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Clemson Football

Trash Talk with a Purpose: Christian Wilkins is living it up in the NFL

August 25, 2022

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"Christian Wilkins has a nasty mouth ladies and gentlemen. We got to find a way to get him reported and fined for his filthy mouth," Robert Hunt told the media last week. 

Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins is known to talk smack to his opponents but Hunt is his teammate. 

"I'm joking," laughed Hunt following his initial statement on Wilkins.

"Christian is just being Christian, so we love him," the third-year veteran offensive lineman added. "To have Christian on the team, I love him. Except when it's on field goal or something like that when he's talking trash to the other team and they got to tee off on the o-line. So that's the only problem. It sucks."

Wilkins was asked about his behavior. 

"I wouldn't say dirty. I just would say myself, very animated. Some people say extra some people say annoying, but I'm just having fun out there. I'm just having a good time. So like, just having fun out there, that's all."

Moreover, he said that his actions are "definitely calculated" to bring more "juice, energy" to practice sessions. 

So what kind of reactions does Wilkins get from his teammates? 

"They got a lot of guys everywhere, guys all on the line who don't back down and when I get going, they want to shut me up so they make sure they're on their stuff. So that's kind of just the camaraderie we have, but it's all love, it's all respect and it's just competitive nature."

Veterans are making the most of opportunities 

On Sunday, defensive end Shaq Lawson and wide receiver Deon Cain were standouts for their respective teams, the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles. 

Lawson had a tackle for loss, a pass deflection, and a quarterback pressure on the day. He was disruptive and reporters wanted to know why. 

"I'm just more comfortable," Lawson stated in his post-game interview. "I can be myself around these guys."

He was drafted 19th overall by the Bills in 2016 after an All-American campaign at Clemson. The Central High (SC) alumnus spent four years with the Bills before brief stints with the Dolphins (played one year, traded), Texans (traded), and Jets (one year, waived). 

"They let me be myself. Coach [Sean] McDermott let me be myself," Lawson continued as emotions set in. "This defense -- I've been in this system so when I came back, it was just like a review to me. Just pick right back up where I left off at. But mostly, just being myself and being the talkative Shaq and being a player that I was when I was here." 

Lawson is signed to a one-year, $1,187,500 contract for 2022. 

Cain is also signed for one year with $825,000 due from the Eagles. 

The former 2018 Indianapolis Colts sixth-round pick (#185 overall) caught five passes for 66 yards in the Eagles' victory over Cleveland. He was picked up by the Eagles in October and has played well throughout training camp and preseason. 

"It's just part of the journey, really," Cain said in the locker room after the 21-20 win over Cleveland. 

He was released twice by the Colts in 2019 after recovering from a knee injury suffered during the preseason of his rookie year. He also spent time on the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad in 2020 and 2021 before being released by the Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 3, 2021 while on injured reserve.

"I just get more opportunities now and that is all I can say," Cain also said after the game. "I can just say opportunities have came my way, and I am just trying to make the most of them. That is all I can do. I have been working so hard for these opportunities and I am just trying to make the most of them.

"At the end of the day, you just got to just keep doing your job and everything else will take care of itself."

Lawrence perseveres through slow starts

Trevor Lawrence is in his second year with the Jacksonville Jaguars and his understanding of the offense should be better this season. 

Although it's just the preseason, Lawrence and the Jaguars seem improved but head coach Doug Pederson wants more from his team. 

"In Trevor’s case, we’ve just got to get him to calm down early in the football game and settle in," said Pederson after Friday’s 24-13 loss to the Cleveland Browns. "There were some throws that were missed that I know he would want back, and we’ve seen him make those throws in practice, so we know he’s capable of doing it. It’s just a matter of just kind of taking a deep breath as he starts the game and settle in. But those are all things that we continue to work on. We’ve got a couple weeks left here in camp, and we’ll try to get better."

After a slow start, Lawrence finished 14-of-21 for 133 yards against Cleveland. In his first game on Aug. 20 versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, he completed only 2 of his 5 passes early but progressed to complete 6-of-12 passes for 95 yards and a passing score in a half of action. 

"I think that's just experience too -- realizing that it's all about the next play, the next game, all of that stuff," noted Lawrence on his ability to overcome mistakes. "You can't dwell on the past, especially in this league. It's a long season and you really got to put your best foot forward every day.

"I had to learn kind of the hard way of how to move on," he continued. "So now you have a couple bad plays and you have a bad series. You just gotta go on to the next one, because that already happened. You can't go back and fix it. All you can do is just the next series, try to take it one play at a time and put yourself in a position score."

In his two starts, Lawrence left the games with the team leading by a combined score of 19-0. 

The Rookie Report 

Linebacker Baylon Spector led the Buffalo Bills with 10 tackles in Week 1 and it was more of the same for him on Saturday in Week 2. 

The seventh-round draft pick was atop the tackle board with eight as the Bills whipped Denver 42-15. Spector was not available for the media after the win but he did speak after the previous win over the Indianapolis Colts.

'’It was good,'’ said Spector. "There’s a lot of things I can correct, a lot of like little small things, details, alignments that I’ve got to get better at. Just understanding better the situations, things scheme-wise like knowing who’s around me, knowing where my help is and understanding the small details of the defense and going out there and executing that.”

On Tuesday, NFL rosters were trimmed from 85 to 80 players and Spector made the cut. Also surviving the cuts were undrafted free agents Mario Goodrich (Philadelphia Eagles), Nolan Turner (Tampa Bay), and Spector's "Bruise Brother" James Skalski (Indianapolis Colts). 

The next cut is on Aug. 30 and the aforementioned rookies and others will hope to be on the 53-man rosters.

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