Bryant McKinnie Vikings Chat Wrap

Does Central Florida have a shot against your 'Canes this weekend?
Bryant McKinnie:  Not at all! haha.

[Comment From marshall f] 
Who is the toughest DE that you have ever played against, along with the reasoning why?
Bryant McKinnie:  KGB from Green Bay because I had to see him twice per year and he was a veteran. He had a lot of moves and I had to prepare myself twice a year to see him. I think he made me a better player, mainly in the pass game.

[Comment From Sam] 
hey big 74, whats playing in your ipod?
Bryant McKinnie:  I have some local Florida rappers...Brisco. I have Jay-Z. I have Trick Daddy and Trina. I have Pleasure P.

[Comment From Matt O] 
Have any friends on the Raven squad?
Bryant McKinnie:  yes I do. Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Willis McGahee. And they all are from The U!
Why do you think players from the University of Miami have such a loyal fraternity?

Bryant McKinnie:  Because everyone was so loyal to each other when you were there. It's almost like a brotherhood. And then NFL players always come back to Miami and remind us of that. Plus there's not a lot of loyalty in the NFL, so it's good to stick with each other.

[Comment From Kyle]
What do you think of Jacory Harris?
Bryant McKinnie:  I think he's a pretty good QB. He's playing at a high level right and he's helped them to a 4-1 record.

[Comment From Guest]
how do u manage to handle your record label and football career at the same time?
Bryant McKinnie:  I have people who run the label while i'm gone. therefore, I can concentrate on football. Then when the offseason comes, I'm more hands-on. But on my offdays during the season (Tuesdays), I listen to beats and send them in.

[Comment From Mast]
What running backs did you block for in college?
Bryant McKinnie:  James Jackson, Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee, Jarret Payton and Frank Gore.

[Comment From]
Was it difficult adjusting to Favre as your QB?
Bryant McKinnie:  At the beginning with his snap count it was, but everything is good now and we're used to it.
hey bryant what was the hardest thing you had to pass to be in nfl????

Bryant McKinnie:  Just the work you have to put in. I went to junior college and then the University of Miami. It's hard work...a lot of people just see the games on Sundays, but there's a lot of time you have to put into this career.

Bryant McKinnie:  Hey everyone, I have a record label called Swagga - it's me and R&B artist named Pleasure P. He has an album out called The Introduction of Marcus Cooper. I'm a co-Executive Producer on that album. You can follow both of us on Twitter. His Twitter name is @PleasureP and mine is @BigMacVikings

[Comment From]
You dominated D Freeney in college is he any different to go up against in the pro's?
Bryant McKinnie:  He's gotten better since he's been in the NFL. I guess he's learned a lot here. We just faced each other in preseason but we didn't go one-on-one during the game.

Bryant McKinnie:  Thanks everyone for chatting. It was fun. Remember to follow us, and the Vikings, on Twitter! Go Vikes!

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Lewis plans to appeal $25,000 fine from NFL

Ray Lewis plans to appeal his $25,000 fine from the NFL for hitting Cincinnati wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, according to ESPN.

A Ravens spokesman told The Sun that he has not heard whether Lewis will contest the discipline. The fine represents 42.5 percent of Lewis’ weekly salary (he makes $58,823 for each of the 17 weeks of the regular season).

The Ravens middle linebacker was penalized for unnecessary roughness in the fourth quarter last Sunday for a helmet-to-helmet collision on Ochocinco. The blow knocked Ochocinco to the ground and dislodged his helmet.
The Bengals used that 15-yard penalty -- one of three flags on the Ravens’ defense during that game-winning drive -- to deliver their come-from-behind, 17-14 victory over the Ravens.

Ochocinco appealed Monday -- via Twitter -- to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to avoid punishing Lewis, writing, "please don't fine Ray Lewis Mr. Roger Goodell, it was a clean hit, it's part of the game, save the fines for me."

The Ravens didn’t expect “any repercussions” on Lewis.

"Watching it on TV, I think it was in the strike zone [which is below the neck and above the knees]," coach John Harbaugh said. "But I'm sure that is something [the NFL] will take look at and we'll find and see. As far as the game, that's a tough call to make either way."

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Brandon Meriweather Fined $7,500 By The NFL

Meriweather was fined $7,500 for unnecessarily taunting an opponent. Meriweather was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after he was ruled to have taunted Broncos receiver Eddie Royal following a fourth-quarter incompletion. Denver tied the game on an 11-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall on the next play.

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Santana Moss To Be Used In Return Game More?

Although Antwaan Randle El still is the Redskins primary punt returner, top wideout Santana Moss has been involved in the return game and could have a bigger role for the remainder of the season. "If you've noticed, I've had Santana back there," Coach Jim Zorn said. "They are going to split opportunities there. But based on what we do and how we do it, Antwaan will be back there. He's a sure receiver. He wants to go north and south, and his decisions have been good." Randle El has a 6.3-yard average on six returns with a long gain of 15 yards. He has seven fair catches.

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Vilma breaks down the Giants

Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma -- the former Jets middle linebacker I used to cover over there -- is one of a dozen or so NFL players who use PlayMaker Mobile to chat with fans and do other cool stuff. This week, for example, he's posted a few thoughts on the Giants.

"I think you’ve maybe never heard of a guy named Shaun O’Hara," he said (remember, he's writing for a broad audience and not just Giants fans or people who know Pro Bowl linemen). "He’s their center. He’s the one that makes them go. He’s a very good athletic center. He has the line on point. Those guys have played upward of 40 games together and they don’t miss a beat. The reason those guys are running so well is that they’ve got guys blocking for them real well. And he’s the guy on the O-line who mans them up and gets them all right and he’s doing a great job of that."

Earlier he wrote this about the wide receivers:

"Unless you're a Giants fan you might not have seen these young guys play. Here's what I think about Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham...

"NYG’s Steve Smith, he reminds me of the OTHER Steve Smith. He’s just not as explosive. The other Steve Smith can take a hitch and turn it into an 80-yard touchdown. But this Steve Smith, he’s able to move, he’s elusive. He’s able to break away from the defender. He won’t give you those crazy moves like old-school Steve Smith, but he knows how to get open and he can catch anything. I’ve seen him go up over defenders to catch a ball. Go through defenders to catch a ball. He’s really the real deal in my opinion.

"Nicks reminds me of a Keyshawn Johnson, where he can catch all the balls. A real good possession receiver. Not necessarily the breakaway speed but he can run after the catch and you got to be careful with guys like that. Third down, he can catch anything, and if you miss a tackle, it’s good night and he can break it for the long one.

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Seahawks' James: On Edge of NFL history

Seattle Seahawks running back Edgerrin James needs 18 yards to move into the Top 10 all-time rushing leaders in NFL history. And, yeah, it matters to him.

A lot of professional athletes will pretend they're not paying that much attention to the numbers or rankings, but James doesn't dodge the question of the importance of closing in on Marcus Allen's 12,243 career yardage mark.
"It means a lot to me because especially in this day and era, you're not going to see too many guys moving to the 10- and 12,000 yards because of the two backs and the way the NFL is moving," James said.

"It's like me, LT, Fred T, Portis, we're like the last of the dying breed of running backs. You have to embrace it. When you really look at it, you say you're not going to have running backs that are going to actually accomplish this feat.

"I'll maybe do it at 31 years old and I can play. It's up to me how long I want to play and how far I want to go up that chart. That's super important to me. I'm glad I got off to a fast start. You see a lot of these guys and they're splitting time and not getting the opportunities and it's going to be tough for guys to get 10 or 12,000 yards."

James rushed for 46 yards on 16 carries last week, his most significant action since signing with the Seahawks several weeks into training camp. His career total stands at 12,226 yards.

He needs just 54 more to move past Marshall Faulk and another 33 to pass Jim Brown into eighth all time. From there, it will take 427 more yards to catch Tony Dorsett at No. 7, but James isn't putting any limits on his sights.

"I'm not chasing the top 10," he said. "I'm chasing all of them."

But how much tread is left on the tires?

James isn't buying any notion that he's lost something. He says his late arrival with the Seahawks has forced him to play catch up on the offensive system, but he insists the game and practices aren't nearly as physical as they were when he entered the NFL in 1999 and that he can keep going several more seasons in the right situation.

"Everything for me is based upon my kids, so I'm year to year," he said. "But realistically, I know it's probably two, three years. This year plus two. It's so easy. It's not like it used to be. It's not a physical game any more. It's just a matter of taking care of your body and getting in a nice situation with a coach who isn't going to run you into the ground or just beat you down in camp or practice.

"Kids these days are different. It's the video-game era. They're not going to do all that stuff that used to go on."
James likes to sound like some throwback to the '60s. He jokes about linebackers who used to go out for cigarettes at halftime of games when he first came into the league and says teams now are more focused on speed than power.

He says that's the reason teams are splitting carries between two backs so much and just another reason he can keep playing several more years.

"It's totally different now," he said. "It's a more finesse game. It's easier for someone like myself. It's like a speed game now. They just want fast guys who move up and down the field. It's turned into an entertainment."

Ironically, James could move into the top 10 playing against the Arizona team he spent the past three seasons with. He says it won't be nearly as emotional as the return to Indianapolis two weeks earlier to face the team he started with.

He grew unhappy in Arizona last year when he lost his starting role to rookie Tim Hightower, though he wound up being the Cardinals' lead dog in their playoff run to the Super Bowl.

But he asked out of the final year of his contract with the Cardinals anyway, becoming a free agent and eventually landing in Seattle.

Any regrets of his Arizona departure?

"Nah, it worked out perfect for me," he said.
In what way?

"I'm here," he said with a laugh. "No, I had personal things I needed to deal with. That was my main focus. Football was secondary."

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt indicated it came down to money issues, but he had no quarrels with the veteran running back.

"Edgerrin James is a great pro," Whisenhunt said this week from Arizona. "He understands how he has to work. He's great with his teammates. He's great with the coaches. It was a financial issue with us more than anything, certainly not from a standpoint of not wanting Edgerrin.

"It's always hard, because Edgerrin has done a lot for this organization, especially at a time when it was really struggling as far as bringing fans in, bringing ticket sales in. And certainly last year in the playoffs, he had an important part of our run. So you never like to see players like that go, but in this business, those kinds of things happen.

"But I can tell you this: I have great respect for Edgerrin and certainly how he treated me and his teammates and what he did for this organization."

The Seahawks have found James to be a nice fit as well.

"He certainly brings a lot of wisdom and experience to our team," quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. "He's a football junkie and on Friday nights you can find him at a local high school game just because he loves football. It's good to have teammates like that, guys who love the game."

Most of his work last week came in the fourth quarter as the Seahawks ground out the clock on a 41-0 win. Coach Jim Mora said James is too good to be a mop-up back and the veteran acknowledged that was a weird position to be in. But he also noted there'll be games where a clock-killing drive can clinch a victory and he's ready to do whatever it takes.

"I'm just continuing to practice hard and if you do that, you start showing the coaches you're ready to play," he said. "When you're playing from behind, it's tough to get on the field. Especially when you've got guys who aren't doing anything wrong.

"I'm going to continue to work hard and I'm always prepared for that late-season run anyway. I'll make sure I'm really ready for when we make that playoff push."

Asked if he sees Seattle as his last stop in the NFL, James said you always have to see how things play out. But he noted that he enjoys Mora and what he's seen so far.

"I like it here," he said. "I never thought I'd like it in Seattle, it's so far away from everything. But everything is taken care of at home (with his kids in Florida). And the facility here is unreal.

"Everything you would want to be a great player, they provide. So there are no excuses not to have a good team here."

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NFL U Week 5 Video Highlights

Check out the return of our NFL U Video Highlights. Like we did back in 2006 & 2008, will provide our fans every week video highlights of all of our NFL U stars along with pictures from the current NFL Week. Click here to check out our Week 5 Video Highlights or click above on NFL U Video Highlights. Enjoy this week's highlights which two Andre Johnson TDs, Reggie Wayne, Kellen Winslow, Clinton Portis, an Ed Reed pick-six, and much more!

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Photo of the Week - Frank Gore with His Maserati

Here is Frank Gore, running back for the San Francisco 49ers sitting on the hood of his Maserati Quattroporte.
I have been a huge fan of Frank since his days at THE U. I am now also a fan of his cars and his wheels.
California Wheels hooked him up with a set of 22″ burgundy/chrome Asanti AF138s. The color match and chrome perfectly compliment the burgundy Maserati with all the chrome trim on it.

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Watch Baraka Short, Gerard Daphnis, Ryan McNeil, Melvin Bratton & Billy Corbin Talk About the U

Click here to see the episode at

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Gore Using Bye Week to Rehab Ankle

Frank Gore was among a small group of San Francisco 49ers to stick around during the entire bye week.

He was looking forward to working hard with rookie receiver and top draft pick Michael Crabtree, who finally signed Oct. 7 and is set to make his NFL debut next Sunday at Houston.

``Me and Crabtree are going to get it done,'' Gore said.

Mike Singletary planned to spend the off week evaluating talent, perhaps making some changes to his starting rotation and finding the best 53 players.

Getting Gore back will be a big part of that process.

The 49ers' star running back has missed the last two games because of a right ankle he injured on his only carry during a 27-24 loss at Minnesota on Sept. 27.

Gore returned to practice this week and is expected to play for San Francisco (3-2) against the Texans.

Singletary has called out his offensive line several times already, saying the unit needs to do a better job blocking and protecting quarterback Shaun Hill. The 49ers want to be a power-running offense.

I like that (Singletary) is challenging these guys. We just need to get the MEs - the mental errors - out of the way.''

There were many of them in a 45-10 home loss to Atlanta last week. It was the Niners' worst loss ever at Candlestick Park and largest at home in 42 years since the team played at Kezar Stadium.

Singletary said it's up to him and the coaches to do a better job preparing the team.

``It's a situation in where you kind of sit back and go 'Wow, I didn't really know that could happen again,''' Singletary said. ``And the thing I will say is this, this team will be a special team, this year will be a special year.''

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Vince Wilfork nose his defense

Vince Wilfork [stats] batted it away with the same big paws he has used to deflect two passes. Pain is not an obstacle for the Pro Bowl nose tackle.

“You play with pain,” Wilfork said yesterday. “If I can play, I’m going to play. I’d rather have (pain) than be injured. I have willed myself to play through pain.”

The sturdy 6-foot-2, 325-pounder out of the University of Miami has backed up those assertions. In his previous five, star-studded seasons with the Patriots [team stats], he has played in all 16 regular-season games four times.

That’s an astounding track record for a defensive lineman that faces constant double teams. He still ranks seventh in the NFL among interior lineman with 15 tackles, along with a forced fumble.

So when he suffered an ankle injury that knocked him out against Atlanta on Sept. 27, it was no surprise that he returned to help shut down the Ravens the following week.

“Luckily, it hasn’t happened too often that I have missed games,” Wilfork said.

The linchpin means more to the Pats than his statistics. In a contract year, with a potential uncapped season looming, Wilfork said he isn’t concerned about his financial plight.

“That’s not in my mind, contract talk and all that,” he said. “That’s what I pay my agent for. If he has a problem, he has my number.”

Otherwise, the second-year captain has no problem speaking his mind. During a 20-minute, impassioned session with the media yesterday, Wilfork sent message after message to his teammates.

He wasn’t critical of a defense that is tied for 11th in the league with 314.8 yards allowed per game.

“It’s not like everything’s bad,” he said. “But when we’ve needed a play, we haven’t gotten it.

“It’s time to start playing Patriot football, which we haven’t been doing this whole season. If we don’t step up, it’s going to be a long season. I know it’s a long season already. Don’t make it extra long, unless it’s good extra long. We’ve seen little sparks, here and there, but we’re just so inconsistent. We have to be more consistent.”

He’s not alone.

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees said as much Tuesday after the team allowed drives of 90 and 98 yards against the Broncos last Sunday. And safety Brandon Meriweather echoed Wilfork’s call.

“We need to start running to the ball and having fun on defense,” Meriweather said. “The rest of the things will come.”

What frustrated Wilfork the most was the lengthy drives. Though he turned in one of his better games (five tackles, one for a loss), Wilfork helped allow the Broncos to convert on 4-of-9 third downs in the second half and overtime.

“I don’t care if it’s by turnovers or third downs or whatever it may be, we have to get off the field,” he said. “We can’t have teams going 90 yards, 95 yards on us every week. We can’t have that. We can start by getting them third-and-long and getting off the field or stopping the run, and creating turnovers. If we do that, we’ll be in good shape.”

The increased emphasis began this week, because, as he said, “We just have to start playing some good football around here on a consistent basis.”

Like an elder statesmen, Wilfork cautioned that an 0-5 Titans team can be dangerous. He used the metaphor of a wounded dog ready to strike to protect itself.

Consider the players warned.

“They’re going to come out firing,” Wilfork said of Sunday’s opponent. “They’re going to be ready to play. We have to match it. If we don’t match that, we’ll be 3-3. We understand we need to play better football around here, start stringing some games together, which we haven’t been.

“Hopefully, we can get back on track.”

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James can’t fault Cardinals’ decision

RENTON – Although he left his former team under less-than-ideal circumstances, Seattle Seahawks running back Edgerrin James says he doesn’t hold a grudge against the Arizona Cardinals. James faces Arizona for the first time since the team granted his release earlier this year, several months after he first asked for it.

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt acknowledged in a conference call with Seattle-area reporters Wednesday that the 31-year-old veteran was an important part of his team’s rise to a playoff-caliber club, and ultimately the team’s Super Bowl run last season.

“It was a financial issue with us more than anything, certainly not from a standpoint of not wanting Edgerrin,” Whisenhunt said. “It’s always hard because Edgerrin has done a lot for this organization, especially at a time when it was really struggling as far as bringing fans in, bringing ticket sales in.

“And certainly last year in the playoffs, he had an important part of our run. So you never like to see players like that go, but in this business, those kinds of things happen.”

In the prime of his career, James left Indianapolis as a free agent and signed a four-year, $30 million deal with Arizona in 2006. He was due to make $5 million this season if he stayed in Arizona. However, once the Cardinals drafted Ohio State running back Chris “Beanie” Wells in the first round of this year’s draft, James became expendable.

“A lot of people wouldn’t take the risk, coming from where I came from,” James said about going to Arizona. “And I took the risk to go out there. And I don’t regret nothing. When I do something, I do it fully.”

James initially asked for his release in November of last year when Arizona put the future Hall of Famer on the bench in favor of rookie Tim Hightower.

But as Arizona struggled running the ball, James worked himself back in the rotation toward the end of the regular season. And he started all the games in the postseason, giving the Cardinals enough of a running game to keep defenses honest during the team’s deep playoff run.

After the team’s Super Bowl loss to the Steelers, James still wanted out. The Cardinals released him in April.

James signed a one-year, $2 million deal to join Seattle in September after the Seahawks released running back T.J. Duckett.

James said the release had more to do with taking care of some personal issues in his life, including the death of longtime girlfriend and the mother of his four children, Andia Denise Wilson, after a battle with leukemia.

“There were a bunch of things that factored into it, but at the end of the day my last year there I wasn’t even thinking about football,” he said. “So it’s not a big deal, man. They’re a nice football team. And I watched them progress, and we made some strides. And I feel like I played a big part in everything that went on there, from the day I got there until the day I left. So I’m satisfied.”

Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner said it will be odd seeing James in a Seahawks uniform come Sunday.

“Yeah, it’s going to be strange, especially in a Seahawk uniform after we had so many battles against them when he was here,” Warner said. “But everybody in this locker room loves him, and he was a great teammate and meant so much to our run last year.”

The Seahawks have yet to fully develop a role for James. He has been used in spot duty to give starter Julius Jones a rest.

However, Seahawks coach Jim Mora said James won’t be limited to helping run out the clock at the end of games.

“I don’t want that to be his only role,” Mora said. “I’d like to see Edge run the ball during the course of the game some. It’s not up to him to get himself involved, it’s up to us to get him involved, and that’s something that we’ll work towards.”

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Favre, Lewis share respect, admiration

(AP) — MINNEAPOLIS - The last time Brett Favre and Ray Lewis crossed paths, they shared a quiet greeting at quarterback Steve McNair's funeral on a steamy July day in Hattiesburg, Miss.

"Way to fight, warrior," is the way Lewis remembers it.

When Favre, the Minnesota Vikings' ageless quarterback, lines up under center on Sunday and locks eyes with Lewis, the Baltimore Ravens' fire-breathing middle linebacker, it will be like looking into a mirror in more ways than one.

Favre and Lewis bare no resemblance to each other from a physical standpoint. But when viewed through a football prism, the similarities are striking.

Both are putting together monster seasons at ages where they really have no business still playing their positions. And both approach the game with a passion and love that spreads to their teammates and earns them the type of respect inside their locker rooms that few of their peers enjoy.

"Two guys who've had extended careers for their position," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "You do not see many linebackers play 14 years, especially middle linebackers.

"How many quarterbacks have been able to play for as long as Brett has and at the level that he is at? The passion, the fire, the leadership, the things that these guys stand for on opposite sides of the ball. There are probably a lot of similarities there."

The 40-year-old Favre is still slingin' it in his 19th season in the NFL, while the 34-year-old Lewis continues to defy physics by slamming his body into opposing linemen and running backs in year No. 14.

"I feel like vets like that, who have seen everything, and on top of that are sharing their knowledge to everybody else, that's a plus," Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said. "That's like having a lead dog, an alpha male there to really guide you and lead you."

They meet on the football field for just the third time ever when Favre's Vikings (5-0) host Lewis's Ravens (3-2) on Sunday.

For the Vikings, whose first five opponents have a combined record of 7-17, it will be their biggest test of the season.

The Ravens, meanwhile, will be looking to stop a two-game slide and rebound after Cincinnati's Cedric Benson became the first running back to top 100 yards against Baltimore's proud defense in 40 games.

Favre joined the Vikings in August and has given the team the kind of consistent, playmaking ability at quarterback that the team has ached for during most of this decade. He has completed 69 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and just one interception to help Minnesota to its best start in six years.

His teammates have quickly embraced the man they playfully call "The Silver Fox," electing him a captain. And he has rewarded them by posting the fourth-best rating in the league and delivering a heart-pounding comeback victory over San Francisco three weeks ago.

"Favre is the true, true, true professional, the true warrior anytime he steps on the football field," Lewis said.

Lewis, of course, has been the heart and soul of the Ravens for his entire career. He is tied for eighth in the NFL with 45 tackles and made one of the signature plays of this season so far when he burst through the line and stuffed San Diego running back Darren Sproles on fourth-and-2 to preserve a victory over the Chargers.

"There are a lot of guys that talk the talk but don't walk the walk," Favre said. "He is one of them that walks it."

And struts it. And dances it. And chest-pounds it. Lewis's entrance into the Ravens' stadium for home games is legendary, and he is known for his ability to inspire his teammates with fiery speeches and impassioned gestures.

Favre doesn't hesitate to show emotion and has a reputation for tackling teammates after throwing them a touchdown pass. But he's not one for grandiose speeches. And he certainly doesn't have the dance moves that Lewis does.

It works just the same.

"It's contagious, man. When you see their confidence, it's like you get that too," Shiancoe said. "You see their level of play constantly increase, so it makes your level of play increase because of your work ethic. So you want to put in more work to be on the field with that guy and contribute like he does."

While some have tired of Favre's to-play-or-not-to-play antics from the past two offseasons, Lewis understands.

"There's no coming back. There's no getting this fountain of youth and finding your way back," Lewis said. "You've got to respect that because he understands. ... I commend a man that goes to war, day-in and day-out, no matter what anybody says."

Favre, who holds practically every career passing record worth having, went so far as to say he was honored to be mentioned in the same breath as Lewis.

"Trust me, to have passion like he does, like I like to think I do, play-in and play-out, week-in and week-out," Favre said. "Do you have bad games? Sure. Do you have bad days at practice where you don't feel like talking to anybody? Absolutely. But when you need him or things kind of go astray, who do you turn to? ... Very few players have that ability to right the ship when needed. He's one of those players. It would be a blast to play with him."

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Beason says he was 'wrong' for calling out Peppers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --Jon Beason apologized Thursday for calling out Carolina teammate Julius Peppers for his lack of production last week, even after the Panthers responded with their first win.

"After what happened, I realized I was wrong," Beason said on radio station WFNZ. "There are certain things you shouldn't say in public, certain things that should remain in-house. That's where I made my mistake."

After avoiding reporters in the locker room for nearly a week, the Pro Bowl linebacker said in his paid radio appearance that he never talked to Peppers after saying on the same station last week that "I'm going to have a conversation with that guy."

Peppers, a four-time Pro Bowl choice making an NFL-high $16.7 million salary this season, had just one sack and 10 tackles in Carolina's 0-3 start. Beason last week said a teammate called him after Minnesota's Jared Allen got 4 1/2 sacks in a Monday night game, and Beason vowed to tell Peppers that "I need everything you've got."

The Panthers then beat Washington 20-17 Sunday for their first victory of the season. Peppers had two sacks and made a key play to force a safety. Beason added a team-high 10 tackles, but the team's best defensive effort of the season apparently wasn't the result of any conversation.

"After I got a lot of negative pub from it, I decided not to even talk to him," Beason said.

Peppers, who rarely speaks to reporters, has declined interview requests since the incident. But Beason's teammates said Thursday that Beason shouldn't have discussed the issue publicly.

"We all know there are certain things not to talk about, but when you're put in a situation and especially when you're 0-3 at that time, that's a sensitive subject to a lot of people," linebacker Na'il Diggs said. "Unfortunately, he made a couple quotes I'm sure he would take back. ... Nobody is holding anything against him."

Beason, Carolina's first-round pick in 2007, has led the team in tackles in each of the past two seasons. He's been known for a fiery attitude and was voted a defensive captain by his teammates.

"Jon is a good person," defensive tackle Damione Lewis said. "He really cares about the team and cares how we perform and cares how each individual performs, which he should being a leader and the heartbeat of our defense. That's his role. It's totally understand where he was coming from, but it could have been handled in a different manner."

The issue took off because Peppers' effort has been questioned in the past and he's coming off an offseason where he tried to leave Carolina. Peppers, the franchise's career leader with 73 1/2 sacks, said after last season that he would never sign a long-term deal with the Panthers and pleaded to be allowed to leave in free agency.

The Panthers placed the restrictive franchise tag on him anyway, and Peppers skipped all offseason workouts before relenting and signing his guaranteed deal, which takes up about 14 percent of the salary cap.

Peppers had a sack in a 38-10 loss to Philadelphia, but did little the next two weeks as Carolina got off to its worst start since 1998.

But Peppers had four tackles, two for a loss, three quarterback hurries and two sacks against the Redskins.

Beason on Thursday called Peppers a "true pro," while his teammates said it's not an issue in the locker room.

"He's just a very passionate person and sometimes he says things that come across a little strong," Lewis said of Beason. "We all know him and know how he is so I know none of us took offense to what he said because we know him. I think it got played out of proportion."

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Oakland A's MLN: AFL Gets Underway

The Arizona Fall League is officially underway, with two games already in the books. We update the progress on the A's prospects playing in the league, as well as A's prospects participating in winter ball around the world.

Jemile Weeks: Weeks is off to a fast start for Phoenix. Batting lead-off, the A's 2008 first-round pick is three-for-his-first-nine with two doubles, an RBI, a walk and a stolen base.

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NEW FREE Andre Johnson Wallpaper

Check out our new Andre Johnson Wallpaper featuring. Click here to download our Andre Johnson Wallpaper and many other ones or click above on proCanes Wallpapers. Enjoy and stay tuned to more wallpapers in the near future.

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Campbell making a name for himself

PHOENIX - When Cardinals DE Calais Campbell assumed a starter's role on the defensive line following Antonio Smith's departure, the former Miami Hurricane wanted to make a name for himself and justify the team's faith in him.
Four games into the 2009 season Campbell has made quite a name for himself, but more because of his special teams heroics.

Sunday against the Texans he blocked a field goal, his second of the season. Campbell, who told Sports 620 KTAR's Gambo and Ash Monday that he had never blocked a kick before this season, said he would prefer knocking down the quarterback instead of knocking down the ball.

"For the team a blocked field goal is a bigger play because you're taking points off the board and it's a big momentum swinger," he said, "but from a personal, what I want to get, I'm a sack-machine in my mind, so I definitely want to get sacks."

Campbell, who also saved a possible touchdown by chasing down Texans punt returner Jacoby Jones, has impressed people with his effort on the field.

"It's just playing balls to the wall, full go, every play, and that's what I always try to do," he said. "When I'm on the field I just give my all."

Of course, had the Cardinals built on their 21-0 halftime lead instead of let the Texans back in the game, Campbell's special teams heroics may not have been as necessary as they ultimately became.

"The Texans are a good team, they made some plays to get back in the game, and we made a couple mistakes," Campbell said about what happened. "When you do that to a good team they're going to find a way to make plays."

But the Cardinals defense made the last play, stuffing the Texans on fourth and goal from the one yard line, preserving a seven point lead.

Campbell helped push the pile back on the play and, even though he's making plays on the field, he feels like he has much more to offer.

"I feel like I can play so much better," he said, "I'm definitely playing good enough where the coaches don't have to bench me or anything like that, but I'm not playing as good I could or I know I can.

"I'm really just starting to get comfortable and come into my own."

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Acquiring Kellen Winslow is one of the things the Buccaneers have done right this season

TAMPA — Admit it, you weren't sure what to make of Kellen Winslow.

Be honest, by now you figured he would've crashed a Suzuki into the lobby of One Buc Place wearing army fatigues while lobbying for more passes.

Confess, at the very least, that you believed sending two draft picks to Cleveland and making the sixth-year player out of Miami the NFL's highest paid tight end meant he wouldn't get out of training camp with two healthy knees.
"Somebody earlier was talking to me about Kellen," tight end John Gilmore said, "and I told (Winslow), 'I'm always defending you in the public eye.' "

That's what you get with Winslow — a lot of misperceptions and plenty of receptions. Despite the team's 0-5 start, he has proved to be the most reliable player on the roster.

He leads the team in catches (26, on pace for 83) and receiving yards (257). His four touchdowns are tied for the league lead with guys like Larry Fitzgerald (Cardinals), Andre Johnson (Texans), Reggie Wayne (Colts), Steve Smith (Giants) and Brandon Marshall (Broncos), and none of those guys plays tight end.

Instead of incendiary quotes, Winslow has been Forrest Gump humble.

"I'm just trying to do my job and help the team win," Winslow said. "That's really all I can do. It's not showing, but we're trying to come together, man, and just keep grinding and trying to get our first win."

That's not to say that Winslow still doesn't have to work at holding back his emotions once in a while.

"Here's a good example," Gilmore said. "When Kellen first got here, I had him over to the house. He and his wife came over and were hanging out with me and my wife. And he's excited. He's excited to be here, be around the guys, be around a new team. He sees his opportunity where he can make plays. He's like, 'Gilly, fourth and 12. I need to be in there.' I look at the dude like, 'Fourth and 12? We're punting the ball.' But that's the way he operates, that's the way he thinks and it's good to be around a guy like that."

Once in a while, the cloud nine Winslow lives on evaporates.

He failed to stretch for a first down against the Giants Sept. 27 and heard about it. He wasn't always on the practice field in time for stretching with teammates and was reminded of it. In training camp, coach Raheem Morris rode the tidal wave of Winslow's emotions.

"He is playing well. He is controlling his passion. He is buying in," Morris said. "He's one of those guys. He believes in himself. He's out there practicing every day, no matter what his aches and pains are. He's doing a great job of fighting his own demons. Whatever his demons are, whether it's his passion or wanting the ball or referring to another tight end — he's fighting all those demons.

"He's not necessarily the rah-rah leader to bring everybody with him. He's kind of the leader by example, the way he practices, the tempo he sets. You can't always listen to what Kellen has to say, but you may want to do some of the things he's doing."

Gilmore says he has learned a lot by watching Winslow, 26, dissect defenses.

"You can't question the guy's love for the game," Gilmore, 30, said. "In fact, I've never witnessed anything like that and I've played with a few good tight ends. … Man, he's a student of the game. He loves the game of football. I've often said his greatest asset can be his biggest downfall because he gets so involved in the game. But you definitely have to respect that in a player, somebody you don't have to question his commitment."

In return, the Bucs want to be more committed to getting the 6-4, 240-pound Winslow the football.

"He's a tremendous athlete," offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. "And we've got to make sure he's the No. 1 or No. 2 in the progression in a lot of what we do."

So fess up. You were wrong about Kellen Winslow. Because acquiring him seems to be one of the things the Bucs got right this season.

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Jon Vilma's Chat Wrap From Verizon's PlayMaker Mobile

Former Cane Jonathan Vilma is one of the elite athletes using Verizon’s PlayMaker Mobile to connect and share experiences with fans. He joins fellow Canes Ray Lewis and DJ Williams on the platform and chatted with fans on Friday about this week’s opponent, the Miami Hurricanes and much more!

MobileUser-5565 Jonathan how was the week off? What did you do? Do you visit PR regularly?
MobileUser-5615 Is it a challenge for a team to get back into a groove after a bye week?
jonathanvilma:  Hey guys!
jonathanvilma:  The week off was great. Had the long weekend in Puerto Rico. More relaxing than fun. Laid by the beach and by the pool.
jonathanvilma:  Ran into some Jets fans!
jonathanvilma:  They were having a bachelor party so that was fun. They were real cool.
jonathanvilma:  I'm glad the coach gave us the week off.
jonathanvilma:  I try to visit Puerto Rico once a year b/c it's so close to Miami. It's like a mini-getaway. It's like Miami but it's not. The culture is different and the people are different. The beaches and weather are the same.
jonathanvilma:  There isn't the high maintenance of South Beach Miami so it's real lowkey.
jonathanvilma:  It's not a challenge physically to get back into the groove
jonathanvilma:  It's a challenge mentally
jonathanvilma:  You've gotta be sharp with the adjustments and it feels almost like the first day of training camp. But it only takes like one or maybe two practices to get back into that mental groove.
MobileUser-5615 Have you studied any film on the Giants yet? And if so, do the have any weaknesses?
jonathanvilma:  But I'm glad we had the time off. There's always a chance the coach says we gotta work on something and you have a few practices. But I don't mind practice. I like practice and training camp. But I like PR too!
jonathanvilma:  Film on the Giants?
jonathanvilma:  Oh yeah.
jonathanvilma:  It's still early but I've watched some.
jonathanvilma:  They don't have any glaring weaknesses.
jonathanvilma:  They're undefeated for a reason.
MobileUser-5565 Are the Canes back?
jonathanvilma:  Great QB, young receivers making tons of plays. Good o-line. Great running back. Two great running backs actually.
jonathanvilma:  I sure hope the Canes are back. It's been a long time coming.
MobileUser-5565 Weren't you and DJ Williams on the same Miami team?
jonathanvilma:  When you face four tough opponents the way we did, handled it the way we did, and only one hiccup to a solid team (V Tech who beat up on BC this weekend) — each time I watch them they're getting better as a group. The sky is the limit.
jonathanvilma:  Yes, me and DJ were on the same team all four years.
jonathanvilma:  Recruited by Butch Davis.
jonathanvilma:  He started on offense his rookie year then moved over to defense, and we were linebacker buddies from there on out.
jonathanvilma:  Recruited by Butch Davis and Greg Schiano, who is the head coach of Rutgers right now.
jonathanvilma:  Don't wanna forget Greg.
MobileUser-5565 Are u surprised by the Broncos fast start
jonathanvilma:  He was my coordinator freshmen year before moving to Rutgers.
jonathanvilma:  You know what, it's not surprising.
MobileUser-5615 How amped up is the city of New Orleans for the showdown of unbeatens?
jonathanvilma:  You always get one of those teams.
MobileUser-5565 Incredible staff and talent you had at Miami
jonathanvilma:  Fly under the radar all offseason then all of a sudden they're 5-0 or 6-0 and DJ Williams has been telling me that they're a good team even MINUS Jay Cutler and even WITH the distractions.
jonathanvilma:  You see, that's the thing: A team of good players will always beat a few great players.
jonathanvilma:  But there are surprises.
jonathanvilma:  Like the Titans.
jonathanvilma:  I didn't expect them to be winless. They went 13-3 for all the right reasons so it's been surprising they haven't found a win for five weeks. They just keep finding ways to lose. For five weeks.
MobileUser-5565 Good points you make about Denver. Football is indeed a team game.
jonathanvilma:  That's the biggest NFL surprise this season in my opinion.
jonathanvilma:  But mostly the season has been a lot of what I expected.
MobileUser-5615 Who is the unsung hero of the Saints?
jonathanvilma:  The top-tier QBs and RBs are playing as expected.
jonathanvilma:  Everyone is being consistent minus the Denvers of the world b/c people didn't think much of Kyle Orton, and he's playing lights-out right now.
jonathanvilma:  Lights out.
jonathanvilma:  The unsung hero of the Saints?
jonathanvilma:  Hmmm.
jonathanvilma:  You know, I'd have to give it to our PUNTER!
jonathanvilma:  Punts and kickoffs. Thomas Morstead. Hidden yardage that people don't notice.
jonathanvilma:  Two, three touchbacks a game.
jonathanvilma:  Forces fair catches with his punts.
jonathanvilma:  When someone needs to be pinned down, he pins them on the five.
jonathanvilma:  People are happy when they see it but they don't necessarily understand how important it is to the flow of the game. So Thomas Morstead you're the hero!
MobileUser-5615 What has he done that has been so impactful?
jonathanvilma:  I'm laughing now, because lots of people think kickers and punters aren't real football players.
jonathanvilma:  But how many games get decided by 3 points or less? They're so vital to the game.
MobileUser-5565 What are some of your off field interests? What did you study at Miami?
jonathanvilma:  Off the field.
jonathanvilma:  Let's see.
jonathanvilma:  DUring the season, sleep.
jonathanvilma:  A whole lotta sleep whenever I can get it.
jonathanvilma:  Offseason I like to travel, get out of the country at least once a year.
jonathanvilma:  15 or 20 years ago there was no such a thing as offseason training. But now times have changed.
jonathanvilma:  So a lot of that time is still devoted to working out, staying in shape, being around your teammates. But I find time to travel.
jonathanvilma:  I studied finance at Miami.
jonathanvilma:  I haven't used my degree yet b/c fortunately I was drafted by the Jets!
jonathanvilma:  But I do plan to use it by retire. But I'm in no rush to use it.
jonathanvilma:  I want to have as much fun as I can before I ever have to use my finance degree. I call it fun because football is not work to me. Football is my life. I can't even believe I get paid to play football.
MobileUser-5615 Is there any player on the Saints D that is coming into his own that we should pay attention to?
jonathanvilma:  Up and coming guy on Saints D is Scott Shanley—he's got two picks so he's not flying under the radar but he's doing a great job.
jonathanvilma:  OK guys.
jonathanvilma:  Bye week. Not too much to talk about, I guess.
jonathanvilma:  But I'll be back on PMM later this week with some talk about the New York Giants!
jonathanvilma:  I'm gonna try to do a live video after the game. We'll see how things go.
jonathanvilma:  See you Friday! Thanks to my fans.

Vilma is one of 12 playmakers using PlayMaker Mobile to connect with fans through live chats and exclusive text updates, photos and videos. Other athletes on the PlayMaker Mobile roster include Ray Lewis (Baltimore Ravens), Yao Ming (Houston Rockets), Jeremy McGrath (Supercross Champion), Donovan McNabb (Philadelphia Eagles), Steve Nash (Phoenix Suns), Antonio Pierce (New York Giants), Gretchen Bleiler (Snowboard Champion), Lolo Jones (American Track star), Greg Oden (Portland Trail Blazers), Adrian Wilson (Arizona Cardinals) and Rajon Rondo (Boston Celtics).

Thank you again proCane fan Kirk with sending us the transcript!

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Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey: 'This is not about me'

Sunday's kickoff against his former team apparently can't come soon enough for New Orleans Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey.

That seemed obvious when he met with reporters in the team's locker room Wednesday,  a 7 1/2-minute session that was interrupted several times by a tripped fire alarm.

But the bell did not save him from having to discuss his time with the New York Giants,  six bittersweet seasons that ended in July 2008 when he was dealt to the Saints for second- and fifth-round draft picks.

"This is not about me,  so not any questions about me, '' said Shockey,  who leads Saints receivers with 18 catches for 162 yards and two touchdowns. "It's about two teams going against each other. I want to make that clear.

"There have already been some references about vendettas and stuff. There's nothing about that. It's about two great teams playing each other. It just so happens that it's (against) a team I used to play for.''

A fire alarm sounded a second time,  prompting a reporter to ask if he had planned it.

"Me again,  it's always me, '' Shockey said,  playing along for the moment. "No,  I did not plan this.''

Saints quarterback Drew Brees said he could relate with what Shockey is experiencing this week. Last season,  Brees faced similar inquiries from reporters prior to playing the San Diego Chargers for the first time since joining the Saints in 2006.

"I know the feeling, '' Brees said. "Jonathan Vilma knows the feeling (of playing against the New York Jets). There are plenty of guys playing against your old team for the first time.

"I think any competitive person will have a little extra juice. So for him,  it's just going to be about staying poised and composed while at the same timer playing the type of football he's used to playing,  which is just kind of a 'wild-man' mentality.''

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Ray Lewis expects to be fined

Ray Lewis said today he will "probably" be fined for the helmet-to-helmet hit he had Sunday on Chad Ochocinco, but that he never intended to hurt the Bengals receiver.

"Would I do it over? No," Lewis said. "I never played the game to hurt anybody. But the bottom line is ... when I'm locked in, I'm locked in. Whatever is there, is there. I hit my friends, too."

Lewis picked up a 15-yard personal foul penalty for the hit, as the Bengals moved down the field on the game-winning drive. He did not catch Ochocinco flush, but caught enough of his helmet to send it flying.

In his own inimitable way, Ochocinco recorded a video on Tuesday in which he delivered a long monologue about the hit. He showed off a blackened eye he said was caused by the facemask when his helmet flew off. He also said he was knocked out momentarily "and I saw the light.".

Ochocinco said earlier he didn't want the NFL to fine Lewis.

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Bears' Olsen still has room for growth

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- No one was comparing Greg Olsen to Tony Gonzalez last summer when the words "Olsen" and "Pro Bowl" first started appearing in the same sentence.

No one would dare, as Gonzalez, in his first season with the Atlanta Falcons after 13 years with the Kansas City Chiefs, is a 10-time Pro Bowler and surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer who holds NFL records for career receptions, receiving yards, touchdown catches and more.

Before this year, they could stitch his name on an AFC Pro Bowl jersey in September, but after four games this season, Gonzalez, 33, has "just" 19 receptions for 215 yards (and two TDs), 19th in the NFC.

Olsen, who is physically similar to Gonzalez at 6-foot-5, 255 pounds (Gonzalez is 6-5, 243 pounds) and is a big admirer, is on the brink of being slapped with the "disappointment" tag this season, with just 10 catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns.

It was fair to expect big things from Olsen -- and give him credit: He expects them of himself and does not think the Pro Bowl talk was heaping on too much pressure.

"No, I don't think so at all," he said Wednesday at Halas Hall. "I have that type of potential and that type of ability."

That we have yet to witness that potential at its full capacity does not mean Olsen hasn't made some impression on the offense. Game-planning designed to stop Olsen has no doubt led to some of the early success enjoyed by Bears receivers Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett.

"A lot of teams have tried to take [Olsen] away from us, which is fine," said quarterback Jay Cutler, whose jaw tightens every time he's asked about Olsen's failure to live up to expectations. "That's why it has opened up stuff for everyone else."

Olsen has been in the slot and has lined up at fullback, catching passes seemingly everywhere except downfield, where we all expected. (He had one 29-yard reception against Pittsburgh.) But Cutler has gone deep infrequently thus far, and as they like to say around here, they're 3-1.

"If you tell Greg he'll only catch a handful of balls every game and we win the rest of these games, make it into the playoffs and make a run at the Super Bowl, he'll be happy with that," said fellow tight end Desmond Clark. "The thing is, if we have a game plan and it's working, we don't want to screw it up. When [the opportunity] presents itself, I'm quite sure we'll take it, and everybody knows Jay will take the shot whenever it's there. It'll come.

"He hasn't caught his stride yet. It's going to happen, and he's going to have a stretch of games where he catches eight, nine, 10 balls and next game come back and catch five or six, and then next game go back and catch eight. He's going to hit that stride sooner or later in the season, then, you know how the city is: Everybody will love him again."

At 3-1, the love might not be abundant, but there's a lot of like. And if you figure that Olsen has not yet hit his stride, Matt Forte and the offensive line have yet to get into a groove, and Cutler hasn't really cut it loose, hand-wringing is not yet necessary. We'll all know when that time arrives. We're very good at that.

If someone had told you before the season started that after four games, Olsen would have only 10 catches and the 3-1 Bears would be seventh in the league in scoring at 26.2 points per game, come on, admit it -- you'd have been pleasantly surprised. But you'd have also wondered what was wrong with the big fella.

But after four games in 2008, Olsen also had 10 catches, and he finished with 54 grabs for 574 yards and five TDs, 10th overall among NFL tight ends. Gonzalez, whom Olsen and the Bears will see Sunday night in Atlanta, led all tight ends last season with 96 catches for 1,058 yards and 10 touchdowns.

"Everything takes time," tight ends coach Rob Boras said of Olsen. "But he's a special talent."

While offensive coordinator Ron Turner's talk with Olsen during the bye week did not change the fact that "we've got to get him more involved in the passing game," according to Turner, the Bears love his versatility.

"We're going to try to move him around to as many different spots as we can to try to find mismatches," Boras said.

Turner called it a luxury.

"They don't know if he's going to line up as a wide receiver, a tight end, or at the fullback [spot] and be a lead blocker," he said, "so that definitely gives us the ability to do a lot of things."

Olsen said he feels good about where his game is through four contests.

"I know a lot of the other stuff gets looked past -- the run-blocking, pass-blocking stuff like that," said Olsen, who as a blocker still lacks the leverage of someone like Clark. "I'm not really too concerned about all the stuff that gets said. I feel good about where I'm at, and I just have to continue to not press and when the chances come, just make the best of them."

Chances are, he will. The like lasts only so long.

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Dolphins Work Out Buck Ortega

The Dolphins held a workout for former UM TE Buck Ortega on Wednesday. Ortega, a strong special teams player who doesn't have any practice squad eligibility left, was recently cut by the Saints (the Dolphins' next opponent).

The Phins already have 4 TEs on the roster (three on the 53-man and one on the practice squad), and presently have no vacancies on the roster.

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Shockey predicting best game of 2009

According to ESPN's Wendy Nix, Jeremy Shockey is predicting his "best game of the season" Sunday against the Giants.

Shockey's best game so far was his two-score opener. New York has been vulnerable to tight ends since losing Kenny Phillips for the year. Sean Ryan and Zach Miller have been productive against them in the last two weeks.

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Buccaneers' Winslow on pace for banner season

About the only thing the Bucs can take heart in these days is the play of TE Kellen Winslow.

Winslow is ripping opponents, most recently with a 9-catch, 102-yard performance at Philadelphia on Sunday.

With 26 receptions for 257 yards, Winslow is on pace for more than 83 catches. And here's, perhaps, the most interesting statistic: Winslow's four touchdowns is tied for the league lead. He's tied with five others, guys you've probably heard of: WRs Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Steve Smith (Giants) and Brandon Marshall. 

Winslow ranks fourth among tight ends in receptions, trailing only Dallas Clark, Heath Miller and Jason Witten.

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Scheme Session: Ed Reed's pick six

On Sunday, Ravens safety Ed Reed took yet another interception back to the house against Carson Palmer and the Bengals. Today, I will show you how the Ravens used a pressure scheme to bait Palmer into throwing the slant to WR Chad Ochocinco—and the resulting pick six from Reed.

First, let’s check out the scheme in chalkboard form below…

The Ravens have the Bengals in a 3rd and long situation. Cincy sends in their 3 wide receiver package, and Baltimore counters with what I learned as the “Ruby Package,” consisting of 3 down linemen, 2 linebackers, and a 6 defensive back Dime look.

In the back end for Baltimore, this is a classic man-free defense. The two corners and strong side Nickel play man-to-man with outside leverage principles—forcing every route to the middle of the field to free safety Ed Reed. Sounds simple, and looks simple, but the blitz itself is complex.

Baltimore shows a pre-snap look that tells Palmer and the Bengals’ offensive line that they are bringing pressure to the strong, or three-receiver side. Both linebackers, including MLB Ray Lewis, No.52, show pre-snap pressure, thus forcing the Bengals to count them into the protection and, in turn, keeping the tight end in to block.

However, as we can see from the diagram, all three strong side players are in coverage. The defensive end actually has the RB in coverage—which is a downfall of this blitz if the QB has time to throw—the weak side, or Will Backer has the Tight End, and Lewis, acts as a “robber,” dropping to the middle of the field between the hashes to cut off any underneath inside breaking routes.

But, then, where is the blitz coming from?

Just before the snap of the ball, the Dime will creep to the line of scrimmage on the weak side, followed by the strong safety who rolls to the flat—almost acting as if he is going to “cut” the No.1 receiver to the weak side, which happens to be Chad Ochocinco, No. 85.

However, what they are creating, with the Nose and strong side defensive end (who are running a crossing stunt), is a 4 on 3 blitz that gives them a matchup edge from a scheme standpoint. The Bengals are faced with 4 rushers to the weak side with only the offensive tackle, guard, and the running back to block in protection.

Let’s check it out in real time from the game on Sunday below…

The Bengals know that Baltimore is a pressure-heavy team on third down, so they ran what is called “all-slants,” where the three receivers run the inside breaking slant route—deep enough to ensure that a catch and immediate tackle will result in a first down.

An experienced QB like Palmer will check Reed’s alignment out as he gets to the line of scrimmage. What he sees in a single-high safety, telling him that the Ravens are running man-free—the perfect defense for Cincy to run and produce with this play.

But, Reed knows that they are bringing pressure to the weak side, and because of the pre-snap look, the Bengals will be outnumbered, the ball will have to come out quickly, and this allowed Reed to jump the route.

The play itself was classic Ed Reed, but it was the scheme, and the pre-snap looks, that allowed this basic slant route to turn into a pick six for the Ravens.

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Portis addresses Sellers dust up

Redskins running back Clinton Portis, who finds himself in the middle of a controversy roughly twice per year, addressed on Tuesday his most recent brouhaha, involving fullback Mike Sellers.

"Man, I think it was a minor situation that was blown out of proportion," Portis said on ESPN 980's The John Thompson Show.  "I think me and Mike handled that, and I thought it was between me and him.  You know, there was only two other people in the locker room when it happened, so how it got out to the media.  I mean, it's exchanging words.  You know, when you work with somebody year round, every day, you know, Mike always feel like that big brother-little brother role. 

"I think Mike being an older cat and a veteran cat, Mike always want the big brother role, and sometimes little brother and big brother not gonna co-exist," Portis said.  "But you know, we exchanged our words and it was done with, and all the sudden the media got a hold of it.  So we discussed it, and we fine."

In other words, something went down and since the team isn't going to be trading or cutting either one of them in the near future, they had to work it out. 

But the reality is that, as the team continues to struggle, it can bubble up again at any moment.  Without warning.

Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post has the Portis quote and nuggets from others regarding the Portis-Sellers situation.  Steinberg also has separate words from Portis that make us think of Allen Iverson ranting about practice.  (Click that link, by the way -- it's one of the best sports sound bite mash-ups we've ever seen.  And feel free to dance, if the mood should strike you.)

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Shockey gets a chance to make good on promise to Giants

"If the team trades me, I promise you I’m going to make them pay. If I ever get a chance to play against a team that trades me, it’s not going to be a pretty site." — Tight end Jeremy Shockey to a group of journalists about a month before the Giants traded him to New Orleans on July 21, 2008.

Shockey gets a chance to live up to that promise Sunday when the unbeaten Giants (5-0) travel to New Orleans to face the undefeated Saints (4-0) in the Superdome. His conflict with the front office, which spilled over into a shouting match with general manager Jerry Reese, punched his ticket out of town.

He since has become part of that high-scoring Saints offense engineered by quarterback Drew Brees and orchestrated by coach Sean Payton. He has caught 18 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns in four games this season.

He’d probably like to double those season totals Sunday.

"Things that happened between some people and myself, that bitter taste will always be in my mouth," he said in an interview in Monday’s New Orleans Times-Picayune. "It’s just something that if you cross me once — it’s hard enough to gain my trust as it is — and if you lie to me and if you say something behind closed doors between that person and myself ..."

Shockey still is upset by the way he felt the team treated him after he broke his leg late in the 2007 season, the year the Giants went on to win Super Bowl XLII. He felt excluded from the team when he showed up for the game in Arizona.

"I did some things to help the organization, marketing-wise," he said. "I know they made a lot of money off of jersey sales and the things I’ve done for them. Going to the Pro Bowl four out of six years is a very big accomplishment, and I was expecting a little more respect than I was receiving."

Shockey may be on a one-man mission Sunday, but the Giants look at him as just one of 11 offensive forces on the field for New Orleans. Any vendetta does not cross team lines.

"I am sure he is excited for the game," said Giants quarterback Eli Manning. "I think he gets excited for every game. I am sure he will be ready to play.

"There were no ill feelings. Shockey was a tremendous player. I am sorry to see him go. We had a good relationship when he was here and everything was fine."

"He plays with the passion that I think you should play football with," said linebacker Antonio Pierce. "There is not a better, more competitive guy in the National Football League on offense than Jeremy Shockey. They are playing against us. He is going to be riled up. He is going to want to obviously prove a point that they made a mistake.

"But it is not Shockey vs. the Giants; it is the Saints vs. the Giants."

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Olsen hosting country music concert to benefit foundation

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Bears tight end Greg Olsen will host the “Shake the Lake Music Festival” at Joe’s on Weed Street in Chicago on Friday, Nov. 13 at 8 p.m.

The country music concert will feature David Nail and Keith Anderson and benefit Receptions for Research—The Greg Olsen Foundation. Funds raised will go to organizations dedicated to breast and brain cancer research and treatment, as well as Children’s Memorial Hospital.

Olsen founded Receptions for Research after his mother, Susan, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She has been cancer-free for several years, but the cause remains close to the Olsen family. 

Tickets are $50 for general admission, and $100 for VIP access, which includes cocktails, appetizers, and the opportunity for a meet and greet with the bands and some Bears players. Tickets are available at, or can be purchased at Joe’s (cash only). 

For more information about Olsen's foundation, log onto

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Bills Work Out Leon WIlliams

In dire need of defensive depth after several injuries, the Buffalo Bills signed linebacker Chris Draft today as well as safety Todd Johnson.

Draft is a former Chicago Bears draft pick who was most recently with the St. Louis Rams prior to being cut on Sept. 10.

He has previous stints with the Atlanta Falcons, the Carolina Panthers and the San Francisco 49ers.

Johnson has previous stints with the Bears and Rams.

The Bills have placed Kawika Mitchell and Marcus Buggs on injured reserve.

The Bills also cut linebacker Marcus Freeman and signed linebacker Anthony Waters to the practice squad.

The Bills worked out several linebackers, including Matt Wilhelm, Jamie Winborn, Leon Williams, Alex Lewis, Patrick Thomas and Waters.

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Gore plans to take Crabtree under his wing during 49ers bye week

While most players will get away during the bye week, running back Frank Gore plans on a stay-cation at the 49ers facility. He won’t be alone: He’s got Michael Crabtree to break in.

“Me and Crabtree are going to get it done,’’ Gore said Tuesday.

The 49ers hope to have Gore (ankle) and the newly signed Crabtree back when their season resumes Oct. 25 at Houston. That’s good, because the 49ers could use the help – from Gore, from Crabtree, from anywhere.

They rank 29th in the league in total yards, 31st in first downs per game and 27th in third-down efficiency. The offense was so horrid against the Falcons that Coach Mike Singletary indicated changes are in store along the offensive line. Right guard Chilo Rachal, for example, could be out of a starting job after back-to-back poor games.

The 49ers clearly need more offensive firepower if they have any chance of keeping up with the league’s elite. Teams with a 300-yard passer this season are a combined 23-8 (.742). Those 23 wins by a 300-yard passer are the most in NFL history through the first five weeks.

The 49ers, in contrast, haven’t so much as topped 200 passing yards since the season opener (209 against Arizona).

Gore insisted Tuesday that everything would be fine, even along the offensive line. He returned to practice on a limited basis and said the ankle and foot injuries sustained at Minnesota on Sept. 27 are just about healed.
Gore has rushed for, 1,000 yards for three consecutive seasons. He said he retains faith in his blockers.

“I feel that they’ll be fine,’’ Gore said. “We just need to clean up the small things and just play together. I like that (Singletary) is challenging these guys. We just need to get the M.E.s – the mental errors – out of the way.”

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Sapp Millionaires surfaces on state's unclaimed money website

TAMPA, FL -- Alex Sink, Florida's Chief Financial Officer, is encouraging all Floridians to find out if they have unclaimed money or property currently being held by the state’s Bureau of Unclaimed Property.

According to Sink, the state is holding more than $1 billion in cash and property. More than $500,000 of that property will be auctioned off later this month.

Sink is urging people to check and see if they have unclaimed property before it's auctioned off.

"When I was a little girl, we were taught to look under sofa cushions and look for quarters, dime and nickels," Sink said. "That's what everyone in Florida ought to be doing. Who knows? You may find dimes and quarters, but you may find half a million dollars."

To check and see if you have unclaimed property, go to You can type your name into the search function and see if you have any money or property waiting for you.

ABC Action News searched the database to see what well-known figures had unclaimed money in Florida. Among them were baseball player Derek Jeter (unclaimed money from a life insurance policy), owner George Steinbrenner (unclaimed dividends from Bear Stearns) and actor Burt Reynolds (credit balance on an account).

Warren Sapp, a one-time defensive lineman with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has unclaimed salary from the Bucs waiting for him.

Even Sink had money in the database that she was unaware of.

"See, you just never know," Sink said. "You just never know."

The state will hold the auction of unclaimed property on October 24 in Ft. Lauderdale.

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NFL U Week 5 Photos

Check out Week 5 photos from around the the NFL of our proCanes. Click here to see the photos.

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Derrick Morse Coaching Now

Former Wildcats star lineman Derrick Morse is in his first season as a coach for the Island Coast (Cape Coral) freshman football team, which visited Estero last week. Morse, who handles the offense, said his allegiance to his alma mater hasn’t waned.

“I still love Estero,” he said. “It’s almost weird being on the visitors sideline. I still feel like I’m a part of that team. It hasn’t hit me at Island Coast because I’m kind of new here. But I do love it at Island Coast. I wish nothing but the best for Estero.”

After a stellar career at the University of Miami, Morse was unable to land a gig in the NFL last year, although he had a preseason stint with Cleveland.

As a substitute teacher at Island Coast, Morse is staying involved in the sport as a coach.

“It looks like (playing) football is done, so I’ll be here. (Coaching) is probably going to give me a heart attack,” Morse said after Island Coast and Estero battled to a 14-14 tie.

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McGahee Confused By Role In Ravens Offense

Willis McGahee hardly broke a sweat primarily because he wasn't asked to do so. The running back who leads the NFL in touchdowns with seven was used sparingly in the Ravens' shocking 17-14 loss Sunday to the visiting Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium. McGahee carried the football just once for a loss of 2 yards and caught one pass for 4 yards and asked whether he was surprised about his lack of activity, McGahee replied diplomatically: "I'm content with what's going on. I've got nothing to complain about." But when pressed on the issue, McGahee acknowledged being a little confused about his role with the offense. "I don't know what's going on," he said. "I was only in there for a little bit. You would think it would have been better than that, but it is what it is."

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Bruce Johnson Demoted

Something that kind of flew under the radar yesterday was CB Kevin Dockery’s replacing rookie CB Bruce Johnson as the team’s third corner. Not stunning by any means but Johnson had been playing well. This will only get more complicated when (or should I say "if"?) CB Aaron Ross returns.

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Ed Reed shines in Ravens' loss

BALTIMORE -- Ed Reed was sprinting toward the football even before Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer released the pass in the direction of wide receiver Chad Ochocinco.

It was a case of Reed’s formidable instincts, range and extensive knowledge of Palmer’s habits taking over as the All-Pro free safety swooped in for a 52-yard interception return for a touchdown. Ochocinco was covered on the play by cornerback Fabian Washington.

It was one of the Ravens’ top highlights during a 17-14 loss Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

“Certain quarterbacks have certain tendencies,” Reed said. “It was just a great jam by Fabian and me breaking on the ball. I watch film constantly, man.

“We’ve been playing against each other for the last couple years, and I know him just as much as he knows me. It’s just competitors going against each other and somebody making a play.”

For Reed, it was his 45th career interception , the second of his season and the eighth defensive touchdown of his career.

The former NFL Defensive Player of the Year leads the Raven all-time in interceptions and has the most interceptions and interception return yards with 1,213 since entering the league seven years ago.

“It means nothing if you lose at the end of the day,” he said. “When you lose, everything is out the window. Individual stuff doesn’t matter at the end of the day for me anyway, at this point in my career. You’re just trying to win, man.”

Reed also chucked the ball out of Ochocinco’s hands in the open field in the final minutes of the second quarter.
The forced fumble halted a drive.

“We practiced it, we talked about it and you see things on tape,” Reed said. “It’s just instinctive stuff at the time. Actually, he shouldn’t have caught the ball. So, it’s just running to the football.”

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Hester Returns To Practice

Bears wide receiver Devin Hester (neck) returned to practice on Monday, the Daily Herald reports. Hester suffered a neck injury during Week 4 against the Lions, but appears to have recovered well during the team's bye week. Hester is expected to start Sunday's game against the Falcons.

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Week 4's Least Valuable Players

Clinton Portis(notes), RB, Washington Redskins. Clinton Portis accepts this award on behalf of all the Redskins, but he gets chosen for the honors for whining to the coaches about a teammate, when he's not exactly lighting the world on fire, either. Last week, Portis yapped to the coaches to get fullback Mike Sellers(notes) pulled from the game, and while it may have been true that Sellers blew a play, Portis can feel free to pull his own weight, too. He's averaging 3.7 yards per carry on the year (backup Ladell Betts(notes) is at 4.9) and got just 57 yards on 19 carries yesterday.

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Bears still want Olsen to break out

According to the Chicago Tribune's Dan Pompei, Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner is "re-committing" to make Greg Olsen's breakout happen.

Pompei says he "knows" of Turner's plan, possibly because of developments during the Week 5 bye. Olsen is on pace for eight touchdowns, but just 40 catches. Pompei says he wouldn't rule out Olsen emerging as the Bears' leading receiver by season's end. Chicago visits Atlanta coming off the bye.

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Edgerrin Sees The Most Careers of the Season

Seahawks RB Edgerrin James saw a season-high 16 carries Sunday, but most of them came in garbage time with Seattle up big.

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Ravens don't expect "repercussions" for Lewis hit

The Ravens don’t expect “any repercussions” on Ray Lewis’ helmet-to-helmet hit on Cincinnati receiver Chad Ochocinco.

“Watching it on TV, I think it was in the strike zone [which is below the neck and above the knees],” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday. “But I’m sure that is something [the NFL] will take look at and we’ll find and see. As far as the game, that’s a tough call to make either way.”

The NFL has used harsh discipline before on a helmet-to-helmet collision. Last September, New York Jets safety Eric Smith was suspended one game and fined $50,000 for hitting Anquan Boldin, causing the Arizona Cardinals wide receiver to be hospitalized. In handing out the discipline, the NFL announced it was a “flagrant violation of player safety rules.”

When the league suspended Smith, it was announced the day after the hit.

This would mark the second straight week that a Ravens player received a fine. Last week, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was fined $5,000 when his arm hit the side of Tom Brady’s helmet. The league announced that Ngata “struck the quarterback in the head area.”

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Brian Fuery Wins His Next Fight

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Parrish the thought, trade Roscoe

Dick Jauron had spoken for six minutes Monday when a Bills public relations staffer informed us there would be time for one more question. All I could feel at that point was gratitude. I can barely stand to listen anymore.

It's not just Jauron, either. Hardly anyone has anything interesting or sincere to say nowadays. Trent Edwards tells us Jauron is leading the team in the right direction. Alex Van Pelt says Edwards played his rear end off Sunday. I have the urge to yell out, "Please, somebody say what you're really thinking!"

There is at least one player with the guts to speak his mind. It happens to be the smallest guy in the room, Roscoe Parrish, who makes no secret of the fact that he wants out of Buffalo.

Parrish has been unhappy for some time about his role in the offense. He wants to be a regular receiver. He feels he has been labeled a "gadget" player whose only value is returning kicks.

He's playing like a guy with one foot out the door, like a man in a rush. Parrish is no longer getting time at wideout. He has one reception for 5 yards. His other 20 yards receiving came on desperate lateral plays at the end of losses. Gadget plays, if you will.

So Parrish desperately tries to make things happens in his brief appearance on punt and kickoff returns.

And he is killing the Bills.

Parrish tried to scoop up a rolling punt late in Sunday's game and muffed it, allowing the Browns to kick a game-winning field goal. Earlier, he reversed his field on a punt return and lost 15 yards. He fumbled a punt against the Saints, leading to the go-ahead field goal.

"No doubt, it's on my mind," Parrish said Monday. "I'm not used to this situation, just watching the offense. When I get a punt return, I try to take advantage of that situation even more than I ever did. I'm always going all out, but I give that extra twitch now."

Sure, he was just trying to make a play Sunday. So was Leodis McKelvin in New England. But there's no excuse for dumb football. If Parrish is so desperate to get out of town that he takes unjustifiable risks, the Bills should grant his wish.

Parrish complained about his limited role in the offense last June. The Bills tried to trade him, to no avail. Maybe teams weren't offering enough in return or maybe they balked at his three-year, $10 million contract.

That's a lot for a punt returner. Parrish whines about playing time. But he hasn't made a case for himself. He's averaged 10.8 yards a catch in his career, pathetic for a reputed game-breaker. At 5-foot-8, he's not much of a target.

The coaches deserve some of the blame. But they've evidently given up on Parrish as a wideout. Van Pelt has been using mostly two-wide receiver sets. They're barely getting the ball to Lee Evans and Terrell Owens.

James Hardy is eligible to come off the six-week injury list after Sunday's game at the Jets. Hardy says he's ready to play. That's one more receiver to work into the mix. Then there's Stevie Johnson, who showed promise a year ago but has been inactive all season.

"I know what I can do," he said. "If not here, I know I can do it somewhere else. So it doesn't bother me. If you know how to play ball, you know how to play ball. Every system might not be for you."

The Bills are going nowhere this season. Why hang on to a player who wants out? There must be some team that can use a punt returner. The trade deadline is a week from today. Parrish and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, have made it clear they'd like to move on.

"We have," Parrish said. "We've been doing that all season. Nothing is happening. It's out of my hands. There's nothing I can do, so I just keep working."

He's trying to do too much. It's as if Parrish were already gone. The Bills might as well make it official.

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Shockey left New York with a bitter taste, but he's sweet on New Orleans

Jeremy Shockey takes a deep breath,  holds it for a second,  then rakes his fingers through his shaggy blond locks. His lips curl into a smile as he gathers his thoughts.

He knows he is at peace now.

Sitting on a black couch in the Saints' locker room with his legs crossed,  not a worry in his football-playing world,  the fiery tight end begins to gush about his move to New Orleans.

He talks about his love for the people of New Orleans,  about how nice and kind they've been. He goes on and on about his admiration for General Manager Mickey Loomis and Coach Sean Payton. He praises quarterback Drew Brees and the offense and the surging defense.

"It's been very open arms ever since I got here, " Shockey said. "Everyone in the locker room greeted me with open arms. Everyone has been great ever since I got here."

Indeed,  everything does appear kosher in Shockey's world now that he's healthy and catching passes and the Saints are off to a 4-0 start.

Since being traded to the Saints from the New York Giants,  Sunday's opponent at the Superdome,  Shockey has gradually become one of the centerpieces of the Saints' juggernaut offense.

He has become a threat down the seams of the defense and the perfect check-down receiver for Brees,  who has connected with Shockey for a team-leading 18 receptions for 162 yards and two touchdowns,  both in Week 1 vs. the Lions.

That's exactly what the Saints envisioned when they shipped second- and fifth-round draft picks to the Giants on the eve of training camp last year for Shockey.

But that impact didn't come so quickly.

Shockey suffered a sports hernia injury early on,  and although he caught 50 passes (with no touchdowns) last season,  he never truly provided the type of consistent play that warranted parting with two draft picks.

Until now.

"It's come a long way, " Brees said of the pass-catching combination. "Last year we really didn't get any time to work together prior to him getting thrown in there to begin the season because he was hurt for the majority of training camp.

"So we really didn't get the time to build that trust and rapport. This offseason,  preseason and training camp,  we've gotten a lot of time,  and I think that's shown."

When discussing his improvement from a year ago,  Shockey's smile grows brighter. It's obvious he is happy not only with the team but also the city and his surroundings.

"It was a blessing in disguise last year getting hurt,  actually,  because I was able to get healthy and get to pick up the offense, " he said. "The offense is very complex. We do a lot of different things.

"I'm very fortunate to come to an organization that's on the up-rise,  and that's very encouraging. The New Orleans people have been nothing but awesome."

For Shockey,  times certainly have changed.

Jeremy Shockey holds grudges,  he'll admit.

He doesn't forget about the people who've betrayed him,  the general managers,  the coaches,  the teammates,  the media,  the friends.

He remembers all of them.

And though he tries to hide his disdain for certain people and certain situations,  Shockey can't always hold back.

"Bitter taste in my mouth" is how Shockey described it. "Things that happened between some people and myself,  that bitter taste will always be in my mouth. It's just something that if you cross me once  --  it's hard enough to gain my trust as it is  --  and if you lie to me and if you say something behind closed doors between that person and myself . . .

"I needed change in my life. I needed change in the situation and scenario I was in because they were making a big deal out of nothing."

It still eats at him how he departed the Giants,  where he at times served as a bombastic emotional barometer for the team.

Giants General Manager Jerry Reese,  who verbally sparred with Shockey during the months leading to the trade,  is not a favorite of Shockey's.

It's upsetting to Shockey that after breaking his leg while playing for the Giants in 2007,  he said the team didn't fly him to Tempe,  Ariz.,  for the Super Bowl.

Instead,  he footed the bill. And when he arrived,  he wasn't allowed to stay at the same hotel with his teammates or even watch from the sideline (he viewed the game from the press box).

Shockey said none of this would have happened if former Giants owner Wellington Mara,  whom Shockey had developed a bond with,  was still living.

"I was very close with the owner, " Shockey said. "He passed,  and I was at the funeral. I believe,  and I know in my heart,  if those guys were there some of this stuff would have never happened. And I would probably still be playing there. But everything happens for a reason. It happened,  and I've moved on. I know they've moved on,  and I've moved on,  and I feel great about the situation.

"I thought I had a successful six years there,  and I did some things to help the organization,  marketing-wise  --  I know they made a lot of money off of jersey sales and the things I've done for them. Going to the Pro Bowl four out of six years is a very big accomplishment,  and I was expecting a little more respect than I was receiving."

In Shockey's eyes,  he could do no right when it came to the media in New York,  who chronicled nearly every move of the breakup between Shockey and the organization.

"If you look back at all the articles ever written and all the hoopla and all the media people,  I never really commented, " Shockey said. "They kind of speculated. And that's the thing I didn't like.

"It was all this speculation,  and people were always writing articles about me,  but the guy who the article was about never commented. I just never commented."

Shockey has no problem with his tough-guy image.

He revels in it.

He's the Saint you'd probably least want to pick a fight with,  a 6-foot-5,  250-pound bouncer look-alike with bulging-muscle-filled-tattooed arms.

He's the Saint that fans have begun to gravitate to in a way they haven't since Kyle Turley left in 2002.

He's the Saint most likely to be seen sitting courtside at Hornets games,  giving the referees a hard time and leaping onto the court after a big play from Chris Paul.

He's the Saint most likely to throw a postgame tantrum,  the free spirit who doesn't mind telling a reporter to shove his recorder where the sun doesn't shine.

He's the Saint that was supposed to be the difference maker for an already-potent offense.
So far,  so good.

"Everybody thinks of Jeremy as a bad boy,  bad teammate,  always doing things on his own, " said Saints injured tight end Billy Miller,  whose locker is next to Shockey's. "But I've found him to be the complete opposite.

"He's a great teammate who both shares his knowledge and accepts insight from other players. He's a great team guy."

Payton,  who was the Giants' offensive coordinator in 2002,  Shockey's rookie season and his most productive (74 catches,  894 yards),  agreed.

"I'd rather have a player that's passionate about what he's doing, " Payton said. "He comes here in the morning,  and it's all football. Bring me a bunch of those guys."

That's precisely why Shockey,  when it was time for a trade to be made from the Giants,  told his agent,  Drew Rosenhaus,  that New Orleans was the place he wanted to be.

He knew Payton would give him an opportunity to flourish. He knew he could return to his Pro Bowl days. He said he also knew this team had championship potential.

"It's been a blessing, " he said.

But all hasn't been rosy in New Orleans. Shockey has had a hiccup,  or two,  along the way.

There was the animated discussion on the sideline between Brees and Shockey last year against Atlanta,  which both players downplayed.

There were the missed voluntary offseason workouts that Shockey said he had his coach's blessing for.

"I know I missed a couple days in voluntary minicamp because of some permit things for my condo in Miami, " he said. "That would have gotten blown overboard in New York. They would have been saying,  'He's not attending voluntary minicamp again. He's off doing his own thing.'

"Well,  no,  I talked to Sean,  and I missed three or four days of work,  and it was no big deal."

And there was the infamous "dehydration" incident in Las Vegas that sent Shockey to the hospital. But that too,  Shockey said,  was no big deal.

"My agent and Mickey talked two minutes after it happened, " Shockey said of the Las Vegas tryst. "It was not a big deal. That was another big media in L.A. thing that blew something up that wasn't that bad.

"Just because of who I am and what I've done over the past couple of years,  I'm always going to be the guy that if two people get in trouble and two people do the exact same thing,  I'm going to be the one that's going to be the headline just because that sells."

Recently,  though,  there have been no negative headlines.

And Shockey even laughs at the notion.

"Knock on wood, " he said.

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Burrell Should Start Swinging?

Pat Burrell seems to never swing at the first pitch and it always seems to be a strike. He should just go up there and hack at it. Seems the scouts have him pegged. -- Cliff, Tampa

Burrell had myriad problems in 2009, from injuries to not hitting a home run against left-handed pitching -- and he was signed to strengthen the team against southpaws. I thought signing him was a good move when it happened, and like everyone else, I questioned the signing after watching his season unfold. Now Rays fans and management alike are left to wonder whether the 2010 season was simply an off season for Burrell, or has he made the final plunge in productivity that players see before they call it a career.

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proCanes Stats from Week 5 of NFL U

Andre Johnson: 8 catches for 101 yards 2 TDs

Vince Wilfork: 5 tackles 4 solo tackles, 1 tackle for a loss

Brandon Meriweather: 6 solo tackles and 1 tackle for a loss

Jeremy Shockey: NO GAME, Saints Bye Week

Jonathan Vilma: NO GAME, Saints Bye Week

Santana Moss: 4 catches for 44 yards

Clinton Portis: 19 carries for 57 yards 1 TD, 2 catches 17 yards 1 TD

Rocky McIntosh: 6 tackles, 4 solo tackles 1 pass deflected

Calais Campbell: 2 solo tackles and 1 field goal block (second of the season)

Antrel Rolle: 8 tackles, 7 solo tackles and 1 pass deflection

Edgerrin James: 16 carries 46 yards, 1 catch for 7 yards

Kelly Jennings: 1 solo tackle, 1 pass deflection

Frank Gore: DID NOT PLAY due to ankle injury

Kellen Winslow: 9 catches 102 yards and 2 TDs

Roscoe Parrish: 3 punt returns for 7 yards and one fumble lost

Greg Olsen: NO GAME, Bears Bye Week

Devin Hester: NO GAME, Bears Bye Week

Darrell McClover: NO GAME, Bears Bye Week

Willis McGahee: 1 carry -1 yard, 1 catch 4 yards

Ray Lewis: 10 solo tackles, 2 pass deflections

Ed Reed: 6 solo tackles, 1 pass deflection and 1 interception returned 52 yards for a TD

Tavares Gooden: 5 solo tackles, 1 pass deflection

DJ Williams: 9 tackles, 8 solo tackles

Sinorice Moss: 7 punt returns for 48 yards, 2 kick returns for 19 yards, and 2 solo tackles

Jeff Feagles: 3 punts for 92 yards with all three landing inside the 20-yard line

Bruce Johnson: Played but did not record a tackle

Reggie Wayne: 6 catches 60 yards 1 TD

Jon Beason: 10 tackles, 8 solo tackles and 1 sack

Damione Lewis: 3 tackles, 2 solo tackles

Phillip Buchanon: 1 solo tackle

Antonio Dixon: 1 solo tackle

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Calais Campbell Blocks Another Field Goal

Sean Morey made the Pro Bowl last year as a special teams player. If Calais Campbell keeps this up, he may repeat the feat this season. Campbell, the Cardinals’ second-year defensive end, blocked a field goal and made a touchdown-saving tackle on a punt return in Arizona’s 28-21 victory over the Houston Texans.

The blocked field goal, Campbell’s second of the season, came on a 35-yard attempt by Houston’s Kris Brown early in the second quarter.

“Our goal is to get five this year,” Campbell said. “I’m just trying to do my part.”

Campbell said Gabe Watson took on two blockers, giving him a crease to go through, and he stretched his 6-foot-8 frame to block the kick.

The tackle on the punt return was even more impressive.

Houston’s Jacoby Jones took Ben Graham’s kick on the Houston 7-yard line and raced 62 yards before Campbell, filling in for an injured Stephen Spach, pushed him out-of-bounds.

The stop was critical because the Texans, despite the good field position, failed to score after being stuffed on 4th-and-1 at Arizona’s 22-yard line.

“I got down the field as fast as I could,” Campbell said. “I read he that he was breaking outside so I took an angle to the pylon … I just ran my heart out, dove and tried to make a play. I’m so happy he went down. I look fast, but it’s all angles.”

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Anthony Henry was benched in favor of Phillip Buchanon

Lions LCB Anthony Henry was benched in favor of Phillip Buchanon on Sunday. Henry started the game, but was pulled for giving up plays. The Lions have now benched both of their projected Week 1 starting corners (Buchanon also got the treatment earlier on).

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McGahee gets just two touches in loss

Willie McGahee rushed just once for -2 yards and had a four-yard catch in the Ravens' Week 5 loss to Cincinnati.
McGahee entered the game as the NFL touchdowns leader, but he isn't getting the football consistently anymore. He had just six touches in Week 4, and now has only eight in his last two games. McGahee is probably still the team's go-to goal-line back, but Baltimore simply wasn't in scoring position often Sunday. Ray Rice is the runner to own in his backfield.

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Andre Johnson pops loose for 2 TDs, 101 yards

Andre Johnson caught eight passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns in the Texans' Week 5 loss to Arizona.

If you throw out his matchups with Nnamdi Asomugha and Darrelle Revis, A.J. is averaging eight catches for 112 yards and two touchdowns per game. Johnson has a fairly difficult matchup with Bengals RCB Leon Hall next week, but it isn't like the All Pro can ever be benched in fantasy leagues.

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Antonio Dixon Suits Up for the Eagles

Trevor Laws got himself a wake-up call today.  During the game, I noticed I wasn't seeing him out there, but I just figured I'd been missing him.  Nope.  From Reid's press conference after the game:

On the decision to activate DT Antonio Dixon while deactivating DT Trevor Laws Andy Reid said: "It was a matter of numbers there. We had a couple of things in for Dixon where his size and push were going to help us. That's not necessarily the way it's going to be every week, but for this game we went that way."

Dixon made a couple nice plays inside. He has flashed more the last two games than Trevor Laws, which probably explains why Laws is on the outs.

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Winslow rips up Eagles in loss

Kellen Winslow caught nine passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday's loss to the Eagles.

Winslow was a beast on Sunday, completely abusing various Eagles linebackers and safeties. Josh Johnson trusted Winslow, throwing to him even when it looked like the tight end was covered well. Still, this quarterback situation is going to limit Winslow's productivity all season. Consider selling high before next week's game against the Panthers.

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Portis scores twice in Week 5 loss

Clinton Portis totaled 57 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries and caught two passes for 17 yards and one score in Week 5 against the Panthers.

Portis hadn't found the end zone since last season's finale, but caught a short score one minute into the game and later jumped over the goal line pileup for a rushing touchdown. Portis was also tackled in the end zone for a safety and his longest run was seven yards, so he's definitely quantity over quality at this point.

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Q&A with Bryant McKinnie

Vikings offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie is a beast of a man at 6-8 and 335 pounds, but he's hoping to become larger than life off the field as well. McKinnie is budding music executive under his label "Swagga Entertainment." He recently answered some questions from the Star Tribune's Michael Rand about that part of his life.

Q What's the essence of Swagga -- why did you put this together?
A I've been interested in the music field for a long time, since I was in college at the University of Miami.

Q Is it just kind of taking off now?
A Yeah, it started a couple of years ago. We're trying to build up a buzz. ... Sidney [Rice] is actually playing one of our songs right now [in the locker room]. When you actually are there when the songs are recorded and you're putting together, and you hear them on the radio, it is fun. I got with Pleasure P a couple of years ago, and his album came out, "The Introduction of Marcus Cooper," on June 9 [this year]. From there it's sold about 100,000 copies.

Q Sounds like you have a good feel for it. Is this something you want to do for a long time?
A Yeah, I grew up around music through being in church. I played piano when I was young and I did a lot of other stuff with music. It's been something I've wanted to do for a while. There's another hip-hop artist, a female rapper named Trina from south Florida. Me, her and Pleasure P are working on a joint venture with a group called Pretty Money. ... I also have a rock band. [The label] is pretty versatile. They're called Another Day. They're based out of Texas.

Q A rock band? You ever talk to Chris Kluwe about that? [The Vikings punter is also in a rock band.]
A Everybody keeps saying that!

Q Sounds like you're really into music. Do you ever think about it when you aren't supposed to, like when you're supposed to be blocking?
A Nah, not on the field [laughs]. I listen before games, though, to get me hyped and motivated. It plays a big role in my life and probably a lot of other people's.

Q Do you guys talk music in the locker room a lot?
A Yeah, we talk about who's new. Guys know I'm in the industry and they ask me a lot about that. ... Sidney is big on music. [Anthony] Herrera asks about music a lot. E.J. Henderson. Pat Williams asks about music a lot.

Q I read you had some big thing in Miami over the summer.
A Yeah, it was something called Miami Standup. It was special to the label. We wanted everyone in the industry to learn about the label. One year we had a bowling event. We had a boat party.

Q Whoa, a boat party. Better watch out!
A [Laughs] My bad! No, not that kind of boat party!

Q Last thing: You're on Twitter all the time. Is that business, pleasure or both?
A Yeah, it's pretty much business. I'm trying to promote the artists I'm working with or myself. I'm just interacting with fans who are helping us with all of this.

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Chiefs work out three nose tackles

The Kansas City Chiefs have kicked the tires on some nose tackles in a recent workout.

The club put veteran William Joseph, Tim Anderson and Marlon Favorite through tryouts, a league source said.

First-year head coach Todd Haley has made it clear he is not done working over the roster, and the Chiefs have been as active as just about any team in exploring player additions.

Kansas City doesn’t show any tackles on its injury report for Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys. Joseph is the most experienced of the bunch. He spent time in Oakland before the Raiders traded for Richard Seymour.

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Salmons sets goal of top four seed in East

The Bulls were back at the Berto Center on Friday, practicing there for the first time in a week after the trip to London.

Guard John Salmons didn’t go to London because his wife is due to give birth very soon (it hasn’t happened yet, though). After practice, he shared his forecast for the Bulls this season.

“I think our goal should be to finish no lower than fourth in the East,” Salmons said.

Bulls fans will probably appreciate hearing that expectations are to improve on last year’s No. 7 seed. I think the top four is possible, but there’s a slew of competition beyond Cleveland, Boston and Orlando.

Atlanta, Miami and Philadelphia should be in the running once again, while Toronto and Washington are popular candidates to show great improvement this season.

On the injury front, Derrick Rose (sore right ankle, Achilles) did not practice and almost certainly won’t play Saturday against the Bucks in Green Bay. Tyrus Thomas (bruised hip) participated in most of practice and might play.

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