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Old 21-08-18, 09:33
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Default game in his one season

Jaylen Samuels smiled at the question. It’s not the first time he’s been asked where exactly he fits on the football field.

The answer during Samuels’ time at North Carolina State depended on when you asked him.

Tight end? Fullback? Tailback? Wide receiver? Safety? At some point Authentic Martinas Rankin Jersey , the Pittsburgh Steelers rookie played them all for the Wolfpack.

He doesn’t see that being an issue in the NFL. At least not in Pittsburgh anyway. The Steelers made it clear when they called him on the final day of the draft last month and told him they were taking him in the fifth round.

Samuels is a running back. And only a running back. For now anyway. Yet even as he explains his comfort level in a room that’s currently missing Le’Veon Bell – who is skipping organized team activities while waiting to sign his one-year franchise tender – Samuels also tips his hand. He might not be done moving around the field just yet.

”I’m also in the slot, playing a little bit of that position, being able to run some routes, catch some balls in the slot, outside, wherever they want me,” Samuels said on Wednesday.

Sounds an awful lot like what the Steelers ask Bell to do. Of course, Bell is a three-time Pro Bowler, a two-time All-Pro and one of the most dynamic players in the NFL. Samuels is none of those things. He’s just a 21-year-old trying to find his way and hardly the only one in a backfield that is wide open behind Bell.

Former Pitt star James Conner showed flashes as a rookie last fall before a knee injury ended his season. Stevan Ridley arrived in December as a stopgap and did enough to earn a one-year deal for 2018. Fitzgerald Toussaint remains on the fringe of the picture too. Jarvion Franklin and James Summers are unknowns.

Bell’s long-term status is uncertain. He says he wants to be in Pittsburgh for the duration of his career. The Steelers do too. And yet if the two sides don’t reach an agreement on a new contract by the mid-July deadline, 2018 will almost certainly be Bell’s last year with the Steelers.

While Conner and Samuels are saying the right things – that the starting job is Bell’s whenever he shows up and for as long as he’s on the roster – both understand the opportunity the extra snaps created by Bell’s absence offers.

So does their quarterback.

”This is a big time for James with some of the injuries that he had last year and learning last year Authentic Shayne Gostisbehere Jersey ,” Ben Roethlisberger said. ”I think this will be really good for him to get as many reps as possible.”

Though Conner remains a work in progress in the passing game, Samuels has wasted little time proving he knows what he’s doing when he lines up as a receiver. During a 2-point conversion drill on Wednesday, he hauled in a beautiful catch over a linebacker for a conversion, a grab that earned a roar from the sideline.

”It wasn’t nothing new for me,” Samuels said with a shrug.

Not by a longshot. Samuels set a school record by catching 202 passes at N.C. State, and his 47 touchdowns rank second all-time in program history. He believes he has a ”knack” for getting over the goal line, and whenever the Wolfpack would get inside the opponent’s 20, offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz has a special section on his playcall sheet just for Samuels.

”It was just `JaySam’ plays,” Samuels said. ”Just for whenever he wanted me to get the ball. If it was third down, fourth down Cheap Lamar Jackson Jersey , he’d just put me in the backfield and put me in the slot and try to get me the ball.”

Yet Samuels is just as comfortable lining up behind the quarterback too, a transition that began in earnest during his final season with the Wolfpack. He averaged 5.2 yards per carry in 2017 and ran for 12 touchdowns despite averaging just six rushes per game.

At 6-feet and 225 pounds, he considers himself a power guy with a dash of breakaway ability thrown in for good measure.

Still, NFL scouts didn’t quite know what to make of him. He worked out with the tight ends at the draft combine, doing just two drills with the running backs. He thinks that’s one of the reasons he was still there in the fifth round waiting for his name to be called. Getting passed over bothered him. More than a little.

”I felt disrespected going as late as I did,” Samuels said. ”But that’s just going to be motivation for me.”

No matter where – or when – he lines up.

NOTES: The Steelers and third-round pick Mason Rudolph agreed to a four-year deal on Wednesday, leaving first-round pick Terrell Edmunds as the only selection yet to sign. … Roethlisberger was not on the field Wednesday.



Coach Dave Joerger strongly believes Sacramento’s commitment to youth this season will pay off down the line in helping develop the Kings into a playoff contender.

How soon that happens remains an open question.

”It can be frustrating because we’re a society that wants a quick change and we want it right now,” Joerger said after the final game of his second season in Sacramento. ”It just takes time together to get that chemistry. We all want it to happen as fast as possible and we’re doing everything we can for that.”

The Kings took a step back in the standings this season, winning five fewer games on the way to a 27-55 record that left them out of the playoffs for the 12th straight season, the longest active drought in the NBA.

But with most of Sacramento’s key players age 25 or younger Cardinals Josh Rosen Jersey , there might be some reason for optimism for a franchise that seems to be in perpetual rebuilding mode.

”They’ve seen enough to know how to react now,” veteran Vince Carter said. ”They have a legitimate chance to contend. The challenge now is learning how to sustain leads. That’s the next part.”

The Kings are looking to build a pair of rookie guards in last year’s first-round pick De’Aaron Fox and European import Bogdan Bogdanovic. Each showed good flashes at times throughout the season and improved as they got more responsibility when Joerger turned things over to the youth movement.

”Just be ready to take on a load,” Fox said about his next step. ”I came off the bench, was able to feel out games and it just kind of molded me into a starting point guard. Next year, I just have to be more efficient, just elevate my game.”

Guards Buddy Hield and Frank Mason III, swingman Justin Jackson and big men Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere also got significant playing time as the Kings try to finding building blocks to turn the franchise around.

Sacramento went 9-12 after the start of March in what the team hopes is a good sign for the future.

Here are some other takeaways from the season and the upcoming offseason:

BIG DRAFT

Sacramento enters the draft with the sixth-best chance at winning the top pick. This will be a key draft for the Kings, who don’t have a first-round pick in 2019 because of previous deals. With top free agents hesitant to sign with a struggling franchise, Sacramento needs to find impact players in the draft in order to rebuild.

WAITING FOR GILES

The Kings have high hopes for forward Harry Giles, who sat out his rookie season rehabbing a knee injury. Sacramento acquired Giles in a draft day deal but held him out of games all year in order to strengthen his knee. Giles was one of the top recruits coming out of high school before injuring his knee as a senior. He played one year at Duke Trenton Cannon Color Rush Jersey , starting just six games, but has impressed Kings officials in workouts this season.

PROTESTS

The most notable part of another losing season in Sacramento surrounded the protests of a police shooting and the Kings’ reaction to it. Protesters kept most fans from entering the arena for two games following the March 18 fatal shooting by police of Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old unarmed black man. Kings players and owners supported the protesters and partnered with local groups to create a multiyear partnership that supports education, workforce preparation and economic development efforts in the community.

ONE MORE YEAR

Carter plans to come back for one more season, whether it’s in Sacramento or somewhere else. Carter, who turns 42 next January, is eligible to become a free agent this summer and wants to play a 21st season in the NBA. Carter averaged 5.4 points and 2.6 rebounds per game in his one season with the Kings.

”Every day I want to be here, I want to play this game,” Carter said. ”I enjoy this league and I enjoy this game so much. I want to be able to play and be able to compete with younger guys.”



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