Aug 2, 2017 8:44 PM
IN AQUARIUS (January 20–February 19): With Mercury retrograde in Aquarius, the sign that governs relationships, friendships are put at risk. Petty squabbles, misunderstandings, and miscommunications abound. Know who your friends are.
IN PISCES (February 20–March 20): Foggy thinking, daydreams, and escapism are the norm; day-to-day realities confound otherwise clear heads when Mercury, the planet that rules logic, is in Pisces, which governs illusion. Practice creative pursuits—writing, dancing, photography, film, or painting.
IN ARIES (March 21–April 20): Expect to be frustrated and frazzled. Assertive, impulsive Aries wants to move ahead, and all of the energy is going backward. Watch what you say and how you say it. Pay attention to what people say to you; you might be pleasantly surprised.
IN TAURUS (April 21–May 20): Take time to formulate your thoughts. Taurus, an unhurried sign, slows down the mental processes. He also governs banking, so delay money matters. Review financial matters, and position yourself for growth.
IN GEMINI (May 21–June 20): Because Gemini rules communications, be prepared for miscommunications when Mercury is in this sign. Expect lots of phone calls or none, and lost or misplaced mail. You may not articulate clearly, and gossip abounds. Old friends may reconnect.
IN CANCER (June 21–July 22): Expect annoyances at home with baking, gardening, and household duties under domesticated Cancer. Complete repair projects that weren’t finished or done correctly.
IN LEO (July 23–August 22): Avoid speculative investments. It is not a good time to buy and sell or do any trading. Instead, analyze your investment portfolio. Use your know-how and advisory skills to help friends and associates.
IN VIRGO (August 23–September 22): Challenging situations arise, especially in the workplace. Expect product delays and equipment breakdowns, as well as crankiness among coworkers under finicky, detail-oriented Virgo. Double-check your work before you call it finished.
IN LIBRA (September 23–October 22): Accept your physical attributes; do not have a makeover. Indecision reigns, so limit purchases—or risk returning them. Libra, representing beauty, grace, charm, and diplomacy, is out of balance. Refresh, relax, and rejuvenate.
IN SCORPIO (October 23–November 22): Emotions rule—not common sense—so beware. Avoid affairs of the heart. Passionate Scorpio is also secretive, and your secrets may seep out. Keep them in a diary.
IN SAGITTARIUS (November 23–December 21): It is not a time to travel, so reschedule or expect delays, lines, and lost directions. Instead, take care of local affairs. Patience and a sense of humor are needed.
IN CAPRICORN (December 22–January 19): Avoid buying, selling, or renting real estate un der Capricorn, the sign that governs property matters. Expect problems with paperwork, packing, and movers. Reunite with family or vacation at home.
A MAN WITH A MESSAGE
Mercury comes from the Latin word merx, or mercator, which means merchant. Mercury is the name given by the ancient Romans to the Greek mythological god Hermes.
Mercury is depicted as a male figure having winged sandals and a winged hat, indicating the ability to travel quickly. He was the official messenger of the ancient gods and goddesses and, as such, governed communications.
In 1782, Mercury became the first symbol of the United States’ fledgling postal service. Today, he is recognized as an icon of an international floral delivery service as well as the official symbol of the postal service of Greece.
In astrology, all of the planet’s attributes are rooted in ancient Greek and Roman mythology. In that context, Mercury is the god of travelers, literature, poetry, merchants, and thieves. He is cunning and clever and witty at a moment’s notice. But he is also recognized as a trickster and thief, prone to misbehavior.
Jul 27, 2017 10:24 PM
Jul 27, 2017 10:22 PM
1. Buddy Up
Street protests aren’t necessarily dangerous, but they certainly can be. Just ask Sam Levine, an independent journalist who was filming the conflict between police and the black bloc on May Day last year when shrapnel from a crowd-control grenade, launched by an officer of the Seattle Police Department, tore a penny-sized hole in his left cheek. “Is my face gone?” he asked the strangers who surrounded him. It wasn’t, but it was permanently altered; nine months later, his left cheek slumps a bit, as though he’d had a stroke.
Instead of a buddy, Levine had luck: the luck to remain conscious and be surrounded by level-headed observers, who helped him until an officer allowed Levine to walk to an ambulance behind police lines.
Don’t count on luck. In case your face gets punctured by police shrapnel or doused in pepper spray, or you find yourself panicking and unable to think clearly, have help at hand. Protest with a buddy. Watch each other’s backs. Be ready to ride to the hospital with your buddy or procure medicine and/or bail money if they end up in jail. (Bail in Washington is typically $500 for misdemeanors and $1,000 for gross misdemeanors, but arrested protesters who live in the area are usually released on their own recognizance once they see a judge.)
Also be ready to share water and snacks, strategize about what kind of action you want to take, and debrief afterwards. Practice rinsing one another’s eyes for pepper spray beforehand. Be ready, together.
2. Have a Plan
“In preparing for battle,” Ike Eisenhower once said, “I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
These are words to live by. Go into protests with at least a rough idea of where you’re going and what you’re going to do there. Follow activists and journalists on Twitter to stay apprised of upcoming protest events, and contact protest organizers through social media if you have specific questions for them, like: When and where? What transportation is available? How confrontational will the march be? Is there a leadership structure? Have contingencies in mind in case something goes wrong, including one or more rendezvous points and times arranged with your buddy in case your cell phone dies. Talk with your buddy about how much tolerance for risk you each have. If one of you does get arrested or hospitalized, there should be a plan to help care for children, pets, or plants.
Maybe you want to plan your own protest.Thanks to the First Amendment, you do not need a permit to do so, but police can intervene and arrest if you block traffic or damage property. If you want to coordinate with the city and have police clear a route for your march, you can apply for a permit through the Special Events Office.
3. Be Prepared
Do you have water? Medication? A half-and-half mix of water and alcohol-free Maalox? This last item is for rinsing pepper spray (oleoresin capsicum, or “OC”) from your eyes and other mucous membranes. Hopefully you won’t need it, but maybe you will. See our checklist below this story for more stuff you will want to bring—but also remember that every item adds to the weight you’ll have to carry during the march. So pack light, as you would for a hike across the city, because that’s exactly what often happens in protests, except with cops in Darth Vader gear spraying hot sauce into your eyes, sometimes. Also, there is usually nowhere to poop.
If you’re on your period, consider a reusable “Diva Cup” instead of a tampon in case you get arrested and are unable to change menstrual products for a while (and also so that OC doesn’t wick its way up a tampon into your mucous membranes—ouch!). Wear eyeglasses instead of contacts, strap on some good walking shoes, and dress in layers of weather-appropriate clothing. Write the following phone number in permanent marker on your upper arm so that it doesn’t get wiped off in the process of arrest: 206-422-4663. It’s a demonstration support line run by the National Lawyer’s Guild that is staffed by attorneys and tracks arrestees and witnesses.
4. Deploy Strategically
Some claim that simply venting rage at injustice is a good-enough reason to take to the streets. There’s certainly something to be said for collectively expressing shared emotion, but on the other hand there’s a lot to be said for not screwing up traffic just because you feel like it.
In any event, this guide is addressed to protesters with an agenda—that is, specific goals and a plan for effecting them. So what is your agenda? How will your actions advance it? In 1999, protesters interrupted a World Trade Organization summit in Seattle by strategically blocking traffic. Yet not all strategies need be so overtly tactical. Plenty of successful protests have had a simple strategy of presence, showing solidarity with an arrested peer so the detained resister doesn’t think she or he is forgotten.
Remember to identify and appeal to a specific audience. In contrast to sabotage or private correspondence, protest is by definition a kind of political theater. It addresses someone about something. Often that someone is an elected leader or a private-business boss, but protest can also address the public at large or members of a particular group. For example, Black Lives Matter marchers have sometimes snubbed the media—not because they don’t understand how publicity works, but because mainstream America isn’t necessarily their target audience. Peers on social media are, according to several local BLM activists. May Day anti-capitalist marchers often damage, or try to damage, property in an overtly symbolic way—for instance, smashing a window on a building owned and operated by a corporation that has relied on child sweatshop labor. This kind of property damage is less of a threat to the one percent and more of a rallying cry—“Smash capitalism!”—to the 99 percent.
While protests, civil disobedience, and other conflicts with authorities always make a statement, that doesn’t have to be their main purpose. These situations can also teach people how to rebel together and how to live together. For example, Occupy Wall Street is memorable in part for its experiments in non-capitalist living, and ongoing organizing for Black Lives Matter has engendered a new generation of political leaders in the struggle for social justice. This kind of learning is strategically valuable in its own right. A word to the wise, though: Be conscious about what you’re learning, what kind of culture of resistance you’re building. Is it just? Is it effective? Is it sustainable? Does it value life and consent? Is it kind? As you fight the status quo, what new reality are you creating?
5. Do No (Unnecessary) Harm
When you protest, you are, among other things, acknowledging the moral fact that humans are responsible for one another. Otherwise there would be no point to your protest. You cannot effectively object to injustice without tacitly endorsing justice.
Your responsibilities as a protester don’t extend only to causes like black lives or the environment; they also extend to the individuals around you, including fellow protesters, passersby, and cops. Exactly what those responsibilities are is open to debate. Respecting a police officer’s humanity doesn’t imply submission or deference. Resist as you see fit. But don’t forget that beneath that riot gear is a human being, warts and all.
[Note to Seattle’s Finest: You might want to keep the same thing in mind the next time you reach for the pepper spray.]
6. Protect Your Tech
In 2008 the Tacoma Police Department secretly bought a “Stingray” device that physically tracks people via their cell phones by pretending to be a cell-phone tower, according to the Tacoma News Tribune. Here in Seattle, police pay for a web service that monitors activists’ social-media accounts. As whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed, the National Security Agency is collecting all the telephone data it can get its hands on. It also has the ability not only to tap your cell phone, but also to turn it onremotely.
If you’re effective at changing the status quo, there’s a fair chance the minders of the status quo will take an interest in you. The simplest way to prevent the kind of snooping described above is restraint: Take the battery out of your smartphone, or leave it at home, if you don’t want to be tracked, and remember that someone may be watching when you post on social-media platforms like Twitter. Of course, these precautions can make it more difficult to communicate clearly with other activists, which can reduce your effectiveness. The trade-off between security and efficacy is one you’ll have to manage for yourself.
Another tool you can use to protect your privacy is encryption—in other words, turning your messages into code that can be deciphered only by someone with the right key. For text messages, you can use Signal, which automatically encrypts messages sent to other Signal users (but is still able to send and receive normal text messages with those not on Signal). For e-mail, you can use a tool called Pretty Good Privacy, which comes in a bunch of free services including the Gmail add-on CryptUP. If you want to hide your web browsing from voyeurs, consider Tor, a browser that routes your Internet traffic through a global relay system to anonymize it.
Two warnings. First, no security is perfect, so don’t expect it to be. You can make it harder to get snooped, but not impossible. Second, the very act of taking e-security measures is itself a red flag to government watchers. For instance, documents released by Snowden and others have shown that the NSA automatically tracks people who even just read about Tor online.
7. Beware of Moles
“John Jacob” was a well-known radical activist in Olympia for years, until Evergreen State College student Brendan Maslauskas Dunn and police accountability activist Drew Hendricks got suspicious. After discovering through a public-records request that they and other radical activists in Olympia were being surveilled by several police agencies and the military, the pair gradually suspected, then confirmed, that the man they knew as John Jacob was actually John Towery, a civilian employee of the Army who was passing information to the military and local police agencies. Towery’s leaked information appears to have led to the false arrests of several activists who’d been working to stop military equipment from being shipped through regional ports.
“They gathered [the evidence against Towery] piece by piece,” says Larry Hildes, the attorney who represents Dunn and other activists in a lawsuit against Towery and the government. “They very systematically checked out who he was … and very methodically and quietly gathered the evidence until they had incontrovertible proof.” It later came out that Towery tried to persuade at least one antiwar activist to buy guns.
Hildes’ advice for activists worried about similar infiltration? “Don’t get paranoid,” he says. “Be careful what you say and who you say it to, but don’t let the threat of surveillance prevent you from organizing and speaking out. If you have suspicions about someone, don’t start announcing them. Talk to someone you trust and sort of feel them out little by little.
“The easiest way to destroy a group is to have everyone calling each other an infiltrator,” Hildes adds. “If you have real proof, then do something about it. But assume that there are people attending meetings that are not friendly; assume you may have an infiltrator.”
It’s hard to say how common Towery’s kind of spying is, but it’s not unheard of. In 2003, members of the group Peace Fresno learned they’d been infiltrated by an undercover detective. From 2004 to 2006, the FBI paid an informant named “Anna” to entrap eco activists into bombing “the Nimbus Dam in California, cellphone towers, science labs, and other targets,” according to The Guardian’s Ed Pilkington.
“This surveillance is no error,” writes journalist Will Potter in Green Is the New Red, his book on how the federal government uses terrorism legislation to target environmental and animal-rights activists. “It is systemic.” Bottom line: the government spies on and infiltrates activist groups, and sometimes tries to goad activists into committing felonies. This is a real thing. It actually happens. That’s why, Hildes says, it’s essential to know when to say no. “If someone starts pushing you to take action that doesn’t make sense,” he says, “don’t do it.”
8. Don’t Panic
Jorge Torres didn’t expect to spend a night in jail in December 2014. But after police arrested him at a street protest for pedestrian interference and reckless endangerment, that’s exactly what happened.
According to Torres, whose charges were later dismissed with prejudice, guards at the county jail went out of their way to try and scare him about a night in the clink, saying things like, “This is your first time here, isn’t it? You don’t know what you’re getting into. Don’t get beat up here tonight!”
“My stay overnight there with about 19 other prisoners was just fine,” Torres told us afterwards. “Everybody there was very polite to me. It’s amazing how far giving your food away can go.”
The lesson to take from this: whatever happens, don’t panic. As Portland’s Rosehip Medic Collective (which among other things provides emergency healthcare to injured protesters) puts it in one of its training manuals, “The number-one weapon of the police is fear.” Your number-one defense against that weapon is calm. If you are arrested, do not resist, but also don’t volunteer any information. A partial caveat to this rule: “If the officer believes the person is committing a criminal act and asks for name and address with the intention of citing the person,” says Doug Honig, spokesperson for the state ACLU, “refusing to provide that name and address can be grounds for arresting the person because failure to provide that info makes it impossible for the officer to write a citation.”
Other than possibly giving your name and address, do not talk to police without a lawyer. Ascertain that you’re actually under arrest, ask why you’re under arrest, note the officer’s name and badge number, and say “I wish to remain silent and I want to talk to a lawyer” over and over again, as many times as you need to. Remember that you are Constitutionally entitled to an attorney, regardless of your ability to pay. All this is doubly important if you are an undocumented immigrant or have other legal troubles hanging over your head. Seattle employees, including police, are typically barred from asking people about their immigration status, but there are exceptions.
As soon as possible following any protest, document any injuries, even if they seem like they’re not a big deal. Take well-lit photographs with a coin or some other object to indicate the size of the injury. This isn’t just about you: Publicly documenting physical harm caused by police or others makes it harder for them to justify that harm next time around. Remember: pics, or it didn’t happen.
Whether you post those pics on social media is up to you. On the one hand, a picture of a blastball bruise is worth more than a thousand-word essay on police brutality. On the other hand, you may want to keep those photos to yourself at first if you plan to use them in a lawsuit or complaint.
Debrief with someone you trust and who ideally was also present at the protest. Most protests are fairly boring. But protests can be traumatic, filled with explosions, pepper spray, and rage, and talking through your feelings can be healing. Some symptoms of trauma to watch for include feeling numb or disconnected from your body, staring into space, and feelings of hopelessness or desperation. Take time to care for yourself, alone or with friends and family. Sleep and exercise. Journal.
If you’re contaminated with OC, drink lots of water to clear it from your system. Put your contaminated clothes in a plastic bag to be cleaned separately from other laundry. Shower in cool water to clear OC from your body without opening the pores of your skin to chemical attack.
10. Keep Pushing
“Being an activist is not about promoting absolute solutions, which stirs passions while obstructing logic,” writes former Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata in his book Becoming a Citizen Activist. “It’s about addressing people’s anger by giving them some control over their lives.” Taking to the streets is certainly one way to address anger and seize control, but it’s temporary. By itself, street protest accomplishes little more than yelling. Lasting change requires the boring work of building alternatives.
One way to build such alternatives is disciplined lobbying of elected officials, who, thanks to a kind of natural selection, tend to care about getting re-elected more than about any particular issue. With a handful of fellow constituents, politely but inexorably hound officials (your officials—they don’t care what you think if you’re not voting in their re-election) with specific, factual questions and requests at town halls, photo ops, public meetings, and their offices. Make it easy for them to say “Yes” and hard to say “No.”
Another approach is simply to bypass the authorities by finding a problem and fixing it yourself. That’s how we in the Seattle area got homeless encampments and clean-needle exchanges: A couple of local activists got tired of watching their friends die from exposure and AIDS, respectively, so they found the best solutions available and made them happen, saving countless lives in the process.
There’s a saying among anarchists that bears repeating at the beginning of this new chapter in American history: diversity of tactics. No one approach will protect our neighbors and safeguard our future. But our collective power as citizens to claim the streets is a tool that should not go wasted.
1. Cleveland Browns’ quarterback situation
Coming off a one-win season, Cleveland really isn’t facing pressure to contend immediately. Surely, second-year head coach Hue Jackson and Co. would love to improve leaps and bounds. But expectations have to be muted. This remains one of the most talent-stricken rosters in the NFL.
It’s led to widespread speculation that Cleveland might very well go with rookie second-round pick DeShone Kizer under center out of the gate. He was extremely impressive during off-season workouts. And while the Notre Dame product remains incredibly raw, he has to be seen as the future at this position in Cleveland.
Kizer will be going up against the likes of Cody Kessler and veteran acquisition Brock Osweiler for the starting job. Both bring something different to the table. Kessler was pretty darn impressive in limited playing time as a rookie. Meanwhile, Osweiler offers more starting experience than Kessler and Kizer combined.
With all that said, Cleveland might very well be best off simply going with Kizer here. He will struggle at times. And in reality, the chances of the Browns jumping any other team in the AFC North remains unlikely. Why not throw Kizer out there and see what he can offer?
After all, Cleveland is flush with five picks in the first two rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft. It’s one of the most-talented quarterback classes in recent league history. If Kizer proves himself to be a downright failure, that enables Cleveland to gain a clearer picture of its rebuild process. If he succeeds, then other areas of the roster can be addressed early and often next spring.
2. Le’Veon Bell
Bell doesn’t have to report to camp until he signs the franchise tender. He will not be fined. And we fully expect the Pro Bowl running back to milk this time as a way to prove a point to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Bell is seeking a long-term deal that would make him the highest-paid running back in the NFL.
Pittsburgh seems to be in a holding pattern here, especially after it offered a lucrative contract prior to the deadline for an extension earlier in July (more on that here).
There’s definitely a lot to look at here. On the field, Bell has proven himself to be right up there with Ezekiel Elliott and David Johnson as one of the most-dynamic backs in the game. Last season saw him put up nearly 1,900 total yards in just 12 games.
The issue with Pittsburgh holding tight on not upping its offer is the fact that Bell was suspended the first three games of the season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. He then underwent off-season surgery to repair a groin injury. Off-field issues coupled with continual injury problems has played a major role in negotiations between the two sides.
Should Bell decide to hold out through training camp, it could end up causing a large rift within the Steelers’ locker room. In fact, there’s been a couple messages thrown Bell’s wayby Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown just recently.
“We need him (Bell). I need him,” Brown said, via ESPN. “If we’re going to do what we desire to do, we need every guy a part of the organization in a helmet to be there committed to the cause.”
We don’t need to tell you how rifts between star teammates can impact the ability of a squad to overcome every other obstacle a season brings. This will all be thrown out the window should Bell report early. But the expectation as of now is that he will be a lengthy “hold out.” For a Steelers team with Super Bowl expectations, that’s most definitely a less-than-ideal scenario.
3. Checking in on Marshawn Lynch’s return
The Oakland Raiders finished last season sixth in rushing. It’s a stat most don’t pay attention to, especially considering the likes of Latavius Murray, DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard were nothing to really write home about. Add in just how dominant the Raiders’ offense was through the air and that’s magnified even further.
What makes Lynch’s presence on his hometown Raiders so intriguing is just how good Oakland’s offensive line was from a run-blocking perspective last season. Simply put, Gabe Jackson and Kelechi Osemele absolutely dominated the trenches against AFC West competition.
After taking a season off, it’s quite possible that a re-energized Lynch could be back up to his old tricks with the Raiders in 2017. All reports from off-season activities indicated that he looked spry. In the end, this could be an absolute boon for a Raiders team that clearly has Super Bowl aspirations.
Let’s also not forget that Washington and Richard combined for over 1,200 total yards while averaging a robust 5.6 yards per rush last season.
If these three backs can help the Raiders’ rushing attack reach elite status, Derek Carr and Co. could very well flush out the Patriots to earn a spot in the Super Bowl. How Lynch looks during camp and the preseason will go a long way in determining whether this actually happens and how much he plays.
Last year saw the Minnesota Vikings’ world turn upside down after starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered a devastating knee injury during the summer. It was a major blow for the team’s hopes of returning to the playoffs. It also forced Minnesota to exhaust a first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft in order to acquire Sam Bradford from the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s these types of injuries that can impact the NFL regular season.
We’re not going to sit back and project certain players to get injured. That would be in poor taste. But we do know that valuable players will indeed go down to season-ending injuries during training camp and the preseason.
This puts the NFL in a tough situation. Sure, it wants an entertaining preseason product. It also wants to make sure interest in the game is there once the regular season comes calling. Unfortunately, limitations teams have in terms of off-season workouts have led to an increase in training camp and preseason injuries.
Heck, it was just earlier this month that members of the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers broke from their rivalry to workout together in Hawaii. Such is the nature of the beast when players themselves are forced to work out on their own without the supervision of a coaching staff or organization-wide medical teams.
Football fans and analysts the world over want to see every player come through training camp without injuries. It just leads to a better regular-season product. Unfortunately, this simply has not been the case in the modern NFL. If we see a multitude of top-end players go down this summer, it might force the NFL to act.
5. Finding something that works in Seattle
The Seattle Seahawks are not being bandied about as title contenders heading into training camp. This, despite the fact that Seattle is coming off an NFC West-winning 2016 campaign. Instead, the likes of the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers are being mentioned as legit title contenders over Seattle. And there are a few solid reasons for this.
Despite Russell Wilson’s ability to avoid serious injuries, his offensive line has been an unmitigated disaster over the past several seasons. That didn’t change in 2016, with Wilson being pressured at the third-highest clip in the NFL. This is an absolutely shocking statistic considering the quarterback’s ability to break from the pocket and avoid pressure. It also tells us a story of a Seahawks front office, led by GM John Schneider, who has failed to give Wilson a decent offensive line.
This past offseason was no different. Seattle added former Jacksonville Jaguars first-round bust Luke Joeckel in free agency during the spring. Joeckel, who has yet to prove himself to be a starter-caliber offensive lineman in the NFL, will compete to start at either left tackle or left guard.
Incumbent left tackle George Fant was a downright disaster at that position last year. This isn’t too much of a surprise, especially considering it was the first time Fant had played the blindside since eighth grade. Seriously, eighth grade. Mark Glowinski will switch to right guard after starting all 16 games on the left side last season. Glowinski and center Justin Britt remain Seattle’s two top offensive linemen. That’s definitely not saying too much about this unit.
Then, at right tackle, 2016 first-round pick Germain Ifedi will get a chance to start after an injury-plagued and ineffective rookie season. He will compete with rookie mid-round pick Ethan Pocic, who played primarily at center while at LSU. Ouch.
Seattle’s offense took a major step back in 2016. Some of that had to do with the absence of Marshawn Lynch. Though, the team’s offensive line surely didn’t help Wilson out in the passing game. This was magnified by a lackluster rushing attack that finished with its worst ranking of the Pete Carroll era. In this, Seattle decided to take a chance on an injury-prone and recently out-of-shape Eddie Lacy to team up with another injury-prone back, Thomas Rawls.
Should the Seahawks’ running game fail to do anything of substance in 2017, it will put more pressure on Wilson to succeed through the air. And with one of the least-proven and talent-stricken offensive lines in the NFL, that could spell doom for Carroll and Co. It will definitely be interesting to see how this plays out during training camp.
6. Potential veteran cuts
We focused on this a bit earlier in the month. Every single year, there are some veterans who find themselves as surprise cuts during the summer.
Is it possible that new San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan decides to move on from Carlos Hyde completely? This seems to be a decent end result given recent reportsand the fact that San Francisco is incredibly high on rookie running back Joe Williams.
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What about Jamaal Charles in Denver? The former All-Pro running back signed a team-friendly deal with his former AFC West rivals. Immediately, questions arose about whether Charles himself was guaranteed a roster spot. Given that he’s not 100 percent ready to return to the field, that remains a real possibility.
Not only will this depend on Charles’ ability to remain healthy, what we see from C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker during camp would play a large role in Charles’ future in Denver.
We’re also intrigued to see how the New York Jets’ quarterback situation plays out. Free agent acquisition Josh McCown has the inside slant to start.
However, it’s the battle between two unimpressive youngsters in Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg that is most intriguing. There’s a real chance Hackenberg, who was selected in the second round just over a year ago, will be cut loose. To say he was not impressive during offseason workouts would be a major understatement (more on that here).
We can go up and down the line, focusing on one player from each team. Heck, maybe that’s a solid article idea. In any event, look for some surprise cuts during camp.
7. California’s trio of new head coaches
Out in California, all eyes will be on Los Angeles and Santa Clara, where a combined three coaches will take over new teams. In Southern California, this includes the newly-minted Los Angeles Chargers and head coach Anthony Lynn.
Can the former Buffalo Bills interim man prove to be worthy of a long-term gig with the Chargers? Lynn had been a finalist for multiple head coaching jobs in the past. But after Mike McCoy failed to help the Chargers out of mediocrity, they turned to the long-time assistant.
With Philip Rivers entering the twilight of his career, the Chargers remain in win-now mode. Unfortunately, this is a team that has not won more than nine games since 2009 and is coming off its worst two-year run since the ill-fated Ryan Leaf era.
Remaining in Los Angeles, the Rams returned home last season to less-than-stellar reviews. It led to the firing of Jeff Fisher and some absolutely abysmal play from rookie No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff. In all, the Rams put up a grand total of four wins themselves.
With Fisher now somewhere roaming an airport, former Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay has been called on to run the ship. He also brought over long-time assistant coach Wade Phillips to coordinate the defense after he had a ton of success in Denver.
Still talent stricken and attempting to figure out what they have in Goff under center, the 2017 season will primarily be defined by how Los Angeles’ group of youngsters perform. That includes Goff and fellow former top-10 pick Todd Gurley, who struggled significantly as a sophomore last season.
Though, the biggest turnabout in California has to be what the San Francisco 49ers did. After going through three head coaches in as many seasons, San Francisco turned to a prodigy of an offensive mind in Kyle Shanahan.
He’s the reigning NFL Assistant Coach of the Year and just helped lead his former Atlanta Falcons team to the Super Bowl. Teaming up with first-year general manager John Lynch, Shanahan has changed the entire landscape of the 49ers’ roster. By our projections, the 49ers will have upwards of 30 new players from their two-win 2016 campaign.
No one expects San Francisco to contend for a playoff spot, but this is a much more talented squad than the one we saw take the field last season. Brian Hoyer gives a veteran presence under center. Meanwhile, the 49ers’ defense is absolutely loaded with young talent. At the very least, 2017 should be an exciting season for fans in Northern California.
8. Ezekiel Elliott and the Boys
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Will Elliott be suspended? That’s the biggest question surrounding the defending NFC East champions heading into training camp. By now, the Elliott story is well known.
The league is on the verge of wrapping up its investigation of multiple off-field incidents, including domestic violence allegations. With this, there’s a decent chance Elliott himself will be suspended for some time to start the regular season. Heck, it appears that Dallas is already making contingency plans.
As one of the top teams in the NFL, Dallas simply needs to make sure Elliott keeps his nose clean off the field. After all, there’s been a whole plethora of off-field incidents surrounding this squad over the past two years. And for his part, Elliott is likely the team’s second-most important player behind second-year backfield mate Dak Prescott.
An All-Pro performer, some could make the logical argument that Elliott himself was a MVP candidate as a rookie. He put up nearly 2,000 total yards and 16 touchdowns while averaging 5.1 yards per rush.
Unfortunately for the Cowboys, their training camp will be marred by Elliott’s off-field drama. Will the NFL make a determination early in camp? If not, how will that impact the early part of Dallas’ regular season schedule?
And if Elliott himself were to be suspended for some time, how would this impact the Cowboys’ hopes of returning to the Super Bowl for the first time in well over 20 years? That’s a major storyline.
'He has a right to be mad': Latest details on Lucky Whitehead release, player reactions, new suitors
Jul 25, 2017 6:35 PM
The vindication came too late to save his job in Dallas, and the club is standing by its decision to cut the third-year player Monday before the team's first full training camp practice.
Reports of an active warrant for Whitehead's arrest for missing a court hearing first surfaced Monday morning during a team walk-through session at training camp in Southern California. Whitehead said he found out as it was ending, and he was dumped by the team and on his way home to Dallas by the team's afternoon practice.
"As far as the whole situation went down, I was blindsided," Whitehead told SportsDay by phone Tuesday. "I didn't know about a warrant that came about in the first place - clearly, because I wasn't the person arrested. ...No one [in the Cowboys front office] backed me up. No one had my back in the whole situation. I knew about it at what, 12:45? By 2:30, I'm released."
Whitehead entered training camp with his roster spot already in question. He said the Cowboys' actions made him question the team mantras about accountability and responsibility.
"As far as the stuff that was preached, I was left out to dry," Whitehead said. "Let me clear my name. I didn't have the chance to do that.
"Let's not sugarcoat anything. I was pretty much being called a liar."
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett repeatedly said that the team stood by its decision Tuesdaywhen pressed by reporters during his regular training camp news conference. The only questions centered on the matter. When Garrett said he would answer only questions about football, the brief session ended.
Both he and executive vice president Stephen Jones had referenced Monday a pattern of issues with Whitehead, but Whitehead was still at camp and part of the team until reports surfaced about the shoplifting incident - the clear tipping point.
And it was based on what police say were errant charges.
"At this point, the police department is also confident in confirming that Mr. Whitehead's identity was falsely provided to police," Prince William County police said in a statement Tuesday.
They had cited a man on June 22 with petit larceny outside a convenience store. The man, according to authorities, provided the name Rodney Darnell Whitehead, Jr. - Lucky's full name - but did not possess identification. Police claim he also provided a date of birth and social security number to match the name through the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
It is unclear how he would've had that information.
A photo on file was used to compare to the man in custody, who was released on summons.
When Whitehead didn't report for a court date earlier this month, the warrant was issued.
PWC police said they are working with the local attorney's office to clear Whitehead and apologized for the mistake.
David Rich, Whitehead's agent, spoke out on Monday and said Whitehead had not arrived in Virginia on a flight until 10 hours after the alleged theft. He said Tuesday that Whitehead had credit card evidence that he paid to upgrade his airline seat and other charges to show he was still in Dallas.
Whitehead said that he had no idea who claimed to be him. The man, who police said Tuesday they are working to identify, allegedly took about $40 of food and drink from the convenience store.
Multiple Cowboys have been in the news for off-field issues in recent weeks, but Whitehead is the only one the Cowboys have cut.
"The Cowboys were looking for an example," Whitehead's agent David Rich said, "and it backfired on them."
Asked if they would seek retribution, Rich said they would look at their options but his focus is on helping Whitehead find a new job. Four or five teams had inquired by Tuesday, Rich said.
Whitehead, who can be picked up by another team Wednesday off of waivers, could have a better opportunity to make a different team's roster than he did the Cowboys', since his spot was tenuous.
The Cowboys used a fourth-round draft pick on receiver Ryan Switzer, who excels as a returner, which has been Whitehead's featured role.
Whitehead was not allowed to travel with the team to the December game against the New York Giants after being late to a meeting. He was in an early-morning car accident in September. Just last week came the odd tale of Whitehead's pit bull "Blitz" being dognapped and held for ransom by a Texas rapper. The dog was returned unharmed.
"We made a decision that we felt was in the best interest of the Dallas Cowboys," Garrett repeated time and again Tuesday. "We're going to stand by that decision and we're going to move on."