NFL U Week 5 Photos

Check out photos from Week 5 of the 2010 NFL U season of all of our proCanes. Click here or above on the proCanes Gallery link.

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Rocky McIntosh says he's fine. But go ask coach

Inside linebacker Rocky McIntosh, who sat out the first day of practice this week after suffering a mild concussion in the Green Bay game, said he was doing fine Thursday before practice at Redskins Park.

"How am I? What did Coach [Mike] Shanahan say about it?," McIntosh asked. "I'm fine, but go talk to Coach Shanahan. He can give you an update. He'll provide you guys with a more accurate update than I can."

McIntosh is tied with inside Linebacker London Fletcher and cornerback DeAngelo Hall for sixth in the league with 46 tackles, according to the NFL's game statistics information system. Washington strong safety LaRon Landry leads the NFL with 52 tackles.

"Just trying to keep up with our leader, London," McIntosh said. "They changed the scheme, so it made it a little more even for me. I'm just glad to be out there playing, and playing well."

So, you plan to play Sunday night against the Indianapolis Colts at FedEx Field? "Ah, go ask coach," McIntosh said. "Coach can answer that."

Click here to order Rocky McIntosh’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Blocking Vince Wilfork won't be an easy task

OWINGS MILLS — Grappling with massive New England Patriots nose guard Vince Wilfork is a formidable assignment for any blocker, no matter how many heavy weights they hoist or steaks they gobble down. That’s why the smart approach to a wrestling match with this brawny defensive lineman is a tag-team strategy.

Wilfork is capable of collapsing the pocket with his brute strength. He’s also quick enough to shoot through a gap to penetrate the line of scrimmage.

The Baltimore Ravens are intent on halting his charge Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

“Vince is a big, strong guy with quickness,” Ravens guard Chris Chester said. “We’re going to have to be on our game to be successful. The more the merrier is the best way with him. It’s easier for two guys to block him than one-on-one. We’re ready for whatever, but he’s an excellent player because he has that good combination of size and quickness.”

Although listed at 6-foot-2 and 325 pounds, the height listing appears to be generous by at least an inch. And the two-time Pro Bowl selection is probably closer to tipping to a well-conditioned 360 pounds.

The former University of Miami standout has just 13 tackles this season, but his impact is better measured by how many blockers he occupies to allow inside linebacker Jerod Mayo to flow freely to the football. Mayo already has 46 tackles and one sack.

“Wilfork is a great player,” said center Matt Birk, a six-time Pro Bowl selection. “He’s great against the run. He plays really hard. He probably doesn’t get enough credit as a pass rusher. He’s not just big, he’s big and explosive. He’s athletic.

“We’ve got our hands full, that’s for sure.”

Wilfork has 313 career tackles and 7½ sacks in seven seasons. The Patriots showed what kind of esteem they hold Wilfork in by signing him to a five-year, $40 million contract ($25 million guaranteed) in March.

 “He’s one of the premier run-stoppers, without question,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh. “And the interesting thing, if you watch him, he’s a pretty darn good pass rusher. He’s a power rusher, but he gets on edges and he can finish like a pass rusher.”

The former shot put and discus prep and college champion is faster than he looks. He ran the 40-yard dash in 5.08 seconds at the scouting combine before being taken 21st in the 2004 NFL draft. He also bench pressed 225 pounds 36 times.

Wilfork has been an active, albeit grumpy presence. He’s been fined several times for unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct, once elbowing quarterback Jay Cutler in the head and narrowly escaping a suspension.

“He definitely plays with a mean streak,” Chester said. “You can see that on the film. It jumps out at you, the way he plays the game.”

The Ravens hit an 83-yard touchdown run up the middle with Pro Bowler Ray Rice during their AFC wild-card playoff rout of the Patriots last January. Wilfork appeared to be out of position on the play and guard Ben Grubbs shoved him even further out of the way as Rice burst through untouched.

“I can’t remember what went wrong here,” Wilfork told Baltimore reporters during a conference call. “It was a crease that he hit and then it was a regular play. We played that play 100 times before. It was just a crease he hit, and then he was out of the gates.

“We’ll learn from the past.”

Wilfork made it clear that he isn’t consumed by how Rice rushed for 262 yards in two games against New England last season. He’s gearing up for a hard-nosed encounter with the Ravens’ interior line.

“Those guys play well together in there. They’re tough, they play physical,” he said. “So, it’s going to be a tough matchup for us. They probably are the best offense around. We’ve got to do a really good job defensively in just taking care of what we need to take care of.”

Click here to order Vince Wilfork’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Santana Moss is carrying more than their share of the load for Redskins' offense

There hasn't been much consistency to the Washington Redskins' offense this season, but it's been difficult to miss at least a couple of Sunday trends.

For example: "Every time we need a clutch catch or a play made to get a first down," center Casey Rabach said, "it seems like Chris [Cooley] is the guy [Donovan [McNabb] is throwing to."

There's also Santana Moss, lining up on the outside and getting more looks than any other pass catcher.

In fact, if it seems that Moss and Cooley are carrying a disproportionate load in the team's passing attack, it's because they are. Though McNabb has completions to 10 different pass catchers, more than half (54 percent) the receptions are by Moss and Cooley. More than half the team's receiving yards (also 54 percent) have been accumulated by those two.

While the production has certainly been good for Moss and Cooley - both are on pace to post some of their best career numbers - the bigger question concerns the rest of the offense: Do the Redskins need to involve more players in their passing game?

For Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan, the answer is simple: "You just can't have two players," he said.

The Redskins have struggled, though, getting the ball into the hands of others. While they've managed to win three of their first five games this way, defenses likely won't have trouble figuring out Washington's tough-to-miss tendencies.

"You have to have two or three or four more guys that are over 40 [receptions]," said Cooley. "You can't go 90, 70, 20, 20, 20 -- where everyone's fitting in one or two catches [per game]. You have to diversify it enough that other guys are making plays."

Through five games, Cooley has 303 yards on 23 catches and is on pace to collect the most receptions (74) since 2008 and the most yards of his career (970}. Moss is on pace to have a career-high 93 receptions, plus more than 1,300 yards, which would be the second-most of his 10-year career.

But no other Redskin is on pace for even 30 catches this season. Starting wide receiver Joey Galloway has only seven so far. A season ago, tight end Fred Davis averaged more than four receptions per game when he replaced an injured Cooley, but he has only three catches in five games. In fact, he's been targeted only four times.

"Santana and Cooley may have plays called for them," McNabb said. "Depending on the coverages and the fronts that we get, they will get more opportunities. Other guys are getting more involved as things continue on. You will see more guys step up and make more catches for us."

While the team's reliance on two veteran players isn't particularly surprising, Cooley concedes he wasn't entirely sure what to expect out of this season. He missed the final nine games of 2009 with an ankle injury and didn't know how the new coaching staff would juggle him and Davis.

"The one, I think, unknown for me was: Is Fred Davis going to be a better football player than I am?" Cooley said. "Because he played so well last year. And I would have been happy -- I'd be happy for Fred in whatever he accomplishes -- but it was the unknown of: Is there any way I can become a No. 2 [tight end]?

"So I think that drove me a ton. I had to get healthy. I had to be in better shape this year than I was in the previous years, and I had to be ready to play."

The Redskins never looked deep at receiver, which spurred plenty of talk in the preseason about the Redskins utilizing two-tight end sets with both as pass catchers. That hasn't been the case through five games. Davis has been used mostly as a blocker.

"I didn't expect too much. Well, I kind of did at first," Davis said. "But then I was like, 'You know what? If I expect that, then I'm gonna be over here disappointed.' So I went into the season just trying to do whatever my job is and they need me to."

Combined, Moss and Cooley have been targeted on nearly 49 percent of the Redskins' passing plays, but it's not because others have been simply watching from the sidelines. Ninety-six of the team's 170 offensive snaps have featured three or more receivers. Twenty-nine more have featured at least two tight ends. But as teams begin to focus more on Moss and Cooley, McNabb might need to consider other options.

Fullback Mike Sellers is third on the team in receptions (and is on pace to post a career-high 28 catches this season), but the biggest bright spot behind Moss and Cooley has been wideout Anthony Armstrong. Against the Packers, in his first career start, the rookie receiver had 84 yards on three catches, including his first career touchdown. On Thursday Shanahan wouldn't discuss whether he'd shake-up the depth chart, but did say Armstrong could see increased playing time.

"He continues to improve like he's been improving, he'll get a lot of playing time," Shanahan said.

Barely one-quarter of the way through the schedule, this version of the passing game might eventually serve as only a snapshot. Coaches and players both warn that the offense is a work in progress. As they jell, players say McNabb will find that he has weapons besides Cooley and Moss.

"We still trying to get in that zone to where we know everything," Moss said last week, "to where we know from A to Z without having to think about it. And it takes time."

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

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James Jones' Heat revival as simple as a flick of the wrist

James Jones' life can be as simple as a flick of a wrist.

Or as difficult.

These days, it's all a snap, and that has the Miami Heat forward in a good place, a place he hasn't been for years.

"I feel," he says with a warm smile, "like I'm finally back."

He looks that way, too, especially coming off Wednesday's exhibition performance against the New Orleans Hornets, when he converted 5 of 11 3-point shots.

While Jones' free-agent signing in the 2008 offseason was considered a homecoming for the University of Miami product and Southwest Ranches resident, only now does Jones feel like he has arrived.

No sooner did James report for camp in 2008, then a ruptured tendon in his right wrist required surgery that would sideline him until midseason. While he made it back to the starting lineup for the 2009 playoffs, he was not nearly the same player Pat Riley had coveted as his prime 2008 free-agent target.

Last season, it was more of the same, as James' role was reduced to afterthought, reduced to contemplating that, at 29, it might be over, spirit still willing, but wrist balking.

"I was pretty much a couple of minutes from my career being done because of my wrist," he says during a moment of locker-room reflection. "It's a major surgery; it's a major injury for a shooter. I was on the brink of not being able to do what I do for a living."

By the end of last season, the wrist again proved willing. By then, it was too late to reestablish a rhythm. But it wasn't too late for hope.

"It was near the end of last year, near the playoffs, that I finally felt I had a chance," he says. "I had been pretty much rationing myself to make sure I didn't shoot too much to inflame it or irritate it."

With no guarantees about where Jones' career was headed, the Heat exercised a buyout on the 6-foot-8 forward in late June. In early July, Jones was re-signed to the veteran's minimum.

That Jones is now 12 of 31 on 3-pointers this preseason might be a surprise to some, considering Jones converted 37 all of last season and just 33 in his first season with the Heat. But to Jones, there now is a will -- and a way.

"I can shoot from range. I can shoot all day," he says. "I don't feel any stiffness, I don't feel any achiness. None of that stuff. It's one of those things where I can just go out every day and really hammer this sucker and go home and feel good."

To some, the exhibition schedule already has been a grind, what with Dwyane Wade to miss additional time with a strained right hamstring, and with the team hoping to get LeBron James, Carlos Arroyo, Mario Chalmers and Jamaal Magloire back on the practice court Friday after injury timeouts.

To Jones, who turned 30 last week, the preseason has been positively reinvigorating.

"Even though it's the preseason, it might not mean anything to anybody else, it means a lot to me," he says.

Last season, Jones would limit his shooting sessions to about 75 3-point attempts. Now he is putting up 200 to 250 per session.

And he's experiencing shoulder pain, which actually is a good thing.

"Instead of my wrist getting tired, my shoulder can get tired," he says, a logic only a shooter coming back from wrist surgery can appreciate. "That's was the difference. Last year, my wrist would get tired before my shoulder could even start to fatigue."

While the time with Wade and James has been limited, due to their respective hamstring woes, there has been enough opportunity to appreciate the possibilities on such a talented roster.

"These guys, although they're extraordinary players, they're smart basketball players," Jones says of being able to get the right shots at the right spots. "I'm able to enjoy the game again."

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Pat Burrell among TYIB nominees

SAN FRANCISCO -- In a season that brought the Giants the National League West championship, it's fitting that they should have multiple nominees for the 2010 This Year in Baseball Awards presented by Toyota.

The Giants are represented by nominees in five different categories: Brian Wilson (closer), Buster Posey (rookie), Pat Burrell (X-factor), Bruce Bochy (manager) and Brian Sabean (executive).

For the ninth straight year, fans will help decide the top hitters, pitchers, plays and moments from the MLB season. In 2009, more than 12 million votes were cast by fans around the world.

The 2010 This Year in Baseball Awards presented by Toyota features nominees in 18 categories. Individual honors will go to the top Hitter, Starter, Rookie, Closer, Setup Man, Defensive Player, Manager, Executive, Breakout Player, X-Factor and Dependable Player.

Fans can also vote on the year's top Play, Moment, Performance, Oddity, Game, Fan Moment and Postseason Moment from's Must C video highlight vault.

The Giants didn't exactly know what Burrell could provide when they signed him following his release from Tampa Bay in mid-May. They soon learned that Burrell still had the power that made him a feared hitter with Philadelphia. Moreover, he demonstrated considerable patience at the plate by working deep counts, a trait that eluded many Giants hitters yet provided an admirable example.

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Pat Burrell has made most of second chance with Giants

Can Pat Burrell's years in Philadelphia give the San Francisco Giants some inside knowledge?


"Go tell your family to buy an [Chase] Utley jersey. Don't wear ours," Burrell said.

Yep, Burrell, 34, knows the Philly fans. Knows the Philly mindset. Knows how Philly became the most dominant team in the National League.

It was knowledge that was going to waste until the Giants called him last May and gave him a job. And now, wearing the uniform of the team he grew up rooting for, Burrell will face the team he helped lead to a World Series title just two years ago.

"It couldn't have worked out any better for me," Burrell said.

The Giants are a team of castoffs and kids, a concoction of great pitching and reclamation projects who have been given second chances. No discard has had a bigger impact than Burrell.

A former No. 1 draft pick of the Phillies, Burrell was sitting on his couch in May, thinking his career was over after having been released by the Rays. He had signed with Tampa Bay before the 2009 season, just a couple months after helping the Phillies beat the Rays in the World Series the previous October. After batting only .221 with a career-low 14 home runs in 2009, he had just two home runs and 13 RBIs in 24 games this season before Tampa Bay cut him on May 19.

Burrell called his old University of Miami teammate Aubrey Huff to give him the news. Huff started lobbying the Giants to take a look at Burrell, who grew up in the nearby Santa Cruz mountains and went to Bellarmine Prep in San Jose. The Giants signed Burrell to a minor-league contract on May 29.

"One man's trash is another man's treasure," Huff said.

Burrell has been a jewel for the Giants. He joined them on the road in early June. In his first home game in San Francisco, he hit a home run. In 96 games he has 18 homers and 51 RBIs, adding some juice to a struggling lineup.

And he's provided clubhouse leadership and a veteran presence. That may surprise some people -- in the past he's been called a negative clubhouse presence, a bad influence on younger players. The Giants, in contrast, can't say enough good things about Burrell.

"He enjoys what he's doing and people gravitate to that," said rookie catcher Buster Posey, who was called up by the Giants a few days before Burrell was signed. "You don't want to follow somebody who's in a bad mood or doesn't seem like he's having fun. The guy is fun. He's been great with me."

Posey said he will sit down with Burrell to get his insight into the Phillies' impressive lineup. Burrell knows it well -- having watched it evolve from a last-place team in 2000, the first year he was called up, to world champions in his final season.

"We had a pretty good group of guys," Burrell said. "We had a good corps, who believed in one another. We went through losing seasons when we didn't have a chance to win. The first year we made the playoffs [2007] we got swept. And we decided we were better than that."

As the top draft pick in a notoriously tough sports town, Burrell carried heavy expectations. "There were a lot of expectations, but no more than I put on myself, " he said.

He was booed. And he was cheered. After the Phillies won the World Series, Burrell led the parade, riding on a beer truck with his dog Elvis by his side. When the Giants played in Philadelphia in August, Burrell received a standing ovation from the crowd.

"It was great going there -- that will help me get past all that," he said.

Now he's a human scouting report for the Giants, who can help prepare them for the NL Championship Series, which begins in Philadelphia on Saturday night. Asked how much insight he can provide, Burrell shrugged. "I'm prepared for the environment, that's for sure," he said.

Scouting report No. 1: Be careful of what your family wears in the stands.

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Jon Jay looking to build on solid rookie year

ST. LOUIS – With the Cardinals in need of a left-handed hitting bat for their bench entering spring training this past year, a strong spring by outfielder Jon Jay could have landed him a spot on the Opening Day roster.

But Jay instead hit just .231 with one extra-base hit and just three RBIs for the Cardinals and was optioned to Triple-A Memphis a little more than a week before the regular season started.

While some may have started the year in a tailspin while thinking about their missed opportunity, Jay was determined to show the Cardinals the player he really was. Jay hit .347 with two home runs in 11 RBIs in 17 games before finally getting called up to the big leagues in late April.

“I honestly wasn’t too disappointed,” Jay said of his poor Spring Training performance. “I was at peace with myself knowing and believing in myself that I’m a good player and that if something happened, I wanted to be the first guy that they could call on like they did. That was my goal and it was probably better for me to be down there playing every day so everything worked out. I don’t look back at anything.

“In spring, it’s spring. You don’t have your timing or different things. Spring was what it was and I wasn’t down on myself at all. I knew that I could succeed here and I still had all the confidence in the world and I was just happy that I got to eventually make my debut and show them what I can do.”

Finally given his shot in the Major Leagues, Jay took full advantage of his second opportunity. The left-handed hitting Jay hit .302 in his first 26 games with the Cardinals, getting most of his hits while coming off the bench.

But despite proving his worth to the Cardinals, Jay was dealt another confidence blow when he was optioned back to Memphis in early June to clear a roster spot for Randy Winn. The veteran outfielder was released by the Yankees after hitting just .213 to start the year, but the Cardinals decided he was more worthy of the roster spot than the .302 hitting Jay.

Again given an opportunity to regress, Jay took the demotion in stride.

“I understood the reason I was getting sent down,” Jay said. “We got Randy Winn who was a great clubhouse guy and I got to know him real well and I have the utmost respect for him on and off the field. He taught me a lot and we spent a lot of time talking, but I understood right away that it was a business decision and I just knew I had to go down there and continue to work.  I knew I wasn’t going to go down there and mail it in and who knows maybe not get called back up.”

Jay continued to hit at Memphis, upping his average to .321 with 16 doubles and 32 RBIs before he was recalled by the Cardinals for good on July 3. And back with the Cardinals, the rookie had a month of July that several established big league hitters may never have in their careers.

The lefty hit a staggering .456 from his recall on July 3 to July 30 and had 12 extra-base hits, 14 runs scored and a .525 on-base percentage in 18 games.  His surge allowed the Cardinals to trade outfielder Ryan Ludwick to the San Diego Padres on July 31 in a three-team trade that brought pitcher Jake Westbrook to the Cardinals.

But coincidence or not, Jay began to stumble immediately after the trade. Hitting a season-high .396 at the time of the deal, Jay hit just .239 over the final two months of the season. He finished the year at .300 only because manager Tony La Russa didn’t send him to the plate in the final three games of the season to ensure his average not dip any further.

Despite the slide coinciding with him taking over for Ludwick in right-field, Jay said he never felt any extra pressure to produce.

“Not at all,” Jay said. “I just stuck to my game plan and I knew it was just part of the business here and something that I can’t control. I just went out there and continued to play my game.”

Nobody expected Jay to remain at his near .400 pace but his late-season slide did concern some heading into next season. Jay will likely split time in right-field next year with the right-handed hitting Allen Craig, who had a strong year at Memphis and had a solid finish down the stretch in St. Louis.

But despite the hot start and slow finish, Jay will always be able to say he was a .300 hitter in the big leagues. It remains to be seen if he can do it again, but the number allows Jay to take a lot of confidence with him entering spring training next spring.

“Everyone wants to hit .300 if you can,” Jay said. “But honestly that wasn’t going to define me because it was my first year and like I said, I got a lot of valuable experience this year. But it was nice to finish at .300 because that’s a goal that everyone has. I’m just looking forward to next year, keeping that going.

“I would hope to think of myself as a .300 hitter, a line drive hitter who is going to do whatever it takes to get on base. I’ve always been a high average type of hitter and I think seeing this year, I think that’s something I can do but that’s not something that concerns me. I just want to be productive.”

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Check out WQAM's interviews with proCanes This Week

Edgerrin James, Lamar Thomas, Bernie Kosar, Damione Lewis, Jim Kelly and Melvin Bratton were guests on WQAM this week. Additionally Randy Shannon was also a guest on WQAM this week. Click here to listen to the interviews.

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Sam Shields full participant at Wednesday practice

Rookie cornerback Sam Shields was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice after being inactive the last two games with a calf injury. He first tweaked the muscle during the Monday Night Football game against Chicago, then was forced to leave the first practice afterward.

Shields returned to the practice field for the first time Wednesday as a full participant.

“I felt 100 percent today,” Shields said. “It was feeling better through the week. Today was my day to come out and just run and see how it is when I’m running. It felt good today.

“I should be able to (play Sunday).”

Shields won the nickelback job at training camp and held onto the position through the first three games. His best game came against Buffalo where he spent much of the day holding Lee Evan without a catch. Shield’s play seemed to improve each week before he felt something wrong against Chicago.

“I didn’t think nothing of it, I just kept playing,” Shields said. “(That) Wednesday, when I came to practice, that’s when I tried to burst and felt something.

“I don’t know (what happened).”

Jarrett Bush filled in at nickelback in the 28-26 win against Detroit and Pat Lee was the nickel in the 16-13 overtime loss in Washington. Bush took reserve safety reps in practice last week with Morgan Burnett out for the season and both Charlie Peprah and Derrick Martin dealing with nagging injuries.

Martin was placed on injured reserve Wednesday.

Shield expects to be ready for Sunday, but is being cautious.

“I want it to be 100 percent on the field. I don’t want to go out there and really tear it up and I can’t play the whole season. I don’t want to do that.”
Shields said he rotated in during practice Wednesday and didn’t work exclusively as the nickelback. He didn’t know what the coaches plans are regarding whether he will still be the No. 1 nickel.

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Belichick on Ray Lewis: 'True Hall of Fame player'

FOXBORO - Bill Belichick met with the media on Wednesday and praised Sunday's opponent, calling the Ravens "a complete football team." Perhaps his highest praise, however, came for Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis, who is still performing at an All-Pro level in his 15th NFL season. Belichick was asked what has been the key his success.

“He’s a tremendous football player," said Belichick. "I have all the respect in the world for Ray Lewis, and have had that since the first day I met him down at the University of Miami, spending an afternoon watching film [before 1996 draft]. He's just really impressive in terms over his overall knowledge, passion, intensity. In my first meeting with him you could see that and you've seen that through his career. He's good at everything -- he's good at the running game, he's good at the passing game, very instinctive. The team really ... he's obviously a strong component of that defense and everything centers around him. He's the quarterback of the defense, makes calls, makes adjustments, he's the pulse of the defense ... he's outstanding, this is a true Hall of Fame player."  

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

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Reed's return is up to him, Harbaugh says

With Ed Reed a week away from coming off the NFL's physically-unable-to-perform list, Ravens coach John Harbaugh insisted Wednesday the timetable for the Pro Bowl safety's return is still up to Reed.

"That's going to be up to Ed and the doctors and the trainers to see how it goes," Harbaugh said. "He's going to push himself as hard as he can, but then really it will be his call, because he's going to know whether he can [play]. He's the guy who's been in the league forever [nine years]. He knows what he can do and what he can't do."

Reed has been rehabilitating from hip surgery in April. Recently, he has worked off to the side at the Ravens practice facility during team workouts. He initially injured the hip in late November and missed four games in December before returning for the season finale and the playoffs.

Expectations are that Reed will come off the PUP list for the Oct. 24 home game against the Buffalo Bills, having served the obligatory six-week inactive period. But Reed would have an additional 21 days to practice with the team before a decision on his status must be made. At that point, he could join the active roster, be released, or finish the season on the PUP. Harbaugh was cautious in addressing Reed's potential return.

"I guess you've got to be careful what you say," Harbaugh said. "I don't know. I am hopeful, I'm optimistic, [and] I feel like [Ed] is doing great. What I was trying to say was [Ed] is working really hard and he looks good. But you don't know [when he will feel well enough to play]."

Also eligible to return from PUP after this week are special teamer Brendon Ayanbadejo and running back Matt Lawrence. Harbaugh characterized Ayanbadejo's return as being similar to Reed, but said Lawrence "is probably the most grey right now, as far as returning."

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

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In the box, Antrel Rolle continues to prove himself as versatile run-stopping safety

When Antrel Rolle made tackles with the Cardinals, they were down the field at the end of long runs, screen passes or receptions made in his area.

Through five games with the Giants, Rolle has been credited with making 31 stops, many of them down low near the line of scrimmage — tackles that mean something, tackles that stop a play before it gets going.

“Tackles that have my neck sore today,” the Giants safety said on Monday, one day after the Giants’ 34-10 victory over the Texans. “But I’ll take it. As long as I see a ‘W’ at the end of the day, I’m all for it.”

A former cornerback at the University of Miami and through his first three seasons in Arizona, Rolle made the move to safety before the 2008 season. Last year, he recorded four interceptions and several big hits on receivers making catches in his area. He had one of each against the Giants — an interception to secure Arizona’s victory and a huge hit on Kevin Boss — in Week 7.

But Rolle has never played as much down low as the eighth man “in the box” as he has with the Giants, who have put him near the line against run-heavy teams.

The Colts (160 yards on 43 attempts) surprised the Giants with their run attack; the Texans didn’t, and Rolle was there to help contain the previously top-ranked rush offense to just 24 yards on 15 carries by making tackles on cutback runs by Arian Foster.

“That’s a part of the scheme,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “The ball (carrier cuts) all the way back, and there is Antrel to make the tackle and still keep it at a very short gain.”

In the second quarter, Foster appeared to have room on a cutback to the right side after the offensive line got a decent push. But Rolle made the stop for a gain of only 3 yards. A few plays later, he dodged fullback Vonta Leach to contain a counter play that gained only 1 yard. And one more time, he was there to eat up Foster on a cutback when he seemed to have plenty of space. Later, Rolle made a stop on a pitch to Steve Slaton.

Even when he didn’t make the tackle, Rolle was a factor. On the first play of the Texans’ third drive, he timed his blitz perfectly, ate up a blocker and cleared a path for Jonathan Goff to make a stop in the backfield.

“He has that ability to read run-pass so well early in the down,” defensive end Justin Tuck said, “that we feel comfortable bringing him in the box.”

Said Rolle, “I enjoy playing football. I don’t care what it is. You could put me in the box all day every day. I might not be so happy at the end of the season when I see zero picks. But if I see zero picks, 14 wins and a Super Bowl, I’ll take that over picks any day.”

By an unofficial count, Rolle has been targeted on only seven passes by opponents this season. Still, he claims he thinks, “Let’s get it,” when presented with a game plan that requires plenty of run support instead of pass coverage.

“The interceptions, I’m really not worried about that,” Rolle said. “If it happens, it happens. ... If they tell me to go out there and play nose tackle, I’ll play nose tackle.

“I don’t care where I am on the field. I just try to be the best at that position.”

Click here to order Antrel Rolle’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Rocky McIntosh misses practice after mild concussion

Redskins linebacker Rocky McIntosh suffered what the team is calling a mild concussion in last Sunday's victory over Green Bay, and he did not practice Wednesday as the team returned to work in preparation for its Sunday Night Football game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said there were no signs of McIntosh's concussion during the Green Bay game.

"Just felt something on Monday, just a slight headache," Shanahan said. "Hopefully there's nothing very serious. We'll go through the symptoms and evaluate it day by day."

Click here to order Rocky McIntosh’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Ray Lewis has New Nickname "Raytorious L52"

Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens has been the best defensive player of his generation during his 15-year NFL career. Lewis remains one of the most feared players in the league at the mature age of 35. Ray was the 26th pick of the 1996 NFL Draft by Baltimore.

Dunkadelic Sports Marketing in Baltimore wanted to honor Lewis and decided that like rap icon Notorious B.I.G. he be referred to as "Raytorious L52". L is for Legend and 52 is his uniform number. The rap legend loomed large over the hip-hop landscape just as Lewis does on defense. He is also being proclaimed as the "Undisputed Defensive Heavyweight Champ" of the NFL for his longevity and high level play at the top of his game.

Lewis and the Greatest (Muhammad Ali) himself are great athletes that are both strongly influenced by faith. Lewis and Ali have both been the center of attention of legal battles, and the two men have both risen to the top of their professions after their legal troubles. Ali reigned over boxing between the years 1963-78. He was even important to the sport when he was in exile for 3 1/2 years (1967-70). Lewis has been at the top of the defensive ladder for 15-seasons 1996-2010. 

Ali will be celebrating the 40th Anniversary (10/26/10) of his first fight after being stripped of his heavyweight title. He won on a 3rd round TKO over Jerry Quarry.

Lewis is regarded as one of the 3 best linebackers players of all-time (Dick Butkus, Lawrence Taylor).

Bert Randolph Sugar the acclaimed boxing writer once said that the best heavyweights (over 250 pounds) was Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher (Chicago Bears linebacker) unfortunately they both play in the NFL and are not in boxing.

During the 2010 season-opener vs. the New York Jets Lewis delivered the knock-out hit when he laid out Jets tight-end Dustin Keller with the Jets driving for a score that would have given them a win.

Lewis is credited with taking the heart of former Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George when he was a premiere running-back for the Tennessee Titans. 

When Lewis retires in 2-3 years from now he will have carved out one of the most impressive careers in NFL history.

He's Unanimous, He Victorious, He's the Raytorious L52, the Undisputed Defensive Heavyweight Champ.

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

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John Salmons (knee) is "making good progress."

According to coach Scott Skiles, John Salmons (knee) is "making good progress."

"If he can get in one (exhibition game), great," Skiles said. "If he can't, then he can't. We'll just see what happens." We like Salmons' chances of having solid value this season, but fantasy owners shouldn't be surprised to begin the season slowly.

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Danny Valencia is scheduled to have his right elbow examined

Danny Valencia is scheduled to have his right elbow examined.

Valencia dealt with a little bit of discomfort during the season, though it was hard to tell by his .311/.351/.448 batting line in his rookie season. The 26-year-old third baseman is confident that some rest will do the trick.

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Ex-Phil Pat Burrell set to take swings against former mates

ATLANTA - The celebration in the visitors' clubhouse at Turner Field was at full bore late Monday night with the sound of beer cans popping open and Giants players showering one another with the brew, their whoops and hollers creating a din.

Off in a corner stood Pat Burrell, arms folded and smiling, a picture of quiet, calm content, like a proud father at a college commencement.

"I couldn't be happier for this group, especially for the guys who've had their first chance to do this," he said. "So here we go. We're going to get ready for Philly, a big series, and hopefully, we can get to the next level."

Indeed, Pat Burrell is coming back to Philly, where he left a lasting memory on Oct. 31, 2008, by leading the Phillies World Series championship parade atop a carriage powered by Clydesdale horses with his dog, Elvis, by his side.

He then endeared himself to Phillies fans by taking out a newspaper advertisement thanking them for their support, even though many of those fans frequently had let him have it during some of his prolonged slumps in his nine seasons in a Phillies uniform.

Burrell signed a free-agent contract before the start of the 2009 season with the Tampa Bay Rays. But when he was awarded his World Series ring (alongside many of the Phillies he'll be competing against in the National League Championship Series) at Citizens Bank Park, he received a rousing ovation.

And he got a standing ovation his first time at Citizens Bank Park as a Giant in mid-August. This time, though, the stakes are much higher.

"I don't know," he said with a laugh when asked what kind of reception he anticipated from the Citizens Bank Park crowd Saturday when the Phillies and Giants play Game 1 of the NLCS. "It could go either way. It's going to be exciting, and that's all you can say. I'm looking forward to going back, the whole deal. We're going to try to go there and win."

Burrell, who turned 34 Sunday, is returning as the wise veteran, a human scouting report for his San Francisco teammates.

"The Phillies are tough," he said. "You don't get to the World Series two years in a row unless you're good, and they know they're good. So we'll see how it goes. Obviously, we'll probably be the underdog. We'll go in there and give it our best shot."

Burrell didn't see this coming for the Giants. How could he? For 10 days in May, he was out of baseball, dropped by the Rays for largely being unproductive in the first 24 games he played.

Desperate to put some muscle in their lineup, the Giants signed him to a minor-league contract May 29 and sent him to the Fresno Grizzlies. A week later, Burrell was called up, and he gave the Giants what they wanted, hitting .266 with 18 home runs and 51 RBIs in 96 games.

"Personally, for the Giants to give me a chance to come out here and be a part of this, I'm grateful and happy to help," he said.

Burrell is one of six Giants with World Series rings. His teammates believe his value to the team in the NLCS will go beyond a long-ball threat.

"The good news is we've got a guy over there named Burrell who was there [with the Phillies]," said first baseman Aubrey Huff, who had the game-tying hit in the ninth inning of the 3-2 win over the Braves in Game 3 of the NL division series. "He knows a lot of those guys, especially the hitters. He does his homework.

"What he's done since he came here is huge," he added. "He's been a great presence for us. He's basically been the leader, showing us how to take some pitches and be patient. To be able to celebrate with him means the world to me."

Burrell is noted for his patience at the plate. He led the Giants with an average of 4.22 pitches per plate appearance and ranked second on the club with 47 walks and a .364 on-base percentage.

"We saw great pitching [by the Braves] and we're going to see even better pitching [by the Phillies]," he said.

Huff indicated the Giants will improve their chance for an upset if they adopt Burrell's approach against the Phillies' imposing starters - Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels.

"We're going to have to be patient, wait for our pitch to hit, scratch out some runs," Huff said. "It's going to be a tough, tough battle."

Burrell, who hit a three-run homer in the first inning of Game 2, which the Braves came back to win in 11 innings, 5-4, has hit seven homers that either tied the game or gave the Giants the lead.

But his most memorable long balls came in Game 4 of the NLDS in 2008, when he hit two homers and had four RBIs in the series-clinching 6-2 win over Milwaukee. It was the first time the Phillies had won a playoff series since 1993.

So in a way, Burrell began the Phillies' current run of success.

Now he has a chance to end it.

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proCanes Extend TD Streak to 127 Regular Season Weeks

Did you know that a former Miami Hurricane/current proCane has scored at least one touchdown in 127 consecutive regular season NFL weeks? Dating back to Week 15 of the 2002 season where Clinton Portis scored 4 TDs, at least one proCane has scored a TD in each regular season week since then. We have chronicled every touchdown since 2002. See below:

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

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

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

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

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

Click below to see the rest of the list:

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proCanes Stats From Week 5 of the 2010 NFL U Season

Andre Johnson (Texans): 5 catches, 95 yards

Darryl Sharpton (Texans): 2 solo tackles

Vince Wilfork (Patriots): BYE WEEK

Brandon Meriweather (Patriots): BYE WEEK

Jeremy Shockey (Saints): 3 catches 30 yards, 1 TD

Jonathan Vilma (Saints): 7 tackles, 5 solo tackles, 1 sack

Santana Moss (Redskins): 7 catches, 118 yards to lead all Redskin receivers.

Clinton Portis (Redskins): DID NOT PLAY DUE TO INJURY

Rocky McIntosh (Redskins): 7 tackles, 2 solo tackles

Calais Campbell (Cardinals): 3 solo tackles, 1 tackle for loss

Antrel Rolle (Giants): 6 tackles, 5 solo tackles

Kelly Jennings (Seahawks): BYE WEEK

Frank Gore (49ers): 18 carries 52 yards, 4 catches 21 yards, 1 TD

Kellen Winslow (Buccanneers): 6 catches for 75 yards

Roscoe Parrish (Bills): 4 catches for 58 yards

Greg Olsen (Bears): Played but did not record any stats.

Devin Hester (Bears): 2 catches, 0 yards, 1 rush for 10 yards. 3 punt returns for 68 yards.

Willis McGahee (Ravens): 10 carries 67 yards, 1 TD

Ray Lewis (Ravens): 6 tackles, 5 solo tackles



DJ Williams (Broncos): 10 tackles, 8 solo tackles, 1 sack and 1 tackle for loss to lead the Broncos defense.

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

Bruce Johnson (Giants): DID NOT PLAY, INACTIVE

Kenny Phillips (Giants): 1 solo tackle

Reggie Wayne (Colts): 6 catches for 75 yards to lead all Colts receivers.

Jon Beason (Panthers): 10 tackles, 8 solo tackles

Phillip Buchanon (Redskins): 1 solo tackle

Antonio Dixon (Eagles): 4 solo tackles, 1 sack


Jimmy Graham (Saints): 1 rush for 3 yards. Played on 8 offensive plays, his most involvement thus far this season.

Leon Williams (Cowboys): 1 solo tackle

Spencer Adkins (Falcons): DID NOT PLAY, INACTIVE


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

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

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

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

Vernon Carey (Dolphins): BYE WEEK

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Antonio Dixon To Start

Eagles DT Brodrick Bunkley's elbow injury may not keep him out for the rest of the season after all, according to's Adam Caplan.

Bunkley has already been ruled out for this week's game against the Falcons, but there's hope that the injury will leave him week-to-week as opposed to ending his season. Second-year DT Antonio Dixon will start in Bunkley's place this week, splitting snaps with Trevor Laws. It's a matchup upgrade for Michael Turner.

Antonio Dixon and Darryl Tapp got added time on the defensive line in place of Bunkley and Cole. Dixon notched a sack early in the third quarter. Juqua Parker got his first start of the year, playing defensive end ahead of rookie Brandon Graham.

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Kellen Winslow looks healthy in Week 5 win

Buccaneers TE Kellen Winslow caught six balls for 75 yards on nine targets in a Week 5 victory at Cincinnati.

The bruising tight end looked extremely physical and fired up throughout the game, and provided Josh Freeman with a reliable mid-range target. Freeman's lone interception was intended for Winslow, but the former Brown came out of the game no worse for the wear after battling knee problems in previous weeks. Although he's yet to score, the consistent Winslow has caught no fewer than three passes in any game thus far in 2010, and is on pace for 68 catches for 856 yards.

Click here to order Kellen Winslow’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Javarris James' whirlwind week ends with appearance for Colts

Javarris James' whirlwind week didn't end with a starring role, or even with a role in the Indianapolis Colts' offense.

What it did end with was an afternoon in an NFL uniform.

And for James, that was more than enough.

James, the former Immokalee High School and University of Miami standout running back, played as a reserve and special teams player for the Colts in a 19-9 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis on Sunday afternoon.

It was the first NFL regular-season action for James, a rookie who spent the first four games of the 2010 NFL season on the New England Patriots' practice squad.

“I just enjoyed it,” James said. “I had a heck of a week this week. I've been traveling, but I'm here and I'm just living my dream.”

James, the cousin of the Colts' all-time leading rusher, Edgerrin James – also a standout at Immokalee and UM – joined the Colts this past week after a busy three days,

James, who originally signed with the Colts a free agent shortly after the NFL Draft this past April, was released by the Colts after the final preseason game. He then signed with the New England Patriots' practice squad.

The Patriots released him Tuesday, and by Wednesday, he was on the Washington Redskins' practice squad. He also practiced with the Redskins that day.

On Thursday, the Colts signed him to their 53-player roster.

“I went to sleep a Patriot, woke up a Redskin and went to sleep a Colt,” James said with a laugh last week. “It came out of the blue. I had just gotten out of practice when they called me. I was excited. I'm just happy to be back.”

James, after spending the offseason, training camp and preseason with the Colts, has knowledge of the offense, head coach Jim Caldwell said.
“He was immersed in it for a number of months,” Caldwell said. “It should help him in terms of recall.”

But while James entered Sunday's game as the Colts' third running back, his action against the Chiefs on Sunday came on kickoff coverage, kickoff returns and punt returns.

“One thing about the NFL is special teams is a big key,” James said. “I just wanted to go out and make sure I did my job. I got in on a couple of tackles. It went good.”

The last time James played was for the Colts in the final game of the preseason. He rushed for 32 yards on 11 carries in a loss to Cincinnati that night in early September.

“It's different from preseason,” James said.

James, who rushed for 2,162 yards and 18 touchdowns in four seasons at Miami, said there was a an advantage to changing teams multiple times this past week. Whereas often young NFL players get released then work out and wonder about their next stop, James said his situation was different.

“The good thing about it was I didn't have to sit home and wait on a call,” he said. “They just called and gave me my flight information. My agent hadn't told me that the Colts had brought me up. They called me and were asking for my flight information. I didn't know what they were talking about. That's when they told me. I was in my hotel room. I was excited, man.”

James said his cousin actually knew his situation before he did, a fact Javarris said he learned upon phoning his father with what he quickly realized was old news.

“He told me Edgerrin had just talked to him,” James said. “He (Edgerrin) has connections, I guess.”

James' NFL debut Sunday came in a game that featured another former Naples area high school player. Jake O'Connell, who played at Gulf Coast High School and at Miami (Ohio) University, is now in his second season with the Chiefs.

James said he looked for O'Connell after the game, but the two failed to connect. O'Connell, a tight end, also was active, and played special teams.

“I was looking for him, but there was so much stuff going on out there, man,” James said.

Whatever occurred after the game, James said what was most memorable and most important about his Sunday was this:

And after a long few months, and a wild few days, he played in a real NFL game.

“It was three days and I was with three different teams,” James said, smiling. “Hopefully, I can be around here for a while. It all worked out for me. I guess God's got a plan for me.”

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Clinton Portis hopes to break team rushing record

Still hoping to break the franchise rushing record, Redskins running back Clinton Portis said Tuesday he has "no doubts" he will return this season despite a severe injury that is expected to sideline him at least a month.

During his weekly appearance on 106.7 The Fan's The Mike Wise Show with Holden Kushner, Portis said his groin injury is improving daily. And Portis is motivated to return, at least in part, because of goals that could be within his grasp, including reaching the 10,000-yard plateau and breaking Hall of Famer John Riggins' Redskins rushing mark.

"I'm gonna be running the ball again this year," Portis said. "Now, I can't control what kind of uniform it's in. But I would hope it's in the Redskins' uniform.

"But I got no doubt that I'll recover from this injury and I'll be back out to help my teammates. Unless something miraculous or something crazy happens, knock on wood. But just as far as this groin injury and me coming back to the game of football, I think I'll be fine."

The nine-year veteran has rushed for 9,891 yards with Denver and Washington, including 195 yards this season on 49 carries (a 4.0-yard average). Riggins is the Redskins' all-time leading rusher with 7,472 yards. Portis is second on the list with 6,792 yards in seven seasons with Washington.

"There's a lot of motivation to get back in there and hit 10,000," Portis said. "You don't come this close to drop me off here. I think for myself, I'll be there, man. It's no ifs ands or buts about it...I wanted Emmitt Smith numbers. Now, just being able to get 10,000 and join elite company would be a great [accomplishment], so I'm looking forward to it."

And then there's the matter of trying to eclipse Riggins, who is 680 yards ahead of Portis.

"I think that'd be even better," Portis said. "To be the leading rusher in a storied franchise right now, it's exciting, just the chase alone, being that it's been held for so long. You see the love that he still get for having that record? And I think he's great in the community.

"It's hard to have that kind of tenure with one franchise, where you have an opportunity to break a John Riggins record, you know? When you say, 'John Riggins,' you thinking Super Bowls, toughness, everything that he instilled and everything that he lived for. So, for myself, to even be in that company, you know, one, two or however it pan out, to even be in that company is a great [accomplishment]."

History indicates that running backs who have carried heavy workloads suffer major drop-offs in production after 30. Portis, in football terms, is an old 29 because of the number of carries he's had and how hard he has run and blocked throughout his career. And Portis has a history of injuries.

After learning he had suffered the third major injury of his career, Portis said he never thought his career was over. "Nah, man, I don't think like that. I know with the treatment and the focus and desire to get back on the field, I'll be back. I don't worry about, 'Oh, it's over.' "

Portis, however, declined to offer a timeline for his return. The Redskins said he would be sidelined at least four to six weeks. "I don't know," he said. "I never thought nine days later, I'd still be sore."

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

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Harbs: Ed Reed Ready For Comeback

As much as they could have used him against the NFL’s top passing attack, the Ravens are confident that safety Ed Reed will be ready to return to the defense as originally scheduled.

Reed participated in part of warm-ups before the Ravens’ 31-17 win over the Denver Broncos, and he ran and cut in a manner suggesting he is fully recovered from offseason hip surgery.

“I think he’ll be ready to go,” Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said of Reed after the game.  ”Obviously, you never know until the guy gets out there and starts practicing the football stuff.

“But based on the way he’s moving around now, I don’t see any way he won’t be ready to go.”

Reed has been doing more and more work on the sidelines of practice over the past several weeks. While he still cannot practice with the team because he is on the physically unable to perform list, Reed has stated his interest in returning before his six-game limit.

The six-time Pro Bowler actually lobbied the NFL Players Association to come back early, but was denied.  He must wait to officially rejoin his teammates and fully participate in any practice after the Week 6 deadline.

The Ravens did a solid job against Denver’s Kyle Orton, who leads a pass game that averaged 339.5 yards a week, limiting him to 314 yards built in part to two long bombs to receiver Brandon Lloyd (for 42 and 44 yards).

And even without Reed, entering Sunday’s game, Baltimore owned the league’s stingiest passing defense (119.0 yards per game).
Still, the sure-handed Reed could boost the interception total for the secondary.

Through five games, no member of the defensive backfield has an interception, although Fabian Washington might have nabbed one or two had he secured a few deflections on Sunday.

“When Ed comes back, it just adds more depth to us, and the bottom line is, whether Ed catches [interceptions] or whoever else, we just need to catch the ball,” said linebacker Ray Lewis.  ”We had too many dropped interceptions today.  People are making this big emphasis about turnovers; turnovers are just about catching the football. You’re going to have your opportunities, and we had many opportunities today.”

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

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Patriots WR Darnell Jenkins plays waiting game

FOXBORO — He described the route as routine.

"It was a simple screen," Patriots practice-squad receiver Darnell Jenkins reflected a couple months ago following his team's 27-24 preseason victory over New Orleans. "The guy (Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson) blitzed and it just opened the play up."


In other words, that route was far different than the one Jenkins took to get here.

"It gets frustrating," the well-traveled Jenkins said of his NFL career, "but the guys in the locker room - I talk to (Matt) Slater a lot, Brandon (Tate) - the guys that are around me do a great job of keeping me motivated and keeping me going to continue day in and day out to give an effort and the 100 percent that I do give."

As you may have heard, the number of wide receivers on the Patriots' 53-man active roster was trimmed by one this week.

With Randy Moss' sudden trade to Minnesota on Wednesday, the wideouts on the Patriots' active roster now number five: Wes Welker, Tate, Julian Edelman, Slater, and Taylor Price.

Amidst the rumors, from Deion Branch returning to New England from Seattle (plausible) to Vincent Jackson arriving from San Diego (unlikely), one can almost picture Jenkins, sitting in front of his locker stall at Gillette, waving his arms as if to say: "Over here. I'm open."

Story of his NFL life: It appears the 5-foot-10, 191-pound Jenkins is being overlooked once again.

For the time being, at least, the Patriots have filled Moss' vacated roster spot by re-signing Quinn Ojinnaka, the offensive lineman they obtained in an Aug. 23 trade with Atlanta and subsequently released on Sept. 30.

As for Jenkins?

"I'm just going to stay ready and continue to work hard," he said. "Stay in this playbook and continue to give 100 percent effort on the practice field.

"Everyone gets certain opportunities and not everyone takes advantage of the opportunities that they get. I'm just that guy waiting on an opportunity to take advantage of."

The 27-year-old Jenkins' first opportunity in the NFL occurred in 2008 when the Houston Texans signed him as a rookie free agent out of the University of Miami where his success was modest (31 receptions for 619 yards and two touchdowns his senior year; 90 catches for 1,274 yards and five TDs during his career).

With that, Jenkins' long and winding road had begun.

Exactly four months to the day he was initially signed by the Texans, Jenkins was waived.

What then ensued over the next couple of years was a maze of moves that saw him repeatedly waived by three different teams while spending time on the practice squads of each before the Patriots signed him to their practice squad last Dec. 9.

Oh, yes, Jenkins finished that 2009 season on the Patriots' practice squad/injured list with an ankle injury.

In less than two years, Jenkins was waived five times by Houston, Cleveland and Tampa Bay, while suiting up for just one regular-season game. That once-in-a-lifetime (to this point, anyway) experience occurred on Dec. 21, 2008, when Jenkins took the field on special teams for the Texans in their 27-16 loss at Oakland.

On Aug. 12 of this year, though, there was Jenkins, taking "a simple screen" that Zac Robinson dumped to him in the left flat, turning up field and bursting 52 yards. The catch set up Stephen Gostkowski's 28-yard, game-winning field goal in the Patriots' preseason-opening win over the Saints.

On Sept. 2, there was Jenkins catching a team-high five passes for 93 yards, one a 66-yard touchdown, in the Patriots' 20-17 preseason-ending loss to the Giants.

Remove their pasts from the equation - Price was a third-round pick in this year's draft; Jenkins is a well-traveled journeyman - and the latter would have made the 53-man roster heading into the season while the former would have been released during final cuts.

But whereas Jenkins, who outperformed Price in the preseason, could slip through waivers, the chances of a 22-year-old (at the time) rookie doing so would have been slim.

And so, on Sept. 4, Jenkins was cast in a familiar role, waived for the sixth time in his career by the fourth different team.

Two days later, Jenkins' name was on the league's transactions list once more, signed to his second stint on the Patriots' practice squad.

Through it all, Jenkins has maintained a selective memory, all the while hoping he will not become a forgotten man.

"Even the preseason that I did have, I've forgotten about it and I'm just playing my role," he said. "I can only control what goes on with me while I'm here. I'm going to continue to work hard and give all I can until my number's called."

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Hester's plays scaled back, keeping him fresher for runbacks

It's certainly not a good indicator of precisely what lies ahead for Devin Hester because of the Bears' focus on the running game at Carolina, but the wide receiver says the plan is for him to be scaled back a little on offense.

Hester was on the field for only 19 of the 64 snaps in the Bears' 23-6 victory Sunday as the 42 running plays dictated that more tight ends be used. It was a dramatic change for Hester, who had been on the field for 90.7 percent of the plays through the first four games, the highest percentage among skill players.

"That's just the way we want to keep receivers' legs fresh, knowing I have to return," Hester said in the locker room after the game.

Earl Bennett, meanwhile, got 38 snaps against the Panthers and is deployed in the three-tight end packages the Bears used in piling up 218 yards rushing, the most for the franchise in two decades. Devin Aromashodu also benefitted from a run-first approach because he finally saw the field again, even if he was targeted with just one pass.

Maybe fresh legs helped Hester. He found a small crease along the sideline and returned one Jason Baker punt 50 yards. Had Hester waited to make a fake, he might have scored. Danieal Manning nearly had two kickoff returns go the distance. His first return was 62 yards and a potential touchdown was foiled when he ran into his blockers. On a day the offense totaled only 247 yards, the Bears got 201 yards from their returners.

Don't expect Hester's playing time to be dramatically reduced when quarterback Jay Cutler returns, but he might not be out there at a 90 percent rate moving forward.

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

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Willis McGahee Talks Kandi Burruss, Wendy Williams & Children Rumors

Baltimore Ravens running back Willis McGahee anticipated there would be some "haters" when he accepted Kandi Burruss' invitation to appear on the third season of Bravo's 'Real Housewives of Atlanta,' but never did he imagine that the scrutiny would be as outrageous as has been since the show premiered on Oct. 4.

"I was expecting a little flack, but I wasn't expecting for it to be like this and have everybody trying to dig up dirt on you and posting all of these comments. I'm from Miami so I've been through this. I've been hated on by girls, and dudes hating on me because of the girls. It's been like this all of my life. I think I was made for this for some strange reason," McGahee told this columnist, during our exclusive interview over dinner at Carolina Kitchen in Largo, Maryland.

The 28-year-old athlete, who began dating Burruss in late 2009 – months before the former Xscape singer began shooting her second season on the show -- acknowledged that while he's equipped to deal with the pressure of being on TV, bringing his children into the mix crosses the line.

"I'm very private about my personal life, and I don't like talking about my children. People are just trying to find out who they are and things like that," he said.

McGahee confessed that when he first got his NFL contract in 2003, he went through a period of being a "stereotypical athlete" and entertained his fair share of women.

"I was younger back then, and I had fun. I can't deny that, and everybody knows that," he admitted.

Though some blogs have claimed the Miami native has as many seven kids, McGahee said those reports are all bogus.

"I have a nice handful," he laughed. "But it's way under seven. It's nowhere near seven!"

McGahee is apparently the father of five children – the first three were born over a span of two years, shortly after he was drafted in the NFL by the Buffalo Bills.

"I was just involved with each of my children's mothers for so long. Each one was over two or three years. I just had a nice rotation, however that is over now, and I don't get down like that anymore," he explained.

The football star disclosed that because of his past reputation, women – some he's never met – accuse him of fathering children on an annual basis.

"I get planted with a baby every year. I've been accused of having kids that aren't mine," he laughed.

McGahee said the story that he has a "baby mama living with him" is completely fabricated.

"I don't live with my baby's mother. I don't have any baby in Maryland. I've been staying by myself for the three years that I've been here," he clarified.

"Kandi didn't come in and wreck any home," he continued. "I didn't have a baby mama staying with me when I met her. I'm not married, engaged or anything like that. It's just a shame that people are accusing her of doing things like that. Now they're trying to throw me in it, and put my kids into it. I've seen on the Internet that they even have my child's mother on there. That is just uncalled for."

In addition to the many erroneous stories being reported online, McGahee expressed that he was particularly annoyed by being pegged an "opportunist" by talk show host Wendy Williams, who said on the 'The Wendy Williams Show' that she believed McGahee was "only dating Kandi so he could be on TV."

"I find it real funny just because she said I'm an opportunist. I have my own money! I'm in the NFL so I''m on TV every week! I've done commercials and interviews, and I don't have a problem putting my own self out there. I don't need another woman to help me with that. People are gonna think what they want to think. They think I'm a bad guy right now. Once they get to know me, they'll know that I'm not a bad guy. They're just on the outside looking in," he said.

McGahee definitely has his own money. It's widely known that he is one of the highest-paid running backs in the NFL, and his seven-year contract with the Baltimore Ravens is worth more than $40 million.

The athlete also has a foundation, the Willis McGahee Foundation, which provided backpacks and school supplies for more than 350 children this past August.

McGahee is also helping Joe Sclafani, a former football player and Ravens fan who suffered from a rare condition that caused him to become a quadriplegic. The athlete is giving Sclafani a home makeover so that his residence is accessible to his needs and offers him the mobility to be able to play with his children.

"But those are the kind of stories that are overlooked by all this negative attention," he pointed out.

Nonetheless, McGahee declared he is a good father who does not have any issues with his children's mothers. He's not sure who is the culprit behind the smear campaign to tarnish his reputation and doesn't suspect any of his kid's mothers would do such a thing.

"I'm trying to get to the source of who's doing this so maybe we can talk it over and see what's going on. If that doesn't work, I might have to seek out some legal advice," he confessed.

As for the personal photos that are floating around online, he added: "I'm trying to find out right now how they're getting out. None of the pictures are on my Facebook page. I don't even have those photos."

In the end, McGahee wants people to realize that while spreading erroneous rumors about him may make for great gossip headlines, it ultimately has an affect on his children.

"It can traumatize them just because they're hearing their daddy's name on the radio blasted, talking about this child and that child. That's something that you don't want them to hear because it can sink into their memory, and it can stay with them for the rest of their lives. Things might not work out for them," he emoted.

McGahee said that although people think they know Burruss from watching her on the 'Real Housewives of Atlanta,' there's a side to her that's more real than reality TV could ever capture.

"The attraction to Kandi is just her attitude and her demeanor. I like the way she carries herself, and she's a real cool person. Once you get to know her, you know that she's even cooler than she is on TV," he closed.

McGahee has vowed not to grant any other interviews related to Burruss or the countless rumors surrounding his children.

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

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Indian River County candidate, Kenny Holmes, to host food drive

VERO BEACH — Continuing every Wednesday until Election Day, Kenny Holmes and the Jungle Club will host “Health, Harvest & Kenny Holmes,” from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Jungle Club.

Donate at least 5 pounds of food, and earn a free workout session with Kenny Holmes, candidate for County Commissioner, District 4 and former NFL player.

Holmes will talke about his career in the NFL. He also also talk about his dedication to the community if elected for county commission on Nov. 2.

After the brief meet and greet, participants will be led through a one-hour workout session with Holmes. The workout may include cardio activity, free weights, and resistance machine training.

This event is held in conjunction with the Jungle Club’s “Feed Your Community, Fund Your Fitness” campaign to collect 3,000 pounds of food for Harvest Food & Outreach Center.

Anyone who wants to participate may bring 5 pounds of food to the Jungle Club, at 1060 6th Avenue in Vero Beach.

For more information, contact Andrea Phillips at the Jungle Club at (7720 567-1400 or

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John Salmons still not ready for basketball action

John Salmons, recovering from a sprained right knee, is still not ready for basketball activity, leaving his season opener in doubt.

"He's starting to move around more, lightly jog," Scott Skiles said. "I don't think it's going to be that much longer. But we've got to get him running full speed before we can put him out on the court. He's doing better." With Salmons, Corey Maggette and Andrew Bogut all hurting, we have yet to see what the Bucks rotation might look like in the regular season.

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Pat Burrell brings back memories of Barry Bonds

And the prodigal son shall return to his Bay Area roots to guide the Giants to the promised land.

Hey, if it ain't Barry Bonds, why not Pat Burrell?

What Bonds couldn't do in 15 years, Burrell is trying to do in little more than 15 weeks. Both grew up south of Candlestick Park - Bonds graduating from San Mateo's Serra High School, Burrell from San Jose's Bellarmine College Prep - envisioning wearing black and orange one day, and each got the opportunity to play left field for his boyhood team.

Bonds, who began his career in Pennsylvania (as a Pirate) as did Burrell (as a Phillie), never got a World Series ring. For that matter, nobody has for this team in San Francisco, but now another aging power hitter is giving it a whirl, hoping his presence can help make a difference.

Burrell's first postseason hit in 2010 was a three-run homer Friday night that gave the Giants momentum in Game 2 of the Division Series until the Braves tied it in the eighth, forced extra innings and won it 5-4 in the 11th on Rick Ankiel's homer.

Burrell, who batted .266 with 18 homers and 51 RBIs in 96 games, has nine game-winning RBIs and was on the verge of No. 10 with his first-inning homer. After Freddy Sanchez singled and Buster Posey drew a two-out walk, Burrell moseyed to the plate, joked with friend Brian McCann, the catcher, and sent Tommy Hanson's first pitch halfway up the bleachers.

"We didn't bury them early. We kind of went in cruise control after the homer," said Aubrey Huff, adding Burrell's contributions have been invaluable. "We wouldn't be here playing these games without him. That's how big he's been for us."

With Burrell, as with Bonds in his later years, the package includes questionable defense. Burrell's error on Derrek Lee's sixth-inning single permitted Lee to advance to second - he scored on a McCann single. It was 4-1 when Brian Wilson replaced Sergio Romo in the eighth, and the Braves quickly made it 4-4, so Burrell wasn't getting the decisive hit.

In the Bonds era, management brought in players to complement the king of homers. In Burrell's case, he's a complementary guy himself, signed in May when he was jobless after the Rays dumped him and his .202 average.

"He's been great in key situations, but the biggest thing with Burrell is being able to go to him and talk to him," said pitcher Matt Cain, who was in line to win his playoff debut after surrendering one unearned run in 6 2/3 innings. "He can walk you through games when you're pitching. He's a guy who's been in this situation, so he's a great guy to go to and steal some knowledge from."

The Giants' gain was the Padres' loss.

Friday, the San Diego Union-Tribune ran a column quoting Padres CEO Jeff Moorad saying he wished Burrell would have signed with San Diego. Moorad was Burrell's agent before jumping into management/ownership and said he had mentioned the outfielder's name to general manager Jed Hoyer, though it did no good.

In retrospect, Moorad said he should have more heavily suggested a pursuit of Burrell, and Hoyer said, "Jeff was absolutely right about Pat. In hindsight, I wish he had pushed harder."

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Consistent Huff keeps Giants clubhouse light

ATLANTA -- Bruce Bochy admits he didn't know exactly what he was going to get when Aubrey Huff joined the Giants over the winter, other than what he knew from stats and what he'd heard from others.

What the veteran manager found out was that Huff can deliver more than a powerful stroke from the left side. He can bring some corner versatility in the field and a steady hand at the plate. On top of that, he provides a clubhouse presence that has helped a diverse group of Giants come together through numerous roster changes and challenges to reach the postseason.

And, in the grand tradition of the venerable American pastime, Huff does it all while wearing a red rally thong under his double-knits, at least since Aug. 30.

"Well, I'm not going to go there on the red thong, but he's a better all-around player than I even thought," Bochy said of Huff on Saturday, as the Giants prepared to play Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Braves at 1:30 p.m. PT on Sunday.

Thong or no thong, Huff has been a boon for Bochy and the Giants, becoming a "glue" guy for a team that has ridden team success into the playoffs.

For Bochy, the depth of Huff's abilities on and off the field came as a pleasant surprise.

"I just didn't get to see him play out on the field a lot and what he can do with the bat," Bochy said of Huff, who played all but a half-season of his previous nine years in the American League. "You know, he's been pretty much in our three-hole [hitter] the whole season, so he's been the stabilizer in the lineup. But also in the clubhouse, he's very competitive, but very loose -- keeps the guys loose, great sense of humor.

"He doesn't take himself so seriously, but he takes the game very seriously, and he plays hard. He has fun doing it, and he makes sure that the rest of the guys are doing the same."

Exhibit A: The thong. Huff said he donned the skimpy underwear to loosen up the troops in the heat of the postseason chase, and the Giants erased a six-game lead to win the NL West on the season's final day. Mission accomplished.

"I couldn't stop, and I'm wearing it right now, if you're interested," he said to laughter in the media interview room Friday before Game 2. "Kind of get used to it."

And as he exited the interview room, he reached back and gave that thong a playful snap.

Really, the method to Huff's madness is to become a leader with a helpful, humorous hand, not a hard-scrabble veteran who shows youngsters the ropes with harsh words and rookie hazing.

That's the type of treatment he says he received when he was younger. Coming up to the Rays just two years after signing as a fifth-round Draft pick out of the University of Miami, where he played with current teammate Pat Burrell, he didn't really appreciate it.

"I know when I came up as a rookie, I had older guys that rode me hard and it made it tough as a rookie," Huff said. "And I always told myself, 'I don't want to be that guy,' because it makes it harder, and everybody is wearing you out and making it harder than it should be."

So while rookies such as Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner made the transition to the big leagues, Huff was there. And while established young Giants stars like Tim Lincecum and Pablo Sandoval went through their periods of struggle, Huff was there -- in the starting lineup 154 of his team-high 157 games played this season, mostly at first base.

Along the way, he led the club in batting (.290, while Posey's .305 was short of plate appearances to qualify), homers (26) and RBIs (86), while ranking 10th in the NL in on-base percentage plus slugging (OPS) with a .891 mark. He was fifth in the league with 28 RBIs to put his club ahead, and seventh with 14 game-winning RBIs.

And all those numbers put to rest a really big one: By the end of the season, Huff had played in 1,479 games without reaching the postseason, at the time the third-longest postseason drought.

Once he got there, he was a little more loose than he thought he'd be in the playoff atmosphere. He got his first hit out of the way in Game 1, and though he's 1-for-7 thus far, he remains a threat in a crucial spot in the Giants' lineup.

"I went out and took the field, and it felt like a regular game to me, to be honest with you," Huff said, citing the tense San Diego series as a good primer for the postseason. "I was very surprised."

Maybe his own looseness wore off on himself. Or maybe it's the thong.

Or maybe it's just a 33-year-old veteran realizing he can have a place of leadership on a team that goes to the playoffs by bringing the fun.

"I don't care if you're a veteran or a younger guy, if you're having fun in the clubhouse and everybody is having a good time and everybody really starts caring for each other, I think that has a lot to do with winning on the field," Huff said. "I don't think you can actually play baseball without a good group of guys that mix well together."

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