The Score that he believes the coronavirus pandemic, which prevented teams from conducting in-person workouts, was the main reason more teams didn’t try to sign him. As for why Rivera didn’t try to bring Newton to the Washington Redskins, he pointed to the presence of quarterback Dwayne Haskins, drafted by the Redskins in the first round last year.

“Honestly, if the circumstances would have allowed us, I would have had no issues with that. I would have been very confident and comfortable in going after him and bringing him to be part of what we’re doing here. To me those circumstances would have been going through an opportunity to see what we have in Dwayne,” he said.

Rivera instead brought another former Panthers quarterback to the Redskins, trading for Kyle Allen earlier this offseason. He said the benefit of being in his first year as the Redskins’ coach is that he can be patient with Haskins, who threw for 1,365 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions after being selected with the No. 15 pick in 2019.

“We’ve been in this tough situation because there was a number of veteran guys that we liked but we have to find out what we have in the young guy, and that’s the benefit of being a new head coach is that we can go ahead and we can be patient. We can put these guys through workouts and get to know what we have and feel good about it or don’t feel good about it and then we’ve got to go out and make some changes,” he said.

“But until we get that opportunity to know what we have, it would have been very hard to bring in a guy who’s had such a solid career, who was league MVP at one time (in 2015), and expect the young guy to get chances to grow, so I just felt that because of our circumstances we could play this slow — and good for [Newton], he went to New England, which I think is going to be a great spot for him and I think he’s going to have a lot of success.”

With the Patriots, Newton will be in the mix to help replace Tom Brady, who left to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency. The Patriots did not select a quarterback in April’s draft, with 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham and 11-year veteran Brian Hoyer atop the depth chart.

Rivera was asked what he’d say to those who believe Newton’s best days are behind him.

“Don’t bet against him,” Rivera said. “I really wouldn’t. First of all, you got to know who he is and understand what all he’s gone through. He’s a guy that’s always tried to do things, I think, because he’s felt the pressure. He felt the pressure of being the No. 1 pick. He felt the pressure of having won the Heisman Trophy and being the No. 1 pick. He felt the pressure of being a Black quarterback, with all this stuff that’s been heaped on him.

“He’s really had to find his way through it, and he’s done a great job with it.”

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