Week 2 NFLU proCane Matchups

Week 2 NFL U Matchups 2012

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AllCanes Radio With Clinton Portis

Every Thursday night between 7 - 9pm proCanes.com joins AllCanes Radio at the Shake Shack in Coral Gables to bring the latest news on not only current Hurricane football but also proCane news and exclusive interviews with current and former proCanes. Click below to hear our EXCLUSIVE interview with proCane Clinton Portis who stopped by the Shake Shack Thursday and talked about everything from his retirement plans, to Coach Butch Davis passing him up in the 2002 Draft, to what he thinks the current Hurricanes need to do to get back on top. We are thankful to QuanStar Limo owned by proCane Duane Starks for providing Clinton with transportation to and from the Shake Shack in Coral Gables.


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PHOTO: Three proCane Olympians Visit The White House

T’erea Brown, Lauryn Williams, Brittany Viola

proCane track star T’erea Brown tweeted out a photo Friday morning of herself and fellow proCane Olympians Lauryn Williams (Gold Medal 4x100 relay) and Brittany Viola (Diving) in front of the White House. Stay tuned to more info on their visit to the White House as we hope to have all three proCane on AllCanes Radio in the near future.

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Lamar Miller might make NFL debut Sunday

MIAMI (AP) -- Miami Dolphins running back Daniel Thomas sat out practice for the second day in a row Thursday because of a concussion, increasing the likelihood Lamar Miller will make his NFL debut Sunday against Oakland.

Thomas, the backup to starter Reggie Bush, was hurt in the second quarter of Sunday's season-opening loss at Houston.

Miller traveled with the team but was inactive. He ran for 1,272 yards last year for the Miami Hurricanes, and the Miami native said he looks forward to returning to Sun Life Stadium, this time as a pro.

''It's a great feeling,'' he said. ''I've been playing there for three years. It's just a blessing. A lot of people don't get this opportunity. I'm just trying to take full advantage.''

Also missing practice were receiver Anthony Armstrong (hamstring) and defensive tackle Tony McDaniel (knee).

The Dolphins are looking for more productivity from their No. 2 running back. As a rookie last year, Thomas averaged only 3.5 yards per carry in that role, and didn't score in 165 attempts.

Miller averaged 5.7 yards per carry with the Hurricanes and scored 17 touchdowns in 23 games. He was drafted in the fourth round by the Dolphins.
''Obviously Lamar Miller we drafted for a reason,'' coach Joe Philbin said. ''We think highly of him. We think he's going to be a good player in this league.''

Miller said Bush, a 1,000-yard rusher last year, has been a helpful mentor.

''He has taken me under his wings,'' Miller said. ''Reggie has been helping me a lot with pass protection and the playbook and studying my opponents.''
Miller was the team's busiest running back during the exhibition season. He rushed for 91 yards in 30 carries and caught seven passes for 56 yards.
He said he's ready for a chance in a game that counts, and Bush agreed.

''I think it's time,'' Bush said. ''If he gets his shot he'll do fine.''

Regardless of who carries, the Dolphins hope to run the ball more than last week. They averaged 4.2 yards per carry against Houston but abandoned the ground game after falling behind 24-3 in the first half.

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Denver will continue to limit Willis McGahee's carries

ENGLEWOOD, Colo.—Willis McGahee still is the Broncos' clearcut No. 1 running back. But if it wasn't clear that his game days of 20-to-25 carries were over before the season, it is now.

In the season opener, the Broncos rotated Knowshon Moreno liberally in relief of McGahee and will continue to do so going forward. Moreno even saw work in the red zone, scoring the Broncos' touchdown and shooting a hole in the notion that McGahee would be the Broncos' sole red-zone and goal-line threat throughout the season.

It isn't an indictment of McGahee's skills; rather, it is a concession to his age. McGahee turns 31 this season and was the only 30-something player in the league with more than 12 carries through one week of the season.

Last year, McGahee had six games with at least 20 carries—including three in the first half of the season, which caused him to miss time in the season's second half with hamstring and knee injuries.

Don't be surprised if he rarely, if ever, has 20 carries this year, because he's still the Broncos' steadiest, most consistent running back and the only one who's proved capable of regularly averaging at least 4.0 yards per carry.

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Adewale Ojomo Slowed By Hamstring

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks was back on the practice field Thursday.

Nicks sat out practice on Wednesday to rest his surgically repaired foot, but returned on a "limited" basis Thursday, according to the Giants.

DE Adewale Ojomo (hamstring) was the only player who did not practice at all on Thursday. Others listed as limited were CB Prince Amukamara (ankle), DT Marvin Austin (back), C David Baas (hip), CB Michael Coe (hamstring) and LB Keith Rivers (hamstring).

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Reggie Wayne Dishes on Andrew Luck After Playing Their First Game Together

Reggie Wayne joined WNDE in Indianapolis with Query and Schultz to discuss how he wound up back in Indianapolis, the free agency process, coming back to a Colts team in rebuilding mode, what has struck him early on about Andrew Luck, if he’s had to change parts of his game and early comparisons between Luck and Peyton Manning.

How did it all unfold to the point where you wound up back in Indianapolis?:
“I didn’t know what to expect, just from the history of the way that whole situation goes, you expect the worst. You think you’re not going to be back. I’ve had some good friends, Edgerrin James … was in that same situation and he didn’t come back and he was part of this whole foundation. I kind of just expected the worst and if something good happens, then great. If I was moving on, then I was already expecting it.”

Take us through the situation where so many veterans of the team are let go and shortly thereafter you re-sign:
“It caught me by surprise, also. From the whole free-agent situation, it started at 4 p.m. My phone was just going nuts from about 4 p.m. until about 10 p.m. To be honest with you, I didn’t hear from the Colts until probably 9:50. It was weird. By that time, I basically counted the Colts out. I didn’t think anything was going to happen, but I got that phone call and that’s all I wanted to hear. … Everybody [else] got crossed off. I will say I took a lot less money. I will say that, but this is where my heart was, this is where I wanted to be.”

On watching his jersey up for sale online during free agency:
“Right when free agency started, at that 4 p.m., I was just online messing around, and my jersey went from 50 bucks to on sale for $12.95. I didn’t know what that meant, either. I was like, ‘I guess this is a sign.’”

Why decide to come back to a rebuilding program? Was it because you became the veteran leader of the whole deal?:
“Yeah, it was definitely a humbling experience. Me, being where I’ve been part of this organization and there’s always been a guy — a Peyton Manning, Jeff Saturday, someone that was in more years than I was so it was less for me to do. As I signed that contract, I talked to Mr. Irsay and talked to Chuck Pagano and everybody and they told me they wanted me to be myself. I didn’t have to do anything different. But when you’re around a locker room of so many young guys, you just feel like you have to say something, you have to lead the way. And it’s more than just leading by example. You have to be vocal; they have to hear your voice. So I just took that upon it and took that challenge and it’s keeping me young.”

What’s it like playing with Andrew Luck and what do you notice about him most that we wouldn’t?:
“First of all, I tell you what, I think the Colts picked the right guy. He is a great student of the game. He knows what he’s doing; he’s an excellent learner. He understands the way everything flows. I’ll tell you what I’m excited about, every time I watch him … he’s poised. Nothing seems to rattle him, no matter if he’s sacked, if he throws an interception, something goes wrong, he’s on that sideline and worrying about the next play. … He comes in, takes control of the huddle, understands what’s going on around him, and I really think he’s going to be very, very good one day.”

Have you had to change yourself as a receiving in terms of timing and things of that nature?:
“You do. It starts off just with we run a whole new offense, so I have to retool myself all over again. In the old system, we had to run a lot of square routes. Now it’s a lot of speed turns, so I had to challenge my body all over again. I had run routes like I’m running now since high school. … It all takes time and it’s all going to work together.”

If there’s one comparison you’re willing to make between Luck and Peyton Manning is it their cerebral style of playing the game?:
“Yeah, it is. I don’t think anybody can be as, I won’t say prepared, as Peyton, because Peyton lives and dies football every day. I don’t know too many times where we had a conversation where we didn’t talk about football. That’s just who he is. But you can tell Andrew, he loves the game, loves football, but also wants to have a life after football. That, there, is the difference. “

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Jonathan Vilma has Monday meeting with Goodell

New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma and his attorney, Peter Ginsberg, will meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on their own Monday afternoon, according to a league source.

Vilma, who made the choice and decision, originally had been scheduled to meet with Goodell on Tuesday.

The other three players alleged to have been involved in the Saints' bounty scandal still will meet with Goodell on Tuesday in New York, a source with knowledge of the meeting told ESPN.

Vilma; Will Smith of the Saints; Scott Fujita, a former member of the Saints now with the Cleveland Browns; and Anthony Hargrove, a former Saints player who is a free agent, are facing possible renewed suspensions.

The original suspensions of those four players were vacated Friday by a three-member appeals panel. Vilma originally was suspended for the season, Hargrove for eight games, Smith for four games and Fujita for three games.

The NFL on Thursday issued a statement to clarify the ruling from the internal appeals panel under the collective bargaining agreement.

"In light of some confusion surrounding the ruling of the CBA Appeals Panel, it is important to understand what the panel did and did not rule," the league says. "The panel did not overturn the suspensions and did not say Commissioner Goodell overstepped his authority."

Ginsberg disagreed with the league's take.

"It is interesting and illuminating that it took the NFL almost one week to develop a publishable rationalization of the Appeals Board decision," Ginsberg said in a statement. "Contrary to the NFL's media statement, the Appeals Panel voided the suspensions -- it did not 'put the suspensions on hold,' as the NFL now pretends. And the Appeals Board is clearly based on the conclusion that the Commissioner overstepped his jurisdiction."

Vilma on Tuesday told ESPN's Ed Werder in a text message that he was expecting a fair hearing. Vilma walked out of a June 18 appeals hearing with Goodell, refusing to participate in what his attorney Peter Ginsberg described as a charade, and in August he requested a meeting with Goodell that he later canceled.

"I'm expecting a fair meeting, unlike the June 18 appeals hearing," Vilma said in the text. "We can all benefit from transparency regarding evidence and witnesses instead of using conjecture or hearsay to come to inaccurate conclusions. I look forward to getting this accomplished."

Ginsberg told ESPN on Tuesday that he has not been provided any assurances the league would allow the players and their legal representatives the opportunity to review evidence or cross-examine witnesses.

Those issues prompted Vilma to walk out previously.

"We want to see the evidence and confront the witnesses," Ginsberg said. "When the commissioner produces less than 1 percent of the evidence gathered in the investigation, it became abundantly clear we were not being offered a fair opportunity to present to him in a very strong and detailed manner what in fact took place and decided not to participate in what was clearly a charade."

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Gray wants injured Colin McCarthy to stay involved

It’s looking increasingly unlikely that starting middle linebacker Colin McCarthy (ankle) will play against the Chargers on Sunday, but the second-year pro will have other responsibilities, according to defensive coordinator Jerry Gray.

Gray wants McCarthy to assume the kind of role Ray Lewis took on last year with the Ravens, when the veteran linebacker had to sit out four games with a toe injury.

“That’s one thing we’ve kind of talked to Colin about,” Gray said. “He has to take the idea of what Ray Lewis did last year. He’s the captain of our defense. You have to be the guy that’s out there with the cheerleader flag. You can’t just sit back and think nothing is going to happen. You still can set the tone from the sideline. You can do those things.”

In McCarthy’s absence, Will Witherspoon will move from weakside linebacker to the middle. He practiced there at times last season and did so again during training camp.

“Our middle linebacker and (weakside) linebacker are pretty much the same. Those guys are interchangeable,” Gray said. “You have to be able to play in space and do some more things, and now you have to do the talking.

“To me we did that last year with Witherspoon a little bit, not in games so much but in practice. We knew that if it came down to it, what would we do? … If Colin can’t play, you know what, we’ve been giving (Witherspoon) all training camp at that position. Now let’s get a chance to go out there and see what our work has done.”

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Reggie Wayne 'Took A Lot Less Money' To Play With Andrew Luck

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne revealed in a radio interview with WNDE in Indianapolis that he took less money to stay in Indy and remain a Colt.

Wayne said he didn't expect to be with the Colts again as free agency wore on, but when they called, he decided to come back.

"I will say I took a lot less money. I will say that, but this is where my heart was, this is where I wanted to be."

So far, his decision has paid off. The 33-year-old Wayne, with 12 NFL seasons of experience, looked spry and played well in the Colts' season-opening loss to the Chicago Bears last Sunday. He looked to have a good connection with rookie quarterback Andrew Luck.

Wayne had some glowing compliments for his quarterback, Luck, saying that the Colts "picked the right guy" and that Luck is already a leader in the huddle and will be very good one day.

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Vince Wilfork and Co. aim to shut down the run, again

Last week, the Patriots defensive dominated the line of scrimage and completely shut down the Tennessee Titans run game.

At the end of the game, the Titans rushed for a total of 20 yards on 16 carries (1.3 yards per carry). The defense, led by Vince Wilfork,  seemingly made Tennessee one dimensional. Today, Wilfork talked about the defensive front and importance of making an offensive have limited options. He says it they can do that again this week, against the Arizona Cardinals, the results will be the same. But it’s not easy.

“The quicker you can do that, the better your odds of winning. But it’s tough. It’s very hard at this level to do that,” said Wilfork. “You just have to keep fighting. If we’re able to that and every team is the same way, if you’re able to do that on a consistent basis you’re going to put yourself in some pretty good situations to win a ball game.

“That’s what we’re going to try to do. We have a lot of goals. We hit them sometimes but sometimes we don’t but you have to keep on striving to get better. That’s what we’re doing as a unit, striving to get better as an individual and striving to get better and hopefully it’ll be enough.”

There’s been a lot of talk this week about the Pats’ dominating run defense, but Wilfork is not ready to crown his unit just yet.

“I mean that’s a work in progress. That’s something we put a lot of time and effort it and it showed up well for us last week,” said Wilfork. “Hopefully we can continue to do it. The main thing is consistency. We definitely have to come in and play the run well again. That’s always a goal of ours.

“They have three good backs that can run the ball and a fullback they like to put in, in certain situations. Like I said, it’s going to be a challenge for us together and we have to keep putting it together and consistent. It could work out for us down the road.” 

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Vilma's attorney: League is wrong, suspension was 'voided'

The attorney for New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma told USA TODAY Sports Thursday that he considers Commissioner Roger Goodell's season-long suspension of Vilma "voided'' by a three-member panel's ruling and he hopes to have Vilma exonerated and his NFL career restored in a Monday meeting with Goodell in New York.

"The accusations against Jonathan are not only erroneous but very, very difficult for Jonathan emotionally and personally,'' Peter Ginsberg said. "Our hope is that the commissioner, as he restarts the process, will take a fresh look at the evidence, listen to what Jonathan has to say and allow Jonathan to get back to living his life and playing the game he loves.''

Goodell made it clear with suspensions of Vilma and three other players -- Saints defensive end Will Smith (four games), Cleveland Browns and former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita (three games) and former Saints defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove (eight games) -- that he was convinced the Saints ran an illegal bounty program from 2009-2011. Goodell believes the alleged pay-to-injure scheme endangered the safety of opponents as well as the integrity of the game.

The four suspensions were seemingly vacated by the three-member appeals panel last Friday, although there remains dispute over what that panel ruled.

Ginsberg disputes a Thursday statement by the league that the player suspensions were not overturned, but "put on hold'' until Goodell met individually with the players. Goodell was asked by the panel to rule on conduct detrimental to the game violations, rather than possible salary-cap infractions in connection with players being paid to injure opponents.

Ginsberg says the panel's inference was that Goodell overstepped his bounds.

"Right now there is no suspension,'' Ginsberg said. "The suspension was voided. I don't think there's any real dispute with what the appeals panel did. The opinion is short and clear.''

Not so, said Greg Aiello, spokesman for the league.

He said, in the statement, "it is important to understand what the panel did and did not rule. The panel did not overturn the suspensions and did not say Commissioner Goodell overstepped his authority.

"The panel's decision asks no more than that the commissioner clarify his earlier rulings to ensure -- and to clearly state -- that no part of the prior ruling was attributable to" salary-cap violations. It does not require the commissioner to take additional evidence or to 'reweigh' the evidence currently in the record.

"The panel did not take issue with any findings that were made in the course of the investigation, did not exonerate anyone involved, and did not say that the commissioner 'overstepped his authority.'"

He added: "The panel put the suspensions on hold.''

Vilma and Ginsberg walked out of a June 18 appeals hearing Ginsberg characterized as "a sham.''

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Opportunity knocks for Jemile Weeks

ANAHEIM -- Jemile Weeks is back in the lineup for the first time since being sent down to Triple-A on August 21. Don't read too much into it at this time. A's manager Bob Melvin stressed that getting Weeks a start was more a product of needed to get shortstop Stephen Drew a day to rest. Cliff Pennington slides back over to shortstop in Drew's place and Weeks is starting at second base.

"We like what we are seeing out of Pennington and Drew. Those are our starters at this point," Melvin said. "We aren't afraid to play some hot hands too and Weeks has been a big part of this team, I actually feel good I can get him a start."

Weeks knows he has to stay humble and make the most of his limited opportunities at this point. He was the starting second baseman in 111 of the A's first 121 games this season. Since returning to the club on Monday he has been patiently waiting to get a shot.

"It's great," Weeks said. "Just show I have confidence go out there and play the game I've been playing."

Melvin likes to play the hot hand. Weeks will have to prove he can be that guy if he wants to get more playing time. He draws the tough task of having to prove it against Jered Weaver, the leader of the Angels' staff. 

"I wouldn't say it's tough I think the position I'm in you just have to go out there and whoever I am facing you have to face to the best of your ability," Weeks said. "Obviously he is a good pitcher, he's their ace. You have to go out and battle with him."

Weeks is 4 for 17 with a home run and two walks in his career against Weaver. Maybe it's a good time to make an impression. Weaver is 16-4 with a 2.86 ERA but had his last start skipped because of shoulder tendinitis. Weeks hasn't started for the A's since August 20, but made an adjustment at the plate while in Triple-A.

"Just like any other start it's a little different having a break but that's the role you are given, that's the role you play," Weeks said.

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Scott Maine Gets First, Chris Perez Records 36th Save

Ezequiel Carrera and Jason Kipnis both homered in the top of the ninth inning to lift the Cleveland Indians over the Texas Rangers, 5-4, and salvage the finale of a three-game set on Thursday.

Matt LaPorta also hit a home run, as Cleveland snapped a five-game slide.

"We don't really have much to lose," said Kipnis. "We're not gonna just waste at-bats and put our tail between our legs and just accept the loss. Why not just go out there and see what we can get and see what kind of rally we can put together?"

Joe Smith allowed two unearned runs in the bottom of the eighth before Scott Maine (1-0) entered and left the bases loaded to earn the win.

Chris Perez worked around a two-out triple in the bottom of the ninth to secure his 36th save of the season.

Joe Nathan (2-4) allowed the homers by Carrera and Kipnis to snap a single- season and club record streak of 31 straight converted saves.

"It was more location today ... falling behind in the count and throwing balls in the middle of the plate," said Nathan. "You can't do that."

Michael Young had three hits and two RBI in defeat for the Rangers, whose lead atop the AL West fell to three games over the Oakland Athletics.

The game entered the bottom of the eighth inning tied at 2-2 after the Indians failed to push a run across with the bases loaded in the top of the frame, and Texas used a couple of defensive gaffes by Cleveland to go on top.

Nathan started the inning and induced a grounder to short by Elvis Andrus that Brent Lillibridge fielded cleanly, but his throw to first skipped short and deflected off the arm of LaPorta and into the stands, allowing Andrus to move to second.

After Andrus advanced to third on a David Murphy fly ball to center field, Cruz hit a bouncer towards third that Hannahan could not field cleanly to bring home Andrus and move Adrian Beltre, who reached base on an intentional walk, to second.

Young's base hit to center field brought home Beltre for a 4-2 advantage.

Maine then came into the game and allowed a Mitch Moreland single to load the bases, but got Geovany Soto to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Nathan entered for the ninth and quickly allowed a leadoff home run to right field by Carrera to make it a one-run game.

Russ Canzler followed with a pinch-hit single before Kipnis belted the second pitch of his at-bat into the seats in right field for the game-deciding runs.

Perez retired the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the ninth before Andrus lifted a triple off the wall in right field, but Murphy fanned on three pitches to leave him there.

Texas broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning when Beltre hit a one- out single and rounded the bases on Nelson Cruz's double to right field.

Young followed with a base hit to plate Beltre and give the Rangers a 2-0 lead.

But the Indians answered with LaPorta's two-run blast to right-center field in the sixth inning to make it a 2-2 game.

Vinny Rottino hit a leadoff single prior to LaPorta's first homer of the season.

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Aubrey Huff Butt Slaps Ryan Theriot

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AllCanesRadio TONIGHT Live From Shake Shack Coral Gables With Clinton Portis

AllCanes Radio broadcasts live every THURSDAY night from 7-9pm at Shake Shack Coral Gables right across from the All Canes Store and Campus at 1450 South Dixie Highway. Each week we have a different proCane as our live in restaurant guest. This week we will have recently retired proCane RB Clinton Portis. Come to the Shake Shack and meet Clinton TONIGHT. Come early to make sure you get a spot to sit and enjoy the best burgers and shakes in town!

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Updated proCane NFL Rosters

NFL U Rosters 9.12.12

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Frank Gore's TD run vs.

Frank Gore finished with 112-yards rushing in the 49ers’ 30-22 win over the Packers this past Sunday at Lambeau Field. Today, let’s go back to Gore’s 4th quarter TD run and breakdown the “Counter OF.”

Check out the video replay and then we will get into some coaching points…

-I want to start with the personnel, because at first glance this looks like “Jumbo” (3TE, 2RB). However, the Niners have substituted two extra O-Lineman into the game. San Francisco isn’t hiding anything here. Line up and run the football.

- Counter OF is one of the base power runs in the NFL (Power O, Counter OF, Lead). Down block to the closed (strong) side of the formation with the FB and open (weak) side guard working back to the play side.

- “Spill” vs. “Hammer.” A quick breakdown in run fits here. Based on the huddle call you are taught to “spill” (attack the block with your inside shoulder) or “hammer" (attack the block with your outside shoulder). For exmaple, the SS will "hammer" the run in Cover 3 as a support player and "spill" in base Cover 1 (I used to write that on a wrist band when I played).

- Where is the bust? Check out the two inside linebackers. With the down block to the closed side of the formation, both backers (A.J. Hawk and D.J. Smith) have to scrape to the FB and the guard to “spill” the ball to Charles Woodson. However, as we can see on the replay, Hawk and Smith attack downhill and allow the FB to work up to the second level of the defense and cut Woodson. Fit this up correctly, and Woodson can come downhill to make a one-on-one tackle at the line of scrimmage.

- Even after the poor run reads from the Packers, you still have to find a way to get the ball carrier on the ground. Towards the end of the run, Green Bay safety Morgan Burnett must use the sideline as his help (take away cut back angle), run through the ball carrier and wrap his arms on contact. However, throwing a shoulder into Gore isn’t going to get the job done. Poor technique on the tackle attempt that leads to six points.

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Adewale Ojomo not practicing

DE Adewale Ojomo was the only Giant other than Hakeem Nicks on the pre-practice injury report to be completely held out of practice today. Ojomo appeared on the report today with a hamstring injury and was on the side working alone.

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Antonio Dixon had a good workout for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Former Eagles defensive tackle Antonio Dixon had a workout for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Dixon worked out for the New York Giants last week. Dixon's agent, Alonzo Shavers, said his client had a good workout with Tampa but did not sign a deal.

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Colin McCarthy unlikely to play vs. Chargers

It doesn’t sound like Titans middle linebacker Colin McCarthy (ankle) will play against the Chargers on Sunday. He didn’t practice on Wednesday, and coach Mike Munchak seemed pessimistic about the second-year pro’s chances of playing.

McCarthy, who was injured late in the first half of last Sunday’s loss to the Patriots, did not attend practice and wasn’t in the locker room while media was present.

Munchak wouldn’t say whether McCarthy suffered a high ankle sprain, an injury which would keep him out longer than a standard sprain. Yet the coach was clear about how much McCarthy, voted a team captain last week, would be missed.

“It’s nothing bad, but … he’s still sore. We anticipate it would be hard for him to play this weekend,” Munchak said. “I think people underestimated how much we missed him (against the Patriots). He’s your leader. He was making a lot of plays. Losing a guy like that is like losing your quarterback.”

The plan is for veteran Will Witherspoon to move from outside linebacker to middle linebacker. Rookie Zach Brown would then slide into Witherspoon’s spot at weakside linebacker.

“Whatever they throw at me I am going to be ready for,” Brown said. “I like challenges.”

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Ed Reed can still get it done

The late, great George Carlin once urged his audiences to "pay attention to the language we've all agreed on." I couldn't concur more. For instance, the difference between being a "veteran" and just being "old". Ed Reed personifies that difference.

Old guys don't make plays on a constant basis like Reed does. Reed doesn't live in the end zone, but he does have a long-term lease there. Thanks to the pick six he recorded against Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night, Reed has now scored at least one touchdown in eight of his 11 NFL seasons. He's hit double-digits in passes defensed in seven of his previous 10 seasons and looks well on his way to hitting that plateau again with a pair of swatted passes in Week 1.

Old guys can't fight through injuries the way Reed does. Tweaked hamstring be damned, the man from "The U" just keeps getting it done. Even at football's ripe old age of 34, he keeps proving that you just can't pick on him.

It's a quality that Baltimore Ravens fans (and football fans in general) have learned to admire. It's also one that Baltimore will rely on heavily with Terrell Suggs and his sack prowess out of the lineup for an indefinite period of time. By the way, Reed is good for the occasional sack and could pick up a few this season if defensive coordinator Dean Pees decides to blitz more from the secondary.

Eventually the day will come when Reed stops consistently making plays. Eventually he'll be a step too slow and those picks won't be there. Eventually he'll stop having his mail sent to the opposing end zone. When that day comes, we can start referring to Ed Reed as "old". Until then, respect this man as the seasoned veteran he is.

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Jonathan Vilma wanted to meet with NFL, court documents show

NEW ORLEANS -- The NFL filed court documents Friday showing that suspended linebacker Jonathan Vilma initially agreed to a new hearing on the New Orleans Saints' "bounty" scandal with Commissioner Roger Goodell last month, before Vilma's lawyers and the players union talked him out of it.

The documents were filed in response to a federal judge's order asking the NFL Players Association to address possible conflicts of interests between union lawyers and three suspended players they represent: New Orleans defensive end Will Smith, Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita and free agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove.

The NFL did not take a position on the matter, but said it filed the documents about the scuttled Vilma hearing because the NFLPA provided information that was "neither accurate nor complete" when it filed arguments Thursday that there was no conflict.

Vilma has his own attorneys, but documents show the NFLPA discouraged all four suspended players from participating in any rehearing without certain conditions that the league refused to meet.

The NFL wanted the meeting to occur in the form of a new hearing in the bounty matter, with testimony entered on the record. Lawyers for Vilma and the union wanted it to occur in the form of confidential settlement discussions which could not be entered as evidence in any related lawsuits.

The documents show that Vilma wrote on Aug. 20 that he would meet with Goodell on Aug. 23, and that Vilma traveled to New York for the meeting before pulling out on the same day the meeting was scheduled.

Earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan lamented the failure of settlement talks and wrote she was concerned there were competing agendas among lawyers on all sides in the dispute that were undermining the interests of the players.

The judge asked whether or not it made more sense for Smith, Fujita and Hargrove to have separate lawyers, rather than the same lawyers representing the NFLPA.

The players told the judge in documents filed Thursday that they were comfortable with union representation.

The NFLPA and the four players are claiming in their consolidated lawsuits that Goodell abused his authority and followed improper procedures in disciplining the players for a program that paid improper cash bonuses for tackles that injured opponents. The lawsuit seeks to have the punishment handed down by Goodell thrown out.

Vilma was suspended the entire 2012 regular season, Hargrove for eight games, Smith for four games and Fujita three games.

All four players have asked for a temporary restraining order that would allow them to rejoin their clubs while the case proceeds.

Berrigan has yet to rule on the TRO request, but could potentially do so before the Saints and Browns open the regular season Sunday.

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Despite injuring hamstring Monday, Reed practices on limited basis

Ravens safety Ed Reed, who said that he hurt his hamstring during his 34-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals Monday, returned to practice today on a limited basis ahead of Sunday's contest against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Reed said following the game that he strained his hamstring, but he didn't believe it to be serious.

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Antrel Rolle: “I’ve Never, Ever Seen Tony Romo that Comfortable Going Up Against our Defense”

The New York Giants suffered a huge letdown in their season-opening loss to the Dallas Cowboys, and a depleted secondary is taking the majority of the blame for that. The G-men struggled to slow down Tony Romo and his receivers, and safety Antrel Rolle was again forced to chip in primarily as a cover guy.

Antrel Rolle joined Joe and Evan on WFAN in New York to discuss the tough loss to the Cowboys in the opener and the urgency to improve quickly.

On if they were suffering from the effects of a Super Bowl hangover in the opener:
“We weren’t really aware of anything that was taking place before the game because we were in the locker room just preparing, but was there a hangover? I don’t think it had anything to do with a hangover. I just think that the Dallas Cowboys were the better team that night and it came out. And I think they wanted it a little bit more than we did.”

On what went wrong against the Cowboys:
“We have to win the one-on-one matchups and we have to do what we’re assigned to do as far as assignment and technique and dropping to your landmarks and playing the guy within your area, squeezing points that need to be squeezed, making plays when the opportunity presents itself. And I don’t think we did such a good job of that last Wednesday night. I think we definitely have to clean it up, we definitely have to get more crisp in our approach and more crisp in our assignments, but most of all, we have to have that attack mentality that ‘I’m going to make the play, not you.’”

On Tony Romo’s performance last Wednesday:
“I’m not surprised by his play. In my eyes, Tony Romo has always been a good quarterback. He’s a quarterback that can extend the plays and keep it going. He was just a little bit too comfortable for my liking. I just felt like he was a little bit too comfortable and I’ve never, ever seen Tony Romo that comfortable going up against our defense.”

On having to get back on track quickly with the potentially underrated Buccaneers on deck:
“We gotta pick it up, man. There’s not too much more to say about it, we definitely have to pick it up. … Last year is last year, it has nothing at all to do with this year. And that’s our approach.”

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Ryan Braun plays through wrist pain

Beyond facing a make-or-break three-week stretch to end the season with Corey Hart sidelined with a foot injury, the Brewers are monitoring all-star leftfielder Ryan Braun's ailing right wrist.

Braun took himself out of the game Sunday in St. Louis when he aggravated the strained wrist with which he has been dealing for some time. He returned to the lineup for the home series against Atlanta but went 0 for 6 in the first two games and didn't look quite the same at the plate. Braun rebounded to go 2 for 5 Wednesday in the finale.

Braun downplayed the issue, saying, "Everybody has something this time of the year. Nobody's 100%. You just deal with it."

Manager Ron Roenicke was more forthcoming about Braun's ailing wrist, saying, "It's affecting him. Some days seem better than others. Some at-bats are better than others. I'm hoping the day off tomorrow will help and the day off Monday.

"There's a big difference when he's 100%. It's incredible. You guys see what he can do. When you have something wrong with your hands or wrists, it's difficult to feel like you can wait back and still stay as strong."

Braun has played with nagging injuries at times during his career without affecting his status as one of the elite offensive performers in the game. He currently ranks at or near the top in nearly every important category in the NL, so it remains to be seen how much the wrist will hamper him over the final three weeks.

Braun sent an opposite-field drive into the right-field corner in the third inning, but Jason Heyward made a leaping catch against the wall to rob him of at least an extra-base hit and perhaps a home run. He then singled in two of his last three at-bats.

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Yasmani Grandal helps Padres sweep Cardinals

Yasmani Grandal drove in the winning run in the sixth inning as the San Diego Padres capped a sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals with a 3-2 win on Wednesday.

Logan Forsythe hit a solo home run for the Padres, who have won four straight and seven of eight.

Clayton Richard (13-12) gave up two runs on three hits with a walk and five strikeouts over seven innings of work to win for the fourth time in his past five starts.

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Mike Tomlin Says New CB DeMarcus Van Dyke Has Big-time Upside

The Pittsburgh Steelers signed former Oakland Raiders cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke last week and head coach Mike Tomlin was asked to talk about the newest Steelers Sunday prior to the Sunday night opener against the Denver Broncos.

"We were interested in this young man when he came out in the draft in 2011, said Tomlin. " Obviously, we ended up with Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen, but he was within that group and in that range from a grading standpoint. I was at his pro day. He’s got big-time upside, he’s an extremely fast guy. It was an opportunity for us to put a young cornerback in the mix and continue to work with him and develop his skill and see if maybe he can help us at some point."

So now the mystery is solved as it appears that Van Dyke will indeed likely be around for at least a little while. While the coaching staff starts the task of developing the University of Miami product, he figures to dress every week going forward as a fifth cornerback, with his primary role being a gunner on special teams.

While Van Dyke did not record a specials team tackle in the Sunday night game, he was able to down a punt of Drew Butler in the game that Curtis Brown was able to prevent going into the endzone for touchback.

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Warren Sapp’s Mansion Being Sold at Bankruptcy Auction for $3.8 Million

Warren already had to sell his condo and Jordans because of his bankruptcy case, now they are taking the Mansion away according to Larry Brown Sports.

It has four bedrooms and 8 bathrooms.  Nice looking house, if I can get 100 of my closest friends to chip in some dough, we can put the $1 million down payment on it and then pay $12k in month in rent (I did the math).




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Roger Goodell says he will meet with Vilma

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell plans to meet with four players who were allegedly involved in bounty-hunting, according to an ESPN.com report.

Goodell plans to meet with Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove, but dates have not been set, according to the report.

Vilma's attorney said during an interview with ESPN his client is open to a meeting with Goodell as long as there's an opportunity to review the evidence and question witnesses.

According to the report, Peter Ginsberg intends to formally notify the league of his position Tuesday. Ginsberg was retained by Vilma after the Saints linebacker received a season-long suspension for his alleged role in the team's bounty scandal.

Vilma's suspension was overturned last week by an arbitration panel. He's currently on the physically unable to perform list with a knee injury.

"I'm expecting a fair meeting, unlike the June 18 appeals hearing. We can all benefit from transparency regarding evidence and witnesses instead of using conjecture or hearsay to come to inaccurate conclusions. I look forward to getting this accomplished," Vilma told ESPN on Tuesday.

The issue of full disclosure of evidence and access to witnesses is a sticky one. The NFL presented it's case to a group of reporters last June with what it called "overwhelming evidence."

SI.com's Peter King summed up the presentation this way: "There's little doubt the aggrieved players will find a way to take action against the league for the sanctions. But now that the league has shared its case with the press—and, as a result, the public—it's not quite the slam-dunk case of negligence the players have charged."

The problem for Goodell is the arbitration panel's decision to overturn the player suspension in the case suggests the commissioner overstepped his authority or failed to ensure fairness in the process.

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Antonio Dixon works out

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers worked out free-agent DT Antonio Dixon (Eagles) Tuesday, Sept. 11. Dixon worked out with the New York Giants last week.

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Eagles Release Chase Ford

The Eagles released 2011 second-round pick Jaiquawn Jarrett, a safety from Temple.

The Eagles also signed wide receiver Mardy Gilyard and placed tight end Derek Carrie on the practice squad. Tight end Chase Ford was released from the practice squad.

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Reliable Reggie Wayne

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Frank Gore Up for Week 1 FedEx Award

Frank Gore’s stellar performance in the season opener at Lambeau Field has earned him a nomination for the FedEx Ground Player of the Week.

The 49ers steamrolled the Packers in Week 1 to claim a 30-22 victory behind an impressive performance from the offense. While quarterback Alex Smith sliced and diced the Green Bay secondary, Gore carried the ball 16 times for 112 yards and a touchdown.

With his team holding a 22-15 lead in the fourth quarter, Gore took a pitch down the right sideline and made a couple of defenders miss before backpedaling into the end zone. It marked Gore’s first touchdown of 2012 and the 53rd of his career.

The franchise’s all-time leading rusher picked up his 30th, 100-yard game since his rookie year in 2005, the most of any NFL back in that time. Gore was also the first 49ers running back to tally at least 100 yards in Week 1 since Garrison Hearst rushed for 187 yards in 1998.

But Gore has plenty of competition to be named Week 1 FedEx Ground Player of the Week. Buffalo’s C.J. Spiller (169 yards, one touchdown) and New England’s Stevan Ridley (125 yards, one touchdown) are also vying for the award.

The 49ers Faithful can vote for Gore at NFL.com. Fans can also vote for the FedEx Air Player of the Week candidates: Robert Griffin III, Tony Romo and Matt Ryan.

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Seahawks could have used Kellen Winslow at crunch time

Russell Wilson threw seven incomplete passes in the final minute of Sunday's game, targeting a total of four different receivers. None of them were named Kellen Winslow.

Winslow wasn't on Seattle's roster Sunday. Still wasn't Tuesday even after Charly Martin suffered a bruised lung in Arizona that will keep him out at least a couple of weeks.

The Seahawks released Winslow eight days before the start of the season, cutting a player who has more receptions over the past five seasons than all but two tight ends in the league.

They made that move with an eye toward their long-term plans, but it also came at a short-term cost. Seattle let go of a very productive player who had spent the past four months learning this offense and preparing to play a prominent role.

It would be simple-minded and silly to chalk a four-point defeat up to any single player who appeared in the game let alone one who didn't, but after revisiting the nitty-gritty offensive details of Seattle's season-opening loss it would be naïve to dismiss the possibility Winslow could have made a difference in the outcome.

Seattle's passing offense was an eyesore for a good chunk of Sunday's game as its single-most productive play was defensive pass interference. That's how Seattle gained 27 yards on its first possession of the game, which matched the Seahawks' longest play from scrimmage. It's also how Seattle gained its last two first downs of the game.

Seattle got three catches from its trio of tight ends during the game, all by starter Zach Miller. Anthony McCoy was targeted once, and Evan Moore — the player Seattle signed to replace Winslow — was on the field for exactly one play.

But the most significant part of Seattle's struggles occurred in Arizona's half of the field when the quarters got cramped. Seattle started four possessions in Cardinals territory and it failed to gain a first down on two of them, settling for field goals when a touchdown would have made all the difference.

And on the Seahawks' final possession, when only a touchdown would do, Seattle ran seven plays inside Arizona's red zone.

It was just the kind of opportunity that made Winslow such an intriguing acquisition this summer. He's not a downfield threat so much as mismatch underneath the defense. He's too big for defensive backs to handle, but too agile and adept a receiver for a linebacker. Only Dallas' Jason Witten and Atlanta's Tony Gonzalez caught more balls the previous five seasons.

But Winslow was gone, released before the Seahawks were obligated for the entirety of his $3.3 million salary and replaced by Moore as Seattle swapped out a player with a history of production for one it saw with more potential.

"Kellen has been a great big-time performer for a long time, and there's no doubt about that," coach Pete Carroll said last week before the game. "He showed us why. You could see it, but it's a big exchange that we make because it's long-haul thinking. We're not just thinking about the immediate."

That's very clear. Moore has 62 career receptions while Winslow has averaged more than 70 each of the past three years. But Moore is also two years younger, a whole lot healthier and at 6 feet 6 he might become a contributor for years to come while Winslow might not have had more than a season in Seattle even if he had taken a paycut.

"We want to continue to build for the future," Carroll explained last week, "and make sure we always have our eye on that. Going with a guy that's younger that's in great shape and all of that, we felt like we could make a good exchange here and get the production that we need."

That still might turn out to be true. But on Sunday — when 4 yards separated Seattle from a victory — the Seahawks needed just one more play, and they didn't have Winslow available as they tried to find a way to crack Arizona's red-zone defense.

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Santana Moss: Dan Snyder ‘is a guy you want to play for’

Santana Moss was on the Jim Rome Show and took some time to wax poetic about playing for Dan Snyder.

“That’s one of the reasons why I love this team so much, because of the relationship I have with Dan Snyder,” he said. “You know, this is a guy that, he goes beyond. I hear so much in the media about Dan Snyder when it comes to how fans portray him and everything man, and I say I just don’t know. Because this guy is a guy you want to play for. He’s gonna make sure everything that you want is there and given for you to be comfortable to go out there and perform for this team.

“When you see him around, you watch him from the sidelines and you can go up to him and talk to him, ask him how his wife, ask him how his kids,” he continued. “He’s one of those guys you can conversate with. And then the day he’s one of those guys who will pat you on the butt back and say, ‘Let’s go out there and have a good game.’ You like that and you want that from your owner. You want him to be a part of what you got going on.

“I know a lot of guys experience where they don’t know the owner or they might see him every now and then,” he continued. “Dan Snyder is here, watching us practice, watching the guys, he’s interacting, asking us questions. And he knows football, and he’s one of those guys that makes you want to go out there and bleed and sweat for him on Sunday. That’s one of my main reasons why I want to be a Redskin.”

Moss isn’t the first player to talk about how great it is to play for Snyder. Chris Cooley has talked about his friendship with the Redskins owner and Clinton Portis most recently called Snyder the best owner in sports.

This clearly differs from the opinion of fans who don’t have the privilege of playing football for the Redskins. Perhaps the quickest way to improve Snyder’s public image is to sign all Redskins fans to a contract.

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Rob Chudzinski: More than a 'grinder'

Rob Chudzinski calls a better game than he talks.

The Carolina Panthers’ offensive coordinator – a sought-after head-coaching candidate this past offseason after directing Carolina’s offensive resurgence – speaks in generalities when discussing

what his innovative scheme might look like in year two with Cam Newton at the controls.

The man known in NFL circles as “Chud” talks about improving techniques and fundamentals, finding complements to packages that were successful last year and staying ahead of defensive coordinators who have had an offseason to study Newton and Chudzinski’s multi-layered attack.

“That’s one of the things we’ve stressed with our guys. Every year’s a new season and you have to start from scratch,” Chudzinski said during a recent interview. “You start at the bottom and you have to climb the mountain to get to where you want to be.”

Chudzinski wants to be where just about every assistant coach at any level wants to be – in the office with the nice view, plush carpet and HEAD COACH nameplate on the door.

Chudzinski nearly got there last winter, when he interviewed with Jacksonville, Tampa Bay and St. Louis after the Panthers jumped from last in the league in offense to seventh in his first season. Ultimately, Chudzinski lost out to Mike Mularkey, Greg Schiano and Jeff Fisher, respectively.

They were Chudzinski’s first interviews for a head-coaching position; Panthers coach Ron Rivera said they won’t be his last.

In the meantime, Chudzinski – referred to as a “genius” by one of his Panthers players and a “grinder” by another – has work to do on this August afternoon. Glancing at his watch less than 10 minutes into a scheduled interview, Chudzinski tells a reporter he has to get going.

The Panthers are more than two weeks away from their first regular-season game. But Chudzinski has practice tape to watch, opponents to study and a playbook to cram more plays into.

Effort and intelligence
Panthers tight end Greg Olsen breaks coaches into two categories: those who outwork their opponents and those who outthink them. Then there’s Chudzinski.
“There’s usually two kinds of guys. The grinder, who guts his way through because he just outworks everyone. And then there’s just the smart guy, who just naturally has a mind for putting things together and anticipating defenses and tendencies,” Olsen said. “Chud is the combination of both.”

Olsen, who, like Chudzinski, is a former University of Miami tight end, said Chudzinski sees things during games and has a knack for calling the right play against different defensive alignments. But it’s more than having a high football IQ.

“He has the mind to call and anticipate what a coverage is going to be. And we happen to get the perfect call,” Olsen said. “Well, it’s not by accident. It’s because he studies and puts the time in to get all his studies and reports on his piece of paper for gameday because of the hours he puts in.
“It’s rare you find a guy that has both of those qualities.”

Chudzinski worked his way up the coaching ladder rung by rung. He advanced from graduate assistant to tight ends coach to offensive coordinator during 10 years at his alma mater.

He was Miami’s coordinator under in 2001 when the Hurricanes won the national championship. The next season Miami set school records for points, total yards and rushing touchdowns.

Chudzinski followed Butch Davis to Cleveland in 2004, and went to San Diego the following season after the Browns fired Davis. When Chudzinski returned as the Browns’ coordinator under Romeo Crennel in 2007, he looked to be on the fast track to a head-coaching job.

With quarterback Derek Anderson, tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. and two other offensive players earning Pro Bowl berths, the Browns went 10-6 and finished eighth in total offense and scoring.

But Cleveland bottomed out the next year amid injuries to several key players, including Anderson, who is Newton’s backup with the Panthers. Crennel was fired and Chudzinski accepted the tight ends position in San Diego, reuniting with Norv Turner and Rivera, the Chargers’ defensive coordinator.

When the Panthers hired Rivera in 2011, his first choice to run the offense was Chudzinski.

‘Sky is the limit’
With Rivera’s background as a defensive coach, he wanted someone who could oversee the offense while Rivera was on the defensive field. Rivera has given Chudzinski nearly full autonomy.

During the season, the two meet early in the week to go over the offensive game plan. If Chudzinski has a couple of new or trick plays he’s considering using, he has Rivera look at them during walkthroughs before practice.

Rivera said he has yet to veto a Chudzinski call.

“With Chud, there are no lines. It’s just go out and do it, which I think is great,” Rivera said. “He has a progression of learning and the way he teaches things. He starts with simple, basic things and from there the sky is the limit.”

After struggling with accuracy during the preseason, Newton flourished in Chudzinski’s system, a mix of the zone-read package similar to what Newton ran at Auburn and a vertical stretch passing attack that Chudzinski developed in Cleveland and San Diego.

The scheme played to Newton’s strengths as a runner and passer. He broke Peyton Manning’s rookie passing record, scored more rushing touchdowns in a single season than any quarterback in history and became the first player to throw for 4,000 yards and run for 500 in a season.

But it wasn’t just Newton.

Steve Smith produced his first 1,000-yard receiving season since 2008, and DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart teamed with Newton to become the first trio in league history to rush for 700 yards each.

As a team, the Panthers led the league in plays of 20 yards or more (90), and scored 48 touchdowns a year after finishing with a franchise low of 17 in John Fox’s final season. The Panthers’ leap from 32nd to seventh in total offense was the biggest one-year improvement since St. Louis improved 26 spots in 1999.
“He’s really just a genius,” Stewart said of Chudzinski. “He spends a lot of time with the offense trying to create ways for players to be successful. That’s what a good offensive coordinator and coach is all about. He does a good job of explaining what he wants, and what he expects out of us individually and collectively.”

Stewart believes the Panthers only scratched the surface last season of what they can do offensively. Without OTAs and minicamp, the Panthers arrived in Spartanburg following the lockout with three weeks to install a new offense.

The learning curve was steep.

“To be honest, it took probably until Week 8 or Week 9 to really grasp the whole offense,” wide receiver Brandon LaFell said. “Going out there and being comfortable, knowing where to line up and not thinking about what I’ve got to do at the line of scrimmage, but knowing exactly what I need to do in the huddle.”
Chudzinski said the Panthers should benefit from having a true offseason “to go back to the basics, re-install things and get better at the core of what we’re doing.”

The Panthers will add to what they’re doing, as well. Asked at training camp if the playbook was thicker this year, Stewart smiled and nodded.

Time will come
Chudzinski only needs to walk down the hall in the coaches offices at Bank of America Stadium to find a great resource on the process of becoming a head coach. Rivera interviewed for nine NFL head coaching positions before the Panthers hired him.

Before his first interview last winter, Chudzinski talked to Rivera about what to expect.

“We talked about the things he needed to be prepared for, the questions he’ll get, all those kinds of things,” Rivera said. “Believe me, I was very happy that he got the opportunity. I was torn that he got the opportunity. And I know he’s going to get that opportunity again. He’s a dynamic person.”

The knock on some coordinators is that they’re Xs-and-Os guys who lack the attributes needed to be a successful head coach, namely leadership ability and communication and organizational skills.

Rivera said that’s not the case with Chudzinski.

“He’s dynamic, a sharp guy. He thinks outside the box. And I know his time’s coming,” Rivera said. “The big key is it’s got to be the right situation, the right fit. You don’t take jobs to take jobs. I’ve learned that over the last few years.”

Panthers offensive quality control Scott Turner spends as much time with Chudzinski as anyone on the staff, and sits next to him in the press box when Chudzinski is calling plays. Turner, son of Chargers coach Norv Turner, said Chudzinski has the makeup to be a head coach.

“Chud’s got the ability to do whatever he wants in this profession,” Turner said. “I’ve been very impressed working for him and seeing what he does. I don’t think there’s any limitations on his coaching career.”

But on this muggy August day, as players file past him on their way to the stadium after practice, Chudzinski has other things on his mind.

“It was a great experience. I was very flattered to have the opportunity to do that and be able to talk and meet a number of people at those organizations that I talked with,” he said. “Obviously, if the opportunity ever comes, great. But I’m enjoying every minute of this and being with this group of guys and coming to work every day.”

And with that, Chudzinski goes back to work, ducking into a stadium door and heading upstairs to his office. There is tape to watch, plays to draw and defensive coordinators around the league trying to stop him.

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After comments, Chris Perez meets with GM Antonetti

ARLINGTON -- When a player publicly criticizes decisions made by his team's owner and general manager, it will often result in a one-way ticket out of town. The Indians are currently working through a situation along those lines.

Closer Chris Perez made critical comments about the Tribe's front office last week, creating the perception that he wants out of Cleveland. General manager Chris Antonetti, who is in Texas with the team, said perception is not always reality.

"If that's how people are perceiving it," Antonetti said, "or if that's how others are interpreting it, I really can't control that. Ultimately, I have to rely upon the conversations that Chris and I have had since that time. That's what I'll go on."

Antonetti would not delve into the specifics of his discussion with Perez, but it is no secret that members of the front office and ownership group were hardly pleased by the pitcher's remarks.

"I'm not going to get into the details of that," Antonetti said of his conversation with Perez. "Chris would probably tell you that he could've chosen his words differently -- the specifics of his words. But, again, I think it's coming from a bit of frustration that the team hasn't been as successful as we all had hoped, Chris included."

As for possibly looking to trade Perez this winter, Antonetti would only say that the Indians are open-minded to exploring deals for any of their players (Shin-Soo Choo, Justin Masterson, Asdrubal Cabrera and Perez have all been floated in rumors). The GM reiterated that the Tribe's situation is such that no player is untouchable.

"I've said that all along," Antonetti said. "We're not in a position to say any particular player is off limits. Now, that said, all of those guys who have been rumored about at various points in time, they're all still here, right? They're still Cleveland Indians. Just because teams call and ask and express interest doesn't necessarily mean we're going to trade someone."

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Jemile Weeks makes adjustment

Oakland Athletics 2B Jemile Weeks started lifting his hands higher in his batting stance when he was demoted to the minors in an effort to make his bat quicker through the hitting zone. Weeks' bat angle is higher as a result and it's more similar to what it was last season.

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Aubrey Huff's hand was in pain after making contact with Ryan Theriot's rock-hard glutes

The Giants and Dodgers opened a crucial divisional showdown in San Francisco on Friday night, and the excitement in both dugouts was understandably high. After Marco Scutaro's tiebreaking two-run single in the seventh inning, Aubrey Huff celebrated with an exuberant slap to the rear end of Ryan Theriot.

But judging from Huff's pained reaction (20 seconds into the video), Theriot may be a dedicated Greg Smithey disciple. The best part is how Theriot doesn't appear to react at all as his gluteal muscles are wreaking savage harm to Huff's unprepared hand.

Huff's enthusiasm is great, though he does seem to have a predilection for celebration-related injuries. Earlier this season he landed on the DL for a knee injury caused when he jumped over the dugout railing at the conclusion of Matt Cain's perfect game.

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Gaby Sanchez belts pinch-hit homer in loss

Gaby Sanchez belted a pinch-hit, two-run homer in a losing effort against the Reds on Tuesday night.

With Garrett Jones enjoying a strong offensive season, Sanchez’s at-bats have been sporadic over the past month or so. He hit for the pitcher’s spot in the seventh inning of this one, and made the most of his chance by hammering a Mike Leake offering over the wall in left field. Sanchez is now hitting .222 with six homers and 25 RBI on the year.

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Ryan Braun for NL MVP: A strong case can be made

The tables have turned on Ryan Braun.

We’re talking about the National League MVP race, a race Braun won last season. He is having the best offensive season in the league this season (really, it isn’t even that close). He clearly has been the best player.

There are a few “buts” in this argument, however. Braun’s Milwaukee Brewers are at .500 and are creeping into playoff contention. Then there is that whole positive-testosterone-test thing he must overcome. Finally, there is another legitimate contender for the award: San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, who plays for a division leader.

Braun was in the opposite position last season when Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp had a better individual season—even by Braun’s admission—but the Baseball Writers’ Association of America voters dinged Kemp for playing for a non-contender and gave the award to Braun.

If voters hold true to their “standards” and “integrity,” Braun won’t win the NL MVP Award this season. But he should. (Disclaimer: I don’t believe the MVP absolutely has to come from a playoff team, and I supported Kemp last season. It basically comes down to each person’s definition of “valuable.&rdquoWinking

Let’s examine those standards, which tend to change from year to year depending on the player in question. Braun is well liked by some members of the media. He smiles big, he usually grants interviews to those who work for national outlets and he really hasn’t done anything wrong on or off the field (yes, we’ll get to that later). Baseball writers can be a fickle bunch, and an engaging personality is all some need to love a player for life.

That alone can be enough for some to overlook that Braun currently plays for a non-contender. At 71-71, Milwaukee is four games out of the second wild card spot, tied with the Philadelphia Phillies and behind the Pittsburgh Pirates, Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals. That makes four teams the Brewers must outlast.
That doesn’t qualify as contention with 20 games to play, unless, of course, you’re trying to make a case for Braun or the Brewers. Then it is plenty of time and they are serious contenders because they have won 17 of their past 22 games. For those referencing the Atlanta Braves’ collapse last September, the Cardinals were 8 1/2 games back in the wild-card chase last season with 21 games remaining. And they also had the San Francisco Giants in front of them.
The MVP voting doesn’t have to be done until the end of the season. If Braun’s team doesn’t contend for a wild card, he won’t win the award—based on voting trends last season and in other seasons. Even Braun knows this.

“Speaking from experience, I think the main reason I won the award last year was that our team had more success. I think Matt (Kemp) had a better year, individually,” Braun told CBSSports.com during the All-Star break.

If the Brewers sneak into the postseason, Braun will be the clear-cut MVP and voters should reflect that sentiment. But that isn’t guaranteed to happen.
And in walks the integrity argument. We have seen how the BBWAA treats players who are eligible for the Hall of Fame but have tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs or have been “suspected” of using them—regardless of who is doing the suspecting.

Braun falls into that category. He tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone during the playoffs last October. There is no disputing that. Not even Braun really disputed that in his appeal, choosing instead to attack the chain of custody. He won the appeal, but the word “technicality” forever will be attached to that victory (rightfully so). Braun never has publically addressed the actual positive sample, which the Montreal-based anti-doping lab said wasn’t tampered with.
In the aftermath of the positive test, many in the BBWAA (I am a member but didn’t vote for MVP) believed they had egg on their faces after voting for Braun. Some felt duped. Others, for some reason, felt betrayed. Some won’t ever vote for Braun again—for anything.

But again, Braun is a little different. In most of those Hall of Fame cases, the players being rallied against had a contentious relationship with the media at one time or another. Unfortunately, some BBWAA members can hold onto a grudge like a pit bull latching onto a T-bone.

But Braun doesn’t lend himself to a grudge on a national level for all the reasons already noted. He probably always will have that going for him. As a result, some of his transgressions either will be overlooked or voters will be more apt to say, “Hey, he won his appeal so he isn’t a cheat in my mind.”

Actually, there is nothing wrong with that. Braun did win the appeal, so if a voter chooses to not hold the positive test against him, that voter is well within his/her rights.

Braun leads the league OPS (.980) and homers (38), and he is second in RBIs (100), runs (92) and slugging (.595). He also is the No. 1 reason the Brewers’ offense has been so good despite losing Prince Fielder to free agency, losing others sluggers to injuries and dealing with some underachieving seasons from some regulars. He has even turned himself into an adequate left fielder.

Braun is the best player in the league this season, and the knocks against him are limited. But the ones that do exist might be enough to keep him from a second consecutive MVP award, an honor that should be his.

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Ed Reed sets interception return record as Ravens dominate Bengals

After an offseason in which he suggested that he might be ready to quit playing football, Ed Reed has returned to the Ravens and shown he has plenty of good football left in him — while also showing that he’s the greatest interception returner the game has ever seen.

Reed intercepted an Andy Dalton pass and returned it 34 yards late in the third quarter of the Ravens’ 44-13 win over the Bengals, a play that both put the game away for Baltimore and also gave Reed a new NFL record of 1,497 career interception return yards. Reed has averaged 25.8 yards a return on his 58 career interceptions, and he also owns the NFL record for the highest interception return average for players with at least 30 career interceptions. Reed later left the game with a hamstring injury; it’s not clear whether the injury was serious or whether the Ravens just took Reed out because the game was in the bag.

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Saints put Jonathan Vilma on PUP

Even if New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma's season-long suspension remains vacated, he won’t be able to play until after the sixth game of the season.

Vilma had his suspension overturned Friday and did not play in Sunday’s season opener. On Monday, the Saints placed Vilma on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.

That’s no surprise. Vilma had knee issues last season and was rehabbing during the offseason program before his suspension first took hold.

Vilma is eligible to begin practicing after the sixth game and the Saints will have a three-week window to decide if they want to activate him on the 53-man roster.

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Lewis and Reed still lead Ravens defense

BALTIMORE — They’re not getting older. They’re getting better.

Well, maybe Ray Lewis and Ed Reed aren’t getting better, but they’re still dominating players.

Lewis and Reed remain the emotional hub of the Baltimore Ravens defense.

At 36, Lewis took his offseason training to a new level, losing weight and looking even leaner.

Reed, who turns 34 on Tuesday, teased the Ravens with his familiar retirement talk, but in the end came back.

On Monday night, Lewis had 11 unassisted tackles, assisted on three others and delivered a key sack.

“When we step on the football field, we’re a totally different breed,” Lewis said.

Reed set an NFL record for yards on interceptions and had his first touchdown in nearly three years.

“I wasn’t going to let the [offensive] linemen catch me,” Reed joked. “So, I just dove. It strained my hamstring trying to dive. I’m going to be 34 in two hours. Father Time does catch up with you.”

Reed admitted that he was tired after chasing Cincinnati’s receivers.

“I think I ran about four miles today,” Reed said.

On Sunday night, Lewis spoke to the team.

“Take advantage of the opportunity,” he told them.

Reed remembered. He missed two possible interceptions before he ran back his seventh career touchdown.

“It’s about making those plays. I’ve been doing that basically my whole career,” Reed said.

Reed gets to watch the Ravens’ no-huddle offense and it helped him prepare when the Bengals threw one at them.

“We’ve been preparing for that for a long time. It’s a matter of us clicking at the same time,” Reed.

There were some hiccups. Twice in the first half, they had to take time out for too many men on the field and once were penalized for it.

“The biggest thing is communication, and we know it’s something we have to work on,” Reed said. “We’re just getting started on this journey. We know what we need to get better on.”

The Ravens missed Terrell Suggs, who tore his right Achilles tendon. Suggs, on the physically unable to perform list, stood on the sidelines wearing a black Ravens baseball cap on backward, pacing and talking with teammates and coaches.

“I think people think we’re going to have a tougher time without Terrell Suggs,” Haloti Ngata said. “But we’ve been working hard all training camp to create pressure and get to the quarterback.”

Ngata had two of the four Baltimore sacks.

Instead of Suggs, there was Paul Kruger with rookie Courtney Upshaw backing him up.

“Can you replace a Terrell Suggs? Absolutely not,” Lewis said. “Can you get a young Paul Kruger playing better? Can you get a younger Upshaw to pick up the level of his play? Absolutely. That’s what we did tonight. For our sake, keep adding those pieces, adding those pieces.”

When the Bengals’ BenJarvus Green-Ellis scored on a six-yard rush just before the end of the half, Suggs put the cap on straight, stood behind coach John Harbaugh and yelled along with the coach.

“We didn’t play perfectly as a defense,” Lewis said.

Maybe it was a sign that the Ravens chose to introduce their offense first on Monday night.

Instead of the Lewis dance for the emotional season opener, the defense was relegated to second string. The attention that was usually the defenses’ was on the new no-huddle offense.

“We’re a totally different team right now than we were last year or the year before that. I think we have the guys who understand that. We know what we’re trying to get done,” Lewis said.

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Bear Sign Dedrick Epps To Practice Squad

(WSCR) Following the team’s 41-21 win over the Colts on Sunday, the Bears have signed tackle Jonathan Scott and waived punter Ryan Quigley.

The Bears also signed Dedrick Epps to the practice squad.

The 6-3, 250-pound Epps appeared in three games for the Miami Dolphins in 2010 and has also seen time on the practice squads of San Diego, Indianapolis and the New York Jets.

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Jimmy Graham tallies 85 yards and a TD in Week 1

Jimmy Graham caught six passes for 85 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's loss to the Redskins.

Graham's 20-yard touchdown was a beautiful catch over the middle in double coverage in which he leaped up over the linebacker and in front of the safety and caught it in the middle of the endzone. Graham did get banged up a couple of times on Sunday, though, leaving the contest for one play with what looked to be a wrist tweak. On the other occasion, Redskins safety Madieu Williams popped Graham helmet-to-helmet late in the fourth quarter. Graham is a top-three fantasy tight end for the 2012 season.

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Devin Hester Has Eyes on Deion's Record

LAKE FOREST – Devin Hester paused to ponder the question.

If he were an opposing team, would he kick the ball to himself?

“Yeah,” Hester said Friday with a mischievous grin.

Hester, 29, is the most accomplished kick returner in NFL history as he enters his seventh season with the Bears. He has 17 kick return touchdowns (12 punts, five kickoffs) along with a missed field goal return touchdown in 2006, which places him within one return touchdown of Deion Sanders’ all-time record of 19.

Could Hester tie or surpass the player known as “Prime Time” this season? The thought has crossed his mind more than once.

“It does,” Hester said. “I’m not going to sit here and say it doesn’t. It’s one more record I can accomplish.

“I have a lot more years in me, so I’m hoping I can get that [record] as soon as possible so that question and that thought can erase in my mind, and I can go ahead and continue to play ball.”

Yet Hester cannot control how many opportunities he receives in the return game. His scoring ability has led some teams to punt the ball out of bounds rather than challenge the Pro Bowl returner.

In addition to making other tough decisions in his coaching debut, Colts coach Chuck Pagano must determine how to approach Hester.

“You’d like to say we don’t have to punt, but I’m afraid that’s probably not going to happen,” Pagano said. “We’re going to have to kick off to the guy. We’re going to have to punt to the guy.

“He’s arguably one of the best, if not the best, in the history of the game at returning kicks. We’ve just got to do a great job of containing him and trying to keep him corralled and make sure he doesn’t get loose for a big play.

“If we don’t have to kick to him, certainly we’ll try not to.”

Yet coaches have preached caution before and allowed Hester to beat them anyway. Hester returned three kicks for touchdowns in 2011, including a 98-yard kickoff return against Minnesota and punt returns of 69 yards and 82 yards against Carolina and Detroit.

Bears special teams coach Dave Toub has stopped trying to predict how teams will handle Hester in the kick return game.

“You really don’t know,” Toub said. “We’ve seen so many different things. It never surprises me, things that we get. When you think a team is going to kick away, they kick right to him.”

That would be fine by Hester.

“The more balls I get, the more opportunities I get to showcase my talents,” Hester said. “I’m all for it.”

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Ray Lewis, Ed Reed enter the twilight of their careers working toward another playoff run


Shannon Sharpe remembers vividly the late-night conversations in his kitchen with a 25-year-old Ray Lewis.

It was 2000, and the young linebacker was staying with his new Ravens teammate in Sharpe's Atlanta home as he endured a murder trial that could have cost him his career and freedom. Even during those most trying times, Sharpe noted, the young man steered conversation to his future, to greatness. Not excellence, which Lewis had already achieved, but lasting, stamp-on-the-game greatness.

"A lot of people talk about wanting to be great," advised Sharpe, then preparing for the 11th season of his own Hall of Fame career. "But you've got to pay the price. You've got to do what other people can't or won't."

When Sharpe, now an NFL analyst for CBS, thinks about why Lewis has endured beyond any reasonable expectation, he thinks of the way Lewis embraced his message.

For Ed Reed, the quest never carried such a grand arc. Oh, the Ravens safety worked like a demon as a young player, going to 6:30 a.m. spring practices at the University of Miami, throwing his body into every game with rare abandon.

"But everything is moment-to-moment with Ed," says his former coach, Brian Billick. "He and Ray share the same passion, but with Ray, there's a calculation. With Ed, it's all on the surface."

Perhaps this explains the ambivalence that has marked the twilight of Reed's career. Where Lewis stated his unequivocal plan to return for a 17th season in the moments after last season's agonizing playoff loss to the New England Patriots, Reed avoided interviews. Instead, he serenaded the locker room with a soul tune by Teddy Pendergrass, emphasizing the portentous line, "I think I better let it go."

He did little to clarify his plans in the offseason, talking one week about playing five more years, then skipping a mandatory minicamp and musing about the comforts of staying home with his young son and watching the NFL season from his couch. Come late July, however, Reed was back to practice, crisscrossing the field to break up passes like a man 10 years his junior.

As Lewis, 37, and Reed, 34, approach the late stages of their all-but-certain Hall of Fame careers, they might appear to be on divergent paths — Lewis' a straight course to Baltimore's sports pantheon, Reed's a more jagged trail of retirement threats and contract gripes. In reality, say teammates and coaches, the most enduring pillars of the Ravens defense are more similar than they are different.

Both begin relentless conditioning regimens just a few weeks after the end of each season. Both bury their heads in game film, looking for any pattern that might set up a miraculous play against next week's opponent. Both see mentoring — Lewis for the world to hear, Reed in more private moments — as essential to their continuing thirst for football.

"If you look up the word 'professional,' it'd be those two guys — the way they prepare, the way they act on the field and in the classroom," says first-year defensive coordinator Dean Pees. "These guys are such high-profile players that you could walk in and expect to see such an ego that nobody can talk to them — but that's the furthest thing from these two guys."

Fourth-year cornerback Lardarius Webb has made a point of studying both men. "Anytime I see Ed walking around the locker room during the season, same as Ray, they always have their playbook in their hands, their film in their hands," Webb says. "I'm like, 'Man, we just got a 10-minute break out of a meeting. Why is he over there at his locker watching film? Why isn't he getting a break like all the rest of us?' It's like they never come off of our opponent."

'He looks younger'

Everyone who cares about the Ravens has already said so, but it's amazing to lay eyes on the trimmer version of Lewis that emerged this summer. It's not just that his body looks more cut; his face is leaner, almost youthful.

"That's the sign of a man who understands the game, that always evolves," says fellow linebacker Jameel McClain. "He came in faster, stronger, slimmer, all of those things. I mean, he looks younger.”

Football analysts have latched on to Lewis' statements about staying relevant in a pass-happy game that demands agility more than brute force. But sitting at his locker after a recent practice, the dean of the Ravens alludes to deeper motivations for his offseason of swimming, biking and sucking down blended concoctions of pure vegetable juice.

"I've had a lot of sick people in my family," he says. "I didn't do it for sports. I did it for lifestyle, just to live longer."

Lewis isn't the first great athlete to be driven by fears of mortality. Mickey Mantle assumed he would die young, like all the other men in his family. So the great New York Yankee drank and caroused, figuring he'd never live to suffer the effects. It's typical of Lewis, say those who know him well, that instead of taking a fatalistic view, he has sought to improve his health.

Even as a young player, Lewis, who has already played longer than any linebacker in the Hall of Fame, demonstrated a rare analytical bent. He watched veteran stars Sharpe and Rod Woodson — their diets, the way they focused on stretching and flexibility as much as strength or speed, their ability to relax completely when a day's work was done.

Sharpe remembers telling Lewis that it wasn't enough to love the games. He had to embrace every practice, every meeting, every bruise and ache. The veteran told Lewis he'd be fooling himself if he didn't train hard enough to wonder, "Why am I doing this? When will it end?"

Billick says he knew Lewis would play at a high level long past the point when most players fade. "He's one of the best-conditioned offseason athletes I've ever been around," the former Ravens coach says. "He has a very specific plan for how to deal with every point of his career."

But Lewis has surprised even Billick, who told his former star two years ago that he had become a liability on passing downs. "When I saw him last year, he looked rejuvenated," says the Fox and NFL Network analyst.

Sharpe and Billick both say Lewis will benefit from his offseason weight loss (he's below 240 pounds, down from about 260 last year).

In his musical, preacher's voice, Lewis says he finds it easier, not harder, to gear up for a season as he gets older. This year, he began two weeks after the season-ending loss in New England, filling his days with five or even seven short, hard workouts. The pounds slid off.

Typical of Lewis, he has preached his methods to teammates. Hulking tackle Bryant McKinnie even tweeted a picture of the vegetable juicer the linebacker recommended.

Lewis has brushed aside all questions of whether this will be his last season. But unlike many athletes, he talks openly about the importance of leaving a legacy. One thing that keeps him going, he says, is meeting new generations of players who grew up watching him. "Hearing that you helped them change their lives," he says, "it's like, 'My God, son, you don't know what that means to me.'"

Some have wondered whether Lewis' pride will ever allow him to walk away from the game willingly. "I believe you always know," he says. "When you go at life as hard as I go at this game, you know when it's over."

'I knew I could still play'

Those who've been around the Ravens a long time talk about two Ed Reeds — one who wraps himself in a hoodie to avoid conversation, another who speaks with rare candor and emotion about the peaks and valleys of a football life.

The unguarded version stops to talk in the hallway of the team's training facility before a recent practice. Reed played in all 16 games last season but intercepted just three passes and at times looked reluctant to throw his injured neck and shoulder into tackles. Two weeks from the 2012 opener, he says he feels better than he has in a few years.

Unlike Lewis, Reed did not spend his first seasons in the league studying older stars for the secrets to longevity. He built his career more by feel, working out with college roommate Reggie Wayne in the early years, then doing it all by himself in future offseasons.

This year, he began workouts almost immediately after the Patriots loss, not wanting his hip, shoulder and neck injuries to worsen with inactivity. He dived into his work with the expectation of returning to the Ravens for an 11th season.

"If I was going to retire, it would have happened right after the season," Reed says, his voice low and slow like the soul singers he's been known to imitate.

But in the next breath, the story of his offseason becomes more complicated. Many mornings, he awoke to an internal debate, weighing the pros and cons of continuing his life's work.

"This is a gift that's been given to you, and if you can do it, and you're in the right mindset to do it, then go do it," Reed says. "If you're not in the right mindset, you tend to question things. And I didn't feel like my mind was here at the time. I didn't feel like I was in a place where football, where I was even thinking about it. I mean, I was thinking about it, but not with that same mentality I was in the past few years of 'I have to do this, I want to do this.' I wasn't there."

He was comfortable at home with his son, with a body that hasn't fully betrayed him, with a career that will surely send him to the Hall of Fame.

Pulling in the other direction were thoughts of chasing an elusive Super Bowl ring and of young teammates such as Webb and McClain, who lean on him for advice.

Reed talked with his father and a few close friends about the fleeting nature of football careers, about honoring the talent he still possesses. "I know there's a fight in me and a love that I have for this game," he says. "And also for a bunch of young guys that I mentor, where I knew I could still play, and I knew I could still help them."

Then there was the matter of his contract, which ends after this season. Did he skip minicamp and make some of his cryptic comments because he was angry about money?

"Was it about me getting a new contract?" he says. "Maybe a little bit. Maybe a little bit. If I want to get a contract, I know how to get a contract. Trust me."

Holding out is a player's only leverage, says Reed, who will make $7.2 million this year, and he finds it hurtful that fans react by dismissing their former heroes as bitter or out of touch.

"I've been nothing but loyal to this city and to this organization when it comes to doing my job," he says. "I've been nothing but loyal to this organization in trying to help my teammates better themselves. So when I chose to put the business in the streets, so to say, it was a problem for some people. And I knew that. I knew you can't please everybody. What I did was not for everybody. It was actually just for me, doing the interview — a question asked of me, and I'm a person who's going to tell it like it is."

Teammates seemed less concerned than anyone, saying they never doubted Reed's commitment. In fact, though Lewis is perceived as the leader of the defense from outside, younger players often describe Reed as the one they seek out for wisdom.

"Ed has been real instrumental in my career, because Ed is actually someone that I really go to," McClain says. "Whatever it is — if it's a coverage aspect, if it's 'What do you think I could have done different in this situation?' Or if it's a home situation, if it's something that's happening with my brother. I have a lot of respect for him."

Billick says he learned to accept Reed's shifting moods and unexpected statements as the price for the safety's equally wild brilliance on the field. It's the same tack the entire organization has taken with him over the years.

Reed replies adamantly when asked if the contract situation or retirement thoughts will nag at him during the season: "No, I'm already in the mindset. I would never have come if I wasn't in the mindset. I would never have reported to camp."

It's hard to get a handle on where Reed stands regarding his future because, as he acknowledges, he answers questions based on the emotions or the physical pain he's feeling at a given moment. Like Lewis, he says he'll know inside when he's finished and that the moment will likely come when he's still good enough to play at a high level.

"I know it ain't far-fetched for me," he says of the end.

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Titans waiting on Colin McCarthy MRI

Coach Mike Munchak says he’s uncertain as to the extent of middle linebacker Colin McCarthy’s ankle injury. McCarthy suffered the injury in the second quarter against the Patriots and tried to play in the second half, but was unable to do so. The second-year pro was scheduled to get an MRI on the ankle Monday afternoon.

“I think they’re figuring out, because of the swelling, exactly what he does have and how sore it is,” Munchak said. “That’s another thing we’ll probably have to wait a day or so. We’ll probably know much more about him tomorrow or Wednesday morning, to an extent how sore he is and how quickly he can get back.”

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Reggie Wayne draws 18 targets for 135 yards

Reggie Wayne reeled in nine passes for 135 yards versus the Bears in Week 1.

Wayne was a one-man show in the Colts passing attack, putting on an impressive hands display with a series of lunging and diving catches. Targeted a team-high 18 times, Wayne saw nine passes in his direction by late in the first half before any teammate drew a second target. Even with Austin Collie returning to cut into his target total, Wayne looks like a sure bet for 85+ receptions this season. He's a safe WR2 option while hosting the Vikings in Week 2.

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Ed Reed downplays strained hamstring

Ravens star free safety Ed Reed strained his right hamstring during his 34-yard interception return for a touchdown, but it's not regarded as serious.

Reed didn't return to the game after going to locker room for treatment during the Ravens' 44-13 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium.

Afterward, Reed downplayed the severity of the injury. He didn't seem to have trouble walking after the game.

"It strained my hamstring trying to dive," Reed said. "You know I'm 34 in two hours. Father Time does catch up with you. It's good, it's good. It's minor."

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Damien Berry to remain on injured reserve, no injury settlement

When Ravens running back Damien Berry was placed on injured reserve with neck and back injuries, he was faced with a choice: remain on injured reserve or accept an injury settlement.

Rather than negotiate a dollar amount for a portion of his salary and no longer be a part of the organization, Berry wanted to remain on injured reserve so he could continue to do his rehabilitation under the Ravens' supervision.

"I wanted to be here," said Berry, who's due a split salary of $273,000 for the season on injured reserve. "I told them that. I didn't want to take a settlement because I didn't want to go anywhere else. I wanted to be around here. I think I'll get better faster here."

The Ravens have already negotiated injury settlements with linebacker Stevie Baggs (leg), tight ends Matt Balasavage (high ankle sprain) and Bruce Figgins (shoulder), linebacker Darryl Blackstock (groin) and center-guard Justin Boren (foot), removing them from injured reserve.

Berry suffered a pulled neck muscle and has fluid in his back vertebrae after a big collision on a 21-yard reception over the middle against the St. Louis Rams during the Ravens' preseason finale.

"It was a tough hit, but I won't need surgery," said Berry, who rushed for 80 yards on 18 carries and caught 10 passes for 93 yards in four preseason games. "It will heal on its own. Right now, I can't do anything except ride the bike and rest until I get the motion back in my neck."

Berry confirmed that he will definitely be able to play football again.

"It's a blessing," Berry said. "I'm just glad I'll get another shot at this next year."

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Andre Johnson has his way with Dolphins defense.....again

HOUSTON– Sometimes the margin of error for a cornerback is so small it is barely noticeable.

Its turning his head around a second too late; an outstretched hand in a defender's face; or jamming a receiver's inside shoulder instead of the outside. Sometimes it is those missteps that lead to a big reception -- or touchdown.

Against elite NFL receivers those mistakes get magnified. That was the case for Dolphins cornerback Sean Smith who allowed Andre Johnson to score a 14-yard touchdown in the final 12 seconds of the second-quarter of Sunday's 30-10 loss.

Smith, who is in the final year of his rookie contract, was so bothered by his performance on Johnson's score he punched his locker upon leaving the Texans locker room.

"On that touchdown I turned my head back way too late," Smith said. "When I turned my head back late the ball was behind me."

And placed in a beautiful spot by quarterback Matt Schaub, where only Johnson could have caught the first down pass, which came two plays after the Dolphins' third straight turnover in that quarter's final five minutes.

Johnson, whose average yards per game (79.5) is the highest in NFL history, hawked down the pass and tiptoeing inside the edge of the end zone to give Houston a 24-3 lead.

"I know what I'm capable of doing," said Johnson, who caught eight of the 10 passes thrown his way for 119 yards and a score. It was his 39th 100-yard game in his 10 seasons.

The former University of Miami standout's biggest reception came on a 29-yard grab in the third quarter, where he beat safety Jimmy Wilson, who was filling in as Miami's fourth cornerback.

"I just go out and make the most of my opportunities," Johnson said.

Smith didn't have many opportunities to cover Johnson, who primarily works on the opposite side of the field. But coach Joe Philbin was critical of the one instance where the team's top cornerback was on duty.

"I'm disappointed on the last play of the half. They scored with 12 second left on the clock, they didn't have any timeouts," Philbin said. "You know the ball is going into the end zone. That's not good football."

Johnson wasn't the only Texan doing big things against Miami's defense, which allowed 337 yards. Tight end Owen Daniels caught four of eight passes thrown his way, contributing 87 of Schaub's 266 passing yards.

"This film is going to be tough to watch," Smith admitted. "The first half we came out on all cylinders. We were stopping the run and getting them off the field. Then we dug a hole for ourselves and it went downhill from there."

Smith's referring to the three back-to-back turnovers that closed the first half. The Texans turned thought three turnovers into two rushing touchdowns from Arian Foster and then Johnson's 14-yard score.

"You have to get your hands on him early," said new Dolphins safety Troy Nolan, who spent the past two seasons practicing against Johnson as a member of the Texans, and passed on his tips to his new teammates. "Andre can't get a free release on the ball. You have to get your hands on him and disrupt him any way you can.

"Watching film doesn't tell the whole story. He's been doing great things in this league for a long time, playing at a high level. There is nothing a player like that can hide."

And also nowhere a defender covering him one-on-one can hide. That's certainly been the case for the Dolphins considering Johnson's caught 45 passes for 638 yards and scored five touchdowns in the six games he's played against the Dolphins, all of which have resulted in wins.

"If you're a competitor you definitely want to go against a great receiver," said Smith, who was on Johnson the two times he didn't bring in balls thrown his way. "I'll see him again."

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Willis McGahee rumbles for 64 yards Sunday

Willis McGahee rushed 16 times for 64 yards in Sunday's win over the Steelers, while also losing a fumble and notching zero catches.

McGahee put it on the ground on only his third carry of the night, but the Broncos didn't shy away from their 31-year-old lead back afterward. Knowshon Moreno had five carries mixed in throughout the game, gaining just 13 yards, while third-stringer Lance Ball took the rock twice for 14 yards. McGahee ceded a good deal of passing-down snaps to Moreno, but that could change after Moreno got beaten on a number of blitzes. McGahee's a borderline RB2 in what will be a pass-happy offense.

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Reggie Wayne makes 146th straight start on Sunday

Reggie Wayne was quick with advice for whichever quarterback the Colts turned to last season. "Look left."

That's where Wayne generally was situated whether Kerry Collins, Curtis Painter or Dan Orlovsky was under center.

The veteran receiver said he'll be less specific Sunday with his pre-game advice to rookie quarterback Andrew Luck. The Colts open against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.

"Just throw it to the open guy," Wayne said, pausing. "And I will be open."

Luck, he added, has "done well preparing. He's eager to play, too, I believe. It's time to let it unwind a little bit, get the training camp out of the system and get ready to play some real good opponents.

"No more preseason. It's for real now and that's exactly what I told the young receivers. It's going to move even faster now. You really got to come prepared to go into a hostile environment and be ready to play."

Wayne's is the voice of experience. He's 33 and entering his 12th season. He'll make his 146th consecutive regular-season start, the longest streak among active receivers, and has had at least one reception in 96 straight games.

Wayne enters the season tied for 15th in league history with 862 receptions, 22nd with 11,708 yards and tied for 30th with 73 receiving touchdowns.

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Jon Beason gets back to work

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — While the rest of Charlotte was hitting the lakes, the links or avoiding DNC road blocks over Labor Day weekend, two of the Panthers' Pro Bowl players were going back to work.

Beason after missing all four exhibition games for the second year in a row. Beason sat out the preseason last year dealing with Achilles tendinitis only to rupture the Achilles in the regular-season opener at Arizona.

Beason underwent season-ending surgery the following week on his left Achilles. He participated in the first 12 days of training camp before tweaking his hamstring in the same leg.

Beason split reps Sunday with Jason Phillips, who filled in for him during the exhibition schedule.

"I feel great. I haven't tested the hamstring at top-end speed, but I don't feel it at all," Beason said. "If I could put a number on it, I guess I'd say about 85 percent. But as we get closer here, there will be times at practice where I really get to open up and see how it feels."

Rivera said he is not worried about Beason getting injured in Week 1, as he did a year ago.

"I think this offseason's been a little different. He went through OTAs and minicamp in a limited capacity. Then he came back and did a little more," Rivera said. "I was excited in what we saw the first couple weeks until he tweaked that hamstring. He's been on the road back. I'm not very apprehensive."

Beason is a three-time Pro Bowler who owns four of the top five single-season tackles totals in team history. Smith, the franchise leader in every major receiving category, has been to five Pro Bowls, including last season when he caught 79 passes for 1,394 yards and seven touchdowns.

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Greg Olsen hauls in six receptions

Carolina Panthers TE Greg Olsen had six receptions for 56 yards in Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Olsen was second on the club with seven targets.

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Giants Work Out Antonio Dixon

The Giants worked out 19 players Friday: Guard Roger Allen, defensive back David Caldwell, receiver Michael Campbell, defensive tackle Antonio Dixon, defensive back James Dockery, receiver Jeremy Ebert, defensive back Terrence Frederick, defensive tackle Dominique Hamilton, quarterback Brian Hoyer, running back Kareem Huggins, receiver Dan Keegan, defensive back Elbert Mack, quarterback Josh McCown, quarterback Stephen McGee, tight end Troy McKenna, defensive back Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, receiver Jordan Shipley, tight end Mickey Shuler, and center Scott Wedige. Some of these players were pretty close to making other roster, especially Owusu-Ansah, Mack and Ebert.

I believe this was about getting these guys on their radar and telling them to be ready if another injury happens. Since they already played Wednesday, they can already sign vested veterans such as these without having to fully guarantee their salary.

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Kevin Everett handling his limitations better

Former Bills TE Kevin Everett, who will be five years removed from the hit that ended his NFL career on Sunday, is busy raising a family in Houston, Texas. Though he walked just months after a near fatal cervical spine fracture, Everett still has physical limitations as a result of the injury. The good news is time has helped him to better cope with most of those shortcomings.

“To be quite honest I can’t say that much has changed as far as my physical status, but my mental has changed a lot,” Everett told Buffalobills.com. ”I’ve learned how to deal with it and cope with it a whole lot better. I’ve become mentally stronger and spiritually stronger to deal with it. I’m doing a whole lot better with that aspect of it all.”

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Brandon Harris making strides

Texans second-year CB Brandon Harris, whom the club traded back into the second round to draft in 2011, was a bit of a forgotten man last season. But despite his current third-string standing on the team’s depth chart, Harris has made great strides this summer.

After playing mostly inside at the University of Miami and being drafted as a nickel corner, the heady Harris responded very well to a move outside in camp. He remains behind former Cowboy Alan Ball on the depth chart — a surprise to our sources, as Ball was virtually invisible throughout most of the summer — but Harris looks much more comfortable than he did as a rookie. One source called Harris the most improved Texans defender.

He always will have size and speed limitations, but the Texans remain high on Harris’ potential. He was originally drafted because of nickel back Brice McCain’s struggles in ’10, when his confidence was rattled by former DBs coach David Gibbs. McCain thrived in ‘11 under the tutelage of Gibbs’ replacement, Vance Joseph, but he is a free agent at season’s end who isn’t a lock to be back.

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Giants fans still love Jeff Feagles

STAMFORD -- The loyalty of New York Giants football fans has never been in question.

But following a Super Bowl championship year, the fever pitch of Big Blue Nation were readily apparent Saturday during former Giants punter Jeff Feagles' autograph and photo session at the Bedford Street Stop & Shop Supermarket.

"It's fun to go out to these events," said Feagles, who does work with the community service wing of the Giants as well as pre and post-game work on game days with both WFAN radio and MY-9 TV. "It's always a good time to give back to the fans. The support of Giants fans in the tri-state area is tremendous."

As an added incentive for those on line waiting patiently for autographs and pictures with Feagles for their I-Phones, Stop & Shop held a raffle giving out 10 pairs of VIP Experience (Suite) tickets to Giants home games. Five sets for the Sept 16 clash with Tampa Bay and five sets for the Oct 7 meeting with the Cleveland Browns.

Giants fans came from all directions (Bethel, Wallingford, Long Island) with items for Feagles to sign.

There were commemorative Super Bowl footballs from 2007 (Super Bowl XLII, 40 players signatures thus far) and 2011 (Super Bowl XLVI, 30 players signatures).

There were those rare Jeff Feagles No. 18 jerseys. That gentleman proudly sported a Super Bowl XLVI tatoo on his left shoulder.

There were Super Bowl XLII programs, giant photos of old Giants Stadium. And the dad who drove home and returned with a football for Feagles to sign.

What was clear is that people need to practice taking photos with their I-Phones before coming to autograph sessions.

Feagles, a veteran of these get togethers, never leaves home without one special item.

His Super Bowl XLII ring from the Giants.

"I can't bring the Super Bowl trophy (Vince Lombardi Trophy). So my Super Bowl ring is a great icebreaker and conversation piece," Feagles said. "The kids really love it."

A photo wearing a Super Bowl ring is a priceless keepsake for any NFL fan, young or old.

Feagles punted for 22 NFL seasons covering 352 consecutive games before retiring at age 44 before the 2010-11 campaign. After stops in New England, Philadelphia, Arizona and Seattle, Feagles punted his last seven years for the Giants.

"Punting in the old Giants Stadium was an advantage for me," Feagles said. "Because I knew that whatever direction the winds were blowing on the flags at the top of the stadium, they were blowing in the opposite direction on the field. Not many opposing punters knew that. I haven't kicked a lot in new MetLife Stadium. But the wind is much easier to deal with there."

Feagles was a master of coffin-corner punting, sending the ball out of bounds inside the opponent's 10-yard line. In fact, 554 of his 1,713 NFL punts went out of bounds inside the opposition 20-yardline.

"Coffin-corner punting is becoming a lost art," Feagles said. "There's a lot of precision to the process. It's not taught in college football. And the number of warm weather teams and dome stadiums are a factor as well. The Aussie kick method from Australian Rules Football is the big thing now. It works on the same principles but is easier to learn."

Not surprisingly, punting remains the family business in the Feagles household.

"My oldest son punted for three seasons at North Carolina but took this season off. My second oldest son kicks at Avon Old Farms in Connecticut," Feagles said. "They were by my side during my prime punting years so I'm not surprised."

As for the 2012-13 New York Giants, Feagles isn't panicked despite last Wednesday's 24-17 season-opening home loss to the dreaded Dallas Cowboys.

"Everybody is out to get the Super Bowl champions the next season. Our 2007-08 Super Bowl champs went 11-1 the next year before Plaxico (Burgess) got hurt. We'll see what happens with the current Giants," Feagles said. "It was clear Wednesday that (injured) cornerback Prince Amukamara (high ankle sprain) needs to get healthy. Michael Coe did a good job at corner before he left in the fourth quarter (hamstring). When you're down to your 4th string cornerback (Justin Tryon) late in the game, that's trouble."

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Vince Wilfork talks stingy run D

Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork played a central role in the team's run defense holding running back Chris Johnson to just 4 yards on 11 carries, and the Titans to just 20 yards as a team on the ground.

It was a continuation of what the Patriots' run defense showed during the preseason, and an area that Wilfork believes can be a calling card for his team this season.

"Today, we responded well against the run. I think throughout the preseason we showed improvement each week," he said. "And this is something that I think can be a backbone for us. If we can go into a game and just get teams one-dimensional, that'll help us tremendously, and that's what we're looking forward to."

He credited not just the defensive line, but all three levels of the Patriots' defense for the stingy effort.

"Very excited about these guys, very, very happy with the performance, these guys came out as a team, as a unit," Wilfork said. "Especially being a defensive lineman, and holding a great back to only four yards. That was good team defense. It's just not the guys up front, it's the 'backers and it's the secondary at times. We all play this game together, as long as we continue to play better and get better as a team, I think we can do some special things."

The Titans came within feet of narrowing the Patriots' lead to 11 points early in the fourth quarter, driving down to the one-yard line and setting themselves up with goal-to-go situation. On 1st & goal, Wilfork stopped Johnson for a five-yard loss, a lift that helped the Patriots hold the Titans to just a field goal.

Wilfork deferred credit to both his teammates and his coaches for the big play.

"That's one thing that we went through this week, knowing tendencies down there, and that was perfect play calling. I can't really take credit for that, that was the play calling," he continued. "Perfect play calling on defense, putting me in position to make that play. If the other ten guys didn't do their job, it probably wouldn't have been a problem also. I know I made the tackle, but my teammates, the other 10 guys and it was definitely the coaches that put me in that situation to make that play."

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Eric Winston finding out what life in AFC West is all about

Eric Winston's NFL career was spent in Houston in a division where the rivalries were relatively new.

The Texans compete in the AFC South and the games with Tennessee, Jacksonville and Indianapolis were heated, especially the games with the Titans.
But as Winston embarks on his first season with the Kansas City Chiefs he's already seeing how much different it is to play in a division -- the AFC West -- where the rivalries are long-standing and in some cases a little nasty.

The Chiefs, Oakland, Denver and San Diego are all original American Football League franchises, and are all in the same division and when they play it sometimes just isn't another NFL game.

"It's pretty neat and I'm looking forward to that," Winston said last week. "I always thought the game with Tennessee was big, and Indy was always a good game and Jacksonville always played us tough as well. But you have that long standing, maybe just hatred for one another and the organizations in the process it does make it a little different.

"Those games are fun, and they have a little extra pop to them."

The different uniform and playing different teams is just part of the change for Winston, a seventh-year pro and Lee grad, as he will play his first game with the Chiefs at noon today at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City against Atlanta.

Winston said his transition to a new organization and new city has been relatively smooth. He said there is always some change when you go to a new team with a new coach, and moving into a new town.

When Winston was released in March by the Texans, the Chiefs were one of the first teams to court him and bring him to Kansas City. Kansas City even took Winston to one of the city's famous barbecue restaurants.

But he said the transition to a place such as Kansas City has been good because he said other than its location it's a similar city to Houston. Winston said he moved his family up there with him as well.

"Kansas City is a really good place," Winston said. "I think if we were up in the Northeast where the way of living is a little different it might be a little harder. But Kansas City is like Houston in a lot of ways."

Meanwhile on the field, Winston has been able to fit into a Chiefs team that has high hopes of navigating its way through the AFC West into the postseason after a year hiatus.

The Chiefs finished a disappointing 7-9 last season and went through a coaching change. Winston will be part of a revamped offensive line that will be blocking for a solid 1-2 punch at running back.

Kansas City picked up Peyton Hillis in the offseason and he will be back there with the speedy Jamaal Charles.

"I'm real excited about both of those guys because they can go," Winston said. "It's not just them but we've got a really good set of backs."

It's been a few months since Winston was released from the only professional team he's played for, and even today he still gets asked questions about his surprising release by the Texans.

Winston said he's moved on and is ready for what awaits with a new team in a new city and in a new division.

"It's just the way it goes and you can't harp on it and let it consume you," Winston said. "I'm here now and I'm just going to make the best of it. I happy to get to know my teammates and get all in with them."

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Kenny Phillips: Once Cowboys made some plays, defense didn’t play like a team

Veteran Giants safety Kenny Phillips, who didn’t practice Monday because of a sore back, said the defense played like it did early last season when everyone wasn’t on the same page.

“Once the game started, I don’t want to say it got away, but once they started to make some plays, everyone wanted to be that guy, be that hero to make the play for the team,” Phillips said of the 24-17 loss to the Cowboys. “We got away from doing our job that way we were supposed to do it, like if you were a corner just being patient, or being a defensive end and staying outside. Everyone tried to win the game each play instead of playing as a team.”

Safety Antrel Rolle said the defense has to start trusting one another again, which was the key to their play late last season.

“I think that was a wake-up call, knowing this league will present new challenges and different threats each and every week,” Rolle said. “Just watching football this past weekend, I think teams are coming out to play. They are coming out fast and playing extremely tough. We definitely have to step up, and we have to step up now.”

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Cardinals recall Ryan Jackson

Cardinals recalled INF Ryan Jackson from Triple-a Memphis.

Jackson managed one hit in eight at-bats with the Cardinals earlier this season. He could see action at shortstop if Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma can't get hot.

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A's recall Jemile Weeks

The A's recalled second baseman Jemile Weeks, first baseman Daric Barton and right-handed reliever Jesse Chavez from Triple-A Sacramento.

Weeks, sent down Aug. 21, worked on getting his bat angle higher to help him be quicker through the hitting zone.

He said the demotion, though unwanted, helped him get right mentally.

"I'm definitely a confident player, but there were times at the plate where I wasn't committed to what I was doing," he said.

Melvin said Weeks could draw some starts at second base but is a pinch-running or pinch-hitting option.

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Ryan Braun: 'My performance hasn't changed'

Three weeks remain in the regular season, but it might seem like an eternity to Major League Baseball, with the prospect of a batting title and MVP award being clouded by doping controversies.

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, the first player known to successfully appeal a positive drug test, is emerging as a strong candidate for National League MVP, leading the NL with a career-high 38 homers along with a .313 average and 100 RBI entering Monday.

It's likely the San Francisco Giants' Melky Cabrera will win the NL batting title while serving a 50-game suspension for a positive testosterone test. Cabrera, who will finish at .346, entered Monday five points ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates'Andrew McCutchen.

As McCutchen's Pirates slip from contention, Braun's chances of a second consecutive MVP grow, with perhaps Giants catcher Buster Posey his prime competition. Braun denies his achievements should be lumped with Cabrera's.

"People are going to form whatever opinions they have,â??â?? Braun told USA TODAY Sports, "and I couldn't care less what they are. There are obviously significant differences. People forget, I didn't do it. I was exonerated. I was exonerated because I didn't do it."

Cabrera dropped his appeal and was suspended Aug. 15. Braun won his appeal of an October 2011 positive test for testosterone. MLB insists that was because of a chain-of-custody issue regarding Braun's sample, but Braun says he simply didn't use testosterone.

"I haven't gotten any bigger, faster or stronger," he says. "Really, my performance hasn't changed."â??

In a survey of NL MVP voters, Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles was the only one who said he might weight Braun's situation in his balloting, saying in an e-mail, "Even if there is only the perception that he has used illicit means to reach his level of play, in this era, we have to use all of the evidence afforded us."
Others, such as Hall of Fame honoree Tracy Ringolsby, won't consider his test result. "Braun," Ringolsby says, "has proven his ability without any cloud. I would consider him without reservations."

Braun,who won the NL MVP last year a month before ESPN revealed that he failed a drug test during the postseason, believes the Brewers' NL Central title gave him the advantage over Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp for the award. Kemp had slightly better offensive numbers, but the Dodgers failed to make the playoffs.

This year, the Brewers remain long shots to reach a playoff berth this year. Catchers Posey and Yadier Molina of the wild-card leading St. Louis Cardinals are expected to receive serious consideration, as well as outfielders Matt Holliday of the Cardinals and Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds.

"I try not to pay too much attention to handicapping it," Braun says, "but Yadi has got to be in it. I feel like Yadi literally influences the game more than any position player I play against."

Yet, if the Cardinals don't reach the postseason, Molina's support may wane, as well.

"It's a difficult vote because there's no specific criteria," Braun says. "How do you define that vote? Is it the best player? Is it the best player on the best team? What exactly is it? So it leaves it open to interpretation.

"I just think that teams that are in the pennant race, and ultimately go to the postseason, those guys deserve extra credit.

"I said that last year, and I'm saying that this year. I'll always believe that."

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Scott Maine successfully makes Indians debut

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Indians finally got a look at reliever Scott Maine on Saturday, as he made his first appearance with the club.

Maine's outing was a mixed bag. The left-hander entered in the fifth inning against the Twins, who had loaded the bases with one out. Maine issued an eight-pitch walk to Justin Morneau to bring in a run. But he did strike out Ryan Doumit and induce a groundout from Chris Parmelee to finish the inning with limited damage.

Obviously, Indians manager Manny Acta will need to see more than 2/3 of an inning to evaluate Maine further, but he liked what he saw on Saturday.

"He's got some deception with the angle where he throws the ball from," Acta said. "Pretty firm -- he was throwing the ball 93 miles per hour. Sharp slider. I could see how he could be pretty effective against left-handed hitters. It's only been one inning. He's going to get more chances for us to take a look at him."
Cleveland claimed Maine off outright waivers from the Cubs on Aug. 29. He pitched two scoreless innings in two appearances for Triple-A Columbus before being recalled on Sept. 4.

Maine recorded a 4.79 ERA in 20 2/3 innings for Chicago earlier this season. But with his self-described "funky" delivery, he specialized against left-handed hitters, holding them to a .130 average (3-for-23).

The 27-year-old said he has thrown the same way ever since he first picked up a baseball. Coaches tried to make him adjust when he was younger, but he never obliged.

"They tried to change me," Maine said. "You throw one way naturally, and that's the way I throw. Every other way is just uncomfortable. So I had to refine the way I throw and make it work."

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