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17.08.2018 11:51
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Gareon Conley is ready for a fresh start.

The 2017 first-round pick who was expected to become the shutdown cornerback Oakland has lacked for years had his first season derailed by injuries that limited him to just two games as a rookie and created a void in the Raiders secondary.

"I feel like it's still my rookie year because I didn't play a lot Cheap Brian O'Neill Jersey ," Conley said Tuesday. "I learned a lot mentally. I feel like it's my second year mentally knowing the game and the logistics. But physically I feel like it's my rookie year again because I didn't play a lot."

Conley is a key part of a revamped secondary that brings back just one cornerback who played at least 100 snaps on defense last year in Dexter McDonald, who is a longshot to make the team in 2018.

David Amerson and Sean Smith were let go and TJ Carrie left for Cleveland in free agency. In their place are free agent acquisitions Rashaan Melvin, Daryl Worley and Leon Hall, as well as draft pick Nick Nelson.

But perhaps the most important member of that group will be Conley, who is being counted on to provide the lockdown coverage Oakland has been missing ever since Nnamdi Asomugha left seven years ago.

"He's showing why he was the first-round pick," safety Reggie Nelson said. "I think there's a high standard out there for him and he's holding that up. I think Conley is doing a great job right now doing what the coaches ask him to do. ... He just has tight coverage. A great little athlete. He's going to be great in this game. Just keep learning and playing ball."

Conley wasn't able to do much as a rookie after being drafted 24th overall out of Ohio State despite a rape allegation that surfaced shortly before the draft but ended up with no charges being filed.

Conley was impressive in offseason workouts last year before hurting his shin in minicamp in June. That injury lingered and kept Conley sidelined for all of training camp.

He managed to work his way back and made it on the field for his NFL debut in Week 2 but said he was never completely healthy. Conley showed flashes of his ability the first time he was targeted with a pass when he made an acrobatic breakup against the New York Jets and nearly tipped the ball to Nelson for an interception.

But he played only one more game, finishing the season with just 93 defensive snaps and seven tackles. In 53 snaps of coverage, Conley allowed just four catches for 35 yards, according to SportRadar.

"I feel like I played all right but I feel like I could play way better watching film," Conley said. "I had a couple of good plays but I had a lot of bad plays, too."

Conley tried to work his way back by taking time off practice but never completely healed and eventually needed season-ending surgery.

He was limited at the start of the offseason program this year but is now back to full speed and showing the Raiders why he was so coveted coming out of college.

"It's been a dark world that he's been in, this young man," coach Jon Gruden said. "He had a terrible injury he had to rehab from. He's had to change coaches, learn a new system. It's been a slow, steady process but man he's a good player. When he's feeling good Andy Dalton Bengals Jersey , you can see why we picked him No. 1."

NOTES: Rookie T Brandon Parker and DL Fadol Brown got into a fight during a two-minute drill late in practice and Gruden sent Brown off the field and to the weight room. "I didn't like what happened today, particularly in the situation. ... We're in a two-minute drill to win the game and we got a guy ejected for fighting," Gruden said. ... S Marcus Gilchrist sat out with a minor calf injury.

When Stephen Curry’s shot needs a little something, he dives into ”The Menu.” Warriors teammate Klay Thompson might put up a few extra shots after an off night. If Kevin Durant is trying to rediscover his rhythm, he does some studying that usually means watching his made shots.

Golden State boasts some of the world’s best shooters and each has his own way of bouncing back from a poor performance.

For Curry, there is no actual list or book for ”The Menu.” The two-time MVP and his right-hand shooting man, Bruce Fraser, keep all the details in their heads for what the record-breaking 3-point sharpshooter could use work on any given day. It comes in especially handy when the shots aren’t falling, though Curry certainly found his touch fast in returning from nearly six weeks on the sidelines with a knee injury to score 28 points in a Game 2 win against New Orleans on Tuesday night. Golden State leads the series 2-0 going into Friday.

Maybe Curry needs more catch and shoots one day. Or off-the-dribble work. Sometimes, it’s ballhandling into his shot. Perhaps a look at balance, rhythm and core, or just focusing on spot shooting from various places.

”We collaborate. It’s like going to dinner with your wife, maybe. Maybe some people’s wives tell them what they want,” said Fraser, a Warriors player development coach. ”Different restaurant Authentic James Washington Jersey , different menu. We have a lot of things to pull from and it’s usually based one day, need. What does Steph need that day? … The Menu has all sorts of creative pieces in it that get the workout you want. Sometimes we’ll piece things together and go a la carte, sometimes we’ll make it a simple meal. I’m kind of having fun with it.”

On the opposite end of the defending champions’ practice floor, Thompson’s shooting plan might be nearly as precise as he works back from a bad night – he went 4 for 20 and 2 of 11 on 3s Tuesday. Thompson will usually put up a few extra shots after a poor performance. Depending largely on how he feels physically, he might take as few as 50 shots, or well more than 200.

Either way, it typically doesn’t take Thompson long to feel right again.

The belief Thompson has in his shooting ability is unwavering and he ignores any critics when it comes to his shot, considering they aren’t ”in the gym with me shooting every day.”

”I will never doubt myself when it comes to shooting. I put too much effort into it,” he said, adding, ”I know what it takes.”

In a Game 4 loss to San Antonio in the Warriors’ first-round series, Thompson finished 4 for 16 and scored 12 points. He was 42 of 71 – 59.2 percent – over the other four games against the Spurs.

”They make up for the bad shooting nights on the days before the bad shooting nights. They can’t get out of it by going into the gym and just shooting,” said Chris Webber, a TNT analyst who played 15 NBA seasons. ”They’re great shooters and all the thousands of shots they’ve been taking since college is what makes them bounce back.”

Webber believes coach Steve Kerr’s offensive system allows players to keep shooting and break out of ruts.

”Knowing where you’re going to get your shots, how you’re going to get your shots Eagles Avonte Maddox Jersey , and you have the freedom,” Webber said, ”but it’s all because of how hard and how many shots they take and put in the work when no one’s looking.”

After that Game 4 against the Spurs, Thompson took a heavy shooting day.

”Probably a couple hundred, nothing serious,” he said matter-of-factly.

Kerr, a talented 3-point shooter in his own right, considers the psychological component to the process as well.

”Sometimes the best thing to do if you have a bad game is to not shoot,” he said. ”And you have to feel that, and as a player once you’ve been in the league a few years you get it. You start to understand, `OK, maybe I feel a little tired so I’m going to go walk Rocco (Thompson’s bulldog) today instead down at the park and enjoy some sunshine. Or go play golf or something. Or there’s a mechanical flaw and it’s almost like a golfer, you go to the range and you go, `I’ve got to find it.’

”But as a player you figure it out and the more years you’ve played in the league the easier it is to tell what the right approach is.”

After an off-night, Durant mentally goes back through each possession and studies his shots – ”mainly my makes.”

Curry constantly changes his workload and regimen. Durant notes Authentic Mason Rudolph Jersey , ”it takes a lot to shoot a basketball … there’s a lot you’ve got to think about in a couple of seconds.”

After most practices starting during last year’s title run, Curry and Durant engage in good-natured shooting contests from all over the court . They regularly take 10 shots from different spots, keeping track of who hits more. They’re usually very close.

”It’s a feel thing. You monitor your fatigue level because during the season, 82 games, there’s gaps in the schedule where you can go a little harder,” Curry said. ”Back-to-backs obviously you can’t. Me and Q come up with, we call it `The Menu.’ I walk over, open up the fake menu, read down the list and see what type of workout we need. He usually tries to come up with on a scale from 1 to 10 like a 2, a 4, a 6, 8-type of workout. We go that way. There’s never really a set kind of regiment to it.

”I have certain drills I like and I know.


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