VIDEO: proCanes NFL Streak Tribute

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All Canes Radio With Yonder Alonso

Every Thursday Night joins All Canes Radio to bring the latest news on not only current Hurricane football but also proCane news and exclusive interviews with current and former proCanes live from Shake Shack in Coral Gables. Click here to listen to this week’s show and hear our exclusive interviews with proCane Yonder Alonso. Alonso talks about being called up to the Major Leagues last year by the San Diego Padres, his friendship with other proCane Padres, the state of the current UM Baseball team, and much more!

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Frank Gore Close To Breaking Another 49er Record

RB Frank Gore rushed for 97 yds. and 1 TD on 21 carries. Gore’s 20-yd. TD run in the 4th qtr. marked his 5th TD of the season and 48th of his career. He trails just RB Joe Perry (50) and RB Roger Craig (50) for the most rushing TDs in franchise history.

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This Date in Hurricanes History...November 16, 1991

This Date in Miami Hurricanes History…November 16th, 1991.... 
Brought to you by the UM Sports Hall of Fame!


The November 16th No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown between Sunshine State rivals was described as "the most highly anticipated regular season clash" since the 1971 Nebraska-Oklahoma game.[3] Top-ranked Florida State entered the game with a 10-0 record and a quarterback, Casey Weldon, who was undefeated as a starter.[4] The Seminoles featured a high-flying offense that was averaging 41 points per game[2][5] (third in the nation in scoring) and had earlier in the season shocked the college football world by scoring 51 points in a blowout win over the then-No. 4 Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium. Meanwhile, second-ranked Miami had raced to an 8-0 record on the strength of a defense that was ranked first in the nation in scoring and had not allowed a first-half touchdown all season. The Hurricane defense had surrendered just 58 points all season, and Miami carried a 7-game winning streak against top-ranked opponents into the clash.[2] Miami was outscoring its opponents by an average of 28.9 points per game; Florida State, by 25.9. The Seminoles entered with a then-school record 16-game winning streak, while the Hurricanes had won 14 straight.[2] In the struggle between the proverbial unstoppable force and immovable object, host Florida State was installed as the favorite.

Wide Right I is the colloquial name for a 1991 college football game between the Miami Hurricanes and Florida State Seminoles. The game is one of the most significant in the history of the Miami – Florida State rivalry, and its name is a reference to its dramatic ending: With 29 seconds remaining in the game, Florida State kicker Gerry Thomas missed a 34-yard potential game-winning field goal "wide to the right." It was the 26th meeting between the first- and second-ranked teams in the AP Poll[2] and only the second between top-ranked teams from the same state (the other being the 1968 Purdue-Notre Dame game).

Miami's win represented the fourth time in five years that the Hurricanes knocked Florida State out of national championship contention.[2] The game was also the first of a peculiar string of five over the next 12 years in which Florida State lost to Miami due to a late missed field goal that would have won or tied the game, often with national championship implications at stake. Florida State suffered an immediate case of deja vu when kicker Dan Mowrey missed a field goal wide right on the final play of the 1992 meeting between the schools, a 19-16 Miami win known as "Wide Right II." In later years, two additional "Wide Rights" and a "Wide Left" ensued.

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Cam Newton, offense miss Jeremy Shockey

CHARLOTTE—At first glance, it would seem the Panthers haven't missed tight end Jeremy Shockey.

Greg Olsen leads the team with 43 receptions and is tied for sixth among tight ends in catches. But after Olsen, there's been a huge drop-off.

The Panthers' second-leading receiver among tight ends is Gary Barnidge, who has just three catches. Fullback Mike Tolbert, expected to pick up some of the slack left when the Panthers didn't re-sign Shockey, has 14 catches for 142 yards.

Last season, Olsen and Shockey combined for 82 catches, 995 yards and nine touchdowns. To be clear, there were questions about whether Shockey wanted to play—and it should be noted no other team signed him.

But Shockey gave the Panthers more than just 37 catches and 455 yards. He is a better blocker than Olsen—who had a rough game against Denver's Von Miller last week—and brought a nasty presence to the offensive huddle that complemented Steve Smith's fiery attitude well.

Plus, shockey gave the Panthers another safety-valve receiving option for Cam Newton, whose numbers are well off his record-breaking rookie season.

Meanwhile, Shockey is living the good life in South Beach. And nine games into the season, the Panthers' offense continues to look for answers.

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Willis McGahee to keep his grip on football

In the spirit of John Fox's "you always strive for perfection, but you don't usually get it" philosophy, there is some red ink on the Broncos' season so far.
Right after the words "fumbles lost."

In most years, for most teams, quarterbacks lead in lost fumbles because they are the guys routinely getting hit on the blind side by some of the leagues best athletes.

But through nine games, the Broncos are 31st in the league in lost fumbles with 12 — only 1-8 Kansas City has more with 15.

There are two Broncos position players who have lost more fumbles than Peyton Manning, who has lost two on in-the-pocket hits: running back Willis McGahee has lost four fumbles and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas has lost three.

McGahee's are especially troubling, given it hasn't been a problem previously in his career and he is the team's primary back, the kind of player the Broncos would like to power a big part of the offense down the stretch, to protect leads and run the clock.

But those plans come with a warning label if McGahee can't tighten his grip. He's lost four fumbles in 160 carries this season — one for every 40 carries.

That total would be slightly worse had McGahee been unable to scramble his way on a second fumble he had lost against the Panthers this past Sunday.
Last season McGahee lost three fumbles in 249 carries, one for every 83 carries. And this is now the first seasons in McGahee's career, a career that includes four years with at least 1,100 yards rushing and five years with at least 249 carries, when he has lost more than three fumbles.

It is a rare total for a back. McGahee's four mark the highest total for any running back in the league at the moment, and he's the only back with more than three.
Just three backs have lost three fumbles this year — Buffalo's Fred Jackson, the Giants' Ahmad Bradshaw and the Titans' Chris Johnson. And only 10 running backs have lost two fumbles this year.

By contrast there are five teams — the Falcons, the Texans, the Saints and the Buccaneers, that have lost three fumbles overall this season. The Falcons and the Texans, both 8-1, have each lost just one fumble so far.

Coaches are always pessimists when it comes to turnovers and most running backs coaches will preach the "three points of contact" mantra, that if runner consistently, and without fail, maintains three points of contact on the ball, it is exceedingly difficult to knock it out, even from behind.

Some defensive coaches see the same trend in McGahee's fumbles, that they often come when he believes he's cleared the first wave of traffic and is trying to kick into another gear so he tends to swing his arm with the ball away from his body a bit.

That's when the ball can be knocked out, especially from behind, by a well-placed punch by the defender.

McGahee has promised to repair the issue, which would be good news for the Broncos. Because the best way to protect Manning from opposing pass rushers is for Manning to hand the ball to McGahee some and go from there.

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Sam Shields making progress in return from high ankle sprain

Green Bay - Initially, the injuries Sam Shields suffered against Houston Oct. 14 were to his shin and knee.

But it soon became clear that the worst of the damage was to his ankle.

Shields said it was fair to characterize it as a high ankle sprain, which in most cases takes much longer to heal than a traditional sprain on the outside of the ankle and explains why he has missed three games and probably will miss a fourth this week.

"I knew by the pain," Shields said. "I couldn't walk or nothing. I knew something was bad. But right now, it's getting much better. I'm out there running and each day it's getting better."

Shields did his first bit of full-speed running Thursday, serving as a wide receiver on the scout team.

"It was like the good old days," he said, referring to his first three years at the University of Miami when he was a receiver.

It doesn't appear that Shields will play this week against the Lions, but he has not been ruled out. Based on how he feels Friday, he may be allowed to play on defense in practice.

"That’s what he needs," coach Mike McCarthy said. "He needs to get out there and put that foot in the ground. I definitely felt starting Monday to today he looked much better. We’ll see how he feels in the
morning. This is the most work Sam had today of the week."

Shields was starting when he got hurt and his spot has been taken by rookie Casey Hayward, who has played at a very high level. When Shields comes back, the coaches will have to make a decision on which of those two, or second-year pro Davon House will start.

Last week, cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said that Hayward and House are competing each week
for the starting job and will continue to do so with Shields when he comes back. House offers a bigger body on the perimeter than Hayward and can match up against bigger receivers.

Asked how House has been handling playing with a shoulder harness, McCarthy said: "Good. I think Davon House is improving this week, had a big-time interception in the red zone period today.

"You’re seeing him make those plays that he was making before the injury in training camp."

The Packers play so much nickel Hayward and House will both be on the field a lot no matter who starts. In the nickel, Hayward plays the slot and House plays outside.

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Joe Vitt says New Orleans Saints LB Jonathan Vilma will see more snaps

New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma has been so desperate for more playing time that's he resorted to extreme measures: ask the media for help.

"So when you see (Saints interim coach and linebackers coach Joe) Vitt, tell him to play me," Vilma said a week ago. "Tell him to keep playing me. ... Tell him to take the pitch count off."

So Vitt was asked Thursday what Vilma needed to do to see more snaps against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

"He is going to see more snaps. With Jonathan Vilma, the biggest thing (challenge) I had as his position coach was protecting Jonathan Vilma against himself. He is a warrior. He wants to play every snap, he wants be in on every play and I saw it first-hand a year ago, what it did to him when he tried to play with that knee.

"He wound up having to get a surgery during the season and a major surgery during the offseason. He missed all of training camp so when he came back to play we were going to put him on a training camp rep count where he was going to get a certain amount every game. His reps are going to be up. We need him. He's getting better every day; his pad level, changing direction, it's fun to see."

Shortly after Vitt's response was reported on Twitter, Vilma responded via Twitter: "Yes!"

Vilma's snap count has been erratic during his first four games back with the Saints after coming off the physically unable to perform list with a knee injury, and of course dodging suspensions connected the Saints bounty scandal.

Vilma's total snaps in his first four games went as follows: Tampa Bay - 18; Denver - 68; Philadelphia - 24; Atlanta - 33.

Vilma has played weakside linebacker in the base defense, but has been replaced by Jonathan Casillas many times in nickel situations. Vitt said Vilma has been fully healthy for every game, but situations have dictated Vilma's snap count. Vitt added that he doesn't want to put too much on Vilma's plate that the Saints linebacker may not be ready for quite yet.

"He wants to play every down," Vitt said. "He wants to be with his teammates. He wants to make plays and he wants to help us win. There are some guys that want to play because they're selfish, they want more balls thrown their way and they want to up (increase) their contracts.

"Then, there are other guys that want to play because they want to be a part of their team, they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves and that's Jonathan Vilma. I don't think I have to explain to anybody my respect for this man, his body of work, (and) how important he is to this football team. Again, we've got to do it the right way. This is still a long season."

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D.J. Williams absorbs big salary hit with suspension

For his first practice of the 2012 season Wednesday, Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams appeared to be in great shape, as well-conditioned as ever.

No wonder. He's far lighter in the wallet.

According to Williams' freshly revised contract that was filed with the players' union, his offseason transgressions will cost him between $3.35 million and $4.05 million, depending on his playing time in the Broncos' final seven games of the season.

Williams was supposed to draw a $5 million base salary this year. That was before he received a six-game suspension for violating the NFL's performance-enhancement policy followed by a three-game suspension for an alcohol offense.

Williams' new base salary for the final seven games is $950,000. He also can receive a $100,000 bonus for each game he is on the Broncos' 46-man game-day roster.

If Williams is active for the final seven games, he will receive $1.65 million in combined salary and bonuses this season.

Given the game-day incentive and Williams' supreme condition, don't be surprised if he is active for the Broncos' pivotal AFC West divisional game Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.

"I thought today was an excellent first day," Broncos coach John Fox said of Williams.

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Jimmy Graham presents matchup nightmare for Raiders

ALAMEDA, Calififornia -- The Oakland Raiders have plenty of experience dealing with elite tight ends playing in the same division as Antonio Gates and having faced Tony Gonzalez so many times over the years.

Going up against New Orleans' Jimmy Graham this week might be the toughest test yet.

With his imposing 6-foot-7, 265-pound frame and the athletic ability of a former college basketball player, Graham is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. That's especially true for a Raiders team that is banged up in the secondary and has struggled all season to slow down opposing tight ends.

"He's always been a big guy who can run and go up and catch the ball but he's learned how to run routes and how to get himself open," coach Dennis Allen said. "He's one of the toughest matchups that we've seen."

Graham has overcome an inconsistent stretch earlier this season when he struggled to hold onto balls and has regained his form of late. He has 20 catches for 281 yards and four touchdowns the past three games.

That improvement has helped the Saints (4-5) rebound from an 0-4 start heading into Sunday's game against the Raiders (3-6).

"I think he was battling through some little nicks and injuries early on," quarterback Drew Brees said. "I think all of us just needed to find the mojo a little bit. It took four games to do it, but when you look at the last five games you'd say we've definitely had our moments where we feel like we're back to playing the type of football we know how to play."

Since the start of last season, Graham is second in the NFL among all tight ends in receptions (144), yards receiving (1,843) and touchdowns (18). That's quite a resume for someone who played just one year of football and four years of basketball in college at Miami.

But despite the lack of experience, Graham was drafted in the third round by the Saints in 2010 and has quickly emerged as one of the best in the league at his position.

"Graham is a matchup problem throughout the league," cornerback Ron Bartell said. "He runs like a wide receiver but has unusual size. He definitely presents a problem, but there are so many tight ends like that throughout the league. We just need to be fundamentally sound. If we're able to do that I think we'll come out fine."

The Raiders have struggled to do that this season. They allowed Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson to combine for seven catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns in last week's 55-20 loss at Baltimore as Oakland left the middle of the field wide open most of the game.

Heath Miller caught two TD passes for Pittsburgh earlier in the year against Oakland and Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen teamed up for a big day for Denver as well.

The defensive backs say much of the problem can be attributed to poor communication between the secondary and linebackers, which must be fixed immediately with Brees and the Saints coming to town.

"Oh, boy. It can't happen this week," cornerback Michael Huff said. "He's one of the smartest, one the greatest quarterbacks out there. Pre-snap, he kind of knows already what you're in, so we've got to hopefully disguise a little bit and make him think a little bit and let our pressure get him."

Complicating the task this week is the fact that Oakland strong safety Tyvon Branch has missed both practices so far with a neck injury sustained last week in Baltimore and his status for Sunday's game is in question.

Branch and outside linebacker Philip Wheeler have gotten the most time this season matching up against tight ends. Wheeler has struggled of late. He allowed six catches for 88 yards in six attempts last week and opposing quarterbacks have completed all 16 passes thrown his way the past three weeks, according to game charting by Pro Football Focus.

If Branch is limited at all, backup Mike Mitchell could get more time. Mitchell matched up frequently with tight ends in past years with some success, but has been mostly a special teams player this year.

"I'm curious to see how he's going to handle more of a physical, skill-position guy checking him at the line," Mitchell said. "Usually, he's too fast for linebackers and too big for DBs, but I've been able to have success on those guys because I'm a skilled position guy. I like to get my hands on you a little bit and slow you down. So, we'll see. It's going to be a tough matchup. He's very good. He's one of Drew Brees' favorite targets. If he can be eliminated, that takes a lot out of their offense."

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Reggie Wayne: Andrew Luck’s Improvement Has Been ‘Night And Day’ Since Week 1, Feels Colts Are Way Better Than He Ever Thought

The Indianapolis Colts have made quite the transformation in one year. Last year the Colts were the worst team by record in the NFL and made some big decisions in the offseason like moving on from the Peyton Manning era. One player that remained a constant offensive weapon was Reggie Wayne. The Colts 33-year old wide receiver is on pace to finish with a career-high in receiving yards this season. No.87 has been a security blanket for Andrew Luck as the Colts continue to impress right now sporting a record of 6-3.

Reggie Wayne joined WNDE with Query and Schultz to discuss Andrew Luck’s progression, the Indianapolis Colts exceeding his expectations this season, the emotions during Chuck Pagano’s postgame speech and the Chuck Pagano pregame speech no one heard about before the game.

Where is Andrew Luck now in comparison to where he was in Week 1?
“I think he’s come…it’s night and day yet I just think it’s him. I think as a team we are much better. I think we much better from last game from the time we played Jacksonville the first time. We’ve gelled. We kind of know our roles now. We have some guys back that were injured and didn’t play in the first game, so I think as a team we are much better. I think Andrew would also echo those remarks and as far as what goes on the sidelines and during the game? I mean nothing has really changed on that aspect. He’s still taking control of the huddle being the leader as the quarterback. He’s been doing that. He’s continuing to do that as well as everyone else. A lot of the veterans are being vocal and leading by example. Everybody is basically being the same as they always were, but it’s kind of turned up a notch with everyone knowing their roles and everyone understanding what’s going on. Everyone just putting that in the pot and we are going to keep stirring it up.”

Are you better right now as a team than you thought you would be this season?
“I do. I do think we are better than I thought we were. I thought there was going to be a lot of bumps in the road, which there are, but being a young team we’ve done a great job of just being able to take those bumps and just take all the hard times and adversity and working through it and pushing by and finding ways to win games at the end. We’ve had a couple of tough games that went down to the last drive, so that has surprised me a little bit, but as the weeks go on we all as a team we grow and we get better. We understand each other more. We understand the scheme and we understand when our coaches want more and a lot of times that doesn’t come until year two or sometimes year three.”

Take us through the day when you found out Chuck Pagano was coming to the Colts game a few weeks ago? What were the emotions from your teammates?
“I actually knew he was going to be there a couple of weeks before. I went to go visit him at his home. We sat down and talked for about two hours. He said he was thinking about making an appearance. He asked me what I thought about it? I said man that would be great. I actually told him man it would be great if you came before I said not to put any pressure on you, but I think if you can come before and let everybody see you before we go out, I think that would help everybody out tremendously just to know that you are doing okay and we are going out here to play this game, this kid’s game knowing that you just showed your presence in that locker room. That’ll get everybody to loosen up and go out there and have fun. I already knew about him being there or coming I should say and just his speech in itself, man it was emotional. I think there wasn’t a dry eye in there. Everybody was just excited to see him come in there and let alone have a pregame speech and a postgame speech. For a minute there before the game you kind of lost sight of us playing a game because him just giving a speech made you understand and learn the bigger things in life. All of a sudden it was like let’s go out there and win. We all had to transform back into being football players real fast and I think everybody understood the message and was able to go out there and deliver.”

What did Chuck Pagano say in the pregame speech?
“It was almost like a movie. The pregame and the postgame speech kind of went into each other. It was almost like a movie. It was almost like he knew what was going to happen and he had everything prepared like it was a script, but the pregame speech was basically you know go out there and give it everything you got. He kind of shared a story saying he’s been involved in football all his life. Seven years old he’s been involved with football. 28 years of coaching. To all of a sudden have that stripped from you and in a manner of 24 hours just having it stripped from you why not go out there and give it everything you got? Why not go out there and lay it all on the line knowing you can do it today, but knowing is it going to be there tomorrow? He kind of shared that speech and had everyone wondering and thinking, ‘Man you know what he is right.’ Why wouldn’t we go out there and fight for each other, be there for your teammates, laying it all out on the line and so it all kind of rolled into each other and made a lot of sense.”

Listen to Reggie Wayne on WNDE here

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Getting to know the Magic: DeQuan Jones

DeQuan Jones’ dynamic dunks are the perfect balance to his otherwise humble spirit.

When he smiles, the whole room lights up. His wide grin is the response of a man living out his dream.

As a first-year player, that dream happens to involve taking nine-year veteran Jameer Nelson to the mall after practice. Still, Jones put aside his rookie duties for a few minutes to talk with FOX Sports Florida in this week’s Q&A.

As Nelson walked past, he jokingly scolded, “Hurry up Rook. I ain’t got all day.”

FS Florida: What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
DeQuan Jones: Brush my teeth I hope (laughing). But, I like to listen to music. So the very first thing I do is probably turn my music on.

FS Florida: You tweeted the other day that you love old-school music. What is it about old-school music that you love so much?
Jones: I grew up with my grandparents. And I can remember Sunday mornings getting up early, cleaning up the house, and going to church. The old-school music kind of puts me at ease and puts me back in that mindset. So I just love it.

FS Florida: Who are some of your favorite artists?
Jones: Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye. Sam Cooke’s probably my all-time favorite. But, I also like Percy Sledge, Bobby Blue Band.

FS Florida: Can you sing at all?
Jones: No. No. Not at all. There’s no way you’re getting me to sing in this hallway.

FS Florida: Did you sing in the church?
Jones: (Laughing) No I didn’t. I was always into sports.

FS Florida: When did you first start playing basketball?
Jones: Ever since I was little, I would say like 3 years old. I remember growing up, me and my father watching Michael Jordan going up against the Pistons.

FS Florida: Your dad taught you how to play?
Jones: Yeah he did, him and the rest of my family. My uncles and my cousins, we all just grew up playing basketball and football.

FS Florida: What is your most memorable basketball moment?
Jones: Beating Duke last year at home. That was a great experience. I think it was the first time (University of Miami) had ever beaten Duke at home.

FS Florida: What about your most embarrassing basketball moment?
Jones: My most embarrassing moment was this year in preseason when we played Cleveland and I shook the referee’s hands before the game. That was probably the most embarrassing moment ever, thanks to Jameer.

FS Florida: What made you shake their hands?
Jones: I mean that’s the norm in college. They call your name; you run out and shake the referees’ hands. This was my first time starting in the NBA so I thought it was the same. I went out there and got halfway and was like, ‘Did anyone else do this?’ And then I look back at Jameer and he’s cracking up. I guess it’s a story for the books. Something I’ll always be remembered by.

FS Florida: Who’s your favorite actor or actress?
Jones: I’m a big Denzel Washington fan.

FS Florida: Have you seen his newest movie yet?
Jones: 'Flight'? Yeah I did. I love movies. I make it to the movie theater at least two or three times a week.

FS Florida: So what’s your favorite movie genre?
Jones: Definitely action.

FS Florida: What about your favorite TV show?
Jones: 'Seinfeld'. It’s hilarious.

FS Florida: What do you love about being in the NBA so far?
Jones: Just that feeling I get when I’m out there on the court playing ball. You know, growing up I was always shorter than everyone. The basketball court was the only place I felt like people really respected me. Until like ninth grade when I shot up like six inches (laughing).

FS Florida: Rumor has it that you like to cook. What’s your favorite thing to cook?
Jones: I experiment with a lot of things. But, I would say chicken breast because it’s such a versatile meal. You can season it differently; make different sides to go along with it. One thing I tried was an apricot spread. You bake it with apricot and pre-season it. It turned out really good.

FS Florida: So you’re nice in the kitchen then?
Jones: Well, I don’t want to toot my own horn (laughing).

FS Florida: Who’s the best cook you know? Don’t get in trouble now.
Jones: (laughing) …

FS Florida: No answer?
Jones: … I can’t keep Jameer waiting too much longer (laughing).

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Ryan Braun: Posey deserved to win

Ryan Braun insisted he never gave it a second thought that he might repeat as the National League most valuable player in 2012.

"To be honest, I didn’t really think much about it at all," Braun said Thursday night after it was announced that San Francisco catcher Buster Posey easily topped him for the MVP award. "I didn’t think that I was going to win. It was exciting to know that I was a finalist and to know I had another season that put me in that MVP conversation. That’s something that I’m proud of. Aside from that, I didn’t really think about it at all.

"I think Buster Posey deserved to win. What he was able to accomplish this year as a catcher for a team that eventually went on to win the World Series was incredible. I thought he was the best player; I thought he deserved to be the MVP. He certainly is deserving of the award."

Braun finished a distant second to Posey, trailing 422 votes to 285. Posey had 27 of the 32 first-place votes, while Braun garnered only three. He was asked if it mattered where he placed if he didn't win.

"Nope, honestly," he said. "It’s cool to come in second place but in 10 or 20 years, when I look back at that, I don’t think it’ll make too big of a difference whether I came in second, third, fourth or fifth. But it’s definitely an honor just to be in that conversation, to be an MVP finalist. Aside from that, it didn’t make much difference."

There was much chatter before the announcement about whether Braun would be penalized by voters of the Baseball Writers Association of America for his drug-test saga of last offseason, when he tested postive for elevated testosterone and had it overturned on appeal, though it played out publicly after the news leaked to the media. Braun deflected that line of questioning somewhat.

"I never focus on things out of my control," he saidl. "I don’t think about those things. I’m not oblivious to what’s going on or what’s been said but aside from that, I don’t spend any time thinking about those things."

Asked if he thought he was penalized in other awards or might be in the future, Braun said, "You’d have to ask them. I don’t know. Unfortunately, I don’t have a vote. If I did, that would be cool and I could give you guys an answer as to what I based my opinion on and my vote on.

"Other than that, I thought I had a good season. I don’t think I had a great season. I don’t think my season was far and away better than anybody else’s to the point I feel like I deserved an award that I didn’t get. So, I really don’t know."

As for whether the Giants getting to the postseason could have and should have helped Posey, Braun said, "Absolutely. For all of us as players, our goal is to make it to the postseason. That goal is now easier than ever with two additional wild-card teams. That’s what everybody’s goal is and should be. The best players on the teams that end up getting to the postseason deserve extra credit because that’s what everybody’s priority is. That’s what everybody works for all year.

"So, certainly, he should have been given credit for it. I would imagine that he did. We made a good effort but we fell short and there’s no doubt the guys who do get to the postseason should be given extra credit."

And, for those who have been dying to hear from Braun about reports about getting engaged to model Larisa Fraser, he laughed and said, "I don’t comment on anything going on in my private life but if that were to be true I’d be a very lucky man."

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MVP voters didn't penalize Ryan Braun

For all the hand-wringing about "vindictive" writers leaving Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun off their National League Most Valuable Player ballot because of his failed drug test last offseason, none of the 32 voters left him off their ballot, and he was no lower than fourth on any of the ballots. Braun received three of the five first-place votes that didn't go to winner Buster Posey.

Braun finished second overall to Posey, albeit a distant second, collecting 285 points to Posey's 422 votes.

Braun's three first-place votes came from Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Doug Padilla of and Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Braun also had 15 second-place votes, 10 third-place votes and four fourth-place votes. The four fourth-place votes came from Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Hirokazu Higuchi of the Chuinichi Shimbun, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald and Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times.
Braun, last year's MVP, had a positive drug test last October, but it was overturned on appeal.

Before the announcement of the award, Haudricourt wrote:

If that turns out to be the case, we'll see which writers unduly penalized Braun. Considering he had the best overall offensive season of any player in the NL and the Brewers fought until the final weekend for the second wild-card berth, if Braun is placed much lower than third on ballots it would suggest there was an agenda.

Afterward, despite the fact Braun finished second and was on all 32 ballots, the Brewers beat writer stuck to that theory:

Though Braun's overall numbers were superior to Posey's, many considered the Giants' catcher the favorite for two primary reasons: 1. He led San Francisco to the NL West crown with a sensational second half. 2. Reservations over the positive drug test of Braun in October 2011, though he had it overturned on appeal and it had nothing to do with his 2012 season.

There are three statements in there -- only one can be considered factual -- the Giants did win the National League West. Another is debatable (that Braun's overall numbers were superior), while the last, that voters held Braun's failed test against him, is supported by no facts.

One of those voters, Biertempfel, noted he voted for Braun last season.

"I don't vote on sheer numbers, I'd be lying if I said the drug thing didn't cross my mind, but it was no mitigating factor because last year was last year and this was this year. I believe he started this year with a clean slate," Biertempfel said on Thursday.

Biertempfel, who has covered the Pirates the last 20 years, said his first-place vote came down to Posey and the Pirates' McCutchen.

"I thought clearly throughout the course of the entire season that Buster Posey and Andrew McCutchen were the best players in the National League," Biertempfel said. "Posey was ultimately more consistent longer."

At that point, he said it came down to two players he sees quite a bit in the NL Central, Braun and Yadier Molina.

"I see them a ton, I see them crush the Pirates a ton. I considered a lot of things, but I consider Yadier Molina a better overall player than Ryan Braun," Biertempfel said. "I've seen him beat the Pirates more different ways than Ryan Braun. To me, he's a more complete player."

Like I wrote of my ballot, I put in a lot of thought and considered many different things in my ballot. So, too, did Biertempfel. We didn't have the same ballot and didn't agree on everything, but we both put in plenty of thought and consideration to our ballots. In the end, though, there was no backlash against Braun, it's just that more people believed Posey had a better season than Braun. That, not a conspiracy or vendetta, was why Posey earned the MVP over Braun.

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Jimmy Graham is player of the week

New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham has been named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in Sunday’s 31-27 victory against the Atlanta Falcons.

Graham caught seven passes for a career-high 146 yards. It marked the first time this season Graham had more than 100 receiving yards.

He also caught two touchdown passes as the Saints knocked the Falcons from the ranks of the unbeaten.

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Belichick: Reggie Wayne used like Hines Ward

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- While it's no longer Peyton Manning taking snaps in Indianapolis, one longtime Colts offensive weapon remains, and that's wide receiver Reggie Wayne, who at the age of 33 is on pace to finish with a career-high in receiving yards. He currently trails only Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions for the league lead in receiving yards with 931.

And while Wayne's production has remained consistent, he's adopted a different role for the Colts in 2012.

In previous seasons, Wayne was often aligned to one side of the formation throughout the entire game, a tactic the Colts previously employed with receiver Marvin Harrison. But that's not the case any more.

During his Wednesday afternoon press conference, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick drew an interesting comparison for Wayne's current role: former Steelers wider receiver Hines Ward.

"They moved him around a little in the past, but not much," Belichick said. "And now he's Hines Ward. They motion him a lot, he's blocking, cracking, he's lining up close to the formation, he's in the slot, he's doing a lot of things that Hines Ward did in Pittsburgh."

Former Steelers and current Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians brought his offensive system to Indianapolis, and Wayne is once again thriving. That's no surprise to Belichick.

"It's interesting to see him in that role, but he's always been good at whatever he's done," he said. "You see him work the middle of the field on middle reads, and on option routes or that kind of thing, or working on the perimeter. He's good at all of it."

Some questioned whether or not Wayne was the same player of the past during 2011, when he finished with 960 yards, his lowest total since 2003. But Belichick said he saw no dip in terms of ability from Wayne last season.

"I don't really see Reggie Wayne much differently than I saw him in the past," he continued. "He was good then, he's good now. There were some issues with the quarterback and passing game and all that, but I didn't see any dropoff in Reggie Wayne as a football player. Maybe I missed it, but he's always looked pretty good to me."

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Hayward or Shields? Tough decision coming

The way rookie Casey Hayward has played, it’s hard to imagine his snap count getting reduced when Sam Shields returns from his ankle injury.
With Shields back on the practice field this week, the Green Bay Packers will have to make the difficult decision of how to divide playing time between the two cornerbacks.
Shields was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday, and the team hasn’t said whether he will be available for Sunday’s game at Detroit. Shields returned to practice this week for the first time since he was injured at Houston on Oct. 14, when he was inadvertently kicked in the leg by a teammate.
The following week at St. Louis, Hayward made his first career start. In that game, he picked off his fourth pass in a three-game stretch. His first three interceptions came when he was playing in a part-time role as the sixth defensive back in the Packers’ dime package.
The second-round draft pick from Vanderbilt is tied for third in the NFL with those four interceptions and has 12 pass breakups, second on the team to Tramon Williams (15).
Hayward on Wednesday said he has not been told what, if anything, would change for him when Shields is game ready.
“I feel I’ve been doing pretty well making plays,” Hayward said. “I’ve still got some things I can work on, but overall I think I’ve been doing pretty well.”
Shields, too, had been playing well before his injury. So it’s possible he could return to his starting role, and Hayward could go back to playing the slot position in the nickel and dime packages. Unlike Hayward, Shields plays strictly on the outside.
“Every week I’m more comfortable playing inside and outside,” Hayward said. “I think I’ve done a good job doing both. So whatever my duty is, I’m going to be ready for it. If I’m starting, if I’m not starting, I’ll do whatever.”

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Coach applauds Safety Kenny Phillips

When Kenny Phillips misses six straight games with a knee injury like he has this season, the Giants don’t miss his gaudy numbers or individual accolades.

Because he doesn’t have them.

That’s just fine for safeties coach David Merritt, who knows his true value – consistency.

“We’ve missed Kenny tremendously, I know I have,” Merritt said earlier this week. “Because Kenny has been a solid football player for us. Nothing spectacular, not off-the-charts Pro Bowl numbers, but Kenny has been very solid for us. I mean you look at the last play, dating back to last year in the Super Bowl, the guy who knocked down that pass -- although they were all up in the air -- Kenny Phillips.”

That desperation jump ball fell just short of a lunging tight end named Rob Gronkowski in Lucas Oil Stadium. And it is against players like him that Merritt and the staff misses Phillips the most, especially with Jermichael Finley, Jimmy Graham and Tony Gonzalez coming up in the next four weeks.

In Phillips’ absence, Cowboys tight end Jason Witten racked up 18 catches for 167 yards in Week 8, while Jermaine Gresham caught a touchdown last week against the Bengals. However, Gresham’s score came on one of just three catches for 15 yards, and Heath Miller managed a pedestrian four receptions for 48 yards the week before against Pittsburgh. So the numbers have varied.

“I would say that it didn’t necessarily hurt us, but it’s definitely noticeable without him there,” Merritt said. “I mean you look at what he did in the past when he played guys like Vernon Davis, Kenny Phillips was able to go out and play any tight end in this league man-to-man. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s tall, he’s fast, he’s fluid, and so not having him, it didn’t help.”

There was hope Phillips could have returned for the Steelers game, but he was shut down until after the bye. Now, if all goes according to plan, Phillips will return after the bye.

That means the Giants will have a good problem on their hands with the return of Will Hill, which could lead to three-safety looks. And that’s not even mentioning Stevie Brown, who filled in for Phillips and is currently second in the NFL with five interceptions.

“To be able to find out about Stevie Brown with these past five or six games, that has been a breath of fresh air,” Merritt said. “That’s one of the things when you let a veteran go off into his retirement, basically Deon (Grant), and then you get a guy like Stevie Brown that can come in here and make the plays that he’s making. It’s like “Wow, that’s pretty doggone good.’ Of course, we have Will Hill that’s coming back to us as well this past weekend. It helps to have multiple safeties that can do different things.”

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Calais Campbell sits out practice

TEMPE, Ariz. - The Arizona Cardinals had a significant absence as they returned to work this week looking to revive what began as a promising season but has descended into the misery of a five-game losing streak.

Defensive end Calais Campbell sat out Wednesday's practice because of a calf injury and his status for Sunday's game at Atlanta is uncertain.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt says his long evaluation of the team over the bye week has led to some strategy adjustments, but he said he couldn't discuss details. Last week, the coach announced that rookie Jake Potter, a seventh-round draft choice from Boise State, would replace D'Anthony Batiste at left tackle on the beleaguered offensive line. That leaves Arizona with rookies at both tackle positions. Fourth-round pick Bobby Massie starts on the right side.

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Willis McGahee flummoxed by fumbles

Broncos RB Willis McGahee has never had a case of fumblitis like the one that now afflicts him. His two fumbles in the Broncos' 36-14 win over Carolina pushed his season total to a career-worst five.

"It'll weigh (on my mind)," McGahee said Wednesday, "but at the end of the day, you've got to put it behind you, because you can't worry about it. I know what I was doing wrong. Me and the coaches and the scout-team defense have been working on it for the past two days, so, hey, it is what it is. I'm not perfect."
McGahee believes the problem lies with himself.

"I'll get careless here and there with it when I try to do too much," he said. "The ball will go swinging out, and that's what I've been trying to do, but I'm just going back to taking my time."

It has otherwise been a stellar season for McGahee, who is on pace to rush for more than 1,200 yards and is just 29 yards from a career high in receiving yardage.

But McGahee's bobbles have been the most extensive symptom of a team-wide affliction. The Broncos have lost 12 fumbles this year, the second-most in the league behind Kansas City. McGahee has accounted for one-third of them, but recovered one of his own fumbles in the fourth quarter at Carolina.

The Broncos were expected to spend extra time working on fumble-recovery and ball-security drills this week, hoping to correct a problem that hasn't sunk their hopes, but could morph into a fatal flaw by January.

One remedy apparently not in play is to carry a green-beanie-covered football around team headquarters, to practice and meetings. That solution was foisted upon WR Demaryius Thomas after he lost fumbles in three consecutive games (Weeks 3-5) earlier this season. McGahee said Wednesday he wasn't even aware of the green football.

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Frank Gore has ribs x-rayed, says he's fine

San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore dodged the injury bug once again and appears to be fine after he used his post-game to check on his injured ribs following the Week 10 24-24 tie against the St. Louis Rams according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.

Gore initially suffered the injury on Oct. 18 in the home win against the Seattle Seahawks. Though the injury was significant enough to land him on the injury report, he hasn’t missed any game time and has been a full participant in every practice since then. All signs point to him practicing on Thursday in preparation for the Week 11 contest against the Chicago Bears on Monday night.

Gore leads the Niners’ top-ranked rushing attack with 753 yards on 140 carries, amassing a 5.4 yards per carry average and adding five touchdowns. The 49ers are 6-2-1 and will host the Chicago Bears.

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DJ Williams Has A Good First Day

LB D.J. Williams practiced for the first time since completing the second of a pair of suspensions that cost him nine games.

"He definitely has been working," Broncos coach John Fox said. "I think he's been over in (the weight room and conditioning area at Broncos headquarters) getting ready physically and been paying attention in meetings. He had a good first day."

It's still unclear where Williams will fit in the Broncos' plans, but it's a good bet that he'll be on the 53-man roster and active Sunday, since the Broncos waived S Duke Ihenacho Tuesday to free a spot. The Broncos could have retained Williams' rights while not adding him to the active roster until Monday.

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Wilfork: Facing the threat of diabetes

My father was 48 years old when he passed away from kidney failure, a complication from type 2 diabetes. I saw how weak he was and the struggles he was going through. I gave him his insulin shots, bathed him, and at times, had to take him to the restroom. Diabetes is life-altering, but it is also life-threatening. I know firsthand what diabetes can do to a family and it is my mission to help others and spread awareness. It motivates me, on and off the field, to make a difference. My message to others is to make the most of every day, every opportunity when it comes to your health.

Diabetes can cause severe complications like stroke, blindness, heart and kidney disease, and amputations. My hope this November, which is National Diabetes Month, is that everyone takes the opportunity to raise awareness about this disease that affects close to 420,000 Massachusetts residents. In the U.S. alone, 25.8 million people are living with diabetes – 7 million are unaware they have it and 79 million have prediabetes - and the number is growing each year.
There seems to be a disconnect between how the general public perceives this disease and the reality of its toll on people with diabetes and on our society. If current trends continue, one in three Americans will have diabetes by 2050. That can have an impact on all of us, from parents to children. We must take a team approach and step up our efforts to tackle this disease head on.

I am proud of the work Bianca and I have done through our foundation and also on our work with other champions in the state who are working hard on this front. Efforts to prevent and control type 2 diabetes are particularly promising and our state is taking a leading role in working to confront this chronic disease today and for the future. On November 14, World Diabetes Day, I will be supporting Changing Diabetes Day, a patient advocacy event, at the Massachusetts State House alongside Novo Nordisk, a world leader in diabetes care, and other supporting organizations. The State House will be lit blue on this day as a shining example of diabetes awareness. The goal is to raise awareness of the disease to policy makers and the general public. We need to close the gap - in order to prevent future cases of diabetes, and to ensure that the public makes this health issue a priority.

Many people are still unaware of how serious diabetes is. Most do not consider diabetes to be life threatening.  Novo Nordisk has announced a new collaboration with the Diabetes Hands Foundation, a prominent diabetes patient advocacy group, to ask, “Do You Know Diabetes?” The cornerstone of the initiative is an interactive quiz, launched this week in an effort to test knowledge of diabetes facts, risk factors and statistics, and provide valuable education about the disease. While diabetes awareness and prevention are key issues for both organizations year-round – National Diabetes Month and Changing Diabetes Day provides the perfect timing for this initiative. I encourage people to learn more about diabetes by taking the “Do You Know Diabetes” quiz today. Visit or join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #DiabetesMonth.

Diabetes kills more people in the United States than AIDS and breast cancer combined. It is the leading cause of kidney failure, new blindness in adults, and it is responsible for more than 60 percent of all nontraumatic lower-limb amputations. Make the most of every day, every opportunity. Understand the seriousness of this disease and, for those of you who may be at risk of the disease, take action to reduce your risk.

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Frank Gore hopes Cutler will start: ‘We want their best’

The last time Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was at Candlestick Park he threw five interceptions in a 10-6 prime-time loss to the 49ers in 2009.

But that’s not why Frank Gore really wants the recently concussed Cutler to be available Monday night when Chicago returns to San Francisco. Instead, the 49ers running back wants both teams at full strength for what could be a preview to a January playoff game.

The Bears (7-2) have the NFC’s second-best record and the 49ers (6-2-1) own the third-best mark.

“We want their best, like they want our best,” Gore said. “I know they will want Alex Smith to play. We want Cutler to play. We want their best … If we keep winning and they keep winning, you never how it can go in the playoffs. So why not see what they’ve got now like they’re going to see what we have now? Then we imagine how it would go in the playoffs.”

The Bears did not practice Wednesday, so it’s not clear how Cutler has progressed since he sustained a concussion in the second quarter of a 13-6 loss to the Texans on Sunday night. Cutler has had at least four concussions dating back to his college career at Vanderbilt. Smith has been cleared by an independent neurologist and took part in San Francisco’s practice Wednesday in a black non-contact jersey.

“Jay is getting better,” Chicago coach Lovie Smith told the Chicago Tribune. “I am not going to go into exactly each step he has taken and things like that, and I think you can understand why. We will be on the practice field (Thursday). We can give you a little bit better idea of where he is then.”

Unlike the last meeting between the teams, a top NFC playoff seed could be at stake Monday. In San Francisco’s 10-6 win in on Nov. 12, 2009, the teams entered the Thursday night game with a combined record of 7-9.

Gore ran for 104 yards and had the game’s only touchdown, but he doesn’t have fond memories of the meeting between also-rans.

“It was a sucky game, you know?” Gore said. “Like 10-6 or something like that. Both teams were down, now both teams have a great team. I respect their team and I’m sure they respect us, too. It should be a great game Monday.”

** Wondering how Gore feels about last week’s 24-24 tie against the Rams?

Well, he’s really not expletive happy.

Asked about playing on Monday night’s national stage, Gore said:  “That’s a big game. They’re coming off a big loss against a good team, Houston, and we —-ing tied.”

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Jon Beason to Assemble 2,000 Harvest Feast Thanksgiving Bags for Local Community Members

Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Jon Beason will arrive at Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina to greet a Harris Teeter tractor trailer filled with essential products for a traditional holiday feast. Harris Teeter is donating enough food and fixins for Beason and Harris Teeter associates to assemble 2,000 Thanksgiving dinner bags to be donated to the food bank’s partner agencies.

After the bag assembly, Beason and Harris Teeter associates will also make a stop at YMCA Stratford to personally distribute Thanksgiving dinner bags to children and their families who face the risk of going hungry.

“I am honored to play a role in this event and help the food bank fight hunger in the Charlotte community,” said Beason. “It has always been important for me to give back to the community, and a few years ago, I got involved with Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina. The food bank, Harris Teeter and I have helped deliver Thanksgiving meals to children and their families for three years now, and it is wonderful to see the joy expressed by those children who receive the holiday meals. The food bank plays an integral role in the lives of thousands of children in this community; I am honored to do what I can to help to bring awareness to and promote this wonderful organization.”

Each Thanksgiving bag will feed a family of four and will contain among other things a ham, stuffing, sweet potatoes, buttery mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, cranberry sauce, gravy and an apple pie. Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina will identify and distribute the 2,000 Thanksgiving bags to emergency pantries during the holiday season.

“On behalf of the over 460,000 people in our region living in poverty, Second Harvest would like to thank Harris Teeter, Jon Beason, Heineken USA and all of the participating food donors for providing a real Thanksgiving to so many families in need throughout our 19-county region,” said Kay Carter, excutive director of Second Harvest Food Bank Metrolina. “We feel very blessed at Second Harvest to have this level of support and it means the world to the children, seniors and families we serve.”

Harris Teeter would also like to thank its generous vendors who made this donation possible: Hormel, Heineken USA, Coca-Cola Consolidated, Idahoan Foods, McCormick, Kings Hawaiian, Bruce Foods, Green Giant, Del Monte, Ocean Spray, Jessie Lord Bakery and New York Packaging.

For more information about Harris Teeter’s Harvest Feast, visit

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Reggie Wayne’s Presence Essential to Andrew Luck’s Rapid Development, Colts’ Unexpected Success This Season

FOXBORO, Mass. — Every great quarterback needs a great receiver to rely on during their early development. Joe Montana and Steve Young had Jerry Rice, Troy Aikman had Michael Irving and Peyton Manning had Marvin Harrison. And those are just a few of the most extreme cases throughout NFL history.

Now, the onus of that argument turns to Indianapolis, where the development of Andrew Luck takes center stage as the next great signal-caller. But before his impressive rookie season even got underway, questions ran wild about who Luck would be throwing to. Reggie Wayne has more than answered those questions this season, as the soon to be 34-year-old receiver — his birthday is Saturday, Nov. 14 — has reemerged into one of the NFL’s premier wide receivers.

Coming off a down season, where he gained less than 1,000 yards for the first time in eight seasons, and heading into his 12th NFL season, Wayne was viewed as past his prime and on the downward slope of his career. With a depressing 2-14 season in the books, Manning heading out the door and a complete rebuilding effort seemingly on the horizon, Wayne’s time with in Indy was thought to be over. But the lifelong Colt made a commitment to the franchise, and while other teams, including the Patriots, pined for his services, he stayed loyal to the only team he’s ever known. And the bold decision has paid off for both team and player.

“He always wanted to be here and as soon as Chuck [Pagano] made that call, it was just a matter of, ‘Yeah I’m coming,’” interim head coach Bruce Arians said on a conference call Wednesday. “He’s a legend here and he’s going to go into the Hall of Fame.” Wayne has undergone a complete transformation from a season ago, nearly eclipsing his final statistical totals of a season ago, with 75 catches for 960 yards and four touchdowns, in nine games as he’s racked up 69 grabs, 931 yards and three scores already this season. And even more than just the statistical figures, Wayne’s impact can be seen in the young quarterback throwing him the ball.

Even from some of his earliest days at Stanford, Andrew Luck has widely been viewed as an eventual Hall of Fame quarterback. His raw talents as a passer, tireless work ethic and unexpected yet incredible athleticism made him into one of the most sought after prospects in years. But without a reliable receiver to throw to, Luck very well could’ve seen his development stunted and his talents wasting away as if they belonged in Margaritaville. Luckily, and no pun intended here, the rookie quarterback had a knowledgeable and crafty veteran to assist with the transition. And Luck openly recognizes how important Wayne has been in that process.

“He’s been great. He doesn’t talk much; he’s not going to sit down and lecture the young guys, but the way he works, the way he prepares during the week, the way he takes care of his body, the way he mentally prepares, is a great example for us all in the locker room,” Luck said of his No. 1 receiver.

“To boot, he’s a great football player, so it’s fun getting able to throw to him.” Luck’s continued improvement behind center and increased presence as a leader of the team has been impressive in and of itself. But without a receiver who is leading the league in receptions and second in yards playing on the outside, Luck and the Colts would never be having the sort of success they’ve found this season.

“All of the other rookies have followed the pied piper, and that’s Reggie Wayne. He sets the tempo for us offensively and then Andrew is the second guy in line,” Arians said of Wayne’s importance. “You can’t put a quantified value on how much his leadership means to our team.” With how important Wayne’s been to Indianapolis’ success this season, one thing is for sure.

The Colts are damn happy that he’ll be lining up for them on Sunday at Gillette Stadium instead of the home team — an idea that was more than just floated around during free agency.

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MLB Network analyst likes Ryan Braun's MVP credentials

Tuesday on the MLB Network's "Clubhouse Confidential" show, Brian Kenny analyzed the 2012 National League MVP race and said his choice for the honor is Ryan Braun of the Brewers, who won the award in 2011. 

Other players up for consideration are Pirates centerfielder Andrew McCutcheon, Giants catcher Buster Posey and Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina.

“If I had to actually vote, I’d go with the guy who was the best power hitter, who is also a plus-base runner and a plus-defender," Kenny said. "If I’m running a team and I could have just one of these seasons, I would take the season produced by Ryan Braun. It’s close, but Ryan Braun is my MVP.”

The winner of the 2012 National League MVP is to announced on the MLB Network at 5 p.m. Thursday.

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Marlins claim Scott Maine off waivers

The Marlins claimed left-handed relief pitcher Scott Maine off waivers.

For Maine, it’s sort of a homecoming. He’s a native of Palm Beach Gardens and a graduate of Dwyer High School.

Maine was nearly killed in an accident on Florida’s Turnpike in 2005. But he came back and made his debut for the Chicago Cubs in 2010.

Maine, 27, posted a 1-2 record with a 10.50 ERA in nine appearances for the Cleveland Indians in 2012.

He will compete for a bullpen spot with the Marlins this spring.

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Jimmy Graham leads NFL in dropped passes

There’s a new solo leader atop the league-wide list for dropped passes and it’s an NFC South player.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham leads the NFL with eight drops.

That puts him one drop ahead of Tampa Bay rookie running back Doug Martin, who is tied with three other players for second place. Atlanta’s Julio Jones has five drops. New Orleans’ Marques Colston and Darren Sproles and Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez each has four drops.

Tampa Bay’s Vincent Jackson still hasn’t dropped a pass this season and is one of only seven receivers with at least 30 targets without a drop.

Led by Graham, Colston and Sproles, the Saints are tied for third in team drops with 22. The Falcons are just one drop behind New Orleans.

Tampa Bay is tied for No. 26 with just 12 drops and 10 of them come from Martin and Mike Williams. The Carolina Panthers are tied for 29th with only 10 drops.

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When Will Devin Hester Return (to Thrills)

One year ago today, Devin Hester returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown against the Detroit Lions.

That's the last time the vaunted return man broke one for a touchdown. 

In 2012, his punt return average is down, his moves are less thrilling and he's just not the electrifying return man the Bears need.

So what's his problem? Well, it's not only his fault. Corey Graham, the ace special teams player for all of Hester's previous big runs, is now playing in Baltimore. Hester doesn't have the same kind of blocking and protection when he's returning the ball.

But it's not just Graham's departure that's affecting Hester. It's could be the pressure. 

Hester is trying so hard to get to the end zone on every return that he's dancing all over the field. When looking for the perfect hole to hit, he runs end zone to end zone. He runs backward. He jukes and jives ... and then gets tackled.

He's suffering as a receiver, too. On Sunday night, he was targeted four times but made just two catches for four yards.

Hey Devin, take a breath.

Get out of your head for a second and just play football. It's OK if you don't get to the end zone, but not getting any yardage at all doesn't help.

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Vinny Testaverde: Make Tebow a running back

If Vinny Testaverde were the Jets' coach, he'd insert Tim Tebow into the starting lineup immediately.

As a running back.

"You have a guy on your roster -- Tim Tebow -- who can be your running game," the former Jets quarterback told ESPN's Lynn Hoppes. "Instead of giving him just 10-12 reps, give him a full load and wear down the defense. I don't know how all the pieces fit, but that's my opinion. A good running game leads to bigger and better things. It's hard to be successful when you have problems everywhere."

Testaverde, who lives in Tampa, follows his old team closely. Like other fans, he's disappointed with the 3-6 record.

"I wish I knew (what's wrong)," he said. "I'm obviously not in touch with them, and I'm not really close to anybody except as a fan. It's kind of disappointing. I know the Jets fans want to see them turn it around and win a few games."

Testaverde will be in New York next week to host an event in which a real turkey -- Jimmy Junior -- predicts the outcome of the three NFL games on Thanksgiving. One of those, of course, is Jets-Patriots. The turkey will eat from the barrel of the team he thinks will win each matchup, which means Jimmy Junior probably has just as good a chance of picking the winner as most amateur handicappers.

The good news is, the event's sponsor -- Wild Turkey -- will donate 81 turkeys to victims of Hurricane Sandy.

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Willis McGahee already sets career high for fumbles

ENGLEWOOD, Colo.—Immediately after Willis McGahee's second fumble late in Sunday's win at Carolina, the Broncos took him out for rookie Ronnie Hillman.

This doesn't mean McGahee is about to lose his job; they were up 29-14 at the time with less than five minutes remaining, so they were entering salt-the-game mode.

Nevertheless, the Broncos are concerned about McGahee's fumbling proclivity this season. His five fumbles and four lost are already career highs, and the Broncos' 12 lost fumbles overall—including two Sunday—are the second most in the league.

When wide receiver Demaryius Thomas lost fumbles in three consecutive games, Denver's coaches forced him to carry a special green football around team headquarters and to meetings and practices; he hasn't fumbled since.

A similar creative protocol likely awaits McGahee, who is still by far their best runner. Hillman has struggled between the tackles and there appears to be little trust in Knowshon Moreno, who's been inactive for seven consecutive games after fumbling in Week 2 at Atlanta.

Giveaways remain the potential fatal flaw in the Broncos' Super Bowl aspirations, as they have 11 in the last five games, including an average of 2.0 per game during a four-game winning streak against the Chargers, Saints, Bengals and Panthers.

They might have been able to get away with fumbles against the lesser teams, but they couldn't against the Falcons, Texans and Patriots in the first five weeks. Unless the Broncos find a remedy between now and January, their lofty hopes could crash shy of New Orleans with an ill-timed turnover or two.

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Calais Campbell injury a concern

TEMPE, Ariz.—Defensive end Calais Campbell has a right calf injury, the extent of which has not been made public. Campbell missed a practice last week during the bye and did not work out Monday.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt declined comment.

Until last week, the Cardinals defense had enjoyed good health. But outside linebacker O'Brien Schofield suffered an ankle injury against the Packers a week ago and is out for the year. Quentin Groves is a competent replacement, but the Cardinals have no depth there now.

The other outside linebacker to dress in the last game was rookie Zack Nash. Vonnie Holliday likely will replace Campbell with David Carter and Nick Eason behind him.

Again, the Cardinals are an injury away from depth issues at end. Losing Campbell for an extended time would be damaging. He and linebacker Daryl Washington are the best defensive players on the team.

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Ray Lewis talks photography and style

Some consider Baltimore Ravens star linebacker Ray Lewis, 37, an artist on the football field. But that's only one area where he expresses himself. You'll find creativity in how he presents himself -- he designs most of his suits -- and the world he sees around him in his photography — both of which were on display at Maryland Art Place's "LUX" Gala. "The Sun Diaries" is a group of five photos Lewis took of his favorite subject, the sun.”

"My art really symbolizes something that man doesn't control."

HIS STYLE: "Passionate. Everything I do, no matter what I put on, I do it with passion. ... Definitely dress is one of the biggest things I do with energy.”

WHAT HE'S WEARING: A three-piece gray suit he designed, that features hand-stitching on the lapels. "I design them to be a bit unique. You can never walk in the same place and be seen with the same suit on [as someone else]." A custom-made white shirt with French cuffs and spread collar. A woven red and gray tie in a double Windsor knot. Fiancee Juliana Childress says Lewis is meticulous about which knot he uses for each outfit. Jeweled cufflinks that were a gift. Diamond embellished Franck Muller watch. "I've had Francks for a while now. Probably when Francks first came out, I fell in love with them. ... I'm a big watch collector."

HIS FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPHIC SUBJECT: "I'm more excited about a sunrise [and sunset] than I am about anything else. ... I just think it's one of the greatest creations ever."

IT'S A PASSION GREATER THAN FOOTBALL: "Because you're talking about life. Football itself is a game. You know, the game will fade one day."

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Vinny Testaverde talks turkeys, Tebow, Jets

The NFL jokes seem so obvious: Former New York Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde is working with some turkeys these days.

Next week in New York City, Testaverde is hosting Wild Turkey’s first Triple Barrel Challenge with a real turkey -- Jimmy Junior -- to predict the outcome of the three NFL games on Thanksgiving.

Following months of studying, Jimmy Junior will eat from the barrel of the team he thinks will win each matchup. After the event, Wild Turkey will, through City Harvest, donate 81 turkeys to the victims of Sandy.

Playbook had a few minutes with Testaverde to find out what advice he gave Jimmy Junior.

Are turkeys smart animals?
"I have no clue. I can tell you this: They certainly taste good."

What was it like on the set of the preview video?
"It was a little nerve-racking. I didn't know how the turkey would respond. Being a farm animal, he's used to being around people. It was a little difficult when you're trying to talk to the camera and wondering whether he was going to peck at your face.

So how did he do?
"I was sweating underneath my shirt because the turkey was focused on what I had in my hand. While talking to the camera, I had a laser pointer. I didn't realize the turkey was staring at that and started pecking at my hand."

You know this is easy. Speaking of turkeys, what about those Jets?
"I wish I knew. I'm obviously not in touch with them, and I'm not really close to anybody except as a fan. It's kind of disappointing. I know the Jets fans want to see them turn it around and win a few games."

What would you do if you were coach?
"You have a guy on your roster -- Tim Tebow -- who can be your running game. Instead of giving him just 10-12 reps, give him a full load and wear down the defense. I don't know how all the pieces fit, but that's my opinion. A good running game leads to bigger and better things. It's hard to be successful when you have problems everywhere."

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Ed Reed apologizes for bad day in blowout win

Even after a 35-point blowout, some Ravens players aren’t satisfied.

In fact, veteran safety Ed Reed apologized, via Twitter, for his play in the 55-20 win over the Raiders. His missed tackle, which led to a 55-yard touchdown by Darrius Heyward-Bey, helped keep the margin under 40.

“Just had a bad day,” Reed tweeted. “Not perfect, though we try!”

“That’s the thing about Ed he’s a great player,” coach John Harbaugh said, via Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. “He’s definitely his own worst critic, his own strongest critic. He has a really high standard for how he’s going to play ,and I’m sure that’s reflected in his comments. I thought he played well. Ed sets a high bar, and he usually reaches it.”

Reed also suffered a stinger in his right shoulder during the game and didn’t finish, though that could have been a call-the-dogs off move like not playing Haloti Ngata, who was given the day off to rest from injuries. Harbaugh said he talked to Reed about coming out, and Reed said it was his call to not continue.

“These guys have a lot of pride,” Harbaugh said. “These are some of the most competitive men and athletes in the world, and that’s how that conversation goes sometime in a game like that. That’s the way that one went.”

There will be days when the Ravens need them much more, coming up soon, so letting them watch a blowout was the right call, by whomever made it.

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D.J. Williams ready to help Broncos

D.J. Williams’ season is about to begin. He knows he will have to shake the rust, but he’s not worried about it or whatever role the Denver Broncos will have for him.

The veteran linebacker is just happy to be back. Williams is able to practice with the Broncos again now that his two-tiered nine game NFL suspension has been lifted. He received a six-game suspension for using a banned substance and he received another three-game suspension for his second alcohol-related legal conviction in seven years.

“Definitely. Without being out there for a long time, there will be some rust,” Williams told reporters Monday. “Football is a great sport to come back to, because when in doubt, just hit somebody.”

The Broncos haven’t said what their plan for Williams is, but he is expected to be eased back into the lineup because of the rust and because the starting linebackers are playing well. Still Williams should help in the stretch run and in the postseason if the Broncos -- who are 6-3 and lead the AFC West by two games -- advance. Williams said he's open to help the team in any way it wants him to.

“I have no idea. That’s up to the coaching staff to decide,” Williams said. “I would like to jump out there Day 1, but you’ve got to earn the respect of your teammates, earn your spot back, so I’ll just be patiently waiting.”

Sounding contrite, Williams said he realized Denver could have parted ways with him.

“I’m very thankful (to be back),” Williams said. “They could have went a different route and they decided to keep me around. I’m thankful of that. Now that I’m back, I’ll just do what I have to do to help the team win.”

Williams is a good player, but he's been a major distraction to Denver for quite some time now. He owes it to the team to stay focused and help an already good defense become better.

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Santana Moss Fully Cleared To Play Against Philadelphia After Concussion

ASHBURN – Santana Moss said the concussion he sustained late in the Washington Redskins’ loss to Carolina on Nov. 4 “really wasn’t bad” and that he passed all subsequent tests, freeing him to play against Philadelphia on Sunday.

The receiver left the game in the fourth quarter when he collided with Panthers cornerback Josh Norman while running a route.

The team required its injured players to remain in the area and receive medical treatment during the week, but Moss was given time off when he was cleared by a team physician and an independent neurologist.

“I mean, I ain’t supposed to talk much about it, but it really wasn’t bad,” said Moss, who practiced with his teammates on Monday without restriction. “This is the first time y’all are talking to me, but I walked out of there the day of the game just like this, so I’m cool. I appreciate it.”

Moss, working primarily as the Redskins’ slot receiver this season, has caught 24 passes for 313 yards and a team-high five touchdowns.

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Tim George Jr. wears rookie stripes at HMS

Tim George Jr. will make his first start at the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway in the Camping World Truck Series this weekend in the 2012 season-finale race.

This weekend's event at the Homestead, Fla.-based facility is the last of George's 12 scheduled races on the 2012 schedule. So far this season, the RCR driver earned one pole award at Kansas Speedway (April), one top-10 finish and completed 93.8 percent (1,524 of 1,625) of the contested laps. George holds an average starting position of 15.4 and an average finishing position of 19.3.

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Yonder Alonso Loses Out On NL Rookie Of The Year Award

Screw you Baseball Writers’ Association of America for not picking Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso for National League Rookie of the Year.

Instead, you picked the just turned 20-year-old, Bryce Harper. The same Bryce Harper who the media portrayed as “cocky” but soon fell in love with. Who knows why? maybe it’s his boyish smile, or the fact that he isn’t even old enough to drink.

What does Harper have on Alonso? All Alonso did was go out and lead the league in doubles, and most importantly, he’s a player on my favorite team, so that should be a good enough reason as to why Alonso should have been Rookie of Year.

In all seriousness, congratulations to Bryce Harper for winning this year’s National League Rookie of the Year. I’m sure Alonso would have liked to win the award but he has his eye on a bigger prize. I’m not talking about an award but maybe a ring?

Also, congrats to Mike Trout for being named the American League Rookie of the Year.

Other candidates for National Rookie of the Year were: Wade Miley of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Wilin Rosario of the Coloardo Rockies, and Todd Frazier of the Cincinnati Reds.

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Ryan Braun, Aaron Rodgers restaurant raises $60,000 for Brookfield shooting victims

BROOKFIELD A fundraiser held by the restaurant named for Aaron Rodgers and Ryan Braun raised more than $60,000 for victims’ families of a Brookfield spa shooting.

The Green Bay Packers quarterback and Milwaukee Brewers outfielder were not at the event Monday night at 8-Twelve MVP Bar & Grill in Brookfield but donated items for auction.

The pair are partners in the restaurant, which is run by SURG Restaurant Group.

The group’s co-owner, Omar Shaikh, says the proceeds go to the eight children left behind by the three women killed at Azana Salon & Spa in Brookfield.
Radcliffe Haughton shot seven women Oct. 21. Three died, including his estranged wife, Zina, before Haughton killed himself.

More than 115 salons, spas and beauty schools are also donating some profits Tuesday to the families.

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proCane Players of Week 10

Co-Offensive Players of the Week:

Jimmy Graham: proCane Saints TE Jimmy Graham hauled in seven passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns on eight targets to lead the Saints to a 31-27 victory over the Falcons in Week 10. Safety William Moore bit twice on the double move, allowing Drew Brees to throw a pair of pump-fake deep balls to Graham for a 29-yard touchdown and a 46-yard fourth-quarter gain. Graham added a 14-yard score just before halftime. After his first 100-yard game of the season, Graham is averaging a 7/94/1.3 line over the past three weeks.

Greg Olsen: Following an emotional week for proCane Panthers TE Greg Olsen in which he welcomed his son TJ home after being hospitalized after birth and undergoing surgery due to a heart condition, Olsen exploded for a career-high nine receptions, 102 yards and two touchdowns versus the Broncos in Week 10. The 102 yards are a regular-season career high. Tight ends have been the weak spot in Denver's defense all season and today was no different. Olsen had catches of 26 and 16 yards to set up a 4-yard touchdown and added a 5-yard score in garbage time.

Honorable Mention: Frank Gore, Reggie Wayne.

Defensive Player of Week:

Colin McCarthy: proCane Titans LB Colin McCarthy rose slowly after a violent hit and wobbled as he left the field. Three plays later he was back in the game and in the end zone, celebrating a 49-yard interception return for a touchdown. McCarthy and his team's embattled defense bounced back Sunday, when their four takeaways led to 20 points and helped the Titans beat the Miami Dolphins 37-3. McCarthy finished the game with 3 tackles, 1 tackle for loss one INT and a TD. McCarthy’s TD put the Titans up 21-0 and essentially the game out of reach for the Dolphins.

Honorable Mention: Vince Wilfork, Allen Bailey.

Special Teams Player of the Week:

Matt Bosher:
proCane Falcons P Matt Bosher continued his great 2nd season with 3 punts for 140 yards and a 46.7 average. Bosher had a long of 52 yards and placed one of his punts inside the 20-yard line. Bosher is also Atlanta’s holder and held two successful field goals for Matt Bryant.

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Do the Ravens need to worry about Ed Reed?

The only major concern coming from the Ravens' 55-20 win over the Raiders was the play of Ed Reed.

The Pro Bowl safety's missed tackle led to Darrius Heyward-Bey's 55-yard touchdown. Another Raiders touchdown -- a 30-yard pass to Denarius Moore -- came when the receiver split Reed and cornerback Corey Graham.

Even though Reed grabbed his injured shoulder after failing to wrap up Heyward-Bey, what was more disturbing was Reed's comments after the game. Asked whether it was coach John Harbaugh's decision to pull him from the game before the fourth quarter, Reed said, "I was having a pretty bad game as an individual, and I really didn’t want to go back out there as a competitor playing the way I was playing today."

You have to admire Reed's blunt assessment of his play. But it's a strange statement coming from a future Hall of Fame player. Most competitors want to redeem themselves and will fight to stay in games. If you're a Ravens fan, you have to be worried about the fact that he was playing so poorly that he didn't want to go back into the game. As I've written before, Reed shouldn't play if the injury is going to make him a liability in the secondary.

The Ravens, though, desperately need Reed to step up and not bow out. This defense is already without its leader (Ray Lewis) and best cornerback (Lardarius Webb). Plus, one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL (Haloti Ngata) didn't play one snap Sunday because he isn't at full strength. There were questions about Reed's commitment to football when he skipped all of the spring workouts, including the mandatory minicamp.

The shoulder injury has affected Reed's ability to tackle for most of the season. But it shouldn't affect missed assignments. There were a handful of times when it seemed like cornerbacks were expecting deep help from Reed and he was trailing on the play. Reed addressed his play to fans on Twitter.

“Thanks for support! I'm good for next week. Just had a bad day. Not perfect, though we try!”

Just like last week, Reed will be limited in practice all week. But he should be available for Sunday night's game at Pittsburgh.

“I’m fine," Reed said about holding his shoulder after the missed tackle. "It was just a minor stinger, not very serious.”

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Brandon Meriweather Returns To Practice

When the Washington Redskins returned Monday after their Week 10 bye, four previously injured players — wide receiver Pierre Garcon, strong safety Brandon Meriweather, right tackle Jammal Brown and wide receiver Santana Moss — were on the field for various parts of the practice session.

Meriweather, who was envisioned as a starter this season, reported to Redskins Park for treatment during the bye. He refused to speculate on whether he would play Sunday but said he is hopeful that his days of watching games will soon end.

Meriweather initially strained the MCL and PCL in his left knee during the second preseason game, and didn’t return to the field until the week before Washington’s regular season opener. But Meriweather re-injured the same knee in his first practice back and tried to come back four weeks later, only to collide with wide receiver Aldrick Robinson during pregame warmups for the Redskins’ game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He’s missed the past five games since that Sept. 30 incident.

Washington’s secondary has struggled mightily this season, yielding 301.7 passing yards per game (30th in the league).

“It’s hard for me to watch, period,” Meriweather said. “Not just because we’re struggling. Even if we were the best in the nation, in the league, it’d still be hard for me to watch.”

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Stanford’s ‘get well’ video to Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis

Eight months after a stirring pregame locker room speech from Baltimore Ravens star Ray Lewis helped propel the Stanford basketball team to the NIT championship, the Cardinal collectively decided to try to return the favor.

They sent Lewis a motivational video a few weeks ago encouraging the 37-year-old future NFL Hall of Famer to keep his spirits up as he fights to come back from the season-ending torn right triceps he suffered Oct. 14 against Dallas.

Forward Andy Brown, who has returned from three ACL tears in the same knee to crack Stanford's rotation, tells Lewis he's confident the linebacker can come back stronger than ever from his injury. Guard Gabe Harris, who missed the final three months of last season with a right knee injury, delivered the same message. And guard Aaron Bright and forward Josh Huestis referenced Lewis' famous "pissed off for greatness" phrase in urging him to get well soon.

Said Bright, "We know that you're going to bounce back. We're pissed off for greatness, so we know you're pissed off to get back out on the field."

Said Huestis, "We're supporting you. Thanks for everything. We know you'll bounce back from this. Pissed off for rehab. Get after it, Ray.

It was important to Stanford players and coaches to express support for Lewis because they're grateful he took the time to speak to them before their NIT semifinal against UMass at Madison Square Garden last March. The speech from Lewis subsequently went viral on YouTube and social media and had Stanford players transfixed in a way that would be difficult for Johnny Dawkins or anyone on his staff to duplicate.

"Wins and losses come a dime a dozen," Lewis said that day. "But effort? Nobody can judge effort. Because effort is between you and you.
"I'm pissed off for greatness. Because if you ain't pissed off for greatness, that means you're OK with being mediocre."

Stanford took Lewis' message to heart, beating UMass 74-64 with Lewis watching from behind the bench and upsetting Minnesota in the title game two nights later to win the NIT for the first time since 1991.

The NIT championship was a nice stepping stone for a young Stanford nucleus hoping to accomplish bigger things this season. The speech from Lewis, however, is a memory that will last a lifetime.

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D.J. Williams returns to an uncertain role

Broncos LB D.J. Williams spent most of the calendar year dealing with trouble that he brought upon himself, from a March violation of the league's PED policy to tweeting a picture of a formation from the Broncos' iPad-based playbook in June to an August conviction on charges of driving while ability impaired.

The playbook tweet was harmless, but the other two resulted in six- and three-game suspension that kept him out until Monday, when he officially returned to the roster and tried to strike a conciliatory tone.

"I did the crime, gotta do the time, but it's over with now," Williams said. "Hopefully I can move on and help my team continue to keep winning."

Williams has been at team headquarters the last three weeks, as the three-game suspension for the DWAI conviction -- his second alcohol-related offense since joining the Broncos in 2004 -- permitted him to be at team headquarters to receive guidance from club officials. It also gave him the chance to work out with the team's strength coaches, which might help him get back up to speed more quickly.

"I wouldn't say that I'm ready to go 70, 80 plays, but I'm in pretty good shape," Williams said. "I've been back here the last few weeks working out with the strength coaches here and getting the altitude in my lungs, things like that. So, you know, I feel pretty good."

Where Williams fits is up in the air. The Broncos' defense has steadily improved this season, particularly against the run. The shift of Keith Brooking from weakside linebacker to middle linebacker gave Wesley Woodyard the every-down job on the weak side, and he responded with some of the best play of his career and earned AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors in Week 8. Brooking, meanwhile, has stabilized the run defense after it struggled with Joe Mays at middle linebacker, has been a calming influence and has made few mistakes.

The Broncos have allowed just six touchdowns in the last 14 quarters of play, so they may not want to fix what isn't broken, which would leave Williams struggling for playing time, since Woodyard has flourished in Williams' previous role on the weak side.

"You know, I hope sooner or later, I could get back to the role that I had before I left," Williams said. "But I realize it's going to be difficult just to jump back into that but you know I'm ready to go whenever they throw me out there."

At the same time, if Williams is limited to rotational work, he would provide also give a gargantuan upgrade to the quality of their depth, since Williams has been a starter throughout his previous eight seasons. He also gives the Broncos another option in covering opposing tight ends, something they have failed to do well in recent weeks, having allowed consecutive 100-yard games to Cincinnati's Jermaine Gresham and Carolina's Greg Olsen the last fortnight and five touchdowns to various tight ends in their last four games.

"I know what D.J. can do. He's a playmaker. He's a physical, hard-nosed football player," S Rahim Moore said.

"He'll be a little rusty, but once he gets his legs underneath him, sheds a few blocks, makes a few hits and makes some plays, it's the same old D.J. that they drafted him to be."

Williams barely practiced during training camp as the Broncos opted to give Woodyard and rookies Danny Trevathan and Steven Johnson extra repetitions to bring them up to speed. Thus, he not only has to knock off the rust of the suspension, but of the six weeks of relative inactivity, when he was often consigned to an auxiliary field, running wind sprints.

"I don't know about that," Broncos coach John Fox said when asked about whether Williams would be rusty on his return. "Your guess is as good as mine. I'm just looking forward to seeing where he's at.

"I haven't seen him since the end of last season," Fox added. "I just know a season ago he was arguably our best linebacker and we'll work him back in."
No matter what his role is, his teammates were generally pleased to have him back.

"As a friend, I'm happy to see him back," Moore said. "He's smiling a lot more; that's a good thing."

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Santana Moss says he’s feeling fine after concussion

Wide receiver Santana Moss participated in the Washington Redskins’ practice Monday and said he felt fine.

Moss suffered a concussion in the Redskins’ most recent game, a loss to the Carolina Panthers prior to their bye week.

He declined to discuss the details of the testing he underwent after suffering his concussion but said he was feeling “good,” and added: “I practiced.”

Moss said he still sees possibilities for good things to happen in the Redskins’ season, even with their 3-6 record.

“I don’t see any down faces in here because of what we’re going through,” Moss said. “I didn’t see that before we left. So, you know, guys are loving what they do every day, and that’s all you can do. You look forward to just being out there and putting work in. That’s what I look forward to. I don’t see no change.”

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Sam Shields practices Monday

Amidst the news that T Bryan Bulaga is out for the season, the Packers did get a few injured players back on the practice field on Monday.
CB Sam Shields (ankle) and DL Jerel Worthy (concussion), who have both missed games in recent weeks, returned to practice. Also, T Derek Sherrod, who has been on PUP since the start of the season, has begun practicing. The Packers activated a three-week practice window for Sherrod during the bye week and will now have two weeks to decide whether to add him to the active roster or place him on injured reserve.

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D.J. Williams returns from two suspensions, reports for duty

In one way, D.J. Williams is lucky. He didn't lose his job for failing a performance-enhancement drug test and receiving an alcohol-related driving conviction in the past year.

Then again in another way, Williams received a harsher punishment than most civilians because he is an elite professional athlete.

"I did the crime, got to do the time," Williams said Monday in front of his Broncos locker. "But it's over with now and hopefully I can help my team continue to keep winning."

A Broncos starting linebacker since the team selected him in the first round of the 2004 draft, Williams was suspended through the first nine games this season. The Broncos are 6-3 having won their last four.

Williams, 30, missed the first six games for failing the league's performance-enhancement drug test that was administered in the weeks following the 2011 lockout. He then received a second suspension for three games after he was convicted by a Denver jury on Aug. 15 on a charge of driving while ability impaired.

Williams was reinstated Monday and is expected to be formally added to the Broncos' 53-man roster in the next day or two.

"During the whole time I learned a lot about myself, my true character," Williams said. "(During the) 2 ½ months I was really by myself. Alone. Working out. Had to be dedicated and stay concentrated."

During his six-week suspension, Williams worked out at the University of Miami, his alma mater. He was able to work out at the Broncos' facility during his three-week suspension.

When his lost salary, restructured contract and bonus payback are counted up, Williams will have lost not only the first nine games of the Broncos' season, but also close to $4 million.

"I'd rather have the money in my pocket than to be rested," Williams said. "But the season is a long grind and the positive thing about it is my body is rested compared to previous years."

Do not expect Williams to immediately return as a starting linebacker. As a condition for his return, he agreed to a reduction in salary for the remainder of the season. He figures to spend the first week or two getting back in game shape. It's unclear whether he will regain his starting job with weakside linebacker Wesley Woodyard and middle linebacker Keith Brooking playing well.

"There will be some rust but football is a great sport to come back to because when in doubt just hit somebody," Williams said. "I would like to jump out there Day One but you've got to earn the respect of your teammates and earn your spot back. I'll just be patient and wait."

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Brad Keselowski cites Ray Lewis as inspiration

Brad Keselowski may be just a few days from claiming a NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, capping an astronomical 18-month rise from virtual anonymity to elite status. And what's gotten him going? A commercial.

Well, not just any commercial. An EA Sports/Madden 13 commercial featuring an inspirational Ray Lewis. Yes, this is the world we're living in now. Keselowski said on Twitter that he's "watched it 100 times and think about it every chase race." See what you think:

Look, put aside the fact that Ray Lewis has, at the very least, a checkered personal history; the man knows how to motivate. If you're not ready to run through a wall after watching that, you may in fact be asleep. Or worse.

Keselowski's 2012 championship run will end, one way or another, in Miami, which coincidentally enough is where Lewis played his college football. If Lewis does show up on Keselowski's pit box on Sunday, we'd imagine there wouldn't be any drivers trying to pull a Clint Bowyer chase-down on the No. 2.

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Scott Maine Sent Down

The Toronto Blue Jays designated P Scott Maine for assignment Thursday, Nov. 8.

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VIDEO: The Legend of Sean Taylor

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Orlando Franklin Rated Top Right Tackle In NFL

Williamson’s ESPN Insider rankings has Tom Brady at second behind only Aaron Rodgers, with superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski in the top 15. Vince Wilfork checks in at 38, and Wes Welker is nestled in ten spots below the star DT in the 48th slot. It is surprising to see that Wilfork is on the list over Sebastian Vollmer, because Wilfork hasn’t been nearly as dominant this season. Meanwhile, Vollmer has been the class of the right tackles in the league this season.

Elsayed did not leave off Vollmer from his list and recognized his prowess in pass protection and run blocking. He wrote, “Is there a better right tackle in football right now? I’d say not.” Elsayed also noted that only Denver Broncos second-year right tackle Orlando Franklin has a better pass blocking efficiency rating than Vollmer this season. Franklin’s improvement from his rookie season has been huge for the Broncos, and they have a top bookend duo in Ryan Clady and Franklin this season.

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Terrell Suggs says Ray Lewis told team he's on pace to return

Linebacker Ray Lewis returned to Baltimore's training facility for the first time since tearing his right triceps in Week 6 against Dallas.

Lewis has been rehabbing his injury away from the Ravens' complex but made a surprise visit Friday. Following practice, Lewis broke down the team huddle, telling his teammates that he's still planning to return if the current group can make a deep run this postseason.

"It's great to see the leader, the general of your army, out there," linebacker Terrell Suggs told "He let us know he's on pace to come back. If we handle business, he'll be back in a Ravens uniform this year. We have to do our part, though."

Coach John Harbaugh didn't know he was arriving and admitted he was caught off guard a tad when he saw Lewis on the practice field watching his teammates practice.

"It was great to see Ray," Harbaugh said. "All of a sudden, I look back and there's Ray Lewis. He's doing well. He gave a great talk."

Lewis was placed on the injured reserve-designated to return list, meaning there's a chance he could return to the 53-man roster late in the year.

Lewis released a statement after returning to the facility, saying he's happy to be back with his teammates.

“I've really missed these guys and the feel of being around the team and in the locker room," Lewis said. "I am focused on rehabbing and getting my arm and body as strong as they can be. I will speak in person when I know a little more about my progress. I'm working hard and looking forward to coming back and helping this team. But right now, the focus should be on the guys playing, and I'll be the biggest cheerleader I can be for them.”

With Lewis out of the lineup, Dannell Ellerbe has filled in as a starter and has led the team in tackles the past two games (18 tackles, one sack).

Right guard Marshal Yanda said it was good to see Lewis return to the facility Friday, saying Lewis gave another one his trademark speeches.

"It was inspirational," Yanda said. "He always gives inspirational speeches. He gave a couple of key points to think about and hold in there."

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Jimmy Graham’s big day includes sweet new touchdown celebration

Tony Gonzalez was the tight end who made history during the New Orleans Saints' win over the Atlanta Falcons, but it was Jimmy Graham who had the big day. He had seven catches for 146 yards on Sunday, including two touchdowns. After Drew Brees hit Graham for a 29-yard touchdown, he switched up his well-known slam dunk celebration to add a spin move.

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Greg Olsen has career day in loss to Broncos

Greg Olsen exploded for a career-high nine receptions, 102 yards and two touchdowns versus the Broncos in Week 10.

The 102 yards are a regular-season career high. Tight ends have been the weak spot in Denver's defense all season and today was no different. Olsen had catches of 26 and 16 yards to set up a 4-yard touchdown and added a 5-yard score in garbage time. The only weak spot was pass protection, where Von Miller toyed with him all afternoon. Next week Olsen faces a Bucs defense allowing the ninth-most fantasy points to tight ends.

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Willis McGahee's fumbles may draw extra Broncos coaching attention

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Willis McGahee may have just qualified for a week with a green-covered football.

"They can if they want to," McGahee said.

The Broncos' top tailback, McGahee fumbled two more times Sunday, losing one. He has fumbled five times this year, losing four.

"They were two strips from behind," McGahee said about his fumbles in the Broncos' 36-14 victory over the Carolina Panthers. "Those are tough. I shouldn't be doing it. You can't blame anybody but yourself."

When Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas had a bout with fumbles earlier this season, he was sentenced to a week with a football that was covered by two, green scouting beanies and etched with the initials, "MM." The initials represented Morgan and Madison, the two daughters of Broncos receivers coach Tyke Tolbert.

The ploy worked as Thomas hasn't fumbled since. McGahee has been around long enough to where he may not need such a tactic. He's had 1,950 carries and only 24 lost fumbles — one for every 81.3 carries — in his career.

But just in case, McGahee's running backs coach, Eric Studesville, has a daughter named Sydni. After McGahee's second fumble, which he recovered, rookie Ronnie Hillman finished off the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run. It was Hillman's first career touchdown.

"Hopefully not the last," Hillman said.

McGahee rushed for 56 yards on 14 carries, enough to cross the 8,000 rushing yard mark in his career. Not a bad milestone for a tailback who tore up his knee in his final college game and has been a full-time starter for only six seasons.

"Overcoming adversity," McGahee said about reaching the milestone at the advanced running back age of 31. "Chicken and broccoli and leaving beef alone. Love pork but I leave beef alone."

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Colin McCarthy rips Richie Incognito for "dirty" play

Not long after Colin McCarthy ambled down the sideline with a 49-yard pick six in Sunday's blowout of the Miami Dolphins, he got "Richied."

Didn't happen on the return, of course, but seven plays later at the end of a 14-yard run by Daniel Thomas to the Titans' 14.

While Dolphins left guard Richie Incognito tried to say he "thought the play was still going on" and merely "gave the guy a shove," McCarthy had a different take on getting the back of his helmet shoved into the turf.

"That was kind of dirty," said McCarthy, the former star linebacker at the University of Miami. "Obviously he got flagged for it [15 yards for unnecessary roughness], which was nice to see. I don't know what his intentions were, but that's on him."

Did McCarthy, who came back from an apparent ankle injury in the first quarter, say anything to Incognito as the flags flew?

"I just said it was dirty," McCarthy said. "We're trying to play football. Obviously, it was a stupid play. They had a first down on the play and that forced them into first and 25. It was a big play in the game, and we’ll take it."

Incognito last week was named the NFL's second-dirtiest player (behind Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh) in a Sporting News poll of NFL players. To his credit, Incognito accepted blame for the foul and did not fault the coaching staff for briefly yanking him from the game in favor of Nate Garner. 

"It was a dumb penalty," Incognito said. "It definitely hurt the team. It pushed us out of points. It was a mistake on my part."

The Dolphins wound up settling for a 40-yard Dan Carpenter field goal and a 21-3 deficit.

As for the benching, Incognito would not say what Dolphins coach Joe Philbin told him.

"I made a mistake," Incognito said, "and he wanted to address it right then and there, and it was handled."

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Curious comments from Ed Reed after Ravens' win

The strangest post-game comments Sunday came from Ravens Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed. He had a poor game against the Raiders and hasn't played well this season. He is in the final year of his contract, and was pulled from the game Sunday after three quarters because of a "stinger" in his shoulder.

"Yeah, the game was, we thought, out of reach," Reed said when asked if it was a coach's decision to leave the game early. "The offense was playing well and I was having a pretty bad game as an individual and I really didn't want to go back out there as a competitor playing the way I was playing today. But we've got guys that can step up, step in, and needed to get those reps and see what others guys can do."

I'm not totally sure about the context of the statement, but it's hard to understand how a player of Reed's caliber openly discusses not really wanting to go back out there. Maybe Reed needs to clear up his comments, because it leaves a lot open for personal interpretation.

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'Cheerleader' Ray Lewis vows to return

Ray Lewis rejoined Baltimore Ravens practice as a spectator Friday, surprising teammates who were unsure when the 37-year old linebacker would return to Maryland while rehabbing a torn right triceps.

And, in a public statement released by the team, Lewis appears to indicate that he wants to return from the injury, not retire.

"It's truly great to be back with my teammates," Lewis said in a statement issued by the team. "I've really missed these guys and the feel of being around the team and in the locker room. I am focused on rehabbing and getting my arm and body as strong as they can be.

"I will speak in person when I know a little more about my progress. I'm working hard and looking forward to coming back and helping this team. But right now, the focus should be on the guys playing, and I'll be the biggest cheerleader I can be for them."

It is yet unclear when Lewis will return from the tear suffered Oct. 14 vs. the Dallas Cowboys. The injury is projected as a season-ending one, though Lewis was placed on injured reserve with an exemption that would allow him to return later in the season.

On Friday, Lewis watched practice in sweats and chatted with coach John Harbaugh, who recently said he was unsure when Lewis would return from rehab in Florida and Arizona.

In two games since Lewis went down, the Ravens were trounced 43-13 by the Houston Texans, and last Sunday defeated the Cleveland Browns 25-15, allowing rookie running back Trent Richardson 105 rushing yards on 25 carries. Baltimore (6-2) has five remaining games vs. teams which made the playoffs last season, including two meetings with the AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers and a Dec. 23 visit from the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

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D.J. Williams to return to team Monday

CHARLOTTE N.C. — D.J. Williams will officially return Monday to the Broncos after the two sides recently agreed to a restructuring of his contract.

Williams, who had been a starting linebacker since the Broncos selected him with their first-round draft pick in 2004, had already lost nearly $3 million in salary this year as part of his penalty for serving two suspensions that prevented him from playing in the team's first nine games this year.

"All I can say is DJ's a friend of mine and I know what he brings to the table on Sundays and I can't wait to have him back," said Broncos defensive tackle Justin Bannan.

Williams, 30, was first suspended six games for violating the NFL's performance-enhancement policy. He received a second suspension for three games after he was convicted by a Denver jury on August 15 for an alcohol driving offense that was in violation of the league's substance abuse policy.

Besides the three-game penalty administered by the league office for his driving while ability impaired conviction, Williams was ordered by the court to serve 30 days in home detention following the Super Bowl .

Given the considerable time he has missed — Broncos coach John Fox decided not to have him participate in training camp or preseason games so he could instead give reps and playing time to others — Williams is expected to use the first week or two getting back in playing shape.

He has started at all three linebacker positions.

Williams contract originally had him making $5 million this year and $6 million in 2013. He forfeited $100,000 off the top this season because he was not on the Week 1 roster, and he then went unpaid through the first 10 weeks (nine games plus the bye week) of a 17-game season.

That dropped his remaining 2012 salary to $2.017 million. The restructuring cost him a few more dollars.

Make no mistake, Williams has paid a steep price for his mistakes.

"I'm sure people on the outside have beaten him up a little bit, but I know who he is and I've got a lot of respect for him," Bannan said. "I mean we're all human beings and nobody's perfect. People do make mistakes. We've all been there, we've all made mistakes. That's life. All I can do is speak for my relationship with D.J. and I'll play with that guy any day because I know how hard he plays on Sundays." Mike Klis, The Denver Post

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Jonathan Vilma ready to get off “pitch count”

New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma has made it clear that he’s ready to get off the “pitch count” that his coaches have put him on, so he can make a bigger impact by being on the field more.

“I told him he needs to take that pitch count off me, ASAP,” Vilma told USA TODAY Sports on Friday. “I’m ready to go. I’m always ready to go.”

Vilma was on the field for 84 percent of the Saints’ defensive snaps against the Broncos, but interim head coach Joe Vitt like that was too heavy of a workload.
“Really, last week was like his third preseason game,” Vitt said. “Now Jonathan Vilma moved better in the game last week. He’s getting his conditioning. Really, his legs feel good. It’s all about angles and timing.”

Vitt feels like Vitt is ready to have his best game of the season on Sunday.

“He expects and we expect he will have one of his better games of the year this week, which we’re going to need,” Vitt said.

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John Salmons finally makes debut

Sacramento Kings Head Coach Keith Smart has a rule when it comes to distributing minutes.  If you don’t play in the first half, you’re not likely to see action after halftime.

However, the second-year coach makes exceptions to that rule on certain occasions, which was the case last night when he played John Salmons for the first time this season.

With 10 minutes remaining in the final frame, the veteran small forward checked in for Tyreke Evans and proceeded to play five minutes off the Kings’ bench.  He scored just one point, but recorded a steal and a block and provided some defensive stability as the Kings fought to stay in the game.

“When you’re activated you always have to be ready,” the 32-year-old swingman told Cowbell Kingdom following yesterday’s 11-point defeat to the San Antonio Spurs.  “So I just had the mentality of however many minutes I get, I’m just going to go out there and play hard and try to help the team win.”

With rookie Thomas Robinson suspended for two contests and second-year wing Tyler Honeycutt recently assigned to the D-League, the Kings are currently playing slightly shorthanded.  And with limited practice time before tomorrow’s match-up against the Los Angeles Lakers, Smart saw last night as an opportunity to work Salmons back into the mix.

“Had he not missed the time that he did, he would have been right in the middle of what we’re trying to get done ” Smart said in his postgame press conference. “But I just wanted to get him a chance to get on the floor, get his wind up a little bit and I thought he did a good job after being out for so long.”

Salmons left the Kings midway through training camp last month for personal reasons.  It was later found that the veteran forward went home to Philadelphia to be with his wife as she gave birth to the couple’s third child.

He rejoined the team following the season opener in Chicago.  And before yesterday’s loss to the Spurs, Salmons hadn’t seen live-game action since the Kings’ first preseason contest against the Phoenix Suns.  But now that he’s finally gotten his feet wet in regular season play, Salmons says he’s ready to contribute.

“However many minutes I get, that’s what I’m gonna play.”  Salmons said.  “(Whether it’s) 35 or it’s five, I’ll play the minutes I get.  I’ll work my way back, try to get comfortable, shaking off the rust and just play basketball.  That’s all you can really do.”

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PHOTOS: Ryan Braun gets engaged to supermodel

The Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun decided to cap off his 2012 by getting engaged to model Larisa Fraser.

Fraser let the engagement news slip while blogging about her trip to Costco.

Busted Coverage was reading Fraser's blog (for the content, not the pictures, of course) and posted the following excerpt from a post that appears to have been deleted:

"After a fridge loading Costco Trip it was time to feed the boyfriend–fiance (I'm still not used to that) something 'new' DA DA DA DAAAA…"

The "DA DA DA DAAAA" is the phonetic spelling of Mendelssohn's Wedding March ... so now you know.

There are so many delicious foods at Costco, we can only guess what Fraser decided on. Rotisserie chicken? Kirkland grass-fed ground beef? That imitation crab dip sample Costco pushes when you're trying to get the wine selection?




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