New Eagles linebacker was Abercrombie model, kicked out of school for mushrooms

New Eagles linebacker was Abercrombie model, kicked out of school for mushrooms

The Philadelphia Eagles continued going about their understated free agency plans by bolstering their special teams on Wednesday. The team signed safety Chris Maragos and linebacker Bryan Braman, two little-known players who are expected to upgrade the kick coverage units and compete for playing time on defense.

Braman is of particular interest. The 26-year-old tends to stand out at 6’5”, 241 pounds. Signed to a two-year deal worth $3.15 million ($1M guaranteed), the former Houston Texan is mostly here to contribute on special teams, but could compete for a role as a situational pass-rusher.

That’s not all though. Some of Braman’s shall we say hobbies away from the field might make folks take notice as well. Sheil Kapadia for Birds 24/7 unearthed this Houston Chronicle story by Texans beat John McClain from 2011 that makes mention of some interesting activities away from the football field. Presented without comment:

Before general manager Rick Smith offered him a contract, Braman, 24, worked for Abercrombie & Fitch in Los Angeles, modeled, attended some casting calls, got kicked out of West Texas A&M for manufacturing psilocybin (a hallucinogen) and worked as a bouncer in Amarillo and College Station.

Braman, who said he gets his size from a 7-4, 460-pound grandfather and disclosed that he keeps his dreadlocks that were cut by teammates at West Texas in a plastic bag, was fortunate that two people believed in him.

Braman worked as a bouncer during the NFL lockout and hoped a team would call. In June, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession of psilocybe mushrooms. He paid a $2,000 fine. Thirty days later, the prosecutor terminated the one-year probation, and his case was dismissed.

I’m sorry to say that Mr. Maragos is far less interesting. Signed to a three-year deal worth up to $5.2 million ($1M guaranteed), all this 27-year-old did was help the Seattle Seahawks win the Super Bowl this past season with his contributions on special teams. Boring.

Neither Maragos nor Braman has ever started a game in the NFL despite a combined seven years of service.

Along with the decision to re-up punter Donnie Jones for three years on Tuesday, the Eagles’ moves continue to show the tremendous value being placed on quality special teams. It’s not Jairus Byrd, but it’s not inconsequential, either.

>> Braman survives rough road to Texans [Houston Chronicle]

An Attack on Carson Wentz is an Attack on All of Us

An Attack on Carson Wentz is an Attack on All of Us

Carson Wentz. He’s a phenom. He’s a star. He’s the franchise quarterback we’ve been waiting for for all this time. Wentz has led the Eagles to a 3-0 start, showing poise well beyond his years, and establishing himself, without a doubt, as the best quarterback in Eagles history, or at least the best since Jeff Garcia. Who else would it be? McNabb? Please. How many times was he undefeated at the bye? 

Wentz, especially after crushing the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday, is unquestionably the real deal -- and I have only two questions: Should I order my flight to Houston for the Super Bowl now, or wait until the rates come down? And should the parade go up Broad Street towards City Hall, or down, towards the Sports Complex? 

Carson Wentz has already been named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month, which is clearly only a small steppingstone to Rookie of the Year, MVP, having his number retired, and ultimately the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I mean, did you see some of those throws last Sunday? 

But even with all the excitement, some are skeptical. After Week 1, we heard “it’s just one game, and besides -- it’s Cleveland!” After week 2? “the Browns and Bears suck -- wake me up when he beats a good team. After week 3? “He hasn’t even played a division game yet!” Worst of all was CBS’ Bart Scott, who called Wentz "fool’s gold." 

Please. What you have to understand is that people like Scott aren’t just mouthing off on a pregame show or sharing a meaningless NFL opinion. They are launching a vicious attack on Carson Wentz, the Philadelphia Eagles organization, every Philadelphia fan, and the city of Philadelphia itself. We should all be horribly insulted, and demanding action. 

It’s bad enough when the national guys bring up snowballs and Santa Claus. But let’s be real: Bad-mouthing Carson Wentz must not be tolerated, ever. I call for a boycott of all CBS-owned properties (other than WIP), until Bart Scott apologizes or is fired. 

Sure, I know a lot of people are more upset about the national anthem stuff. But make no mistake: Questioning Carson Wentz is way worse. 

Other Philly sports takes: 

- Of course, I’d be even happier with the Eagles’ start if the long snapper hadn’t unfairly lost a televised talent show to a little girl. 

- For those of you who asked: Now that Buddy has passed, I’ll be writing in Carson Wentz for president. 

- Assuming Jim Schwartz leaves the Eagles for a head coaching job, who should replace him as defensive coordinator? It’ll be a tough choice between Rex Ryan and Rob Ryan.  

- The only downside to the Eagles’ 3-0 start? Josh Innes isn’t around for it. Poor guy. 

Follow @FakeWIPCaller on Twitter. 

Minnesota vs. Penn State: Poor defenses could lead to shootout

penn-state-minnesota-matchup.jpg

Minnesota vs. Penn State: Poor defenses could lead to shootout

Penn State (2-2, 0-1) vs. Minnesota (3-0, 0-0)
Beaver Stadium, State College
Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network

Scouting Penn State
The Nittany Lions were flattened by Michigan last week, 49-10. PSU was outgained 515-191, and continues to struggle with the health of its defense, especially as it pertains to its linebacker corps. The expectation is that injured ‘backers Jason Cabinda and Brandon Bell will again sit out this week, and that freshman Cam Brown will make his first collegiate start at an outside ‘backer spot, alongside former reserves Brandon Smith and Manny Bowen. Another freshman, Connor McGovern, is likely to make his first start at right guard, replacing Derek Dowrey along the struggling offensive front. Penn State is last in the Big Ten in rushing offense, total offense, rushing defense and scoring defense, and next-to-last in sacks allowed and turnover margin.

Scouting Minnesota
Rodney Smith rushed 17 times for 99 yards and two touchdowns as the Gophers beat Colorado State 31-24. Shannon Brooks, in his first game back from a foot injury, ran 13 times for 85 yards and a score, as Minnesota piled up 249 yards on the ground in all. Kobe McCrary had just four carries last week, but a week earlier he ran 17 times for 176 yards against Indiana State. The Gophers average 228.3 yards a game on the ground, fifth in the conference. They are also 14-for-14 in red-zone opportunities, with 13 touchdowns, and have converted 55.8 percent of their third-down opportunities, second-best in the Big Ten and fifth-best among FBS teams. The offensive triggerman is Mitch Leidner, who is fourth in the conference in passing yardage (237.3) and seventh in total offense (244.7).

History
Penn State owns an 8-5 lead, but the Gophers won the most recent meeting, 24-10, in 2013.

Storyline to watch
Besides the defensive issues, the Lions have had trouble unleashing running back Saquon Barkley, their most potent offensive weapon. Part of that is the offensive line’s continuing struggles, but Barkley also admitted that he has tried to make every run a big play, rather than putting his head down and taking what the defense gives him.

What’s at stake
While coach James Franklin would not admit it Tuesday, these next two weeks – home games against the Gophers and Maryland – would appear to be critical, should the Lions hope to become bowl-eligible.

Prediction
While the weather forecast is not the best, this has the look of a shootout, as neither defense appears to be dominant. The Lions are looking to bounce back from an embarrassing loss, and are playing at home, so give them a 30-24 nod.