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David Irving's future with the Cowboys depends on if he can become more reliable -- both on and off the field.

David Irving’s future with the Cowboys depends on if he can become more reliable — both on and off the field.

FRISCO, Texas — David Irving is the ultimate tease.

In eight games, Irving’s seven sacks were second on the defense to DeMarcus Lawrence’s 14.5. He had 19 quarterback pressures. The coaches credited him with 12 tackles, three tackles for loss, six pass deflections and a forced fumble.

“I keep thinking, ‘What if I had played all of the games?’” Irving said. “I probably could’ve got 15, 16, maybe more [sacks]. So I just got to come back next year, stay the hell out of trouble, hopefully don’t get injured and see what I can do next year.”

Irving missed the first four games last season because of a suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. He missed the final four games because of a concussion. There is nothing he could do to avoid the latter, but he could have done everything differently to avoid the former.

In 2016, Irving had four sacks, five tackles for loss, 26 quarterback pressures, five pass deflections and four forced fumbles, including three in one game. By the end of the season, he was the Cowboys’ best defensive lineman.

There are just not many people on the earth at 6-foot-7, 285 pounds who can do the things Irving can do on a football field.

When he came back from his suspension, he played mostly defensive end, but he shifted inside when the Cowboys moved Maliek Collins to nose tackle.

“Honestly, it doesn’t make any difference; put me at nose guard, left end, right end, three-technique, it really doesn’t matter,” Irving said. “Wherever I can make plays, wherever I can help the team. I’m capable of playing any position on the line, so wherever the coaches need me, wherever my team needs me.”

As for his health, Irving said he is “progressing slowly but surely.” The headaches are less frequent, and he hopes to be working out fully in a few weeks.

“It’s weird, man,” he said. “You’ve just got to rest up. Some days you have good days. Some days you have bad days, but the bad days are not coming as much.”
Consistency has been Irving’s issue, on and off the field. His talent will give him chances others won’t get, but he confounds coaches at times. He did not practice in part of the offseason for reasons not really known. He did not show up for the first reporting day of training camp at The Star before the Cowboys went to Oxnard, California.

Irving’s future depends on becoming more reliable. He is set to be a restricted free agent. The Cowboys are likely to give him the second-round tender in hopes that 2018 becomes the year he puts it all together, on and off the field.

Had Irving already showed he was responsible, the Cowboys might have opted for a long-term deal with a bigger financial commitment.

As he addressed the media Monday, Irving on multiple occasions talked about staying out of trouble, which is likely something he heard from the coaches in his exit interviews.

“You’ve got to be mature,” Irving said. “You have to be an adult. You have to be responsible. When you’ve got something to lose, it’s much easier to stay out of trouble. I’m definitely going to be staying out of trouble.”

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Philadelphia Eagles NEWS: Tim Tebow Has Best Day Since Rejoining NFL

While the eyes of Philadelphia Eagles fans will likely stay squarely locked on the knees, ankles and arm of quarterback Sam Bradford, the guy head coach Chip Kelly traded Nick Foles and a second-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft for, it seems something interesting is developing at the bottom of the Philly signal-caller depth chart. Tim Tebow, the former first-round pick who hasn’t taken a snap from under center – or, more accurately, shotgun – since 2012, is improving and thus impressing almost daily. After a few lightly promising practices, Tebow apparently went out on Thursday and made several high-quality plays that had Eagles and media alike buzzing. Check out some of the nearly gushing recounting of Tebow’s day….

Brandon Lee Gowton Of Bleeding Green Nation – “TEBOW TIME: The backup quarterback had a very nice series where he completed three tough passes in a row. The first was a a seam pass catch to newly signed receiver Mike Johnson. JaCorey Shepherd tried to fight for the ball in the air, but Johnson reeled it in. Then it was Quron Pratt who made a diving over the shoulder catch. Raheem Mostert caught the last ball on a wheel route. Great ball placement by Tebow to beat the defense.

“The crowd really liked this series, by the one. Some people clapped. Tebow was PUMPED. He gave a fistpump after the drive was over.”

Sheil Kapadia of Philly Mag -”Tebow gets hot! He fires a ball down the seam to Mike Johnson for a huge gain. Johnson beat JaCorey Shepherd on the play.

“Then Tebow lofts a corner route to Pratt and connects again.

“Finally, a bomb down the left sideline to Mostert on a wheel route. Three huge plays in a row for Tebow.”

Jimmy Kempski of Philly Voice – “Tim Tebow had a really good day, and more specifically, he had a terrific series in which he threw three passes down the field that were all on the money.”

Geoff Mosher of CSN Philly – “If you’re a Tim Tebow fan – and judging by Tuesday’s Linc practice, plenty of you are – this was your day. Tebow dazzled in first grouping of reps in the 11-on-11 drills.”

While Tebow’s chances of making Kelly’s roster are likely still to come down to Matt Barkley’s performance and potentially being dealt – Kelly did indicate during his Thursday press conference that Barkley has been playing well of late and has had a “really good April to June for us” – it’s got to be encouraging to Tebow and Eagles fans to hear that he’s stepping his game up. Still, while Kelly indicated that Tebow does have certain skills the other quarterbacks on the Eagle roster may not have, he made it clear that those aren’t what will land him on the final 53.

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Packers’ first-round pick Randall picking up cornerback on the fly

Damarious Randall is learning about life as an NFL cornerback on the fly.

If the Green Bay Packers’ first-round draft pick is going to make mistakes, it might as well happen in training camp against some of the best offensive playmakers in the business in teammates Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson.

Having to face that kind of test each day helps make the high points of his first NFL camp stand out, like when he picked off Rodgers in practice earlier this week.

“Just the pace of everything, just trying to learn how fast the NFL is really played,” Randall said Tuesday. “Everything is starting to slow a little bit.”

It’s a solid start for the defensive back out of Arizona State, where he played safety out of necessity. But Randall played cornerback earlier in his career, and he said he’s still comfortable at that position.

The Packers liked his potential enough that they took him with the 30th overall pick to help replenish depth following the departures of veteran cornerbacks Tramon Williams and Davon House in free agency.

“Looks comfortable. Looks like his understanding is high. He’s very natural (with) a lot of things,” coach Mike McCarthy said about Randall.

Returnee Casey Hayward, a fourth-year cornerback who has shown flashes of playmaking ability, would appear to be a favorite to fill the starting job opposite of Sam Shields, though it’s too early for McCarthy to name a starter.

McCarthy does know he has youthful options at cornerback.

“Well, I think the corners as a group are off to a good start. They’re getting their hands on some balls, as you saw again today,” he said Tuesday. “Everybody’s working hard, looks good. Don’t have a depth chart, sorry, for you yet.”

Staying healthy might be the biggest key for Hayward.

He had surgery after the season for a stress fracture in his foot, and the recovery kept him out of offseason workouts. It wasn’t until about a couple weeks before the start of camp in mid-July that Hayward said he was full go.

“It’s showing now. I’m still getting more comfortable and confident with each practice,” Hayward said last week.

Among other options at cornerback: Micah Hyde, a third-year player out of Iowa who has shown the ability to play corner and safety; and Quinten Rollins, a second-round pick out of Miami (Ohio) who’s practicing again after missing the first few days of camp with a hamstring injury.

Undrafted free agent LaDarius Gunter, out of Miami, has also made a couple impressive plays, building on a nice showing he made in offseason workouts.

But out of the rookies, Randall will draw the most attention. He figures to play a good share of snaps in the regular season even if Hayward wins the starting job.

Randall knows it will be important for him to quickly forget about the bad plays in camp, like when Nelson beat Randall deep down the right sideline to haul in a perfectly thrown touchdown pass from Rodgers.

For a rookie, a negative can turn into a learning experience.

“I just ask a lot of questions,” Randall said. “It’s like any time I do get beat on something, I would ask (Nelson and receiver Randall Cobb), `Why? How?’ to just try to figure out things.”

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Early Homers for Rangers in 6-3 Win Over Giants, Bumgarner

Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre homered as the Rangers beat San Francisco 6-3 Friday night in the Giants’ first visit since clinching the 2010 World Series in Texas.

Madison Bumgarner (11-6) gave up both homers and helped ignite a benches-clearing fracas when he shouted something toward the Rangers bench at the end of the fourth inning. There were no ejections, punches thrown or contact made between players, who were kept separated by the umpires.

Andrus hit a two-run homer in the second to put the Rangers up 6-2. He doubled in the first, scoring then on Beltre’s homer lined over the 14-foot wall in left field.

Nick Martinez (6-6) won for the first time since June 9 — seven starts — allowing two runs with four strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings.

Texas has won three in a row since a 21-5 loss Tuesday night against the New York Yankees after leading 5-0 in the first inning.

Only moments after newly acquired Cole Hamels appeared in the Rangers dugout wearing his No. 35 uniform for the first time, shaking hands with new teammates, both benches and bullpens were clearing.

Delino DeShields had an infield popout to end the fourth, and he flipped his bat after hitting the ball. Earlier in the inning, Rougned Odor made a hard slide into fellow second baseman Joe Panik to break up a potential double play.

Bumgarner looked directly at the Rangers bench and shouted something as he left the mound. That led to Rangers players coming out on the field, and the Giants bench and both bullpens quickly followed.

In the top of the fifth, Panik made a hard slide into second, but Odor was able to sidestep and complete the inning-ending double play without incident.

Two weeks ago, Texas had a similar melee in Houston after Odor, who had homered earlier in that game, got into a testy exchange with Astros catcher Hank Conger while getting ready to bat to start the ninth.

While Hamels is set to start Saturday’s game, reliever Jake Diekman — the other left-hander Texas got from Philadelphia in an eight-player trade completed earlier Friday — retired all five batters he faced.

Bumgarner matched a season high by allowing six runs, but all of those came in the first two innings. He struck out eight over seven innings.

The only other time Bumgarner pitched at Texas was Game 4 of the 2010 World Series. The big lefty threw eight scoreless innings that Halloween night, allowing only three hits in a 4-0 win. The next night, the Giants clinched their first of three titles over the past five seasons.

Brandon Crawford had a solo homer, his 16th, in the ninth for the Giants, who lost for only the third time their last 16 games.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Giants: RHP Tim Hudson was put on the 15-day disabled list with a shoulder strain. … C Andrew Susac (sprained right thumb) is eligible to come off the DL Monday. He resumed throwing Friday.

UP NEXT

Giants: Chris Heston (11-5), who has won his last three starts, moves up a day to pitch in place of scheduled starter Hudson.

Rangers: Hamels makes his Texas debut, a day after the completion of the deal to get the ace lefty. He is 6-4 with a 4.21 ERA in 15 career starts for the Phillies against the Giants. He faced them July 10 in San Francisco, allowing nine runs and 12 hits in 3 1-3 innings.

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49ers place five players on injury lists, including Carlos Hyde

The 49ers placed five players, including two would-be starters – running back Carlos Hyde and center Daniel Kilgore – on the team’s injury lists Tuesday.

Hyde, who was placed on the Non-Football Injury list (NFI), dealt with a minor calf pull during spring drills but is not believed to have suffered an injury and likely won’t be on the NFI long.

The same goes for second-year player Aaron Lynch, an outside linebacker, and seventh-round draft pick Trent Brown, an offensive tackle. Both are on the NFI with Hyde.

Kilgore, meanwhile, suffered a broken ankle in October and was placed on injured reserve, ending his first season as the team’s starting center. He did not take part in any offseason practices but said he thought he’d be back for training camp. The 49ers, however, have placed him on the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list to start the summer session.

Marcus Martin, Joe Looney and Dillon Farrell played center during the recent OTA and minicamp sessions and could fill in should Kilgore’s absence continue.

Fourth-round draft pick DeAndre Smelter also was placed on the NFI after suffering an ACL tear while playing wide receiver at Georgia Tech in late November. If he plays, it likely won’t be until the second half of the season.

Players on the injury lists count against the 49ers’ 90-man offseason roster. They can be removed at any time. However, if they are still on the injury lists when the season begins, they must miss at least the first six weeks.

The 49ers did not place either defensive lineman Darnell Dockett, who tore his ACL last August, or safety Jimmie Ward, who broke his foot in November, on the PUP list, and they have been cleared to practice. The team has until Saturday to add players to the various injury rosters.

The 49ers’ rookies, quarterbacks and injured players reported for training camp Monday and are permitted to go through light practices this week. The rest of the team reports Friday, and the first full-squad practice is Saturday evening.

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Cleveland Cavaliers NBA Trade News and Analysis: Cleveland Cavaliers Brings In Richard Jefferson and Mo Williams while Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Anderson Varejao are Expected to Return from Injury

Basketball is a team game, so even if you have the ‘greatest basketball player in the world’ won’t ‘guarantee’ a championship trophy.

That’s the case of the Cleveland Cavaliers when they go up against the Golden State Warriors during the last NBA Finals. LeBron James almost single-handedly tried to carry the heavy burden of defeating the sweet shooting Warriors, not because he wants to do it alone, but he doesn’t have the luxury of having the people who helped bring the Cavaliers to the Finals due to injury – talking about Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

Expected Return of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love from Injury

Kyrie Irving undoubtedly is the next best scoring machine for the Cavaliers, next only to LeBron James. Despite suffering an injury during the Eastern Conference Finals against the Atlanta Hawks, he managed to continue playing until he was ruled out of the season after another injury in the overtime period during Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Warriors.

Kevin Love who already underwent surgery to repair his dislocated shoulder is reported to be cleared in time before the next NBA season starts. Love, who opted out of the final year of his contract to become a free agent, reportedly re-signed with the Cavaliers for a five-year, $108.9 million contract.

With Irving and Love coming back from their injuries, this could make life easier for King James. And if they both stay injury-free during the entire season, it’s easy to say reaching the playoffs will not that too difficult for the Cavaliers.
Additional Ceiling with Anderson Varejao’s Return

After just 26 games, Anderson Varejao injured his Achilles during the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, making him the first casualty of the Cavaliers. But he’s back now, in fact, he’s raring to jump in and help the Cavaliers during the 2015 NBA Finals, had he received the go signal to suit up.

With Varejao’s hustle combined with Love’s offensive prowess, the improving Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson, the Cavaliers now owns the deepest baseline defenders in the NBA.
Cavaliers’ Outside Shooting Goes Deeper with Richard Jefferson

A fifteen-year veteran with a sweet touch from the three, Richard Jefferson is out to make a statement – he wants to championship ring.

After two successive failed attempts to capture the championship in just his first two years in the NBA during his New Jersey Nets playing days, the road to the Finals has been very elusive for Jefferson. This time, he’ll lend his shooting hands to King James, Irving, Love, and the rest of the Cavaliers in making sure their championship attempt this time won’t fail.

With a 3-point-shooting percentage of .426% last season placing ninth overall, Jefferson is expected to lead the long list of Cavaliers’ outside shooting players like Irving, J.R Smith, Iman Shumpert, Mike Miller, and James Jones – all capable of providing outside firepower needed to open up the lanes for the Cavaliers’ big men.
Talking about Depth, Court Generals Kyrie Irving, Matthew Dellavedova, and Mo Williams

With Irving out in the Finals, Matthew Dellavedova steps up his game tenfold, tried to beat the odds by playing more than 36 minutes per game after taking over the point position since Game 2 of the NBA Finals. But alas, Delly cannot sustain the magical game he had during Game 3, shooting just 19% in the last three games of the Finals.

With this problem exposed, general manager David Blatt decided it’s time to bring reinforcement, someone who’s familiar with the Cavaliers’ playing system, someone who’s familiar with King James, someone like Mo Williams.

A member of the team that almost got Cavaliers back into the NBA Finals, Williams brings in experience and court leadership along with his scoring prowess. He recently signed with the Cavaliers for a two-year, $4.3 million contract with player option on the second year.

This early, many basketball analysts thinks the Cleveland Cavaliers, assuming they all stay healthy, will be a dominant force this coming 2015-16 NBA season which starts in October.

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Jim Tomsula feature talks introduction to Mike Nolan, Jed York comparison to Warriors

The San Francisco 49ers start up training camp next Monday, when rookies and quarterbacks report. Veterans follow on Friday, and the first practice is set for Saturday, August 1. That makes the timing perfect for a sizable feature on head coach Jim Tomsula. Emily Kaplan put together a great read over at the MMQB that goes into even more detail than what we already knew about Tomsula.

We get a lot of the same back story that we know fairly well at this point. However, it goes into further detail, including interviews with Tomsula’s parents, wife and others. One of my favorite tidbits is about how he ended up joining the 49ers in the first place.

In January 2007, Tomsula received a most unexpected call: 49ers coach Mike Nolan was looking for a defensive line coach. Though they played on the other side of the ball, offensive linemen Harvey Dahl and Tony Wragge had returned from Europe raving about Tomsula’s mentorship. The 49ers flew Tomsula out for an interview; it was the first time he ever rode first class. Tomsula accepted the job, but first asked Nolan an important question: “I don’t know anything about money. Can I live with my family in California and provide for them with that salary?”

Nolan told him yes, and then boosted his salary $10,000 on the spot.

The article talks about Tomsula’s camp for kids with Down Syndrome, his work at Catawba College, and the coaching staff that is meant to challenge and push him. It all wraps up with the story about his football camp, and then the post-camp party at Tomsula’s sister’s house. The anecdote there is particularly interesting.

I would be remiss if I did not reference the Jed York portion of the article. Discussion has focused on that, with Jed York making a comparison to the Golden State Warriors. People are focusing on that, which takes away from the rest of what is a fantastic article. Nonetheless, I will give it some space here.

The article talks about his struggles in the opening press conference and his first radio interview. It then discusses how he handled himself better in assembling a staff and preparing for the coming season. It goes into a discussion about Tomsula’s decision to move the head coach’s office from the second floor of the facility down closer to where the players are situated. The idea being that players will always go by his office when they are making their way around the facility, as opposed to going out of their way to see him on the second floor. Kaplan then had this comment from York:

“Culture is huge. That’s the difference between a championship-caliber team and a championship team,” York says. “You look at the Golden State Warriors. They were the dumbest team in the NBA for letting Mark Jackson go, who won the most games in the franchise’s history. How could you be so dumb? They bring in Steve Kerr, who has been around the game for a long period of time but has never coached before. Kerr changes the culture, comes in with a different perspective, and look what happens.”

I do get the general point he is making. There is a comparison to be made between Mark Jackson and Jim Harbaugh. Jackson did not get along with people, and that resulted in his departure. Harbaugh did not get along with people, and that resulted in his departure. And it is entirely possible the 49ers roll through the 2015 season and shock a lot of the national media and 49ers fans.

The talent is there to win a lot of games, but there are still questions. And to make that comparison so soon after the Warriors championship just seems like he is trying to use what he can to provide additional cover for the decision to replace Harbaugh with Tomsula. I believe the team respects Tomsula and will play hard for him. But to drop the Kerr reference so quickly does not strike me as the wisest move.

I suppose York’s expectations of a Super Bowl mean the pressure was already there. So maybe it really doesn’t matter. But if the 49ers struggle out of the gates, it will be interesting to see how quickly the seat gets hot and how fans handle it. Of course, if the 49ers come out of the gates strong, Jed York’s Twitter account will be interesting to watch as well.

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Ravens’ Brandon Williams earning national respect

There has been plenty of talk about Timmy Jernigan playing a more prominent role on the Ravens’ defense next season after Haloti Ngata’s trade to the Lions. However, the Ravens have another defensive lineman with Pro Bowl potential — nose tackle Brandon Williams.

After playing well as a starter in 2014, in only his second NFL season, Williams is getting his respect around the league. Case in point. NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks lists Williams as the league’s fifth-best run stopper. His top four in order are Ndamukong Suh of the Dolphins, Marcell Dareus of the Bills, Aaron Donald of the Rams and Damon Harrison of the Jets.

Williams may be the strongest player on the Ravens. Because of his power, low center of gravity, size (6-foot-1, 335 pounds) and athleticism, Williams is often double-teamed by the opposition. That allows inside linebackers C. J. Mosley and Daryl Smith to make more plays, and helps the Ravens be one of the NFL’s most difficult teams to run against.

There is every reason to believe Williams will continue to improve at age 26. Looking back the Ravens’ 2013 draft, safety Matt Elam (first round) and linebacker Arthur Brown (second round) have been disappointments so far. But Williams (third round) has been a gem.

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Ex-teammate gives a vote to Taylor as Bills’ QB

When the Buffalo Bills reconvene at St. John Fisher College for training camp, all eyes will be on the quarterbacks.

The veteran Matt Cassel. The 2013 first-rounder EJ Manuel. The mobile pick-up Tyrod Taylor. Heck, even Matt Simms.

Buffalo has the most-wide open quarterback competition in the league. And Taylor – a dual-threat option – is the wild card of the bunch. The former Virginia Tech standout has thrown a whopping 35 passes in four years. So how has he developed behind the scenes? What kind of quarterback is he? Baltimore safety Terrence Brooks faced Taylor all of last season in practice, in addition to the quarterback’s banner 2010 season in college.

Brooks believes Taylor is ready to run the show as a No. 1.

“He’s a very versatile quarterback,” said Brooks. “The kid can run. He can definitely sling the ball around. He’s one of my favorite quarterbacks – I loved playing with Tyrod. He always gave us a good look. Whenever we faced a good running quarterback, he always got us prepared. Most of the time, he was doing it better than they did.”

Running the Ravens’ scout team through the 2014 season, Taylor mimicked the likes of Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and everyone in the AFC North.

Brooks is quick to say Taylor is more than a running quarterback.

Buffalo has been there, done that. J.P. Losman was the athletic, mobile, anti-Bledsoe out of Tulane and then struggled keeping his poise in the pocket.

“You can’t just limit him to that,” Brooks said. “Even passing, he’s got it all.

“He was definitely a guy who could’ve been a starter. But he was behind Joe Flacco, a really good guy, too. If we ever needed Tyrod, I was pretty sure he could step up to the job and do it.”

The Bills’ options this past offseason at quarterback were limited. They traded for Matt Cassel (due $4.15 million in 2015) and signed Taylor (three years, $3.35 million) to compete with Manuel. Unlike Taylor, Cassel does have game experience, albeit a 33-38 career record as a starter with only two solid seasons (2008 in New England and 2010 in Kansas City).

That being said, Cassel struggled through spring practices.

Is Taylor ready to elevate from handy scout-team quarterback to NFL starter?

“No one will really know until they give him a shot,” Brooks said. “That’s what he’s been working for – for a while – just to get that shot, to show everybody what he can do. What I remember from playing against him in college and the ACC Championship Game is he tore it up. I’m pretty sure he could do the same still.”

Brooks was on the field for that 2010 ACC Championship Game, a 44-33 Virginia Tech win over his Florida State team.

That game, Taylor completed 18 of 28 passes for 263 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions and another rushing touchdown. And that game, really, is the most recent extensive game footage there is of Taylor. He threw 24 touchdowns to only five picks his final year with the Hokies and was drafted in the sixth round by Baltimore.

Be it at Virginia Tech or Baltimore, Brooks says what makes Taylor different from other quarterbacks is that he “creates plays.”

“When things are broken down,” Brooks said, “he can move around with his feet and make things happen. And even if he can’t get anybody open, he’s still going to make a play with his feet. So he’s a guy you really have to watch out for and I’m pretty sure they’ll be happy to have him.”

Asked if he can still read a defense, Brooks adds “He’s a NFL quarterback so I’m pretty sure he’s got it in there somewhere.”

Coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Greg Roman have decided to bring a quarterback competition into camp, rather than declare one player The Guy. They’ll be watching how Cassel, Taylor and Manuel can all read a defense closely, if they can make the necessary anticipatory throws.

Practices will resemble the stock market with the Bills simply hoping all four don’t crash.

After facing Taylor each day in Baltimore through 2014 – Taylor’s fourth season of waiting as a back-up – Brooks believes his former teammate will respond.

“Competition is what the league is made of,” Brooks said. “You have to go through that in whatever you do. He sees the opportunity in front of him, so I’m pretty sure he’s not going to let it go.”

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Smith, Colvin among the 5 Jaguars poised to breakout

It happens every season.

Whether a team is playing poorly or emerging as a contender, several unexpected players come from out of nowhere with positive performances.

Last season, the Jacksonville Jaguars witnessed the surprising emergence of Ryan Davis, Allen Hurns and Denard Robinson, among others.

This season, there seems to be several young players that have the potential to shine after receiving limited to no attention heading into training camp.

In order for the Jaguars to take the next step and start adding wins to the team’s collection, the squad needs a handful of players to enjoy seasons above everyone’s expectations.

Here are five players poised for a potential breakout this season.

Telvin Smith, OLB, 2nd Season

Smith is an obvious candidate to break out for several reasons. As a rookie, he played very well and since then has added more weight and become even more receptive to the playbook. A tweener on paper, Smith has the ability to make plays in several different ways and could see his numbers skyrocket as he gets more adjusted to the NFL.

After only starting nine of the 16 games that he appeared in, Smith is now a surefire starter at WILL linebacker. The added snaps should see him increase his 104 tackles, two sacks and one interception stat line from his rookie year. Smith had 31 combined tackles in his last two games as a rookie and if he can continue that production, the sky is the limit.

Aaron Colvin, CB, 2nd Season

While a lot of fans and media members expect Aaron Colvin to take a backseat to Demetrius McCray and Davon House, that may not last long, if at all, during the season. Colvin was a dynamic talent before he was injured in the pre-draft process last year and was among the most talented players in his class. The Jaguars got a steal in Colvin in the fourth round and he performed relatively well when he returned from injury.

After a full season of healing, Colvin is ready to take the next step. Whether he is at nickel or on the outside, Colvin is set to make plays for the Jaguars. He has had a very solid offseason and has stood out consistently on the field. He may be the most talented player at cornerback on the Jaguars roster.

Sergio Brown, S, 6th Season

It’s unusual for a player to breakout in the middle of his career, but it happens (just ask Chris Clemons and Sen’Derrick Marks). Sometimes, a change of scenery or strategy helps veteran players emerge. Brown is likely to be a full-time starter for the first time in his NFL career and if he can take advantage of that opportunity, he will easily outperform his production from previous seasons.

Brown has been practicing with the first team and rookie James Sample is still on the sidelines. The veteran seems to have the heavy lead on the competition and shouldn’t let up until at least the early parts of the campaign. A very vocal player, Brown may not just emerge on the field but in the locker room as well.

Corey Grant, RB, Rookie

Last year, Allen Hurns started off hot and found a role in the Jaguars offense. Heading into his second season, he’s poised to potentially start due to Marqise Lee’s injury woes. Corey Grant just seems to be this year’s Hurns for several reasons. For one, he’s an undrafted free agent from a big school who had an up-and-down college career but clearly has the talent to play at this level. Secondly, he’s the overlooked rookie at his position after T.J. Yeldon was drafted in the second round, similarly to Hurns’ relationship to Lee and Allen Robinson last season. Still, Grant seems to be gaining more and more traction and may have been one of the most consistent talents during organized team activities and minicamp.

A speedy returner with the ability to blaze out of the backfield and catch, he could end up being the fourth running back on the depth chart to begin the season. That may sound like an underwhelming spot, but injuries and poor play are inevitable at his position, so he could easily grow throughout the season and see more snaps. He could also be the starting punt and/or kick returner, which could lead to some big play opportunities.

Andre Branch, DE, 4th Season

For Andre Branch, this is a make or break year. While he has shown NFL talent and flashed as a pass rusher, this needs to be the season that he puts it all together. Chris Clemons is an aging, one-dimensional veteran pass rusher and Branch provides a youthful alternative with Dante Fowler Jr. out for the season.

Branch has been able to be productive in a rotation but if he can really own the LEO position moving forward, his opportunities to make plays will rise substantially. Coming off a three-sack season, Branch needs to triple that total to get a worthwhile contract as a free agent next offseason.