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As he squares off against first-round draft pick Kolton Miller almost daily in training camp [url=http://www.atlantabravesteamShop.com/authentic-chipper-jones-jersey]Chipper Jones Jersey[/url] , Oakland Raiders rookie defensive end Arden Key rarely uses the same move twice.
On one play, Key takes a jab-step inside then spins around to Miller's outside shoulder and speeds past the big left tackle. A few moments later, Key bull-rushes his way between Miller and another offensive lineman with little resistance.
It's not an indictment of Miller so much as it is a credit to Key, the Raiders' third-round draft pick who has been one of the early stars in training camp.
"We love Key," Oakland coach Jon Gruden said Monday. "We've liked Key ever since the draft process. We felt lucky to get him where we got him. There's some things this kid can do that are very special. Hopefully, we get full strength someday at the defensive end position and we can show our true colors."
Gruden was referring to defensive end Khalil Mack, who is entering the final year of his contract and is holding out for a new deal.
Mack, the 2016 defensive player of the year, has been the Raiders' best pass-rusher for the past four seasons. In hopes of giving him some help up front, the team used three of it first six draft picks to acquire Key along with defensive tackles P.J. Hall (second round) and Maurice Hurst (fifth round).
Oakland also moved Bruce Irvin from outside linebacker to right defensive end, the same position as Key. The two men formed a close bond, with Irvin serving as a mentor to Key.
Irvin compares Key to Aldon Smith [url=http://www.the49ersfootballauthentic.com/jeremiah-attaochu-jersey-authentic]Youth Jeremiah Attaochu Jersey[/url] , the talented but troubled former Raiders linebacker who had 33 陆 sacks in his first two NFL seasons before off-field issues forced him out of the league.
Like Smith, Key wears jersey No. 99.
"He's a really natural rusher," Irvin said. "He reminds me a lot of the old 99 that was here. If he keeps his head on straight, which he will, he's going to be a hell of a player and a hell of a player for the Raiders. Can't wait to see what he's going to do this year."
Irvin is among a number of Oakland players and coaches who have repeatedly praised Key during camp.
The 22-year-old has tried to keep it all in perspective. Key buries his head in the playbook and has been pouring over film of other pass-rushers, trying to find new tricks to add to his arsenal of pass-rush moves.
"I look at a lot of pass-rushers to try to steal some of their moves and try them in one-on-one," Key said. "If it works it works and if I like it, it's going to stick with me."
Getting around an offensive tackle, Key said, is much like a chess match.
"I always work on one move first and see if he beats it," Key said. "If he beats that then I'm going to counter with something else. If he beats my counter move then I've got to counter with another counter."
The Raiders have also had Key lining up in the three-technique over a guard, giving the defense more speed for the interior rush.
"He's a stud [url=http://www.bearscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-anthony-miller-jersey]Anthony Miller Jersey[/url] , I'll put it that way," linebacker Tahir Whitehead said. "He's big, he's strong, he's athletic. He can go inside, he can go outside. I'm excited to see him go out there in the first game and let it rip."
As for his ongoing battles against Miller, Key said the competition has been heating up between the two rookies.
"Kolton gets better every day," Key said. "From the first day we went against each to now, it's just gotten so much better. Now I have to dig in my tool box to try to pick different moves to use on him."
Notes: The Raiders will host two joint practices with the Detroit Lions beginning Tuesday. . RB DeAndre Washington has left the team for personal reasons but is expected back soon. . The team waived defensive back Shaquille Richardson and signed cornerback Raysean Pringle. . Gavin Newsome, a candidate for California governor, attended practice and chatted with owner Mark Davis.
CLEVELAND – Two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, who is pitching like he wants to add a third Cy Young to his resume, will be on the mound Friday night as the Cleveland Indians begin a nine-game homestand with the opener of a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins.
Kluber (10-2 [url=http://www.seahawkscheapstore.com/shaquem-griffin-jersey-cheap]Shaquem Griffin Jersey[/url] , 1.99 ERA) has gone six starts, 41 innings and 168 consecutive batters since he last walked a hitter. His last walk came over a month ago, on May 8.
In six starts since then, Kluber is 5-0 with a 1.09 ERA, 46 strikeouts and no walks in 41 innings. Kluber this season almost has more wins than walks. He has 10 of each.
One of those 10 wins came against the Twins, on April 17, a 6-1 victory in which Kluber pitched 6 2/3 innings, allowing one run and five hits with six strikeouts and two walks.
How good has Kluber been this year? His ERA in his two losses and his two no-decisions is 2.30. He could very easily be 14-0.
His two losses were by the scores of 2-1 and 3-2. The score in one of his no-decisions was 3-2. In the other no-decision, the Indians were winning 2-0 in the seventh inning when Kluber was removed from the game.
In 20 career starts against Minnesota, Kluber has a record of 9-5 with a 3.21 ERA.
Cleveland returns home after going 4-3 on a trip to Detroit and Chicago, although the Indians have scored just eight runs in their last three games.
“We’ve been scuffling to score some runs the last few days,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
The Twins come to Cleveland having just lost two of three games in Detroit.
Kluber’s mound opponent of Friday will be right-hander Kyle Gibson (1-4 [url=http://www.bengalscheapstore.com/billy-price-jersey-cheap]Billy Price Youth Jersey[/url] , 3.45). Gibson’s only win came in his first start of the season, on March 31. Since then, he is 0-4 but with a decent 3.75 ERA.
Gibson’s biggest problem has been a lack of run support from his teammates. In Gibson’s 13 starts, the Twins have scored an average of 3.6 runs per game.
Gibson’s last start against Cleveland came June 3 when he received no decision in a 7-5 Minnesota win. In that game, Gibson pitched 5 2/3 innings, giving up two runs and two hits with seven strikeouts and two walks. In 14 career starts against Cleveland, Gibson is 2-6 with a 5.60 ERA.
Minnesota’s lineup for Friday’s game will have a different look after the Twins on Thursday optioned struggling third baseman Miguel Sano to Class A Fort Myers. After hitting .264 with 28 home runs and 77 RBIs last year, Sano this year was batting .203 with seven home runs and 27 RBIs, and he had struck out in nearly half (66) of his at-bats (148).
“He needs to be the guy we think he can be. He’s not there right now,” Twins manager Paul Molitor told MLB.com. “We have to take a step backwards here and determine the steps moving forward.”
The Twins are also expected to activate first baseman Joe Mauer off the disabled list on Friday. Mauer has been sidelined since May 18 with a neck strain. The Twins will announce another roster addition to replace outfielder Jake Cave, who was optioned to Triple-A Rochester on Thursday.
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