Janoris Jenkins worth the gamble?


Janoris Jenkins worth the gamble?

When it comes to NFL talent, where is the appropriate balance between risk and reward?

Janoris Jenkins is amping up the buzz on this annual draft question.

When you hear that name do you think Northern Alabama standout? Probably not. You likely remember him as the Florida cornerback who got booted out of school for multiple marijuana arrests and a failed drug test.

A shame. Jenkins is a first-round caliber defensive back. He's explosive, he's got good technique and coordination.

But coaches had to probe into his past at the NFL Combine. Jenkins says he looked his firing squad in the eye.

"I was honest, straightforward, told 'em I did it. I admitted to everything, I take full responsibility, and I learned from it."

He talked about the failed test, the drug charges, and the bar fight. The Combine certainly wasn't the first time he'd thought about the past; those Thursday night Northern Alabama games provided a gauge for how far he had fallen.

"There was a couple times. We didn't really play on Saturdays. My Saturdays I watched Florida, watched some of my old teammates play. It struck me, it hit me as a kid. I was just like, 'Man, I'm supposed to be there with those guys.' Just thinking about my past."

How much will teams like the Patriots think about it? Teams that need talent. Period. The 23-year old's arrest record is unimpressive -- that in combination with four children under the age of three has his basic sense of responsibility under the microscope.

Do not underestimate the need for examination.

Brandon Meriweather should be entering his prime in New England. Think about that.

The former Patriots safety should be preparing for his sixth NFL season; he should be playing on a sweet four-year deal. But he was a knucklehead in college and a knucklehead in the NFL. New England gave up on Meriweather after four seasons. The Bears tried a one-year contract but, according to Lovie Smith at the NFL Combine, that "didn't work out" either.

Meriweather has talent -- enough that the Patriots spent their 24th pick of the 2007 draft on him -- but he never grew out of the immaturity and recklessness he displayed at the University of Miami.

Jenkins is another gamble.

He says he's grown up. The dismissal from Florida called for a life change; he believes he's committed to making it.

"Eliminate myself from some of those guys I used to hang with. I think about my mom all the time and my kids. In order for me to be successful and them to have a great life or a nice life I've got to put it behind me. In order for my kids to get what they want, I can be a father to my kids and just be there with my mom."

Getting a team to commit to him is the next step. Might it be the Patriots? Depends on how how lucky they feel.

Rex Ryan prepares for Tom Brady: 'This is a critical game for us'


Rex Ryan prepares for Tom Brady: 'This is a critical game for us'

After four wins in a row, Rex Ryan’s employment status had been taken off life support in Buffalo and was -- almost -- good as new.
But a Sunday toe-stub in Miami in which Buffalo suffered a 28-25 loss to the Dolphins set the Bills back a bit. Now, instead of hosting the Patriots this Sunday with a chance to secure a season sweep and move into a first-place tie in the AFC East, Buffalo’s back there at 4-3 just trying to get close.
“Sure we have to learn from things, there’s no question about it, but the more we dwell on (the loss to Miami), it doesn’t help us. We’ve got a bigger task in front of us,” said Ryan.
There is a myriad of differences between Ryan and Bill Belichick but one of the starkest is Ryan’s inability to treat ‘em all the same.
While Belichick will acknowledge that some games carry more import than others -- division games, conference games, etc -- he’s not going to allow his team to poke its head up and look down the road at what’s coming next.
Ryan lets it all hang right out there.
“I don’t know how much more important it could be than this one,” Ryan said when asked about Sunday’s matchup with the 6-1 Pats. “I mean, I could lie to you and say that it’s not important, but yeah, this is a critical game for us. There’s no doubt about it. Does it break your season if you lose? I hope I don’t have to worry about that. We’ve got to find a way to win this game.”
The Bills reveled modestly after their 16-0 win at Foxboro when Jacoby Brissett scuffled in the final week of Tom Brady’s suspension. The gloating was mild. Ryan acknowledged plainly that shutting out the Patriots without Brady wasn’t really shutting out the Patriots.
But there’s no question that game at the start of this month was one the Bills approached with a helluva lot more swagger than normal. The “Where’s your big brother now?” vibe of the pregame scuffle in which the Bills jostled rookies Brissett and Malcolm Mitchell as the two players took the same sideline jog Brady and the Patriots quarterbacks have done at Gillette for a decade set the tone.
And then the Bills went out and had their way. Asked about that scuffle, which resulted in fines for some Jets players, Ryan said, “Well, these two teams don’t like each other. There’s no question about that, but I don’t think there was a real fight, you know? A real fight would be outside in the parking lot. You know what I mean? Then you’ve really got something to write about, but that thing was hardly a fight, I think.”
The blanking and the bullying may be talking points in Foxboro this week but they probably won’t rallying cries. Odd as it sounds, the Patriots don’t merely compete against opponents when they play but measure the day’s success on how well they performed relative to perfection. You could see after the 11-point win in Pittsburgh that there was dissatisfaction on both sides of the ball with how things went.
That fact alone will make it an arduous week of practice as much as the reality that the Patriots are playing the team right behind them in the division.
Ryan knows it’s a much different team he’ll face Sunday.
“It’s not about validating ourselves,” he said. “We’ve just got to find a way to win. In regards to who we’re playing, you know, [Brady] looks great. He’s got those two great tight ends -- they’re big. They’ve still got [Julian] Edelman out there. They’ve got everybody they had out there last time, but they’ve got their player back. So we know the challenge in front of us.”


Tuesday, Oct. 25: Carlo for Calder?


Tuesday, Oct. 25: Carlo for Calder?

Here are the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while having watched the Curious George Halloween special about eight times over the last three or four days thanks to my three-year-old son.

*Bob McKenzie with a great story in former NHL defenseman Mike Commodore talking a shift as an Uber driver as his hockey work has dried up.

*Alex Radulov is earning some early respect for his play from his Habs teammates and the fickle Canadiens fans, but let’s see how the whole season plays out for the notoriously combustible Russian winger.

*Zach Werenski has taken an early lead among his NHL rookie peers for the Calder Trophy, but it looks like it’s going to be a crowded field this year. Just a couple of weeks in, Brandon Carlo certainly looks like he could be in the conversation as well.

*Pioneering female goaltender Shannon Szabados has been cut from the Peoria team in the Southern Pro League.

*The Chicago Blackhawks have plenty of advice for the Chicago Cubs about playing in the big games as the Cubbies get ready for their World Series close-up.

*A more mature David Perron is having greater success the second time around with the St. Louis Blues while contributing in many different areas.

*For something completely different: a really fun story of a Hollywood Reporter contributor recording the reactions of her 7-year-old son watching Empire Strikes Back for the first time. I was around the same age when Empire came out, so I’m sure my reactions were pretty similar to his at different points in the movie.