03 June 2007

McGahee: ’Perfect situation’ with Ravens

OWINGS MILLS, Md. - Willis McGahee was sitting outside the Baltimore Ravens’ locker room Thursday when cornerback Chris McAlister walked by, rubbing his fingers together the universal sign used to ask for money.

McAlister was offering to sell McGahee jersey No. 21, which the running back wore during his turbulent tenure with the Buffalo Bills.

"No, you can have it," McGahee replied. "I’m good."

Obtained in a trade with the Bills in March, McGahee is content to wear No. 23 in Baltimore.

"I don’t want 21. I’m looking for a fresh start, and 23 was the number I was picked," he said, referring to being the 23rd overall selection in the 2003 NFL draft.

Mum’s word on absent Meriweather

FOXBORO - The absence of Laurence Maroney [stats] from on-field participation at mandatory minicamp wasn’t all too startling, given the offseason shoulder surgery the Patriots [team stats] running back underwent.

Brandon Meriweather?

It was a surprise when the rookie first-round pick missed yesterday’s workout. He wasn’t at Thursday’s voluntary passing camp, either, during the one day the media was allowed to watch.

Meriweather has had a history of shoulder trouble. Pats coach Bill Belichick, naturally, wasn’t providing much on the rookie’s absence.

When asked to explain why Meriweather was missing, Belichick responded: “Well, there are a number of players that aren’t out there on the field. There are different things going on with different players.”

Was Meriweather injured?

“There are different things going on with different players,” Belichick repeated. “Some of them I’m sure will be out there tomorrow and some of them may not be. We’ll have the injury report the first Wednesday of the regular season. We don’t want to rush it.”

Justin Schulman, who represents Meriweather at the California-based Athlete’s First, is referring all inquiries on Meriweather to the Patriots.


Job hunt tough for L. Thomas, Lyons

Finding a network sportscasting job is difficult enough. So think how tough it must be when you have a foot-in-mouth incident in your history.

Last year's poster-children for foot-in-mouth syndrome -- Lamar Thomas and Steve Lyons -- still search for a network willing to hire them after their October dismissals. And Michael Irvin's broadcast future also remains uncertain, four months after he was dropped by ESPN and six months after he caught heat for joking that Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo's success might be linked to one of his ancestors sleeping with a slave.

Thomas, who played for the University of Miami and the Dolphins, forever will be associated with his hysterical commentary on Comcast Sports Southeast's coverage of the UM-FIU brawl last October.

Among the highlights: ''You come into our house, you should get your behind kicked . . . Why don't they just meet outside the tunnel after the game and get it on some more?'' CSS fired him two days later

Davenport happy to return the favor

When Najeh Davenport signed with the Steelers last year, following the season-opener against the Miami Dolphins, fellow running back Verron Haynes stepped in and helped him out right away. He gave him tips, helped him with the playbook, and the like.
Now it's Davenport's time to return the favor. Haynes was re-signed this week and is back healthy after suffering a knee injury in an offense that has taken on some changes over the past few months.  
"I think it's a role reversal," said Davenport. "Last year he was helping me telling me what to do, who I've got. Now I get to show him some stuff. I am telling him when he takes the field, as far as the knee, let it go."

Jonathan Vilma Update

LB Jonathan Vilma was excused to attend the graduation of his sister, who received an MBA from Harvard.


Burrell's bat carries Phils to sweep

NEW YORK -- For the Phillies, there was final redemption in a stadium where the home team, the crowd of 43,398 and an umpiring crew of four had seemed to conspire against them in the span of three swings of three bats in the bottom of the sixth inning on Thursday night.

The middle homer of a back-to-back-to-back attack by the Mets with two out in the bottom of the sixth gave New York a one-run lead. The second, a shot to left-center by David Wright, was disputed enough by the Phillies that it got manager Charlie Manuel ejected.

But the Phillies got one measure of revenge in the top of the ninth when Pat Burrell, who has always hit well in Shea Stadium, slugged a leadoff home run off Mets closer Billy Wagner to tie the game. Redemption came in a three-run 10th that Burrell iced with a run-scoring double down the left-field line that gave the Phillies a 6-3 win.

Frnak Gore Update

Mike Nolan has said he wants to limit Frank Gore's carries to fewer than 300. Last season, Gore carried 312 times, which is a franchise record. He also made it through a season without a significant injury for the first time since his senior year of high school.

With Gore signed through 2011, it only seems reasonable that the 49ers would want to limit his touches. But Nolan mentioned this week that Gore could touch the ball 20 to 25 times a game.

"I'm going for quality, not quantity, so we'll see," Nolan said.


Beason getting up to speed

Carolina rookie linebacker Jon Beason is into the second week of summer school, and he is ready to give an assessment of the defense he is learning to play in.

"I like it,” said Beason, who was chosen with the 25th overall pick of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Panthers. “I think it’s a good fit for me. We like to come after people and pressure guys. It’s a lot like what we did at Miami, so it’s an easy transition.

“I’m just waiting to get into pads. The speed in the trenches has been the same. I’m really impressed by the receivers and the DB’s, how quick they are and their ball skills. Other than that, it’s been the same, but I know when those pads come on and those big uglies start coming after me, it should be a little different.”

One thing the Panthers find beautiful about Beason is his versatility. His ability to play multiple linebacker positions could prove invaluable next season.

“He is an instinctive guy, and I think he's had some background at both outside and inside backer during his (college) career,” said Panthers head coach John Fox. “As far as it relates to our system, we'll just bring him along primarily in one spot with kind of keeping an idea about the others.

Gore: A real Rags to Riches story

How you doing these days Eye on The U crew? Just wanted to check in during my three-week break -- Is it really vacation if I'm still working? -- to give you a place to pour your thoughts in regarding your beloved Canes. Among the topics of this entry: My visit to Frank Gore's mother's house, Denis Clemente's transfer to Kansas State, a Devin Ebanks update and a quick football recruiting update.

First, Gore. After signing his big contract extention in March, I spent months trying to hunt him down for an interview and finally did at the end of last week (a feature on him should be running in the paper soon). Anyway, he invited me to his mother's house brand new four bedroom home in West Kendall to shoot a photo of him and his mother together. Frank never showed up, but I got a chance to speak with him later on. I spent nearly an hour with his mother, who you all remember has to take weekly dialysis treatments for her diabetes and struggles simply to get out of bed.

Baraka Atkins Update

Defensive end Baraka Atkins, a fourth-round draft choice this year, had a good day rushing the passer.


Broncos' Lang Plays Through The Pain

(CBS4/DenverBroncos.com) ENGLEWOOD, Colo. With 10 NFL seasons already logged, defensive end Kenard Lang has long since learned that playing through pain is essential to surviving in the professional ranks.

But one can't merely play through pain. To have the opportunity to play, one must practice with it, as well, and Kenard Lang has done just that during organized team activities, taking part in spite of shoulder pain that first set in last summer.

"I have my good days and my bad days, but it's cool," Lang said. "When training camp comes, there's no such thing as pain."

Lang managed to endure through all 16 games last year in spite of the problem, so making it through the organized team activities -- which see no tackling and no pads -- is relatively easy by comparison.

"I hurt my shoulder in training camp last year and I just played through it through the whole season," Lang said. "You can't complain.

No Tension in New York: Giants' Smith, Moss Bonding

You would think that Sinorice Moss felt a lack of faith and a bit if disrespect when the Giants drafted Steve Smith of USC in the second round of the NFL Draft. However, that's not the case at all and Moss believes Smith is going to make the Giants better.

"I don't think that was a reflection of me at all, them drafting Steve," Moss said. "They're looking more for the long run, not about that I didn't perform last year."
When people evaluate the Giants, they so often forget about Moss. Because of the injuries last season, no one really got to see what he was all about. When drafted, he was just as hyped as Smith currently is and the expectations were equally as high. There is a very good chance that Moss ends up being just as, if not more, productive than Smith. It's a great "problem" the Giants have with these two.

What's even better is that they're getting along. While there is a competition, they both realize its part of the business. Perhaps the most telling comments came from Moss.

"He's my teammate first," Moss said.

I love that attitude and it will only result in good things for the Giants.


Ray's Summer Days

Football in the summer? Not exactly. "Ray's Summer Days," presented by Baltimore Ravens player Ray Lewis, is a three-day affair featuring an array of benefit sports events and other fundraising activities. The public is invited to head to the stands at Patterson Park on Saturday and watch Ray lead a Youth Fitness Clinic. Some 600 children were selected to partake in the exercise clinic, which will feature some of Ray's teammates, Redskins players and local celebrities. Other "Summer Days" activities include a VIP meet-and-greet, cocktail reception and auction, golfing match, celebrity bowling tournament and Pev's Celebrity Paintball Tournament. Events benefit the Ray Lewis Foundation, whose mission is to provide personal and economic assistance to disadvantaged youths.

"Ray's Summer Days" runs today through Saturday. The free Youth Fitness Clinic runs 9 a.m.-noon Saturday at Patterson Park. The VIP meet-and-greet, cocktail reception and auction are today at Martin's West, 6817 Dogwood Road. The meet-and-greet begins at 6:30 p.m., and tickets are $1,000. The cocktail reception and auction begin at 7 p.m., and tickets are $150. The golf match is at 9 a.m. tomorrow at the Woodlands, 2309 Ridge Road in Windsor Mill. Also tomorrow, the Celebrity Bowling Tournament is at 6 p.m. at Perry Hall Lanes, 4359 Ebenezer Road. Tickets for both events are $500 per player. Pev's Celebrity Paintball Tournament runs 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Saturday at a private location. Tickets are $250. All tickets must be bought in advance. Call 305-535-9937 or go to rayssummerdays.com.


Charlton Jimmerson Update

PEARL, Miss. - Charlton Jimerson had another career night with two home runs and five RBIs to help the Diamond Jaxx beat Mississippi, 12-6, and avoid a sweep against the Braves.

Both teams had 16 hits. Jimerson was 3-for-5, including a three-run homer in the second inning and a two-run shot in the seventh.

Braun says he's finally settling in

Two weeks do not a season make, but two weeks can be enough for an impression.

And the impression rookie third baseman Ryan Braun has made after two weeks in the big leagues has been a favorable one.

Braun was called up to the Brewers on May 24.

"I feel like I'm finally starting to get comfortable," Braun said. "I'm finally starting to get back into a regular routine and I feel situated.

"Performance-wise I feel like I probably couldn't have swung the bat much worse than I have these first couple weeks. But I feel like I'm starting to get situated and starting to get some plate discipline back and swinging at good pitches, so hopefully it will start to come."

proCanes Gallery Updated!!

Check out proCanes.com's EXCLUSIVE photographs from this past weekend's Florida Firecats versus Alabama Steeldogs game in Fort Myers, Florida. The Florida Firecats feature 3 Hurricanes as their starters; Brad Kunz (OL), Ethenic Sands (WR), and Magic Benton (WR).

Click above on proCanes Gallery or
Click Here!

Lewis credits revamped workout schedule with turnaround

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Ray Lewis should be past his prime. The Baltimore Ravens linebacker has played 11 years in the NFL, and last month he celebrated his 32nd birthday.

Instead, Lewis has seemingly found a way to defy the aging process. He showed up at minicamp Tuesday looking as trim as he was during his rookie season in 1996.

"It's incredible, you know. Some people say you go in reverse once you hit the 30 mark, but I think I'm going the other way," he said.

Lewis didn't drop pounds. But he's much leaner than he was a year ago, thanks to a revamped workout schedule in which he did most of his exercising at night and added kickboxing, wrestling and swimming to the mix.

Brandon Merriweather Update

First-round draft choice Brandon Meriweather did not participate in the on-field portion of the workout, but he was at Gillette. Meriweather, whose hamstring is not 100 percent, also missed last Thursday's passing camp.


Stronger Jennings eager for bigger role with Seahawks

KIRKLAND - When veteran receiver D.J. Hackett reported to minicamps last summer, he was excited about the matchup advantages he had against the Seattle Seahawks' hotshot rookie.

Cornerback Kelly Jennings, a recent first-round pick from the University of Miami back then, showed up with impressive quickness but not much bulk. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Hackett learned quickly that his own size and physical game would be too much for the slight rookie.

This summer? Well, that's a different story.

"He's put a little bit of weight on, so it's not as easy to throw him around," Hackett said of the man who is expected to step in for released veteran Kelly Herndon as the starting cornerback.

Latest change in Seahawks' secondary is fat chance for 'Slim'

KIRKLAND, Wash. -- Suddenly, the Seahawk they call "Slim" has a fat chance to become a star.

Kelly Jennings could be his listed 178 pounds - if he were wearing sandbags. He also could be the key new starter in Seattle's remodeled defensive secondary.

When the Seahawks cut starting cornerback Kelly Herndon last Friday, they all but handed one of the NFL's most difficult positions to Jennings.

"It just told me this was my opportunity to step up," Jennings said this week as Seattle's second and final minicamp began.

Vinny Testaverde Update

Quarterback Vinny Testaverde was on the field again yesterday with the Patriots, although he remains unsigned by the team. The 20-year veteran spent the second half of last season as the Pats’ third quarterback, and got to extend his league record for consecutive seasons with a touchdown pass when he connected with Brown against Tennessee in the regular-season finale. Belichick was mum on Testaverde’s future with New England: “He’s an unrestricted free agent who is participating in our offseason program,” he said.


Portis apologizes for his comments

Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis said yesterday his comments defending Michael Vick and making light of dogfighting last month during a television interview in Norfolk were "inconsiderate."

Portis spoke with local reporters after the Redskins' first offseason practice since May 24.

"I didn't understand the seriousness behind them," Portis said. "I didn't know it would affect that many people, and I didn't think what I said was offensive. ... After seeing how serious people took them, I shouldn't have made the comments.

"I'm going to leave it alone, hope it dies down and I hope people understand that, at the time, I had no idea the love people have for animals. I was inconsiderate for making those comments."

Roscoe Parrish Update

The final week of OTAs began Tuesday and there were some impressive plays turned in by the offense with Roscoe Parrish one of the more impressive performers. But the defense had its share of plays too.


Braun, Brewers top Cubs

Ryan Braun went 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI as Milwaukee held off Chicago, 7-5, in the middle contest of a three- game set at Miller Park.

Tony Graffanino and Corey Hart also homered for the Brewers, who have won four of six. Claudio Vargas (4-1) picked up the win, pitching 5 1/3 innings of seven-hit, three-run ball with four strikeouts and a pair of walks.

Francisco Cordero entered in the eighth and recorded the final four outs of the game for his 22nd save of the season.

Seahawks Minicamp | Turning the corner

KIRKLAND — The Seahawks are transitioning from one Kelly to another, and the similarities between the former Seahawks cornerback and the current one are uncanny.

Kelly Jennings slid into the right cornerback spot with the No. 1 defense Monday in the first practice of the team's June minicamp. The former first-round draft pick from Miami has assumed the position following the release of veteran Kelly Herndon last week.

Jennings and Herndon are of similar build and stature (5 feet 11, about 180 pounds), share a first name and a friendship and are not the most vocal people.
By the end of last season, Herndon was out with a broken ankle and Jennings had taken over as a starter for the playoffs. Jennings had one interception last season, playing mainly as the nickel cornerback and on special teams.

Vince Wilfork Update

Nose tackle Vince Wilfork seems to be relishing his role with top draft picks Brandon Meriweather and Kareem Brown, both of whom he played with at the University of Miami. "I'm basically like the big brother and the dad to them," said Wilfork. "I definitely have to look out for them. There is going to be a time I have to turn them loose, but for now they're under my wing."


Lewis gives Panthers solid backup - Defensive lineman 'feeling good' after having offseason surgery on his shoulder

Damione Lewis is a former first-round NFL draft pick.

Last season, he joined the Carolina Panthers as a backup to Maake Kemoeatu and Kris Jenkins at defensive tackle — and played well despite recurring shoulder problems.

He’s healthy again after off-season surgery, and he’s working with the first unit during the Panthers’ summer-school sessions while Jenkins stays away.

That may or may not mean anything by the time training camp rolls around next month. But until then, Lewis is feeling good about being a Panther and the Panthers are feeling good about having a proven player at the position in the case the Jenkins soap opera takes any more dramatic turns.

“Things are going pretty good for me,” Lewis said yesterday as the Panthers started the second week of voluntary workouts with Jenkins still the only veteran missing. “I’m feeling good. I’m still working through some kinks with the shoulder but it feels a helluva lot better now than it did last year at this time. So I’m feeling pretty good about things.”

Giants' Toomer, Moss look to come back strong

EAST RUTHERFORD -- The selection of Steve Smith in the second round of April's draft sent up a different set of flags for two other Giants' wide receivers picked in that same round a decade apart.

"Maybe they were trying to tell me something," said Amani Toomer, the second-round pick in 1996 attempting to come back from an ACL injury suffered midway through last season.

"I was happy, actually, I called Steve the next day and told him it was going to be a pleasure working with him," said Sinorice Moss, the No. 2 pick in 2006 whose rookie season was all but lost to injury.

Moss, the former Miami star, and Smith, the Southern Cal standout, are getting a lot of snaps during the organized team activity sessions at Giants Stadium. That's because Toomer is doing his rehab work on the sidelines, gearing for what he hopes will be some participation in next week's mandatory minicamp.

The Rock and Wife Separate

Actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has separated from his wife of 10 years.

The "Scorpion King" star, 35, and Dany Johnson, who have a 5-year-old daughter, Simone, have parted amicably after 17 years together.

The couple, in a statement released to People.com, says, "While certain aspects of our relationship have changed, we are both vitally important to each other's lives.

"We will continue to advance and manage our business interests, our philanthropic efforts and most importantly the raising of our child together, as a loving team.

"We've been fortunate enough to spend the last 17 years together as a couple and look forward to spending the rest our lives together as best friends and business partners."


proCanes.com Goes to a Florida Firecats Game

Over the weekend proCanes.com went to Fort Myers to catch a game between the Florida Firecats and Alabama Steeldogs. The Florida Firecats feature three 'Canes, Magic Benton, Brad Kunz and Ethenic Sands pictured below. Pictures from the game were also taken and will be posted shortly, stay tuned. Also stay tuned to exclusive interviews with all three players.


McGahee acquisition strengthens Ravens

Four months after running away with the AFC North title, the Baltimore Ravens haven’t lost much ground to their division rivals. They helped the offense by trading for former Buffalo Bills running back Willis McGahee and kept most of the NFL’s top-ranked defense intact.

The Cincinnati Bengals’ explosive offense needs more support from its 30th-ranked defense. Mike Tomlin replaces long-time Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher, who didn’t leave the cupboard bare for his successor. No AFC North team did more to improve than the Cleveland Browns, but it may not be enough to keep them from finishing last again.

Here’s a rundown of the offseason moves by each AFC North club, along with key questions each team faces entering training camp:

ESPN Article: Trading Places (Vernon Carey, Devin Hester, DJ Williams)

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


Rookie Braun big boost for Brewers

Playing in just his eighth game in the majors, Ryan Braun homered, doubled and singled to lead the Milwaukee Brewers to an 8-4 victory over the visiting Florida Marlins on Friday night.

Kevin Mench drove in four runs for Milwaukee with a sacrifice fly and a bases-loaded double.

Braun's two-run homer in the fifth traveled 427 feet and landed just above the ivy that grows on the wall in center field. Corey Hart singled before Braun -- the fifth overall pick in the 2005 first-year player draft -- hit the first pitch from Scott Olsen (4-5) for his second home run since his contract was purchased from Class AAA Nashville on May 24.

Francisco Cordero got the final out to earn his major-league-leading 20th save in as many chances.


Foxhole: Fox on Jon (Beason)

On rookie Jon Beason's ability to play multiple linebacker positions: He is an instinctive guy, and I think he's had some background at both outside and inside backer during his career (at the University of Miami). As far as it relates to our system, we'll just bring him along primarily in one spot with kind of keeping an idea. A lot of players have that responsibility. We've got some DB's that have to know a couple of different positions and the same with d-linemen. By the time you get to the season and you go into it with a 46-man squad for the game, there has to be position flexibility, whether it's seven o-linemen that are typically active or six or seven d-linemen. It will be the same with linebackers.

On if Beason is being brought along more slowly because he is still learning how to play linebacker after starting his college career at safety: With any rookie, you bring him along as fast as they are capable. It doesn't matter what the coaches know. It's what that player knows. Again, it's too early to say how fast we're going to bring him along at this point, but we'll give him all he can handle.

On defensive end Mike Rucker setting a target date of returning to practice during training camp: I think that's a pretty big window. At this point, it will be week-to-week, and we'll see how he comes along. We won't rush him and we'll be smart with it. Even once he starts practicing, we'll be smart. We'll have to wait and see.

On if Rucker can be brought along more slowly because he is a veteran and knows the defense: I think the fact that he's pretty comfortable in our system defensively and we've not changed that much, you always tweak a couple of things every offseason, but the fact that he's got those years of experience in our system, sure that doesn't freak you out too bad.


Kevin Everett Update

Kevin Everett was the favorite target of all three quarterbacks during red zone 7-on-7. Everett made three catches for three touchdowns including a nice grab as J.P. Losman squeezed the ball between two defenders. Losman was 9-10 passing with the touchdown to Everett. Craig Nall went 4-4 with two straight touchdowns, one to Everett and the other to Donovan Morgan. Trent Edwards made some very nice passes hooking up with Everett for a touchdown in the seam on his first pass of the drill.


Ryan Braun Update

Ryan Braun, playing his eighth game in the majors, homered, doubled and singled to lead the Milwaukee Brewers to an 8-5 victory over the Florida Marlins on Friday night. Kevin Mench drove in four runs for Milwaukee with a sacrifice fly and a double with the bases loaded. Braun’s two-run homer in the fifth traveled 427 feet and landed just above the ivy that grows on the wall in center field.