Questions once rose about tackle Winston's wingspan

Coach Gary Kubiak said one of the criticisms of offensive tackle Eric Winston going into the draft was the length of his arms. Typically, left tackles in the NFL have longer arms than Winston. Because of that, Kubiak said the team has considered moving Winston inside to guard.

"If you're looking for the prototypical tackle, his arms don't have that type of length," Kubiak said. "But he has played well out there. We've talked about moving him inside, but we've got to give him a chance to be a tackle first."

Winston said he never heard any complaints about his arms until he joined the Texans. The 6-7, 310 pound rookie said he's trying not to dwell on it. As his playing time increases, he wants to show he can play tackle.


While some Redskins fans advocate second-year quarterback Jason Campbell as a solution to the team's struggles, other high-priced youth has yet to be served in Washington.

Washington traded a sixth-round pick in this year's draft, plus a second-round selection in 2007, to take linebacker Rocky McIntosh with their 2006 top pick (No. 35 overall). But McIntosh, who led Miami with 89 tackles as a senior, has been limited to special teams duty, even as seventh-year pro Warrick Holdman has had an up-and-down season.

But patience is nothing new for McIntosh, who didn't start regularly for the Hurricanes until his junior season.

"That's what I've got to do now, just wait 'til my turn comes," McIntosh said. "(With Washington), I know where I fit into the team and how I can make the team better, and right now that's special teams. ... It's fun. You get to run as fast as you can down the field and hit somebody."

Gibbs said McIntosh's special teams play is improving each week.

"I think our guys over there like everything they see," Gibbs said.


One on One with Robert Hite

Shandon Anderson.

Derek Anderson.

Neither of the veteran guards are on the Miami Heat roster as they return to defend their 2005-06 NBA Championship.

Instead, the Heat have opted for a couple of green, young men in Notre Dame's Chris Quinn and the University of Miami's Robert Hite.

Just who are these guys and what makes them so talented that they are on Miami's roster instead of a veteran or two who cold push the Heat's mercury back to blistering championship level?

Moss out for Cowboys game

Pro Bowl receiver Santana Moss, who became a Washington hero with two late, long touchdown catches to stun Dallas last season, won't play when the desperate Redskins (2-5) meet the Dallas Cowboys tomorrow at FedEx Field.

Moss, still sidelined by a strained left hamstring, watched in gray sweats as his teammates went through their final practice yesterday.

"You're seeing how I'm dressed," said Moss, who hasn't practiced since getting hurt in the Oct. 22 loss at Indianapolis. "How can you go out there and do something when you haven't even put out the work? It's not right for me to say I'm going to jump out there and try and go 100 miles per hour."

Davenport fills third-down bill differently

Najeh Davenport sat quietly at his locker this week, preparing for what could be his new role on his new team, that of third-down back.

"It's not really a role," Davenport corrected. "It's an attitude."

Davenport already knows the role/attitude/assignment of a third-down back the way the Pittsburgh Steelers use one: It's not really a job that carries much glory.

"You really don't get a lot of passes," Davenport explained. "Most of it is picking up blitzes, and you might get a screen here or a draw there."

Nolan appears OK with Gore's agent - Rosenhaus' reputation doesn't seem to be a worry

Super agent Drew Rosenhaus and 49ers running back Frank Gore cut contrasting images Sunday outside the 49ers' locker room in Chicago. The humble, self-effacing Gore wore jeans and a sweat top -- clothes so baggy they made him look like he wanted to disappear into the fabric. Beside him stood the bombastic Rosenhaus with his shades, slicked-back hair and cell phone.

Gore, who is signed with the 49ers through 2007, parted with agent David Dunn, who is about to serve a two-year suspension for tampering with the clients of his former partner, Leigh Steinberg. With both sides eager to extend Gore's contract, the running back needed new representation.


November 3, 2006 -- Name an NFL receiver with the last name of Johnson. Well, of course, there is Keyshawn and there is Chad. How about Andre?


While the talkative Johnsons, Keyshawn and Chad, are better known, the Texans' Andre Johnson leads the NFL in receptions and yards.

The Giants' defensive backs know the Texans' Johnson very well, as they have watched more film this week than a movie critic.

"He is a total package guy," said corner R.W. McQuarters, who may start again Sunday in place of the injured Sam Madison. "He's the guy they look to when they want to make a big play. They will throw the ball up to him because he is a bigger receiver and let him make a play on the ball against smaller DBs."

Leg injury has Giants' Moss growing impatient

When Sinorice Moss arrives at Giants Stadium nearly every day at 6 a.m., he often takes a few minutes to sit in the parking lot and chat with a couple of early arriving teammates.

But with each passing day, the sessions are darker and colder.

Like the early-departing November sun, time is running short for the Giants' rookie receiver, who suffered a quadriceps injury during the first week of training camp and has played in only one game this season.

Burrell interested in playing with Giants

Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Pat Burrell would waive his no-trade clause and pick up a first baseman's mitt to play for the Giants, his agent said Thursday.

The Phillies are eager to unload a hefty portion of the $27 million Burrell is owed over the next two seasons and his no-trade clause was an impediment to a deal; the slugger had said he would only waive it to go to the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox.

But agent Greg Genske said Burrell, 30, would be enticed by a deal that brings him to San Francisco. Burrell graduated from Bellarmine College Prep.

Moss Is Uncertain To Play Vs. Dallas

Santana Moss, by far the Washington Redskins' most productive receiver since his arrival in 2005, missed practice again yesterday with a strained hamstring, making it uncertain whether he will play Sunday against Dallas. Moss has not been on the field for a full training session since suffering the injury in a Week 7 loss at Indianapolis, and has a history of hamstring problems.

Should Moss be unable to play, there could be more work for James Thrash, a special teams stalwart. Wide receiver David Patten, who is also nursing a hamstring injury, returned for practice and is listed as probable, while wide receiver Brandon Lloyd did not practice fully because of a shoulder injury. He, too, is probable. Moss has more receiving yards this season (435) than Washington's other four wide receivers combined (397), and is the primary target for quarterback Mark Brunell. He also is the only player able to repeatedly produce big plays in this passing offense the last two seasons, an area of particular significance given the Redskins' inconsistent attack in 2006.

Wayne making Colts contract decision look brilliant

It defied conventional thinking, but then again, that goes away when it comes to the Indianapolis Colts offense. And that might actually be one of the secrets of its success.

When Colts general manager Bill Polian made receiver Reggie Wayne the top priority in free-agency last spring, signing him to a six-year $39.5 million contract, it meant that star runner Edgerrin James would leave via free-agency. That wasn't conventional thinking, and it led to plenty of questions and loads of second-guessing.

How can a receiver be more important than a guy who had rushed for 1,500 yards in two successive seasons?

Frank Gore Update

FRANK'S QUEST:@ Frank Gore spends his mornings in meetings and his afternoon at practice in the 49ers' training complex. Then he goes home to his apartment just down the street in Santa Clara - and he often ends up coming right back to the DeBartolo Sports Centre in the evening.

"Ain't nothing to do out here, so I can just come back," Gore said. "I can just focus on football. There's nothing to do around here - especially coming from Miami, because after practice, you can just do whatever (in South Florida)."

Gore is fifth in the NFL with 631 yards rushing, and his coaches attribute part of his effectiveness to his work ethic. He has rebounded solidly from offseason surgery on both shoulders, and his oft-discussed fumbling problems are just about the only negatives.

His outstanding start has inspired him to wonder if he can make history this season: On Thursday, he wanted to know the 49ers' single-season rushing record (1,570 yards by Garrison Hearst in 1998).

"So if I get 16 (1,600 yards), I'll be the top dog?" he asked with a sly smile. "That's one of my goals. It's tough, especially when you're playing against the best defenses."


Winston's time to shine - Injuries at tackle create window of opportunity for Texans rookie

Offensive tackle Eric Winston was in street clothes when five of the rookies he was drafted with in April started in the Texans' season opener.

In the first two months of the season, rookies Mario Williams, DeMeco Ryans, Owen Daniels, Wali Lundy and Charles Spencer emerged as future faces of the franchise. Winston was a side note, placed on the inactive list in three of the first four weeks.

Winston's importance to the Texans likely will change this month as he starts to figure into a regular rotation with ailing veteran tackles Ephraim Salaam (ankle, knee, ribs) and Zach Wiegert (knee). Spencer, the opening-day starter at left tackle, suffered a season-ending injury in Week 2.


Winslow to visit site of father's exploits

BEREA — It’s inconceivable to think that anyone named Kellen Winslow could be booed Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.

Then again, the Winslow in question is Kellen Jr., the son of Hall of Fame tight end Kellen Sr. The elder Winslow, who played nine years for the Chargers, would never be the target of boos. The same can’t be said for his son, a tight end for the Browns who hopes to eventually join his father in the Hall of Fame.

Kellen Jr. laid the groundwork for rough treatment by Chargers fans when he reaffirmed his belief he’s the best tight end in the NFL. He might get an argument from Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, who’s played in two Pro Bowls in his short three-year career.

Kosar on Most Wanted' to help solve murder

Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar offered his services to the team that produces Fox's long-running "America's Most Wanted: America Fights Back." He had heard that the series would be spotlighting the case of Charles Scott White, a cook murdered June 12 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

He also heard that White and his family had spent many happy hours cheering for their beloved Browns. So Kosar will take the prime-time field for the episode of "America's Most Wanted" airing at 9 p.m. Saturday on Fox- owned WJW Channel 8.

The segment shows Kosar getting to know White's family and police de tectives as signed to the case. It follows the former Boardman High School, University of Miami and NFL star over the past several weeks as he has traveled around southern Florida, encouraging anyone with information about the murder to contact a hot line for tips and leads.

Phillies aren’t denying desire to move Burrell

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies could have an opening in their outfield next season, and there are a lot of rumors flying they are going to make a play for Alfonso Soriano, who arguably is the best free agent on the market this winter.

So, is the conjecture real, or is it a smokescreen? It depends whom you ask, and it depends on what exactly the Phillies can do with left fielder Pat Burrell and decide to do in center field.

The Phillies haven’t been shy about their desire to find a place to dump Burrell and part of the $27 million he will make over the next two seasons. While the Phils sloughed away a nice chunk of their 2007 payroll when they traded Bobby Abreu to the Yankees, they will need to get rid of some Burrell bling if they want to go after someone of Soriano’s stature and still have some funds available to fill their other needs. Tops on that list is the need for at least two veteran relievers to clean up a bullpen that had problems getting the ball to closer Tom Gordon.

Browns' Winslow says it's him vs. Chargers' Gates

EREA, Ohio - Fans have heard all the talk that NFL games are never about one player facing another player.

Kellen Winslow seems to disagree. At least he does this week, as the Browns travel to San Diego to play the Chargers.

"I look at it like it's a heavyweight match," Winslow said Wednesday. "It's me vs. Gates."

"Gates" would be Antonio Gates, a former Kent State basketball star who took the NFL world into his palm by trying out for and making the Chargers as an undrafted tight end.

Martin Bibla Update

PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Soul have signed offensive linemen Martin Bibla, Phil Bogle and Kelvin Chassion to go along with wide receiver DeQawn Mobley. As per club policy, terms of their deals were not disclosed.

Bibla (6'3'', 306, Miami) comes to the Arena Football League after spending five years in the NFL. Playing primarily on special teams for the Falcons, he played in 31 games while starting in 21. After playing with the Falcons for four years, Bibla played on the offensive line for the Broncos. Prior to his NFL experience, he played for the University of Miami starting 40 of 45 games. He helped lead an offense ranked eighth in the nation with a game average of 454.8 yards and 43.2 points.


SF's Gore hires Rosenhaus

SANTA CLARA — The 49ers' new fiscal philosophy rests on signing their best players to contract extensions before they become free agents, and the new agent for running back Frank Gore said he plans to facilitate doing just that.

"One of the reasons he hired me is that I have had success getting players contract extensions early in their careers," Drew Rosenhaus said Tuesday. "We're definitely receptive to getting a deal done."

Gore signed with Miami-based Rosenhaus last week after his first agent, David Dunn, told Gore he could no longer represent him. Dunn is facing a two-year suspension from the National Football League Players Association.


Washington running back Clinton Portis used the bye week to get healthy to face the Cowboys.

The Redskins need Portis to help fix their failing team.

Washington is fading at 2-5, and Portis doesn't expect to miss another meeting with the Cowboys when the teams play Sunday in Washington.

Portis suffered a high ankle sprain in Washington's loss to Indianapolis on Oct. 22. He missed his only game of the season in the Sept. 17 loss to the Cowboys.

Chad Johnson wants a piece of Ray Lewis

OWINGS MILLS, Md. - Chad Johnson issued a friendly warning to Ray Lewis on Wednesday, joking that when he faces the Baltimore Ravens linebacker Sunday he will "hit him in the mouth."

Johnson has 36 catches and two touchdowns for the Cincinnati Bengals, who need a victory in Baltimore to avoid falling two games behind the first-place Ravens in the AFC North.

Cincinnati swept the Ravens last year with the aid of Johnson's 10 receptions for 179 yards and a touchdown against cornerbacks Samari Rolle and Chris McAlister.

Redskins need Portis to be the focal point again

DALLAS - Running back Clinton Portis is the best player on the Washington Redskins.

The more Portis carries the football, the better he plays - and the better the Redskins play. Portis rushed a career-high 352 times in 2005 for a franchise-record 1,516 yards, propelling Washington into the playoffs for the first time this decade.

But the Redskins have gotten away from Portis - and winning - in 2006.

Washington hired offensive coordinator Al Saunders from Kansas City last off-season to implement one of the NFL's most dynamic passing schemes. The Chiefs ranked in the top six in passing each of the last three seasons.

Giants Can't Find a Way To Use Shockey Effectively

During the Giants' bye week last year, Jeremy Shockey and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, came to an agreement with the team on a five-year contract extension that could pay the tight end $30 million and ensure he would spend the prime years of his career as a Giant. Shockey responded by playing a great game the following Sunday, catching five passes for 129 yards and a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys. The Giants have played 19 games since then, and they haven't gotten their money's worth.

Shockey has a pedestrian 69 catches for 791 yards in those 19 games, including just three catches for 15 yards in Sunday's victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With just 23 catches for 240 yards this season, Shockey's catches per game, yards per game, and yards per catch are all career lows.

Sox see Cora file for free agency

BOSTON -- One of Boston's more reliable utility players has filed for free agency.

Alex Cora was the latest Red Sox player to officially test the free agent waters on Tuesday. While hitting just .238 with one homer and 18 RBIs, the 31-year-old again showed his versatility by starting a combined 61 games split between second base, third base and shortstop.

Cora, regarded as one of the steadier reserve infielders in the game, was acquired from Cleveland in exchange for Ramon Vazquez on July 7, 2005, and has served as a late-inning pinch-runner and defensive replacement during his time in Boston.

Skins' Moss healing slowly

Mark Brunell, Clinton Portis and Santana Moss remained unable to practice Monday as the Washington Redskins returned from a four-day, bye-week vacation. Of the three, Moss was the least optimistic about playing in Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Moss, the team's only consistent receiver this season, is recovering from a strained left hamstring. He said he was being cautious because of his experience with previous hamstring injuries.

"If you go out and try to be Superman, you can prolong the healing process," Moss said. "I don't want to do that. Hopefully, I can play Sunday. I really don't want to miss Sunday, but I don't want to miss any Sunday."

Week 8 Video Highlights Just Added

Check out Week 8 NFL U Video Highlights featuring Reggie Wayne, Kellen Winslow, Warren Sapp, and Ray Lewis! Click at the top on NFL U Video Highlights or click here!

Winslow raves over Davidson

Tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., who said earlier in the season that the coaches were holding back the offense, was thrilled with the rebirth under new coordinator Jeff Davidson.

"He did awesome," Winslow said. "Just the whole setup, the play-calling, was awesome, totally different."

Winslow said players were excited to make plays for Davidson and for each other.

Devin Hester Update

The Devin Hester-for-offense push remains on hold with the passing offense averaging 7.4 yards every time it gets a pass away. The Bears are completing 60.8 percent of their passes. Bernard Berrian, Desmond Clark and Rashied Davis are averaging 15 yards or more per catch, and Muhsin Muhammad leads the Bears with 32 catches.

"There's always thoughts," Smith said of the prospect of getting Hester more touches. "Of course, if you ask Moose, he'd say we have enough weapons over there right now. So right now we're going to stay the way we are."


Padres decline option on Piazza

SAN DIEGO (AP) - The San Diego Padres declined to exercise the 2007 options for catcher Mike Piazza and slugger Ryan Klesko on Monday, while deciding to bring back outfielder Mike Cameron and infielder-outfielder Russell Branyan.

The Padres also arranged their first interviews in their search to replace manager Bruce Bochy.

St. Louis Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo is scheduled to interview on Tuesday, while Trey Hillman, manager of the Japanese team Nippon Ham Fighters, is due to interview on Thursday.

Wayne’s wisdom - Team egos are held in check, but performance Sunday was ‘special’

DENVER – Reggie Wayne’s description of the latest Indianapolis Colts win seems, on face value, hard to buy.

“It was another day in the office,” Wayne said. “Nothing special.”

Wayne, wearing a stylish cream-colored suit with three touchdown catches and a two-point conversion in his back pocket, kept a straight face. He wasn’t joking. And here’s the kicker, if we’re honest about it: He’s partially right.

The Colts’ 34-31 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday at Invesco Field was, in many ways, just another day at the office.

NFL U Week 8 Season Gallery Updated!

Check out Week 8 pictures to NFL U Gallery. Check out pictures of Reggie Wayne, Jonathan Vilma, Kellen Winslow and more by clicking above on NFL U Season Gallery or click here.

Hite may be on cusp of NBA shot with Heat

MIAMI -- Robert Hite moved here four years ago, leaving his family's Cincinnati home after accepting a scholarship to play college basketball at Miami.

When his days with the Hurricanes were done, the 6-foot-2 guard figured he'd move again to begin his professional career, either to some NBA city or Europe.

Those plans are on hold -- and for a very good reason.

When the Miami Heat waived Vincent Grier on Sunday night, that left them with 15 players -- and Hite is one of them. Barring another roster move such as a trade, he'll be getting a locker when the regular season opens Tuesday night against the Chicago Bulls.

Wayne's world

Newest nickname for the Broncos' defense: the Crash-and-Burned Unit.

The Broncos, who had allowed two touchdowns in their first six games, allowed three Sunday afternoon at Invesco Field at Mile High. Hey, stuff happens when you play the Indianapolis Colts.

The Colts walked off the field with a 34-31 victory that stamped them as the team to beat in the American Conference. Indianapolis is the first team since the 1929-31 Green Bay Packers to open back-to-back seasons with seven consecutive wins.

W, as in Wayne - Receiver catches 3 2nd-half touchdowns

DENVER -- A Denver defense that had yielded 44 points to its first six opponents gave up 34 Sunday. A Denver defense that hadn't given up a touchdown in 14 quarters at Invesco Field at Mile High gave up three during the second half Sunday.

Reggie Wayne scored all of them. He was in his element.

"It's like a playoff atmosphere," Wayne bubbled after the Indianapolis Colts' 34-31 victory over the Denver Broncos. "You know it's going to be a hostile crowd. You've gotta love playing here, the 75,000 go to cheering and the stadium goes to shaking and it gives you goose bumps.

"Those are the times you want to step up and make plays. My number was called today."

Frye, Winslow praise offensive coordinator

CLEVELAND - Giving new offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson all the credit for the Browns' 20-13 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday might be going too far.

But quarterback Charlie Frye and tight end Kellen Winslow knew how much Davidson cared about them. They could see it in his bloodshot eyes.

``He put in a lot of work this week,'' Frye said of the former offensive line coach who was promoted Monday night.

Wind is a breeze for Feagles

Jeff Feagles and the Buccaneers' Josh Bidwell each punted nine times yesterday, into and with the wind. Feagles showed his 19 seasons of experience with some excellent kicks at both ends of Giants Stadium.

With the wind in the first quarter, Feagles dropped a perfect short punt at the Bucs' 5. After Tampa Bay went three and out, the Giants produced their first scoring drive. In the second quarter, into the wind, Feagles dropped an even better one inside the 5 -- the ball landed at the 2 and bounced back to the 4, where it was downed.

"It's mental gymnastics," Feagles said. "Every one is different. You can't get in a groove because of the conditions."

In the big time from preps to pros (DJ Williams Interview)

The Broncos starting outside linebacker grew up with his mother, stepfather and two sisters in the Bay Area. His biological father gave him another sister and two brothers - Worrell, 12th-ranked Cal's starting middle linebacker, and Jerwin, a linebacker who just transferred from Marshall to Division I-AA Sacramento State. D.J. went to nationally renowned De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif., which he helped go 36-0 during the school's record 151-game winning streak. He was a three-year starting linebacker - and part-time fullback - at the University of Miami and became the Broncos' first-round pick, 17th overall, in 2004. Williams is single and lives in the Miami area in the offseason.

Klis: Most football fans know about two high school football teams: their own high school and De La Salle. How did you end up there?

Williams: I had a friend named Chris Hodoh. We played basketball growing up all through AAU, 10 years old on up. He went through Catholic schools and his father talked to my mother and said, "I'm going to send my son over here to play basketball." So I initially went to De La Salle to play basketball


Mickles: Reed does his part to help N.O.

Like many other professional athletes from Louisiana, Baltimore Ravens free safety Ed Reed was moved by the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina last summer.

Reed, a former Destrehan High School star, and his Ravens played the last game in the Superdome on Aug. 26, 2005 — just three days before the killer storm left her indelible mark on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

So Reed, a native of St. Rose, wanted to do something special for his homecoming game today against the New Orleans Saints in the refurbished Superdome. He arranged for teammates to make donations through payroll deduction, with the proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity programs.

Vilma Update

Jonathan Vilma: The Jets inside linebacker -- their best defensive playmaker the past two seasons -- had his best game since Week 1 with 11 tackles, his first interception of the season and two pass defenses against the Lions. More importantly, he seemed to finally be given some freedom to make plays along the sidelines rather than strictly going head-on with the offensive linemen. That should be important this week as all four linebackers, including Bryan Thomas and Victor Hobson on the outside and Eric Barton inside, will be on notice with Browns tight end Kellen Winslow running routes. Winslow leads the team with 33 receptions, the NFL high for tight ends. The 3-4 is better suited to placing a linebacker in coverage against the tight end than the Jets' former 4-3 scheme.

Look out for Lewis - New Orleans feeling impact of Baltimore linebacker

Talk to almost anyone about the Baltimore Ravens’ rugged defense and it doesn’t take very long for the conversation to turn to one man in particular.

“It starts with No. 52,” New Orleans Saints running back Deuce McAllister said of All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis, the heart and soul and unquestioned leader of the Ravens defense.

“When they’re able to protect him and let him make plays without getting double-teamed,” McAllister said, “and you can’t get a guard or fullback up on him, he’s going to make life hard for you.”

49ers' Gore leads the running backs parade

CHICAGO - Never had three running backs been drafted so high as Ronnie Brown, Cedric Benson and Cadillac Williams, who went 2-4-5 last year.

This season's leading rusher among that 2005 class? San Francisco's Frank Gore, selected No. 65. The third-rounder was the fifth running back chosen, behind J.J. Arrington, who went to Arizona in the second round.

Gore comes to Soldier Field on Sunday with 520 yards on 112 carries, putting him eighth in the league. He's ahead of the Dolphins' Brown (122-464) and the Buccaneers' Williams (104-394).

Player Evaluation: Alex Cora

Alex Cora (.238, 1 HR, 18 RBI, .312 OBP, 6 SB)

Defensively, Cora is as good a backup middle infielder as anyone in the big leagues, but the impending free agent hurt his stock with a miserable second half at the plate. Cora hit .293 with a .397 on-base percentage in 99 at-bats prior to the All-Star Break but just .193 with a .238 on-base percentage in 135 at-bats the rest of the way.

Cora, who turned 31 in October, is still viewed as a valuable asset by the Sox, but he’s young enough to find work as a full-timer—particularly in the NL, where his minimal power would make him a fine no. 8 hitter.

2006 GRADE: C.