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The San Diego Chargers were without wide receiver Vincent Jackson (83) for the bulk of the year last season. This year he will be with the team for the entire season, as they look to get back to the playoffs. Photo by Jeff Lewis
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald signed an eight year, $120 million contract. Photo by Jeff Lewis
Around the NFL
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor
Cam Newton and Terrelle Pryor
Quarterbacks Cam Newton and Terrelle Pryor seem like they are nearly the same guy… except for one thing.
On the positive side both quarterbacks are tall, big, fast, and extremely mobile. Both quarterbacks have mind blowing athletic abilities.
On the negative side both quarterbacks have had their passing abilities questioned. Many experts are saying that Pryor, who was recently drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the 3rd round of the NFL’s supplemental draft, should move to wide receiver or tight end.
Newton has been named the starter for the Carolina Panthers, who drafted him with the first pick in this year’s draft, but he has not converted a third down this preseason, and he is only completing 45 percent of his passes with no touchdowns in two games.
Both quarterbacks also were a part of major college football scandals, which led Pryor to leave Ohio St. early, and may have factored into Newton skipping his senior season.
The big difference between the two quarterbacks is that Newton is viewed as a winner, while Pryor never lived up to expectation. Newton did in one season at Auburn, which was win a national title and a Heisman Trophy, that Pryor could not do in three seasons playing college football.
Newton’s college career, which was pretty much one great season, led him to being the first pick in the draft, while Pryor’s three years of coming up short has turned him into a project player that most teams did not consider drafting.
It was no surprise that the Raiders took Pryor, because he is an Al Davis type player. Davis has always taken the best athlete, which worked well in the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s. He would take the biggest, strongest, and fastest players and convert them into what ever fit into the Raider Way.
But that simply does not work in today’s NFL, where the best football player is not always the best athlete. Pryor’s 4.3 40-yard dash time enticed Davis, but it really does not factor much into a quarterback’s value.
The best quarterbacks are not the best athletes, but the quarterbacks who make the right decision, which Pryor has struggled with.
Michael Vick has freakish abilities, but for the first time in his career he is being taken seriously because he makes the right reads and gets the ball to playmaking receivers instead of trying to be the playmaker himself.
Newton will see the field a lot this season, mostly because the Panthers do not have much else to play, but Pryor most likely will be manning the sidelines this year.
One other player who resembles both Pryor and Newton is Tim Tebow, who some act like he can walk on water. But that is not getting Tebow off the bench this season.
Fitzgerald gets paid while Johnson has to wait
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald signed a $120 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals, while running back Chris Johnson is still holding out with the Tennessee Titans.
That proves one thing, that wide receivers are more valued than running backs.
Fitzgerald is regarded as one of the best receivers in the league, and with the NFL being a pass happy league, having somebody like him to throw the ball to is more valuable than handing the ball to a guy who can rush for over 100 yards.
Fitzgerald is so valued that he is making quarterback type money. Even if he never sees the entire $120 million, $50 million of the contract is guaranteed.
To put it in perspective, Johnson rushed for over 2,000 yards in 2009 and the Titans missed the playoffs with an 8-8 record.
More parking lot problems
California fans just cannot get along. Earlier this year two Los Angeles Dodgers fans beat a San Francisco Giants fan up, leaving him in a coma. Now a fan that appears to have been rooting for the San Francisco 49ers has shot a fan that appears to be a Raiders fan after the 49ers played the Raiders in San Francisco.
The fan that was shot has survived.
The atmosphere at the 49ers and Raiders annual preseason match up has become extremely violent, with many fights taking place in the stadium and the parking lot. This is by far the worse incident that has happened at the games, but the violence has become commonplace.
The Raiders end up taking a lot of blame in these situations, which can be blamed on their fan base. There have been numerous problems at Raiders home games in Oakland. There were many problems when the Raiders played in Los Angeles, and there are problems when Raiders fans pretty much take over Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego when the Raiders play the Chargers.
Chargers look to correct special problems
Last season the Chargers led the league in total offense and defense, but yet they finished with a 9-7 record and missed the playoffs.
It is hard to believe that a team who was No. 1 on both sides of the football would lose more than a few games, but the Chargers can look directly at special teams to why their season was derailed.
The Chargers had four punts blocked, and one other that was deflected. Against the Raiders they had punts blocked on successive drives.
The Seattle Seahawks returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in a victory over the Chargers.
Offensively and defensively, the Chargers should be just as good as last year. The return of wide receiver Vincent Jackson for the full season will add more fire power to last year’s top ranked offense, and the defense has the additions of safety Bob Sanders and Takeo Spikes.
If the Chargers fix their special teams problems, then they should be back on top of the AFC West.
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