NFL U Weekly Matchup Guide: Week 15

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Matt Bosher Gets a Punt Blocked For the 1st Time

Rookie punter Matt Bosher struggled early in the season. But the Falcons stuck with him and that’s starting to pay off. Bosher has been kicking better recently. He got off a booming punt early in the second quarter that was muffed by Jarett Dillard. Sean Weatherspoon recovered the ball at Jacksonville’s 5-yard line and Michael Turner scored on the next play.

Bosher was having a good game, until he had a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown in the third quarter.

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Brett Romberg in an Atlanta Falcons Locker Room Jam Session

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Tavares Gooden must dim the lights

Tavares Gooden always wears a tinted visor on his helmet whenever he's on the field. And he always wears one of the ten pair of dark glasses he owns whenever he's off the field. But the linebacker isn't looking to make a fashion statement. He's trying to avoid the worst pain he's ever experienced.

"It hurts really bad. It feels like a headache, a super headache, basically one you don’t want to feel," Gooden explained. "It’s basically like your brain is splitting in half, that’s what it feels like, and for people who haven’t felt it, I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. It’s just an ongoing pain."

Gooden suffers from migraines. The debilitating headaches are a direct result of the four concussions he's suffered throughout his football career. They can hit any where at any time, so Gooden sports his sunglasses year round. But the four year veteran can be considered more fortunate than some migraine sufferers. He knows what triggers his -- light.

"It’s not me directly looking into the sun," Gooden said. "But say if I’m looking certain places, the light can catch me in certain spots in my eyes, and it can give me severe head trauma. So we limit that with the polarized, certain medication and the shield so that I won’t get those migraines any more."

The NFL is aware of Gooden's condition, and the 49ers medical staff and trainers work with him to help prevent a migraine's onset as much as possible. His last one came earlier this season during the Cincinnati game.

"It was real bright that day, real sunny," Gooden said. "And I caught a migraine in the locker room."

Gooden was able to control that episode with medication. More importantly, Gooden says he hasn't had a concussion since 2008. To help avoid that, he has changed his approach to practices.

"[I] Keep my head out of the play. Never run into anybody full speed except for the game. That’s the only time," Gooden said. "I try to limit my contacts because I know in a game, they used to call me ‘wild child’ so I’m going to run wild and I’m going to try to put my facemask in there, but what I’ve learned is to use my hands more, technique."

Gooden may no longer be a "wild child" but he is still a "riled child." He plays without fear of what could happen should his head take another big hit.

"I just go out there and go as hard as I can and if something happens then I’ll take a break," Gooden said. "But until something happens I just continue to grind it out. Continue to do what I do since I was ten years old. I think that’s what it is. It’s the passion of the game that keeps me going."

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Vince Wilfork coming on strong down the stretch

Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork has come on strong as of late, making four tackles and pouncing on a fumble against the Redskins. He’s been more active than he was earlier in the season, pushing the pocket on passing plays even while drawing two blockers.

Wilfork’s prowess at preventing the quarterback from stepping up in the pocket will be huge on Sunday against the Broncos.

Quarterback Tim Tebow is more dangerous with his legs than with his arm, and teams can’t simply go after him like they can most passers. Instead, they must be cautious, walling him in with defensive ends and pushing the pocket with tackles.

Wilfork’s ability to build a barrier himself will never be more important. If the Patriots limit Tebow's ability to scramble, that takes away his biggest weapon. Tebow has 517 rushing yards, with 220 yards coming from scrambles. If he has to run into Wilfork enough times, he will be less likely to scramble. Then, he’s just another quarterback.

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Willis McGahee Paves the Way for Broncos Turnaround

A top 5 pick who was one game away from his team winning the national championship, Willis McGahee caught a screen pass from Ken Dorsey and turned up field.

In a split second, McGahee destroyed his ACL, PCL and MCL. But, the Miami born running back wasn’t going to let that stop him.

McGahee decided to enter the 2003 NFL Draft, where teams — for good reason — were cautious about his injury. Heading into April, teams knew that it may take a year or even longer for McGahee to ever play again.

The Buffalo Bills took a gamble on McGahee and selected him 23rd overall. After sitting out his entire rookie season, McGahee was back.

From 2004-2006, McGahee started in 40 games, rushed for 3,365 yards and scored 24 touchdowns. The Bills were finally cashing in on their investment. However, following the 2006 season the relationship quickly became sour.

“I couldn’t wait to get out of there,” McGahee said about Buffalo.

The Bills traded McGahee to the Baltimore Ravens for three draft picks (2007: 3rd and 7th, 2008: 3rd).

In his first season in Baltimore — i.e. the year before Ray Rice joined — McGahee averaged 4.1 yards per carry to tune of 1,207 yards and seven touchdowns. With the emergence of Rice — a quicker, younger back, who could also catch the ball out of the backfield — McGahee’s role decreased.

Over the following three seasons (2008-2010), McGahee started in 11 games and averaged 532 yards per season. After brief success as the Ravens short yardage back in 2009 (he scored 12 touchdowns), McGahee left Baltimore like Buffalo — a disappointment.

When the NFL lockout was lifted, McGahee signed a 4-year $9.5. million contract with the Denver Broncos to spell running back Knowshon Moreno. The beginning of the 2011 season looked like how the 2010 campaign ended for McGahee.

McGahee carried the ball four times for three yards in the Broncos 23-20 loss to the Oakland Raiders.

But, McGahee was about to catch his big break.

McGahee entered into the starting lineup after Moreno strained his hamstring in the Week 1 game against Oakland. All McGahee did was produce.
In six games this season he has rushed for over 100 yards — including a two touchdown, 163 yard performance against the Raiders on Nov. 6. Led by McGahee’s charge, the Broncos boast the No. 1 rushing team in the NFL (156.2 per game) and have won six games in a row.

Not bad for a 30-year-old running back, who has seen his productivity decline since 2007.

To put in perspective McGahee’s remarkable turnaround, consider this: McGahee rushed for 924 yards combined in the previous two seasons. With three games to go in 2011, McGahee has 920.

A lot of people point to Tim Tebow for the success of the Broncos this season , but even Tebow will admit — this team wouldn’t be where it is today if it wasn’t for McGahee.

Who would have thought?

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Frank Gore takes part in full practice

SANTA CLARA -- Running back Frank Gore said earlier in the day that he felt fine.

And the 49ers' practice participation report on Thursday supported his claim. On the 49ers' first day of practice to prepare for their game Monday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Gore went through the entire practice, the club reported.

Last week, the 49ers did not list Gore with any injuries, either. But Sunday, he played just 39 of the team's 63 offensive plays. At times when he came off the field, he looked to be ailing. But when he had the football in his hands, he looked as good as ever.

Gore had just 10 rushes for 72 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown on the 49ers' first play of the second half. He carried just two more times in the 49ers' 21-19 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. A day later, coach Jim Harbaugh said Gore was "not 100 percent."

Gore has experienced sprains to both ankles and a knee bruise this season. So, perhaps, the 49ers were trying to conserve Gore during the game against the Cardinals. However, the team's pass-heavy game plan backfired.

Quarterback Alex Smith completed 18 of 37 passes for 175 yards against the Cardinals on Sunday. He was also sacked five times. Smith attempted a season-high 38 passes Nov. 20 against the Cardinals, but the 49ers also ran a season-high 87 offensive plays in that game.

So there appears to be no question that Gore will be healthy for the Monday night game against the Steelers. However, there are questions about linebacker Patrick Willis and left tackle Joe Staley.

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Saints hoping for late-season resurgence from Jon Vilma

The Saints' defense has had two of its most solid defensive performances the past two games, coinciding with the return of MLB Jonathan Vilma. Vilma missed three games in a row while recovering from arthroscopic surgery to repair a left knee injury that had bothered him since Week Two before making a comeback in Week 13. New Orleans went 3-0 without Vilma, but the only time all season that the Saints have held teams to less than 20 points in back-to-back games came in their past two outings (with Vilma), as they slowed down the Lions and Titans. Vilma has been held out of some practices since returning to rest the knee. Indications are he's recovered well from the surgery, though, and he could give the Saints' defense a significant lift just in time for the postseason if he gets back to 100 percent. We hear there is measured optimism that he will get back to playing at that level this season.

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Kenny Phillips returns to practice

Safety Kenny Phillips was back at practice Wednesday afternoon, giving some hope that he'll only end up missing one game with his sprained left knee.

Phillips had originally been told he might need 2-3 weeks to recover, and as I told you the Giants were bracing for at least a 1-2 week absence. But Tom Coughlin said Phillips was ready to go, at least on a limited basis, meaning there's a possibility his recovery time will be on the short end of that span.

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Santana Moss would ‘love to ruin’ Giants’ hopes

The Redskins are eliminated from playoff contention and ensured of yet another losing season. They still have something to play for, says receiver Santana Moss.

“We still out here fighting,” Moss said. “We still out here trying to do what we do — not trying to just pack it up and say it’s all over.”

And they could still impact the playoff race. The Giants and Cowboys are both 7-6 in the NFC East. The Giants have won the lone meeting between the two teams, and they’ll close the season facing each other at New York. A Redskins win this Sunday could certainly damper New York’s hopes, especially considering the Cowboys play at Tampa Bay.

“I’m not a guy to worry about trying to ruin it. But I would love to ruin it,” Moss said. “I’m not going to the game wanting to spoil it for them. I’m going out to the game saying, ‘I want to win regardless, whether they have something to fight for or not.’ But when you’re left where that’s all you can do, why not do it?”

Moss returned to the Washington lineup three weeks ago and posted his third touchdown of the year and a season-high 81 receiving yards last Sunday against New England — 49 of which came on a single pass play. He says he’s seen a lot of growth from the Redskins’ offense in recent weeks and it “gives you hope knowing that we’re doing some of the things and we’re right there.

“Probably a play here or there could make a difference,” he said.

Instead, the Redskins have dropped two straight and eight of the last nine. Still, Moss figures the team can continue to grow and that will carry over into next season.

“We just got to go out there and do what we do to keep what we’re doing for the last four weeks — you know, something that we can really hang our hats on when the season’s over with,” he said.

Moss was outspoken about the officiating following the team’s loss to the Patriots. He was called for pass interference on a crucial play in the closing minutes of the game. Moss disagreed with the call, though Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan later said he agreed with the officials.
Moss said after reviewing the play on film, he still thought it was a bad call.

“It’s over with, though,” he said. “What happened Sunday happened Sunday. I’m a firm believer in leaving everything behind me that I can’t control, and I can’t control that. Now it’s about the Giants.”

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Antrel Rolle 'very confident' against Redskins

After a 28-14 season-opening loss to the Redskins at FedEx Field, Antrel Rolle was so disgusted that he said “We know the Redskins are not a better team than us. If we played them 100 times they might win five.’’

That potentially-combustible quote on Tuesday was brought up to the Giants safety during his weekly radio spot on WFAN. Rolle was given the chance to back away from those comments with the Giants set for the rematch with the Redskins on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

Did he really say the Giants would beat the Redskins 95 out of 100 times?

“I said ninety-nine,’’ Rolle said.

No, there was no backing away by Rolle, who was in a spirited and energized mood after the Giants ended a four-game losing streak with their 37-34 victory over the Cowboys.

“I don’t plan on losing to the Redskins, I’m going to be honest with you,’’ Rolle said. “I’m not guaranteeing a victory, I’m not doing any of that, we got to play the game come Sunday, but I’m very, very confident in this team and very, very confident we’re going to get the job done, go out there and bring it, bring it the way the New York Giants know how to bring it.’’

Rolle did not discount the defensive issues that continue to hurt the Giants.

“Our season will be shut short if we continue to play that way,’’ Rolle said.

But he took great exception to speculation that he was to blame for blowing the assignment on what turned out to be an uncontested 50-yard touchdown pass to an uncovered Dez Bryant, a play in which Rolle and cornerback Corey Webster clearly got their signals crossed.

“The play with Dez Bryant, I don’t know if I call that communication error, I don’t know what I want to call it, we don’t point fingers at each other but the mistake that was made, it shouldn’t have been made,” Rolle said.

“Which brings me to my other point. In this league every position you’re going to take some sort of blame, which is fine. People say the only thing that matters is what your coaches feel and your organization, which is fine, I understand that. But I don’t see it that way, because there’s fans out there, fans who really don’t understand the ins and outs of football, really doesn’t understand coverage and things of that nature. Whenever there’s a big play and you being the safeties, you’re always the one to get blamed and get finger-pointed and it’s wrong.”

The play gave the Cowboys a 34-22 lead late in the fourth quarter, and on the telecast, NBC’s Cris Collinsworth said Rolle was at fault.

“The commentators don’t know the coverage we’re in, they don’t know how we’re playing our defense, they don’t know I’m disguising, showing a Cover 2 but I’m really supposed to drop down and play a Cover 3,” Rolle continued. “It drives me crazy, when I speak about this I’m not speaking about this only on behalf of Antrel Rolle, I’m speaking out on behalf of people across the league. Commentators always want to point the finger as if they know what they’re doing and they know what they’re talking about but in reality they don’t half of the time.

“There was something wrong, which shouldn’t have happened. There’s no one without sin in our defense. Everyone makes their own mistakes, no one’s perfect. I take a lot of pride in understanding our defense in and out. I have to understand our defense in and out, being the quarterback of the defense. I’m not saying I don’t make mistakes, because I do, I’m saying if there’s a coverage and I’m supposed to be in a certain area best believe I’m going to be where I’m supposed to be. Like I was Sunday night, like I was against San Francisco, like I was against the Packers. They say ‘Antrel Rolle got burned.’ No, Antrel Rolle didn’t get burned, Antrel Rolle was exactly where he was supposed to be. Know what the hell you’re talking about. There’s people watching on TV, the only thing they know is what the commentators are telling them.

“I’m not going to explain exactly what happened on that play but I can say I was in the right spot, I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Whether it was Corey Webster screwing up, whether it was somebody else it doesn’t matter. Just because I am the safety or Deon Grant is a safety or Kenny Phillips is a safety that doesn’t mean we’re always supposed to be back deep. ‘’

Animated and full of energy, Rolle was on a roll during the interview, unable to contain his excitement as he heaped praise on Eli Manning and Jason Pierre-Paul, the two players most responsible for carrying the Giants to a comeback victory inside Cowboys Stadium.

On Pierre-Paul: “All-around defensive lineman, I don’t see anybody playing at a higher level than him. I mean that across the league. This guy does so much for our football team. I don’t even think he realizes. He’s out there, he’s playing care-free, he’s doing what he’s supposed to do and then some. His motor is through the roof. This guy has been, he’s definitely the MVP of our defense, hands down. I don’t think anyone comes close. He’s been that dude. I must admit, I’m his biggest fan. I love watching that guy go to work, I love putting on the film and I’m like ‘Damn, look at that boy go to work’ and I love his attitude about it.

“He should definitely be in that Pro Bowl. I don’t know what’s going on with these fans voting but Jason Pierre-Paul definitely needs to be in Hawaii this year, but hopefully he’s not there this year because we’re in a better place. He’s a monster, he’s freakish. I laugh because I really don’t think he understands how good he is.’’

After praising kicker Lawrence Tynes, punter Steve Weatheford and the coverage on special teams, Rolle was just getting warmed up for Manning.

“I’m talking about that No. 10,’’ Rolle said. “That dude, man, you can say whatever you want to say about him, No. 26 is No. 10’s biggest fan. I’m like Deon, ‘I beeeelieeve in Eli.’ He’s saved us all year long, man. We definitely have to keep him out of those situations. That guy is clutch. I don’t care about giving him those compliments because I know Eli can handle that, he can handle anything. He might not be the rah-rah rally kind of guy, he might not be like me, he might not be as vocal as I am. But that dude is a leader, in and out, and when it’s on the line. There’s one interview I heard this year and that when I knew, I said ‘This dude got it.’ He was like ‘If the game is on the line I would rather have the ball in my hand than for them to have it in theirs.’ That tells me all I need to know about our quarterback.

“Our offense has been outstanding, they’ve been saving us. I can’t speak enough of how impressed I’ve been with the offense all year long, they’ve been saving us. The defense hasn’t been getting the job done., which is unacceptable.’’

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Aaron Rodgers Believes in Ryan Braun

Don’t count Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers among the folks who are casting a judgmental eye on NL MVP Ryan Braun.

Following the recent revelation that Braun tested positive for synthetic testosterone at some point during his award-winning 2011 season, many began calling for the Milwaukee Brewers outfielder to give back his trophy. Years of being lied to by professional baseball players have made fans and pundits wary of the excuses that generally accompany positive banned substances tests.

Nevertheless, despite the growing public scrutiny, Braun is maintaining his innocence. He promises to be ultimately vindicated, and the mildly unusual circumstances surrounding his particular case are admittedly different than they are in situations of this ilk.

Plus, he has a very popular ally. One of the most beloved people in Wisconsin, Rodgers, has come out and publicly pledged his support to Braun. During a recent stint on ESPN Radio 540, the Packers quarterback said that Braun is probably his “best athlete friend” and that he is “100 percent supporting him and…behind him and believing everything that he says."

Considering how quickly things can get ugly when you associate yourself with someone who has any sort of ties to banned substances, you have to give Rodgers credit for his courageousness.

"I just would say that I would 100 percent support Ryan and believe in him and it's not going to affect our friendship," Rodgers said. "… I am just trusting that my good friend has not been using anything that's illegal and I'm very confident that that is the case. I know how he cares about the integrity of the game and wouldn't do anything to jeopardize that."

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John Salmons leaves scrimmage with quad injury

John Salmons left Thursday night's open scrimmage with a right quad contusion and will not play the rest of the evening.

More details will be provided when they become available.

The Kings are now without four starters tonight (DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans, Chuck Hayes and Salmons).

Cousins has a sprained right ankle. Evans has a sprained left foot. Chuck Hayes is undergoing tests after a recent stress tests showed abnormalities.

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Ray Lewis to start Sunday

OWING MILLS, Md.—After missing four games with turf toe, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis practiced Wednesday and is expected to start Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.

Lewis could have started the previous two games, but the coaching staff held him out as a precautionary measure.

It will be interesting to see if the Chargers attack the middle. In the past couple of years, Lewis struggled in pass defense especially against the Chargers and tight end Antonio Gates.

This would be the perfect time for the Ravens to get Lewis off the field on third-and-long, and they could do it with Lewis saying the team didn't want to re-injure the toe and wanted to reduce the number of repetitions.

If Lewis comes off on third down, he would be replaced by Brendon Ayanbadejo, who is quicker and faster, especially when he backpedals.

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Roscoe Parrish wants to be back

His last two seasons have ended prematurely on injured reserve, but fully healthy now, Roscoe Parrish hopes to be back with the Bills in 2012.
Parrish, who is set to become a free agent at the end of the season, wants to re-sign with the club that made him a second-round draft choice in 2005.

“Yeah I would love to be back here,” he said. ”I’ve been with this team my whole career. Most definitely I’d love to be back here. I just want to play football and get the opportunity again. Seize the moment and take advantage of it.”

Parrish is back in town running agility drills and working out in the team’s weight room. He’s expecting to be medically cleared within a week and knows the importance of heading into the offseason healthy.

“You don’t want to think about the negative things, you just want to think about the positive,” he said. ”The good thing about it is I’ll be cleared before the season is over. Today I ran agility drills and ran some routes pretty good. I’m just trying to get back in shape now.

“You break the film down and you can see my return skills and what I can do in the slot. So I can bring that to a team. It’s been unfortunate with the injuries, but it’s up to them. We’ll see what they’re going to do. On my end I have to continue to work out and build my base and get back in shape.”

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Andre Johnson reflects on time spent, dues paid with Texans

Even through the tough patches, WR Andre Johnson's faith in making the playoffs with the Texans never wavered. "I've had people ask me why didn't I leave or why did I stay," said Johnson. "I just wanted to be a part of something special. I wanted to be here when the Texans made their first playoff game. I was here to do that, so hopefully, I can be here when we win our first Super Bowl."

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Kenny Phillips returns to practice

With all of the miscommunication issues since Kenny Phillips went down, it’s a good sign for the Giants they’re getting their starting safety back today.

Phillips, who missed Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys with a sprained knee suffered a week prior, returned to practice today. He was fully participating and that's a good sign for him to play against the Washington Redskins on Sunday.

Since Phillips went down against the Green Bay Packers, the Giants gave up two touchdowns on apparent miscommunications between Antrel Rolle and Corey Webster – one against Green Bay and another against Dallas on a 50-yard touchdown to Dez Bryant. It’s unclear if either would’ve occurred had Phillips been on the field to communicate the adjustment to Webster, who didn’t sink deep enough on the Packers’ Donald Driver and, according to Rolle, should’ve been deep on Bryant.

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Antrel Rolle to QBs: "Throw the ball at me"

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –- The Giants’ secondary has been torched in each of the last three games.

But safety Antrel Rolle wants Rex Grossman, Mark Sanchez and Tony Romo –-- the next three quarterbacks to face the Giants –- to throw the ball his way.

“I’m a ball hawk man,” Rolle said on Wednesday when asked about how he views himself and how his Giants career has gone so far. “That is what I do, that is what I love to do. This is my second year in this defense and I understand it like the back of my hand. Unfortunately, with injuries [to teammates] and things of that nature, I haven’t been able to do what I want to do. And even when I am back there [in coverage], I don’t get the opportunities that a lot of other safeties get for whatever reason.”

Grossman threw for 305 yards and two touchdowns in a season-opening win over the Giants this year. Now, Rolle wants Grossman to look his way during the rematch this Sunday.

“Honestly, I wish teams would challenge me more, I wish they would throw the ball,” Rolle said. “I like to be tested and I like to understand where I am as a safety. So, if I got to put it out there for teams to throw the ball at me, I am going to put it out there -- throw the ball at me because I want to go get it.”

The Giants defense has been reeling as of late, surrendering an average of 40 points per game in the last three games. New Orleans’ Drew Brees, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Dallas’ Romo each passed for four touchdowns against the Giants (7-6). Tom Coughlin’s defense has had breakdowns in communication and mental lapses in the secondary against the high-powered offenses.

Rolle would love nothing more than to plug the leaky defense by making some big plays instead of watching a big play happen against his defense.

Since signing a five-year, $37-million contract with the Giants in 2010, Rolle has just two interceptions. In his last three seasons in Arizona from 2007-‘09, Rolle had a combined 10 interceptions and three touchdowns.

As a Giant, Rolle has had a variety of responsibilities from spending time near the line of scrimmage to blitz and stop the run last year to covering slot receivers earlier this season.

Rolle has racked up the tackles –- he had 87 last year and has 77 this season –- but the interceptions have not been there.

It wasn’t until the last two weeks, when Kenny Phillips suffered a knee injury, that Rolle says he has been able to play deep.

“I do what I am told to do and I do it very effectively,” Rolle said. “If it was up to me, I would definitely be back deep, hunting the ball and doing what I love to do. But that is not what is required of me right now with the position and roles that I am playing. I have to do exactly how my defensive coordinator wants me to play and I have been doing it extremely well all season long.”

So when Rolle heard NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth say during the Sunday night telecast that the safety was “barbecued” on a 50-yard touchdown reception by Dez Bryant in the fourth quarter of the Giants’ 37-34 win over the Cowboys, the safety was not thrilled.

On that play, cornerback Corey Webster let Bryant go as Rolle was coming up. Rolle said the play was disguised as a Cover 2 but was really a Cover 3 and that he was in the position he was supposed to be in.

“You have these analysts that figure like they know what is exactly going on,” Rolle said. “I am not criticizing them and I understand in a lot of situations even what they see… but don’t sit there and put someone on blast, ‘oh Antrel Rolle got barbequed.’ Like, you know, get out of here with that man.”

“There is no one without any sin on our defense and there are going to be times where I do mess up and where I have messed up,” he added. “But unless you know what you are saying, then don’t say it.”

Rolle has certaily done his share of saying things, including saying on his weekly radio appearance on WFAN earlier this season that if the Giants played the Redskins "100 times, they might win five." But he admits that he is not immune to what fans say and think about his play.

“I take a lot of pride in my game and in my craft,” Rolle said. “That stuff matters to me.”

“If I am wrong, I am going to say I am wrong,” Rolle added. “I don’t shy away from my faults. I am human at the end of the day.”

The Giants defense has looked incredibly fragile the past three weeks. But Rolle and his teammates know that if they win two of their next three, including beating Dallas in the season finale, the Giants will be playoff-bound.

And Rolle would love to start making some of those game-turning plays he made in Arizona in these last three weeks.

That’s why he wants Grossman, Sanchez and Romo to challenge him.

“When you watch certain teams on film, they really don’t attack us how they attack a lot of other teams,” Rolle said. “I think a lot of times, big plays have come more so [from] what we have allowed them to do as opposed to what they have done.”

“I played deep the last two games and haven’t gotten any balls,” Rolle added. “I’m just running around and trying to make something happen. As long as my defense wins, I could care less about my individual stats. It definitely weighs on you at the end of the day but as long we win, I’m winning.”

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Vince Wilfork limited in practice

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and defensive lineman Vince Wilfork were limited participants in Wednesday's practice for non-injury reasons, the team announced in its first injury report of the week. It is possible both players, as veterans, received a reduced workload for the late-season practice.

In addition, wide receiver Deion Branch was added to the injury report as limited with a groin injury.

Offensive lineman Marcus Cannon, who missed last Friday's practice for non-injury reasons, was removed from the report.

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Colin McCarthy Bolstering Tennessee Defense

The Titans could still use a stud defensive player, and it really could be at any level. But thanks to good drafting of late, Tennessee has a solid nucleus on that side of the ball -- at all three levels.

This season, the Titans added Jurrell Casey to the middle of their defensive line and Colin McCarthy and Akeem Ayers to the linebacking corps. Casey made an immediate impact as an active run defender. A stout presence on the inside, Casey isn't just a stay-at-home plugger. Instead, Casey shows initial quickness and very good movement skills for his size.

Although he has yet to make my Rookie Watch, Ayers also made an immediate impact at strongside linebacker. Ayers' skill set is much like a 3-4 outside linebacker, but he isn't quite stout or physical enough for that duty on an every-snap basis. This role fits him quite well, and although he has some work to do in coverage, he is solid against the run and an effective blitzer with some dynamic qualities.

After spending the majority of the season behind Barrett Ruud at middle linebacker, McCarthy has burst onto the scene of late. He is extremely productive and would likely be high on the list below if not for his small body of work.

Again, the addition of one elite player could really put Tennessee's defense over the top, but when you factor in players such as Derrick Morgan, Jason McCourty, Alterraun Verner and another rookie defensive tackle, Karl Klug, from the past few drafts, there is a lot to be excited about going forward.

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Kellen Winslow defends Raheem Morris

Tampa Bay tight end Kellen Winslow strongly defended beleaguered coach Raheem Morris on Wednesday.

Although the Bucs are on a seven-game losing streak and Morris appears to be on the hot seat, Winslow, courtesy of our friends at, said that the coach still has the support of his team.

“If something were to happen to him we would be devastated and hearts would be broken,” Winslow said. “We play for him.’’

Winslow said the Buccaneers’ problems should be blamed on players, not Morris.

“It’s just not his fault at all,’’ Winslow said. “It is just us. Coaches coach and players play. We can’t have anything happen to him. We just can’t. It will just ruin the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.”

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Jimmy Graham played just 46 snaps

Due to back spasms, Jimmy Graham played just 46-of-75 snaps in last Sunday's win over the Titans.

Graham is usually on the field for virtually every snap. Even though his playing time was limited last week, he still led the Saints with nine targets, caught five passes and came within a toenail of a touchdown. We're tentatively expecting a full complement of snaps against the Vikings this week.

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Antrel's numbers don't add up to Rex Grossman

A battle of logic has broken out before a football game.

On Tuesday, Giants safety Antrel Rolle said on his weekly spot on WFAN that the Giants would win 99 out of 100 games against the Redskins. He upped the total from September, when he said following a Giants loss to Washington that they would win 95 times out of 100.

On Wednesday, Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman responded and not surprisingly found some flaws in Rolle's proclamation.

"It is the NFL and nobody is going to beat anyone 99 out of 100 times," Grossman said on a conference call. "I am confident about where we are. We haven’t finished games lately and we need to finish and everything should take care of itself. I understand that there is a lot of pride in the NFL and a lot of people go about their business with a lot of pride and ego and we do the same thing."

Grossman will get his chance to prove Rolle wrong on Sunday as he and the Redskins will go for the season sweep of the Giants when the two teams meet at 1 p.m. Grossman threw for 305 yards and two touchdowns in a 28-14 Washington win.

"I don't care about playing the role of spoilers," Grossman said. "I play this game to win. You put so much energy and effort into each week that winning the game and feeling good after the game each Sunday and being proud of what you accomplished, that is plenty of motivation. You are playing for pride and going out there and trying to win and that's really all the motivation you need as far as I'm concerned. If we are spoilers in the process, it doesn't give you any gratification. It is good to go win.'

In what has been an up and down season for Grossman, who even lost his starting job during the middle of the year, one his brightest spots came against the Giants. Grossman completed 21-of-34 passes (just one of four times this season he completed more than 60 percent of his passes) and posted a 110.5 quarterback rating, his highest of the season.

This time around, the Redskins bring a much different offense into town on Sunday as they try to make Rolle eat his words. Roy Helu is now the starting running back, instead of Tim Hightower, who was placed on IR, and the team is without the services of tight end Fred Davis, who is suspended. Davis torched the Giants for a season-high 105 yards on five catches in the first meeting. The offensive line has also been saddled with injuries.

That doesn't mean the Redskins are going to go down with a fight, though.

"We just need to continue to establish our identity and what this offense, defense and special teams are trying to become," Grossman said of his team's up-and-down season. "We have played well but playing well in the NFL is only going to allow you to be competitive. We need to finish games and it at all possible to dominate some games to get where we need to be."

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John Salmons living up to hopes

When the Kings traded John Salmons to Chicago with Brad Miller on Feb. 18, 2009, they viewed the deal as one that would help the team rebuild for the future.

Salmons was averaging a then-career-high 18.3 points, but the Kings were looking to shed salaries and begin developing young players.

The Kings were 11-44 on the day of the trade and well on their way to the worst record in the NBA with 17 wins.

Salmons went on to be a key player in playoff runs for the Bulls that spring and the next season in Milwaukee. Meanwhile, the Kings continued to wallow near the bottom of the standings.

The Kings, still seeking their way out of the basement of the Pacific Division, reacquired Salmons by sending Beno Udrih to Milwaukee in a three-team trade that included Charlotte on the night of the NBA draft.

Salmons, entering his 10th season, returns wiser and is expected to be a leader on a team short on experience among some of its key players.
Thus far, Kings coach Paul Westphal has been pleased with the veteran's presence.

"I try to take pride in being a professional, anyway," Salmons said. "Even if I wasn't in this role, that's what I try to be. I try to come out and play hard, try to bring it every day in practice, try to bring it in every game. Just try to play the right way and lead by example."

In Westphal's first two seasons as Sacramento's coach, he has started several players at small forward.

He has wanted one that could be relied on defensively while also being a threat on offense.

The primary small forwards have been Francisco Garcia, Donte' Greene and Omri Casspi, who was traded to Cleveland.

Greene hasn't been consistent on both offense and defense, and Garcia, who has been a starter and reserve, has battled injuries the past two seasons.

Westphal's desire to add Salmons centered on his versatility on offense and ability to defend. Salmons can score multiple ways, can handle the ball and defend all perimeter positions.

It also didn't hurt seeing Salmons excel for Chicago and Milwaukee in the playoffs. Salmons averaged 18.1 points in seven playoff games for the Bulls in 2009 and 17 points for the Bucks in 2010.

The Kings looked at small forwards prior to the draft, but with improvement both wanted and needed soon, a rookie would not immediately help the situation.

"There's no substitute for experience, especially in the NBA these days when players are coming out after one year," Westphal said. "And usually your top players come out after very little college (experience)."

Salmons said he matured as a player while in Chicago and Milwaukee. The lessons he has learned are ones Westphal would like to see instilled in young players, too.

"You can definitely pick things up just from watching (Salmons)," rookie forward Tyler Honeycutt said. "And if you're curious and you ask him, he's willing to help you. If I've got any questions, I'm going to ask him."

Playing on playoff teams also showed Salmons the kind of drive it takes to contend for championships.

"You can't take plays off. No games off. It's nonstop, going hard," Salmons said. "When you're not in that situation (on a winning team), you don't realize how hard it is. It definitely helped me prepare better and get ready for those situations."

So far, Salmons has been everything Westphal had hoped he would be. He showed up for camp on time, focused and in shape.

The coach has praised Salmons' play during camp, and the veteran can be seen sticking around after practice for extra work.

"When you can have a player who has a lot of basketball left but still has experience, it helps your team a lot," Westphal said.

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Matt Kemp on Ryan Braun: ‘A good dude, that’s my homie’

Should Ryan Braun surrender his NL MVP award to Matt Kemp in light of the report that the Milwaukee Brewers star flunked a drug test? It's a debate that has seen more than its fair share of opining. Eight of 10 Braun voters told Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times they'd switch their vote if given the chance. Legendary scribe Hal McCoy said he wanted his ballot back. Even Kemp's agent — former pitcher Dave Stewart — weighed in.

The only person not taking a hard-line stance, it seemed, was Kemp himself. The Los Angeles Dodgers star even remained silent until he was tracked down by a TMZ camera jockey at what looks like a routine mall run to satisfy an Orange Julius hankering:

Kemp basically responded the way you or I would if a random person with a video camera rushed up to us in public. He stayed pretty non-committal, but did offer that he thinks the official process should play out before a final judgment is made on the man who finished ahead of him in the voting.

"Nobody's proven anything, man" Kemp said. "We don't know anything."

Kemp called Braun a "good dude" and also asserted "that's my homie."

Perhaps the brotherhood of upper-echelon talent in Major League Baseball really compels him to say that, but I'm still very interested in knowing what really lies in his heart. Considering that Kemp said he was going to use the MVP snub as motivation to post a "monster" 2012 season, I can't believe he doesn't feel at least a little bit slighted.

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Packers Workout Graig Cooper

The Green Bay Packers auditioned four running backs, according to a league source with knowledge of the situation.

They worked out former Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins running back Jalen Parmele, former Carolina Panthers running back Tyrell Sutton, former Philadelphia Eagles and University of Miami running back Graig Cooper and former Ravens running back Walter Sanders.

They also tried out a pair of defensive backs: former Eagles cornerback Jorrick Calvin, who's also a return specialist, and Josh Gatlin.

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Ray Lewis says he’s “feeling way better,” sets no date for his return

A month ago today, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis suffered a foot injury in Seattle.  He has yet to play since then.  And he likewise hasn’t said much to the media.

Lewis spoke to today, after speaking at a community event in downtown Baltimore.

“I’m feeling way better,” Lewis said, adding that he believes he’ll play again this season.  “I thought I had a good chance the last four weeks of playing,” Lewis added, “but coaches and them always make the decision, and they’re just being smart with it.”

The Ravens have won four straight games without Lewis.  With three other AFC teams at 10-3, the Ravens need to keep winning in order to get Lewis and other injured players a week of rest before the division round of the postseason.

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Nate Webster Indicted on Sex Crimes

( Cincinnati, OH )- Trials continue today for Nate Webster Jr., a former linebacker for the Cincinnati Bengals, was indicted Thurday on charges of sexual battery, gross sexual imposition, and five counts of unlawful sex with a minor.

Prosecutors say for two years Webster had a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl. Webster would threaten her with a gun to keep her quiet about their relationship.

After police searched his home they found four guns, one semi-automatic rifle and a small amount of marijuana.

Webster pleaded not guilty on Thrusday and is being held on a $1 million bond at the Common Pleas Court. Webster could face if charged a maximum sentance of 36 and a half years in prison.

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Texans Would like Andre Johnson to play in Week 15

Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said Monday, Dec. 12, that even though the team has clinched the AFC South Division title, he would like to use WR Andre Johnson (hamstring) in Week 15. "We've got to push. If I could, I'd have Andre back this next week," Kubiak said. "I think he needs to play. I think he needs to get back in the flow of things before we do get to January, but we've got to be smart here."

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Reggie Wayne still No. 1 wideout ... in name

WR Reggie Wayne remains as the Colts' number one receiver despite the fact that WR Pierre Garcon has caught four more passes (60 to 56) and four more touchdowns (6 to 2) so far this season. Wayne is in the final year of his contract.

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Frank Gore taking a pounding

The 49ers have played 13 games and running back Frank Gore is bruised and battered.

Of course he is.

It's impossible for Gore to have touched the ball 250 times and not be feeling the physical toll that it takes on his body. He doesn't avoid contact, and he churns for every yard.

So a banged-up Gore is like Sir Edmund Hillary with chapped lips. It's to be expected. Here's a look at the wear-and-tear his body has absorbed this season:

Sept. 25 at Bengals: Gore sustained a right ankle sprain late in the first half against the Cincinnati Bengals. Gore gained 32 yards on eight carries before the injury, and had nine carries for 10 yards the rest of the game.

Oct. 2 at Eagles: He was listed as going through limited practice the next week in Youngstown, Ohio. Coach Jim Harbaugh said recently that Gore did not practice at all in preparation to face the Philadelphia Eagles. Gore did not start that game, but he came off the sideline to rush for 127 yards and a touchdown on 15 attempts.

Nov. 6 at Redskins: Gore sustained a left ankle sprain in the second quarter against Washington. He rushed for 65 yards on seven carries in the first half, and 42 yards on 12 attempts in the second half. Afterward, he could barely walk. This time more than any other, I thought Gore would not be able to play the following game.

* * *

Through this point in the season, Gore had 159 attempts for 782 yards (4.9 average). After this point, Gore has 75 rushes for 272 yards (3.6 yards).

* * *
Nov. 13 vs. N.Y. Giants: Gore started the game, but he left at the end of the first half when he landed hard on his right knee. He sustained a hyperextended knee and bruise. His final stat line: 0 rushing yards on six attempts.

Nov. 20 vs. Cardinals: He did not practice Wednesday, and was limited the next two days. Gore was listed as questionable for the game against the Cardinals with the knee injury. He started and rushed for 88 yards on 24 rushing attempts. With the game firmly in hand, Gore sat out the final 18 minutes of the game.

Nov. 24 at Baltimore: Gore was limited (knee) in practice for the three days leading up the Thanksgiving game against the Ravens. He was listed as probable. Gore gained 39 yards rushing on 14 carries.

Dec. 4 vs. St. Louis: He was limited in each of the three practices in preparation to face the Rams. The injury designation this week changed to "ankle." He gained 73 yards on 21 rushes, including a long of 20 yards.

Dec. 11 at Cardinals: Gore entered the game healthy, according to the report the 49ers submitted to the NFL. He took part in full practices. But Gore played 38 of the 49ers' 63 offensive snaps. Harbaugh on Monday described Gore this way: "He's got some things. He's not 100 percent."

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Ed Reed Assists Kamryn Lambert Foundation

The Kamryn Lambert Foundation is a Pasadena non-profit organization that offers nursing scholarships to students and assistance to pediatric patients and their families.

The foundation was organized after founder Debi Katzenberger's granddaughter Kamryn died in 2007. Katzenberger is offering weekly updates on the foundation.

On Friday, Baltimore Ravens player Ed Reed and Carbiz, a car dealer, teamed up to collect toys for the Kamryn Lambert Foundation.

"Their goal was to 'Stuff a Van,' " Katzenberger said. "And that they did. With the help of donors, like the Dobry family of Pasadena, the event in Reisterstown was a huge success."

Deliveries to the University of Maryland Children's Hospital are set to take place Wednesday and Thursday, but there is still time to donate. If you would like to add some items to the van, please call Katzenbeger at 443-852-0480.

The foundation will also continue to collect gift cards, which can be mailed to the foundation at 7845 Catherine Ave., Pasadena, MD 21122.

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Andre Johnson surprises students with new bikes

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Dozens of lucky students at Bastian Elementary School in southeast Houston got their Christmas presents early, and you'll never guess who was there to help out.

Santa's little helper was none other than Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson and he did not go there empty handed.

Christmas came early for the students at Bastian Elementary. First, a surprise visit from some Houston Texans cheerleaders, followed by the moment they have all been waiting for -- a visit from Texans WR Andre Johnson.

"I told you guys that when I came back that I was going to have a surprise for you guys," Johnson said to the students.

He had two surprises actually. Up first were Christmas presents courtesy of HPD's Blue Santa program. The second was for a select group of students -- 60 brand new bikes and helmets. It's all part of Academy Sports and Outdoors 10th Annual Bike Donation Program.

"These 60 kids were picked based on good grades, good attendance, good citizenship and need," said Bruce Goffney, Bastian Elementary School principal.

Johnson was compelled to get involved because growing up he saw too many of his friends go without during the holidays.

"I always said once I was in a position where I was able to give back that I would," said Johnson.

For a lot of these kids, this may be all that they get this Christmas.

"I think that Andre Johnson is, like, the best," said student Arayna Garcia.

To say they are grateful would be an understatement.

"He's the best thing that ever happened to my life because I never had a bike this cute, ever, in my life. It is the best thing that has ever happened to me," said student Grace Rodriguez.

"This is the best bike I've ever had. This is a Christmas to remember for me," said student Keiddrick Fizer.

Johnson comes to Bastian about three times a year just to spend time with the kids. He says the fact that the Texans made it to the playoffs for the first time ever made today even better. Students seemed to be a bit more energized.

The Texans wide receiver has been working with Bastian since his second year in the league after someone in his foundation hooked him up with the school.

And Johnson had a busy day. He started bright and early at a toy store for his annual shopping spree at Toys R Us. Child Protective Services selects children to take part in the event.

Johnson coaches them on their shopping skills and then they have 80 seconds to grab anything and everything they can. At the end of the excitement, Johnson foots the bill.

Of all the events he takes part in, Johnson says this is one of his favorites.

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Ray Lewis noncommittal about Sunday but believes he'll return this season

Ray Lewis' face lit up when he gingerly walked into the Port Covington Wal-Mart on Tuesday, seconds after his entrance ignited a high-pitched roar from 200 kids who showed up for his annual holiday charity event.

The Ravens' All-Pro middle linebacker slapped hands, posed for a few pictures, then got behind a microphone and told the group of children it was their love and support that has kept him going and allowed him to maintain perspective during a frustrating stretch of the season during which he's missed four games with a foot injury.

"Your faces are the ones that keep me going," Lewis said, "even when I'm going through what I'm going through. I've heard the questions a billion times: 'How is your toe? When are you going to play again?' And all of that is awesome. But through my injury, in the time that I have been going through what I've been going through, the people that I've met, the people that I can make smile even through my pain ... there is no greater reward than that. Sometimes God removes you from the field so he can get your to another place."

Lewis didn't make any promises about whether he would play Sunday against the San Diego Chargers, but said he was optimistic he'd be ready to play, and confident he'd be back this year at some point.

"I'm feeling way better," Lewis said. "Way better. I thought I had a good chance the last four weeks to play, but the coaches are going to make those decisions. I don't mind being smart. But of course the warrior side of me is always going to want to get back out there."

Lewis invited more than 200 local underserved youth attend the annual event, and each child was invited to pick out gifts for themselves and their families from an assortment of items donated by Wal-Mart and the Ray Lewis Foundation.

"Sometimes you find yourself going through so much and you want to complain, but when you walk in here, you can't," Lewis said. "Because you know there are so many people here that aren't as fortunate. I told my mom, coming here, it always gets emotional for me. Because I was once here in my life."

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Frank Gore Update: 49ers Running Back 'Not 100%'

49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh chatted with the media on Monday and the most intriguing bit of news to come out was that Frank Gore is not 100%. That isn't exactly shocking, but it was still interesting to hear Coach Harbaugh say something.

In a brief stretch he was asked about Gore only getting two carries after his third quarter touchdown. He said he did not have an answer. That was followed up with a question as to whether Gore was healthy. In response, Harbaugh said "He's got some things. He's not 100%. We have other backs that got carries in the second half."

Given the relatively tight-lipped nature of Coach Harbaugh, this is about as expansive an answer as you are going to get. Of course, it still leaves plenty of room for speculation. People have suggested several possibilities:

1) Gore was legitimately banged up and just couldn't be given a ton of carries; and/or 2) He could have played the whole game but the team wanted to rest him more with playoffs in mind; and/or 3) The team wanted to try and give Alex Smith more throws to see if he could handle an increased workload.

We're never going to know the truth because Coach Harbaugh will not come right out and say it. Let me correct that. He might say it, but given the way his press conferences go, we might not actually know if he's said it. That's fine and just gives us more to chatter about.

Frank Gore scored the touchdown early in the third quarter and had two carries after that. Why so few throughout the game and especially after? It seemed like you were getting something going with the run game.
"Why so few carries for Frank after..."

Why so few carries for Frank in general? There weren't a lot of carries in the second half.
"I don't have an answer for you."

Is he healthy?
"He's got some things. He's not 100%. We have other backs that got carries in the second half."

Have you guys thought about using RB Anthony Dixon in those short yardage situations?

Why hasn't that materialized yet?
"It hasn't. We know there's going to be criticisms. We know that there's going to be ‘Why's? What happened? What took place? Why didn't you do this? Why didn't you do that? Why didn't you throw the ball here? Who's your go-to guy?' and we're not going to talk about it. We're going to talk about it to our players, to our team. Make a real effort as we always do, every single day this is what we do, try to address problems and get them fixed. Smart guys. We've got those as coaches, we've got those as players and we'll work together to get them fixed, to improve."

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Santana Moss visits kids at Thomas Jefferson High

RICHMOND, VA (WTVR) - Redskins' wide receiver Santana Moss stopped by Thomas Jefferson High School with Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling Tuesday morning.

The visit was part of an effort to help educate teens about money.

In fact, Bolling and Moss introduced Visa's new online game that tests teens about good financial decisions.

Moss and the Redskins are coming off another loss. The latest defeat to the Patriots guaranteed the team a third straight losing season.

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Bernie Kosar warns against playing through concussions

Former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar couldn't help but recall his playing days as he watched Colt McCoy reenter the game against Pittsburgh on Thursday night after taking a helmet-to-helmet hit from Steelers linebacker James Harrison.

The matter has generated controversy, with McCoy's father, Brad, suggesting that the Browns passer should never have returned to the field. As a result, representatives from the NFL and NFL Players Association will meet with Colt and the Browns medical staff Tuesday.

Kosar told the team's "Cleveland Browns Daily" radio show this week that the increased attention around concussions is appropriate -- and a major departure from when he played.

"The concussion's ... something I'm pretty familiar with from playing ... and getting so many in my career. The medicine has come so far ... back in the '80s, guys, you know, thought it was a headache, thought it was a sign of weakness to ... (not) play because of a headache.

"... That type of -- I don't know, I want to say Neanderthal -- thought, unfortunately I had and wanted to get back in there -- and you pay the price later. You pay the price now as you start getting in your late 40s and early 50s, and it's not pleasant."

Kosar said his coaches rarely had a choice to put him back into a game, as he'd run out onto the field before any tangible conversation occurred.
McCoy has played through a variety of injuries in what's been described as a season-long tryout for the starting job. According to Kosar, NFL quarterbacks detest seeing someone else in their spot, pushing them to recklessly ignore pain. Even when it's much more than just a headache.

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Antrel Rolle says he's not at fault for blown coverage, Giants remain silent on who's to blame

NEW YORK — Eli Manning and the rest of the Giants offense kept the team’s playoff hopes alive with 15 points in the final 5:41 to beat the Cowboys Sunday night. In doing so, they bailed the defense out after the secondary was victimized for a 50-yard touchdown — due to another breakdown in coverage — that gave Dallas a 34-22 lead.

On the play, there was some miscommunication between cornerback Corey Webster and safety Antrel Rolle. Webster released Bryant, assuming Rolle was going to help out over the top, but Rolle jumped on an underneath route, leaving Bryant wide open.

In his weekly interview with WFAN yesterday, Rolle wanted everyone to know it wasn’t his fault and “I was exactly where I was supposed to be.”
“No, Antrel Rolle didn’t get burned,” he said. “Know what ... you’re talking about at the end of the day.”

Rolle was the subject of criticism during NBC’s Sunday night broadcast — NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth said Rolle was “barbecued” on the play — and in the aftermath of the game, and he wasn’t happy about it.

“Commentators always want to point the finger as if they know what they’re doing and they know what they’re talking about,” Rolle said. “But in reality, they don’t half of the time.”

Tuesday, fellow safety Deon Grant confirmed Rolle wasn’t at fault on the play.

“It wasn’t Antrel,” said Grant after a holiday gift giveaway event at an elementary school in the Bronx. “I’m not going to say who was in the wrong, but I can definitely say it wasn’t Antrel in the wrong.”

Blown coverage has become a recurring theme in the Giants secondary in recent weeks. A similar botched play allowed Packers wide receiver Donald Driver to score an easy touchdown the previous week.

“Those are the things we can’t have,” Grant said. “Last week better be the last week that happened. In order for us to get to where we’re tying to go, as a secondary, as a defense, we can’t have them small mental mistakes.”

“It’s time for us to give our offense a little break. Let them continue to put up the points, but in the fourth quarter it should be a time when we don’t have to worry about going with the four-minute defense and the no-huddle offense.”

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Rodney Harrison criticism irks Vince Wilfork

The comments of former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison, now a football analyst on NBC, rubbed at least one Patriots player the wrong way.
Harrison opined on a broadcast Sunday that quarterback Tom Brady’s episode of sideline frustration vs. the Redskins was in part due to feeling like he had to score every time down the field because “he knows he’s playing on a really bad defense.”

“They’re going to get in trouble in future games because that defense doesn’t seem like they’re going to get any better,” Harrison said. “You’ve got wide receivers playing safety, wide receivers playing nickelback. You cannot survive in the league with wide receivers doing that.”

Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork admitted yesterday in an interview on WEEI’s “The Big Show” that he hears criticism of his team and can’t help wanting to respond sometimes.

“I want to do it all the time and tell them to shut ... up. But everybody has a job to do,” Wilfork said. “You have to respect their job. People have opinions. It’s just an opinion. If that’s how they feel, that’s how they feel. The only thing we can control is this locker room.”

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Jeff Feagles Visits Rutgers University

On monday rock star NFL punter, Jeff Feagles, took it to the classroom when he met with a group of undergraduate Journalism and Media Studies students at Rutgers University. Feagles came to the University thanks to long time friend and columnist for the Bergen Record, Tara Sullivan, who happened to be teaching the class.

Feagles played in the NFL for 22 years and recently retired in 2009 after 6 seasons with the New York Giants. Feagles started his NFL career as a New England Patriot and remained with them for just his rookie season before leaving New England for Eagles. In his 22 years in the League he played for the New England Patriots (1988-1989) , Philadelphia Eagles (1989-1993), Arizona Cardinals (1994-1997), Seattle Seahawks (1998-2002), and lastly with the New York Giants (2003-2009). Feagles ended his career with stats that set him far apart from any other punter in the game. Through the end of his NFL career in 2009 he held the a 6 records. They included:

• Most consecutive games played, career: 352,
• Most total games played, career: third place, 352
• Most punts, career: 1,713
• Most punts inside the 20, career: 497
• Most punting yards, career: 71,211
• Holds record for longevity of all players from Tecmo Super bowl: 18 years

Feagles may be known for his incredible accuracy as a punter in the NFL, but what he brought with him to the classroom was much more than a few stats and alot of records. Feagles presented himself as more than a leader on the football field to this group of students. He was calm and seemed to let loose quite quickly. He even made a joke or two about the “Tebow” ordeal. The meeting for the students was an opportunity to ask questions to one of the greats. The questions asked throughout the interview ranged from how he balanced his social life and marriage to wife Michelle while being a member of the NFL to how he mentally dealt with coming to grips with the fact that his career was over after a staggering 22 years.

When asked about how he mentally dealt with retirement his response was, “It was the hardest thing of my life to know that something I had done for 22 years was over just like that. But what I did was I stayed involved as much as I could. Some of my best friends are a part of the team and they have also been a huge help. For you I think it is important to find something you love outside of your sport and just dive right in. Keep yourself busy, but never forget.”

Every question Feagles was asked he answered in as much detail as possible. He was open to any questions and encouraged the students to be open with him. Feagles even touched on personal issues and his ordeal with Plaxico Burress which involved never being paid for his jersey number. “Yeah i never got that backyard kitchen he promised, ” Feagles said, “and believe me I tried and reminded him as often as possible.”
“He basically stole my number”, Feagles said.

Feagles admitted that the season following retirement was the hardest year. He recounted his ordeal with Matt Dodge, the punter that was set to replace him, and admitted that it was the hardest thing he could have done and possibly one of the  most frustrating as well. Emotionally Feagles admitted that when he attended the first game of the following season after retirement he actually had to the leave the stadium when he heard his teams song come on. The song was too much for him. Feagles said, “I just pulled my hood up over my head and i walked out.” Feagles admitted that his season tickets for that year were given to his next door neighbor.

At the end of the interview Feagles thanked the class and proceeded to sign a few autographs and took a few pictures with some of the student before leaving the classroom.

Feagles currently resides in Ridgewood, NJ. He is married to wife Michelle. They have four sons: Christopher (nicknamed C.J.), Blake, Trevor and Zachary. Christopher is a punter for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill football team and played in the US Army high-school All-American game in 2008. He enjoys swimming regularly with a masters team as well as playing as much golf as he can.

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Brandon Harris rookie diary: Winning, watching, waiting

EDITOR'S NOTE: Texans cornerback Brandon Harris, drafted in the second round (60th overall) out of Miami (Fla.), is chronicling his rookie season with periodic diary entries for

Now we’re in Week 14 of the season, and we’re in great position as a football team. It’s been exciting. It’s a very exciting ride, man. We’re number one in the division, have an opportunity to clinch the division title this weekend. It’s been exciting just being a part of this winning feeling.

Coming from three years in college where we had off and on years and ups and downs, this is really my first time in a while being a part of a team that’s really been dominant week in and week out and is pretty much one of the top teams in the league. As a defense, we’re in the top five of probably almost every major category that the NFL records. That’s exciting to me, just being a part of that atmosphere. I think it rubs off from one guy to the next.

Being a rookie, getting to be around a lot of guys who have been in big situations, who’ve played in Super Bowls and competed for playoff games and division titles, I think just being around guys like that is going to do a lot for me in my future, just seeing the type of mindset those guys have and really getting a feel of what it takes to win and compete at a top level in this league. That’s one of the things I’ve been picking up as I go along through this long season.

The season, it’s been long. It’s been rough in some ways. Coming out of college, starting as a freshman, playing three years and leaving early and getting drafted in the second round here in Houston, there were a lot of high expectations of myself. I put a lot of high expectations on myself, also. The season’s just had a different route for me right now this year. And nothing I’ve done wrong, it’s just we’re playing so well right now as a team, as a secondary, the coaches feel like it’s a great opportunity for me to just sit back, to learn from all the guys that’s in front of me, all the guys that are out there competing every weekend, just take mental notes and learn how to be a pro, learn little things like breaking down film and studying your opponent. They think it’s going to help me become a great player in the future.

It’s kind of been different for me, but I understand my situation. I understand what’s going on, and I’ve always been a team player. Whatever the team needs to do to get better and to help the team perform well, I’m willing to do that. I know a lot of fans have been out there, they’ve been requesting me on Twitter. A lot of people want to see me out there. I’m excited that people want to see my play. That’s exciting for me. That makes me come to practice every day and work even harder, because I know there’s people out there that want to see me on the field. They’re asking about me, like ‘When we gonna get a chance to see you?’ They’re excited, and I just want to let them know I’m excited, also. My time is going to come, and when it does, I’ll be sure to make it worthwhile.

Other than that, though, everything else is great. Christmas time is coming up. It’s going to be exciting. I’ll get a chance to spend some time with some of my family one way or the other. I’m not sure if I’ll get to go back home for Christmas or if I’ll have to bring my family out here, but I’ve been kind of brainstorming on gifts I want to buy certain people and what I’m expecting in return, or if I should be expecting a gift at all. I’m looking forward to getting to spend that time with my family.

I did Thanksgiving with some teammates. We had a Thursday morning practice and then Coach Kub let us out, and Jason Allenicon-article-link, he invited the DBs to a local homeless shelter. He knew one of the ladies who worked at the shelter and he thought it would be good if we all go over there and just spent some time, so we all went up there as a group.

We got an opportunity just to talk to some of the people, talk to some of the everyday people in Houston, get the feel of some of their struggles as we enjoyed Thanksgiving with them for about an hour or so. We passed about dinners and got a chance to converse with them and tell them a little bit about ourselves and they tell us a little bit about their situations and how much we meant to them, watching us on Sundays go out and compete to the best of our abilities.

That really did a lot for us. Here’s people that don’t have pretty much anything. A lot of them are homeless, they’re living on the streets, and you see people coming in with their children and their kids, whole families coming in there. They can’t afford to have a Thanksgiving meal, but with all the things going on in their lives, to still be able to keep in touch with us and see what we’re doing on the field, seeing how much it means to them, that was very emotional for us as a group and as just men, just seeing how important a game can be to some people that have so many other struggles, so many other things to worry about. So that was pretty cool. It’s always fun to give back and spend some time with people in the community who are less fortunate who are just looking for some help. I’m looking forward to probably doing some of the same things out here for Christmas. I’m pretty sure we’ll organize something, we’ll get together and we’ll be able to give back and make an impact on some lives.
Follow Harris on Twitter @HarrisNOFLYZONE

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What Do We Really Know About Ryan Braun?

We don't know what Ryan Braun did or didn't take.'s report says Braun tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone, found to be from synthetic sources. That report claimed the results were owing to Braun taking a performance-enhancing drug. A source close to Braun has disputed that interpretation, claiming Braun was indeed found to have elevated testosterone levels, but not as a result of taking a PED.

We don't know if Braun will be suspended.

He's appealing the case through arbitration. If the positive test is upheld, Braun faces a 50-game suspension, starting on Opening Day 2012. Several reports noted that no one has successfully appealed a positive test for PEDs. But that's not necessarily 100 percent accurate. No case where the initial positive test result was made public has ended with an overturn. But since news of the Braun test first came out, several well-connected writers have talked of cases where news of an initial positive test was never made public.

We don't know how reliable the tests were.

As ESPN's Mark Fainaru-Wada and T.J. Quinn reported:

• A source close to Braun said that when he was told about the positive test, he immediately requested to be tested again. That second test, using a different sample that was tested by Braun's camp, the source said, was not positive.

Since this claim of a second test comes from Braun's side, it's tough to ascertain its veracity. If a second test did in fact occur and came up negative, we still don't know when that second test occurred. Then there's the issue of false positives. The lab that conducts the tests measures the ratio of testosterone as compared to epitestosterone. A typical T/E ratio for men is about 1-to-1. For MLB purposes, if the player's ratio comes in above 4-to-1, that's considered a positive test. This despite the fact that the number can fluctuate among certain men for reasons that have nothing to do with taking any illicit substances. Not to mention the risk of false positives in such tests.

So we've got conflicting reports, claims of conflicting tests, with one party making claims coming with a major conflict of interest. You have to figure Major League Baseball would have preferred this news not leak out until Braun had completed the arbitration process and a final verdict had been issued. It's no wonder the league is refusing to comment now, with so much uncertainty still hanging over the case.

Beyond all that uncertainty, beyond the sense of disbelief and disappointment surrounding this case that was oddly absent when fellow Miami-area baseball product Alex Rodriguez was implicated in a PED scandal, beyond what this could mean for the Brewers, their NL Central rivals, your fantasy team, or even Braun himself, there's one other thing we don't know:

We don't know if so-called performance-enhancing drugs actually enhance the performance of baseball players. And if they do, how, and by how much.

There's a widespread belief among many baseball followers that PEDs bring gigantic benefits to those who take them. The most rigorous way to prove a theory is to conduct a proper double-blind randomized clinical trial. Give PEDs to 500 players, withhold them from 500 others, then track the results. That way you know who used and who didn't use, and you strip out any possible placebo effect, where a player might gain confidence and possibly play better just by thinking that PEDs will help his performance.

Of course in the real world, this is impossible. That means we're left with a whole lot of anecdotal evidence. A player puts on muscle through a rigorous workout regimen while cycling on a particular substance, and observers make definitive statements about how many more homers that player hit or how much higher his batting average was as a result of PED use. We believe ourselves to be experts, able to pinpoint when a player supposedly started using, exactly how much benefit he gained, and how we should thus evaluate his numbers. With players like Jeff Bagwell, the pseudo-analysis goes a step further, with hordes of writers declining to vote Bagwell into the Hall of Fame because he had big muscles, and some other players of his era were caught using, so … well … you know.

If you want to argue that a player deserves to be punished for taking a banned substance, so be it. If Braun's positive test is upheld, I support the mandatory suspension that will be coming to him. Those are the rules, those are the known repercussions for breaking them, that's what needs to happen.

We can't be certain of anything else. Those who claim that players using steroids must mean those substances work assume some kind of medical knowledge on the players' part, because of an unproven belief that they actually enhance performance. Those who see the offensive boom of the early-'90s to mid-aughts as the product of PED use ignore a multitude of factors ranging from a diluted pool of pitchers caused by expansion to smaller ballparks to strike zones the size of postage stamps.

Meanwhile, those who argue that Braun should be stripped of his 2011 NL MVP award ignore that others weren't made to give up theirs after the fact. (They also ignore that Matt Kemp was a more worthy candidate who got screwed because he played with crappier teammates than Braun did.) As Baseball Writers Association of America secretary/treasurer Jack O'Connell told the L.A. Times: "The voters used the information they had at the time of the election. I don't see how we can change that."

For all the certainty out there, all the overwhelming urges to rush to judgment, we're still left with this: Right now, we know nothing.

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Jeremy Shockey Continues an Impressive Streak of his Own

Tight end Jeremy Shockey and wide receiver Steve Smith extended their consecutive game streaks with a catch. Shockey finished with two receptions for 41 yards and one touchdown and has caught a pass in all 133 regular season games he has played. Smith, meanwhile, has made a catch in a team-record 72 consecutive games. He also produced a catch in 52 consecutive games from 2002-06, the third-longest streak in team history.

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Staying with Bosher paying off for Falcons

Every Sunday, ESPN Stats & Information selects a punter of the day.

For Sunday, it was Atlanta’s Matt Bosher. This is significant because early in the season the rookie struggled. Critics called for the Falcons to release Bosher as he hit a series of short punts and kickoffs.

But the Falcons have stayed with Bosher and it’s starting to pay off. In Sunday’s victory against Carolina, Bosher averaged 47.8 yards (gross) and 46.0 (net) on six punts. Three of his punts landed inside the Carolina 20-yard line.

It was the second straight game in which Bosher had a strong day. In a loss to Houston last week, his net average was 48.0 yards.

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Devin Hester not sold on Tebow

Devin Hester got to witness "Tebow Mania" up close and personal on Sunday and the Bears wide receiver/kick returner doesn't seem to be impressed.

During Monday's edition of "The Dan Patrick Show", Hester was asked if Tim Tebow is a good quarterback.

After a long pause Hester said,"He's coming along."

The Bears were able to keep Tebow in check for the first three quarters of Sunday's loss before the Broncos QB went 18 for 24 for 191 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Hester, who fair-caught five punts during the loss, told the show that he went up to Broncos punter Britton Colquitt before the game and told him to punt to him.

"You know you're leading the Pro Bowl vote," Hester told Colquitt. "If you do all these rugby short kicks, it's going to drop your average."

Does Hester think he is a Hall of Famer right now?

"I think so," said Hester. "Whenever you break records at your position and then you become the greatest of all time and with that said me having the most kickoff and punt returns."

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Orlando Franklin has sparked Broncos of late

We hear that one of the many reasons the Broncos have played better of late is due to improvements by a couple of members of the offensive line. ORT Orlando Franklin, a rookie assigned to protect Tim Tebow's blind side, is still seen as a work in progress, but the second-round pick has been flagged only once since Week Nine — a false-start penalty in the noisy Metrodome in Week 13. Franklin's athleticism also comes in handy when Tebow moves out of the pocket, as he has the ability to get downfield and throw blocks when his quarterback is moving. OLG Zane Beadles also has emerged as an impact player in his second season in the league, also in large part to his athleticism. In the Broncos' read-option offense, the guards are asked to do a lot of pulling and running downfield, two skill-sets that Beadles has mastered.  

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Vince Wilfork unhappy with former teammate's criticism

Patriots DT Vince Wilfork was not happy with former teammate Rodney Harrison saying QB Tom Brady is frustrated because "he's playing with a really bad defense." Said Wilfork: "I want... to tell them to shut the (bleep) up. But everybody has a job to do."

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Zach Railey clinches Olympic sailing berth

FREMANTLE, Australia -- Paige Railey of Clearwater, Fla., and her brother, Zach, are among four sailors selected to the U.S. Olympic team based on their performances at the ISAF Sailing World Championships.

Also selected are Stuart McNay of Boston and Graham Biehl of San Diego.

Farrah Hall of Annapolis, Md., earned a nomination in the women's RS:X windsurfer category pending the United States earning a country spot at the RS:X World Championships in Spain in March. The United States did not qualify a country spot at the ISAF Worlds.

This is the first Olympic berth for Paige Railey, who won a bronze medal in the Laser Radial in a 102-boat fleet. Zach Railey, the 2008 Olympic silver medalist, finished ninth in the 72-boat Finn class.

McNay and Biehl finished 13th in the 80-boat men's 470 class. They competed in the 2008 Olympics but did not medal.

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Indians Offer Contract To Chris Perez

The Indians have offered contracts to all the unsigned players on their roster, including seven who are eligible for arbitration this winter.

The club had until midnight Monday to tender contracts for the 2012 season to any unsigned players listed on the 40-man roster. Any players who are non-tendered become free agents.

All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, starter Justin Masterson, closer Chris Perez, third baseman Jack Hannahan and relievers Joe Smith and Rafael Perez have all been tendered contracts. The next step for them is to file for arbitration.

It's likely the Indians will try to sign all seven before any arbitration hearings are held. The team hasn't gone to a hearing with a player since 1991.
Cabrera could be in for a big payday. He batted .273 with 25 homers and 92 RBIs last season.

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Sources: Braun's test showed extremely high testosterone levels

Ryan Braun's positive test for testosterone showed a level that was extremely elevated, and likely the highest that has been recorded in Major League Baseball, according to sources with knowledge of the NL MVP's test.

Braun, who has vigorously denied guilt -- "It's BS," he told USA Today on Saturday night -- is entitled to the arbitration process through which players have a right to dispute a positive test and of which Braun will avail himself. Shortly after news of the test came out on Saturday, Braun's spokesman said in a statement that "there are highly unusual circumstances surrounding this case which will support Ryan's complete innocence."
ESPN, which initially broke the news of the positive test, reported that analysis of Braun's sample was positive for exogenous testosterone. If that's the case, a valid defense would be that Braun had an appropriate medical prescription for testosterone that earned him a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) from Major League Baseball. But multiple sources tell SI that Braun did not have a TUE, and a TUE cannot be applied retroactively. If Braun had a TUE, his test would not have been considered a positive by MLB in the first place

A source with knowledge of Braun's test result said that his MLB test was positive for a banned substance, but not a steroid or drug. Braun may argue that he ingested dietary supplements tainted with testosterone or testosterone-boosting ingredients not listed on the label. The supplements would presumably have to be very tainted to produce what sources say was his extremely high T:E ratio.

According to a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the process was supposed to remain confidential, when Braun learned of his positive test in October he voluntarily took another test at an independent lab that showed normal testosterone levels. Neither Braun's spokesman nor his attorney immediately returned messages asking whether Braun's voluntary test was analyzed for banned substances that might still be detectable even once the T:E ratio had dropped.

It is unlikely that Braun will argue, as some have speculated, that he inadvertently ingested dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA, in a dietary supplement. DHEA is converted in the body to testosterone, but is not banned by MLB. Since the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, DHEA has been legal to sell over the counter. (It can be found on plenty of labels at GNC or Vitamin Shoppe.) DHEA can elevate testosterone levels, but it has a specific metabolite that anti-doping laboratories look for, so the World Anti-Doping Association-accredited lab in Montreal, where Braun's test was analyzed after the initial high testosterone result, would have been able to tell if DHEA was the culprit.

Braun's voluntary test -- which showed normal testosterone levels -- came a few weeks after his positive test, and is expected to be part of his defense at arbitration. A source suggested that because Braun had passed previous tests and then passed his voluntary test, the fact that the one test produced such an extraordinarily high testosterone level may be used to suggest a problem with the testing or accidental one-time ingestion of a banned substance.

According to drug testing experts, though, passing a subsequent test is not, in and of itself, a valid defense and actually fits the pattern of some previous doping cases. US Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart has no specific knowledge of the Braun case, but says that a testosterone level that goes from normal, to high, to normal is typical of someone on a steroid cycle. "After a person stops using, the T:E ratio" -- that's the testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio, which is 1:1 in most people, and above 4:1 in positive tests -- "goes back down to normal levels, and that could be in a matter of days or hours. It depends on how much they used, how long they've been using, and their own individual metabolism." Research done by German scientists showed that one particular drug boosted a patient's T:E ratio above 80:1 before it dropped back to normal only 12 hours later.

A number of articles and blogs have characterized Braun's positive test as yet another drug-related black eye for baseball and commissioner Bud Selig, who extolled the virtues of Braun as a bright light of the post-steroid scandal era.

But anti-doping experts who spoke with SI and are not involved in Braun's situation see the positive test and MLB's subsequent move to impose sanctions as a sign that drug testing is proceeding as it should. The darkest black eyes, they say, came when testing was feckless or not truly random and when big-name players were only exposed when they were dragged into Congress or court.

Dr. Gary Wadler, who until this year was chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency's Prohibited List and Methods Sub-Committee, testified at the famous 2005 Congressional hearings on drugs in baseball, and says, "There's no question baseball has come a long, long way from when I testified." He notes that testing at every game would be more effective, but said that a positive test from a star player suggests that "all comers" are being treated equally.

Added Tygart, "If athletes in a sport are cheating, it's not a bad thing for the integrity of the sport that they're caught.... It might be a double-edged sword publicly, but it's what clean athletes expect."

David Howman, director general of WADA, could not comment on Braun's case but said that "testing is now undertaken by the MLB to a far greater extent than previously."

At a recent gathering of the Partnership for Clean Competition at NFL headquarters, Howman applauded MLB on adopting blood testing for human growth hormone in its new collective bargaining agreement, and said, "I hope I can applaud the NFL soon."

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proCanes Extend TD Streak to 3 Regular Season Weeks

Reggie Wayne started a new streak last week by scoring 56-yard TD (his 1st TD since Week 1) finishing the game with 5 receptions for 122 yards and Jimmy Graham added 2 TDs to go along with his team leading 84 yards on 5 receptions for the New Orleans Saints in their victory over the NY Giants in Week 13 of the 2011 NFL Season.

This Week there were FIVE proCane TDs. The day was started off buy Vince Wilfork who scored his first career NFL TD by recovering a fumble in the end zone and was capped by a Frank Gore TD.

To see the old full 149 week streak click here.

Week 14 2011:
Vince Wilfork - 1 TD - New England Patriots
Jeremy Shockey - 1 TD - Carolina Panthers
Greg Olsen - 1 TD - Carolina Panthers
Santana Moss - 1 TD - Washington Redksins
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco

Week 13 2011:
Willis McGahee - 1 TD - Denver Broncos

Week 12 2011:
Reggie Wayne - 1 TD - Indianapolis Colts
Jimmy Graham - 2 TDs - New Orleans Saints

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Vince Wilfork scores first career TD

LANDOVER, Md. — Patriots [team stats] defensive tackle Vince Wilfork [stats] held the ball close and trotted off the field. After pouncing on a fumble for his first career touchdown in the first quarter of the Patriots’ 34-27 win over the Redskins, he headed right for the sidelines.

He had a date with his wife, Bianca, who was in the stands.

“I told her, anytime I do anything with a ball — interception, fumble recovery — and she’s in arm’s reach, she’s getting the ball,” said Wilfork, who did deliver the football to Bianca. “She was waiting for me.”

It was the third huge play for Wilfork this year, to go with his two interceptions. He finished yesterday’s game with four tackles, one for a loss.

Patriots defensive end Andre Carter sacked Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman in the Washington end zone. The ball came loose, and Wilfork got up, raced for it, and dove on top of it to give his team a 7-0 lead with 2:54 elapsed.

“I saw the ball come out and basically just tried to get it.” Wilfork said. “Let the refs decide if it’s a fumble or what. I had to fight for it. It’s you against everybody else fighting for the ball. Luckily, I got it and started fast for our defense.”

Grossman was 19-of-32 for 252 yards and two scores, but also threw a late interception to Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo to lose it for the ‘Skins. He knew his fumble was avoidable.

“I felt like I was right on the cusp of getting rid of the football,” Grossman said. “I believe I was cocking back to throw. It can’t happen.”

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Matt Bosher Becoming One of the Best

Matt Bosher who took his lumps early on and has come back to be a very solid punter and kickoff specialist as a rookie.

Bosher is one of the best punters in the NFL right now. He averaged 47.8 yards per punt yesterday, three times landing it inside the 20 yard line. After a lot of rookie mistakes early in the year, I have to believe he's going to a mainstay in Atlanta for a very long time to come.

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Greg Olsen totals 53 yards, TD in Week 14

Greg Olsen caught two passes for 53 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons in Week 14.

Olsen lost a 6-yard touchdown to Jeremy Shockey, but responded with a 44-yard score of his own off a tight-end screen. While the six targets are the most he's had in three weeks, Olsen is still more of a TE2 option against a tough Texans defense in Week 15.

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Jimmy Graham guts it out for five catches

Jimmy Graham fought through back spasms and ended up with five catches for 55 yards in the Week 14 win over the Titans.

Following the game, coach Sean Payton admitted that he didn't even know if Graham would be able to play after the tight end's back tightened up in warmups. So it's a credit to Graham that he was able to play on passing downs and get open most of the day. He actually nearly had a touchdown catch on a fade, but his toe came down about one centimeter out of bounds. Graham also led the team with nine targets. Even at far less than 100 percent, Graham is one of the most dominant pass-catchers in the game.

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Santana Moss: “We got to play against the team and the refs”

The Redskins’ 34-27 loss to the New England Patriots came down to the final possession of the game and two key plays to wide receiver Santana Moss. The first resulted in a pass interference call on Moss; the second an interception that bounced out of Moss’s hands.

Afterward, Moss – the Redskins’ offensive captain who went over 9,000 yards receiving for his career Sunday – was adamant that the pass interference call was incorrect. On second and goal from the New England 5, Moss lined up in the right slot across from defensive back Julian Edelman. Moss ran at Edelman. There was contact, and Moss cut to the right pylon at the goal line. He caught what could have been game-tying touchdown. Instead, he was whistled for pass interference.

Here’s what Moss said after the game:

“I’ve been playing this game for a long time, and I still find it hard to believe that it’s all right for somebody to mug us at five yards, but we can’t get the guy off us or they call pass interference on me. How can I get open when a guy puts his hands on me, unless I’m putting my hands back on him. You feel me? It’s stuff that’s been going on for years, but we wrong when we do it, but they’re OK. That’s the rule, I guess.”

On the interception that essentially ended the game: “I didn’t make the play. Plain sight. Didn’t make the play. But that’s football.”

How did the offense respond without suspended players Fred Davis and Trent Williams, who were suspended for the remainder of the season this week?: “We just did what we do, man. There ain’t no moral victories. We lost. It don’t really matter.”

Are they consistent with the pass interference calls?:

“Honestly, to tell you the truth, all day the guy been mugging me. Every time I tried to go around him, I’m getting pulled. So I said, ‘Okay, I’m not going to go around him. I’m going to go at him.’ And if you’re standing still and I’m coming at you, of course we gonna collide. That’s what happened. We collided. He didn’t move, and we collided, and I broke off when we collided.

“Pass interference on me, but if it’s vice versa, it’s a good coverage by them. You could see it all through the game. Every time I just went around him and let him grab me, oh, I’m covered, because he’s going to grab me and they’re not going to call anything because he can do it, and then he’s going to hold on for 10 yards. They’re going to go, ‘Well, you’re not getting the ball, so he’s not holding you.’ But I am. So I mean, it’s just one of those situations.

“I’m [ticked] off right now. I guess you can see that, but it’s been going on. I guess that’s something I should’ve been used to.”

Surprised when you saw the flag?:

“I was surprised, but I was like, I thought they were going to call it on him. I didn’t know what was going on. But man, we don’t get no calls around here. You guys have been covering us for a long time. Y’all see what goes on out there. We blow our breath on one of the doggone guys over there, and it’s a penalty. Our quarterback’s getting killed, and we just almost hit somebody else’s quarterback, and we get flag. So there’s a lot of stuff that goes on, but you know, I guess, hey, we got to play against the team and the refs.”

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Frank Gore gets just 10 carries for 49ers

Frank Gore said he wasn't injured.

And 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh also said his running back wasn't hurting.

The obvious question: Why did Gore have only 10 carries in San Francisco's 21-19 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday?

The 10 carries were the fewest he has had in a game in which he didn't leave with an injury since he had nine in a loss to Seattle on Dec. 6, 2009.
"Whatever personnel coaches call, that's what I've got to go by," said Gore, who went over 1,000 yards for the fifth time in his seven-year career.

Gore, who has been limited in practice since sustaining an ankle injury in a win over the Giants on Nov. 13, appeared healthy enough. He had 72 yards - averaging 7.2 yards a carry - and scored on a 37-yard run in the third quarter. He had two more carries than backup Kendall Hunter, but Harbaugh said there was no plan to limit Gore's workload, saying the 49ers had a pass-first game plan.

"There was no pitch count," Harbaugh said. "We were doing our best to move the ball, convert, pick up those first downs, and we fell short."

On the 49ers' final drive, they had a 3rd-and-1 at their 41-yard line with 2:14 left and no timeouts remaining. They finished the drive with two straight incompletions as Gore watched from the sideline.

Harbaugh was asked about the game-ending play-calling.

"I don't want to get into the, 'You should have run it when you threw it; why didn't you throw it when you ran it?' " Harbaugh said. "We tried to pick up the first down. We were in two-minute mode, and we're trying to move the ball to get into field-goal range."

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This Date in Hurricanes History... December 12th 1992

This Date In Hurricanes History…December 12, 1992
Brought to you by the UM Sports Hall of Fame!

UMSHoF member Gino Torretta becomes the 2nd Miami Hurricanes football player to be named the winner of the Heisman Trophy Award ! 

Torretta tallied 1400 points and 310 first place votes from the 985 selectors.  He beat out San Diego State's Marshall Faulk, (1,080 pts.-164 1st place votes) and Georgia's Garrison Hearst (982-140) to join Vinny Testaverde as the only Miami Hurricanes to win the prestigious award !  He claimed the most total points in 4 of the 6 regions of the country, and was 2nd in the other 2 regions.

Gino Torretta was the most celebrated football player in the University of Miami and NCAA history. A 1991 graduate with a degree in Business Management, Torretta won both athletic and academic awards during his prolific career as a Hurricane.

He became only the second player in Hurricane history to win the coveted Heisman Trophy Award as the nation’s top collegiate football player. He was also honored as the Walter Camp Football Foundation’s Player of the Year.

The Associated Press, Kodak, Walter Camp and The Football News named Torretta first-team All-American. He also won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, The Maxwell Trophy and the Davey O’Brien national quarterback awards.

Torretta was a unanimous selection as BIG EAST Offensive Player of the year for two consecutive seasons, the NCAA Today’s Top Six Award winner, Toyota Leadership Award winner and Chevrolet Offensive Player of the Year.

Torretta finished his Miami career with eleven school passing records, including career attempts (991), completions (555), yards (7,690), total offense (7,772), longest pass (99 yards to Horace Copeland vs. Arkansas, an NCAA record) and most passing yards in a game (485 vs. San Diego State).

He was tapped into Iron Arrow, considered the highest honor at the university. He has also been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, the Orange Bowl Hall of Honor and was inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame in 2003 !

We hope you have enjoyed these "This Date in Hurricanes History" sent over the past year. We would like to continue to produce them but must seek HELP in defraying our production costs. Please click below and make a small "tax deductible" contribution to the UMSHoF of $25.00 or more to HELP us continue these for another year.
                                                                                           Happy Holidays!
                                                                 John Routh, Executive Director, UM Sports Hall of Fame

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Vince Wilfork didn’t let his big chance slip

LANDOVER, Md. - Against the Chargers in Week 2, Vince Wilfork recorded his first career interception and was chugging toward his first career touchdown, but was brought down before the end zone.

Two weeks later against the Raiders, Wilfork got his second interception, but again didn’t reach pay dirt.

Yesterday, he got the score that had eluded him, though Wilfork said it didn’t happen as he’d envisioned.

Three plays into the Redskins’ second possession, on third and 9 from their 5-yard line, Andre Carter beat rookie left tackle Willie Smith and drilled Rex Grossman in the back, forcing a fumble in the end zone.

Rob Ninkovich was the first Patriot to get a hand on the ball, and then Wilfork came diving in to grab it, holding on at the bottom of a pile for his long-awaited first touchdown.

“It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, but a touchdown is a touchdown,’’ Wilfork said. “I saw the ball come out and I just went to get it; I’d let the refs decide if it was a fumble. I had to fight for it in the pile.’’

Wilfork kept the ball, and presented it to his wife, Bianca, who travels to every road game.

“Any time I do my thing with the ball, if she’s in reach she’s getting the ball,’’ he said. “She was waiting for me.’’

Bianca was thrilled.

Century club

“Vince has certain personal goals he has set for his career, and getting a touchdown has always been one of them,’’ she said in an e-mail. “I was so proud of him, between that and his two interceptions this year, we are just grateful and humbled.’’ After making one catch for 8 yards in the first half, Wes Welker played a bigger role in the second half, finishing with seven receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown.

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Antrel Rolle on Rodgers: 'He's extremely cocky'

In an interview that aired on NBC before the Giants played the host Cowboys, Bob Costas asked Giants safety Antrel Rolle which quarterback was best - Tom Brady, Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers.

Costas asked Rolle that because the Giants have played the Patriots, Saints and Packers this season.

"They are all dangerous," Rolle said. "I think I have definitely grown and have a high level of respect for each and every last one of those guys. Tom Brady, you know, he's magnificent. I think that the way he scans the field is like I've never seen before. Drew Brees is a very athletic quarterback and his release on the ball is like shoosh, shoosh. It's coming at you right now. And Aaron Rodgers, I think he is just overall a cocky guy. He's extremely cocky. And you know what? I love it. You know, I love it. He is extremely confident in his approach. He just feels like he is going to get the job done, and he has for (19) straight."  

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John Salmons will begin the preseason as the Kings' starting small

Salmons will begin the preseason as the Kings' starting small forward, the Sacramento Bess reports.

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Brian Asbury Scores 31

After beginning the season with six straight losses, Barak Netanya has now won two games in a row, beating Bnei Hasharon 102-93 on the road.

An 18-2 run put Netanya in a strong position midway through the second period (36-21) and the visitors held off Bnei Hasharon’s best efforts for an important win.

Brian Asbury and Adrian Banks scored 31 and 29 points, respectively, for Netanya, which shot an impressive 70 percent (33 of 47) from two-point range.

Delroy James had 25 points and 10 rebounds for Bnei Hasharon, which is now tied with Netanya and Maccabi Ashdod at the bottom of the standings with a 2-6 record.

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Ryan Braun: 'I am completely innocent'

I just received a text message from Ryan Braun. Because his appeal of a positive drug test is ongoing, he cannot comment on the record about any of the details or give any information about what happened and what's going on.

But Braun was quite adamant that he will get this positive drug test overturned. He said he wanted to hold a press conference today to give his side of the story but was adviced against it while the process is ongoing.

"I can't wait to get that opportunity," said Braun.

"This is all B.S. I am completely innocent."

That's all Braun can say for now, which is understandable. But I appreciate him reaching out to me to say what he could.

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