Future cars Russia’s June new car sales fall 14.6% y/y

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MOSCOW, July 7 (Reuters) – Sales of new cars in Russia fell by 14.6% in June year on year to 122,622 vehicles after a 51.8% decline in the previous month, the Association of European Businesses (AEB) said on Tuesday.

The AEB forecast a year-on-year drop of 23.9% in new car sales this year. (Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by John Stonestreet)

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Future cars FEATURE-Pakistan launches electric vehicle plan with cars in slow lane

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ISLAMABAD (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Ghulam Hussain was used to zipping through the streets of Lahore with his wife and three young children perched perilously on his motorbike, whenever they visited relatives or ran errands.

But now that Pakistan has launched a plan to move vehicles over to electric power, Hussain is excited about the prospect of no longer spending 4,000 rupees ($24) each month on petrol.

“It would be a substantial saving for me to switch to an electric motorbike,” said Hussain, who works as a driver for a family in the upscale Gulberg district, earning about 20,000 rupees a month.

“Eventually I’d like to buy a small car for the family, as the children are getting older. I would buy an electric car, if they are affordable.”

He will have to wait a while to find out.

After a lengthy delay, Pakistan’s ambitious electric vehicle (EV) policy was approved for implementation this month, but a late-stage change leaves cars out of its first phase.

Critics warn this means it will take longer for Pakistanis to reap the policy’s environmental and financial benefits.

Covering buses and trucks, as well as two- and three-wheel vehicles, including rickshaws and motorcycles, the new policy introduces a raft of incentives to encourage manufacturers to start producing electric vehicles and customers to buy them.

Passed on June 10, the new policy was originally approved by Prime Minister Imran Khan in November, with the goal of cutting air pollution and curbing climate change.

It aims to bring half a million electric motorcycles and rickshaws, along with more than 100,000 electric cars, buses and trucks, into the transportation system over the next five years.

The goal is to have at least 30% of all vehicles running on electricity by 2030.

After pushback from traditional automakers, the first stage of the policy bypasses cars to focus on motorbikes and rickshaws – the most common form of transport in Pakistan’s densely populated urban areas – as well as buses and trucks.

Malik Amin Aslam, climate change advisor to the prime minister, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that incentives for cars would be added to the policy “at a later stage”, without specifying when.

Leaving out cars makes the new policy “like a wedding party arriving with no bridegroom”, said Shaukat Qureshi, general secretary of the Pakistan Electric Vehicles and Parts Manufacturers and Traders Association (PEVPMTA).

“The rest of the World is adopting this technology and it is pollution-free. The sooner it comes, the better it is for everyone,” he said.

Abdul Waheed Khan, director general of the Pakistan Automotive Manufacturers Association, which represents petrol-powered carmakers, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that the policy “states the broad parameters to which we agreed”.

“We appreciate the direction and are awaiting further details,” he added.


Mian Ali Hameed, marketing director at Sazgar Engineering Works Limited, a leading rickshaw manufacturer, said his company was ready to start producing electric rickshaws before the end of 2020.

Hameed confirmed that Sazgar’s e-rickshaws will be more expensive than traditional versions, costing about 400,000 rupees, compared with 250,000 rupees for a petrol-powered ride.

However, customers will soon see savings, as their petrol use drops dramatically and they spend less on maintenance like oil and filter changes, he explained.

“Customers could recover the (purchase) cost in one year, according to our estimates,” he said.

One potential obstacle to the speedy uptake of EVs is a lack of charging infrastructure. To address that, the policy makes it cheaper for authorities and companies to install charging stations in cities and along motorways.

But Qureshi of the PEVPMTA noted that owners of electric motorbikes, e-rickshaws and small electric cars do not need to wait.

“You just plug them in at home, like a fan,” he said.

Qureshi worries that leaving cars out of the policy for now will disadvantage lower-income families, estimating that switching to a small electric car could save up to 25,000 rupees a month in fuel costs.

“For many families in Pakistan, this much savings per month means a change in their lifestyles,” he said.


Addressing concerns about the cost of electric vehicles, climate advisor Aslam said the policy includes incentives for their owners, such as removing yearly registration fees and a 50% discount on motorway tolls.

In a country where large cities routinely suffer high levels of air pollution, the benefits to Pakistan’s environmental health will also be significant, he added.

Each electric vehicle produces 65% fewer pollutants than traditional petrol-powered engines, he said.

According to the latest World Air Quality Report, Pakistani and Indian cities dominated the most polluted cities in 2019.

Much of that pollution is due to Pakistan’s rapid motorisation, environmental experts say.

A World Bank study published in 2014 noted that the number of vehicles on the country’s roads jumped from about 2 million in 1991 to more than 10 million two decades later.

The blue skies Pakistanis witnessed during the coronavirus lockdown showed “the extremely strong nexus between congested vehicle traffic and air pollution, especially in urban centres”, Aslam said.

According to Syed Muhammad Abubakar, an independent environmental researcher based in Lahore, the transport sector produces more than 40% of the air pollution in Punjab province.

There is “no time to lose” in cleaning up the air in Pakistan’s cities, especially in the midst of COVID-19, he said.

Pointing to a recent study by researchers at Harvard University, Abubakar noted that even a small increase in long-term exposure to air pollution particles can lead to an 8% jump in the rate of deaths caused by the respiratory illness.

“Pakistan must learn and take drastic measures to limit the increase in air pollution. Otherwise, the lives of many will be at risk,” he said.

($1 = 167.2000 Pakistani rupees)

Reporting by Rina Saeed Khan; editing by Jumana Farouky and Megan Rowling. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters. Visit news.trust.org/climate

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Future cars From food to cars, Saudis stock up ahead of VAT hike

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RIYADH/DUBAI (Reuters) – People in Saudi Arabia rushed to buy goods from imported fruit juices to cars ahead of a sharp hike in value-added tax on July 1, introduced by the oil-rich kingdom to boost state revenues amid its worst ever economic decline.

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Saudi women buy jewellery at a shop in the gold market before the expected increase of VAT to 15%, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia June 29, 2020. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

The tripling of VAT to 15% comes against a backdrop of lower consumer spending and an easing of inflation due to a three-month coronavirus lockdown that was fully lifted on June 21.

Supermarkets in the capital Riyadh were packed over the weekend as shoppers stockpiled non-perishable goods. Furniture and appliances stores offered discounts to lure buyers.

“Demand has been very weak but people are now actively buying ahead of the VAT so there is a bit of demand,” said Najem Alotaibe, a car dealer in Riyadh.

Jaber al-Sahari, who works in a gold shop, also reported an increase in demand in the last two weeks.

Saudi Arabia announced the VAT hike and suspension of a cost of living allowance in May, shocking citizens and businesses expecting more support from the government.

“Life is getting more expensive. I bought some imported food and juices and stored it because prices will rise,” said Sarah, a Saudi mother of two.

In recent months inflation eased to around 1% due to low demand for non-food items and reduced fuel prices, but some analysts expect it to surge by up to 6% year-on-year in July due to the VAT hike.

Authorities this month increased import tariffs to contain a ballooning fiscal deficit, which the International Monetary Fund projects at over 12% of GDP from 4.5% last year.

These steps could reduce the overall deficit by 4.5% to 6% of GDP, but may dampen economic recovery, Arqaam Capital has said.

For Abu Omar, an Egyptian expatriate, the VAT hike comes on top of a 20% salary reduction due to the coronavirus crisis.

“So now I have to live with 35% less, this will be very difficult with three kids,” he said.

Reporting by Marwa Rashad and Davide Barbuscia; Additional reporting by Mohammed Benmansour, editing by Ed Osmond

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Future cars U.S. probes touchscreen failures in Tesla Model S cars

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said Tuesday it had opened an investigation into 63,000 Tesla Model S cars after reports of media-control unit failures that led to the loss of the use of touchscreens.

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FILE PHOTO: A row of Tesla Model S sedans are seen outside the company’s headquarters in Palo Alto, California April 30, 2015. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage

The auto safety agency said the preliminary evaluation, covering 2012-2015 model year vehicles, comes after it received 11 complaints alleging premature failure of the media-control unit due to memory wear-out.

A complete unit failure results in the loss of audible and visual touchscreen features, such as infotainment, navigation, and web browsing, and loss of the rear-camera image display when in reverse gear, the agency said.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

NHTSA said the failure does not affect vehicle-control systems.

Tesla used the same unit in 159,000 2012-2018 Model S and 2016-2018 Model X vehicles built by Tesla through early 2018.

The memory control unit uses an Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O) Tegra 3 processor with an integrated 8GB eMMC NAND flash memory device, NHTSA said. Nvidia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The flash devices have a finite lifespan based on the number of program or erase cycles, NHTSA said.

Failures resulting from memory wear-out “are likely to occur after periods of progressively degraded performance (e.g., longer power-up times, more frequent touchscreen resets, intermittent loss of cellular connectivity, loss of navigation),” the agency said.

Some complaints said the failure could result in a loss of charging ability and that other safety alerts could be impacted. One driver said he could not clear fogged windows because he could not change climate controls.

Another complaint said the failure disabled safety monitors associated with Tesla’s driver-assistance system Autopilot.

The complaints said Tesla requires owners to pay to replace the unit once the warranty expires.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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Boris Johnson stands by a senior aide who flouted lockdown for a family trip; in the UK, unlike the US, he’s in trouble for it.

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Future cars iOS 14 Features Digital Car Keys, Rolling Out to BMW Customers Next Month and More Cars Next Year

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Following several leaks and rumors, Apple today confirmed that iOS 14 and watchOS 7 feature support for NFC-based digital car keys, allowing users to unlock and start their vehicle with a compatible iPhone or Apple Watch.

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Similar to credit cards and boarding passes, digital car keys are stored in the Wallet app. To unlock your vehicle, you will simply need to bring your iPhone near the driver’s side door. Once inside the vehicle, you will be able to place your iPhone on a reader or wireless charger to start your vehicle and drive, according to Apple.

For peace of mind, a power reserve feature allows the digital car keys to work for up to five hours after your iPhone battery runs out.

Apple says the feature will start rolling out to BMW customers next month, with support for the new 2021 5 Series at launch, and Apple hopes to expand the feature to other automakers over time. Apple will also make the feature available on iOS 13, and presumably watchOS 6, so that users can take advantage of it as soon as possible.

Apple also announced that it is already working on the next generation of digital car keys based on Ultra Wideband technology, which will allow users to unlock future car models without removing their iPhone from their pocket or bag. Apple expects this feature, which will utilize the U1 chip in iPhone 11 models, to become available next year.

iOS 14 and watchOS 7 are available in beta for registered Apple developers today, with public betas to follow next month. The free software updates will be released in the fall for the iPhone 6s or Apple Watch Series 3 and newer.

Update: BMW has announced that Apple’s digital car key feature will be supported on a wide range of its vehicle models manufactured after July 1, 2020. Compatible devices include the iPhone XS/XR or newer and the Apple Watch Series 5 or newer.

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Apple Updates AirPods Pro Firmware to Version 2D27

Tuesday June 23, 2020 11: 27 am PDT by

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Monday June 22, 2020 2: 27 pm PDT by

Apple today unveiled iOS 14 with major new features like widgets for the Home screen, App Clips, a new App Library view that shows you all of your apps at a glance, new @mentions and pinned chats in Messages, Maps updates, and more, but there are also tons of smaller changes and tweaks that went unmentioned.
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Future cars Car-sharing to get away from the pandemic, according to Turo users

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baby you can drive my car —

The car-sharing platform Turo surveyed its users and shared the results with Ars.

Future cars Car-sharing to get away from the pandemic, according to Turo users

Have you started going for short drives to nowhere in particular, just for a change in scenery? If so, you’re not alone. According to new survey data from Turo, the peer-to-peer car-sharing platform, 39 percent of its users turned to the automobile just to get out of the house during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The coronavirus pandemic has been blamed for the perilous position in which traditional rental-car companies like Hertz have found themselves. But surprisingly for Turo, things haven’t been quite so bad. Or at least, they weren’t bad for very long.

“Before the pandemic hit, the company—in terms of bookings—was growing by about 50 percent year over year,” said Steve Webb, Turo’s VP of communications. By mid-March, as shelter-in-place orders were issued, things started to drop off to the point that, by early April, the business was looking at a 75-percent decline in year-on-year growth. But within a couple of weeks, that trend started to reverse. “As of last week, we are growing again YoY for the first time since 3/18. In March, we did not think the business would rebound this quickly,” Webb told Ars.

The company decided to survey users (guests in Turo-speak) to get a better idea of why they were renting cars, and it shared the results with Ars. In total, 1,249 users completed the survey, which asked questions like “how are you using cars during the COVID-19 pandemic” and “what motivated you to use Turo?” Some of the answers are probably what you’d expect, but others might be a little surprising. (Survey respondents were not limited to a single answer for each category; instead, they were able to select all that applied.)

Future cars Get out of the house

As you might expect, plenty of people (54 percent) replied that they were using cars the same way they did before the pandemic struck, and 29 percent said they were using cars as an alternative to public transport. But 13 percent indicated that they were using a car as a mobile office or place to work, 39 percent also said they took short drives just to get out of the house, and 22 percent were using a car as a personal space.

As for why they decided to rent someone else’s car, the most common response (42 percent) was to drive something fun or unique, followed by “when I traveled to a destination and needed a car” (29 percent) and “to get out of the house” for whatever reason (29 percent). And plenty of Turo users are ready to get back to traveling; 43 percent said they planned to do that for the July 4 weekend, although 32 percent said they had no plans to travel at all.

The final set of questions I found interesting was about different modes of transport that people felt comfortable using. The vast majority—87 percent—said they were comfortable using car-sharing during a pandemic, although, given that the survey was of recent Turo users, perhaps that’s not at all surprising. Forty-two percent said they’d use their own cars, but 41 percent also said they’d feel comfortable flying, even though current air travel numbers in the United States are only around a fifth of what we saw this time last year. By contrast, fewer were ready to take a Lyft or Uber (30 percent) or a traditional rental car (34 percent). But the worst result was for our beleaguered public transport networks: just 14 percent of survey respondents said they were ready to use those.

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Nurses lack representation in media: recognize them for the leaders that they are


Diana J. Mason, Opinion contributor
Published 7: 00 a.m. ET June 26, 2020

Though nurses are the ‘backbone’ of health systems, in a worldwide coronavirus pandemic the media still doesn’t represent them as vital leaders

When the United Nations declared 2020 the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, their intent was to spotlight our role as the “backbone” of health systems around the World. How ironic — and fitting — that it took a global pandemic and not some bureaucratic declaration to drive home that point and bring nurses into focus.

You see our raw, mask-reddened faces staring out from newspapers, magazines, and nightly news programs. You see us, shoulders hunched, tired, and spent in hospital hallways. You see us, comforting and competent, at the bedsides of our dying patients, while also loudly and angrily protesting the loss of our colleagues.

You see more of us now, but we have been here all along. Where was the media?

Nurses absence in news 

According to the 2017 Woodhull Revisited study I conducted with colleagues, nurses were cited as sources in only 2% of the health news stories and never cited in policy-related health stories. Despite having highly-relevant expertise and perspectives, nurses were less likely to be mentioned in articles about research, policy, or the Affordable Care Act. Before this pandemic, we were lucky if the media even identified nurses’ actual names in images. While journalists and the public seem to respect our physical courage, they do not seem to care about what nurses might actually have to say.

It’s possible that gender bias plays a role in nurses not being viewed as experts in health care, even when we do speak out. Women are already underrepresented in the media, and women make up nearly 90% of the nursing workforce. It’s also possible that journalists seldom highlight nurses as the extraordinary, everyday clinical, administrative, and research leaders that they are because these do not fit longstanding and outdated stereotypes of nurses, even as our leadership has been hugely consequential during our current health crisis.

For example, much of the science behind hand hygiene — evidence we rely on to save our lives during the pandemic — comes from the research of Elaine Larsen, a nurse and professor emeritus at the Columbia University schools of nursing and public health. At one large health system in New York City, it was the nurses who started to put patients with serious respiratory distress on their stomachs (called pronation) to better ventilate the base of their lungs. When numerous COVID-19 patients were dying each hour, it was nurses who called for a post-mortem team to provide care with the dignity that their expired patients deserved. 

It was a nurse who implemented “The Pause” when a patient died: the team takes up to 60 seconds to reflect on the humanity of the patient or breathe deeply in a meditative way or simply gather their reserves to move to the next crisis. This is not some touchy-feely custom; it is evidence-based to reduce moral distress and support the resiliency of the care team.

It was also a nurse who helped diagnose USA Today founding editor Nancy Woodhull with lung cancer, after which Woodhull became an advocate for nurses’ representation in health news.

We cannot put sole blame on journalists, though, for the lack of representation in health care stories. Universities and hospitals must do better at offering their nurses as sources for journalists, instead of always turning to physicians. More importantly, more of our nurses should be sitting at decision-making tables in health care — yet in 2018 only 4% of hospital boards included a nurse. 

Across the board, we ignore nurses and their insights at our peril. Long before COVID-19, bedside nurses have been protesting unsafe working conditions and poor staffing. Overwhelming evidence shows that nurse staffing is a powerful variable in mortality rates and complications. Nurses have long had a unique perspective on the monumental disparities in our health care system, including why there persists a lack of diversity in our own workforce.

We didn’t go into this profession to be heroes or media darlings. But we have the expertise to know what matters for the health of patients, families, and communities and we want to be able to share it, be heard, and lead the changes that are needed in health care. Even Florence Nightingale — everyone’s archetypal idea of a nurse whose 200th birthday coincides with the UN’s Year of the Nurse and Midwife — was one of the leading statisticians of her time. Her insights transformed both military health care and the entire British health care system. 

When COVID-19 wanes, I hope the media — and the nation — will recognize today’s Nightingales as the thought leaders they are and continue seeking us out.

Diana J. Mason is a registered nurse and Senior Policy Service Professor at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement, George Washington University School of Nursing. The 2017 Woodhull Revisited Study was a follow-up to a similar study conducted in 1997, the Woodhull Study on Nursing and the Media: Health Care’s Invisible Partner.


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20 recent NFL first-round picks who could be on the hot seat in 2020


SportsPulse: Mackenzie Salmon connected with NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith to get the union’s response on Tom Brady and Russell Wilson’s impromptu practices with teammates. An act they strongly discouraged prior to Training Camp.


The NFL’s proverbial hot seat is predominantly reserved for head coaches – and, occasionally, for starting quarterbacks precariously positioned ahead of a capable or enticing backup. 

But it doesn’t take long for recent first-round draftees to feel the heat, either – even quarterbacks who are top-10 picks, as evidenced by the Arizona Cardinals’ divorce from Josh Rosen after just one season.

There will be obvious pressure this season on several players picked in Round 1 of the 2017 draft given 13 of them – including four of the top five selections – recently had their fifth-year contract options declined. Others, including a couple from the 2015 draft, have exhausted their rookie deals but still seek long-term commitments from their original clubs. There are even a few players taken in 2019 who might already find themselves under relatively intense scrutiny.

Here are 20 recent first-rounders – none have landed a second multi-year contract – to keep an eye on in 2020:

1. Denver Broncos LT Garett Bolles: The 20th overall pick in 2017, he’s never missed a start and played better toward the end of 2019 after rookie QB Drew Lock galvanized the club. Still, mistakes have been a thematic issue – Bolles has 45 penalties in three seasons – and have been bemoaned by GM John Elway, who chose not to pick up the fifth-year option of Lock’s blind-side bodyguard even though Bolles allowed just four sacks last year. But if he cleans up the mental aspects of his game for a team that could be sneaky dangerous, Bolles might give Elway a dilemma next offseason.

2. New Orleans Saints DE Marcus Davenport: Think back to the 2018 draft, when the Saints traded two first-round picks to select Davenport 14th overall out of Texas-San Antonio, ostensibly as one of the final pieces to a championship equation. To date, the gamble hasn’t paid off, Davenport collecting 10½ sacks and 28 quarterback hits in two seasons while failing to make an impact in the playoffs. A pass rusher who benefits from playing alongside Cam Jordan really needs to ante up soon.

3. Tennessee Titans WR Corey Davis: A top-five pick in 2017, he’s failed to develop into a No. 1-caliber receiver and was surpassed by rookie A.J. Brown last year. Davis, whose 2021 option was declined, still has a year to justify his No. 5 overall selection status and might benefit from rare offensive continuity in Tennessee … assuming QB Ryan Tannehill picks up where he left off in 2019.

4. Philadelphia Eagles LT Andre Dillard: His 2019 rookie season wasn’t a true redshirt situation given Dillard started four times and served as a swing tackle, though he struggled during that limited playing time. But the Eagles have yet to re-sign likely Hall of Famer Jason Peters, apparently comfortable Dillard can safeguard oft-injured QB Carson Wentz. Quite a gamble given Dillard hasn’t had a traditional offseason to bolster his readiness for the role.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers OLB Bud Dupree: The 22nd pick in 2015, he concluded his rookie contract last season by turning in a career-high 11½ sacks, nearly double his previous personal best. The Steelers placed the franchise tag on Dupree, so he stands to make $15.8 million this year barring receipt of a long-term extension. However Pittsburgh also drafted OLB Alex Highsmith – he had 15 sacks for Charlotte last year – in the third round, and his development could directly affect Dupree if an extension isn’t reached.

6. Jacksonville Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette:  The No. 4 pick three years ago, he’s been productive, churning out a career-best 1,152 rushing yards and 76 catches in 2019. He’s also been an occasional malcontent whom the Jags attempted to trade prior to the draft before declining his option for 2021. The best-case scenario for Fournette might be getting off to a hot start and being dealt before the deadline into a situation that better suits him personally and professionally – a scenario that worked out nicely for former teammate Dante Fowler. Regardless, Fournette will need to keep focus on his performance, not off-field issues, in order to land the type of second contract his talents merit.

7. Houston Texans WR Will Fuller: He’s entering the final year of his rookie contract and needs to perform like a guy about to earn more than $10 million. When Fuller’s on the field, his deep-threat ability has a noticeable impact on this offense – and he’s now the veteran wideout here with DeAndre Hopkins now in Arizona. Fuller will have help from recent acquisitions Randall Cobb and Brandin Cooks as it pertains to replacing Hopkins’ production, but must stay healthy – he’s missed 22 games in four seasons – if he’s going to graduate to No. 1 receiver status and earn a fat new paycheck.

8. New England Patriots WR N’Keal Harry: Tom Brady’s offensive supporting cast in 2019, one Harry joined midway through his rookie season, was largely – and deservedly – derided. The suite of skill players who will attempt to prop up Brady’s successor, Jarrett Stidham (or Brian Hoyer), hasn’t changed much with Harry – he caught just 12 balls in seven games last year – likely to start next to Julian Edelman. He’ll have to make a lot more plays if the Patriots are to win the AFC East for a 12th consecutive season.

9. Washington Redskins QB Dwayne Haskins: It’s rare to see a first-rounder on the hot seat coming off a rookie year that featured just seven starts. But fairly or not, Haskins finds himself under a microscope amid regime change – especially now that new coach Ron Rivera has imported QB Kyle Allen, 24, from Carolina while admitting he’s open to the idea of potentially adding fellow former Panther and 2015 league MVP Cam Newton.

10. Indianapolis Colts FS Malik Hooker: Worrisome development when a draft-and-develop team turns down your fifth-year option. But it’s understandable in Hooker’s case given he’s missed 14 games in three seasons and has only picked off seven passes despite being touted as a turnover-producing center fielder coming out of Ohio State. The arrival of third-rounder Julian Blackmon only intensifies internal competition on the back line.

11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE O.J. Howard: The first tight end selected in the 2017 draft (19th overall), Howard hasn’t produced in a manner befitting his copious talent – failing to crack even 35 catches in any of his three seasons. Sure, he’s played with a quarterback, Jameis Winston, who frequently struggled and, last year, was stuck in a Bruce Arians offense that historically doesn’t feature tight ends. Now it’s good news, bad news as Howard prepares to team with Mr. GOAT Brady … but will also have to split snaps with Rob Gronkowski and holdover Cameron Brate.

12. Atlanta Falcons TE Hayden Hurst: He’s currently the answer to a pretty good trivia question: “Lamar Jackson was the Baltimore Ravens’ second first-round pick in 2018, but who was the first?” Yep. Another of Hurst’s draftmates, Mark Andrews, proved a far more effective tight end in Baltimore’s offense, quickly making the 25th overall pick from two years ago expendable. Hurst has totaled 43 grabs for 512 yards and three touchdowns and hardly distinguished himself as a blocker. And yet he could be far more dangerous in Atlanta, which traded for him after losing Austin Hooper in free agency, and QB Matt Ryan is already predicting big things for his new teammate.

13. Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield: An especially promising rookie campaign was followed by an especially disappointing sophomore season. Mayfield is currently eschewing commercials and the limelight as he hopes to rebound under new coach Kevin Stefanski. However the No. 1 pick of the 2018 draft must be aware that any early season stumble could open the door to well-compensated backup Case Keenum, who thrived in this system with Stefanski’s assistance in Minnesota.

14. Las Vegas Raiders LT Kolton Miller: He was much better on the left side in 2019 than he was on the right as a rookie in 2018 – though that still qualifies as a markedly backhanded compliment. Miller allowed seven sacks last year after surrendering 16 the previous season and, at 6-8 and 325 pounds, will likely always be susceptible to edge rushers able to bend low and under him. That might not be as much an issue if Miller’s run blocking was better. Lot to work on here.

15. Browns TE David Njoku: His fifth-year option was activated, but – remember – it’s only guaranteed for injury. Njoku caught 56 balls for 639 yards in 2018, his second season, but a broken wrist limited him to four appearances last year. Since then, Cleveland signed Hooper to a four-year, $42 million deal before picking promising Harrison Bryant in the draft. Barring a breakout, Njoku may be a luxury this team doesn’t need in 2021.

16. Cincinnati Bengals WR John Ross:  Though he was drafted ninth overall in 2017, it’s pretty much been downhill since he blazed that scouting combine record 4.22 40-yard dash. Ross’ big-play ability remains, but he’s only played in half of Cincinnati’s 48 games since entering the league. And the arrival of second-round WR Tee Higgins means Ross, whose option for 2021 was punted, probably projects no better than the Bengals’ No. 4 receiver in 2020.

17. San Francisco 49ers DL Solomon Thomas: He’s invariably mentioned as part of a vaunted D-line that featured five first-round picks during a 2019 run to Super Bowl LIV. But truth is, Thomas, the No. 3 pick in 2017, has been less than impactful during his career and started just three times last season. Fresh off drafting DT Javon Kinlaw 14th overall in April, the Niners didn’t pick up Thomas’ option. The Stanford product will need a monster effort – and there may be an opportunity following the trade of DeForest Buckner – if he wants to remain in the Bay Area beyond 2020.

18. Chicago Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky: So after he regressed in 2019, Chicago declined his fifth-year option and brought in veteran Nick Foles to compete for the starting job … though team brass continues to indicate Trubisky will take the initial first-team snaps once training camp begins. Still, at minimum, the writing’s on the wall in pencil for the No. 2 pick in 2017, one who likely needs to reclaim his 2018 Pro Bowl form at minimum – and with limited weapons at his disposal – in order to remain in the Windy City in 2021 and beyond.

19. Bengals LT Jonah Williams: Shoulder surgery cost the 11th pick of the 2019 draft his rookie season. There was some debate following Williams’ career at Alabama as to whether he was better suited to be a guard in the NFL, but he’ll likely make his pro debut as No. 1 pick Joe Burrow’s blind side sentinel while effectively attempting to anchor what was arguably the league’s worst line a year ago.

20. New York Giants DL Leonard Williams: Selected sixth overall by the Jets in 2015, he made the Pro Bowl in his second season and appeared to be a cornerstone player. However he was dealt across town midway through last season, yet didn’t sign an extension with the Giants, who wound up tagging Williams in March. Always more effective against the run than as a pass rusher (17½ career sacks), Williams’ market could be tricky – whether he opts to stay with the Giants or tests free agency next year – and he’ll likely need to apply a lot more pocket pressure to even approach Buckner or even Trey Flowers money.

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.


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