Najeh Works Out for Broncos and Rams

Najeh Davenport worked out for the Broncos earlier in the week but was not signed. On Tuesday he worked out for the St. Louis Rams and took a physical but was yet to be signed.


Ravens' Lewis not intimidated by New York Giants' Jacobs - or anyone

First of all, a disclaimer: What I've transcribed below can - and probably will - be misconstrued as Ravens LB Ray Lewis taking shots at Giants RB Brandon Jacobs. Having been in the Giants' locker room for five seasons now, I know they'll use these words as motivation.

But having been around all kinds of football players, especially a prideful middle linebacker in Antonio Pierce, I know what Lewis was saying and it wasn't anything close to the shots the Browns were taking at Jacobs.

With that said, here's what Lewis said on a conference call with reporters a few minutes ago when asked about Jacobs:

"He's a physical back. He plays the game very physical. The only way to stop somebody like that is to run into him full-speed. That's the game of football. The name of football is hit or be hit. So the bottom line is I don't care how big his size is, how big none of that is. Football is football. And when you strap on your chin strap, I don't care how big you are, deal with whoever's got the ball and let life take care of itself. You just know, as a middle linebacker, you don't want to start letting them get into your secondary like you see the Eagles and a lot of people did, like big gaping holes to where he's getting up on your corners and your secondary, I don't think that's an even match. But when you're dealing with the front seven where linebackers meet running backs and fullbacks and things, then let it take care of itself. Our job is to not let him get to our secondary because he can be an imposing threat back there."

Again, when you look at the above, you might be tempted to infer Lewis is saying he and the rest of Baltimore's front seven can easily handle Jacobs. That's not the case. And if anyone expected a guy like Lewis to come on the conference call and even hint about how much he's worried about playing Jacobs for the first time, well, then you don't know Lewis, you don't know middle linebackers and you don't know football.

When asked about Jacobs' size and the disparity between him and the average back, Lewis displayed the swagger I'm talking about and the cockiness you need to play in the middle in the NFL:

"Okay, so what are you going to do? Run from it? You just play football. I don't look at the schedule, look at somebody's weight and say, 'Oh, guess what, he's 260. I can't run into him.' Hell no, I'm chasing him. It doesn't matter. Size has never mattered in this game. And the day you put size in this game, you lose all your credibility on why you play the game. You play the game for that. I remember these same stories about how big Eddie George was - so big and so bruising. Okay, let football take care of itself. That's what it's always done and always will do.

Strong words? Sure. A shot at Jacobs? No way. Just a guy who's confident in himself, as he should be.


Willis McGahee: Bounces Back

McGahee had the best game of his season against Houston on Sunday, gaining 112 yards and two touchdowns off 25 carries while adding a nine-yard reception.

Meanwhile, Ray Rice gained just 17 yards off 7 carries and Le'Ron McClain gained 19 yards off four carries. After questions prior to the game regarding how the Ravens would split their carries in Week 10, McGahee seems to have regained his feature role from Rice and also was given the goal-line carries that McClain has vultured all season long. While the increased role was great to see, you still should not set your expectations for McGahee too high the rest of the season, as four of his six games from Weeks 11-16 come against defenses ranked top-10 against the run.


Vilma's resurgence sitting well with Saints

METAIRIE – Jonathan Vilma sank into a sofa in the Saints’ training center with a TV remote in his hand and clicked through a few newscasts before his head tilted back and he fell asleep.

And why wouldn’t he need a nap?

The Saints’ middle linebacker has been on field for every defensive play through New Orleans’ first six games and leads the team in tackles with 56.

Then there’s the time he spends in practice and meetings learning the jobs of his defensive teammates.

“It’s like having a quarterback who knows what he’s supposed to do on offense,” Saints defensive tackle Brian Young said of Vilma.

“If you’ve got a guy who’s back there and basically telling everybody what to do and where to go, you’ve got confidence, you don’t have to worry about as much. ... You just go out there and play, so it makes it a lot easier.”

Vilma even talks like a quarterback sometimes, crediting the linemen who play in front of him every time someone asks him about making double-digit tackles in a game.

“Any time the media thinks I have a good game, it’s strictly because of what my D-line does,” Vilma said after making 11 tackles against Oakland last Sunday.

“The D-line knows I appreciate them very much.”

In New Orleans, the comparison of Vilma to a quarterback is fitting in another way.

The Saints took a chance on the former Jets star in much the same way they did in 2006 with Drew Brees, who was jettisoned by San Diego following a serious injury to his throwing shoulder.

Three seasons later, the Saints look pretty smart for bringing in Brees.

So far, last winter’s trade for Vilma doesn’t look too bad, either.

Vilma, a first-round draft choice out of Miami in 2004, was a Pro Bowl linebacker with the Jets in 2005.

Then a switch in defensive schemes, followed by a serious knee injury, made him expendable in New York.

The Saints were able to get him for a fourth-round draft choice last spring and a conditional pick next season, likely in the third round.

The hope was that Vilma, like Brees, would overcome injury and thrive in a scheme that suited his strengths.

The Saints play a 4-3 defense (four down linemen and three linebackers), the same scheme the Jets used when Vilma was 2004 Defensive Rookie of the Year and a Pro Bowl selection the next season, when he led the NFL in tackles with 187.

In 2006, however, the Jets hired coach Eric Mangini, who replaced a three-linebacker scheme with a four-linebacker formation that he knew from his time as an assistant with New England.

The switch required Vilma, who is 6-foot-1, 230-pounds, to take on blocks from offensive linemen who outweighed him significantly.
What he lacked in size he sought to make up in quickness.

Still, he wasn’t the dominant linebacker he had been when he played behind four down linemen who ate up more blockers and allowed the linebackers to focus on pursuing the ball carrier.

Vilma’s knee injury forced him to miss the last nine weeks of 2007 and required painful surgery involving a bone graft.

He had muscle atrophy in his leg and had to work throughout the offseason to rebuild his strength and quickness.

“The anticipation of whatever play’s coming and being able to just go sideline to sideline – that was something I was never going to know until I actually started playing back in training camp,” Vilma said. “Now I feel good about where I’m at. I think I’m able to make those plays and it’s comforting knowing that my knee hasn’t been an issue and hopefully it won’t be.”


Ray Lewis selected for AFC weekly honors

Ray Lewis earned the defensive award with a team-high nine tackles, two interceptions and two passes defensed in Baltimore's 41-13 drubbing of Houston on Sunday. It was his third career two-interception game. The Lewis-led Ravens also limited the Texans to just 75 rushing yards.


Wayne keeps his eye on the ball

PITTSBURGH -- Reggie Wayne was good Sunday at Heinz Field. He had six receptions, 114 yards and one touchdown in the Indianapolis Colts' 24-20 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

He also was lucky.

On his 65-yard touchdown, Wayne adjusted when Peyton Manning's pass along the left sideline was underthrown and went through the hands of Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor. Wayne secured the deflection, spun away from safety Ryan Clark and sprinted to the end zone for the longest play allowed by Pittsburgh this season.

Wayne snatched another pass deflected by Taylor in the third quarter, that time gaining 16 yards.

"Those count, too, you know what I mean?'' Wayne said after posting his second 100-yard receiving game of the season and 25th of his career. "It's not giving up on a play and trying to be the man to make the play."

So, it's better to be lucky than good?

"I'd rather be both,'' Wayne said.

Tipped passes, according to Manning, are "cyclical.''

"They've been going the other way,'' he said, "so it was nice to have a couple of them bounce our way.''


Portis spends day in training room

Washington's Clinton Portis spent Wednesday in the training room trying to get ready for Sunday's game against the Cowboys. He remains a game-time decision, but coach Jim Zorn sounded more optimistic than he did earlier in the week.


"Well, today he could straighten out his leg,'' Zorn said after Wednesday's practice at Redskins Park. "It was hip, hip hooray.''

Portis has a second-degree sprain of a medial collateral ligament in his left knee. He injured the knee in the loss to Pittsburgh earlier this month but continued to play.

"He's going to go if he can,'' Zorn said. "But it would be foolish for us to put him out there if he's 60 or 70 percent.''


Phillies Express interest in re-signing Burrell

Ken Mandel, of, reports the Philadelphia Phillies have contacted the agent for free-agent OF Pat Burrell (Phillies), and have indicated that they are interested in re-signing him. If Burrell returns, it will likely be with a short-term deal and for less money than he can get with another club. Burrell is expected to test the free-agent market.


AFC North stock watch

Who's hot?

1. Ray Lewis, LB, Baltimore Ravens
Ray Lewis put together arguably his best game of the season in a 41-13 blowout victory over the Houston Texans. Lewis was dominant against the run--leading the team in tackles with eight--and jumping the passing lanes with two interceptions of Houston quarterback Sage Rosenfels. Throughout his career, Lewis has always had an uncanny knack for finding the football and did so again Sunday with another performance that was vintage Lewis. It's been apparent all year that the 13-year veteran can still bring it.

2. Willis McGahee, RB, Ravens
Is it us, or does Baltimore seem to have a different 100-yard rusher every week? Last week rookie Ray Rice had the hot hand. This week it was veteran Willis McGahee, who returned from a knee injury and rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns. No matter who is getting the carries, it all equals success for the Ravens. Baltimore has a four-game winning streak and is averaging 33.5 points per game during that span. The consistent running game and ability to control the clock against opponents are major reasons why.

3. Kellen Winslow Jr., TE, Cleveland Browns
A major reason for new Browns quarterback Brady Quinn's success last week were the numbers put up by tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. He had a season-high 10 catches for 111 yards and two touchdowns in a losing effort against Denver. It marked the first multi-touchdown game for Winslow since high school. It's clear that Cleveland's offense under Quinn will take on a much different look and will focus more on short passes to the tight ends and running backs. So Winslow could be in for a big second half of the season with the quarterback change.


NFLU Week 10 Photos

Check out Week 10 photos from around the the NFL of our proCanes. Click here to see the photos.

Former Hurricane and current Bill would be a perfect Wildcat

Roscoe Parrish and Josh Reed do the same job in the most different way imaginable. With the utilitarian Reed still absent last Sunday, Parrish tried to do a little possession receiving against the New England Patriots in his team's 20-10 loss; still, the speediest Buffalo Bills wideout remains dreadfully underused.


Andre Johnson Update

Houston is developing a nice receiving duo with WR Andre Johnson and TE Owen Daniels. Johnson is an excellent big-play threat and he is almost impossible to cover one-on-one, while Daniels is good on the underneath routes and check downs. Most defenses play a Cover 2 against the Texans to not only take away the deep ball from Johnson, but also to put a safety in place to help the corner over the top.


NFLU Week 10 Video Highlights

Check out the return of our NFL U Video Highlights. Like we did back in 2006, will provide our fans every week video highlights of all of our NFL U stars along with pictures from the current NFL Week. Click here to check out our Week 10 Video Highlights or click above on NFL U Video Highlights. Enjoy this week's highlights which feature an 2 INTs by Ray Lewis, 2 TDs by Willis McGahee, a TD by Reggie Wayne and more!

Eagles inquired about TE Winslow

Eagles inquired about TE Winslow before deadline

Whether the Eagles really would have pulled the trigger on tight end Kellen Winslow before the trade deadline had the price tag not been prohibitive, which quietly is the word, or whether it was just a smokescreen is open to debate.

On the other hand that wasn’t the first time the Eagles inquired about Winslow and as long as Andy Reid is head coach it almost certainly won’t be the last.

The Cleveland Browns wanted a second-rounder and multiple picks, according to a source, the Eagles obviously less. Winslow was preferred over Tony Gonzalez, the other high-profile tight end dangled before the trade deadline.

The Eagles quietly don’t think Winslow would behave as he did with the Browns, his outbursts and decision to bypass the voluntary camps not helping his popularity. On the other hand those antics have made the Browns wonder if he’s worth all of the trouble. Under pressure from the NFL Players Association, they recently rescinded a one-game suspension of Winslow for conduct detrimental to the team

A change of scenery might be best for both sides although Winslow has said he would prefer to stay in Cleveland — if, that is, the Browns redo his contract. Winslow has two more years remaining.

Unless tight end L.J. Smith starts playing like Winslow — or Eagles teammate Brent Celek, for that matter — it would seem a foregone conclusion he won’t be back at anything close to the $4.55 million base he’s earning this season. With Celek on the rise, veteran Matt Schobel likely is on the way out as well.

With 36 receptions for 362 yards and three touchdowns, Winslow isn’t having another Pro Bowl season. The same can be said of his teammates as the Browns are 3-6, their second starting quarterback in Brady Quinn and in need of a miracle to make the playoffs.

That said Winslow contributed 10 catches for 111 yards and two TD’s in a 34-30 loss to the Denver Broncos Thursday night.

If the up-and-coming Celek could haul in six passes for 131 yards against the Seahawks, imagine what Winslow could do in the Eagles’ offense.


Saints benching Shockey?

As Drew Brees frantically and futilely tried to pass the Saints back into contention against the Falcons on Sunday, Jeremy Shockey, the club's high-profile offseason acquisition, found himself in a strange and decidedly low-profile place: on the sideline. In the desperate fourth-quarter finish, Brees completed a remarkable 19 passes for 294 yards and two touchdowns. None of them was to Shockey. The Saints ran 36 plays in the fourth quarter -- the equivalent of a normal half -- and Shockey was on the field for three of them. The official explanation was that Shockey had left the game with an injury, and indeed Shockey's right ankle was swollen with fluid in the postgame locker room. But that didn't explain Shockey's absence on the drive before the injury, which occurred on the second drive of the fourth quarter. On the Saints' first possession of the fourth quarter, Billy Miller played almost every down at tight end. "We rotated (Shockey) and Billy because of the nature of what we were doing route-wise," Saints Coach Sean Payton said. If that was the case, the only rotation I saw was Miller rotating in and Shockey rotating to the sideline. Afterward, Shockey said anyone who thought he was out of the game for any reason other than his injury "was wrong." But clearly he was out of the game for some reason.


Zorn: Portis 50-50 for Sunday

Clinton Portis is questionable at this point and his chances of facing Dallas on Sunday are "50-50," Coach Jim Zorn said after practice today. Portis has a knee sprain that has worsened since the team last played Nov. 3.

Zorn remains optimistic that Portis will play, but conceded that "it would be a major issue for all of us," if he cannot. Zorn said that second-string back Ladell Betts may be back from his knee injury for Sunday's game, but that he is not "expecting" that result.

Should the Redskins be without Betts and Portis, Zorn said RB Rock Cartwright would continue to return kicks, but would have some of his other special teams work curtailed given the shortage of available runners. If Betts returns and Portis is out, Zorn said Betts would play ahead of Shaun Alexander, but that it very well could be " a community position."

Santana Moss's hamstring is still "a little tentative," but Zorn said he expects Moss to play Sunday.


Shockey day-to-day with ankle injury reports Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey is "day-to-day" with an ankle injury suffered during Week 10's loss to the Falcons.

Shockey, who was a late arrival at camp because of a leg injury and missed three games with a sports hernia, had two catches for 16 yards in the loss.

Shockey owners across the country (myself included) no doubt are rolling their eyes. He has just 223 yards and no TDs this season.

Even if Shockey were healthy, I submit he wouldn't be that much of a factor. The Saints' offense is one that has nine zillion receivers running in nine zillion directions.

Shockey is better off in an I-form, play-action, throw-it-to-the-tight-end-across-the-middle-type of offense. (Read: New York Giants). Maybe he would've been better off staying in New York after all.

Shockey owners can't count him for Week 11. Who are the replacements?

Teammate Billy Miller isn't a bad start. He has 50 or more receiving yards in New Orleans' last five games. Shockey's replacement in New York, Kevin Boss, isn't a bad play either. He has a TD in three straight games, and Eli Manning will have to keep it simple against the Ravens.

A last-ditch play is Todd Heap. The Baltimore tight end showed some signs of life in Week 10 (58 yards, 2 TDs), and the formerly elite level tight end will be in Joe Flacco's sights against the Giants.

As for Shockey owners, reserve that spot on the bench. He's still worth owning, but it comes with bemoaning.


Kevin Everett to be Grand Marshal of Beaumont Christmas Parade

Beaumont, Texas  - When choosing the 2008 Christmas Parade Grand Marshal, the City of Beaumont was looking for someone who could relate to what the area had been through this year and provide inspiration to help lift citizens' spirits. Southeast Texas native and former Buffalo Bill Kevin Everett fit the "bill" perfectly.

Just as Southeast Texans have shown resilience in bouncing back from the violent destruction of Hurricane Ike, Everett has been fighting physically to regain mobility and strength after suffering a paralyzing and potentially fatal cervical spine fracture while making a tackle.

"Just because you get knocked down doesn't mean you've got to stay down," Everett told Sports Illustrated about his injury and subsequent miraculous recovery. The quote resonates with many Southeast Texans working to rebuild their homes and businesses in the wake of the hurricane. The Christmas Holiday Festival and Parade is Beaumont's way of showing its miraculous recovery as well, and providing families a grand event to kick off holiday celebrations.

As Grand Marshal, Everett will participate in the Tree Lighting Ceremony on the grounds of the Art Museum of Southeast Texas at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 6, and then ride along in the Lighted Christmas Parade at 6 p.m.

About Kevin Everett: Everett, born and raised in Port Arthur, was drafted out of the University of Miami in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. Two short years later in Week One of the season, Sept. 9, 2007, the tight end sustained the neck injury that ended his promising career. During the second half kickoff return, Everett's efforts to tackle an opposing team member resulted in a helmet-to-helmet collision that left him lying motionless on the field.

Everett was transported to a hospital for a lengthy surgery. Doctors described Everett's injury as "catastrophic" and leaving him with a "permanent neurological deficit" that would make a full recovery unlikely.  But it was his determination, inner strength and superior medical care that had him moving his arms and legs just two days later. On Oct. 16, Everett took his first steps since the injury and was fully walking on his own by Dec. 7.

Called the "Miracle Man," Everett has written a book about his remarkable recovery and is realizing his new role as an inspiration for other victims of spinal cord injuries.

Grand Marshal Everett will definitely help the City of Beaumont spread the holiday cheer and convey the 2008 Parade's theme: "Celebrating the Spirit of Southeast Texas."

The City of Beaumont invites everyone to come celebrate the sights and sounds of the holidays with a lighted parade and a day of festivities at Beaumont's Christmas Holiday Festival & Parade Saturday, December 6.

Events begin at 8:30 a.m. with a 5K Jingle Bell Fun Run from the Crockett Street Entertainment District. The Junior League of Beaumont's Very Merry Main Street Market will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Beaumont Civic Center.  Public Ice Skating will take place at The criKet Ice Skating Rink between the Julie Rogers Theatre and the Public Library.  A Children's Party will be held at the Art Museum of Southeast Texas and Texas Energy Museum at 2:30 p.m. with the Official Tree Lighting Ceremony at 5 p.m. and Lighted Parade following at 6 p.m.


Staying or leaving, Burrell a part of Phila.

Has it been 12 days since the Phillies won the World Series?

It has, and it still feels as if life hasn't been the same since Brad Lidge threw Eric Hinske that 0-2 slider to win it all at Citizens Bank Park. If life hasn't returned to normal for the average Phillies fan, imagine what life has been like for Pat Burrell, who has been in town for most of the last 12 days, including last night when he and Cole Hamels were on the field for the coin toss for the Eagles-Giants game at Lincoln Financial Field.

"We have to leave town in the next couple days," Burrell said about he and his wife, Michelle. "I wish I could stay and hang out. It's been pretty fun. People say, 'You won't pay for a dinner here for the next 10 years.' Well, that's actually been true. I've really been able to get a feel for how excited people are in the city. To be able to walk around and say, 'We won it. We did it. Through all the stuff, we actually went ahead and did it.' It's just a proud feeling."

As everybody knows, Burrell, the team's first pick in the 1998 June amateur draft and the longest tenured player in a Phillies uniform, is a free agent. The Phillies have two other major free agents: lefthanders Jamie Moyer and Scott Eyre. The Phillies have contacted both, but as of last night Burrell said he hasn't heard from the Phillies.

"You never know what's going to happen," Burrell said. "I think it's been very clear that I want to stay, and they know that. But at the same time, I don't know what the direction of the organization is. Either way, I've got nothing but positive things and thanks to say to the organization for my time here. And obviously, this past couple weeks has been the end of it all. I want to be back, but I don't know what's going to happen."

The Phillies have exclusive negotiating rights with Burrell through Friday, but at the moment his return seems less likely unless the length of the contract or amount of money is attractive to the Phillies. First, the Phillies have money they probably want to allocate elsewhere. Second, they also might want to get younger and more athletic in left field.

"With the way that they've structured things in the organization with payroll and stuff, there are some issues there that I think are important," Burrell said. "They've got to do what they think is best for the franchise. They're in the position to do whatever they need to do now, and I understand."

Burrell said his having not heard from the Phillies doesn't concern him.

"No, because sometimes with these situations there are agents and all this other stuff that gets involved," he said.

What about a hometown discount?

"When the situation comes up I'll address it then," he said. "Who knows if that's even something that's going to go on? I think I'm at the point in my career with this organization that they're going to have no problem being honest with me and telling me what they want to do. As a player, that's all you want. You'd rather it be that way. I can certainly handle the truth."

What does his gut tell him?

"My gut tells me that it would be great to be here," he said with a smile.

These issues will sort out themselves in the coming weeks. Still, no matter what happens, Burrell always will be remembered for ripping that leadoff double off the left-center field wall in the seventh inning in Game 5, which set up the winning run against the Tampa Bay Rays. He also will be remembered as the man who led the Phillies' parade down Broad Street.

But until he leaves town, he will continue to receive congratulations from anybody and everybody.

"What's up, man? Congrats," Donovan McNabb said on the field before the game.

Even if Burrell's future life is not in Philadelphia, his life will never be the same because of Philadelphia.

"When you see the effect you can have on a city like we have had, it's just incredible," he said.


Gowin glows about success of Sean Taylor Classic

For 37 years, the Greater Miami Pop Warner Football League has been putting the Pop Warner Bowl together.

But, as everyone who attended the two-day event at the University of Miami's Cobb Stadium would agree, this year's version was special.

On Saturday, the Pop Warner Bowl was officially renamed after former Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor, who died Nov. 27, 2007, from a gunshot wound inflicted during a break-in at his Palmetto Bay home.

Taylor wasn't just a two-time Pro Bowler, he was one of Miami's proudest sons.

In the same league in which South Florida's future stars played this weekend, Taylor got his start with the South Dade Rams before making a name for himself at Gulliver Prep and UM.

As most of the dust settled and the two remaining classifications battled it out for their respective championships Sunday, Greater Miami Pop Warner president Frank Gowin thought back to Saturday, when the outlining track around the field was filled to capacity, and Taylor's father, Pete, received a plaque in his son's honor.

''There was definitely a different buzz and more excitement [this year],'' said Gowin, who received a $1,000 donation from Joe Gibbs, Taylor's coach in Washington, $5,000 from Pete Taylor and an additional $1,000 from Gregg Williams, Taylor's defensive coach in Washington.

``It just all seemed to fit.''

The value of Pop Warner has never changed. As most of the younger kids at Cobb Stadium tended to run the wrong way on handoffs and, sometimes, just not know the rules, it was clear that the program's main goal is to serve as a way of introducing youngsters to the game.
Also, it's a way to keep them busy and off the streets.

''This is one of the best dropout-prevention programs,'' said Tim Harris, the former coach at Booker T. Washington who now is with UM.


Texans Notes: Johnson cools after hot October

After posting four consecutive 100-plus-yard games while making 41 catches in October to take over the NFL’s receiving lead, Andre Johnson has tapered off, with a combined 13 catches for 128 yards against Minnesota and Baltimore.

Johnson’s seven receptions Sunday netted 66 yards, with a long of 20.


Back in attack, McGahee makes mark

This was a game defined by spectacular moments, on offense, defense, even special teams (hello, Steve Hauschka). But it was dominated by a player whose longest gain was a mere 12 yards and whose two most significant plays covered a total of 5 yards.

A player who never set foot on the field for the Ravens a week ago.

"I could have played,'' Willis McGahee said today of his game-time decision to stay out of the Ravens' victory in Cleveland with a gimpy right ankle. "But I'm pretty sure I couldn't have played like this. I would have been out there hobbling."

Today, McGahee was the one dishing out the hurt. The entire Ravens' offense spent the day punishing the Houston Texans' defense at a steady pace. But it was McGahee who was most often setting that pace, lugging it 25 times for 112 yards, both season highs, and two touchdowns, his most in one game as a Raven.

Most of the carries and yards were between the tackles, in heavy traffic, where the punishment to his perpetually battered body is greatest and where it benefited the Ravens the most. It was, he said, "my best game of the year.''

Oh, the Ravens' 41-13 win had a lot of bells and whistles: two interceptions by Ray Lewis, one by Haloti Ngata; the latest flourishes from the Suggs Package, just to name a few. But at the core of the Ravens' fourth straight win, and third straight on the road, was your basic, blue-collar, smash-mouth, clock-winding, chain-moving ground game. Led by someone who always seems hurt (because he often is) but who keeps coming back to hurt himself and the opposing defense again.

This week, McGahee was CEO of the backs-by-committee, after Ray Rice filled the role last week with 154 yards. This time, the trio of McGahee, Le'Ron McClain and Rice combined for 36 carries and 148 yards, a crisp 4.1 a pop. Twenty of those carries, and 89 of those yards, came from McGahee in the second half alone.

It becomes more obvious every week that the Ravens can run the ball at will no matter who runs it and whom they run it against -- which is nice to have tucked away now that it's November and they're, yes, in the playoff hunt. Rice, who actually started the game and finished with pedestrian numbers (seven carries, 17 yards), couldn't have cared less that his elder had retaken the spotlight.

"How many did he have?'' Rice asked. "That's what I mean; it really doesn't matter. We've got three good backs who can all run it, so when one gets off, we're like, 'Hey, it's supposed to happen.'. ''

McClain carried it just four times, but three of them were on second- or third-and-one, and he got the first down each time. It almost wasn't fair.

On their first three possessions of the second half, the Ravens sandwiched two touchdowns around a long Matt Stover missed field goal and pretty much locked the game up. They set things up by plowing the Texans backward and chewing up time. Eventually, Sage Rosenfels was playing as if he had to score fast every time and then was throwing it straight to Ravens defenders.

Give credit to McGahee's fresh legs and the fact that the Ravens can afford to let him recover. Plus the fact that McGahee hates feeling left out of the fun. "I'm one of those players who can't sit on the sidelines and just watch my teammates play,'' he said. "I want to go out and be a part of it.''

Last week, he wasn't. This week, he was. Either way, the Ravens' fun doesn't seem to stop.


McGahee pops off for 2 TDs, 121 total yards

Willis McGahee ran 25 times for 112 yards and two touchdowns and caught a nine-yard pass as the Ravens toppled the Texans in Week 10 to improve to 6-3 on the season. Houston's record now stands at 3-6.
McGahee's huge day came out of nowhere. He didn't do much practice work during the week and Ray Rice even started the game over him, but McGahee got hot and the Ravens rode him. The Texans simply could not stop the Ravens' running game. The three-headed monster will continue to make this backfield inconsistent on a week-to-week basis, but it's nice to see McGahee is healthy.


Giants rookie Phillips to get first NFL start against Eagles

On the sideline during Giants games, if rookie safety Kenny Phillips ever needs advice, veteran Sammy Knight is ready with 12 years' worth. Some of it is tips on reading keys and recognizing plays. Some is making sure Phillips' head is in the right place.

"There's only one ball out there," Knight likes to tell Phillips. "As long as you see the ball, you can go get it."

Sunday night against the Eagles, Phillips will be seeing the ball a lot more than usual. The first-round pick will start in place of James Butler, who has been ruled out after injuring his knee last week against the Cowboys. After being used mainly in sub packages through the Giants' first eight games, Phillips will make his first NFL start -- against a division rival on Sunday Night Football, no less.

"A coming-out party," Phillips said. "I appreciate it."

Not that Phillips is throwing a party himself. Instead, he has been extraordinarily calm. He has already seen a lot of playing time this season, so he sees this as an opportunity to be in on more snaps, not a milestone. In the locker room after practice Friday, he said he hadn't even told his family yet.

"I guess (it's a big deal), but I mean, I don't look at that way," he said. "Honestly, I don't. I'm just going out there to play."

Phillips will play free safety, while Michael Johnson will slide over to Butler's spot on the strong side and will also be responsible for making the calls in the secondary. In sub packages, Knight will be used as the extra safety, like he was after Butler got hurt in the Dallas game. Cornerback R.W. McQuarters has also practiced at safety this week.

This will be the second straight game in Philadelphia that Butler has missed. Last December, he was sidelined with a hamstring injury. This week, he thought he might have a chance to play but experienced pain and swelling when he practiced in a limited capacity Thursday.

"I feel very bad about it," Butler said. "It's a big game in the division. But at the same time, I think the team will do better without me because I'm not as healthy as I should be."

Butler expects to be back next week. In the meantime, the Giants will turn to Phillips, who made a name for himself in the preseason with his NFC-East worthy hits. He snared his first interception two weeks ago against Pittsburgh and so far has proved to be what the Giants expected when they drafted him: A rangy, physical player with a lot of upside.

"You teach him where to be at," Johnson said, "and he's going to make the plays naturally."


Steelers Cut Davenport, Sign Donovan Woods

ESPN is reporting that the Steelers have waived reserve running back Najeh Davenport to make room for the return of linebacker Donovan Woods on the roster. This is the second time in less than six months that the Steelers have cut Davenport..

This move comes as a surprise given that it has been reported that Willie Parker will not play against the Colts, and that it was only two weeks ago that Mike Tomlin described Davenport as “the only option” as a kick returner.

Davenport was waived by the Steelers in early June when he became expendable after they signed Mewelde Moore and drafted running back Rashard Mendenhall in the first round of the NFL draft. They quickly resigned Davenport in October after Mendenhall and running back Carey Davis were injured in a game against the Ravens, while Willie Parker was already nursing a sprained MCL.

During his second stint with the team, Davenport only carried twice for five yards, but he returned ten kickoffs garnering a respectable 21.5 yard average.


Vince Wilfork Disputes ESPN Report

The Boston Globe reports New England Patriots NT Vince Wilfork continues to try to clear his name after meeting with commissioner Roger Goodell last week about his style of play and avoiding a suspension but being fined $35,000 for an elbow to the head of Denver Broncos QB Jay Cutler. Wilfork said last Friday that a big part of his meeting, which addressed the nose tackle's penchant for perceived dirty play, focused on his elbow to the left knee of Bills QB J.P. Losman last season, a borderline low blow after Losman released the ball that knocked the Bills quarterback out for three games and resulted in Wilfork being fined $12,500 (reduced upon appeal to $10,000). ESPN initially reported that during the meeting and after reviewing that play with the commissioner, Wilfork admitted to Goodell his hit on Losman was a cheap shot. Yesterday he issued a statement through his agent repudiating that report. "After a very productive and fulfilling meeting with the NFL commissioner, it was inaccurately reported by ESPN that I stated that the hit on Buffalo Bills QB J.P. Losman last season was a cheap shot," said the statement. "I did not say that. I am not that type of player and would never intentionally try [to injure] a fellow NFL colleague."


Webster's injury is 2nd degree MCL sprain

Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said Nate Webster's injury was a second-degree sprain in the MCL of his left knee.
Webster thought it was the "same thing D.J. [Williams] got," and he will have an MRI Friday. The Broncos have lost all three starting linebackers in successive weeks and will likely be starting Jamie Winborn, Wesley Woodyard, and Niko Koutouvides for the next couple of games.


No love from home: How bad has this season gotten for Seahawks cornerback Kelly Jennings?

He'll be returning to his home state this weekend, and his parents won't even be there to see him.

Jennings said that his parents are planning to make the 400-mile trip from Live Oak, Fla., to Miami to attend the University of Miami-Virginia Tech game on Thursday night. It's Senior Night, and the Jennings family plans to watch Hurricanes cornerback Bruce Johnson, who is the son of Kelly Jennings' older sister, Cassandra.

The Seahawks cornerback said that his parents don't want to make the trip twice in a week, so they'll be skipping the Seahawks-Dolphins game.

"I'll see them in the offseason," Jennings said with a shrug. "Of course, I'd love for them to be there. It's always great to see your parents. But I don't let it bother me."

Jennings added that his parents have seen him play live just three times during his three-year NFL career.


Moss's Hammy

With the weekday part of the bye week coming to a close, let me flash back to a couple of quotes from Tuesday.

Santana Moss was asked about his hamstring repeatedly, about how it compares to his past hamstring troubles and about whether he'll be ok after the bye. He kind of got frustrated by the questions, and I thought his response to one of the TV reporters was interesting. He was saying this with a smile, not with tension, but there was some passion in the delivery.

"What is talking gonna do?" Moss began. "If I tell you one thing, it might not be accurate, so therefore I hate even being nice. And that's why I get to, 'Oh, why we've got to go there?' I don't know. Honestly. I don't know, man. I hate being asked this question, because I'm not the judge of that. All I can do is let the body judge in itself and do what it does, and that's all I can do, man. You know, it breaks my brain to try to find the answer for you all the time when you ask me this stuff, so I'm gonna be honest with you, man.

"It really kills me inside," Moss continued, "because I'm like, 'What can I tell you about?' I don't know. All you can do is let it heal, and they all are different. And dealing with one is nothing like dealing with the other, because one might be worse than the other. And you've just got to go off how the body feel."


Vinny Testaverde drops price on Oyster Bay Cove home

Former New York Jet Vinny Testaverde has slashed the asking price on his Oyster Bay Cove home to $4.6 million. The quarterback put the 13,000-square-foot mansion on the market in October 2007 for $6.995 million and has lowered the price at least twice.

It's now co-brokered by Lynda Baker Realty Corp. in Hicksville and Century 21 Prevete Real Estate in Plainview. Elaine Lovaglio of Lynda Baker Realty calls the mansion an "absolutely beautiful family home." One of her favorite features, she says, is a lap pool that leads to a 20-foot waterfall, then into another gunite pool with a hot tub.

The center- hall Colonial has six bedrooms and 7½ baths on four acres. Testaverde and wife, Mitzi, now live in a home in Hillsborough County, Fla., they bought in 2007 for $4.5 million.


Titans coach Fisher wary of Hester's ability to go distance

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Home-run hitter Devin Hester may be in a slump, but that doesn’t mean that he won’t knock one out of the park Sunday when the Bears host the Tennessee Titans at Soldier Field.

The two-time All Pro is still seeking his first kick return touchdown of the season after breaking the NFL record in each of his first two years with five scores in 2005 and six in 2006. 

Hester currently ranks 20th in the NFL in punt returns (6.2-yard average) and 31st in kickoff returns (20.9-yard average).

“I don’t see Devin struggling in the return game,” said Titans coach Jeff Fisher. “If Devin can break three runs in the next three weeks, he’d be leading the league in both categories. 

"That’s how the return game is. He’s making good decisions. He’s catching the ball. He’s very close.”

It would be difficult to find a NFL coach who appreciates what Hester is able to do more than Fisher, who returned punts during four seasons with the Bears from 1981-84.

As a matter of fact, Fisher’s single-season franchise record of 509 punt-return yards set in 1981 stood for 25 years until Hester shattered it with 600 yards as a rookie in 2006.

Fisher still holds Bears marks for punt returns in a game (8) and season (58). His 88-yard punt return touchdown in a 28-17 win over the Buccaneers on Sept. 20, 1981 at Soldier Field was the longest by a Bears player in 39 years.

Hester, meanwhile, brought back a punt 20 yards in last Sunday’s 27-23 victory over the Lions, his longest return since a 25-yarder in the Bears’ 29-13 season-opening win at Indianapolis.

“He was very close against Detroit,” Fisher said. “He’s a step away. We don’t see him as struggling. We see him as one of the all-time returners ever to play the game, so it’s going to be quite a challenge for us.


Former Eagle McDougle hopes to play vs. old team

If there is one game Jerome McDougle wants to be activated for, this is it. The former first-round pick of the Eagles was cut by them just before the season, landing with the Giants to provide depth on the defensive line. He's been inactive for five games and played sparingly in three.

"I'm probably going to be playing at some point here," he said. "It's a long season and I'm going to be ready whenever they call."

McDougle will make his first trip to Lincoln Financial Field as a visiting player. "I talked with a couple guys who have been through it," he said. " Darwin Walker was like, 'It's weird going into the visitors' locker room.' You spend so much time there, it's kind of weird, but that's the nature of the beast. That's the NFL."