Bills WRs Watkins, Woods enjoy complementary start

Robert Woods was a big fan of fellow Bills A.J. Hawk Youth Jersey starting receiver Sammy Watkins long before the two began sharing neighboring lockers. Watkins can say the same thing about Woods, even though the two attended colleges on opposite coasts. Woods, who played at Southern California, and Watkins, at Clemson, revealed this week that they spent much of the 2012 season tracking each other’s production to serve as motivation. ”We used to compete with them,” Woods said, referring to the Clemson tandem of Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins. ”It was my last year, and one day they had four touchdowns between them. And we were like, ‘All right, we’ve got to get four, too.”’ It was no different for Watkins and Hopkins, who kept tabs on USC’s top tandem of Woods and Marqise Lee. ”Yeah, it’s funny, man. That’s what pushed us every week,” Watkins said. ”You always want to be doing what they’re doing and top them just to keep yourself hungry.” That rivalry has taken on a complementary – and complimentary – dimension. The two have already begun showing flashes of their dynamic chemistry in helping the Bills to a 2-0 start in preparing to host San Diego (1-1) on Sunday. Woods had four catches – three for first downs – for a team-best 78 yards in a season-opening 23-20 overtime win at Chicago. Watkins responded with eight catches for 117 yards Aaron Rodgers Authentic Jersey and a touchdown in a 29-10 win over Miami last weekend. The eight catches were the most by a Bills rookie since Joe Cribbs had nine in 1980. And Watkins’ 117 yards receiving were the most by any Bills player since Stevie Johnson had 137 in 2010 – that’s right, four years ago. It’s your turn, Robert. ”It’s still early,” Woods said, breaking into a big grin. ”Now I’ve got something to go after.” The Bills’ big investment in revamping their group of receivers is showing signs of paying off for a team that’s been saddled with a popgun passing attack for much of the past decade. The Bills haven’t cracked the NFL’s top 14 in yards passing since finishing fifth in 2002, when Eric Moulds and Peerless Price were Drew Bledsoe’s top threats. Woods was the first to arrive in 2013, when the Bills selected him in the second round. Watkins arrived with a splash in May. General manager Doug Whaley thought so highly of Watkins’ ability that he traded next year’s first-round draft pick to move up five spots and select the receiver with the No. 4 pick. ”I’m extremely impressed,” running back Fred Jackson said of the two. Jackson referred to Woods as one of his ”favorite people I’ve loved to watch,” because of how physical he is in outmuscling defenders as a receiver and blocker. As for Watkins, Jackson said: ”Sammy’s still scratching the surface, but he’s got the potential to be one of the better ones that have played here in Buffalo.” Watkins is a speedster […]

Frank Gore mentoring 49ers rookie Carlos Hyde

Rookie running back Carlos Carlos Hyde Jersey Hyde is off to a nice start in his NFL career, with veteran Frank Gore helping make Hyde’s transition from college seamless. “Carlos is going to be all right,” Gore said Wednesday. “I’ve known him since before he got drafted. We trained in the same place. I try to teach him some stuff. . . . He’s got a bright future in front of him.” Hyde rushed for 50 yards and a touchdown on seven carries in his regular-season debut, a 28-17 49ers victory over the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday. Gore led the way with 66 yards on 16 carries. For now, Gore and Hyde are all the 49ers have in the backfield, once believed to be a strength. Coach Jim Harbaugh said Wednesday that the 49ers don’t intend to add another running back to the roster this week. It wasn’t long ago that the 49ers boasted a running backs corps that included Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Glenn Winston and Marcus Lattimore. Hunter suffered a season-ending knee injury, James was released Monday, Winston was waived before the season started and Lattimore is recovering from knee and hamstring injuries. Gore has mentored Hyde since the 49ers drafted Hyde in May. It’s a role he takes seriously. “Who helped me?” Gore said. “I didn’t have a mentor here. I didn’t, really.” Instead, Gore sought help from the outside. He received his guidance on what to expect in the NFL from Marshall Faulk, LaDainian Tomlinson and Edgerrin James. “I tell him what he needs to do and what to expect,” Gore said. “We work good together.” It’s obvious there’s still plenty Hyde has to learn. He said he prefers to run away from defenders, even though he weighs 235 pounds. That’s where Gore’s experience and wisdom enter the picture. “That’s going to be hard right there,” Gore said of Hyde’s mindset. “A lot of people are fast in this league right here. When there’s a lane there, you got to take it. When it’s not there, you got to create it. As long as you do that, you’re going to be fine in this league.” Follow Steve Corkran on Twitter at Share on Facebook

Senator ties NFL tax status to Redskins name

A U.S. senator threatened the NFL with legislation over Washington’s nickname, a letter was dispatched to the other 31 team owners, and the issue was linked to the league’s others recent troubles Tuesday as the anti-”Redskins” movement took its cause to Capitol Hill. In a news conference that featured Native American, civil rights and religious leaders, Sen. Maria Cantwell took aim at the NFL’s pocketbook by announcing she will introduce a bill to strip the league’s tax-exempt status because it has not taken action over the Redskins name. While prospects for such a bill becoming law would be tenuous, the inevitable hearings before lawmakers would enhance the spotlight on a movement that has gained substantial momentum over the last two years. ”The NFL needs to join the rest of America in the 21st Century,” said Cantwell, D-Wash., the former chairwoman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. ”We can no longer tolerate this attitude toward Native Americans. This is not about team tradition. This is about right and wrong.” Overall, the message from the ”Change the Mascot” leaders was that they don’t plan to go away, despite Redskins owner Dan Snyder’s vow not to change the name. They presented a letter that will be sent to every NFL owner except Snyder, asking each to use his ”position of authority” to end the league’s ”promotion of a dictionary-defined racial slur.” Oneida Nation representative Ray Halbritter said he hoped an owner will take a bold position against the name. He cited Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey, who integrated major league baseball by signing Jackie Robinson, and longtime Washington Wizards Mike Neal Elite Jersey owner Abe Pollin, who changed his NBA’s team from Bullets because of the violence associated with the term. ”We’re looking for the Branch Rickey, looking for Abe Pollin,” Halbritter said. ”They’re out there. We know the owners don’t share in this, but they share in the profits.” Halbritter had harsh words for the league as a whole, referencing the NFL’s handling of health problems suffered by former players, as well as the recent Ray Rice domestic violence saga and the child abuse charge levied against Adrian Peterson. ”The NFL is currently facing an integrity crisis. … While these are different issues, they are joined by a common thread of showing commercial and moral arrogance and a blatant lack of respect for those being negatively impacted,” Halbritter said. The NFL did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Earlier Tuesday, the league announced that it has hired a former White House official to help the league with legislative issues. Cynthia Hogan will be the league’s senior vice president of public policy and government affairs and will be based in Washington. Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie responded to Cantwell’s proposed legislation by citing a poll in the team’s favor. ”Our position remains consistent with more than 80 percent of Americans who do not want to change the Washington Redskins name,” Wyllie said. The debate over the name could influence the Redskins’ […]

In seeking its identity, Bears’ defense finds its ‘edge’

Going into the Colin Kaepernick Jersey season, the consensus was that the Chicago Bears would have a prolific offense and a first-rate pass rush. After an opening-week loss to the Buffalo Bills, those beliefs were tested. The offense was just OK and the defense gave up nearly 200 rushing yards last week. Big free-agent signing Jared Allen could have been off roping cattle somewhere, because you could barely tell he was on the field. The pass rush was minimal. But led by Allen and the defensive line, the Bears’ defense rebounded in a big way in Chicago’s 28-20 win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night. The defense was challenged by a creative 49ers offense, but ultimately it made more than enough big plays to influence the outcome. “None of us have the history of being pushovers or push arounds,” said defensive end Willie Young, who had two sacks Sunday. “We’re going to ball until we fall.” Chris Conte made a diving interception, rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller picked off passes on consecutive possessions that led to Bears touchdowns in the second half and Chicago sacked Colin Kaepernick four times. Allen forced a Kaepernick fumble that the Bears recovered. “We’re trying to find our identity, too, and this is a huge step to it,” Allen said. “Sometimes adversity can set you on the right path. And if we can keep this edge about us, we can play good defense all year.” While Jay Cutler was the star, completing 13 of 14 passes in the second half, he pointed to the defense for giving them good field position and putting pressure on Kaepernick. Allen spelled it out. “We were able to be successful on first and second downs the majority of the game, and we were able to force them to get into some one-dimensional situations so we could dictate the pace,” Allen said. “Even though Kaepernick got out a couple times, we were able to control the rush for the most part, set high walls limiting his scrambling capabilities.” The Niners gained 129 yards on 27 carries, with Kaepernick getting 66 and Frank Gore 63. The Bears had some questionable tackling in the first half. But considering what happened against Buffalo last week — with an array of bad reads and bad tackling — this was a major step in the right direction for a defense that has struggled mightily under Mel Tucker and Marc Trestman. “I was just happy to see the success we were seeing in practice,” Trestman said. “I said throughout the week, we were seeing it on tape in practice. We’re fitting the run better; we were running to the ball better.” The Niners had a chance to tie the game on their last possession with a 14-play drive that ended at the Bears’ 17 on a loss of downs. Young said they had one goal on that drive. “Let’s hit the ball carrier,” he said. “I don’t care how we would get […]

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