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Aug 302015
 
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Stevie Brown Visiting New York Giants: Head Coach Tom Coughlin acknowledged on Sunday that safety Stevie Brown, who was released by the Houston Texans on Friday, is visiting the Giants.

“We’re going to bring him in and give him a physical,” said Coughlin.

According to multiple media reports, Brown is visiting the Giants today and is expected to sign with the team shortly.

Brown was with the Giants from 2012-14, although he missed the entire 2013 season with an ACL tear. An unrestricted free agent this past offseason, Brown signed a 1-year, $3 million deal with the Texans in late April.

Brown played in all 16 games for the Giants in 2014. He started the first three games of the season, lost his starting job for eight weeks to Quintin Demps, then regained it for the last five weeks of the season. Brown finished with 38 tackles, one sack, and one pass defense.

August 30, 2015 New York Giants Injury Update: Head Coach Tom Coughlin did not provide an update on the three players injured before or during the team’s 28-18 loss to the New York Jets on Saturday night.

Defensive Robert Ayers suffered an ankle and/or Achilles’ tendon injury before the game during warm-ups. Both right tackle Bobby Hart (ankle – first reported as knee injury) and cornerback Josh Gordy (hip) left the game in the second half of the contest with injuries. NJ.com is reporting that Hart’s ankle injury is not serious.

Meanwhile, Coughlin could not say when wide receiver Victor Cruz (calf) might return to the playing field.

“Not as far as I know (that he will be back this week),” said Coughlin. “I have not been told that. Progress… yes but he has not definitely been given the green light.”

August 30, 2015 Head Coach Tom Coughlin Conference Call: Head Coach Tom Coughlin addressed the media on Sunday afternoon:

Coughlin: I’ll just start out by saying that I left a question up in the air last night that should’ve been answered properly, and it had to do with the interception. Someone asked me if you needed or you should have been throwing the ball to the sideline there rather than into the middle of the field because the assumption being there wasn’t enough time. There was plenty of time. There was 19 seconds left, and although we weren’t really right on top of field goal range, we had plenty of time to get the ball up the field and then get the clock call in to stop the clock, and then make a decision whether we wanted to throw another pass or line up for a long field goal. And I say that because remember there was 19 seconds when the ball was snapped. When we lined up for kickoff return after the interception touchdown there were 6 seconds left. So there were only 13 seconds off the clock with someone setting up and throwing the ball—the interception—and then the run back had taken a total of 13 seconds, I believe, so there was plenty of time even though we didn’t have any timeouts to keep the ball inside the field of play, provided we were ready to get up on top of the ball and clock the ball. And of course that would preclude that you were not talking about a fourth down play. So I want to make sure the understanding—there was plenty of time.

Q: How is Robert Ayers Jr. doing and what’s the status with him going to be?

A: I’m staying away from that. You know what—I don’t know a whole lot more. They were all sent out to get MRIs and that type of thing this afternoon. I’m not sure what the… I haven’t heard anything back. Let me put it that way at this point in time.

Q: What did you think of the offensive line’s performance after you got to check that out one more time – and Geoff Schwartz in particular?

A: Well, in spurts we did fine and other times we didn’t do fine. We didn’t keep as clean a pocket as we’ve been keeping back there in the two previous games. I give credit to the Jet defensive line and linebackers—they did a very good job in terms of pressure. And as I’ve said, some things we did well and other things we didn’t do as well, so one of the objectives for us in the game was to—knowing full well what we were going up against in terms of pressure—to make sure that that was an exceptional learning experience. Of course you’re always trying to hurt pressure, because there is a sense of vulnerability if you can get the ball thrown and caught with the run after the catch and that type of thing, so I think we did some things well but not consistently. One of the other questions I was asked last night was “What happened in the 14 play drive that didn’t happen later on?” Well, it was execution obviously. We had two penalties give us first downs in that drive as well, but it was execution. The execution was not consistent enough. We didn’t make enough plays one after the other, and again we left ourselves in a lot of second and longs. We didn’t do as much on first down as we wanted to do, so I would say overall it wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be and there is a lot of work to be done. We did do some things okay.

Q: What did you see from the defense? Is it where they need to be at this point or do you think they still have a ways to go?

A: I think we all have a ways to go. I don’t think any of it is exactly where it should be. I think that our defense, truth be known, gave up a couple of scores period. We held them under 17 points. We gave them an interception touchdown up and a punt return touchdown up, so we were just as… you know, we had the feeling that, or I had the feeling that they were running the ball and running it with consistency, and doing a good job of that. And we didn’t make as many stops as we want to make, and so from that standpoint we have work to do. But as I say, there weren’t a lot of points scored, but there was some run yardage out there that you like to think you can stop.

Q: Are you going to sign Stevie Brown today?

A: We’re going to bring him in and give him a physical.

Q: Why do you feel the need to add another safety at this point? You’ve had I think four guys that sort of shuffled in and out there early. What’s the thinking behind having another safety in there?

A: The thinking behind that is to try and improve that position. And I’m sure that—this goes for every team in the league—but if there is a player that, in this case we know this player well, but if that player can come in there and help us then we’re interested.

Q: I know you have the next-man-up mentality on both sides of the ball, but when you have as many injuries and guys coming in and out as you’ve had on defense, does that make the process to gel a little bit longer than you’d like to see it happen?

A: Well, you don’t have a lot of continuity when there’s a lot of change and when there are a lot of people missing, and you have to create your own. And it takes a little bit of time to do that. There is no excuse—I mean we’ve been practicing long enough—but there is no question that when you are constantly changing parts that it is not quite as smooth as you’d like it to be. And many times, although our game is a game of continuously building on the present week, over the long-haul you really do have to build and build and build and allow that what someone experienced two weeks ago—if in fact it comes up again in a game—and perhaps it’s something new, then you have to be able to reach back into your toolbox and into your memory bank and understand what’s trying to take place. When those things happen, there is some shuffling around. And whether it’s a guy missing a practice or two or a week and then comes back, there is no question that you’d like to see the carry over. And you don’t have it—like the other night with [Landon] Collins and Cooper Taylor, just being given the green light to go play. That means that they’ve been in meetings all this time, but they haven’t practiced. And there is no question about the correlation—we do so many jog-throughs, so many walk-throughs. Particularly as you get toward the end of the week, but the ability to carry that over into the full speed action, I still wonder about that.

Q: What did you think of your safety play last night particularly those two young guys that you got the chance to actually get out there on the field?

A: Both of those guys made some plays — Yeah they did. They got up there and tackled — Cooper Taylor got a sack coming off the weak side and Collins had some nice plays and some hits he made a nice tackle. They got out there, they played, they got that experience in and no worse for wear.

Q: Tom, you’ve talked a lot about the downfield passing game. Are the attempts enough for you or are you still looking for that connection in the preseason?

A: No, but that is me. I come from a long line of — I like the ball thrown down the field, I like taking shots, I like all of those things and it is one thing to talk about it and another things to do it. We just haven’t done it and we haven’t that many opportunities or taken that many opportunities and it is frustrating because there were some opportunities out on the field last night for some big plays and the other thing is we are not taking advantage of some of the opportunities that are created by some of the receivers. When a receiver is open down field we’ve got to give them a chance — it is their chance as well to help our team by establishing what they can do and we are not taking advantage of that enough.

Q: Tom, do you expect to have Victor Cruz back at practice this week?

A: Not as far as I know. I have not been told that. Progress… yes but he has not definitely been given the green light.

Q: You may not have a choice with this but do you have any issue with potentially putting him in on opening night without seeing him at all in a preseason game?

A: Well everybody has issues with it. You need to practice, you really do you are not going to be as efficient as you can so I’ll just say that that wouldn’t be the preferred way.

Q: What were your thoughts on Owa? We talked about him a little during the week. It seemed like he did a good job of holding his edge on some of those plays.

A: He has done a good job to this point in time and we are obviously thinking more and more about how we might be able to utilize him to a further extent, so he is a young man that we have high expectations for.

Q: Have you seen a change from him just from the first preseason game until this preseason game? It seemed like he was a little more disciplined and the game is slowing down for him.

A: Well obviously he has had a chance to practice and he has had a chance to learn more in the system and look at himself on tape and his coach has been able to make the corrections with him. Again, that accumulative effect is what you are trying to accomplish in professional football even throughout the course of the entire season so he definitely has improved — there is still of course a lot of work to be done but he has improved.

Q: Tom, I don’t think we’ve talked to you since Nat Berhe has had his surgery he mentioned that he thinks might be able to play this year. Do you have any update on whether he will be able to play or whether he will be out a long time?

A: I don’t and I think there is more information trying to be gathered, there [are] decisions that have to be made and of course there is a very short amount of time to make them in so I appreciate very much Nat’s optimism. I wish it had a bigger factor on the healing process because he has been in a good frame of mind ever since last spring but it just… for whatever is going on down there it wasn’t to be and so now that he has had some further work done I hope that we can rectify that situation.

Q: Tom, the play where Eli missed Odell deep against Revis, it seems like that was a pass that Eli was connecting on with Odell at the end of last season. Did he just miss it [or did he] anticipate Odell to look outside?

A: No I don’t think so I think [Eli] just missed it. I think [Eli]…when Odell went by [Revis] he was expecting maybe one thing to happen but when he was clearly behind him by four or five yards then the ball had to be thrown in a different spot and it wasn’t. To be honest with you I’m not sure if Eli was already halfway through his motion or whatever but the ball obviously was not in a position where it could’ve been caught in bounds.

Q: Tom, I’m not sure there was a safety back there. Is that a play that you guys just have to connect on to be successful?

A: Oh absolutely that is points. You are talking points on the board right there and that has to happen — when you get somebody behind people and open you have to be able to get them the ball.

Article on the 2015 New York Giants: With only two weeks until NFL season opens, Giants still unsure about who they are by Ralph Vacchiano of The New York Daily News

Article on the New York Giants Defense: Troubled D? Even Giants are concerned about their defense 2 weeks before season by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Aug 302015
 
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Odell Beckham, New York Giants (August 29, 2015)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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New York Giants – New York Jets

Game Overview

Preseason results are often meaningless. But coming off of back-to-back 7-9 and 6-10 seasons, coaches, players, media, and fans are looking for reasons to be hopeful in 2015. With only one preseason game left to play and the starters unlikely to play more than two series in New England, there are ominous storm clouds on the horizon with the New York Giants.

The basic problem for the Giants is this: the defense looks awful. If the team has any shot at the playoffs, the offense is going to have to carry this team by being one of the best in the NFL. However, the starting offense has looked pedestrian as best. Worse, despite another supposed infusion of talent in the offseason, special teams remains a weakness.

Right now, based on what we’ve seen on the playing field, the Giants appear to be one of the league’s worst teams. And an injury-plagued one with little depth at that. The odds are that Tom Coughlin and his staff will be fired at the end of the season, but Jerry Reese and his college and pro personnel talent evaluators will get a pass.

Offensive Overview

The Giants still have issues consistently running the football. Offensive line instability due to injuries to Weston Richburg and Geoff Schwartz has been a factor as well as playing against some strong and physical defensive fronts in the preseason. But the bigger issue is that Eli Manning and his receivers have not played particularly well. The Giants starting offense has had one really good drive this preseason and that was aided by three Jets penalties and the officials missing an incomplete 3rd-down pass.

Other than this 14-play, 85-yard effort, the first-team offense had two first downs and 32 yards on their other four possessions against the Jets. Worse, they handed the Jets a defensive score. If the Giants offense doesn’t become a scoring machine this season, the Giants are in deep trouble. Right now, they look far from elite status.

Quarterbacks

The expectation is that 2015 will be one of Eli Manning’s very best seasons, that he would once again approach his 2011 level of play. The early returns have been disappointing. Yes, Eli was 12-of-16 against a very good Jets defense. But he personally caused a 14-point swing in the game. He badly missed a wide open Odell Beckham on what should have been a 70-yard touchdown. Worse, he made an incredibly stupid decision to throw the ball short in the middle of the field with less than 20 seconds left and no timeouts. Even had James Jones come back to catch the ball at the Jets 41-yard line, there was not enough time to run another play to get into field goal range. There was nothing to gain from that throw. Stupid, inexcusable play by a quarterback who wants to be one of the top paid in the NFL. Also keep in mind that Manning hasn’t thrown a pass over 19 yards this preseason.

Ryan Nassib has out-played Eli Manning. Yup, I said it. And Nassib has done it with far shakier pass protection, demonstrating less fear of the pass rush. If I’m the Giants, I’m not sure I sign Eli Manning to a long-term contract right now. I let him play out the 2015 season and let the new coaching staff decide whether they want him or not. The Giants have the cap room to Franchise him. The new regime can then decide whether to trade him or extend his contract. The Giants won’t do this, but Eli is still making too many idiotic decisions in his 12th season for me to hand over $100 million without him playing better.

I’m a big fan of Manning. I think he’s the best quarterback to ever play for the franchise. But if the Giants give him $100 million and he’s no more than a middle-of-the-pack quarterback at age 34, they will be stuck with him for better or worse because salary cap ramifications will make it impossible to trade or cut him.

As for Nassib, he had his second strong performance in a row and would have had an even bigger night had his receivers helped him out more. That said, he does need work on his deep passing. He was off on three deep throws.

Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (August 29, 2015)

Rashad Jennings – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Running Backs

It’s been a weird preseason for the running backs. The headliners Rashad Jennings (12 carries in three games, 9 of which came against the Jets for 28 yards), Shane Vereen (8 carries, 4 receptions in three games), Andre Williams (7 carries in three games) have not received many touches. So it’s been hard for them to get into a rhythm or for us to get a good feel for their play. Each has flashed at times. Jennings had a 12-yard run where he could done more damage had he been able to keep his feet. Vereen looked very good on a swing pass that picked up 19 yards. It will be interesting to see how Tom Coughlin and Ben McAdoo use Jennings and Williams. I hope they allow one of these two to get into a rhythm in games and not constantly rotate them.

Meanwhile, Orleans Darkwa (20 carries in three games) has been receiving the most action. He looks like a legitimate NFL player who can make something out of nothing when carrying the ball. Could he actually be the best back on the team? Akeem Hunt has flashed enough (including a 15-yard run against the Jets) to ensure a place on the Practice Squad.

Wide Receivers

The good news is that Odell Beckham finally got his first catches of the preseason. But his five receptions went for a paltry 31 yards (6.2 yards per catch). He would have had a much bigger night had he been able to keep his feet in-bounds on another superb one-handed effort and had Eli Manning not badly missed him on what should have been a 70-yard touchdown reception against Darrelle Revis. Beckham’s 8-yard reception on 3rd-and-3 on the TD drive hit the ground.

The bad news is Victor Cruz has yet to play this preseason. We still don’t know if he will be ready for the opener. Rueben Randle has had an awful preseason. He only played three snaps in the first game, was held out the second game, and had one catch for seven yards against the Jets. Not good, especially since we still don’t know how much his knee tendinitis will affect him the rest of the year.

Preston Parker continues to see a lot of game-day action with little to show for it (1 catch for 5 yards and one false start penalty). James Jones had four catches for 54 yards but was involved in both team turnovers (first, he didn’t come back for the ball on Eli’s pick 6; second, he fumbled the ball away after a 15-yard reception to the Jets’ 19-yard line).

Geremy Davis was targeted six times, coming down with three catches for only 19 yards. His best play was his 15-yard reception on 3rd-and-10 on the last TD drive. Dwayne Harris has caught one pass for seven yards, but also had a bad drop. After an explosive preseason last year, Corey Washington only has three catches for 25 yards in three games despite playing a lot. Julian Talley made a superb, diving effort on the 2-point conversion.

Adrien Robinson, New York Giants (August 29, 2015)

Adrien Robinson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Tight Ends

Larry Donnell has not done much this preseason (4 catches for 34 yards, 1 catch for 5 yards against the Jets). He did not block well as an up back in this game. Despite more targets in the passing game, Adrien Robinson (4 catches for 19 yards in three games) still looks like a cumbersome athlete, but he did draw a 9-yard pass interference penalty on 3rd-and-8 on the first TD drive. That said, Robinson really didn’t help his cause with his lackluster run and pass blocking.

The two sharpest guys seem to have been Jerome Cunningham (3 catches for 58 yards, two defensive pass interference penalties in three games) and Daniel Fells (1 catch for 21 yards against the Jets). Cunningham needs to improve as a blocker. Had he stayed with his assignment on Jennings’ 12-yard run, Jennings probably would not have been tripped up. But he made a very athletic play on his 24-yard reception up the seam on the final TD drive of the game. He then capped that off that drive with a 6-yard touchdown catch. Fells remains the most consistent blocker at tight end.

Offensive Line

John Jerry started at right guard but Jerry and Geoff Schwartz switched off at the position all night. It’s pretty obvious that the Giants are trying to work Schwartz back into the starting line up at that position if his surgically-repaired ankle holds up. Though he was a bit shaky early, Schwartz was in the game during the team’s best drive of the preseason. The line seems steadier with him in the game, although for a big man he sometimes has issues with power. The problem with Jerry in the ground game is he simply does not sustain his run blocks, this was an issue even on Akeem Hunt’s 15-yard run in the 4th quarter.

Left tackle Ereck Flowers continues to improve each week. He is everything as advertised in the run game. There were too many mistakes from left guard Justin Pugh, who gave up a sack and two penalties. The first penalty (illegal use of hands) and sack helped to stall the second drive; the second penalty (false start) pushed the Giants back on the pick-6 possession at the end of the first half. Pugh also missed a block on a screen pass to Vereen.

Dallas Reynolds started at center in place of the injured Weston Richburg and performed adequately against a tough opponent. He is playing much better than he did during his first two years with the Giants. Marshall Newhouse has been just adequate at right tackle. He’s not a good run blocker despite his size.

The second-team line featured Emmett Cleary at left tackle, Adam Gettis at left guard, Brett Jones at center, Schwartz/Jerry at right guard, and Bobby Hart/Sean Donnelly at right tackle. Hart left the game late in the third quarter with an injury and was replaced by Donnelly. This group did a reasonable job although Gettis did give up a sack to first-team DE Sheldon Richardson and Donnelly had some issues in pass protection on the team’s last TD drive. Cleary had one false start and gave up a pressure late too.

Defensive Overview

Fans are going to have to accept that this is a bad defense. They can’t stop the run, they can’t rush the passer, and they can’t cover. It’s a group that lacks toughness, physicality, leadership, confidence, and swagger. Against the Jets, the Giants only had one sack (unblocked safety blitz), two quarterback hits, and no forced turnovers. The Jets rushed for 136 yards and journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 64 percent of his passes against the starting defense.

When one considers how the defense has struggled to stop Andy Dalton, Blake Bortles, and Ryan Fitzpatrick, let alone any running game, and you have to think other teams are licking their chops to face the once proud New York Giants defense.

Defensive Line

The run defense remains a huge concern, but the Giants are also not getting any pass pressure.

Jerry Reese says that even without Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants have five quality defensive ends. So far, I don’t see it. George Selvie has been out with a knee injury. We still don’t know when he will return. In a continuing trend for the Giants to find new and interesting ways to hurt themselves, Robert Ayers somehow injured himself in game warm-ups. Damontre Moore started at left defensive end. He didn’t have a tackle, remains a liability against the run, and has not flashed enough as a pass rusher against NFL starters. Kerry Wynn (1 tackle) has been disappointing. He has to set the edge better against the run. He was a non-factor as a pass rusher. The Giants have been forced to start an aging, fading defensive tackle (Cullen Jenkins) at defensive end and he is clearly not well suited to the 4-3 end position.

The guy with the most upside is Owamagbe Odighizuwa. He should be starting. Odighizuwa doesn’t appear to have any pass rush moves, but he can occasionally get close the quarterback. More importantly, he’s the only defensive end on this team that appears capable of setting the edge against outside tackle rushing attempts.

Inside, Johnathan Hankins played a bit better this week, but the decision to start Markus Kuhn remains a curious one. At least Kenrick Ellis and Jay Bromley received playing time against the Jets starting offensive line. Both still seem to be better options than Kuhn. The Giants were much more stout against the run on the Jets third offensive possession when Kuhn sat and Bromley and Ellis played. Both did have issues on one 13-yard run up the gut on the Jets’ second TD drive (Damontre Moore was held on this play, causing it to be nullified). However, Ellis was flagged with a stupid unnecessary roughness penalty with a late hit on the next snap. Late in the first half, both Bromley and Jenkins (now playing DT) looked good against the run.

Linebackers

Jon Beason (knee), Jonathan Casillas (neck), and Mark Herzlich (concussion) did not play.

Devon Kennard is the best linebacker on the team. He, along with Odighizuwa and Hankins, appear to be one of the very few building blocks this team has in the front seven. But Kennard, Jameel McClain, and safety Jeromy Miles were badly confused by a simple head fake on the 24-yard screen pass for a touchdown.

As an illustration on how teams simply scheme the Giants defense, on the Jets first offensive play, the Jets ran play-action bootleg that both Damontre Moore and McClain bit on, leading to an uncontested 10-yard completion to start the game.

McClain and Kennard ran well to the football when the defensive line set the edge or wasn’t shoved back into their faces. McClain, Kennard, and safety Landon Collins also did a very good job of reading an end-around for a 1-yard loss. However, McClain couldn’t stop the running back on a 2-point conversion attempt despite having a clean shot at the ball carrier.

The Giants spent $10 million on a linebacker (J.T. Thomas) who struggles at the point-of-attack and apparently doesn’t know how to wrap up when he tackles. It’s nice that he played well against his former team last week, but he is being paid to show up for every game.

Unai’ Unga led the team in tackles with eight and played as early as the team’s first defensive series. His lack of size showed up in this game as he was carried by the ball carrier on a couple of late rushing attempts. Victor Butler didn’t help his cause by missing a tackle in the backfield.

Defensive Backs

The Giants are just dreadful at covering the middle of the field. This is on both the linebackers and safeties. Opposing quarterbacks are going to have a field day passing in the middle all year.

The good news is that Landon Collins (3 tackles, 1 penalty for illegal use of hands) and Cooper Taylor (3 tackles, 1 sack) finally got back on the field. Cooper flashed on his sack and sure tackle off a bootleg pass to the tight end.

Jeromy Miles isn’t playing well. He struggled against the run and, along with Jayron Hosley, got beat badly on the 18-yard touchdown pass in the 1st quarter. On the play before the TD, he got beat badly by WR Brandon Marshall for an 11-yard gain on 3rd-and-5 (though admittedly that’s a tough match-up for any safety).

Brandon Meriweather can hit and tackle, but he’s not real smooth in space. He awkwardly fell to the ground on a 24-yard completion over the middle in the 4th quarter.

Trumaine McBride, New York Giants (August 29, 2015)

Trumaine McBride – © USA TODAY Sports Images

This was the second game in a row where opposing quarterbacks have tested Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie deep multiple times without success. Prince Amukamara played in his first game this preseason. He got beat by Brandon Marshall for 16 yards on 2nd-and-11. Amukamara had good deep coverage on the very next play, but two plays later, he got badly turned around by Marshall again on a play that should have resulted in a first-down had not it been for a bad throw.

Hosley not only got beat for a touchdown, but he also lost contain on 12-yard run earlier on the first TD drive. He did follow that up with a good run force. Both Trumaine McBride and Trevin Wade played nickel corner. McBride missed a tackle near the line of scrimmage on a run that picked up seven yards at the end of the 1st quarter. Not sure who was responsible for the easy 25-yard completion to WR Eric Decker on the Jets second TD drive, but it appears to have been Wade.

Special Teams Overview

The Giants keep signing/drafting special teams studs, but the special teams continue to help the Giants lose games. That’s got to be on the coaching. The Giants may be scanning the waiver wire for a punter because they clearly are losing faith in Steve Weatherford or trying to send him a message. Robert Malone punted twice in this game and also served as a holder. While Malone got off a 67-yarder, he also punted straight down the middle of the field, something that was a big contributing factor on the 54-yard punt return for a touchdown.

The Giants spent $17 million on Dwayne Harris as a returner, but they apparently don’t know how to block for him. The Giants gave up 76 yards on two kickoff returns, including returns of 44 and and 32 yards. Not good.

Right now, Josh Brown is the only redeeming aspect on special teams. He hit another long field goal (48 yards).

(New York Jets at New York Giants, August 29, 2015)
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