Photos of the Week - Ken Dorsey Suits up For His 2nd Argonauts Game

We’ve got exclusive photos of Ken Dorsey roaming the sidelines of the fist home game of the CFL Toronto Argonauts at the Rodgers Center (formerly known as the Sky Dome). Dorsey is currently the 3rd string quarterback for the Argonauts, with former Miami Dolphin, Cleo Lemon, the starter. Dorsey seems to be another coach on the sidelines with his play chart always in hand and constantly speaking to Lemon and other coaches on the sidelines. Stay tuned to more exclusive photos with Dorsey as well as an exclusive interview.

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Tavares Gooden explains what it takes to get more playing time


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Kellen Winslow Will be Ready For the Start of Camp

Raheem Morris also offered assurances that tight end Kellen Winslow will be ready to go when training camp starts in just more than two weeks. He has been at One Buc Place working with the training staff this week as he completes his recovery from offseason knee surgery.

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Clinton Portis, in shape and motivated, will enter camp determined

Don't be surprised if Clinton Portis is among the top candidates for this season's NFL comeback player of the year award.

Although Portis has said little about his personal goals for 2010, the eight-year veteran is determined to show he's still an elite back capable of rushing for a 1,500-yard season, people familiar with his thinking said recently. Eager to prove his critics wrong, Portis has done everything Coach Mike Shanahan has asked of him, team sources said, and is expected to hold off fellow Pro Bowl backs Larry Johnson and Willie Parker for the starting job. Portis has surprised many in the organization with his positive outlook and hard work throughout the offseason program.

As many Insider readers are aware, I've been critical of Portis because of his lackadaisical approach toward practice, among other things. But he was energized by the firing of former coach Jim Zorn and the hiring of Shanahan, whom Portis played under during his first two (and best) seasons in the league, and will approach training camp and the preseason with enthusiasm, he has told several players.

In fact, after Shanahan in March publicly challenged Portis to improve his conditioning, Portis trimmed down to about 217 pounds after playing at more than 230 pounds last season, sources said. Portis's strong showing apparently has made a favorable impression on Shanahan.

To be sure, Johnson and Parker will have opportunities to unseat Portis when camp opens July 29 at Redskins Park. Portis, however, is in top shape and highly motivated.

He's also guaranteed $6.4 million of his $7.2 million base salary, so management presumably would prefer for Portis to be highly productive after a concussion cut short his ineffective 2009 season.

I'm scheduled to be part of today's panel on Comcast SportsNet's Washington Post Live with Ivan Carter. I'm sure we'll talk about the Redskins. We always do. Later.

Click here to order Clinton Portis’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Devin Hester's contract keeps him out of the slot?

Beat writer Brad Biggs suggests the Bears scrapped Mike Martz's plans to move Devin Hester to the slot because he's being paid like a playmaker and No. 1 receiver.

It's a sensible explanation. Hester would seem to fit better in the "Az Hakim" role with Johnny Knox and Devin Aromashodu on the outside, but the Bears want to justify the four-year, $41 million contract handed out two summers ago. Once the games start to count, don't be surprised to see Hester spending the majority of his time in the slot.

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Patriots launch Vince Wilfork ring game

Vince Wilfork's Super Bowl ring has been stolen - sort of - and for Patriots football fans, the hunt is on - a smartphone scavenger hunt to find the missing bling.

A stolen Super Bowl ring is the premise of a game the New England Patriots are launching today called "Help Vince."

The team is working with Scvngr, a Boston company that has developed a game-engine platform that allows organizations, schools - and football teams - to create location-based games and challenges that are optimized for smartphones. The "Help Vince" challenge that Scvngr devised for the Patiots contains elements of a traditonal scavenger hunt game. (You'll need a free location-based iPhone or Android app to play the Patriots' Scvngr game.) People who choose to participate get game clues on their cellphones. Solve a clue, and a player earns points. The goal of this Patriots game is to find the ring. (Wilfork is shown at right in a Globe file photo.)

"Patriots fans can play special Patriots challenges at hundreds of spots across New England in the special 'Help Vince' trek on Scvngr," the Patriots said in a press release. "Along the way, special Patriots badges are awarded and prizes given daily and weekly, as well as the ultimate-Grand-Finale-Finito-ZOMG-We-Found-Vince’s-Ring prize: a private lunch with a Patriots player!"

Patriots president Jonathan Kraft said in a statement: “For 16 years, our organization has invested in digital technology that enhances our relationship with our fans. Because we believe mobile gaming is the next evolution in social media, we’ve partnered with Scvngr, a clear leader in this emerging space, on ‘Help Vince’ and other games.”

The Patriots plan multiple efforts with Scvngr throughout the upcoming season, with "Help Vince" as the first, team spokesman Stacey James said.

Wilfork was chosen for the maiden effort not only because he's a star and a fan favorite but also because he's very active in social media, James said.

"He uses Twitter a lot to interact with fans in the off-season," James said.

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

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Gino Torretta Named to the 2010 College Football Hall of Fame Class

The University Alumni Association congratulates alumnus and Alumni Association past president, Gino Torretta, B.B.A. '91, on his upcoming enshrinement into the College Football Hall of Fame. The College Football Hall of Fame's signature annual Enshrinement Festival will take place July 16-17 in downtown South Bend gathering football fans from across the country to honor college gridiron legends.

Throughout his time at the University of Miami, Gino Torretta became one of the most decorated players in college football history. During his freshman and sophomore seasons, Torretta was second behind quarterback Craig Erickson, posting a 3-1 record as a freshman. Despite his small amount of playing time, Torretta set the still-undisputed record for most passing yards in a single game (485). Leading his team to the 1991 National Championship, Torretta was named the Big East Player of the Year. As a senior, Torretta led the Hurricanes to a second undefeated regular season and the Big East Championship, passed for 3,000 yards and won multiple awards both on and off the field. These include First Team All-America, Davey O’Brien, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm, Maxwell and Walter Camp awards, Tanqueray World Amateur Athlete of the Year and Big East Player of the Year. Most notably, Torretta became only the second player in Hurricane history to win the Heisman Trophy. Torretta still holds the conference records for lowest career percentage of interceptions (1.94) and longest passing play yards (99), which also remains an NCAA record. Instrumental to Miami’s NCAA record 58-game home winning streak, Torretta also led Miami to a 26-2 record as a starter.

After his senior season, Torretta was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the 1993 NFL Draft. During his five seasons in the NFL he played for the Vikings, Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts. After his career in the NFL, Torretta worked as a color commentator for collegiate and professional football games and founded Touchdown Radio Productions. Currently Torretta is founder, president, and CEO of Touchdown Radio Productions and is vice president for Institutional Sales with Gabelli Asset Management. A member of the Orange Bowl Hall of Fame and University of Miami Hall of Fame, Torretta was inducted into the University of Miami’s Ring of Honor in 2008.

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Lions didn't draft Jason Fox with the intent of seeing him on field this season

ALLEN PARK - The Detroit Lions didn't draft Miami offensive tackle Jason Fox in the fourth round this year with the intention of seeing him much on the field this season.

Fox was drafted because the Lions for, oh, about the last 10 years, have done a poor job of replenishing the offensive line with young players. Jeff Backus remains solid at left tackle and Gosder Cherilus (with some possible help from Jon Jansen) should take care of the right tackle spot.

The Lions hope Fox can develop into a solid player who might either eventually take over for Backus (who is going into 10th season) or, if Cherilus continues to struggle, pressure for a starting spot on the right side.

How soon that might happen is up to both Cherilus and Fox.

For now, with Cherilus and Jansen splitting reps at right tackle, Fox is getting the majority of his work on the left side. That's expected to change in training camp when Fox should get more work on the right.

Fox is a good athlete with good footwork and has the ability to kick-out wide in pass protection (but that will also have to improve to be effective at this level).

The biggest challenge for Fox will be on the isolation running plays when he has to explode off the line and dominate. While he has a solid frame at 6-6 and 314 pounds, he needs to get stronger and develop greater explosion off the line.

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Ray Lewis Part Of New Sunday Night Football Faith Hill Opening Song

"Faith Hill recently shot her opening to NBC's "Sunday Night Football" at a studio in Hollywood. Shot at the studio were scenes of the Bears' Brian Urlacher pinballing his way through the columns at Soldier Field (and cracking one with a mighty collision), the Eagles' DeSean Jackson running to the top of the famed "Rocky" steps, the Vikings' Adrian Peterson sprinting past ice fishermen on a frozen lake and Freeney swim-moving his way through a cornfield. Among the other players who will be featured are Peyton and Eli Manning, Larry Fitzgerald, Hines Ward, Tony Romo, DeMarcus Ware, Drew Brees, Charles Woodson and Ray Lewis."

Click here to order Ray Lewis’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Vince Wilfork: We need Logan Mankins

Vince Wilfork knows how good Logan Mankins [stats] is as an offensive lineman. He plays against the left guard every day in practice.

That’s why Wilfork is hoping Mankins, a restricted free agent who recently demanded a trade because he feels the club hasn’t dealt with him honestly with respect to a new contract, remains a Patriot.

“I think he is the best offensive (guard) out there. Hands down,” Wilfork told the Herald in a phone interview today from his Florida home. “I’ll stand by that. I see the guy every year in camp and in practice we see each other. He’s every bit of what you look for in an offensive lineman. He’s got the toughness, he’s got the strength, he’s got the quickness, you name it, he’s a complete football player, and to have one of them on the offensive line, it’s very rare.

“But he’s one of the ones out there, he can make a diffference himself in whatever he’s doing,” the Pats Pro Bowl nose tackle said. “But it’s a business. I understand it’s a business. That’s how I feel about it. For what it’s worth, I don’t want him to go anywhere. I think we’d lose someone very, very special. Somebody that’s dedicated. But business is business. Sometimes things don’t pan out the way you want it to pan out. But I want him as a teammate. But if not, hopefully we’ll meet up again.”

Wilfork had his own contract dispute with the Pats earlier in the year but it never became publicly venomous. He was given the franchise designation, but soon after came to terms on a long-term extension (5 years, $40 million with $25 million guaranteed).

Wilfork thinks Mankins brings some nastiness to the Pats offensive line, which is important.

“Trust me, he’s got a defensive lineman mentality. Whenever you have an offensive lineman with a defensive lineman’s mentality, he’s going to be a tough son of a gun,” Wilfork said. “But he brings that to the table. He brings that toughness, that nastiness. He stands up for his teammates, especially his offensive linemen, his quarterback, and his backs. He stands up for them. He’d go to war for any one of those guys. Any one of us, he’d go to war for, and that’s the type of teammate I love. We got it in Mankins, so hopefully, they can get a deal done. I don’t know what the situation may be, but I’d love to keep him as a New England Patriot. But business is businss. How it unfolds, is how it unfolds. I just hope when it does unfold, he is a New England Patriot.”

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

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Ryan Braun has a great time at Disneyland

Ryan Braun, Brewers left fielder, had a busy schedule of the All – Star. This busy schedule included time Ryan Braun spent with friends and of course his family, in Los Angeles. Though the busy schedule for Ryan Braun did not include a trip to the Disneyland, the organizers for the event All – Star made sure that he did indeed pay a trip to meet the mickey and the Minnie mouse.

This happened because the parade of the All – Star event (a red carpet one), a motorcade, that was supposed to transport the players and their families to the Angel Stadium, made a trip to the coveted Disneyland, before it reached the stadium. All this was a part of the itinerary.

Ryan found the experience to be really special and cool. In order to avoid the attention, the players were escorted into the amusement park through the backside. Ryan Braun also stated that he found it really cool and amazing to be in such a group and also to be a part of the motorcade that took him to Disneyland. The entire experience was unbelievable for him. The crowd was enthusiastic enough and the team had to be taken in, always escorted. All had a great time and a beautiful day.

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Panthers Season Preview With Jon Beason

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

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Canes great Michael Irvin to host talk show on WQAM

As expected, WQAM-AM 560 announced Wednesday that former University of Miami and NFL great Michael Irvin will join the station as a talk show host from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays beginning July 26.

Irvin's co-host on the show will be former TNT NFL analyst Kevin Kiley, who had done a radio show with Irvin in Dallas.

Irvin will do his show from South Florida during its first two weeks on the air but then will host the show from Dallas, where he lives.

WQAM General Manager Joe Bell said that the program will have a heavy South Florida flavor. ``He will be talking about all sports,'' Bell said. ``He's a sports fan.''

Bell said he has not determined the future role for Curtis Stevenson, who has been filling the noon to 3 p.m. slot.

Click here to order Michael Irvin’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Rookie Spotlight: RB Tervaris Johnson

On July 29th, 80 men will report to training camp in St. Joseph, Missouri with one goal in mind – to wear the Kansas City Chiefs logo on their helmets when The New Arrowhead Stadium hosts its first-ever Monday Night Football Game on September 13th. Chiefs fans are already familiar with the majority of players who will be competing for roster spots this summer, but the crop of undrafted free agents often enter camp anonymous to the fan base.

Starting on June 29th and ending on July 14th, we’ll meet each of the Chiefs undrafted players for conversation. These are members of the Chiefs roster that can’t be ignored. History tells us that several of these men will end up on Kansas City’s Opening Day 53-man squad.
Today’s Rookie Focus – RB Tervaris Johnson (6-2, 248)

Quick Intro – Johnson played in 48 games at Miami (FL), seeing time at three different positions during his tenure with the Hurricanes – defensive back, tight end and fullback/h-back. He drew seven starts over his four seasons in South Florida.

JL: You played, what, three different positions in college?
TJ: Well, I played numerous positions. I started out as a cornerback first and when I switched over to offense my position was more of a tight end/fullback depending on the personnel groupings that we were using.

JL: Starting as a cornerback and moving to tight end? Did you just gain weight or outgrown the position? How does a move like that happen?
TJ: Coming into college I hadn’t ever played cornerback, but I had run a good 40 time at the University of Miami Football Camp. I was ranked very high in the country as a high school safety, but I never got an opportunity to play safety at Miami. I just kind of naturally outgrew the corner position, so I switched over to offense.

JL: When you first went to Miami, were you planning on being a safety before they switched you to cornerback?
TJ: Yeah, I was planning on playing safety.

JL: So you weren’t a defensive back that didn’t like to hit. I guess that move to tight end/fullback makes sense.
TJ: Oh yeah, that was kind of my thing. I thought that I was going to be a safety, but I took the route that was better for the team and tried it out. It worked out for me and I really wasn’t upset about the thing.
But I just naturally outgrew cornerback, unless they were going to play a 220-pound cornerback or something (laughing).

JL: What year did you make the switch to the offensive side of the football?
TJ: It was my junior year. I was also coming out of a surgery my junior year also, so I didn’t play that much. The offense was loaded that year with talent, so I kind of had a redshirt type of year without the redshirt. So I really didn’t see that much time my junior year, plus my shoulder was a mess.

JL: What were some of the things that they asked you to do out of that h-back position?
TJ: I would say that I was more involved in the blocking game for the simple fact that I’m very good with my hands. I was way more involved in the blocking game. TE Jimmy Graham was the pass catching guy.  

JL: Yeah, so you had two guys adapting to the tight end position, with you coming from the defensive side of the football and Jimmy coming from the basketball team.
TJ: When Jimmy came, of course he had to get used to the whole football thing. It was kind of funny in a way, but he got so much better as he progressed in the season. If you look at him now, I’m sure that he’s doing well in New Orleans and I think he’ll be a nice target in the passing game for them with his leaping experience from playing basketball. The kid can run too.
It was only a matter of time for him to get the whole football aspect down, but it wasn’t a big transition for me since I got my playing weight up into the 240s. Plus, I was always a physical player on defense. So, coming over to the offense and blocking didn’t seem like that big of a deal to me.

JL: Graham was the 5th tight end taken off the board in the 2010 NFL Draft, going to the New Orleans Saints in the 3rd round with the 95th overall pick.
JL: Was it hard to gain the weight to play at 240?
TJ: No, it really wasn’t hard at all to get my weight up. If anything, it came natural and really fast. I want to say that I was almost starving myself when I was trying to keep my weight down at cornerback. I just got bigger and naturally outgrew the position.

JL: You said that you were good with your hands in the blocking game. I’d think that would also mean that your ability to catch passes out of the backfield should be an asset to your game.
TJ: Well, I feel as if I can do whatever is asked of me, whether it is catching the ball in the flats or out of the backfield, or if it’s just being the hard-nosed blocking back that wants to get out there and hit somebody. Whatever it takes to help this team, I’ll play that role. It really doesn’t matter to me.

JL: Would you be comfortable if you ever had to line up as a single back in a third-down situation?
TJ: I won’t care. I’ll do it. You know, we have such a good position coach (Maurice Carthon) who is brutally honest. If you mess up, he’ll let you know about it. But you know, the same goes for when you do the right thing too. He really prepares us well for what we might go through.

JL: Is there an instant amount of respect for “Mo” since he is a respected veteran of the league? I mean, you might even remember playing as him in Tecmo Bowl when you were a kid.
TJ: Ha-ha. Yeah, that helps out a lot from the simple facts that when we come in, he told me that he joined the league as an undrafted free agent. So he’s a guy who helps out a lot since he went through a whole bunch of different things. He’s really a valuable piece of our game and you can’t question him, because he has so many years of game knowledge. You don’t’ need to question him about doing anything right.

JL: What are you going to do when you go home from the off-season program?
TJ: I’m probably going to go back to the U and work out with one of the morning groups.

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Spurs taking a hard look at James Jones

The Spurs are taking a "hard look" at signing swingman James Jones, according to

Jones would provide some perimeter scoring punch for San Antonio, but he's likely to fill a backup role wherever he lands. His contract was bought out by the Heat this summer as they purged payroll to land their star trio.

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Ryan Braun's Diving Catch in the MLB 2010 All Star Game

Check out Ryan Braun’s diving catch in the MLB 2010 All Star game. We’d like to thank proCane fan Emilio for pointing out the highlight to us.

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Could Chris Perez Become the Full-Time Closer?

Chris Perez, RP, Cleveland Indians. Many are unaware that Perez has just one fewer save (7) than the Indians' illustrious team leader, Kerry Wood. While his 0.85 K/IP doesn't do much to instill closer confidence, Perez has shown the ability to record outs and work through difficulties, something the rest of the Cleveland pen has struggled with for two years running. His 2.62 ERA and 1.25 WHIP are useful enough (especially relative to the competition) that fantasy owners have had no choice but to take notice. He's been handed the job in a temporary capacity in the past, and it could be just a short time before a more permanent change works out in his favor.

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"The U" Deleted Scene #4

Every Tuesday until The U DVD release on Tuesday, August 17th, rakontur will be posting exclusive bonus features and deleted scenes that won't be available anywhere else.

The U deleted scene #4 - The Last Snap
On January 2nd, 1984, the Hurricanes became National Champions. The play everyone remembers was Nebraska's blocked two-point conversion attempt with 48 seconds left on the clock. Bernie Kosar recounts the last play of the game in which he cheats center Ian Sinclair out of his chance to steal the football as a souvenir.

Click here to view Deleted Scenes #1 and #2. and here for Deleted Scene #3.

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Bears Expect Big Things From Devin Hester

In the third of nine position previews in advance of training camp, Darryl Drake discusses Bears wide receivers with senior writer Larry Mayer:

LM: Some outside the organization have criticized the Bears receivers. Mike Martz thinks that they’ll be a team strength. How do you feel about the receivers as a group?
DD: We’ve still got a ways to go, but we’re working hard on getting there. It is a talented group. Devin Hester has gotten better, and as he continues to grow, the sky’s the limit for him. I’ve been real pleased with Devin Aromashodu. He has done a tremendous job. He has really given is something extra there. He needs to continue to do that and continue to mature and grow. It’s the same with Johnny Knox. What we’re looking for out of all of them is consistency. We need consistency in knowing their assignments, being where they’re supposed to be and catching the football.

LM: Do you have any doubts that Hester can be an elite receiver?
DD: There’s no doubt in my mind that he can be. There’s no doubt in my mind that Aromashodu and Knox can be as well.

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

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Antrel Rolle: 'I love playing in front of the bright lights'

After five seasons with the Cardinals, safety Antrel Rolle found a new home, signing a five-year, $37 million free-agent deal with the Giants. Rolle is being counted on to help the Giants' defense bounce back from a disastrous 2009 season. Sporting News' Clifton Brown recently caught up with Rolle to talk about his transition to the Giants' secondary and his excitement about coming to New York.

Sporting News: Were the Giants at the top of your wish list even before free agency began?
Antrel Rolle: I really didn't have a preference where I would play. I hit free agency, and I got the call. Once the Big Blue called, I was ready to go. It's the one of the biggest markets in the world, one of the biggest stages in the world. I'm excited.

SN: Did it help that the Giants already had another former University of Miami guy in their secondary, safety Kenny Phillips?
AR: It sure did. Kenny and I talked about it. He asked if I would ever consider playing for the Giants. I said,  "Absolutely.''

SN: From what you've seen in minicamps and OTAs, how does the Giants' defensive scheme differ from the Cardinals'?
AR: It's all football. A few things are different, a few coverages and schemes may be tweaked differently. But I don't think it will be any different fitting into this program.

SN: Is it hard to be a leader right away when you join a new team?
AR: Not at all. This team has welcomed me, the city of New York has welcomed me. It's been a great transition. The guys and the coaches have made it smooth.

SN: How proud are you of what the Cardinals accomplished the last two years, becoming a contender after so many years of struggling?
AR: I'm very proud. I saw us go from 5-11 seasons to a Super Bowl. I was part of that, part of helping us grow. That's something that will always be there for me. Like they say, "It's not how you start; it's how you finish."

SN: After the way the Giants' defense struggled last season, how confident does the unit seem to you?
AR: The swagger is still there. We can't let last year impact this year. It's a brand-new season, brand-new team, brand-new attitude. That's what we're bringing into the 2010 season.

SN: Does having a huge contract put any more pressure on you?
AR: Absolutely not. I'm still playing ball. I've been playing ball all this time without the big money. I love this game. I love playing in front of the bright lights. Nothing has changed.

SN: How much are you looking forward to being a part of the NFC East rivalries the Giants have with the Cowboys, Eagles and Redskins?
AR: Absolutely, I'm going to love it. The bigger the games, the better my game.

SN: For many years, you played next to a Pro Bowl safety in Adrian Wilson. Do you look at coming to New York as a chance to get more recognition?
AR: I'm still going to be me. I'm not really concerned with who gets the pub. I'm here for a reason.  The coaches must have seen something in my game that they felt could help the Giants win. As long as my teammates and coaches are satisfied with my play, we're good to go.

SN: From what you've seen, do you think Kenny Phillips can come all the way back from major knee surgery?
AR: Kenny looks great. He stays on top of his treatment every day. We talk every day. We'll have a great rotation back there, no matter what. But having Kenny back will be a huge plus.

SN: Did you treat yourself to anything after signing your new contract?
AR: No, I didn't. That's kind of funny, isn't it? My family doesn't ask me for much, never really has. I splurged a little bit on my firstcontract, kind of got everything out of the way. This contract, I was a little more conservative.

SN: So many former University of Miami players still train there during the offseason. Why have you been training with the Giants?
AR: I usually do train in Miami, and I love training down there. I've never been with my team for a full offseason working out. But they're expecting big things from me, and it's in my contract for me to be up here. If that's what they want, that's what they're going to get.

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

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From Edgerrin James to the homeless, McAdoo saved them all

Uncle Luke, the man whose booty-shaking madness once made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants to be for Miami New Times. This week, Luke eulogizes one of Miami's unseen black leaders.

Miami's black community recently lost a great person, a man who touched the lives of a lot of folks from Liberty City to West Perrine. His name is Michael Wright, but anyone familiar with Miami-Dade County football knew him as McAdoo. He passed away a couple of weeks ago at the Orlando home of NFL superstar Edgerrin James.

Although he was never a politician, McAdoo was black Miami's unofficial mayor. He got his nickname because as a kid, he shot the basketball like NBA great Bob McAdoo, now an assistant coach with the Miami Heat. City and county commissioners counted on McAdoo to quietly get out the vote on Election Day. From every superstar athlete to every rapper to every drug dealer to every gangster knew McAdoo. When he spoke, everyone listened because they knew his love for the black community was genuine.

He lived not too far from Charles Hadley Park, where he would confront the hardest criminals and tell them to leave the kids alone to play. He wasn't the type of activist who would go in front of the city commission and beg for money. All he had to do was pick up the phone and speak to the politicians directly. He did the same with professional athletes he had looked after during their days playing Pop Warner and their time playing for the University of Miami Hurricanes.

He practically raised guys like former Northwestern High football all-stars Snoop Minnis and Nate Webster, who went on to become NFL athletes. McAdoo paid for those boys to attend their senior proms and bought dresses for their dates. He also helped other ex-Hurricanes players such as Edgerrin James, Willis McGahee, Santana Moss, and Andre Johnson by giving them a little money or food or anything they needed. McAdoo's generosity is a big reason he had no problem persuading James to sponsor a scholarship program for kids playing Pop Warner at three different parks in Miami. Every year, McAdoo and James put together a bowl weekend in Immokalee, the former UM running back's hometown. McAdoo would get the buses and take the kids up there himself.

Click here to read the rest of Uncle Luke’s story.

Click here to order Edgerrin James’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Jack McClinton Scores 8 Points For The Bulls

Jack McClinton scored 8 points in his first game with the Chicago Bulls in the 2010 NBA Summer League versus the Denver Nuggets. The Bulls lost 99-71. McClinton played 10:59 and scored his 8 point on 3 of 5 shooting including 1 of 2 from three point land and 1 for 1 from the free throw line. He also had 1 rebound, 1 assist and 3 personal fouls.

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Yonder Alonso May Get Dealt

Yonder Alonso, 1B, Cincinnati Reds (Triple-A Louisville)

Joey Votto, the Reds' big league 1B, is a legitimate NL MVP candidate. Alonso has yet to put up impressive numbers in the minors, with a career line of .279/.356/.431. He is 22-for-55 (.400) in his last 13 games, however, so he could be a chip to move now. He has only 18 home runs in 178 games, which is a concern, but he was the No. 7 overall pick in the 2008 MLB draft, so a team interested in reputation and pedigree may take a chance on him.

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Get to Know: Jon Jay

How many times have you heard one of your buddies say, "Well I could hit behind Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday!"

No -- they couldn't. But St. Louis outfielder Jon Jay (pictured) can.

Jay was recalled on July 3, and he has responded by going 13-for-26 with an eight-game hitting streak. That includes a .524 average, two homers and five RBIs in six games hitting in that coveted No. 5 spot behind Pujols and Holliday.

What do we know about Jay? He's a 25-year-old lefthander, and he's a former second-round pick out of Miami. He sported a .321 average and .394 OBP at Class AAA Louisville this season. He almost has the same name but not the same spelling as the first Chief Justice of the United States.

We touched on Jay in this week's Pickup Lines and Waivers, which means the hitting streak at least has our attention. Should it have yours?

The key will be whether Jay can make it last. The No. 5 spot in St. Louis' order is a prime piece of fantasy real estate; Five-hole hitters are batting .296 with 16 homers and 57 RBIs for the Cardinals in 2010. Colby Rasmus (hamstring) and Ryan Ludwick (calf) usually share duties in that spot. Rasmus returned in a pinch-hitting role Sunday; Ludwick is expected back after the break.

Jay still could stick in NL-only leagues. He could work into a platoon role with Rasmus, who has struggled against lefties in the past.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa moved Jay into the No. 2 spot in the lineup Sunday. Hitting in front of Pujols and Holliday isn't the worst job in the world, either.

Consider Jay a short-term fix with upside, but La Russa will favor Rasmus and Ludwick down the stretch.

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Ryan Braun is a fan favorite for good reason

To understand how All-Star outfielder Ryan Braun -- San Fernando Valley native, Lakers fan, Malibu resident -- became so beloved in Wisconsin, start at Sept. 28, 2008.

The Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs were tied, 1-1, in the bottom of the eighth inning at Miller Park, with the Brewers trying to secure a National League wild-card berth and make the playoffs for the first time since 1982.

That's when Braun hit a two-run home run.

"I've never been in an atmosphere like that in my entire life," said Joe Braun, Ryan's father. "That moment was so hard to explain. You see people literally crying . . . tears of joy."

Braun's popularity continues to soar. For three consecutive years, despite the Brewers being in the smallest media market in the major leagues, Braun, 26, has led NL outfielders in fan balloting for the All-Star game.

This year, he received 2,972,525 votes, third-most overall behind St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols and Philadelphia second baseman Chase Utley. He passed Hall of Fame member Robin Yount as the only player in club history to be selected to three consecutive All-Star games.

Braun's jerseys and T-shirts rank among the three most popular purchased by Brewers fans.

"First of all, he's a great player," Brewers owner Mark Attanasio said. "He's committed to the city. He signed a seven-year contract. There's every reason for the fans to embrace him."

The $45-million contract Braun signed in 2008 that runs through 2015 means he's not going to leave town any time soon. He has become an active participant in two restaurants, Ryan Braun's Waterfront Grill in Milwaukee and the Ryan Braun Tavern and Grill in Lake Geneva. He's also co-owner of a Southern California-based clothing line, Remetee.

"He shows up at the restaurant and mingles," Attanasio said. "He goes in the back and mixes with the kitchen staff. He's very accountable to the fans."

Most important to Brewers fans, he has delivered on the field. He was the NL rookie of the year in 2007 when he hit 34 home runs. He hit 37 home runs in 2008, and last season had 32 home runs when he also led the NL with 203 hits.

This season, despite suffering the worst slump of his pro career -- a one-for-21 span last week -- he's batting .292 with 13 home runs and 54 runs batted in.

"I really appreciate it," Braun said of the fan support. "I think it's not just for me. It's the whole team. For awhile, the team wasn't very good. The Brewers had really been struggling."

Braun's agent, Nez Balelo, swears there was no get-out-the-vote All-Star effort through Twitter, Facebook or MySpace.

"Ryan is a good person, a very likeable guy, and I think all his days from being in Miami on the East Coast and on the West Coast, he established a strong bond of friends and business associates, and when he needs support, people are happy to step up, and he deserves it," Balelo said.

Throughout his playing days, when he was an All-City infielder at Granada Hills High and hit a home run at Dodger Stadium in his final high school at-bat, to his college days at Miami, where he was an All-American, Braun has attracted a legion of fans.

"I voted for him twice," his high school coach, Steve Thompson, said. "I'm sure my two sons voted for him."

Steve Haywood, a sports radio talk-show host at 540 ESPN in Milwaukee, said, "He's endeared himself to the fans of Milwaukee big time. We know we got something special with him."

Joe Braun, who still lives in the Valley but travels to Milwaukee to watch at least 10 games a season, said the fan appreciation reminds him of the days when he took his son to Dodger Stadium during the 1990s and watched how autograph seekers sought out Eric Karros and Mike Piazza.

"To see that look on a kid's face, it takes you back," he said. "It's a little different in Milwaukee. They really get behind their players. They love Ryan. It couldn't have been a better fit. It's a Midwest flavor how these people are. He's at the point I don't think there's any place he could go without being recognized."

With the All-Star game being played at Angel Stadium on Tuesday night, Braun gets to return home to Southern California, making it a special occasion.

"It's awesome," he said. "I always say that this is one of the few times throughout the year you really have an opportunity to reflect on where you're at, what you're doing, what you're accomplishing. It's special for me to come back here and share the experience with some friends and family."

His father will be there, along with his mother, Diane, and they'll be reminiscing about their son's rapid rise to prominence.

"It's almost a fairy tale," his father said.

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Lauryn Williams in the down year

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Building Muscle for the Pro Game with Jarrett Payton

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Yonder Alonso not worried about Reds depth chart

ANAHEIM -- Reds prospect Yonder Alonso doesn't look at who is blocking him on the big league depth chart anymore. It seems he has finally found the perfect position: diplomat.

"I just have to go out there and do my part and I can't worry about who is ahead of me," said Alonso, 23, who is hitting .240 for Triple-A Louisville. "That's out of my hands. I just have to go out there each day and do the right thing and hope for the best."

Alonso seems to have the right approach. All-Star first baseman Joey Votto is ahead him on the depth chart at first base and Scott Rolen is ahead of him at third base on the big league level. Complicating matters for Alonso is the fact that top Reds prospect Juan Francisco is also a third baseman.

"At first, I was having some issues with it, but I've matured a little bit," Alonso said. "It hasn't been that bad. I just have to focus on my job. I do what I can in batting practice, in the games and I just have to worry about Triple-A right now."

That's probably a good idea. It seems the Reds are also doing their part.

In an effort to provide more playing time for the young Cuban, the Reds shifted Alonso to left field to start the Minor League season. He was also rumored to be part of the package the Reds were offering the Mariners for Cliff Lee before Seattle sent the pitcher to Texas.

When asked about the possibility of a trade, Alonso shrugged. Then, he chose his words carefully when asked to describe the first half of his season. The slugger's average is down and he has six home runs and 34 RBIs in 279 at-bats. He's walked 29 times and struck out 48.

He went 1-for-4 in Sunday's XM Futures Game.

"Overall, it's been going well," he said. "I've just been hitting the ball hard, run the bases and try to play good defense."

Alonso was quick to point out that he is not the only one who has grown up over the summer. He said Louisville teammate Aroldis Chapman has also come into his own in the Minor Leagues. The two became fast friends during Spring Training and their relationship has grown over the summer.

For his part, Chapman is 5-6 with a 4.32 ERA in 20 games (13 starts) for Louisville. It's unclear when or if Chapman will get a big league callup or what his role will be when that happens.

But like Alonso, Chapman will be ready.

"Chapman's getting prepared, really starting to mature. He's running and doing all of his work," Alonso said. "He's really been a good competitor and he's one of the hardest workers on the team. That guy is a workaholic."

As for Alonso, he knows the purpose of Sunday's game was to peek into the future, but he's content to stay in the present.

"Today is a game, just like other games I play in," he said. "It's fun, but I'll have 70 more games to play when I get back. I can't think about it too much. I need to just do my job."

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La Russa: I'll find enough at-bats for Jon Jay

Manager Tony La Russa said on his radio show Sunday morning that he thinks he'll be able to find enough at-bats for Jon Jay even after Ryan Ludwick returns from the DL.

Jay has the National League's longest active hit streak at 10 games and is batting .385 with three homers over 65 at-bats for the Redbirds thus far. He's been primarily filling in for the injured Ludwick in right field, but he's capable of playing all three outfield spots. La Russa thinks that Jay could see enough at-bats spelling Ludwick once or twice per week and Colby Rasmus once per week. That's enough to make him a viable NL-only play as long as he keeps hitting.

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Alex Cora Getting Closer to Vesting Option

According to MLB Trade Rumors, Alex Cora needs to appear in just 32 more games between now and the end of the season to guarantee his $2 million option for next season. By the way, Luis Castillo will begin a minor-league rehab assignment with Single-A St. Lucie this weekend. …castillo will probably not be back.

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Aubrey Huff contract rumors: No extension talks during the season

Despite hitting .294/.380/.548 with 17 home runs and 54 RBIs on the on the offensive starved Giants team, Aubrey Huff will have to wait until the season is over in order to talk about an contract extension.

Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News tweets, “Giants GM Brian Sabean said Aubrey Huff has “earned consideration” for a new contract. But no extension talks during the season.”

Huff, 33, signed a one-year contract last winter to join the Giants. Late last month, Huff said, “I would love to be back here.” He said he wouldn’t mind finishing his career in San Francisco.

Huff has been a welcome presence within the Giants organization, and it would be surprising if the team does not re-sign in the off-season.

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Secret to His Success: Sister helps Bluefish’s Charlton Jimerson rise from tough childhood

BRIDGEPORT -- It has been nearly five years since Lanette Jimerson sat in Minute Maid Park in Houston. To her, it might as well have been yesterday.

Some memories never fade. Being part of crowd of 30,911 to witness her younger brother, Charlton, make his big-league debut with the Astros on Sept. 14, 2005, is one of those memories.

Lanette remembers Charlton proudly seeing his name etched across the top of his jersey. She remembers hearing his name announced over the public address system when he entered the game in center field in the ninth inning. And she remembers taking a photo of the Jumbotron when his picture was displayed.

Lanette, too, remembers how difficult it was at times growing up in California with two parents battling drug addiction. She had played a significant role in raising Charlton, becoming his legal guardian when she was 19. Seeing Charlton realize his dream that day in Houston was something to cherish.

"Early on when he was in the minor leagues, he was kind of like, `What is this? What's going on? What's this process about,''' Lanette Jimerson said. "And I said to him, `Do you know how many millions of young men would love to be where you are? And they had it all growing up. You are one in a million right now. Through it all, you didn't give yourself any excuses.'''

A year later, the two shared a piece of history via a long-distance phone call. Jimerson, who is now an outfielder with the Bridgeport Bluefish, had earned another September call-up with the Astros. This time, he was awarded his first at-bat, pinch-hitting for Roger Clemens in Philadelphia with two outs in the sixth and Phillies' left-hander Cole Hamels working on a perfect game Sept. 4, 2006.

Jimerson hit a home run on a 2-and-1 pitch. He is one of only four members of the Astros to homer in their first career at-bat.

Jimerson has had only eight more at-bats in the big leagues. He is 4-for-9 with two home runs, two RBIs and four stolen bases in 31 games. He now seems to get caught in a numbers game, with organizations opting to stick with the players they drafted. Jimerson, however, does not beat him himself up over it.

"Life has presented way more than baseball could ever present me with as far as frustration or obstacles,'' Charlton Jimerson said. "Every time I go home, I've already won, because I'm 30 years old and I've seen more and done more than most people have seen and done their whole lives from this game. And the position I've put myself in through life, I already consider myself to be a success.''

Early HURDLes
His father, Eugene, left the family when Charlton was a toddler. According to Lanette, initially, things were as normal as could be for a family with five children -- four boys and one girl -- living in Oakland with their mother, Charlene.

It wasn't until Lanette was 11 and Charlton was about 6 that things began to change dramatically. The family moved to Hayward, Calif., and the moving never seemed to stop as Charlene's addiction raged. They followed their mother to their apartment, friends' apartments, homeless shelters and women's shelters.

Soon, the family began to splinter. Derell, the oldest, moved out when he was about 16. Eugene was next. Lanette then moved in with a friend when she was a sophomore in high school, leaving Charlton and Terrance.

Charlton said he never did witness any drug use by his mother. The signs were there, though.

"I knew it was going on,'' Charlton said. "I think she tried to do her best. But, obviously, when you're under the influence and you've got one child, let alone more than one child, to take care of, your parenting skills get a little bit cloudy.''

Charlton eventually moved in with his friend, Alex Sanders, when he was in fifth grade. He lived there until he was a freshman at Mount Eden High School. By that time, Lanette had already been working on becoming his legal guardian.

"We were close and we spent a lot of time together and we talked a lot,'' Lanette said. "I guess it first came up as a question when living at the Sanders' wasn't working out. So at that time, I was 18, and the courts were like, `You're too young.'''

Instead, Charlton moved in with Derell for about a year before Lanette was legally permitted to serve as his guardian in the spring of 1995. Lanette began watching over Terrance, who is six years younger than Charlton, soon afterward.

She rented a two-bedroom apartment, providing some stability. She picked Charlton up from school and attended his games, and the budding teacher in her insisted that he earn good grades.

Lanette, 35, is now a graduate student at California-Berkeley and was awarded the 2009-10 Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award in education. She teaches an undergraduate class in literacy and education, works with graduate students who are training to be principals, and teaches writing to seventh-grade students at a middle school in Oakland.

Charlton said he knew where to find his father during his high school years. He was on the streets near the University of California-Berkeley. He would meet him at times to hang out or have lunch.

Charlton never did let his family situation adversely affect him. Not only did he have Lanette to lean on, he also had a core group of friends with similar problems.

"We were living life," Charlton said. "We had each other. There's some stuff that we did growing up that people would never imagine you have to do. I had to wash my clothes in the tub and hang them up (on a railing) for the next day.''

Baseball beckons
Charlton spent a great deal of time at the Boys & Girls Club in Hayward, and baseball, in the form of Wiffle Ball, appealed to him. That gave him the desire to play Little League when he was 12. It wasn't until his junior year in high school when he got serious about the sport.

He hit over .400 as a senior at Mount Eden. The Astros drafted him in the 24th round in 1997 (760th overall). Charlton was poised to sign. Lanette had other ideas.

"I was the only one talking about, `Let's read that contract,'" Lanette said. "It says they want you to go to Chabot (College).'''

Chabot was located in Hayward, but Lanette had put rules in place. Charlton could not go to college within six hours of his home. He had offers to play baseball at Santa Clara and UC-Davis, but they were within 90 minutes of Hayward.

"I watched him very closely when he was coming up and I just wanted him not to hang around with his high school friends and not realize that there was a transition happening,'' Lanette said.

Charlton wanted to attend USC. He applied but was not accepted. His next option was Miami (Fla.).

"I had seen a commercial with all the palm trees and the beaches and stuff after the football games,'' Charlton said. "I went the next day and asked my counselor if she could get me an application to Miami.''

Charlton was accepted as a student due to his exceptional academic standing.

"My sister definitely was the first one to be a scholar, to lead the way and put me in a position to go to Miami,'' Charlton said.

In an attempt to gain the attention of Miami baseball coach Jim Morris, Lanette helped him assemble a portfolio. It included his high school press clippings, an essay on why he was interested in joining the program, and the fact that he had already been admitted.

The next order of business was generating enough money to attend. Jimerson got by on academic scholarships, aid from the school and loans.

Charlton, whose grade-point average ranged from 3.3 to 3.5, joined the Hurricanes as a walk-on. He hit .240 with seven home runs and 31 RBIs in 117 games in his first three seasons in primarily a reserve role.

As a senior in 2001, though, his career soared. Jimerson hit .302 with 10 home runs, 41 RBIs and 31 stolen bases in 58 games. He started the final 26 games after Marcus Nettles, his roommate/starting centerfielder, injured his hamstring.

Jimerson went on to become the Most Valuable Player of the College World Series that year as the Hurricanes won the championship. He hit .333 with leadoff home runs in the first two games and seven stolen bases over four games in the Series.

Jimerson, who earned a bachelor's degree in computer science, was again drafted by the Astros in 2001. This time, it was in the fifth round (146th overall). This time, he signed.

Jimerson eventually made an Opening Day roster for the first time and appeared in two games with the Seattle Mariners in 2008. He was later released later that season after hitting .233 with 11 home runs and 31 RBIs in 55 games at Class AAA Tacoma.

That's the last time he has been in affiliated ball.

"He's got some holes in his game,'' Bluefish general manager Bob Goughan said, "his all-or-nothing approach at the plate and his sometimes inability to hit a good breaking ball. But the other guys that got kept in affiliated ball had holes, too. The question is why Jimerson with his holes and why not these guys with their holes? He just goes about his business, and sometimes a lot of organizations look for that guy that's a self-promoter. Charlton is not a self-promoter.''

Jimerson hit an Atlantic League-leading .335 with 27 doubles, 21 home runs and 62 RBIs in 103 games with the Newark Bears in 2009. He also scored 91 runs and had 38 stolen bases.

He believed he did everything he needed to do to earn a roster spot at Class AAA Rochester in the Minnesota Twins organization this season. Despite producing in spring training, it wasn't enough to earn a spot.

"It was just simply a numbers situation with him,'' said Jim Rantz, the Twins senior director of the minor leagues. "I just didn't have a spot for him because of what I got sent back to me from the big-league club. I know it was a tough decision on our part and it was tough to tell him, because he did everything we asked him and he was having a good spring.''

Jimerson agreed to terms with the Bluefish on May 7. Through Friday, he was hitting .366 with 17 doubles, 10 home runs, 41 RBIs and 36 runs scored in 43 games.

"I'm not playing every day saying, `Look at me,''' Jimerson, a Liberty Division All-Star, said. "I'm here and I told the guys that you've got to be here because you want to be here and not just for anything else. So every day I'm prepared to be here. You've got to just stay positive and just play the game every day.''

Jimerson, the author
Jimerson's life experiences have hardened his resiliency. They have also led him to write a book titled "Against All Odds.'' The publication chronicles his life from the day he was born -- Sept. 22, 1979 -- to his memorable home run off of Hamels.

He hopes it will be released next year to coincide with the 10-year anniversary of Miami's College World Series title. That was also the time when the story of his life first surfaced publicly.

"It's copyrighted,'' Jimerson said. ``Now I just need a literary agent. `Against All Odds' kind of sums it up for me. It seems whenever people put me out of the equation, I just bounce back. I've got a year to find a literary agent and a publishing company and for my book to actually come out.''

Things have worked out nicely for Jimerson to this point. He is a husband and father of three children -- Alexa, 13; Tyson, 3; and Nicolas, 1.

Jimerson still speaks with his dad, whom Lanette said is now clean and sober. He sent him a Father's Day gift last month. Charlton said that he respects him and loves him, but that it is hard to play catch-up after everything that has transpired. He does not speak much with his mother because he knows drug abuse is still part of her life.

Charlton and Lanette talk about once a week.

"That's my best friend,'' Jimerson said. "She sacrificed a lot with her personal life. I still probably till the day I die will feel like I owe her way more than I can give her back. ''

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Bernie Kosar reacts to LeBron James deserting Cleveland sports fans

CLEVELAND, Ohio - It was more than 12 hours since Bernie Kosar watched "The Decision," and his voice still cracked as he fought off the tears talking about LeBron James leaving the Cavs for the Miami Heat.

"It brought back all the memories," said the former Browns quarterback. "I saw the ball on the ground from The Fumble, the catch in the end zone at the end of The Drive... I even felt some of the same things that I felt when the Browns moved."

But most of all, Kosar felt for Cleveland sports fans - because he is one of them.

"I had this sick sense inside, like when I was cut [by the Browns in 1993]," said Kosar. "All the old emotions came back, watching LeBron."
A native of Youngstown who wanted to play for the Browns and helped the team make that happen when he entered the college draft, Kosar finds it hard to believe James would leave the Cavs.

"He's from here [Akron]," said Kosar. "I really thought that as an athlete, your ultimate goal would be to win a title for your hometown team. That's what drove me when I was with the Browns. I wanted to finish what I started."

It never happened, as Browns fans know ...

"The Drive, The Fumble ..." said Kosar, his voice trailing off.

He thought about James being only 25, how he had plenty of time to re-sign with the Cavs and keep pushing for that title.

"I felt for [Cavs owner] Dan Gilbert watching that show," said Kosar. "I think of all the money that he spent – he tried to win at all cost for the Cavs fans, the town and LeBron. Then to see LeBron was even willing to take less money and help Miami's salary cap – that had to hurt."
Kosar admitted being a bit surprised by the harsh tone of Gilbert's letter criticizing James, but he understood it – and appreciated Gilbert's passion.

"I like an owner who cares, and Dan really cares," said Kosar. "I think he wants us to know that he won't quit, despite what happened with LeBron. It's time for all of us in this town to rally around each other and our teams."

What about James?

"I'm disappointed by this," he said. "I would have loved to sit down and talk to him. I tried at times, but I was never able to get to him. He has a lot of people around him."

Click here to order Bernie Kosar’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Stars come out for Greg Olsen's kickball tourney

Bears tight end Greg Olsen's charity kickball tournament Saturday at Grant Park quickly turned into star-studded event.

As Brian Urlacher chilled in a golf cart waiting his turn to kick, actor Vince Vaughn made an appearance alongside comedian Kevin James. Olsen, Vaughn, James, and running back Matt Forte all congregated under the shade, sharing a few laughs as Vaughn razzed the amateur kickball players vying for the title.

Olsen politely declined to talk about football, but he addressed his mother's battle and even talked a little LeBron James in the following video clips (more after the jump).

But the star of stars was Olsen's mother, Susan, who was Saturday's designated pitcher and a nine-year breast-cancer survivor. She is the inspiration behind the Olsen family's Reception for Research foundation.

"We're happy to have her out here after everything she's been through," Greg Olsen said. "It means a lot."

Olsen partnered with TMC, a Chicago-based division of the $7.6 billion global transportation and logistics services provider, C. H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc., to organize the "Kicks for a Cure" event.




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

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Calais Campbell Poised For a Breakout Season

The 6-foot-8 Campbell, well known among Cardinals fans, had seven sacks last season as a starter yet should have been in double figures. He let several quarterbacks wriggle out from his grasp, something that still sticks in his head. Very physically gifted, he works hard and plays with excellent leverage, despite his 6-foot-8 height. Campbell says he is determined to become a perennial double-digit sacker and appears right on course to accomplish that goal. His long arms should allow him to force more fumbles.

This could be a breakout year for him, especially since Arizona got stronger at nose tackle with the addition of first-round pick Dan Williams. With Campbell at one end and Darnell Dockett on the other, the Cardinals figure to be a worrisome sight for opposing quarterbacks.
The first of those quarterbacks will have a lot on his mind. It's St. Louis rookie Sam Bradford, who opens the regular season Sept. 12 against Arizona.

Click here to order Calais Campbell’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Nate Webster Becomes Defensive Coordinator of Bellevue High School

Nate Webster. As in that Nate Webster. As in this Nate Webster.

The nine-year NFL veteran and former Bengals linebacker will call the defense for one of the smallest football-playing schools in the state. Here’s how he ended up in Tigertown.

In May, Bellevue hired Russ Shearer as its head coach. One of Shearer’s former players had met Webster at the University of Cincinnati, where the latter is finishing up his degree. With UC’s staff full and Webster wanting to break into coaching, Shearer offered him a job.

“He’s an exceptional coach and the kids love him,” said Shearer. “The guy has a Super Bowl ring. … I will say this though. I love Nate Webster as a coach, but I hope he’s not coaching for me next year. He has too much talent and knowledge to be coaching with us right now.

“But we’re happy to have him.”

Click here to order Nate Webster’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Can Dwayne Collins Make the Suns Roster?

Dwayne Collins
Position: PF
College: Miami
Height: 6-foot-8
Weight: 241 pounds
2009-2010: 12 points, 7.8 rebounds in 24.7 minutes

Collins should make the Suns’ roster before it’s all said and done, but he most likely has to have a solid showing in Vegas to do so (if he is even healthy enough to play after June 18 knee surgery). His 7-foot-4 wingspan alone should earn a roster spot, but this summer will prove if he has the skills to go along with that. I expect Collins to turn some heads with his high motor and athleticism this summer, and he may even eclipse Lawal on the depth chart. Collins is basically battling with his fellow second-rounder for playing time. It should be fun to see which raw and athletic big man has the edge going into training camp.

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Red Star, in talks to land Darius Rice

Despite the economic crisis of Red Star, the Serbian team seems to be already planning new targets for the next season, and is reported to be in talks with Darius Rice. The 27-year-old forward started last season in Hungary, and then played a couple of weeks in the Puerto Rican league for the Capitanes de Arecibo.

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Aubrey Huff lashes out against All-Star game, fans

Aubrey Huff is having a pretty great first half for the Giants. He entered play Friday batting .298/.384/.556 with 17 homers and 54 RBI over 295 at-bats. Some might even say he's "All-Star worthy." In turn, Mychael Urban of asked him if he would consider going to the game as an injury replacement. Apparently not.

"It's a sham," Huff told by phone Friday morning from Washington, D.C. "To me, the All-Star Game is retarded."

Go ahead and call Huff inarticulate or politically incorrect if you want. That's fine. He deserves it. But believe it or not, that might not be the dumbest thing he said during this interview. He continued:

"It's so backward, it's a joke," said Huff, a 33-year-old veteran of 11 big-league seasons who has never been an All-Star. "I mean, if you want to make the game mean something and be so important with the World Series thing, why are you letting the fans pick the starters?

"If the game's that big of a deal, it should be the managers and players picking the team, because they really know who the best players are. Let the fans pick that last guy in the internet thing. That's enough. The way they have it now, though, with the fans picking the starters, it's either the most popular players or the guys on the big-market teams -- the cities with the most fans, like the Yankees and Boston and Philly -- just dominating the voting."

I'm not going to go over every starter one by one and evaluate whether they deserve to be there, because I honestly don't care. But I think we can all agree that this is probably the wrong year to make the argument that managers should have expanded authority on the complexion of the rosters.

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Ryan Braun Gives Yonder Alonso New Cleats For Futures Game

ANAHEIM -- Yonder Alonso raised his right foot a few inches off the carpet in the visiting clubhouse to show off his brand-new Nike cleats, black with the red trim of his parent club, the Cincinnati Reds.

"Braun got me these cleats," Alonso said with a smile, referring to Brewers leftfielder Ryan Braun.

Though Alonso and Braun are on track to one day be National League Central rivals -- and maybe before the end of the season -- for now they merely share the bond and friendship of having both played at the University of Miami. On Sunday as Alonso, a first baseman/corner outfielder and Cincinnati's most prized hitting prospect, participated in the 12th annual All-Star Futures Game at Angel Stadium, he was all too happy to rave about his new kicks and the experience of playing in a major-league ballpark.

"This is unbelievable," Alonso said. "I mean, wow. It's breathtaking, man, and this is only the visiting clubhouse. The field is unbelievable, and the balls seem to carry more because we're so excited."

For as close as many of these players are to the majors, they have still retained their sense of awe, even though Alonso and several of his Futures Game teammates and opponents -- most notably Phillies Triple A rightfielder Domonic Brown and two Rays in Triple A, outfielder Desmond Jennings and starter Jeremy Hellickson -- could all play roles in the major-league pennant races.

Alonso, meanwhile, who went 1-for-4 with a single on Sunday, could just as easily be traded away to a rebuilding team and away from the excitement of a playoff push. His power numbers this year haven't been gaudy -- .266 average, .333 OBP, nine home runs and 10 stolen bases -- but he's been simultaneously learning to play the outfield with All-Star Joey Votto entrenched at first base at the major-league level.

When the prospect of moving from the infield to the outfield arose, Alonso consulted Braun, who made the same switch with the Brewers.
"He said the outfield was great," Alonso said. "It can help you get to the majors quicker and if you can play left and right, it opens some options up. Any time you can play more than one position, it helps."

Alonso worked out almost every day of the offseason with the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, a part-time Miami resident and generous benefactor of The U, and with his father, who hit him flyball after flyball to help him prepare for his new position.

Of course, Alonso still may not play in Cincinnati's outfield either. Jonny Gomes and Jay Bruce are holding down the corner spots, Alonso may get his major-league chance only as a pinch hitter -- or with another team. He was mentioned as a possible trade chip when the Reds pursued Mariners starter Cliff Lee.

When those rumors first circulated about his possible involvement in a trade, he consulted his friend Matt LaPorta, the Indians' first baseman traded as part of a deal for CC Sabathia two years ago. LaPorta counseled Alonso, saying that trades are simply out of a player's control and too much time spent worrying about them will negatively affect one's play on the field.

Brown, who beat out an infield single on Sunday but left early with mild tightness in his right hamstring, was the object of intense speculation both at least year's deadline and over the offseason when the Phillies pursued Blue Jays starter Roy Halladay. Brown's own lesson was just to ignore it.

"I don't know anything about that," he said. "I just go out and do the best that I can. If I were worrying about all the trade talk, I'd be hitting a buck-fifty."


Aubrey Huff has simple 'see it, hit it' plan against Stephen Strasburg

MILWAUKEE — Earlier on the Giants' trip, Aubrey Huff made the crazy suggestion that Colorado Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez, the winningest pitcher in the big leagues, could be just what their struggling lineup needed.

Huff was right on the money.

So what does Huff think about today's matchup against Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg, the most hyped pitching prospect, in, like, ever?

"Well, you don't read the newspaper when you're up there hitting," Huff said. "Take him like any other pitcher. See it and hit it."
Huff figures Strasburg can't be any better than Pedro Martinez in his heyday.

"When Pedro was Pedro, he was electric, ridiculous," Huff said. "Every pitch was a 10 out of 10. Everything he threw was an out pitch."
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he probably would start Huff, Pat Burrell and Andres Torres in the outfield. Travis Ishikawa would return to first base. And Buster Posey would catch Matt Cain.

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Jon Jay impresses Cards in second tour

HOUSTON -- One of the few bright spots for the Cardinals in their series against the Rockies was the play of outfielder Jon Jay, whom the Cardinals recalled from Triple-A Memphis on July 3. Jay was 6-for-10 on the series, including two doubles in Wednesday's loss.

"We sent him down just to get playing time," manager Tony La Russa said. "He's come back and continued right where he was. He's played very well."

Jay also played with the Cardinals from April 26 to June 4. The Cardinals replaced Jay with outfielder Randy Winn, whom they signed after the Yankees released him.

Yet Jay bided his time with Memphis and continued to put up productive numbers. Once Ryan Ludwick went down with a left calf strain, Jay was back up with the club.

"It's great to be back with the team, because that's the goal all along," Jay said. "I'm just trying to get to the field every day and help out the team. If it's starting or off the bench, I'm taking it every day trying to learn from my teammates."

Jay entered Friday on an eight-game hitting streak, hitting 12-for-25 over that streak. He is 7-for-17 as a pinch hitter. He is also tied for first in the National League for rookies with three outfield assists.

He said he's much more comfortable with the Cardinals this time around.

"It was a bigger learning adjustment trying to figure out a routine," Jay said of his first time with the Cardinals. "I think now my second time around I have better knowledge of what's going to happen."

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Gaby Sanchez vying to finish first half of season with .300 average

Gaby Sanchez (.299), who singled in his first at-bat, entered the game batting .301. He is trying to join Dan Uggla as the only Marlins rookies ever to hit .300 or better in the first half of the season. Uggla batted .307 (94 for 306) before the 2006 All-Star break. Sanchez, Uggla and Alex Gonzalez (99 in 1999) are the only Marlins rookies to total more than 90 first-half hits.

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Jon Jay makes the most of his opportunity

DENVER • Rookie Jon Jay doesn't have to look around the Cardinals clubhouse for examples of young players who, despite pitching or playing well, were caught in the vice of a roster move and shipped back to Class AAA Memphis.

He can peer a month into his past.

"It's part of the game," said Jay, who was sent out with a .302 average and a string of successful at-bats as a pinch hitter only to reappear this past weekend. "I'm a young player, and it's happened to other guys in this locker room. It's a humbling game, and you never know what's going to happen. If I start taking it too long-term, that's not good. Just trying to … go with the flow."

Right now, the flow is keeping him in the starting lineup.

From under Colorado's sweep of the Cardinals in a three-game series, Jay emerged as the Cardinals usual starting right fielder until next week's All-Star break. Jay had two doubles Thursday, and he scored one of the Cardinals two runs and drove in the other. The run he scored he invented by pushing for a double on a sharp groundball to center field and then advancing a base each on two groundouts.

On Wednesday, the 25-year-old outfielder had three hits, including a homer, and in eight of his past nine games with the Cardinals, he's 11 for 24 with three homers.

Jay didn't slow down after his sudden demotion to Memphis at the start of June. He hit .300 there and drove in 19 runs in 24 games. In this second tour, the rookie said he feels less 'shy" asking his teammates for information about opposing pitchers and that he has settled on a better pre-game routine.

The results haven't changed.

"Ever since he's been in our uniform, he looks like a player," manager Tony La Russa said. "He's making things happen. If he keeps that up, he's going to earn a lot of playing time.”

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Slumping Braun looks lost

Wednesday seemed like a good day to rest Ryan Braun.

As it was, the Brewers' all-star leftfielder got much of the game off.

Mired in the worst slump of his career, Braun remained in the lineup against San Francisco mainly because of past numbers (.462, two home runs) against two-time defending Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, according to manager Ken Macha. But past numbers mean little when you're lost at the plate.

Braun continued to look lost, striking out on pitches out of the strike zone in two at-bats before being removed by Macha in the fourth inning with the Giants on top, 11-1. He exited with a season-low .286 batting average.

Macha did make the noteworthy move of elevating Braun to the No. 3 spot in the lineup that he filled earlier in the season as well as much of his four seasons with the Brewers. Three weeks ago, Macha flipped Prince Fielder and Braun in the lineup, hoping to get Fielder going with Braun batting behind him.

Fielder did hit home runs more frequently after that switch, but Braun went into a deep slump. In 28 games overall in the cleanup spot, including appearances earlier in the season, Braun was batting .219 with three home runs and 18 RBI. In 51 games batting third, he had a .338 batting average with eight homers and 33 RBI.

Asked if the re-flipping would last more than one game, Macha said, "I'm not quite sure yet. I've talked to him a bunch of times and he said it doesn't matter to him.

"He kind of feels what he's doing wrong. I gave him my observation. He kind of does his own thing as far as maintaining his swing.

"He does like hitting third. He's got some numbers against this guy, so let's try to get as many positives into his head as we can. He's a positive guy anyhow."

Staying positive has been a challenge for Braun during this skid, which began before Macha dropped him to the cleanup spot. Since June 1, Braun is batting .239.

But many of Braun's offensive numbers are freakish. He leads the league with a .352 batting average on the road yet is batting a mere .210 at home. And, unlike past seasons when he took apart left-handed pitching, Braun is batting .237 against southpaws.

Braun was hitting .324 in night games but only .228 in day games.

"That's baseball," he said. "You just keep going. It's a weird game at times." As for whether he'd prefer to bat third, Braun said, "I don't concern myself with those things because that's not my decision. I didn't request this."

Like most hitters mired in deep slumps, Braun has been missing mistake pitches and hacking at bad pitches as well. Hitting coach Dale Sveum said the major challenge becomes mental, not physical.

"He hasn't had a slump like this his whole life, I'm sure," said Sveum. "This is when you see what you're made of. Nobody said life is easy, especially when it comes to hitting. He hasn't had too many bad stretches."

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