Scouting Report: Leonard Williams, DE/DT USC vs. #13 Stanford

September 14th, 2014

NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken

I try to avoid reading about or watching highlights of a player that I am going to be scouting so that I can form my own opinion. When I turned on the tape of the USC vs. Stanford game and saw that Leonard Williams was dealing with a high ankle sprain and may not play, I thought I was going to have to go to plan B.  Unfortunately, I didn’t know what plan B was.  I continued to watch and was relieved to see him out there on the 1st play.

When Williams was flat on the ground and struggling to get up by play 3, I was once again thinking about my nonexistent plan B. I decided that I needed to break my rule and  look to see if I could find a snap count for Williams in the game. The first headline to pop up said something along the lines of “Williams dominant despite injury.” I knew then that I was in for a treat.

Here are my observations from the game.

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2015 NFL Draft: The Turf Report Week #2

September 12th, 2014
Javorius Allen busting off a run last Saturday in front Cardinal's sideline.

USC Trojan’s RB Javorius Allen runs past the Stanford Cardinal sideline during third quarter action of Saturday’s game. (Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports)

NEPD Staff Writer: Ken Vetrano

Javorius Allen, USC (6’1” 220lbs) vs. Stanford

This was a huge win for the Trojans that should send their trajectory skyward for 2014. Allen ran for a career high 154 yards, and set the tone for USC’s offense against a stout Cardinal defensive line. He showed his athleticism and displayed an impressive set of wheels busting off a 50 yard run down field. Going forward, Allen’s opportunities to impress should only increase as Sarkisian continues to make his role a robust part of Trojan game plans.

Cameron Artis-Payne, Auburn (5’10” 210lbs) vs. San Jose State

Payne is already off to a tremendous start for his sophomore year, running for almost 290 yards in his first two games. Although a victory over San Jose St. won’t turn voter’s heads, Payne’s performance was no less impressive as he ripped off three touchdowns this past weekend. The rushing attack that  quarterback Nick Marshall and Payne offer Auburn is a potent combination that will leave defenses grasping for oxygen this year.

David Cobb, Minnesota (5’11” 229lbs) vs. Middle Tennessee

Similar to Payne, the opposition might not have been impressive, but anytime you rack up 200+ yards people are going to take notice. A week after only seeing 14 touches versus Eastern Illinois, Cobb was clearly ready to shoulder the load. Heading into his senior year, a leaner, faster Cobb aimed to become more explosive out of the backfield. If this performance was any indication of what’s ahead for him, then Big Ten foes better be prepared.

Week #2 Player to Watch: Mike Davis, South Carolina (5’9” 223lbs) vs. Georgia

What makes Davis such an offensive threat is his versatility and effectiveness in the passing game. Davis is a natural mismatch for any linebacker, and knows how to create space even when catching the ball in crowded areas. He didn’t get much of a chance to contribute in the Gamecock’s passing game during week one, but we got a glimpse of his receiving talents against East Caroline last Saturday, catching the ball 3 times for 28 yards. On top of that he rushed for 118 yards. Many eyes will be on Todd Gurley this coming Saturday, and rightfully so, he’s a beast. But my attention will be focused on the mismatches Spurrier schemes utilizing Davis.


Saturday Slate: Week 3 Matchups to Watch in College Football

September 11th, 2014

NEPD Staff Writer: CJ Sousa

The cupcakes will start going away soon, I promise. For a college football weekend that didn’t provide numerous big time match-ups, Week 2 certainly surpassed expectations.

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Without the Football: Exploring the Presence of Patriots Halfback Shane Vereen

September 11th, 2014
In a 33-20 defeat, Shane Vereen left an impact on the Dolphins defense. (Steve Mitchell - USA Today Sports Images)

In Sunday’s 33-20 loss, Shane Vereen left an imprint on the Dolphins defense. His seven carries and five catches were only part of why. (Steve Mitchell – USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

There’s something to be said for dictating an opponent’s movements. Shane Vereen’s utilization has helped him do so.

That was on display Sunday, as the New England Patriots opened up the 2014 season against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. The 5’10”, 205-pound running back caught five passes for 35 yards, and he handled seven carries for 36 yards and a goal-line touchdown as well.

But Vereen’s impact in a 33-20 defeat was about more than what he did with the football. Over his 53 snaps, it was often about what he did without it.

Force adjustments. Read the rest of this entry »


No Gronk, No Chance

September 10th, 2014

NEPD Staff Writer: Jason Cappell 

Opening week was a rough start for the New England Patriots. They have no excuses. Miami simply outplayed New England and deservedly earned the win. The Patriots failed to execute both offensively and defensively, but if there is anything positive to take away from their crushing loss, it was the impactful return of Rob Gronkowski.

Plain and simple Gronk is a catalyst for the Patriots offense. With a substantially improved defense, the Patriots once again entered the season with a “Super Bowl or bust” attitude. But without a healthy Gronk come January, they don’t stand much of a chance.

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Front in Transition: Charting the Patriots’ Defensive Shift Beyond Rob Ninkovich vs. Dolphins

September 9th, 2014
The Patriots showcased 17 different personnel combinations along the defensive line versus the Dolphins. Rob Ninkovich was part of only four. (Brad Barr - USA Today Sports Images)

The Patriots showcased 17 different personnel combinations along the defensive front versus the Dolphins. Rob Ninkovich was part of nine. (Brad Barr – USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Over the course of 2013, the New England Patriots defensive line altered through 58 personnel groupings.

Part of it was scheme, as some players departed to the sidelines during short yardage or passing downs. Part of it was attrition, as some stayed on the sidelines for the duration.

Rob Ninkovich was not one of them.

His No. 50 jersey was spotted on the field for 1,114 snaps last season – according to Pro Football Focus – second to only teammate Chandler Jones among the league’s 4-3 defensive ends. And by the conclusion of Week 17, there were only 54 snaps in which Ninkovich hadn’t been seen on it.

In Sunday’s 33-20 loss to the Miami Dolphins in 2014 regular-season opener, there were 39.

Ninkovich was one of the first 11 on the field for the tilt at Sun Life Stadium. But the 6’2”, 260-pound edge-rusher was not a constant across from Jones.

That wasn’t necessarily a deviation from the 2013 campaign, which saw Ninkovich step back to outside linebacker when the Patriots moved from a four-man line to a three-man line. Yet something was different on Sept. 7. Read the rest of this entry »


2014 Patriots’ Secondary: An Island Chain Has Emerged Behind Revis

September 7th, 2014

NEPD Staff Writer: Ken Vetrano

Christmas came early this year when Lovie Smith gift wrapped #24 under the tree for Patriot fans. In the span of about 48 hours New England went from losing Aqib Talib to their main AFC competition the Denver Broncos, to signing one of the hand full of players that would be considered an upgrade to him.

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