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A Case Against Tavon Austin

Discussion in 'RAMS - NFL TALK' started by ooooo, Mar 15, 2013.

  1. ooooo Member

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    St. Louis Rams 2013 NFL Draft: A Case Against Tavon Austin
    by Nathan Kearns
    http://ramblinfan.com/2013/03/15/st-louis-rams-2013-nfl-draft-a-case-against-tavon-austin/


    Yes, despite the infatuation with the opening of free agency there is still going to be an NFL Draft this year. Naturally, the mock drafts that have been circulating since mid-December will now be drastically altered, compensating for the roster moves made by each organization. Miami will likely not be looking to fill a void at wide receiver, Pittsburgh will now look to put some pieces around Roethlisberger, and Baltimore will be looking to revamp their entire “Back-8″ in the defense. For St. Louis, free agency as likely narrowed their “options” in the first round, with seemingly no need to look for a tackle (assuming Jake Long signs) or a tight end. The release of Danny Amendola and Quintin Mikell suggests that the St. Louis Rams will be looking towards the draft to fill those holes, which takes us to into our debate…

    Most post-free agency mocks have the St. Louis Rams targeting a wide receiver with the 16th overall pick in the draft. The analysts seems to be split, with roughly half having Cordarrelle Patterson in that slot, and the other half putting the golden horns on Tavon Austin. Coincidentally, the two have been battling for the top of the wide receiver board since the Combine, and after an amazing showing at West Virginia’s Pro Day, many have Tavon Austin moved to the tippy top of the “best available” list at the skill positions.

    No one would be upset with a player like Austin joining the squad, especially give the potential contributions on both special teams and within the offense. However, fans and analysts alike seem to be smitten with his explosiveness in college to the point where they are blind to the reality of one undeniable weakness, one that cannot be improved with coaching, practice, or experience; his size. Tavon Austin measured in at an astounding 5’8 tall, 174 lbs. at the Combine, making him one of the smallest overall players at the Combine, trumped only by the occasional running back and defensive back. And, while we have seen many “shorter” player succeed in the NFL, we have never seen anyone with that combination of “smallness” perform at the next level. Here is some history to show just that…

    There have only been six players in the history of the NFL that played at 5’8 (or shorter) and weighed under 180 lbs. that gained over 2,000 receiving yards throughout their entire career. The most “dominate” of those players was Tim Dwight, who was 5’8, 180 lbs., and played from 1998 until 2007. Dwight started a mere 32 games in the NFL, and ended his career with 194 receptions, 2964 yards, and 19 touchdowns.

    In the return game, players like Dante Hall and Allen Rossum have had success, both racking up 10,000+ return yards with 5 or more kickoff return touchdowns in their careers. However, their impact on the actual offense was negligible, with Hall pulling in a minuscule 162 receptions and 1,747 yards in his nine seasons in the league.

    Testing the bounds of this correlation between height and performance, moving the height-o-meter up a full inch to 5’9 does not shed light on much more success in the league. The increased range does generate some names, like Steve Smith (Carolina), Gary Clark, Mark Clayton, Deion Branch, Wes Welker, and Hall-of-Famer, Tim McDonald. However, those addition inclusions share a common thread that has likely attributed to their success in the league; weight. The modern players, like Welker, Smith, and Branch, all weigh at least 185 lbs., and that bulk on their small frame shows when watching them play on the field. “Chippiness” and “toughness” have been labels thrown on both Smith and Welker since they emerged as perennial threats in the NFL. Smith plays on the outside, but Welker, much like Austin would in the NFL, plays primarily in the slot. Slot players are frequently ask to run across the face of linebackers, or to curl and slant in the zone between the deep safety and the second level of the defense, putting that player in a position to take multiple, devastating hits throughout the season. Welker has maintained his health in New England, but done so, primarily, out of the a spread offense and with an additional 15 lbs. of bulk to absorb the hits, playing consistently at 190 lbs. or more throughout his career. Austin would have neither of those luxuries in St. Louis…

    Naturally, that points to being “undersized” in the weight department as the potential deterrent for success in the NFL, which would make sense given the increasingly violent nature of the game. We see receiver after receiver in the NFL leave with injury after a big hit, just ask Mohamed Massaquoi in Cleveland, who is constantly injured playing in the rugged AFC North despite his 6’0, 210 lbs. frame. So, looking through history, has anyone had success with such a petite frame? A wide receiver weighing under 175 lbs. has surpassed 800 receiving yards in a season only 10 times in the “modern” age of football, which we are going to subjectively mark as beginning in the 2000-2001 season. Of those 10 times, Marvin Harrison accounted for seven (each seasons from 2000 to 2008), with the other three belonging to Steve Breaston, Anthony Armstrong, and Dennis Northcutt. And, while those receivers were successful playing at such a light weight, they each have something that Austin does not… each is, at least, 5’11 tall.

    There are always exceptions to the rules in the NFL, with players like Drew Brees and Russell Wilson breaking the mold on “undersized” quarterbacks. However, slot receivers and running backs take a beating in this league unlike any other position in the NFL. Tavon Austin has the credential of a clean injury history, but will not be playing against Big 12-caliber talent at the next level. The expectations that he could be used as a utility back and in the return game, on top of lining up in the slot, only increases the likelihood that Austin could be injured. The St. Louis Rams have not had luck keeping undersized players healthy; think Donnie Avery or Danny Amendola. With players like Cordarrelle Patterson likely available in the first, and multiple projected slot receivers likely to be available in the mid- and latter rounds of the draft, the St. Louis Rams would be smart to invest in someone with a little more meat on their bones. For fans that are craving a sub-6’0, 4.3 40-time guy that can be used as a utility player in the offense… there is already one on the roster; Chris Givens. Grab a player with a true, outside wide receiver build to pair with Brian Quick and let the offense get creative moving Givens and the newly-acquired Jared Cook around in the formation.End


    I don't know that he has swayed my opinion on "lil dynamite",but a good read with some valid thoughts none the less.
     
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  2. jrry32 Well-Known Member

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    Austin measured in at 5'8.5" which means he'll be listed at 5'9". That'll mean Austin will be listed at 5'9" 175ish...another WR around the same weight...a guy by the name of Mark Clayton that played for the Dolphins. He recorded 5 1000+ yard seasons and 4 10+ TD seasons including 18 receiving TDs in 1984.

    Article did nothing to sway me. I have known about his size from Day 1. Watching this kid on film, I feel so incredibly confident that he'll be great. That's why I want him on the Rams.
     
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  3. A55VA6 Shutdown Corner

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    I agree. His speed and quickness really makes up for his size.
     
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  4. Memento Ser Memento (alias, The Winged Knight).

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    You can't teach size. There's a reason why Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Andre Johnson are the most dominant receivers in the league and future Hall of Famers. There's a reason why Zdeno Chara (hockey, Boston Bruins) is the best defenseman in the world right now and why every hockey team wants to draft the next version of him (he's 6'9"). While I like the quick-twitch ability and sheer speed of Austin, I can't help but think that he won't last long in this league at a mere 5'8", 174 lbs. Even if you round his height up to 5'9", his weight still kills him; the only player I can think of who has had success in the modern NFL at his weight was Desean Jackson.

    Also, you have to consider that you're spending a first round pick on a mere slot receiver. Even if we don't take Austin, we have Pettis, Givens, and Cook who can all play in the slot. Even if you place Austin on returns, that just means that there's more chances where he can get hurt. Remember Amendola's ill-fated kickoff return against the Lions?

    I'd rather take Justin Hunter at #22 than Tavon Austin at #16.
     
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  5. jrry32 Well-Known Member

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    Remind me, what did Seattle give up for a "mere slot WR"?

    Givens should not be playing the slot. As for Pettis, why not just be satisfied with Brandon Gibson as our SE? It's the same type of question. Pettis is fine as a #4 WR. But when you have a chance to get an explosive play-maker, Austin Pettis doesn't stand in your way.

    And interesting that you bring up Justin Hunter while discussing durability concerns with Austin. Remind me, which player missed one third of their college career and which player played every single game?

    Also, interesting in the comparison is that Justin Hunter has quite a slight build himself at 6'4" 196.

    You can't teach size...agreed. You also can't teach speed. How many players are there in the NFL with 4.25 speed? On top of that, you can't teach agility/COD skills. How many players are there in the NFL with Austin's agility?

    Austin is much more than a slot WR. He can line-up anywhere on offense including outside at WR. He's the ultimate mismatch and a player that can contribute on so many different levels to winning games. He can win you the field position battle on special teams and will be one of the biggest threats in the NFL on offense the second he touches the field.

    Hell, Dexter McCluster is the same size as Austin and managed 160 touches in 2011 on offense.

    I'd be fine with both Austin and Hunter in the 1st.
     
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  6. jap Well-Known Member

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    If all I had to go on was Tavon's size and position, I would probably pause. However, the fact that he is a former RB, the fact that he is not only durable & tough but appears to instinctively know how to protect himself argues that he is one of those rare little big men that can survive in the NFL world.

    To mitigate the type of attention that Danny_A received, I would surround him with other playmakers so as to render him as one option among several rather than the only real option. Fish is doing just that. He has Chris Givens outside who rivals Tavon in warp speed. He has two TE's who are capable of sneaking deep as well as collecting catches in traffic. He has a young man child Brian Quick who is an exotic blend of speed, power, and sheer athleticism. He has Austin Pettis with his great hands and quick twitch reflexes for snaring tipped passes. He has Isaiah coming out of the backfield with speed and electric quickness of his own. If Fish can build an OL wall in front of Sam, he will also have a QB with uncanny accuracy who can place the ball in a manner to protect his receivers.
     
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  7. DR RAM Rams Lifer

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    He appears to be the exception and not he rule, but that will be earned, or dis-bunked.
     
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  8. Memento Ser Memento (alias, The Winged Knight).

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    Harvin will be an outside receiver in their system and is not nearly as small as Austin is (Harvin is 5'11", 184 lbs.). Not a good comparison. Good slot receivers can be found very late or as undrafted free agents; you need only look at Welker and Amendola. I don't want to pick one in the first round when we have at least five other huge needs, including a rather glaring one at the same position: we still do not have a number one wide receiver, and we have not had one since Torry Holt was released. I'm not going to hold my breath on Quick becoming anything more than a good number two, and I happen to like Quick a lot. Givens isn't a number one either, and I like him too. After that? Nothing.

    I never said that Givens should be playing the slot; I said he can. Cook can as well. Pettis can. We have slot receivers. We do not have that elusive number one wideout who can legitimately play on the outside and physically match up against the Shermans, Petersons, and Browners of the world. We don't have that power running back. We're still missing at least three pieces on the O-line (because I can't see us keeping Harvey Dahl). We don't have a ball-hawking safety or even a decent strong-side linebacker. And I'm not even getting into all of the depth that both the defense and offense will need. My point? There are other ways to go about this aside from taking Austin with a top twenty pick (because you know that a team is going to reach for him in this weak draft class).

    Hunter's injury was a freak accident where he landed funny on the field while making a reception. That does not equate to durability concerns. Other than that ACL injury, Hunter has been perfectly healthy his entire career and has not even had nagging injuries that have bothered him.

    The difference is that Hunter has the frame to gain ten or fifteen pounds without losing the speed that makes him so coveted, much like A.J. Green and Randy Moss did. Austin's frame is maxed out.

    How many players have succeeded with Austin's size? In fact, how many modern day NFL players who are currently in the league have Austin's size period? There's so much more to being a receiver than merely speed and agility; they have to have toughness too, and I don't know if Austin is tough enough to withstand the beating that he is going to take. This is not college. I don't care how fast Austin is; he is not going to be able to run away from everyone on every play. He's going to take some shots.

    How do you know he's going to be able to line up on the outside in the NFL, especially at his size? Steve Smith is the only wideout who is smaller than 5'10 who consistently lines up on the outside right now, and he's much heavier than 174 lbs. Every corner is going to try to jam Austin at the line, and we have several huge corners in our division alone who have a very, very noticeable size advantage over him (I'm talking six inches or more, in one case). Like I said, he's going to take some shots at the NFL level. How will he handle that at 5'8", 174 lbs.?

    McCluster has been an enormous disappointment for the Chiefs. In fact, that's who I think Austin reminds me of most coming out of college. Same height and weight, same quick-twitch agility, and he even lined up at the same positions that Austin lined up at (wide receiver, running back, returner). I don't see Austin being any more or less effective than McCluster at the NFL level, especially since McCluster played against much tougher competition.

    Hunter, yes, but I can't justify Austin with all of the other needs we have and all of the risks his size poses. At best, you're hoping for a Percy Harvin impact, and I want more than that.
     
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  9. jrry32 Well-Known Member

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    Harvin isn't an outside WR in their system and I don't care about his size. He had a lot more injury issues in college than Austin did. And he's had them in the NFL too. And yet he's still worth a 1st, a 7th and a mid round pick.

    As for your claim, you can say the same thing about any position. I know you've heard of Victor Cruz, Miles Austin, Marques Colston(7th), Donald Driver(7th) and Rod Smith.

    Austin is more than a "slot WR". He's a play-maker and mismatch wherever you play him. His skill-set is so unique and rare that you don't consider passing on a guy like this in the 1st when you need a WR and you need an explosive element to your offense. He can play anywhere on the field. And frankly, it doesn't matter where he is lining up if he's getting open, scoring TDs and picking up yardage.

    And Austin can play Flanker if you so choose that route. If DeSean Jackson can, Austin can. You put Austin in the slot because you want to get him the ball as much as possible. But he can play outside.

    I don't care about a power HB or a Sam LB. Those are minor needs. A safety is a need but there is no safety worth a top 20 pick while there are a ton of safeties in rounds 2 through 4. As for the OL, if Lane Johnson or Warmack is there, I'm all for it. Otherwise, worry about it later. If the Rams let Dahl go, it's because they want to give that spot to Rok Watkins.

    Wait, so you mean freak injuries can happen to 6'4" WRs too? So remind me, why exactly are we worrying about whether Austin can stay healthy when he's never missed a game in his career? I'm just a little confused.

    Injuries happen. They are unexpected and they are often unpredictable. Some players are more prone to them than others. If Austin has proven anything, it's that he's not prone to injuries. He could have a freak injury. Anyone can. But he's not a guy who has struggled with nagging injuries or let anything keep him off the field. The "concerns" here are misplaced.

    I highly doubt that. Green measured in at 6'4" 211 at the combine. He hasn't gained weight. Hunter might be able to gain 5 pounds but he has a very naturally skinny frame...like DX. I don't see him gaining much weight. Moss was skinny his entire career...and he still was 6'4" 210. If you think Hunter is suddenly gonna go from 196 to 210, imo, your expecting a little too much.

    Toughness would be the last thing I questioned with Austin. He took shots in college. He's a real tough kid and he's not afraid to get physical. He's not afraid to afraid to take a hit. This is a kid who ran between the tackles when WVU lined up at HB. Toughness is the last thing I'm worried about.

    The thing is, though, if you're smart...it's not hard to avoid most hits. And the thing about being fast and ridiculously elusive is that most players don't try to light you up. Because they recognize that they could end up looking extremely stupid going for the knockout hit and hurt their team. Ask Barry Sanders.

    Austin knows when to get down, when to get out of bounds and how to protect himself. Being a former HB helps with that. Defenders also know that going for a knockout hit can end up costing their team 6.

    But lets stop for a moment, do you think that being 6'4" is going to protect Justin Hunter from being knocked out if a defender gets a beat on him? Hell, didn't 5'11" 220 pound Stevan Ridley get knocked out cold in the AFC Champ game? It's football, hard hits will happen. Doesn't matter how big you are.

    As for size, DeSean Jackson, Mark Clayton(Miami), Mark Duper, Santana Moss(coming out), Titus Young, Dexter McCluster, etc.

    All are guys around his size. Hell, Brandon Banks is even smaller. Let me ask you this, how many QBs around Russell Wilson's size have panned out?

    Sometimes, you gotta recognize when it's worth looking beyond certain guidelines because a guy has the skill-set that more than makes up for 1 area where he's lacking.

    Ask DeSean Jackson how he'll be able to line up on the outside. Ask Titus Young. As for pressing him, with Austin's burst, quickness and top-end speed...do you really want to risk him beating you off the jam? Because even if it happens only once...good bye.

    McCluster has been a disappointment but he doesn't have the skill-set or talent that Austin has. What you can't deny is that he hasn't been run out of the league by big hits.

    And the bold is truly a misrepresentation. McCluster was a college HB who occasionally lined up at WR who was drafted to play WR...like the human joystick was. Austin is a college WR who occasionally lined up at HB who is being drafted to play WR. He's much further along than McCluster and much more natural at the position.

    I can justify Austin a lot more easily than Hunter.

    And the bold is so false that it makes me shake my head in disgust.

    That's a ridiculous statement and limitation. Austin has the potential to be one of the best weapons and most dangerous players in the NFL. Then again, many consider Harvin to be that. In that case, I would say that's not such a bad thing to look for in a 1st round pick...

    But Austin could easily be one of the most productive WRs in the league in the right system if he pans out...and a real nightmare for defensive coordinators.
     
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  10. -X- Not into the whole brevity thing.

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    Maybe you two can discuss this without all the heavy sarcasm and passive aggressiveness?
    Because it is a good discussion when it doesn't sound like me and my ex-wife.

    K thanks bye.
     
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  11. BonifayRam Well-Known Member

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    Yes JAP you are on your game here my old friend! I agree with everything in this above post.

    Rams have needs in so many areas:
    #1-Slot Receiver
    #2-Wide Receiver
    #3-Punt Returner
    #4-Kick Returner
    #5-RB to replace #39

    Ok lets see what one pick like Austin might possible fill in that above list?

    Punt Returner, Kick Returner, a bonified Slot Receiver, also adds to the backfield RB cadre & adds to the wide out receiving cadre too. So in one very very small package , operational wise works so well to meet the five needs of this Ram team. Ok time to argue against that....
     
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  12. Memento Ser Memento (alias, The Winged Knight).

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    Fair enough.

    Jrry, I apologize for not expressing my thoughts in a more polite and civil manner, and I also apologize if it sounds like I'm discounting your opinions on the matter. I figure it would be best to drop the matter entirely; we have our own seperate opinions, and I doubt that anything's going to change that...so, agree to disagree?
     
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  13. -X- Not into the whole brevity thing.

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    I think you both make strong points for and against the drafting of Austin. I myself have flip-flopped on it a few times, which means I have lingering doubts as to just how effectively he'd fit within the scheme. The thing that keeps pulling me back into the *pro* department is his 'tape', and wondering how I would like to defend him if he was picked up by any other team in the NFCW.

    IF you can get him in space, then there's simply no denying his value to an offense. Part of Schottenheimer's scheme utilizes a lot of motion too, so I don't think it would be a matter of worrying about him being jammed at the line in those instances. At the same time, though, how much motion do you want to use in an offense? At some point he does have to win those one-on-one battles, and the DBs in this division aren't necessarily push-overs. Kinda why they picked up Cook, I'd imagine.
     
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  14. F. Mulder Active Member

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    Great- Now we are doing apologies! I can't remember the last time I read someone actually backoff for the greater good of the thread and the board.

    Seriously, class move and another reason I'm spending more and more time here. :clap:
     
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  15. Memphis Ram Well-Known Member

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    Well, the team's slot WR is probably slot TE Jared Cook. The new kick return rule sorta takes the sting out of that need. The team already has two undersized speed backs. And there are other WRs and punt returners who could be had outside of the 1st round.
     
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  16. ooooo Member

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    yep.this isn't the daycare forum at the P.D.
     
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  17. -X- Not into the whole brevity thing.

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    Who ya got?
     
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  18. BonifayRam Well-Known Member

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    All true MemphisRam, if TA was a none option I am looking at my next guy who is Markus Wheaton I really like this guy a lot too. Looks like if we want him we will have to use the #46 pick to get him because he will be vapor #78.

    <a class="postlink" href="http://www.nfl.com/combine/profiles/markus-wheaton?id=2539291" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">http://www.nfl.com/combine/profiles/mar ... id=2539291</a>
     
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  19. Rabid Ram Well-Known Member

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    Amen we have our slot guy

    Kickoff is pretty well null and void since the kickoff rule change

    We have to at least see hiw our draft picks for rb pan out before we just toss more picks at the issue

    As far as wide receiver and punt returner i think we are over looking a good steal in Stedman Bailey.
    Kids got soft hands a winning attitude and catches everything
    And at 5'10 188lbs he ran a 4.5 40 and breaks blocks.


    This video shows his talent and attitude

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PuREkqc5F3o&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    This video shows his skills and play making

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TWLXrlF8SE&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    I mean watch his recognition where he is at on the field and in the endzone.

    He truly is a steal projected 2nd or 3rd rd. Primarily because he just recently decided he was gonna skip his senior year and announce for the draft.

    Granted he isnt as fast as Austin BUT he holds wv's receiving record not Austin he was the belishnikoff award winner not Austin. I think people get caught up in the gimmickyness of Austin i think there are better options such as bailey myself
     
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  20. ramsince62 Well-Known Member

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    :good1:
     
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