Sports

Around the NFL: Josh Freeman, Cam Newton, Shane Vereen and More

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With training camp a couple weeks away, the NFL isn’t exactly bursting with über-relevant storylines . . .  

. . . having said that, professional football lives and thrives in the same wonderful place where Amanda Bynes’s breast reduction is routinely mistaken for news—and now giving me an excuse to throw this in here. Never Fully Lifeless aptly describes even the slowest day in America’s favorite league of glamorized concussion gladiators, so on that note, let’s make somethin’ out of nothin’.

Josh Freeman received a convincing endorsement from Coach Greg Schiano, who described Tampa Bay’s quarterback situation— “we only have one. . .it’s Josh Freeman”—in definitive terms.

The Good: Freeman struggled down the stretch, is entering a contract year, and may or may not have tuned into the NFL Draft to see his Buccaneers select former NC State quarterback Mike Glennon in the third round. He could certainly use some words of encouragement.   

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The Bad: Struggled? Freeman threw a cringeworthy nine interceptions in his final three games, including four in a shutout loss to the Saints (and their 32nd ranked defense), numbers Blaine Gabbert finds uncomfortably inept. Greg Schiano has made a habit of endorsing-Freeman-but-not-really, which commonly include statements of assurance followed by gems like “I believe in competition,” the football equivalent of “honey, will you marry me?—sweet, now sign this prenup.”  Schiano believes so strongly in Freeman that he reportedly pursued Matt Cassel to create some “competition,” the QB who threw this pass.

Shane Vereen has been mentioned as a candidate to replace the portion of New England’s offensive production currently residing in Bristol County Jail. The Pats are said to be moving Vereen around the formation in an effort to create advantages for their suddenly-depleted offense.

The Good: The Patriots are well-known for their ability to creatively find mismatches against opposing defenses, and for years have utilized skill-players in a versatile manner. If any team can replace a tight end with a running back, it’s the Patriots.

The Bad: Did that just say replace a tight end with a running back? Bill Belichick may be a football Tetris master when it comes to putting players in unlikely places to succeed, but he will struggle to fill a 6’1, 245-pound void with the 5’10, 205-pound Vereen. The third-year back may get extended looks in the slot, but is not a viable option to take over much of Hernandez’s former role.

While We’re on the Topic of Hernandez: Oh, how the implications of a headline can change in an Attenborough minute. Poor Jordan Reed.

Cam Newton was featured in a recurring ESPN segment titled My Path to the Pros, where the Georgia-bred quarterback recounts his rise to athletic stardom.

The Good: Newton discusses his propensity for initiating contact, his physicality on the basketball court, and a surprising fear of baseballs (instead of rabid NFL linebackers) in a piece well-worth the read.

The Bad: The article—subtitled “Panthers QB Cam Newton recalls the days before he got paid to play”—chronicles young Cam’s journey as an amateur, all the way through . . . high school. Yes, it failed to mention his collegiate time at Auburn, an omission of note because it’s Cam Newton. The same Cam Newton who was oblivious to alleged attempts made hypothetically on his behalf to extract theoretical funds from Mississippi State University. Hastily written heading, or subtle admission of guilt? You decide.