Senior Bowl Notebook: QBs Take Center Stage on Day 1

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    For all but two NFL teams, the 2018 season is over. A memory that’s just disappointing for some and excruciatingly painful for others.

    They know who they are.

    For those teams, the page has already turned to 2019. And even the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams have personnel in Mobile, Alabama, this week for the next step toward April’s NFL draft: the 2019 Reese’s Senior Bowl.

    The event is a showcase for the best and brightest seniors in college football, and while the week concludes with a game (sort of) at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Saturday, the practice sessions that come before it are what really help NFL clubs and draftniks get a better feel for who slots where in this year’s class.

    The first of those sessions took place Tuesday. Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders staff were helming the North, while Kyle Shanahan and the staff of the San Francisco 49ers were running the South.

    Here’s a look at who stood out both in the weigh-ins and on the practice field, beginning with—shock and amazement—the quarterbacks.

    Wonder how long it will be before hand size gets discussed.     

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    Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

    If you had “immediately” in the office pool, congratulations.

    Weigh-ins and measurements are the first order of business at the Senior Bowl each year. At the quarterback position, there are two measurements that drive the conversation: height and hand size.

    There’s no shortage of debate regarding just how important those measurements are, but the general rule of thumb is this: NFL teams prefer quarterbacks who are at least 6’2″ with hands larger than nine inches from thumb tip to pinkie tip. The former (supposedly) helps with seeing and throwing over linemen. The latter aids with gripping the ball—especially when the weather’s cold.

    Well, this year’s crop of senior signal-callers has been measured by scouts.

    Daniel Jones of Duke, who is the No. 2 quarterback in this year’s class, according to Bleacher Report NFL Draft Lead Writer Matt Miller, cleared both hurdles with ease, checking in at just over 6’5″ with 9 ¾-inch hands.

    Missouri’s Drew Lock, who is Miller’s No. 4 quarterback, did just fine in the height department, measuring in at 6’3″ and change. But Lock’s 9-inch hands sent up an eyebrow or two, even if that hand size hasn’t seemed to hurt Jared Goff of the Rams.

    Things went a bit better for West Virginia’s Will Grier, whom Miller slotted third among this year’s quarterbacks. The former West Virginia standout has 9 ½-inch hands to go with his 6’2″, 218-pound frame.

    Jarrett Stidham of Auburn, Miller’s fifth-ranked quarterback, was also OK in both regards—a little over 6’2″ with 9 ⅜-inch hands.

    This year’s biggest head-turner in the tale of the tape is undoubtedly Buffalo’s Tyree Jackson. Jackson, whom Dane Brugler of The Athletic called a blend of Josh Allen and Cardale Jones, is one large individual at 6’7″ even and 249 pounds with 10-inch hands.

    Does any of this matter? Maybe not.

    But it will be talked and written about plenty nonetheless.

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    L.G. Patterson/Associated Press

    Lock got a bit of a head start on the other players in Mobile.

    Whether it’s meeting with Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins, addressing the not-so-quiet rumblings regarding the Denver Broncos’ interest in him or talking shop with the North Team (and Raiders) head coach Jon Gruden, Lock revealed it’s already been a busy week for him before practices even started.

    Lock, who threw for almost 3,500 yards and had 28 touchdowns last season, credited his return for his senior year with helping to advance his knowledge of the game significantly, per Eric Edholm of Power Mizzou:

    “We went into a play we ran a quite a bit at Mizzou — we called it Ernie, he called it something else — and he went through how he reads it. It’s just another example of why I should have stayed my last year. I would have come in there and had eyes like this [wide open] talking to him. I would have had no idea what he was talking about. I would have been overwhelmed.And here I was, just sitting there talking to Jon Gruden, like this: Shoot your shot at me. I’m ready.”

    Lock also said he intends to show scouts in Mobile that he’s the No. 1 signal-caller in a muddied class.

    As far as from a competitor’s standpoint, I have to say I do believe I am the best quarterback in this class. … I’ve been trying to become a pure pocket passer who can run a little if he has to,” Lock said. “Show them my drops, show how fluid I can be in the pocket. That will be big for me this week.”

    It was just one day of practice, but Lock showed off an NFL arm Tuesday…the best of any of the eight quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl.

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    There’s little question that quarterback Will Grier is the most hyped prospect from West Virginia in the class of 2019. At a position that has no clear front-runner, that’s hardly a surprise.

    There’s also little question that Grier’s first day in Mobile was…eventful.

    There was an explanation of Grier’s bowl-game absence. He said he didn’t skip it as originally believed. He had torn ligaments in his ankle, according to Daniel Popper of The Athletic (h/t RotoWire, via CBSSports.com).

    There was a missed media availability session (again, not skipped—there was apparently just a mix-up).

    And there was an up-and down workout that included both excellent and missed throws.

    Grier connected with fellow WVU product David Sills V on a long score and showed good zip on most of his passes, but his accuracy came and went a bit when he threw on the run in team drills.

    Josh Norris of Rotoworld singled out Sills before the Senior Bowl as a player who could help his stock with a good showing:

    “I’m not saying ‘big’ receivers are being phased out of the NFL. But slow and big receivers are. The NFL went from prioritizing size to prioritizing separation. Sills, however, is fluid, separates, plays big and actually makes good on his red zone potential, as he was dominant in that area in college. The more ‘small’ skills he shows this week, the better.”

    So far, so good. The 6’4″ Sills showed good wheels and the ability to separate Tuesday.

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    Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

    There may not be a non-quarterback at the Senior Bowl whose first day was more anticipated than Mississippi State edge-rusher Montez Sweat.

    After a senior season in which he piled up 14 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks, Sweat is a potential top-10 pick in April’s draft—if he checks all the boxes between now and then.

    So far, so good.

    It started with the weigh-in. Sweat checked in at 6’6″ on the nose and 252 pounds—up from his listed weight of 241 with the Bulldogs.

    That added weight doesn’t appear to have affected the speed and explosiveness off the edge that defined Sweat’s collegiate career. He was one of the big winners for the South in individual drills, using his 35 ⅝-inch arms to absolutely destroy a lineman as those drills wound down.

    In his most recent mock draft at Bleacher Report, Matt Miller predicted that Sweat would begin his pro career with the Tennessee Titans.

    “Sweat is long, physical, fast and versatile enough to stand up or put his hand in the dirt,” Miller wrote. “He’s also super competitive, which is why he has a chance to shoot his stock past the Titans’ draft reach with a big week at the 2019 Senior Bowl.”

    Sweat’s well on his way to doing just that.

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    Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

    If the first day of practices were any indication, Rock Ya-Sin has his sights set on leaving Mobile as the best senior cornerback in the nation.

    Mind you, the 5’11”, 189-pound Ya-Sin (a midyear transfer from Presbyterian College) doesn’t have that far to climb in the eyes of some draftniks. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com ranked him as the No. 2 cornerback in this class and a potential Round 1 pick. 

    He wrote:

    “Ya-Sin has ideal size, speed, toughness and ball skills. In off coverage, he has quick feet and he’s very fluid when he turns and opens up. He doesn’t waste steps on his plant and drive — he closes in a hurry. In press coverage, Ya-Sin needs to do a better job of using his hands and he will occasionally get turned around versus shiftier wideouts. Fortunately, he has the speed to recover when he’s caught out of position.”

    Ya-Sin did indeed get turned around once in one-on-ones, but he also displayed impressive physicality, disrupting routes and causing what would have been a forced fumble in a game.

    All in all, it was an excellent start to the week.

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    Lance King/Getty Images

    The most famous Deebo in history is currently a fictional character—the neighborhood bully in Friday.

    South Carolina wide receiver Deebo Samuel is making a run at that title.

    Prior to Tuesday’s workouts, Tommy Call of 95.7 the Game highlighted Samuel as a player that South Team (and San Francisco) head coach Kyle Shanahan would be well-served to keep a close eye on:

    “Samuel is special with the football in his hands, the definition of a dynamic playmaker. One thing to keep in mind when hearing about Samuel is he dealt with a super inconsistent passer in college, so the fact he will have some legit passers throwing him the ball will greatly benefit his draft stock, enough to where he could be a first round pick.”

    The quarterback play for the South was inconsistent on Day 1, and Samuel didn’t have a flawless performance (not that he’s expected to first time out with a new team). But there wasn’t a more consistent winner in WR vs. DB drills than the 5’11”, 216-pounder.

    Samuel’s explosiveness was on full display, including his long speed, which will have draftniks drooling over what he will run at next month’s combine. And his short-area quickness may have been even more impressive.

    All this came from the player B/R’s Matt Miller listed as the draft’s biggest sleeper at the position just a couple of weeks ago.     

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    Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

    There isn’t a team in the NFL that heads to the Senior Bowl saying to itself: “We’re not going to look at any tackles. Don’t need ’em.”

    The annual problem is that many young linemen who play tackle at the collegiate level are projected as guards in the pros because of a lack of length. That’s the case with Kansas State’s Dalton Risner, who played at both ends of the line for the Wildcats. Risner was Miller’s sixth-ranked guard prospect (and the top pass-blocker at the position) on the latest big board.

    However, the concerns about Risner’s length may have been a bit overblown. He measured at 6’4″ and 308 pounds with arms over 34 inches long.

    For his part, Risner told Jordan Reid of Cover 1 that he intends to practice at right tackle in Mobile—and show NFL teams that’s where he belongs.

    “I don’t think that people really know who Dalton Risner is yet,” he said. “You know, I want the scouts to look outside and say … ‘Who is that guy? He looks pissed off.’”

    Actually, that’s not all he said. But the rest was, um, colorful.

    If Risner can show he can play tackle in the pros, his draft stock will get a sizable boost.    

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    The small-school watch is one of the annual rites of passage at the Senior Bowl. It’s understandable—everyone loves the little guy, and the notion of a young player going from a tiny college to NFL stardom is a great story.

    According to Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area, Senior Bowl chief Jim Nagy highlighted a pair of small-school standouts worth watching this week.

    Delaware safety Nasir Adderley is a 5’11”, 195-pound converted cornerback with plus ball skills who has reeled in nine interceptions over the past two seasons for the Blue Hens. Matt Miller has Adderley as the fourth-best safety in the class of 2019, while Dane Brugler placed Adderley atop his rankings at the position.

    If Adderley fares well in Mobile, the first-round buzz surrounding him is going to grow.

    Charleston edge-rusher John Cominsky certainly looks the part at 6’5″ and 286 pounds with 33 ⅛-inch arms. The numbers are there too: 39.5 tackles for loss over the last two years.

    However, that production came in the Mountain East conference in Division II. This week’s practices (and Saturday’s game) offer Cominsky a chance to show he can do that against the best in college football.

    Both players were relatively quiet Tuesday, but they are names to file away as the week progresses.

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    Michael Chang/Getty Images

    There’s no way this notebook would be complete without mentioning Khalen Saunders of Western Illinois.

    Saunders entered the Senior Bowl with a measure of hype—not necessarily because of what he accomplished in college but because of his ability to peel off backflips.

    At 320 pounds.

    But that’s only the beginning of Saunders’ Tuesday journey. As Saunders prepared for one of the biggest days of his football life, he learned that his fiancee, Ayanna Hall, was about to give birth to their first child.

    Saunders stayed in Mobile. With her blessing, according to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports.

    Guess that makes the whole “how much do love football?” question easy enough to answer.

    Given the circumstances, it would be understandable if Saunders didn’t have the best of practice sessions. The pressure of working out for scouts from every team in the NFL plus the angst a first-time dad feels waiting for word that he’s officially a father is a lot on a fella’s plate.

    That’s not what happened, though. In fact, Saunders won as many one-on-one battles as any D-lineman on the North squad Tuesday. Maybe more.

    When your fiancee tells you to go get ’em, you by golly better go get them.       

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    Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

    Adderley and Cominsky aren’t the only small-school players in Mobile.

    And at least one made quite the impression…just by standing up.

    As Dane Brugler tweeted Tuesday, tight end Donald Parham of tiny Stetson University in DeLand, Florida—yes, that’s an actual school in an actual place—checked in at over 6’8″ and 243 pounds and had arms over three feet long.

    “They had to turn the ceiling fan off before he stood up,” Brugler wrote.

    Parham’s measurables aren’t the only eye-popping thing. One of only two consensus FCS All-Americans in 2018, Parham piled up 85 receptions for 1,319 yards and 13 scores in just nine games. Scouts will no doubt want to see the converted basketball player work as a blocker, but Parham told reporters that he’s eager to show he’s capable of being a well-rounded tight end.

    “I’m a first-down kind of guy. I get you that first down on third down,” Parham said. “I’m a deep threat when it’s needed. My upper level is always there. It’s just a matter of good technique and also getting my lower body overall stronger.”

    Like most of the FCS players in Mobile, Parham’s eager to show he belongs.

    “Small schools hardly ever get recognized throughout the season, especially coming from Stetson,” he said. “We didn’t go to the playoffs, so we weren’t in the limelight during those times. I have to make sure I always put my best foot forward and applying myself whenever I get my opportunity in front of scouts.”

    Parham put his money where his mouth was in drills, bodying up defensive backs and getting open with ease while showing good hands.

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Rami Malek, Emma Stone, And More Stars React To Their Oscar Nominations

After a year of movie-watching, months of speculating, and weeks of hyping, the 2019 Academy Award nominations are finally here, and they brought good news for Lady Gaga and Black Panther fans!

A Star Is Born is among the most-nominated features with eight nods, just falling short of the 10 that Netflix’s Roma and Emma Stone-starrer The Favourite both received. Of those eight, Gaga herself can claim two: Best Actress and Best Original Song.

Meanwhile, Black Panther snagged a history-making Best Picture nomination, making it the first superhero movie to land in the category, as well as recognition in six other categories, including Best Original Song for first-time nominee Kendrick Lamar. And speaking of Academy Awards first-timers, fresh off his Golden Globe win, Rami Malek scored his first Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.

Clearly, it was a pretty big day for a lot of our faves. Here’s how all the stars are reacting to the news.

From Best Picture Nominee, A Star Is Born

Warner Bros Pictures

Bradley Cooper, nominated for Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay

“Everyone who worked on this film truly risked putting themselves out there — in the hope that in doing so people will connect and feel something deep and personal — the way films have made me feel since I was a kid. When I got this opportunity I knew I had to risk it all because I may never get another chance, so to be here today in a place where people who have seen the film are talking about how it makes them feel something deep — that simple human thing, that we need each other — and for the Academy to recognize that this morning, I just am so grateful.”

Lady Gaga, nominated for Best Actress and Best Original Song

“I woke up around 8:30 and I didn’t know anything about it,” she told the New York Times in an interview. She heard the news from her manager, “and I just burst into tears.”

Gaga (whose real name is Stefani Germanotta) continued, “These are not Oscar nominations for me, these are Oscar nominations for the Germanottas. I come from an Italian-immigrant family, and this feels like a very big win for them. This film was a lot of hard work, and I wouldn’t know that hard work if I didn’t know the hard work of the lineage of my family.”

She later added of her dual nominations, “To be recognized as the lead actress and a musician at the same time, I can’t tell you what that means to me.”

Mark Ronson, nominated for Best Original Song

“Such an honour to be nominated for an Oscar, and it makes it even more special to be nominated as part of this incredible film where the music is so powerful and emotional. Bradley Cooper got right what is nearly impossible in film, to show inside the creative process and make it feel honest and believable. And Lady Gaga empowers that vision in the most beautiful and compelling way.”

From Best Picture Nominee, Bohemian Rhapsody

Twentieth Century Fox

Rami Malek, nominated for Best Actor

“It’s just something you never expect to happen,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “It’s like a distant dream that actors have and hope for to some degree. But it’s never really felt in the realm of possibilities — it’s a pretty joyous occasion to say the least. I’m always so thankful that I get to be a working actor. The percentage of people who get to do this is so small that getting accolades like this seems so distant always, whether you’ve received awards in the past or not. But I think perhaps after getting the Globe, it seemed more attainable — but there’s something about hearing the words that you’re an Oscar-nominated actor that are still going to be incredibly shocking. It’s a profoundly humbling moment for me.”

From Best Picture Nominee, Black Panther

Marvel Studios

Lupita Nyong’o

Letitia Wright

From Best Picture Nominee, BlacKkKlansman

Focus Features

Producers Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, Raymond Mansfield, and Jordan Peele

“We are honored by the Academy’s recognition for BlacKkKlansman and the work Spike, Adam Driver, Terence Blanchard, Barry Alexander Brown and our entire cast and crew gave in bringing Ron Stallworth’s life to screen. More than 40 years later, this story of courage in the face of hatred is sadly still relevant today. Because of this, we knew from the very beginning that there was only one person who could helm this film: Spike Lee. It’s hard to believe this is the first time Spike’s brilliant work has been nominated for directing and best picture, but at this moment in our history, it seems fitting the spotlight is on Spike Lee.”

Spike Lee, nominated for Best Director

“It’s not something I’ve done in a long time. It was new,” he told The Hollywood Reporter of waking up early to watch the nominations with his wife and kids. “We were all in the bed together and we were jumping up and down. It was a good day and my phone is blowing up … Today is filled with love, but at the same time, I was watching the news before it came on and I can’t think about the 800,000 Americans who are now living in a desperate time, and I think this film deals directly with that and all the other crazy shit that’s happened in this country since Agent Orange [President Donald Trump] got to the White House.”

From Best Picture Nominee, The Favourite

Twentieth Century Fox

Emma Stone, nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role

“Working on The Favourite alongside my brilliant friends Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and the whole cast was nothing short of incredible. I was grateful every day and am honored by this nomination. Yorgos created a palace for us all to play in. I am forever indebted to him and the whole team that brought this insane vision to life. Thank you to Fox Searchlight for their invaluable support and thank you to the Academy for recognizing our work.”

Rachel Weisz, nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role

“Thank you to The Academy for recognizing The Favourite in so many categories. I’m immensely proud to be part of it and to be nominated in the company of such talented women. Congratulations to my incredible fellow actors Emma and Olivia, our brilliant director Yorgos, and to everyone who participated in the making of this extraordinary film. Thank you to Fox Searchlight for their unwavering support and for having the guts to make a film with three complex female protagonists.”

Yorgos Lanthimos, nominated for Best Director

“I would like to thank The Academy for honoring The Favourite so generously today. Having felt a bit like an outsider looking in, I am truly humbled about this morning’s nominations. They are a meaningful tribute to every person involved in the making of The Favourite — my talented collaborators and sublime cast, led by Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone.”

From Best Picture Nominee, Vice

Annapurna Pictures

Adam McKay, nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay

“My sincere thanks to the Academy for recognizing our incredible cast and crew, who worked so tirelessly on this movie that spans five decades. I’m just thrilled, flabbergasted and excited!”

Amy Adams, nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role

“Thank you so much to the Academy for this recognition. It is an honor to be nominated for a film that I loved making. I am grateful to Adam for writing such rich material and for creating such a wonderful work environment. I also want to congratulate the other nominees, my cast members, the crew and everyone who worked so hard on this film!”

Sam Rockwell, nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role

“Hot damn! I am so truly honored to be recognized by the Academy again this year. Vice is such a special and important film to be a part of and I’m thrilled for Adam, Christian, Amy and Hank, as well as all of the cast and crew.”

From Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film Nominee, Roma

Netflix

Alfonso Cuarón, nominated for Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Cinematography

“Thank you to the Academy for recognizing Roma across these categories. Human experience is one in the same, and it’s so gratifying that a black and white film about life in Mexico is being celebrated around the world. We are living a great moment in cinema where diversity is embraced by audiences. This kind of visibility pushes our industry forward and creates more opportunity for new voices and perspectives to emerge. It is a testament of how late we’re arriving to this moment, in which stories of the invisible among us — the domestic workers and indigenous women — are put at the center of our narratives. I share this with my cast, crew, producers, and most importantly, with my family and Mexico.”

From Best Animated Feature Film Nominee, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Sony Pictures Animation

Producers Chris Miller and Phil Lord

“This is an incredible honor. We’re grateful to the Academy for recognizing the work of more than 800 artists and filmmakers who came together to tell the extraordinary story of Miles Morales in a groundbreaking way. In the last few months we’ve heard countless stories about parents whose children looked up at them while watching the film and said ‘he looks like me,’ or ‘they speak Spanish like us,’ or ‘I want to grow up and be like her.’ It’s such a simple concept but that is the reason so many people worked so hard – to make a movie that was worthy of Miles and makes everyone feel powerful and seen. Now more than ever, the world needs everyday superheroes and we are counting on everyone.”

Directors Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman

“Although we flew under the radar for years, we always felt that Into the Spider-Verse could be something special. We never dreamed, though, that it would have the effect it has had on the diverse, passionate audience it has attracted. While making our movie we tried to push through every boundary we could that dictates what a popular movie can look like — all in the service of a story about finding common ground between different people from different worlds. To be nominated for an Academy Award is a huge honor, and means our movie will continue to reach more people around the world and inspire work that pushes far beyond us. We thank the Academy, our talented colleagues, and the vocal, dedicated audiences who advocated for us and carried us here.”

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Newark Airport resumes normal operations after drone sightings temporarily halt traffic

Reports of drone sightings in northern New Jersey temporarily halted arrivals at Newark Liberty International Airport on Tuesday, but normal operations had since been resumed, officials said.

A spokesman from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) earlier said flights into Newark — the 11th busiest U.S. airport — were briefly suspended after two drones were seen flying at 3,500 feet over nearby Teterboro Airport, a small regional airport about 17 miles away that mostly handles corporate jets and private planes.

The federal agency said information about the drone sightings was turned over to law enforcement.

The FAA’s Air Traffic Control System Command Center briefly issued a ground stop at Newark citing “drone activity,” according to a document posted on its website.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates both the Newark and Teterboro airports, later said on Twitter that normal operations had resumed and that it was coordinating with the FAA and law enforcement authorities as they investigate the incident.

United Airlines, the largest carrier at Newark, said it was aware of the reports of drone activity and was working with the airport and the FAA. It said the impact on its operations had been minimal.

The issue of drones impacting commercial air traffic has taken on new urgency after reports of drone sightings in the United Kingdom impacted air travel.

Earlier this month, flights from London’s Heathrow airport were halted for about an hour after a drone was sighted near Europe’s busiest air hub.

Gatwick Airport, London’s second busiest airport, was severely disrupted in December when drones were sighted on three consecutive days, resulting in about 1,000 flights being canceled or diverted and affecting 140,000 passengers.

Both airports responded to the Gatwick incident by ordering military-grade anti-drone technology.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Transportation Department proposed rules that would allow drones to operate over populated areas and end a requirement for special permits for night use, long-awaited actions that are expected to help speed commercial use.

The Trump administration noted there are nearly 1.3 million registered drones in the United States and more than 116,000 registered drone operators.

But officials say there are hundreds of thousands of additional drones that are not registered.

The U.S. Congress last year gave the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security new powers to disable or destroy threatening drones after officials raised concerns about the use of drones as potential weapons.

In September 2017, a small civilian drone struck a U.S. Army UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter near Staten Island, New York. The helicopter landed safely but there was some damage.

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US Coast Guard leader rails against the government shutdown that’s led some service members ‘to rely on food pantries and donations’

The commandant of the US Coast Guard called the ongoing partial government shutdown “unacceptable” following reports that some Coast Guardsmen are relying on donations from food pantries while their regular paychecks remain on hold.

“We’re five-plus weeks into the anxiety and stress of this government lapse and your non-pay,” Adm. Karl Schultz said in a video message to service members. “You, as members of the armed forces, should not be expected to shoulder this burden.”

While Schultz praised the “outpouring of support” from local communities who have donated daily essentials, he sharply criticized the situation and said he would “continue to seek solutions” on Capitol Hill.

“But ultimately, I find it unacceptable that Coast Guard men and women have to rely on food pantries and donations to get through day-to-day life as service members,” Schultz said.

“This will end. We will get through this,” Master Chief Petty Officer Jason Vanderhaden added.

In a statement to Coast Guard service members last week, Schutlz offered his support after receiving word their paychecks were delayed.

“Today you will not be receiving your regularly scheduled mid-month paycheck,” Schutlz said in a statement.

“I recognize the anxiety and uncertainty this situation places on you and your family, and we are working closely with service organizations on your behalf,” he added.

Around 800,000 federal employees and contractors are affected by the longest government shutdown in US history. The Coast Guard, which operates under the purview of the Department of Homeland Security, was reportedly not able to pay around 42,000 active-duty service members last week.

The shutdown, which has been ongoing for more than a month, marks the first time a branch of the military was not paid.

Around 3,500 Coast Guardsmen in Washington and Oregon are reportedly affected by the shutdown, the majority of whom are working without pay. Food banks have been operating to support the service members, similar to those that have sprouted up in other areas of the nation for federal employees and contractors.

President Donald Trump, who is demanding $5.7 billion in funding for a barrier on the US-Mexico border, faces opposition from a Democratic-majority House, who have refused to pass any funding bill that includes spending on the barrier.

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James Harden: Carmelo Anthony ‘One of the Best’ Ever, Deserves Another Chance

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20:  James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets and Carmelo Anthony #7 of the Houston Rockets talk during a break in the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on October 20, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Harry How/Getty Images

Carmelo Anthony‘s time with the Houston Rockets mercifully ended Tuesday, but that doesn’t mean his former teammates have stopped believing in him.

“I just want to see him hoop, see him happy, and I mean, he deserves it, honestly,” Harden told reporters of Melo on Tuesday. “Like, he’s put so much time and effort into this game that he should be able to hoop and still have fun playing the game of basketball.”

The Rockets traded Anthony, the rights to Jon Diebler, and cash considerations to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for the rights to Tadija Dragicevic. The move was simply a cash dump by the Rockets, who save on luxury tax fees by moving on from Anthony’s guaranteed salary. The Bulls, meanwhile, get some free cash in exchange for a player who will never suit up in Chicago.

Melo lasted just 10 games with the Rockets before the two sides mutually agreed to part ways, though Anthony remained on the roster. He averaged 13.4 points and 5.4 rebounds on 40.5 percent shooting.

Harden said it “sucks” Anthony struggled to fit in with Houston. The Rockets signed him this summer after he was bought out by the Atlanta Hawks, in a move Houston hoped would raise its offensive ceiling. 

“Yeah, man. Melo is one of the best to ever hoop. He loves the game of basketball,” Harden said. “Some guys just do it just because they’re gifted or they’re athletic or they can shoot the basketball. There’s not that many players that like, love to hoop. … It kind of sucks that it didn’t work out. It is what it is. I just hope he finds somewhere where they can embrace him and he can still hoop. So he [gets to] make that decision that he’s done [playing].”

Rockets players, coaches and management have gone out of their way to compliment Anthony, who came off the bench for the first time in his career in Houston. Mike D’Antoni, who famously quit in New York in part due to a power struggle with Melo, heaped praise on Anthony’s attitude in a tough situation.

“Just wasn’t a good fit,” D’Antoni said. “And upstairs saw it and did something. He did everything possible to make it work, and it just didn’t.”

It’s unclear what the next move will be. The Bulls cannot trade Melo in a package deal, so they will look for a one-for-one swap ahead of the deadline—likely in an effort to bring back more cash considerations. If they’re unable to find a trade, it’s almost certain Anthony will be bought out. 

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Flights heading for Newark airport have been grounded after 2 drones were spotted flying nearby

A ground stop was issued for Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) on Tuesday due to drone activity.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman confirmed to ABC News that two drones were spotted around 3,500 feet above Teterboro, New Jersey which is directly in the path of planes headed for landing at Newark.

As a result, a ground stop was issued at around 5:30 pm for EWR. During the ground stop, flights headed for Newark were held at their point of departure.

This is to prevent aircraft on final approach from colliding with the drones that can cause substantial damage to an airliner.

The ground stop lasted roughly an hour and has since been lifted. According to FAA data, the ground stop has resulted in an average delay of 55 minutes for inbound flights. Some flights may be delayed as long as two and a half hours.

Read more: Wow Air CEO reveals what went wrong with his airline after a tumultuous year when the company had to lay off 111 workers and dump half of its planes.

Representatives from neither the FAA nor from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the organization that operates the airport, were not immediately available for comment.

Newark Liberty International Airport is located roughly 10 miles west of New York City and is one of the main airports serving the Big Apple.

In recent months a series of drone sightings paralyzed the two largest airports in the UK. London Gatwick Airport was shut down for more than a day due to the drone activity December. Earlier this month, London Heathrow Airport was shut down for part of an afternoon due to the potential presence of a drone.

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DC Bob Sutton Fired by Chiefs After AFC Championship Loss to Patriots

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 02: Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton of the Kansas City Chiefs looks on from the sideline during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on October 2, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Chiefs 43-14. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

George Gojkovich/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs announced they’ve fired defensive coordinator Bob Sutton after a disappointing season on that side of the ball.

“Bob is a good football coach and a great person,” head coach Andy Reid said in a statement released by the team. He continued:

“He played an integral role in the success of our team over the last six seasons. I’ve said before that change can be a good thing, for both parties, and I believe that is the case here for the Chiefs and Bob. This was not an easy decision, but one I feel is in the best interest of the Kansas City Chiefs moving forward.”

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network provided details:

Former New York Jets and Buffalo Bills head coach and current ESPN analyst Rex Ryan is a “name to watch” for the vacancy, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Sutton has been with the Chiefs for as long as Reid and was hired in 2013 after 12 years with the New York Jets.

The 67-year-old found success early in his stint with top-five defenses in points allowed in each of his first three seasons with the team, but the unit has tapered off over the last few years. The struggles reached their peak in 2018 when the defense ranked 24th in points allowed and 31st in yards allowed.

While Patrick Mahomes and the league’s No. 1 offense led the Chiefs to a 12-4 record and the No. 1 seed in the AFC, the defense continually held the team back.

Sutton came under fire for the defense’s struggles during the AFC Championship Game loss to the New England Patriots:

The Patriots earned a 37-31 overtime win, scoring two easy go-ahead touchdowns in the fourth quarter and one more in the first possession of overtime to seal the victory.

Though it was the deepest playoff run for the franchise since 1993, it was still a disappointing finish.

This likely caused Sutton’s firing after six years with the team. He has been involved in coaching since the 1970s, most notably serving as the head coach of Army for nine seasons, but this might have been his last stop.

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