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Landon Collins isn’t letting the small victories in a winless season so far go unnoticed.

The Giants standout defenseman asserted his dominance on Twitter Wednesday after Lions tight end Eric Ebron called him a “little punk of a safety” after the two exchanged barbs during Monday night’s game.

“Be a bully…,” Collins wrote on Twitter in response to an article on Ebron’s comments. “Still zero catches on me between those lines (100 emoji).”

Collins and Ebron got in each other’s faces after Ebron caught a touchdown in the second quarter of the Lions’ 24-10 win and tossed the ball up high in celebration. The Newark, N.J. native, who was playing in front of friends and family at MetLife Stadium, admitted after the game he did it in retaliation for the way Collins gloated over tackling him a series earlier.

“I was pissed off,” Ebron told the Detroit News on Tuesday. “I was pissed off at that little punk of a safety they’ve got over there.”

In the heat of the game, tied at seven near the start of the second quarter, Collins drilled Ebron into the ground and stomped down the field in celebration after Ebron caught a tipped pass from Matthew Stafford.

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Getting the last laugh in the game — leading the Lions with five catches for 42 yards and taking home the ‘W’ — wasn’t enough for the 24-year-old Ebron, who responded to Collins’ tweet with another jab at the 2016 Pro Bowler.

cheap professional jerseysLol… twitter fingers,” Ebron wrote. “The honey badger was better,” he added, referring to the college nickname of the Cardinals’ Tyrann Mathieu, who was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy as a cornerback while at LSU before Arizona drafted him in the third round in 2013. Collins went to Alabama.

There doesn’t appear to be much reason behind Ebron’s Collins-Mathieu comparison besides the two sharing a career course as elite college defensive backs from the SEC who have each made it to the Pro Bowl in the NFL. But Collins wasn’t belaboring the semantics.

“I’m weak lol I’m a punk tho…cuz I hit you to hard now…,” Collins tweeted back. “This is football…#lockdown.”

Whatever Ebron’s underlying meaning behind the playful insult, the University of North Carolina product still thinks highly of the Giants star.

“Collins, he played a good game, that hit just pissed me off and I didn’t feel like celebrating,” Ebron told the newspaper. “I wasn’t in that kind of joyful mood. It was still a good game. He played his butt off trying to guard me. I commend him for that.”

Men’s Detroit Lions Golden Tate Nike Steel Vapor Untouchable Color Rush Limited Player Jersey

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A good time was had by all at the third annual Stars and Strikes fundraiser event hosted by Detroit Lions wide-receiver Golden Tate and the Golden Future Foundation. The event was held at Lucky Strikes Novi bowling alley in metro Detroit and the NFL Pro Bowler’s teammates were on hand to support him in his fundraising efforts. Proceeds from the event will go to the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Associaion (IAVA) and Pets for Veterans.

The venue was filled with Lions’ fans and players, including Detroit’s leading man Matthew Stafford, who just helped the team secure its first win of the 2017 season against the Arizona Cardinals, 35-23. Attendees had the chance to mix, mingle and bowl with their favorite players, as well as give back to a worthy cause. There was food, drinks and a silent auction where participants were able to bid on signed footballs, signed jerseys and more. There was also a photo booth where event goers were able to have a little fun and take home a small memento of the occasion.

Detroit Lions wide receiver Golden Tate wore a splint on his left ring finger and a smile on his face as he boarded an elevator after Sunday’s 35-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

Tate said a few minutes earlier in the locker room that his injured finger felt “great,” and while he declined to further detail the injury, it certainly didn’t hold him back in the Lions’ season-opener.

“I haven’t seen the doctors,” Tate said when asked about the nature of his injury. “Just hurt it a little bit.”
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Tate, who’s led the Lions in receptions each of the last three seasons, caught a game-high 10 catches for 107 yards despite twice leaving the game to have his left hand looked at in the second half.

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Three times, Tate dug the Lions out of third-and-long situations with catch-and-run-type plays. He had a 19-yard catch on third-and-10 just before halftime to set up Matt Prater’s 58-yard field goal, and had a 14-yard gain on an end-around to start the Lions’ go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter.

“Golden does what Golden does,”‘ Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “He’s an explosive guy when he gets his hands on the ball. He had 10 catches I think today, had to work through a couple little issues that he had, but he hung in there and played well. But Golden’s got a unique talent. I mean, there’s not many people that can start and stop like he does. He gets himself open, I think Matthew has a nice feel for him. It was his day today.”

While Tate was able to finish the game despite his injury, Lions punter Kasey Redfern suffered a first-quarter knee injury that Caldwell described as “significant.”

Redfern, playing in his first NFL game, was carted to the locker room and kicker Matt Prater handled punting the rest of the day.

With Sam Martin out at least five more weeks on the non-football injury list, the Lions are expected to sign a replacement for Redfern this week.

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Former Flyer Jeremy Roenick provided some interesting insight into the psychology of Claude Giroux this summer.

On CSN’s July 14 edition of Philly Sports Talk, Roenick said, “The reason why Claude Giroux doesn’t get success is [because] he lets everything get into his mind and he looks for other things to blame it on.”

What those “other things” are Roenick didn’t elaborate, but Giroux has been resilient in his refusal to use injuries as an excuse. Roenick’s assessment came back in July at the American Century Celebrity Golf Championships in Lake Tahoe, and on Wednesday, Giroux agreed completely that he experiences this mental overload.

“Yeah, I did [agree],” Giroux said, “and I don’t think there was anything negative about that. It was just about me proving who I am. He’s been in that position before and he knows how it feels. He said what I think.

“I’m actually close with Jeremy. Jeremy’s a guy that when he played, he had a chip on his shoulder. He wanted to prove every game that he was better than everybody else. It’s about having that mentality.”

A mentality no one questioned during Giroux’s ascension as one of the best players in the world. A talent that has earned him four All-Star Game appearances and helped him finish top five in voting for the Hart Trophy award as the league’s MVP in 2011-12.

Since putting up 28 goals and 86 points in 2013-14, Giroux cheap authetnic nfl jerseys has seen his offensive production decline in each of the past three years, as he finished with just 14 goals and 58 points this past season.

Roenick referred to Giroux’s 2016-17 season as “a bad-luck situation,” one that can be remedied if he blocks out distractions.

“Put it back together,” Roenick said in July. “Show everybody why you’re one of the best competitors in the game and get back up into that top-scoring aspect. And don’t worry about slumps and don’t worry about what people think of you, just be Claude Giroux. And if he does that, this team is going to prosper.”

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When I spoke to Giroux on Wednesday for the first time regarding his offseason and Roenick’s comments, I could sense some tension, which led to this awkward exchange …

Me: Do you look at this season as proving some of the doubters and critics wrong that your game is in decline?

Giroux: “Yeah, I read your stuff, so it’s kind of motivation.”

My only mention of Giroux this summer was part of an “End-to-End” column in which the CSNPhilly staff takes a topic and breaks it down.

Me: “What did I say exactly?”

Giroux: “Not positive, that’s for sure. But that’s how the business is and for me, it’s to prove what kind of player I am and what I can do. The first thing I look at is that our team is looking very good right now. When the team goes well, individually, it’s a lot easier. You can see the mentality of guys coming to camp right now. It’s a different feel right now. I think guys just want more.”

Giroux’s response was a considerably different tone from the last time the media spoke with the captain, which came during the Flyers’ cleanout day in April.

“I’m probably the toughest person to judge myself,” Giroux said then. “I’m really hard on myself. What you guys write and say, it doesn’t really bother me.”

Clearly what bothers Giroux mentally seems to be a little tougher to analyze than what he has endured physically.

A year ago, Giroux was overcoming hip/abdominal surgery and he wasn’t able to prepare for the regular season like he normally would have, as he joined Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey tournament.

“Every summer is about finding new ways to get better,” Giroux said Wednesday of his offseason training in his native Ottawa. “This summer, I didn’t have to rehab all summer, so I actually had a chance to work out and do what I used to do.
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“It was more getting back to explosive stuff, getting stronger, getting faster. I think it’s pretty much the same story for every player — find ways to get better. That’s what we did all summer.”

As he approaches his 30th birthday — he’ll turn 30 on Jan. 12 — it’s almost inconceivable to think Giroux and the Flyers haven’t advanced in the playoffs since beating the Penguins in 2012 when the captain was just 24 years old. Those are prime years of a career you can’t get back. Some will say those are wasted years, while others believe you’re wasting time just thinking about it in those terms.

With training camp officially beginning next Friday, Giroux offered up one piece of self-advice Wednesday that will likely serve him best — not only for this season but for the rest of his career.

“It’s about going out there and playing hockey,” Giroux said. “That’s what I know to do best is play hockey. Thinking about other things is not going to change anything how I play on the ice.”

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With recent news of Carmelo Anthony being left out of the upcoming season’s promotions, his role may be different from what some fans expected.

The New York Knicks for the first time in years actually have a balance of youth and depth on their roster. For now, Carmelo Anthony is still expected to suit up in orange and blue this season, but a trade remains the inescapable outcome for both parties.

Until said inevitable future trade occurs though, his role may be much different from what fans expected.

Many fans can agree that at this point, it’s reasonable to cut into Anthony’s minutes in order to focus on developing newer and younger players, while still having their best player play.

But in what way would this be exactly?

As crazy as it may seem, the best option would be having him coming off the bench as sixth man. It becomes a win-win down the stretch, as well as the beginning of the season.

In the long run, the Knicks will be able to see rookies Frank Ntilkina and Dameyan Dodson, whose abilities would be tested as they see fit.

In the short-term, the Knicks losing their early games only helps their draft prospects. Also, this would potentially force Anthony to explore his options, and somewhere that is not named Houston.

Last year, the Knicks’ starting five seemed decent on paper at least. Carmelo played 74 games, but the New York Knicks still only managed 31 wins.

Last season he was averaging 34 minutes a game in his 14th year in the league. Is it realistic to expect this amount of time on the court for much more than two or three seasons, at best?
Should Carmelo remain a starter or become a sixth man?


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The answer is maybe, but more than likely not in a Knicks uniform. For those who couldn’t tell, Anthony was flustered last year under Phil Jackson. Cutting his minutes down to somewhere between 20-25 per game surely will hurt his attitude. However, there is a fine line between punishment and just doing what makes sense. The Knicks are long shot playoff contenders, shooting for an eighth seed in the Eastern Conference at best.
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The question becomes what good does Carmelo serve the starting five if the Knicks are still losing games, as well as losing ample time to develop a younger player into his role whenever he does leave the Garden?

With that being said, if Carmelo is truly hungry for playing time elsewhere, this may be the most effective strategy for him to widen his destination wish list over the sole target of Houston.

The New York Knicks were 24th in the league last year in plus/minus at -3.7. This at times still deemed them watchable and kept many games close. As tough of a pill as it may be to swallow, some fans may be more excited to hear chants of “KUZ” if Mindaugas Kuzminskas saw more minutes over Melo.

If starting a younger player is too much of a risk, surely that is why the Knicks picked up Michael Beasley this summer as a likely insurance plan when Melo skips town.

That way, there is some type of veteran status at the 3- or 4-spot — much like the Knicks having veteran status with Joakim Noah and the young Willy Hernangomez under his wing, or even more recently, Tim Hardaway Jr. embracing a leadership role with Frank Ntilkina.

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The Oakland Raiders signing of Marshawn Lynch has drawn considerable hype, but is there substance to it? One Seahawks expert thinks so.

Few stories this offseason garnered as much attention as the return of Beast Mode to his hometown of Oakland. When the Oakland Raiders signed Marshawn Lynch out of retirement, NFL fans all over the country took notice and jersey sales went through the roof as the once-retired running back joined one of the NFL’s best young teams. If fans and analysts weren’t already excited by the Raiders’ offensive potential, Lynch sent them over the top.

But a closer look at the situation yields concerns that the hype might be overblown. Lynch has been out of the league for over a year, and even his final season for the Seattle Seahawks was quite forgettable. He rushed 111 times for 417 yards, good for a subpar 3.8 yards/carry average. Can a 31-year-old running back return to form after a full year out of the league and another below average season? One Seahawks expert thinks so.

We recently asked Lee Vowell, Seahawks expert and writer for 12th Man Rising, for his take on Lynch and the answers were surprising. For those counting out Lynch before the season even starts, you might be surprised to find out how much some others still believe.
The signing of Marshawn Lynch is a big reason for the hype surrounding the Oakland Raiders. Are you buying the hype having watched him with the Seahawks?cheap jerseys

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Lynch’s last season with the Seahawks in 2015 was not very good. He looked old and slow. He got injured and 12s were not used to seeing that. Mostly, he can’t really be blamed as the offensive line has been bad in Seattle for the last few years. Still, he is going to run behind a very good line in Oakland and he will be motivated. I think he is a good fit with the Raiders too. He might not rush for 1,000 yards but I can see 900. Though I would not rule out 1,000 or more.
Would you read a year off as a plus (a chance to rest) or a minus (another year out of game shape/readiness)?

Lynch was always in good shape and football-ready. I see this as a win-win for the Raiders and Marshawn. His Beast Mode label is based in Oakland and it’ll be good exposure for him. He’ll help the Raiders as some fans might jump ship as the Raiders will now have left Oakland twice. Plus, he’s a good running back. He’ll help the Raiders on the field as well as off it.
The stats say Lynch seriously struggled his final season. What did your eyes tell you?

That he ran behind a bad line. Sure, Thomas Rawls came in and was fantastic when Lynch was out. But what happened? Rawls got hurt too. The Seahawks line in 2015 and 2016 helped get everybody hurt. Lynch will be fine in 2017. Motivation is the biggest thing for him, and he will be ready to burst with Oakland.

If you had to make a final guess at Lynch’s stat line for 2017, it would be…?

I can see Lynch getting 900 yards or more and 10 touchdowns and around 4 to 4.5 yards per carry. Possibly he could get fewer yards if the Raiders rest him more and give reps to the backups. I think Lynch will be productive in the time he has. I know that running backs older than 30 historically trend downward quickly, but one or two seasons in Oakland? Lynch will be solid.

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Raiders quarterback Derek Carr placed his right hand on defensive end Khalil Mack’s left shoulder as a show of solidarity during the national anthem before the team’s 24-21 exhibition loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night.

Carr said the players were not “protesting” anything with the action.

“What we wanted to do was show all the kids that look up to me, look up to him, that white kids, blue kids, brown kids, blue, green, doesn’t matter, can all be loving to each other,” Carr said. “And that’s what me and Khalil are — we’re best friends and we love one another.

“The only reason we did that is to unify people, and to unify the people that look up to us because, obviously, we see what’s going on in the world and, obviously, everyone pays attention to the national anthem nowadays, and so we just said this was the best time to do it while still honoring our country. Because I love this country, more than anything. We’re free to live here and play this game, but we’re also free to show each other that we love one another. And I think that that’s the message, and that’s the only message we were trying to get out.”

Mack said he wanted to use his “platform” to get out his message.

“To show [that] different races can get along, white, black, whatever you are, get along and be friends and … just show unity,” Mack said. “Show togetherness. It’s discussed a lot. It’s one of the things I feel passionately about, but I just don’t like the attention, the attention that comes with it. But at the same time, just using my platform for positivity is what’s important for me.”

Carr, who grew up in Texas and California and played his college ball at Fresno State, said he and Mack, who grew up in South Florida and played collegiately at Buffalo, knew eyes would be on them as leaders of the team during the anthem.

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“We wanted to show them that it’s OK for a white kid and a black kid that come from two different neighborhoods [can] grow up and love one another and be best friends,” Carr said.

Still, Carr, the Raiders’ second-round draft pick in 2014 after Oakland selected Mack in the first round, said he was not a politician or a spokesperson. He just wanted love to be the message.

The gesture seemed to echo actions seen by other players around the league. Eagles defensive end Chris Long placed his hand on the shoulder of safety Malcolm Jenkins as he held a raised fist during the anthem in Philadelphia on Thursday night. Seattle Seahawks center Justin Britt put his arm on teammate Michael Bennett’s shoulder Friday night, days after Bennett had called for a white player to join the jersey wholesale

Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch, who sat on a cooler during the anthem last week in Arizona, again remained seated Saturday. He did not answer a question on why he sat last week and left the locker room without commenting Saturday night.

Raiders rookie safety Shalom Luani also took a knee at the beginning of the anthem and then stood before the song ended. He said he was merely praying and it was not meant as a protest.

“It never even crossed my mind,” Luani said. “There was nothing to it. Just praying.”

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The Washington Redskins and the city of Richmond have begun discussions about restructuring the eight-year contract that brings the Redskins to town each summer for training camp.

Under the current agreement, the Redskins are paid $500,000 per year, either in cash, sponsorships or in-kind services, to come to Richmond.

“The current deal is not the deal I would have negotiated with the Redskins,” Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said Tuesday.

But the Redskins have pushed back against the characterization of the deal as good for the team but not for the city. Now in Year 5, the team contends that the agreement has been a net winner for the city, cheap authetnic nfl jerseys releasing documents to the Richmond Times-Dispatch showing that the team has directly contributed more to the city in taxes and charitable donations than the city has paid the Redskins in cash.

For example, in 2015 Richmond owed $360,694 in cash — the portion of the city’s required $500,000 payment that remained after sponsorships and in-kind services such as volunteer time. The Redskins’ documents show the team provided $436,767 in direct support to the city through taxes paid, direct payments for things like parking spaces, and charity.

The team’s analysis omits the city and Richmond Economic Development Authority’s initial investment of $11 million in the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center, which was funded in part by giving the Westhampton School site to Bon Secours.

On Tuesday, the team announced a donation of $60,000 in sporting goods to city schools. The Redskins also are paying for a counselor to be in each of the five traditional neighborhood public high schools in the city.

“It’s tough to measure (the impact of the deal), and that’s unfortunately the challenge with economic development deals is how exactly do you get a measurement,” said Tommy Kranz, the interim schools superintendent. “But I think this has been significant for our students, I think it’s been significant for the Richmond public school system, and we really appreciate everything the Redskins have done.”football jersey cheap

The public relations blitz comes as the Redskins and the city are at the bargaining table discussing the future of their relationship.

“Every day, the Redskins and my team work to make the deal a little bit better,” Stoney said.

“In recent weeks we’ve discussed how we can make the deal better for Richmond. I’m optimistic about where those talks will take us.”

Redskins President Bruce Allen said reframing the deal is a matter of perception. He said the deal has been a success for all sides so far.

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“We know the economics,” Allen said. “Economically, it’s been very good for the city. It costs us more to be here as opposed to Redskins Park. It costs us a lot more to travel. It doesn’t take a CPA to figure that out.

“But I think it’s been great for the community. I can tell by the events — we’ve had more of them. They’ve benefited greatly from us being here.”

The deal has been a popular political punching bag, particularly the $500,000 annual contribution.

The hope was to cover the contribution through services and sponsorships, but the cash amount has been significant in every year of the deal. Last year, the Richmond Economic Development Authority paid the Redskins $138,519.

The team agreed to defer $92,000 of the owed money to the 2017 bill, as a gesture of good will to the new mayoral administration.

Starting in 2016, the team quit announcing daily attendance numbers at the camp, which have fallen well short of the first year. In the final year that attendance was announced, weekday crowds consisted of about 5,000 people — in 2017, the crowds have seemed slightly sparser, though the team has added a number of themed days to boost attendance.

Allen disputed the characterization of crowds as lower, and said he wants the focus of the deal to be on the community impact, not the financials.

“I think it’s been good for the team, and it’s been great for the kids in the community and Redskins fans from North Carolina and southern Virginia — it’s been a dream for them,” Allen said.

It’s not known how the renegotiation of the deal would affect the money owed or the terms of the deal.

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Peyton Manning is looking for football programs interested in advancing the game.

The five-time MVP quarterback and now an ambassador for Riddell will review applicants for an equipment grant from the company through its Smarter Football initiative, now in its third year. Smarter Football is a grass-roots campaign that recognizes and rewards teams across the country for implementing smarter tactics on and off the field. Some 1,700 football programs across North America from the youth level up to semi-pro have applied for an equipment grant the past two seasons.

super cheap jerseysOver the years, I’ve attended many youth and high school football practices,” says Manning, who retired after winning the Super Bowl in February 2016 with Denver. “I’ve witnessed the struggle many of these programs undergo to get the right equipment to provide proper protection for their players. In addition to promoting a safer approach to the sport together, Riddell’s Smarter Football program has the opportunity to ignite new energy into these hard-working programs.”

Riddell has launched Precision-Fit, a state-of-the-art three-dimensional head scanning process used to build a custom-fitting, player-specific helmet liner system to provide personalized protection. Riddell also has technology that summarizes players’ on-field alerts and identifies training opportunities for athletes.

“I’ve always valued preparation and information, both on and off the field,” Manning adds. “I studied everything from the helmet I wore to the tape I watched to the plays I called to try to set myself and my team up for success.

“This year’s program will continue to recognize and reward those at all levels of play who have taken steps towards improving and advancing the sport of football, especially when it comes to player safety and protection.”

Although Peyton Manning has retired from football, there’s one thing he definitely hasn’t retired from: singing Johnny Cash songs in public.

Manning’s latest concert came last week when he randomly showed up to a bar in Ireland and started belting out “Folsom Prison Blues.” The free concert came in the late night hours of July 27.

Although Manning isn’t as famous in Ireland as he is in the United States, he was definitely recognized during his trip to Quays Irish Bar in Dublin, and as soon as he started singing, several patrons at the bar decided to start recording him.

Here’s Manning showing off his singing skills.

After he was done singing, the former Broncos quarterback took some time to pose for pictures at the bar.

Apparently, Manning was in Ireland because he was on the tail end of a golf trip that started in Scotland.

Manning is now clearly in the Carmen Sandiego phase of his retirement, which means he could show up anywhere in the world, and probably will.

As for the Johnny Cash stuff, this isn’t the first time Manning has covered “Folsom Prison Blues.” As a matter of fact, it may or may not be the only Cash song he’s ever sang in public.

Back in 2014, Manning sang “Folsom Prison Blues” during a charity event with country singer Jake Owens. One year later, Manning sang the same song with Dierks Bentley. The next time we see him, don’t be surprised if he’s singing it in Barbados with Madonna, because, at this point, anything seems possible.

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Giants diehards and fantasy football fans aren’t the only two cliques fantasizing about Big Blue’s newfangled offense.

One of New York’s receivers can’t hold back his excitement at the prospect of playing alongside Pro Bowl giants Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall.
“I’m very excited a part of that good group of guys,” Shepard told Sirius XM NFL Radio on Saturday while hosting a Hyundai Youth Football Camp. “Especially having Odell and Brandon on the outside now is going to help free up the inside for Evan [Engram] and I. That’s every wide receiver’s dream to have two great guys on the outside that are going to draw a lot of attention. That’s what you’re getting with those two. We should have a feast in the inside if we prepare good enough.”

Ever since the Giants made the consecutive acquisitions of Marshall in free agency and hybrid tight end Engram in the first round of the 2017 draft, pundits have salivated at the potential of the most dynamic receiving corps of Eli Manning’s career.

Shepard’s comments echo the expectations many have had about the Giants’ offense: the caliber of weapons on the outside will open up the middle of the field for Shepard, Engram and New York’s running backs. More open opportunities means less time in the pocket for Eli and fewer sacks surrendered by the offensive line, a position group that is arguably the Giants’ biggest hole on the roster.

However, before this magic domino effect can take hold, we’ll have to see if there are too many cooks, or rather personalities, in Hell’s Kitchen. Someone’s targets are bound to decrease, and it’s likely the odd man out is Shepard. If that ends up being the case, will the second-year pro still be singing the same optimistic tune come midseason?

Sterling Shepard truly did not realize how fast his life was going until he stopped to take a moment and exhale.

His final college season at Oklahoma, a place where he essentially grew from a boy into a young man on campus, quickly shifted to the NFL’s scouting combine, which was immediately followed by the 2016 draft and his second-round selection by the Giants, who brought him into the fold with plenty of fanfare.

And Shepard’s rookie season just kept going: into the starting lineup with Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr., part of an 11-win team that reached the playoffs for the first time since Super Bowl XLVI with eight touchdown receptions and countless things learned.

When it was over, with time to reflect on a solid pro debut, Shepard settled on what he considered the greatest lesson from his solid professional debut: Slow down.

“Truth be told, it’s such a long season, and I have passed this along to the young guys [in the Giants’ current rookiebest place to buy cheap jerseys class], you don’t want to come in and kill yourself by trying to do so much so quickly,” Shepard told The Record and during a break last Saturday from the Hyundai youth football camp for which he served as headliner at Superdome Sports.

“The biggest lesson that I learned is that you’ve got to slow down. Don’t take everything so fast, and maintain so that you’re ready for the whole season and not just at the start.”

The Giants believe Shepard is poised for a second NFL season with even greater expectations as one of Manning’s top targets. Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall will presumably garner much of the attention from opposing defenses on the perimeter, and the first-round selection of tight end Evan Engram could provide Manning with his best option at that position in terms of playmaking ability since Jeremy Shockey.

Where does that leave Shepard, who racked up 65 catches, 683 yards and those eight scores?

In the perfect spot, and let him explain.

“Feel like we’ve found the missing pieces to the puzzle,” Shepard said. “Evan’s gonna be a matchup nightmare, to be honest. I see no reason why [Engram’s presence] won’t add to opportunities for me, especially with Odell and Brandon on the outside, it’s gonna open up the middle and I feel like we’ll both be eating. This offense is going to be as good as we make it, but we’ve got to work hard for it.”

Shepard’s offseason included training sessions earlier this month with Jamal Liggin, the Los Angeles-based speed and performance trainer who has worked closely with Beckham over the last three seasons. The priority for Shepard going into this season – the Giants report to training camp Thursday – has been to improve his separation with extra speed work. Also, he’s focused on eliminating what he considered to be far too many dropped passes last season.

“When I came out of college, I had only dropped, like, six balls my whole career,” Shepard said. “I want to get back to that, and the main thing I’ve been working on is separation and speed. I want some of the deeper routes, more of those big plays.”

Late last week, Giants All-Pro safety Landon Collins responded to Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott’s prediction that Dallas would repeat as NFC East champion by promising this would be Big Blue’s season to “take over” the division.

“Whatever Landon says, of course I’ve got his back,” Shepard said with a smile. “End of the day, we’ve got to come on the field and do what we do. I don’t listen to the talk or any back and forth. We’re confident in what we have. We understand there’s a target on us now.”

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cheap-discount-jerseysWhen the San Francisco 49ers made sweeping changes this offseason, they did so knowing this wasn’t going to be an overnight turnaround.

General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan got six-year deals partly as acknowledgement of that fact. Even though they made a flurry of moves to bolster the roster, they still passed on trying to force finding a franchise quarterback and opted instead to sign a bridge starter in Brian Hoyer. This season will lay the foundation as they hope to find their quarterback next offseason and potentially begin adding playmakers around him.

How long do you think it will take for the 49ers’ rebuild to work and for them to contend for the division again?

Josh Weinfuss, ESPN Arizona Cardinals reporter: The Niners’ turnaround is going to take some time. Their personnel moves and commitment to rebuilding their roster were impressive this offseason, but it won’t be translate into a winner in 2017. Five, six or seven wins might even be a stretch. It’ll take at least three seasons for them to compete in the division again. They’re young, and that comes with its own learning curve. And they don’t have a quarterback of the future — yet. Once they find a quarterback who can be the offensive foundation for years to come, then San Francisco could turn the corner and become a competitive team in the West again. That may take another draft or two, or even another free-agent class or two. It’ll certainly take time.

Alden Gonzalez, ESPN Los Angeles Rams reporter: There’s a reason Lynch and Shanahan were brought in on six-year contracts. This is going to take some time. The 49ers went 2-14 in Chip Kelly’s first and only season as coach then completely retooled, using nearly $80 million in salary-cap space to address what became a barren roster. The Niners improved an offense that finished last in the NFL in passing yards mostly through free agency, adding a couple of quarterbacks, led by Hoyer, and a handful of pass-catchers, headlined by Pierre Garcon. They then addressed a defense that was by far the league’s worst last year through a savvy draft that netted Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster at the top. But there are still holes throughout the roster. And the Niners aren’t going to be a legitimate contender until they find their quarterback of the future. The 2018 draft class looks good at quarterback. And if that doesn’t work out, Shanahan can always take a stab at trading for old friend Kirk Cousins. Patience is key, though. FPI projects a 5-11 record for the 49ers in 2017 and gives them a 3 percent chance of making the playoffs. This will take at least three years.

Sheil Kapadia, ESPN Seattle Seahawks reporter: It’s difficult to see the 49ers competing for the division before 2019 — at the earliest. Lynch and Shanahan have inherited a massive rebuilding project, and until they find a long-term solution at quarterback, it’ll be tough to take them seriously as contenders. We have seen what Shanahan can do when he has talent to work with offensively, but this season will offer a test on some of the limitations of coaching and scheme. If the 49ers are able to come up with a solution at quarterback next offseason, that could make up for other areas of weakness on the roster and speed up their rebuild.

The 49ers are rebooting all over again in 2017. So far, they’re off to a smart start with Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch.

Since Chip Kelly became one-and-done and dragged Trent Baalke out the door with him, the 49ers already have showed signs they struck gold with their new coach-GM combination.

San Francisco’s mission was to mine as much talent as possible with three years down the line in mind. Although the offensive-minded Shanahan may need to wait to develop his ideal attack, the defensive-driven Lynch has stockpiled well for an equally massive transition on the other side of the ball.

The 49ers won’t suddenly become Shanahan’s 2016 Falcons or Lynch’s 2002 Buccaneers, but the blueprint is evident in their new depth chart.

It may have seemed odd for the 49ers to give Garcon, who turns 31 in August, a five-year deal. He still has a good amount of his speed and quickness, but it was his tough route-running and impressive intangibles that were most attractive for a post-Washington reunion with Shanahan. The 49ers have been missing some basic reliability at wideout after moving on from both Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin. Garcon will be a leader and a go-to outside receiver for Hoyer, with the natural transition to thrive with Cousins again.

Jeremy Kerley was useful in the slot as the team’s leading receiver last season, but by scheme and by necessity because of oft-injured Bruce Ellington, he may be called upon to line up outside as the only true veteran complement to Garcon. As for former Bill Marquise Goodwin, Shanahan will look to use his track-star speed in special packages, exactly as he did with Taylor Gabriel in Atlanta. The group may not be as prolific or pretty as that of other teams, but the 49ers did get better and grittier at wide receiver.