The Lions are giving Greg Robinson the chance to be more than a ‘draft bust’

Retired NFL offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz sees a golden opportunity for Greg Robinson to revive his career and keep the Lions’ playoff hopes alive in 2017.

The Detroit Lions were a surprise playoff team in 2016. Now, they’re looking to build on that season, and one of the driving forces behind that is general manager Bob Quinn. After spending years in New England, he knew that protecting the number one asset of the team, Matthew Stafford, was priority number one.

In his first draft as the team’s general manager, Quinn, with the 16th overall pick, selected their future left tackle, Taylor Decker from Ohio State. Later in the third round, he selected a big physical C/G Graham Glasgow, and after that, another offensive lineman, Joe Dahl.

Decker is exactly the type of college tackle you look to draft. Still, most rookies struggle early on, then catch up to the speed as the season goes on, and Decker’s rookie season followed that path. He struggled early, then played much better starting halfway through the season. His potential is sky high for their left tackle. Unfortunately, last week Decker had shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum, and the rehab is 4-6 months. It’s a bummer for Decker and the Lions. Where do the Lions turn to find another left tackle?

There are three types of roster building processes in the NFL. One, and this is probably most common, the front office (GM, scouts) acquire the players and the coaches coach them. There isn’t much coordination between the two. The second is the front office chooses the players with input from the coaches on the type of player that fits their scheme. You’d think this is how it should always work, but it doesn’t. Third, the head coach is the GM, and he does whatever he pleases. The Lions are built using the second approach.

The latest example of this harmony between front office and coaching staff occurred Thursday when the Lions traded a sixth-round pick to the Rams for former second overall pick tackle/guard Greg Robinson. The Lions looked at their roster, decided they didn’t have guys ready to roll now, and traded for a player who perfectly fit their system.

On the most recent episode of my podcast, “Block Em Up,” we discussed the last great college offensive tackle but we haven’t seen many in recent history, minus Robinson. He was the last great college tackle. His Auburn film is as impressive as it gets. Greg is big, strong, physical, freak athlete and finished people non stop in college.

Auburn ran an extremely run heavy offense and I’ve written about how offenses that don’t mimic NFL styles can hurt offensive tackles transitioning to the league. This is where Greg Robinson falls right now. Uber talented but technically behind in the league.

Duke Manyweather, offensive line consultant and my most trusted scout on offensive lineman summarized Greg in 2016: “Even though Robinson possesses rare athletic ability and physically dominating traits, he has struggled mightily to perform anywhere close to realizing his great potential. You can not be a dominant or even good player on the offensive line relying solely on what you were born with. At some point gifts need to be developed into tools of the craft.”

So how and what system does Greg need to maximize his physical traits? An offense that demands lineman jump set and has limited, but potent technique options for blockers. This is why the Lions are a perfect fit for Greg Robinson. The Lions demand their entire offensive line jump sets defenders in pass protection. It fits perfectly into Robinson’s strong suit. He can use his quickness and strength to overwhelm defenders at the line of scrimmage in the pass game. He doesn’t have to be patient and play in space. He can attack.

The Lions offensive line philosophy is simple and precise. There aren’t lots of drills, and the drills they do have are concise with a purpose. In my best season, 2013 in Kansas City, I played under the same system. I can’t rave about it enough. There is no over coaching, no useless techniques taught. This will all benefit Greg Robinson in the both the run and pass game.

A dominate run blocker like Robinson was in college doesn’t just lose the ability in the NFL. He needs some fine tuning. Detroit will get the most out of him.

Detroit is in win now mode. They almost won the division last year and spent the offseason shoring up parts of the team that needed attention. When Decker went down, it was a big blow to the team but with the addition of Greg Robinson, the Lions should be able to maximize his abilities and not feel the pain of losing Decker as much.

Adding Robinson is also looking toward the future. When Decker returns, Robinson can slide inside to LG. Now you have two first-round picks on the left side. I love it!

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U.S. Open 2017: Live updates, scores, leaderboard, highlights, and more from Erin Hills

Rickie Fowler’s big opening round has him atop the leaderboard in Wisconsin.

The 117th U.S. Open is upon us, and this year the prestigious event makes its Wisconsin debut. Erin Hills, a course that served as a cow pasture just 13 years prior, is the 2017 host of one of the sport’s four major tournaments.

The Open’s charm lies in its accessibility. Anyone, from professionals to amateurs to weekend duffers with an official USGA handicap can try their hand at qualifying through regional tournaments. This year, 13 amateurs will attempt to boost their careers by lasting all the way to Sunday’s final round.

2016 U.S. Open background and field

That will be easier said than done. Erin Hills will be one of the longest courses in Open history, ending with a monstrous 675-yard 18th hole. While big drives off the tee will be important, accuracy counts more than ever. Just feet from the edge of the fairway is an unforgiving, deep rough, where knee-high fescue becomes a black hole for balls and par opportunities.

The tall grass was frustrating enough to get pros Kevin Na and Wesley Bryan to take to social media and voice their complaints.

Rory McIlroy wasn’t impressed with their gripes, suggesting golfers complaining about the fescue “have no chance” to win the tournament.

Na and Bryan are just two members of a 156-man field loaded with talent. Each of the World Golf Rankings’ top 10 players are present, including former champions Dustin Johnson, Martin Kaymer, McIlroy, and Jordan Spieth. Sergio Garcia, fresh off his breakthrough performance at April’s Masters, will try to use Erin Hills as his springboard to a No. 1 ranking. Other titans like Henrik Stenson, Rickie Fowler, and Hideki Matsuyama will tee off Thursday as well.

The most notable name not to make it to Wisconsin? Five-time major champ Phil Mickelson. The left-handed star skipped this year’s opportunity to finally win the Open — he’s come in second a record six times — in order to attend his daughter’s high school graduation.

A full field list can be found here.

First-round scores and highlights

Fowler tamed the course early, blasting out to the top of the leaderboard with a -7 round to start his tournament. That left a handful of wily veterans in pursuit. Ernie Els, Lee Westwood, and Angel Cabrera — a combine 138 years between them — all took early turns in the top 10 as play wore on.

A pair of triple bogeys threaten to end Jason Day’s Open early. He was +7 through 12 holes, a shocking start from the world’s No. 3 golfer. Other big names who failed to find the happy side of par include Dustin Johnson (+3), Hideki Matsuyama (+2), and Adam Scott (+4 through 13 holes).

However, the real excitement was in the air. A blimp covering the event caught fire and crashed late on Thursday morning. Video seemed to confirm crew members parachuted from the craft, and a USGA statement reported that while the blimp’s pilot was injured, first responders were on the scene.

Leaderboard

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Matt Barnes ran away from a reporter who asked if he’d go to the White House

There have been reports and denials all week about whether the Warriors would go to the White House if they were invited by President Trump, but Matt Barnes just said it all without saying anything.

During the victory parade on Thursday he was asked if the Warriors would go to the White House — and he just ran. No answer, a brief glance back, then he took off to see some more fans.

You’re not going to get an answer out of Barnes on this one at all. You can take the silence however you like.

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2017 U.S. Open live stream: How to watch Thursday’s round online

The second major of the year tees off Thursday morning.

Sergio Garcia rebounded from a Sunday stumble to earn his first major championship by winning the Masters back in April. The world’s 10th-ranked golfer will try to keep that momentum rolling when he and 155 others hit the links for the 117th U.S. Open Thursday.

He’ll need to stand out from a stacked crowd to earn one of the sport’s most prestigious titles. All nine golfers ranked above Garcia will be part of Thursday’s field, including past champions like Dustin Johnson, Martin Kaymer, Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, and Rory McIlroy. They’ll work to tame Erin Hills, the newest course on the major circuit and the host for Wisconsin’s first-ever PGA Tour major.

Erin Hills was a pasture just 13 years earlier, but a combination of foresight and dedication turned a patch of dairy land 30 minutes outside Milwaukee into one of the nation’s premier settings. The hybrid American golf/Scottish links course will be one of the longest to ever host the Open, clocking in at 7,693 yards. That includes four par fives that measure at over 600 yards.

That means long drives will be paramount to success, but failure to find the fairway will be disastrous. Narrow strips of rough give way to knee-high grass that makes finding your ball a tough task and hitting back onto playable ground even harder.

The action begins Thursday morning, and the golf gods have smiled upon your work day by offering several streaming opportunities to leave on at the office.

USOpen.com’s featured groups offer 12 of the planet’s best golfers. The 2016 champion, Dustin Johnson, will hit the links as part of a group that features the past three Open champs. He’ll be flanked by former world No. 1 Spieth (currently ranked No. 5) and Kaymer. Forty-five minutes before they tee off, a trio of Masters winners, including reigning champ Garcia, will begin their quest to master Erin Hills’ undulating fairways and glassy greens.

That will be easier said than done. The ever-rising fescue just feet from the fairways will punish inaccuracy on one of the longest courses in event history. The 2’0 grass already has pros like Kevin Na and Wesley Bryan #madonline.

Both Garcia and Johnson will be looking for affirming victories this weekend. Others, like Rickie Fowler and Hideki Matsuyama, will work toward their first major titles and the notoriety that comes with it. Finally, 13 amateurs will try to make the most of a huge opportunity by working their way into the mix in the championship rounds.

Here’s how you can watch opening round coverage, on television and online.

Thursday’s first-round coverage

Television:

11 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET — FOX Sports 1

6 to 9 p.m. — FOX

Online streams:

USOpen.com

8:45 a.m. to 8 p.m. — Featured group 1:

Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama

Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott

9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. — Featured group 2:

Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Martin Kaymer

Jason Day, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy

8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. — Featured holes stream

Radio:

Noon to 6 p.m. — PGA Tour Radio on Sirius-XM (Ch. 93/208)

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Darren Baker, the child batboy who nearly got crushed in the World Series, was drafted by the Nationals

He’s all grown up and playing on his dad’s team!

The Washington Nationals used their 27th round pick in the MLB draft to pick Darren Baker, son of Nationals manager Dusty Baker and one-time very small, very cute batboy.

Darren became famous after he was saved by Giants first baseman J.T. Snow during the 2002 World Series. Darren, who was tasked with picking up bats larger than himself at the age of 3, almost got hit by a baserunner at home plate. Everyone was safe — but the situation was a scary one:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzV7x8WcR4g?rel=0&controls=2]

And that was almost 15 years ago! Wanna feel even older? Darren just finished high school and had committed to play college baseball at the University of California before the draft.

So luckily, his bad brush with baseball as a 3-year-old didn’t scare him away from the sport. Now he’s joining his dad in the Nationals organization.

Last week, Dusty Baker said he understood his son’s worries about the draft.

“I was anxious, both anxious and disappointed, when my name wasn’t called till the third day, you know what I mean, but either way his future is bright,” he told media.

Dusty was picked by the Atlanta Braves in the 26th round of the 1967 draft and went on to win the World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1981. So don’t count out Darren — he’s come a long way since his days of being a too-young batboy.

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This adorable Nashville Predators fan can’t wait for next season

“You did a great job.”

The NHL postseason is over now that a Stanley Cup champion was crowned. The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Nashville Predators in six games. This was Nashville’s first Stanley Cup Final appearance, and its fans were as passionate as any other fanbase, if not more.

But now that the series is over, some Predators fans are sad about it, including little Wrigley. But this young Nashville fan is excited and optimistic for what’s to come.

I know you’re sad and iI’m sad too. But you shouldn’t be sad because you did great! I can’t wait until next year. It’s gonna be so much fun. You did a great job tonight, guys.

Wrigley lists a few players’ names before ending the video with, “I love you guys. Go Preds.”

We talked to Reagan, Wrigley’s mom, about her daughter’s love of hockey and sports in general.

“We watch all of the away games and we go to almost all the home games. My husband plays in the band that plays during intermissions of the games, so we were lucky enough to go to all the playoff games. She has been coming to games since she was in the womb.”

Wrigley specifically loved the catfish thrown in Game 4. She thought it was hilarious. You know the one. It had a sparkly blue hat on its head and a small penguin toy in its mouth.

With a name like Wrigley, it’s no surprise that this Predators fan also roots for the Chicago Cubs in baseball, but hockey is her favorite sport.

When Wrigley is at Bridgestone Arena, you can see her cheering on the team. “She’s always borrowing someone’s pom poms and dancing during the games!” Because she’s a regular at home games, she sometimes hangs out with Gnash, the team’s mascot.

And although she started off sad because the Preds lost, she seems to be feeling better now that she brightened up the day hockey fans everywhere. “I’m glad that she can help put a smile on people’s faces after a disappointing loss, but an amazing season overall.”

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