It's Draft Weekend!

We at wish all the best to all potential 'Canes eligible for the draft this weekend, and hope all find homes with teams in the NFL.

Hester Madden Commercial

Draft Day Memories: CB Antrel Rolle

Growing up in Florida, Antrel Rolle excelled as a high school football player and landed a football scholarship to the University of Miami. In four seasons at Miami, Rolle was credited with 183 tackles, five interceptions and also doubled as a return man, returning 13 punts in 2003 for 202 yards and one touchdown.

In the 2005 Draft Rolle was selected by the Cardinals with the eighth overall pick and became the first cornerback taken by the Cards in the first round since Tom Knight in 1997.

Rolle was impressive in the first three games of his rookie season before suffering a knee injury, which required surgery and kept him on the sidelines for nine games. Despite battling back from injury, Rolle recorded 28 tackles in his rookie campaign.

Eskimos Ink Tony Tella

The Edmonton Eskimos announced the signings of import running back Phillip Brock, Jr and import offensive lineman Tony Tella.

Tella played four years at the University of Miami. He saw action in six games as a reserve tackle in 2002-2003 before starting at left guard for his junior and senior years (2004-05). Tella attended a New York Giants mini-camp in 2006. He was a four-year starter at Houston’s Madison High School where he spent most of his time playing tackle.


Magic Benton Update

BENTON APPROACHING 900 POINTS: Florida WR MAGIC BENTON is rapidly approaching the 900-point mark for his af2 career. The veteran, now in his seventh season, will earn the distinction of being the first player in af2 history to score 900 points with eight points this Saturday against Tennessee Valley. Benton is currently the league's all-time scoring leader with 892 points. His next closest competitor is Arkansas veteran WR/LB KEVIN WILLIAMS (862).


Wilfork out to sack diabetes: Memory of dad motivates

Plenty of athletes do charity work, but few support a cause that hits as close to home as diabetes does for Vince Wilfork [stats].

Wilfork lost his father David to the disease in 2002 after watching it ravage his body for 15 years. The Patriots [team stats] nose tackle has since devoted his charitable efforts to finding a cure, and tomorrow will host his biggest fund-raiser of the year, a draft party at Pinz bowling alley in Milford, with proceeds benefiting the Diabetes Research Institute.

“My father suffered the last 15 years of his life with diabetes,” Wilfork said. “Growing up, having to see my father give himself insulin, on dialysis, catheters everywhere - the one thing I can do is give back.”

Kreutz, Hester win Piccolo Award

The Bears on Thursday announced center Olin Kreutz and return specialist Devin Hester as the winners of the Brian Piccolo Award for the 2006 season.

The award, voted on by teammates, goes to a veteran and a rookie who “best exemplify the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and sense of humor of the late Brian Piccolo.”

Kreutz, who also won the award for 2003 and 2004, is the only player to receive the honor more than once as a veteran. Left tackle John Tait is the only other player to win it in the last four years.


Olsen looms as another first-round pick from Miami

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — The University of Miami's record run of 12 consecutive years producing an NFL first-round draft pick appeared in jeopardy until Greg Olsen sprinted 40 yards in an eye-opening 4.51 seconds at the NFL Combine in February.

That burst of speed solidified Olsen's designation as the top tight end in this weekend's NFL Draft and assured that for the 13th straight year, a Hurricane will be selected in the opening round.

Florida is second with eight consecutive years (1983-91) producing a No. 1 pick.

"That's why this program has been what it's been for the last 12 years," Olsen said. "Carrying on that tradition at Miami is something that everybody that comes here takes a lot of pride in."

Beason getting full backing as LB pick

Fullback might not be a high-priority position in the NFL, but the Patriots would strongly consider selecting one in the first round of Saturday's draft. The only catch: That fullback is now a top-shelf linebacker.

When Jon Beason was entering his first season at the University of Miami, he was indeed a bulldozing fullback. Yet two games into his college career in 2003, he suffered a shoulder injury and never took a snap at the position again. Instead, Beason was switched to linebacker the following season, as Miami had a complete turnover at the position with Jonathan Vilma (first round), D.J. Williams (first round), and Darrell McClover (seventh round) entering the NFL.

Beason remembers that Miami had just four linebackers on scholarship at the time. He had taken some snaps at the position at Chaminade-Madonna Prep in Hollywood, Fla., and figured there could be worse things than following in the footsteps of Hurricane linebackers such as Vilma, Williams, Ray Lewis, and Dan Morgan.

Cora keeps on sluggin’

BALTIMORE - The first thing new Red Sox [team stats] hitting coach Dave Magadan did when he got ahold of Alex Cora [stats] was ask him to forget the slap hits, squeakers through the infield and bloops just beyond the reach of defenders’ gloves.

Magadan’s message: Remember how you hit those 10 homers in 2004.

Last night Cora had no problem flashing back to those days in Los Angeles, sending his first home run of the season 375 feet over the right field fence in the third inning of the Sox’ 6-1 victory over the Orioles at Camden Yards.

“He was very positive from the get-go,” Cora said of his new hitting coach. “I’m not a huge guy, but I’m not the smallest either. It seems like I’m driving the ball. I feel stronger (than ’04), but back then I was playing all the time, so you could get a rhythm. Now you just work, work, work and hope for the best.”

Derrick Crudup To Start For Stockton Lightning

THIS YEAR: Expecting to be the catalyst for a Lightning team poised for a championship run, Derrick Crudup brings supreme athleticism, leadership and a chemistry-friendly charisma to the Lightning roster ... carries all attributes necessary to lead a team to a championship ...has cannon for an arm, can run as well as any receiver in the af2

LAST YEAR: Made professional and arenafootball2 debut with Spokane on 7/8/06, completing 2-of-3 passes for one touchdown in Spokane's 67-24 win vs. Amarillo ... served as the backup to Kyle Rowley, who guided Spokane to the ArenaCup title in the team's first af2 season

Texans' Johnson set to help local charity

Texans receiver Andre Johnson's foundation will donate $10,500 to the Houston Area Women's Center in a ceremony at 2 p.m. today.

The center, on Waugh Drive, is the 2006 beneficiary of the Andre Johnson Foundation Celebrity Weekend.

The Houston Area Women's Center works within the community to eliminate domestic and sexual violence.

"The Andre Johnson Foundation is committed to empowering and developing youth from single-parent homes into responsible and educated citizens," Johnson said. "With generous support from donors and volunteers, the Houston Area Women's Center can work year-round to lead the fight against domestic violence."


Mixed views of UM's clas

• With Greg Olsen and potentially Jon Beason and/or Brandon Meriweather, the University of Miami figures to extend its first-round draft streak to 13 years. But this group should have been better, ESPN's Mel Kiper asserts.

''At one point, I thought you could have maybe five [first-round picks] out of this class,'' Kiper said. ``But instead, you have one one, a couple twos, and a lot of second-day guys. The only one that really materialized into being as good as we thought he'd be is Greg Olsen, and that happened late in the process. Brandon Meriweather, you would have thought, would have been a one, but we now have [as a second-rounder]. And Jon Beason the same thing.''

But Kiper might be underestimating this group. NFL Network's Mike Mayock and ESPN's Todd McShay project three Canes for the first round.
Beason, whom Kiper has going 38th, has received strong feedback from several teams picking in the mid-to-late first round, including Cincinnati (18th). The Steelers, who select 15th, told an involved official they're considering Beason, FSU linebacker Lawrence Timmons and Pitt cornerback Derrelle Revis. (The Steelers' Mike Tomlin was the only NFL head coach at FSU's pro day, which fueled Timmons rumors.)

Bears and the NFL Draft: Linebackers Height just part of tall tales

LAKE FOREST -- Miami linebacker Jon Beason stands 6 feet tall and reporters at the February NFL scouting combine asked if lack of ideal height affected his play.

"Not at all," he said. "You look at Zach Thomas, London Fletcher, those guys are 5-9," Beason said. "If there was one thing I could change, it would be my height, because supposedly they think that has something to do with playing linebacker; if I had another inch."

There are a lot of linebackers in this draft echoing Beason's sentiment -- too many to make some personnel people comfortable. With so few linebackers taller than 6-1 and some under 5-10, no one was confused whether the 2007 combine was an NBA or NFL sanctioned event.

Is Brandon Merriweather a perfect fit?

Bob Brookover wrote a pretty interesting and rather revealing piece about how the Eagles feel about the safety position and what they are looking for in the draft as a result.

First, did you know that the Eagles have never drafted a safety in the first round? In fact, during the Andy Reid era Michael Lewis was the only safety taken on the first day. Certainly the fact that the Eagles already had a future hall of famer playing safety was a part of that, but it also may reveal some things about their philosophy in regards to the position.

This quote from Tom Heckert pretty much sums up why Lewis was let go and we likely won't be seeing a guy like Michael Griffin taken with the Eagles' first round pick...

Berlin on board

On Monday, owner Jerry Jones said the team could take a quarterback in this weekend's draft, perhaps in the early rounds, but on Wednesday the Cowboys signed quarterback Brock Berlin.

Berlin worked out for the team last month and is a favorite of new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, who worked with Berlin for two years in Miami. Berlin was cut twice by the Dolphins in training camp.

Berlin, 6-0, 213 pounds, was once the No. 1 player coming out of high school before signing with the University of Florida in 2000. He later transferred to Miami where he was a two-year starter, throwing for 5,099 yards with 34 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. He played last spring for Hamburg in NFL Europe with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions.

This addition should not affect the team's draft plans.


Hester is Perfectly Fast

The Bears may not have won the Super Bowl this year, but maybe fans can take some pride in being the home to the most perfectly fast man in the NFL, ever.

The essential football video game, Madden '08, will feature the Bear's All-Pro Devin Hester as the first player to ever receive a perfect 100 in the speed category (maybe in any category, but we can't find any support for that).

Deion Sanders, Randy Moss, and Charles Woodson all received the meager rating of 99, a full point less than Hester's blazing digital speed. Supposedly, Hester has been lobbying for the increase, but at least he acted surprised when it was announced, saying, "That's just about the best thing you could have told me. It's an honor -- I don't know what to say, really."

Luckily, no Bear player will grace the cover of the game, thus allowing one less team in Chicago to blame losing the big one on a curse (See: The Madden Cover Curse)


Talent scouts know the value of UM pedigree - History shows NFL that 'Canes get high marks.

CORAL GABLES Similar to the way Band-Aid and Kleenex have brand recognition, NFL coaches, scouts and executives admit they also bank on familiarity in scouting college talent.

There has been no bigger talent supplier to the NFL this decade than the Miami Hurricanes, and some analysts believe part of UM's draft success, which will likely include a record 13 consecutive years with a first-round pick Saturday, has a lot to do with brand familiarity.

After all, what talent evaluator wants to be pegged as the guy who passed on the next Frank Gore, Jonathan Vilma, Ed Reed or Jeremy Shockey.

Greg Olsen hopes to be Miami's next TE legacy - Star projected as Carolina's 14th draft pick

In a year when tight end isn't considered a particularly strong position for the NFL draft, Miami's Greg Olsen has run away from the competition - literally.

Olsen bolted a to 4.51-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine in February and also likely moved himself into the upper half of the first round where he's being projected as the Carolina Panthers' choice at No. 14 overall.

"I went into the combine with doing that in my head," Olsen says. "It definitely was a surprise to everybody else. It was more of a surprise to them than it was to me."

Aside from when Olsen jetted past NFL scouts, there wasn't a lot of other impressive speed.

Olsen running away from mediocre tight end pack

In a year when tight end isn't considered a particularly strong position for the NFL draft, Miami's Greg Olsen has run away from the competition — literally.

Olsen bolted a to 4.51-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine in February and also likely moved himself into the upper half of the first round where projects him as Carolina's choice at No. 14 overall.

"I went into the combine with doing that in my head," Olsen says. "It definitely was a surprise to everybody else. It was more of a surprise to them than it was to me."

Aside from when Olsen jetted past NFL scouts, there wasn't a lot of other impressive speed.

Olsen should keep UM's streak alive

Whether it's one, two or three players, the University of Miami's first-round streak in the NFL Draft is expected to continue.

For the 13th straight year, Miami will have a player chosen in Round 1 on Saturday, based on the so-called experts.

Tight end Greg Olsen's workout numbers have him climbing up mock drafts. He appears to be a first-round lock.

Linebacker Jon Beason and defensive back Brandon Meriweather have seen their stock rise and fall. However, Clark Judge of CBS Sportsline and Todd McShay of ESPN have all three Miami players being taken in Round 1

Piazza shows flexibility as A's DH

BALTIMORE — The Oakland Athletics were scurrying off to the Camden Yards field for warm-ups Monday, and, instinctively, Mike Piazza grabbed a catcher's mitt, pounded it a couple of times and headed out the door.

The glove looked squeaky clean, so new I could smell the leather aroma that used to excite me so much when wandering around sporting goods stores.

Piazza still has an emotional attachment to a catcher's mitt, but this glove is probably going to be just as new in September.

What he should have reached for as the A's prepared to meet the Baltimore Orioles was a bat. That's his main tool these days. He's Oakland's designated hitter.

Gang Green eyeing Olsen - Might take Miami TE at No. 25

Where have you gone ... Johnny Mitchell?

His legacy as a first-round underachiever notwithstanding, the retired Mitchell - 12 years removed from the Jets - was their last true receiving threat at tight end. People forget that he averaged 47 catches over his last three seasons - not bad, considering no Jets tight end has topped 40 since then.

Now comes a tantalizing possibility: Greg Olsen, raised in the shadow of Giants Stadium, could be available to the Jets when they make their first-round pick at No.25 in next weekend's draft. Olsen, a former Parade All-American at Wayne Hills High School in New Jersey, is the latest stud tight end from Miami. Could Olsen join ex-Hurricane Jeremy Shockey at the Meadowlands?

"That would be unbelievable," Olsen told the Daily News. "You couldn't ask for anything better than that. My family would have to drive only 20 minutes to see my home games."

Phils need to keep Burrell in games

In 2006, Pat Burrell labored through the season, still recovering from offseason surgery to remove chips from the top of his foot.

The left fielder simply didn't run well.

The Phillies responded by using Chris Roberson late in games to cover ground in the outfield. Burrell's bat in the last two innings was deemed less important than Roberson's defense. Even in Citizens Bank Park, not to be confused with Shea Stadium, RFK Stadium or Turner Field, late defense was the call.

This year, that role has been handed to Michael Bourn, whose defensive skills have been put on display to great success.

Jason Geathers Update

Receiver Jason Geathers, starting in place of the injured Rodney Wright, caught six passes for 62 yards, including his 1st career touchdown on a 31-yard reception in the third quarter.


Jones enjoying time in starting five

James Jones relishes his spot among the Suns starting five. It's nice to get started early, he said.

Nice to be out there “with the superstars.”

“Not only do I get more looks out there with Steve (Nash), but I get to be more aggressive early,'' the forward said. “They're going to get me open shots and they're going to put me defensively on somebody I can bother and pester.”