Ten 2011 NFL proCane Rookies Have Rookie Cards

proCanes.com is your source for proCane rookie cards. Have you always wanted Ray Lewis’ rookie card, or Ed Reed’s? Any proCane rookie card in existence dating back even to the 60’s if not earlier we’ve got it. For only $10.00 per rookie card, not only do you get the card itself, but it is mounted in a holder with a custom nameplate and stand. This year’s proCane rookie class has an unprecedented 10 rookie cards:

Leonard Hankerson
Graig Cooper
Damien Berry
Brandon Harris
Colin McCarthy
Allen Bailey
Demarcus Van Dyke
Matt Bosher
Orlando Franklin
Richard Gordon

Order Yours today by clicking here!

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NFL U Weekly Matchup Guide: Week 2


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All Canes Radio With Kareem Brown

Jon Jay is expected to become the Cardinals' primary right fielder in the wake of Albert Pujols' injury.

Lance Berkman will cover first base most nights. Jay has posted a quality .313/.364/.436 batting line in 71 games this year and is a slick defender. The 26-year-old will make the loss of Pujols a tiny bit less horrific.

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Reggie Wayne One Handed Catch...Colts vs. Texans

Click here to order Reggie Wayne’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Sam Shields Could Start in Week 2

CB Tramon Williams did not practice Thursday, the only day the team will be in pads this week, but remains a possibility for Sunday. Williams increased his workload in rehab, but he'll be a game-time decision. He had never missed a practice, let alone a game, until this week.

If he doesn't play, Sam Shields will start and Charles Woodson may have to play more outside. When Williams is healthy, defensive coordinator Dom Capers almost always goes with nickel because he likes having the three corners on the field together.

Click here to order Sam Shields’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Andre Johnson Says Calvin Johnson Is The Best WR in Football

Andre Johnson may be the most humble athlete. I say that after hearing him dispel the notion that he’s the best wide receiver in the NFL. If Johnson was watching Tom Brady carve up the Dolphins’ secondary to the tune of 517 yards on Monday night, he had to have been licking his chops thinking about what he might be able to do against Miami’s secondary this coming Sunday. In the Texans’  Week 1 drubbing of the Indianapolis Colts, Johnson had 7 receptions for 95 yards and 1 touchdown. Just another day at the office for one of, if not the best WR in the league.

In addition to his thoughts on the Miami Dolphins secondary, Johnson comments on several other big topics in this must listen interview with 790 The Ticket in Miami. By the way how about Dan LeBatard Is Highly Questionable? A very interesting idea for a program to have LeBatard and his dad (Papi) bring a family like atmosphere to sports talk. You either love it or hate it.  The brand new television program hasn’t taken away from LeBatard radio game one bit.

Andre Johnson joined 790 The Ticket on The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz to discuss how he doesn’t consider himself to be the best wide receiver in football, how he might put himself somewhere in the top five wideouts in the game,  crushing the Indianapolis Colts without Peyton Manning, his reluctance to comment on the mess going on at the University of Miami (his alma mater) stemming from Nevin Shapiro’s association with the program, his initial feelings when he saw the coverage devoted to the University of Miami scandal a few weeks ago, going against a Miami Dolphins secondary that allowed 517 yard passing to Tom Brady on Monday night, and having nothing to say about Cortland Finnegan (the CB he whooped up on during an in-game altercation last year).

Are you the best wide receiver in football?
“No. I’m not the best [laughs]. [Dan LeBatard: Come on who is better?] There’s a lot of great guys out there man. I’m a fan of the game. You look at…I’m a big fan of Calvin. Calvin Johnson. Right now I would probably say he is the best. [Dan LeBatard: He's taller than you?] He’s a pretty big guy. He’s a very talented guy. He’s my favorite guy from a fan perspective from the outside looking in.”

Are you a top five wide receiver?
“I’m somewhere in there.”

Did you enjoy crushing the Colts with Peyton Manning or do you prefer him being in that game?
“You would like to have Peyton Manning out there. The situation happened and we went out there and approached the game just as if he was out there. We went out there and got the W.”

I’m going to play word association with you. I’m going to throw out a name and you tell me what you think about the person. Nevin Shapiro?
“I would rather not comment on that [while laughing]. [Dan LeBatard: That's not how you play the game! That's not a fun game!] I would just rather not comment on that man. It’s just bad. You hate to see something like that especially at the ‘U.’ You hate to see something like that going on. I just feel bad for the guys that had to suffer consequences due to that.”

When you saw the coverage going on about what was happening at the University Miami you first thought was what?
“I kinda just thought a lot of times the NCAA do their investigations and things like that. I just think a lot of these boosters that they have around the school need to be investigated and find out what they are actually doing because you have guys that are around players at banquets and things like that and who knew all of that was going on. You know what I am saying? That’s the thing that needs to happen. It would be a hard thing to do, but somehow they need to figure out a way to investigate the boosters and stuff like to find out what they have going on.”

What did you really think when you saw Tom Brady throw for 517 yards against the Dolphins secondary when the Patriots don’t have a receiver like Andre Johnson? Andre Johnson thought to himself what?
“I just thought that the Dolphins were having a tough time. You seeing the guys cramping up and things like that. I just thought they were having a rough time. You can’t really go off what another team did. You can use that to game plan and things like that. It’s different week-to-week. You have to come to play every week. You can’t win the game on paper, so we are doing everything we can do to be ready on Sunday. We are going to try to go out and execute our offense and try to get the W.”

Is Cortland Finnegan a top corner you do not want to face?
“I don’t talk about that guy. [Dan LeBatard: Haha] [Stugotz: Now that's a guy you don't want to comment on!] [Dan LeBatard: That was an ass kicking you administered Andre] I guess so.”

Click here to order Andre Johnson’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Leonard Hankerson working to maintain focus

Redskins rookie wide receiver Leonard Hankerson feels like it’s freshman year of college all over again.

But rather than sulk about being buried on the depth chart, the University of Miami product’s goal is to continue to work hard so when coaches do call his number, he’ll be ready.

“It’s nothing new for me,” said Hankerson, who is listed seventh on Washington’s depth chart at wide receiver, and on Sunday was on the inactive list. “Back at University of Miami, we had eight-plus guys and you can’t cut nobody in college, so that’s eight-plus guys to the receiver corps and you had to keep working to keep your job and not worry about how many other guys there are. Just control what you can control.”

The Redskins drafted Hankerson in the third round of April’s draft following a college career that saw him finish as one of the most prolific receivers in Miami history. Blessed with big hands, good size and athleticism, Hankerson has the potential to be a red-zone threat for the Redskins. But throughout the preseason, he struggled with consistency and was guilty of several drops on what would have been routine catches.

Coach Mike Shanahan elected to keep Hankerson on the 53-man roster, however, believing that he has the potential to be a legitimate threat in the NFL. It’ll just take some time, the coach says.

“Hankerson is a little bit further behind,” Shanahan said on Monday. “But it doesn’t mean he’s not going to be a great player, but he just has to keep on working and the things in practice to consistently show the coaches that he’ll be ready to play on game day. You see the ability, but you have to see the consistency.”

Hankerson said the speed of the NFL took some getting used to. But he believes he has already improved significantly since the start of training camp thanks to extra work he has put in after practices. He admits, however, that it’s hard watching.

“Of course it is. For any player, it’d be tough to be at the top and then coming to the next level, being a freshman all over again,” Hankerson said. “When I was a freshman at the University of Miami, I didn’t play a whole lot. I wanted to, and it was bugging me a whole lot. But now I’m at the next level, so I’ve got to keep focused, keep working hard in practice and keep my mind right.”

Click here to order Leonard Hankerson’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Eric Winston explains Robert Mathis sack of Matt Schaub

Click here to order Eric Winston’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Ray Lewis recalls rivalry with Titans fondly

Prior to the current four-division configuration in the AFC, the Ravens had belonged in the AFC Central, a format that pitted them against Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans on a regular basis through the 2001 season.

The Ravens and Titans will meet for the 17th time in a series that is often remembered as being one of the most rugged and evenly-played for both franchises. The all-time series is tied at 8-8, and both sides have won four games at home and four games on the road.

Playing at Tennessee continues to resonate with Ravens inside linebacker Ray Lewis, who still thinks of LP Field by its former corporate moniker, Adelphia Colisuem.

"I kind of like playing there," Lewis said Wednesday. "It’s a grass stadium, and they have a great fan base that gets very rowdy there. And me going back there so many years back, I don’t think anything is going to change. It’s their home opener, and I just think it’s going to be real, real loud. But I do remember that stadium, yeah.” 

The series was especially electric in the postseason. The Ravens knocked off the Titans, 24-10, to advance to the AFC championship and eventually capture the franchise's only Super Bowl championship to cap the 2000 season.

The Titans returned the favor with a 20-17 win in the wildcard round of the 2003 season, but the most recent meeting between the franchises ended with the Ravens winning, 13-10, and advancing to the AFC championship of the 2008 campaign.

“For so many years, I played against the Titans," Lewis said. "There was nothing like that rivalry. We used to have kind of like the same rivalry that we have with Pittsburgh now. And to have Eddie George and, rest in peace, Steve McNair, and all those guys back then, it was just two heck of a teams going at it. And we always knew that one of us was going to be there at the end of the day. You know, 1999, they went to the Super Bowl. [In] 2000, we came back and went to the Super Bowl, but it was always a dog fight between us two. And honestly, we said the same thing and then look for the same thing coming up this week.”

Click here to order Ray Lewis’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Injured Jemile Weeks held out one more day as precaution

Weeks held out one more day as a precaution

Second baseman Jemile Weeks showed up to the ballpark Thursday expecting to be in the A's lineup.

Instead, he was held out for a second straight day as a precaution by manager Bob Melvin. Weeks is still feeling the effects from cramping he suffered in his left leg Saturday in Texas.

The soreness is in his hamstring.

"It's just precautions, so I don't have to play a day, take one off," Weeks said before the series opener against Detroit. "Certain movements I'm just not as quick as I want to be. I came in today ready to play, but you don't want to play halfway, 60 or 70 percent."

Melvin said he's erring on the side of caution with his rookie second baseman, who averaged just 59 games over three minor league seasons (2008-10) because of injuries relating mainly to his left hip.

Weeks has started 84 of the A's 89 games since he was promoted from Triple-A Sacramento for his big league debut on June 7.

"I know he wants to get back out there and play, but he's probably better served to give it one more extra day," Melvin said. "He's been playing awfully hard and aggressive, probably more so than he has in his career, which is a credit to him. But we don't want to take this thing too far."

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Reds want Yonder Alonso to slim down

The Reds are hoping for a slimmer, trimmer, faster Yonder Alonso in 2012.

“That’s the plan right now,” Alonso said. “It’s going to be an offseason where I’m going to do a lot of things differently. I hired a chef. That’s going to help me out.”

“I’m going to get faster. My offseason workout regiment is going to be very different. A lot more running. It’s going to be a left fielder-type attitude coming into the offseason. I’m very excited. We’ll go from there.”

The Reds did the same thing Jonny Gomes. He went from 240 to 223 in his two offseasons with the Reds.

“Jonny did get better. Jonny got a whole lot better,” Dusty Baker said. “When Jonny got here, he was predominantly a DH. Jonny lost weight. Jonny got more mobile and he became a pretty good outfielder. That’s the same thing we’ve discussed with Alonso.

Alonso is 6-foot-2, 241 pounds.

“He’s never going to be built like (Drew) Stubbs,” Baker said. “But he can slim down and work on his footwork.”

The Reds haven’t put a number on what they want Alonso to get down to.

“No, you don’t put a number on it,” Baker said. “Then guys lose their strength. One year we had Fernando (Valenzuela) lose a lot of weight. He wasn’t nothing. . . There were times during season where we were trying to fatten Fernando up.”

Speed is obviously an advantage for an outfielder, but there are good outfielder who are not burners.

“The main thing to work on in quickness,” Baker said. “(Alonso’s) never going to be speedy. You work on your quickly, work on routes, work following the bat path so you get better jumps. It’s also knowing the pitchers and as well as the hitters.”

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Ray Lewis and Ed Reed have not expressed desire to retire

Because Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis is in his 16th season, there is always speculation the current season could be his last. Some have suggested that if the Ravens win a Super Bowl, Lewis and Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed would both retire.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said he has not heard that from either player, and he'd like to see both retire in Baltimore. But, it won't be at any price.

"No, I have not," said Newsome about hearing if Lewis or Reed would retire at the end of this season. "Retirement is something I went through myself so I know when the opportunity will come to talk to Ray about that. I went through that with JO [Jonathan Ogden], I went through that with Steve McNair and both of them came into this office and said I can’t do it.  I think I’ll be able to have the discussion with Ray at the appropriate time."

"I’ve had great dialogue with Ed Reed," Newsome said. "Ed Reed thinks he could play four or five more years in the conversations that I’ve had.  What we’ll have to figure out over the course of the next couple of years is how to — or whether we are going to — extend his contract over the next couple of years so he can retire a Raven."

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

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Has Frank Gore lost a step?

Was Frank Gore, who had 22 carries for 59 yards Sunday, slower than normal? It's a question I received over and over again during a Tuesday chat. After re-watching the game tape the answer is both, 'No, I don't think so' and, 'It's hard to tell.'

That's because Gore, as has been the case in recent seasons, had a hard time finding running room against a defense that was intent on stopping him. His No. 1 scourge was second-year safety Earl Thomas, whom you'll recall is the safety Pete Carroll chose in the first round last year, disappointing Taylor Mays in the process.

During the lead-up to the Seattle game, both Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman were asked separately about the Seahawks defense. The first name out of both of their mouths was Thomas', and he lived up to their compliments. He finished with eight tackles - fellow safety Kam Chancellor (a one-time Barrows draft crash, I might add. Bigthroatclear) had a game-high nine stops - and continually flew in from the secondary to trip up Gore. Indeed, Thomas had a very Polamalu-like performance on Sunday.

One sequence in the second quarter typifies what happened with the 49ers run game on Sunday. The 49ers were facing 3rd and 2 at the Seattle 29-yard line with 5:54 left in the half.

3rd &2: Alex Smith pitches wide to his left to Gore. Tight ends Delanie Walker and Vernon Davis block down on Seahawk defenders and left tackle Joe Staley, who is very good at hitting moving targets, goes wide and absolutely crushes Chancellor. Gore seemingly has plenty of room to pick up the first down and much more, but Thomas, who was initially 15 yards from the play, comes streaking in, steers Gore back to the inside and then cuts him down after only a yard pickup.

4th&1: The Seahawks jump off sides when Adam Snyder, who checked in as an eligible receiver, starts to go in motion.

1st&10: On one of the few plays where he has running room, Gore looks like his old self and picks up seven yards before he's tackled by Thomas.

2nd&3: The 49ers use a play they've been working on all offseason, one in which the run is set up to go one way but in which the team takes advantage of the defense's dedication to stopping Gore by breaking it the other way. Walker comes flying in to deliver a textbook block on Thomas, taking out his legs and wiping him out of the play. But despite running room, Gore can't get around the corner, and he is tackled by cornerback Brandon Browner a yard short of the first down. It's one of the plays in which Gore seemingly should have picked up more yards than he got and likely prompted the questions of fans. Gore seems to be nicked on the play, and Kendall Hunter comes in for the next few snaps.

3rd&1: Hunter is stopped for no gain by Chancellor, one of several instances where a Seahawks safety quickly penetrated the 49ers' backfield. A final bit of evidence that Gore is fine: Hunter finished the game with a 2-yard average on two carries. Gore's average was 2.7 yards.

Click here to order Frank Gore’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Leonard Hankerson bides his time

As a third-round pick in April's NFL Draft, Leonard Hankerson was seen as the solution to the Washington Redskins' problems in the receiving game.

Here he was, a 6-foot-2 specimen who caught a record 13 touchdown passes as a senior at Miami last fall and became just the third player at the school to have 1,000 receiving yards in a season.

The thought was that the Redskins would have a solid possession receiver in Jabar Gaffney, a proven slot receiver in Santana Moss, a speedy deep threat in Anthony Armstrong and a tall red-zone target in Hankerson.

That hasn't worked out the way it was expected. Hankerson, who has struggled with drops and inconsistent route running during training camp and the preseason, wasn't even active for his first NFL game Sunday when the Redskins defeated the New York Giants 28-14.

"I'm assuming it's because when I had them three drops or whatever [during the preseason], but I don't know," Hankerson said. "I mean, I have no clue. I'm just out here working and trying to get better each and every week and keep doing what I've got to do on my end and not worry about what's going on out there."

Instead, Hankerson watched as Niles Paul, a fifth-round pick who had the same ball security questions coming out of Nebraska, was active for the Redskins on Sunday. Originally pegged as a potential member of the practice squad, the 6-foot-1 Paul improved through the preseason and earned a spot on the 53-man roster.

Paul has been especially productive on special teams, where Hankerson does not play. Paul has some quickness but is also a downhill runner as a returner, and he nearly tipped a 38-yard field goal attempt by Lawrence Tynes that linebacker Brian Orakpo did end up blocking.

"Niles Paul, by far, has been a guy that can work on special teams," head coach Mike Shanahan said. "He's been very consistent all throughout the preseason games with the way he's practiced."

He did not see any time in the rotation as a receiver, but he did catch four passes for 37 yards during the preseason.

That's fine for Paul, who knows his place in the rotation. The Redskins also have Terrence Austin and veteran Donte Stallworth working at the position, and Brandon Banks, a receiver in name only, is the team's primary returner.

"Obviously we've got 'Tana and Jabar, and those guys are out there making plays," Paul said. "Me, as a receiver, I'm just a role player as of now. If I continue to play my role, that's all I'm focused on."

And for Hankerson?

"I've just got to keep focused and it's like I'm back at my freshman year at the University of Miami--you've got to keep doing what I've got to do, keep working hard, keep competing at practice and just keep my mind right," he said.

hanahan kept Donte Stallworth and rookie Leonard Hankerson inactive. While Paul is a big special teams contributor and Stallworth has experience, Hankerson, a third-round pick out of Miami, could be the odd receiver out for a while.

“Hankerson is a little bit further behind, but it doesn’t mean he’s not going to be a great player,” Shanahan said. “But he just has to keep on working on the things in practice to consistently show the coaches that he’ll be ready to play on game day. You see the ability, but you have to see the consistency.”

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Ed Reed: Ravens didn’t try to hurt Chris Johnson

The Ravens didn’t intentionally try to hurt running back Chris Johnson in their last meeting against the Titans, safety Ed Reed promised on Wednesday.

“Nothing is ever intentional to try and take any guy out,” Reed said during a conference call with Nashville reporters. “My game has never been like that and I know these guys don’t play like that either.”

Johnson suffered a sprained ankle in a 13-10 playoff loss to the Ravens at the end of the 2008 season. Johnson had 72 yards and a touchdown late in the first half of that game, but didn’t return. He ended up missing the Pro Bowl because of the injury.

Some Titans, and some of the team’s fans, wondered if the Ravens intentionally tried to take Johnson out of the game, twisting and turning him on a play involving linebackers Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs well after the whistle. It occurred just a few plays before Johnson was injured.

“Chris didn’t get hurt on that play,” Reed said. “He had his back stretched out a little bit, but that wasn’t the play that hurt his ankle. He got hurt on another play, when I want to say it was (nose tackle) Brandon McKinney fell on his ankle on the sideline. Any time you get a guy like Chris Johnson, his size, and one of those d-linemen fall on you, it’s going to be tough.

“I talked to Chris after that and was like, ‘Everything is in between the whistle.’ “

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

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Frank Gore shakes off low numbers

Frank Gore said his ho-hum statistics Sunday were the results of the Seahawks stacking the line of scrimmage against him and playing good defense.

Gore has bludgeoned Seattle in past seasons, rushing for 212, 207 and 144 yards in previous meetings. In those games, he exposed Seattle’s safeties, who either were late in closing holes at the line of scrimmage or allowed Gore to break through their tackles.

Seattle has upgraded that position in recent years, and both their new safeties – Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor – were effective against him Sunday.

Chancellor finished with a game-high nine tackles. Thomas was right behind him with eight stops. Both also tackled Gore behind the line of scrimmage at times.

“After me whooping up on them for so many years, they didn't want that to happen again," Gore said.

Click here to order Frank Gore’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Kelly Jennings Returns To Practice

According to Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati Bengals backup guard Otis Hudson and cornerback Kelly Jennings have returned to practice on Wednesday. Defensive end Robert Geathers is sitting, as are backup safety Taylor Mays and outside linebacker Dontay Moch.

The Bengals acquired Jennings via a trade with the Seahawks, in exchange for defensive tackle Clinton McDonald. The Bengals released Rico Murray Wednesday morning to make room for tight end, most likely comfortable with Jennings availability against the Denver Broncos this weekend.

Click here to order Kelly Jennings’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Warren Sapp says Steelers are 'old, slow and it’s over'

Tonight at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime -- one of the many wonderful properties owned by the mothership -- "Inside the NFL" will, as usual, go inside the world of professional football.

And Warren Sapp, as usual, will have a spin on things that's going to offend a few folks. In this instance, I'll go out on a limb and say the Steelers won't be loving what he has to say, as he basically leaves the Pittsburgh football dynasty for dead.

"The Pittsburgh Steelers. I have three things: old, slow and it’s over," Sapp says. "It’s just that simple. James Harrison told us that he was 70-to-75 percent. It looked more like 40 percent to me if you are looking at the ballgame I was looking at. And Hines Ward, Mercedes Sapp can cover Hines Ward right now. You have to be kidding me ... Mercedes is my 13-year-old daughter. She will cover Hines Ward in a heartbeat.

"And Troy Polamalu, Ed Dixon runs this crossing route. Troy Polamalu is trying to grab him to have a pass interference and he can’t even get close enough to grab him. [It] looked like he was dragging a wagon behind him. Touchdown Baltimore. Pittsburgh Steelers done."

Them, as we say in the South, is fightin' words. And while Sapp has a point about the problems that plauged the Steelers in Week 1 against Baltimore, I'd probably lean more towards Phil Simms' take on things.

"That’s a tremendous over-reaction to Week One," Simms says.

Look, the Steelers looked downright dreadful as Baltimore was beating them up and down the field in every aspect of the game. But lots of teams have looked bad in the first week of the season and then circulated right back around to have good seasons.

This is especially true of teams that turn the ball over seven times in the first week of the season. That's not on Harrison, that's not on Polamalu, and I'm not even sure it's really on Ward.

Most importantly, though, is the fact that just last year, this was an AFC Championship-winning team. They are most certainly older, but they are not dead just yet. In fact, if anything they're a motivated giant that might not be sleeping anymore.

Click here to order Warren Sapp’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Frank Gore plays 46 of 52 snaps

Frank Gore played on 46 of the 49ers' 52 offensive snaps in Week 1, with Kendall Hunter getting the other six reps.

The 49ers' offensive line was overwhelmed by the Seahawks, leading to just 2.68 yards per carry on 22 attempts for Gore. The good news is that the 49ers aren't afraid to ride Gore, and he's proven he can handle monster workloads before. Look for another 25-touch outing against the Cowboys this week.

Click here to order Frank Gore’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Santana Moss Finally Gets What He's Been Asking For

When Santana Moss arrived to Redskins Park in 2005, most experts where underwhelmed to say the least. The fact that Joe Gibbs would let go of a big promising WR like Laverneous Coles for the 5’10 Moss left most experts scratching their head, wondering if Gibbs knew what it took to build a competitive modern football team.

It did not take Moss long to make his mark in DC, scorching the Cowboys for TD’s of 39 and 74 yards in a week two game that is referred to by Redskins faithful as the “Monday Night Miracle”. Over the last six years Santana has been arguably the Skins biggest playmaker, and is easily the best WR the Skins have had since Art Monk left the Capital.

Though Moss has been the down field threat that this team has needed, over the years his success has been limited by the lack of talent surrounding him.

For years WR’s have been trotted in and out of Redskins Park that were all touted as the guy who would take the pressure off Moss and to give him some room to breathe in coverage.

Brandon Lloyd, disaster. Antawaan Randel El, don’t even get me started. Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly both drafted to rejuvenate the receiving core, absolute busts.

After multiple draft pics and millions of dollars, there has not been anyone that has been able to legitimately take any pressure off Moss, who at times has showed the frustration with the lack of depth at the WR position.

Last year Anthony Armstrong emerged as a guy who could finally be the compliment Moss has waited for.

The former arena league player that once practiced in super market parking lots racked up 871 yards receiving in 2010. Armstrong’s emergence as a threat to stretch the field finally gave Moss some breathing room in coverage.

The result was Moss having a career year in catches with 93, and his second best year for yards with 1,115 (Moss had over 1,400 yards receiving in 2005).

Prior to the 2010 season the only threats this team has had to catch the ball have been Moss and Chris Cooley, this season it looks like that is going to change.

The WR battle in camp has been well documented. Shanahan drafted guys in Leonard Hankerson and Niles Paul who both made the team and through camp and preseason have shown the potential to become legitimate targets. The free agent signing of Donte Stallworth and the trade for Jabar Gaffney (who by the way played college football with Rex Grossman at Florida) added two veterans to help teach the young guys the right way to play the game.

In our exclusive interview with Leonard Hankerson a few weeks ago Hank Time spoke very highly of the WR depth of the 2011 Redskins. “It’s huge to have veterans like that to teach you how to play the right way” Hankerson said, “You look at Santana, Jabar, and Donte; these guys have been in the league for over ten years, so its big to have guys with that experience to help you learn”

It’s one thing to hear a rookie WR sing the praises of the guys he is competing with in camp. It is another thing all together to have your starting QB do the same.

Rex Grossman absolutely gushed on Sirius XM’s NFL Blitz yesterday with Adam Schein and Rich Gannon. “I love it, I love our Receiving core” said Grossman. “…We have a little bit of everything…”. He referenced having guys with speed like Anthony Armstrong who is said to be the fastest guy on the team. He also said how important it is to have a “savvy” receiver like Santana who knows how to manipulate his routes to find holes in the defensive coverage.

If there is anything that stood out from Sunday’s win over the Giants it is that the receivers are on the same page with Rex. Both the touchdown pass to Anthony Armstrong in the back corner of the end zone and Jabar Gaffeney’s on the slant where pure timing routes.
Rex fit the ball right where the receivers were going through tight coverage for the scores.

Rex also referenced the genius of Kyle Shanahan’s offensive scheme in regards to the wideouts versus the defense.

“Kyle Shanahan has, in my opinion the best scheme across the league, there is always a guy open no matter the coverage”. The combination of receivers and scheme definately benefitted Rex on Sunday, as he threw for 305 yards and 2 TD’s.

It didn’t hurt Moss either who had 6 catches (all of which for first downs) totaling 76 yards for the day.

Moss admitted after the game that even though he “loves getting the ball”, it was nice to finally have some other guys help with the heavy lifting. Throw in Fred Davis who looks primed for a break out year, and Chris Cooley who is always a threat in the passing game, and the passing attack could be dynamic to say the least.

For the first time since he arrived in DC, Santana might just get what he has been asking for.

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

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Warren Sapp: ‘Tony Romo is not made for the big stage’

The three-man crew of Warren Sapp, Cris Collinsworth and Phil Simms at Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” debated this week Tony Romo’s performance in the Cowboys’ 27-24 season-opening loss to the New York Jets.

Sapp is down on Tony big time.

“Tony Romo did something that no other Cowboys quarterback in the history of the franchise has done: That’s lose a 14-point fourth quarter lead,” Sapp said. “…Tony Romo is not made for the big stage.”

Cris Collinsworth and Phil Simms offered pro-Romo viewpoints.

“If you put him out there for a trade, I think there might be a few takers on that one,” Collinsworth said. 

Collinsworth zeroed in on the interception that Romo threw to Darrelle Revis with seconds left that led to Nick Folk’s winning 50-yard field goal. Revis easily stepped in front of a hobbled Dez Bryant to make the pick.

Collinsworth suggested Cowboys coach Jason Garrett was as much as fault as Romo for the interception.

“That was a poor play call at the end of the game,” Collinsworth said. “They had to have seen that Dez Bryant couldn’t run anymore…And now you’re going to throw into that area with a safety over the top. It was a poor choice.”

Simms had Romo’s back.

“If I’m a head coach or general manager, give me Tony Romo and let’s saddle up,” Simms said. “That’s a very good Jets defense. For the Cowboys, everything was wrong. Three defensive backs were out. The wide receivers: Miles Austin with a hamstring. He was 70 percent. Dez Bryant really done after the first series or so…Tony Romo really covers up so much on that team like most really good quarterbacks do.”

I agree with Simms. While Romo’s turnovers hurt, the blame for the loss can’t solely be placed on him. Jason Witten’s 64-yard catch and run should have gone for a touchdown, the blocked punt returned for a score by the Jets was inexcusable and Garrett’s play calling was suspect on both of the possessions that ended with Romo turnovers.

Romo’s play allowed the Cowboys to be in position to pull off the upset. He’s not nearly as bad as his critics make him out to be. Like Simms said, there are a ton of teams that would gladly have Romo running their huddle.

Click here to order Warren Sapp’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Future proCane Vernon Davis Interview


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Yonder Alonso focused on future

CINCINNATI -- Yonder Alonso is so serious about his 2012 baseball season that he has hired a private chef.

And it is more than Alonso wanting a bigger and better taste of major-league baseball, he wants the entire filet mignon, with a chef's salad on the side.

His experiment as a third baseman is over. He is now a left fielder, a position that requires more ground coverage.

Alonso weighs 230 pounds and the Reds have suggested he trim a few pounds without using fad diets or paid commercial advertisement pills.

Hence, the private chef. And for good measure Alonso will work with a private trainer.

His college roommate at the University of Miami was St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay and Alonso plans to pick his brain and work with him as soon as the season ends.

Alonso is dead, solid serious.

He is a first baseman by trade, but Joey Votto owns squatter's rights at that spot for the Cincinnati Reds. So the Reds had him work out early every day for nearly a month at third base.

Then he played in one game at third. And he didn't have one defensive chance. Nine innings, no chances.

He was also working out in left field, where he played for Class AAA Louisville before his September call-up. In 70 at-bats, Alonso has shown he knows which end of the bat has a knob and which end has the barrel, hitting .386 with four homers and 13 RBIs.

"Jonny Gomes lost weight from 2010 to 2011 and Jonny got better," said Reds manager Dusty Baker. "He got a whole lot better on defense. When we got him he was predominantly a DH, but when he came here he lost weight and became more mobile and he became a pretty good outfielder."

It's the same plan for Alonso.

"We've discussed the same thing about it with Alonso," said Baker. "You can always slim down and work on your footwork."

Baker won't put a number on the poundage and said, "I've seen guys put a number on the weight loss and do too much and lose their strength. We don't want that."

Alonso is neither insulted nor angry that the team wants him to look more like a Slim Jim than a Fat Albert.

"I've been told to work only on left field and be ready for next year and that's what I'm doing," said the 23-year-old No. 1 draft choice in 2008.

"I'm going to get my body in check in the off-season, work very hard to completely transform my body to play left field," he said. "I hired a chef and talked to a trainer and I'm putting all my efforts into my career so I can be 100 percent ready to be the left fielder."

Alonso is looking to drop 15 pounds, to 215, "Or at least 220, but the main thing is to reduce body fat. And I'm going to work my butt off learning left field, working with our outfield instructors and I've talked to Jay already and we're going to work together every day, starting very early in the off-season."

Alonso was a combination first baseman/left fielder last year, "And I wasn't for-sure anything. Now they've told me I'm a for-sure left fielder so I'm going to be for-sure ready. It's gonna be fun."

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NL Batting Title: Ryan Braun, Jose Reyes Battle For Top 2011 National League Batting Average

As the 2011 Major League Baseball regular season enters its final few weeks, scoreboard watching is a much a part of a trip to the ballpark as peanuts and Cracker Jacks. In fact, we're willing to wager that scoreboard watching has surpassed Crackers Jacks.

Not only are entire teams -- and fan bases -- watching the game scores to check on the rivals with whom they're jockeying for playoff position, but players are also eyeing their colleagues' performances as they battle for individual honors. Among the awards and distinctions up for grabs over the last two weeks of the season, few are being as hotly contested as the National League batting title.

New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes sped in front of the crowd during a first half when he hit .354 with 124 hits, but Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun raked at a scorching .369 clip in August to briefly take the lead.

Check back each day for the remainder of the season as we track the chase for the 2011 National League batting title. We'll update the slideshow every day with the latest results for both Reyes, Braun and any late-arriving interlopers -- Joey Votto or Matt Kemp, perhaps -- looking to wear the batting crown.

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Gaby Sanchez up for Roberto Clemente Award

MIAMI -- Along with being a leader in the clubhouse, Gaby Sanchez also is among the most active Marlins in the community.

The 28-year-old All-Star first baseman is known for being a hard worker on the field. With his free time, the Miami native proudly supports South Florida.

Sanchez gives his time to the Marlins Community Foundation, assisting in their fund-raising efforts. He's taken interest in the organization's Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program, as well as the Challenger and Miracle Leagues.

Miracle Leagues holds a special place in Sanchez's heart, as he is touched by helping bring smiles to the faces of disadvantaged children.
"When I was in Double-A, it was the first time I got to go to a Miracle League field, and just to see these kids' faces," Sanchez said. "There is a certain joy that those kids get, and it just lifts you."

Sanchez's community involvement has earned him the distinction of being the Marlins' nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award.
All 30 nominees have immersed themselves in the type of humanitarian and community efforts that distinguished the life of Clemente, a life that ended at age 38 on New Year's Eve, 1972, when the plane he was using to deliver aid to Nicaraguan earthquake victims crashed.

Fans will once again have the opportunity to participate in the selection of the national winner. They can cast votes for any of the 30 club nominees through Oct. 9.

The fan-ballot winner will be tallied as one vote among those cast by a special selection panel of baseball dignitaries and media members. The panel includes Commissioner Bud Selig and Vera Clemente, widow of the Hall of Fame right fielder.

Voting fans also will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip for four to the 2011 World Series to see the national winner presented with the Roberto Clemente Award.

Sanchez says being active in the community is part of being a big leaguer.

"It's just something that I feel like we all have to do," Sanchez said. "Just giving back. No matter what it is, doing little camps here, doing things with fans and people. It's something they enjoy so much, you don't want to take that away from them."

Sanchez was the Marlins' lone All-Star representative this year. The first baseman also enjoyed a strong 2010 season, when he was fourth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting.

Sanchez attended the University of Miami and has repeatedly taken part in charitable events in South Florida.

He's played in the annual "Marlins Celebrity Classic Golf Tournament" and attended "The Annual Awards Dinner."

Each year, prior to the start of Spring Training, he participates in the club's annual caravan week. This year, he was a central figure in the "Caravan for the Troops," which raised nearly $250,000 for the Marlins Community Foundation.

The caravan tour involved Sanchez in charitable softball and Wiffle Ball games with those in the armed services at the Homestead Air Force base as well as the USSC base.

He also was part of the contingent who visited the USS Jason Dunham and toured the vessel with the crew. And he traveled Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba to visit the troops stationed there.

"Whenever you can get any type award, no matter what it is, it's something special," Sanchez said. "But something that has [Roberto Clemente's] name on it, it means a lot to a lot of players in baseball. It's just an honor."

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Ed Reed is the greatest NFL thief of all time

This is an easy week to glorify quarterbacks after an NFL-record four of them topped the 400-passing yards mark to start the season, including the 517 from New England's Tom Brady (notes) on Monday night.

However, it would be an awful oversight to not take a few hundred words to glorify Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed (notes) , who might be the best ever when it comes to taking the ball from those great throwers. Yes, best ever. Better than Paul Krause and his 81 picks or Emlen Tunnell and his 79. Better than Rod Woodson and his 71 from two different positions.

On Sunday against Pittsburgh, Reed led the way for the Ravens with two interceptions against Ben Roethlisberger (notes) . Reed came within a diving drop of getting a third pick, but still finished with multiple interceptions for the 12th time in his career. That's the most of any player since the start of the Super Bowl era, breaking a tie with Ronnie Lott. Reed has 56 picks in his career and moved into a tie for 16th with Lem Barney and Pat Fischer on the all-time list. By the end of the season, Reed has a chance to move way up. There's currently a five-way tie for the next spot at 57 and Emmitt Thomas is 10th with 58. After that, it jumps to Dick LeBeau and Dave Brown with 62 each and Lott and Darren Sharper (notes) at 63.

In contrast, Pittsburgh's Troy Polamalu (notes) , considered the best safety not-named Ed Reed of this era, is tied for 246th with 27 interceptions.

But the raw numbers only begin to tell the story. Understand that Reed has gotten there faster than just about anyone, getting those interceptions in only 129 regular-season games. That is the fewest of all but one (Bobby Boyd) of the 18 players with 56 or more. Barney played in 140 games, Johnny Robinson (57 interceptions) played in 164 and Tunnell played in 167.

Others took a lot longer to compile their impressive pick total. Krause, for instance, played in 226 games and Woodson played in 238. Eugene Robinson, who is among those just ahead of Reed with 57 picks, played in nearly twice as many games (250) as the Baltimore safety.

Furthermore, Reed is playing at a time when it's harder than ever to get an interception. While the NFL is much more of a passing league, a big reason is that throwing is safer than ever.

In 1960, when Tunnell was playing his second-to-last season, the NFL averaged one interception every 15 throws (there were 274 interceptions on 4,114 attempts for the season). By 2010, that rate dropped to one interception every 33.8 throws (511 interceptions in 17,269 attempts). The reasons are ample, from the greater use of spread formations and short passing to the improvement in quarterback play. Bottom line, getting a pick takes much greater skill today than ever.

"What distinguishes Ed is that I think he understands concepts and reads quarterbacks better than just about anyone," said former NFL quarterback and current NFL Network analyst Kurt Warner (notes) , who played one full game against Reed and Baltimore in his career in 2007. "Even when I knew where I was going to throw, I had to always use my eyes &helip; give a little extra to Ed to make sure he didn't anticipate where I was going."

Warner also talked about Reed's ability to jump routes faster than most others. Fellow former quarterback Chad Pennington (notes) got a taste of that in the 2008 playoffs when Reed nabbed two of his throws in a victory over Miami. The second was a lightning-fast move by Reed across the face of the defense in the red zone.

"He shut the window like this," Pennington said as he snapped his fingers. "It was like he was running the route, not the receiver. When somebody gets on top of a route that fast, you really shake your head and say, ‘How did he do that?' "

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

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Reggie Wayne Marks 70th TD as Colt

Making his first start in a Colts uniform, quarterback Kerry Collins relied on a man who has played for no other team than Indianapolis during his 11-year tenure.

Reggie Wayne’s seven catches for 106 yards and a touchdown led all Colts receivers in the opener at Houston. The outing marked Wayne’s 36th regular season game with 100+ receiving yards. The total ranks second in club history to Marvin Harrison (59).

Following linebacker Pat Angerer’s recovered fumble in the fourth quarter, Collins found Wayne on a six-yard pass in the back of the end zone for the Colts’ only touchdown on the afternoon.

Wayne did a masterful job of getting both feet down to complete the scoring play. The scoring play marked the fifth consecutive season-opener that Wayne has had a touchdown reception.

With offensive captain Peyton Manning sidelined with a neck injury, Wayne took the initiative to deliver a message to his teammates during the second half.

“It really came in the fourth quarter when Reggie (Wayne) pulled the whole offense together on the sideline,” running back Joseph Addai said about what message to take from the Houston game. “He told us all that we got beat pretty bad today but it doesn’t end here. We all have our heads up going forward.”

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Willis McGahee Could Start

Moreno injures hamstring: Well the gimpy hamstring of Knowshon Moreno is replacing Fred Taylor‘s troublesome groin as the bane of the fantasy football injury report. Seriously, he hurt his hamstring again? The Broncos already said they were going to play the “hot hand” at running back this season, but now it looks like Willis McGahee could be in line for more attempts

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

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Tavares Gooden Picks Up A Couple of Penalties in Debut

Tavares Gooden: Played solely on special teams. Was called for roughing the punter to give Seattle a first down on first drive. At end of the first half, he was flagged for unnecessary roughness for a borderline late hit out of bounds. Both penalties were a result of great effort and can easily be cleaned up.

Click here to order Tavares Gooden’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Jarrett Payton not slowing down

After spending the last 14 years running the ball everywhere from Arlington Heights to Miami to Amsterdam to Montreal to Hoffman Estates, Jarrett Payton stopped running this year.

“It was weird to give up,” Payton said. “But there’s more to life than playing football.”

And the 30-year-old Barrington native has started running harder than ever to keep up with all of his keening interests.

As Payton enthusiastically shifts from topic to topic, he punctuates the changes with a high-pitched laugh that sounds remarkably similar to a particular Bears Hall of Fame running back.

•The radio career: What began last year as a three-days-a-week gig on chicagolandsportsradio.com (“The Jarrett Payton Show” on M-W-F from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) has mushroomed into appearances on WMVP 1000-AM.

Did you notice his presence Sunday night on the station’s postgame Bears coverage?

“I’ve always had a passion for radio,” Payton said last week while sitting in his studio on South State Street in the Loop.

Last November on the anniversary of his father’s passing, Payton hosted a “Remembering Sweetness” show and used his contacts to get a star-studded cast to call in: Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Jim Brown and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

“It was so huge,” Payton said. “I couldn’t really wrap my head around what happened until I got done.

“I take it as a responsibility to keep my Dad’s spirit alive. As long as football is around, he will be around.”

•The writing career: He’s putting together a book tentatively titled “Letters to My Dad.”

“It’s stuff I’ve been writing to my dad for years,” Payton said. “I wrote him a letter when I went to (the University of) Miami. I wrote him a letter when I got married (in 2009). Hopefully we can do it by Father’s Day. I think it will be motivational.”

•The beer career: Working in conjunction with Chicago-based Argus Brewery, Payton thinks he will have the first product for his “JP” line of beers within the next month.

He envisions the “JP” private label taking a place next to “312” and “Goose Island” at Chicago’s taps.

“I want to get into the market,” Payton said. “I want to know everything from the bottom up. I’m learning a lot.”

He’s learning nothing comes easy in the business and brewery worlds, but Payton believes his limitless energy and unforgettable surname can help him succeed.

“I’m actually going to come in and do the deliveries,” Payton said. “You’re going to see me bringing in the kegs. I’m going to put in the sweat equity.

“And if you put my beer in your bar, I’ll make appearances there. Do shows from there. I’m excited.”

•The volunteer career: He has worked for years on behalf of the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation, but Jarrett wants to do even more for the community.

He started the Jarrett Payton Foundation recently to address more causes he wants to solve. When he speaks at schools in October, he will focus on anti-bullying programs.

“I’m just trying to add on to what I was taught by my parents,” Payton said.

With all of his passions, it’s hard to believe he finds time to repair to his home in the western suburbs.

“I’m working on it all,” he said. “It’s just me, my wife and a couple friends. I don’t sleep that much, but it’s cool.”

He still finds time to dream about running again, but not in a Payton way. In a Daley way.

“I think I was a born politician,” Payton said with a laugh. “I’ve talked about running for mayor. Maybe in the next 15-20 years.”

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Jon Beason Did Not Return Too Soon

Linebacker Jon Beason said the season-ending Achilles tendon tear he suffered Sunday during the Panthers' opener at Arizona was not the result of attempting to come back too soon after being bothered by Achilles discomfort during the preseason.

"A lot of people say, hey, he rushed back too soon," Beason wrote on his website, beason52.com. "But actually, I didn't. I told my teammates and myself that I would only play if I could help the team. I felt ready to do that. Myself and the Panthers' medical staff were convinced that I was healthy enough to play in the opener against the Cardinals."

Beason, who has made three consecutive Pro Bowl appearances, did not play during the preseason and had very limited practice time after developing Achilles tendinitis in May.

On Aug. 22, he had surgery to alleviate inflammation caused by a bone bruise in his left foot and doctors said the normal recovery time was three to four weeks.

Beason was injured Sunday while trying to chase down former Panthers tight end Jeff King on a third-quarter touchdown for the Cardinals.
An MRI on Monday confirmed the tear. Beason is expected to have surgery soon.

Starting his fifth season and having just signed a five-year, $51.3 million extension, Beason will miss his first regular-season game Sunday when Carolina will host Green Bay. Beason had played in 65 consecutive games.

In his blog, Beason suggested he understood the risk of playing in the opener.

"If I had to do it all over again and go into that game with my Achilles injury, I would," Beason wrote. "Because football defines who I am.
"Sometimes you have to do something you've never done to get something you've never had. The motivating factor is simple for me. To win and not fear failure.

"These setbacks and obstacles are all part of it. Nothing worth attaining comes easy and I know that. I'm convinced I did everything in my power to play the game I love. That's why today I can't say I'm mad or upset, because I went at it with everything I had just to contribute for the team."

Beason wrote he will begin rehab with the goal of coming back better than ever.

"The goal will never change," he wrote. "I'm still focused on winning a Super Bowl, being the best player I can be and leaving my mark on the game as someone who never quit."

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

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Antrel Rolle: Giants the better team

Antrel Rolle admits that the New York Giants defense has a lot of work to do after the Redskins won the season opener. But the safety believes that if the two NFC East rivals played each other 100 times, New York would prevail at least 95 times.

"As a team and organization, we know that the Washington Redskins is not a better team than us," Rolle said in his weekly spot on WFAN radio. "We know that hands down. If we played them 100 times, they might win five. They won that day. It never leaves a good taste in your mouth when you lose to an opponent that you know you are better than."

When asked by WFAN hosts Joe and Evan if he was impressed by Rex Grossman or thought the Redskins were better than he thought, Rolle replied, "No, not at all."

"We'll definitely prove that next time around," Rolle said. "He is going to feel the Giants come the next time around. We will take care of that when the time comes."

Grossman completed 21-of-35 passes for 305 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday to lead the Redskins to a 28-14 win over the Giants at FedEx Field. Playing without defensive captain Justin Tuck and with a depleted secondary, the Giants defense failed to rattle Grossman and had a six-game winning streak against Washington snapped. The Giants had won 9-of-10 meetings between the teams prior to Sunday.

Rolle finished with six tackles but was flagged for a costly 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty in the fourth quarter after the Giants defense should have gotten a stop. On a third-and-9 at the Washington 45, Grossman hit tight end Fred Davis for a 7-yard gain but Rolle's penalty gave the Redskins a first down at the Giants' 33 before they eventually scored to make it a 14-point lead with 5:04 remaining.

The Giants, who face the Redskins again on Dec. 18 at MetLife Stadium, now have to bounce back against former defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and the Rams on Monday night.

They hope to have Tuck back this week from a neck injury that kept him out of the season opener.

"I definitely feel there is a lot of work to be done," Rolle said of the defense. "We have a lot of guys playing different positions we have to fill in for some key areas. We still haven't found that chemistry yet. It is getting close."

"We understood where things went wrong," Rolle added. "I don't think we played a good game as a team. I don't think we played good on special teams, on defense or on offense. The Giants will come out there and we will show the world what we are all about and we will come play."

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

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Zach Railey Wins the Finn US Sailing Nationals for 3rd Straight Year

Long Beach, CA (September 11, 2011) - The 2011 Finn U.S. Nationals saw 30 boats compete in the three day event hosted by Alamitos Bay Yacht Club. 2008 Olympic silver medalist Zach Railey conducted a clinic through the nine race event, completing a perfect score of all first place finishes to take the title. Also dominating the field was Caleb Paine, finishing second and clear by 21 points of third place finisher Henry Sprague. -- Full results: http://www.abyc.org/upload/2011_Finn_Nationals6.htm

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Ryan Braun hits walk-off HR in 11th

MILWAUKEE -- Ryan Braun homered leading off the 11th inning and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Rockies 2-1 on Tuesday night to win their sixth straight at home over Colorado.

Prince Fielder also went deep for Milwaukee, which remained 6½ games ahead of second-place St. Louis in the NL Central with 13 to play.
Zack Greinke labored through five innings before the Brewers' bullpen picked him up. LaTroy Hawkins, Takashi Saito, Francisco Rodriguez, John Axford and Kameron Loe (4-7) combined for six scoreless innings.

Fielder homered in the sixth to tie it and it stayed that way until the 11th, when Braun homered off Matt Lindstrom (2-2) and pumped his right fist in excitement before joining the scrum at home plate.

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Jason Michaels has a fracture in metacarpal bone in left hand

Astros right fielder Jason Michaels broke his left hand making a diving catch in Tuesday’s victory over the Phillies and will miss the remainder of the season.

Michaels, 35, is scheduled for surgery today to repair a displaced fracture of the fourth left metacarpal bone. He batted .199 with two home runs and 10 RBIs in 156 at-bats.

Rookie J.B. Shuck replaced Michaels and went 3-for-3 with a run scored and a stolen base.
Manager Brad Mills doesn’t foresee a need to add another outfielder to the active roster.
“I think we can make do,” Mills said. “ We’ll mix them around or whatever, but I think we’ll be OK.”

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Could Chris Perez get Moved Next Season?

Chris Perez is under the Indians' control through '14, but his job could be in danger next spring. Perez posted a 2.43 ERA before the All-Star break, but since then, he's carrying a 4.64 ERA with three blown saves and three losses. The Indians look like they'll stick with Perez for the rest of '11, but Vinnie Pestano (2.40 ERA, two saves, 12.14 K/9) may force their hand next year. The Indians' reliever broke out this year and with his arsenal, he's worth a speculative add in all AL-only leagues if Perez continues to struggle.

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Yonder Alonso's Plans

Yonder Alonso isn’t sure what his plans are for the offseason.

“They haven’t talked to me about it,” he said.

For a time, the Reds were considering sending him to Instructional League to work at third base. But lately, the emphasis has been on left field.

Alonso is willing to do whatever – go to Instructional League, play Winter Ball.

“I don’t care,” he said. “Whatever they think is best. I don’t think I need at-bats. I think I need to work on my defense.”

Alonso did that last year in Miami.

“I’m going to work hard,” he said. “I always do that.”

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NFL U Week 1 2011 Full Stats

Andre Johnson WR (Texans): 7 catches 95 yards, 1TD

Darryl Sharpton LB (Texans): 3 solo tackles

Brandon Harris* DB (Texans): INACTIVE

Vince Wilfork DT (Patriots): 1 solo tackle, .5 a sack

Brandon Meriweather S (Bears): 2 tackles, 1 solo tackle

Jeremy Shockey TE (Panthers): 3 catches 51 yards

Jonathan Vilma LB (Saints): 7 tackles, 5 solo tackles

Santana Moss WR (Redskins): 6 catches 76 yards

Rocky McIntosh LB (Redskins): 7 tackles, 4 solo tackles

Calais Campbell DE (Cardinals): 4 tackles, 3 solo tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 pass deflection

Antrel Rolle S (Giants): 7 tackles, 6 solo tackles, was second on the Giants in tackles behind fellow proCane Kenny Phillips.

Kelly Jennings DB (Bengals): INACTIVE due to hamstring injury

Colin McCarthy* LB (Titans): 2 tackles, 1 solo tackle

Frank Gore RB (49ers): 22 carries for 59 yards, 3 catches for 19 yards

Kellen Winslow TE (Buccanneers): 6 catches for 66 yards, led the Buccaneers in receiving yards.

Roscoe Parrish WR (Bills): 4 punt returns for 35 yards

Greg Olsen TE (Panthers): 4 catches 78 yards

Devin Hester WR (Bears): 3 catches, 60 yards, 1 punt return for 14 yards, 3 kick returns for 53 yards

Willis McGahee RB (Broncos): 4 carries, 3 yards and 5 catches, 32 yards

Ray Lewis LB (Ravens): 7 tackles, 6 solo tackles, 1 tackles for loss, 1 pass deflection, 1 INT returned 4 yards

Ed Reed S (Ravens): 6 solo tackles, 4 pass deflections, 1 tackles for loss, 2 INTs returned 25 yards

Tavares Gooden LB (49ers): Played but did not record any stats.

DJ Williams LB (Broncos): INACTIVE Due to injury

Bruce Johnson DB (Giants): Underwent arthroscopic knee surgery, placed on IR

Kenny Phillips S (Giants): 9 tackles, 5 solo tackles, 2 pass deflections, led the Giants in tackles

Reggie Wayne WR (Colts): 7 catches, 106 yards, 1 TD

Jon Beason LB (Panthers): 4 solo tackles, 1 tackle for loss – Before being injured and possibly lost for the season with a torn Achilles.

Phillip Buchanon DB (Redskins): SUSPENDED for the first 4 games of the season.

Antonio Dixon DT (Eagles): INACTIVE due to injury

Sam Shields DB (Packers): 8 tackels, 7 solo tackles, 2 pass deflections

Jimmy Graham TE (Saints): 4 catches, 56 yards, 1TD

Allen Bailey* DE (Chiefs): Played but did not record any stats.

Spencer Adkins LB (Falcons): INACTIVE

Matt Bosher* P (Falcons): 5 punts, 192 yards, 38.4 Average, 2 inside the 20

DeMarcus Van Dyke* DB (Raiders): Played but did not record any stats.

Richard Gordon* (TE) (Raiders): Played but did not record any stats.


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

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

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

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

Vernon Carey RG (Dolphins): Offensive Lineman, did not record any stats.

Orlando Franklin* RT (Broncos): Offensive Lineman, did not record any stats.

*Denotes Rookie

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Falcons re-signed C Brett Romberg

Falcons re-signed C Brett Romberg and waived C Rob Bruggeman. The Falcons presumably released Romberg at final cuts because they didn't want to guarantee the 32-year-old's salary.

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Jon Beason Lost for the Season

Panthers middle linebacker Jon Beason will have season-ending surgery this week to repair a torn Achilles, Panthers coach Ron Rivera announced this afternoon.

Beason injured his left Achilles on Sunday running after Cardinals TE Jeff King on a 48-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter of Arizona's 28-21 victory.

Beason had surgery Aug. 22 on the same foot for a bone bruise that was originally diagnosed as Achilles tendinitis. Rivera said he did not think the injury was related to the surgery, but he did not know for certain.

Doctors predicted Beason would need three or four weeks to recover from the surgery. He came back in less than three weeks to make his 65th consecutive start in the opener at Arizona.

Beason, who has been to the Pro Bowl three consecutive years, did not miss a start in his first four seasons.

"I've got to give Jon credit. He was going 100 miles an hour when he went down," Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said. "It's just a shame thing. It's a freak thing. He's a warrior and I'll take those guys seven days a week."

Linebacker is the Panthers' deepest position on defense. Dan Connor, who started the first eight games at middle linebacker in 2010, replaced Beason and finished with six tackles in just 18 snaps.

Connor is a run-stopper who is a liability in coverage. The Panthers also have Omar Gaither, who started 36 games in five seasons with Philadelphia. Beason had started 65 straight games.

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

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Jimmy Graham still learning the game, knows corrections must be made

METAIRIE, L a. – Jimmy Graham sat at his locker recently, still amazed that Adidas sent him boxes upon boxes of shoes.

In other words, the second-year tight end out of Miami still hasn’t hit that tipping point where the perks he receives for being a professional athlete are old hat.

Problem is, that’s not just an off-the-field problem for the youngster right now.

He’s still learning the game, getting used to being an NFL player and in Thursday night’s season-opening 42-34 loss to Green Bay, Graham said his inexperience played a factor in him being taken out of the game during long stretches.

“For me, it was, I guess, I wasn’t really getting to my depth,” said Graham, who finished with four catches for 56 yards and a touchdown.

He added, “I’m just young. I’m just learning. There are just things I’ve got to correct.”

Graham said for him problems come into play when he recognizes man coverage on him.

At 6-foot-6, 260 pounds, Graham is a matchup nightmare, an athletic specimen who played major college basketball at Miami before beginning his football career in his final year in South Florida.

So it’s natural that when he sees the one-on-one coverage, his eyes light up.

“It’s one of those where I’ve really got to just stay disciplined and do my moves and get to my depth,” Graham said. “Just kind of work on my precision with the route instead of just trying to speed it up because I know it’s coming to me.”

But Graham said he began to understand the game at the end of the Green Bay contest. On the Saints’ penultimate drive of the game, Graham caught two passes for 26 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown pass that pulled New Orleans within one score.

“I just think it’s me just going through and realizing what I was doing wrong,” Graham said. “We have clips on the sideline and I noticed I was breaking at eight instead of 12. It wasn’t me panicking, it was me just trying to get there as quick as possible and just over-thinking it instead of just playing.”

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Ravens marvel at Ed Reed

Here are some notes on safety Ed Reed, who grabbed two interceptions yesterday, giving him 56 picks in his career.

Reed now has recorded 12 dual-INT games in his career (13, including the playoffs), which is the most among active players. Not surprisingly, the Ravens are a perfect 12-0, (13-0 if you toss in that postseason game) in those contests.

The seven-time Pro Bowl safety didn't have to work too hard for those two picks, as both were silly throws by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger which fluttered straight into Reed's arms, but it's incredible how the Ravens' safety always finds himself in the right spot at the right time.

Reed led the NFL in interceptions last year with eight, despite the fact he only played in 10 games. Yesterday, he got out to an early lead as he tries to defend his INT title this season.

Oh, yeah, and that performance yesterday came on the day Reed turned 33. As Williams said after the game, "Hell of a birthday, wasn't it?"

"He's amazing," Webb added. "He was my favorite player when I was in college, but man, he's amazing. How you gonna get two interceptions ... and he's about 41 years old! He turned 40 today and had two picks. One for every 20 years.

"But he's great man. Every time I walk around the locker room, I see him with (an iPad) in his hand, looking at film. He's always looking at film. I see hard work pays off and I'm still learning from him."

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

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Cooking With Calais Campbell

<a href='http://foxsports.com?vid=dc0dd154-6b3a-4913-9af7-3fc3be4004ea&mkt=en-us&src=FLPl:embed::uuids' target='_new' title='Cooking with Calais' >Video: Cooking with Calais</a>

Ed Reed Speaks to 2011 Canes

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Leonard Hankerson low on Redskins depth chart

Coach Mike Shanahan confirmed Monday that rookie Leonard Hankerson is behind fellow rookie Niles Paul and Donte' Stallworth on the Redskins' depth chart.
Paul was drafted behind Hankerson, and Stallworth was inactive for Week 1. Also a healthy scratch, Hankerson "has a ways to go," Shanahan said. At this point, we don't anticipate any rookie-year impact from the third-round pick.

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Bryant McKinnie weighs in for Ravens

BALTIMORE — There is a new bully on the AFC North block.

This changing of the divisional guard coincides with the upgrade at left tackle the Baltimore Ravens made in signing former Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowler Bryant McKinnie off the scrap heap Aug. 26.

It was hard to tell the newest Raven was shucking off rust following his first game in eight months considering how "Mount" McKinnie served an eviction notice to former AFC North bully, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison. It happened from the outset of Baltimore's 35-7 season-opening beatdown of the 2010 AFC North champions.

The 6-8 McKinnie is politely listed at 360 pounds. Small wonder why McKinnie literally made the biggest difference in the latest installment of the Steelers-Ravens blood feud Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis calls "hit or be hit."

McKinnie was released by the Vikings when he reported to training camp at 387. He's gone from eating his way out of Minnesota to devouring Harrison with a play that may have signaled an AFC North seismic shift.

On the game's first play from scrimmage, McKinnie, tight end Ed Dickson, left guard Ben Grubbs and fullback Vonta Leach rumbled around the left side on first-and-10 from the Baltimore 34-yard line.

Harrison was erased by McKinnie and Grubbs. Then, McKinnie took out linebacker James Farrior while center Matt Birk blunted nose tackle Casey Hampton to spring running back Ray Rice for 36 yards.

Two plays later, quarterback Joe Flacco fired a 27-yard scoring strike to Anquan Boldin and what Rice called a "beatdown" was on.

"Bryant blew up two guys on that first play," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. ""Like Ray Rice said, 'This is the 2011 Baltimore Ravens.
"All that stuff that happened last year doesn't matter."

Harbaugh was referring to the Steelers beating Baltimore two of three times last season, making it six Pittsburgh wins in eight meetings with last January's 31-24 Ravens playoff ouster.

In those losses, Harrison, linebacker LaMarr Woodley and safety Troy Polamalu seemed to make the biggest plays when it mattered most.
The signature play came when Polamalu raced in unblocked and strip sacked Flacco late in Pittsburgh's 13-10 win last Dec. 5 when neither tackle Michael Oher nor Flacco glanced Polamalu's way.

That set up the winning touchdown and, in effect, the offseason changing of Ravens tackles.

Oher, the 2009 first-rounder who's life story was featured in the book and movie The Blindside, was switched to the right side after Lewis and others lobbied general manager Ozzie Newsome and Harbaugh to sign McKinnie.

Flacco and Rice combined for 331 of Baltimore's 385 yards with Flacco throwing for three scores and Rice running for a fourth.

Rice's 107 rushing yards were 23 more than he gained in three games against Pittsburgh's top-ranked 2010 rush defense in three games last season. He said offensive coordinator Cam Cameron's plan was "to establish the run game running behind Bryant McKinnie."

"It was definitely a statement to let them know we're coming at them and were going to be physical," McKinnie said of that first play.

"We wanted to make sure we landed more of our punches than they did. We watched film clips of them bullying people. We had to take on that same attitude."

The question was how soon the re-constituted Raven line would mesh given McKinnie had only been there two weeks while Birk and right guard Marshall Yanda missed the preseason due to knee and back issues, respectively.

"Right from the beginning, McKinnie made his presence felt," Ravens analyst Qadry Ismail said. "James Harrison was trying to get low and around the edge. But McKinnie had his left hand in Harrison's chest and really just pancaked him.

"Bryant McKinnie is able to use his leverage so well, whereas Michael Oher is more of a dominant, proven right tackle.

"What the line did against Dick LeBeau's defense without playing a game together was quite remarkable."

The Steelers had the look of an aging defense suffering a Super Bowl hangover — a Super Bowl XLV-losing hangover following their 31-25 loss to Green Bay.

"We're not shell shocked," defensive captain Farrior said. "We got beat into submission.

This time, his front five gave Flacco time to hit for 224 yards and show why he's one of the game's best touch passers against the nemesis that had gone 6-0 against him with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback.

"Everybody asks, 'Is this the year Joe's going to take that next step?"' Harbaugh said . "Joe sure looked like he took that next step didn't he?"
At least for one week, Flacco's bigger, better protectors had everything to do with that next step.

McKinnie hopes for another, having reached the Super Bowl brink with the 12-4 Vikings before losing the NFC Championship game in overtime to New Orleans.

"The Vikings said I lost it. But I never had a chance to display it," said McKinnie. "They're in my rear view. And the Ravens are in my clear view.
"This certainly looks like a Super Bowl team."

Click here to order Bryant McKinnie’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Coach Morris contacted Bucs player Kellen Winslow

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris confirmed Monday that he had contact with two of his players during the NFL lockout, but he wouldn't say if he expected the league to hand out any kind of punishment for it.

Speaking to reporters one day after the Bucs' season-opening 27-20 loss to the Detroit Lions, Morris said he called tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. and cornerback Aqib Talib. Morris explained that he called Winslow with congratulations on the birth of a child and that he phoned Talib after the cornerback went to jail in connection to a shooting in Texas.

Contact between players and coaches was impermissible during the 4½-month lockout, which ended in late July.

CBS reported Sunday that Tampa Bay would be fined for the improper contact, but NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora cited a team source in reporting that the team hadn't been contacted by the league about any discipline. La Canfora also reported that the NFL is investigating seven instances of contact between Bucs players and coaches.

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Kevin Everett faces life after football

SPRING, Texas -- The book on Kevin Everett already had been written when Oprah Winfrey wrapped his fairy-tale story in a pretty bow.

Everett was supposed to be a quadriplegic, perhaps dead. On opening day of the 2007 NFL season, the Buffalo Bills tight end lay incapacitated on the 20-yard line at Ralph Wilson Stadium. His neck was broken, his spinal cord twisted.

A few radical medical procedures and five months later, Everett walked triumphantly into Oprah's arms. The dramatic moment was a pop-culture benediction. It was part of Oprah's "A Day of Miracles."

At the time Oprah welcomed Everett in January 2008, a paperback about his astonishing recovery was published. Biographies usually are comprehensive accounts. "Standing Tall: The Kevin Everett Story" by Sam Carchidi indicated normalcy and even dared to wonder if Everett could play football again.

He was OK and only going to get better, departing Oprah's stage during the commercial break ostensibly to lead a life of happiness and run marathons and play golf every weekend and do whatever else former NFL players do when their careers are over.

Or so America would imagine.

Everett married his college sweetheart, and they have two daughters.

But his physical recovery reached its plateau while nobody was looking.

Everett can walk. But he can't run. He can feed himself. But his digestive system doesn't work right. He can pick up his little girls (for now) and hug his wife. But his hands and feet are numb. He's on anti-seizure medication to control muscles that involuntarily quake.

"It's not a sad story. It's a happy story," said Dr. Andrew Cappuccino, the orthopedic surgeon who spearheaded Everett's immediate care. "But a year down the road, two years down the road, everyone forgets."

Everett was on the cover of Sports Illustrated in December 2007. He took his book tour to "Good Morning America" and "ABC World News" and the Barnes & Noble on Niagara Falls Boulevard, received a standing ovation at the ESPY Awards and then pretty much went off the grid. Read More...

Future RB proCane & Cane Duke Johnson Highlights

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The Streak Is Extended to 140 Straight Weeks

Did you know that a former Miami Hurricane/current proCane has scored at least one touchdown in 140 consecutive regular season NFL weeks? Dating back to Week 15 of the 2002 season where Clinton Portis scored 4 TDs, at least one proCane has scored a TD in each regular season week since then. We have chronicled every touchdown since 2002. See below:

Week 1 2011:
Jimmy Graham - 1 TD - New Orleans Saints
Andre Johnson - 1 TD - Houston Texans
Reggie Wayne - 1 TD - Indianapolis Colts

Click below to see the rest of the list:

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Panthers fear LB Beason tore his Achilles tendon, out for the year

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Carolina Panthers fear that three-time Pro Bowl linebacker Jon Beason has torn his left Achilles tendon and is out for the year, two sources confirmed.

The Panthers didn’t want to make any announcement until they have a chance to see an MRI and confirm the injury.

After the game, coach Ron Rivera wouldn’t talk about the specific nature of the injury, but several players talked about the significance of the injury. It happened while Beason was covering former Panthers tight end Jeff King, who scored on a 55-yard touchdown after Beason fell down. Beason was carted to the locker room and the Cardinals went on to win the game 28-21 at University of Phoenix Stadium.

“I’m just happy and honored to be on this team because we had guys out there that were blowing out tires to fight,” wide receiver Steve Smith said of Beason. “It doesn’t get any better than that. You don’t get guys in the locker room like that. It rarely comes and when you have a guy who does that you surely miss him, but he’s admirable for his effort and I’m honored and pleased to be his teammate.”

Added linebacker Thomas Davis: “The thing that Jon did so well is he was a great leader for our team. So we’ll find out what it is and hopefully we can get him back soon.”

It’s the same leg that has given Beason fits throughout the last several months.

It was originally diagnosed as Achilles tendinitis, but Beason said an MRI later revealed he had inflammation in the bone. He had three screws inserted in his foot and was told he would need to be out three to four weeks. Beason came back in less than three weeks to play in Sunday’s game against Arizona.

At any rate, it’s pretty clear Beason’s streak of 65 straight starts is over.

Beason just signed a five-year contract extension with the Panthers worth more than $50 million.

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

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Andre Johnson abuses Colts in blowout

Andre Johnson caught seven passes for 95 yards with a touchdown in Sunday's blowout of the Colts.

Johnson had a high pass deflect off his hands which led to an interception in the first quarter, but he quickly redeemed himself. The Colts' tiny corners had no prayer of containing Johnson, who did anything he wanted for the entire first half. The Texans took a 34-0 lead into the half and then just ran the clock out. If the game was close, Johnson would have pushed for 200 yards receiving.

Click here to order Andre Johnson’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Ed Reed picks up where he left off

After leading the NFL in interceptions with eight last season, free safety Ed Reed continued his ball-hawking ways, intercepting Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger twice.

It’s the 13th time in the seven-time Pro Bowler’s career that he had pulled in at least two interceptions in a game, which leads all active players. And Reed did it on his 33rd birthday.

“Just winning was enough for me,” said Reed, who is the franchise leader with 56 career interceptions. “That was the best present I could have. It’s just a blessing to be playing a child’s game at this point of my career, my life.”

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

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Coughlin questions flag on Antrel Rolle

Both Tom Coughlin and Antrel Rolle felt referees were wrong to penalize Rolle for unnecessary roughness in the fourth quarter.

Rolle banged helmets with Redskins tight end Fred Davis when Davis was on the ground, untouched, following a seven-yard reception.

Had Davis been stopped where he caught the ball, he would have been short of the first down.

But referees whistled Rolle for the 15-yard unnecessary roughness because he hit Davis helmet to helmet.

The flag gave the Redskins a first down on a drive they'd eventually score on to build a two-touchdown lead.

"I definitely didn't think it was helmet-to-helmet," Rolle said. "I definitely didn't lead with my helmet. I've never led with my helmet. At the end of the day, there's nothing I can do about it - the call was made."

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

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Bryant McKinnie Defies Expectations

BALTIMORE- Bryant McKinnie fired off the line of scrimmage, bashing Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison before rumbling downfield to pick off middle linebacker James Farrior.

The blocks paved a path for Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice to gain 36 yards on the first play from scrimmage Sunday, setting up a touchdown.

"I got my man," McKinnie said. "So, I thought, ‘Why not go block somebody else?'"

For a hefty offensive tackle that was expected to struggle with the Steelers' formidable defense, McKinnie defied expectations.

"To come in for the biggest game for them, I felt a little pressure and I feel like I play well under pressure," said McKinnie, a 6-foot-8, 360-pound former Pro Bowl left tackle signed by the Ravens in August after being cut by the Minnesota Vikings when he reported at 387 pounds. "For somebody who hasn't played in eight months, any games since January, I feel like I did a pretty good job."

And the Ravens' new-look offensive line that didn't play a single snap together during the preseason allowed only one sack during the Ravens' 35-7 victory Sunday over the Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium.

The Ravens rushed for 170 yards and two touchdowns against the NFL's top-ranked run defense from a year ago.

"The protection was fantastic, that's something against this football team that you have to be concerned with," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "I know everyone in this room who follows this team had a concern with that, and I guarantee you I had a concern with that, too. I think we did a good job of game-planning the protection.

"The main thing was the one-on-one battles, the one-on-one battles across the board that we won. The offensive line was a big part of that. That's how you win football games."

Six-time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk didn't play any preseason games after having surgery on his left knee at the start of training camp. His knee appeared to hold up against beefy Steelers nose guard Casey Hampton.

"It feels great," he said. "Every time you win, you feel a lot better than when you lose."

Michael Oher was moved back to right tackle for the first time since his rookie year. And right guard Marshal Yanda missed most of the preseason with back spasms. The only starter that played at his usual spot during the preseason was left guard Ben Grubbs.

Most of the pressure was on McKinnie because he had to block Harrison, a former NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

"I told my mom, ‘I haven't played since Jan. 2,'" McKinnie said. "I just felt like I was the weakest link, so I wanted to make sure I held down my part."

Last season, the Steelers led the NFL with 48 sacks. Their pass rush is headlined by Harrison and outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley, who combine for 20 ½ sacks last season,.

However, Harrison was limited to nine tackles and one quarterback hit on Sunday as Woodley registered the Steelers' lone sack.
Quarterback Joe Flacco took advantage of the increased time, connecting on 17 of 29 throws for 224 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

"Those guys did a great job," Flacco said. "I've been saying all week, I'm really confident in the way these guys are going to play. It's a great group of guys. Bryant is the only guy who hasn't been there. ‘

"I wasn't worried about that. I know Bryant is a really good left tackle. So, why worry about it anyway? I felt comfortable back there all day."

Click here to order Bryant McKinnie’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Ed Reed Interception Video: Watch Ravens' Star Safety Pick Big Ben

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Bryant McKinnie got $75K weight bonus from Ravens

Bryant McKinnie was cut by the Vikings for a number of reasons. And perhaps even about 400 of them -- McKinnie's weight was absolutely out of control and the Vikings were reportedly concerned about his conditioning.

And according to CBS Sports' Charley Casserly, the Ravens -- who signed McKinnie as a free agent -- were wise enough to build a "weight-loss clause" into McKinnie's contract and the tackle earned $75,000 for getting his weight down to the "prescribed weight of 372" pounds.

Is it kind of nuts that McKinnie's getting paid more for getting just under 400 pounds than most Americans make in a year? Yeah, it's pretty bananas.

But the Ravens were clearly worried too his weight too -- their desperation for offensive line help outweighed the concern. They did the smart thing, though, by giving McKinnie some motivation to get in decent shape.

Even if it costs them a wad of cash, it was immediately worth it on Sunday, as on the Ravens first play from scrimmage, McKinnie made a crucial block at the next level to spring Ray Rice for a big 36-yard gain.

He's got the talent to be a difference maker in Baltimore and now it looks like he might have the motivation too.

Click here to order Bryant McKinnie’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Ray Lewis Interception Video: Watch Ravens' Star LB Pick Big Ben

On the first play of the second half, Haloti Ngata forced and recovered a fumble that led to a Ravens touchdown. Then, on the first play of the Steelers' next drive, the defensive tackle tipped a Roethlisberger pass that fell perfectly into the hands of teammate Ray Lewis.

Click here to order Ray Lewis’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Frank Gore touches the ball 25 times in Wk 1

Frank Gore rushed for just 59 yards on 22 carries and caught three passes for 19 yards in the 49ers' Week 1 win.
Gore was stuffed countless times at the goal line in the second half, narrowly missing out on a short-yardage score that could have saved his fantasy day. The good news is the 49ers want to ride Gore relentlessly; his 25 touches were easily a game high. Expect a better performance in Week 2 against Dallas. When Gore did have lanes, he looked fast and quick through the hole Sunday. We don't think he's lost anything in terms of burst from last year.

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Allen Bailey Makes A Diving Attempt At A Tackle


Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Allen Bailey (97) tries to tackle Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson (22) during the first half of an NFL football game at Arrowhead Stadium, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011, in Kansas City, Mo. Photo: Orlin Wagner / AP

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Willis McGahee Will Be Splitting Carries

The Denver Broncos are expected to run the ball more this season under new coach John Fox, but just who will be receiving the bulk of those carries is anyone's guess.

Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy told The Denver Post that the Broncos have no set rotation for the team's two top running backs -- Knowshon Moreno and Willis McGahee -- and instead will go with who has the hot hand.

"We're going to roll them," McCoy told The Post. "They're going to play, and if one of them is tired, the other one is going in. Then we'll just keep them going. Both of them are going to play plenty of snaps, but we're not going to worry about counting snaps with them.

"If someone is in there playing and they're on a roll, then they're going to stay in. When they need to come out, then they're going to come out."
Moreno, entering his third season, led the Broncos with 16 carries during the preseason, but failed to reach the end zone. Those touches went to McGahee, who had two touchdowns on 15 preseason carries.

In two seasons in Denver, Moreno has 429 carries for 1,726 yards and 12 touchdowns.

McGahee, a nine-year veteran of the Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens has 1,541 career carries, but has averaged 126.3 carries over the last three seasons. He scored 20 touchdowns the last two seasons with the Ravens, mainly as the goal line and short-yardage specialist. 

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

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Devin Hester terrific in return to kick-return team

CHICAGO -- Devin Hester found himself back returning kickoffs for the Chicago Bears on Sunday after Johnny Knox handled the majority of kickoff duties during the preseason.

Despite the new rule that forces teams to kick off from the 35-yard line, Hester managed to run back three returns for 53 yards.

"We knew the kicker (Matt Bosher) we were facing this week was a rookie," Hester said. "He showed some glimpses in the preseason that he struggled to get it deep in the end zone, so we knew we were going to get some shots on kickoff return."

While Hester has always maintained a strong presence on the punt team, the three-time Pro Bowl selection only returned a combined 19 regular-season kickoffs the past two years. The rationale for phasing Hester off kickoff returns was to allow him to focus more on offense, where he's entering his third year as a full-time starting wide receiver.

Hester electrified the crowd in the third quarter by turning a simple screen pass into a 53-yard play that almost resulted in a touchdown. The officials ruled Hester was pushed out of bounds at the 1-yard line, and the ruling held up after Bears head coach Lovie Smith threw the red challenge flag.

Quarterback Jay Cutler found tight end Matt Spaeth on a 1-yard touchdown pass on the ensuing play.

"It was a quick screen, the safety came down and once I made a move on him I had the opportunity to stretch the field," Hester said. "He missed and I cut up in there and tried to get as much as I could and the left side opened up, so I went in and took that shot.

"I thought it was a touchdown. They robbed me, but we ended up getting in there."

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Leonard Hankerson Inactive

Redskins declared FB Mike Sellers, WR Leonard Hankerson, WR Donte' Stallworth, OL Willie Smith, DL Darrion Scott, LB Markus White and SS LaRon Landry inactive for Sunday's game against the Giants.

Chris Cooley will be active but should not be counted on in fantasy leagues. Landry (Achilles', hamstring) was ruled out earlier in the week. Hankerson and Stallworth were unable to crack Washington's deep wide receiver depth. Darrel Young will serve as the team's fullback.

Click here to order Leonard Hankerson’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Willis McGahee bringing back the Mile High Salute

Denver Broncos running back Willis McGahee:

“We’ve got to bring back the ‘Salute,’” McGahee said, referring to the Broncos infamous post-TD celebration. “We have to represent for the running backs, Terrell Davis and those boys. When those guys were there we knew Denver was coming in and running the ball. That’s got to be our mindset – running the ball against whoever, whenever, whatever they put up. We’re ready.”

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Anthony Reddick Celebrates A Sack


Sunday September 11, 12:41 AM B.C Lions Anthony Reddick (26) celebrates with teammate DT Khalif Mitchell after a sack against the Toronto Argonauts during their CFL football game in Vancouver, British Columbia, September 10, 2011. REUTERS/Ben Nelms (CANADA - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

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Bryant McKinnie opens season at 360 pounds

Ravens LT Bryant McKinnie will open the season in the 360-pound range after showing up to Vikings camp at 386 in late July.

The Ravens aren't wasting time with McKinnie, installing him at the left tackle spot that's been a revolving door since Jon Ogden's retirement. McKinnie was 370 pounds when he initially reported to Baltimore on August 27, so the weight is coming down. We expect him to be an upgrade at the position regardless.

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Brandon Harris rookie diary: Anticipation building

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

Last week was an exciting week but a sad week, also. I had a chance to finish off the preseason. We went on the road, two road games. Went to San Francisco, came back for a short week, played at Minnesota. That Minnesota game was exciting. I had a chance to take a lot of snaps, get a lot of experience and just play a lot. It was also exciting because I grew up as a child being a Vikings fan, rooting for guys like Adrian Peterson and Brett Favre. Even when Randy Moss and Cris Carter were there, that was always my favorite team. So being able to play in that stadium and that atmosphere, it was really exciting.

Then, after the game, the reality set in: There’s a 53-man roster, and not a lot of guys are going to be here. I had to witness a lot of my friends that I had built relationships with since I’d been here, a lot of rookie guys coming in trying to make the team, get released. That was the wakeup call for me that the NFL is a business. It’s not like college. Guys are not transferring on their own. They’re fighting for their jobs. I was talking to guys who have families, who have kids, some are married, and they’re dependant upon the income. When they get released, they’re back at square one. They have nothing. That was kind of the part that made me take it as a blessing and not take anything for granted. You have to come every day prepared to perform. I don’t want to lose my job.

After getting through that, it’s very exciting right now. Playing against Indianapolis, obviously, one of the big division rivals, I’ve been hearing so much about the atmosphere for this game. Guys are saying how much different it is from the preseason, just the fans and the atmosphere of the stadium and how it comes alive. I’m very excited to get out there on Sunday and witness that part of it, just to go through the gameday routine again for the first regular0season game. I have my family flying in – my mom, my dad, my brother are coming in tomorrow morning. That’s going to be huge for me. It’s going to be my first time getting them out here and getting to hang out with them since I left home after the lockout was lifted. So I’m excited to get together with them and spend some time with my family and have them come watch the game.

The anticipation around the team is huge. There seems to be something special going on here, and I’m happy to be a part of it. I told the coaches anything that I can do to help this football team, I’m willing to play my role. I’m willing to step in and do whatever I have to do, whether it’s taking three or four snaps a game, running down on special teams or whatever I have to do to get on the field and make an impact as a player. I know coming in as a rookie, you just find somewhere you fit in. Even in practice, making guys better by making sure you go hard every day. I’m making sure guys are ready to perform, and when my number is called, I’ll be ready. But the anticipation around the team is huge. We think we can do some special things, and we’ve been showing that through camp and the preseason.

The fans have been great through this whole experience. We had tremendous fan support in college at Miami, but here it’s awesome all the time. Even on practice days like today, you’re driving down the street and see people holding up Texans signs and Texans flags. I was at the red light the other day, and I saw this guy was just standing there with a bunch of autographed footballs, just standing there waiting on Texans players to drive by, pull over and sign his football. So there’s a huge amount of dedication from a fan standpoint. It’s taken me by surprise a little bit, and I’ve been excited to see that build up every week.

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Teaching tolerance at The U: 9/11 and Sherko Haji-Rasouli

The tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks is Sunday, and that's led to some excellent pieces reflecting on how that day's events changed the world of sports. The effects weren't just felt south of the border, either, as many of them extended to Canada. TSN is running a series of features this week looking back at 9/11, and one of the most powerful aired on Friday's CFL on TSN pre-game show, with sportscaster Brian Williams (no, not the American one) talking to former B.C. Lion and recent Canadian national team member Sherko Haji-Rasouli (#55 above, seen during a 2007 game against Calgary) about his experience as a Muslim football player at the University of Miami in the days immediately following the attacks.

The piece (which you can watch in full here) started with a powerful montage of reactions to the attacks on American television, some of which seem almost unbelievable in retrospect. The televised reactions from prominent public figures included such lovely comments as "Islam is of the devil, it is causing billions of people to go to hell, it is a violent religion" and "Take your religion and shove it!" With that kind of atmosphere prevailing, it's tough to imagine what Haji-Rasouli went through, especially as football locker rooms aren't often the most tolerant or inclusive of environments. As Miami teammate Brett Romberg (a Canadian himself, from Windsor, Ontario, who would go on to an almost decade-long NFL career as a centre with the Jacksonville Jaguars, St. Louis Rams, Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons) told TSN, "There were a lot of questions being raised, and Sherko looking the way he did, he became a target."

Under those kinds of circumstances, and in a locker room stuffed with dominant personalities like Jonathan Vilma, Jeremey Shockey, Ed Reed and Clinton Portis (seriously, look at the Hurricanes' 2001-02 roster: it's incredible), it would have been easy for Haji-Rasouli to either retreat into a shell or lash out. He did neither, though, instead opting to try and engage his teammates in constructive dialogue and teach them about his religion. He told TSN his message was simple.

"Generally, it was just 'Have tolerance towards people from the Middle East,'" Haji-Rasouli said.

He opted not to be confrontational or judgemental, but rather available and personable.

"I'm here to help," Haji-Rasouli said, describing what he did. "If I don't know the answer, I will go find the answer for you."
That approach had an impact, as Williams stated.

"Everyone we talked with down at the University of Miami at Coral Gables spoke of how Sherko taught them," he said.

It helped raise awareness and tolerance amongst teammates, and it also solidified Haji-Rasouli's status as a leader in the locker room. Amongst a group of future NFL stars who would go on to win the national championship that season, that's something to be proud of. Haji-Rasouli's efforts to promote tolerance towards Muslims were endorsed by many influential figures outside the sports world, too, including Muslim Canadian Congress founder Tarek Fatah, who told TSN Haji-Rasouli's actions were "an incredible display."

Haji-Rasouli took an unusual path to his football career. He was born in Shiraz, Iran on September 1, 1980, shortly after the revolution. His family moved to Canada when he was growing up, and he then headed to The U for college and was the Hurricanes' starting left guard in 2001. After playing there, he became one of the few guys from that class not to go on to the NFL, but had a very solid CFL career with the Montreal Alouettes and B.C. Lions from 2002-2011. Still, it's his impact at Miami (where he's now returned to pursue a master's degree) that might be the most notable. As former teammate Joaquin Gonzalez told TSN, Haji-Rasouli was a significant influence on his teammates for good in the wake of the horrific events of 9/11.

"There are good and bad people everywhere, and I think that's something he made us understand."

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Eric Winston starts his own online sports TV network

Ask Eric Winston about the state of sports broadcasting and the Houston Texans right tackle doesn't hesitate. "It's the same old commentary," Winston tells CultureMap. "It's kind of boring. It's tiring really. I think a lot of people are sick of hearing the same things every single game and they're looking for something else."

Winston is hardly the first athlete to rail against the voices calling sports. But Winston isn't just a big man mouthing off. He's doing something about it, attacking the problem with the same focus he displays in protecting Matt Schaub or opening up holes for Arian Foster (or in the case of Sunday's season opener against the Colts, Derrick Ward and Ben Tate).

The Texans' unconventional offensive lineman has a plan. So the day after Houston opens a season of supersized promise at Reliant Stadium, Winston will launch a new online sports TV network dubbed THEBUS (pronounced Thee-bis). The network's first offering — Not Your Ordinary Sports Show — will live stream during every Monday Night Football game, offering a running conversation about everything from the game to current events to who knows what between an eclectic cast of guests and Winston.

The idea is for people to turn on the game, turn off the sound and pull up the broadcast of Not Your Ordinary Sports Show on a computer or smartphone, and listen to Winston and his high-profile Houston guests (former Olympic gold medal speed skater Chad Hedrick, outspoken PGA Tour veteran Steve Elkington and astronaut Scott Kelly are the guests for the first show Monday night) as they watch the game and get into it. (CultureMap Houston will show Not Your Ordinary Sports Show in the video module on its front page every Monday night, but the company does not have a financial stake in the show or Winston's new network).

And you thought athletes tweeting was a big deal? How about starting a sports TV network while still playing?

"Eric is probably interested in things that the average NFL player isn't," Kelly, the twin brother of Mark Kelly, Gabrielle Giffords' astronaut husband, says, laughing. "I think that's a lot of this. He's a maverick."

Spend any time talking to Winston and the rest of THEBUS team (Shawn Bouley and Chris Hayden, who used to work in operations at Reliant Stadium, are behind the scenes) and it quickly becomes apparent that this is anything but a lark. Not Your Ordinary Sports Show will be filmed by four cameras in a professional TV studio. Robert Henslee, the sports director at 610 AM, has been enlisted to be the show's moderator.
The whole thing's being undertaken with a professional approach. Winston isn't taking this on as some kind of hobby. He's committed to making it a success as a business. No matter how crazy it might sound to some.

"Who knows maybe everyone will be broadcasting shows like this 10 years from now," Winston says. "And we'll just have been the first."
Not Your Ordinary Sports Show will attempt to be something of a cross between Mystery Science Theater 3000, Real Time with Bill Maher and Best Damn Sports Show Period. And yes, it will only be shown online.

"The expectation is it's going to be Wayne's World," Bouley says, citing SNL's fictional spoof of a low-production value, train wreck of a public access show. "We have to give people a whole lot more."

Playing pioneer isn't easy though. It may even shake up your guests. Especially when they hear that Not Your Ordinary Sports will run throughout the entire Monday Night Football game. That's three hours plus of conversation from people sitting around a table, watching the game. Or in the case of Monday's opening show, six to seven hours of conversation.

ESPN kicks off Monday Night Football with a doubleheader and Not Your Ordinary Sports Show is intent on broadcasting throughout both games this Monday.

"What do you mean it's three hours?" Kelly says when asked about the time. "No one does a three-hour TV show."

When told that his show is actually seven hours, Kelly pauses. "Seven hours," he shoots back. "No, really. Seriously. How long is it? Who does a TV show for seven hours? What is this the Jerry Lewis telethon?"

Kelly's joking. Sort of. I think.

Tackle Who Loves Technology

It's all part of the fascination of a show the likes of which no one's ever seen before. It's a live wire act. Live TV on the Internet. Every Monday night. (Just wait until the Texans media relations department hears that MRI-tweeting Arian Foster is going to be on live TV for three hours one show. Think anything interesting's going to be said?)

"That's the whole show," Winston says. "It's having the guests from all different backgrounds looking at sports and football, and life, from different perspectives. We want to be centered around the football game, but they'll be plenty of conversation that takes us in different directions."
Winston is something of a football nut, even for an NFL player. He laughs when asked if he thinks he'll need a lot of prep time for his three-hour show. "I know the league pretty well," he says.

You could say that. During a test run for the show done off a preseason game, Winston rattled off the Colts' record in the preseason the last four years. Without referring to any notes.

Not Your Ordinary Sports Show will have a number of elements geared to keep things moving and interesting. A Referee Girl, something of an anti Mike Pereria, will be off on the side, ready to step in with a "ruling" in the case of an instant replay challenge on the Monday Night Game. Only Katie, the Referee Girl, will not be giving lectures on the intricacies of taking a catch to the ground a la Pereria. Instead, she might rule that the Bears deserve the call because she appreciates their old school socks.

If you love Ron Jaworski, this show probably isn't for you. If you'd often like to stick one of those old school socks in Jaworski's mouth . . . well, you're Winston's prime audience.

In many ways, Not Your Ordinary Sports Show will be about avoiding the painfully obvious lectures that dominate many traditional network sports broadcasts. That's the idea anyway. One that Winston admits he and his team couldn't have even imagined just a few years ago.

"In a weird way, the technology is what's made this possible," Winston says of an active NFL player deciding to start a fledgling TV network (THEBUS is already working on additional programming ideas). "Four of five years ago, I don't know that could have even tried to pull this off. It's a lot more level playing field now. It's a tribute to the technology."

And a professional athlete who doesn't fit into any of the traditional boxes. Will Winston's new online sports TV network be revolutionary or a colossal bust? Who knows?

But Winston won't be timid in trying to find out.

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Pat Burrell may be forced to retire

Sure, his performance is going to make it difficult for Pat Burrell to get any more major league work, but underlying that performance is that chronic foot injury from which he’s been suffering all summer.  I wasn’t really clear on the nature of it until I read Hank Schulman’s piece in the Chronicle this morning:

Burrell signed for $1 million this year and could do so again. On the other hand, he might have to retire because of a rare and debilitating foot injury that one doctor told him occurs mostly in car accidents.  ”I’m one of those guys, I’ll play until they tell me I can’t,” Burrell said. “I just enjoy it so much. That being said, I’ve got some limitations with this, and I don’t know if I’ll be allowed to play with this foot thing.”

He’s always been so hot-and-cold that I figured that the injury was just an annoyance and we were simply in a cold spell, maybe even a permanent one.  Guess not.

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Aubrey Huff to Get Full Run in 2012?

The end of this season for the Giants hasn't been fun. But it's at least been about clearing up the issues that have plagued the Giants this year and, perhaps admitting some mistakes.

If you're not clear what I mean: Brian Sabean finally ponied up and dumped Miguel Tejada and Aaron Rowand.

Another mistake that's haunted the Giants this season? Aubrey Huff. Though Huff was indispensable -- from both a statistical, leadership and, um, fashion perspective -- down the stretch in 2010, there was really no reason to reward him with a monster contract.

The Giants did that anyway, for some reason. And Huff has played about as poorly as he possibly could given the deal he received. Don't worry, though. He knows he's helping sink this team.

"If I have anything close to the season I had last year, we probably wouldn't be sitting in this spot," said Huff said earlier in the week, per Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury-News."So I take a lot of blame for that. But at the same time, it's baseball, man. Guys have bad years. We've had injuries and bad breaks.

"Certainly I could've played better. I just didn't."

 So what to make of Huff's future with Brandon "Yo-Yo Giraffe" Belt seemingly prepared to start with the big-league club (again) in 2012? Well, ESPN's Buster Olney doesn't expect any mea culpas from Sabean on this one.

"The guess here is that San Francisco will not go into next year committed to playing Huff every day, as it did in 2011, while waiting for him to start producing," Olney writes Friday. "Huff is hitting .243 with a .301 on-base percentage with 12 homers and 55 RBIs in 544 at-bats in the first year of a two-year, $22 million deal."

"$11 million for 12 home runs" is always painful reading material. I'm not even sure why I wrote it again.

So it's good news if we don't have to hear it once again in 2012, as Olney suggests.

And while he swatted 26 home runs in 2010 and knocked a shocking 32 out of the park as recently as 2008, this is prime time for a skills decline, as we saw in 2011.

The odds of him justifying an $11 million deal are pretty low, even barring a big bounceback. Unfortunately, he's already locked into that deal, so there's not a whole lot anyone can do to change it, other than hope that Sabean doesn't bank on him being the third-best batter on the roster in 2012.


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Ryan Braun's restaurants give diners different experiences

The setting: White linens. Delicate stemware. Cartoonish murals.

The pizza choices: Pepperoni. Sweet potato pie. Sausage and rapini.

Also on the menu: Meatballs. Watermelon-beet salad. Hot wing ravioli.

Wooing customers, behind the scenes: chef Dominic Zumpano, who makes his own Italian sausage, mozzarella cheese, tomato jam, breads and more. Expanding the fan base, but seldom seen: All-Star left fielder Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers.

The restaurantmag-glass_10x10 is Ryan Braun's Graffito, riverfront dining in Milwaukee's Third Ward and not your typical Italian restaurant. The former Ryan Braun's Waterfront Grill, sold in late 2010 to the SURG Restaurant Group, reopened with a new personality in April.

The same Major League Baseball player — a top contender for National League MVP — in 2010 assumed a high-profile role at a second Wisconsin restaurant: Ryan Braun's Tavern and Grill, four blocks north of busy Highway 50 in downtown Lake Geneva.

You won't mistake either restaurant for a sports bar, although a few televisions exist at both locations. Think of Graffito as "edgy elegant" and the Tavern/Grill as "classy cozy." Both emphasize Italian fare but have different menus and owners (the Lake Geneva site is a part of restaurateur Tom Romano's investments).

Dinner entrees in Lake Geneva lean more toward traditional offerings and include a soup or salad. Most are under $20. An exception is the R.B.8 mixed grill: pork chop, beef filet, shrimp, mashed potatoes and sauces.

Most entrees at Graffito also are less than $20, but the menu is a la carte. Some entrees involve truffle-drizzled purees or are unusual combinations, like pappardelle (pasta ribbons) with a duck prosciutto and duck ragu. Some diners build a meal by sharing small plates of calamari, bruschetta, stuffed shrimp, marinated olives or soft pretzels with cheese sauce.

Both restaurants serve small pizzas. The four-cheese version in Lake Geneva contains mozzarella, Fontina, Pecorino Romano and Parmesan. At Graffito, it's mozzarella, Fontina, Taleggio and Gorgonzola.

Popular cocktails at the Tavern/Grill include a Bloody Mary that arrives with thick pickle, cucumber and celery spears, plus a skewer of olives stuffed with bleu cheese. "I'd add spicy cheese curds," says our waitress, "but we've gone through so many today that we're out of them."

At Graffito, Italian Sangria arrives as a slightly sweet mix of white wine and citrus juices. On tap is Lakefront Brewery Ale No. 8.

Is the restaurants' namesake an avid cook, involved in menu development or restaurant tone/décor? Maybe one or more menu items are based on family heritage/recipes?

Maybe he's influenced the cocktail menus in some way?

What are the chances that fans will see him there?

It's the wrong time to be asking such questions, says Ken Spindler, who coordinates media relations for the Milwaukee Brewers. "Thanks for the interest, but we won't be able to accommodate your request (for answers to questions) at this time," he says, via email.

"Ryan is focused on the baseball season and we cut back on interviews during the stretch towards the postseason."

Elsewhere, we learn the All-Star player is especially proud of his Jewish roots, that he is generous with fans when his time permits and that his name is his lone significant investment in these businesses. His visits to the restaurants tend to be unannounced.

The University of Miami business management major, drafted by the Brewers in 2005, apparently stays sharp and savvy when away from his day job. "Off the field, Braun capitalizes on business opportunities like he would a bad pitch," states the most recent issue of élevée Lifestyle, part of an enterprise that creates custom, hand-tailored wardrobes for pro athletes and other celebrities.

Besides restaurants, Ryan's name also is associated with a clothing line (remetee.com), baseball bats (getrealbraun.com) and an energy drink (limelitefusiondrink.com).

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