DeMarcus Lawrence enjoys needling pass-rushing understudy Taco Charlton Rashaad Penny Jersey
, who spent plenty of time in the offseason working out with the man who tied for second in sacks in the NFL last year for the Dallas Cowboys.
”He’s aggravating,” Lawrence said, trying not to show that he was joking. ”I go places in Dallas thinking I’m by myself and two seconds later, I see Taco walk in. Why is he always following me?”
Maybe it’s because Lawrence is coming off his best season at 14 1/2 sacks while Charlton is trying to deliver on first-round expectations in his second year.
Add Randy Gregory working to get his career back on track after a year away from the NFL on a substance-abuse suspension, and these recent high draft picks by the Cowboys, all defensive ends, offer an interesting trio of story lines going into 2018.
”Encore?” said Lawrence, who tied Jacksonville’s Calais Campbell for second, 2 1/2 sacks behind Arizona’s Chandler Jones. ”You’ve just got to stay tuned. We’re going to put on a big show this year.”
Gregory was activated from the non-football injury list Wednesday following a yearlong suspension over multiple violations of the league’s substance-abuse policy.
Coach Jason Garrett says the club did it to allow Gregory to be more active in morning walkthroughs at training camp in California. The Cowboys aren’t in any hurry to have him participate in a full padded practice.
”He’s been away from football for a long time,” Garrett said. ”He did a good job of keeping himself in shape. But again Cole Beasley Jersey
, we don’t want to compromise him early on here and put him a couple of weeks behind where he should be, so we’re going to progress deliberately here.”
As for Lawrence and Charlton, it’s full-speed ahead. Here’s an overview of all three players a week into camp:
The Cowboys put the franchise tag on Lawrence at the end of his four-year rookie deal, and there weren’t any contract discussions of substance before the deadline to sign a long-term deal expired.
Lawrence, who gets $17.1 million guaranteed this season, was the first pass rusher drafted by the Cowboys after they released franchise sacks leader DeMarcus Ware in 2014. Dallas traded up to early in the second round to get him.
He didn’t get his first sack until his second season and had just nine through three years before a quick start in 2017 led to his breakthrough. Now the 26-year-old is playing for a big payday.
”As a kid, they tell you the sky’s the limit. They lyin’ to you,” Lawrence said. ”You set your own limits. That’s why I said, `Secure the bag,’ because I’m going out there each and every day and showing my son and showing my family I set my own limits.”
The former Michigan player is actually three sacks ahead of Lawrence’s pace. Charlton had three as a rookie after the Cowboys took him late in the first round. If nothing else Isaiah Wynn Youth Jersey
, he knows patience is part of the formula.
The 23-year-old Charlton’s debut in the NFL was Lawrence’s first season without an injury or season-opening suspension, which Lawrence served in 2016.
”I talk trash, like, he didn’t do nothing,” Charlton said. ”That’s kind of how we wing it, `Ah, you didn’t do nothing. Ah, you did this, I’m going to go faster.’ It pushes us to go to that next level. Him doing what he did last year pushed me to try to do that same thing.”
Charlton seems much more at ease, speaking freely and frequently with reporters during camp.
”The comfortability level is probably the biggest thing Donte Jackson Youth Jersey
,” he said. ”There’s not so much where I’m wide-eyed seeing what’s going on. I roll out here like I belong and I can do whatever I need to do to progress.”
GREGORY’S LONG ROAD
The former Nebraska standout has been suspended for 30 of the past 32 regular-season games for multiple violations of the substance-abuse policy.
Gregory was considered a first-round talent when he slid to near the end of the second round of the 2015 draft over off-field concerns that included a positive test for marijuana at the combine.
While he was cleared to return by Commissioner Roger Goodell not long before training camp, Gregory hasn’t spoken to reporters. Garrett hesitated to indicate when Gregory might practice for the first time.
”You have brothers falling the wrong way, do you give up on them? No,” Lawrence said. ”We say togetherness, we say family for a reason. Randy’s my brother. We stuck by him for this long time and it’s time for him to ball now.”
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, also the defensive line coach, said it’s a first for him to have a player back after not seeing him for a year and a half.
”Each night we have a chance in our meetings, we visit,” Marinelli said. ”He knows the progression that he’s got to go through. He’s not going to walk out there and it’s going to happen. As talented as he is, it doesn’t work that way. And he knows that.”
The Portland Trail Blazers acquired two guards during Thursday’s NBA draft Christian Kirk Jersey
, landing IMG Academy’s Anfernee Simons and Duke’s Gary Trent Jr.
Simons was the 24th pick of the draft. Portland got Trent after acquiring the rights to the 37th pick by trading two future second-round picks to Sacramento.
The 6-foot-4, 180-pound Simons didn’t play in college. He initially committed to Louisville but after the school fired coach Rick Pitino in October, Simons opted to attend IMG Academy in Florida. Simons, who turned 19 this month, averaged 22.4 points and shot 45 percent last season.
Simons is the first player since 2005 to land in the draft without playing in college or overseas. Simons was eligible for the draft because he’s 19 and one year removed from his high school graduation. The Blazers’ roster had the youngest average age among NBA teams last season.
The Blazers twice brought Simons to Portland for workouts. Blazers general manager Neil Olshey said because Simons didn’t go through the rigors of a college season, they needed additional proof that he was worthy of a first-round selection.
”At that point in the draft we were looking for the guy with the highest ceiling. He has a really bright future. We know he’s going to work,” Olshey said. ”There’s some risk; not a guy with a big body of work. But that’s not our job to play it safe.”
Olshey, who sees Simons as a combo guard, acknowledges the learning curve as rookie will be steep.
”He may be a deer in the headlights for a little bit. But for Anfernee, he’ll get it Harold Landry Jersey
,” Olshey said.
Of the Blazers’ two selections, Olshey believes the 6-6 Trent has the best chance of making an impact next season.
To acquire Trent, Portland sent a 2019 second-round pick and the 2021 pick it earlier obtained from Miami to Sacramento for the 37th selection. As a freshman at Duke, Trent shot 40.2 percent from 3-point range and averaged 14.5 points per game.
”We’re all looking for shooting, and this is a guy we think can step in right away,” Olshey said. ”I don’t think we feel the need to be as patient with Gary based on his body of work as we do with Anfernee.”
The Blazers also landed Trent’s father, Gary Sr., with a draft-day trade in 1995. Trent said playing for the same franchise as his father ”is surreal. It’s unexplainable.”
The Blazers are coming off a 49-33 season and were the Western Conference’s No. 3 seed. They were swept in four games by New Orleans during the first round of the playoffs.