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Cats in the NFL

The Josh Allen banner has a new home in Lexington

The Josh Allen banner has a new home in Lexington

Remember the Josh Allen banner controversy down in Nashville? Short version: UK Football raised the banner on the side of a building in downtown Nashville during the draft to celebrate Allen’s career and NFL future as a top pick. The NFL did not like the banner, so it had to come down.

Well now it is back in Lexington, outside Gate 12 at Kroger Field.

(Photo: Twitter/@UKAthletics)

The banner had a wild ride, but it’s good to see it found a new home in the Bluegrass.


Randall Cobb guest speaker at Courier Journal Sports Awards

Randall Cobb guest speaker at Courier Journal Sports Awards

Photo via the Courier Journal Sports Awards live steam

Two Randall Cobb posts in one day… say what?

It’s true, we’ve got the wide receiver on our mind today — but this hour it’s not for any on-field achievement.

Tonight marks the fourth annual Courier Journal Sports Awards, a ceremony that honors high school athletes in the Kentuckiana area.

The ceremony took place earlier this evening at the Louisville Palace, and former Wildcats star Randall Cobb was the guest speaker.

The Courier Journal does the event up in a big way, as it’s complete with a host, stage, bright lights, red carpet and large viewing gallery. In its previous three years, the Courier Journal has brought in some impressive speakers; former Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, World Cup Champion Mia Hamm and Super Bowl Champion Peyton Manning have all traveled to the Bluegrass to share some words.

According to the Courier Journal, Cobb said he hopes to encourage young athletes, no matter the sport, to chart their own determined path to success – in and out of competition.

“Looking back on that time in my life, there’s probably not too many that could have imagined that I would be where I am today in my career,” Cobb said. “Having finished eight seasons in the NFL and going to play at a Division I college, I don’t think back in high school anybody could have saw that in me.”

Cobb partook in an on-stage interview with host Dominique Yates, where he addressed his favorite high school memories, how UK helped prepare him for an NFL future, what it was like to go back to school and complete his degree, what it’s like to be a Dallas Cowboy and how having a newborn son has affected his life.

Cobb offered some tremendous insight and motivation to all the high school athletes in the audience.

The event began at 7 p.m. and is winding down, but the live stream can be found here. Later tonight, the Courier Journal will have content recapping the event.


Giants Had Inside Source That Helped Evaluate George Asafo-Adjei

The New York Giants used their 7th round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft on former Kentucky tackle George Asafo-Adjei.

Fortunately, the Giants had an inside source to fully evaluate Asafo-Adjei, both on the field, and off the field.

Giants offensive line coach Hal Hunter discussed the process of drafting Asafo-Adjei to reporters last week, “My son works at Kentucky. He works in the football office down there. We found out from the inside out – he talked about what a quality guy he was. He was probably the most respected guy on the offensive side of the ball. He talked about how he competed with Josh Allen on a day-to-day basis. He talked about his character, work ethic and his toughness. All of those things peaked interest. You watch him on tape and see that he has a lot of athleticism and power. He has a lot of toughness and plays in the best football conference in the country.”

Asafo-Adjei is far from a finished product, but the potential is there.

“We have some technical work to do,” Hunter said. “He is a rookie and you have to tell him to do something once and he goes on and does it right the next time. He picked up the offense much quicker than I thought he was going to.”

With high praises from Hunter, Asafo-Adjei has a real chance to take over the starting right tackle position as current starter Chad Wheeler was graded as one of the worst tackles in football last season.


@EMitchKSR

[247sports]


Bud Dupree Must Increase Production in Contract Year

 

(Photo: Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports)

After a disappointing fourth season, Bud Dupree is looking to bounce back in a big way as the former Kentucky star will be a unrestricted free agent following the 2019 season.

The former first-round pick still has the support of the Steelers front office as the team picked up his fifth-year option that pays $9.2 million this season. Only two Steelers players will earn more than Dupree, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and cornerback Joe Haden.

Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin has repeatedly insisted that Dupree’s best days are ahead of him, but time is running out as production must meet potential sooner rather than later.

“I had a big opportunity last year to be in the conversation and I didn’t close the plays,” Dupree said. “I’m always in position. The plays are always there; it’s on me to finish those plays and easily have double-digit sacks. I’m trying to go out and reboot and finish those plays this season.”

With only 5 1/2 sacks in 2018, Dupree knows he must capitalize on the opportunities that come his way.

Dupree added : “I had four holding calls [against me] that would have been clear strip sacks. I also missed two or three [sacks] where I had my hands on the quarterback. So, total that up, that’s seven with the six I had, that’s easily double digits right there. And the conversation would be different.”

“It’s real frustrating, but just keep the faith and everything will work out. I’m excited. It’s a big year.”


@EMitchKSR

[Post Gazette]


Randall Cobb is adjusting well to being a Cowboy

(Jeremiah Jhass/DallasCowboys.com)

Watching the tearful goodbyes of Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb in Green Bay was heart wrenching, but it’s good to see that Cobb is settling in well in Dallas.

Randall Cobb spoke to the Dallas media earlier this week, calling the situation in Dallas “perfect” for himself. Of course, many fans agree, as indicated by the overall excitement which surrounded his arrival in Dallas.

Jason Garrett spoke more to Cobb’s increased fit with the Cowboys, highlighting his football IQ and acumen when speaking to DallasCowboys.com. “You ask him (about his practice) and he lists off his five mistakes that he made. To him that was a terrible day of practice. But he comes back to get it corrected each day. He’s got a great spirit about him. He’s a real pro.”

[Inside The Star]

We all knew Cobb is nothing if not a consummate professional, so it’s great to see him sharing his veteran knowledge with a team of young stars. We saw just how much better the Cowboys got last year after the addition of Amari Cooper. Maybe adding another quality receiver, one with plenty of savvy and experience like Cobb, will turn Dallas into a legit Super Bowl contender.

Which is tough for me, a lifelong Cowboys hater. But I hate to say it, the new guard of Prescott, Zeke, and Cooper with Cobb providing assistance? That’s a team that’s tough to dislike.

@JayWinkKSR


C.J. Conrad In Good Spot With NY Giants

Before the 2018 season C.J. Conrad was regarded as one of the top tight end’s in the country, but a heart aliment discovered at the combine forced him to slide completely out of the NFL draft.

After going undrafted, Conrad signed a 3-year partially guaranteed deal with the New York Giants. Conrad is nowhere near a lock to make the 53-man roster, but coaches are impressed by what they’ve seen thus far.

“He’s tough. He’s smart. He can learn,” said Giants tight end coach Lunda Wells at the team’s rookie minicamp this month. “He’s not a blazer, but he’s instinctive in the pass game. It didn’t take a long time to figure out that this guy is very determined about being a really good player and I like that about him. He takes coaching very well. I really like that kid from what we saw over the three-day rookie minicamp.”

The Giants have two established tight ends in Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison, but there is room for a third especially if Conrad can prove that he is an asset in the running game as a blocker.

“Yeah, he is one of those guys that will fit right in with those guys,” said Wells. “Easy going, again, loves football. He’s a good guy for that room.”

After almost having the NFL taken away from him, Conrad is grateful for a chance to compete.

“You’re [I’m] just fortunate to get the opportunity to play football, let alone a chance at the NFL, and there was a time in my life not too long ago when I wasn’t sure that was going to happen.”

Now that he has the opportunity, Conrad won’t go down without a fight.

“I’m a competitive player. I’m a tough player. I’m gonna get after it.”


@EMitchKSR

[Giants.Wire]


Randall Cobb’s Quarterback Past Helping in Transition to Cowboys

(Jeremiah Jhass/DallasCowboys.com)

Following eight seasons in the same offensive scheme, Randall Cobb is adjusting to life as a member of the Dallas Cowboys.

As the Cowboys held their first Organized Team Activity session this past week, Cobb used the time to become more acclimated to the play-calling of Cowboys first year offense coordinator Kellen Moore.

“On my visit, he [Moore] told me what his plans were and how I would fit into the scheme and what he’s trying to create here. I’m excited for the opportunity to be as versatile as I can and help out as many different ways as I can.”

With the emergence of Amari Cooper, and the continued success of the Cowboys run game, Cobb will be a complementary piece for a team with high expectations.

He is expected to fill the role of recently departed slot receiver Cole Bentley who signed with the Bills in free agency.

So far so good as the former Green Bay Packer has drawn positive reviews from teammates with Dak Prescott telling reporters, “His background playing quarterback really shows. When he asks what number I am in the read. When he’s supposed to come in and block a guy in the box, you don’t even have to motion him. You look up and he’s already in the box. Things like that. He’s been great. He’s gonna benefit this team.”

Cobb agrees with his new teammate, “I have a special ability because I’ve been able to play both positions and having an understanding of his progression and how that ties to my footwork on certain plays, and just trying to use that to help him out.”

It will certainly take time to become comfortable in the new offense, but I’ve got a feeling we will see a bit of a resurgence from Cobb following a few injury-riddled seasons.

The second session of OTA’s for the Cowboys will begin on Tuesday as ‘America’s Team’ tries to build upon last year’s division title.


@EMitchKSR

[SportsDay.DallasNews]


Benny Snell is adjusting well to the “speed” of the NFL

Rebecca Mehling | Pittsburgh Steelers

Just because Benny Snell Jr. gets to play for a historically smash-mouth NFL organization doesn’t mean he gets to play slowly.

The Steelers’ rookie running back may have been a bit star struck when he first arrived in Pittsburgh, but he is quickly learning what it means to be an NFL player, which is to say, you have to work hard and learn fast.

“The game’s, like, really fast,” Snell told reporters in Pittsburgh. “You just gotta be able to go at your own pace but you gotta be able to learn and get better every day… It’s really about learning from each experience.”

Experiences like, for example, playing alongside a future Hall of Famer that Snell grew up watching, Ben Roethlisberger. But Snell isn’t just there for an autograph.

“Right now, I would say I just take it as a teammate thing,” Snell said. “I don’t really [have] time to look and be like, ‘Oh, that’s Ben!’ I got things I gotta do. This is my job now. I take it all seriously, 100 percent. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to sit down with him and chat it up, but it’s all business right now.”

[DK Pittsburgh Sports]

And business, as they say, is booming.

@JayWinkKSR


SoonerSports.com

Jeff Badet set to compete for title of fastest player in the NFL

SoonerSports.com

Former Kentucky receiver Jeff Badet thinks he’s the fastest player in the NFL, and he’s ready to put his money where his mouth is.

The 24-year old wideout out of Orlando, FL is set to participate in “40 Yards of Gold,” a tournament-style speed competition set for June 29.

Badet, who was on the Minnesota Vikings Practice Squad last season and was brought back by the team again for 2019, will compete against 23 other players in a head-to-head battle.

In “40 Yards of Gold,” 12 offensive players and 12 defensive players will face off, with the winner of each division facing off in the final. From there, the title of “fastest player in the NFL” will be named.

Here are the confirmed participants:

Offense: Ted Ginn Jr., Alvin Kamara, Jeff Badet, Corey Coleman, Robby Anderson, Richie James, Damiere Byrd, Mark Ingram, Kevin Snead, Christian Blake, Jacoby Ford, mystery participant

Defense: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Trae Waynes, John Franklin III, Kevin Byard, Quinton Dunbar, Rashard Robinson, Terrell Sinkfield, Jerome Baker, Jalen Myrick, Budda Baker, Donte Jackson, Charles James II, mystery participant

Badet played three seasons at Kentucky, where he managed 82 total catches for 1,385 yards (16.9 average) and seven receiving touchdowns. The 6-foot receiver then transferred to Oklahoma as a graduate transfer, where he accumulated 400 yards and three touchdowns on 26 receptions.

The former Wildcat, who reportedly ran the 40-yard dash in 4.27 seconds at Oklahoma’s Pro Day last year, was best known for his ability to burn defenders on the outside for deep balls.

Does Badet stand a chance against some of the fastest players the NFL has to offer?

(ESPN)


Wesley Woodyard hosts free football camp (and talks some smack)

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Wesley Woodyard may still be a Wildcat at heart, but that doesn’t stop him from talking smack about some fellow former Kentucky boys. Or, at least about Benny Snell.

Woodyard, now a linebacker for the Tennessee Titans, spent some time back at his old stomping grounds this weekend. 

On Saturday, he hosted a golf scramble to raise money for his foundation – the 16Ways Foundation, which is focused on helping kids reach their full potential through education, physical activity and mentorship. Then, he spent his Sunday downtown at the Charles Young Center, where he put on a free youth football camp. Fellow Cat Keenan Burton and current Titans teammate Jurrell Casey also volunteered their time and talents at the camp.

The UK Hall of Famer also used the opportunity to catch up with reporters about the current state of Kentucky football. After one of the most successful seasons (and NFL Draft nights) in UK football history, Woodyard is excited to face-off against some fellow Cats in the league.

“I’ll see a couple of those guys. You know, Lonnie Johnson [and the Texans], I’ll see those guys twice a year,” Woodyard told WTVQ’s Austin Miller. “I’m pretty excited about that.”

Woodyard also hopes he’ll suit up against Benny Snell and the Steelers eventually – he’ll have a special message waiting for him.

“Of course, man, one day maybe I’ll get a chance to see Benny in the A gap or the B gap. And I’m going to say ‘Snell Yeah’ on top of him,” Woodyard laughed. 

To learn more about Woodyard’s foundation or to donate to his cause, click here


@MaggieDavisKSR