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This offseason in Minnesota for Kirk Cousins has been shaped by get-to-know-them moments Melker Karlsson Jersey , whether new coaches, plays or teammates with the Vikings.

 

Kyle Rudolph has made a sharp first impression.

”Boy, he’s a friendly target,” Cousins said one sunny afternoon last month after completing a pass to his strong-handed tight end during non-contact drills when he wore a wireless microphone to allow the team’s video production department to create a brief highlight clip for the website. ”It’s like throwing into a mattress.”

The eighth-year veteran has been happy to oblige his new quarterback, trying to, well, be the best piece of bedtime furniture he can be.

”That’s a new one for me. I’m OK with it. Try to make sure that he’s always getting a good night sleep, always be there for him. That’s kind of my role around here,” Rudolph said on Tuesday after practice.

Cousins recently described a play in a red zone situation when he looked at his two-time Pro Bowl tight end during his drop-back but sent the ball elsewhere. Quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski immediately offered some insight to the $84 million guaranteed man .

”In that situation, you might want to give Kyle a chance,” Cousins said, recounting what Stefanski advised. ”Even though he looks covered, you have to throw him the ball. He’s open. He can prove you right.”

Having Rudolph available for drills with the first-team offense has been a welcomed bonus for the Vikings, considering he had surgery on his right ankle in February after playing through pain down the stretch of the season. Rudolph said he’s a couple of weeks ahead of schedule on his rehabilitation.

”We have a new offense, a new system, a new quarterback. I wasn’t getting any better over there by myself, so it’s good to be back out there,” he said.

Rudolph is not only the longest-tenured offensive player on the roster Filip Forsberg Jersey , but he and wide receiver Adam Thielen are the only ones who joined the team before Mike Zimmer was hired as head coach in 2014. Thielen was on the practice squad in 2013. In fact, Rudolph, Thielen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs are the only members of the offense who’ve been here more than three years.

Rudolph, who will turn 29 on Nov. 9, is coming off the most fruitful two-year stretch in the NFL. He had 81 catches for 532 yards and eight touchdowns in 2017 and, just as importantly, played in all 16 games for a third straight season.

He’s endured more than his share of injuries going back to his college days at Notre Dame, and that helped minimize any anxiety that might have come with a procedure done at this stage of his career. Rudolph counted five surgeries in the past 10 years.

”It’s funny when you sit there: The nurses are getting ready for pre-op, and the doctors are talking to you. I honestly feel like I’m in the dentist office getting my teeth cleaned. It’s so routine, at this point,” Rudolph said. ”I think at times, your family and friends are more worried about it than you are.”

With the skills Cousins has in completing play-action passes and new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo’s penchant for using his tight ends in all kinds of spots to maximize their matchup advantages with potentially cornerbacks and safeties, Rudolph is in position for another productive season.

”Obviously, he’s had great success with tight ends,” Rudolph said. ”What he’s able to do with all the playmakers and all of the chess pieces that we have on offense, it’s been a lot of fun to see.”

In the soundstage where Johnny Carson and Jay Leno spent four decades filming ”The Tonight Show,” a former Washington State computer science student named Seagull is pursuing a South Korean teenager with a very big gun.

Their characters’ exploits inside Overwatch, the wildly popular multiplayer game not yet 2 years old http://www.dallascowboysteamonline.com/kavon-frazier-jersey , flicker above their heads on an enormous high-definition screen. Hundreds of mostly millennial fans in the renamed, sold-out Blizzard Arena put down their Doritos and roar for the combat between these six-player teams, eventually rising in ecstasy when the Dallas Fuel earn an unexpected point against the powerhouse Seoul Dynasty.

Here’s the new Johnny. He plays video games for a minimum $50,000 salary, health benefits, a retirement savings plan and a chunk of $3.5 million in prize money.

Esports history was made Wednesday night with the debut of the Overwatch League, the first attempt to present elite computer gaming within a traditional North American sports structure comparable to the NBA or NFL. The league’s 12 franchises represent cities from Shanghai to London, and they build teamwork and stress player development while competing on a weekly schedule stretching into summer.

If the esports industry is still in its adolescence, this well-funded venture is a significant milestone in its maturation. The Overwatch League is about to find out whether fans will grow along with it.

”It’s a new frontier,” said Ari Segal, the president and chief operating officer of the Los Angeles Valiant. ”It is the biggest, boldest bet in sports and entertainment maybe since the NFL and AFL merged. Maybe since baseball introduced the designated hitter. I don’t even know what it stacks up against, because it is so different.”

Segal had a career as a hockey executive before he moved into esports last year. He is one of many seasoned professionals from traditional sports and business who couldn’t resist the opportunity to shape the future of professional gaming, which has expanded with all the cohesion of a pipe bomb.

Shortly after Blizzard Entertainment published this hero-based, first-person PC shooter to acclaim in 2016, the game developer announced plans for a league backed by deep-pocketed investors ranging from NFL owners Stan Kroenke and Robert Kraft to current giants of the esports scene.

They might not all know their way around a mouse, but they know a growing industry when they see it.

”I come from traditional sports, and from the outside Preston Smith Jersey , it seemed like esports had grown up as this exciting, massive, organic, somewhat unstructured ecosystem that benefited from that fact, but was also held back by it,” said Pete Vlastelica, the president and CEO of Major League Gaming, which operates the league for Blizzard’s parent company.

”It felt to me a lot like boxing,” added Vlastelica, a former executive at Fox Sports. ”Anybody can create a circuit. Anybody be a trainer. Anybody can sign a fighter. Anybody can win a belt. But what’s the belt? I think boxing suffers from an ambiguity about whether any particular competition means anything, and it felt like that was really similar in esports.”

The Overwatch League aims to end that ambiguity with traditional sports touchstones, and it made sense to the luminaries from sports, tech and business who dominate the list of investors.

Kroenke, the billionaire owner of Arsenal and the Los Angeles Rams, also owns the Los Angeles Gladiators, who plan to be based within the vast entertainment complex around his Inglewood football stadium after it is completed in 2020. The Boston Uprising are owned by Kraft’s investment group, and they might end up based in Foxborough, Massachusetts Mark Giordano Jersey , to share some training facilities with the New England Patriots.

The San Francisco Shock’s investor group includes Jennifer Lopez, Shaquille O’Neal and Marshawn Lynch. The Philadelphia Fusion are owned by Comcast Spectacor, and the New York Excelsior are the property of a venture capital fund sponsored by the Wilpon family of New York Mets fame.

Many of the Overwatch League’s owners might not be gamers, but they understand the visceral importance of going to a good event. League commissioner Nate Nanzer is confident it will eventually harness income from ticket sales and concessions and other areas that haven’t meant much in esports so far.

”Why do people go to a Dodger game? You go because it’s more fun to sit with 40,000 other fans and cheer for a home run than it is to do it at home,” Nanzer said. ”Video games are so incredibly mainstream right now. It’s such a big part of our fans’ lives. When people play Overwatch, they play a lot of Overwatch. It’s a special moment to go share that with people who have the same passion as you.”

Although the geographical specificity of the teams is an important part of their future business plans, those home cities are largely theoretical at this point.

For this season and the near future, every team will live in the Los Angeles area and play all its matches in Burbank. Nanzer said the logistics of staging the competition around the globe were too enormous to be solved immediately.

That’s not the only geographical dissonance: The Overwatch League’s only ”European” team, the London Spitfire, are owned by an American esports organization, and their roster consists entirely of South Korean players living in Los Angeles.

But the Overwatch League has bought itself time to find its footing. The league has sponsorship deals with blue chip companies including HP and Intel, and the Dallas Fuel wear jersey s http://www.officialusafootballs.com/tennessee-titans 

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