Sunday, August 21, 2011

Canadian QB Sinopoli drafted by Stamps Staff

CALGARY -- 2010 Hec Crighton winner Brad Sinopoli has achieved a rare feat for Canadian QBs by being drafted into the CFL - as a quarterback. The Calgary Stampeders selected Sinopoli in the fourth round of the 2011 Canadian Draft with the 29th overall pick.

Sinopoli had a sensational 2010 season for the Gee-Gees. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound QB led the country with 2,756 passing yards, 22 touchdown passes and 184 completions in conference play, all school records. He was also the Gee-Gees’ leading rusher with 534 yards on only 42 carries for a CIS-leading average of 12.7 yards per carry.

Sinopoli's desire to constantly improve and learn makes him a coach's dream said his head coach in University Jean-Philippe Asselin.

"I’ve coached a lot of great players, but unlike any of them he’s very open to trying new things,” Asselin said. “He’s not stuck in the things that he does. He has a very open mind.”

And despite the uphill battle of trying to crack a roster as a quarterback, Sinopoli says he is proud of his Canadian roots and wouldn’t have done things any other way.

“You have to earn your spot. I’m extremely proud to be playing in Canada,” said Sinopoli. “If I could change my life and grow up in the United States I wouldn’t do that -- I love the Canadian game.”


Browns’ Speedy Smith Continues to Impress

Armond Smith, the fastest guy on the Cleveland Browns’ offense, continued his impressive preseason. He followed a 10 carry, 41 yard performance last week against the Packers with 6 carries for 90 yards this week, including a scintillating 81-yard touchdown run that truly showcased his speed.

On the 81-yard touchdown, Smith, a 5’9” 194 pound UFA out of Union College in Kentucky, found a hole in the line and turned up field so fast that no one on the Lions defense even had a shot at him.

Smith is said to have “blazing speed,” and be “electric in space.” Smith led the Mid-South Conference in rushing in 2010, averaging 125.1 yards per game, and was named MSC West Offensive Player of the Year.

Smith’s extreme speed as a running back turned heads at training camp in Berea, Ohio. The lockout may have worked in the favor of this UFA, as new coach Pat Shurmer is meeting the entire team at this late date. Late comer Smith will have the chance to impress Shurmur with a stand out performance in the preseason game if he wants to move up the depth chart.

He started preseason fifth on the depth chart behind Peyton Hillis, Montario Hardesty, Brandon Jackson, and Quinn Porter. If he continues to perform like he did this week, that position is going to change.

Brown’s fans need something to cheer about, and so far this season, the impressive play of second year quarterback Colt McCoy (who went 10 of 18 for 96 yards and 3 TDs this week) and the flashes of brilliance that Smith has shown are filling the bill nicely.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Dolphins’ Gates impresses at first week of camp
In the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins selected the fastest wide receiver to attend the Combine this year. The Dolphins drafted Clyde (don’t call me Edmund) Gates, hoping that he would bring some much needed speed to the Dolphins offense. We wrote, during the lockout, that we loved the drafting of Gates. However, we cautioned that it might take some time for the rookie to get acclimated to the NFL level of play. After all, Gates is jumping from Division II to the NFL, which is a HUGE jump.

Since he was a 4th round pick, it was highly likely that Gates would make the Dolphins roster for 2011, but nothing is a given. Gates is said to be a hard worker and early reports from Dolphins’ camp indicate that he’s adjusting to the NFL level, just fine. It’s still very early in training camp, but we’ve seen a number of reports that suggest that Gates is ‘burning’ cornerbacks with his speed. Please keep in mind that there is minimal contact in these practices….But it is encouraging to see that Clyde knows how to use his best weapon..his speed.

Gates can run a fly pattern, that much is already clear. The thing that will make him a steal for the Dolphins in the 4th round will be his ability to run the other routes on the WR route tree. Yes, he has the speed of a gazelle, but does he have the quickness to get in and out of breaks? How precisely can he run his routes? Can he make the hard catches in traffic? It’s still WAY to early to answer those questions, but we’ll know soon enough, once the preseason games start. If nothing else, at least the Dolphins finally have a speedster that might be able to help stretch the field come September.


Exuding confidence but staying humble, Medlin trying to stay within himself as he works out for Patriots

FSU Sports Information

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Quietly confident but exuding humility, Richard Medlin was minding his own business as he prepared for one of his first practices last week with the New England Patriots.

Players milled about the swanky locker room, professionalism mixed with anxiety. It is a emotional stew that simmers as a crowded clubhouse of nearly 100 players – only half of whom will eventually make the team just days before the regular season kicks off – readied themselves to try to show their worth to a coaching staff and front office led by the legendary Bill Belichick.

Medlin, a star running back and kick returner at Fayetteville State who was named the CIAA’s top special teams player in 2008, mostly kept to himself, a rookie knowing his place in the Patriots’ pecking order. That’s when a tall man with a shaggy haircut appeared in front of Medlin’s locker room.

“Hey, man, what’s your name?” the broad-shouldered guy asked the rookie.

“Richard Medlin.”

“Nice to meet you, Richard,” came the replay. “I’m Tom.”


Medlin is in a crowded backfield. He knows that. New England drafted two running backs, one in the second round and one in the third round, back in April. They have former Division-II star Danny Woodhead back in camp. They signed back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. They also brought in the ageless Kevin Faulk and equally ageless Sammy Morris.

But Medlin isn’t allowing himself to think about the odds. He signed an undrafted free agent contract on Aug. 3 and set about trying to impress anybody he can.

“I can’t worry about that kind of stuff,” he says by telephone after Friday’s practice. “If I do that, it will get in the way of what I’m trying to do. I’m focusing on getting better and learning the offense so I can do the best I can. If do anything other than that, then I’m not playing my game.”

So far, it’s working.

Medlin saw extended playing time in the Patriots’ first preseason game on Thursday, rushing 14 times for 54 yards and two touchdowns. His first carry as an NFL running back went for a 2-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter of New England’s 47-12 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Patriots’ Gillette Stadium.

Medlin rushed six straight times on New England’s next series, picking up all 31 yards in the drive that began with a Patriots’ interception and ended with another 2-yard dive into the end zone. Two plays earlier, Medlin ripped off an impressive 17-yard run on third-and-3 to keep the drive going.

On the next series, he rushed seven straight times as the Pats ran out the clock to end the game.

Eighteen hours later, Medlin still couldn’t find a way to describe the emotions of his NFL debut.

“I can’t put it into words,” he says. “There’s just no way. I mean, it’s just something you have to experience to understand. It’s amazing.”


It’s the standard cliché, but it’s a way of life for Richard Medlin. One day at a time.

He can describe his schedule simply, and succinctly.

“Wake up, go to meetings, practice, go to meetings and learn,” he says. “Learn. Learn Learn. Learning all you can.”

It’s a different world in Foxborough. Maybe the town isn’t that big, and perhaps it compares somewhat to Fayetteville. But Foxborough is the NFL. All the time.

“I mean, we have 18,000 people show up to watch us practice,” says Medlin. “It’s crazy. The fans here — they’re just bananas.”

And faithful. And knowledgeable. Already.

“Some of them are yelling my name. How do they know my name?”


Far away from his hometown of Raleigh, Medlin is accommodating himself well in the NFL sphere of influence. He’s making connections, at the very least, and trying his best to take advantage of the opportunity given him.

At the same time, he’s making sure to relish the experience. And to show that he feels like he belongs.

“I always envisioned myself playing in the NFL,” he says. “My faith carries me, and I’ve had to believe it. If you can envision it, if you can see it, you can achieve it. I always saw myself playing in the NFL.”

But that confidence comes with a side of humble pie. But that’s just the Patriot Way, it seems. And Medlin fits right in.

“You have to be confident in yourself,” he says,” but you have to humble, too. Everybody here is humble.”

Take All-Pro star quarterback Tom Brady, for example.

“I mean, that’s Tom Brady. Everybody knows who he is. And he comes up to me and asks my name, where I’m from and just says, ‘I’m Tom.’ It’s unbelievable.”


But it is believable, and not just for Medlin. Fayetteville State head football coach Kenny Phillips isn’t surprised one bit where Medlin is today.

“The thing about Richard is that he is a tireless worker who never quits,” says Phillips. “Getting to the next level is all about the work you put in and what you do with your opportunities. That’s who Richard is. He’s always put in the extra effort and done everything he’s needed to do to get to that next level.”

And Medlin isn’t letting the bright lights blind him. He may not be able to answer his cell phone every time it rings or answer every text, but he’s hearing the voice mail and reading the texts, many of which are coming from Fayetteville and the FSU campus.

“I appreciate the people so much,” he says. “I can feel all of the love and support they’re giving me. I know a lot of them are wishing me well, and all I can say is thank you. The phone calls, the texts — they’re all letting me know they’re still thinking about me. I’m truly blessed.”

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O'Donnell inks NFL deal

By Chris Forsberg - ESPN

Matt O'Donnell, the Canadian Football League draftee that skipped his team's rookie camp in order to engage in a June workout with the Boston Celtics, has inked an NFL deal the Cincinnati Bengals. From the Canadian Press:

The next phase of Matt O'Donnell's eventful off-season sports odyssey is going to take him to the NFL.

The towering 6-foot-10, 325-pound offensive lineman with the Queen's Gaels signed as a free agent with the Cincinnati Bengals on Tuesday. The NFL becomes the third different professional league O'Donnell has been associated with since the end of the Canadian university football season.

O'Donnell took part in the CFL's evaluation camp in March and was selected in the second round, 15th overall, by the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Canadian college draft in May. But he put his CFL aspirations on hold to instead take part in a tryout with the NBA's Boston Celtics despite having not played basketball since high school.

On Thursday, O'Donnell will trade his highcuts in for cleats and again don the pads when the Bengals open their training camp in Georgetown, Ky.

"It's been pretty hectic," O'Donnell said. "But there's also been quite a lot of time between events.

"I'm just tremendously happy to have this set in stone and know where I'm finally going now."

O'Donnell said he's open to the idea of returning to the CFL if his NFL aspirations don't pan out. It's probably a safer bet than waiting for this NBA lockout to end.

Mount Union's Cecil Shorts Impressing

Jacksonville Jaguars rookie WR Cecil Shorts III had a good first week of training camp, catching almost everything thrown his way. Entering Thursday, Aug. 4, he had dropped just one pass all of camp. During a scrimmage Thursday, he dropped two passes but rebounded by catching several others.

2011-08-06 13:25:19 | Source: The Florida Times-Union - Vito Stellino

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Josh Portis Impresses in His First NFL game

Josh Portis Impresses in His First NFL game
Ronny Hurd - NFL Mocks
A few weeks ago an undrafted quarterback Josh Portis didn’t know where his career may have been due to the NFL lockout. Few weeks ago to today, Josh Portis is on the Seattle Seahawks making his first appearance in the NFL in a preseason game against the San Diego Chargers. Some players who are in the same situation as Josh Portis tend to struggle and are likely to be one of the players who are on the chopping block, but the way he performed tonight in his first ever NFL game, we may have not seen the last of Josh Portis.

Josh Portis struggled once he came into the game toward the end of the third quarter not completing his first of three passes. Then Portis started to light up beginning at the 12:48 mark in the 4th quarter, where he showed his scrambling ability to the right of the field and made a beautiful pass for seven yards to Brandon Sullivan.

Then Josh Portis got his first touchdown pass in the NFL. The Chargers went with a blitz; Portis never showed any signs of hesitant, moving his feet to the outside then passed it right to tight end Anthony McCoy in the end zone.

Yes, you can make the case that he was facing a second/third string caliber defense, but he was still getting pressured and attacked like any other defense.

Josh Portis finished the game going 5/9, passed for 69 yards and a touchdown.