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Second-year Colts general manager Chris Ballard has used five NFL draft picks in two days on prospects he is hoping will toughen up his rebuilding team in the trenches.
Granted Marcedes Lewis Jersey , the needs are numerous for a franchise that finished 4-12 last year and has missed the playoffs for three consecutive years, but Ballard bypassed skill-position players for a second consecutive day with Friday's second-round selections of South Carolina State outside linebacker Darius Leonard, Auburn guard Braden Smith, Rutgers defensive end Kemoko Turay and Ohio State defensive end Tyquan Lewis.
The Colts moved up three spots in a trade with Cleveland to select Lewis with the final choice of the second round. That's four of five players taken who play along the line after Ballard used Thursday's No. 6 overall pick on Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson.
"No question the emphasis on our fronts, the front seven on defense and the O-line," Ballard said. "I had some frustrating moments last year, where I thought physically we didn't match up against teams, especially in our (AFC South) division. It's hard to sustain winning when your foundation, your O-line and your D-line, aren't good."
Nelson and Smith signify a concerted effort to better protect quarterback Andrew Luck, who missed all of 2017 due to shoulder surgery. The Colts allowed a league-high 56 sacks last season.
It's just the third time since 1970 that the Colts have used first- and second-round selections on offensive linemen. In 2011, they added current starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo in the opening round and guard Ben Ijalana in the second. In 1997, they drafted eventual Pro Bowl left tackle Tarik Glenn in the first and guard Adam Meadows in the second.
New head coach Frank Reich Womens Patrick Mahomes Jersey , an assistant with the Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles last season, attributed the championship to the play of the fronts on both sides of the ball.
"It's not a new philosophy," he said. "I'm glad Chris and I share that same belief. That's a conviction we're going to stick to."
Nelson, lauded for his physical style and nastiness, was generally regarded as the draft's best guard prospect. Smith, a 6-6 and 315-pound lineman named to All-SEC teams in his last three years, allowed just 11 hurries in 1,103 pass-blocking snaps last season, according to Pro Football Focus.
"It's about competition," Reich said. "My experience has been you're not looking for five starters, you're looking for eight or nine starters on the offensive line. That's usually the way it roles in the year. You want that depth."
But a 29th-ranked defense that ranked next to last in sacks is also in need of an identity and playmakers. Leonard, a MEAC defensive player of the year taken with the 36th overall pick, is projected to be a weak-side linebacker who can play all three downs in the Colts' new 4-3 scheme. The 6-2 and 234-pound defender has the skills to not just make tackles but rush the passer and cover tight ends.
"The athlete Kyle Long Jersey , the speed, that's what we want at linebacker," Ballard said. "We want guys who can play in space and close to the football. You have to do that with speed."
Leonard boosted his stock against quality competition, particularly with a season-high 19 tackles against Clemson and 14 tackles in the Senior Bowl.
Turay, the highest-drafted defensive end in Rutgers history, has impressive pass-rush skills but not the gaudy statistics; he started nine of 12 games and had 65 tackles, seven for loss, with four sacks last season. He's raw and considered somewhat of a project, and his development was slowed by two shoulder surgeries in college.
But Ballard sees tremendous upside.
"He didn't look like a project at the Senior Bowl," Ballard said. "He looked like the freaking best pass rusher at the game."
Smith, a two-time All-Big Ten first-team selection, had 9.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks for the Buckeyes last season.
"You win up front," Ballard said. "You win when you rush. You win with speed. That's how we're going to play. We're going to play with waves http://www.officialsabres.com/authentic-adidas-jack-eichel-jersey , seven and eight defensive linemen."
The Colts parted with a sixth-round pick in the Browns deal, but added a fifth-round selection in a trade with the Eagles by moving down three spots in the second round before taking Turay. That gives the Colts a fourth-round pick, two in the fifth and one in the seventh as the draft comes to a close on Saturday.
Nick Foles could end up playing a new position when Carson Wentz comes back if he keeps this up.
Foles caught another pass in a clutch spot to spark a sputtering offense that looked out of sync and the defense picked up right where it left off last time it faced Atlanta.
After seeing their "world champions" banner unveiled, the Philadelphia Eagles took the first step toward trying to become the first team to repeat in 14 years by stopping Matt Ryan to Julio Jones on the final play again in an 18-12 victory over the Falcons on Thursday night.
Foles hardly looked like Super Bowl MVP until coach Doug Pederson called his number in the third quarter when the offense needed a spark. Foles caught a 15-yard pass from Nelson Agholor to extend a drive that ended with Jay Ajayi scoring the first of his two touchdown runs.
"It's great to have it at the right time if you can catch a team (off guard)," Foles said. "Everybody loves a good trick play."
Foles caught a 1-yard TD pass from tight end Trey Burton in the first half of Philadelphia's 41-33 win over New England in the Super Bowl. Foles asked Pederson on the sideline if he wanted "Philly Philly" but called the play "Philly Special" in the huddle. This one was "Philly Philly" and Pederson said he borrowed it from New England's playbook. Tom Brady dropped that pass.
"Offensively, we were sort of misfiring a little bit," Pederson said. "Just were looking for a big play, somebody to make a play. It felt like the right time."
If the Eagles need any help at receiver once Wentz is cleared to play after knee surgery last December, Foles is ready to go.
Well, not really.
A sloppy, mistake-filled game that featured 26 penalties came down to Ryan throwing an incomplete pass to Jones in the left corner of the end zone on the final play from Philadelphia's 5.
Jones couldn't come down with Ryan's pass from the 2 in the right corner of the end zone in Atlanta's 15-10 loss in the divisional round in January.
"It was deja vu," said cornerback Ronald Darby, who covered Jones on the last play this time around instead of Jalen Mills. "Jones is one of the best but we got the stop."
A weather delay pushed kickoff back 45 minutes Sidney Crosby Jersey , forcing fans to wait a bit longer for the championship ceremony. Wearing his gold Hall of Fame jacket, former safety Brian Dawkins riled up the sellout crowd with owner Jeffrey Lurie by his side and led a chorus of "Fly Eagles Fly."
It was the most excitement for a while on a hot, muggy night that seemed more like an August preseason game than a playoff rematch. Both teams looked rusty after many starters didn't play much in preseason.
Here are some things we learned from the game:
RED ZONE WOES: The Falcons were 1 for 5 in the red zone after struggling inside the opponents' 20 last year. Second-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian spent plenty of time in the offseason trying to improve the team's scoring efficiency. Jones only had three TD catches last season. He had 10 receptions for 169 yards but didn't score.
"It's never discouraging," Jones said/ "We just got to keep working, stick together and make plays and get things called down there."
Jay Ajayi had 62 yards rushing on 15 carries. His 11-yard TD run and 2-point conversion gave the Eagles a lead with 2:25 left. Ajayi ran in from the 1 on the drive Foles made the catch.
"I knew I would have a good day if I just stayed being myself and being the Jay Train," Ajayi said.
Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks had 1陆 sacks in his first game since rupturing his Achilles tendon last October. Hicks also committed a penalty on fourth down that allowed the Falcons to have one more play at the end but the defense bailed him out.
"The ability to get back out there and have fun and celebrate and have passion no matter the play, it feels good," Hicks said.
Falcons safety Keanu Neal left the game with a knee injury in the first half but coach Dan Quinn said it doesn't appear serious. Long snapper Josh Harris had his streak of 103 consecutive games played end because of a hip injury.
Wentz, who hasn't been medically cleared for contact, threw passes and did other drills while wearing a brace on his left knee during warmups.
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