Thu, 04 Jun 2020

Steelers' 2020 NFC opponents transitioning

The Steelers
05 Apr 2020, 06:30 GMT+10

The NFC teams on the Steelers' 2020 schedule are, by nature, less recognizable than their more familiar AFC North Division and American Conference opponents.

They're becoming even less so this offseason, with one notable exception.

PHILADELPHIA: The addition of former Steelers defensive lineman Javon Hargrave made an area of strength even stronger, General Manager Howie Roseman maintained.

"Javon Hargrave's a guy that we studied coming out of college," Roseman told Dave Spadaro on the Eagles Insider Podcast on eagles.com. "We think he's a tremendous football player who will fit this scheme really well. And that's our priority, it's always going to be starting up front on both sides of the ball. You add him to the guys that we have on the defensive line and we're very excited about the havoc that they potentially can create.

"When you talk about the quarterbacks in this league, they are so talented, so good. The only way to disrupt them is to get pressure. And when you get pressure up the middle with the defensive line we think we have now, it's hard for quarterbacks, when they get edge pressure, to step up when you have that interior defensive line that we have. For us, there's nothing more important than that."

In signing Hargrave as an unrestricted free agent and trading for Lions cornerback Darius Slay, the Eagles have landed a couple of players they initially came close to drafting.

Roseman called Slay a player "we had a tremendously high grade on," prior to the 2013 NFL Draft.

"Ironically, he was one of the two guys that were deciding on when we were picking in the second round (in 2013), him and (tight end) Zack (Ertz)," Roseman continued. "And really similar to Hargrave, too, both those guys, him and (guard) Isaac (Seumalo), making that decision (on the third round in 2016)."

WASHINGTON: Let the Redskins' quarterback competition commence.

New head coach Ron Rivera told WFNZ in Charlotte Dwayne Haskins is No. 1, but with an asterisk due to the addition of Kyle Allen via a trade with Carolina.

"That's what we're going into [training] camp thinking, but they're going to compete," Rivera said. "We really like what we have in terms of our young quarterbacks. Kyle is also a young guy who has a live arm, understands the game, understands how we do things.

"So, I'm excited about what the potential could be."

The Redskins also have 15-year veteran Alex Smith on the roster at the position.

Haskins, selected 15th overall by Washington in 2019, went 2-5 in seven starts for the Redskins as a rookie.

Allen was signed as an undrafted rookie in 2018 and started 12 games in Carolina last season (5-7). He rejoins offensive coordinator Scott Turner, his quarterbacks coach with the Panthers, as well as Rivera in Washington.

"It's perfect," Allen told "Redskins Nation" regarding the situation. "And the more I think about it, the more I get excited about it."

NEW YORK: Free-agent addition Blake Martinez is excited about what he can do as the Giants' new middle linebacker, and about what fellow linebacker and former Green Bay teammate Kyler Fackrell will be able to do when he gets to New York.

"He's an amazing player and I think there are a lot of things that he hasn't been able to show because of certain kind of depth chart things, certain roles he was placed into," Martinez said during a conference call with the New York media. "Obviously, he had a 10-sack season (10.5) two years ago (in 2018). This last year he was a role player that stepped in and did a lot of great things.

"I think he is one of the best zone-coverage linebackers in the NFL in my opinion. What he has been able to do for us and what he's been asked to do, he's done a phenomenal job and I know he is going to be a great asset to this team and show people a lot of great things this year."

Martinez and Fackrell both played for linebackers coach Patrick Graham in 2018 in Green Bay.

Graham is first-year Giants head coach Joe Judge's defensive coordinator.

DALLAS: The Cowboys kept their signature pitch-and-catch combination in tact.

They did so by placing an exclusive franchise tag on quarterback Dak Prescott, and by getting wide receiver Amari Cooper to reportedly agree to a new five-year deal at the outset of unrestricted free agency.

Cooper was still on the roster on April 1, and it was no April Fool's joke.

It was where Cooper had wanted to be all along.

"I love being a Dallas Cowboy," Cooper told 105.3 The Fan in early March. "I think about it almost every day. Just the aura of being a Dallas Cowboy, you can't beat it.

"I want to be a Dallas Cowboy for life."

The two have hooked up 132 times for 1,914 yards and 14 touchdowns in 25 games since the Cowboys traded for Cooper in 2018.

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