Logan Cooke Jersey

How a kid from rural Mississippi who grew up riding horses and lassoing steers became an NFL punter begins with a picture sitting in the den of Jaguars rookie Logan Cooke’s childhood home.

Seen in that family keepsake is a younger Cooke — likely 3 or 4 years old at the time — with his grandfather, Jackie, as he kicks a football with his tiny legs.

Cooke, a seventh-round pick by the Jaguars in April who is currently the only punter on the team’s 90-man roster, never outgrew the small-town way of life that involves hours spent hunting, fishing and farming.

And he never tired from his grandfather’s shared passion: kicking a football as far as his powerful right leg would allow.

“It’s something that throughout my life I’ve had a knack for and enjoyed,” said Cooke, who signed a four-year contract with the Jaguars. “I’ve been doing it since I was a little kid, and then I got into junior high and high school and I figured out I could actually be really good at it, so I kind of got a little more serious about it.”

The Jaguars are serious about their belief in Cooke. Two days after selecting him with the 247th overall pick out of Mississippi State, they released six-year veteran Brad Nortman, who spent the past two seasons in Jacksonville.

Moving on from Nortman cleared $2.125 million in salary cap space for the Jaguars, according to the contract analysis website spotrac. And it sent an immediate message to Cooke that the job is his to lose.

“It was odd,” Cooke said. “It put a lot of pressure on me, but it also gave me the assurance that they really like me and really want me here. … I know I’ll still have to compete. Even if no one’s here, I’m still going into that deal with a competitive mindset. At this level, if you don’t perform, even if you are the only guy here, they can wave goodbye pretty quick.”

Cooke developed that competitive mindset growing up in Darbun, Miss., a quiet city about 90 minutes south of Jackson and a couple hours north of New Orleans. (“We have a little general store, that’s about it,” Cooke said. “You can go to that store and get everything.”)

Before he became one of the top high school punters in the country, Cooke and his older sister, Jordan, grew up competing in rodeos. Jordan is 26 and still rodeoing away today, Cooke said.

Back home, the siblings helped their parents maintain about 50 animals — cows, horses, etc. — on the family farm.

“It all teaches you responsibility and hard work,” Cooke said. “That’s actually the reason I quit rodeoing is I had to keep my horse in shape. Once I started really getting big into sports, I didn’t really have time to keep me in shape and my horse in shape, so I had to pick one.”

It’s fair to say Cooke made the right choice.

The Jaguars became interested in the 6-foot-5 Cooke following his productive four-year career at Mississippi State. In 45 career games and 150 punts, Cooke checked all of the necessary boxes. His 41.7-yard average and 35 punts of more than 50 yards showed his strength. His 60 punts placed inside an opponent’s 20-yard line displayed his precision.

Cooke also served as the Bulldogs’ kickoff specialist and could be an option in that role for the Jaguars. However, Josh Lambo produced 22 touchbacks on 57 kickoffs last season and has proven to be a good directional kicker.

For Jackie Cooke, seeing his grandson in the NFL is the accomplishment of a lifetime. Quite literally.

“When the other boys were out running and frolicking around doing what they wanted to do, Logan was doing what he wanted to do,” said Jackie Cooke, a retired Southern Baptist preacher who is now well into his 70s. “And that was to kick. Every free moment he’s had, Logan has wanted to take the football and go out.”

Jackie Cooke has his own interesting background in kicking.

He spent four years active duty in the Navy and dabbled in snapping and kicking while competing in intramural football with others in his unit.

That sparked his interest, and he was pleased to share it years later.

“When I was in junior high and high school, he used to perfect my ways of punting,” Logan Cooke said. “Some things were good things and some things were old styles of punting. But he was there when I got the call and he teared up. He enjoyed it. We talk every day and he’s really fired up.”

So is the younger Cooke.

He has been through rookie minicamp and will get his first shot working with the Jaguars’ veterans when they hold the first of 10 organized team activities practices Tuesday.

The most advice Cooke has gotten from Jaguars special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis so far? Just be consistent.

“It doesn’t have to be my ‘A’ ball every time, but when I do mis-hit, make sure it’s your ‘B’ ball and not your ‘C’ ball,” Cooke said. “Kind of toning everything down to where I’m focusing on hitting my good ball every time.”

Ronnie Harrison Jersey

True to what Caldwell said, the Jaguars probably feel they have in-house replacements at defensive tackle, free safety and right tackle.

They drafted defensive lineman Taven Bryan in the first round last year and he should be prepared to replace Jackson. Bryan had 20 tackles and one sack in 16 games.

Ultimately, Jackson was worth the money. In three seasons with the Jaguars, he never missed a game and totaled 18 sacks, including a career-high eight in 2017 when he was named to his first Pro Bowl. Jackson had less of an impact last year, finishing with 3½ sacks and struggling to help stop the run, which cost him a starting role for good in November.

After the Bryan pick, the Jaguars drafted safety Ronnie Harrison in the third round and offensive tackle Will Richardson in the fourth. Those positions do present questions, though.

The Jaguars will need to decide if Harrison and safety Jarrod Wilson, who was re-signed on a three-year deal in January, can coexist at the back end of their defense. Both seem better suited to play strong safety, so the Jaguars could look outside the organization for additional free safety help.

Richardson was limited by injuries as a rookie and did not play. The Jaguars must determine if he can be counted on as a Day 1 starter at right tackle or if the position will need to be addressed through free agency or more likely the draft.

The Jaguars could opt to give Richardson the first chance at right tackle and allocate free-agent money or a mid-round draft pick to replace right guard A.J. Cann, who becomes a free agent next week.

If the Jaguars sign Foles, it would allow them to use the No. 7 pick on an offensive tackle such as Alabama’s Jonah Williams or Florida’s Jawaan Taylor.

Could the Jacksonville Jaguars open the 2019 season with two different starters at safety from 2018? The team released Barry Church in December after losing his spot to then rookie Ronnie Harrison. Now, rumors have the team potentially trading Tashaun Gipson to free up cap space as free agency begins in one week.

Jalen Ramsey Jersey

While reports swirled this season that the Jacksonville Jaguars were considering trading cornerback Jalen Ramsey, general manager Dave Caldwell said on Wednesday that he has no plans to shop the star defensive back.
Caldwell spoke highly of Ramsey while talking with NBC Sports at the NFL scouting combine on Wednesday, and said he’d like to have him in Jacksonville for a long time.
“We’re not going to trade Jalen,” Caldwell told NBC Sports. “That’s not our intention. When you have a player that’s one of the top at his position, it’s hard to replace that player.”
Ramsey had 65 total tackles and three interceptions this season with the Jaguars — his third in the league. He is entering the fourth and final year of his initial deal with the team, however Caldwell confirmed Wednesday that they will pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie deal. According to The Athletic’s Daniel Popper, the Jaguars will wait until after free agency and the NFL draft in April before deciding on a long-term contract extension for the 24-year-old.
While he’s certainly one of the better cornerbacks in the league, there are few who talk more trash publicly than Ramsey. Most notably this season, he was involved in a feud with Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen and even snubbed Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck after pretending to help him up.
Despite the antics, which Caldwell said he’s reeled in, Ramsey has been extremely dedicated throughout his three years in the league.
“Jalen’s a great kid, a great man,” Caldwell told NBC sports. “Whenever you get a chance to talk to him, he’s got a good smile on his face. He’s highly competitive, and I think sometimes that might get the most of him because he competes at everything. If you talk to him, he’s always competing and doing the things that are necessary to be successful.

Telvin Smith Jersey

Welcome to the Ben Roethlisberger Radio Show Transcript (Volume 2, Chapter 10). Last we left our co-host, he was discussing Le’Veon Bell — for the last time ever!

This week on Roethlisberger’s weekly appearance on 93.7’s “Cook and Joe,” there was more pertinent on-field stuff to deal with. That’s because the Steelers’ last game was two days beforehand, rather than five, and also because Roethlisberger was extremely bad, then extremely good in a 20-16 win over Jacksonville.

Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith came in hot. Understandable, given the way things worked out last season.

“[Smith] likes to talk out there,” Roethlisberger said. “After I threw the first pick, he came up to me and said ‘That’s one,’ and made sure that I knew what he was talking about. And the second one, same thing. He went out of his way, like he ran toward our sideline to find me. And the same thing on the third one — he just went out of his way to let me know how many interceptions they had, and how many I threw, and how bad I was.

“And I never said a word, just kind of kept going to our sideline and after we scored that third touchdown, I was holding on to that ball and I was looking for him. Wanted to let him know that I had the game ball. But I didn’t find him. Probably wasn’t the smartest move.”

Roethlisberger said Antonio Brown, in the flat, was the first option. A shovel pass to Vance McDonald was the second. Doing it himself, it seems, was the third. “I knew we had a time out, could afford to run it and so I said, ‘I’m gonna just try and get there.'”

He wasn’t sure he made it over the line before his knee touched the ground: “You never really know, right? So I knew that the ball hit the line and was kind of over the line, but you’re never really sure about the back half of your body.”

“I just told [Conner], I said, ‘Hey listen, don’t worry about [dropping a potential touchdown pass].’ I kind of joked with him, because I knew he was down. I said, ‘The two things about you dropping that big play’ — I think I was more disappointed about the fourth-down one, because that could’ve been a drive for us to keep it going — but I told him after the one up by the sideline, I said: ‘Hey, two things. One, if you’d have caught that and scored that would’ve given them a lot more time. And two, if you’d have caught it and scored, I wouldn’t have been able to score a rushing touchdown. So I appreciate it.’