Ex-Packers sons ready to take on Wisconsin

Ex-Packers sons ready to take on Wisconsin

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) Indiana safety Mark Murphy can usually be spotted walking around campus on fall Sunday mornings wearing a green-and-gold No. 37 jersey.

It's more than a tribute to his dad's legacy. Rooting for the Packers is a longtime passion for the sophomore from Ohio.

``It's how I grew up,'' he said Tuesday with a smile.

Murphy isn't the only big Green Bay fan in town or on this team. Quarterback Cameron Coffman considers himself a Cheesehead, too, and has the foam head gear to prove it.

In Bloomington, the two are best known for the roles they've played for the vastly improved Hoosiers (4-5, 2-3), who are about to play their biggest game in five years on Saturday against Wisconsin (6-3, 3-2). The winner becomes the instant favorite to represent the Leaders Division in next month's Big Ten title game.

Badgers fans might not recognize the two names right away, but they almost certainly will remember the two fathers - three-time Pro Bowl tight end Paul Coffman and Mark Murphy, ex-Packers safety. The dads were teammates for six years in Green Bay during some solid season in the 1980s.

But their fascination for all things Wisconsin ends at the northern edge of the Fox River.

``Even though all my sisters were born in Wisconsin, I was born in Ohio,'' the younger Murphy said. ``My only real connection is that I love the Packers.''

That's good enough for Packers fans, even for the millions who will be watching to see if the Badgers can position themselves to make a run at defending last season's Big Ten championship.

But for Coffman and Murphy, this season has been about much more than sharing the Green Bay a connection. The two never met until Coffman decided to make a recruiting visit to Bloomington after playing last season at Arizona Western Community College. They hit it off right away.

``He was the first person I met on my visit here with my dad,'' said Coffman, who grew up in Peculiar, Mo. ``And we lived together during the summer.''

Coffman's father even spoke to the Hoosiers during a team chapel session.

The two football prodigies have lived up to their reputations, too.

Murphy started six games at safety and three at linebacker as a freshman, finishing third on the team with 76 tackles. This season, Murphy is No. 4 in tackles (46), has one sack, two pass breakups and at 6-foot-2, 208 pounds, has emerged as the Hoosiers' biggest hitter in the secondary.

Co-defensive coordinator Mike Ekeler expected nothing less from him.

``He's one of those physical, hard-nosed guys, just like his dad,'' Ekeler said.

Coffman wasted no time in making his mark, either.

When starting quarterback Tre Roberson went down with a broken lower left leg in the second game of the season, coach Kevin Wilson sent in Coffman to rally the troops.

The 6-foot-2, 191-pound junior college transfer led the Hoosiers to a 45-6 victory at Massachusetts and despite sharing time with freshman Nate Sudfeld he has still completed 158 of 249 throws for 1,699 yards with 10 touchdowns, four interceptions and a passer efficiency mark of 130.8.

Not bad for a guy who had never taken a snap in a Football Bowl Subdivision game until two months ago.

But then again, he certainly comes with a strong pedigree - and not just from his father. His older brother, Chase, was a standout tight end at Missouri and played in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals. Another brother, Carson, was a quarterback at Kansas State.

So naturally, coach Kevin Wilson figured he had a hidden gem in his sophomore quarterback, too.

``When you're recruiting a kid whose dad was a coach or a player, you think they have to have a good structure about them,'' Wilson said. ``I don't know if that makes them a better recruit, but it sure doesn't hurt.''

Neither Murphy nor Coffman have heard anything from family members or friends regarding the allegiances for Saturday's game.

But with two prominent starters out to prove they can play big-time football, the toughest part for Wisconsin may be facing the two guys who still embrace their family ties with the Packers.

``I didn't get to watch him, but I watched a lot of film,'' Murphy said. ``I actually knew the 1980s Packers better than I knew the 1990s Packers. I love the Packers.''

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Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp

Associated Press

Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp

Even though it was a bright, warm Wednesday in Ashburn the Redskins held their OTA session in the practice bubble because recent rains have left their outdoor fields to soggy to use. Here are my observations from the practice:

—A few Redskins were not present and a few who were there were not participating in the drills. Jay Gruden said that OT Trent Williams is rehabbing in Texas and that LB Zach Brown is in the process of relocating to the Washington area. RB Chris Thompson and OT Morgan Moses were present, but both were spectators. 

— It should be noted that even though Moses didn’t practice and is still rehabbing after ankle surgery, he still participated in the sideline-to-sideline running the team does at the end of practice.

—At rookie camp, RB Derrius Guice was first in line to do every drill. Today, he gave way to the veterans to all take their reps and then he went first among the rookies. 

— “Fat Rob” Kelley never really was fat but he is now lean and mean. He also seems to be a half step quicker than he was in the past. Added competition in the form of second- and fourth-round picks being added at your position will do that to a player. 

—The “starting” offensive line from left to right was Geron Christian, Shawn Lauvao, Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, and John Kling. The interior could well start the season; the tackle position awaits the returns of Williams, Scherff, and Ty Nsekhe. 

—RB Byron Marshall, who was on the team briefly last year before getting injured, looked very quick with good acceleration.

—CB Josh Norman was back with the group fielding punts. I seriously doubt that he will handle any kicks in games, even preseason games, but perhaps with DeAngelo Hall being gone he wants to be available as an emergency option. Also back with the punt returners were CB Danny Johnson, CB Greg Stroman, WR Maurice Harris, WR De’Mornay Pierson-El, and, of course, WR Jamison Crowder.

—S D.J. Swearinger spent most of the special teams practice on the sideline working on catching passes with his hands extended away from his body. A little while later, he had a chance to make an interception with his arms extended. Of course, he dropped it. 

—It seems like QB Alex Smith and Crowder have some good rapport built already. Once on the right sideline and a few minutes later on the left, Smith threw a well-placed ball into Crowder, who was well covered on both occasions. 

—Eventually, CB Orlando Scandrick caught on and he swatted down a quick out to Crowder. 

—With Brown out, Josh Harvey-Clemons was with the first unit at inside linebacker. He’s still skinny but less so than he was last year. The second-year player was impressive in coverage, staying with Crowder step for step on a deep pass down the middle.

—The play of the day was a deep pass down the right side from Smith to WR Paul Richardson. Stroman was with the receiver step for step on the 9 route but Smith laid the ball out perfectly and Richardson made a lunging catch. Even though it doesn’t have to under the new rule, the catch did survive the ground. 

—WR Cam Sims had a few impressive plays. On one, QB Colt McCoy lofted one high in the air down the right side. Sims kept his focus on the ball while two defenders lost it and made the catch. 

—WR Trey Quinn had his moments. He made a good grab while being bumped by Scandrick. But a while later he dropped a fairly easy one. 

—The running backs all looked good but Guice looked the best of all of them. He had an ability to cut and maintain his speed that not many have. With the warning that they were playing with no pads with no contact and not at full speed, Guice’s vision appeared to be outstanding. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- The draft: Redskins should get 4 additional picks in 2019 draft
- Schedule series: Gotta beat the Cowboys

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy


NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

NFL owners have unanimously approved a new national anthem policy that allows players to remain in the locker room if they prefer but requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance.

This new policy subjects teams, but not players, to fines if any team personnel do not show appropriate respect for the anthem. 

Teams will also have the option to fine any team personnel, including players, for the infraction separately though. 

The NFL Players Association released it's own statement after the news was made official.