As I stated in my article about the absurdity of Marcus Mariota falling to the 13th pick in the draft, NFL “experts” don’t always respect our Oregon Ducks. Mariota isn’t the only player to fall victim to this bias, with...
Former Oregon running back LaMichael James has signed a one-year contract with the Miami Dolphins today, a year after being waived by the San Francisco 49ers. Last year, James signed with the Dolphins’ practice squad, but had since made it to their...
Over the next three
It was a rough weekend for fans of the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers in the National Football League and both teams appeared to be ready for their respective opponents only to fall totally flat when the clock hit all zeros. Both teams fell apart thanks to their defense who gave up big plays in the final minutes.
When it comes to the game of NFL football, you have to play it out on the field. Apaprently one player who did not come prepared this past weekend was NFL Star Cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks Richard Sherman. Seattle lost to San Diego by nine points 30-21 and questions surrounding Sherman not being a ‘shutdown’ corner, in my opinion, were not defined in the loss – however some may disagree.
Antonio Gates had three touchdown catches in the game on Saturday afternoon leading to a Chargers victory. Meanwhile in San Francisco the game took a similar turn. The 49ers were hosting the Chicago Bears with a Quarterback who has been known for not always coming through in big games of late. Jake Cutler signed an extension in the offseason and apparently found his game on Sunday, as well as Wide Receiver Brandon Marshall who caught two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to lead the comeback for the road team.
At halftime it seemed that San Francisco was right at home in their new stadium, but it was not to be as the Bears erased a thirteen point deficit as Cutler reeled off two scores in a twenty seven second span in the final quarter of play against a depleted San Francisco secondary.
It is early in the NFL season, but right now wins are more important when it comes to lining yourself up for the playoffs and a potential Super Bowl run. This week San Francisco travels to Arizona to take on the Cardinals(1:05pm PT, FOX) and Seattle will have their hands full hosting Denver in a Super Bowl rematch(1:25p PT, CBS)
CHIP KELLY & THE EAGLES
It is not a shock to write this headline, considering that James has been looking for a way out of San Francisco for almost a year now. Entering Fall Camp James had a chance to make a roster spot after Starting Running Back Kendall Hunter went down with a season ending injury(he was later cut from the team). Entering the game this past week against Dallas, James found himself fourth on the depth chart and not even seeing the field behind Starter Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde. Being injured in fall camp also likely effected James.
In camp he dislocated his elbow and was out our for several weeks before declaring himself healthy, but he was not used. James has exclaimed his displeasure with the San Francisco 49ers on social media over the last year and a half and by his request, granted his release from the team. Now San Francisco rolls on with two healthy running backs on the roster.
There are several potential landing spots for LaMichael James. Two come immediately to mind. The first option, is in Baltimore who cut Star Running Back Ray Rice following the visual assualt on his wife. Of course, a second option could be in Philadelphia with his former coach at Oregon, Chip Kelly.
On the same day as his release from San Francisco, Philadelphia released a former teammate in Kenjon Barner, who was injured – so there is an available roster spot with the Eagles. The big question is, will Kelly pull the trigger?
Stay tuned on this one, James is talented enough to find a roster spot anywhere in the NFL as either a returner or a backup running back. He just has to have a chance to gain some NFL experience and of course, stay healthy.
Training Camp for the NFL opened on Friday for the San Francisco 49ers, a team expected to compete for a Super Bowl in 2014 after faltering to Seattle to end the 2013 season. On Friday the team took a hit when Running Back Kendall Walker went down with a torn acl, he will be lost for the season. On Saturday I wrote how this could open the door for former Oregon Ducks Running Back LaMichael James to make his way into the offense after performing well on Special Teams for the last two seasons for the team. Between returning kick and punt returns last season he amassed close to one-thousand yards the last two seasons in San Francisco and aconsideration for a trade in April was rumored.
Entering Saturday LaMichael James had the chance to make a move up the depth chart, but was injured on a blitz play in practice. Shortly after he went down it was reported as an upper body/arm, shoulder injury. It was bad enough for him to be taken off the field on a cart. It was late reported that he suffered a dislocated elbow and would be out of action for a month.
For a player that was so successful in the college game at the University of Oregon, although he did have a dislocated elbow in his time with the Oregon Ducks, LaMichael James entered the NFL on a not so good injury note. He has suffered several injuries over the last two years, including a foot injury. For a guy looking to prove himself in the National Football League it is yet another blow he will have to overcome early in his NFL Career. One month of time is a ton of learning experience.
For a player to miss a month of camp, although he has been with the team for two years now, is hard. It’s difficult to come back from. Plays you can only watch from the sideline aren’t as easy. LaMichael James will miss most of the preseason schedule for San Francisco and may make it back for the final preseason game before the season opener, but it is more likely he will be held out of any action for the 2014 until it matters.
San Francisco cannot afford to lose another Running Back this season. With LaMichael James out for a month and Walker lost for the season that leaves three players, unless they make a trade for someone. Starter Frank Gore enters the season primed for a Super Bowl run, and his backups are now Marcus Lattimore, who sat out last season with a knee injury. He suffered a significant leg injury in his final season with South Carolina. The other player at the position is their 2014 NFL Draft pick Carlos Hyde from Ohio State who could be thrust into a key position early in the season, with Walker and LaMichael James on the shelf, at least for now.
San Francisco visit the Baltimore Ravens to kick off the 2014 NFL Preseason Schedule on August 7th. The regular season begins at the Dallas Cowboys one month later on September 7th.
It was a unique situation in college football when it began in 2011. Then, the Pac-12 decided to have a Championship game between the best of the North Division vs the best of the South Division with one caveat that was unique onto itself. It was the only Championship game played on the field of the team with the best conference record at the end of the season. That model worked for a few years with the Oregon Ducks hosting the UCLA Bruins in a packed Autzen Stadium in 2011, but the numbers the following year when Stanford and UCLA hit the field were mediocre in comparison, with just over 30,000 in the seats to watch the game.
Over the last few weeks the Pac-12 Conference made a decision on the fate of the location for their Title game and Oregon Ducks fans will not be happy. On Thursday it was decided that the Pac-12 Championship game will be in Santa Clara at Levi’s Stadium, the new home of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers moving forward and starting this season. I feel this is a bad move for several reasons.
For one, it takes away from the economy of smaller schools in the Pac-12 who may have had ‘something to play for’ in hosting, not to mention the economic impacts, but now California schools have a very distinct ‘home field’ advantage. If you are a fan of USC, Cal, Stanford or UCLA this is a huge win for you and some nice incentive to play well to get to a final ‘home’ game to end your season, of course the fans of these schools will flock to Santa Clara, but fans of schools outside of the state, I’m not so sure.
If you look at the landscape ahead, it is about to change with the College Football Playoff beginning this season. If Oregon wins the Pac-12 North Division and makes the Title Game for a shot at the Rose Bowl or better, will Oregon Ducks fans flock to Levi’s Stadium for the game considering there are likely bigger games to come on the road to the National Championship, or will they stay home and watch on tv waiting for a shot at a better ticket for an even more enticing matchup?
The Pac-12 did not think this aspect through, let alone the schedule for the game. It will be played on a Friday night in 2014. Friday? Really? A weeknight? The last time it was on a Friday attendance was down. I’m somewhat looking forward to seeing this on television with five thousand empty seats or more.
Oregon does have an advantage in that the will face Cal at Levi’s Stadium in October. Time will tell if this is a good decision for the Pac-12 or not, but I feel it is cleary not a good direction. It is a clear disadvantage to schools outside of the state of California, aka three fourth of the Pac-12 Conference.
What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments.
For a different take on the Oregon Ducks, visit AutzenZoo.com
Rookie Bills LB Kiko Alonzo continued his strong play, accumulating 13 tackles including one tackle for loss against the New York Jets.
The Bills S Jairus Byrd had arguably his best game of the season, catching two interceptions for 57 return yards and four tackles against the Jets.
Byrd wasn’t the only former Duck to catch an interception last weekend. Walter Thurmond picked off Minnesota Quarterback Christian Ponder and returned it 29 yards for a TD. Thurmond also had 3 tackles.
New England Patriot RB LeGarrette Blount had 10 rushes for 49 yards in last nights controversial loss to the Carolina Panthers.
RB Jonathan Stewart ran for 10 yards on 4 carries for the Panthers.
LaMichael James had two rushes for seven yards in the Niners three-point loss to the Saints.
Ed Dickson had one reception for 16 yards in the Ravens loss to the Bears.
Ravens DT Haloti Ngata did not play as he is suffering from a left leg injury.
DE Dion Jordan had one tackle in the Miami Dolphins win over the San Diego Chargers.
LB Casey Matthews delivered two tackles in the Philadelphia Eagles win over the Washington Redskins.
S Patrick Chung added two tackles for the Eagles.
S T.J. Ward had two tackles including one tackle for loss during the CLeveland Browns loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
S Eddie Pleasant had two tackles in the Texans loss to the Raiders during Houston’s 8th straight loss.
Duck offensive lineman:
Kyle Long– Starting G for the Chicago Bears
Max Unger– Starting C for the Seattle Seahawks.
Adam Synder– G for the San Francisco 49ers
Mark Asper– G for the Buffalo Bills
Geoff Schwartz– Backup G for the Kansas City Chiefs
All other former Ducks in the NFL didn’t record a stat or didn’t play last week.
LaMichael James burst on to the scene at the end of last season and was a key player in the the 49ers near championship run. Last night James got the start at running back in the San Francisco 49ers’ first preseason game.
James rushed eight times for 27 yards (3.4 YPC) as his 49ers went on to lose by a final score of 10-6 to the Denver Broncos. James also had one punt return for zero yards. James was tied for the team-high in rushing with Anthony Dixon who ran for 27 yards on seven carries (3.9 YPC).
James started three seasons for the Ducks and had a legendary career. As a sophomore in 2010, James took the country by storm on his way to becoming a Heisman finalist.
Next week the 49ers will travel to face the Kansas City Chiefs with kickoff slated for 5 p.m. PST. It’ll interesting to see if Frank Gore returns to take the starting running back job or if James starts again.
Alex Shoemaker, EDN Sports Editor
With the conclusion of the 2012 NFL Draft, what might be more shocking to Ducks fans are the players who were not taken as opposed to those who were.
While the University of Oregon is the only football program to play in three consecutive BCS Bowl games, only four players were drafted with three coming off the boards in the 5th, 6th and 7th rounds.
But with each round a Duck went undrafted, it reemphasized just how great of a coach Chip Kelly really is.
What truly makes a coach special, is getting the most out of his players and being able to win with what he’s got.
Oregon has not been one of the top teams in the draft year-in and year-out, but they find a way to win with the good players they have.
How else would they be the reigning three-time conference champions, and the ones to dethrone the Trojans of USC?
Four players from the Ducks were drafted, and two more signed in free agency.
Here’s a look at who from the Ducks was drafted, signed in free agency, and still waiting to get that phone call.
Those Taken in the Draft
LaMichael James: Round 2 Pick 29 (61) to 49ers
James was the first to go off the boards for the Oregon Ducks, patiently waiting for his name to be called. Nearing the end of the second round, Ducks fans were beginning to worry about James’ chances of dropping down the board as team after team passed on him.
Finally, he found his home – the San Francisco 49ers.
“I’m so thankful to be in the position I’m in thank you god for blessing me lets go 49ers words can’t express how I feel!” James tweeted on Friday, just after his name was announced.
James’ lone concern will be finding his role on a stacked 49ers depth chart at running back. Lucky for James, he’s one of a kind.
“There seems to be no reason why James cannot find success in the NFL on the same level as someone like Darren Sproles,” said Joe Penkala, a featured writer for Bleacher Report. “Like Sproles, LaMichael James can make up for a lack of size with agility, speed and elusiveness.”
The 49ers, led by power back Frank Gore, have all big backs on their roster, with James now being the compliment “speed back”. I have no doubts James will be on the active roster for the start of the season.
James joins former Ducks defensive tackle Will Tukuafu.
Josh Kaddu: Round 5 Pick 20 (155) to Dolphins
Kaddu, an underrated and often overlooked linebacker over the past three years, was the next Duck to be drafted. Kaddu will join a rebuilding Miami Dolphins team, a team still looking for an identity.
“So excited to be a part of the @MiamiDolphins #blessed” Kaddu said via his Twitter account.
Kaddu received numerous shoot-outs from numerous Ducks, including former Oregon linebacker Casey Matthews who now plays for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Being taken with a late draft pick, Kaddu will have to compete to earn a spot on team. Spring and summer practices will go a long way in determining his role on the team.
Kaddu may be asked to play special teams, or scout team, if a role on the defense isn’t available.
Mark Asper: Round 6 Pick 8 (178) to Bills
When the Buffalo Bills took Asper with eighth pick in the sixth round, he became the first Ducks offensive lineman to be drafted since Fenuki Tupou in 2009 to the Philadelphia Eagles. Asper will be a strong addition to the Bills, and could see playing time after a few years of adjusting to the league.
He joins former Ducks’ safety Jairus Byrd with the Bills.
David Paulson: Round 7 Pick 33 (240) to Steelers
Fans were beginning to worry that the loveable tight end from Renton, WA would go undrafted after three standout years in college.’’ During his three seasons with the Ducks, Paulson recorded 67 receptions for 1,041 yards (15.5 YPC) with 10 TDs.
Paulson would have joined former Oregon great Dennis Dixon, but the one time Ducks quarterback was cut from the team.
Those Not Taken in the Draft
After a shocking decision to enter the NFL Draft, for Ducks quarterback Darron Thomas went undrafted. This prompts more questions of why Thomas chose to leave school early and forgo another chance at a national championship.
Thomas has yet to be signed, but his agent Drew Rosenhaus has yet to express concern on the situation.
During his time at Oregon, Thomas passed for 5,910 yards and a school record 66 career TDs. Thomas also rushed for 719 yards and nine TDs.
The Houston, TX native will look for a team to acquire his talents this offseason.
Harris also went undrafted, after a rocky career at Oregon, but didn’t have to wait long to hear from NFL teams. Harris has signed a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles and could see immediate playing time if he impresses in practices.
Philadelphia’s acquisition of Harris is similar to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ signing of LaGarrette Blount a few years ago, with character issues playing a large part of him going undrafted.
The Eagles have decided to take a chance on Harris, arguably the most talented player who went undrafted, and it could pay great dividends in the long run. Philadelphia will have to replace starting cornerback Asante Samuel (Atlanta Falcons) this offseason, and while Harris will likely not be the frontrunner for the job, he’ll be in the hunt for significant playing time.
Haris joins former Ducks linebacker Casey Matthews in Philadelphia.
Pleasant has been such a vital part of Nick Alliotti’s defense for the past four seasons, it will difficult to replace his leadership and experience.
After playing as a linebacker for his first two seasons, Pleasant switched to rover/strong safety for his final two seasons to fix a glaring hole in the defensive backfield. While Pleasant might have been more suited as a linebacker, he transitioned relatively smoothly a found a nice role on defense.
Questions have been asked about his ability to cover in the secondary, but he silenced most of his critics with a two-interception performance against Washington last season.
Pleasant was picked up by the Houston Texans. He joins Ra’Shon Harris and Jeff Maehl.
Tuinei went undrafted but was quickly picked up by the Seattle Seahawks. He joins a depleted offense that was one of the worst in the entire NFL. His presence could be felt immediately.
Tuinei joins Walter Thurmond III and Max Unger in Seattle.
Turner will wait to see if a team will sign him. If not, he plans on returning to school and possibly pursuing a master’s degree.
The Vikings drafted OT Matt Kilil (USC) with the No. 4 pick in the draft, so Weems is not expected to compete for the starting job. But as is the risk of injury in the NFL, you can never have too many linemen.
Weems addresses a big area of concern for the Vikings: depth on the offensive line. There is a great chance Weems will be on the roster for the start of the NFL season.
Weems joins former Duck Geoff Schwartz on the offensive line.