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Asante Samuel aiming for big day in Philadelphia

Asante Samuel aiming for big day in Philadelphia

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) Asante Samuel can't wait to return to Philadelphia with his unbeaten Atlanta Falcons.

The brash cornerback says he still has ``nothing but love'' for Eagles fans despite getting traded to Atlanta six months ago.

``All y'all fans, all I did for y'all, y'all better cheer for me,'' Samuel said. ``You know what I mean? Deuce here got nothing but love for you.''

Samuel indicated that the unceremonious departure still hurts his ego.

After all, he intercepted 23 passes in 56 games for the Eagles, but still was dealt to the Falcons for a seventh-round draft pick.

``Lot of turnovers over there, helped them win a lot of games,'' he said. ``We're undefeated over here, so I'm helping this team win a lot of games, and I'm happy to be here. I'm happy we helped build this team up with the Falcons, you know?''

The four-time Pro Bowl cornerback lost his starting job after the 2011 NFL lockout ended as Eagles coach Andy Reid signed Nnamdi Asomugha as a free agent and traded for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Though he openly criticized team management after being forced into a backup role, Samuel said this week that his focus now is entirely on helping the Falcons (6-0) win at Philadelphia (3-3) on Sunday.

Even so, Samuel stirred things up during Atlanta's bye week with tweets that criticized Reid's recent firing of defensive coordinator Juan Castillo.

Samuel, 31, sought to clarify his thoughts with Atlanta reporters this week during a chirpy interview.

The session did not begin until he put on his helmet for the television cameras, copying the diva move that former NFL running back Ricky Williams used with New Orleans in the late '90s.

Samuel clearly enjoyed the exchange, upping the antics by speaking through his chinstrap.

``I've got a little personality issue, so it's how I have to do my interviews,'' Samuel said with a smile through his facemask. ``I've just trying to humble myself down. Make sure I don't expand, you know, too much, so my personality issue is kicking in. Talk to me. What's up?''

- Asked about last week's tweets, Samuel said, ``Y'all assume that was about Andy. I didn't say this is for Andy. I just made a quote and then another quote. Y'all did that, so talk to me.''

- Asked if he appreciates Reid trading him to Atlanta instead of another team, Samuel said that ``they tried to not let me come to Atlanta, of course, but you know we got it done. We got it done.''

- Asked about Philadelphia's fourth-quarter meltdowns on defense and the turnover problems of quarterback Michael Vick this year, Samuel was blunt.

``It's kind of hard when 22's not there,'' Samuel said, referring to his own jersey number. ``Twenty-two will keep things going for you, you know what I mean? That's what you got to do. You make your bed, and you've got to lay in it.''

After the crowd of reporters moved away, Samuel gave a glimpse of his softer side when asked about the condition of his sick mother, whose name he declined to give and whose illness he would not reveal.

But her condition was serious enough during training camp that Samuel had to take two personal days to visit her in Florida.

``I've got to do what I can do to help out the best way I can,'' he said. ``She's doing good, fighting hard every day, spirits up.''

Samuel has run a Florida-based charity - the Bring it Home Single Moms Foundation - for several years to honor his mother's work in raising him as a single parent. The foundation seeks to identify low-income single mothers who need help in becoming first-time homeowners.

``One thing I support a lot is single parents,'' Samuel said. ``They've got the kids of the future, and I want to help out the best I can, (after) going through the situation I went through.''

Samuel's charitable spirit might seem counterintuitive to the personality he shows as a player, but not to Falcons coach Mike Smith.

Smith long ago adjusted to Samuel's constant yelling in practice, a habit the former Central Florida standout brought to the New England Patriots as a rookie in 2003 and continued in Philadelphia and Atlanta.

Samuel constantly challenges teammates and rarely hesitates to point out his own skills, but Smith said it's all in good fun.

``Believe it or not, Asante on game day is a different guy than he is during the week,'' Smith said. ``I've learned that real quick in the six games we've played. Asante is all business on game day.''

Samuel did his part two weeks ago against Oakland, returning an interception for a 79-yard touchdown in the closing minutes.

This week, he was still bragging about the big play.

``Yeah, I changed my name to Pick Six in the offseason, and I got me a pick six,'' Samuel said with a grin. ``Is that what you're referring to? It made me feel good in the Georgia Dome, baby. I've got another chance this week to set it off. Hopefully I'll set it up.''

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As 2018 NFL Draft approaches, Ravens to host QB Lamar Jackson per report

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USA TODAY Sports

As 2018 NFL Draft approaches, Ravens to host QB Lamar Jackson per report

With 10 days until the 2018 NFL Draft, quarterback Lamar Jackson is set to visit the Ravens this week, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. 

The former Heisman Trophy winner is a projected first-round pick as he has proven to have success in the air and on the ground. 

While at Louisville, Jackson had 9,043 passing yards and 69 touchdowns. He also rushed for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns. His NFL draft profile compares him to Michael Vick. 

RELATED: BEST QUOTES FROM RAVENS PRE-DRAFT PRESS CONFERENCE

The Ravens are in search of Joe Flacco's successor, but spending a first-round pick on a quarterback when there are other glaring needs is up in the air. However, assistant general manager Eric DeCosta isn't ruling out the possibility

"I feel like if there is a guy there that we think is really too good to pass up, we're going to take him," DeCosta told the team's website on the chance of drafting a quarterback in the first-round.

At their pre-draft press conference, GM Ozzie Newsome and DeCosta kept reiterating we could be surprised by who they pick at No. 16, if they do at all. 

While Jackson's numbers are impressive, he continues to be considered a late first-round pick as his build isn't up to typical NFL QB standards and scouts are concerned with his accuracy. What he does have in his favor is speed.

While fans are hoping for an offensive weapon, having Jackson learn under Flacco for a year (and maybe RGIII?) could rev up some excitement. 

RELATED: RGIII READY TO MOVE FORWARD AS NEW, GROWN PLAYER

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Heisman Trophy winner turned backup, Robert Griffin III fully embracing new role with Ravens

Heisman Trophy winner turned backup, Robert Griffin III fully embracing new role with Ravens

Robert Griffin III went from Heisman Trophy winner, to second-overall pick, to Offensive Rookie of the Year, to unemployed, to backup quarterback all in the matter of six years.

That's a rollercoaster of a career for a 28-year old, but RGIII is fully embracing the opportunity the Ravens have presented him with.

“I feel like I knew coming into this situation that this is Joe’s [Flacco] team," Griffin said at a press conference Wednesday.

"I understood that when I came in to work out; I understood that when I signed. I’m excited about the opportunity to learn from him. Whatever capacity the coaches ask me to help, that’s what I’m here to do. I’m here to compete, and I’m here to get better every single day – work hard. I think they saw that from me in the workout and in our general conversations together. I think they realize I’m ready for the opportunity and I’m ready for this role – whatever that role may be.”

RELATED: RGIII READY TO MOVE FORWARD AS NEW, GROWN PLAYER

Finding a backup quarterback that you can put some faith in during a time of desperation in today's league is a hard find, with the exception of the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles. 

While Griffin hasn't played since January of 2017, he offers legitimate experience that isn't being offered by typical backups. 

 "I feel like I’ve been able to get a better grasp of how to play the game in the NFL, what coaches are looking for. I think that’s a benefit, whereas in 2012 when I came in, it was more so learning everything on the fly and just going out and playing. Now I feel like I have to ability to go out and play and also know what I’m doing, be able to protect myself better, get the ball to the guys that need to get the ball and help a team win – in whatever way that is.”

The Ravens signed RGIII on a one-year contract worth $1 million - we're assuming- with hopes he'll never see the field during the regular season. Griffin made it clear he understands that role, but is looking forward to learning how to lead a team under a ten-year veteran. 

RELATED: RAVENS 2018 PRESEASON SCHEDULE

“Most of my interactions with Joe have been at midfield. I really do look forward to getting in the quarterback room with him. It’s a great opportunity for me. I still feel like I’m a young player. I’m 28, but I feel like I’m 25. He’s been through a lot of things in his career, been to the pinnacle and won a Super Bowl – Super Bowl MVP. I think that’s a great opportunity for me to learn and learn from him, and to just see the way that he attacks the game of football, the way he attacks the meeting room, practice, interacting with teammates – all those types of things – the way he leads." 

The RGIII saga in Baltimore is an open book right now, one that could come with an interesting ending.