— Kenny Vaccaro says he believes fellow safety Eric Reid should be on a team playing in the NFL. Needing a job himself Darrell Green Jersey
, the veteran is very happy that the Tennessee Titans signed him instead.
Vaccaro signed a one-year deal with the Titans on Saturday morning and was with them for individual drills at practice at Nissan Stadium hours later. He had been waiting for a team to sign him since his contract with New Orleans expired in March.
“This has been a long time coming for me,” Vaccaro said. “I was waiting on the right opportunity. I was fortunate that one opened up here and that we could get a deal done. I’m ready to work.”
The Titans also signed safety Jason Thompson after placing safety Johnathan Cyprien on injured reserve Friday with a torn left ACL.
Reid, who has been looking for a job since March himself, remains unsigned since his own rookie contract expired in March with the San Francisco 49ers. He filed a claim this spring after visiting with Cincinnati, arguing he was unsigned as a result of collusion by NFL owners over his protests of police brutality and racial inequality by kneeling during the national anthem.
“He’s a great man,” Vaccaro said of Reid. “He’s a good family man, and a great dude. He needs to be on a team. He’ll get on a team. I believe in him.”
Reid was headed to Nashville to work out for the Titans on Friday but reportedly had flight issues. Titans coach Mike Vrabel said he’d leave questions on what happened to Reid’s workout to Reid and his agent and general manager Jon Robinson.
“Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see him,” Vrabel said. “So that’s really all I can comment on. I’ll let Eric and his camp comment, and I’ll let Jon take care of it on our end.”
The 6-foot Vaccaro spent the past five years as a starter with New Orleans, starting 67 games with eight interceptions, 7 1/2 sacks and four forced fumbles. The Saints drafted him 15th overall in 2013 out of Texas. Vrabel said Vaccaro didn’t look at times last year like the safety had earlier in his career but had a great workout for the Titans.
“So what we expect is that he’s a pro Jim McMahon Jersey
, and he comes in and learns what to do quickly,” Vrabel said. “We’ll work him in there and see where he can help us. He’s made plays in the National Football League, and it seems like he’s starting off with a great attitude.”
Vaccaro said he’s a competitive person who knows he has to catch up with his new teammates in a secondary featuring All-Pro safety Kevin Byard and cornerbacks Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan and Adoree Jackson.
“There’s a lot of good players here,” Vaccaro said. “They’re loaded. Dean Pees’ defense, the stuff we’re going to run, it’s just a good fit. I’ve got a good feeling about it. I haven’t got to practice yet. I did a lot of different things at NOLA — nickel, dime, safety, back deep at some point, I’ve been in every situation.”
Thompson has spent time with New England, Chicago Matt Slauson Jersey
, Seattle and Dallas since coming into the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Utah in 2017.
Freed from the weight of the world of being Stanley Cup favorites, the Washington Capitals are playing like a team eager to prove something.
Prove doubters wrong, prove their championship window hasn’t closed and, most notably, prove they can get over the playoff hump that has vexed them over the past decade. Led by top NHL goal scorer Alex Ovechkin, the Capitals go into their first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets having won 12 of their final 15 games and feeling confident about this spring despite a series of early playoff exits.
”I hope best hockey is going to be in the playoffs,” Ovechkin said Saturday night. ”I think the balance on our team right now is pretty good and pretty high. That’s very good thing to go into the playoffs because in playoffs you never know what’s going to happen. Maybe one shift can change the whole series. I think we’re ready for it.”
Few expected the Capitals to win the Metropolitan Division again after losing Justin Williams, Marcus Johansson, Nate Schmidt, Karl Alzner, Kevin Shattenkirk and Daniel Winnik from last year’s team that won the Presidents’ Trophy for the second consecutive season. Coach Barry Trotz and players miss no opportunity to bring up all the preseason predictions about them being a playoff bubble team.
Of course, when they sat at 11-10-1 just before Thanksgiving Rafael Bush Jersey
, those lower expectations looked accurate. General manager Brian MacLellan insists he was never worried – and his team’s 38-16-6 record the rest of the way was the fourth best in the NHL in that time behind only Boston, Nashville and Winnipeg.
The Capitals don’t have the playoff buzz of the Bruins, Predators, Jets, Tampa Bay Lightning or the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, but they have as good a chance as anyone of reaching the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in the Ovechkin era.
”We have a chance to go the distance,” MacLellan said. ”I don’t know that we’re as deep or as experienced as we were last year, but I think the whole league is a little less of that. There’s probably a couple teams that are a little deeper that might have a chance, theoretically, of going farther, but I think we’re in the mix with the high-end teams.”
Everyone thought the Capitals were the highest of high-end teams in 2016 and 2017, and they lost to the eventual Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round each time. Williams has implied that favorite status didn’t suit the Capitals well http://www.greenbaypackersteamonline.com/davon-house-jersey
, and Trotz said ”the crown is quite heavy” for a team expected to win.
”I think there was some external pressure that creeped in the room,” veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik said. ”I think maybe as a veteran group, we probably don’t want to admit that it affected us. I think at times it definitely did.”
Finishing in first place puts some pressure on the Capitals, but it’s nothing like in years past. More than anything, there’s urgency to win with Ovechkin 32 and having three years remaining on his contract.
”We all know what we’re playing for is to win a championship and I’m hoping we do it this year,” owner Ted Leonsis said. ”I’m hoping we do it within his contract time.”
Columbus is a tough first-round matchup for the Capitals, but their play down the stretch makes a long playoff run possible if they get strong goaltending from Braden Holtby or Philipp Grubauer. From the net out, Washington looks like a contender thanks to the trade-deadline additions of defensemen Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek and the play of centers Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom.
”We’re playing the right way a lot of the time,” Holtby said. ”It’s more where you’re at as a team and I think we’re continuing to build and push forward in the right direction. We have a lot of guys contributing right now. It’s a good sign.”
Washington’s road to the elusive Cup could go through Pittsburgh and then Boston, Tampa Bay or Toronto. Perhaps the expectations being on those teams instead of the Capitals isn’t such a bad thing.
”I think it’s a good thing because I think last two years we were on top of the league and we win Presidents’ Trophy,” Ovechkin said. ”Everybody thought we were going to be unstoppable in playoffs and we didn’t. … We’re going to do our thing and we’re going to have success.”
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