Sheldon Richardson Jersey

The Cleveland Browns and defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson reportedly agreed to a three-year deal in free agency Tuesday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network later reported the deal is worth $36 million. The signing cannot become official until the new league year begins Wednesday.

Richardson tallied 49 total tackles and 4.5 sacks in 2018 with the Minnesota Vikings, who signed him as a free agent after he spent the 2017 season with the Seattle Seahawks. Pro Football Focus graded him as the NFL’s 47th-best interior defender.

Along with the solid production, the 28-year-old also transformed himself into a locker room asset after past issues, including a four-game suspension in 2015 while with the New York Jets for a violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy.

“Life happens,” Richardson told Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press in December. “I have a daughter now. I want to be a positive impact. I tell people now that I’m ‘slow motion.’ I ain’t going nowhere too fast. I’m definitely on the straight and narrow now. I grab me a drink once in a blue moon, but that’s about it.”

The University of Missouri product racked up 44 total tackles, a sack, an interception and a forced fumble across 15 appearances for Seattle in 2017.

His track record across four years with the Jets, who selected him with the 13th overall pick in the 2013 draft, included the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award in 2013 and a Pro Bowl selection in 2014.

The 6’3″, 295-pounder also possesses positional versatility with the ability to play either defensive end or defensive tackle depending on the scheme.

Richardson will be playing for his third different team in as many years after signing with the Browns. While changing squads that often can have a negative impact, the tackle made a smooth transition to Minnesota, which lessens those concerns.

He should slot in as a starting defensive tackle on a Cleveland team that has strengthened its front four considerably this offseason with the signing of Richardson and the trade acquisition of Olivier Vernon from the New York Giants.

EAGAN, Minn. — When defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson signed with Vikings as a free agent last March, he was asked about facing the New York Jets in 2018.

“They’ve got to come see me,” he said.

The time has arrived for Richardson to run into the team he played for from 2013-16. The Vikings face the Jets on Sunday, Oct. 21, at Met Life Stadium.

Richardson had a strong start with the Jets, winning NFL Rookie of the Year honors in 2013 and making the Pro Bowl in 2014. But his tenure didn’t end well. After months of trying to trade him, New York finally shipped him to Seattle nine days before the start of the 2017 season.

On Wednesday, Richardson downplayed the reunion.

“Another game,” he said. “I never put myself above the team. Whatever personal vendetta I have is between me.”

Richardson called his trade “business.” He didn’t deny, though, that it was difficult being dealt to the Seahawks so close to the start of last season and having to learn a new defense on the fly.

“It’s tough, man,” he said. “It’s just the way it is. I did some things for me to get out of there for them to trade me, and other than that, I put it on myself, nobody else.”

Richardson was suspended for the first four games in 2015 for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy with marijuana use. Shortly after that suspension was announced, he was arrested in July 2015 outside his native St. Louis after he reportedly was street racing at 143 mph and attempted to avoid police.

A loaded handgun was found beneath the driver’s seat, although that was legally registered to Richardson. He was found guilty of reckless driving and resisting arrest and fined $1,050. He also received two years probation and was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.

The NFL suspended him for the 2016 opener.

“It was kind of self-inflicted wounds,” Richardson said. “It’s just now me overcoming my personal battles in life. They got me out of there, and that changed everything around there. That’s pretty much it. I pretty much grew from everywhere. Every point, every phase of my life, I grew from it.

“Time heals all wounds. You’ve just got to learn how to get over things and keep moving forward. Life goes on.”

Richardson’s play declined after Todd Bowles replaced Rex Ryan as Jets coach in 2015. Bowles said Wednesday that Richardson was traded because he was going to become a free agent after the 2017 season.

“I love Sheldon to death and I think he’s a heck of a player, and even more a heck of a person,” Bowles said. ”I’m happy for him, and he’s doing well.”

Mike Zimmer said Richardson has fit in well after signing a one-year, $8 million contract.

“I’ve been really impressed with Sheldon; not just his play, but the way he’s come in here and tried to learn the techniques we are trying to teach him,” the Vikings coach said. “His professionalism, how he handles himself in the meetings, he’s been really good with everything.”

While Richardson’s New York tenure didn’t end well, he does have fond memories of his early Jets years. He was used in the backfield as a rookie in 2013 and carried four times for four yards with two touchdowns.

“My top moment?” Richardson said. “Scoring touchdowns. On offense pretty much. Winning Rookie of the Year and going to the Pro Bowl. It was fun.”

Jaelen Strong Jersey

Jaelen Strong spent the 2018 season out of football. Now, he’s just thankful to be back, even if it is the offseason.

Strong, a former third-round pick of the Houston Texans, signed with the Browns on Wednesday.

“Cleveland gave me the opportunity,” Strong said during a Friday appearance on Cleveland Browns Daily. “I was just thankful that they accepted me with open arms and welcomed me to the team. It really wasn’t a choice. Soon as I got there, the love that they were showing and everything just made me feel welcome.”

Strong spent his first three seasons in the NFL with the Texans, where he caught 28 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns in his first 18 games. The former Arizona State standout battled an ankle injury near the end of his time with the Texans, which officially ended shortly after he was suspended one game for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.

Strong caught on with the Jacksonville Jaguars, recording three receptions for 38 yards and one touchdown in his first game with the team. It was ultimately his only game as a Jaguar, as an ACL injury ended his 2017 season.

Browns general manager John Dorsey has made a habit out of taking fliers on former high draft picks who previously struggled to meet their high expectations (Greg Robinson, Breshad Perriman) and watching them blossom with the Browns in less than a full season. It helps when a team suddenly solves its quarterback quandary in emphatic fashion.

“He’s a winner,” Strong said when asked what he likes about Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield. “He’s a championship player and the fact that he’s a leader and I’m excited to be able to share a locker room with guys like him and Jarvis (Landry), those guys I look forward to getting in touch with and building the chemistry and most importantly, learning. Doing whatever I can do to help Cleveland become a better team.”

It’s also an interesting time for the Browns’ receiver position. Cleveland has Landry entrenched as the leader of the room along with Antonio Callaway and Rashard Higgins as promising young talents. Beyond them lies some questions: Will the Browns re-sign Perriman, who came out of nowhere to catch 16 passes for 340 yards in a 10-game span that also included two memorable touchdown grabs in late-season thrillers? And how much more active could Cleveland be in free agency or the draft, where it holds 10 selections?

Regardless of how the depth chart shakes out, Strong emphasized his gratitude for the Browns and their pursuit of his services, especially after a season away from the game.

“I’m not really thinking about myself in this aspect right now,” Strong said when asked about what he brings to the Browns. “I’m thinking about whatever I can do to help Cleveland. They gave me the opportunity to come in and show them I can play and that’s exactly what I plan to do, is come in and focus on that and just giving Cleveland my all.”

A former third-round pick, Strong sat out 2018 after tearing a knee ligament late in the 2017 season with Jacksonville. The 25-year-old has made three starts and played in 20 NFL games with Houston and the Jaguars.

The 6oot-2, 220-pounder has 31 career catches for 330 yards and four touchdowns.

Strong, who played at Arizona State, was waived by the Texans two years ago and signed with Jaguars.

Coming off a 7-8-1 season, the Browns planned to add to their receiving depth this offseason for quarterback Baker Mayfield. Strong joins, Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway, Damion Ratley and Derrick Willies on the roster.

Breshad Perriman, who revived his career with Cleveland last season, is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent. Rashard Higgins is a restricted free agent, but the Browns have discussed re-signing both players.

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Wilson signed a four year extension worth $140 million ($35.5 million annually on average), including $107 million guaranteed. Last year, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers signed a four year extension worth $134 million ($33.5 million annually on average), including $98.7 million guaranteed. In the same year, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan signed a five year deal worth $150 million ($30 million annually on average), including $100 million guaranteed. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo signed a five year deal worth $137.5 million ($27.5 million annually on average), including $74.1 million guaranteed.

In 2017, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford signed a five year deal worth $135 million ($27 million annually on average), including $92 million guaranteed. The Oakland Raiders signed quarterback Derek Carr to a five year deal worth $125 million ($25 million annually on average), including $70.2 million guaranteed.

Each big name starting quarterback has received more money annually than the last. The same is generally true about guaranteed money as well. The annual salary has increased by $2.5 million per deal signed. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers all could be outliers because of their advanced age. It is unlikely that they get lucrative, long-term deals. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston and Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota have not shown the elite play that comes with a large contract. They are all scheduled to become free agents next season.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will be an unrestricted free agent next season. Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz will have just a club option remaining in 2020. Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson should all sign their next deal before Mayfield.

Seven quarterbacks could sign high end deals between now and Mayfield’s. In that event, at a $2.5 million increase per signing, Mayfield’s deal would be $265 million over five years ($53 million annually on average). It is hard to envision any player getting that amount of money at this point but the same could have been said about the $35 million deals four years ago. The aforementioned Mayfield deal would carry roughly $185.5 million in guaranteed money as well.

The his annual salary would account for roughly 22.9 percent of Cleveland’s salary cap in 2023.

Duke Johnson Jersey

With the signing of Kareem Hunt, the Cleveland Browns have an embarrassment of riches at the running back position. Prior to the signing, the Browns had rookie Nick Chubb, who had an incredibly successful rookie campaign, the versatile Duke Johnson, and the serviceable Dontrell Hilliard.

With the addition of Hunt, the Browns now find themselves with a crowded RB room. Questions are lingering as we approach the free agency period and then the NFL Draft. The obvious questions have been around Johnson and whether or not he will be a Brown by the end of the offseason. General Manager John Dorsey has said he doesn’t find Johnson to be expendable, “yet.”

“Yet,” could mean any number of things, but just speculating: “Yet,” for Johnson, is this year’s NFL Draft.

The Browns have several needs on both sides of the ball, but looking at position value and who is available, they have no need to trade down for a defensive player. The team desperately need a true X receiver and there are several that could go quickly in this draft. The versatility of Johnson, along with Cleveland’s first-round pick and potentially one of the plethora of mid-rounders Cleveland holds, could be the key to working their way up to pick their guy.

This is par for the course in the NFL, but Dorsey has made it abundantly clear that he is willing to part with solid talent to better the team. Last fall, Carlos Hyde was enjoying a decent start but was shipped to Jacksonville as Dorsey found him expendable. This allowed Nick Chubb to become the feature back. Only the most stubborn fans would say it didn’t better the team.

Johnson and his talents are appreciated in Cleveland and many fans would be sad to see him go, but with the potential of Chubb, the known talent that is Hunt, and the serviceable backup that Hilliard is, Johnson is the odd man out. With the way new head coach Freddie Kitchens’ offense operated, Johnson did not touch the ball enough to warrant keeping him.

Pair that with how QB Baker Mayfield likes to naturally spread the ball and you have a situation where two things are occurring. One, despite Johnson’s talent, he isn’t good enough to warrant being a bell cow. Two, the level of talent Johnson does possess will be underutilized in this system.

I’d say the writing is on the wall and Johnson will no longer be on the roster by offseason’s end. I’d put my money on draft night where the Browns could do some addition by subtraction and get another key piece for Kitchens and Mayfield to work with.

The Browns are in the position to deal Johnson after a stellar rookie campaign from Nick Chubb and the off-season signing of Kareem Hunt. Chubb ran for 996 yards and scored eight touchdowns on 192 carries last season, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. He also had 149 receiving yards and two receiving scores.

Hunt led the NFL in rushing during his rookie campaign in 2017 for the Kansas City Chiefs. He piled up 1,202 yards from scrimmage and 14 scores in 11 starts last season, before being released by Kansas City in December. Hunt signed with the Browns in February and was suspended for eight games in March for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

Johnson was a third round pick by the Browns in the 2015 NFL Draft. The Miami product had just 201 rushing yards in 2018, but pulled in 47 receptions for 429 yards and three scores through the air. The pass-catching dynamo signed a three-year, $15.61 million deal with the Browns in June. He is set to make $1.8 million in base salary in 2019, but also has a $750,000 signing bonus, $400,000 roster bonus and $100,000 workout bonus.

Emmanuel Ogbah Jersey

Emmanuel Ogbah’s three-year tenure with the Cleveland Browns has been a disappointment. The former No. 32 overall pick from the 2016 NFL Draft hasn’t lived up to the hype now 2,117 defensive snaps into his NFL career. And now, Cleveland’s brass has seemingly seen enough.

Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, John Dorsey & Co. are shopping Ogbah now that veteran Olivier Vernon and his $15.5M 2019 cap hit on the books. The 28-year-old veteran recorded more pressures in his 2016 campaign (108) than Ogbah has in his entire career (104), and Vernon has since added another 104 pressures in 2017 and 2018 combined.

The writing is on the wall; Vernon will start opposite of third-year phenom Myles Garrett, leaving Ogbah as either the odd man out on the pine or in another uniform. Cleveland, however, likely won’t see a significant return on investment if its brass does ship Ogbah out of the Dawg Pound given his streak of dismal NFL production.

Ogbah has yet to earn a pass-rush grade above 60.5 in his three-year career despite rushing the passer at least 268 times in each of the past three seasons. Rushing the passer a career-high 496 times this past season, he ranked dead last in pass-rush win percentage (7.5%) among the 61 NFL edge defenders with at least 300 pass-rushes on the year.

His run defense was better but still not great. Ogbah ranked 30th in run-defense grade among the 61 edge defenders with 200-plus defensive snaps playing the run in 2018.

Low Day 3 picks come to mind when considering Ogbah’s lackluster pass-rush and nondescript run defense through three years in the NFL. Due just $2.1M in 2019, Ogbah may offer more value to Cleveland as a depth piece than as a future fifth- or sixth-rounder.

On the surface, players not showing up for the start of a team’s offseason workout program isn’t a big deal given the voluntary nature of the Phase I event, which is limited to strength and conditioning and rehabilitation work.

Cleveland Browns defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, however, has a better reason.

Ogbah was not present Monday with teammates at the team’s facility as the Browns “aggressively try to trade him,” NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. A deal is not imminent and the fourth-year pro will likely stay away until a deal is in place, Rapoport added.

Ogbah found himself on the outside looking in after the Browns acquired defensive end Olivier Vernon from the New York Giants on the heels of the two teams’ blockbuster trade that saw Odell Beckham shipped to Cleveland as well.

Over the past three seasons, Ogbah has started 40 games, totaling 122 tackles, 12.5 sacks and 29 quarterback hits. He entered the league in 2016 as a second-round pick with the Browns.

Ogbah isn’t the only player away from voluntary workouts. Running back Duke Johnson was not in attendance Monday, per coach Freddie Kitchens.

Johnson’s future in Cleveland has been the subject of speculation this spring following the emergence of Nick Chubb last season and the offseason signing of Kareem Hunt.

Cleveland is one of three teams with a new head coach kicking off the offseason workout program Monday. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins are the other two.

CLEVELAND — “If, at first, you don’t succeed…”

The Cleveland Browns reportedly tried to trade fourth-year defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah at the start of the new league year in the National Football League earlier this month, and while those talks broke down, apparently, the front office is revisiting the idea.

While at this week’s NFL Owners’ Meetings, Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland/AM 850 reported that the Browns are “still pursuing a trade of Emmanuel Ogbah,” and that “there’s a lot of interest” in the talented pass rusher.

In 40 games over his three years with the Browns, Ogbah registered 12.5 sacks, 122 total tackles, including 70 solo stops and 52 assists, along with 16 for lost yardage and 29 quarterback hits. Also, Ogbah defended 17 passes.

Last season, Ogbah registered 3.0 sacks and 40 total tackles, including 24 solo stops and 16 assists, while playing opposite Pro Bowl defensive end Myles Garrett.

The Browns selected Ogbah with the No. 32 overall pick, the first of the second round, in the 2016 NFL Draft.

The 6-foot-4, 275-pound Ogbah played defensive end for Oklahoma State University in all three of his collegiate seasons, and registered 133 total tackles, including 95 solo stops and 38 assists for the Cowboys.

Of Ogbah’s tackles, 35.5 went for lost yardage and 26.5 were sacks of opposing quarterbacks. Also, he forced five fumbles and recovered two others during his collegiate career.

As a junior, Ogbah set career highs for solo tackles (42), assists (21), total stops (63), tackles for lost yardage (16.5), forced fumbles (four) and sacks (12.5). He had double-digit sack totals in both his sophomore and junior seasons at Oklahoma State.

Howard Wilson Jersey

BEREA, Ohio — Browns cornerback Howard Wilson will miss his second straight NFL season before it started.

Wilson had surgery on Tuesday for a torn left patellar tendon and is expected to be sidelined the entire 2018 season, a cruel blow for the former fourth-round pick who missed last season after breaking his kneecap in rookie minicamp and undergoing surgery.

Wilson, who played collegiately at Houston, had not been practicing with the team during OTAs.

The team also said punter Britton Colquitt and rookie defensive end Chad Thomas are sidelined after undergoing surgeries, but both should be back for training camp next month.

Colquitt had surgery on his right (kicking) knee. The 33-year-old had a career-high 47.6-yard gross average last season, his second with Cleveland. He also broke his own team record with a 40.6-yard net average.

Thomas, a third-round pick from Miami, had sports hernia surgery.

BEREA, Ohio — Howard Wilson will have to wait another season before he begins his NFL career.

The second-year defensive back from Houston would have no luck if it weren’t for bad luck as he tried to return to the field after missing his rookie season.

The Browns announced that Wilson will not play in the 2018 season after having surgery on Tuesday to repair a left patella tear. He is expected to miss the entire 2018 season. It is believed to be the same knee that cost him the 2017 season.

Wilson was a fourth-round draft choice (126th overall) of the Browns in the 2017 NFL Draft was on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list for the entire 2017 season after being injured in the off-season last year. Wilson played at the University of Houston and was expected to compete in the revamped Browns secondary in 2018.

Wilson, who won’t turn 23 until Oct. 30, played in 29 career games at Houston, finishing with 107 tackles and nine interceptions. In his final season in college, Wilson had 54 tackles and five interceptions, including one returned for a 58-yard touchdown.

Wilson was a first team All-AAC selection in 2016 after his five interception season that also resulted in 54 tackles and 10 passes broken up.

Wilson played a full season in 2014 and in 2016, but sandwiched between in 2015, he played just three games before suffering a season-ending injury.

The Browns drafted Denzel Ward with the overall fourth pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and also drafted Simeon Thomas from Louisiana-Lafayette in the sixth-round of this year’s draft, as well. They also added unrestricted free agents E.J. Gaines from Buffalo, TJ Carrie from Oakland and Terrance Mitchell from Kansas City to compete at cornerback this season. Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Mike Jordan returned from last year’s cornerbacks.

Other defensive backs currently on the roster are: Jabrill Peppers,, Derrick Kindred, Damarious Randall, Tigie Sankoh, Montrel Meander, Micah Hannemann, Derron Smith, Denzel Rice and Elijah Campbell.

In addition, to the news on Wilson, the Browns also announced that rookie defensive end Chad Thomas underwent a sports hernia surgery and will miss this week’s minicamp. He is expected to be ready for the start of training camp in late July. Also, punter Britton Colquitt had a procedure on his knee and he is expected to be ready for the start of training camp, as well. Justin Vogel from Miami, Fla. is in camp as another punter with Colquitt sidelined.

Thomas was drafted in the third-round from Miami, Fla.

The Browns are in the midst of a three day mandatory veteran minicamp that runs Tues. June 12 through Thurs. June 14. After Thursday, the Browns are scheduled to break for approximately six weeks until the start of training camp which will begin in late July.

Larry Ogunjobi Jersey

Larry Ogunjobi has been in the NFL for two seasons. He’s ready to start giving back, not only to a Charlotte 49ers program that helped launch his pro career, but also to a few causes outside football he feels strongly about.

The Cleveland Browns’ Ogunjobi has quickly developed into one of the top young defensive tackles in the NFL. He played 930 snaps last season, the second-most at his position in the league. He had 52 tackles and 5.5 sacks, helping the Browns improve from a winless 2017 season (Ogunjobi’s rookie year) to 7-8-1 in 2018.

Ogunjobi did all that after becoming the first player in 49ers history to be drafted, in the spring of 2017. That meant making the jump from college to the pros with very little outside help.

Instead, he would seek advice via social media from players such as Charles Johnson and Kawann Short of the Carolina Panthers or, more recently, Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams and Geno Atkins of the Cincinnati Bengals.

“I didn’t know any better, but luckily they responded back to me,” Ogunjobi said. “It opened a dialogue. Mentorship is so important.”

He wants to change that for any 49ers players now and in the future who harbor NFL dreams.

“When you’re first, you don’t have a blueprint,” Ogunjobi said. “You have to have guys who will set the example. That’s what I am for Charlotte now.”

Although Ogunjobi is the only Charlotte player to be drafted, other former 49ers have landed in the pros. Defensive tackle Brandon Banks played for the Indianapolis Colts briefly, and defensive backs Brendan Dozier and Anthony Covington are in the Canadian Football League. Others, such as receiver Austin Duke, running back Kalif Phillips and defensive back Desmond Cooper, have spent time on NFL rosters. Duke was with the new Alliance of American Football Alliance’s Atlanta Legends, but he’s been nursing an injury.

Ogunjobi was back on campus recently, throwing out the first pitch of the 49ers’ baseball season opener Feb. 15. He also met members of Charlotte’s new coaching staff and talked with some 49ers players.

Ogunjobi said he’s talked with Nate Davis, a former 49ers offensive lineman who played well at the Senior Bowl in February and is at this week’s NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.. In fact, Ogunjobi and Davis, who played together for two seasons at Charlotte, ran into each other on an airplane recently. Davis was traveling from the Senior Bowl to Phoenix, where he has been working out at the Exos training center in Phoenix. Ogunjobi also trained at Exos before the Browns took him in the third round of the 2017 NFL draft.

“He said, ‘Whoa, (sitting in) first class now, huh?’ ” said Ogunjobi, who signed a four-year, $3.9 million contract with the Browns.

Davis said Ogunjobi has provided some valuable insights.

“I’ve texted him and asked him about some small stuff, like what it was like going through the Senior Bowl, what training at Exos was like,” Davis said. “Also what things will be like and what I should do after the combine.”

Ogunjobi said he is also spending the offseason contemplating whether he wants to establish a foundation that would raise money for two issues that are important to him: childhood obesity and curing cancer. Ogunjobi was an overweight child growing up in Greensboro before a trainer encouraged him to try out for the football team at Jamestown’s Ragsdale High. Ogunjobi got in shape and made the team.

Also, when Ogunjobi was 13, he traveled to his family’s homeland of Nigeria where he met his grandfather, who was suffering from prostate cancer. Ogunjobi returned to Nigeria two years later for his grandfather’s funeral.

“He never saw my transformation,” Ogunjobi told the Observer in 2012. “That helped me make up my mind that I want to help people find a cure for cancer. I want to help people.”

Ogunjobi also said he wants to have football camps in Greensboro and Charlotte.

“I’ve thought, ‘What if God can use you in the NFL to help move cancer research and and weight loss?’ “ Ogunjobi said. “I could start a foundation that would help. I can work with kids on cancer and weight loss. I could go to hospitals to talk to them. A football camp could start pushing the envelope on childhood obesity. Maybe have charity dinners to raise money for curing cancer.

“Something that could set a spark.”

David Njoku Jersey

Jalen Wydermyer’s official visit with the Miami Hurricanes was a weekend of firsts for the three-star tight end from Dickinson, Texas. It was Wydermyer’s first official visit and his first ever trip to South Florida. He ate gator and lobster for the first time. And, for the first time, Miami got to layout exactly the vision it has for the senior.

From afar — and with one trip to Texas — Todd Hartley has tried to illustrate what he envisions the 6-5, 240-pound receiver potentially doing at Miami.

“Probably the most impressive thing of the whole visit,” Wydermyer said earlier this week after returning home from his visit, “was he sat me down and showed me film. He didn’t tell me what he’d do with me. He showed me.”

Hartley has always alluded to Wydermyer potentially filling the void the Hurricanes have struggled to since tight end David Njoku left for the NFL following the 2016 season. This weekend, the tight ends coach showed Wydermyer exactly what he means.

Hartley began by showing Wydermyer film of when Njoku and fellow tight end Chris Herndon both played key roles in 2016. Herndon, a relatively undersized receiver, could play a variety of roles near the offensive line, which gave the Hurricanes the flexibility to use Njoku as either a traditional in-line tight end or as a super-sized wide receiver. Hartley then showed Wydermyer how he uses tight ends this year — Brevin Jordan plays the old Herndon role, but the Hurricanes still don’t have anyone they can use regularly in Njoku’s old role.

Miami already has one tight end committed in the Class of 2019 with Larry Hodges, a three-star prospect from Tampa Jesuit. Hodges comes in the Jordan or Herndon mold. Wydermyer would get a chance at becoming the next Njoku, which is meaningful to Wydermyer.

“I told Coach, ‘I want to do the exact same thing y’all did with David Njoku,’” Wydermyer said. “I looked up to David Njoku a lot, watching him at Miami. He was just an idol in college, so I keep up with him in the NFL and stuff like that. ‘I want y’all to do the exact same thing y’all did with him.’”

Wydermyer expected some pitch like this. He didn’t, however, expect the campus to be like it is.

Wydermyer has thought about the Hurricanes since he was young because his father grew up a Miami fan. Wydermyer even did a research paper about the university when he was young, but he still didn’t quite understand the distinction between Miami and Coral Gables until he spent the weekend in Florida. Appealingly, the school still feels like a traditional college.

“Me and my parents had a stereotype going into Miami. It’s a huge college, it’s right in the center of Miami, it’s a party city, blah, blah blah and when we got there, it wasn’t in Miami,” Wydermyer said. “It’s really a small community. It’s like a college town pretty much and then right next to Miami. It was awesome. It’s crazy how it’s so secluded from Miami.”

With his first official visit in the books, Wydermyer has a timeline in mind. His birthday is Dec. 20, which falls right in the middle of the early-signing period. He’d like to announce his commitment then, as long as he knocks out the rest of the official visits he wants to take.

Wydermyer, whom the composite rankings peg as the No. 17 in his class, is now working on setting up officials with the Texas A&M Aggies and Alabama Crimson Tide. He’s also taken unofficial visits with the Mississippi Rebels and Georgia Bulldogs in the past, although he isn’t yet sure about official visits with those two.

“That would be awesome,” Wydermyer said of signing early, “but if I don’t get some officials down — the officials I want to get down — by then, I’ll just wait.”

▪ It was mostly a rough weekend for the Hurricanes on the recruiting front. On Sunday, three-star running back Marcus Crowley flipped his commitment from Miami to the Ohio State Buckeyes after spending the weekend in Columbus for an official visit. The Jacksonville Trinity Christian Academy senior had been committed to the Hurricanes since 2017.

▪ Cornelius Nunn’s defection from Miami’s 2019 class a day later was a bit less crushing, but still disheartening given the Hurricanes’ on-field struggles. The three-star safety from Palmetto had been committed to Miami for less than three weeks before he announced his decommitment Monday.

▪ There was still at least one piece of good news for the Hurricanes this week. Louis Hedley, a two-star punter from City College of San Francisco, committed to Miami on Sunday shortly after receiving an offer. The junior college prospect will have three years of eligibility remaining when he joins the Hurricanes next year.

▪ Wydermyer wasn’t the only key visitor for Miami on Saturday. Lloyd Summerall also made his first trip to Hard Rock Stadium this season. The four-star defensive end from Lakeland has been high on the Hurricanes since visiting for the first time in the spring. He plans to return for an official visit later in the year.

▪ Some other major Miami targets have begun to take late-season official visits with some of the Hurricanes’ biggest challengers. Mark-Antony Richards, a four-star athlete from Wellington, took his official visit with the Auburn Tigers this past weekend and Khris Bogle, a four-star defensive end from Cardinal Gibbons, is set to officially visit the Alabama Crimson Tide this weekend. Both still plan to take official visits with Miami later in the year.

Auburn has long been the Hurricanes’ biggest challenger for Richards, who is the younger brother of former Miami wide receiver Ahmmon Richards. The Crimson Tide, meanwhile, is probably trying to make up ground on the Hurricanes and the Tennessee Volunteers in Bogle’s recruitment, although the senior does have a relationship with Alabama defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski, who was previously in the same role at Miami.

Myles Garrett Jersey

The Cleveland Browns seem to be two-for-two when it comes to their last two number one overall draft picks. Defensive end Myles Garrett who was taken first overall in 2017 had 13.5 sacks for Cleveland last year, while 2018 number one pick Baker Mayfield threw for a rookie record 27 touchdown passes.

The Browns’ 7-8-1 record in 2018 was a drastic turnaround from their 0-16 mark just one year earlier, and, if Garrett can continue to grow at his position, Cleveland’s defense is going to be one of the league’s best for years to come.

But it’s the offseason right now, so Garrett likely isn’t thinking about football 24/7. Instead, he’s enjoying a little down time watching television, and has an interesting observation about penguins of all things.

Take a look.

I like to think Garrett is just watching the Penguin from Batman: The Animated Series and asking this question.

For the record, Chris Long is a big anti-robot guy who warns about the robot apocalypse. Based on his response to Garrett, he may also believe that penguins are mobilizing in the South Pole.

Stay tuned…

Gregg Williams: Myles Garrett’s criticism a ‘non-issue’

Cleveland Browns interim head coach Gregg Williams addressed the media Wednesday for the first time since sweeping changes Monday saw the ouster of Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

In a little more than 20 minutes, Williams touched on a variety of subjects, including his shock at the firings and the importance of maintaining focus on playing the Kansas Chiefs on Sunday.

Williams also spent time addressing second-year defensive end Myles Garrett’s Week 8 postgame comments of not liking the defensive game plan against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

While the interim head coach said he didn’t see the comments until later and didn’t interpret them to mean what was said, there won’t be a lingering controversy surrounding Garrett expressing his opinion.

“He’s fine,” Williams said. “He is totally fine and it’s really a non-issue.”

Garrett’s dissatisfaction from last week’s loss surrounded how the defense attacked the Steelers en route to a 33-18 loss.

The defensive end pointed out the Browns were moving around a lot on the defensive line and “experimenting with some things” in contrast to sticking with base calls, which worked in the season opener as the two teams played to a 21-21 tie.

Garrett, however, did say after the game that he didn’t believe he would cause trouble for voicing his opinion, pointing out Williams won’t “bash” players for speaking their minds.

On Wednesday, Williams indicated he is fine with criticism landing on his shoulders.

“One of the biggest gifts I tell the coaches that get a chance to work with me — and players — is that my biggest gift that I give you if you have a hard time taking responsibility, blame me,” Williams said. “They’ve heard me say that over 100 times — just blame me … Now, I’m going to get to the bottom of it. We’re going to discuss it, but there are people that respond that way. That’s just how they are.”

With Garrett’s comments effectively in the rearview mirror, the Browns have a larger task on hand leading to Sunday.

Williams, who will retain his responsibilities as defensive coordinator, now has to devise a plan to slow down the Chiefs, owners of the league’s third-ranked offense and No. 1 scoring offense.

And should the Browns drop a fourth straight game Sunday to fall to 2-6-1 on the season with nobody else to accept responsibility, the team should feel good knowing the interim head coach is willing to absorb the blame.

Antonio Callaway Jersey

CLEVELAND — As Browns wide receiver Antonio Callaway stood by, a police officer said he “got real nervous” when he found bullets and a gun part while searching the rookie’s vehicle.

Callaway was cited for marijuana possession and driving with a suspended license after being stopped by Strongsville, Ohio, police early Sunday morning for failing to yield to oncoming traffic.

On Wednesday, the dashcam video shows Callaway getting out of his car and then being questioned by police after the ammunition and a “strap” for a handgun were found in the car.

A Browns spokesman said Callaway, a fourth-round pick who had numerous off-field problems while he was at Florida, traveled with the team for Thursday’s exhibition opener against the New York Giants.

Callaway had been scheduled to appear in court Thursday, but his appearance was moved to Aug. 23. He recently moved into the starting lineup after the Browns traded Corey Coleman to Buffalo. It’s still not known if Callaway will be disciplined by the team.

TMZ first reported on the dashcam video, which was obtained later Wednesday by ESPN.

Callaway was pulled over at 2:59 a.m., and during the routine stop was asked to exit his vehicle after one of the officers smelled marijuana. In the video, Callaway says he has not been smoking and tells the officer his car had just been shipped from Florida.

Once he returns to his patrol car, one officer tells the other he got worried when he found the bullets.

“I got real nervous when I opened [the car] up and first thing right down by where the seats sit is the backstrap of a Glock, and then he’s got a bunch of spare single rounds sitting in the center console,” the unidentified officer said. “So I got real nervous when he’s standing back there and there’s no gun but there’s gun stuff everywhere.”

Callaway says he owned a gun, but that it was in Florida. The officer asks to pat him down to make sure he’s not carrying a weapon.

There was no mention of the ammunition or gun part in the police report.

Browns coach Hue Jackson said he only learned of Callaway’s situation on Tuesday and said he wanted to gather more information before commenting further.

“Obviously, the red flag is up,” Jackson said. “Let me work through it, see what it is and go from there.”

Callaway is already in Stage 1 of the NFL’s substance-abuse program after he provided a diluted urine sample at the league’s combine in February. He could be subject to a fine or discipline from the league for his latest transgression.

Chad Thomas Jersey

Known as much for it’s dominance as a college football power, the University of Miami has been also known for producing NFL talent on an annual basis, acting as a pipeline on a prospect path to professional football. When former Booker T. Washington defensive end Chad Thomas arrived to UM’s campus, many projected the five-star high school prospect would dominate early and often during his collegiate career. Sadly, that was not the case early in Thomas’ career. Thomas was used sparingly during his first two seasons—a fact that only drew the ire of Miami’s fan base towards then-head coach Al Golden and defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio for questionable personnel decisions during their tenure.

Like many holdovers from the Golden regime, entering his junior season, an older, wiser and limitless potential version of Thomas appeared ready to seize the opportunities presented.

With the Hurricanes adopting an attacking 4-3 defense under new defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, the change returned Thomas to a familiar stance. Having worked as a linebacker rushing from two-point stance with D’Onofiro as DC, Thomas transitioned back to putting his hand on the grass in 3-point stance. Whether through maturation or a better scheme fit, No. 9’s productions picked up in his final two seasons at Miami, gathering 11 tackles-for-loss in 2016 and 12.5 TFLs in his senior season. His four sacks in 2016 were improved by one-and-a-half in 2017 for a five-and-a-half rushing total against the strength of the offense.

One of the more fascinating individuals to come through the program in some time, Thomas’ passion is playing the game of football, yet it’s not his only endeavour. Before his senior year, Thomas was credited by Miami Rapper Rick Ross for his production on a song called, “Apple of My Eye” on Ross’ “Rather You Than Me” album. That same year, DJ Khaled used another sample produced by Thomas—whose rap name is Major Nine—on a single that featured Miami DJ and “God’s Plan” artist, Drake. After dropping a mixtape, Thomas made it clear that his focus was on school—he majors in Miami’s music program—and on the football season. Thomas has maintained that his musical ambitions will be on the backburner as he chases his dream of being drafted and playing in the NFL, illustrating his real focus in life.