05 August 2007

Redskins' Portis will have knee examined to view progress

ASHBURN | Running back Clinton Portis will accompany the Redskins to Nashville, Tenn., for Saturday night's preseason opener against the Tennessee Titans, but it won't be to play football.

Portis, who has missed almost two weeks of practice with tendinitis in the knee, will be examined by orthopedic surgeon and team consultant James Andrews to make sure things are progressing and to try to form a game plan for his return.

"Rehab's going well, and I'm feeling good," Portis said. "I'll be back, hopefully soon, but I don't know when.... Next week, I have a couple of days to relax and get treatment, and hopefully next week I'll feel much better."


Family first for James

Former University of Miami star tailback Edgerrin James turned 29 last week, but he said Wednesday he hopes he can hang on in the NFL at least long enough to share the same backfield with first cousin Javarris James -- of current UM fame.

''One of my dreams is to play on the same team with Baby J,'' James, of the Arizona Cardinals, said by phone Wednesday. ``That's the one thing I've been wanting, so hopefully I can hold on. That's the first person I'll be willing to be a backup to.''

James called The Miami Herald and said he has been hearing for months that people believe he thinks freshman running back Graig Cooper should start over his cousin.

Definitely not true, he said.

Kubiak, Johnson want to see how WR responds

The week Jacoby Jones joined the Texans, the rookie wide receiver couldn't take his eyes off two-time Pro Bowler Andre Johnson. Jones wanted to learn everything he could. He even hoped to steal some moves.

On Saturday night, Johnson and Jones will switch roles. Johnson is eager to see what Jones does on the field when the fans are in the stands and a real opponent is lining up across from him.

"He's got a lot of talent," Johnson said. "And he can make a lot of big plays. I can't wait to see him out on the field Saturday."
Johnson won't play beyond the first quarter Saturday against the Bears, but Jones will see significant playing time as a receiver and punt returner.

Kenard Lang shrugs off fall from starter to third-stringer

DENVER (AP) - Kenard Lang is sinking in the depth chart. His spirits remain sky-high.

Lang, who started all 16 games for the Denver Broncos last season after Courtney Brown got hurt in training camp, insisted he wasn't bothered on draft day when the Broncos selected defensive ends Jarvis Moss and Tim Crowder with their top two picks.

"The main thing is I want to see young guys succeed. I'm happy for them. I know they're going to make us a better team," Lang said.

He's maintained his upbeat attitude at training camp even though he's listed as the third-stringer at left end behind John Engelberger and Crowder in an abundant field of 16 linemen fighting for probably eight roster spots.

Coker Visits Bears practice

Former University of Miami coach Larry Coker visited practice and saw familiar faces with five ex-Hurricanes on the roster: receiver Devin Hester, tight end Greg Olsen, linebacker Darrell McClover, guard Tyler McMeans and newly added fullback Quadtrine Hill. Coker, who wasn't too enthusiastic about Hester's early departure from school, said he felt all along the All-Pro returner was best suited as a receiver.

''That's a smart move,'' Coker said. ''It's a move that we wanted to do, too. The more he has the ball under his arm, the more explosive and exciting and the more plays he is going to make. It seems like he's bought into it. That's the key. If he buys into it, he'll be good at it.''


Olsen eager to play first NFL game against Texans

I’m really looking forward to playing in my first NFL game Saturday night in Houston. It’ll be great to be in a game situation against an NFL opponent outside of practice. I’m sure there will be a lot of fans there and it’s going to be an exciting atmosphere.

I’m not sure how much I’ll play. I’ll probably know more as the game gets closer. It’ll be great if I play the whole game, but we’ll see what happens. It’ll be a good experience regardless.

It’ll also be nice because I have some family and friends going out to Houston to see the game. My girlfriend and her dad will be there. A buddy of mine from Houston is going to be there and a good friend of mine, Eric Winston, plays for the Texans. So I’ll see some familiar faces.

My parents are really into football. They try to make every game they can, but being from New Jersey, it’s not easy. My girlfriend went to school with me at Miami, and her family lived in Florida, so they made it to most of our home games. There was always somebody there for me.

Starting for Alouettes has made football fun again for Jarrett Payton

(CP) - Football is finally fun again for Jarrett Payton.

Three years after leading the Miami Hurricanes in rushing, the son of Chicago Bears legend Walter Payton is back as a starting tailback, this time with the CFL's Montreal Alouettes.

"It really has put a jump in my step," Payton said of his role with the Alouettes. "I love playing the game of football and having an opportunity to just play again is wonderful.

"But I've said from the beginning that I wanted to play where I felt I belonged and where I felt wanted and this is a place where I really feel wanted and connected to the guys. In the NFL sometimes, guys get blindsided by other things. Here's it's just a little bit different. Guys here are really loving the game of football and that's the reason I play the game."

Pat The Bat Lately Living Up To Moniker

Phillies left fielder Pat Burrell probably doesn't want to see that happen, but his numbers prove otherwise with the recent added pressure to perform. As All-Star second baseman Chase Utley and starting right fielder Shane Victorino remain on the disabled list, Burrell has stepped into the spotlight with a consistent bat to compliment slugger Ryan Howard in the lineup.

Burrell entered Tuesday's game versus Florida on a roll, having recorded a .450 batting average with eight homers and 25 runs batted in through his previous 26 games. He was also riding a 14-game hitting streak in which he hit .465 with five homers and 13 RBI.

Despite all the recent success, Burrell is labeled as an inconsistent player who swings at bad pitches and pops out on a regular basis. In Tuesday's 11-1 pounding of the Marlins, Burrell's hitting streak came to a halt after he finished 0-for-5 with a pair of strikeouts. However, he currently leads all major league players with a .407 batting average since July 1.

Quadtrine Hill Update

Taking Wesley's roster spot was fullback Quadtrine Hill, whom the Bears claimed off waivers from New England. Hill was with the Bears briefly last summer.


Bears' Hester looks to provide big returns on offense

(AP) BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- The recruiting started a year ago, and all Devin Hester wanted to do was sprint the other way.

In the end, he couldn't outrun the call to offense.

The Chicago Bears' special teams standout will see time at wide receiver after setting and tying several return records as a rookie last season. The list includes a league-record six touchdowns -- one of which was a missed field goal he ran back 108 yards. Now, the Bears are easing Hester in on offense -- a move he was reluctant to make.

"I give all the credit to coach Lovie Smith," he said. "He's the guy who opened up my eyes and let me know that it's a position I could succeed a lot at."

Vilma toils to fit into Jets' system

Jonathan Vilma stormed off the field, a game face still etched on his countenance, and he flung a half-empty beverage bottle into the fence with disgust. His defense had just allowed a last-second touchdown in one of those fantasy two-minute drills the Jets use to cap most of their workouts, and Vilma was livid. There were coverages that needed tightening, communications that needed tuning, and situational awareness that needed refining. It took several minutes for the steamed inside linebacker to regain his composure.

Remember: This is still only training camp.

"Yeah, that's the type of guy he is," safety Kerry Rhodes said. "He's a fierce competitor. I mean, we're all competitors on this team, but he's a guy who takes it personally all the time. That's the type of person you need."

Reed enters sixth season feeling fresh

In five seasons in the NFL, Ravens free safety Ed Reed has been named to three Pro Bowls, won AP's Defensive Player of the Year award in 2004, and earned a contract that makes him the highest-paid player at his position.

And yet Reed, who will turn 29 on Sept. 11, said he still feels like a first-year player.

"It still seems like it was yesterday for me," he said recently. "When we come back to training camp, I always feel like a rookie. Because it's not new things going in, but just taking that whole mentality for everything to be fresh for me, [so] I can continue to get better the way I want to."

Franks returns, but shield is a bother

GREEN BAY -- Bubba Franks was back at practice on Monday, wearing a shield under his facemask to provide additional protection for his injured eye.

Franks' new look didn't quite match the sinister black mask that was a hallmark of Jim McMahon's brief tenure with the Packers, but the big tight end didn't much care for it.

"I didn't like it, but I have no choice," Franks said. "I have to get used to it. It's going to be on there, regardless. I felt pretty good out there. After a while, I got used to it, but I still didn't like it. It's going to take a while longer."

Franks scratched his eye last week, and isn't sure how long he'll have to wear the shield.

"Let's just say it wouldn't be a good thing to get poked in the eye again, so I'm going to wear it as long as I have to," Franks said.

Beason Is Already Working with the First Team

Business is business in the NFL, and once everyone takes care of business, nobody on the field takes it personally. Case in point: Jon Beason's contract talks may have been a bit contentious at times, but now that he's got his $12.5 million deal ironed out, Beason has jumped right into training camp, practicing with the first team.

Na'il Diggs is no longer competing with a ghost. The only real question now is whether Beason will start on the weak side or on the inside, though that may depend entirely on Dan Morgan's head. If Morgan holds up, Beason could play on the outside.

One linebacker who won't be competing with Beason for a starting job is Terrence Melton. He left Saturday's scrimmage with a knee injury and was promptly put on injured reserve.

Speaking of that scrimmage, reports are that the Panthers first-team offense looked mighty sharp on Saturday. Hope springs eternal as fall approaches, doesn't it?


Burrell's bat is back

It was such a remarkable turnaround that Pat Burrell jumped from sixth to third in the Phillies' lineup.

He had not hit third since 2002.

"Everything is the same," Burrell insisted over the weekend in Milwaukee. "I'm just not missing. I think it has more to do with . . . you're always going to get pitches to hit. It's a matter of what you do with them: Foul them off. Pop them up. I'm just hitting the ball hard. I'm just getting hits. I feel better, but you always feel better when you're doing good."

So there's really nothing different?

"No," he said. "Check the films."

Slimmed-down Warren Sapp still has big voice for Raiders

NAPA, Calif. (AP) -One thing hasn't gotten smaller on this year's slimmed-down version of Warren Sapp: his mouth.

Whether he's arguing with the officials, needling a teammate or giving instructions to a younger player, Sapp's booming voice serves as the soundtrack for Oakland Raiders practices at training camp.

``He's just Warren, and that's the best way you can put it,'' said receiver Mike Williams, a frequent target of Sapp's this summer. ``He doesn't mean anybody any harm. He is how he is, and one thing you can say about him, he' consistent. He's not somebody who's going to be rowdy one day and you're not going to hear him the next. You know that. It's all fun.''

Sapp has been vocal about Williams' weight, saying he should block instead of catching passes. He's also gotten on linebacker Sam Williams for how to properly play a particular defense, demonstrated how to beat a block as a tackle to Tyler Brayton and begged officials for calls in training camp drills.

Beason handles teasin'

As he made a play in nine-on-seven drills Monday, Panthers rookie linebacker Jon Beason took some of his first ribbing from teammates in training camp.

“I see you, Fresh Legs!” said fellow linebacker Adam Seward. Other teammates yelled “How’s the beach?” and “Finally here?” during his first practice with the team.
Beason smiled and said he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I missed out on some of the rookie experience,” he said of not being in camp last week. “I don’t think (I missed any) hazing, but obviously there’s a bigger learning curve now.”

Teasing from teammates and picking up the defense were actually the easy parts of his first practice in pads as a Panther. The tough part was something else entirely.

Lewis plays old-school football

Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis pulled his chin strap off his chin, placed it over his mouth as if he was daring air to penetrate the rubber, then sprinted to hunt down a young running back during a practice at Ravens camp. As if training camp was hard enough, Lewis, for some reason, was clearly trying to make it harder on this 95-degree day.

What the heck was that about, big boy?

"At this age I'm constantly looking to challenge myself, constantly looking to take my body and push it to the limits," Lewis said in a half-hour sitdown with

FOXSports.com. "These young cats ask me all the time, 'How are you still going at this level for 12 years?' I prepared my body for this for years. It's like a car, if you keep putting the wrong gas in a car that car will eventually break down. These kids do it wrong. I'm always looking to challenge myself. I want five more years at least and to do that I've got to push myself to places my body's never been. These kids today ... they're not about that."

The moment Lewis mentioned the term "these kids" the conversation immediately shifted gears toward what is obviously a sore subject in Lewis' world these days.

Jimerson Named TOPPS SL Player Of The Month

(Zebulon, NC) August 6th- West Tenn Diamond Jaxx OF Charlton Jimerson has been named the Topps Southern League Player of the Month for the month of July. The Topps Company of New York, in conjunction with Minor League Baseball, presents the award each month to the top performer in each of the ten full season leagues.

Jimerson hit .343 (34-99) with eight homers and twenty-seven runs batted in during the month of July. Jimerson also stole eight bases and is currently leading the Southern League in homers (22) and is third in the league in stolen bases (30). With eight more home runs, Jimerson can become the first player to have at least thirty homers and thirty stolen bases in a season since Willie Royster accomplished the feat for the Charlotte O's in 1981.

Jimerson was selected by the Houston Astros in the 5th round of the 2001 draft after a successful college career at the Univ. of Miami. Jimerson played in seventeen major league games last season with Houston. After being released by the Astros in late March, Jimerson signed on with the Mariners organization. Through July 31st, Jimerson leads the entire Mariners organization in stolen bases and is third in home runs.


Leaner, meaner, still quiet: Redskins' Taylor is still the beast

As he made his way from the autograph-seekers to the Washington Redskins locker room, the frazzle-haired safety wearing No. 21 was approached by a reporter.

"Time for the Sean Taylor press conference?" the reporter said with a smile and the faintest of hopes.

"Never," Taylor replied — and there was no smile on his face.

Four times over six days of training camp, the Redskins tentatively scheduled their enigmatic Pro Bowler to make a rare appearance before the notepads and microphones. Each time, Taylor said no at the last minute, maintaining the barrier that has kept fans from learning more about one of the fiercest hitters in football.

"Honestly, man, this thing's like a never-ending story every year," receiver Santana Moss said. "People ask questions more and more about Sean."

Quadtrine Hill released

The Patriots announced the release of running back Quadtrine Hill today. Hill was a longer shot to earn a roster spot.

A bit from the team's press release:

Hill, 24, was signed to the Patriots practice squad on January 4, 2007 and was a member of the practice squad during last season’s playoffs. The 6-foot-2-inch, 230-pound running back was signed to the Patriots’ active roster on January 23, 2007. Hill was originally signed by the Houston Texans as a rookie free agent on May 4,
2006. He was released by the Texans on June 15, 2006 and was signed by the Chicago Bears on August 21, 2006. Hill was released by Chicago on August 24, 2006.


Beason to begin practice today

He spent more than a week holed up in a Jacksonville, Fla., hotel with nothing to do but work out and talk on the phone to teammates who were practicing without him.

Those days are over for Jon Beason. He made it official Sunday morning, signing a five-year contract that ended a holdout that lasted eight days and 12 practices.

Beason will be playing catch-up as he makes his training camp debut this morning in Spartanburg, but he hasn't been as disconnected from the Panthers as you might imagine.

Upon his arrival at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport Saturday night, Beason told the Observer and news partner WCNC he had been in frequent communication with fellow linebacker Dan Morgan and several other teammates last week.

It's only August, but Texans' receiver Johnson focused on playoffs

HOUSTON — After suffering through four straight losing seasons, Andre Johnson has just one goal this year.

He wants to lead the Houston Texans to their first playoff appearance.

It's time, he says, and this year that's the only thing that matters to the Pro Bowl receiver.

"No more excuses," he said. "We've been in this system. We can't make excuses about nothing no more, you just have to go out and play."

Johnson, who joined the Texans after their first season, has been one of the only consistent bright spots in what has been a dismal return to NFL football in Houston.

Gentler Irvin shows brand-new respect for Hall

CANTON, Ohio — When Michael Irvin visited Canton for the first time a few years ago, in town with the Dallas Cowboys to play in the NFL's preseason opener, he came with his signature brashness and a bold proclamation.

Seems that Irvin, at that time, wanted no part of touring the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

He refused to see the museum and pay homage to the greats of the game.

Thought it was, well, too early — because he knew he'd be coming back.

"I won't go through the Hall," he roared back in 1999, "until I go into the Hall."

Fortney a rising star

You can forget about all this unsung hero business. That line won't fly anymore for Blue Bomber defensive lineman Denny Fortney.

That's the kind of player Fortney has been in his two years in the CFL. Heck, it was that way at the University of Miami, too, when he won the Hurricanes' Unsung Hero Award back in 1995.

A year later he was the team's Strength Training Athlete of the Year, and that's about as much recognition as Fortney had received since his high school days in Waynesboro, Penn.

Well, that's all changed in the last two weeks.

First, Fortney was selected the most outstanding player on the Bomber defence, which just happens to be the CFL's top defence.

Mudcats Crushed by Jimerson, Jaxx

Zebulon, NC --- Charlton Jimerson fell a triple shy of the cycle, clubbing four hits good for five RBI as West Tenn snapped a personal six-game losing streak to Carolina, defeating the Mudcats 11-4 on Sunday afternoon at Five County Stadium.

Jimerson hit his league-leading 22nd home run on the final pitch from Carolina starter Gaby Hernandez (L, 7-9) in the fourth inning. Hernandez, who entered the game with the 9th best ERA in the league, made 63 pitches through two laborious innings in the 97-degree heat. Hernandez, who allowed seven runs, walking five without striking out a batter on Sunday, entered the game after tossing a seven-hit complete game against Jacksonville earlier in the homestand.

Trailing 9-1 in the fifth, Carolina hit a pair of homers against outgoing starter Justin Thomas (W, 4-7). Alejandro DeAza hit a home run to right in his third game of his major league rehab assignment, while Ryan Bear hit a two-run shot to draw the Mudcats within 9-4.

Jimerson doubled, singled twice and homered, going 4-6 with five RBI as West Tenn knocked Carolina beneath the .500 mark at 21-22 in the second half. Carolina, which began the half 0-6, has reached the break-even point three times in the half at 15-15, 16-16 and 21-21, but never moved above.


Receiver Staying Patient

ALBANY - When the Giants drafted Steve Smith in April, it marked the second time in as many years they took a wide receiver with their second pick.
Sinorice Moss didn't have the impact as a rookie last season that Smith hopes to have this year. Like Smith, Moss came in with high expectations to provide a speedy, young, pass-catching option besides veterans Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer and tight end Jeremy Shockey. But a strained quadriceps in the first week of training camp hampered Moss all year, forcing him to miss all but six games.

Moss smiles when he hears talk that he's behind Smith on the depth chart as the No. 3 receiver.

Leaner Franks is cooking

Green Bay - Bubba Franks is never going to be Antonio Gates, Todd Heap or Dallas Clark. Never was. Never will be.

The Green Bay Packers are more than aware of that. Finding a tight end with stretch-the-field capability will have to wait for another draft or two.

All they're really after in 2007 is a return of old dependable Bubba. And maybe, just maybe, that Bubba is back.

"I talked to him a little bit before practice today," Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said Tuesday. "He's excited. Looking more like himself."

Berlin makes the best of his time in the spotlight

This is Brock Berlin's season. Right now.

Starting with Saturday's scrimmage and continuing with the preseason games, which kick off Friday in Minnesota, Berlin must shine to have any chance of wresting the Rams' third quarterback job from Ryan Fitzpatrick.

"They're big; they've been big for me the past couple of years," said Berlin, 26. "It's good to get out there and play. You want to perform and do well, and just have a good time."

The Rams were about as set at quarterback as any team in the league — Marc Bulger at No. 1, veteran Gus Frerotte at No. 2 and Fitzpatrick coming back for this third season at No. 3 — when Berlin signed as a free agent May 17. For Berlin, who has been fighting unsuccessfully for an NFL roster spot for three years, it's business as usual.

"Every year's a new year," he said. "This league is all about coming in and proving yourself, and you've got to prove yourself every day. Each practice, day in and day out, you work hard, give it your best, and let everything fall the way it's supposed to."

Orien Harris Update

Former Miami Hurricane Orien Harris, who played against Fraser’s Ohio State team in the 2002 season national championship game, now is in the defensive end mix with Fraser.

Harris once was seen a a major prospect. He came out of a Delaware high school ranked as the nation’s top defensive line prospect. After starting 34 games for Miami, though, he fell to the sixth round of the 2006 draft. The Steelers cut him last Dec. 2 and put him on the practice squad. Days later, the Browns were willing to commit a regular roster spot to him. Pittsburgh wasn’t, so he jumped to Cleveland on Dec. 11.


Beason ends long holdout, will join Panthers today - First-round draft pick signs a five-year dea

Jon Beason’s holdout is over, and he will join the Carolina Panthers when training camp resumes this morning in Spartanburg, S.C.

Beason, the Panthers’ first-round draft pick, flew to Charlotte Saturday night in hopes of working out a deal, then signed yesterday morning.

His agent, Michael Huyghue, said that Beason signed a five-year contract that could wind up being worth up to $12.5 million, if Beason hits certain incentives and escalator clauses over time.

Beason will make $3.475 million this season, with a base salary of $275,000 and a $3.2 million coming in the form of a signing bonus. An additional guaranteed bonus of $2.5 million will come in the third year.

Jerome McDougle Update

Jerome McDougle, DE -- The Eagles traded up to select the former University of Miami standout with the 15th overall pick in the 2003 NFL draft, but his pro career seemed doomed from the start. McDougle skipped out on the first week of training camp to get a six-year contract from the Eagles that included $6.122 million in bonuses. McDougle suffered injuries to his ankle, knee and hip in the final preseason game of his rookie year against the Jets at Lincoln Financial Field and missed the first eight games.

In 2004, McDougle first was put on the shelf with an irregular heartbeat, then lost four games to a sprained knee. He missed all of 2005 after being shot in the abdo men during a robbery attempt near his home in Miami on the eve of training camp. He saw his most action last season, but over a most forgettable four-year career in which he has never started a game, McDougle has just 23 solo tackles and three sacks. The Eagles likely will begin the season with 10 defensive linemen.

McDougle is not expected to be one of them.


McIntosh aims to be a big hit REDSKINS CAMP COLLISIONS WANTED

ASHBURN--Rocky McIntosh remembers watching a 1992 football game on television between Florida State and Miami.

To a 10-year-old in Gaffney, S.C., both of those universities might as well have been on the other side of the world. Their aura and their mystique intrigued McIntosh, though, and then he witnessed a play that would change him.

Florida State wide receiver Tamarick Vanover came over the middle to receive a pass. Miami linebacker Michael Barrow came over the middle to receive Vanover.

The collision was violent and powerful, and McIntosh says that is when he decided he wanted to be a linebacker for the Hurricanes.

And he did. When he joined Miami, that bone-rattling highlight stuck with him.

"I definitely wanted the coaches to go out and find old tapes of those guys," McIntosh said. "I liked watching it to get hyped up for the game we were about to play."

D.J. Williams Adjusts To Linebacker Move

AP) DENVER D.J. Williams said he's adjusting fine in his move from strong side linebacker to the middle for the Denver Broncos. "Yes, definitely, especially with 16 minicamp practices we've had and now we're down here and had five or six days with the pads on, you get a lot more comfortable," he said Friday. A handful of players are trying to win his old "Sam" linebacker job, and Williams said he's confident whoever emerges will be a big contributor. "You know they're all doing pretty well right now. I'm confident in whoever they put next to me that they're going to get the job done. They're all great athletes."