NFL U Week 9 Photos

Check out photos from Week 9 of the 2010 NFL U season of all of our proCanes. Click here or above on the proCanes Gallery link.

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Dedrick Epps could be added to roster

Tight end Anthony Fasano, who has contributed 20 receptions for 260 yards and two touchdowns, and free safety Chris Clemons rode an exercise bike while the team worked.

If Fasano’s not able to play it’s possible tight end Dedrick Epps, a UM product, could be promoted from the practice squad. Epps has been with the Dolphins since the start of the regular season.

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Another James emerges for Indianapolis Colts

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Javarris James scored two touchdowns in the Colts' 26-24 loss to Philadelphia last Sunday.

Coach Jim Caldwell says the undrafted free agent and younger cousin of former Colts star Edgerrin James could get more carries this Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Starting running back Joseph Addai still is missing practices with an injured left shoulder and No. 3 running back Mike Hart has been out with an ankle injury. The No. 2 running back, Donald Brown, is expected to start and Javarris James will back him up.

Javarris James led the team with 85 yards rushing on 26 carries in the preseason and caught six passes for 38 yards.

The Colts beefed up their depth at running back Thursday by claiming running back Joique Bell off waivers from Philadelphia.

Click here to order Javarris James’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Injury update: Andre Johnson

Neither Andre Johnson nor Owen Daniels practiced with the team Wednesday or Thursday. Nick Scurfield of reported that Johnson underwent another MRI on Monday as a follow-up measure for his right ankle. Johnson's high ankle sprain has continued to nag at him intermittently, and his explanation for that was perfectly reasonable. "I still have a little swelling in my joint, so that's what's causing the little pain I have at times," Johnson said. "The biggest thing now is just trying to just get that swelling out of there." This explains why the team is limiting his activity during the week. Less running and less pounding means a better chance of getting the swelling down. Less swelling translates to better joint mobility and less pain. Johnson said his ankle was "feeling pretty good" Wednesday. This cycle is likely to continue throughout the remainder of the season.

Although Johnson's nonpractice routine to protect his ankle is somewhat expected by now, Daniels has yet to get past a recent aggravation of a hamstring injury. Head coach Gary Kubiak says that Daniels is improving but will be a game-time decision, according to the Texans' official Twitter page. Daniels has had only one solid performance this season

Schaub was limited Wednesday because of a rib injury but will play Sunday when the Texans take on the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Click here to order Andre Johnson’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Panthers LB Jon Beason Fined $10,000, Will Appeal

Carolina Panthers linebacker Jon Beason called his $10,000 fine for a hit to the head of New Orleans receiver Marques Colston unwarranted on Thursday and vowed to appeal.

Beason acknowledged he was fined for the hit that drew a 15-yard penalty in the third quarter of Sunday's 34-3 loss to the Saints. Beason said he was covering another player when Colston caught a 7-yard pass near him and he lowered his head to brace for impact.

"It wasn't like the ball was in the air 40 yards downfield. It was a 4-yard route," Beason said. "Defensive guys have the right to protect themselves as well. I don't get in that situation what I was supposed to do.

"But they're enforcing it right now and they're going to be extremely stern about how they handle things and everything that's ticky-tack they're going to fine guys."

Beason, who was penalized for a hit on a defenseless player, stressed that he never left his feet nor led with his helmet.

"As soon as I turned he was right there," Beason said. "But they threw a flag so they've got to fine me."

Beason thinks the NFL is getting so strict receivers may start to stay down after hard hits to draw 15-yard penalties.

"That stuff is going to get to the point where guys are going to lay there on purpose and get 15 (yards) and pop back up and be back in the game," Beason said. "Why not? We're trying to win games."

Beason said he would "definitely" appeal the fine, but had little confidence he'd prevail.

I think they're going to be like, 'OK, leave us alone,'" he said.

Click here to order Jon Beason’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Bryant McKinnie to try again vs. Peppers

Minnesota Vikings left tackle Bryant McKinnie had a career highlight last season by earning a Pro Bowl spot, but he also had a career lowlight when he was benched after a rough December outing against Julius Peppers.

Asked if he's looking forward to the rematch, McKinnie said in an e-mail, ''Hell, yeah.''

The most memorable part of a 26-7 loss to the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte was the postgame clash between Vikings coach Brad Childress and quarterback Brett Favre. But McKinnie struggled against Peppers -- then with the Panthers -- and committed one false start and allowed one sack and several quarterback pressures.

''It was a bad game, and it bothered me,'' McKinnie said. ''I didn't feel I was at my best.''

But McKinnie said he was battling injuries, including plantar fasciitis, and he feels much better this time around.

''I think it'll be a better matchup for me,'' McKinnie said.

Until then, McKinnie had never been benched at any level.

During a conference call with Minnesota reporters, Peppers dodged a question about his dominant performance against McKinnie.

''I really don't want to get into talking about last year,'' Peppers said. ''That was last year. It's a whole new season against players that have improved.

''I've improved in different things. I'm playing on a different team, different scheme.''

Still, Peppers has notched five sacks against McKinnie in five career games.

After the Panthers game, Childress told reporters the Vikings should have given McKinnie more help.

''That's on me,'' Childress said at the time. ''We didn't do a good enough job with getting him help.''

McKinnie said he doesn't know yet if he's going to get help or deal with Peppers one-on-one. But the Vikings left tackle said Peppers has looked as good as ever, ranking him among the league's best with teammate Jared Allen and Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney.
However, McKinnie added that he also has improved.

''I feel like I'm having a better season than last year,'' he said.

Peppers has only two sacks (Israel Idonije tops the Bears with five), but he leads the team with 12 quarterback pressures.

''We all know what I'm bringing to the team,'' Peppers said. ''While the numbers aren't popping [off] the page, the things that I'm doing when you see the tape, it's good football out there. I'm pleased with it, I think everybody else is pleased with it, and hopefully by the end of the year the numbers will be matching up to what we're seeing on the field.''
Favre has been impressed.

''One thing that obviously stands out [is Peppers],'' he said. ''I'm sure that was the intention when they went after Julius. He is a dynamic player.
''He's a game changer. I don't know what else to tell you.''

Click here to order Bryant McKinnie’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Ray Lewis makes Pro Football Weekly's Midseason All-Pro Team

Pro Football Weekly released its Midseason All-Pro Team, and a pair of Ravens made the list.

Inside linebacker Ray Lewis and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata were named to the team.

According to statistics compiled by the Ravens, Lewis leads the team with 72 tackles (56 of the solo variety), and he also has registered one sack, one interception and one forced fumble. Ngata ranks third with 44 tackles and first with five sacks.

The others are Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, New York Giants guard Chris Snee, New York Jets offensive tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Chicago Bears punt returner Devin Hester, Seattle Seahawks kick returner Leon Washington and Oakland Raiders punter Shane Lechler.

Click here to order Ray Lewis’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Clinton Portis suffers setback, running back situation for Eagles game is still unclear

The Redskins' running back situation remained unclear Thursday as Clinton Portis (severe groin tear) suffered a setback while Ryan Torain (hamstring) participated in practice at Redskins Park.

Sidelined since suffering a third-degree tear in Week 4 against Philadelphia, Portis sat out most of practice and got only "a few reps in there," Coach Mike Shanahan said. The nine-year veteran has said he hopes to return to the lineup Monday night against the Eagles at FedEx Field, but Shanahan said Portis may have set himself back a little with his workload in practice this week and "was a little bit sore today."

Outside linebacker Brian Orakpo (back soreness) sat out practice, Shanahan said. Strong safety LaRon Landry (Achilles') was limited.

After Portis's injury was diagnosed, Shanahan said the team expected Portis to be sidelined four to six weeks. As of Sunday, Portis will have been sidelined six weeks.

Portis, however, has experienced swelling and soreness in his groin area while practicing this week, and "it kind of scares me," Shanahan said. "Normally, when you come off of this injury, your first week of practice, when you're trying to get back in football shape, and you feel good and it gets sore the next day, that's exactly what's happened.

"He had a good day yesterday and [he's] a little bit sore today. Didn't want to over push it, but we've got a few more days to practice and see how he feels. There's a chance. We'll just monitor it day by day."

Torain sat out the second half of the 37-25 loss to Detroit in Week 8. If Torain and Portis both sit out against the Eagles, former undrafted rookie free agent Keiland Williams is expected to start. Chad Simpson, who primarily contributes on special teams, also could have a role in the backfield and James Davis, recently signed to the practice squad, could be promoted to the active 53-man roster.

Determining whether Toran and Portis would be able to contribute against Philadelphia, at least in part, would be based on Shanahan's "gut feel" about whether they are in "football shape" and are capable of playing an entire game. Shanahan said. "Or are they going in for five or 10 plays and be out?" he said. "With a 45-man squad [excluding inactive players for games], it really hurts you if a guy just goes in there temporarily and can't play more than a few plays. You got to get a good feel."

Shanahan declined to reveal who would start if Torain and Portis are among the active players against Philadelphia. "That's part of the evaluation. You can't say who's your best running back," Shanahan said. "We got two guys that we know can play. Right now, both guys are unhealthy.

"If they were healthy, I can answer that question. But they aren't healthy, so we'll evaluate it during the week. If they're both healthy, if they are healthy next week, then I'll give you the answer to that question."

Click here to order Clinton Portis’s proCane Rookie Card.

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From the frontcourt to the front line Tim James leaves basketball behind to join the U.S. Army

Courtesy Brian WilsonTim James: "I'm preparing for all phases of combat. This is a full-scale training operation."

Former NBA forward Tim James spends his days training for combat missions as part of the U.S. Army's 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas. He shoots M16s and practices moving through potentially hostile villages on foot. In essence, James is getting an education on how not to die if and when his unit is shipped to Afghanistan in the near future, which is a likely scenario.

James grew up in the rough neighborhood of Liberty City in the northeast corner of Miami. He was a local basketball star, both in high school and college, a player known for his tenacity. After a three-year NBA career came to a close, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, during wartime. He was assigned to a division in Iraq called ODIN -- an acronym for "Observe, Detect, Identify and Neutralize."

"We pretty much get out there and catch bad guys," James said of his unit's role near Tikrit.

It's fair to classify James as a tough guy, an uncommonly brave individual who has faced risk at many turns in his life. But when he arrived at the University of Miami as a freshman, he was timid in one notable area.

"Coach [Leonard] Hamilton had to teach him how to ask a girl on a date," said Stan Jones, James' assistant coach at the University of Miami (currently an assistant at Florida State) and longtime friend. "Tim had attracted the attention of a young lady but wasn't sure how to handle it. So Coach Hamilton sat him down in his office and said, 'You can't let this drive you nuts. Here's how you approach it.'"

James ultimately found his footing in the art of courtship -- and on the court. In 1998-99, his senior season, he shared Big East player of the year honors with Richard Hamilton.

From there, James was drafted 25th overall in the 1999 NBA draft by his hometown Miami Heat, logged 43 games for three teams over three NBA seasons, and then played in Asia and Europe. Once he sensed his basketball career was winding down, he began to look for the next thing. Being dormant or vacillating between careers wasn't an acceptable option.

"I wanted to experience a new part of my life," James said. "And I wanted to make a sacrifice."

In September 2008, James made a five-year commitment to the United States Army.

Forgetting and Remembering

On Nov. 2 -- nine days before Veterans Day -- Americans went to the polls to cast their ballots in the 2010 midterm elections. According to CNN, only 8 percent of voters declared the U.S. military efforts overseas as the most important issue facing the country. While James and hundreds of thousands like him fight or prepare themselves for combat, what once was a matter of intense and important national debate has receded in our collective consciousness.

Readiness is the most vital issue in James' mind as he wakes up every morning for field training in Texas. James says his yearlong deployment in Iraq, while eye-opening and not entirely stress-free, proceeded without any major hitches.

"Going in not knowing what to expect, going into a new career field, I didn't really know what to expect," James said. "The 12 months went relatively smoothly aside from hearing a lot of loud bangs."

In July, James returned stateside to his home base at Fort Hood, where the members of his ODIN unit dispersed. James was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division, which is the largest division in the U.S. Army. Its mandate is far more sweeping than anything James encountered during his first deployment in Iraq.

"This is like a 360 from the unit I just left," James said. "I'm preparing for all phases of combat. This is a full-scale training operation."

Traditionally, the 1st Cavalry Division often finds itself on the front lines. Although James has no definite orders for deployment, there's a reasonable expectation that he'll find himself in Afghanistan in the coming days, and that's the mission for which he's preparing. The military campaign might now be an afterthought for a country preoccupied with its economic malaise, but the stakes remain for James and those who care about him.

Global and Local
"Everyone in Miami knew who Tim was," Heat forward and South Florida native Udonis Haslem said. "If you grew up around here, Tim was someone you followed."

Another current Heat player, James Jones, also followed James -- both literally and figuratively. As a middle school kid growing up in Miami, Jones would go with friends to watch James at holiday tournaments and big rivalry games.

"He epitomized Miami basketball," Jones said. "He was able to maneuver that landscape and do something that no guy from this community had ever done, which was to come from home, become an All-American, set records at the University of Miami and play for the Miami Heat."

The year after James graduated from the University of Miami and entered the NBA, Jones became a Cane. Even though they never played together at Coral Gables, the two struck a friendship that continued long after James' career was over and Jones entered the league.

"It was like a mentor, big-brother relationship because he'd done everything that I was trying to do before I did it," Jones said.

The way Jones talks about James, you'd never know it was James who had the abbreviated NBA career while Jones established himself as a steady rotation player. Although Jones certainly harbors some of the residual wide-eyed worship the 14-year-old squirt has for the local hero, the admiration is rooted in something deeper. It's not even about James' military service, per se, even though that's something Jones thinks the world of. It's about the temperament and fortitude that led James to do what he's doing, even though he had every reason in the world not to.

"There's an inner will that certain people have. I, myself, couldn't do it," Jones said. "It's not that I'm physically incapable of doing it or a coward. But there's just something inside other people that draws them toward that. Tim has that. Me, I couldn't do it. That's what makes him special."

Intuition and Counter-intuition
For a lot of guys who come from hard neighborhoods, athletics is a way out. Sports offers a pass to a better life, a way to avoid random violence and the nearly unavoidable hazards that surface in a large number of places.

Basketball did that for James. It gave him, his mother and his young son better lives, yet James has willfully put himself back in harm's way. If he ends up in Afghanistan, there's no assurance he'll be safe, no matter how diligent he is in the field. Why work so hard and come so far only to subject yourself to chance?

"The circumstances are dramatically different," James said. "If you're going to lose your life, you want to lose your life for a purpose. Sacrificing for your country supersedes the notion of dying for nothing in the inner city streets. What I'm doing has tremendous meaning."

James aggressively rejects the prerogatives that come with being a former pro athlete. When he arrived at basic training in 2008, he didn't tell a soul he had played NBA basketball.

"The military is a different culture," James said. "This was about me moving out from one facet of my life to another. I went through the same drills, the same training, and was held to the same standards as the next guy in line."

It wasn't until he took to the court for a game of pickup with a few sergeants in Iraq that this identity came out.

"I think some of them were shocked," James said. "A lot of them just thought I was some tall guy walking around. And then I go out to play. There's some macho bravado, and guys like to prove a little something."

Drawing metaphors between sports and combat is virtually unavoidable. Point guards attack. Perimeter threats are dead-eyed shooters. Big men battle under the boards. But as someone who's watching his friend from afar, James Jones can't fathom that parallel. He fully understands why so few athletes, despite their physical prowess, would ever consider military service. And it's not just about the money, comfort and freedom they'd have to sacrifice.

"You can poll guys around the NBA or professional athletes in general, and most of them would tell you that what we do is just a game," Jones said. "What [military personnel] do is real life. As much as we beat our chests, we're still stepping inside a box that has rules and referees. It's a very controlled environment. Whereas where Tim is, it's total chaos."

Confidence and Fear
By all accounts, James is a humble man who, while riveted by life's challenges, prefers to summon his competitive spirit without a lot of noise. When he first arrived at the University of Miami, he was more track star than basketball savant and needed a lot of refinement.

"Initially, we started challenging him with footwork and technique, and it almost overwhelmed him," Stan Jones said. "But his character allowed him to become one of the most quiet -- but fierce -- competitors I've ever coached at any level. He was never a guy jumping up and down in the locker room, but if you started talking about matchups and how talented the other guy was, you'd see that focus in his eyes."

James Jones got a taste of that the first time he stepped on the court for a pickup game. This was the summer James was drafted by the Heat and Jones was matriculating at The U. The game was a slice of who's who of Miami basketball, including pros like Glen Rice. James and Jones were matched up.

"I proceeded to come in and make a couple of jump shots," Jones said. "But after the first two or three 3s, I couldn't even get a shot up from that moment on. He flipped the switch. He never said a word, just did what he needed to do."

James set up a unique set of challenges for himself when he enlisted. Among the personal costs for James, who is single, was leaving the primary caretaking responsibilities for his son, who is now 6, to James' mother in South Carolina. Initially, the hardest part of leaving Tim Jr. was basic separation anxiety. But as Tim Jr. gets older, his father has to grapple with a new variable.

"Right after my deployment to Iraq, he began to understand that Daddy's in danger," James said. "I remember going to his school before I deployed. I was in uniform. And I could tell he was beginning to put two and two together. After I went over, my mom told me that he asked, 'Is Daddy over there with the tanks and the shooting?' She said he had a couple of tears come through his eyes. He knew I was in a hostile environment. I just have to reassure him that Daddy's going to come back home."

James realizes there's a trace of well-intended dishonesty in this kind of parental comfort. It's a reassurance rooted more in faith than in certitude because James wasn't 100 percent sure he'd come home from Iraq. And if he ends up in combat in Afghanistan, those odds become even less favorable. The process of instilling hope in his son isn't getting any easier for either one of them.

"It's hard on both of us but probably more so for me," James said. "He might not understand everything, but for me, I understand the ramifications."

One of the ramifications James has been thinking a little about lately is the possibility that front-line combat might change him indelibly. Confronting carnage, knowing that you might have to contribute to it as a killer or watching those you pledge tactical support to die can do radical things to human beings.

You like to think that it won't change you, but you know that war can have an effect, whether it's physically or mentally," James said. "I think it is a worry of mine. You never know what you're going to see, what you're going to have to do and how it will affect you."

Fast and Slow
Until then, James continues to embrace his training at Fort Hood, and he's thoroughly enjoying it. Even with all the life complications, distance from loved ones and potential danger, he sees the military as a unique place where an individual can serve and obtain a special kind of education. The growth that's associated with that process and the people imparting those lessons nourish him through his commitment.

"There's so much to learn from people who've had four or five deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq," James said. "There are so many people who have come from so many backgrounds. It's seemed like these two years have just flown by so fast, honestly. But I'm just taking everything in slowly."

That combination of fast and slow works for James. It allows him time to absorb but also challenges him to pick up what he needs to learn quickly. He's been heartened by the maturation of his leadership skills, to say nothing of his expert rank at the shooting range. Lately, the prospect of serving as a career officer seems increasingly attractive. He's confident that, if he's deployed, his sacrifice will translate into success. But he's also aware that all the preparation and devotion in the world don't guarantee anything.

"I really do believe that every soldier is a professional," James said. "We receive the best training in the world. But on the human side, everyone has a little bit of fear going in. I don't think that affects the mission. We're going in confident that we're going to complete it. But the human element of fear? Yes. You are a little afraid that you may not make it back. You might not see your family ever again, and they won't see you again. I think that's in the back of the mind of everyone who wears a uniform."

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Brewers' Ryan Braun offers free food to military

Milwaukee Brewers slugger and Wisconsin restauranteur Ryan Braun came up with a neat way to honor U.S. military personnel on Veterans Day.

He's going to feed them.

Ryan Braun's Tavern and Grill in the resort village of Lake Geneva, Wis., is offering a free lunch or dinner entrée to current and former soldiers. Braun said he and the staff had been brainstorming a way to give back.

From Braun's heart (and wallet) to their stomachs.

Braun's motivation is personal: His best friend since third grade is a Navy Seal.

From Adam McCalvy's Brew Beat:

Doug Gallagher is based in Virginia this Veterans Day, but he has served multiple tours both in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I've been able to see and hear what it's all about," Braun said. "So this is something very near and dear to my heart. I look at [it] as an opportunity to do something very small to say thank you to all of the people serving our country."

It's a gracious gesture. There's no one way to properly appreciate those who defend and have defended this country. Every little "thank you" adds up, hopefully.

A head's up: Braun has another restaurant, in Milwaukee, which is not participating in the free entrée program for whatever reason. 

Braun's Lake Geneva place is open 'til 9 p.m. Central.

Braun isn't the only MLB personnel taking note of Veterans Day, of course. Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez and the Arizona Diamondbacks also are among those with stories worth sharing.

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Braves have interest in Pat Burrell

According to Mark Bowman of, the Braves "have seemingly shown some interest" in free agent outfielder Pat Burrell.

The Braves would love to add a right-handed bat to balance their lefty-heavy lineup, but early indications are that Burrell might be too expensive. Instead, Bowman believes they may focus on names like Josh Willingham and Rajai Davis in the trade market.

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Ed Reed looking for No. 50

Ed Reed's daring interception returns are about to place the Ravens' Pro Bowl safety in elite company. He already has 49 picks for 1,319 return yards, an average of 26.9 per return.

When he gets No. 50, he will become the fourth player in NFL history with 50 picks to average at least 20 yards per return.

Deion Sanders averaged 25.1 return yards on his 53 interceptions. Darren Sharper of the Saints is averaging 22.4 on 63 interceptions. And Rod Woodson averaged 20.9 on 71 interceptions.

Going into Thursday's game in Atlanta, Reed needs just 13 return yards to pass Sanders (1,331) for third place on the all-time list, as well. The Falcons are honoring Sanders at halftime of the game.

Click here to order Ed Reed’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Jimmy Graham Steps Up

Rookie TE Jimmy Graham’s best game coincided with Shockey’s injury. He caught three passes, including his first NFL touchdown reception.

“He just keeps getting better,” Payton said. “The one catch that was even more impressive than the touchdown was the third-and-seven or eight that he caught down below his knees. He’s a tremendous worker; he’s very smart; he’s very athletic and he has soft hands.

“We just have to keep giving him opportunities. It was good to see him come out and make some plays for us because those were big plays. Obviously the touchdown was a big play and the third down conversion was significant. He plays with a lot of confidence. You don’t see a first-year player in his eyes on the sideline or in the huddle, and that’s encouraging.”

Graham, who was sidelined by an ankle injury during the preseason, said he used the down time to study a lot of film.

“I definitely think things are slowing down for me,” Graham said, “and that’s the biggest thing is being able to recognize what’s going on out there, being more confident and knowing what’s going on within our offense.”

Graham said he comes in on his off day on Tuesday and studies a different tight end each week, one of which has been Falcons TE Tony Gonzales, a future Hall of Famer who, like Graham, started out as a basketball player.

“He’s one of the best tight ends to ever play the game and he changed the game for people like me,” Graham said of Gonzales. “So I pick up everything from him because he’s so talented.”

Click here to order Jimmy Graham’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Frank Gore rested and ready

Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers: Here's a guy I really do like from here on out. I can't say I'd trade Chris Johnson, Peterson or Arian Foster to get him, but every other running back I would. Gore has been in double digits in standard scoring six of his past seven games, and he has proven he can overcome his team's shoddy quarterback play. Having Troy Smith make the mistakes instead of Alex Smith, or even David Carr, doesn't seem to matter. Gore looks healthy, and he leads the team in receptions. Plus, look at the fantasy playoff schedule, with the Seahawks, Chargers, Rams and Cardinals pending. It wouldn't surprise me if Gore finished as fantasy's top running back, but I'll play it safe and say he ends up fourth.

Click here to order Frank Gore’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Saints Work Out Dajleon Farr

While Jeremy Shockey avoided suffering fractured ribs in Sunday’s win over the Carolina Panthers, the New Orleans Saints are still investigating what tight ends are on the market.

The team has kicked the tires on three free agents, according to a league source, bringing in Leroy Banks, DajLeon Farr and Dustin Mitchell for a look.

Shockey went for X-rays on Sunday after he caught a touchdown pass from Drew Brees on the 500th reception of his career. If Shockey misses time, it will probably mean more action for impressive rookie Jimmy Graham. Still, the Saints could be looking to cover themselves if Shockey misses some time.

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Though his Giants career is over, Sinorice Moss says he has plenty of football ahead

Sinorice Moss was wearing a black hoodie with all-black sunglasses as he stepped out of his black Dodge Magnum with its black tinted windows.

Despite his appearance, Moss claimed he was not mourning the death of his Giants career as he stepped into the team’s facility for what might have been the last time.

“I’m definitely disappointed,” the 2006 second-round pick said one day after being waived by the team off injured reserve. “It’s somewhere I got my start. They drafted me, so I wanted to finish my career here.

“Things happen, but God has a plan for everything. I’m getting back healthy, so I know I’ll be somewhere real soon.”

Moss cleared waivers Wednesday, officially making him a free agent after five disappointing seasons with the Giants that included only 39 receptions for 421 yards and three touchdowns in 37 regular-season games. Less than three months removed from surgery to repair a sports hernia, Moss says he’s close to being fully healthy and that he has a few “feelers” out there with teams that might be interested.

Moss has some reputation rebuilding to do, though. He started that Wednesday by claiming he did what he could with the opportunities he was given with the Giants. As he’s done in the past, Moss stated he often didn’t believe he got a fair shake with the team.

“Sometimes I did feel that way,” he said. “I didn’t complain about it. Sometimes I expressed I was upset about it. But every time they gave me an opportunity I went out and made plays for this team.”

Moss still believes he’s the player who interested teams with his play in college at Miami, where he caught 57 balls for 965 yards and nine touchdowns in his final two seasons combined.

The Giants certainly were interested enough to trade up 12 spots to select him, though Moss admits that was a different person than the one he’s become.

“When I came in I was a young boy, so I’m mature and I understand the business in whole and understand the things that are necessary for a professional athlete to do when he’s a part of a team,” he said. “It’s not about me, it’s not about me at all when I’m a part of a team. I want to go into whatever organization I get an opportunity to go to and make them believers in me.

“Whatever they’ve seen in the past, whether it’s watching film, seeing me in college, just make them a believer and let them know I’m still capable of doing those things.”

Moss has plenty of doubters and he realizes there are those who believe he’ll never come within a whiff of the success his brother Santana has realized. But he believes his battling injuries and being stuck on the bench or the inactive list has strengthened his resolve.

As did the news he received on Tuesday when he was waived – something he didn’t expect. Cutting Moss freed the Giants from paying the weekly installments of his $1.176-million contract.

“A lot of people on the outside don’t know exactly what’s going on with the athlete,” Moss said. “All they do is see us on Sundays and see us doing all these different things and say everything is going well.

“So the first thing I did, being injured already and going through the surgery, I just prayed. That’s what helped me get through these past couple of years and that’s what’s going to help me get through my future."

A future that could soon lead him elsewhere.

“I’ve dedicated a lot and put a lot into this team,” he said. “And when I had the opportunity to make some plays, I made plays for this team. You can never doubt that.

“Hey, I’m disappointed I’m not here anymore. But I’ll be somewhere soon and playing football very well.”

Click here to order Sinorice Moss’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Lions’ Joe McGrath gets last laugh on Eskimos

VANCOUVER — So when exactly did the B.C. Lions find the Midas touch this CFL season?

It’s difficult to pinpoint, but maybe it was when they acquired right tackle Joe McGrath.

The Lions were 1-7 without McGrath. They went 7-3 after he became a starter.

McGrath, signed by the Lions on Aug. 19 after being released by the Edmonton Eskimos, said he was struck by the Lions’ sense of determination and desire, even when there was a void in discipline, execution and results.

“The true character of a person, the true character of a football team, doesn’t come out when you’re winning, it comes out when you’re losing,” McGrath said. “When I came here, I didn’t see a team that was bitter, fighting among themselves, or giving up.”

McGrath cited the situation with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, who on Monday fired Wade Phillips as coach after a 1-7 start.

“Some of the Cowboys on the sportscast (Monday) were saying their season was over, it wasn’t going to happen,” McGrath said. “This is a team that’s supposed to be the cream of crop in the NFL. I didn’t see that here. We could have folded our tent when people wrote us off. We could have bought into that, if we’d believed it.”

McGrath was cut loose by the Eskimos for supposedly being “too soft,” so perhaps no Lion drew greater satisfaction in watching the emotionally fragile Esks melt down against the Saskatchewan Roughriders last Saturday, hours after the Lions had beaten the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 23-21. The Lions needed to beat Hamilton and hope for an Eskimos loss in order to make the post-season.

The Eskimos blew a 16-5 lead in losing 31-23 to the Roughriders, handing third place in the West Division to the Lions.

“When I watched that game, I could see a team that lacked confidence,” McGrath said of his former club. “Our team may have lacked execution at times, but it didn’t lack confidence. The first day I got here, I knew this was a totally different team, totally different teammates.

“What this team is capable of doing was not always evident. But over the last 10 games, we could have been 9-1, maybe 10-0, if we hadn’t given a couple of games away. We still finished strong, and the hottest team going into the playoffs usually prevails.”

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Antonio Dixon offers a classic lesson in perseverance

When young Antonio Dixon spoke, he did so with his fists.

Because when he did open his mouth, the words just wouldn't come out. Or a long, laborious struggle to get through a sentence would ensue, and that only worsened the plight for Dixon as his peers — as youngsters are wont to do — taunted him unmercifully for his stuttering.

Since he couldn't respond with a quick comeback or even a "Shut up!" he took matters into his own hands.

"I got into so many fights," Dixon said recently. "I wouldn't cry. But I'd fight and then I would cry. I got so many suspensions. I got into so many fights because people were picking on me. Because kids will keep picking and keep picking and keep picking, and I ain't the type to take it for too long."

Eventually — probably in high school, Dixon said, when football saved his life — the taunting ended. But the speech impediment remains.

Dixon has overcome a lot in his 25 years — poverty, homelessness, illiteracy and the drug problems of his parents — to get where he is as a starting defensive tackle for the Eagles. But the stutter he said he's had "ever since I was born" is a constant reminder of his past.

Though the taunting has stopped, the teasing has not.

"Whenever I meet new people, they make fun of me a few times," Dixon said. "But once they get to know me, they don't do it as much because they know I'm a cool person. It happened during college ... and when I came to the Redskins, and here (with the Eagles) it was also the same way.

"But I got used to it and I don't get mad because I would probably laugh, too, a couple of times."

Dixon's stutter is at its worst when he is nervous, and he's especially anxious when he is being interviewed. So the answers take some time to get out and are interrupted with chest-pounding, hand-clapping, and foot-stomping as he spits out the words.

But through it all, Dixon flashes a wide smile without showing a hint of self-consciousness.

"I know he knows he does it, but he's in a good place with it," Eagles safety Quintin Mikell said. "We do kind of joke around with him about it, but I've never seen anybody overly joke with him about it.

"I know that he'd rather not, but it's not like he gets mad, which is impressive. Not a lot of people can do that. Some people are real sensitive."

Dixon's life would be a success story even if he hadn't reached the NFL. He was born into poverty in Miami, his father sent to prison for 17 years for selling crack, his mother addicted to cocaine and sent to rehab.

Dixon and his siblings were sent to an orphanage, and then spent time in homeless shelters after his mother, Corenthia "Peaches" Dixon, kicked her addiction.

"Antonio's had to overcome some things just in his life," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "He has a speech impediment, and so on, and he's worked through that and he's one of the team favorites, just as far as being a person."

Catching the coach's eye

Personality and a good story can keep you around only for so long.

Reid has acknowledged taking a liking to Dixon. He always has his pet projects. When the Eagles acquired the undrafted rookie off waivers from Washington last August, the 6-foot-3 Dixon weighed 325 pounds. But it was a chubby 325.

"The first time I came here, the first thing (Reid) told me was to keep my weight under control and not try to prove anything," said Dixon, who once weighed 370 pounds in college at Miami. "He was real hard on me during practices, but I knew that was a good thing, because a coach doesn't have to say nothing to you. But when he tells you something to do, it might be because he sees something in you."

Dixon had a few moments as a reserve a year ago, but it wasn't as if he had earned a roster spot for 2010. The Eagles like their defensive tackles on the leaner, quicker side, and Dixon went to work on his transformation.

"He really worked in the off-season about keeping his weight down and kind of reforming his body," Reid said, "and it's paying off for him."
Dixon started the season in the reserve defensive tackle rotation. But when Brodrick Bunkley injured his elbow at San Francisco, Dixon got more playing time. In the three-plus games since he's been the team's anchor against the run, he has recorded 15 tackles and two sacks.

Even though Bunkley returned Sunday against the Colts, Dixon remained the starter.

The defensive starters have adopted him as one of their own.

"He's a lovable guy — you know what I mean?" linebacker Moise Fokou said. "He's like a big teddy bear."

A reminder

Dixon isn't the only Eagle with a speech impediment. Fokou said he stammers occasionally when he gets excited. Winston Justice said a stutter kept him from barely speaking as a youngster. He used to watch his father, Gary Justice, give rousing speeches as the pastor of a church.

"I just used to envy all the people that got in front of crowds," the Eagles tackle said. "For instance, my dad used to give a lot of speeches. I wasn't really that close with him, but I always used to envy that about him."

Justice, who grew up in Southern California, said he would avoid being called on in school, stayed clear of large gatherings, and isolated himself.

"That's how I got into writing, because it's really a big problem," said Justice, who writes a weekly column for the Philadelphia Daily News. "People don't think it's a really big problem. But, really, when you can't communicate with other human beings normally, it kind of hurts."

Justice said that taking mandatory speech classes in high school made him realize that his problem had a cure. He continued to take private lessons when he went to Southern California for college, and still does to this day.

"I knew it was something I wanted to get better at, because I wanted to be able to speak in front of large crowds," said Justice, who recently became the Eagles' union representative. "I wanted to be able to go to schools and talk to kids, and I couldn't do that with a stutter."

When Dixon joined the Eagles, Justice noticed his speech problem immediately and said he offered words of encouragement. Dixon, though, stopped taking speech classes long ago and said he has no intention of resuming them.

"From third grade to my senior year, I had speech classes every day," said Dixon, whose dyslexia had something to do with his not learning to read until the sixth grade. "I hated it. I had to go, like, three, four hours a day. They used to come in and take me from my classroom so I could go to speech therapy. I hated speech therapy. But it helped me a lot because I couldn't say, like, two words."

Professional athletes are expected to be the best at their crafts, but they're also expected to naturally handle many off-the-field tasks — such as talking to the media.

"I used to be real quiet and reserved, but I was a communications major in college, and so I did a lot of speeches," Mikell said. "But even with all that, when I came to the NFL it was still weird for me because you have to talk in front of cameras."

Recently, Dixon was asked to appear on a local television station. He took his girlfriend, Vanessa Williams, along for the taping, and "she was like, 'I didn't know you stuttered like that.' "

It's one of the few reminders of his difficult childhood. His mother has been clean for years and now works at one of the Miami shelters where her family once lived. His father, Frazier Hawkins, was released from prison last year, and the two communicate daily.

Dixon, who is in the second year of a three-year contract he originally signed with the Washington Redskins, is homeless no more. He lives near Penn's Landing and plans to buy a house in South Jersey with Williams.

Did his stutter ever hinder his luck with girls?

"Yeah, a little, but it didn't affect me that much," Dixon said with a sly grin.

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Jon Beason bemoans loss of injured players

CHARLOTTE – Panthers linebacker and team leader Jon Beason has a special place in his heart for all three of his teammates who learned Monday that they're out for the season, and Beason's heart goes out to each of them.

"It's an unfortunate situation," Beason said. "I think it's a reflection of the season."

Beason lost two of his fellow linebackers, Dan Connor and Thomas Davis, and the Panthers lost starting quarterback Matt Moore. Connor (hip) and Moore (shoulder) were hurt during last Sunday's 34-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints, while Davis (knee) saw his hope of coming off the physically unable to perform list come to an end.

The casualty list got longer Tuesday, when right tackle Jeff Otah (knee) headed to injured reserve.

In the case of Connor -- whom Beason said had been playing "lights out" in his first year as a starter -- Beason said he'd been aware of the Penn State product's ability before the Panthers even picked him in the third round of the 2008 draft.

"I've always been a big fan of his, even back in college," Beason said. "I wasn't big on watching other teams, but Paul Posluszny was the hype, so I watched him a little bit and I'm like, ‘Who is this No. 40 guy?' I thought he was the guy.

"When we drafted him, I was like, ‘Wow, he's a Mike,'" Beason continued, pointing out that Connor played the middle linebacker position that Beason was playing. "But it's funny how the NFL pans out. Guys get hurt, and we have to shuffle things. That's why you always draft best available, and I definitely think he was a steal for us in the third round."

The shuffle that put Beason and Connor in the starting lineup at the same time – with Beason shifting to the weakside role – came about when Davis suffered his second knee injury in less than a year over the summer. Davis was working toward a possible return this season, but the Panthers decided against activating him.

"I think it's a smart move," Beason said. "We dreamed about doing this when we were little kids, and that's why a lot of guys play hurt, play through pain. Thomas is definitely one of those guys that wants to play. That was evident in how hard he rehabbed, and he looked good.

"But I think that for him and his family – and for this football team – it was a smart move, even though I'd like to see him out there playing with me."

While Beason knew about Connor before Connor joined the Panthers, and he knew about Davis – his NFL elder by two seasons – Beason knew nothing about Moore when he joined the team.

That's one of the reasons Beason admires Moore.

"He's one of my favorite guys in terms of just watching him deal with everything," Beason said. "He came in undrafted, then he's released by the Cowboys, and we pick him up. This guy gets hurt and that guy gets hurt, they bring someone out of retirement, and then all of a sudden we go to this guy who technically isn't supposed to play.

"He plays well and makes the team the next year, and then he had to step up again because of injuries and plays well against some great defenses. Then this year, he battled back from being put down to second string. Man, he's resilient."

Beason described the loss of Moore as "a tough pill to swallow," another dose of reality for a reeling team.

Still, Beason doesn't think the loss of one player – or in this case multiple players – means that the Panthers simply have to take their medicine over the second half of the season that starts with Sunday's game at Tampa.

"We are a team, but I think that individually, guys have to look at themselves right now and just say, ‘What can I do to be better?'" Beason said. "If we can do that collectively, we can get on a roll.

"The beauty of it is that there's another opportunity Sunday. It's 60 minutes. It's zero-zero. That's how you have to look at it."

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James Jones to be re-evaluated Thursday

James Jones who injured his back in the Heat’s Tuesday night loss to the Utah Jazz will be re-evaluated prior to Thursday's tilt with the Celtics.

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UM Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2011

The UM Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2011 was introduced at the Miami-Maryland game on Saturday...L to R  HOF president Tod Roy, diver Daphne Jongejans-Bousquet, football's Dan Morgan, diver Tyce Routson and current Washington Redskins player Santana Moss....unable to attend were baseball's Bobby Hill, former women's tennis coach Ian Duvenhage, NCAA track champion Yolanda McCray and current Indianapolis Colts star Reggie Wayne ! The 43rd annual UM Sports Hall of Fame Induction Banquet will take place in the Spring.  Go to  for details. (photo courtesy UM Sports Hall of Fame)

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Sinorice Moss Released By Giants

NY Giants WR Sinorice Moss, who was on IR since the preseason after suffering a sports hernia, was released allegedly with a injury settlement. Moss who is currently rehabbing will be free to sign with any team this upcoming offseason.

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Sam Shields Is The Kickoff Returner

When I saw this play on Sunday night, my first thought was it's CB Sam Shields and my second thought was don't fumble!

Mike McCarthy confirmed on Monday that Shields is the kick returner going forward. It's a back to the future moment. When Shields was signed in April, I said that he could only make the team as a special teams return man. His lightning fast rise from undrafted college wide receiver to starting nickelback as a rookie is a remarkable story. But as good as he's been on defense, he was lousy as a kick returner in the preseason as he showed off the bad hands that made his coaches convert him from offense to defense. 

If the coaches think Shields is their best option on kick returns, I'll believe them. He's shown the ability in the past and CB Pat Lee (when healthy) and WR Jordy Nelson haven't done anything in the return game. But watch out for the turnovers. 

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The Ed Reed effect

Ed Reed is pretty good at football, and we knew that he would make the Ravens defense better when he returned from the PUP list. But even coach John Harbaugh was surprised to find out that after playing in just two games, the bearded ball-hawk leads the Ravens in interceptions.

"I didn’t realize that, but I’m always impressed with Ed Reed," Harbaugh told reporters Monday. "Obviously, he’s a great football player. He’s worked really hard, I think, to get himself prepared for the time he was going to come back. ... I’ve always said it many times: I think he’s going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and that’s the way he’s playing.”

Reed picked off Chad Henne in the fourth quarter of Sunday's victory over the Dolphins and he intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick twice in the Ravens' Week 7 win against the Bills, giving him three of the team's eight interceptions this season. Five other players have one interception each.

Reed was asked Sunday if he's good for an interception a game. He responded, "I’m trying. I certainly hope we can. I was in the right spot at the right time. I caught it, and I just took it down.”

It also should be noted that with interceptions from cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Josh Wilson against the Dolphins, the Ravens have five since Reed's return. They had three in their previous six games.

Two weeks into the season, the Ravens ranked last in the NFL in turnover differential at minus-six (in large part due to Joe Flacco's struggles). They are now plus-one after Sunday's three-interception performance, the first time they have been a plus in that stat category in 2010. Coincidence?

No wonder NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders on Sunday called Reed "the best safety in the game." Steelers fans will make a case for Troy Polamalu -- one of the NFL's great debates -- but I doubt they will deny the positive effect that a healthy Reed has had on the Ravens secondary.

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Clinton Portis sore after full-speed workout

Redskins running back Clinton Portis elaborated on his health Tuesday at a Redskins community event, saying he suffered swelling in his injured groin muscle after Monday's workout and expects to be a game-time decision for the Nov. 15 game against Philadelphia.

"I may be able to be ready for Monday, but I feel like it's a work in progress," Portis said Tuesday. "I got some work done yesterday, as you all seen. But I think it's swelling today. I got the rest of the week to try to get right and make sure I'm going to be 100 percent."

Portis suffered the injury Oct. 3 against the Eagles and hasn't played since. His first full-speed workout since was on Monday and he said he woke up sore Tuesday.

"Running full-speed for the first time, they had already told me the symptoms that was going to come out of it," Portis said. "It's not a shock."

Earlier in the day, Portis said on his weekly appearance on "The Mike Wise Show" on WJFK that he was "working" to get back for Monday. But Portis also said he feels no pressure to return for the Eagles game.

"The good thing about it is no one is rushing me back," Portis said at the community event. "I think Coach Shanahan knows what type of injury this is. He kind of told me to calm down yesterday. I think he seen the excitement in my eyes from being back on the field, and he kind of called me off yesterday and was like, 'Don't overdo it.'"

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Biggest disappointment for Cardinals defense: DE Calais Campbell

After finishing 2009 with seven sacks, Campbell appeared primed for a monster season. He looked great in training camp and during the preseason. It didn't seem outlandish to think he could equal Darnell Dockett's production. But Campbell has struggled through much of the season and has been sharing time with Branch over the past month. In his third season, Campbell is young, but he hasn't taken the step expected of him.

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Clinton Portis says he hopes to play Monday night vs. Eagles

Running back Clinton Portis, who has missed half the season because of an injury, is "working" in hopes of playing this week as Washington plays host to Philadelphia on Monday night at FedEx Field, he said during a radio interview Tuesday.

In his weekly appearance on 106.7 The Fan's The Mike Wise Show with Holden Kushner, Portis, who last played on Oct. 3 against the Eagles in Washington's 17-12 victory at Lincoln Financial Field, said his intention is to join his teammates for the big-stage game.

"I would say I'm working," Portis said. "I'm working on getting back, man. I'm trying to get there. I'm trying to be ready for Monday night."

Because of their concerns about depth at running back, the Redskins would welcome back Portis as soon as possible. The nine-year veteran has been sidelined since he suffered a severe groin tear during the Week 4 victory against the Philadelphia Eagles.

He returned to practice on the final day of work before the Redskins began their bye week, and practiced Monday as the Redskins returned. Coach Mike Shanahan has declined to offer a timetable for Portis's return to the field, though signs have pointed to Portis trying to rejoin the lineup for this week's NFC East matchup.

Second-year running back Ryan Torain has been productive in place of Portis, rushing for 391 yards (with a 4.3-yard average) in six games, including four starts since Portis was sidelined. Torain rushed for at least 100 yards in consecutive games, accomplishing the feat in Weeks 6 and 7.

But the hard-running, injury-prone back sat out the second half of the Week 8 loss to Detroit because of a hamstring injury. Rookie Keiland Williams was the Redskins' only active back in the final two quarters at Ford Field.

Chad Simpson, who contributes primarily on special teams, has been slowed recently by a hamstring problem. James Davis, recently signed to the practice squad, could be promoted this week to help in the backfield.

Davis apparently has drawn interest from other teams, so the Redskins may have to sign him to the 53-man active roster - if not this week then soon - to retain him. Selected in the sixth round (195th overall) by Cleveland in the 2009 draft, Davis said he has quickly learned Shanahan's offense because he played in a similar system at Clemson.

Even late in his career, Portis is considered among the league's best backs at picking up blitzes. In the four games Portis has sat out, quarterback Donovan McNabb has been sacked 16 times, including a season-high six times in the 37-25 loss in Week 8 to Detroit (the Lions had seven sacks in the game).

McNabb was sacked only six times in the first four games. Only Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler (28 sacks) has been sacked more than McNabb.

"I can't sit and say I would be the savior" in pass protection, Portis said. "I think it's a different mind-set of guys rushing [the quarterback] when I'm in the backfield compared to when I'm not. ... But as a team, we got to protect Donovan.

"You've got to protect Donovan McNabb. You can't have him on his back. You can't have him shell-shocked."

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Could BoSox be a fit for Ryan Braun?

During an appearance on NESN's "Hot Stove Live" on Tuesday, Peter Gammons suggested that the Red Sox could be a fit if the Brewers decide to trade Ryan Braun.

We just don't see it happening. Braun, who turns 27 later this month, is locked up through 2015 with a very reasonable contract. Besides, if both Braun and Prince Fielder end up elsewhere, they might as well close up shop in Milwaukee. Move along, nothing to see here.

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Tavares Gooden replaces Ellerbe in the nickel

ILB Tavares Gooden replaced Dannell Ellerbe in the Ravens' nickel package Sunday.

Ellerbe was a surprising healthy scratch. Gooden ended up with just one tackle, but his troublesome shoulder emerged from the game healthy.

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Jimmy Graham scores first TD in return home

New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham is a Carolina guy, and he had quite a homecoming Sunday.

Graham caught three passes for 49 yards and included in that total was his first NFL touchdown, a 19-yard grab in the second quarter that put New Orleans ahead 14-3. Graham ran to the stadium wall and tried to flip the ball into the stands, but avoided the league fine that comes with that postscore gesture when the ball hit the rail and fell back to the turf.

"That was a fake," Graham insisted. "I was going to jump and I faked and gave them a little finger roll. I actually still have the ball in my possession."

Understandably, Graham was beaming after the game, which was witnessed by many members of his adopted family led by Becky Vinson, a nurse who took Graham in as a boy after his mother had abandoned him at a youth home.

"For me, I'm from North Carolina, and to come back and get a big win like that, and to catch a deep pass from Drew Brees is every bit as amazing as I thought it would be," he said. "Rebecca Vinson and my little sister and Miss Karena (Vinson's daughter), and it's amazing to have them get to experience that with me."

Graham has never sentimentalized or avoided the details of his upbringing, which saw him rise above situations that have wrecked many to become a University of Miami graduate who was honored at commencement by the school president before becoming a third-round pick by the Saints in April.

But there are happy endings, and he got one Sunday.

"Obviously, (Vinson) helped give me ... and saved me in high school, and now for her to be here for this special moment was priceless."

All indications, however, are that Graham will have more such special moments. He got his first start against the Carolina Panthers, and he appears to be a growing part of the Saints' offense as his football smarts increase and he becomes more comfortable with the system.
Brees said as much when asked about the rookie's breakout performance.

"I'm happy for him," Brees said. "He's a guy whose role continues to grow within the offense. He's a really talented player who is kind of young and green, but I think you see flashes like that of a guy who can really be a big-play guy in this offense. And I think for him to just continue to grind along and learn and take advantage of every opportunity he gets, but I was happy for him today."

Graham, typically, remained humble.

"I just wait until my number's called, and I know that I'm there on special teams and I'm there to back up (Jeremy) Shockey," he said. "I just take every bit that I can from him and learn from him and hopefully each game I can take a step forward and help us win games."

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Javarris James answers call for Colts

PHILADELPHIA -- It was a full day's work for Indianapolis Colts running backs Donald Brown and Javarris James on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.

Yet it wasn't enough.

With leading rusher Joseph Addai and reserve Mike Hart back home in Indianapolis nursing injuries, the Colts leaned heavily on Brown and James. Brown rushed 15 times for 50 yards and added 47 yards on three receptions. James had 12 yards and two touchdowns on four carries.

"I'd rather have the win than the two touchdowns," James said after the Colts came up short against the Philadelphia Eagles 26-24. "When you don't win, nothing else matters."

The undrafted rookie is the first James to rush for two touchdowns in a game since cousin Edgerrin ran for two in a 45-37 win at Cincinnati on Nov. 20, 2005.

Brown and James provided the Colts with some offensive balance early. While the team was scratching its way to a 17-16 halftime lead, the running game produced 38 yards on 10 carries.

But in the second half, the Colts managed just 24 yards on nine carries.

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Ed Reed leads Ravens in interceptions after two games

In just two games, Ed Reed already leads the Ravens in interceptions, collecting his third of the season in the team's 26-10 win against the Miami Dolphins this Sunday.

In fact, the six-time Pro Bowl free safety has almost as many interceptions as the rest of his teammates, who have four between cornerbacks Chris Carr and Lardarius Webb, inside linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ken Hamlin.

After Sunday's contest, NFL Network analyst and former Ravens cornerback Deion Sanders called Reed "the best safety in the game."

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he remains continually impressed by Reed, who missed the entire preseason and the first six games after undergoing hip surgery in the offseason.

"Obviously, he's a great football player," Harbaugh said. "He's worked really hard on getting himself prepared for the time when he was going to come back, and you guys saw how hard he was working. I think it's a tribute to him, the kind of person he is, how important it is to him, and the caliber of player he is. I've said it many times: I think he's going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and that's the way he's playing."

On Sunday, Reed was the recipient of a high pass from Miami quarterback Chad Henne that deflected off wide receiver Brandon Marshall's fingers in the fourth quarter. He returned the interception 18 yards to the Dolphins' 18-yard line, and the offense converted it into a Billy Cundiff 24-yard field goal.

"I was in the right spot at the right time," Reed said. "I caught it, and I just took it down."

During the return, Reed almost pulled off what has become a patented move for him, appearing ready to lateral the football to Ray Lewis as the Miami players began to close around him. But Reed reconsidered and held onto the ball.

"If I was ever pitching it, I have to be smart in that situation," he said. "We had great field position, and the offense was doing a great job moving the ball, so I just have to be smart with it."

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Jon Beason back at middle linebacker

Jon Beason will move back to middle linebacker with Dan Connor (hip) out for the season.

Beason's IDP production should get a spike. He'll have more opportunities for interceptions and his tackle numbers will rise as well. Beason piled up 142 tackles and three interceptions as the Panthers' middle linebacker a year ago. It's unclear who will fill the weak-side spot going forward.

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Payton says Jeremy Shockey could return after bye

METAIRIE, La. ― Saints Head Coach Sean Payton said the four players who left Sunday’s 34-3 win over Carolina could return as soon as next week when the team returns from its bye week break.

But the one who could be out longer is tight end Jeremy Shockey, who suffered bruised ribs when he was hit from behind on his touchdown catch in the second quarter.

Shockey, though, could be considered the most questionable of the group.

Payton said the tight end was taken to the hospital where he was checked out to make sure he didn’t have worse internal injuries. Though the tests came back negative, Payton said Shockey will have to rest and stay away from getting hit in the near term.

“Resting that is going to be important,” Payton said. “Padding it and avoiding contact to that area.”

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Derrick Morse Heads to Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, FLA - The Jacksonville Sharks announce the addition of offensive and defensive lineman Derrick Morse to the 2011 roster.

Morse (6'5, 310, Miami) heads to Jacksonville after a stint in both the NFL and UFL after a standout career at the University of Miami (FL). Morse was recently released from contract with the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the UFL. Prior to being with the Mountain Lions, Morse saw action in four preseason games with the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free-agent in 2008.

Starting 29 games in his five-year collegiate career, Morse was an All-ACC honorable mention as well as being the recipient of coach-given awards for commitment, leadership and consistency. Morse played in three consecutive bowl games, including a 27-10 victory over the Florida Gators in the 2004 Peach Bowl.

Morse was a consensus choice as one of the finest offensive linemen in Florida out of Estero High School in south Florida. As a junior in 2001, recorded 74 pancake blocks in a 10-game season. He was rated the 38th best offensive lineman in the country by Allen Wallace's SuperPrep and a SuperPrep All-American. Morse was rated a Top 30 prospect by SuperPrep, Tom Lemming's Prep Football Report and the Orlando Sentinel Florida Top 100. He was also third-team selection of the Fox Sports Net All-South Team.

The Jacksonville Sharks are members of the Arena Football League (AFL). The reigning South Division Champions play all home games on Sea Best Field at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. The Sharks return to action Saturday, March 12, 2011 in Arizona to battle the Rattlers. The Sharks return home Saturday, March 19, 2011 to take on division foe Georgia Force. Season tickets for the 2011 season are now available. To reserve your season tickets, group tickets, or for more information please call (904) 621-0700.

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Packers rookie Shields comes through with strong showing

Green Bay — Opposing defenses had not picked on Green Bay rookie cornerback Sam Shields so far.

Dallas decided to take a shot.

But now that Shields has made a big play on prime-time television, future opponents will probably think twice about doing anything like that.
Shields ran stride for stride with Dallas' receiver Miles Austin in the first quarter Sunday night as quarterback Jon Kitna prepared to throw down the field.

Shields made a move to gain the inside track along the sideline on the throw and managed to box out Austin. He put himself in perfect position to wrestle the ball away for his first NFL interception.

All Shields would say was that he made a play in man-to-man coverage - "it was an opportunity" - but after chasing around another talented rookie receiver for most of the night, the play was a little bigger than that.

"That was a big-time play. They were going to go after the rookie corner with Dez Bryant up the field," said defensive coordinator Dom Capers. "And he responded.

"Those are the kind of plays that when you put those on tape, people start to think about throwing the ball out there. Because if they don't think a corner can play the ball, then they think the worst thing that can happen is an incompletion. But if all of a sudden they think that he's got as good of a chance of getting it as the receiver, then they think twice about it."

Green Bay used that possession to score with a touchdown by Brandon Jackson. It was the 15th straight game in which the Packers have scored a touchdown off a turnover at home - the longest such streak in the NFL.

Shields contributed to an overall cause as well because the Packers have been trying to generate more turnovers. In this game, Shields and Clay Matthews added to the total.

Shields also broke up a pass, had a tackle and a hit on the quarterback. He even returned a kickoff - his first - for 49 yards.

"I played pretty good," said Shields. "There's just some little things I've got to work on. I'm going to just go home and chill with my family and come back to work."

But now the Packers have to decide Shields' role.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy is going to stick to his plan of making a decision Monday whether to activate or release veteran cornerback Al Harris, or place him on injured reserve for the rest of the season. Harris suffered a devastating knee injury in Week 11 last season and spent the first six weeks of this season on the physically unable to perform list.

Harris has said he's ready to play. If he comes back he would almost certainly be the nickel corner.

Shields has been having a quiet but strong season when he's played in the nickel next to Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson as starting corners. He's been a pleasant surprise for coaches, who watched Shields ascend the depth chart throughout training camp.

He said he is willing to accept whatever decision the coaches make and wasn't sure what way they were leaning.

"Whatever they want me to do to help the team," said Shields. "I'm just going to keep doing what I have to do."

He also knows if teams do decide to attack Green Bay's secondary starting with Shields, it will probably be because he is 5-foot-11 and 184 pounds.

He missed a few plays against Dallas as well. He said he had a good play on the ball but couldn't get it out of Bryant's hands on a 41-yard reception.

The big one was getting beat on Dallas' lone touchdown. Kitna threw a perfect shot over the head of Shields to the 6-2 Bryant in the left corner of the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown.

"I thought I played pretty good coverage; it was just a throw and catch," Shields said. "But as a DB you just have to forget about it and go to the next play."

Capers wouldn't put it all on him. He sent the blitz, and Matthews was screaming upfield for Kitna. He put a hit on the quarterback and missed him for a sack by a second.

"Well, we came with a blitz there," said Capers. "That's one of those that, when you look back on it as the signal caller, you say: Wish we would have doubled him. You're rolling the dice a little bit. I thought we could get Clay free on that. He came free and unfortunately Kitna got the ball up, and Bryant is going to win a lot on jump-ball situations like that."

Had Dallas not scored, the Packers would have put up back-to-back shutouts. Last week they held the New York Jets scoreless. But in a game in which the Packers crushed Dallas, 45-7, Shields could head to the bye week knowing he had made more good plays than lapses, and he was happy for that.

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Clinton Portis in pads, but return remain uncertain

The Washington Redskins' top two running backs both were in pads today in the team's first practice after the bye week, but coach Mike Shanahan said that it's hard to say if either would be available for the Monday Night Football meeting with the Philadelphia Eagles next week.
Portis had missed the last four games with a third-degree groin separation but appeared to move well while going through running and pass-catching drills today.

When asked about the progression of the running backs, Shanahan said he'll have a better idea of their availability later this week.

"We'll get a better feel over the next few days," Shanahan said. "Tomorrow is a day off and then Wednesday's an extra day. Thursday is really our first full day of gameplanning and preparation. We'll have a better idea on Thursday."

It appears likely that the Redskins this week will promote running back James Davis from the practice squad. Davis, a sixth-round pick out of Clemson in 2009, was signed by Washington on Oct. 27 and already the coaching staff is very high on Davis.

Davis was with the Browns this preseason rushing for a team-high 103 yards on 26 carries, and this season he appeared in four games and had four carries for nine yards.

Click here to order Clinton Portis’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Bills lose Roscoe Parrish for Season

Not only have the Buffalo Bills been losing games, they just lost two significant players to injuries.

Starting receiver Roscoe Parrish won't play again this season after sustaining a right wrist injury in Buffalo's 22-19 loss to the Chicago Bears in Toronto on Sunday, and starting inside linebacker Andra Davis is done for the year because of a nagging shoulder injury that he originally sustained in the season-opening loss to Miami.

Parrish, who finished with 33 catches and a career-high 400 receiving yards, will need surgery to repair the damage.

"You don't just replace guys that have been that productive," coach Chan Gailey said Monday. "It's an opportunity for somebody else to step up."
Parrish was hurt on Buffalo's next to last drive. On third-and-10 from the Chicago 44 with 2:31 left in regulation, he dove along the right sidelines to try and haul in Ryan Fitzpatrick's pass, and wound up falling awkwardly on the wrist.

It's the same wrist that forced Parrish to miss the first six games of his rookie season in 2005 when he broke it during training camp.

Parrish's injury is a blow to an offence that has been improving. The diminutive receiver had emerged as a solid option for Fitzpatrick after a forgettable 2009 in which he had only three receptions. Parrish was also Buffalo's best punt returner, averaging just under 11 yards on 12 returns this year. He came into the season with the fourth-highest punt return average (12.2 yards) in NFL history.

Gailey said the team will consider all of its options before either promoting Naaman Roosevelt, a Buffalo native, or Paul Hubbard from the practice squad, or simply signing a free agent to replace Parrish.

"We'll see what the best fit might be for us at this point," Gailey said.

Click here to order Roscoe Parrish’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Devin Hester to Kickoff Returns. Now.

The following is a column I have written about 92 times.

The Bears converted Devin Hester to wide receiver because they wanted him to touch the ball more than the half dozen times a game he would on special teams.  (He has 25 touches on offense this season, a tad more than 3 a game).  They wanted to use his speed to stretch defenses vertically, keep defensive linemen honest with the occasional end around and get him the ball in the open field - where he's most dangerous.  They were willing to abandon the game-changing skill and crowd-inspiring thrill his returns provided on an almost-weekly basis.  And the Bears did get their speedy wide receiver.  They drafted Johnny Knox with the 140th overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft.

Knox and Hester are essentially the same player with the same skill set and playing them both is becoming an exercise in redundancy.  Knox is a more accomplished route runner.  Knox is a better threat down the field.  Knox has more reliable hands.  Knox is, quite obviously, a better wide receiver than Hester.  And you know why?  Because he's been playing wide receiver for a much longer time.

And if the argument has been that Devin Hester no longer returns kickoffs as a means of concentrating his attention on playing receiver, I'm advocating instituting that policy for Knox.  The rotation of Danieal Manning and Johnny Knox on kickoff returns has been reliable and damn good but it lacks the electricity and coach-defying presence of Devin Hester.  Teams used to boot the ball out of bounds to avoid Hester.  They would dribble these nonsense kicks to the thirty.  Hester not only dominated on Sunday.  He dominated Tuesday through Saturday in opposing meeting rooms.

I've been fighting this fight for too long now and I'll never stop.  Devin Hester is the greatest kick returner in the history of the NFL.  Every time someone else in a Bears uniform returns a kickoff it should be considered a poor in-game decision by Lovie Smith.  Every time an opposing coach is able to kick the ball off to our deep man without worry, it should be considered a poor game-planning maneuver by Lovie Smith.  For me, the decision to move Devin Hester off kick returns is the defining decision of the Lovie Smith tenure.  And if Lovie is serious about this new Era of Accountability, he should start by recognizing his own mistake and move Hester back to the goal line against the Minnesota Vikings.  The three touches he might have are not reward enough to risk cloaking his all-world ability.  

Make the right decision, Lovie.  It might just be the decision that earns you a new a contract.

Click here to order Devin Hester’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Ray Lewis: 99 percent of players would vote against Thursday games

Ray Lewis said he isn't alone in wanting to end Thursday night games.

The Ravens play at the Atlanta Falcons in the first Thursday game of the season, which comes four days after their win over Miami. According to the Ravens middle linebacker, the quick turnaround is taxing on players mentally (there are fewer days to prepare) and physically (there are fewer days to recover).

"You do it because it’s part of the business," Lewis said. "But I’m almost guaranteeing that 99 percent of us would vote against that."

The Ravens typically have a light workout and watch film on Monday before taking off Tuesday. This week, the team will practice Monday and Tuesday before getting on a flight Wednesday.

Lewis said losing that day for travel on an already short week puts the visiting team at a disadvantage. He also said Thursday games are "not fair at all" to the players.

"It goes back to the 18-game schedule," Lewis said. "You have to ask yourself a real question when you schedule games like this: Who does it help? Because it doesn’t help the players. That turnaround is just too quick. You go from playing a physical game on Sunday and you have less than four days before you have to physically get back up again. It takes a week for guys to really heal."

Lewis added, "I don’t know when they put it in but I’ve never liked it."

Click here to order Ray Lewis’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Greg Olsen beats Bills -- and Bennett -- for TD

TORONTO -- Greg Olsen had to beat a determined defender to the football on his 4-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter.

Unfortunately, that defender was Bears wide receiver Earl Bennett, who almost accidentally prevented his own teammate from hauling in the first score of the game and a 7-0 Bears lead.

"We just ended up getting two guys in the same area," Olsen said. "He thought I was the defender. I don't know what happened, but it was a good thing we ended up scoring a touchdown. He thought I was coming up over his back trying to interfere, so he got up looking for a penalty. Then he realized it was me. It worked out."

The Bears talked openly during the week of wanting to get Olsen more involved in the game plan against the Bills. The tight end was targeted a team-high eight times, and finished with three catches for 29 yards, including the touchdown.

Olsen also came up with a big third-down catch in the fourth quarter that helped set up Bennett's winning touchdown grab.

"We were hoping for a man look on that play, but they didn't; they zoned out," Olsen said. "Then it becomes a point of just trying to get open and find a clear path between you and the quarterback. The offensive line kept Jay [Cutler] really clean on that play, and gave him a lot of time to allow us to work. Fortunately, we were able to pick up that big third down there on that drive where we needed a touchdown. Give those offensive linemen and Jay credit."

Click here to order Greg Olsen’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Redskins Clinton Portis, Orakpo to Visit Claremont Elementary

Students at Claremont Immersion Elementary school in South Arlington will be immersed in a world of football and fitness tomorrow afternoon. The school has been chosen as the local winner of the NFL’s Play 60 Super School sweepstakes.

Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis and linebacker Brian Orakpo will make a special appearance at the school around noon to talk to students about the importance of living healthy and active lifestyles that include 60 minutes of exercise each day.

Orakpo and Portis, who has been recovering from an injury, will then lead students in an Ultimate NFL Physical Education Class.

The Redskins stars will be joined by Tanya Snyder, wife of Redskins owner Dan Snyder. Mrs. Snyder will present the school with a $10,000 check, to go toward health and wellness programming or equipment.

Click here to order Clinton Portis’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Aubrey Huff Signs On With Pat Burrell’s Agent

The return of Aubrey Huff (and possibly Pat Burrell) just got a little more probable this morning as it’s been confirmed that the Huff Daddy hired Ed Hayes to be his agent. If you recall, Huff fired his prior representation earlier this year.

Ed Hayes, based out of Philadelphia, also represents Pat Burrell in association with Scott Parker of Legacy Sports.

Late last week, Giants general manager Brian Sabean mentioned that the Giants had extended their hand to both Huff and infielder Juan Uribe in hopes of bringing them back for a 2011 season.

It should also be noted that while the Giants did decline the option on shortstop Edgar Renteria, Rent did make it clear that he will make an attempt to play in 2011 if he can find a team. The Giants have been indecisive with the media bout bringing back the World Series MVP.

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proCanes Extend TD Streak to 131 Regular Season Weeks

Did you know that a former Miami Hurricane/current proCane has scored at least one touchdown in 131 consecutive regular season NFL weeks? Dating back to Week 15 of the 2002 season where Clinton Portis scored 4 TDs, at least one proCane has scored a TD in each regular season week since then. We have chronicled every touchdown since 2002. See below:

Week 9 2010:
Willis McGahee - 1 TD - Baltimore Ravens
Jeremy Shockey - 1 TD - New Orleans Saints
Javarris James - 2 TDs - Indianapolis Colts (first career TD)
Jimmy Graham - 1 TD - New Orleans Saints (first career TD)
Greg Olsen - 1 TD - Chicago Bears
Roscoe Parrish - 1 TD - Buffalo Bills

Week 8 2010:
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco 49ers
Andre Johnson - 1 TD - Houston Texans
Reggie Wayne - 1 TD - Indianapolis Colts

Week 7 2010:
Willis McGahee - 1 TD - Baltimore Ravens
Santana Moss - 1 TD - Washington Redskins

Week 6 2010:
Devin Hester - 1 TD - Chicago Bears
Andre Johnson - 1 TD - Houston Texans

Week 5 2010:
Willis McGahee - 1 TD - Baltimore Ravens
Jeremy Shockey - 1 TD - New Orleans Saints
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco 49ers

Week 4 2010:
Willis McGahee - 1 TD - Baltimore Ravens

Week 3 2010:
Jeremy Shockey - 1 TD - New Orleans Saints
Santana Moss - 1 TD - Washington Redskins
Greg Olsen - 1 TD - Chicago Bears
Devin Hester - 1 TD - Chicago Bears

Week 2 2010:
Greg Olsen - 1 TD - Chicago Bears
Devin Hester - 1 TD - Chicago Bears
Clinton Portis - 2 TDs - Washingon Redskins
Andre Johnson - 1 TD - Houston Texans
Reggie Wayne - 1 TD - Indianapolis Colts
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco 49ers

Week 1 2010:
Reggie Wayne - 1 TD - Indianapolis Colts
Roscoe Parrish - 1 TD - Buffalo Bills
Willis McGahee - 1 TD - Baltimore Ravens

Click below to see the rest of the list:

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proCanes Stats From Week 9 of the 2010 NFL U Season

Andre Johnson (Texans): 4 catches 41 yards

Darryl Sharpton (Texans): 2 solo tackles

Vince Wilfork (Patriots): 4 tackles, 3 solo tackles

Brandon Meriweather (Patriots): 6 tackles, 4 solo tackles, fumble recovery

Jeremy Shockey (Saints): 1 catch 7 yards, 1 TD

Jonathan Vilma (Saints): 7 tackles, 5 solo tackles

Santana Moss (Redskins): BYE WEEK

Clinton Portis (Redskins): BYE WEEK

Rocky McIntosh (Redskins): BYE WEEK

Calais Campbell (Cardinals): 2 tackles

Antrel Rolle (Giants): 1 solo tackle, 1 tackle for loss

Kelly Jennings (Seahawks): 4 solo tackles, 2 pass deflections

Frank Gore (49ers): BYE WEEK

Kellen Winslow (Buccanneers): 3 catches for 31 yards

Roscoe Parrish (Bills): 7 catches, 60 yards, 1 TD, 1 punt returns for 6 yards.

Greg Olsen (Bears): 3 catches 31 yards, 1 TD

Devin Hester (Bears): 2 catches, 23 yards, 1 rush for -1 yard and 1 punt return for 3 yards.

Willis McGahee (Ravens): 6 carries, 24 yards and 3 catches, 42 yards 1 TD

Ray Lewis (Ravens): 8 tackles, 7 solo tackles

Ed Reed (Ravens): 4 solo tackles, 1 INT returned 18 yards

Tavares Gooden (Ravens): 1 solo tackle

DJ Williams (Broncos): BYE WEEK

Sinorice Moss (Giants): DID NOT PLAY on IR Will miss the entire 2010 Season

Bruce Johnson (Giants): Underwent arthroscopic knee surgery, placed on IR

Kenny Phillips (Giants): 2 tackles, 1 solo tackle

Reggie Wayne (Colts): 11 catches, 83 yards

Jon Beason (Panthers): 9 tackles, 7 solo tackles

Phillip Buchanon (Redskins): BYE WEEK

Antonio Dixon (Eagles): 2 solo tackles

Sam Shields (Packers): 1 solo tackle, 2 pass deflections, 1 INT (first of his career), 1 kickoff return for 49 yards

Jimmy Graham (Saints): 3 catches, 49 yards 1 TD

Leon Williams (Cowboys): Played but did not record any stats.

Spencer Adkins (Falcons): Played but did not record any stats.

Javarris James (Colts): 4 carries for 12 yards, 2 TDs for his first career TDs

Damione Lewis (Texans): 1 tackle


Eric Winston (Texans): Offensive Lineman, did not record any stats.

Rashad Butler (Texans): Offensive Lineman, did not record any stats.

Bryant McKinnie (Vikings): Offensive Lineman, did not record any stats.

Chris Myers (Texans): Offensive Lineman, did not record any stats.

Vernon Carey (Dolphins): Offensive Lineman, did not record any stats.

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Jeremy Shockey leaves stadium in ambulance

Jeremy Shockey's 500th career catch came with a price.

The Saints tight end scored on a seven-yard run, but had to leave the game after that with what was originally announced as a rib injury.

Shockey left the game and eventually walked under his own power into an ambulance, which took him to a local hospital.  We'll update Shockey's status once we know more.

X-Rays on Shockey's ribs came back negative, Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.

The Saints are on bye next week, which gives Shockey and his banged-up teammates some added healing time leading up to the team's next game, Nov. 21 against the Seahawks.

Click here to order Jeremy Shockey’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Willis McGahee finds end zone again

Willis McGahee picked up 24 yards on six rushes and had 42 yards and a touchdown on three receptions in the Week 9 win over the Dolphins.

McGahee extended his touchdown streak to four games with a nifty 32-yard catch-and-run on the Ravens' first possession of the game. He continues to usurp some of Rice's fantasy value, as McGahee has scored three more times (five to two) than Rice this season. He's a viable weekly play in touchdown-heavy leagues.

Click here to order Willis McGahee’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Javarris James picks up two touchdowns

Javarris James rushed four times for 12 yards with two touchdowns in Sunday's loss to the Eagles.

James played exclusively in the Colts' goal-line package and converted both his chances. He won't stick as the goal-line back once the Colts' backfield gets healthy, but for now his role is defined.

Click here to order Javarris James’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Silence is golden for Packers rookie Sam Shields

Green Bay — Sam Shields hasn't been in the news much.

For a rookie cornerback playing a heavy dose of snaps, that's not such a bad thing, really.

Since coming back from a calf injury that knocked him out of the Detroit and Washington games, Shields has been playing at a high level for the Green Bay Packers. Usually, when rookies hear their names it's because they're getting beat a lot.

"Being out on the field, you have to bring your best 'A' game, especially playing with all the veterans out there," Shields said Thursday. "You have to be on top of your stuff and know what you're doing.

"You don't want to make no mistakes because it'll hurt you. I just try to go in there with a level head and a lot of confidence and play hard."

The 5-11, 184-pound Shields might be the fastest player on the field, and while his cornerback skills are still a work in progress, his speed always weighs in his favor. Before hurting his calf, he had his ups and downs, but since returning against Miami, he hasn't given up any touchdowns, committed any penalties or been thrown at all that much.

The Packers are more likely to keep  a safety over the top of Shields than they are over starters Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams, but Shields still has to be on his man or risk getting torched. He nearly gave up a big play against New York Jets receiver Santonio Holmes, who dropped the ball, but that's the breaks you get sometimes as a corner.

Besides not allowing any big plays, the most impressive part of Shields has been his unwillingness to back down against receivers like Holmes, Bernard Berrian, Lee Evans and DeSean Jackson. On Sunday, he probably will have to cover one of Dallas' big three - Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Roy Williams - which will present a challenge given his size.

"I try not to be a rookie out there," Shields said. "I try to be a veteran. My whole thing is don't let a ball that is caught on me, (to) even think about it. Whoever I'm against, I have to do what I've got to do."

Another obstacle for Shields would be the return of cornerback Al Harris, which is a possibility this Sunday. The Packers have until Monday to decide whether to activate him off the physically unable to perform list, and after a two-game delay it would make sense that this would be the week.

Harris isn't sure what coach Mike McCarthy's plan is yet.

"I'm confident my body is ready for it," Harris said. "I don't know if that will happen. If my number were called, I'd be able to play."

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Roscoe Parrish fulfilling his promise for Bills

TORONTO -- As Roscoe Parrish recalls, it was the middle of February. The phone rang in his Miami home and the voice at the other end identified himself as Chan Gailey, the Bills' new head coach. Here we go, Parrish thought to himself, the same old promises.

But Gailey didn't promise Parrish playing time. He promised him only one thing -- a chance. Maybe it was the tone of Gailey's voice, a ring of sincerity that resonated over the phone. But Parrish believed him. This time, he'd get a fair shot.

"He said, 'OK, I know you want to play,' " Parrish said this week before practice. "Nothing was going to be given to me, but with my kind of talent, I could make something happen in this offense. But I had to work."

"And he believed me," Gailey said, "and he came in and worked. And it's worked out for him."

Six years into his NFL career, Parrish has finally established himself as a viable receiver. Given regular duty as the slot receiver, he has been a reliable performer in Gailey's offense, on the verge of career highs as the Bills arrive at the seasonal midpoint today against the Bears at Rogers Centre.

Parrish has 26 receptions for 340 yards and a touchdown. He has 11 catches on third down, tied for seventh in the AFC. Four of the top five receiving days of his career, yardage-wise, have come in the Bills' last five games, since Ryan Fitzpatrick took over as quarterback.

He has been a revelation. I'll admit, I was wrong about Parrish. I dismissed him as too small and slight, a receiver who struggled with press coverage and didn't run the best routes and would never be more than a marginal fourth wideout.

Coaches talked about getting him more involved, but it never happened. It couldn't all be coaching. But in Gailey, he found an experienced offensive coach with the creativity to take advantage of Parrish's offensive gifts.

"Dick Jauron was more defensive-minded," Parrish said. "During my years with Dick, a lot was said to me in the offseason, but it never happened. With Chan, who is more of an offensive-minded guy, I just took it on myself to continue to work. I have to go out every week and contribute to the offense and take advantage of my opportunities. Once you do that, everything takes care of itself."

Under Jauron, Parrish felt he was stereotyped as a punt returner, a one-trick pony. And he was spectacular returning punts. In 2007-08, Parrish became the first player to lead the NFL in punt returns in consecutive seasons. He went into the 2009 season with the highest career punt return average (13.1) in league history.

But on a forgettable October day at Ralph Wilson Stadium, he muffed a punt that led to the winning field goal in Cleveland's 6-3 win over the Bills. Parrish was benched for four weeks. Losing his job as a punt returner was an utter humiliation. A week before the trade deadline, he and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, were pushing for a trade.

"Last year was very, very, very frustrating for me," Parrish said. "I didn't play a whole month. Not even playing punt returns, something I mastered and made a name for myself doing. It's just a moment in my career that humbled me more and made me realize anything can happen in this league. You just can't feel sorry for yourself, you know?

"You never know what tomorrow will bring."

Parrish had the will and toughness to endure. He's 5-9, 168 pounds, and he looks smaller up close. It takes a lot of courage for a man that size to absorb the physical pounding in an NFL game. Parrish takes the big hits and keeps on coming. He has good hands and agility to make tough catches along the sideline.

All he needed was a coach -- and a quarterback -- who would trust him. Fitzpatrick has developed a trust with all his receivers. Stevie Johnson's emergence has been a huge story. But Parrish has been an even bigger surprise, because so many people had written him off in Buffalo.

"Unfortunately, he didn't get much time last year," Fitzpatrick said. "But he's really played well this year. And we could tell from the offseason, from the work he put in. Chan gave him confidence -- 'Look, you're going to be one of our go-to guys,' and he responded to that."

Parrish has been a big go-to guy lately. Last week, he caught a 37-yard bomb from Fitzpatrick on a third-and-8 to set up the game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter. Later in the fourth, he made a dazzling 33-yard punt return to set the Bills up near midfield.

On the first series of overtime, Parrish ran 13 yards on a reverse. Later, he caught a 12-yard pass on the drive ended by Rian Lindell's missed field goal. The bigger the moment, it seemed, the more the Bills wanted the football in his hands.

The 37-yard catch and 33-yard punt return were Parrish's two longest plays of the season. His last 40-plus catch was in 2007. He hasn't scored on a punt return since the '08 opener vs. Seattle. It seems only a matter of time before he breaks a long one.

"Yeah," Parrish said. "Chan pulled me aside last week and said, 'Be patient. It'll come.' Last year, when I got frustrated and I wasn't playing on offense, I tried to rush things. But you have to be patient. You never know when your time is going to come."

Click here to order Roscoe Parrish’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Jon Beason hitting an all-time low

The Carolina Panthers' most recent loss left linebacker Jon Beason feeling as low as he's been in his 25 years.

But Beason figures to feel even worse in a few days.

After the Panthers' 34-3 loss to New Orleans on Sunday, Beason said he expects to be fined for his third-quarter hit on Saints receiver Marques Colston. The hit drew an unnecessary roughness penalty on Beason for striking a defenseless receiver in the head.

"I'll just get a cherry on top of everything," said Beason, referring to the expected fine. "You live with it. At the end of the day, I'm not going to pull up. I'm not going to stop how I play. My job is to stop people, and that's why I'm here at the highest level."

The NFL stiffened its penalties for illegal hits to the head and neck area last month after several highly publicized collisions in Week 6 resulted in concussions to a number of players. Commissioner Roger Goodell increased fines and threatened to suspend players who break the rule.
"I just work here, man. I don't make the rules. I don't enforce them," Beason said. "At the end of the day, the person who will probably fine me is the person who I have to call for an appeal. So it's a dictatorship."

Beason, whose nine tackles tied linebacker James Anderson for the team high, was flagged after Colston came across the middle to catch a 7-yard pass from Drew Brees on second-and-2. Beason appeared to hit Colston in the helmet with his forearm.

The penalty moved the ball to the Panthers' 8-yard line. The Saints added a field goal four plays later to increase their lead to 20-3.

"It wasn't a play where the ball was 40 yards downfield. It was a 4-yard route. I don't know what I'm supposed to do," Beason said. "I'm cool with Marques. Afterwards, we patted each other on the butt. He smiled at me. I smiled at him.

"But like I said, I just work here. When you catch the ball or someone's near me with the ball, I'm supposed to try to tackle them, I think. I think that's the description of a defensive player."

Brees described Beason's tackle as a "slam."

"It was just a slam," he said. "I just tried to put it on (Colston's) body, and he made a great catch and took a big hit and took a penalty."

Carolina coach John Fox said fans should expect to see more of those types of penalties with the NFL's emphasis on illegal hits.

"Those are going to get called as the season wears on," Fox said. "I'm not going to comment on the individual play. I've seen a lot of those calls throughout the season. I think you're going to see a lot moving forward."

As the Panthers try to move forward from what Beason called their "most embarrassing" loss this year, the two-time Pro Bowler struggled to explain his team's 1-7 start.

"There's a lot of questions and, honestly, there's no answers," said Beason, a team captain. "I don't really know what to say or how to address anything."

Click here to order Jon Beason’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Devin Hester, Roscoe Parrish give respect in return

Return men in the NFL rarely get their just due from those that cover the league. They’re often looked upon as athletic specialists that are not impact players at a true primary position. Chicago’s Devin Hester and Buffalo’s Roscoe Parrish however, are changing that conversation.

In one of the more anticipated returner matchups, Hester, who leads the NFC in punt return average (16.7) and Roscoe Parrish, who leads the AFC (11.4) will square off Sunday when the Bills host the Bears at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.

What makes the meeting all the more intriguing is Parrish and Hester are close friends dating back to their days as teammates at the University of Miami where they split return duties in their two seasons together.

“The first year he got there I was the guy on punt returns and they were trying to fit him in because he was such an athlete,” said Parrish. “They didn’t know whether to put him at receiver or DB. During my junior year we rotated because he had a big role at defensive back and I had a big role at receiver. Coach would make the call based on how our reps went during the game. Sometimes we’d do it amongst ourselves and we’d switch off every other one.”

“He was there before me,” said Hester. “He kind of showed me what the coaches expect. He said, ‘You’re blessed with talent,’ and you’ve got to go out and have fun and do what you feel comfortable with.”

Parrish had three returns for touchdowns for the Hurricanes. Hester doubled that figure with six by the time his college career was over (2 kickoff, 4 punt). Not much has changed in the NFL as Hester has already matched the NFL all-time touchdown return mark of 13 (9 punt, 4 kickoff) set by Brian Mitchell in just his fifth season. Two of those touchdowns have come this year.

Meanwhile Parrish has three return touchdowns in his NFL career, all on punts. Where the Bills return man has the edge on Hester, however is in punt return average. Parrish is tied for third in NFL history with a 12.2 average, with Hester ranking eighth in league annals at 11.9.

The only other active player within striking distance of them is another Miami alum, Santana Moss (11.3).

Hester and Parrish keep in touch via text during the season.

“We might send each other a text or two, but not back and forth much,” said Parrish. “We do enough of that in the offseason and talk trash to each other.”

“We’re still close,” said Hester. “We’ve been texting each other back and forth. He texted me a couple times this year. I texted him a couple times, just congratulating him on some of the games he had, and the same from him.”

It’s clear that Parrish, despite being the older of the two, has great respect for what Hester has done as a returner in the NFL having tied the all-time return touchdown mark.

“It’s always good to watch a guy like Devin Hester and see what kind of things he’s going to do,” said Parrish. “We don’t want him to do well against us, but we know he’s a good return guy. I even went in the coverage teams meeting (Wednesday) morning and watched him even though I wasn’t supposed to be in there just to keep tabs on him and see how he does what he does. He is one of the best guys in the league on punt returns, so you just take notes on him.”

But the respect is clearly mutual between these two Florida natives.

“We’re kind of similar. We both make a lot of guys miss. We’re both quick and fast, electrifying, that type of thing,” Hester said. “He’s real quick, I’ve got to give him that. He’s real quick, like a cat. He can stop a dime and make a lot of guys miss.”

That playmaking ability was reserved for special teams duties only for both Hester and Parrish early in their careers. This season however, both have been given the largest roles they’ve ever had on the offensive side of the ball.

“It takes an offensive-minded coach for that to happen,” said Parrish. “The Bears have Mike Martz and then I have Chan Gailey and so it just takes the right coaching and you’ve got to keep working. I promise you every punt returner or kick returner wants to play offense or have a primary position. We love returning, but that just opens up doors to play other positions.”

Despite their expanded roles, both appear to be hitting their stride at the midway point of the season on returns. Hester has a pair of touchdown returns for 62 and 89 yards with the most recent coming in a Week 6 matchup with Seattle.

“Lately he has been on his game, back to the point where every time he touches the football we’re expecting him to score,” said Bears head coach Lovie Smith. “Teams are starting to kick away from him, giving him the respect that the all-time guy with returns in the history of the league should get.”

Parrish, in the last two games in which he has been able to field a return, has broken off a pair of 20-plus yard returns with a 26 yarder against Jacksonville and a 33-yard return at Kansas City.

“I know he and Devin will have a little something going on seeing who is the best returner from Miami,” said Smith. “I just know that (Parrish) is a special returner, too. The play he made late last week in the game against the Chiefs almost put them in position to win the football game. We respect his game, I’ll just tell you that.”

Teams have been trying to pin Parrish along the sideline or simply kick it over his head into the end zone for a touchback or out of bounds over the sideline. The biggest challenge for the Bills return specialist is to remain patient for that one opportunity to really break one.

“That one is going to come,” said Parrish. “You don’t know when though, which is why you have to be patient.”

That may prove harder when facing a friendly foe knowing bragging rights are on the line.

“At the end of the day you want to out-do your opponent,” said Hester. “At receiver and punt returner you want to out-do your opponent. That’s the mentality I’m going to have going into this game. I want to out-do my opponent. Whatever he does, I want to do it better.”

“That’s the kind of competition we have in this game,” said Parrish. “We have two guys that are elite at their position and when they play against each other the fans want to see what each of them has. That’s what makes it fun.”

And those in attendance for Sunday’s game will be the ones that will benefit.

Click here to order Devin Hester’s or Roscoe Parrish’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Pat Burrell to be reserve if he returns to Giants

Pat Burrell would likely be a reserve if he returns to the Giants next season.

Manager Bruce Bochy is said to value Burrell's clubhouse presence, but the Giants will have Mark DeRosa back next season as an option for left field. Burrell provided some pop for the Giants in the second half, but he was just 6-for-42 during the playoffs, which included a hitless World Series.

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Aubrey Huff Went Zoolander with Red Thong at Giants Parade

With so many updates on Aubrey Huff’s red rally thong, we may have to rename this site Huff’s Thong Sports instead. Here’s the background on the thong in case you’re unaware, and it must be pointed out that Huff had it in his mouth at the parade. He wore that thing every day at the end of the season – gross. But what is really cool is that Huff went straight Zoolander with the thong at the parade. If you don’t know what that means, check out the video:


Jon Jay hopes to build on valuable experience

ST. LOUIS -- In the span of a month this past summer, Jon Jay went from a rookie fighting for every at-bat to one of the reasons the Cardinals were willing to part with lineup cornerstone Ryan Ludwick. Barely six weeks after that, he was once again scrounging for lineup time, a late-season slump opening the door for fellow rookie Allen Craig.

It’s safe to say that Jay, 25, hadn't had a season quite like it before.

The left-handed-hitting outfielder scuffled some in Spring Training, and so even though outfield spots were available, he didn't claim one. But he went down to Triple-A Memphis and raked, and by late April he'd earned a promotion. Jay rode the Memphis shuttle a little, but in early July he was promoted once again. No one knew it was for good.

Jay seized his opportunity, though, hitting in the first nine games (not all of them starts) after his recall. From the day he came back through July 30, he hit a ridiculous .456 and even flashed some power. That was far from the only reason that St. Louis traded Ludwick in the deal that brought in Jake Westbrook, but Jay's impressive performance at least made it a little easier to swallow.

Yet from the day of the deal, Jay went into a funk. From July 31 to the end of the season, he hit .239 with a .302 on-base percentage and nine extra-base hits in just under 200 plate appearances. Craig encroached on his playing time with a hot September, and as of now it appears that the two youngsters could form a platoon in right field for the Redbirds next year.

Jay was disappointed that he tailed off, but overall delighted with his season. He goes into the 2010-11 offseason with a mountain of new knowledge and experience.

"I feel like it was a big year for me personally, just to get the experience I got," he said. "Being around the guys I was able to be around, I got to play in a playoff race for a long time in July and August. Being a rookie and being able to experience that stuff I think is going to help me in my career. I didn't finish the way I started, but it's just one of those things you learn from."

Following the 2009 season, in which he hit reasonably well but not great at Memphis, Jay headed to Venezuela to play winter ball. He thrived in the environment, and he believes it's a big part of why he enjoyed a breakout season in '10.

"It was great for me," he said. "It was awesome. I got to play with a lot of big league guys over there, get used to the crowds and the travel and all that stuff. I got probably 700 at-bats last year where I was able to work on some stuff and figure some stuff out. I kind of sacrificed my [offseason] to go play over there, but [I knew] it was going to help me out in the long run, and I think it did."

The speedy University of Miami product has shown nice skill at the plate throughout the Minor Leagues, but it's the other parts of his game that impressed the Cardinals' field staff in his rookie season. Manager Tony La Russa frequently noted that Jay has an advanced feel for the game, and he played solid defense for the most part. His throwing arm, often downgraded in scouting reports, was good enough for him to record five outfield assists.

Jay points to improved health as a key factor in that improvement. He underwent surgery on his throwing shoulder in 2007 and '08. By '10, he was feeling more like himself.

"He's one of those guys, because he has a good sense of the game, he'll get in a good position when he throws," La Russa said. "He has enough arm strength to stop [opponents'] running game, and he throws it accurately. If he gets stronger because he's healthier, it's all to the good. But he's already played to where nobody says, 'Oh, let's take an extra base routinely.'"

He may not have the power to be a prototypical corner outfielder, though he managed 28 homers in 1,202 at-bats in the high Minors. However, he makes just about a perfect fit for a platoon with Craig. Jay hits lefty, while Craig bats from the right side. Jay is the superior defender, while Craig is the more dangerous hitter.

Ideally, they'll complement each other's skill sets perfectly. It's still possible that the Cardinals will add an outfielder, knocking both players to bench duty. But either way, Jay believes he can contribute in '11.

"I think I'm a line-drive hitter, but I can hit the ball out of the ballpark on occasion," he said. "Not a 30-home run guy or something like that, but I definitely feel like I can be a double-digit home run guy. It depends where I'm hitting in the lineup. If I need to drop a bunt down, I can do that. If I need to move a runner over, hit and run, I want to be a complete player. I want to be someone that can do a bit of everything."

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