CNNSI Ranks The Last 20 Heisman Winners

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#14: Testaverde played a huge roll in Miami's upsurge as a national power during the 1980s and '90s. In '86, he threw for 2,557, 26 touchdowns and just nine interceptions.

#20: Torretta threw for 3,080 yards with 19 touchdowns and 7 interceptions and beat out San Diego State sophomore Marshall Faulk.

More Q & A With Gore

Q. How hard is it on you seeing Miami struggle?

A. It's tough, man. They brought in a lot of coaches. That kinda hurt us because we had a great staff.

Q. Now the head coach, Larry Coker, has been fired. What's your reaction?

A. He's a good dude. When I was there, he was a player's coach. He shouldn't have let go our old coaching staff.

Q. Is Florida out-recruiting Miami and Florida State?

A. Really, Miami doesn't have to go too far. They just need to stay in Dade County. That's good football there.

Q. Any thoughts on a new coach for the'Canes?

A. A coach like Randy Shannon, our defensive coordinator, is a straight-ahead guy. He won't take pity, and he'd make sure everyone is doing the right thing. He'd be a good head coach.

Hester role expected to expand

LAKE FOREST -- The idea of rookie return man Devin Hester returning the football in any way shape or form excites Bears coach Lovie Smith.

The idea of Hester playing cornerback, his position on the roster?

"I trust him a lot better as a punt returner," Smith admitted Friday, "but he's making a lot of progress. He's made a lot of progress about the last month.

"It's hard to see that progress when you don't get a chance to play. He's playing in (back) of three good football players."

Key matchup: 49ers RB Frank Gore vs. Packers defensive line

Frank Gore has become one of the most effective running backs in the NFL in just his second season. He's rushed for 1,217 yards and five touchdowns, which puts him behind only San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson and Kansas City's Larry Johnson.

Gore has rushed for more than 100 yards in a game six times, and the 49ers are 4-2 in those games. When he's held to fewer than 100 yards, the 49ers are 1-5. Gore's best game came against the Seattle Seahawks, when he rushed for 212 yards in an upset win. During the 49ers' 34-10 loss to the Saints last weekend, Gore was held to just 40 yards, which was a big reason why San Francisco couldn't get anything done on offense.

As effective as Gore has been this season, he's scored only five touchdowns and has been fumble-prone. He's coughed up the ball five times, more than any running back in the NFL.

Moss' hamstring back to full strength

Lost in the midst of Washington's near-elimination from theplayoff race with last Sunday's loss to Atlanta was receiver Santana Moss' return to the form that made him a Pro Bowl starter last season.

After battling a strained hamstring for five weeks, Moss showed he was back on his initial catch, leaping over Falcons DeAngelo Hall and Chris Crocker to corral a 42-yard lofted pass from Jason Campbell for the touchdown that gave the Redskins an early 14-0 lead.

"The touchdown was like a sigh of relief," said Moss, who hadn't scored since the overtime game-winner on Oct. 1 against Jacksonville. I just want to [help] give our team a chance to win games. They got me here for a reason. I felt good [the previous week against Carolina when he had just 12 yards on three catches], too, but your first game back, you're not going to be yourself. Playing that whole game gave me a game to really say, 'OK. I did that.' I had a gauge. I could watch myself on film, say I did all right and now I can do a little more in practice and go out and play a little differently."

Gore reflects on season as 49ers' star RB

SANTA CLARA - Forty-niner running back Frank Gore has 1,217 rushing yards. With four games left, he could pass Garrison Hearst, whose 1,570 yards in 1998 is the franchise record.

Gore was such a find, the 49ers got rid of another No. 3 pick, running back Kevan Barlow, to make room for the 5-9, 215-pound second-year pro from the University of Miami (Fla).

Gore is a prime candidate for All-Pro and/or the Pro Bowl. On Thursday, he discussed his escalating career, the 49ers' bright future, and the depressing state of Miami football of late.

Q. What do you need to become a great running back?

A. I've just got to keep working, keep learning. Don't get relaxed. If I always try to better myself, I feel I can reach that level.

MOSS TOSS - WR COULD SPARK JINTS' OFFENSE

December 8, 2006 -- After his 10-yard receiver screen for a first down Sunday, Sinorice Moss heard the Giants crowd.

"It felt good to be back on the field and hear the fans how they cheered when I got on the field," said Moss, who appeared in just his second game of the season.

Suddenly, Moss, who caught one pass for 10 yards against the Cowboys last Sunday, could be a vital piece of the Giants offense. Since Amani Toomer went down, Tim Carter and David Tyree have done little to ease the pressure off Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey. This has left an opening for Moss to dash through.

Texans' Johnson in the mold of former Bills WR

Andre Johnson is the reason former Buffalo Bills standout Eric Moulds picked the Houston Texans over the Philadelphia Eagles.

"Andre wanted me here, so I made my decision," Moulds said last April after brokering a deal with Houston following 10 productive years in Buffalo. "I always wanted to play with him. He's an up-and-coming receiver."

Obviously, Moulds can pick 'em as well as he once could catch 'em.

Johnson, who leads the NFL in receptions with 85 catches for 991 yards and five touchdowns, is looking an awful lot like Moulds in his heyday.

Rashad Butler Update

Carolina created a roster spot, placing rookie tackle Rashad Butler on the reserve/non-football injury list. Butler, who has not played this season, has a staph infection.

(nfl.com)

STAY ON COURSE WITH JONATHAN VILMA AND THE BURGER KING ON XBOX LIVE

New York Jets linebacker Jonathan Vilma and royal subject the Burger King will swap practice cleats and a WHOPPER® Sandwich for a low-rider to race against fans on Xbox Live® as part of the latest Xbox Live Game with Fame session. Xbox Live Gold members interested in the chance to take on the duo in Pocketbike Racer for Xbox 360™ Tuesday, December 12, 2006 between 4:30 - 5:30 PM ET, should visit bkgamer.com and register by December 8, 2006.

The King is most recognized for his starring role in the BURGER KING® TV ads, but seems to be everywhere these days -- walking red carpets, making big hits on the NFL field, dating celebrity models and now starring in his own video games.

New York Jets linebacker Jonathan Vilma is the third player in team history to earn the coveted AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. In just his third season in the NFL, Vilma has started in 42 of 44 games played, collecting 372 total tackles, 2.5 sacks, five interceptions for 59 yards, 11 pass deflections, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. While attending the University of Miami, Vilma was a three-time member of the Academic All-Big East team and a first-team All-American selection. He was also a two-time Butkus Award nominee, which recognizes the nation's top linebacker.

Practically in-Vince-ible: Wilfork the ideal nose

FOXBORO - Fans look at Vince Wilfork and see a fat guy.

NFL types look at Vince Wilfork and see Terrell Owens.

Sounds crazy, but it’s not. In a league full of freakish athletes, Wilfork may be the most unique of all. He’s built like Ted Washington, moves like Warren Sapp and reads offenses like Tedy Bruschi.

He’s literally and figuratively in the middle of everything the Patriots do defensively, ranking seventh with 46 tackles despite working as a glorified offensive lineman for linebackers Bruschi and Mike Vrabel. Head coach Bill Belichick could not design a more ideal 3-4 nose tackle in Dr. Frankenstein’s lab.

McKinnie gets nastier - Talented tackle says Hutchinson has made him more aggressive

All-Pro left guard Steve Hutchinson is rubbing off on him, Vikings left tackle Bryant McKinnie said.

"I'm probably a little more aggressive," McKinnie said. "I'm still trying to do some of the things he does."

Laid back by nature, McKinnie is tremendously athletic and would be described as a finesse player. Hutchinson tries to drive his opponent into the ground. McKinnie said that nastiness is affecting him, and he's making more pancake blocks as a result.

"When I get on a block, I explode through the guy," McKinnie said. "But he stays on a guy and keeps his feet moving."

Sinorice Moss Update - Q&A With Tom Coughlin

Q: Sinorice Moss got a little more work today.  So he’s ok?

A: He’s practicing and getting more and more.


Q: Are you going to try to do more with him?

A: I think so.  We’ll advance.


Q: You like the way he played.

A: Yeah, that was, but there’s other things that he does well and as we go along here we’ll get him more involved. 

(sportsfeatures.com)

Aubrey Huff Update

The Orioles continue to pursue three- way trade opportunities that would land Thames, 29, who hit .256 with 26 homers and 60 RBIs last season. Orioles officials would love to add both players. And a backup plan to Thames has emerged in Aubrey Huff, the free agent first baseman/DH who has always hit well at Camden Yards.

Orioles officials met with Huff's agent late Wednesday night and are now giving heavy consideration to making the former Tampa Bay Devil Ray an offer.

"These same players we are considering now, we talked about back in September," said Orioles vice president Jim Duquette, disputing the notion that the Orioles are completely in fall-back mode. "We were hoping not to get it to that part of the list, but we've had plenty of conversations on them."

(baltimoresun.com)

Phils hope Burrell can return to form - With no deal imminent, left fielder may be back in Philly in '07

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Blame Alfonso Soriano.

Because the prized free-agent slugger declined Philadelphia's offer to protect Ryan Howard, the Phillies seem to be suggesting more and more that Pat Burrell will be their left fielder in 2007.

"If we would have signed Soriano, we probably would have had to made some other moves that would've allowed us to do what we wanted to do," general manager Pat Gillick said on Day 1 of the Winter Meetings. "Soriano was probably the most complete player out there."

The main other move would've been finding a new home for Burrell, whose 29 homers and 95 RBIs were still considered a disappointment by some in the organization, partly because he hit .222 with runners in scoring position, and partly because he became too susceptible to inside fastballs.

Steelers’ Porter ridicules Winslow, Browns - LB on TE: ‘He talks too much and doesn’t do anything. He’s weak, he’s soft’

PITTSBURGH - Steelers linebacker Joey Porter ridiculed the Browns following Pittsburgh’s win Thursday night, calling tight end Kellen Winslow a derogatory name and saying the team is too soft to be a true rival to the Super Bowl champions.

With Willie Parker running for a franchise-record 223 yards, the Steelers outrushed the Browns 303-18 during a 27-7 victory Thursday night that was nearly as one-sided as Pittsburgh’s 41-0 decision in Cleveland last December. The Steelers have won six in a row and 13 of 14 from their AFC North rivals.

“They kicked our rear ends,” Browns receiver Joe Jurevicius said.

Edge's advice: Just take care of Matt

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Edgerrin James has some simple advice for those who are plotting the Arizona Cardinals' future.

"If around here they do right by Matt, we're going to be all right," he said.

Enduring a losing season and often running into a brick wall on game day, James said that the future of the franchise is in the hands of Matt Leinart, the rookie who has coolly taken control of the Cardinals' offense.

He compares Leinart to Peyton Manning, his quarterback in much more successful times.

McDougle courageous

Defensive end Jerome McDougle has been named the Eagles’ Ed Block Courage Award winner for 2006.

McDougle missed last season after suffering a bullet wound while visiting relatives in Miami. The incident occurred on the day before training camp. The 27-year-old McDougle had hoped to return during the season but suffered a setback that required emergency surgery.

This season, the Eagles’ No. 1 pick in 2003 has played only nine games this season. He has nine tackles and only one sack but is still optimistic.

“Life is just a struggle in itself. You’re going to have ups and downs, and you’ve got to keep pushing,” McDougle said. “I’m happy to be alive. Life is good to me. A lot of things that would bother most people, they don’t bother me. I’m just enjoying life.”

McDougle and his brother Stockar, a tackle for the Jaguars, have formed a foundation with the Broward County (Fla.) Athletic Association to promote education and interscholastic sports in the area.

(philadelphia.comcastsportsnet.com)

NFL By The Numbers - Devin Hester

4 ... Devin Hester's 45-yard punt return for a touchdown in the Bears' win over the Vikings made him the first rookie in 39 years with four scoring returns in the kicking game in the same season. The last rookie to do so was Travis Williams of the Packers, who returned four kickoffs for touchdowns in 1967. Click Here To See Full Picture

(cnnsi.com)

Willis McGahee Talks Some Trash to Vilma











Bills need McGahee to bring his game up a notch

(December 7, 2006) — ORCHARD PARK — You don't have to tell Marv Levy what it takes to win in the National Football League.
The man is a Hall of Famer who took the Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls in the early 1990s.

That's why there was no look of amazement on Levy's face Sunday as he watched the San Diego Chargers defeat the Buffalo team he is in charge of rebuilding piece by piece.

Right there, in living color on an otherwise cold and gray day at Ralph Wilson Stadium, was a team that is built to win. And of all the things that San Diego does well, one stood above all the others in the Chargers' 24-21 victory: San Diego's ability to run the ball.

Kosar insists he's a viable candidate for UM job

Bernie Kosar realizes that on the surface it might seem inconceivable for a guy with no coaching experience to be considered for one of the highest-profile, highest-stress jobs in college sports. But the former University of Miami quarterback insists his interest in the vacant Hurricanes head-coaching job is not an ill-conceived pipe dream.

On the contrary. He said he has given it much thought, and done more homework than anyone realizes, including quizzing college coaches he admires about how they handle their programs, everything from curfews to staffing to facilities. He said if UM can't get one of the ''big-name, sure things,'' he feels he should be given consideration.

James Jones must heat up fast

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It's not the easiest request for Suns reserve swingman James Jones.

Sit idly for long stretches. When put in the game, make an immediate impact that makes up for Shawn Marion, Raja Bell, Boris Diaw or Leandro Barbosa not being on the floor.

But if Jones is to be the one who will solidify an eight-man rotation, then he will have to be able to heat up his shot like a microwave and bring tenacity.

"We need something from him, and hopefully I continue with him," said Suns coach Mike D'Antoni, who gave Jones 17 minutes Tuesday for his longest work since the first of Phoenix's seven straight wins.

Manuel, Green differ on Burrell

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Phillies executive Dallas Green and manager Charlie Manuel are at odds again.

Well, sort of. While the baseball lifers did clear the air since Manuel chewed out Green on the field before a game last August for criticizing the Phillies on the radio station 610-WIP, they now have different opinions on outfielder Pat Burrell's work habits.

Two days after Green added some early controversy to the Winter Meetings by repeatedly saying Burrell needs to focus more on baseball and less on his nightlife, Manuel defended his often-criticized slugger.

“I think in baseball there is a maturity stage as a player,” Manuel said Wednesday. “A lot of times taking care of yourself is part of it, but at the same time I look at Pat [and] he's one of the first guys at the ballpark and he definitely stays late sometimes. He spends his time at the ballpark. I see him. I throw to him every day in the cage early, and he definitely puts his time in.”

Johnson dishes compliments, not trash, about Raiders cornerbacks

(12-06) 19:21 PST Alameda, Calif. (AP) --

Chad Johnson sat down to watch film of the Oakland Raiders' cornerbacks and was surprised by what he saw.

"They are blanketing everybody they play, everybody they play," Johnson said Wednesday in a conference call with Bay Area reporters. "Whether the guy makes the catch or not they're always in the vicinity. And that's surprising to me for a team to have that kind of trust in corners."

Johnson is not usually quick with compliments for opposing cornerbacks, instead preferring to engage in cross-country trash talking whenever he can.

McGahee aims to run more than mouth

Bills running back Willis McGahee did not practice yesterday and had a protective boot on his sore left ankle, but he expects to play on Sunday.

Why wouldn't he? McGahee has thrived against the Jets in his career, averaging 134.5 yards in the last four games, including a career-high 150 when the teams met in Week 3. McGahee said having his buddy and Jets linebacker Jonathan Vilma on the other side of the line brings out the best in him. And, apparently, a few verbal jabs as well.

To tell you the truth, I don't even talk to him before we play each other," McGahee said of his former University of Miami teammate while talking to Buffalo reporters yesterday. "Once we see each other on the field, he makes his little tackles, he goes to running his mouth. Then that's when it all starts. Saying things like 'It's going to be a long game.' I be like 'OK.' That's when I put my hard hat on and it's time to go to work."

Broncos Webster Ready To Step In

(AP) ENGLEWOOD, Colo. If Broncos middle linebacker Al Wilson (neck) can't go Sunday, backup Nate Webster is on standby. "I'm always ready," he said. Webster was inactive against Seattle when Wilson went down after hitting teammate Gerard Warren in the back in the fourth quarter. Wilson was carted off the field. "It's enough seeing him down, but it was hard being inactive (and not being able to help)," Webster said. "I've got to get ready for whatever may transpire."

(cbs4denver.com)

Sapp: Bengals retracted '04 offer

Warren Sapp, playing well in his 12th season, his third in Oakland, almost signed with the Bengals in 2004.

"They snatched the offer off the table," Sapp Wednesday, four days before he will take on the Bengals.

"They said they were bidding against themselves," Sapp said of the Bengals' offer in unrestricted free agency. "They gave me an hour to take the offer. I called back in 57 minutes and they took the offer off the table. They said they were bidding against themselves."

Sapp has seven sacks this season as a key veteran leader in the league's third-ranked defense.

(news.enquirer.com)

Jamaal Green Update

DE Jamaal Green was signed to the Washington Redskins practice squad.

(wjla.com)

Beane arrives and lands Piazza, Embree

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Athletics had a productive day at the Winter Meetings on Wednesday, which coincided with the arrival of general manager Billy Beane. He flew in from New York, finalized a deal with free-agent left-hander Alan Embree and moved within a passed physical of securing Mike Piazza for the 2007 season.

Embree is signed, sealed and delivered to the Athletics' already-strong bullpen, and by the end of the week, the gaping designated hitter hole created by the departure of Frank Thomas should be filled by Piazza. Embree signed a two-year contract and Piazza has agreed to a one-year deal for a reported $8 million to $9 million.

When he met with reporters Wednesday afternoon, Beane made sure he didn't say it was a done deal with Piazza, a future Hall of Famer. But the GM left little doubt that one of the most productive offensive catchers in Major League Baseball history would be calling Oakland home next season.

McGahee Has New Injury; Trash Talks to Vilma

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Still recovering from three broken ribs Willis McGahee was a non-participant in practice Wednesday. Only the reason he sat out practice had nothing to do with his ribs.
When McGahee emerged from the training room to speak with the media he hobbled to the microphone wearing an immobilizer boot on his left ankle. But Buffalo's top back downplayed the presence of the device.

"It's my prosthetic shoe," joked McGahee. "(The ankle) has been going on, but (the boot) is for precautionary reasons. That's all. It's nothing. No worries."

McGahee, who is listed as questionable on the team's injury report, is fairly confident he'll be on the field Sunday.

"That's the game plan," said McGahee of playing Sunday. "I wouldn't be right here talking if I wasn't playing Sunday."

Hester Named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week

Hester opened up the scoring in his club's 23-13 win over Minnesota with a 45-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter. It was Hester's fourth return touchdown this season as the Bears clinched the NFC North with the win.

It is Hester's second career weekly award as the Miami-Florida product earned special teams honors in Week 10 as well.

(seattlepi.nwsource.com)

NFL Rookie Watch Number 5, Devin Hester, PR, Bears

Hester leads the NFL with a 14.3-yard punt-return average and three punt returns for touchdowns. Last Sunday, his 45-yard punt return touchdown helped the Bears top the Vikings 23-13. With the offense sputtering, Hester is a life-saver in the Windy City. Click Here for full picture.
hester1
(cnnsi.com)

Blades carries UM torch

NEW YORK · Bennie Blades wasn't thinking about the rest of his induction class as he sat at the podium Tuesday morning flanked by Bobby Bowden and Carl Eller and Steve Emtman.

They were all going into the College Football Hall of Fame together. And, to a man, most of the 14 inductees present took turns acknowledging the rest of the group, adding how much more meaningful this honor is coming alongside these men.

It was a formality as fundamental to Tuesday's festivities as thanking the National Football Foundation and its voters. The state's college tradition was well represented, with former Florida running back Emmitt Smith and former FSU quarterback Charlie Ward joining Miami's Blades and FSU's Bowden in the induction class.

In a Down Year, Moss Looks Good by Comparison

Santana Moss, dogged by a series of hamstring problems, will come nowhere close to the franchise record he set for receiving yards in 2005, but in a league filled with wide receivers who whine about their roles or production, Moss has been a mature and incident-free presence with the Redskins.

In both tough and successful times, Moss has endeared himself to teammates and coaches. The former Miami star said that hasn't always been the case with him -- he had an occasional flare-up when he was with the New York Jets -- but he has learned to control his emotions as well as his tongue. Moss, 27, has maintained a perspective on his ups and downs that does not go unnoticed, especially when teammate Brandon Lloyd is throwing helmets -- and tantrums.

"I used to pout and [complain] and moan and worry about this and worry about that, but what it all boils down to is you're hurting something else," Moss said. "All we can do is get better. We can't sit around here and dwell on what happened. We have to move on."

Kosar might enter UM coaching race

The name of a second prominent Hurricane surfaced Tuesday in the University of Miami coaching search.

As expected, UM athletic director Paul Dee interviewed UM defensive coordinator and former Hurricanes player Randy Shannon on Tuesday at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York.

Meanwhile, another famous Hurricanes alum -- Bernie Kosar -- confirmed that he has been approached by some UM trustees and is considering adding his name to the list of candidates to replace Larry Coker.

Browns' Winslow, Steelers' Porter have words

BEREA, Ohio - The first time the Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers played this season, Joey Porter and Kellen Winslow spent part of pregame yapping at each other.

Wednesday, they were members of the Mutual Admiration Society.

"You recognize a ballplayer when you see a ballplayer," Porter said on a conference call with the local media. "He's a good ballplayer. We talked before the game to get ourselves going. You still respect his game afterward.

"There's no bitterness."

"Ditto," Winslow said. "I love Porter. I love going against guys like that. He's a great player and that makes the game fun."

Piazza wavering between A's and Rangers

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) - Free-agent Mike Piazza was weighing an offer from Oakland on Tuesday night about becoming the Athletics' designated hitter, with his agent saying an announcement was expected Wednesday.

The Texas Rangers were the other team still in the running for the 38-year-old Piazza, primed to make a move to the American League after spending the first 15 years of his big league career in the National League as a catcher with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Florida Marlins, New York Mets and San Diego Padres.

"I think we're close with one of the teams," Piazza's agent, Dan Lozano, said Tuesday night. "It's hard to say what direction Mike is going.

"He has a decision to make. There are still some issues to be worked out. I'd like to think it will be done sometime (Wednesday)."

Redskins' Portis has shoulder surgery

ASHBURN, Va. — Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis had shoulder surgery Tuesday that will require six months of rehabilitation.

Portis was placed on injured reserve Nov. 15 after breaking a bone in his hand in a loss to Philadelphia, but his left shoulder had also been ailing him all season. He partially dislocated the shoulder making a tackle in the first preseason game, then jammed the rotator cuff in the regular-season opener.

Tuesday's surgery repaired a torn labrum and stabilized the shoulder.

Portis' injuries — which also included a sprained ankle — led to the worst season in his five-year NFL career. He finished with 523 yards on 127 carries, the first time he rushed for fewer than 1,300 yards.

(thestar.com)

Running backs find their legs in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS - Edgerrin James ran the ball most of the time, and then Marcel Shipp came in to score the touchdowns. And that was fine with James. “I told Shipp to go get all the touchdowns,” James said. “I want to get some yards.”

There was some irony that, after tying an NFL record for the fewest rushing attempts in a game the week previous, the Cardinals had two different running backs smiling after Sunday’s 34-20 win.

James finally got to his coveted 100-yard plateau, gaining 115 yards on 26 carries. Shipp had a threetouchdown day — the first touchdowns Shipp has scored since running in two and catching a third Dec. 15, 2002, in the same Edwards Jones Dome against the Rams.

Phillies not forsaking Burrell

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The most stunning development from the Phillies' otherwise quiet opening day of the winter meetings was the revelation that Dallas Green and Pat Burrell, 42 years apart in age, often hang out together in spring training.

No joke.

Green, the Newport native and silver-haired Phillies senior advisor, admitted Monday that he shares a watering hole in Clearwater, Fla., with Burrell, the left fielder with the cover-boy looks and star potential.

NFL U Week 13 Video Highlights

Check out Week 13 NFL U Video Highlights featuring Santana Moss, Jeremy Shockey, Devin Hester's punt return, and more! Click at the top on NFL U Video Highlights or click here!

Nick Luchey Signs With The Ravens

Luchey was picked up by the Houston Texans during the offseason, but also did not survive final cuts after training camp.

Billick said the team chose Luchey over former Raven Alan Ricard, who was released during the offseason.

"It would have been great to have Alan back, but once we went through the whole process on the personnel side and the coaching and the doctors and the medical people, everybody came together and said this is what the sum total is," Billick said. Signing Luchey "just seemed like a prudent way to go. I'm anxious to get him on board. ... We definitely needed the presence of a legitimate I-fullback in here to back up Ovie [Mughelli]."

(baltimoresun.com)

Dallas Green calls out Burrell

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Dallas Green is out of the penalty box and mixing it up in the corners again.

His target this time isn't Charlie Manuel. It's Pat Burrell.

On Day 1 of the winter meetings, Big D, still a prominent voice in the Phillies' organization 26 years after leading the franchise to its only World Series title, challenged the beleaguered leftfielder to put aside his bon-vivant lifestyle and make baseball the priority in his busy schedule.

"It's time for Pat to look in the mirror," Green, an adviser to general manager Pat Gillick, said in the lobby of Disney's Swan and Dolphin Resort Monday. "His career is really at a crossroads.

Kevin Everett Update

With TE Kevin Everett playing less and less in recent weeks while losing playing time to undrafted free agent Brad Cieslak, it has become clear that the Bills have grown disenchanted with the 2005 third-round pick. We hear Everett's future with the team is iffy beyond this season.

(profootballweekly.com)

Frank Gore Update

While the Niners still think very highly of rookie RB Michael Robinson, it appears his role as the team's short-yardage specialist was short-lived, with starter Frank Gore expected to fill that role the rest of the season. We hear that Robinson probably relied too much on his size and straight-ahead speed and would have been better-served taking a tad more time on occasion to pick holes laterally.

(profootballweekly.com)

Lang Debuts With a Bang

Denver, CO (BlackNews.com) - Kenard Lang, Defensive End for the Denver Broncos, debuts his Foundation to the Mile High City, with his annual Christmas Event, "Shop With A Bronco". Through this event the Kenard Lang Foundation(TM) strives to develop the lives of underprivileged children in its community.

This is the Foundation's inaugural event in Denver, Colorado. However, this event has been bringing holiday smiles to the faces of at risk youth for the past three years in Cleveland, Ohio. Eager to bring the success of this annual event to his new Denver community, Kenard Lang has once again joined forces with Dick's Sporting Goods along with this years' new event partner, Papa John's Pizza.

Burrell on the Block as Meetings Begin

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Pat Gillick, you have a $27 million slugger that nobody seems to want. What are you going to do next?

I'm going to Disney World!

Gillick will spend the upcoming week at the Winter Meetings in Orlando, joined by hundreds of general managers, agents, players and media. All of the general managers will arrive with specific agendas and Gillick's is simple: find a taker for Pat Burrell.

Gillick's first year as general manager was defined by the Jim Thome trade. His second campaign will be judged on two things: how the Bobby Abreu deal works out and whether or not he can find a team willing to take on Burrell's massive contract.

NFL U Week 13 Season Gallery Updated

Check out Week 13 pictures to NFL U Gallery. Check out more pictures of Frank Gore, Willis McGahee, Edgerrin James and more by clicking above on NFL U Season Gallery or click here.

Gore has nowhere to run - Saints' defense keeps S.F. back bottled up

A determined Saints defense stuffed 49ers running back Frank Gore in a box Sunday and shipped him back to San Francisco.

"They had a good game plan," 49ers right guard Justin Smiley said after the Saints' 34-10 victory at the Superdome. "Their defensive coordinator (Gary Gibbs), I can't say enough about that guy. I'm not so sure who he is, but whatever he did today worked. They stacked the box and pressured our receivers pretty good, and it was a long day."

Gore entered the game ranked second in the NFL with 1,117 rushing yards, including a franchise record-tying six 100-yard games this season. He exited with a season-low 40 yards on 13 carries. After the first quarter, he had 16 yards on five carries.

Hester's day is extra special

On a day when the weather and the Bears offense were equally brutal, Devin Hester was nothing short of sensational.

Returning both punts and kickoffs with equal aplomb, Hester provided ample amounts of excitement Sunday in sparking the Bears to a 23-13 win over the Minnesota Vikings at frigid Soldier Field.

Time and again, Hester brought the fans -- bundled up in the 20-degree weather at kickoff -- to their feet.

The most notable occasion came in the second quarter, when the rookie returned a punt 45 yards for a touchdown that jump-started the Bears toward victory and their second straight NFC North title.

'Edge' finally tops 100-yard mark

December 4, 2006) — The Arizona Cardinals had the NFL's worst rush offense (67.7 yards per game) and the host St. Louis Rams had the league's worst rush defense (allowing 154.8 yards rushing per game) entering Sunday's game.

If Edgerrin James ever was going to break the ice with his first 100-yard rushing game with Arizona, this figured to the spot. It was. James had 26 carries for 115 yards in a 34-20 win.

James had 49 100-yard rushing games in seven seasons with Indianapolis, including 237 yards in two games vs. the Rams. He was 0-for-11 this season with Arizona.

(democratandchronicle.com)

Phillip Buchanon Update

NICKEL SWAP: Phillip Buchanon supplanted Torrie Cox as the nickel back. No rationale was given to Buchanon for the decision: "The coaches just told me to be ready and go out there and play."

(sptimes.com)

Frustration builds for quiet Franks

As Bubba Franks sat at his locker after Sunday's 38-10 loss to the New York Jets, the frustration came pouring out.

For most of the season, Franks, a three-time Pro Bowler, has been used primarily as a blocker.

On Sunday, Franks had what is becoming a typical performance. He had three catches for 18 yards, and while Franks did his best to take the high road, it was impossible for him to mask his frustration with his diminishing role.

"I don't even want to get into that," Franks said. "I don't feel like arguing or negotiating with nobody."

Hester ties record to help Bears beat Vikings

CHICAGO, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Devin Hester tied an NFL record with his fourth touchdown return of the season to help the Chicago Bears beat the Minnesota Vikings 23-13 and clinch the NFC North Division title on Sunday.

Chicago (10-2) leads Minnesota by five games in the division with four games remaining and has a two-game lead atop the overall NFC standings.

Hester returned a punt 45 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter to open the scoring, breaking four tackles to scamper down the left side of the field and give Chicago a 7-0 lead.

Hester more than returner - Plays cornerback, when not scoring; offense in future?

Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner would love to get his hands on rookie kick returner Devin Hester.

Vikings defenders could not get their hands on Hester when he stutter-stepped, juked and darted his way to a 45-yard punt return for the Bears' first touchdown in the second quarter of their 23-13 victory Sunday.

Hester has four kick returns for touchdowns this season, tying an NFL record. Asked if he has been lobbying to use Hester to help the Bears' struggling offense, Turner said with a knowing smile: "Not right now. We're just trying to get better and take care of our business. Who knows what's going to happen down the road? But he's obviously a great player."

McGahee finally relents: Tomlinson's the best

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Willis McGahee let out a heavy sigh when he realized where the conversation was headed.

With LaDainian Tomlinson and his eye-popping numbers coming to town, this was not the ideal time to revisit McGahee's brow-raising claim from a year ago that McGahee was the NFL's best running back.

The numbers heavily stacked against him, McGahee knew better than to further the debate. He instead issued a grudging concession in leading up to the Buffalo Bills (5-6) hosting Tomlinson's San Diego Chargers (9-2) on Sunday.

''He's up there. He's one of the best running backs,'' McGahee said. ''You just have to look at what he has done. I think he has over 21 touchdowns, and that's hard to do in the NFL. And I'm struggling to get five.''

Antrell Rolle Update

Arizona Cardinals cornerback Antrel Rolle was among UM alums who called Donna Shalala's office to endorse Randy Shannon for the head-coaching job. . . . We hear other schools have been pursuing Miami assistants Shannon (if he doesn't get Coker's job), Mario Cristobal and Tim Walton.
(herald.com)

49ers' Gore emerges as unlikely star

METAIRIE, La. - Frank Gore lacked the running back pedigree while he attended the University of Miami. His teammate Jarrett Payton had the genes of Hall-of-Famer Walter Payton.

Gore also lacked the luxury of healthy knees as he sustained two torn ACLs while playing for the Hurricanes. So of course there were numerous doubters when the San Francisco 49ers took the chance of drafting Gore last year.

The risk was well worth the reward as Gore leads the NFC in rushing with 1,177 yards and is second in the NFL in his second year in the league.

Vilma, Jets look to be tundra-tough

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Some Jets who have never visited this biggest little city on NFL Earth expressed reverence about playing in the shrine called Lambeau.

Some said they'll follow Eric Mangini's five-second rule, "appreciating the atmosphere," then moving on to what's important: beating the Packers.

For Jonathan Vilma, five seconds is about five seconds too long.

"To be honest, I'm just going out there and trying to win the game and not worry about anything else," Vilma said, not disrespectfully but matter-of-factly. "It's definitely a business trip. We need to go out there and take care of business."

Rangers interested in signing Piazza - Texas looking to add the All-Star backstop as designated hitter

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are showing serious interest in free-agent catcher Mike Piazza, Major League officials confirmed on Saturday.

The Rangers' interest in Piazza would be more as a designated hitter in the middle of their lineup between first baseman Mark Teixeira and third baseman Hank Blalock. Piazza could conceivably do some catching behind Gerald Laird as well, but the Rangers are looking at him mainly as an offensive player.

The Rangers have been talking with his representatives for a couple of weeks, but their interest has increased after the San Diego Padres declined to offer him arbitration by the Friday night deadline. Piazza is a Type A free agent, but the Rangers don't have to forfeit a draft pick because he was not offered arbitration.

With Jeff Feagles

Giants punter Jeff Feagles has never missed a game in his 19 N.F.L. seasons and could play in his 300th consecutive game today. But he reported soreness in his knee Friday, a flare-up of degenerative arthritis. Feagles said he would play, but the Giants signed the veteran Sean Landeta just in case. Feagles, 40, has also been a holder for place-kicker.

DOES THE HOLDER NORMALLY HAVE TO SPIN THE BALL TO KEEP THE LACES OUT SO THE KICKER CAN MAKE A STRAIGHT KICK? We don’t really have to spin it anymore. Our snappers have come a long ways from when I used to do it a long time ago. I used to have to spin the ball a lot. Our snappers are so good now, when I catch it now the laces are already out.