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Custom Blaine Gabbert Jersey Large

The regular season is winding down for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and at 7-7 they will miss the playoffs for the 12th-straight season.

But, the Bucs still have a lot to play for. If they win out, they’ll finish 9-7 for their first winning record since 2016. For a team that was 3-7 just last month, riding a six-game winning-streak into the offseason would be a great way to finish out the year.

For quarterback Jameis Winston, the past month has gone a long way in convincing the Bucs that he deserves at least one more year playing for Bruce Arians. While Winston has thrown a league-leading 24 interceptions, he also has 30 touchdown passes and is on pace to surpass 5,000 passing yards. And, after his 458-yard day against the Detroit Lions in Week 15, Winston became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 450 or more yards in back-to-back games. (He had 456 against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 14.)

Winston’s improved play over the past month has helped his case to remain the team’s quarterback. But, that may not have been the case had quarterback Blaine Gabbert remained healthy.

It’s easy to forget that Gabbert, a former first-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars, was signed in the offseason to be Winston’s backup. Gabbert had played under Arians during the coach’s time with the Arizona Cardinals, so he had a familiarity with the offensive system. But, Gabbert injured his non-throwing shoulder in the third preseason game and ended up on IR shortly after.

Had Gabbert not been injured, you have to believe that he would’ve gotten a chance at some point this season to relieve Winston. Let’s go back to Week 6 in London, for example. Winston ended up throwing five interceptions in a loss to the Carolina Panthers in what was easily the worst performance of his professional career. The Bucs went into the bye week before traveling to Tennessee to take on the Titans in Week 8.

That would’ve been the best time to have Gabbert replace Winston as starter. Gabbert would have had the bye week to prepare, and, best of all, he played for the Titans in 2018, meaning he likely had a good feel for what the defense would try.

If Bruce Arians was looking for a spark, that would’ve been the time to try and make a switch. Look what happened after the Titans replaced Marcus Mariota with Ryan Tannehill. The Titans went from the doldrums of the AFC to playoff contenders under Tannehill. While there’s no way to say that would’ve been the case for the Bucs if Gabbert came in, you have to believe Arians would’ve at least given him a shot at some point, given the way Winston has struggled at times. But, with Gabbert unavailable and the team unwilling to turn to Ryan Griffin, Arians stuck with Winston through the good times and bad.

And, as the past month has shown, that decision by Arians looks to finally be paying off.

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Custom Bernie Casey Jersey Large

The estate of Bernie Casey no longer has a legal cloud hanging over its head … it’s settled a lawsuit from a woman alleging he attacked her the week before he died.

According to new legal docs obtained by TMZ … the former NFL-star-turned-actor’s estate has settled with Cheryl Castillo for a cool $250k. Cheryl had previously claimed she and Bernie were husband and wife but has since filed docs clarifying they were never married and only lived together.

In docs, the estate agrees to pony up the dough once it sells off Bernie’s house. The settlement also allows Cheryl to live in the house until it’s sold.

TMZ broke the story … Cheryl sued the “Revenge of the Nerds” star back in June 2018 claiming Bernie violently tackled her to the ground just 1 week before his death in September 2017.

Cheryl alleged she got into an argument with Casey over their cars when he suddenly grabbed her by the arm and tackled her to the ground “as though [she] was a football player.”

Casey — who was U.N. Jefferson, the Tri Lambdas’ leader, in ‘Nerds’ — was a Pro-Bowl wide receiver for the L.A. Rams in the ’60s.

He died in Sept. 2017 after suffering a stroke.

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Custom Anquan Boldin Jersey Large

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — In the 2010s, the Baltimore Ravens hit the highest of highs and the lowest of lows both on-and-off the field.

The Ravens had just one season under .500 (2015) and two seasons at .500 (2013, 2016) and posted a 97-62 record, a 61 percent win percentage. They won a Super Bowl in 2013, the second in franchise history, and had numerous Hall-of-Famers wear the purple and black.

Baltimore also had a historic off-the-field incident, which started a larger discussion about how the NFL handles domestic violence.

On the field, the Ravens started the decade hot with two straight 12-4 seasons — but losses to the Steelers and the Patriots in back-to-back years kept one of the NFL’s best teams out of the Super Bowl.

In 2013, though, the Ravens avenged a loss against the Patriots the year prior and ran through the AFC en route to a 34-31 victory over the 49ers in ‘The Harbaugh Bowl.’

With Joe Flacco at quarterback for a majority of the decade, the Ravens made the playoffs six times (including 2019) and made two conference championship games.

The organization waved goodbye to Hall-of-Fame talents in Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs, as well as other franchise stalwarts like Haloti Ngata and Todd Heap.

Lewis’ send-off in the 2013 playoffs, en route to the team’s second-ever Super Bowl, was one of the team’s finest hours.

Reed’s departure followed, but his career wasn’t over quite yet. He returned to Baltimore once more, as a member of the Texans, before his playing career ended after the 2013 season.

Suggs left as the franchise leader in games played and sacks before heading to Arizona to finish out his career with the Cardinals before being waived and claimed by the Chiefs. His final chapter with the Ravens might dip into 2020, as he and the Chiefs might have one more game against the Ravens.

In the front office, Ozzie Newsome put together the sixth-best team — in terms of win-loss record — in the NFL. With a host of veterans leading the way, he added young pieces like Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews, Marlon Humphrey, Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr. before departing.

Newsome also brought in key role players like Anquan Boldin and Steve Smith, both of whom played major roles in the Ravens’ offense toward the end of their careers.

The team wasn’t always young throughout the decade, and Newsome wasn’t always perfect, as the team locked Flacco into a hotly-debated contract after the team’s Super Bowl win.

Flacco signed a six-year contract worth $120.6 million, a number the Ravens felt they had to pay after Flacco’s playoff performance and also a number that was prohibitive to the rest of the Ravens roster throughout the years. Flacco was traded to the Broncos in the early part of 2019 for a mid-round draft pick.

Newsome stepped aside after the 2018 season to give way to Eric DeCosta, the team’s new general manager.

Off the field, however, the organization also faced the fallout from the Ray Rice assault, where the then-popular running back struck his then-fiance and now wife, Janay Palmer, in an elevator in 2014. After months of missteps by Rice, the Ravens organization and the National Football League, Rice’s contract was terminated on Sept. 8, 2014 after video footage was released to the public of the assault on Palmer. Rice never played in the NFL again.

The Rice incident was the lowest moment in a decade which was mostly filled with good feelings for the Ravens organization.

The team had, and still has, Marshal Yanda, who developed into a Hall of Fame talent in the 2010s. Coach John Harbaugh adapted as a coach and made the Ravens’ offense the NFL’s best in relatively short order.

In a decade of transition, the Ravens had more ups and downs that might be expected for a perennial Super Bowl contender.

If there was an organization that had seen the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in the 2010s, it was the Baltimore Ravens.

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Custom Alex Smith Jersey Large

SALT LAKE CITY — Special seasons have been accompanied by extraordinary senior quarterback play at the University of Utah.

— In 2004, Alex Smith became a Heisman Trophy finalist while leading Utah to a 12-0 season and a Fiesta Bowl championship. The Mountain West Conference Player of the Year passed for 2,952 yards with 32 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He rushed for 631 yards and 10 scores.

“It’s hard to compare. Not every quarterback has the same style and so forth. But I’m telling you right now he has been incredible this year.” — Utah quarterback Kyle Whittingham
— In 2008, Brian Johnson led the Utes to a 13-0 season and a win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Johnson, who was named the game’s Most Outstanding Player, capped his career as the winningest starter (26-7) in team history. As a senior, he threw for 2,972 yards with 27 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

— In 2019, Tyler Huntley guided Utah to its second consecutive Pac-12 South title and a school-record College Football Playoff ranking (No. 5). His completion percentage (73.7) is among the national leaders. The first-team all-conference honoree has 2,966 yards passing with 18 touchdowns and four interceptions. He’s also ran for 257 yards and five TDs.

As Huntley prepares for his final game with the Utes — Tuesday’s Alamo Bowl in San Antonio against Texas — the former Florida prep star has worked his way into the conversation when it comes to leaving the program on a high note like Smith and Johnson did.

Stellar senior seasons
Completion percentage

Huntley 205 of 278 — 73.7%

Johnson 268 of 394 — 68%

Smith 214 of 317 — 67.5%

Interceptions

Johnson 9

Huntley 4

Smith 4

Passing touchdowns

Smith 32

Johnson 27

Huntley 18

Passing yards

Johnson 2,972

Huntley 2,966

Smith 2,952

Rushing touchdowns

Smith 10

Huntley 5

Johnson 1

Rushing yards

Smith 631

Huntley 257

Johnson 128

“It’s hard to compare. Not every quarterback has the same style and so forth,” said Utah quarterback Kyle Whittingham. “But I’m telling you right now he has been incredible this year.”

Huntley led the Utes to eight straight victories at one point and helped them enter the national playoff discussion. He was even mentioned in Heisman Trophy talk.

While praising Huntley’s leadership and win-loss record, Whittingham noted that the two-time team captain exceeded most people’s expectations on the outside.

“I can’t say enough good things,” Whittingham said. “I hate to make comparisons but he’s right up there with Brian and Alex and the very talented ones that have come through here.”

The return of offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig, who left the program after the Sugar Bowl victory, proved to be quite pivotal. Ludwig and Huntley proved to be a good match.

“He connected with him. I guess that’s the best word I can use. (They) connected right out of the gate. Tyler believes in Andy. Andy believes in Tyler,” Whittingham said. “Tyler hung on every word, principle, philosophy that Andy brought to the table for him and assimilated it and just put it in action.”

Huntley has started all 13 games and is ranked sixth nationally in ESPN’s Total QBR system — netting strong consideration for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, as well as the Davey O’Brien and Manning awards. He tops the Pac-12 in completion percentage, passing efficiency, passing yards per completion and yards per pass attempt.

The Utes have a 24-8 record with Huntley as their starter. Such numbers, Ludwig acknowledged, puts him in the same class as Smith and Johnson.

“I would agree with that,” Ludwig said. “He’s had a sensational senior season, an excellent career and we’re looking to cap it off the right way.”

Ludwig describes his relationship with Huntley as very professional.
Custom Alex Smith Jersey Large

“The young man is driven and focused. He wants to be a great player. (He) doesn’t say a whole lot in the meeting room, but his eyes are burning out of his sockets when you’re talking,” Ludwig said. “He does a great job of preparation. I think he appreciates the way we go about preparing the game plan and discussing the details of each play. He does a nice job putting it on tape.”

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Custom Nick Bosa Jersey Large

Defensive end Nick Bosa has unfortunately been out of action with a hamstring injury for most of his early scheduled practices with the San Francisco 49ers, but at least he’s been making a good impression while doing what he can from the sidelines.

Bosa joined the 49ers on April 25 when they made him their selection with the second overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. He then was forced to the sidelines on May 21 when he strained his hamstring during the team’s second OTA (Organized Team Activities) practice of the spring. Despite the injury keeping him out until the start of training camp in late July, Bosa has managed to shine nonetheless, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan.

“For not being out there very much, I’ve been very impressed,” Shanahan told reporters Tuesday. “He’s been one of the guys. He’s not too loud, doesn’t try to stand out but also doesn’t sit there and hide in the corner. He’s one of the guys. I think he’s fit in very well. I think he’s very attentive in his meetings. I think he enjoys football. He’s not a guy who’s falling asleep in the meetings just because he can’t practice that day. He enjoys watching it. He enjoys watching other people and learning from other people. He’s been handling himself great so far.”

What’s Bosa been doing to improve while out with his injury? Defensive line coach Kris Kocurek spelled that out while speaking to reporters on May 29.

“Every mental rep that he can get, put yourself in the play from the play call, try to get him the play call, he knows what it is, he sees the formation, sees where he would line up, get on his keys and see how he would react to the situation like he was in there,” Kocurek said. “And then a bunch of work behind closed doors in the film room, getting with him on the board, watching practice, watching some of my stuff from previous years, watching some of the guys, studying them as much as he possibly can. As much mental work as he can possibly get right now, we’re utilizing.”

It would have obviously been an ideal situation for Bosa to stay healthy throughout the remainder of the spring workout schedule, as it would have helped him get his feet wet from a practice perspective while also giving him a chance to get some work in after missing much of his 2018 season at Ohio State due to core muscle surgery. But once he returns, Shanahan expects Bosa will be able to pick things up quickly due in part to the position he plays.

“Yeah, definitely,” Shanahan said. “I think there’s not as many variables that go into it. You’ve got to beat the guy in front of you. If you don’t know what you’re doing but you beat the guy in front of you every single time, you’re going to be alright, where there is more to that at another position. Everybody wants to be out there and get reps – that’s what you need to get better – but we’ll get him healthy and it’ll make him hopefully better for him to get reps at training camp.”