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AMERICAN FOOTBALL: Storm quartet preview NFL season
6:00am Thursday 5th September 2013 in Sport
Ahead of the first game of the new NFL season tonight between Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens, Adver Sports writer Andy Warren caught up with Swindon Storm players Sam Mendoza, Dan Thorne, Sean Harper and Dan Pour to preview the new campaign.
Q) WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING FROM THE NEW NFL SEASON?
Sam Mendoza: I’m really looking forward to this season more than any other probably, mainly because I’m off work for six weeks after having shoulder surgery and can watch pretty much all the games.
Dan Thorne: This season’s really open I think and that's what makes it so exciting.
Sean Harper: There’s lots of good teams and lots of really bad teams, and not much in terms of a happy medium.
Dan Pour: The Bears’ line look more solid and that was the main thing that kept them out, and every year they go 10-6 and only lose out because the Packers beat them twice.
DT: Kansas City will be a surprise package I think because Andy Reid’s a good coach and Alex Smith’s a good QB.
DP: I’m looking forward to watching the Jags for some reason, I don’t know why, but their two-tone helmet looks awesome.
DT: I think Washington will win the NFC East because they have to play Philadelphia twice and we can’t defend.
DP: I don’t think they will use RGIII the same this year.
ROBERT GRIFFIN III
DT: The Giants offence is all over the place and the Skins have a pass rush.
DP: The Cowboys will be 8-8 baby. Everyone is slagging off the Cowboys defence but that’s the only think we’ve really improved on.
SM: The balance has gone even more in favour of the NFC, although the most improved team is probably in the AFC, but apart from that Seattle are seen as one of the best teams, the 49ers and the Packers will be there or there abouts and the Falcons are strong. There was talk about the Dolphins improving but that’s not going to happen because they’ve looked terrible in pre-season.
Q) HOW WILL THE EAGLES COPE WITH CHIP KELLY’S NEW OFFENCE?
DT: The Eagles defence will be terrible but the offence will be different because Chip Kelly is going to bring college ideas to the NFL. It will be exciting with lots of running and no huddle which will score a lot of points but we haven’t got a D. It will take at least two seasons to bed that in and this is a rebuilding year.
SH: But how long will Michael Vick start for before he gets dropped?
DT: I honestly think Vick will have a good year this year because it’s a system for him and it’s about whether he stays healthy.
SM: Doesn’t he struggle with ball protection?
DP: Vick has a weird problem because if he is given the ball and you tell him it’s a run play he will run and make yards, but the second he starts to improvise it’s butterfingers time.
DT: I think we will find ways of getting DeSean Jackson the ball too and Kelly will put him over he middle and the concussion thing is long gone. Hopefully Kelly gets time and we don’t panic and get rid of him after a year.
Q) HAVING LOST SO MANY RECEIVERS DURING THE OFF SEASON, HOW WILL THE PATRIOTS GET ON?
SH: The Patriots secondary is terrible but we have the ability to score more points than anyone.
DP: The Patriots have lost 80 per cent of their receivers and they are still up there and held as the number one AFC team.
SH: Brady’s top six receivers from last year will not play in week one. They’ve got the best quarterback in the game.
DP: It’s the best O line in the game too.
SH: It’s settled and they never have to change it, that’s the key because they can’t get the big guys off the pitch because they love to play.
DP: That’s very true.
SM: Brady can guarantee you nine wins really.
NEW ENGLAND QB TOM BRADY
SH: We will get Gronkowski back too, and he’ll come back just as we hit the tricky patch of games.
DP: I reckon he comes back early because he’s just started training again.
Q) WHO DO YOU THINK WILL STAND OUT FROM THIS YEAR’S DRAFT?
DP: There were no star names in the draft and lots of good solid players so everyone’s in the same boat and nobody has a real advantage.
SM: There were lots of good line men picked up in the first round but they still have dodgy quarterbacks behind them.
SM: I genuinely think Green Bay might end up having drafted the rookie of the year in Eddie Lacy.
DP: People have been talking about that recently.
SM: He struggled in week three of pre-season but Aaron Rodgers only played one drive.
DT: The reason Eddie Lacy won’t win that is because you can’t win rookie of the year and only be healthy for three weeks. He spent all of college being injured and although he is a monster I reckon it might be the same again.
SH: He played behind Montee Ball at college and he’s with the Broncos now so he might be a shout.
SM: There is no out and out QB in there although EJ Manuel might play and Pryor’s been given the start at Oakland. Geno Smith will play for the Jets but I don’t know how he will do.
DP: I reckon Tavon Austin has been hidden by the Rams.
SH: I felt sure he was going to slide down the draft board and the Patriots were going to get him at 28 but he started going further and further up.
DP: He’s had a few kick returns and he’s been fast, but I really do think they have tried to hide him away. I don’t know if that’s sensible though because he needs a lot of reps.
DT: I right tackle we drafted in the first round is a starter, Lane Johnson, and he’s a smart guy.
Q) DOES TIM TEBOW HAVE AN NFL FUTURE AFTER BEING CUT BY THE PATRIOTS?
SH: He’s done I think, and if he doesn’t want to join the Canadian Football League (CFL) he’s done.
DP: Tim Tebow has done himself in because he had the chance to be a good player in the NFL, just look at him, he’s big enough to be a tight end or a running back. He’s so adamant he’s going to be a quarter back but he has awful footwork, he can’t throw and his mechanics are terrible.
SM: I don’t know why the Pats even bothered taking him because Ryan Mallett’s a solid number two.
SH: I reckon they had different plans for him and they thought he knew his strengths, but he was awful in pre-season. They had no choice but to cut him.
DT: He had his best shot with Denver but then they were able to get Peyton Manning and that was him done. There was no other team for him.
SH: If you can’t get past Mark Sanchez on a depth chart then you have issues. He couldn’t get on the pitch in a year at the Jets.
SM: He ended up fourth didn’t he? He’s done.
Q) WHO’S GOING TO WIN THE SUPER BOWL?
DP: Everyone’s saying the 49ers but I don’t think they will.
SM: I reckon Colin Kaepernick is, not a flash in the pan, but I don’t think he’s as dangerous as people think. He won’t run over teams like he did last season.
DP: I don’t think the AFC will take it, it will be an NFC team.
SH: I don’t think the Broncos defence is any better than ours.
DT: Broncos will get there but they won’t win it.
SH: I think the Falcons might get there, they are an all-round good team with the best wide receiving tandem in the game.
SM: It’s so wide open.
DP: I think the Seahawks might struggle because Russell Wilson will struggle.
SM: So much of this is looking the QB In his first year Cam Newton was awesome and then was found out a little and I think the same will happen with Wilson and Kaepernick. The Colts with Andrew Luck, although they won’t win it, he’s a proper QB who will be there regardless.
SM: The Bengals are a dark horse in the NFC.
SH: Jay Cutler looks happy at Chicago which is a miracle.
SM: It really is a coin toss, so hard to call.
Q) AND FINALLY, WHO’S GOING TO FINISH BOTTOM OF THE PILE?
SH: It will be one of the same three or four teams, Oakland, Jacksonville or maybe the Jets will finish the season the worst.
DP: The Raiders are picking number one next year for me, but even then they will pick some rubbish.
DT: Jacksonville are garbage though, I reckon it will be them.
Swindon Storm are running two free taster sessions on two successive Mondays on September 9 and 16.
The sessions are being held at Swindon RFC on Greenbridge Road from 6.45pm to 9pm with all equipment supplied by the club, apart from gum shields which can be bought for £3 on the night.
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