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Pack in the Pros

Did Jaylen Samuels solidify his roster spot with performance vs. Titans?

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Former Wolfpacker, Jaylen Samuels, had a big day on Saturday for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Samuels tallied 77 yards on 15 touches and had a 20 yd touchdown reception called back for holding.

It was more of what Pack fans witnessed during Samuels’ career in Raleigh. Now he’s showing his versatility, high in-game IQ, vision and elusiveness at the game’s highest level.

With all that said, Samuels is still just a rookie and he’s still fighting for a roster spot. So, did this performance finally earn it?

Part of what makes the rookie special is his ability to understand multiple positions and high-level offensive concepts. There is a reason he’s always in the right place at the right time, and a reason the ball tends to find him.

Just take a look at the excerpts from the PennLive article about Samuels’ growing his role by learning WR concepts for the Steelers.

“If you’re in the offense I feel like you should learn every position unless you’re an O-lineman or something,” Samuels said. “That’s just how I feel.”

That ‘feeling’ has helped him stay open-minded about being used just about anywhere on the field. The Steelers are starting to understand that and have started finding new ways to increase his role.

“Yeah I mean they’ve still been using me kind of the same way, still split out a little bit, using me as a receiver but also still giving me the ball in the backfield,” Samuels said. “So my role has kind of increased a little bit as I got more comfortable with the stuff I was already doing.”

And it’s not just the coaches who are excited about what he’s doing. Jaylen’s teammates are starting tonotice how valuable he could be to their offense. Here is what Ben Roethlisberger told 247 after Saturday’s game.

“There were some plays called specifically for him. And then there were just times where he was open, whether it was a check down or just finding him. I like that he gets out quick. When he doesn’t have a blitz to pick up, he’s getting out to where he needs to be, and I’m really encouraged by it. [Running routes] is something we ask our halfbacks to do, and when he lines up out there, he runs routes hard, and he got rewarded for it.”

Despite all the success he’s seen this preseason, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin isn’t quite ready to crown him. However, if you read between the lines here, there is the feeling that the Steelers staff likes what they see from the rookie and are going to push him as far he can go.

Here is what Tomlin told 247 sports about Samuels.

“I think he’s increasingly getting more consistent in terms of what we expect from him. He’s got a skill set that is good in some areas and that is very varsity and consistently varsity. Some areas in his game that he has to continue to grow. He’s finding more consistency in those areas that he needs to grow as he should and we’ll continue to take him through the process as we will all the others. I like his overall attitude in terms of the challenges that we are presenting to him in terms of areas that he needs to work. He caught a lot of balls, and he was a third down type back at N.C. State. We’ll challenge him in some other ways that might be somewhat new to him.”

From the way Tomlin ended that statement, it seems as if Samuels’ roster spot should be pretty secure at this point, but don’t count on him to throttle down after a few good performances. It seems as if Jay Sam is just getting started.

Pack in the Pros

Future with Chargers ‘unclear’ for Philip Rivers after move

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NC State legend, Philip Rivers has been a lifelong Charger. He was drafted in 2004 and has spent his entire 15-year career with the same NFL team (which in today’s game is insane). However, it is no secret that his career is winding down and now with the news that Adam Schefter just broke, could it be curtains for this future Hall of Famer?


According to multiple sources, Philip Rivers and his family have permanently moved from San Diego to Florida, but he tells ESPN that he isn’t planning retirement at this point.

“I plan to play football, so yes,” Rivers said on Dec. 29. “Where that is going to be will get sorted out over the next few months. I’ve never been in this position. … I’m very thankful for the 16 years, and if there is another, I’ll be thankful for that.” (ESPN)

Rivers is a free agent and there were questions on what the Chargers were planning to do. He is now 38 years old, coming off a sub-par season and now letting it be known that he and his family have moved. So was the writing on the wall, did Rivers make the Chargers decision for them, or could he come back to the Chargers on a one year deal?

Here are some of the initial reactions…

There had been rumors floating around throughout the season that Rivers may end up with the Dolphins and this move just adds fuel to that fire. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more.

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Torry Holt is a Finalist for the NFL Hall of Fame

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Former NC State Wide Receiver Torry Holt has been named a Modern Era Finalist for the 2020 NFL Hall of Fame Class for the first time. Holt has been a Semi-Finalist the first 5 years he’s been eligible, but this is the first time he made it to the Final 15.

Five of the Fifteen players will make the final cut, who receive at least 80% of the votes.

Holt played 11 seasons, and was a Pro Bowler in 7 of them (2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 & 2007). He also earned 1st Team All-Pro honors in 2003, and 2nd Team All-Pro honors in 2006.

He led the NFL in receiving yards twice (2000 & 2003) and receptions once (2003)

In 11 seasons, Holt ranked in the Top-10 in receiving yards 8 times (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 & 2007), receptions 5 times (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 & 2006), and touchdown receptions 4 times (2003, 2004, 2005 & 2006).

He was also a part of “The Greatest Show on Turf” with Kurt Warner throwing the ball to him and Isaac Bruce. They went to 2 Super Bowls, and took home the trophy in 2001.

The only reason Holt hasn’t made it into the Hall of Fame already is because his body didn’t hold on for a couple more seasons. What he did in a shortened career is remarkable, and shouldn’t be denied simply because his career numbers aren’t as high as others.

He was the youngest player to accumulate 10,000 receiving yards, as well as 11,000. Holt’s the only player in NFL history to have over 1,300 receiving yards in 6 straight seasons.

He averaged 77.4 receiving yards per game for his career, which ranks 7th all-time in NFL history.

You could make an argument that for a decade, there was no better receiver in the NFL than Torry Holt. If you are in the conversation for being the best at your position throughout the length of your career, you should be in the Hall of Fame.

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Philip Rivers’ Status for Next Season is Up in the Air

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Former NC State Quarterback Philip Rivers just wrapped up his 16th season in the NFL, which have all been played for the Chargers.

Rivers just wrapped up the final year of a 4-year $83.25 million contract, and it wasn’t the shining moment of his career to say the least. His QB Rating of 88.5 for the year marked his second lowest single season rating of his career. His 23 passing touchdowns were the third lowest of his career, with the other two seasons being his first two. Rivers threw 20 interceptions for the 3rd time in his career.

It wasn’t all bad for the former ACC Player of the Year, throwing for 4,615 yards, which ranked 4th in the NFL at a 66.0% clip, which ranked 10th.

Rivers has no plan to retire, but he doesn’t know for sure that he will be back with the Bolts in 2020.

“Yeah, I plan to play football, so yeah,” Rivers said. “Again, where that’s going to be, I think that’s going get sorted out over the next three months, I guess. I’ve never been in this position. I usually don’t even know when the league year starts and when all those things are. We’ll just kind of see. Again, I’m very thankful for 16 years, and if there’s another, I’ll be thankful for that one. But I think just with the uncertainty just comes that unknown.” (NBC)

Chargers GM Tom Telesco hasn’t ruled out the return of Rivers in 2020.

“In a perfect world, No. 17 is your quarterback forever,” Telesco says. “I hope that I’m not offending Dan Fouts when I say that. [Rivers] has meant everything to this organization. You work with different players differently. He has been here for a long time. When I talk with him, he’s a joy to work with. Nobody has a better perspective on what goes on — not only just with him, but with the football team — than he does.”

“I think Philip would say the same thing, there are some plays that he probably definitely wants back, but there are also some throws that he makes still that a lot of quarterbacks in this league can’t make,” Telesco says. “It doesn’t matter how old you are. I think he can still compete at a top-starter level.”

“We need to get removed from the season a little bit,” Telesco says. “Even, right now it’s just way too early. I’ve been out at a couple of games. We just finished the season. We need to take a step back for a little bit of time. We have time. The first day of the league year is March 18. Our players come in April 20. Camp starts in July. We’ll know before July, obviously, but you need some time to kind of let things decompress a little bit.” (SI)

Some NFL Executives speculate that Rivers could end up in Indianapolis, taking the job of another former Wolfpack Quarterback Jacoby Brissett.

NFL executives, via ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, believe that the Colts would explore the option of bringing in Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers if he and the Chargers part ways this offseason. The reasoning is based on Rivers’ past history with Colts head coach Frank Reich, who was the Chargers’ quarterbacks coach during the 2013 season. (CBS)

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Wilson and Thuney make PFF’s 2019 All-Pro Teams

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ProFootballFocus has released their 2019 All-Pro Teams, and 2 former NC State football players were honored.

Despite the fact that Lamar Jackson’s destined to win the 2019 NFL MVP Award, PFF put QB Russell Wilson on their 1st Team instead of Jackson.

Lamar Jackson is the presumptive league MVP, and his development this year has been phenomenal, but what Russell Wilson has been able to do while dragging a sub-par offense has been remarkable. Wilson’s grade and PFF WAR has been incredible all season long, and even when the offense cooled down the stretch, he was still making big plays only to be let down by his supporting cast. Wilson finished the year with six more big-time throws than any other quarterback, and he had just 11 turnover-worthy plays to balance those high-end plays. (PFF)

New England Patriots’ Offensive Guard Joe Thuney made the 2nd Team, after being snubbed of the Pro Bowl.

Joe Thuney has played his role in making sure that doesn’t happen. His pressure rate allowed of 2.5% trails only Marshal Yanda and Richie Incognito among all guards with 250 or more pass-blocking snaps this season. (PFF)

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