Council Rock's Justin Pugh would fit well with Eagles

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Council Rock's Justin Pugh would fit well with Eagles

INDIANAPOLIS – Justin Pugh grew up in Central Bucks County, about 30 miles north of Lincoln Financial Field, and when Syracuse played Temple at the Linc this past November, he had a pretty sizable cheering section up in the stands.

A pretty sizable cheering section hoping it wasn’t the last game he’d play at the Linc.

“Yeah, the last game I played at my home stadium [vs.] Temple, I had 220 ‘Pugh Crew’ people in attendance,” Pugh said at the Combine Thursday. “So they definitely want me to go to the Eagles.”

It’s not that outlandish an idea.

The Eagles could certainly use a tough, physical offensive lineman like Pugh, a projected third-round pick in this year’s draft.

Pugh said he’s spoken to the Eagles twice since arriving at the Combine.

“I grew up an Eagles fan,” said Pugh, who graduated from Council Rock South in Richboro. “But at the same time, there are 32 teams out there, so there’s a 1-in-32 chance I end up there.”

Pugh’s an interesting guy. The knock on him by a lot of analysts is that his arms are too short to play tackle.

His arms measured 31½ inches at the Senior Bowl, far below the 34 or so inches that most scouts and personnel people believe is ideal for an offensive tackle. The thinking is that without long arms, a tackle can’t get an effective punch on a pass rusher and keep him engaged and off the quarterback.

Some of the top left tackles have arms as long as 36 inches. Tra Thomas, one of the best in Eagles history, measured 36½ inches.

Pugh laughs at all of this.

“Well, it’s actually crazy,” he said. “I played three years never knowing I had short arms. It didn’t really hurt me then. I didn’t know I had short arms until I got to the Senior Bowl.”

It was at the Senior Bowl that Pugh was told his arms were only 31½ inches.

“Today I was 32 inches,” Pugh said with a laugh. “So somehow I grew a half-inch extra on my arms since the Senior Bowl.”

Pugh’s measured arm length indicated to scouts that he might be better suited to play guard, where arm length is less important.

Of course, guards are generally drafted later than tackles and generally make less money.

So most linemen want to play tackle.

“I played three seasons of good football not knowing I had these short arms,” he said. “And now going into it I feel I can play tackle. And all the teams have told me I’m going to play tackle until I can prove I can’t.”

But the 6-foot-5, 280-pound Pugh is versatile enough to play guard, which he last played at Council Rock South, and he said he’d also be able to play center if called upon.

“Yeah, I think I can play every position on the offensive line,” he said. “I haven’t snapped, but I think with my football IQ I know I’d be good with the calls. It’d be just getting the snaps down, which is something that with coaching should come easy.”

Although some of the measurables like arm length might not go in Pugh’s favor, everything else does.

Pugh was a three-year starter for the Orange, declaring for the draft after four years but with a year of eligibility remaining.

He’s smart, experienced, versatile and also has played in a pro-style offense.

“In college we ran the same offense as the New Orleans Saints did, because coach [Doug] Marrone came from the Saints,” he said. “So we did a lot of zone blocking and stuff. We also did power scheme my freshman and sophomore seasons, so I’m accustomed to both styles of offense.

“I think I can fit either way. So it’s something that’s good for me, and being at the Senior Bowl I got more exposure to the inside zone and playing guard, so I was able to show my versatility.”

NHL Notes: Desperate Senators hoping to avoid elimination

NHL Notes: Desperate Senators hoping to avoid elimination

OTTAWA, Ontario -- Guy Boucher has typically kept his team off the ice on off-days during the postseason. Not Monday.

The Ottawa coach opted for a half-hour practice ahead of Game 6 on Tuesday night to help his team "refresh" and "reload" after a 7-0 beating by Pittsburgh, one of the worst losses in team playoff history. Players thought the practice, as well as an encouraging chat beforehand, helped wipe the slate clean as they prepare for an elimination game. The Penguins lead the Eastern Conference final 3-2 and can return to the Stanley Cup Final with a win.

"We can't be sitting in our mud puddle," Boucher told The Canadian Press after practice. "We've got to get up and go."

Reloading against an opponent vying for back-to-back Stanley Cups means reverting back to strengths of the club. In Sunday's blowout loss, Boucher said, he thought his team tried to trade goals with the high-scoring Penguins -- an odd choice for a Senators team that thrives on shutting down opponents.

"If we stay away from our strengths there's no chance," Boucher said on Monday. "We're aware of that. We got slapped -- hard enough. The reality sets back in" (see full story).

NHL: Former All-Star Bill White dies at 77
CHICAGO -- Bill White, a former Chicago Blackhawks all-star defenseman and a member of Canada's 1972 Summit Series team, has died. He was 77.

The Blackhawks announced White's death Monday.

White, a Toronto native, started his career with the Los Angeles Kings in 1967 before being traded to Chicago during the 1969-70 season. He formed an imposing tandem on the Blackhawks' blue line with Pat Stapleton and helped the team reach the playoffs in all seven of his seasons in Chicago.

He appeared in six consecutive All-Star games between 1969 and 1974 and briefly served as head coach of the Blackhawks for the final 46 games of the 1976-77 season.

White finished his career with 50 goals, 215 assists and 495 penalty minutes in 604 NHL games with Los Angeles and Chicago, adding seven goals and 32 assists in 91 playoff appearances.

"The Chicago Blackhawks organization extends its thoughts and heartfelt condolences to Bill White's family as we mourn his loss," the team said. "He will be remembered as a leader, generous teammate and tough player to play against. His energetic style helped the Blackhawks see great success during his tenure with the team."

He joined Canada's squad for the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union after Game 1, finishing with a series-best plus-7 defensive rating while acting as a key part of Canada's penalty-killing unit.

NFL Notes Rams' All-Pro Aaron Donald skips OTAs amid contract talks

NFL Notes Rams' All-Pro Aaron Donald skips OTAs amid contract talks

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald has skipped the Los Angeles Rams' first day of organized team activities while he negotiates a long-term contract extension with the club.

Rams general manager Les Snead says the team knew Donald wouldn't be at their training complex Monday.

Snead acknowledged Donald's absence is because of their contract negotiations, which are reaching "the serious part." The GM is confident Donald will be a long-term fixture on the Rams' line.

The Rams exercised their fifth-year option for 2018 on Donald last month. He will make nearly $7 million next year. Snead has repeatedly said the Rams plan to sign Donald to a long-term deal.

Donald is a three-time Pro Bowler and a two-time All-Pro in his three-year career.

Vikings: Zimmer takes time off after latest eye surgery
MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer finally relented, taking some time away from the team to allow his right eye a proper recovery from his latest surgery.

Better in the spring than during the fall, he realized.

As Zimmer departed Monday for some rest and relaxation at his vacation ranch in rural Kentucky, general manager Rick Spielman said the organization anticipates a return by Zimmer "in a few weeks." Players will take the field Tuesday for the first of 13 scheduled offseason practices, including the three-day mandatory minicamp that runs June 13-15.

"We all agree Mike's health is the priority, and we believe rest and recovery are in his best interest for the long term," Spielman said.

Zimmer directed a free youth football camp Saturday at team headquarters. He revealed to reporters that he underwent an eighth procedure on the eye last week, a trying seven-month stretch that has included several unplanned operations (see full story).

Jets: Former 2nd-round pick Smith waived
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Wide receiver Devin Smith has been waived from the injury list by the New York Jets.

A second-round draft pick from Ohio State in 2015, Smith rarely saw the field for the Jets. He tore his ACL during the offseason workout program after he appeared in four games last season. He started that season on the physically unable to perform list while rehabbing from another ACL tear suffered in December 2015.

If Smith clears waivers, he would revert to the Jets' injured reserve list.

"It's bad luck and bad timing because the kid worked so hard to get back," coach Todd Bowles said last month during the NFL draft. "He has to persevere and adversity will help him get stronger. But unfortunately in this game, over my course of time playing and coaching, you see these types of things. Some of the best athletes get hurt and don't get a chance to get on the field, and it's just bad timing, bad luck."

The Jets also re-signed wide receiver WR Deshon Foxx on Monday. Foxx originally signed with the Jets in January and was waived May 9. The Connecticut product first signed with Seattle 2015 after going undrafted and was waived/injured with a hamstring injury that August.

Buccaneers: TE Howard signs rookie deal
TAMPA, Fla. -- Tight end O.J. Howard has signed his rookie contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Howard, who was the 19th overall pick in last month's NFL draft, signed a four-year deal on Monday that includes a team option for a fifth season. He is the first of Tampa Bay's six draft picks to sign.

Howard, who is 6-foot-6 and 251 pounds, was a third-team Associated Press All-America selection last season. He started 12 of Alabama's 14 games last season and had 45 receptions for 595 yards and three touchdowns.

The drafting of Howard and signing DeSean Jackson in free agency should give Jameis Winston more options in Tampa Bay's passing game.

The Buccaneers also announced that defensive end Jacquies Smith has signed his restricted free agent tender.