Denzel Perryman a Dolphins Tagret?

With the Miami Dolphins season coming to an end a couple of weeks back they will have extra time to study game footage for the upcoming NFL Draft. The Draft, which will take place in May, will give the Dolphins an excellent chance to fill a serious position of need – inside linebacker, as the experiment of transitioning Koa Misi to an inside linebacker did not go so well. This is one of the most important positions on the team as they are responsible for informing their peers of the defensive play call while also calling out audibles.

Luckily for the Dolphins there are options in this year’s draft. With a good group of prospects, the Dolphins must be willing to select one come May. It is imperative to their defense that they at least attempt to fix what could be holding them back.

One potential draftee for the Miami Dolphins is four year starter at the University of Miami, Denzel Perryman. At UM, Perryman lined his bedroom with accolades. In his final two seasons with the Hurricanes, Perryman was selected to the First-Team All-ACC and was a Butkus Award Finalist.

It is without question that over the last two seasons Perryman has been the best player on the defensive side of the ball, but arguably the most important player on the team. Two years ago the Hurricanes featured one of the worst defenses in the NCAA; even with Perryman. This year was a bit different, however, as they showed great improvements as a defense, finishing as a top fifteen unit. One of the most consistent players and leader was Perryman.

Perryman closed out his impressive career at “The U’ with 110 tackles. When it comes to instincts, Perryman separates himself from the rest. He has incredible closing speed and has a knack for properly stuffing the hole. His ability to stop the run was one of the causes for the improvement of the defense. His run stuffing ability can be shown in the video below:

Perryman doesn’t only succeed in stopping the run. He does a good job at covering receivers, tight ends and backs; making him one of the most all around middle linebackers in college.

Another plus for Perryman will be his familiarity with the team that he would play for. He played his high school and college football in Miami. The last few picks made by the Dolphins of former Miami Hurricanes have all panned out. Vernon Carey was one of their most consistent offensive lineman for a period of time, Lamar Miller recently ran for over 1,000 yards and Olivier Vernon has produced a 11.5 sack season. I’m not saying that drafting a Hurricane will automatically be successful but there is something to be said for players coming out of South Florida.

Denzel Perryman could potentially make a lot of sense for the Miami Dolphins. Drafting the fourth year senior will help fill the glaring need at the middle linebacker position. Doing so should be one of Miami’s main priorities moving forward. It is hard to claim an elite defense when the core of it is weak. Upgrading the position is a must for the Miami Dolphins and they could do so by selecting Perryman as a potential day two draft selection.

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Edgerrin James fails to make final cut in his first year of HOF eligibility

First-year candidates Junior Seau, Kurt Warner and Orlando Pace are among 18 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Naples resident and former Immokalee High star Edgerrin James, who was one of 26 semifinalists, did not make the cut in his first year of eligibility.

The list of nominees was reduced Thursday to 15 from the modern era, one senior and two contributors. A finalist must receive at least 80 percent of the votes from the 46-person selection committee to be elected.

The class of 2015 will be announced Jan. 31 in Phoenix during "NFL Honors," the TV show in which The Associated Press hands out its eight individual NFL awards. Inductions will be in August in Canton, Ohio.

The modern-day finalists are kicker Morten Andersen, running back Jerome Bettis, wide receiver Tim Brown, coach Don Coryell, running back Terrell Davis, coach Tony Dungy, linebacker-defensive end Kevin Greene, linebacker-defensive end Charles Haley, wide receiver Marvin Harrison, coach Jimmy Johnson, safety John Lynch, and guard Will Shields.

The senior nominee is former Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff.

Special contributors are Bill Polian and Ron Wolf, the architects of Super Bowl teams as executives.

Of the three coaches on the ballot, Dungy is in his second year of eligibility, Johnson in his 16th and Coryell in his 28th. Hall of Fame rules for coaches changed in 2007, requiring the coach to be retired for five seasons.

Seau, who committed suicide in 2012, played two decades with three teams and made 12 Pro Bowls. He was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1992.

Warner guided St. Louis to its only Super Bowl victory after the 1999 season and also led the Rams to the title game two years later. He helped Arizona get to its only Super Bowl after the 2008 season. He won league MVP honors in 1999 and 2001.

Pace was the first overall draft pick in 1997 by the Rams and played 13 seasons, with five Pro Bowl selections.

Like Dungy, one of his star players, Harrison, is in his second year of eligibility.

Andersen, seeking to become the only kicker other than Jan Stenerud in the hall, and Lynch are in their third years on the ballot. Andersen played 25 pro seasons with five franchises and set the NFL records for points (2,544), field goals (565) and games (382). Lynch spent 11 seasons with Tampa Bay, four with Denver, and made nine Pro Bowls.

Shields, a Pro Bowl guard 12 straight years with Kansas City, is in his fourth year of eligibility. Bettis, nicknamed "The Bus," carried the Steelers to the 2005 NFL championship in his final season and has been on the ballot for five years.

Brown, a standout kick returner as well as pass catcher, is in his sixth year of eligibility.

Davis gave Denver an efficient running game to go with John Elway's passing, and they took the Broncos to championships in 1997 and 1998. This is his ninth year on the ballot.

Pass-rushing stars Haley and Greene are in their 11th year of eligibility. Greene played for four teams and made the Pro Bowl five times. Haley won five Super Bowls, two with San Francisco and three with Dallas, the only player to do so.

Tingelhoff retired in 1978 after 17 seasons as one of the most durable and dependable centers in the league. He never missed a game, starting 240, and made it to four Super Bowls.

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Vince Wilfork's playoff outlook healthy

FOXBORO — Rewind the clock to last January. Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, shelved for the season by a torn Achilles tendon, was watching from the sidelines in Denver as his team fell to the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game.

The Patriots season wasn’t the only thing expiring with that loss. So, too, it seemed was the 6-foot-2, 325-pound defensive captain’s Patriots future.

With the final year of Wilfork’s contract calling for a $7.5 million base salary and $11.6 salary cap hit for 2014, and concerns about an Achilles recovery for a 32-year-old man of his size, his career with the Pats seemed to be in jeopardy.

A contentious negotiation ensued. In March, Wilfork reportedly cleaned out his locker and asked for his release rather than taking the substantial pay cut the front office requested. However, by month’s end the two sides agreed on the parameters of a three-year extension.

It turns out to have been a beneficial agreement for both sides. Wilfork is playing some of the best football of his career. He started all 16 regular-season games, anchoring a defensive line that emerged as one of the league’s top 10 against the run. Asked yesterday about his return to form, Wilfork’s tone reflected that expected of a Patriots captain.

“My goal was just getting back on this team and helping my teammates win, and we’ve done a lot of that around here,” he said. “I’m just fortunate and grateful to be playing another postseason game this week coming up. That’s always been my goal to get back and help my teammates win. That’s how I approach the season.”
As for the doubters, Wilfork never paid them much mind because he never doubted himself.

“I wasn’t surprised that I can play and be effective at this level,” Wilfork said. “Health was never an issue with me this year, thinking about it.”

Nobody is happier about Wilfork’s return to form than the Patriots young linebackers. After losing former All-Pro Jerod Mayo for the season to a torn patellar tendon, Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins were asked to pick up the slack. They have done so with great success, and Hightower believes that is thanks in large part to having Wilfork lining up in front of them.

“Vince helps a lot, especially having an older guy, a veteran guy who knows the game as well as he does,” Hightower said. “It slows everything down. It slows the offensive line from getting on top of us. Nobody is just going to leave Vince Wilfork single blocked at all.”

As for the task at hand on Saturday afternoon, a postseason showdown with the Ravens is nothing new to Wilfork.

“It seems like the Baltimore Ravens are a division opponent, we play them so much,” he said. “So they know us, we know them. It’s going to be one of those tough, old-school football games, I feel, a game that’s going to have to be played in the trenches up front.”

When the two teams met in the 2011 AFC Championship Game, Wilfork was a disruptive nightmare for the Ravens, finishing with six tackles, three for losses, including a sack, as the defense held Ray Rice, the NFL’s second-leading rusher that season, to 67 yards on the ground.

While you might doubt the Patriots’ defensive line’s ability to replicate a performance that dominant, proving doubters wrong would be just another day at the office for Wilfork this season.

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Randy Shannon feels comfortable at Florida

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Wearing a white windbreaker emblazoned with an orange and blue Gators logo, former Miami player and coach Randy Shannon looked a little out of place Thursday.

Then he started talking.

And he sounded more comfortable than anyone could have imagined in a place that would have been considered enemy territory back in the day.

Shannon, who admittedly hated the Gators during his college career, believes he fits in nicely alongside new coach Jim McElwain and defensive coordinator Geoff Collins.

Shannon spent the last two years at Arkansas, but left for a better opportunity in Gainesville.

He says: "There's a lot of programs in the country, but there's only a few programs in the country like Florida.

Shannon's official title at Florida: associate head coach/co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.

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The Ravens' problem with Patriots DT Vince Wilfork: 'You can't move the guy'

Ravens center Jeremy Zuttah offered a succinct response when he was asked what makes New England Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork so difficult to block.
"He's huge," Zuttah said with a laugh.

For all the talk about quarterback Joe Flacco's recent postseason play, the Ravens know they are going to need to run the ball in Saturday's AFC divisional playoff game against the Patriots, and doing so successfully starts with containing Wilfork, a five-time Pro Bowl selection.

That task could fall on a couple of the Ravens' offensive linemen, but Zuttah knows there will be times Saturday, when he'll be matched up one-on-one against Wilfork.

"I haven't really ever seen him get moved off the ball too much," Zuttah said. "You just kind of have to trust your technique, stay low and try to keep fighting. He has what, 11, 12 years in the league? He's one of the best who has done it."

At 6 feet 4 and 300 pounds, Zuttah is considered undersized for a center and he's struggled this season against really big nose tackles, which is why Saturday's matchup could be problematic for the Ravens. Zuttah will be giving up 25 pounds to Wilfork, the anchor of the Patriots' ninth-ranked rushing defense.

Zuttah, who allowed a team-leading 23 quarterback hurries according to Pro Football Focus, is coming off one of his most difficult games of the season. In last week's victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild-card round, Zuttah had major issues with nose tackle Steve McLendon (6 feet 4, 320 pounds) for the second time this season.

McLendon was credited with only one tackle, but he pushed Zuttah back into Flacco on two different occasions, knocking the quarterback to the ground. But the Ravens center did get some retribution, making one of the key blocks in Bernard Pierce's 5-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter.

"He's a big boy, too," Zuttah said of McLendon. "I don't think he gets as much credit as he deserves. He's probably, so far, the best nose that I've played. To have that matchup going into playing Vince, it is kind of good [preparation].

"This is playoff football. There's going to be good players from here on out — every team, every matchup. You're not going to win all of them, but you can't get away from your fundamentals and your technique. You just got to keep playing."

Taking advantage of Wilfork's athleticism and size and needing to plug holes because of injuries, the Patriots have moved the 33-year-old Wilfork around the defensive line this season. Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak acknowledged that there's some ambiguity about where Wilfork will consistently line up.

"Are they going to play an odd front, are they going to play an even front? I don't know. If you know, let me know," Kubiak joked. "It's our job, scheme wise, to try and help everybody with what we do, but ultimately, you've got to be better than the guy across from you that day. It's a big challenge for all of us, not just Jeremy."

Wilfork was limited to just four games last season after he suffered a season-ending knee injury, but he's made a successful return and has looked more and more like his disruptive self. He's been credited with 47 tackles, one quarterback hit and one interception, and he even blocked a long field goal in the Patriots' victory over the New York Jets on Dec. 21.

"I'm a football player and I always say that. I wasn't surprised that I can play and be effective at this level," Wilfork said Wednesday. "Health was never an issue with me this year, thinking about it. My goal was just getting back on this team and helping my teammates win, and we've done a lot of that around here. I'm just fortunate and grateful to be playing another postseason game this week coming up. That's always been my goal to get back and help my teammates win. That's how I approach the season."

Wilfork has had some memorable battles over the years with the Ravens, and has definitely earned their respect. Offensive lineman Marshal Yanda and head coach John Harbaugh praised Wilfork this week and acknowledged it's going to be a team effort to deal with him.

"You can't move the guy," Harbaugh said. "He plays really hard. I see his big, strong body out there, and I'm thinking he's not going to move the way he does, and he's chasing plays down and playing hard. And obviously, he has a love for the game. The whole front plays really well. It's probably the best defense they've had in a few years. They're playing at a really high level all the way across the board."

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Padres' Yonder Alonso: 'I feel amazing'

Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso has been able to ramp up his activity after August wrist surgery, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Alonso had surgery to repair a damaged tendon in his right wrist in August. He's been able to put in some work in early December, and is optimistic about his health. "I feel amazing," Alonso said regarding his current status.

The 27-year-old has had a tough time since joining the Padres in 2012. He hasn't hit particularly well, and has missed time with hand, wrist and forearm issues. Alonso hit .240/.285/.397 in 267 at-bats before the injury last season.

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Gaby Sanchez signs with Japanese team

Non-tendered last month after the Pirates acquired Sean Rodriguez to potentially replace his right-handed bat, Gaby Sanchez has signed with the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan.

His move to Japan is surprising because it seemed pretty likely that Sanchez would be able to snag another part-time role in the big leagues at age 31, but the Associated Press says he’ll get $2.5 million and that’s almost surely more than any MLB team would have paid.

Sanchez is a career .254 hitter with a .744 OPS in seven seasons, including a paltry .691 OPS versus righties compared to a strong .863 OPS off lefties. He made the All-Star team in 2011.

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Six proCanes Projected in First Four Rounds of 2015 NFL Draft

The 2015 NFL Draft is still several months away, but with the Miami Hurricanes’ season complete it can’t hurt to take a peek at some of their intriguing pro prospects.

The Canes might’ve finished the season with a subpar 6-7 record, but it appears there’s a solid crop of incoming NFL talent coming out of Coral Gables. Six players are projected to go in the first four rounds, according to CBS Sports rankings, which is run by NFL Draft Scout.

Rounds 1-2: Ereck Flowers, Offensive Tackle
Round 2: Duke Johnson, Running Back
Rounds 2-3: Denzel Perryman, Linebacker
Rounds 2-3: Clive Walford, Tight End
Rounds 3-4: Phillip Dorsett, Receiver
Round 4: Ladarius Gunter, Defensive Back

It also wouldn’t be a surprise to see a player like Dorsett, blessed with superhuman speed, climb up the draft boards after what should be a dynamic performanceicon1 at the NFL Combine or Miami’s Pro Day.

Defensive end Anthony Chickillo, center Shane McDermott, and offensive guard Jon Feliciano are projected to go in the sixth round or later, while many scouting services expect 9-10 Canes to get drafted overall. In Todd McShay’s first mock draft on ESPN, he projected both Flowers and Perryman to go in the first round.

For comparison’s sake, projections were pulled for in-state ACC rival and powerhouse, Florida State. They’re expected to have 10 players go in the first four rounds, but this figure assumes undecided underclassman Eddie Goldman, Ronald Darby, and Roberto Aguayo declare for the draft.

So although the Canes aren’t expected to churn out quite the same quality and quantity of NFL players this season as the Noles, talent is not as much of a scarcity as Miami’s 6-7 record would seemingly indicate.

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Brandon Linder Candidate for All Rookie Team

The 2014 rendition of the Jacksonville Jaguars had a very distinct theme – youth. They started and played the most rookies of any team in the NFL by a significant margin. The Jaguars were rife with inexperience on the offensive side of the ball especially, where 2/5th of the offensive line were mid-to-late round rookies (Brandon Linder and Luke Bowanko), and the left tackle (Luke Joeckel) was a 2nd year player with only 4 games under his belt. The offense was run by a rookie quarterback (Blake Bortles), and his primary skill position players were 3 rookie wide receivers (Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, and Marqise Lee) and a 2nd year running back making the conversion from college quarterback (Denard Robinson).

With so many rookies making big contributions, there should be a few guys who are candidates for the all rookie team. Ben Natan over at With the First Pick put together his own all rookie team, and he put two Jaguars on the 2nd team.

Second Team: Brandon Linder (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Second Team: Telvin Smith (Jacksonville Jaguars)

It would be nice to see some Jaguars on the first team, but it’s hard to argue their candidacy of the guys who did make it. Zack Martin and Joel Bitonio were the first team guards (Martin was actually voted on the first team All Pro squad), and the first team linebackers were Chris Borland, Anthony Barr, and CJ Mosley. The case could be made for Telvin to go ahead of someone like Anthony Barr, but he started pretty slow this season before coming on at the end of the year.

One thing to note is the wide receiver position, which was absolutely loaded this season. Sammy Watkins, the first receiver taken in the draft, didn’t make the first or second team. With Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, Kelvin Benjamin, Jordan Matthews, and Jarvis Landry all as viable candidates, it’s easy to see why none of the Jacksonville receivers got a sniff of the all rookie team.

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Vinny Testaverde's son transferring from Texas Tech to Miami

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Vinny Testaverde won a Heisman Trophy at Miami. Now his son wants to be a quarterback for the Hurricanes.

Vincent Testaverde has applied to transfer from Texas Tech to Miami and is expected to be declared immediately eligible, despite appearing in one game this season for the Red Raiders. As a nonrecruited walk-on at Texas Tech, the typical rule decreeing he sits out one season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules wouldn't apply.

He left Texas Tech to be closer to his family's home in the Tampa, Florida, area -- and Miami jumped at the chance to welcome another Testaverde. Miami wanted to add another quarterback behind starter Brad Kaaya. Backups Jake Heaps and Ryan Williams have exhausted their eligibility, and reserve Malik Rosier will also be playing baseball this spring.

"I'm certainly very excited for obvious reasons," Vinny Testaverde told The Associated Press.

The school hasn't announced the move, presumably because Vincent Testaverde hasn't completed his enrollment. That process could be finished as early as Thursday.

Vincent Testaverde completed 15 of 26 passes against Texas in his lone Texas Tech appearance, before leaving earlier this month.

His father won the Heisman in 1986, his senior year at Miami.

"I think Miami is heading in the right direction," Vinny Testaverde said.

The Hurricanes were 6-7 this season and have a rising star at quarterback in Kaaya, plus they haven't won a bowl game since 2006. But Vinny Testaverde raved about the job Miami coach Al Golden has done, especially with an NCAA probe having clouded the program for most of his first three years in Coral Gables."Everybody wants to be Oregon and Florida State and Alabama and Ohio State and so on," Vinny Testaverde said. "They all want to be there, contending for a national championship. But there's a process that has to take place. I know some don't allow that process to happen. But from what I can see, everything the program has gone through takes a toll.

"Now that's cleared, and I'm anxious to see what Coach Golden is going to do."

Testaverde said when he was a high school coach, he knew of recruits who dismissed Miami from consideration quickly because of the fear of NCAA sanctions. The NCAA case was resolved in the fall of 2013.

"I hope people see if I'm allowing my son to go (there) under the tutelage of Al and his staff, it speaks to what I believe in as far as what Al is doing there," Vinny Testaverde said. "You're not going to allow your kid to go into a bad situation. I want my son to go there. He wants to go there."

Vinny Testaverde still ranks fifth on Miami's career passing list with 6,058 yards, and is tied for fourth with 48 touchdown throws. He went on to play 21 NFL seasons, his total of 46,233 yards passing still ranks ninth-best in league history.

And now his son is going to follow along the same path. The younger Testaverde plans to wear No. 14 at Miami, his father's retired jersey.

"I hope we can make that happen," Vinny Testaverde said.

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Seahawks’ Chancellor Watches Sean Taylor Highlights As Pregame Pump-Up

SeanTaylor copy
It’s safe–and at first, counterintuitive– to assume that this week, Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor will be preparing for a playoff matchup with the Carolina Panthers by watching tape of the Washington Redskins.

Of course, as detailed most recently in an article on the Seahawks team website, there’s a method to Chancellor’s habits.

Specifically, he studies highlights of Sean Taylor, the legendary Redskins safety who played nearly four years before his untimely death in 2007.

“Before every game I’ve got to watch him,” Chancellor said before their matchup with the Redskins this past October. “It just puts more aggression into me, man. Just like, ‘Boom’ – this is what I’ve got to do. I watch it and say, ‘This is what I’ve got to do every game.’ “

Chancellor, who, like Taylor, has gone to the Pro Bowl twice, grew up in Norfolk, Va., and eventually went to college at Virginia Tech. It was easy to follow and become inspired by Taylor; it was equally devastating to hear about his tragic death playing in just his second collegiate season.

“It was tough because I knew I wasn’t going to get a chance to meet him,” Chancellor said. “That was one of the guys I wanted a chance to meet and try to get some insight from, think like he thinks, pick his brain a little bit. But unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to.”

It’s motivated the hard-hitting safety, who stands at 6-foot-2 and 232 pounds, to make sure his legacy mimics Taylor’s. He’s more willing to connect with other players, to teach them and give back as much of his experience and knowledge as he can.

“The way he showed his passion for the game and the way that he used his God-given ability,” Chancellor said of Taylor’s memory. “He was blessed to be tall, blessed to be strong, blessed to run fast, and he used every bit of his body in his game.”

As this illustrated Instagram picture demonstrates, Taylor remains inside Chancellor in every game he plays.

Meast!!! Gone but NEVER forgotten. #Meast #21 #SeanT

A photo posted by Kameron Chancellor (@bambamkam) on

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Orlando Franklin returns to practice for Broncos

Left guard Orlando Franklin and safety David Bruton cleared the NFL-mandated concussion protocol and returned to practice for the Broncos on Wednesday as they prepare for their AFC divisional playoff game.

Both players were injured in the Week 17 victory over the Raiders. Bruton started in place injured safety T.J. Ward (neck strain), but left with one himself after a blind hit by Oakland’s Denico Autry. Bruton was wheeled off the field on a stretcher and immediately taken to a hospital, as the Broncos feared a diagnosis much more than a neck strain and concussion.

The Broncos practiced in full pads Wednesday — a first in a while for them — and outside in 19-degree whether to prepare for an expected cold matchup against the Colts at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Sunday.

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Antrel Rolle: 'I'd ride or die with Coach Perry Fewell all day'

Antrel Rolle said he was "shocked" by the news that the Giants had fired defensive coordinator Perry Fewell on Wednesday morning. The Giants safety was appearing on SiriusXM's NFL Radio just moments after news of the decision was announced.

"I can't say that I saw it coming because I didn't," Rolle said. "I can say that I really didn't know what to expect."

Rolle had been a voice of support for Fewell when the season ended and he maintained that posture.

"We didn't have the best of the best years as a defense, but I think it definitely had more to do with than just Coach Fewell," Rolle said. "I have a theory that coaches coach and players play the game. We were unsuccessful at times. In my eyes the majority had to do with players not making plays when opportunity presented itself and being a consistent defense throughout the course of the year. Everyone is at fault. We all understand in this league when a defense is unsuccessful, but I figured that he would be back given that we had so many people on IR, to give him a chance to make the wrong right."

Rolle and Fewell had a relationship that was at times complicated and contentious. Prior to the 2011 Super Bowl run, there were reports that Rolle wanted to leave the Giants and Fewell's system which used him more as a slot defender than a free safety. Once they got over that, though, the two became close.

"I'd ride or die with Coach Perry Fewell all day," Rolle said. "We had a special kinship, a special bond, and we got into it a lot of times just because we always wanted to be the best. We collided because we always wanted perfection from one another. At the same time, it made us that much more accountable to one another. He knew he could count on me, I knew I could count on him. But when you're talking about the game, it's just unfortunate when you have a defense that isn't successful. The head man is going to take the hit because it's his defense, it's his system and everything else that goes along with it."

That defense finished the season ranked 29th in the league.

"There were some games when we would go out there and play good, there were some games we would go out there and play sub-par, there were some games we would go out and play very poorly," Rolle said. "There was no consistency throughout the defense pretty much the entire year until that latter part of the season. Even then there were times we would be up and it was time for us to close out the game on the defensive side of the ball and we didn't do so. It's very unfortunate for Coach Fewell. I wish as a defense we could have done a better job and kept him around to start this thing over again."

As for Rolle, he will be a free agent in a few weeks. He has stated his desire to return to the Giants and said on Wednesday that coming back to Fewell's system, which he has played in for five seasons, would have been ideal. But, he added, Fewell's dismissal would likely not affect his decision-making.

"I'm a football player," he said. "I fight where I'm told to fight, I play where I'm told to play. That's what it boils down to for me."

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Shane Larkin gets career-high assists with Knicks

Former Dr. Phillips basketball player Shane Larkin, who now plays for the New York Knicks, celebrated an NBA career high eight assists Monday night in a 105-83 loss to Memphis.  

The 5-foot-11 guard also collected seven points, three rebounds and two steals.

According to Dr. Phillips’ athletics website, Larkin was “an undersized freshman” but graduated in 2011 second on the school’s all-time scoring list.

He also led the Panthers in back-to-back state runner-up finishes (2010-11), holds school records for most steals in a game, season and career, and was inducted into DP’s Athletic Hall of Fame last year.

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Royals claim Ryan Jackson off waivers Wednesday

The Royals announced they secured outright waivers to infielder Ryan Jackson on Wednesday. He will be assigned to Triple-A.

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Justin Renfrow Cut by Packers, Signed By Seahawks

The Packers released tackle Justin Renfrow from their practice squad. They did not announce a corresponding move, but Renfrow wasted no time sign with another team as the Seahawks signed Renfrow as a guard. Renfrow was not active for any game this season.

Did the Seahawks sign Renfrow to help them scout the Packers in case they meet in the NFC Championship game? Thoughts?

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No overlooking Vince Wilfork's value

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Reading a column on New England Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork by Chad Finn of sparked a thought that seemed worthy of passing along.

At Saturday's "Playoff Huddle" with Scott Zolak and former longtime Patriots assistant coach Dante Scarnecchia, a question was asked from the audience about the most indispensable Patriots players. It was agreed upon that quarterback Tom Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski and cornerback Darrelle Revis were tops on the list. Then Scarnecchia requested a fourth name be added: Wilfork's.

Scarnecchia marveled at Wilfork's contributions this season and how he's played such a high percentage of snaps -- and played them well -- coming off a ruptured Achilles (73.9) that limited him to four games last season. He then explained Wilfork's value as an interior rock in the middle of the defense, speaking from the perspective of a coach who knows how challenging it can be to block a player like that.

It was behind-the-scenes insight and especially timely, because the 6-foot-2, 325-pound Wilfork figures to be a central part of what the Patriots' plan on Saturday against the Ravens.

During his weekly interview on sports radio WEEI on Monday, Wilfork said, "One thing that always stands out with Baltimore is how physical they play. We understand this game is going to be a lot about up front ... To play a team like [the Ravens], you have to be able to play physical at the line of scrimmage. The more you do against a team like this, the more success you have -- we can't play lateral, we have to be vertical, press blockers, get off blocks and gang tackle and rally to the ball.

"One of the things they pride themselves on is being able to run the ball and controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides. With that being said, we know what we have to do. We have to try to win that battle at the line of scrimmage. It's going to be an old-school football game, a physical ballgame."

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Orlando Franklin hoping to shake off concussion for Broncos playoff opener

Orlando Franklin has been a model of dependability for the Denver Broncos, but he’ll have to shake off a concussion if he hopes to avoid missing his first ever National Football League playoff game.

After a bye through last weekend’s wildcard games, the Broncos, finalists in last year’s Super Bowl and 12-4 in the recently completed regular season, are set to host the Indianapolis Colts (11-5) in a divisional playoff game this Sunday, Jan. 11, 4:40 p.m.

“I had a concussion last week, but I definitely think I’ll be all right,” said the former longtime member of the Scarborough-based Thunder youth football club, in his most recent blog posting at Yahoo Sports on Jan. 2.

“I was able to pass a lot of the concussion tests this week. It’s just a matter of easing back into it. I think I’ll be healthy enough to go.”

Over four years, despite playing in the trenches, on the offensive line in front of quarterback Petyon Manning, he has only missed one regular season game (63 of 64) - and that was last season.

Unfortunately, however, it was in the final regular season game of this just completed regular season on Dec. 28 – which the Broncos easily won 47-17 over the Oakland Raiders – that Franklin started but did not finish the game because of the suspected concussion.

Fortunately, the Broncos’ secured a bye through this past weekend’s wildcard round, allowing an additional week of recovery.

“Your body is always going to be sore at this time of the year but you’re talking about a one-and-done game so you have to be able to push through,” Franklin noted on his blog.

The Broncos website reported that Franklin practiced on Monday, Jan. 4 “without a helmet for the one-hour practice” and is still listed as being “in the NFL’s post-concussion protocol.”

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Ray Lewis III to Transfer from Miami to Coastal Carolina

Ray Lewis III is done following in his dad's footsteps. 

According to Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman, the son of former University of Miami star Ray Lewis has decided to transfer from the Hurricanes to Coastal Carolina.

Lewis III posted a picture of Coastal Carolina's mascot on his Instagram account with the following caption: "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, if opportunity doesn't knock... build a door!#Round2"

He was recruited as a running back but switched to cornerback during his first season on campus, which he redshirted. Even with the position change, though, he never saw the field, playing zero snaps in 2014. 

As the Miami Herald's Manny Navarro noted, the new environment—and fresh start—could be exactly what he needs:

The Chanticleers had an impressive 2014 season, finishing 11-2 with a trip to the FCS quarterfinals. While Lewis should be able to find playing time, he shouldn't take anything for granted at the very solid program. 

As for Miami, transfers are never good to see after 6-7 seasons, but these kinds of things happen when kids aren't seeing the field. While its disappointing to lose the son of a school legend, it shouldn't prove detrimental to Al Golden's team. 

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Did Reggie Wayne just play his final home game?

In the closing moments of Sunday's game at Lucas Oil Stadium, something unsurprising happened: The crowd started chanting "Reg-gie! Reg-gie!"

You know the routine. Fans were paying tribute to receiver Reggie Wayne, which isn't a new phenomenon in these parts.

But the context on Sunday made this situation different than the countless other times you've heard adoration for Wayne.

Sunday's game could have been Wayne's last in Indianapolis.

Wayne hasn't offered any hints of his future intentions, but the signs are all there: His contract is expiring, his body is beat up, and the Colts are getting younger at wide receiver while Wayne is 36 and counting. Retirement is certainly on the table.

The Colts won't play at home again this season unless they beat the Denver Broncos on Sunday in the division round and the Baltimore Ravens upset the New England Patriots. That would set up an AFC Championship Game in Indianapolis.

So, after the game was over, the question was unavoidable. Wayne was asked whether he thought the chants were something of a sendoff.

"Well, they've (done that before)," Wayne said. "I appreciate them showing appreciation and I do everything I possibly can to show the love back. These people in Indiana have had my back since 2001. Fourteen years later, they still have my back. It's been awesome to be here. ... getting all the support I get week in and week out.

"I don't have the words. I wish I could buy everybody a hot dog or something."

Wayne faces offseason surgery on his torn left triceps and is fighting through other assorted aches and pains, including a sore groin muscle.

But give Wayne credit for bouncing back the past few weeks, when he's pushed through the pain to help the Colts win games. The drops that afflicted Wayne in the weeks after his triceps injury have subsided, and Wayne even threw a key block on Sunday, allowing running back Boom Herron to pick up a first down.

Will Wayne be back? He's not saying just yet. What he will talk about, however, is that he has at least one more game to play on Sunday against a Broncos team that defeated the Colts in Week 1.

"You just want another opportunity to play," Wayne said. "Regardless if it's a team we lost to or whatever. Whenever we lose, you just want another opportunity to play again. Denver is next on the list.

"I'm just glad I'm still working."

And he'll do so with those aforementioned fans in mind. The hot dogs might not be forthcoming. But Wayne offers something more important.

"I do everything I possibly can," he said, "to show the appreciation back in the way I play."

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Darius Rice makes career as globetrotter

Darius Rice never imagined when he arrived at the University of Miami in 2000 as a 6-10 highly touted McDonald’s All-American that 14 years later he would be toiling in relative obscurity, traipsing the world’s gyms for a paycheck, still awaiting his dream call from the NBA.

The former Hurricane star has been to preseason training camps with the Heat, Cavaliers, Blazers, Spurs, Nets, Mavericks and, most recently, the Grizzlies last summer. He has gotten close to making a roster. Really close.

But no team has been willing to sign the sharpshooting nephew of NFL great Jerry Rice, so he has taken his jump shot to China, Italy, the Philippines, Uruguay, Poland, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Hungary, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Japan and Israel.

Rice, 32, is headed to Macedonia on Tuesday to play for a team called Karpos Sokoli.

The highlights of his pro career so far include averaging 33 points and 10 rebounds in the Philippine league for the Purefoods Tender Juicy Giants and scoring a playoff-record 52 points, including 11 three-pointers, for the Dakota Wizards in the 2007 NBA Developmental League championship game.

David Joerger was the coach of that team and now coaches the Memphis Grizzlies, so Rice hopes maybe that connection will pay off.

Rice was back on the UM campus Saturday for the Hurricanes game against Virginia, his first time at BankUnited Center since leaving the school in 2004. He was honored during the game for his selection to the 2015 ACC Legends class (although he was a three-time All-Big East player and never played in the ACC).

He got nostalgic walking into the arena and was flooded with memories, particularly the arena on opening night against North Carolina, and his spectacular 43-point performance against then-No. 11 Connecticut.

Rice scored 1,865 points for UM, fourth-best in school history. But he went undrafted.

The knock on him is that he was too soft and thin to play power forward, and not quite quick enough to guard smaller players.

He watched as Canes teammates James Jones and John Salmons had long NBA careers. He saw McDonald’s All-American teammates Zach Randolph, DeShawn Stevenson and Darius Miles play in the NBA. But Rice is still waiting.

Still improving
He says he has put on 40 pounds, gotten stronger and worked on his overall game. He has been one of the leading scorers everywhere he has played.

“I’m still trying to get over here,” he said. “I still feel like I’m one of the most underrated shooters to never be in the NBA. I’m still healthy, still playing. I work hard every day. Still trying to make a point and prove to someone, ‘Hey, I’m still here. I’m not gone yet. I’m not 40 yet.’’’

During Saturday’s UM game, Rice made it a point to chat with the NBA scouts in attendance. He says he doesn’t know why no NBA team has given him a shot.
“I came back from overseas and played in the D-League two years ago to show them I can still compete, and I averaged 18 points,” Rice said. “I was leading the league in three-pointers. I don’t know what it is. I think I’m as good as some of the NBA guys out there. All I can do is work hard and hope I get a chance.’’

Still motivated
He said he gets more motivated with each rejection.

“I love to play, and I have 15 years of [anger] inside me, so I have something to prove,” he said. “I don’t want to stop yet. I haven’t had any significant injuries. I keep myself fit all year round. I own a gym, so I can’t get out of shape.”

Rice lives in Madison, Mississippi, near where he grew up. But he says he’d like to move back to Miami, finish his degree at UM and maybe go into coaching. But first, he wants that NBA phone call.

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Saints sign ex-Giants safety Kenny Phillips

The Saints have added a former first-round pick to their roster.

The club has signed Kenny Phillips, a 43-game starter in five seasons with the Giants, to a reserve/future contract, per the NFL’s Wednesday personnel notice.

The No. 31 overall pick in 2008, the 28-year-old Phillips recorded 263 tackles and eight interceptions in 53 games over five seasons in New York. He signed with the Eagles in March 2013, but he was released a little more than five months later. He has not appeared in an NFL regular-season game since 2012.

Phillips has dealt with injuries to both knees in his pro career and had microfracture surgery on his left knee in 2009.

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Vikings Sign Former 3rd Round Pick DeMarcus Van Dyke

Cornerback is an area of concern for the Vikings headed into the offseason, and it appears the team is already taking steps to address that particular need.

Per Yahoo!, the Vikings have signed former Raiders and Steelers CB DeMarcus Van Dyke.

It’s not exactly an official confirmation but Van Dyke does have this going on his Twitter.

Update: The team has now confirmed signing Van Dyke to a futures deal.

A third round draft pick by the Raiders out of Miami in 2011, Van Dyke struggled to get on the field his rookie season and wound up being cut right before the start of 2012.

Van Dyke spent 2012 with the Steelers and was waived by Pittsburgh with an injury settlement in 2013. The Chiefs added him to their practice squad in 2013 and he was back with the team in camp in 2014. He was placed on IR after camp and left with an injury settlement.

The Vikings worked him out during the season but did not sign him.

Van Dyke has blazing speed as you would expect from someone who was drafted by the Raiders. He ran a 4.25 40 at the combine in 2011. He also has decent size at 6-1.

Without doubt, Van Dyke has some interesting physical tools. If he can stay healthy, perhaps the Vikings have found someone they can develop. Mike Zimmer is always on the lookout for projects.

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Devin Hester Up For Performance of the Year

It was a play that couldn't have been scripted any better. Needing one more return touchdown to break Deion Sanders' record, in Sanders' former playground with Sanders in attendance and a primetime television audience looking on, Devin Hestericon-article-link made history.

In the first half of a blowout win over the Buccaners, Hester took a punt to the house, earning the 20th return touchdown of his career and rewriting the NFL record books.

That moment is now up for the NFL's Performance Play of the Year, which will be awarded at the NFL Honors ceremony at 9 p.m. ET Jan. 31 on NBC.

In order for Hester to win the award, he needs your votes. Click here to vote for Hester's return to be named the biggest play of the year.

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Boy's dream to meet Reggie Wayne comes true

INDIANAPOLIS - A 9-year-old boy's life-long dream to meet Colts WR Reggie Wayne finally came true Tuesday night.

For one year and 10 days, Dylan Eickhoff has worn a No. 87 Colts jersey to school, practice and even to bed.

"We had a family wedding and he wore a bow tie around the jersey," one family member said.

Dylan wore the jersey in hopes of catching the attention of his favorite player, Reggie Wayne.

"There was this one kid who wore a Brett Favre jersey and got to meet Brett Favre. I was going to do the same with Reggie Wayne," he said.

The jersey has certainly seen its better days, but that didn't stop Dylan from meeting his idol.

"It's got holes in the back," he said.

Dylan stumbled as he walked up to meet Wayne, who was equally gracious.

"That's what it's all about; just seeing Dylan come in with a smile on his face," Wayne said.

While many predict this will be Wayne's last season, Dylan thinks otherwise.

He's predicting we'll see No. 87 on the field for at least another two or three years.

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Report says Testaverde transfers out of Texas Tech

It has been a while (well, at least a few weeks) since the Texas Tech quarterback depth took a hit, so this may have been just a little overdue.

Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury may be one of the best quarterbacks in Texas Tech program history, but he sure seems to have a rough time keeping quarterbacks in the stable in Lubbock. Freshman quarterback Vincent Testaverde, son of former Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testaverde, will reportedly transfer out of the Red Raiders program.

A report from Wreck Em 247 says the younger Testaverde transferred with the intention of moving closer to home in Tampa, Florida. No school has been reported as the next college football home for Testaverde, who played in one game this season.

Testaverde will have to sit out the 2015 season if he transfers to another FBS program due to NCAA transfer rules. He would be eligible to play in 2015 if he transfers to a lower division school, however.

UPDATE: Because Testaverde was never on scholarship, he is technically eligible to play at any FBS program in 2015. However, as Texas Tech has demonstrated in the past, the Red Raiders have the ability and power to block Testaverde from playing for any number of other schools, including those within the Big 12. Because he is a walk-on player, Testaverde needs to ask for permission to hear from other schools. Without that permission, Testaverde may not be contacted by potential landing spots.

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Antrel Rolle wants to return to Giants, but future still uncertain

EAST RUTHERFORD - With his 10th NFL season and his fifth with the New York Giants in the books, Antrel Rolle still has uncertainty in his future.

The 32-year-old safety completed his five-year, $37 million contract that he signed in 2010, and while he can't know for sure where he'll suit up next season, Rolle would be happy with a return to the Giants.

"I want to stay. I definitely want to stay here. I feel like we're building something, although we haven't had the season we wanted to have," Rolle said. "Collectively, I think we're still building something. There's a lot of room for us to grow with what we've accomplished so far, and I'd love to be a part of that."

While the Giants finished 2014 a disappointing 6-10, Rolle said that the pieces are in place to have success in the near future. He added that he could be a big part of the defense's continued development.

"I know where we've come from, from the beginning to mid-point of this year and fighting and having some tough battles through the end of the year," Rolle said. "I think something we were missing for a lot of those games was the finish and finishing strong. We battled extremely hard, they just got the upper hand on us."

Rolle finished Sunday's 34-26 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles with eight tackles, giving him 71 on the season. It was the lowest total of Rolle's five seasons with the Giants, but not far off from his 76.2 average. He also ended with three interceptions and eight passes defended for the season.

The safety played in every game during his five seasons with the Giants, and he earned Pro Bowl selections in 2010 and 2013.

Rolle wants to continue his career with New York, but he acknowledged that there are some things out of his control. All he can do is wait for everything to play out to see what his future holds.

"I've been through this process once before, and I think you just have to take it in stride," he said. "If this was my last game as a Giant, I'm very appreciative, I wouldn't change anything for the world, one of the five years here. I gave the team every inch that I had.

"We'll see what happens once the offseason comes, and once everyone settles down and figures out what it is that we need to do. Hopefully we can come to an agreement and get something done."

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Reggie Wayne planning 2015 return if the Colts will have him

Reggie Wayne caught a lot of passes from Peyton Manning over their years together in Indianapolis and his answer to a question about his future with the Colts suggests he might have received something else from his longtime teammate.

Wayne was on his weekly WNDE radio show this week when the subject of his impending free agency came up. The Colts won’t play at home again this year unless they and the Ravens advance to the AFC Championship Game, which means Sunday could be Wayne’s final game in Indy as a member of the team.

“If I had to answer that question right now, [the answer to] that question would be ‘I will be back,'” Wayne said. “If the Colts want me. Because I’m not playing for nobody else.”

It’s similar phrasing to Manning’s answer about his future with the Broncos — “I certainly plan on being back if the Broncos will have me” — but that’s about where the similarities end. There wasn’t any question about Denver’s desire to have Manning back after they’ve constructed their entire roster around having him as their quarterback.

Things aren’t as clear in Indianapolis. Be it because of injuries or age, Wayne has slowed down considerably this season and will have surgery on a partially torn triceps after the season. Wayne is a franchise icon, but the Colts may have the desire to move in a different direction rather than bet against father time in 2015 and Wayne might rethink his refusal to consider other teams if they do.

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Andre Johnson Contemplates His Future

Going into the Texans season-finale Andre Johnson hadn’t given much thought to his future, but that changed after the Texans 23-17 win over the Jaguars at NRG Stadium.

“One of my teammates came up to me and said ‘I hope this is not your last game here,’” he recalled. “I think that’s when it really hit me and I was like ‘Man…’, because, I really hadn’t thought about it.”

Johnson’s 10 catch, 134-yard day was his best of 2014, and his fourth quarter eight-yard touchdown catch put the Texans back in front for good.

“I can still play the game, I know that,” he said.

While at 33 years old, with a dozen NFL season’s under his belt, he isn’t the same player he once was, but Johnson still had a productive 2014 season, catching 85 passes for 936 yards, and watching his team go from two wins a year ago, to nine.

“Our new coaching staff, coming in and getting a 2-14 team and getting us to nine wins, everybody bought in and gave it everything they had every week,” he said.

While Johnson hadn’t given much thought to this season potentially being his last with the Texans, the possibility hasn’t been lost on fans and media. He will count over $16 million against the salary cap next season, second highest (J.J. Watt) on the team. Releasing him would free up close to $9 million, but the last thing Bob McNair wants to do is let his franchise’s first star finish his career in another team’s uniform.

Johnson’s uncle, Andre Melton, told the Houston Chronicle his nephew would take a paycut to remain with the Texans. While Johnson denies ever discussing taking a paycut with his uncle, he has said he’d like to play another three seasons with the Texans, and in the Chronicle story acknowledged taking salary reductions is part of the business.

“Whatever is meant to happen will happen,” Johnson said. “I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.”

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Chicago Bears place punter Pat O'Donnell on the ESPN All Rookie Team

Drafting a punter in any round is usually a gamble, so it's good to see Chicago Bears 6th round draft pick Pat O'Donnell finish up as the best rookie punter for the 2014 season according to Mel Kiper of ESPN. I probably should mention that he was the only rookie punter to punt during the season, but what the heck, as Bear fans we should revel in the award.

Now that living legend Patrick Mannelly has retired, we need another special teamer to throw our outlandish support behind. Why can't that guy be another Pat?
Here's what Kiper said about O'Donnell.

Hey, I'll take it: Another preseason pick that worked out. O'Donnell can be better -- the 37.7 net average isn't particularly impressive -- but he tops the group.
Tops the group? Well, technically that is right, be it a group of one.

O'Donnell's net average of 37.7 was 28th best in the NFL. His average of 43.8 was 27th. He had 20 punts placed inside the 20, which was 28th.

During his 2013 season at the University of Miami his punting average was 47.1, so you can see what a big leg he has. I think an off season of working solely on his craft will allow him to come back and have a much improved 2015 season.

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Saints need better health, bigger impact from Jimmy Graham

METAIRIE, La. -- Figuring out how to make tight end Jimmy Graham more dominant going forward has to be a top priority for Graham and the New Orleans Saints this offseason.

Graham’s ineffectiveness over the past five games was one of the Saints’ biggest letdowns -- though it was one of many.

He had just 20 catches for 219 yards and one touchdown over the final five games, including a career-high three dropped passes in a Week 14 loss to Carolina and a controversial goal-line fumble in a Week 16 loss to Atlanta.

Graham’s lingering shoulder issue was clearly one factor. But it couldn’t have been the only factor. Graham still had some big games after the injury, when he scored six touchdowns over a five-game stretch from Weeks 8-12. He still showed plenty of his usual physicality and aggression in games at Carolina and vs. San Francisco, in particular.

As Graham explained last week, it was something he had to fight through all year after first suffering the injury in Week 5. But neither Graham nor coach Sean Payton gave any indication that it affected him more down the stretch, when his production started to fizzle.

“There was no secret,” Payton said Monday when asked if he could reveal whether the injury was bothering Graham more than the team let on, now that the season is over.

“It gradually got a little better, but I honestly think that he was having to deal with that for quite a while,” Payton said. “Obviously it affected him, but to what degree it was causing him pain (in Week 17) or the week before, I wouldn’t know that. … I think he would be able to answer to what degree it was still potentially affecting him later in the year. It was significant for a good middle point of the season, though.”

The bigger detriment to Graham’s success might have been the way defenses approached him. Graham said he always has to deal with safeties shadowing him over the top or cheating his way. That's part of the reason why the Saints couldn’t get the ball downfield to the three-time Pro Bowler like they had in past years.

Perhaps it also hurt when they lost dynamic receiver Brandin Cooks to a thumb injury, allowing defenses to devote even more resources to bracketing Graham. But those downfield throws were a season-long issue for the entire passing offense.

Graham’s 85 catches and 10 touchdowns were in line with his career averages. But his yardage was way down, with a total of 889 yards on a career-low 10.5 yards per catch.

The Saints needed to get a lot more out of Graham than that -- especially since they don’t have a bona fide “No. 1 receiver” on the roster.

I wrote several times during Graham’s contract standoff this past offseason about how I believe he can be just as impactful as most No. 1 receivers in the NFL. I ranked Graham in the top 10 among all pass-catchers in the league, regardless of position, and believed his new four-year, $40 million deal was a bargain.

But that wasn’t the case consistently enough in 2014. And the Saints and Graham both need to figure out how to change that going forward.

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Jon Beason's contract and whether it makes sense for Giants to bring him back

Giants middle linebacker Jon Beason insists nine toes would've worked just fine, as long as it wasn't either of the big ones that had to be sacrificed.

Beason tried desperately to play this season with nine. He wore a special shoe and attempted to run with his injured right big toe pointing towards the sky. It wasn't possible. He was forced to shut it down after playing in parts of four games this season.

The Giants defense was hurt by his absence. They finished ranked 29th overall. They were 30th against the run. Beason's overall presence as the signal-caller and his prowess against the run were sorely missed.

On the surface, his return next season appears desperately needed ... except there is a lot that goes into the equation. Money is one factor. Durability and age are others. Combined they will likely determine whether the Giants bring Beason back for next season and beyond.

Let's explore.

Can Beason Be Trusted?

This isn't a knock against Beason as a person or even his on-field performance. It's the reality for a player that has stayed on the field for 24 games over the past four years because of injuries. That's an average of six games per season (I know, I'm exceptional at math).

It seems almost foolish to pencil in a player that has managed to play more than four games in a season just once over the past four years at the most important spot on a defense. The middle linebacker calls the plays, makes sure everyone is aligned properly and knows their assignments. When that is missing, you have the 2014 Giants, who allowed 62 pass plays of 20 or more yards and had enough coverage breakdowns to last three seasons.

Can the Giants risk that happening again if Beason can't last the 2015 season? Can they afford to put their defense in the hands of an injury-prone middle linebacker who will be 30 years old later this month? It's hard to imagine, at least without there being a strong backup plan.

The Money
The injury history/reliability factor combined with Beason's contract make his return especially flimsy. The veteran linebacker is due a $3.6 million base salary, a $1 million roster and can earn another $1.2 million in per game bonuses. His salary cap figure is a whopping $7.37 million.

Here's the full breakdown of the three-year deal Beason signed last offseason:

Terms: 3 years, $17 million
2015 Details
$3.6M base salary
$1M Roster Bonus (due on the fifth day of the league year, March 15)
$1.2M Roster Bonus Per Game
$100K Workout Bonus
$750K Not Likely to Be Earned Incentives (NLTBEs)
$7.37M Cap Number
$5.9M Cash Value

Savings vs. Salary Cap if Cut: $7.37M - $2.94M (prorated bonus money for 2015 and ’16) = $4.43M

So the Giants could get an extra $4.4 million to spend this offseason if they release Beason. Or they could try to renegotiate his deal (aka make him take a paycut).
Beason, who serves as his own agent, said several weeks back he fully expects to hold up his end of the deal. Of course he does. He can earn $5.9 million next season. That's a nice haul after playing in parts of four games the previous season.

But Beason is a keen businessman, and seems resigned to the fact that the Giants will come to him asking to alter the numbers.

"I believe that there is value there," Beason the agent said of Beason the player last week. "Great value there, maybe more so than they think they have. In my personal opinion, I should feel that way.

"Nevertheless, you're going to do what is best for you and you try to work with the team and do what is best for the team. I know when it comes down to it, [assistant general manager] Kevin [Abrams] and I and [GM] Jerry [Reese] will make it happen."

Taking a pay cut, moving around money, ripping up the previous deal and rewriting a new one are all options. The Giants like Beason and Beason likes the Giants, but this is the business of football.

"There are always ways a team can work with a guy," Beason said. "We'll cross that bridge when it comes."

It seems to be approaching rather quickly. The Giants have a key decision to make at middle linebacker.

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Santana Moss 'No Question' Still Wants To Play

Washington Redskins wide receiver Santana Mossicon-article-link lives each day and each season the same, with an eye on getting better and not on the possibility that his playing career may be ending soon. 

“Honestly, I’m treating this like another year,” he said. “I know I’ll put the stuff in my bag and put the bag in my locker and say I’ll be back later in the week for it, so that’s what I’m going to do.”

But for Moss, a 14-year veteran who recorded his lowest numbers in 2014 in terms of receptions and yards since his second season in 2002, the reality is this season may be different.

Throughout the season he was listed fifth on the team’s unofficial depth chart and was inactive for the first five games of the season, marking the first time he was a healthy scratch on gameday since being acquired by the Redskins before the 2005 season.

Regardless, Moss said he’s approached each day the same because it helps him “keep an easy head.”

“A lot of people go through a lot of stuff and we all go through different things and if you let it wear on your shoulders and think it every day, it’ll tear you apart,” he said. “So I just enjoy it and like I say, I never put any goals up. I never look ahead and I just hope for the best and that’s what I’m going to always do.”

If Moss did indeed play his last game with the Redskins, he’s left quite the legacy in Washington.

Drafted by the New York Jets 16th overall in the 2001 NFL Draft, Moss was traded to the Redskins on March 10, 2005, in a straight-up wide receiver swap for Laveranues Coles.

In only his second game wearing burgundy and gold, Moss had an all-time performance, recording two touchdowns late against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football to give the Redskins a legendary come-from-behind victory.

It was the start of an All-Pro season in which he would haul in 84 balls for a career-high 1,483 yards and nine touchdowns.

He currently ranks near the top in all receiving categories for the Redskins, as he’s third in career receptions (581), fourth in receiving yards (7,867) and seventh in touchdowns (47).

Throughout all the highs and all the lows, Moss said he’s appreciated everything he’s endured over the years.

“When it’s over, you appreciate everything that you put into it and the journey that you took with these guys,” he said. “It’s always fun going out there and preparing with one goal in mind and that’s to go out there win.”

Part of the fun for Moss, as well, is the fact every game and every season is different.

“We never know what the outcome is going to be, so you always anticipate something different than what happens and at the end, whether you win or lose, you still appreciate going out there and going through that battle with your friends and everything,” he said. “I just appreciate everything about this job. …But when it’s over and going through the stuff we’ve been going through, it’s kind of one of those feelings that’s okay, now we can really exhale and try to put that behind us.”

Before putting the final touches on cleaning out his locker, Moss was asked point blank if he still wants to play.

Moss was straight-forward in his response.

“No question," he said. "I barely played this year. You think I want to just go out like that?”

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Reggie Wayne, possible retirement in the air, hoping for more glory run with Colts

Reggie Wayne has won more games with the Colts than Peyton Manning, and stuck around Indianapolis longer than Marvin Harrison.

He’d rather pass his ex-teammates in an even more meaningful category: Super Bowl rings.

The 36-year-old receiver with the fun-loving personality and the blue-collar work ethic is intent on making his 12th, and perhaps final NFL play-off appearance, the most rewarding of his 14-year career.

“New Year’s Eve, I’m saying to myself, ‘Man, when was the last time a (Colts&rsquoWinking season ended before New Year’s Eve’?” Wayne said Friday. “I sat up there and said, ‘Well, it’s either go to a New Year’s Party or go practice football’. I’d rather practice football.”

Wayne has never willingly taken plays or practices off, which is why he remains one of the respected players in the locker room and around his adopted hometown.
And although Wayne doesn’t appear to be the kind of guy who wants to give up his dream job early, an expiring contract and an increasingly banged-up body might not leave him with a choice.

After ending 2013 on injured reserve with a torn ACL, Wayne insisted he could defy the odds and make a comeback in 2014. The Louisiana native reluctantly agreed to take occasional practices off at training camp and throughout the season to keep him in better health.

The plan seemed to work initially as Wayne got off to a solid start. But on October 19, against Cincinnati, Wayne tore the triceps in his left arm and hasn’t been the same since.

Things looked even bleaker last weekend when Wayne pulled his groin at Tennessee, an injury the former University of Miami star said won’t keep him out Sunday against the Bengals (10-5-1) in what could be Wayne’s final home game.

His stats are down, too. Though Wayne only missed one game, he wound up with the worst numbers of any season that he played 10 or more games – 64 catches, 779 yards and two touchdowns – since 2002.

Not surprisingly, the combination has led to increasing speculation about Wayne’s possible retirement.

Wayne has acknowledged he wants to speak with his family before making a decision, and on his weekly radio show this week, Wayne said he didn’t want to play for another team.

Colts owner Jim Irsay recently told The Associated Press he planned to wait until after the season to discuss Wayne’s future with general manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano, but Wayne’s teammates are already lobbying him to return.

“I’m not going to let him leave me right now,” Pro Bowl receiver TY Hilton said Friday. “I’ll have a talk with him whenever that time comes. I told him ‘Talk to your family, talk to your kids, but when you’re finished with that, make sure you come talk to me’.”

A year ago, 41-year-old kicker Adam Vinatieri found himself in a similar situation. The Colts (11-5) wound up re-signing the oldest player in the league to a two-year deal, and Vinatieri rewarded them with a nearly perfect season and an All-Pro selection.

This year the Colts will have to make decisions about Wayne, 34-year-old defensive end Cory Redding, who followed Pagano to Indy three years ago to help rebuild the Colts defence, and backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, a former Super Bowl starter who began his career by backing up Brett Favre and could end it by backing up Andrew Luck.

“I’ve got a 13-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son and they’re all into sports, so I don’t want to miss out on that,” said Hasselbeck, who turns 40 in September. “But I’d be shocked if, after the season, I didn’t want to play next year.”

Wayne has plenty of other reasons to keep playing.

With eight more play-off catches, Wayne would join Jerry Rice (151) as the only players with 100 post-season receptions. Wayne also needs 48 yards to pass Cliff Branch (1,289) for third and 74 yards to pass Michael Irvin (1,315) for second on the career post-season list. Rice is the leader at 2,245.

Wayne also is within 33 receptions and 236 yards of breaking Harrison’s franchise records, and, of course, he’d take another shot at a ring – regardless of what happens this year.

“When you’re playing the game, you’re just telling yourself, ‘I’m not ready to go home. I’m not ready to pack my locker. I’m not ready to move into an off-season just yet’,” Wayne said. “So you go out there and you give it everything you’ve got. You go out there and you want to make sure you leave no stones unturned. Whenever my number’s called, I just want to make sure I shine.”

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Phillip Buchanon Talks His Book, “New Money: Staying Rich”, His Take On The NFL, & More

Former University of Miami Cane & NFL Player Phillip Buchanon sat down with us exclusively as he dishes on his new book New Money: Staying Rich, his take on the NFL today, what he has been up to, and more.

Check out the interview.

Congratulations on your book, New Money: Staying Rich. What was the inspiration behind the book?
Phillip Buchanon: The inspiration behind my book, New Money: Staying Rich was that I was going through a lot of things when I first got my money, I didn’t understand like how to really handle money like that….so it was something that was really taught and I was educated on the balance of money & knowing how to handle certain situations with family & friends, just dealing with people in general but with me like I was riding home one day from my hometown Fort Myers and one of my best friends told me that I should write a book about my experiences to kind of tell people & actually educate other players about stuff your going through since you get a lot of money and my aunt in Miami Mary Buchanon kept telling me that I should write a book. I went back to school and finished my degree when I was hurt and two of my professors told me they thought it will be a wonderful idea for me to write a novel saying about the trials & tribulations of what I went through when I first got my money so that was the inspiration behind it.

What can fans expect from this book?
P.B.: They could expect everything under the sun, I’m being very truthful about the situation with my family & a lot of stuff about my friends, these are stories that may brought up in the wrong way but I’m not here to embarrassed anybody I’m just telling my story from my perspective and this is just to really educate. I’m talking about dealing with financial advisors, I called them “financial molestors” and I talk about who could make you broker. I call the people who are in your life, I called them assaultors you know what you know the term “child abusers” but I have a different definition to explain some of the things & I also have some football stories too and most of those stories cater towards my career in the NFL, and some of those stories might not be setting the right light but I’m gearing my perspective of me and some of the things I went through could have been handled a lot better by certain teams that I played on. I talked about the importance of having a mentor and different stuff like that but pretty much everything in my book I’m speaking the truth and I’m not holding back so you definitely be entertained you know about the girls, everything and about having fun, and about me hanging out with Hollywood stars & Jay Z & stuff like that.

What is your take on the new NFL personal conduct policy?
P.B.: It’s a step in the right direction just because whenever you do anything there’s always room for improvement and right now the NFL trying to make improvements, they want fans to look at the NFL as being a first class organization, and some of the things that they went through it wasn’t the best situation but it was a step in the right direction.

Who is your favorite player that you look at during every game?
P.B.: I don’t really know right now. I have players who I talked to and kind of mentored not like Stephon Gilmore, I’m trying to think off top of my head right now. Honestly, I want to see everybody do good and shout out to my do or dies and pretty much the Florida guys because they’re from Miami & South Florida. Me honestly, I’ve been focused on doing my children’s books, all of my board games, working on apps, and comic books so honestly, I really haven’t been paying attention to it but when I get a chance to watch it I just watch it. I’m so glued to the tv because I don’t believe in fantasy football, I think fantasy football is cool but I don’t think it’s for me.

Would you ever consider maybe coaching a team one day?
P.B.: Yeah, I’m interested in coaching. I think coaching is part of my future whether it will be starting out in high school or starting out in college, I don’t know yet but we see how that play out…but I’m always evaluating certain situations and I just catch myself from certain situations  like the play of our calls when I watch the game, I’m always in tuned to it to see what could possibility happen. I could see myself coaching pretty soon at some point.

Who do you see going to The Super Bowl?
P.B.: The two teams that I will see playing in the Super Bowl right now for me watching it…it’s kind of hard Arizona Cardinals started out good but right now things are kind of rocky..but it’s kind of hard to take away from the defended champs in that area. Like I said I haven’t been paying attention and I just been focused on what I do best. When I get focused on something I get focused on it and pretty much that’s what I been doing. If I had to say it you can’t knock the New England Patriots right now because their doing good. I would say the New England Patriots and Seahawks.

How does it feel to see both the NBA & the NFL stand up for Mike Brown & Eric Garner?
P.B.: Awww man that feels good. I mean that shows that we stand for a lot as far as the NFL players, I take my hat off to them, LeBron James, Derrick Rose, and Kobe Bryant and pretty much anybody that wore a t-shirt and stood up for it. That showing the progress & hopefully we could make some progress, and go in the right direction. I’m happy to see it and whenever I seen it I retweeted it on Twitter and if I saw it on Facebook, I just repost it so those are some of the things I did. I love the movement and I love how the NFL & the NBA got behind it and I even saw a soccer player wearing a t-shirt, I forgot what team he played for but it was overseas. I was pleased to see that.

What will be your advice for fellow retired NFL players when it comes to money?
P.B.: Very interesting question (laughs). When it comes to money, I will say the top five people who you associated with on the daily basis have a direct effect on whether you’re being professional or not having the unsuccessful transition just because it’s more by the transition when you’re playing football a lot of guys don’t transition well because their friends don’t have the right friends or the right mentor. Having the right people in your life that will help you transition smoother than being able to have a better life because most guys get caught up in being in that same lifestyle & spending money, having fun that’s kind of what happens as far as guys going broke..but I’ll definitely say between if you got the right mentors, the right friends that don’t get money from you that’s very important. I’ll say the top five people that you associated with on the daily basis with family or friends, having the right mentor these people don’t need anything from you that will help a lot of these players transition well with life after football.

If you want to know more about Phillip Buchanon and his new business ventures, make sure that you follow him on social media at @PhillipBuchanon and get his children books & his latest book New Money: Staying Rich available now on Amazon.

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Shane Larkin gets 31 minutes vs. Grizzlies

Shane Larkin played 31 minutes against the Grizzlies on Monday with seven points, three rebounds, eight assists, two steals and one 3-pointer during an ugly 105-83 loss.

It's a decent line and the Knicks are going to need him to play around 30 minutes while the team figures out what to do with scoring the ball. Larkin won't have an extremely high upside, so he's not a great add in standard leagues.

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Royals designated INF Ryan Jackson for assignment

Royals designated INF Ryan Jackson for assignment. The move clears a spot for the newly-signed Edinson Volquez on the active roster. Jackson was just acquired from the Dodgers a month ago, but he could soon be on the move again.

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