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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, August 6, 2016 at 9:57 AM


A couple of weeks back we spent some time/column space here checking out some of the biggest off-season free-agent signings and - of course - we put at or near the top of the list the likes of Washington CB Josh Norman, Jacksonville DT Malik Jackson and Oakland OLB Bruce Irvin ... but there were more than a hundred free-agent signings and so let's chat up some of the "under-the-radar" impact players that have new homes as we hit Hall of Fame Game weekend:

MARVIN JONES, WR, Detroit - The Lions were stunned that superstar pass-catcher Calvin Johnson called it quits following his 88-reception, 9-TD season a year ago and so the Motowners have fingers crossed that this former Bengals star can step into the breech and replace those figures. Jones did have 65 catches for 816 yards and 4 TDs a year ago and gut feeling is he'll be closer to Johnson's 88 grabs than his 65 receptions by year's end.

JANORIS JENKINS, CB, New York Giants - No doubt this NFC East team had to put an "under construction" sign out front after last year allowing 299 passing yards a game ... more than any team in the NFL. Jenkins is a ball-hawk type who isn't afraid to take chances but we'll go on record to state he will had at least three "pick sixes" this season. Hey, he better for $62.5 million over five years!

ALEX BOONE, G, Minnesota - If the Vikings are gonna make a serious push for a Super Bowl berth (and we think Minny's got a real shot to win it all this season) than repairing a fractured offensive line is key. Boone comes from San Francisco (four years, $26.8 million) where he was a cornerstone player for a franchise going downhill fast. Don't be shocked if he's a Pro Bowler here at left guard and a major reason why the Vikes win 12 or 13 games this season.

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers want to welcome you to the start of the 2016 Football Season. Okay, so it all actually begins this Sunday with the NFL's annual Hall of Fame Game between the Packers versus the Colts and then there's another four weeks of money-making NFL Preseason Games that follow while the College Football campaign swings into gear later this month. Also, take note that America's #1 Handicapper continues to bang out lots of winners in Major-League Baseball these days and all you need to do is check in either right here online or call 1-800-323-4453 any time after 1 p.m. Eastern time for the weeknight action, after 11 a.m. ET for weekday games and after 10 a.m. ET for Saturday/Sunday/Holiday Winners and get all the Football & Baseball winners ... can't beat that, right?


In other NFL Preseason News/Notes ...

The Indianapolis Colts will kick off their Preseason with Sunday's Hall of Fame Game clash against the Green Bay Packers (8 p.m. ET, ESPN) and we're hearing all about how Indy has hit the "re-set button" after last year's injury-riddled 8-8 SU (straight-up) and 8-8 ATS (against the spread) campaign.

Hey, the Colts toyed with the idea of firing head coach Chuck Pagano following last season but do they realize his clubs have gone a collective 33-24-1 ATS in his three-plus years on the job (remember Pagano only coached five games in 2012 before being treated for cancer)?

The fact of the matter is Pagano's not been "the problem" but a defense that lacks quality bodies - and a truly physical nature - has been at the heart of the matter as to why Indianapolis has yet to reach a Super Bowl in the QB Andrew Luck Era ...

We've been hearing all sorts of quarterback talk the past few days - who's gonna back up Tony Romo in Dallas, will the New York Jets really carry four QBs on this year's roster, who is really gonna wind up the starter in Denver and is there any shot that New Orleans' QB Drew Brees will wind up there with the defending Super Bowl champions by Sept. 1st if he doesn't have a new contract?

All that juicy QB talk is fun stuff but the reality of the situation - at least how we see it - is we enter the Preseason with only three teams conducting true QB battles for the first-string jobs: That's Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco and let us predict right here and right now that it won't surprise us one bit if the top two draftees from this past spring's NFL Draft - LA's Jared Goff and Philly's Carson Wentz - both begin the regular season on the bench.

P.S., we also might see the Cowboys - who claim Miss State rookie Dak Prescott is the top backup to Romo at this time - make a move for someone not named Michael Vick (as has been reported) with San Fran's Colin Kaepernick possibly available a couple of weeks into Preseason action while the likes of Seattle, Carolina and Green Bay - all Super Bowl contenders - would like to get better-quality QBs than they each have right now ...

Finally, we know there are plenty of you folks studying up for your NFL Fantasy League teams these days and may we make some recommendations: The Detroit Lions played WR Golden Tate out of the slot for much of his time a year ago and he wound up with 90 catches and 6 TDs but now with the aforementioned Johnson retired, you could get Tate on one side and WR Jones on the other for many snaps this year. Likely means more big plays for Tate and more TDs ...

If you need a new kicker this year, than check out and see if Denver PK Brandon McManus is available. The mile high air helps, of course, but keep in mind McManus was perfect in the post-season en route to that Super Bowl title and he may get lots of 50-plus yard tries here when/if the Broncos' offense stalls inside the opponent's 40-yard line ...
And something tells us Houston WR Will Fuller - the 21st player selected in last spring's NFL Draft - will be a big home-run hitter with new QB Brock Osweiler chucking him the ball. Fuller figures to get single coverage with WR DeAndre Hopkins on the other side - it could mean a batch of long TD receptions providing the former Notre Damer can hang onto the ball.

Note: Don't forget there's plenty of great Major-League Baseball action on tap this summer weekend with key series between the San Francisco Giants at Washington Nationals, Miami Marlins at Colorado Rockies, Texas Rangers at Houston Astros and a neat Interleague set between the Boston Red Sox at the Los Angeles Dodgers ... win with all the Baseball action with Jim Hurley at 1-800-323-4453 or right here online. Check it out!

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