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Vikings’ decision to extend Kyle Rudolph reflects all-in mentality

He wore his feelings on his chest, donning a white hoodie with the phrase “Lots of Game Left” as he participated in voluntary workouts while uncertainty swirled around the status of his contract and his future in Minnesota.

Ahead of mandatory minicamp, the Vikings came back at Rudolph with a message just as poignant: The pursuit of our first Lombardi Trophy cannot happen without you.nfl jersey cheap wholesale china

The four-year, $36 million contract extension Rudolph signed on Tuesday is set to keep him in Minnesota through the 2023 season. The veteran tight end got what he wanted — to remain in the place where he started his career in 2011 on a deal in which he doesn’t feel like he’s shortchanging himself ($9 million of Rudolph’s new contract is fully guaranteed, a source told ESPN). The Vikings made out well on their end, too, not having to overpay or lock themselves long term into a player approaching the later years of his prime, with Rudolph’s extension also expected to free up $4 million in cap space, according to NFL Network.

The laborious work it took for both sides to get here finally paid off. Finding a way to keep Rudolph on this offense exemplifies a mentality that the Vikings are all-in for the 2019 season, backed by the support of an ownership group willing to pull out all the stops to make it happen.6

“It certainly embodies the win-now mentality,” Rudolph said. “But to me, it just embodies how much they (the Wilf family) care about winning, period. They came to this organization a little over 12 years ago with one goal and that was to win a championship. All the stuff that they’ve done since is falling in place with that goal. Certainly we want to win now — that’s not going to change. But with their leadership, they’re providing us with every resource imaginable to win now, but also to win for a long time.”wholesale jerseys cheap nfl

Rudolph is the third core veteran the Vikings retained this offseason when financial limitations felt like they would lead to dead ends. Keeping defensive end Everson Griffen, linebacker Anthony Barr and now Rudolph shows the belief this franchise has that it can get back to where it was in 2017, when this team reached its highest heights under this ownership, front office and coaching staff, standing one win away from a trip to the Super Bowl.

What the Vikings want to do offensively cannot happen without Rudolph on the roster. After the Vikings drafted Irv Smith Jr. with the 50th overall pick, general manager Rick Spielman noted how the use of multiple tight end sets can help this offense become harder to defend. Smith and Rudolph are completely different; one does not make the other obsolete. Keeping both of them, especially with the roles tight ends have played in Gary Kubiak’s offenses before and the concepts that coordinator Kevin Stefanski has voiced a desire to employ regularly, was critical for the success of this unit.

If the Vikings weren’t serious about the way they view Rudolph’s role as a necessary component to the success of this offense, they might have taken a gamble that they could have been just as successful without him. But the pressure that would put on Smith to perform immediately when rookie tight ends often face struggles might not be worth it.

Browns eager for good dose of OBJ in minicamp

Browns coach Freddie Kitchens was direct when asked what Odell Beckham Jr. was missing during organized team activities, which are voluntary.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“A lot,” Kitchens told reporters Thursday. “The offense.”

Beckham attended the first OTA session May 14 but has missed the eight sessions since. The Browns open mandatory minicamp Tuesday, and Beckham is expected to show. Beckham also attended an April 1 news conference with teammates Baker Mayfield, Jarvis Landry and Myles Garrett, but he has not been a fixture at the team facility since Cleveland acquired him in a March 12 trade with the New York Giants.7

“I just want to see him,” Kitchens said when asked what he wants to see from Beckham during the three-day camp.

Mayfield has been running the offense without several top options. Landry did not participate in Thursday’s session, and Kitchens said an injury will likely keep him off the field for minicamp, delaying the on-field reunion of Beckham and Landry from their LSU days. Running back Duke Johnson, the subject of trade rumors, has stayed away.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Two weeks ago, Kitchens said he wanted every player here but stressed they had the option to attend. Receivers coach Adam Henry, who coached Beckham in New York and at LSU, said he has no concerns about Beckham’s readiness.

“He’s a worker. He’s a guy who works hard,” Henry said. “He’s always in condition. You have to save him from himself when he’s practicing because he’ll go and go and go. He’s like the young person with the ball. If there’s a ball being thrown or kicked, he wants it.”

The Browns haven’t seen much of that in person but are eager to find out.

Beckham is entering the second year of a five-year, $95 million deal he signed with the Giants last offseason.

Sitting Pat standing pat: Gronk still retired

Former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski said Sunday morning that he is happy in retirement, while playfully deflecting a question on whether he wanted to end rumors that he would ever consider a comeback.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

“Oh man! Whatever I say, it doesn’t matter. It will always be crazy out there, but you can put them to rest,” Gronkowski said with a smile while taking part in the One Mission Buzz Off for Kids at Gillette Stadium. “I’m feeling good. [In a] good place. It’s great to be back here.”
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While Gronkowski, 30, didn’t decisively spike the possibility of a comeback — which is something his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said in March wouldn’t surprise him — he clearly seems to be content in retirement.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Gronkowski said returning to Gillette Stadium for Sunday’s event, which marked the ninth year in which he’s served as an ambassador by shaving his head in support of kids with cancer, reminded him that “there will always be family here, and it will always be home here.”

Gronkowski didn’t detail specific plans for his retirement, other than saying he plans to be part of more charitable and community events.

“I love the New England community. It’s something special, all the support through many, many years of playing. The support of just not on the field, but off the field as well. New England will always be special, always have a big part in my heart, and always have much love,” he said. “It’s great to continue giving back. Just because I’m not playing any more doesn’t mean you can’t give back. You can do more, actually.”

Dak on deal talks: ‘Want to be a Cowboy forever’

“I mean, I want to be a Cowboy forever,” Prescott said Wednesday night at Dr Pepper Ballpark, where the quarterback and his teammates were raising money for the Salvation Army through the Reliant Home Run Derby. “I think the people that are doing the deal feel the same way, so to me, it’s no rush. I know it will get done.”

Prescott is set to make $2.02 million in the final year of his four-year rookie contract that he signed after the Dallas Cowboys drafted him in the fourth round in 2016.

Last week, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said talks with the agents for Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper were “off and running,” and Jones did not rule out a deal for running back Ezekiel Elliott, either.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Owner and general manager Jerry Jones has said keeping Prescott is a priority for the future and that he knows it will come at a big price.

Russell Wilson recently signed a four-year, $140 million extension with the Seattle Seahawks. Prescott is likely to see a deal that could come in around $30 million per year.4

Last month, DeMarcus Lawrence signed a five-year, $105 million deal that is the most in Cowboys history in terms of average per year ($21 million) and guaranteed money ($65 million). Prescott figures to top those marks.

“It’s all generational money, life-changing money, so it’s just a blessing to be able to be in this position,” Prescott said. “But as far as the numbers are concerned, my focus is on the locker room, and that will all take care of itself.”cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Since 2016, only Tom Brady has won more games than Prescott in the NFL. Prescott was named NFL Rookie of the Year in 2016 after he took over for an injured Tony Romo and threw 23 touchdown passes with just four interceptions in leading the Cowboys to an NFC-best 13-3 record.

Prescott has started every game in his career, compiling a 32-16 record with two NFC East titles and two playoff appearances. He followed up his rookie campaign with back-to-back seasons with 22 touchdown passes. He had 13 interceptions in 2017 and just eight in 2018. He is the only quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 20 touchdown passes and run for at least five scores in each of his first three seasons.

The Cowboys picked up the fifth-year option on Elliott’s contract for 2020 at a cost of $9.09 million, and they would like to sign him to a long-term deal, as well.

‘It felt like home’: Steelers’ Al Villanueva returns to army base in Germany

Alejandro Villanueva knows how to maximize an offseason. He takes business classes at Carnegie Mellon University and spends time fishing in Florida and Canada.

Last month was all about savoring nostalgia from the fields of Kaiserslautern High School in Germany.

As an honorary football coach to military members as part of the USAA’s Salute to Service NFL Boot Camp, Villanueva returned to the place where his career as a U.S. Army Ranger began.

“As soon as I landed in Germany, it felt like it was home,” said Villanueva, who served in Afghanistan before working his way into the NFL. “Last time here (at Kaiserslautern) was with my dad getting my physical for the U.S. military.”nike nfl jerseys cheap china

The boot camp — combining communities from Kaiserslautern military and the Ramstein Air Base — gives military the chance to train like NFL players. True to Steelers form, they trained in a light coat of April snowfall.4

Villanueva wasn’t exactly a hard-charging coach, bragging over the phone that he just threw a ball 45 yards. He oversaw the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, three-cone shuttle, receiving gauntlet and quarterback arm challenge.

But this was USAA’s first boot-camp session held on an overseas U.S. military base, which made Villanueva proud.

“It’s bridging the past and present with what I’ve experienced,” Villanueva said of his trip. “To be received by the military community here is something special.“cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Villanueva is one of the most recognizable figures in the league’s relationship with the armed forces. Every season, Villanueva honors teammates with helmet decals from various Army divisions. He pairs decals with players whose personalities match the spirit of a specific division.

He hoped to teach football in Germany while converting a few Steelers fans along the way. But that was already done for him.

“People follow sports differently, but there’s a huge massive Steelers following, which is rally cool,” Villanueva said. “I’ve seen terrible towels around here.”

Colts center Ryan Kelly expects to play in AFC wild-card game

The Colts are on their way to having their starting offensive line back together for the AFC wild-card playoff game against the Houston Texans on Saturday.

Center Ryan Kelly, the anchor of the offensive line, was a full participant in practice Wednesday. The Pro Bowl alternate said he has every intention of playing against the Texans after missing the regular-season finale at Tennessee with a neck injury.

Kelly suffered the neck injury, which caused pressure on his nerves and impacted his arm strength, against the New York Giants in Week 16.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“It was a big week last week, and I felt after the [Tennessee] game and going through some walkthrough stuff [Tuesday], I felt like the strength was back,” Kelly said. “Doing some things to hopefully help my neck stay in the same spot and not move around too much. Other than that, I feel well.”6

The Colts will practice Thursday and have a walk-through Friday before departing for Houston. As long as Kelly doesn’t have any setbacks, the Colts will have their starting line back together for the first time since Nov. 18.

The Colts tied New Orleans for the fewest sacks allowed in the NFL with just 18 during the regular season.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

To no surprise, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton did not practice Wednesday as he continues to nurse his injured ankle. He originally suffered the injury during the second quarter of the Dec. 9 game at Houston.

Hilton said Tuesday that he will be playing vs. Houston, where he has 932 yards receiving and seven touchdowns in seven career games. He has only practiced twice, albeit as a limited participant, since the week leading up that Dec. 9 game due to ankle and shoulder injuries.

“[The ankle is] not allowing me to practice, which I love doing,” Hilton said. “I just have to rest it and get it as healthy as I can for Saturday.”

Mark Glowinski, Indianapolis Colts reach 3-year, $18M extension

The Indianapolis Colts kept Mark Glowinski from becoming a free agent, signing the guard to a contract extension Tuesday. A source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the three-year deal is worth $18 million.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Glowinski, who was claimed off waivers from the Seattle Seahawks in 2017, started nine of the 11 games in which he saw action for the Colts in 2018. He became the starting right guard in early October after Matt Slauson sustained a season-ending back injury.6

With Glowinski re-signed, all five starters on the Colts’ offensive line are under contract for the 2019 season. He was the team’s only regular starter not signed through next season.

The Colts’ offensive line allowed just 18 sacks this season — fewest in the NFL. Quarterback Andrew Luck went 239 pass attempts this season without being sacked — the third-longest stretch in NFL history.nfl cheap jerseys nike

Indianapolis’ offense ranked seventh in yards per game (386.2) and sixth in passing yards (278.8).

Colts name former OL coach Howard Mudd as senior offensive assistant

Colts coach Frank Reich is doing his best to make sure his offensive line doesn’t have a drop-off next season.

The Colts have hired longtime offensive line coach Howard Mudd as a senior offensive assistant, the team announced Thursday. Mudd will work with newly hired offensive line coach Chris Strausser and assistant line coach Klayton Adams.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Reich surprised many when he parted ways with Dave DeGuglielmo last month after the Colts’ line gave up an NFL-low 18 sacks and was arguably the league’s best overall unit last season.5

Mudd, who has more than 40 years of NFL experience as a coach, will provide added experience for Strausser, who spent the past two seasons in Denver, first as the offensive tackles coach in 2017 and then assistant offensive line coach last season.

Mudd spent 12 seasons as Indianapolis’ offensive line coach from 1998 to 2009, when the group consistently was ranked as one of the NFL’s best. During that timespan, with Peyton Manning as quarterback, the Colts gave up more than 23 sacks in a season just once. They gave up 15 sacks or less in a season five times.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

That’s all good news for quarterback Andrew Luck and a starting offensive line that’s currently under contract for next season.

The Colts also announced Thursday that Marcus Brady has been promoted from assistant quarterbacks coach to quarterbacks coach.

Should Broncos’ veterans be worried?

“When you don’t go to the playoffs here, they’re not going to sit around and just stay the same,” is how cornerback Chris Harris Jr. put it at season’s end. “We haven’t been to the playoffs in three years, I think they might think they gave this group a chance. They’re going to go young, that’s what I think. They’re going to go young. … I’ve said it before, everybody who won the Super Bowl is on a non-guaranteed contract, we’ll probably have two or three vets on this team and that’s it.“nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

The 2018 Broncos were already a fairly fresh-faced bunch. With nine picks already in hand for the 2019 draft, they likely have their collective eye on another roster youth movement.

The Broncos had 12 rookies on their Week 17 roster, and 11 of those were in uniform for the regular-season finale against the Los Angeles Chargers. In all, 13 rookies played in a game for the Broncos this past season, and the aim is to build on that class with another solid group in 2019.6

It’s why many of the Broncos’ veterans adjourned with plenty of uncertainty tucked away in their luggage.

The season-ending roster, not including those players who had been moved to injured reserve at some point in 2018, included just 18 players with four or more years of experience. The injured players included Harris, who just finished his eighth season, and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who just finished his ninth.

Among the unrestricted free agents expected to move on are linebacker Shane Ray and cornerback Bradley Roby; both are former first-round picks by the Broncos. Ray said the fact he had been a game-day inactive over the season’s final three weeks made it clear to him he will play elsewhere in 2019.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Nose tackle Domata Peko, who just finished his 13th NFL season, is also among the Broncos’ impending free agents, as are tackle Jared Veldheer, cornerback Tramaine Brock, center Matt Paradis, guard Billy Turner, guard Max Garcia and defensive end Zach Kerr. Of that group, Paradis, who finished the season on injured reserve, and Garcia are former Broncos draft picks.

Sony Michel’s big day bodes well for Patriots against Chiefs

New England Patriots rookie running back Sony Michel had earned a reputation for performing on the biggest stage at the University of Georgia. And in the biggest moment of the Patriots’ season, he delivered a standout performance in a 41-28 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers in an AFC divisional-round playoff game.

Michel’s emergence couldn’t have come at a more important time, and the Patriots will need it again in next Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium (6:40 p.m. ET, CBS).cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Keeping the ball away from Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes will be critical, and Michel — who was supported by bone-crunching fullback James Develin, unsung blocking from tight end Rob Gronkowski and an offensive line determined to impose its will — showed he can be relied upon to be a go-to guy in a playoff game.6

“He had a great game, and he’s just had a great year. He’s just battled and fought hard,” said quarterback Tom Brady. “I really love Sony as a person and his commitment to the team. He’s just been a lot of fun to be out there with, made a lot of hard yards. It’s great to see.”

The 31st overall pick in the draft, Michel finished with 129 yards on 24 carries and three touchdowns. He became just the third player in the past 25 postseasons with three rushing touchdowns in the first half of a playoff game, joining Ricky Watters (1993) and LeGarrette Blount (2013).cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Michel also became the only player in the past 25 postseasons with 100 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns in the first half of a playoff game. In 2018, only one player had 100 rushing yards and three touchdowns in a single half — Saints running back Alvin Kamara, who was voted second-team All-Pro

Fans who followed Michel at Georgia won’t be surprised, as the humble, soft-spoken 23-year-old was the offensive star of the Bulldogs’ double-overtime win over Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl last year. He had 11 carries for 181 yards with three touchdowns in that game, along with four catches for 41 yards and a touchdown.