Mens Green Bay Packers Randall Cobb Nike Green Game Jersey

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The new brain trust of the Green Bay Packers will probably have to make a difficult decision regarding two veteran wide receivers in the next few months.

Jordy Nelson or Randall Cobb?

It’s hard to envision both being back in 2018.

Both are entering the final year of their deals and both will count over $12 million on the salary cap next season. Maybe most importantly, it appears both are best suited for playing primarily from the slot – making it even more likely that the Packers will have to pick one or the other.
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Nelson turns 33 in May and is coming off his worst statistical season since he became a full-time starter. He averaged 9.1 yards per catch and finished with nine straight games under 40 yards receiving. Losing Aaron Rodgers hurt his numbers, but it’s clear he’s lost speed and his ability to consistently get open as a perimeter receiver. Maximizing his value might require a full-time move to the slot. It worked for Larry Fitzgerald, and it can work for Nelson, who will count $12.5 million on the cap in 2018.

Cobb is much younger — he turns 28 in August — but his last three years have been underwhelming. Since the beginning of the 2015 season, Cobb has averaged 10.2 yards per catch, 4.7 catches per game and 47.5 receiving yards per game. That’s not quite the return on investment the Packers were hoping when he returned to Green Bay on a four-year, $40 million deal after his impressive 2014 season. At 5-foot-10, Cobb operates almost solely from the slot. He’s scheduled to take up $12.7 million on the cap next season.

New general manager Brian Gutekunst, cap manager Russ Ball and coach Mike McCarthy will have to figure out what to do with the two receivers for 2018.

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Nelson was productive in the slot down the stretch in 2016 and remains a top target in the red zone when Rodgers is healthy. However, he offered little after the catch in 2017, and his age suggests he’s only going to get easier to cover and easier to bring down in future years, cutting into his potential value in the slot.

Cobb is younger than Nelson by several years, but he’s played a lot of football and absorbed plenty of big hits over his first seven seasons. He’s an old 27. Then again, his quickness and ability to make tacklers miss fit the traditional mold of a slot receiver. Good things often happen when the ball is consistently finding No. 18.

It’s possible Nelson or Cobb could agree to restructure and make the Packers more comfortable with keeping the other at his current price. Maybe both receivers are willing to restructure to stay with Rodgers. Reworking Nelson’s deal would seem to be the more likely option, as Cobb is younger and likely capable of securing another decent contract on the open market.

In the end, McCarthy has to determine the better fit for his offense, Ball will crunch the numbers for the salary cap, and Gutekunst will make the final call. More than likely, the result will be one receiver taking a pay cut and the other finding a new home.

Youth Baltimore Ravens Justin Tucker Nike Black Alternate Game Jersey

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With the Baltimore Ravens’ offense struggling to move the ball and getting booed throughout Monday night’s game against the Houston Texans, it was up to the defense and the right leg of Justin Tucker to close out an important victory.

That’s the safest proposition for the Ravens these days.

With the game hanging in the balance, the Ravens forced two turnovers in the final five minutes and held on for a 23-16 victory.

The Texans trailed by four points when Ravens rush linebacker Terrell Suggs beat Kendall Lamm and strip-sacked quarterback Tom Savage with C.J. Mosley recovering.

Tucker converted his third field goal to make it a seven-point game with 2:58 to play. Defensive back Anthony Levine Sr. then all but finished the Texans with an interception on the ensuing possession.

The Ravens improved to 6-5 and leapfrogged the Buffalo Bills for the AFC’s sixth seed and second wild-card spot with five games to play.

They did it despite the downfield passing game being virtually nonexistent. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco finished 20 of 32 for 141 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions.

Flacco actually did more damage with his legs, rushing for 42 yards on six carries. It was his 25-yard run after the two-minute warning that allowed the Ravens to take a knee. The Texans fell to 4-7.

The Ravens held a seven-point halftime lead, but momentum started to slowly go the Texans’ way about midway through the third quarter. Savage engineered a penalty-aided 13-play, 65-yard drive that ended on a Ka’imi Fairbairn 36-yard field goal.

That cut the Ravens’ lead to 17-13.

After the defense forced a three-and-out on the Texans’ next possession, the Ravens took over around midfield and finally made a couple of plays on third down.

The Ravens were 1 for 9 on third down when Alex Collins ran for 12 yards on a third and eight and Flacco hit Mike Wallace for 13 yards on a third and four. That set up Tucker’s 31-yard field goal, which gave the Ravens a 20-13 lead with 10:59 to play.

However, the Texans answered with points immediately. DeAndre Hopkins, who terrorized Jimmy Smith and the Ravens’ secondary all night, caught a 39-yard pass in between Smith and safety Eric Weddle.

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The Texans couldn’t get in the end zone and settled for a 37-yard field goal by Fairbairn to make it a 20-16 game with 8:36 to play.

The Ravens’ first Monday night home game since the regular season opener of the 2012 season started about as poorly as possible.
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On offense, the Ravens got the ball first and went three-and-out despite picking up eight yards on a Flacco to Chris Moore completion on the first play from scrimmage. The next two plays were Flacco incompletions.

The Ravens’ defense, which was coming off a dominating shutout of the Green Bay Packers, allowed the Texans to drive 90 yards on nine plays for a touchdown. The Ravens were their own worst enemies on the drive as they gave the Texans 39 yards on three penalties. Lamar Miller ran it in from four yards out for a 7-0 Texans lead.

The Ravens were energized by Coach John Harbaugh calling a fake punt on fourth and six from the Houston 41. Running the same play that they ran successfully two weeks ago against the Tennessee Titans, punter Sam Koch lofted a pass to the outside to gunner Chris Moore, who made a diving catch to pick up 22 yards.

Two plays later, Buck Allen carried several defenders and Ravens blockers into the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown run.

The Ravens added to their lead on their next drive after they set up in good field position following safety Tony Jefferson’s first interception as a Raven.

Harbaugh again was aggressive on his team’s next drive, going for it on fourth and one from the Houston 37. Flacco pitched it outside to Collins, who picked up 29 yards as the Texans failed to set the edge. On the very next play, Collins powered in from eight yards for his second touchdown in as many weeks to give the Ravens a 14-7 lead.