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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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James Mungro Memorial Award Preview: The guide on which backups to watch when the Lions face the Browns

Never forget the legend

Never forget the legend

Another competition is upon us. Twelve years after James Mungro ran through, around and over the Cleveland Browns, 18 Detroit Lions will vie for the award in his name.

The James Mungro Memorial Award presented by (insert sponsor here) will name it’s sixth overall and third football champion at the end of the preseason. If you’re new to the competition, click the tab on the navigation bar to learn all about it. If you’re a veteran, get ready for the four greatest weeks of the year.

For rookies and veterans alike, it’s time to remind you of the Sacred Seven, the seven rules by which we determine our champion.

  1. The award has to go to someone I’ve never heard of.
  2. He must have at least an outside chance of making the team. 
  3. He has to be good.
  4. He can’t be a big-time prospect. 
  5. The name has to be catchy.
  6. Ideally, he would have a distinct characteristic.
  7. No feature stories can be written about him in at least the first half of training camp. 

Occasionally, a player’s accomplishments in one category overcome their shortcomings in another, but in a perfect world, our champion abides by all seven.

Two weeks ago, I provided a pre-preview of our initial field. Since then a few things have changed.

Two days after the pre-preview came out, Bryce Quigley had a feature written about him. He had also had a semi-feature written about him before the pre-preview. Together, it was too much. We had to let him go. But he wasn’t alone.

Last Friday, Mohammed Seisay had a feature written about him. That combined with the fact that he came from a big school (Nebraska) where I felt like I should’ve known his name, caused him to leave the competition as well.

A few Lions transactions also caused three nominees to be eliminated by default, and one nominee to be added to the competition.

Released: Kalonji Kashima, Reese Wiggins, Gabe Lynn.

Signed: Quintin Payton

Finally, the committee he reneged on it’s commitment to DeJon Gomes’ eligibility. After looking at the name again I realized I’d heard his name multiple times last year. That’s just a little too much fame to be in the competition. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Jed Collins has been ruled eligible for the competition. (Explanation below).

That leaves us with 18 nominees headed into Saturday’s game. Here’s a breakdown of who to watch when this Saturday. The starters will likely play a couple of series. The second string will probably finish out the first half. Then, it will be JMMA chaos in the second half.

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What unofficial depth charts can tells us about the Lions and the JMMA winners

Throwback: When Big Jacques had the ball.

Throwback: When Big Jacques had the ball.

(The big JMMA preview comes Friday, so I need to get this out of the way now.)

Three days from now, the Lions return, and when they do, it will begin one of the most underrated times of the year. We’ll find true contenders for the James Mungro Memorial Award presented (sponsor pending). We’ll become obsessed with players we’ve never heard of. We’ll try to convince ourselves that starting Scrub de Jour in the secondary won’t be so bad.

But before then we have this. Unofficial and almost meaningless depth charts. When the Lions released theirs to the media on Tuesday they still had David Akers as the starting place kicker. (They’ve fixed the error since then.)

But the small value these depth charts provide provide some clues to the status of our former JMMA winners, Rodney Austin and Jacques McClendon.

Start with Austin.

Here’s the list of Lions second-string offensive linemen from right to left: Corey Hilliard, Garrett Reynolds, Travis Swanson, Rodney Austin, Cornelius Lucas.

Detroit will likely keep nine or 10 linemen. They ended up with 10 last year after calling Austin up from the practice squad. Right now Austin appears to be No. 9. The five starters plus Hilliard, Reynolds and Swanson all have more security ahead of him.

This means that if Austin gets cut this preseason, Darren Keyton, who the Lions signed as undrafted free agent last year and then cut in the preseason, and an undrafted free agent from this year will have beat him out.

It won’t happen. Beat writers have singled out Austin’s performance multiple times thus far in minicamp.

Jacques McClendon’s situation is different. He has a spot. It’s just matter of whether he is a starter.

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Your update on the baseball winners of the JMMA says it’s time to give Blaine Hardy the championship belt

The face of a champion

The face of a champion

The first year of the JMMA award, Chris Bootcheck obliterated the International League and led all Triple-A All Stars in votes. The second year, Jose Alvarez made the major leagues and took a no-hitter almost five innings deep. Then, Bootcheck got called up to the Yankees and spent one glorious inning pitching to the team that originally drafted him. I count that as the 19th best moment of life.

I thought it would be the height of the James Mungro Memorial Award presented by (sponsor pending) and that Chris Bootcheck would always hold the JMMA championship belt.

I was wrong. I can’t deny what’s going on any longer. Blaine Hardy is carpet bombing the majors.

I’ve been waiting two months for the big inning to drop, for the world to finally tell Hardy, ‘You can’t hack it in the big leagues,’ for this sham of a feel-good story to be exposed. That’s what happens to JMMA winners. Bootcheck hasn’t reached the majors since that one inning. Alvarez was average after that near no-hitter last year and is injured this year.

But that inning hasn’t come for Hardy, and now I’m not sure it will. Hardy hasn’t allowed a hit in his last four appearances. His ERA is 1.89. While it won’t stay that low forever, the advanced stats no longer indicate that it’s much of a fluke. Hardy is striking out 8.53 batters per inning and walking 3.79, right around the league average for relievers. His WAR has jumped from 0.1 to 0.2. While his FIP and xFIP say he’s been the beneficiary of good defense, luck or both, the two numbers remain in the low threes (3.19 and 3.30, respectively). His fortune isn’t the only reason he’s scorching the earth from Los Angeles to Boston.

Blaine Hardy might already be the most successful JMMA winner ever, and if he isn’t now, he will be by the end of the year.

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Sunday Red Wings rumor Roundup: Ken Holland gives latest in search for another defenseman; Mike Babcock contract extension on hold

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 told 105.1 FM that he still wants to trade for a right-handed defenseman but the search was on hold through July because it wasn’t a big trade month.

Winging it in Motown points out that Holland didn’t mention Joakim Andersson’s name at all in the radio interview, but did mention Luke Glendening. For two players that have similar roles, does that mean something?

• The Red Wings signed restricted free agent Tomas Tatar to a 3-year, $8.25 million deal, but you knew that already.

• Holland told MLive.com’s Brendan Savage that he won’t try to sign Mike Babcock to a contract extension until the two can meet face to face. The Red Wings start training camp September 19.

Sports Illustrated’s Allan Muir says that teams might be shying away from signing Todd Bertuzzi because it’s finally time for the forward to stand trial in a civil lawsuit for his on-ice assault of Steve Moore.

• Keith McKittrick, the Red Wings’ video coach, left for an assistant coach job with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks.

• The Red Wings filled their assistant vacancies with Jim Hiller and Andrew Brewer. Hiller spent his last five years as coach of the WHL’s Tri-City Americans. Brewer will be the video coordinator. He spent the last three years Hockey Canada’s video coach.

• In what may or may not be new information to you, Jonathan Ericsson told a Swedish news organization (translated by the great Malik Report), that he has a no-trade clause for the first three or four years of his six-year contract.

• The IIHF suspended Justin Abdelkader three international games for his check to the head of the Czech Republic’s Vladimir Sobotka.

• Former Red Wing Mikael Samuelsson signed with Djurgadens IF of the Swedish Elite League.

• Former Red Wing Derek Meech re-signed with the Texas Stars. Texas won the Calder Cup last season.

• Toledo Walleye captain Kyle Rogers re-signed for another year. He’s the Walleye’s franchise leader in games played, which isn’t a good thing.



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