James to make most of carries - Running back says Cards offense has to capitalize on ground game

Most of running back Edgerrin James' Sunday afternoons with the Cardinals have followed a similar pattern: He carries the ball fewer times than he wants, watches his team lose and then complains about how he is being used.

Tired of that rut, James said Thursday that he's changing.

"I just got to make use of what I get," James said of his carries. "I've come to that conclusion. Just to make use of what I get and whatever happens, just roll with it because talking about it is not going to do anything."

Rookie Progress - Rocky McIntosh

Rookie linebacker Rocky McIntosh had a busy week of practice filling in for Washington, and is beginning to make progress in his adjustment to the team's defensive scheme, linebackers coach Dale Lindsey said.

McIntosh was the Redskins' first draft pick in April, and is slated behind starter Warrick Holdman at weak-side linebacker on the depth chart. With Washington out much of this week, he worked regularly at strong side, his position in college, Lindsey said.

"I've watched him on special teams the last few weeks, and the light is coming on about how to cover a kickoff and do certain things," Lindsey said. "And I think the light is coming on for him at linebacker, too, and that's typical. About four games into their first year they get a feel for the flow of the game. Everything's on target for him."

Lindsey said he could envision McIntosh getting more playing time in the coming weeks, but is pleased with the starters.

"The two guys in front of him are playing well," Lindsey said. "If we didn't have that we might have tossed his butt in there and thrown him to the lions, but we don't have to."


Lewis excited about chance to watch Peppers

The Baltimore Ravens are accustomed to being around one of the NFL's truly great defensive players, middle linebacker Ray Lewis. They'll welcome another in that rare category Sunday -- Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers -- for what figures to be a defense-dominated game.

Lewis, who led Baltimore to a Super Bowl title during the 2000 season, marvels at the play this year of Peppers, who is tied for the league lead with six sacks and has put consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Lewis said Peppers might be the most dominant player -- on offense or defense -- in the NFL.


Asked this week if the Colts could make any moves before Oct. 17's trade deadline to shore up their shaky run defense, Indianapolis head coach Tony Dungy told reporters: "I can't say we're standing pat. But I think we're pretty happy with the guys we have. And that's who's got to do it. There's not going to be anybody that you sign."

But there could be a somebody, a very significant somebody, available in a trade.

It would be worth the Indianapolis Colts time to pick up the telephone and call the winless Oakland Raiders, inquiring about the availability of defensive tackle
Warren Sapp. Talk about a perfect match.

Shockey: What, me worry?

EAST RUTHERFORD -- The smile-frown indicator definitely was in smile mode Thursday around Jeremy Shockey's locker. The Giants' tight end appeared upbeat as he talked about the latest in his string of injuries, and what he found out it wasn't

"My foot has a pin in it," he said, referring to the one inserted during surgery prior to the 2004 season. "The pin didn't break. I was very relieved when I saw that everything was intact.

"It is what it is. I got hurt early, what can you do?"

Undrafted UM alum Hite looks for a spot on Heat - Former UM star getting tryout at both guard spots

Miami Robert Hite thought he was NBA ready, he just wasn't sure if a team would give him a shot.

Hite graduated last year as one of the best shooters in University of Miami history, but went undrafted.

The Heat decided to give the "hometown" product a chance, signing him in early August after watching him improve in the Summer League.

Winston to be active

For the first time this season, rookie offensive tackle Eric Winston will be activated for a game.

When rookie left tackle
Charles Spencer was lost for the season because of a broken leg, backup Ephraim Salaam was elevated to replace him. Now Winston, who was picked second in the third round behind Spencer, will back up both tackle positions.

"He's the swing tackle," coach
Gary Kubiak said. "We made that decision during the bye. It's a lot for him to handle, but for the future of the team, we've got to find out where he is and how far he can come."

At some point, possibly next season, the coaches expect Spencer and Winston to be the starting tackles.


Headed for trouble? - With a history of concussions, LB Dan Morgan faces a life-altering decision whether to return to NFL

Dan Morgan dodged a bullet Wednesday when he announced that he would sit out the rest of the NFL season after suffering at least the fifth and sixth concussions of his career this summer. Scratch that -- he dodged a cannonball.

If Morgan, the Carolina Panthers' star linebacker, had returned, research suggests that he would likely suffer at least a third concussion this season and join a long list of NFL players -- including
Steve Young, Troy Aikman, Merril Hoge, Ted Johnson, Wayne Chrebet, Al Toon, Ed McCaffrey, Bill Romanowski, Chris Miller, Stan Humphries, Frank Wycheck and Bob Christian -- who have had to retire early because of post-concussion syndrome (PCS).

Lewis upset to lose huge tackle Kemoeatu to Panthers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - As a run-stopping defensive tackle, Maake Kemoeatu stayed out of the headlines when he played in Baltimore. But when he left the Ravens to sign a five-year, $23 million free-agent deal with Carolina in the offseason, Ray Lewis was incensed.

"He loves the game, so anytime you lose someone like that it's a hurtful thing, especially at this point in my career," the seven-time Pro Bowl pick said this week. "His best football is in front of him because he is still learning so much."

Lewis will see Kemoeatu again Sunday when the Panthers visit Baltimore.

Week 5 NFL U Highlights Just Added!

Check out Week 5 NFL U Video Highlights featuring Santana Moss, Kellen Winslow, Najeh Davenport's first appearance, Frank Gore and more. Click at the top on NFL U Video Highlights or click here! If there are highlights from Monday night, I will add them to the video.

Sorry Fans for the delay of getting the highlights up, but I hope you enjoy them!

Gore holds on for high note a week later

Gloomy last week after losing yet another fumble, running back Frank Gore was at the other end of the emotional spectrum Wednesday after being named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

Gore, who entered the game leading the league in fumbles, emerged as the NFL's co-leader in rushing yards. He had 27 carries for a career-high 134 yards against the Raiders and also caught three passes for 38 yards.

"I'm happy -- I had a rough week," Gore said. "Now I've just got to keep it up."

Rolle fined $12.5K for facemask

FOXSports.com's Jay Glazer reported on this week's FSN's Pro Football Preview that Arizona Cardinals cornerback Antrel Rolle has been fined a whopping $12,500 by the NFL for his facemask of the Chiefs' Larry Johnson in Sunday's game.

Johnson injured his neck on the play and didn't practice until Thursday for Kansas City due to the injury; but he is expected to play against Pittsburgh this weekend.

On the play, Johnson was running free down the sideline when Rolle caught him, grabbed a hold of his facemask and dragged him down and out of bounds without letting go of the mask.


Cardinals' James getting hit by reality in the desert

MESA, Ariz. - The Chipmunks' song "Mr. Lonely" warbled throughout the Cardinals' locker room Thursday, courtesy of resident disc jockey Edgerrin James.

A statement, perhaps?

"No, man, it's just XM radio," James said.

Fair enough, but you can't blame James if he's feeling a bit forlorn these days.

The Cardinals are 1-4 and James has gone a career-high eight straight games without rushing for 100 yards.

Devin Hester Update

We all know Devin Hester's talent level playing on special teams. How is he progressing during practice as a defensive back? I'm thinking that a couple of years in the future, he could hopefully be a good nickel back like Ricky Manning Jr. Your insight is greatly appreciated. --Joe Kaberlein, Germantown, Wis.

That's a reasonable timeframe. Hester actually plans on becoming much more than a good nickel back –- he has designs on developing into a lock-down corner in the mold of his mentor, Deion Sanders. But right now, expecting much out of Hester in the way of defensive contributions might be asking too much. It was telling that when asked about the Bears' plans if Ricky Manning Jr. receives the expected suspension that Smith responded by saying safety Todd Johnson would be inserted as the fifth defensive back and Danieal Manning would slide up to play the slot man. That's a compliment to Johnson but also an indication that Hester is not at the point yet where the coaches trust him in the secondary. Or else he would have been the ideal replacement as the corner to fill in for Manning Jr. That should come, with experience and recognition. It's not a physical issue with Hester -- he is the quickest Bear. But playing defensive back goes well beyond athleticism and those nuances are what Hester still needs time to understand.


Just A Foot Note - Ailing Shockey Making Little Impact

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York's newest sports columnist also plays tight end for the Giants, but because of injuries, it has been hard to tell which is his full-time job.

Jeremy Shockey's weekly Friday column in the New York Post is ghost-written by the brother of Drew Rosenhaus, Shockey's agent. And two weeks ago the column included an apology for his disparaging remarks about the Giants coaching staff after a 42-30 loss to Seattle.

That might qualify as his most notable contribution this season.

Morgan's plight a sobering reminder for Panthers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Chris Draft sometimes wonder why there aren't more head injuries in football.

"It's one of those things where we run out there and we have these helmets on our heads, but they say it's like a car wreck every time we hit somebody," the Carolina linebacker said. "We really just don't take care of our bodies too well by playing football. But we love playing it, so that's what we do."

Draft will start at middle linebacker for the Panthers on Sunday in place of
Dan Morgan, who announced this week he'll sit out the rest of the season because of lingering effects from two concussions suffered in the preseason and in the opener against Atlanta.

Wilfork has right stuff to stop the run

FOXBOROUGH -- Nose tackle Vince Wilfork said there is one statistic he uses to gauge his performance: rushing yards allowed.

Forget about his tackles (20) and sacks (1). Wilfork, in his third season, takes the most pride in helping shut down running backs.

``Not allowing a 100-yard rusher, that's a pretty good stat I can live with," he said.

Gore admires Tomlinson's skill - 49ERS RB GETS AN NFC HONOR

On a day when he was named the NFC offensive player of the week, 49ers running back Frank Gore let it be known Wednesday that he views San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson as the best running back in the league.

``I've watched him a lot,'' said Gore, who will get to see Tomlinson again Sunday when the Chargers play the 49ers. ``He's quick. He's explosive. He's got great vision. He can catch.''

Gore also said he thinks there are more similarities between him and Tomlinson than differences.

Veteran tight end Franks trying to produce in different role

The play was one the Green Bay Packers have run dozens of times.

It was a play-action pass, and quarterback Brett Favre rolled to his left. He found a wide open Bubba Franks in the flat, and the tight end looked like he was on his way to a big gain. But Franks couldn't make a cornerback miss, and he was stopped for a 9-yard gain.

It happened on first-and-10 from the Packers' 32-yard line on their second series of Sunday's 23-20 loss to St. Louis at Lambeau Field. The Packers scored a touchdown on that drive, but if they hadn't, a play like that might have stuck out even more. The 28-year-old Franks, who is in his seventh NFL season, couldn't find a way to get around cornerback Travis Fisher.

Panthers' LB Morgan done for season

Charlotte, NC (Sports Network) - The Carolina Panthers announced that middle linebacker Dan Morgan will miss the rest of the season on Wednesday. The star linebacker is suffering from the effects of a concussion.

Morgan slammed his head on the turf in the Panthers' season-opening loss to the Atlanta Falcons. He has not been able to practice since the injury.

"He did meet with the medical people and they felt it was in his best interest not to play the remainder of the season," Panthers coach John Fox said.


The Houston Texans have rediscovered their No. 1 offensive weapon.

Wide receiver Andre Johnson has discarded a disappointing 2005 with a season more fitting the young former Pro Bowler.

Johnson, slowed by a calf injury last season, has 30 catches for 410 yards and two touchdowns in the Texans' 1-3 start. He already has three 100-yard games, topping his total of two last season. Johnson, a fourth-year player and Pro Bowl selection in 2004, had 11 catches for 152 yards in Week 3 against Washington.

Niners' Gore surges to top of NFL rushing charts

Frank Gore, Willis McGahee, Clinton Portis and Edgerrin James check the statistics every week. They all want to know where the University of Miami's former running backs rank among the NFL's best — and more importantly, among each other.

These days, all the Hurricanes are looking up at Gore.

The San Francisco 49ers' budding star and St. Louis' Steven Jackson are tied for the NFL rushing lead with 465 yards after five weeks. Gore got there with a career-best 134 yards in the Niners' win over Oakland, also moving into second in all-purpose yards behind Jackson.

Devin Hester Update

Bears special-teams ace Devin Hester has looked increasingly shaky since his 84-yard punt return for a TD in Week 1, capped off by three muffs in Week 4. We're told the rookie was working overtime in practice every day last week, although the team is much less concerned about his hands than they are his judgment concerning which punts to field.

Kenard Lang Update

It's safe to say DE Kenard Lang is exceeding expectations thus far in a larger role with the Broncos. Starting in place of the injured Courtney Brown, Lang, signed in the offseason to fill a situational pass-rushing role, has managed to hold his own against the run. Backup John Engelberger has also performed well.

Dan Morgan Update

Panthers MLB Dan Morgan, sidelined since Week 1 with a concussion, took his first step toward returning to game action by participating in individual drills in practice last week. While he's still likely several weeks away from returning to the starting lineup, we hear Morgan, who has suffered four documented concussions with the Panthers, is intent on playing in the NFL again.

Week 5 NFL U Gallery Updated

More pictures added to NFL U Gallery. Check out the NFL U gallery which has been updated with Week 5 pictures, but click above on NFL U Season Gallery or click here.

Najeh Davenport Update

Reserve running back Najeh Davenport could have an expanded role Sunday. Against the Chargers, Davenport gained 32 yards off a dump pass that set up the Steelers' only touchdown. He also played on special teams and returned a kickoff 26 yards. With Reid doubtful, Davenport is a candidate to return kickoffs against the Chiefs, Cowher said.

Shockey’s Ankle Injury Stumps Giants’ Medical Staff

The source of the pain in the right ankle of Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey remains a mystery after a series of tests and examinations over the past three days.

Shockey left Sunday’s 19-3 victory over the
Washington Redskins in the second half with what the team called a foot injury, but postgame X-rays and additional tests on Monday and yesterday revealed no fractures or other detectable damage.

The Giants are not predicting whether Shockey will be available for Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons. N.F.L. rules require the Giants to designate Shockey’s status — probable, questionable, doubtful or out — today.

NFL Week 5 Video Highlights

Hey fans, just a quick update. I haven't been able to get the video highlights up yet this week because I am out of town but I hope to get them up by Friday night, sorry for the delay.

Shockey undergoes tests on injured right ankle

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Oft-injured Pro Bowl tight end Jeremy Shockey of the New York Giants underwent a test near his right ankle on Monday and had another one scheduled for Tuesday.

Shockey was forced off the field in Sunday’s 19-3 win over Washington with what was described as a foot injury. X-rays after the game did not reveal any broken bones.

However, Shockey had more tests in the area of his ankle on Monday and more were planned, coach Tom Coughlin said.

A little Frank talk - Gore says Dilfer helped get his mind off fumbles

Frank Gore should feel mighty proud of two things today: He's tied for the league lead in rushing, and he didn't fumble -- a first this season -- in the 49ers' 34-20 victory over the Raiders on Sunday.

At this point, he's far more satisfied with the latter than the former.

"If I'm leading at the end of the year, that would be something," said Gore, who rushed for a career-high 134 yards on 27 carries, leaving him tied with the Rams' Steven Jackson atop the NFL with 465 yards.

Cool runnings - Former UM star and NFL player Michael Barrow has instilled a pro approach as Homestead's defensive coordinator.

Wide receiver Alphonso Bryant loves the new attitude and the extra drills instituted by the new assistant coach at Homestead High.

Bryant calls the Broncos' new assistant a cool dude.

Micheal Barrow was called plenty of things, including a hard hitter during his 13 seasons in the National Football League.

But these days the former University of Miami linebacker is known by his players as the disciplinarian on a Homestead football team on the rise.


Vilma, Barton upset over roughing penalties

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Not that it would have changed the outcome, but Jets linebackers Jonathan Vilma and Eric Barton wanted credit for getting to Jaguars quarterback Byron Leftwich, not penalties for roughing the passer.

"I understand you want to protect the quarterback," Vilma said after Sunday's 41-0 loss. "But you've got to let us play football. They're not letting us play football."

Vilma burst through the middle to pressure Leftwich into a quick release on a third-and-goal from the Jets' 7-yard line, with the Jaguars already leading 21-0 midway through the second quarter.

Fox: Morgan's in shape to play when cleared medic

Carolina Panthers linebacker Dan Morgan, sidelined since the season opener with a concussion, continues to make progress towards a return.

"As far as exercise, he's been given the go-ahead," Panthers coach John Fox said this afternoon. "He's exercising extensively. Now we're just looking for the next step, but he'll continue to exercise.

Jones' poise rises for 2nd full season

COLOGNE, Germany - At age 25, when many NBA players are at the midpoint of their careers, Suns forward James Jones felt like a 25-year-old rookie last season.

He reached the NBA via the second round of the 2003 draft, essentially sat out the 2003-04 season and entered 2004-05 with a minimal role until some of his Indiana Pacers teammates were hit with suspensions and injuries.

Last season was not only Jones' first year with Phoenix but it was his first season with expectations.


James angered by lack of running plays

Running back Edgerrin James harshly criticized the team's play-calling after Sunday's 23-20 loss to Kansas City, saying the Cardinals didn't run the ball enough in the fourth quarter.

"We just got away from the run," said James, who gained 71 yards on 24 carries. "That's the stupidest thing. You have to be able to finish the game. You got to give us a chance, you know."

James carried four times for 10 yards in the fourth quarter.

Taylor no match for Giants WR Burress

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Unlike much of the NFL, the New York Giants did not shy away from Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor in Sunday's 19-3 victory. Rather, when they had the chance to exploit him in pass coverage, they went right after him with Plaxico Burress.

Burress, who caught seven passes for 69 yards, got the majority of that yardage on a play on which he torched Taylor in man-to-man coverage. Later, he beat Taylor on a 2-yard scoring reception, the game's lone touchdown.

With the score tied at 3, Burress beat Taylor deep down the field and hauled in a 46-yard pass that led to a go-ahead field goal.

Shockey quiet after poor play

Jeremy Shockey played it by the book after yesterday's game, delivering some brief platitudes to reporters before ducking out to have his injured foot examined.

As promised, Tom Coughlin did not bench Shockey for any part of yesterday's 19-3 win, but maybe the coach should have; Shockey was perhaps the only Giant to have a bad game.

Football: Texans receiver Johnson reverses fortunes

HOUSTON — Texans receiver Andre Johnson is on a pace to become the most prolific receiver in Houston's pro football history.

Through four games, Johnson has 30 catches for 410 yards and two touchdowns, putting him on a pace to finish with 120 catches for 1,640 yards and eight touchdowns.

Barring injury, Johnson could join the Oilers' Charlie Hennigan (1964), the Gamblers' Richard Johnson (1984-85) and Ricky Sanders (1984) and the Oilers' Haywood Jeffries (1991) as the only receivers to have at least 100 catches in a season.

Mo' Moss: Redskins can't get enough

ASHBURN, Va. -- When his mother finally relented and decided to let him play football, Santana Moss got the ball at his first practice and outran everyone else for what should've been a sure touchdown.

Instead, he slowed down and let everyone tackle him.

''I didn't know the concept,'' Moss said. ''It was kind of funny as a 12-year-old, I didn't know much about the game. But once I learned it, it was downhill from there.''

Moss and Portis Already Two of a Special Kind

Santana Moss, 27, and Clinton Portis, 25, are too young to be placed in historical context. But both University of Miami prodigies play for the Washington Redskins, whose 74-year history demands historical perspective at least from 1937, when the team moved here from Boston and won the first of five NFL championships.

Moss's three-touchdown, 138-yard performance Sunday at FedEx Field, which included his 68-yard, game-winning hookup with Mark Brunell in overtime, had old hands comparing him to the great wide receivers in team history. The same can be said for Portis, whose return to form after a shoulder injury in the first preseason game is a key reason the Redskins aren't any worse than 2-2 going into today's game against the New York Giants in the Meadowlands.


Bears’ focus: Stop McGahee

CHICAGO — Chicago Bears nose tackle Ian Scott pondered the question for a moment, then rendered his take.

The issue? Whether Buffalo Bills running back Willis McGahee presents the biggest test so far this season for the team’s defense.

“He’s the NFL’s leading rusher right now,” Scott concluded, “so that would be fair to say.”