Vernon Carey could lose his roster spot?

I had assumed that Carey would be safe as he enters his eighth NFL season, but then I heard backup Lydon Murtha say yesterday on Orlando Alzugaray’s show on 640-AM that he expects to compete for the starting right tackle job this year, and I don’t think that’s just player-speak. Carey will be 30 at the end of July, and while his production was still solid last year (ranked the 25th-best offensive tackle by Pro Football Focus), he’s coming off a knee injury that could slow him down, and his salary jumps from $950,000 to $4.15 million this year (he’s got about $20 million due over the next four years of his heavily back-weighted contract). If Murtha, a third-year player who started the final four games of 2010 and is due a much smaller salary next year, can prove to be just as effective as Carey during training camp, then don’t be surprised if the Dolphins part ways with their second-longest tenured player.

Click here to order Vernon Carey’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Bringing back Santana Moss a priority

The priority for Washington should be to re-sign Moss, who despite coming off of his 10th NFL season, remains productive. He’s a good fit in Kyle Shanahan’s offense and can be moved all over the field to take advantage of mismatches. He also would bring a veteran presence to a young receiving unit.

Moss is on record saying he would like to return to Washington, but the lockout has prevented the two sides from getting a contract done.

There are big names on the free agent market, but they are mostly aging players such as Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Donte’ Stallworth. A young-ish player who is both available and productive is Braylon Edwards, but he has expressed his desire to re-sign with the Jets. Another interesting player is Plaxico Burress, who is scheduled to be released from prison on June 6 and is expected to be reinstated and free to sign with a team when the labor dispute is resolved. He’s 33, but hasn’t played since 2008 and should be fresh, although a little rusty.

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

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Beason accuser testifies: I know Beason hit me

Gregory Frye testified Thursday that he is certain it was Carolina Panthers linebacker Jon Beason who beat him up at a Charlotte strip club in November 2009.

Frye told jurors that an angry Beason confronted him at the Uptown Cabaret shortly after he told Panthers tight end Dante Rosario that he had seen Beason snorting cocaine on a boat at Lake Norman.

"He was angry," Frye, 30, recalled. "He was yelling at me. He was enraged."

Frye said he acknowledged to Beason that he had made the remark about the cocaine use. "It made him even more mad," Frye said.

"He pummeled me down...," Frye told the jurors. "It was real quick. I've never seen anyone move that fast.

"When he hit me, I saw white. I hit the ground."

Frye testified that he was kicked while on the ground, but didn't see who did it. When he got up, he said, Beason struck him again in the head. Frye has alleged he suffered a crushed nasal cavity in the attack.

Frye told jurors that in hindsight, his remark to Rosario about Beason "wasn't the best thing to say."

"I wouldn't be here today," he added. "I wouldn't have been beaten by Mr. Beason."

Beason has denied hitting Frye, as well as the drug use allegation. The 26-year-old Panthers player countersued, accusing Frye of damaging his reputation.

During his testimony Thursday, Frye said he's been threatened and harassed since the confrontation with Beason. He said even his friends have "steered clear" of him.

He described himself as afraid and feeling a higher level of anxiety.

"I've been ostracized from the city of Charlotte...," Frye told the jurors. "It's ruined my reputation.

"I plan on moving out of the city."

George Laughrun, one of Beason's attorneys, asked Frye who else had seen Beason using cocaine.

"Nobody is going to come in here and say that," Frye replied.

"It's just you?" Laughrun then asked.

"Yeah," Frye said.

At one point while being cross-examined, Frye called what has happened "a charade."

When Laughrun questioned what he meant by that, Frye replied: "It's a charade that he can't admit what he did."

Laughrun also questioned Frye about why he had a fake NFL Carolina Panthers player's ID card. Frye called it "an icebreaker" he used to meet women.

"It's a harmless piece of paper," he said.

On cross examination, Beason's attorney raised questions about Frye's credibility. Frye admitted that he told police that night that he was a member of the Panther's practice squad, which isn't true. When asked why, Frye said at the time he was still confused after being punched.

Frye's lawsuit alleges that Beason, when asked if he had punched Frye, responded by saying: "Yeah, I hit him. It might cost me a hundred grand, but you don't go around telling people I'm doing coke and frontin' like you play in the league."

But Frye testified he never heard Beason say that, adding his attorneys or a police officer had told him about it.

With the jury out of the courtroom, Curtis Osborne, one of Frye's attorneys, said the officer who heard Beason make the statement has been unwilling to testify, but he would try to get him to court today.

"Please do," Beason interjected, which drew a rebuke from Superior Court Judge Lane Williamson.

Osborne then accused Brian Monroe, Beason's roommate in Miami, of mouthing a threat to him.

Williamson had Monroe, who is expected to testify in the trial, removed from the courtroom.

Frye's attorneys have called one witness - Eddie Biggers - who told the jurors he saw Beason throw a punch that made contact with Frye.
But Biggers, who called Frye an acquaintance, offered no more details about the confrontation. He told jurors that immediately after the punch he paid his tab and left the club.

Biggers acknowledged he never came forward and told police what he saw. He also acknowledged under cross-examination that he'd been unable to pick Beason from a photo display of Panthers players during a deposition.

Beason has not testified yet. But Frye's attorneys have played a portion of Beason's videotaped deposition for the jury.

In the tape, Beason acknowledged he was upset - even angry - after learning that Frye had told someone that he'd seen Beason using cocaine. The Panthers player also admitted he tried to throw a punch at Frye, but said a friend grabbed his arm.

Beason and his friends soon left the strip club after learning Frye had called police.

Asked why he hadn't stuck around to talk to police, Beason replied: "I didn't do anything... Nothing happened. It wasn't a fight."

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

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Scott Maine Gets Another Save

Scott Maine collected his sixth save, but it was an ugly one. Maine pitched one inning and allowed two runs on three hits and a walk. He struck out one.

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Jemile Weeks is Making a Case for an Early Call Up

With the A’s infield getting less impressive by the day Jemile Weeks has been looking more attractive by the day. No, not in that way. Not that there is anything wrong with that….

For the non minor league followers I’ll give you a little background on him. Weeks was drafted in the first round of the 2008 draft by the Oakland Athletics. He plays second base and has hit the ball well on his way up through the minors.

Currently he is playing for the Sacramento River Cats. Weeks is hitting .351 with an outstanding .969 OPS. The guy knows how to get on base. He also knows how to hit for extra bases. He isn’t much of a home run threat but he already has 3 triples and 5 doubles in just twenty four games. That isn’t overly amazing but that’s better than most of our infielders on the big league club.

I do understand the hesitation to bring him up. The A’s don’t know if his offense will translate against MLB pitchers. I get that. The problem is the infielders we have now aren’t hitting MLB pitchers. It’s time to give someone else a shot.

This is Weeks’s fourth year in the minors. Personally I don’t think he needs much more cooking. I think this guy is ready to play. Why not let LaRoche back up Kouz? Then bring up Weeks to give Ellis some bench time. As I blogged before, he just isn’t effective.

I realize the A’s would have to send someone down or release them. That is where I am not sure what the A’s should or can do. Personally I think a trade of either Kouz, Barton or Ellis for whatever prospects we could get would be best. Either way this kid has paid his dues and has shown he can play at every level on his way up the ladder. Let’s see if he has what it takes to play in the bigs. He surely can’t be any worse than what is going on now.

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Chris Perez not concerned about drop in velocity

Cleveland Indians RP Chris Perez said he is not worried about the drop of velocity because he went through something similar last season. "I'm not worried about it at all. It's not far off from where I was at this same time last year. People seem to forget about the beginning of last season. They only remember what happened at the end of the year, when I didn't allow any runs," Perez said. He believes that the velocity will go up when it get warmer.

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Astros to activate Jason Michaels on Friday

The Houston Astros will activate outfielder Jason Michaels from the 15-day disabled list prior to Friday's game against the New York Mets.
Michaels has been on the DL since sustaining a left shoulder subluxation while diving for a ball in left field on April 24 at Milwaukee. He is batting just .111 (2-for-18) with two walks in 11 games this season.

The Astros also announced that pitcher Nelson Figueroa and infielder Joe Inglett have each cleared waivers and have been outrighted to Triple-A Oklahoma City. Both players have the right to elect free agency.

Figueroa compiled an 0-3 record with an 8.69 earned run average in eight games -- five starts -- for Houston this year, while Inglett hit .222 (6-for-27) in 20 games.

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Gaby Sanchez much more than flash at first for Marlins

MIAMI -- Mention the top first basemen in the National League, and names like Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder jump out.

Those are the established sluggers in the league, and they've been standouts for years.

But there is an emerging first baseman who is making a lot of noise in South Florida, even if he is not as well known on the national scene.
A major reason the Marlins are one of the surprise teams in the NL is the consistency of first baseman Gaby Sanchez.

The 27-year-old Miami native is batting .336, seventh in the NL, and he paces the Marlins in batting average, home runs (six), hits (46) and RBIs (23).

A fourth-place finisher in the NL Rookie of the Year Award voting in 2010, Sanchez also is making a case that he's building on his first year to be one of the most productive at his position.

"People are going to start talking about him a little bit more often," Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said.

Sanchez has seen his profile rise. On Monday, for the first time in his career, he was named NL Player of the Week, after hitting .464 for the period ending Sunday.

Being an unassuming steady performer makes it easy to blend in on a team that features All-Star Josh Johnson, who has gained much of the Marlins' national attention this year.

Sanchez opened the season batting sixth, but after Mike Stanton suffered a mild hamstring strain on Opening Day, he has hit cleanup most of the year.

"'Flying under the radar,' as people say," Sanchez said. "If you go out there and just worry about winning ballgames, and not anything else, the numbers are going to be there."

Sanchez also points out that big numbers get attention, not producing quietly over long stretches.

"If you hit 50 home runs, people are going to talk," Sanchez said. "If you hit 80 doubles, people are going to talk. But if you just stay even keel and not try to worry about anything and stay consistent, you should be all right.

"That's what I'm just trying to do -- stay consistent. Nothing more. Nothing less. Just stay consistent."

The people not surprised by Sanchez's success are his coaches.

Rodriguez, formerly a manager in the Marlins' Minor League system, has seen Sanchez develop from the time he was a fourth-round pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft. A former University of Miami standout, Sanchez was a career .302 hitter in 487 Minor League games.

He got a taste of the big leagues in 2008 and '09, appearing in 26 total games. And in '10, he won the Marlins' starting first-base job.

"He's our most consistent hitter, but not only hitting, he's been our most consistent player during the season," Rodriguez said. "He's been amazing out there. He's taking the quiet leadership role, and he's been doing fine.

"We've been working with Gaby for so many years now, since rookie ball. That's why it doesn't take us by surprise. We knew what kind of player he was, not only physically, but mentally, and how he prepares himself. It's showing. He takes a lot of pride in all dimensions of the game, offensively and defensively."

There is little fanfare around Sanchez, but his numbers certainly are worthy of discussion.

Since 2010, Sanchez and Votto each have 46 doubles, which are the most of any NL first basemen the past two seasons.

Also in that span, Sanchez ranks fourth among NL first basemen in batting average (.285), sixth in RBIs (108) and third in hits (202).

When it comes to his 2010 NL rookie classmates, Sanchez certainly ranks favorably against the two position players who finished ahead of him in the voting.

San Francisco catcher Buster Posey won the award and Atlanta outfielder Jason Heyward was second, while St. Louis pitcher Jaime Garcia was third.

Posey is batting .244, with four homers and 19 RBIs this year. Heyward is at .220, with seven homers and 14 RBIs.

Since 2010, Sanchez has appeared in 187 games, and he has 94 runs, 202 hits, 46 doubles, 25 homers and 108 RBIs to go along with a .285 batting average.

Posey, meanwhile, has been in 142 games, with 70 runs, 153 hits, 25 doubles, 22 homers, 86 RBIs and a .291 batting average.

And Heyward has seen action in 179 games, and he has 101 runs, 172 hits, 33 doubles, 25 homers, 86 RBIs and a .266 batting average.

Sanchez has great respect for those in his rookie class, and he notes that Posey and Heyward were part of playoff teams in 2010.

"They're great hitters. They're great players," Sanchez said. "At the end of the year, their numbers are going to be there, too. It's a thing of me going up against them. I'm trying to help this team and trying to help them go to the playoffs.

"Like Posey did last year with the Giants -- he helped them last year go to the playoffs and go to the World Series. That's my goal. It's not basically individual numbers, it's the team number, and what can I do to help the team win."

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Attorney: Panthers' Beason was mad, but never struck man

The attorney representing a man suing Carolina Panthers’ linebacker Jon Beason told a jury Wednesday that the NFL player had "failed to take responsibility for his actions" and owes his client for an alleged assault in a Charlotte strip club 18 months ago.

Gregory Frye is suing Beason, accusing him of punching him in the head at the Uptown Cabaret.

Beason is countersuing, claiming Frye has slandered him.

In his opening statement Wednesday, attorney Curtis Osborne described to jurors the events of Nov. 15, 2009, the night of the confrontation between Frye and Beason. "Jon Beason dropped him with one punch," Osborne said, adding that Frye had suffered a crushed nasal cavity, a facial fracture, and swelling on the left side of his head.

Frye claims in the lawsuit that the attack took place after he told another Panthers’ player he had seen Beason "up at the lake, doing coke with some girl." Beason, 26, has adamantly denied attacking Frye and the drug allegations.

Beason was arrested after the alleged assault, but criminal charges were dropped 11 days later. Prosecutors said there wasn’t enough evidence to support the allegation that Beason had punched Frye.

"Other than Mr. Frye’s statement, police were not able to obtain evidence that Mr. Beason was the assailant," Assistant District Attorney Bruce Lillie said at the time. Lillie said police contacted several people who were at the club that night and said, "No one indicated they saw Beason strike Frye. No witnesses have come forward to say they saw Beason strike Frye."

Osborne said Wednesday he will ask jurors to have Beason compensate Frye for what happened and said they will seek punitive damages. "Hold him responsible -- finally -- for what he did to Greg Frye," Osborne said.

George Laughrun, representing Beason, called the Panthers’ player "a good upstanding man."

He told jurors that Beason wanted to hit Frye but didn’t. "He was mad as hell," Laughrun said of his client. "He wanted to sack him like Ben Roethlisberger."

Frye’s lawsuit claims he went to the annual Lake Bash in June 2009 at Lake Norman and saw Beason and a woman "engaging in what he believed to be snorting cocaine."

In the suit, Frye says he told Panthers’ tight end Dante Rosario that he had seen Beason doing cocaine, and Frye then says Beason’s driver and bodyguard later approached him, saying, "Whatever you said about Beason, he’s really pissed. You need to go talk to him."

Frye alleges that a short time later, Beason approached him "in a noticeably angry manner, cursing and yelling at Frye about the cocaine statement."

Frye claims that as the two men were walking outside to discuss the issue, Beason struck him twice. He said he never raised a hand to provoke Beason, and he never fought back.

On Wednesday, Laughrun described to jurors how Beason reacted when he had been charged with assault. He said Beason had tears in his eyes and told the attorney, "I have never been arrested. I’ve never been to a police department before."

Referring to the countersuit, Laughrun told jurors he and Beason will ask to be awarded a $1 settlement.
"It’s not about money ... he wants his name (reputation) back," Laughrun said.

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

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Devin Hester's Parenting Advice

I hope everyone is enjoying the weather. It's been a long winter, but summer is basically here! Chicago is a great place in the summer, especially when you have kids. I'm looking forward to getting out and about with little Devin this summer. We've already taken advantage of some cool things Chicago has to offer.

Little Devin is still pretty little, so we're sort of limited on things we can do, but one thing he's into big time right now is animals. His face lights up when he sees animals of all shapes and sizes, so we decided to take him on a bit of an adventure. Luckily, Chicago is full of great places for your kids to enjoy animals.

Our first stop was Lincoln Park Zoo. This place is awesome, and it's very beautiful near the lakefront. It has storytelling for the little kids in the zoo's farm area, which Devin liked, but he really perked up when we went to the Kovler Lion House and Sea Lion Pool. I'm not sure why the bigger animals got his attention so much, but he was pointing and laughing the whole time we were there.

Another fun place is the Living Sea Aquarium on Devon Ave. (gotta love that name!), in Park Ridge. This place is cool for kids-and adults, too. There are so many different kinds of fish, and so many of them are bright and colorful. When we were there, we got to see a stingray, and they let us help feed him, which is something anyone can do when they visit. Little Devin got to feel a stingray-how cool is that? They also have shark feedings on the weekend, but we weren't around for that.

One other place we took Devin was the Phillips Park Zoo in Aurora. It's a little bit of a drive, but it's so cool for the kids to see. It's free for kids, and they have alligators, foxes, cougars, eagles, wolves and a lot of wildlife. It's very pretty, and the natural habitat for the animals is very cool to see. They also have a skeleton of a dinosaur on display that was discovered in the 1930s in the area that is now known as Mastodon Lake. What a find. Devin was again caught pointing and laughing.

Summertime in Chicago is awesome, and it's a great time to get outside with your kids. The zoos and aquariums in this city are great. As Devin gets older, I know we'll go do things at amusement parks and such, but for now, the animals were great. Go see if your kids pass the pointing and laughing test, too!

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

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The rebirth of Lauryn Williams

For years, there wasn't a major track meet where you didn't see sprinter Lauryn Williams contending for medals. A world champion and Olympic medalist, the 5-foot-3, 127-pound powerhouse shined in the 100-meter dash.

In 2008, though, that all changed. Williams could still run faster than most women on earth, but that untouchable force field that made her one of the most decorated sprinters in U.S. history was deteriorating. While the world watched Williams' and teammate Torri Edward's bungled baton exchange -- and eventual disqualification -- in the 4x100-meter relay finals of the Olympic Games in Beijing, they were watching a star falling from her precipice atop a sport she'd dominated for half a decade.

"My heart wasn't in it anymore," said Williams, 28, noting that along with her faltering dedication to running, she had also been rocked by the death of her father, David, in October, 2008. "I had been competing for seven seasons as a pro and just didn't have the same motivation."
So, after her third-consecutive appearance at the world championships in August, 2009, where she placed fifth in the 100 meters, Williams quietly -- and temporarily -- stepped away from competition. It was time to mourn. To refocus. To refresh.

Instead of retreating to a pity party or escaping into anguish while pressing pause on her career, Williams celebrated her newfound freedom. Living in Miami, the Pittsburgh native found herself thirsting to try all of the things she had to sacrifice as an elite athlete. She took a part-time position at University of Miami, her alma mater, counseling student athletes. She skydived. Skied. Played flag football. Relaxed. Ate anything she wanted to.

"I didn't have a list of things I wanted to do, but if I had the opportunity to try it, I did," she said. "I was up for anything and had a lot of fun."
She also took time to connect with her family, a move she felt was especially important after her father's death following a long battle with Leukemia. "I have three younger sisters and I had the chance to actually spend time with them, instead of just calling home once in a while," Williams said. "I went to their graduations, drove them to college and developed relationships with my extended family."

Meanwhile, track and field continued without Williams. As rivals like fellow American Carmelita Jeter and Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser turned in quicker-than-ever performances, she felt the tug of competition pulling her back to the track. So last year, Williams began training in earnest for the 2011 season with her longtime coach, Amy Deem, who also leads the women's track and field program at the University of Miami. Deem infused more power-focused workouts into her training regime, shaking things up by adding hurdle and having her lifting heavier weights. The goal? To increase her explosiveness out of the blocks, then literally muscle her way to the finish line of both sprint events.

"If you stick with the same old thing, you get complacent. So we used different workouts to shock the system," Williams said.

The approach seems to be working. Earlier this year, Williams made a seamless return to the sport, clocking a world-leading 22.65 200-meter at the Hurricane Invitational at the University of Miami. She then went on to win the women's 100 meters at the Kansas Relays in late April. She's racing nearly every weekend within the next two months. The focus of her season is the USA Championships in June in Eugene, Ore., where she will try to qualify for the 2011 world championships, to be held late this summer in South Korea.

And while the sight of her powering her way to the finish line may be a familiar one, Williams says she sees herself as a brand-new athlete.
"I'm much more peaceful now, and wiser," Williams said, adding that qualifying for her third-straight Olympic Games in 2012 is her No. 1 focus. "Taking time off helped me put all of my ducks in a row. I know where I'm going and how I'm going to get there."

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Aubrey Huff Homers Giants Past D'Backs 4-3

The San Francisco Giants have been white hot lately as winners of four in a row, and turned to Jonathan Sanchez this evening to extend it to five. And after a laborious fight by the Sanchize, an Aubrey Huff Homer, and a big night from Miguel Tejada, the Giants took out the Arizona Diamondbacks for the second night in a row by a score of 4-3 at AT&T Park.

Sanchez (W 3-2) seemed to have some issues with the control of his fastball, but managed to claw his way for 6 innings allowing 3 runs on 6 hits with 2 walks and 7 punch outs. Skipper Bruce Bochy pulled out all the stops when it came to the bullpen, using Ramon Ramirez, Javier Lopez, and Sergio Romo in 2 innings of combined perfect work. Brian Wilson continued his terrific homestand by recording his twelfth save of the season despite giving up a leadoff double in the ninth.

Aside from Huff’s homer in the fifth, his fourth or the year, the Giants got some great hitting from the slumping Miguel Tejada. Miggy was 3-4 including a double and an RBI, boosting his average up to .213 for the year now. Andres Torres had himself a great night as well, going 2-3 with an RBI ground rule double in the sixth. All of the starting positional players for the G-Men got a hit except for Aaron Rowand and Mike Fontenot, but Rowand still scored a run on a wild pitch by Armando Galarraga in the fourth.

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Ryan Braun listed as “day-to-day” with left ankle contusion

Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun made an early exit from Wednesday’s game against the Padres because of a left ankle contusion. The Brewers don’t think the condition is serious and are considering him “day-to-day.”

That all comes from Adam McCalvy of

Braun, 27, has opened his fifth major league season with a sparkling .307/.392/.562 batting line, 10 home runs and 25 RBI through 158 plate appearances. He finished 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored on Wednesday, but the Padres tallied a whopping 23 hits and were able to capture a 13-6 victory.

The Brewers have an off day Thursday, which should provide enough rest for Braun’s ankle. If he can’t go Friday evening against the Pirates, look for Mark Kotsay or Brandon Boggs to start in left field.

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Yonder Alonso flirts with cycle in Bats' win

It doesn't matter if it's a first baseman's mitt or an outfielder's glove, Yonder Alonso is comfortable wearing it.

Continuing his transition to the outfield, Alonso fell a single shy of the cycle and drove in three runs Wednesday as the Triple-A Louisville Bats beat the Rochester Red Wings, 7-3.

Alonso extended his hitting streak to seven games when he tripled home Zack Cozart in the third inning. The seventh overall pick last June drilled his fourth homer of the season in the fifth, again plating Cozart, then doubled and scored in the ninth.'s preseason No. 49 prospect, Alonso nearly had a fourth hit when he lined to center field in his first at-bat.

"I really thought that it was going to drop," he said. "The center fielder had been playing me to right-center, but for some reason today he was shifting me to left-center and it was right at him. Things happen for a reason, but it would have been nice to get the cycle."

In addition to the hitting streak, the University of Miami product has driven in runs in four consecutive games, totaling seven RBIs during that span. After a slow start, he's raised his average to .313 and ranks fifth in the International League with 11 doubles.

"I've been having good at-bats and making adjustments, and it's been working out for me," Alonso said. "I'm just trying to go with what the pitcher gives me. Last year, I felt like I tried to force things a little and that's when I got into trouble. And I told myself, 'Just be me and don't force it.'"

A natural first baseman, Alonso is blocked at the Major League level by reigning National League MVP Joey Votto. After playing 30 games in left field for for Double-A Carolina and the Bats in 2010, he's beginning to settle in in the outfield.

"It's been going great," Alonso said. "I feel like I've been making strides out there and I feel comfortable."

Asked what position he most closely identifies with, he responded, "I see myself as both. I feel like I can play first base well, but I can play left field well. It's helped my game out because now I'm not just a first baseman, I can be a left fielder, too. Now I have more options, so it's definitely helped me out."

Off to a hot start, the notion of getting called up to Cincinnati is not something on which Alonso dwells.

"It crosses my mind, but it's something that I try not to think about," he explained. "What I have to do is worry about what I have to do here."
Catcher Devin Mesoraco,'s No. 45 prospect, contributed a solo homer, his fourth.

"This guy can flat-out play," Alonso said. "He improved so much on the hitting side, but on the defensive side he's unbelievable. He's going to be a big-time Major Leaguer and I think he's going to be great. ... He's been huge for our team and I'm looking forward to seeing him the whole year."

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Rocky McIntosh over being mad about status of free agency

Rocky McIntosh has been a starting linebacker for the Washington Redskins for most of the past five years. He may not have that role for much longer, as his contract has expired.

McIntosh was in the same situation a year ago, but the revised rules due to the expiring CBA made him a restricted free agent. He played the 2010 season on a one-year tender.

At this point, McIntosh doesn’t know what his status will be when the lockout ends. There has been talk that the NFL would impose the 2010 rules, which require six years for a player to be an unrestricted free agent. That would leave five-year players like McIntosh as restricted free agents once again.

A year ago, McIntosh seemed to be upset over both his contract status and his new position in the Redskins’ 3-4 defense. After playing outside linebacker his first four years in the league, he moved to an inside linebacker spot in the new scheme. Although he registered a career-high 73 tackles in the new scheme, he never quite seemed to embrace his new role.

Speaking to reporters before a charity golf event on Monday, McIntosh was asked about the defense last year, which ranked 31st in the NFL in yardage allowed. “It was definitely a building season,” he said. “It was a letdown from what we did the year before. We’ve just got to get everything to gel right and everything will take off.”

He said that his up-in-the-air status this year didn’t bother him. “I’ve over the ‘mad’ part. I was mad [last year],” McIntosh said. “But everything is cool and I’m at peace with everything and I’m going to take it one day at a time and see what happens.”

McIntosh said that he will continue to play in a 3-4 if the situation dictates that he does so. “It doesn’t matter to me, it doesn’t matter a bit,” he said. “It’s about me going out and playing ball and ultimately winning a game.

“I feel like I’m a guy who can help you win not matter what position or what scheme or wherever you want to put me. That’s just me, I play like that. If they want me to go out there and ball I’m up to it.”

The Redskins could be hard-pressed to replace McIntosh if he does end up leaving. The reserve inside linebackers are H. B. Blades, Perry Riley and Robert Henson. Blades, a four-year player who could also be a free agent depending on the rules that are imposed, has been a spot starter, but it seems unlikely that he could be effective for 16 games. Riley was drafted in the fourth round last year, and he played just a handful of defensive snaps. Henson was drafted in 2009 and after playing mostly special teams as a rookie, he spent last year on injured reserve.

A replacement could be found in free agency. Barrett Ruud of the Bucs and Kevin Burnett of the Chargers are likely to be the top inside linebackers available this year.

Like most other players, McIntosh has been working out on his own to stay in shape for when the doors to NFL facilities eventually do open. In addition to the usual cross training, he is doing some landscaping in his yard and taking Latin fusion dance classes. Learning the rumba, merengue and salsa dancing might give him a few new steps for sack dances.

He said he paid little attention to the draft, noting only that the Redskins drafted Leonard Hankerson from Miami, his alma mater. What used to be a sizable contingent of former players from “The U” on the Redskins roster could be diminished substantially. The status of McIntosh is uncertain, Clinton Portis was released in March and Santana Moss is an unrestricted free agent.

“As they ship [former Hurricanes] out, we ship them back in,” McIntosh said.

As we wait to see what emerges out of the NFL’s labor dispute, McIntosh is waiting to find out if he is one of those ‘Canes who is on the way out of Washington.


Jury picked, testimony to begin today in Jon Beason trial

Testimony will begin today in the trial of Carolina Panthers linebacker Jon Beason, who has been accused in a civil lawsuit of punching a patron at a Charlotte strip club in November 2009.

Gregory Frye claims Beason assaulted him at the Uptown Cabaret after he told another Panthers player that he had seen Beason doing cocaine. Frye said he suffered a crushed nasal cavity and a facial fracture in the assault.

Beason denies hitting Frye, as well as the drug-use allegations.

Both men were in the courtroom Tuesday as their attorneys chose a jury of eight women and four men.

Frye, 30, is bigger than the NFL player, standing about 6 feet four inches tall and 250 pounds.

Beason, 26, is 6 feet tall and 237 pounds.

Attorneys asked potential jurors whether they knew of Beason. Many said they recognized his name.

Two were asked Tuesday afternoon if they are football fans. Yes, they said - but not of the Panthers. One likes the Buffalo Bills, the other the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Despite the recognition of Beason, the jurors said they could be fair to both sides.

Beason was charged criminally with assault, but prosecutors dropped the charge less than two weeks later. Other than Frye's statement, prosecutors said, police were not able to get evidence that Beason was the assailant.

Frye is seeking damages of more than $10,000.

Beason has countersued, accusing Frye of damaging his reputation.

On Tuesday, Beason's attorney, George Laughrun, told potential jurors his client isn't suing for money. If Beason wins, Laughrun said, they'll ask for $1.


Chris Perez earns second win of the season

Chris Perez earned his second win of the season on Tuesday night against the Rays, striking out one during a scoreless ninth inning.

He had allowed at least a run in four out of his last eight appearances, but locked the Rays down while the score was 4-4 on Tuesday and watched Kyle Farnsworth walk in a run to end the game in the bottom half of the inning. Perez is 2-1 on the year with 10 saves, a 2.81 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. He's a high-end fantasy closer.

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proCane Draft Notes

Miami had the second highest total of draftees nationally with eight, second in the ACC only to North Carolina (9).

• While eight was among the best totals in the 2011 NFL draft, UM has had eight or more players drafted on five occasions since 2000 and 14 times in the program’s history. The eight draftees ranks ninth in UM history.

• Cornerback Brandon Harris will have a bevy of familiar faces in Houston where former Canes Andre Johnson, Eric Winston, Chris Myers, Rashad Butler, Damione Lewis and Darryl Sharpton are on the current roster.

• UM has had 26 first-round picks since 2000. The next highest total is 17 by Ohio State. UM has 75 total draft picks since 2000, which is third during that time span and barely trails Ohio State (78).

• Former Canes CB Ryan Hill, RB Graig Cooper and RB Damien Berry all appeared on mock drafts and seem likely to be signed if/when free agency is lifted from the NFL lockout.

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Raiders Confident in DeMarcus Van Dyke

Oakland Raiders head coach Hue Jackson said he is excited over the potential of CB DeMarcus Van Dyke. "We feel very comfortable in our evaluation and how we go about evaluating our players," Jackson said. "What we see is a young man who's tall. He's over 6-foot. He's 180 pounds. Has long arms. Who's athletic. Who's the fastest guy in the combine, who can cover. He's hard to get away from. You're not going to outrun him, and he's going to be coached by one of the best defensive back coaches in football. In my opinion, we're going to take a player, we're going to polish him up, and he's going to play, and he's going to play well.”

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New K.C. Chief Allen Bailey Is Product Of Remarkable American Community

Allen Bailey's secret to reaching the colossal physical proportions necessary to become an NFL defensive end is a protein source unfamiliar to most 21st-century Americans, let alone big-time football players. The University of Miami product, picked in the third round of the draft by the Kansas City Chiefs, sits down to home-cooked meals of slow-roasted raccoon, parboiled possum and hickory-smoked armadillo.

Wild boar, now that's a real treat. Bailey tips the scales at 285 pounds, having stuffed his gut during his formative years with just about anything on four feet his family could catch on the tiny island off the coast of Georgia where he was raised. Forty-seven people live in Hog Hammock on Sapelo Island, more than half of whom are related to Bailey.

All are part of the tight-knit Gullah/Geechee community, descendants of slaves admired for preserving their African cultural heritage two centuries after being brought to the United States. Bailey's ancestors were among 400 slaves from West Africa taken to Sapelo Island by a British plantation owner. Some stayed after the Civil War, and they subsisted on a protein-rich diet of deer, boar, marsupials and shellfish.

And still do. Even though game was a description of what's for dinner before it became a vehicle to a lucrative career, Bailey grew up big, strong and smart. On May 13, he will become the first from his family to graduate from college.

He asked his mother, Mary, what he could give her that would put a big smile on her face after he signed his first NFL contract. Her reply: "Your diploma."

Mary Bailey has worked for years as a cook at the Reynolds Mansion, a tourist and retreat destination on Sapelo Island. Guests can reach the island only by boat, and Bailey's father worked for decades as the first mate on a ferry called the Katie Underwood. After checking into the 13-bedroom, 11-bathroom mansion, guests are fed a sumptuous dinner prepared by Mary of seafood, turkey, red beans and rice, and locally grown corn and okra.

The good stuff she saves for her family back in the double-wide three-bedroom trailer in Hog Hammock.

"Raccoon has a good flavor, it tastes like nothing else," Bailey says. "Everything on the table is great. It's home cooking."

Bailey missed all of it while away at college. He was able to visit only a few times each school year, but he made up for it during the summers. He's the second youngest of seven children, and the family watched the draft from a friend's house in Georgia because there is no cell phone reception on the island. Bailey plans to spend time in Hog Hammock over the next few days, to do some hunting with his dad, eat his mom's meals and enjoy the peace and quiet.

"Where I'm from is country, the slow-down life," he says. "I'm outdoors all the time, it's what I call real nature. Not even one stop sign. There's no law."

Bailey didn't play football until the seventh grade. He and his brothers and cousins played a touch keep-away game they called "yard ball." A rusted basketball hoop helped him develop stamina, and he grew and grew, taking after a grandfather everyone on the island simply called, "Big One."

Sports became a priority when Bailey attended high school in Darien, Ga., a 20-minute ferry ride away. He chose Miami over Florida and Alabama, and developed into a chiseled NFL prospect. He has the best vertical jump ever by a Miami defensive lineman, and scouts loved his combination of strength and quickness as well as his relentless motor.

After getting the call from the Chiefs Friday night, Bailey tried to learn a little bit about Kansas City. It's a long way from the Atlantic Ocean and Sapelo Island, but a staple of his childhood diet is also considered a delicacy in Missouri.

It’s raccoon, a recipe for which was included in the first edition of "The Joy of Cooking."

Listen to Jeff Beringer, a biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation: "Raccoon meat is some of the healthiest meat you can eat. It's the ultimate organic food."

Bailey wouldn't disagree. He's a 6-foot-3, tightly muscled billboard for the virtues of lean protein, hunted by his kin, cooked by his mom.

"My parents won't ever want to move," he said. "They might add on to the house they have now. But leave Hog Hammock? I don’t think so. That’s home."

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Leonard Hankerson calls himself best wide receiver in

If Leonard Hankerson is right – or even close to being right – the Washington Redskins got one hell of a deal.

The Redskins, who have had an acute need for wide receivers for a few years now, selected Hankerson in the third round Friday night, No. 79 overall.

The Miami product was the ninth receiver chosen in the draft and he ranks himself right up there at the top. The very top.

“I know I’m better than each one of those guys that was drafted before me,” Hankerson told The Sports Junkies this morning on 106.7 The Fan, according to Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post. “Hey, it’s over with now. I’m a Washington Redskin. I can’t do anything about it. Only thing that matters is what I do after the draft, so I’m looking forward to getting on the field with my new teammates, getting to meet my coaches and just having fun with them and proving (it) to everyone.”

Better than Julio Jones, who went sixth overall to the Atlanta Falcons after a blockbuster trade?

“Of course, I wouldn’t say anything differently,” Hankerson said. “Of course I think that. I feel I’m the best receiver in the draft, I feel like I can make plays, i can do everything the other players do. I feel like I can block, run routes, go up and get the ball. I make plays. I broke every single season record this year. I feel like I can do it all.”

Mike Shanahan got a pretty good wide receiver in the fourth round a few years back – Brandon Marshall. Maybe he can make things happen with Hankerson.

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Matt Bosher drafted to take over as punter?

Name: Matt Bosher    (6th round, 192nd)
Size: 6-0, 207
College: Miami

His production: He handled kickoffs and punts for the Hurricanes. He converted 84.7 percent of his field goal attempts.  He had six career punts blocked. He played in 50 games for the Hurricanes. As a punter, he put 70-of-234 attempts inside the 20-yard line. He finished with a41.7-yard average per punt. He averaged at least 40 yards a punt in each of his four seasons. He had 49 punts of 50 yards or more and forced the opposition to make 82 fair catches.

The skinny: “Right-footed jack-of-all trades, master of none type who warrants a camp invite,” according to Nolan Nawrocki of Pro Football Weekly. He was the sixth punter drafted by the Falcons, but the first since Harold Alexander who was selected in the third round of the 1993 draft from Appalachian State.

INTERVIEW WITH MATT BOSHER  TODAY ON HIS CONTACT WITH THE FALCONS: “I had been in touch with them before the draft. I worked out for Coach (Keith) Armstrong. It’s always a crapshoot being a punter and a kicker with the draft. I was so excited to finally get that phone call and hear from all of the coaches.”

ON HIS CAREER AT MIAMI: “I’m happy with everything that went down at Miami. I just can’t wait to have an opportunity to play at the next level with the Falcons.”

ON HIS RECRUITMENT: “When I was coming out of high school, it was mainly just Miami and the University of Florida.”

ON BEING THE SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE YEAR: “I was happy to get that award from my team because we have a lot of great athletes at Miami. I was really proud of that award.”

ON WHAT THE FALCON SAID ABOUT THEIR PUNTER JOB: “They didn’t really say much. They said they are happy to have me. I looking forward to getting up there and I’m happy to have this opportunity to show what type of player I can be.”

ON HIS 19 CAREER SPECIAL-TEAMS TACKLES: “It’s football. It’s not just me as a punter. If you’re going to play football, you have to be able to hit somebody if the play calls for it. You’re not just out there playing patty cakes.”

ON HIS 26-YARD RUN IN 2009: “I can run a little bit. Not all the time, but if need be. If they call a fake or something, I’m confident that I might be able to run the ball a little bit.”

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49ers Say They Are Not Looking To Replace Frank Gore

Running back Frank Gore enters the final year of his contract, and the 49ers have now selected running backs in the past three drafts. While the 49ers are planning for life without Gore as the 49ers' every-down back, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said the club has no intention of running him out of town. "I think you always have to plan for the future," 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said upon the selection of Oklahoma State running Kendall Hunter. "We look at Frank as a 49er and a guy that we would love to have here for his career. This isn't a move to try to replace Frank by any stretch. He's a 49er. Those are the guys that we want to keep in the fold. This is just a chance for us to add a quality player at a position that we needed another player at." The 49ers selected 236-pound Anthony Dixon in the sixth round of the 2010 draft and a year earlier, the 49ers invested a third-round selection in power-running Glen Coffee who abruptly retired last summer during training camp. Dixon ended up sharing time with veteran Brian Westbrook after Gore's injury and gained 237 yards on 70 attempts.

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

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Ken Dorsey Officially Retires

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Ken Dorsey, the quarterback who led Miami to the 2001 national championship, has retired from professional football.

Dorsey spent last season with the CFL's Toronto Argonauts, after six years in the NFL.

Dorsey threw for 9,565 yards and 86 touchdowns with the Hurricanes, with whom he went 38-2 as a starter. He started 10 games for the San Francisco 49ers in the 2003 and 2004 seasons, then started three more for the Cleveland Browns in 2008.

In his NFL career, Dorsey completed 214 of 408 passes for 2,082 yards and eight touchdowns.

Dorsey has spent time as a high school football assistant coach, and plans to pursue coaching full-time starting this fall.

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Orlando Franklin brings a mean streak to the Denver Broncos’ offensive line

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Denver Broncos didn’t grab the defensive tackle they so desperately needed in the NFL draft. They did get an offensive tackle with a mean streak in the mold of those run-stuffers in Miami’s Orlando Franklin.

Franklin moved from left guard to left tackle his junior season, but the Hurricanes’ dominant drive blocker will play right tackle in Denver, where he could be protecting Tim Tebow’s blind side if the second-year Florida quarterback beats out Kyle Orton this fall.

What Franklin really looks forward to is boring holes for Tebow or the Broncos running backs.

“I like to think of myself as the most physical offensive lineman that was in this draft, and I am looking forward to bringing that nature to the Denver Broncos,” Franklin said.

It’s hard to overlook the 6-foot-5, 322-pound offensive lineman nicknamed “Big O” now, but that was precisely his family’s fear while Franklin, who was born in Jamaica, was growing up in Toronto.

His family moved to Florida before his senior year of high school so he could get noticed by recruiters.

“It was real hard in Toronto,” Franklin said. “I think that if I never moved from Toronto that I wouldn’t be in the position that I’m in today. Once I got to the U.S. it was not real hard because I got a lot of opportunities to play really early and I got on the field and got recruited by a bunch of teams.”

Franklin chose the University of Miami, where he played in 51 games in four years, one shy of the school record, and registered 29 combined touchdown-resulting blocks in his junior and senior seasons while developing a reputation as a kindhearted teddy bear off the field who transforms himself into a mean player on it.

“Yeah, you could say that, I guess. Some people accuse me of being a dirty player, but I just like to get after it,” Franklin said. “Some people just think I’m a nasty player because I talk a lot on the field and I’m trying to get the pancake (blocks) and stuff and I’m going to talk all game to you. That’s just my game.”

His play is what spoke so loudly to the Broncos.

General manager Brian Xanders visited Miami last year and said he liked everything about Franklin, from his experience to his size and strength, but especially his nastiness.

“He takes his guy three or four yards down the field. He’s a good pass protector because he has length in his arms,” Xanders said. “We just liked his demeanor, and then we had a good interview. He had an edge to him. He was ready to go. We think he fits in also as a right tackle because of his physicality and his size and in the vertical movement he possesses.”

Coach John Fox, who is known for injecting players with a nasty streak into his defenses, looks for the same demeanor in his offensive linemen.
“He’s big and physical and knocks people off the ball. He gets his hands on you and you’re usually going the other way,” Fox said.

So, the Broncos bypassed such heralded run-stuffing prospects as Marvin Austin and Stephen Paea to select Franklin in the second round of the NFL draft last week.

“Orlando helps us big time at tackle,” said John Elway, chief of football operations. “It makes us pretty solid up front.”

Given his nose for nastiness, it’s no surprise that Franklin considers run-blocking his strength, and he said he’s eager to drive defensive linemen back for a mobile quarterback like Tebow: “It definitely makes playing football a whole lot more exciting.”

What he’ll have to hone are his pass-protecting skills, but the Broncos expect him to be able to step right in and start as a rookie in place of Ryan Harris, who is expected to bolt in free agency whenever the NFL’s labor impasse is ironed out.

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Redskins "send a message" to Santana Moss via draft

Wide receiver: The Redskins drafted three wide receivers. One of them, Leonard Hankerson, could earn a starting job soon and the other two, Niles Paul and Aldrick Robinson, will compete for playing time. Every wide receiver who was on the roster last year with the exception of Anthony Armstrong will be fighting for a job. In particular, Malcolm Kelly and Terrence Austin will get stiff challenges for their jobs. And drafting three receivers sends a clear message to free agent Santana Moss that the team is prepared to move on without him.

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

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An Olsen family tradition

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- To understand Kevin Olsen, the rising junior quarterback from Wayne Hills, N.J., who's already drawing scholarship offers from the likes of Florida State, know this: Football surrounds him.

It has since before Olsen can remember. The game is in his blood.

Olsen's brothers, Chicago Bears tight end Greg Olsen and former Virginia quarterback Chris Olsen, delivered Kevin a crash course in football. The kid went everywhere with them, from recruiting visits to college games and NFL workouts.

"He didn't miss much," said their mother, Sue Olsen.

By age 6, Kevin was diving over couches in the office of Greg Schiano, who began recruiting Kevin's brothers even before the Rutgers coach could unpack his boxes after arriving nearly 10 years ago.

Fitting, then, that Olsen staged the latest act of his ascension to prominence Sunday at Rutgers Stadium, shining at the Nike Football Training Camp. Rules prohibit Schiano and other coaches from watching such events; rest assured, though, they know plenty about Olsen.

The 6-foot-3, 196-pound quarterback operated efficiently. He stood out in drills that included Rutgers pledge Blake Rankin of Bloomsburg, Pa., and Olsen plays with a smoothness that figures to place him near the top of all quarterbacks in the class of 2013.

And no one, especially not his father, appears surprised.

The elder Chris Olsen, a high school coach in New Jersey for 36 years, has spent the past quarter century at perennial North Jersey power Wayne Hills, coaching all three of his sons. Kevin is living up to the legacy of brothers Greg, one of the nation's top recruits in 2003, and Chris, heralded as a quarterback one year prior.

"When I was little," Kevin said, "they were everything. I still look up to them."

Chris and Greg signed with Notre Dame, but Chris left the school for Virginia after one season, and Greg transferred to Miami before ever suiting up with the Fighting Irish.

It just wasn't the right fit, according to Chris. The experience left Chris with a unique perspective from which to offer recruiting advice to his brother.

"Don't get wrapped up in the name," he said. "Don't get wrapped in Southern Cal or Ohio State. Get wrapped up in a school where you think the offense fits you and where the coaches actually want you -- where you're not just a number."

Kevin said he leans on Greg, the Bears' first-round draft pick in 2007, and Chris for advice on a variety of football-related topics. Greg provides suggestions on his diet and training. Chris covers the technical aspects of playing quarterback.

As a sophomore in his first season as the starting quarterback, Kevin directed Wayne Hills to a second straight state championship. He completed 103 of 171 passes for 1,484 yards with 17 touchdowns and four interceptions.

Was it surprising that he could fare so well immediately?

"No, because it's Kevin," Wayne Hills lineman Joey Lane said. "You don't get a lot of guys like Kevin Olsen. Most guys need time to learn. Kevin came right in, knew everything and just did it."

Age and experience hardly apply with Kevin. It's more about instincts, his father said.

"He understands the game well," the coach said. "A lot of kids play the position of quarterback. Kevin is a quarterback."

In addition to Florida State, East Carolina and Central Florida told Kevin he's earned a scholarship. Others are sure to follow. Although Kevin says he's not ready to dive full time into recruiting, he has prepared for this for a decade. Kevin spent time in the locker rooms at Virginia around the likes of Heath Miller and Chris Long during his brother's time in Charlottesville.

"The list goes on and on at Miami," brother Chris said. "He's always learned if he acts their age, they'll respect him. I think he's done a great job of that. He's had a chance to meet a lot of people that 16-year-olds just don't get to meet. He's never been awestruck.

"He's always tried to be confident and mature and say to himself, 'Hey, listen, I can be just like these guys.'"

In Chicago, where both of Kevin's brothers live, the family developed a friendship with Bears QB Jay Cutler, who befriended Kevin. Occasionally, they'll talk before a weekend of big games for both quarterbacks.

So, you see, Kevin is playing with the deck stacked in his favor. Of course, it takes more than a good hand to succeed as an elite quarterback.
"He had to take advantage of it," Chris said. "A lot of kids would just like to stay in and play video games. But he was always with us when he went on spring break, working on football. Anybody who's been around him can see that he's very mature.

"He takes coaching. He doesn't whine or pout or talk back. He grew up in a household where none of that stuff mattered."

Kevin said he's far from a finished product. His footwork, in particular, needs improvement, he said. The day before he attended the NFTC at Rutgers, Kevin attended the Elite 11 regional camp at Penn State.

Expectations for Kevin at Wayne Hills, considering the school's tradition and his early success, figure to skyrocket over the next two years. But there's no reason to worry. He's ready for it.

"I've been around a lot of good players," Chris said, "and I've never really seen anything like him as a 16-year-old sophomore. He doesn't think of it as pressure. At the end of the day, he doesn't think about it at all. He just goes out and does what comes naturally to him.

"It's what makes Kevin who he is."

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

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Ray Lewis reaches out to 10-year-old boy who lost family

Baltimore Ravens All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis knew 10-year-old La'Shaun Armstrong could use a helping hand.

Armstrong was left alone after his mother, 25-year-old Lashanda Armstrong, drove her van and four children into the Hudson River in Newburgh, N.Y. on April 12, killing all but La'Shaun.

La'Shaun escaped through a van window and was rescued by a diver who saw him in distress in the waters.

"We are human and to hear that story ... as soon as I heard it, I was like, 'I need to find him.' Nobody is supposed to walk through life alone with that, especially being 10 years old," Lewis told the New York Daily News on Tuesday at the Chelsea Piers Bowling Complex, where the 12-time Pro Bowl player met with La'Shaun and his grandmother Datrice Armstrong and great-uncle, Cedric Armstrong as part of a United Athletes Foundation charity event.

Lewis spent time with La'Shaun, teaching him to bowl in an effort to take his mind off the passing of his mother and three half-siblings, ages 5, 2 and 11 months.

Lewis, a veteran of 15 NFL seasons with the Ravens, told the newspaper that stepping into the boy's life for just a moment wouldn't do him justice.

"Probably in his lonely times, you know that he's going to think about it. He's going to miss his mom, his other family members. Like I told his grandmother, I don't want to come into his life for a phase. I want to be in his life forever," Lewis said.

Click here to order Ray Lewis’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Jon Beason’s civil trial stemming from strip club attack begins

A civil lawsuit against Carolina Panthers linebacker Jon Beason(notes) will begin today as a man seeks damages for allegedly being sucker-punched at a strip club in 2009.

The Charlotte Observer reports selection for a jury trial will begin today in Gregory Frye’s lawsuit against Beason, who has denied assaulting the man at Uptown Cabaret.

Frye alleges that Beason punched him in the face after he told Panthers tight end Dante Rosario(notes) that he had seen Beason and a woman doing cocaine previously. Beason was arrested and charged with the attack but the charge was quickly dismissed as prosecutors said there was not sufficient evidence to proceed.

“Other than Mr. Frye's statement, police were not able to obtain evidence that Mr. Beason was the assailant,” Assistant District Attorney Bruce Lillie wrote, per the report.

Frye claims Beason angrily came at him in the club to dispute the cocaine allegation. When they went outside to discuss the matter, according to Frye, Beason decked him. Frye suffered a crushed nasal cavity, facial fracture and swelling on his head.

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

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New York-native Testaverde: 'I’d be happy if 9/11 had never happened'

The death of Osama bin Laden brought back sad memories for Vinny Testaverde, who was the Jets quarterback during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Testaverde, who grew up in Long Island, was outspoken and adamant that the NFL should not play games the weekend following the attacks. The league eventually agreed with Testaverde, postponing Week 2, and moving all of those games to that season’s final week.

"There were people saying we should get right back to doing what we do, but I disagreed," Testaverde said during a Monday telephone interview with Sporting News. "I thought somebody needed to stand up and say, `This is a tragedy, we need time to reflect.’ Where my kids were going to school, there were some families who had lost family members. There were people I knew growing up, who knew people that had been affected. It really hit home. I may have felt it more than some of the other players who weren’t from New York like me. I felt it was my responsibility to stand up and say something. Whether that had any impact on the league’s decision or not, I’m still proud that I stood up for what I believed.’’

Herm Edwards, now an ESPN analyst, was the Jets coach at the time. The night before the attacks, Edwards said he remembers looking out the window of his car and seeing the Twin Towers for the last time, as he returned home from picking up someone at Newark Airport. The next morning, Edwards said he was in his office at the Jets practice facility at Hofstra University, engrossed in watching film, unaware of what had taken place until he decided to turn on the television.

"I had the volume on silent at first, but then I looked at the screen," Edwards said. "It was just a hard day. Then the next day, the players came back for practice on Wednesday. I walked in the room and they had that look on their faces. I had that look, too. We went out and tried to get some work done, but it was ugly. And I couldn’t get after them. It was just bigger than football. America had been attacked.

"I mean, I had passed a parking lot where people had left their cars and caught the train for work, and those same cars were still sitting there. All kinds of things went through your mind. So I just gathered the team and told them, `Those you love the most, you need to call them. If you’ve got children, you need to hug them.’ It just wasn’t about football. It was way, way, bigger than that, and everybody knew it. Our football team was not ready to play."

Testaverde said news of bin Laden’s death has caused him to reflect.

"What’s happened in the last 24 hours has brought a lot of people satisfaction,’’ Testaverde said. "But it doesn’t make me happy that he’s dead. Satisfied? Yes. But I’d be happy if 9/11 had never happened, as would millions of other people. We can’t change that. We have to move forward. But at least for some of the families that have suffered, maybe it adds a little closure to their life."

When the news about bin Laden’s death broke, Testaverde was at his Tampa-area home, watching TV.

"It was satisfying to know there is one less evil person we have to worry about," said Testaverde.

The league plans to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the attacks on that day, with a schedule that includes the Giants visiting the Redskins, and the Jets hosting the Cowboys, assuming the season begins as scheduled.

"I don't have any involvement with the NFL anymore, other than being a fan," Testaverde said. "So I don't know all the details. But I hope we get back to playing football. And I hope that come Sept. 11, the league will take a moment and reflect back."

Click here to order Vinny Testaverde’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Jon Beason offers Naples youth his keys to success in life

NAPLES — All-Pro linebacker Jon Beason received a call on Thursday from Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera to be at the team’s training facility Monday after U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson lifted the NFL lockout last week.

Late Friday, however, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the league to re-impose the lockout, forcing Beason and many NFL players to cancel travel plans.

Not having to head to Charlotte, Beason came to Naples on Saturday and had a lot of things to talk about — his Carolina Panthers’ drafting of Auburn quarterback Cam Newton No. 1, the NFL lockout and the possibility of missing games and paychecks.

But top priority for Beason was to discuss with local high school athletes about the perils and temptation on performance enhancing drugs and the keys to success in sports and life.

Beason, whose mother, Terry, is a Naples resident, University of Miami strength training coach Andrew Swasey, and Naples internist Dr. Robert Korolevich joined world champion natural body builder Michael Ferencsik to form a panel at the Community School field house on Saturday to address local athletes.

It was Ferencsik and his organization, Muscle Agaisnt Drugs (MAD) that organized the event.

Ferencsik spoke first, informing the audience that nearly one million kids nationwide are taking PEDs and that the fastest-growing group that are using are middle school-aged girls.

He and Korolevich discussed the legal and health aspects involved with taking PEDs and the benefits of proper nutrition.

When it was Beason’s turn, the Panthers’ team captain stayed mostly away from the details of PED use and focused on what athletes can do naturally and legally to succeed on and off the playing field.

“Something like this today, for me isn’t so much about drugs, but to be encouraging and to help kids be successful,” said Beason, who was a first-round draft pick by Carolina in 2007 out of Miami. “When I was growing up, I didn’t have professional athletes come to the school and talk about the keys to success.

“When it comes to young athletes, I can almost go to them as a friend. When I was young, I looked at someone like Jerry Rice and asked what does he do.”

When it came to the question and answer period, a CSN football player asked Beason about his team’s drafting of Newton, last season’s Heisman Trophy winner.

“(Newton’s) a great addition to our football team,” said Beason, who grew up in Miramar. “The guy’s a tremendous talent. A lot of upside. If we put into our offense what he does well, it would help any offense.”

The pick of Newton was controversial on numerous fronts, one being that the Panthers drafted former Notre Dame standout quarterback Jimmy Claussen in the second round last year.

“I’m a big fan of competition,” Beason said. “If I’m Jimmy Claussen, I’m saying, ‘Fine, bring him in. I’ll coach him up. I’ll be there early and stay late to make sure I’ll keep my job.’”

As for the current lockout, Beason isn’t so concerned — at this point.

“As an NFL player (the lockout) doesn’t necessarily affect us now because we don’t compete until we play and that’s in September,” Beason said. “The things I would be doing anyway today are stuff like speaking at a school, and when Monday rolls around, I would be training in South Florida.

“I don’t think we’ll miss games. There’s just too much money on the table, but you never know with these owners. If I told anyone that worked a job, ‘Hey, give me 18 percent of your salary back,’ no one would continue to work that job.

“Eighteen percent is a crazy amount — and they want us to work longer.”

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

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James Jones has proved he can get physical if needed

MIAMI — Heat forward James Jones is one of the least physically imposing players on the team.

At 6-foot-8, 215 pounds, he's hardly Shaquille O'Neal. But when it comes getting aggressive, James has no problem.

He's been involved in a couple skirmishes in the postseason, refusing to shy from physical play.

"It's not that I'm being aggressive. I'm not stepping into guys' faces, and I'm not out here trying to muscle the game," Jones said. "Guys are stepping towards me, or at least I'm the guy that's out there trying to lay it out, stepping in front of them, making them uncomfortable. So it's just that I'm not going to back down."

Jones, mostly known for his 3-point shooting, nearly brawled with Philadelphia 76ers forward Thad Young in the first round. In Game 4, he got into a minor altercation with rookie Evan Turner before Young intervened. Both players were given technical fouls.

The second incident occurred in Game 1 against the Boston Celtics. Boston forward Paul Pierce took exception to being fouled hard by Jones. Pierce appeared to head-butt Jones after the play, drawing the first of two technicals in the game.

"I'm not being aggressive. I'm not a fighter. I'm not a brute," Jones said. "That's not me. But when it comes to competing I'm going to stand my ground. I might be small and frail, but that doesn't mean I won't stand up."

As to why he's attracted so much physical play, Jones said it's a matter of it being the postseason and the opposition going after the supposed weak link.

"It's nothing more," Jones said. "You just look out there on the court, you've got three of the best players in the league [LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh], and so they're going to go at what they feel is the lesser player, the rotation guys, the support guys, the backup guys. That's part of basketball. It's the chess match."

The feistiness is proof the Heat can play physical after earning a reputation of being a finesse team early in the season.

"We're aggressive, competitive players," Jones said. "Our demeanor and our motives aren't to go out there and batter and bruise people. But it's, 'We aren't going to be bruised.' We've taken our licks this year. We've had our growing pains, we've taken our lumps and I think it's made us better made us stronger and mentally."

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James Jones a ‘silent assassin’ from long distance

Many of the nation’s NBA fans — and the Boston Celtics — were probably shocked to see James Jones score 25 points off the bench and spark the Heat to a 99-90 win in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Sunday.

But for the coaches and players who worked alongside Jones at the University of Miami from 1999 to 2003, his big night was not entirely surprising. He is the best student and one of hardest-working players ever to come out of the Hurricanes program, and they view his performance as a just reward.

Jones graduated from UM with a finance degree and a 3.4 grade point average. He remains the only UM men’s basketball player ever to be named Academic All-American, and he was as obsessed with his jump shot as he was with his grades.

Perry Clark, the former UM coach, texted Jones a congratulatory note immediately after the game from Corpus Christi, Texas. Stan Jones, the former UM assistant coach who recruited him with Leonard Hamilton, watched with pride from his home in Tallahassee.

And Brandon Okpalobi, a former Hurricanes teammate, fielded calls from relatives and friends during the game asking, “Didn’t you play with that guy at UM?”

“I am very, very proud of the way he played, but his performance didn’t surprise me at all,” Clark said. “His work ethic and confidence in himself has been his label since he played for us at UM. He is quiet, and very, very smart, and as competitive as they come. His talent and personality are the perfect complements for that Heat team.”

When Jones played for Clark at UM from 2000 to ’03, the coach called him “our silent assassin.” The media and opposing defenses tended to focus on Darius Rice and John Salmons, and Jones took advantage.

“James likes sneaking up on people,” Salmons said at the time. “Makes him hungry.”

Said Rice: “They never key on James, and he capitalizes.”

A prime example was a 2001 game against then-No. 22 Seton Hall.

All the talk was of the Pirates’ Eddie Griffin, who was a highly-regarded freshman. Griffin was leading the nation with averages of 12.5 rebounds and 5.1 blocks a game. More than 15 NBA scouts were at Miami Arena to see him.

What they saw was Jones, the game’s other No. 33, score a game-high 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting (5 of 7 from three-point range). His defense was equally impressive. Jones held Griffin to 12 points — seven came in the final minutes — and zero blocks.

“James was always in the gym early and left late,” Okpalobi said.

“Shooters have to shoot, and you can tell by his perfect form how much he has worked. It’s all paying off. With LeBron [James] and [Dwyane] Wade being slashers, that leaves James to take target practice.”

Stan Jones, no relation, was impressed with Jones from the time he started recruiting him from Miami American. The son of two corrections officers, James Jones was extremely disciplined.

“His character and great intelligence separate him from the pack,” Jones said. “He has a quiet confidence, never lets misses bother him, and that’s why he’s such a good shooter. But Sunday, I was most proud of his toughness. I was glad to see him add fire to the team and not let guys bully him.”

Early this season, Jones was asked what it was like playing with the Big 3.

“I’m just another clown in this circus,” he said, smiling.

The Celtics will surely take that clown more seriously in Game 2 on Tuesday.

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Jason Michaels plays in rehab game

Jason Michaels (shoulder) played left field Monday and went 2-for-5 in his third minor league rehab game with Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Michaels is 3-for-12 (.250) with a walk and four strikeouts over his first three games with the RedHawks. The Astros still want him to get some more at-bats, but we wouldn't be surprised to see him activated from the disabled list before the end of the week.

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Yonder Alonso thriving in the outfield

You can hear the sheer joy in Yonder Alonso's voice when recalling his first major league hit. He rejoices in the detail.

The Cincinnati Reds prospect and current Louisville Bat had a pinch-hit double in St. Louis in September and later scored. He got high-fives from teammates as he entered the dugout.

His mother, father, sister and uncle were at Busch Stadium cheering. Alonso was 10 years old when the family fled Cuba.

“After the game ends is when it really sinks in,” said Alonso, 24. “I just got a hit at the big league level. It's everything that you've worked for, and it's the beginning of what I hope will be a long career.”

Alonso's not there yet.

The 2008 first-round draft choice (seventh overall) is back with the Reds' Triple-A affiliate. He's playing left field now instead of first base, and after a sluggish start, he's slugging again.

Alonso is batting .387 over his past 10 games to boost his average to .293. He is also tied for third on the team in home runs (three) and — most surprisingly — tied for first in stolen bases (four).

He said he isn't bothered by the position switch. After all, it's not like he's going to beat out Reds first baseman and reigning National League MVP Joey Votto.

He's just grateful to be playing baseball.

Many Cubans make a perilous exit from the communist country. Alonso's father arranged a plane to take Yonder, his mother and his sister to the United States. They didn't have any family here.

“It was tough,” he said. “My dad and my mom worked four, five jobs. We cleaned offices. My dad was an umpire for Little League. I was helping clean offices, and I was also playing baseball at the park. It was a tough life when I was younger.”

Baseball runs in the Alonso family. Father Luis Alonso was a catcher and first baseman for Cuba's famous Industriales club. Yonder starred at Coral Gables (Fla.) High School before helping lead the University of Miami to the College Worlds Series as a freshman.

After his junior season, Alonso signed a major league contract with the Reds worth $4.55 million, including a $2 million signing bonus.

Of the six players taken before him, only San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey has established himself as a future star. Posey was the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year, helping the Giants to the World Series title.

Alonso was rated as the Reds' top overall prospect by Baseball America in 2009, and this year he's No. 4. He's a career .291 batter in the minors and went 6 for 29 (.207) with the Reds last September.

Louisville manager Rick Sweet said Alonso's position change might have contributed to his slow start at the plate. To adjust to a new position, Sweet said, you have to put in extra time on defense. That sometimes can mean less time for batting practice.

“It would be nice if you could separate things, but it doesn't happen that way,” Sweet said. “When you're used to playing as a first baseman you go out and you don't have to think your way through the whole process. You can split (practice time) 50-50.”

Alonso denies that the move to left was a factor. He said the extra practice in the outfield has helped. (He hasn't been charged with an error.) The biggest improvement Alonso has made has been his base-running. He was 14 for 18 in stolen bases for his career. This season he's 4 of 6 and is on-pace to surpass his career high of nine steals set last season.

Sweet said Alonso is running smarter on the bases. Alonso isn't known for his speed.

“I'm trying to get into scoring position,” the 6-foot-2 215-pounder said. “I'm not the fastest guy. I have to be very smart, and things have to work out.”

Alonso said he doesn't spend much time thinking about when he'll be back in the majors. One of his mentors is Alex Rodriguez. They talk every few weeks.

“He's taught me so much,” Alonso said. “He taught me how to work, how to stay tough, how to grind it out when things are going rough. He's been a great friend to me.”

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Gaby Sanchez named the National League Player of the Week

Florida Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez has been named the National League Player of the Week for the period ending May 8, 2011. The announcement was made earlier today on MLB Network.

In seven games last week, the Miami native led the National League with 13 hits, 10 RBI and 22 total bases. His .464 (13-for-28) batting average and .531 on-base percentage both ranked second-best in the N.L. Sanchez also had two home runs, three doubles and a .786 slugging percentage during the week while scoring six runs. The 27-year-old slugger had two hits, including his first career grand slam on Monday, May 2nd, propelling the Fish to a 6-5 victory in the first game of a four-game set against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. On May 3rd, the University of Miami product matched a career-best with a four-hit performance in a losing effort against the Redbirds. Sanchez recorded his third multi-hit game of the week on May 4th, going 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI in an 8-7 win over the Cards. The Marlins' fourth round selection in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft had his second four-hit game of the week on Sunday, going 4-for-4 with a home run, a pair of doubles, three RBI and three runs scored as the Marlins routed the Nationals, 8-0, at Sun Life Stadium. The multi-hit game was the 12th of Sanchez' sophomore campaign and is the most by any Marlins player this season. Sanchez leads the Fish in batting average, hits and runs scored, and has reached base in 30 of the club's 33 games this season, compiling the N.L.'s sixth-best on-base percentage of .414. His .328 batting average ranks ninth in the N.L., while his 41 hits are tops among all N.L. first baseman. This is his first career Player of the Week Award.

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Ryan Braun named the Budweiser Presents National League Player of the Month for April

Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun has been voted the Budweiser Presents National League Player of the Month for April. Budweiser, the official beer sponsor of Major League Baseball and sponsor for 24 of 30 MLB clubs, is also the presenting sponsor of the National League and American League Player of the Month Awards.

Through the first month of the 2011 season (including one game played on March 31st), Braun batted .367 (36-for-98) and was tied for the National League lead in both home runs (10) and runs scored (24). His 36 hits and .724 slugging percentage ranked second in the N.L. while his 23 RBI were good for third. The 27-year-old also added a .457 on-base percentage with three doubles, a triple and three stolen bases. The Brewers' first-round selection in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft began his 2011 campaign with a bang, going 2-for-3 with a home run and three runs scored in Milwaukee's Opening Day loss at Cincinnati on March 31st. The University of Miami product drove in the only run scored in the Brew Crew's first win of the season on April 5th over the visiting Braves. On April 18th, Braun's 3-for-4, two- RBI performance propelled the Brewers to an extra-inning victory at Philadelphia. Braun's sacrifice fly in the top of the 12th inning drove in what proved to be the decisive tally in the Brewers' 6-3 win over the Phils. That sparked a torrid week for the California native, in which he batted .480 (12-for-25) with three homers and nine RBI, garnering N.L. Player of the Week honors for the period of April 18th-25th. The three-time N.L. All-Star has now reached base safely in 28 consecutive games to begin the season after eclipsing the franchise record previously held by Robin Yount (23 games in 1983). Braun's 10 home runs are currently second in the Majors and he is tied for second with 24 runs scored. This is his third monthly honor, having won previously for the months of July 2007 and July 2008.

Other players receiving votes were Cardinals right fielder Lance Berkman, who batted .367 (35-for-89) with eight home runs, 22 RBI, 23 runs scored and eight doubles; Braun's teammate Prince Fielder, whose 26 RBI were second-most among National Leaguers; Dodgers outfielders Andre Ethier, who had 41 hits during the month and currently owns a 28-game hitting streak, and Matt Kemp, who hit .368 (29-for-106) on the month with eight stolen bases; and Phillies infielder Placido Polanco, who batted .398 (41-for-103) with seven doubles and 19 RBI.

The Budweiser Presents National League Player of the Month, Ryan Braun, will receive a specially designed trophy, suitably engraved, in recognition of his accomplishment.

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Yonder Alonso Willing But Reluctant to Go To Reds Outfield

Reds top hitting prospect Yonder Alonso -- stuck at Triple A Louisville because his promotion to Cincinnati is blocked at first base -- is willing to keep learning the outfield if that's what it takes to make the major leagues, though he would prefer to stay at his natural corner position.

"I think I'm a good first baseman;  I like playing first base;  I want to stay there,  but they've already got some guy up there,"  Alonso told Sirrius-XM Radio host Grant Paulsen on Paulsen's Sunday morning "Majors and Minors" program.

The "guy" playing first base for the Reds,  of course,  is none other than reigning MVP Joey Votto,  who is not likely to give up his position anytime soon.

"We text each other every day,"  Alonso said.  "I tell him,  'I hit a home run today,'  and he says back, 'I hit two!"

Alonso, 24, a former first round pick,  rejects calls for him to be traded,  hoping the day will come when he finally takes the field at Great American Ballpark,  at first,  in the outfield or on the bench.

"This is where I was drafted.  This is where I want to stay,"  he said.

The former Cuban national -- who fled the communist controlled Caribbean island when a boy -- is hitting .280 in his first 84 at-bats for the Redbirds, but is heating up.  He has four hits in his last 12,  including two homers.

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