The U

Hester, Olsen give Bears' offense a different look

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Former University of Miami coach Larry Coker on Wednesday paid a visit to some old Hurricanes at Bears training camp.
Someone should have considered giving him the key to training camp.

Coker had a hand in the development of both Devin Hester and Greg Olsen, the two matinee idols in Bears camp. Whenever either player touches the football, it sounds like John, Paul, George and Ringo have taken the stage -- shrieking replaces applause.

The two new parts to the Bears' offense will attempt to show they can do more than practice when preseason opens Saturday night at 7 in Houston against the Texans.

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.''


Big-name safeties vulnerable to deep ball

Overrated safeties

Ed Reed Reed's metrics were terrible last year. His 14.9 combined YPA was the fifth-worst in the league among coverage safeties. He gave up the third-highest number of total yards. He had the fourth-most bomb passes thrown his way and the third-worst YPA at that depth level.

I know there are those who will say that the game broadcast tapes don't show everything that Reed does and that these numbers are anomalies, but let me throw this out in my defense. Carson Palmer said that Reed often doesn't play his coverage and thinks he knows what's coming. Palmer also commented that Reed can get frustrated when the offense is getting some things going and will try to come up and make a play and lose his responsibilities because of it. Palmer was able to exploit Reed's impatience in Week 13, when he connected on a flea-flicker pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh for a 40-yard touchdown.

The metrics show that Palmer isn't the only quarterback who knows Reed's coverage weaknesses. That is why I believe Reed is the most overrated safety in the league.

Sean Taylor Taylor made the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement, but the metrics make it clear he didn't earn the spot. He ranked 20th in both deep assist YPA and deep assist success percentage. He did even worse when in direct coverage, as his 10.7 YPA in those situations was the seventh worst in the NFL last year. He also gave up the second-most total yards of any coverage safety. Taylor did do a lot more to support the run last year than he did in years past, but even taking that into account, he really wasn't a Pro Bowl-level coverage safety last year.


Eastern Motors Commercial Starring Santana Moss and Willis Mcgahee

NFL players return to UM for Hurricane-style workouts

CORAL GABLES -- South Beach can be a humbling experience for any football star with an ego.

Not South Beach, the Miami Beach hotspot famous for its parties and beautiful people. We're talking about "South Beach," the sand pits, a workout area located at the back of the University of Miami's football fields.

On any given weekday during the offseason, that's where the center of the NFL universe can be found. A number of the league's biggest stars, such as Ed Reed, Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, Frank Gore and Jonathan Vilma, spend the majority of their offseason pushing their former college teammates — and sometimes division rivals — to their limits. Goes to a Florida Firecats Game

Over the weekend 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.


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

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


In Greg Olsen and Devin Hester, Bears Add Speed to Offense

As long as Rex Grossman is under center, the Bears' offense is never going to strike fear in the hearts of opposing defensive coordinators. But John Clayton made an interesting point on ESPN today: Has any team added more speed to its offense in the off-season than the Bears?

Think about it. Chicago has moved kick returning superstar Devin Hester to offense, where he'll play some wide receiver and some running back, and the Bears drafted Greg Olsen in the first round, and in terms of straight-line speed, Olsen is probably the second-fastest tight end in the league. (San Francisco's Vernon Davis is a bit faster.)

Hester and Olsen (who were teammates in college at Miami) won't make a huge impact on the offense, but the mere threat of a few extra big plays has to put smiles on the faces of Bears fans. It's been a long time since anything on offense has done that.


Learning the Belichick way

Kareem Brown pulled a folding chair featuring the Patriots' logo up to a pack of reporters surrounding Brandon Meriweather, climbed on top of it and commandeered a writer's pad and pen.

"Are you thankful Kareem's your roommate?" the 6-foot-4-inch, 240 pound rookie defensive lineman asked Meriweather to the amusement of the real press.

"I kind of wish I didn't have a roommate anymore but since I've known you eight years I might as well," Meriweather, the 24th overall pick at last month's draft, said.

There was no doubt on Saturday, the opening day of Patriots rookie mini camp, that the Pats' top two draft picks are playful. There are however, two much more important pending questions for the former University of Miami stars who participated in an in-game brawl against Florida International last season.

Four Canes headed to camps

A day after the NFL Draft concluded, at least four University of Miami players had plans to participate in minicamps.

Punter Brian Monroe signed a two-year, undrafted free agent contract, including a signing bonus, with the San Diego Chargers. He leaves for the weekend minicamp Thursday.

''He's going to compete to win a spot,'' agent Martin Magid said by phone from Philadelphia. ``They may have him do some kickoff and extra-point holding. He's a great athlete.

``We had about three or four teams that were calling for him, but San Diego looked like the best opportunity.''

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.)

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.

Todd McShay 7-Round Mock Draft

Round 1:

14. Carolina (8-8)
Projected pick: Greg Olsen, TE, Miami
Needs: TE, S, ILB, DE, OT, WR, OLB, DE
The Panthers could use this pick to address needs at safety (Reggie Nelson and Michael Griffin) or linebacker (Lawrence Timmons and Paul Posluszny), but Olsen is the best fit if Willis is off the board. Olsen is the only first-round talent in this year's tight end class and has the speed to take pressure off WRs Steve Smith and Keyshawn Johnson.

31. Chicago (13-3)
Projected pick: Jon Beason, OLB, Miami
Needs: DT, OLB, WR, TE, RB, OT, QB, S, G
The Bears need to address the outside linebacker position early, even if they fail to trade disgruntled starter Lance Briggs before draft weekend. Beason is a fringe first-rounder with the size, quickness and tackling skills to emerge as a quality starter in the NFL. Durability concerns and lack of ideal range in coverage keep him from competing with Willis, Timmons and Posluszny higher on the board.

Round 2:

45. Carolina: Brandon Meriweather, S, Miami

Round 4:

111. Buffalo: Kareem Brown, DE, Miami

125. New Orleans (from Philadelphia): Baraka Atkins, DE, Miami

Round 6:

198. Denver: Tyrone Moss, RB, Miami (Fla.)

Mel Kiper's Latest Draft Board

1st Round:
14. Carolina Panthers Greg Olsen TE Miami

2nd Round:
38. Arizona Cardinals Jon Beason LB Miami

45. Carolina Panthers Brandon Meriweather S Miami

Safeties move from rear to forefront

In the late 1980s, Mark Stoops lettered three times as a strong safety at Iowa. He finished his career with more than 100 tackles.


“I don’t think I’d be recruiting myself to play here,” Stoops, the defensive coordinator at the University of Arizona, said with a laugh.

The concept of a safety has changed over the past decade. No longer are they big corners who can’t cover. No more are they a playing piece that teams look to add late in the draft, or through cheap, free agent signings.

Once a sideshow to the prime-time position in the defensive secondary, cornerback, the profile of safeties is rising. So is the perception of their value on a football team. Accordingly, the value the NFL places on the spot has changed.

Magic Benton, Ethenic Sands and Brad Kunz Make Firecats Final Roster

Estero, FL- The Florida Firecats have released their 22 man roster. The Firecats have 12 players retuning from last years team that posted a 13-3 record in the regular season and won the South Division for the 3rd straight year including 3 Miami Hurricanes.

Magic Benton               WR                  6-0                   200                   Miami

Ethenic Sands               WR                  6-0                   185                   Miami

Brad Kunz                    OL                   6-7                   315                   Miami

(floridafirecats press release,

Kiper's Latest Mock Draft

14. Carolina - Greg Olsen, TE, Miami (Fla.): Several months ago, I had Olsen going to the Bears near the end of the first round. After a sensational effort at the combine workout, he's soared up the draft board to the point that Carolina and Green Bay have to be interested. The Panthers need a TE of Olsen's caliber.

18. Cincinnati - Jon Beason, LB, Miami (Fla.): Beason didn't run as well as expected (4.74) at the combine workout, but his film evaluation grades, especially from 2005, figure to win out, placing him ultimately in the mid-to-late first round area. Marvin Lewis also knows firsthand what it means to have a former Miami Hurricane setting the tone on your defense.


Pats Workout Players From The U

In preparation for the NFL Draft (April 28-29), the Patriots coaching staff, including head coach Bill Belichick, worked out three players from the University of Miami today. The evaluation took place in southern Florida, as Belichick & Co. were in town as part of a yearly visit to spring training. The private workout included linebacker Jon Beason, defensive lineman Kareem Brown and safety Brandon Meriweather. Beason and Meriweather could each be first-round picks, while Brown should be selected sometime during the first day. It's unclear how serious the Pats would be about selecting Beason because Miami runs a base 4-3 defense and the coaching staff likes their players to be a bit more versatile. However, you can't blame them for doing their homework.


Miami's first-round streak should roll on

CORAL GABLES - The University of Miami's 13-year run of having at least one first-round draft choice appears to be safe.

And based on how some of the Miami players looked at Saturday's Pro Day at the Hurricanes' practice facility, they're intent on helping the school's overall draft.

"Oh yeah, I want to carry on the tradition," Miami tight end Greg Olsen said. "It's a helluva run, no one is close. That's why the program has been what it is the last 12 years."

The Hurricanes could have more than one first-rounder. Three different mock drafts had either Olsen, linebacker Jon Beason or safety Brandon Meriweather going among the first 32 picks.

Former Canes shine despite rain

The last place you would expect to see a University of Miami football player this season was in a championship game. But Devin Hester and Reggie Wayne -- still Hurricanes at heart -- brought back the luster to Coral Gables on football's biggest stage Sunday.

Hester and Wayne, no strangers to a Miami end zone, scored the first and second touchdowns, respectively, of Super Bowl XLI.

Wayne's Colts defeated Hester's Bears 29-17 at Dolphin Stadium.

NFL Network's Coverage of the Senior Bowl

Two potential new proCanes, Kareem Brown and Brandon Merriweather are participating in the Senior Bowl this week. Below is a list of the NFL Network's coverage of the Senior Bowl where hopefully we can get a glimpse of Brown and Merriweather.

Tuesday, Jan. 23
10:30 a.m. - Day 2 Morning Practice (90 minutes)
5 p.m. - Day 2 Afternoon Practice (2 hours)
9:30 p.m. - Path to the Draft: Day 2 Recap (30 minutes)

Wednesday, Jan. 24
10:30 a.m. - Day 3 Morning Practice (90 minutes)
5 p.m. - Day 3 Afternoon Practice (2 hours)
9:30 p.m. - Path to the Draft: Day 3 Recap (30 minutes)

Thursday, Jan. 25
10:30 a.m. - Day 4 Morning Practice (90 minutes)
5 p.m. - Day 4 Afternoon Practice (2 hours)
8 p.m. - Path to the Draft: Day 4 Recap (30 minutes)

Saturday, Jan. 27
3 p.m. - NFL Total Access pregame show (1 hour)
4 p.m. - 2007 Under Armour Senior Bowl, Live (3 hours)
7 p.m. - NFL Total Access postgame show (1 hour)

NFL U Playoffs Update

Reggie Wayne with a TD catch helped the Colts advance to the second round of the playoffs while Kelly Jennings with his first playoff start forced a key fumble that resulted in a safety and helped the Seahawks advance to the second round of the playoffs.

'Canes in the NFL Playoffs

Ed Reed
Ray Lewis
Reggie Wayne
Vince Wilfork
Jonathan Vilma
Devin Hester
Darrell McClover
Jerome McDougle
Kelly Jennings
Jeremy Shockey
Sinorice Moss
William Joseph
Jeff Feagles