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The story of Jacques McClendon and why it’s coming to precipice in the Lions vs. Jaguars game

McClendon getting some face time on ESPN.

Football came easy for Jacques McClendon.

In high school he was a three-year starter on offense and defense at the Baylor School in Chattanooga, TN. He earned All-State honors twice. As a senior he played in the Army All-American Bowl. Gatorade named him their Player of the Year in Tennessee.

Rivals ranked him a four-star recruit and the No. 2 player in the state. With other SEC offers on the table, he chose to stay home, signing with the University of Tennessee. He made his first start as a freshman, in an Outback Bowl loss to Penn State.

The next two years he played in almost every one of the Vols’ games, but only started half of them. That should’ve been the first sign. To scouts it probably was. But McClendon returned for his senior year, started all 13 games and then graduated with a master’s degree. By the time he reached the NFL Draft, he was back to the McClendon he was in high school, back to Jacques McClendon: the local boy who made it.

He, like so many others, couldn’t have been ready for the way the NFL would demolish him.

The Colts drafted him in the fourth round and let him go a year later. He joined the Lions in 2011. A year later we discovered him as an overzealous third string guard. The Lions cut him that preseason. He spent most of 2012 out of football. The Steelers added him to their practice squad for two days. Late in the season, the Falcons put McClendon on their practice squad for an extended stay. He spent the 2013 preseason in Atlanta, then went to the Jaguars in a waiver move.

In Jacksonville, he spent the season on the bench before he injuries forced him into the final two games of a lost season.

Now, after five years with five different teams, McClendon is on the precipice of the most important game of his life — and its overall result won’t matter.

Last week McClendon started at right guard against the Bears. He wasn’t terrible, but Chicago’s Jeremiah Ratliff did have him grasping at air a couple times. Rookie Brandon Linder, who is the Jaguars’ future right guard anyway, didn’t have as much trouble. Later in the game the ESPN announcers kept discussing Jacksonville’s plan to use four different centers in the game, rotating them out each quarter. McClendon was slated to take over in the fourth.

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JMMA Week 2 recap: The Final Four; Will the Lions cut the eventual winner

George Winn with the touchdown.

George Winn with the touchdown.

The competition for the James Mungro Memorial Award presented by (sponsor pending) has gone from 18 nominees to four in two weeks. Far more dramatic cuts are coming.

The first NFL cut date is Aug. 26, four days after the Lions play the Jaguars. Ninety-player rosters will become 75. Four days after that, on Aug. 30: Final cuts. Seventy five down to 53.

Next week could be the week we find our next JMMA winner. And he could be gone from the Lions four days after that.

The Lions entered the preseason with few roster spots to fill.  Most of the “no-names” that had a chance to plug one of the few holes have disappointed in these past two games, leading to their ouster from this competition.

With the latest batch of players sent to Cut City, we’re left with a final four that consists of one player guaranteed to make the team, one player almost guaranteed not to, and two players who, right now, are probably on the wrong side of the bubble.

It’s nothing to complain about. It’s just the way the great James Mungro in the sky has decreed.

Cut City

SS Jerome Couplin (The Osprey), #46,  FS Isa, OLB, Justin Jackson, #44, #42, LT Cornelius Lucas, #77, TE Jacob Maxwell, #49, OLB Julian Stanford, #49

The Osprey didn’t get in until the third quarter. When he did, it wasn’t pretty. Early on, the Raiders threw a pass to receiver stationed right in front of him. Osprey missed the tackle, but the Raiders receiver eventually dropped the ball, making the play incomplete. About seven minutes later Osprey bit hard on a play-action fake leaving Oakland’s Jake Murphy wide open in the end zone for the Raiders’ second touchdown. Any player that almost single-handedly allows a touchdown to a quarterback named “Carr” to throw can’t win this award.

Isa had two noticeable plays. The first came when Nate Freese hit a 56-yard field goal. Isa came on to the field to congratulate the kicker despite doing nothing on the play. The second was a special teams tackle. Outside of that he did nothing of significance, which is a probably good thing for a player in the secondary, but a bad thing for a player trying to win the JMMA.

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Sunday Red Wings rumor roundup: Daniel Alfredsson’s return?; Mike Green to Detroit rumors continue

Every Sunday I’ll bring you a recap of all the legitimate Red Wings-related transaction and signing rumors from the previous week. I see all this stuff anyway. I figured I might as well share it with you.

  • Ken Holland and Danny DeKeyser were scheduled to talk this week about DeKeyser’s contract, according to the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff. DeKeyser is a restricted free agent. According to the Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James, DeKeyser isn’t worried but wants a long-term deal.
  • You already know this by now, but the Red Wings signed Ken Holland to a four-year extension. Holland said he briefly talked with Mike Babcock when he re-upped, exchanging texts, but the two talk further about a contract extension for the coach when the Red Wings reconvene for training camp. 
  • Khan also had Ken Holland tell him that Daniel Alfredsson will probably return this season but won’t play every game. In the same article, Holland said he wasn’t going to make any more free agent signings.
  • The Hockey News has the latest roundup of Mike Green-to-Detroit rumors. ESPN analyst Katie Strang said she was surprised Green hasn’t been dealt yet, while her colleague, Craig Custance said he would be a “natural fit” in Detroit. 
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James Mungro Memorial Award Week 2 preview: What to watch as the Lions face the Raiders

Never forget the legend

Never forget the legend

A funny thing happens when you watch people play football on TV: You feel like you know them.

It’s a one-sided relationship — the player doesn’t care for your fake award, even if it is the second most prestigious fake award on the internet — but it’s still there, and I can’t let it go.

When I discovered a feature article about George Johnson from early in training camp that I had missed, and stories about George Winn and Jerome Couplin from this week, I didn’t banish the offenders to Cut City as is the protocol.

These are my — no, our — friends. People don’t do that to their friends. Plus,  Winn’s story wasn’t even 500 words and Couplin’s story revealed his nickname is “The Osprey”, which more than makes up for any illegal publicity he is receiving. Also, the MLive writers crank out like nine stories a day, they’re going to have to dip their quill in the JMMA ink eventually.

Now, nobody is getting a free pass. Winn, Johnson and Couplin are all lower in the James Mungro Memorial Award presented by (sponsor pending) standings than they were on Monday. But I need more to cut them than just a few hundred words on the guys. I need, say, one more game to watch.

Fortunately, the Lions play the Raiders tonight.

Here is what to watch for, when:

First string:

FB Jed Collins, #45 (maybe): Collins is still listed as the Lions’ No. 2 fullback on the depth chart, but he started the game last week and there’s no reason to expect anything different this week. I kind of like having an agent who’s infiltrated the first string. While everybody is writing stories on the third stringers, Collins blending in with the starters, hiding in plain sight. Veteran move.

Second string:

OT Cornelius Lucas #77: Cornelius Lucas’ height, which is his defining trait, isn’t as defining as I thought it was. After watching that game against the Browns, Lucas didn’t stand out like I thought he would. Standing next to 6-6 guys didn’t make him seem like the giant that he is. I’m probably cutting half the field after this Raiders game. If he doesn’t take a step up from the “average” level he played at against the Browns, he could be on the bus to Cut City.

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An update on the former football winners of the JMMA: Jacques McClendon is in a fight for his career

Not a good start

Not a good start

Amid all the James Mungro Memorial Award presented by (sponsor pending) madness, we can’t overlook our former winners.

Rodney Austin seems fine. He took 28 snaps on offense on Saturday, the seventh most on the team, and played well. At one point he even pulled off his patented move, plowing into a Brown after the play was over. Austin will make the team as a backup guard. His spot is virtually wrapped up.

Jacques McClendon isn’t fine. He’s in camp battle that would be sad if it wasn’t so funny.

I watched all the Buccaneers vs. Jaguars game. It was … an experience. The Jaguars are dreadful, and McClendon was part of the problem.

On the first play (seen above), Tampa Bay’s Gerald McCoy pushed McClendon over and tackled the running back for a five-yard loss. Two plays later, McCoy embarrassed McClendon, faking inside and then going outside for a free trot into the backfield.

McClendon settled down after that, but the damage might’ve already been done. The Jaguars replaced him with Brandon Linder after the second series. The rest of the starters remained on the field.

Fortunately for McClendon, Jaguars center Mike Brewster put out one of the more embarrassing pieces of game film in the history of the NFL. In four series, Brewster snapped the ball over the head of Jacksonville quarterback Chad Henne twice. These weren’t snaps that were a little high and Henne mishandled. They were bullets that had the same trajectory one would have if he was trying to shoot a bottle rocket out of Jacksonville’s stadium.

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JMMA Week 1 recap: In deepest field yet, have the Lions found the true heir to James Mungro?

Don't bring that weak stuff to George Winn's grill.

Don’t bring that weak stuff to George Winn.

Kellen Moore has provided us the deepest James Mungro Memorial Award presented by (sponsor pending) field ever.

Usually, the media tabs a third stringer that had a good game as the underdog story. Every traditional outlet rolls out a feature on him and he automatically gets eliminated from the JMMA. It happened to Matt Willis last year. (Remember him?)

But this year the media was so busy wetting itself over Kellen Moore’s late-game performance that they haven’t bothered to write about anything of significance about our candidates. The closest thing we got to a real article was this 289-word story the Detroit News mailed in.

That means players like George Winn and Jed Collins stay alive when in most years they wouldn’t have.

I’m still making two non-performance-based cuts, though. Both come because of facts I overlooked.

Defensive end Larry Webster had a solid game and was initially in my group of favorites. Then I looked at his bio and realized I somehow overlooked that he was the Lions’ fourth-round pick this year. That’s a violation of rule No. 4: He can’t be a big-time prospect. He’s out.

The second is Andrew Peacock. Like Webster, Peacock had a solid game. That may have cost him. After he was making one of his four catches, MLive’s Kyle Meinke tweeted out a feature he wrote about Peacock. That’s a violation of rule No. 7: No feature stories can be written about him in at least the first half of training camp. He’s gone.

The nominees that remain make up a deep field spread across a number of positions. But it’s not as big as it once was. Let’s move on to Cut City.

Cut City

FB Chad Abram #44, LG Alex Bullard #60, RT A.J. Dalton #63, CB Aaron Hester #39, WR Quintin Payton #86  TE Jordan Thompson #82.

None of these players did anything of significance.  Hester played one snap and it came on special teams. The rest played a handful.

Abram, who played four snaps on offense and 10 on special teams, was in the background in a lot of plays on the kickoffs, but never actually did anything.

Payton had three balls thrown his way. The first he dropped. The second he caught, then had ripped out of his hands leading to a Browns interception. A defensive holding penalty negated the play. The third he caught for a three-yard gain. It wasn’t enough.

Here are the remaining competitors:

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Sunday Red Wings rumor roundup: Daniel Alfredsson update; Toledo continues to fill out roster

Every Sunday I’ll bring you a recap of all the legitimate Red Wings-related transaction and signing rumors from the previous week. I see all this stuff anyway. I figured I might as well share it with you.

 

Not much going on this week:

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