Winslow says Browns need an attitude adjustment

BEREA, Ohio - There are three double-digit underdogs in the NFL this weekend.

One of them plays in Cleveland.

It's come to this for the Browns, the team that suddenly can't get things right.

Ten-point underdogs to the Bengals for Cincinnati's home opener in Paul Brown Stadium.

Inept 19-14 losers in the season opener to the New Orleans Saints, a 3-13 team a year ago.

A combined regular-season record of 36-77 since the team returned in 1999. Since 2003, a record of 15-34.

Kellen Winslow pointed out this week that the Bengals used to be "a joke." Who's the joke on now?

Burrell's slam helps Phils survive Astros

Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Pat Burrell's fifth-career grand slam helped the Philadelphia Phillies hold off the Houston Astros, 4-3, in the opener of a three-game series at Minute Maid Park.

Ryan Howard went 1-for-3 and scored once for the Phillies, who have won three of four. Brett Myers (11-6) allowed three runs on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts in seven innings, while Tom Gordon notched his 11th save after overcoming two errors in a scoreless ninth.

Philadelphia is two games behind San Diego for the National League wild card lead, while the Astros are 4 1/2 games off the pace. The Padres are currently battling the Dodgers for the top spot in the NL West.

Baltimore's Lewis hasn't lost his edge

Go ahead: You be the one to tell Ray Lewis he's done, finished, over.

"I wonder if most of the people can really explain what it is a person lost," Lewis said in a conference call.

He's a 31-year-old Ravens linebacker, an age considered up there in both dog years and NFL life spans.

"It doesn't look like he's missed a step," Raiders coach Art Shell said.

He missed 10 games last season with a torn hamstring that demanded season-ending surgery. Such procedures can downsize football-playing patients into half the brutes they used to be.

Flags often fly near Taylor

There's no question Sean Taylor plays hard and often plays well. Taylor, the Washington Redskins' third-year, hard-hitting Pro Bowl safety in the making, is always going full speed -- from post-practice sprints to covering kickoffs to every defensive snap -- and played the second half of last season on a bum ankle.
    His helmet-rattling hits have produced plenty of oohs from crowds around the NFL.
    But like every safety, Taylor walks the line between clean hits and those that officials perceive as unnecessary shots against defenseless players. The conundrum -- which developed in 2004 and late in 2005 -- flared up again in the Redskins' season-opening loss to Minnesota on Monday.
    Taylor was called for two 15-yard personal foul penalties -- a late hit on Marcus Robinson and a face mask of Troy Williamson -- in the fourth quarter, and the second led to the Vikings' game-winning field goal. The first penalty was iffy at best and an egregious error at worst.

Shockey Ready for a Fight

There are never any secrets about Jeremy Shockey. You never look at that guy and wonder "where is his head at?" You always know and what you see is what you get. He's outspoken, he's controversial and he's a damn good football player. Some of the things he says will leave you shaking your head, while some of the things he does on the field will leave you dropping your jaw. One thing is for sure, Shockey will always entertain you.

This week is no different as he and the Giants prepare for a tough division battle with Donovan McChoke and those pesky Eagles. With all the trash talking that has gone back and forth,
Shockey felt it was his turn to open up and express how he was feeling about this weekends game.

Work hard and rest easy Niners' Gore attacks defenses and naps with zeal

While the daily drumbeat of professional sports is rife with stories about how a particular athlete's unique and rigorous training routine has him in the best shape of his life, hardly anything has been said about the flip side of all that grueling work.

To wit, the need to relax.

Perhaps no one on the 49ers is as good at relaxing as running back Frank Gore. Although he is praised for his ability to tote that barge and lift that bale, he is also a master at achieving inertia.

Part of Gore's daily routine appears to be conserving as much energy as possible during noontime lunch break. He can invariably be found slouched in front of his locker, if not stretched out on the floor entirely, either catching a snooze or talking on his cell phone. Either way, this is a man at

Burrell may be back on bench

ATLANTA — Part-time Pat is out on parole.

Benched during the Phillies' doubleheader sweep on Wednesday so he could clear his head, slumping left fielder Pat Burrell returned to the starting lineup for Thursday's series finale, a 4-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

But there's no guarantee Burrell won't be sitting again tonight in Houston with Roger Clemens pitching for the Astros.

“We'll see,” manager Charlie Manuel said before watching Burrell stop a 1-for-20 skid on Thursday by going 2-for-4 with two singles.

Lewis Back, Ravens a Contender

It is amazing how much the first game of the season can change the outlook for a football team. Truths hidden under the tedium and pointlessness of the preseason are suddenly and dramatically revealed in Game 1.

Sunday's Bucs-Ravens game revealed several vulnerabilities of the Bucs, starting with the failure of quarterback Chris Simms to adjust to pass rushers with their arms up. Just as disturbing was the demonstration that the defense, ranked first in the NFL a year ago, can be pushed around by a powerful offensive line equipped with two tight ends.

But the opener revealed even more about Baltimore, whose 27-0 victory changed the outlook of the entire AFC.

Five days ago, the Ravens were regarded as a middle-of-the-pack team with an aging core, outclassed in their own division by the Steelers and Bengals.

'The Rock' finds inspiration in true-life football story

NOT MANY FILMS can make a big, tough guy like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson get teary-eyed. But the former Canadian football player turned World Wrestling champion — now box office movie star — says after watching the documentary "Gridiron Gang," he got all choked up.

"The film really touched every emotion in me," he said during a recent interview in a San Francisco hotel.

The Rock stars in a new feature film of the same name that's based the documentary. "Gridiron Gang" is the inspirational story of juvenile detention camp probation officer Sean Porter ("The Rock") and his partner, who turn hardcore teenage criminals at a Southern California facility into a winning high school football team.

Johnson, who also stars in the upcoming football movie "The Game Plan," says the opportunity to play a unique role fell into his lap.

Portis does not practice, expects to play Sunday

ASHBURN, Va. — No dress-up again Thursday for Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis, who did not practice but remains confident he will play Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys.

“As far as I know I’m playing,” Portis said. “Unless something changes between now and Sunday.”

Portis carried 10 times for 39 yards in a relief role in Monday night’s 19-16 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Leading up to the game, he indicated he would not play because he was still recovering from a partially dislocated left shoulder.

This week, the shoulder is sore from the contact against the Vikings. Portis took part in a portion of Wednesday’s practice and worked Thursday on strength and conditioning.

“I’m real sore,” Portis said. “I’m just trying to stay on top of things, trying to build the strength up to where it stays the same so we don’t have any setbacks.”

Gore's style is a hit with O-linemen - New starting running back earns respect from teammates

SANTA CLARA — Amid the rubble of the late stages of the 49ers' disaster two years ago, Kevan Barlow seemed to spend half his free time explaining himself.

He was joking, he insisted, when he said he wanted the team to use all its draft choices on offensive linemen. No, he didn't mean to offend the current linemen. Yes, he was speaking to fullback Fred Beasley. Yes, he was worthy of the big contract he had signed after the 2003 season. Yes, he would eventually prove it.

Barlow, of course, is gone now, traded last month to the New York Jets. Frank Gore is now the 49ers' starting running back. And unlike Barlow, there is no question where Gore stands with his teammates. There is no explaining necessary.

"They like me," Gore said this week. "They love me."

A healthy Ray Lewis was a big hit for Ravens

Deep in Baltimore Ravens ' territory, the pass from Tampa Bay QB Chris Simms hit Michael Pittman on the numbers last Sunday. A nano-second later, so did Ray Lewis.

It was one of those collisions that Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan calls "Oooh-ee!" hits. Pittman was lifted off the turf as if yanked by invisible wires and deposited on his back. Hard. The football, of course, went elsewhere.

All across America, viewers sitting on couches -- including the CBS national television crew -- shook their heads and muttered, "Oh, man!"

Ray Lewis
was back.

Notebook: Cowher offers no decision on Davenport

Steelers coach Bill Cowher said newly acquired running back Najeh Davenport, who participated in his second practice with the team Thursday, is having no problem picking up the Steelers offense. Cowher, though, hasn't said whether Davenport would suit up for Monday night's game in Jacksonville. Davenport, 6-foot-1 and 247 pounds, is hoping to play behind starter Willie Parker.

In the season opener against Miami, Parker rushed for 115 yards, and he did it on 29 carries, showing he can take a pounding.
"He's improved dramatically," All-Pro guard Alan Faneca said of Parker.

Winslow a bright spot on dismal day

CLEVELAND - The blocking was bad. The play calling was worse. The running game, save for Charlie Frye's mad dashes of self-preservation, was nonexistent.

For awhile Sunday it appeared Randy Lerner's English soccer club would outscore his American football team. Aston Villa managed one goal. The Browns were pointless until the third quarter.

It was that kind of ugly for the Browns in a 19-14 season-opening loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Fans had plenty of reasons to feel lousy and perhaps only one to be encouraged. The franchise might finally have the dynamic playmaker it has lacked since returning to Cleveland.

Dan Morgan will sit out Minnesota game

As expected, linebacker Dan Morgan will miss Sunday's game at Minnesota as he recovers from a concussion.

The Panthers officially declared Morgan out when they released Wednesday's injury report and it's likely he'll miss several more games.

The injury report also brought more news for an offensive line that already lost left tackle Travelle Wharton to a knee injury. Center Justin Hartwig now is listed as questionable with a groin injury and did not practice Wednesday. If Hartwig is unable to play, Geoff Hangartner or Will Montgomery could get increased playing time against Minnesota.


Kenard Lang Update

Kenard Lang introduced Denver fans to his sack dance Sunday after dumping Marc Bulger for a seven-yard loss.
"Oh, I mean I've been doing that for a while now," said Lang, who joined the Broncos from Cleveland in the offseason. "That's just my way of showing celebration. I go out there and have fun, I try to party like a rock star. Everybody knows when a rock star parties, he's like two seconds away from going to jail.
"Out there on that field, you don't go to jail. You can go out and have as much fun as you want. That's why I love it. Everybody has fun and enjoys the game."
Lang joked that he learned his moves from his mother: "My mama showed me that dance. No, I'm just kidding. My mama would kill me if she heard me say that."

Taking off the pressure - Andre Johnson

Andre Johnson is a man of few words. On too many Sundays last fall, the 2004 Pro Bowler also was a man of few receptions.

So, as disappointed as Johnson may have been with the outcome of their opener — the Texans' 16th loss in their last 18 regular-season games — he turned almost effusive when he was asked how it felt to have newcomer Eric Moulds on the field with him against Philadelphia, keeping the Eagles' double coverage to a minimum.

"I told Eric during the game that having him there was helping out a whole lot," Johnson said. "He basically told me the same thing."

James sees progress in ground game

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Edgerrin James wasn't exactly boffo in his Arizona Cardinals debut, just good enough to believe the running game is moving ever-so-slowly in the right direction heading into Sunday's game at Seattle.

That wasn't the case early in Arizona's 34-27 victory over San Francisco.

James, the Cardinals' prize free agent signing, had 4 yards in his first eight carries. Slowly, though, the line began creating a few small creases for the big running back. He wound up with 73 yards in 26 carries.

James also had runs of 11 and 13 yards called back by penalties.

"That's 24 yards," James said after Thursday's practice, "and then you just eliminate a couple of negatives and you're right at 100. So it's not bad. We're on the right track and we're going to get better. We can only get better."

Cowboys-Redskins Remember Moss' Miracle

When Dallas Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe got home from the Monday night game against the Washington Redskins last year, he found voice mails and e-mails congratulating him on the victory.

The problem was, the Cowboys didn't win the game.

Dallas blew a 13-0 lead in the final four minutes. The friends who left Bledsoe the messages live on the East Coast, and they went to bed before Santana Moss caught two long passes in a 14-13 Redskins victory that became an instant classic in the long-running Cowboys-Redskins rivalry.

"They called back the next day and said, 'I'm sorry,'" Bledsoe said.

Steelers, looking for another Bus, will give Davenport a chance

PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Steelers know they can't keep running Willie Parker 29 times per game, like they did in their opener. What they don't know is who should succeed the retired Jerome Bettis as the big running back who can wear down defenses and keep Parker rested.

Duce Staley tried out for the role but, despite still being on their roster, couldn't win the job after averaging 2.2 yards per carry during the preseason. Patrick Cobbs was the next to audition, getting a quick look following a productive camp with the Patriots, only to be cut by the Steelers.

Next up is former Packers running back Najeh Davenport, who spent the last four seasons in Green Bay - much of that time in the trainers room. The 250-pound Davenport has been productive when he's been healthy, but injuries kept him out of 29 of the 64 games he spent with the Packers.

"He's a proven big back," Steelers coach Bill Cowher said. "We were kind of looking for that. He's played third down and fullback, and that gives you some flexibility. ... He was the one guy out there who fit what we were looking for with the makeup of our roster."

Week 1 NFL U VIDEO Highlights

I added one more highlight to the video after several people suggested it! So enjoy the updated version which now features Kellen Winslow. Sorry couldn't get Santana Moss or Portis on this week's video but I promise from now on they will be more complete.

Check out NFL U Week 1 Highlights under the NFL U Video Highlights page or click here!

Every week I will add the weekend's highlights along with picture updates in the gallery. If you have any suggestions please don't hesitate to email me at

Vilma pores a Bruschi: He taps Patriots star to learn 3-4 defense

FOXBORO - Jets linebacker Jonathan Vilma is an excellent player in his own right, fresh off a monstrous 169-tackle season.

But when Eric Mangini became head coach and then-Jets defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson left for Detroit, Vilma knew he’d have to adjust his game in the middle of Bob Sutton’s 3-4 defense.

So he asked for video of one player: Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi.

“I started asking for DVDs to actually watch, because there is only so much that the coach can tell you and the coach can coach you,” Vilma said. “I actually have to see it for myself.”

Sinorice Moss Update

MOSS: Second-round draft pick Sinorice Moss is ready to play - at least that's the way the wide receiver feels.

Moss missed almost all of training camp with a quadriceps injury and coach Tom Coughlin did not make him active for the season opener.

"I am starting to get back in the swing of things and things are looking real good," Moss said. "I'm looking forward to the opportunity of playing this week."

Coughlin is taking a wait-and-see approach.


Back in Miami, it's time for McGahee to step up

"It's time to take the diapers off."

In 2004, former
Kansas City Chiefs head coach Dick Vermeil was fed up with his first-round pick from 2003, running back Larry Johnson, so he expressed his displeasure for the ball carrier by blasting him with the above comment. Naturally, it led to quite a firestorm of controversy. However, it also fired up Johnson. Last year, the former Penn State star played NFL defenses like his own personal puppets, rushing for over 1,700 yards in what was basically half a season.

With Johnson in mind, it brings us to the player taken four choices ahead of him in the '03 draft, another running back, the
Buffalo Bills ' Willis McGahee. Through two seasons in the league, McGahee hasn't been the kind of dominant back Buffalo thought it was getting.

Winslow a bright spot on dismal day

CLEVELAND - The blocking was bad. The play calling was worse. The running game, save for Charlie Frye's mad dashes of self preservation, was non-existent.

For awhile Sunday it appeared Randy Lerner's English soccer club would outscore his American football team. Aston Villa managed one goal. The Browns were pointless until the third quarter.

It was that kind of ugly for the Browns in a 19-14 season-opening loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Fans had plenty of reasons to feel lousy and perhaps only one to be encouraged. The franchise might finally have the dynamic playmaker it has lacked since returning to Cleveland.

Kellen Winslow was a beast. Appearing in his first regular season game in nearly two years, the Browns' tight end played with a level of intensity and fearlessness seldom witnessed at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Jamaal Green Update

The Bears waived defensive end Jamaal Green from their practice squad and signed wide receiver Harry Williams Jr., a first-year player out of Tuskegee who has spent time with the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers since being drafted in the seventh round (240th overall) by the New York Jets in 2005.


Notes: Luck not on Huff's side

ST. LOUIS -- The way Aubrey Huff's luck is going these days, he could probably empty out his entire bank account and still not be able to buy a hit.

That's not to say that Huff isn't hitting well. In fact, he's looked better at the plate than most of his teammates for much of the last month. But he's got absolutely nothing to show for it except a slew of 0-fer games, which is understandably driving the third baseman/oufielder crazy.

"It's frustrating because you do everything you can," Huff said. "You hit the ball hard and you can't really control what happens after that. If I can get just half those balls that I've hit in the last two months to fall in, I'd be looking at a different year, a different second half."

Tuesday's game perfectly illustrated Huff's plight. He hit three balls right on the nose ... and right at the fielders. Huff tatooed a ball in the third that went directly into Scott Rolen's glove. In the seventh, he hit a laser shot to left, right to Scott Spiezio and in the ninth, he ended the game with a well-hit fly ball to straightaway center field, where Juan Encarnacion was waiting.

FHM The U Article Featuring: Williams, McKinnie, Vilma, Rolle and Carey

Click on the pictures to enlarge the article to read. Enjoy!

th_Page1-1 th_Page2 th_Page3 th_Page4 th_Page5

Panthers' Morgan facing retirement

CHARLOTTE – Dan Morgan’s latest injury has fans debating whether or not he should call it quits.

During Sunday’s home-opening loss to the Atlanta Falcons, the Panther stand-out linebacker left the game after suffering a head injury in the first half. The injury occurred while Morgan was tackling Falcons’ running back Jerious Norwood. He did not return.

According to the
NFL's website, it is at least Morgan’s fifth concussion since entering the league in 2001. Morgan has now missed seven full games and parts of six others due to concussions.

While the NFL injury report lists it as a concussion, doctors have another name for it: a brain injury.

“As you have more severe concussions or as they start to add up over time you can begin to experience more significant problems,” said Dr. Jim McDeavitt of the Carolinas Healthcare System.


Washington Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss robbed the Cowboys on Monday Night Football last season.

He'll try to do it on Sunday night this season. Moss scored two late touchdowns a season ago as the Redskins escaped Texas Stadium with a 14-13 victory against the Cowboys in the second week.

Moss, who is in his sixth season, will be a focal point of the Cowboys' defense. He had seven catches for 232 yards (33.1 yards per catch) and two touchdowns combined in the two victories against Dallas last season. With superior speed and excellent ball concentration, Moss has become one of the league's best game-breakers.


Rashad Butler Update

Left tackle Travelle Wharton is out for the year with two torn ligaments in his left knee.

Wharton's injury, however, is more problematic for head coach John Fox. Carolina's offensive line didn't look so hot during the preseason and clearly struggled with Atlanta's pass rush. Now Fox has to retool this line and find a solution that will handle pass rushes from the Ravens, Steelers, Eagles, Redskins, even the Rams, which looks a lot stronger than last year, thanks to new defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, the former Saints head coach who enjoyed several big wins over the Panthers in the last two years.

Expect both veteran tackle Todd Fordham and third-round draft pick Rashad Butler to see some action next week as Fox looks for a workable solution.


Rocky McIntosh Update

Heart of the matter

Rookie linebacker Rocky McIntosh didn't start Monday night, but assistant head coach/defense Gregg Williams hinted that it's only a matter of time before the second-round pick from Miami becomes a regular on the field.

"You have to be able to pay your dues and slow your heartbeat down and not be all caught up in the hoopla," Williams said. "The first regular-season game for a rookie is also kind of shattering to their confidence, but since he comes from a big-time program that plays with an attitude anyway, he'll have an easier adjustment.

"He's come a long way. I'm very impressed with his toughness, and very impressed with his resiliency as a rookie to block out distractions, me included."


Check Out the NFL U Gallery!

MORE PICTURES ADDED! Click at the top on NFL U Season Gallery and check out photos from this week's action, or just Click Here! Every week we will update the section with the latest photos for you to enjoy. Stay tuned for more features like stats and videos!

Ray Lewis Named Def. Player of the Week

Some pundits harbored doubts about Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis as the 11-year veteran came off a season-ending injury in 2005. Could he return to his dominant Super Bowl form in 2000? Will he be at full-strength?

Honored as the NFL's AFC Defensive Player of the Week performance in Week 1's 27-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Lewis should be the one asking, "Any more questions?"

The seven-time Pro Bowler was all over the field in his debut, showing no ill effects from a serious hamstring tear that required surgery last year. According to coaches' film, he posted 10 tackles (seven solo), three passes defensed and one jarring sack (nine-yard loss) of Bucs quarterback Chris Simms.

"There had to be some apprehension and I think he laid that to rest, even for himself," said Ravens head coach Brian Billick. "Any hesitation [was dismissed], if there was any at all, that he is ready to go."

Davenport putting past behind him

It's been more than four years, and Najeh Davenport, the Steelers' newest running back, still can't escape from being linked to an incident in college.

A few weeks before he was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in April 2002, Davenport was accused by Miami Shores police of entering a dorm room at Barry University in the early morning hours of April 1, 2002.

Mary McCarthy, asleep in the room, told police she was awakened by a strange sound and saw a man squatting in her closet. The man, later identified as Davenport, had defecated in her laundry basket, police said.

"You're telling me it's a bizarre story?" Davenport said Monday. "You try looking at it from the inside-out. You try sitting there and have me ask you about that.

49ers ready to Gore opposition

(Sports Network) - The San Francisco 49ers appeared to be down and out early against the Arizona Cardinals, falling behind 21-7 by the end of the first quarter.

But then a fresh new face in the backfield stepped up and didn't let his team quit, something the 49ers must have felt like doing during last year's 4-12 campaign.

Running back Frank Gore pulled the 49ers within a touchdown after first moving along a 79-yard drive with a 39-yard screen pass reception, before culminating the march with a four-yard TD run. After an Arizona field goal in the third, Gore again kept his team in the game when a Cardinal fumble eventually resulted in a two-yard TD burst by the Miami (FL) product.

Gore stepped right into his new starting role on Sunday, and registered 87 yards and a pair of scores in the 49ers' 34-27 season-opening defeat to the Arizona Cardinals.

Arizona running game shows signs of life

After one quarter of play Sunday, the Arizona Cardinals’ running game looked a lot like it did in the preseason.

But then for the first time as a Cardinal, Edgerrin James ran onto the field for the second quarter (and the third and the fourth) and showed a glimpse of the player Arizona bought for $30 million this offseason.

“Preseason is preseason. I don’t think anyone expects that much,” offensive guard Reggie Wells said. “He’s making a lot of money and they got it out of him today.”

James had just 4 yards on eight carries in the first period of the Cardinals’ 34-27 win over the 49ers. It was a frighteningly similar output to the preseason when he gained 1 yard on seven carries.

But over the final three quarters, James ground out 69 yards on 18 carries and the Cardinals proved they were truly dedicated to sticking with the running game.

Morgan's health among questions for Panthers after blowout loss

Dan Morgan stood on the sideline, helmet off with no one around him, moments after suffering his latest concussion. He watched helplessly as Atlanta dominated his Carolina Panthers in the season opener.

The linebacker's uncertain future was one of many questions for the Panthers on Monday after a disastrous start to a season that some had guessed would end with Carolina in the Super Bowl.

The news got worse late Monday when the team announced left tackle Travelle Wharton was lost for the season with two torn ligaments in his left knee.

Morgan's concussion in the second quarter was at least the fifth of his career and he did not return in the 20-6 loss. Without Morgan anchoring the middle of the defense, the Falcons rushed for 252 yards, the second most allowed by Carolina in its 12-year history.

Morgan, the team's No. 1 pick in 2001, has been plagued by injuries in his career.


MIAMI - Pat Burrell could change his stance, but, hey, his .250 batting average doesn't seem to bother him that much.

Burrell could see a sports psychologist, but, hey, he says he can handle a third disappointing season in his last four.

Burrell also could ask for a trade.

Hey, there's a thought.

Right now, as his profile shrinks daily, Burrell agreeing to a trade seems more likely to happen than changing his swing or visiting a sports psychologist.

He was asked Sunday whether his diminished role would lead him to waive his no-trade clause and have the Phillies seek to move him and the remaining 2 years and $27 million on his contract. The Phillies have shopped him since the end of last season, but no teams he would go to bit for the whole contract. While maintaining he would prefer to stay in Philadelphia, Burrell, 29, has never sounded so agreeable to a possible deal.

"I'm not even thinking about that right now," he said. "We're in the middle of a wild-card race.

Tribe's chastened Jason now hastens to serve - His legal obligations met, Michaels happily keeps giving to kids

When outfielder Jason Michaels received the Roberto Clemente Award from the Indians last week, it showed that good can come from bad.

Michaels, while he played for the Phillies, was arrested for assaulting a Philadelphia policeman outside a nightclub at 3 a.m. on July 3, 2005. Michaels, already in an anger management program, was sentenced last January to six months probation and 100 hours of community service through the Police Athletic League.

A week later, Michaels was traded to the Indians to replace left fielder Coco Crisp. The obligation followed him.

"I wasn't sure what I'd have to do," Michaels said.

When Michaels found out he could work with children, he told John Carter, the Indians' director of community affairs, to put him on his speed dial.

"Jason turned out to be my go-to guy," said Carter, responsible for keeping track of Michaels' hours.

Michaels, 30, never became too involved in the Philadelphia community in his four seasons there. He had no choice with the Indians, and started working with the Boys and Girls Club in Winter Haven, Fla., in spring training.

"The kids came from some pretty tough family lives," Michaels said. "I talked to kids from 10 to their early 20s. They didn't have a whole lot.

Lack of Spotlight Doesn't Discourage Piazza

SAN DIEGO - It's been 18 years since the Dodgers signed an unknown 62nd-round draft pick named Mike Piazza. On his 38th birthday last week, the future Hall of Famer sat by his locker and reflected on the journey from Dodger blue to becoming a Mets icon to his current job as Padres backstop. The most prolific home run-hitting catcher in history says he's content, even without the white-hot spotlight. He loves politics, hockey and isn't ready to retire just yet. As for the future, how does Governor Piazza sound?

Q: You played under a big spotlight in Los Angeles and New York. How has this experience been different?

It's still baseball. For obvious reasons there's not as much media coverage. I don't mean that in a negative way ... but those cities were fun to play in, and I enjoyed the experience. It's fun here, too. For me, it's a good time in my life to basically get back to baseball in a pure sense, and that's what you have here in a good way ... I think this is what I needed to try to finish out the last part of my career on a positive note, and it's been a good mix.


Portis returns but struggles

Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis was sporting a new haircut -- a modified Mohawk dyed red -- he said he had been planning since June.
    "Just to mix things up," he said. "Change my look."
    No doubt about it. It wasn't the same Portis last night -- on or off the field.
    He did manage to play against the Minnesota Vikings even though it recently appeared he wouldn't after partially dislocating his left shoulder eight plays into the first preseason game. And he did get into the end zone.
    "It was great to have one of our best players in there," quarterback Mark Brunell said. "It kind of shows you what kind of guy Clinton is."
    But only occasionally did Portis resemble the game-changing runner who slashed and bulled for more than 1,500 yards last season while setting a franchise single-season record. Starter Ladell Betts also did little, and the Redskins' lack of a rushing game figured highly in their 19-16 loss at FedEx Field.
    Entering the game for Betts, his usual backup, on the Redskins' first possession after the Vikings took a 6-0 lead, Portis scored his team's only touchdown. It was a 5-yard run good for a short-lived 10-6 lead with 8:06 left in the second quarter.

Davenport hoping to play sizable role

Najeh Davenport, as halfbacks go, is as big as a bus, and that is a role the Steelers would like him to fill.

They won't ask him to run for 10,571 yards over the next decade, or have his own television show and become one of the most popular players in team history. They would settle for some production at the goal line and some relief carries in the second half for starter Willie Parker.

They also would not mind if his last game is played in his hometown, just the way it was for Jerome Bettis in February. Davenport grew up in South Florida, home of Super Bowl XLI.

"I think they brought me in to exemplify some of the things they've been missing that the Bus brought," said Davenport, who is 6 feet 1 and weighs 247 pounds before lunch


McGahee Maintains He Wasn’t Stopped

9/12/2006 - ORCHARD PARK (AP) — It’s a day later, and Willis McGahee is still a yard short.

To hear the Bills running back put it Monday, it wasn’t his fault.

McGahee was on the defensive after failing to convert what proved to be a crucial fourth-and-one in Buffalo’s 19-17 season-opening loss at New England on Sunday.

Insisting he reached the ball across the Patriots 6 for what would’ve been a first down, McGahee accused a New England player of nudging the ball backward, leading to the NFL official’s decision to spot the ball a foot short.

‘‘Oh man, I think it was a bad spot. I clearly reached across,’’ McGahee said following a brief practice as the Bills prepare to play at Miami on Sunday. ‘‘I reached. I did an extended reach at that. But things happen, we’re at their home. It was just going to go their way.’’

Mark Craig: What's a game-breaker worth? Bears got a steal with 57th pick

GREEN BAY, WIS. - Another defining moment in the evolution of the specialized player in the NFL arrived at Halas Hall on the first day of this year's draft.

In need of offensive help, the Chicago Bears already had traded out of the first round, selected safety Danieal Manning 42nd overall and were on the clock with the 57th pick.

Without hesitation, General Manager Jerry Angelo and coach Lovie Smith decided the University of Miami's Devin Hester was worthy of a second-round pick, even though no one within the organization knew whether Hester could play offense or defense, or neither.

"Initially, I thought if only he would be our [punt] returner, that would be plenty," Smith said. "He's as good as anyone I saw returning the football."

Dan Morgan Update

Carolina officials have to be concerned that middle linebacker Dan Morgan suffered another concussion in Sunday's loss. Morgan, now in his sixth season, has to be nearing double-digit concussions. He's a terrific player, one of the best combination size-speed "Mike" linebackers in the league, but he missed an average of five games per year in his first five seasons. Morgan worked hard to avoid injuries this summer, but that hyperbaric chamber he brought to training camp this year isn't going to help him with concussions. "


Lewis Makes Winning Return

TAMPA - Ray Lewis' children grabbed the newspaper Sunday morning and could hardly contain their excitement.

Their father not only was returning to the Tampa Bay area, where the Ravens linebacker is the pride and joy of Lakeland, but also to Raymond James Stadium, where dad was named Super Bowl MVP in 2001.

"This stadium has been good to me. I will never complain about my record here in the stadium, but more importantly, I would never complain about doing what I did in front of my kids [Sunday]. My three boys were here. They picked up the paper, and they were all getting involved in it, and I told them that daddy is going to do what daddy does," Lewis said.

Portis will play in opener

ASHBURN, VA. // Two days after Clinton Portis said he was "75 percent" recovered from a partially dislocated left shoulder and one day after Portis said he might not make it back for even the second game of the season, the Washington Redskins announced that their star running back would play in tomorrow night's season opener.

Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said yesterday that he would use Portis, who last season set the franchise single-season rushing record with 1,516 yards, in a backup role against the Minnesota Vikings at FedEx Field. Ladell Betts would start, but Portis is expected to get onto the field.

"We'll kind of let the game portray what role that will be," Gibbs said after practice at Redskins Park.

How effective Portis will be remains a question, since he said Thursday that he wasn't in top condition after missing all but the first possession of the preseason, when he was injured against the Cincinnati Bengals making a tackle after an interception.

James did dirty work late in game

GLENDALE, Ariz. — There was nothing flashy or picturesque about Edgerrin James' performance in his first game with the Arizona Cardinals.

In Arizona's 34-27 victory on Sunday afternoon, the former Indianapolis Colts running back's longest run was 10 yards, and the longest of his three receptions gained 6.

Yet it was James' steady play in the fourth quarter that might have been the difference in the game. After the 49ers closed to within 31-24 on a 22-yard field goal by Joe Nedney with 8:52 to play, James took control.

James carried the ball seven times for 20 yards on the Cardinals' final possession, which consumed more than 7 minutes. The drive ended with a 30-yard Neil Rackers field goal, and it left the 49ers with precious little time to overcome a 10-point deficit.

"That's what I'm here for — to hold the ball and finish the game," James said following his 26-carry, 73-yard day. "Last year, they had a problem finishing the game. That's not going to be a problem this year."

Stud of the Week (Frank Gore)

Stud of the Week
Frank Gore, 49ers (16 carries, 87 yards, 2 TDs, 1 lost fumble; 6 catches, 83 yards): Not the name you'd expect to see for the first week, eh? With all the multi-threat backs around, Gore piled up yards left and right and scored twice. He was zooming up the fantasy charts after Kevan Barlow was dealt to the Jets, and he showed exactly why. It helped that he was playing the Cards, but get your stats any way you can. Also, Alex Smith is already vastly improved from his rookie years, which means there could be more of these games on the horizon.

Hester gets the call from 'Prime Time'

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Devin Hester picked up his cell phone after the Bears' season-opening 26-0 win over the Green Bay Packers and the message from one Deion "Prime Time" Sanders read, "call me."

Hester, who is good friends with Sanders, gave a good "Prime Time" impression himself on Sunday afternoon by breaking an 84-yard fourth-quarter punt return for a touchdown on a day when Bears special teams dominated.

"I saw daylight," Hester said of the return. "I don't think there was a defender in front of me. My teammates, they just cleared everything out. It was a straight-forward run."

On his return, Hester displayed the type of speed he showed in running a 4.3-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine prior to being chosen in the second round of the draft draft.

"Initially, I thought if he would only just be our returner that was plenty right away because he was as good as anyone I saw return the football," coach Lovie Smith said. "And from there, we had to make a decision on whether he would play defensive back or wide receiver.

Comeback complete for Winslow

CLEVELAND — Browns tight end Kellen Winslow knew exactly what he wanted to do after he caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Charlie Frye in the third quarter.
Winslow sprinted back to the Browns’ bench area and put a bear hug on trainer Marty Lauzon. Lauzon spent many hours helping Winslow rehabilitate from the devastating knee injury he suffered in a motorcycle accident May 1, 2005.
“I was just thanking him for all we’ve been through,” Winslow said. “These past two years have been hard for me. He was there every step of the way. To get back into the end zone, I wanted to give him a big hug and say, ‘Thank you.’ ”
The touchdown was the first by Winslow in a Browns’ uniform. The first-round pick in 2004 missed all but two games of his rookie season with an ankle injury. He suffered internal injuries and severe damage to his right knee in the motorcycle accident.
Winslow looked as good as new in the Browns’ 19-14 loss to the New Orleans Saints. He caught a team-leading eight passes for 63 yards. He nearly made a one-handed grab of a Frye pass in the end zone in the fourth quarter. Saints safety Roman Harper was penalized for interference on the play, setting up a 1-yard touchdown run by Frye.

3 NBA stars will discuss teen violence (James Jones)

Three professional basketball players will attend a youth program this week to talk about issues faced by young people, especially African-American boys.

Pastor Eric Jones of the Koinonia Worship Center & Village in Pembroke Park will kick off the youth program Tuesday. The session will feature Miami Heat star Udonis Haslem, James Jones of the Phoenix Suns, and Keyon Dooling of the Orlando Magic.

Children, teens and adults will be divided into age groups to discuss violence and other problems facing young people at the seminar entitled ``Raising Up Joshua.''

On Tuesday, participants in the seminar will discuss the pressures young people face daily, the Rev. Jones said. The seminar comes on the heels of a spate of teen killings in South Florida this year, including 11 in Broward County.

''As a church we do a lot of things, but we are not effectively touching what's going on in the world around us,'' Jones said.

Brooks helped Lewis rejuvenate his passion for football

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - One is the heart and soul of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the other is the face of the Baltimore Ravens.

Derrick Brooks and Ray Lewis also are close friends who inspire each other with tenacious play and an unwavering commitment to winning. And no disrespect to anyone else, both feel discussions about who's the top linebacker in the NFL should begin - and end - with them.

"Some of his friends think I'm the best. Some of my friends think he's better than me," Brooks said, a smile spreading across his face. "We get a kick out of that.

"We appreciate each other's game. I'm a fan of his and he's a fan of mine."

Jets LB adjusts to change - Vilma hoping new defense produces better results

EAST RUTHERFORD — After eluding the post-snap chaos while remaining focused on Eli Manning, there came a recognition that No. 21 was stepping through an opening to his left.

Suddenly, all the pieces fell into place for Jonathan Vilma, as they had a league-best 187 times last season. And so, in a move that was as athletic as it was instinctive, the Jets' linebacker stepped up and buried Tiki Barber in the Giants Stadium FieldTurf a split second after the ball arrived.

It was merely a preseason game on a pleasant summer evening. Nothing at stake. Not even bragging rights. But in just over a half, Vilma went out and made nine tackles, appearing to be the best player on either side of the ball throughout.

You see, Vilma's an artist, skirting blockers and scurrying from sideline to sideline to produce gridiron masterpieces each Sunday. He's Picasso in Kelly green, having led the league in tackles last season even though he was often the one guy opposing offenses knew they had to avoid.

Now, however, the Jets' latest regime is essentially replacing his paints with crayons. They're asking a pure 4-3 middle linebacker, who's at his best when reacting and flying to the football, to morph into a 3-4 inside linebacker, fighting off wide-body guards and full-speed blocking backs while reading the play.


Devin Hester Update

Rookie Devin Hester still hasn't found a permanent position, but the second-round draft choice from the University of Miami will be Chicago's punt returner on Sunday against Green Bay. . . .

A jack-of-all-trades with UM, Hester has worked at cornerback during the preseason but isn't considered a serious contender for playing time in Chicago's secondary. Hester, though, is getting overtures from Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner and QB Rex Grossman about making the conversion to wide receiver after averaging 22.8 yards on six preseason returns.

"Grossman tells me, `You're in the wrong spot,"" Hester told the Chicago Tribune. . .