Dan Morgan, Santana Moss and Reggie Wayne To Be Inducted Into the UM Sports Hall of Fame

The 43rd Annual UM Sports Hall of Fame banquet is next Thursday, March 24th at Jungle Island...headlined by Dan Morgan, Santana Moss and Reggie Wayne!

Tickets are $85 each and can be ordered by calling 305-284-2775...reception starts at 6 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m.   Other inductees include baseball's Bobby Hill, NCAA track champion Yolanda McCray, Olympic diver Daphne Jongejans-Bousquet, NCAA champion diver Tyce Routson and former women's tennis coach Ian Duvenhage.

The 19th Annual UM Sports Hall of Fame Golf Tournament is Friday, March 25th at Miccosukee Golf and Country Club...go to UMSportsHallofFame.com for details.

Click here to order Reggie Wayne’s or Dan Morgan’s or Santana Moss’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Phillies Interested in Jon Jay

When Jayson Stark reported Wednesday that the Phillies were interested in Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay, you might have asked yourself why they were pursuing an outfielder when there is still so much uncertainty regarding Chase Utley's status. Especially when any possible replacements for Utley are likely coming from a litter of former and current non-roster invitees like Josh Barfield, Delwyn Young, Wilson Valdez, and Pete Orr.

The answer is pretty simple. Ruben Amaro has decided that since he can't bolster the offense at second base (consider Michael Young very much off the radar... for now) he'll try to do it in the outfield. Because if you haven't noticed, there's one, count 'em one outfielder on the team the Phillies can count on delivering numbers consistent with or better than his career average, and that's Shane Victorino.

Raul Ibanez quietly had a strong second half in 2010 and is having a very nice spring, but he'll be 39 in June. Though he intensified his workout regimen during the off season that wall can come quickly for certain players and the impact can be ugly.

Ben Francisco (the starting right-fielder for all intents and purposes) and John Mayberry are each having all-world springs. But if Ben Fran logs 500 plate appearances this season, it'll be the first time he's done so. And let's see Mabes hit the curve ball consistently, off guys not destined for minor league camp.

Dom Brown? He's got some rehab, and a spring training do-over ahead of him. See you in June, kid. Maybe.

Though he's a left-handed hitter, the 26-year-old Jay would be a nice fit. As a rookie in 2010, he hit .300 in 323 plate appearance. Not much pop (just four HR and a .422 slugging percentage) but he held his own against lefties (.308 in 76 plate appearances) and plays all three outfield spots. And as MLB Trade Rumors points out, he's under team control through 2016 and won't hit arbitration before the 2012-13 off-season.

So Jay is young and cheap and versatile. An attractive fit for the Phils, to be sure. But more so for a mid-market team like the Cards, what with Albert Pujols hitting free agency after the season and seeking the moon.

Pure speculation, but the asking price would likely be steep for a part-time player. The Cards are a little light on lefty relievers. Maybe the ask for Antonio Bastardo?

We'll see…


Alex Cora likely a backup in Nats' infield

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Nationals are close to naming Alex Cora one of their backup infielders for the start of the regular season, according to a baseball source. Cora, who signed a Minor League deal with the team, is having a great spring, having gone 7-for-17 (.412) with an RBI entering play on Tuesday.

But it is more than Cora's numbers that have impressed the Nationals. He has become one of the leaders in the clubhouse. For example, he is often spotted trying to help Nyjer Morgan with his bunting and giving the center fielder words of encouragement.

With Cora most likely on the roster, the Nationals may try to move infielder Alberto Gonzalez, who could be traded or designated for assignment because he is out of Minor League options. Manager Jim Riggleman often raves about the glove work of Gonzalez, who has been a reliable bench player the past few seasons even though he would prefer to play every day.


Kenny Holmes to coach at New Mexico St. in 2011

GIFFORD -- Former Vero Beach High School defensive coordinator Kenny Holmes has taken an assistant coaching position with New Mexico State University.

“This is a really great opportunity for me to coach at the next level,” said Holmes.  “Coach Walker wants me to come in and specialize in coaching the kids on pass rush technique, and I can’t tell you how excited I am.  Rushing the passer was what I did best (as a player).”

Holmes, who was a defensive end for the Tennessee Titans and the New York Giants in the NFL for a total of seven years, will be a defensive line coach for the Aggies.

New Mexico State went 1-11 last season, with their only win coming against Wyoming.  Their lack of ability to put pressure on the quarterback was evident in its 72-0 loss to Oregon, its 52-7 loss against Texas Tech, its 56-14 loss to Utah, its 40-7 loss to BYU, and its 66-17 loss to TCU – all pass-heavy teams who run the spread offense.

Holmes, 37, tallied 38.5 sacks in the NFL, and was a former first-round draft pick of the Titans after starring at University of Miami.  The Gifford native led Vero Beach High School to the state semi-finals his senior year in 1991, when the first-team all-stater totaled 17 sacks and three defensive touchdowns.

New Mexico State University Head Coach DeWayne Walker was a defensive backs coach for the Giants while Holmes played for the team, and the two crossed paths again in 2004 when Walker was coaching for the Redskins and Holmes was exploring free agency.

“Over the years, Coach Walker and I have remained friends and kept in touch,”  said Holmes.  “He’s going to let me come to the program and do what I do best.”

Vero Beach will remain Holmes’ permanent address, as he will stay in Las Cruces, N.M., during football season only.  He did not comment on his political future, but keeping a Vero Beach address is a strong indicator that Holmes has not given up on obtaining political office in the future.
His son, standout VBHS linebacker Dion Holmes, will not follow him to Las Cruces to play football at this time.  While Holmes hasn’t ruled out the possibility of his son joining the Aggies in the future, he said Dion is undecided on where he will play football next year.

Both Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University want Holmes to join the team as a preferred walk-on, meaning that Holmes would have a chance to earn an athletic scholarship as early as this season if the coaching staff at either school chooses to award him one. 

Two of his former defensive teammates, Lars Koht and Cody Horstman, are attending FIU in the fall on football scholarships.

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Bryant McKinnie jumps on board for African relief expedition

This is a story about NFL players that has nothing to do with labor, lockouts and lawyers.

It's a story about Vikings tackle Bryant McKinnie, yet it shines a light on something other than TMZ, Twitter or the size of the big man's Hollywood bar tab.

No, this is a story about 10 NFL players and their time spent helping on two charitable missions in Africa this month.

"Life-changing missions," said Brady Forseth, executive director of the Eden Prairie-based Starkey Hearing Foundation.

These are the kind of missions that have seen a poor Rwandan family walk 30 kilometers so a young boy can hear his mother's voice for the first time in his life. These are the kind of missions that have seen a 113-year-old woman hear for the first time since she was 52. This particular Starkey mission will see more than 22,000 free state-of-the-art hearing aids and a year's supply of batteries delivered in just 24 days.

"You see a life change right before your eyes," Forseth said. "You experience it and, well, sometimes there aren't enough tissues in the Kleenex box. For them or you."

McKinnie, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald Jr. are among the players who left this week for Africa. Peterson is one of the co-founders of "Pros For Africa," a non-profit relief organization that helps provide basic needs for children in Africa.

Fitzgerald, a Minneapolis native, is a supporter of the Starkey Hearing Foundation. So when the Pros For Africa and the hearing foundation ended up scheduling separate missions to Africa this month, an All-Pro union of helping hands was formed.

The other players are Vernon Davis (49ers), Vontae Davis (Dolphins), Roy Williams (Bengals), Gerald McCoy (Buccaneers), Derrick Morgan (Titans), Santonio Holmes (Jets) and Tommie Harris (free agent).

Thursday through Saturday, the group will be in Gulu, Uganda, helping workers from the Starkey Hearing Foundation fit children and adults with hearing aids. They'll move on to Ruhengeri, Rwanda, Sunday and Monday.

"AP [Peterson] got me on board," McKinnie said Monday on his way to the airport. "He's been over there before. He told me all about it and it was an experience that I wanted to be a part of."

McKinnie doesn't get much good publicity, if any. He has served a four-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy.
He was dismissed from a Pro Bowl for not showing up. And while he was AWOL in South Beach, he tweeted like a thirsty teenage spring breaker. Many, including yours truly, roasted him for it.

There's also the recent TMZ report of McKinnie's $100,000 bar tab at a Hollywood nightclub during the NBA All-Star weekend.
"Who said it was true?" McKinnie asks when the bar bill is mentioned.

TMZ, you say.

"So everything TMZ says is true?" McKinnie asks.

Touché, you say. And, besides, where does it say that McKinnie's bar tab is anyone else's business?

Now back to Africa.

"I had no idea what it took just to prepare to go there," McKinnie said. "I took 10 shots. Eight of them in one day."

For the record, those aren't shots of tequila.

"It's for all kinds of things, they told me," McKinnie said. "Malaria, hepatitis ... a bunch of things you don't want to get while you're over there."

There are pills to take before, during and after the trip to Africa. There's a video you have to watch, too.

"On the video, they're talking about monkeys jumping out of trees onto you," McKinnie said. "So you got to take a rabies shot because maybe a monkey will jump out of a tree and bite you. That's crazy."

McKinnie has a publicist now. But he says concerns about his image had nothing to do with agreeing to go on a mission to Africa.

"You kidding?" he says. "To think I'll be able to give a kid fresh water or be able to sit there and see him hear his mom's voice for the first time. Who wouldn't want to do that? Just in general, I think this will be a life-changing experience for all the NFL guys going over."

Now we return you to the lockout and lawyers. Unfortunately.

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

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Damione Lewis Football Camp (April 25th at Sulphur Springs)



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Remember Cubs’ Scott Maine as the man of steel

MESA, Ariz. — Cubs left-hander Scott Maine is a walking, talking public-service announcement, complete with scars and a metal-reinforced forehead he can use to emphasize a point.

‘‘My head right now is stronger than it was before,’’ Maine says. ‘‘I can head-butt that [locker wall] and put a hole in it.’’

No, that’s OK.

‘‘The doctor said, ‘Your head’s going to be stronger than it ever was,’ ’’ he says, ‘‘because when the bones fuse over the metal, it’s stronger than when it’s just bone.’’

PSA No. 1: Don’t speed on Florida’s Turnpike during rush hour, kids.

Maine, a favorite to open the ­season in the Cubs’ bullpen, possibly as the only rookie on the roster, speaks evenly and matter-of-factly about more events that reshaped — and in some cases nearly ended — his life in just 26 years than most people experience in a lifetime.

And he can provide the dates.

Aug. 9, 2005. That was the day the rescue workers found the University of Miami pitcher 50 feet from his SUV after he lost control while speeding near Fort Lauderdale to get to a round of golf with his buddies. Maine wasn’t wearing a seat belt. He went off the highway and directly into some trees, ­fracturing his skull in 24 places when he hit the windshield.

Somehow he retained enough consciousness to kick open the door and crawl from the vehicle before collapsing.

He was in the hospital for three weeks, including two days in an induced coma, and still has three plates and four screws in his skull, plus a scar that starts on one side of his head, runs over his hairline and down the other side.

‘‘But I’m pretty much the same as I was before,’’ he says. He got headaches regularly for about a year afterward, ‘‘but other than that, things are pretty normal.’’

PSA No. 2: Always wear your seat belt — even if your back-seat sound system is so big it pushes into the driver’s seat and makes the belt hang awkwardly over your pitching shoulder.

‘‘I always thought if I got in a little accident, it would hurt my shoulder, so I never wore it,’’ he says.

The car crash derailed much of his baseball season that year at Miami, like the Tommy John surgery the year before and the hand surgery that ate up part of another season.

It might have made him one of the longest shots to hit when he finally made his major-league debut last season with the Cubs, producing an impressive 2.08 ERA in 13 appearances down the stretch.

If there’s a major lingering effect from what he’s gone through, it may be the even-keeled approach he seems to have added to what already was a healthy level of fearlessness.

‘‘I’ve pretty much had it all ­happen to me,’’ says Maine, who also took a line drive off his ear ­during a high school all-star game. ‘‘I’ve been there, done that . . .’’

‘‘I don’t get worked up like some other people would. I’m pretty easy.’’

He even has started to slow down on the road — something that didn’t happen immediately after the accident for the former BMX and go-kart racer.

‘‘I’ve always kind of had a need for speed,’’ says Maine, who once got his new truck up to 185 mph on an open road while driving cross-country. ‘‘I haven’t gone that fast in a while. It wasn’t necessarily the accident that taught me a lesson. I just turned 26, and I find myself going under the speed limit now. I don’t know why. Where I used to be in a rush to get somewhere, now I’m not.’’

One theory: ‘‘I’ve been sober since 2008. That might have something to do with it.’’

Oct. 16, 2008. That was the last time Maine had a drink.

No drinking was involved in the accidents, and the speed and the booze were separate issues — albeit functions of the same active, thrill-seeking personality.

‘‘I didn’t drink all the time, but when I did, I never could control it,’’ he says. ‘‘If I went out, I would have one, and that would turn into 10.’’
PSA No. 3: Quit drinking and it will help you get to the majors.

Maine says no single event made him stop. He just started realizing the negative impact drinking was having on his life and career path.

‘‘Just as far as throwing — if you were to go out and drink the night you threw, the next day you’d feel a thousand times worse than you would if you didn’t drink,’’ he says.

‘‘I’m not saying that’s the reason [for getting to the big leagues], but I’m sure it helped.’

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Allen Bailey to visit Broncos, Buccaneers, work out for Falcons

University of Miami defensive lineman Allen Bailey is scheduled to visit the Denver Broncos and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and conduct a private workout for the Atlanta Falcons later this month, according to league sources with knowledge of the situation.

Per one source, Bailey is going to be visited in Miami by an NFL head coach and general manager.

The powerful, sculpted 6-foot-3, 285-pounder ran the 40-yard dash in 4.71 seconds at the NFL scouting combine and registered a 36 1/2 inch vertical leap, a 9-9 broad jump and bench pressed 225 pounds 27 times.

Named second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference, Bailey led the Hurricanes last season with seven sacks as he posted 45 tackles, 11 for losses.

A converted linebacker, Bailey has played defensive tackle and end. He has drawn varying grades with at least one NFL team projecting him as a late first-round selection and others expecting him to go in the second round.

Draft analysts have questioned whether Bailey fits best at tackle or end. He said he believes his best position is as a 4-3 defensive end.

"I feel like I probably could put on more weight, but we’ll see," Bailey said. "I’d played strictly outside the last three years, so it was an adjustment going inside. I got the swing of everything and adjusted pretty well."

As a junior, Bailey recorded seven sacks and 11 tackles for losses to earn first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors.

For his career, he finished with 107 tackles, 33 for losses and 20 sacks.

Bailey grew up in an extremely small Georgia town called Hog Hammock 15 miles off the coast on Sapelo Island. Recruiters had to take a half-hour boat ride to get to Bailey, which has a population of about 50 people.

The legend goes that recruiters were renting speed boats to outhustle the competition for Bailey.

"They'll find you anywhere," said Bailey, who chose Miami over Alabama, Florida and Georgia. "I wanted to get out of the state of Georgia, so why not Miami? It was pretty close. I’d never traveled too much. I didn’t travel at all until my senior year of high school. So, I wanted to do that."
It was tough for Bailey to organize games since there were only about 20 kids on the island.

"We had football, basketball, outdoor stuff," Bailey said.

Bailey bench presses 420 pounds and power cleans 375 pounds and was twice named Strength Training Athlete of the Year.

He has several nicknames, including Billy Bicep.

That met with Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris' approval.

"Billy Bicep, Popeye. Big Bailey, a whole list of them," Bailey said. "Favorites for me were Popeye and Billy Bicep."

Bailey said he talked to Tampa Bay, Atlanta, the Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers and the Cleveland Browns for combine interviews. He also interviewed with the Falcons at the Senior Bowl.

Bailey has an 18 1/2 inch wingspan, 10 1/2 inch hands.

Bailey said his best football remains ahead of him.

"I kind of know some of my weaknesses," Bailey said. "Hands need work sometimes, getting off blocks, attacking blockers."


Photo Shoot: Andre Johnson Now Sponsored by the Jordan Brand

The Texans might be a perennially mediocre team but Johnson is a spectacular talent and currently holds the league’s career record for receiving yards per game, a superstar status that’s cemented by his allegiance with Jordan Brand.  JB’s latest football star joins the colorful Terrell Owens among others under the Jumpman umbrella and we can’t wait to see all the different Air Jordan cleats he’ll break out, if the two sides ever come to an agreement.  Click through to see Johnson rocking the Air Jordan Alpha Trunner along with some new JB receiver gloves and stick with Sneaker News for more on Jordan Brand’s NFL contingent.

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Where Frank Gore ranks with top backs

Frank Gore ranked only tied for 10th in ESPN.com's rankings for running backs despite my efforts to acknowledge his consistent production and all-around game.

The hip injury that shortened Gore's 2010 season capped his production at 853 yards. I think it knocked down Gore in voters' eyes or at least gave them a reason to focus on other backs. That's what happens sometimes in this type of voting. Decisions can be close, so voters look for reasons to discount candidates.

I ranked Gore seventh on my ballot. James Walker had Gore ninth. John Clayton had him 10th. None of the other voters ranked Gore among their top 10.

Paul Kuharsky, in preparing his overall piece on the balloting, asked me to break down Gore relative to Ray Rice, Michael Turner and Darren McFadden. My response:
Gore was fast approaching his fifth consecutive 1,000-yard season in 2010 when a hip injury sidelined him. That knocked him down on this list. Before that, I think he was perceived as a top-five back in the league, or right in there.

Gore ranked fourth in rushing yards from 2006 through 2009. He is a complete back. He stays low when he runs and he breaks tackles. He catches the ball well. He's a willing and sometimes violent blocker in pass protection.

Relative to the backs you mentioned, Gore has certainly played at a high level longer than Rice, Turner or McFadden. He's produced across systems for a team that has had a different offensive coordinator every season of his career. He's never had a quarterback to take pressure off him. Defenses have known what was coming and Gore has kept coming anyway. It's bitten into his production and taken a toll on his body, but he has produced.

Earlier this month, I answered a mailbag question wondering whether this was the right time to trade Gore. It's one of those questions to consider separately from the emotional connections we make with players based on how they play, what they represent on the field, how they carry themselves and the like.

Gore is to the point in his career where it's natural to wonder whether the game is catching up to his body. Because of that, the team will have a decision to make once Gore's contract expires following the 2011 season.

But there should be no diminishing what Gore has meant to the 49ers or, in my view, that he can still rank among the NFL's very best, health permitting.

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Yasmani Grandal among nine Reds sent to Minors camp

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Reds pared their Spring Training roster Monday by reassigning nine players to Minor League camp, reducing the number of players in Major League camp to 45.

Catcher Yasmani Grandal, the team's No. 1 pick (12th overall) in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, was among the players on the 40-man roster sent out, along with right-hander Daryl Thompson and left-hander Philippe Valiquette.

Lefties Donnie Joseph and Jeremy Horst, right-handers Matt Klinker and Justin Lehr, outfielder Danny Dorn and catcher Chris Denove were the non-roster invitees reassigned.

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Chicago Bears Looking at Orlando Franklin?

Pro Football Weekly’s Nolan Nawrocki has just posted his latest mock draft, and he has the Bears taking Miami offensive lineman Orlando Franklin with their first-round pick, at No. 29 overall.

The 6-foot-6, 315-pound Franklin was a three-year starter for the Hurricanes, and he played the all-important left tackle spot as a senior, after previously starting at guard.

Nawrocki earlier had the Bears taking Illinois defensive tackle Corey Liuget in the first round, but his latest mock has the Illini standout going to the Seahawks with the 25th pick.

Nawrocki explained his latest Bears pick at ProFootballWeekly.com, thusly: “Although G.M. Jerry Angelo might prefer to find a replacement for Tommie Harris with this pick, the board could be more favorably filled with OL talent. Franklin could be the most physical blocker in this year's draft and perfectly fits the nasty disposition that OL coach Mike Tice seeks in the trenches.”

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Reggie Wayne entering final year with Colts?

With a contract set to expire after the 2011 season, we hear that All-Pro WR Reggie Wayne could be playing his final season in a Colts uniform. Wayne, 32, is coming off a terrific '10 campaign, but he has been adamant about wanting a long-term deal — not something the Colts generally do with players in their 30's. Don't rule out the possibility of the Colts drafting a wide receiver in April, with Wayne serving as a mentor next season.

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Fox Sports Draft Preview Video: Leonard Hankerson

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Fox Sports Draft Preview Video: Allen Bailey

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Sportingnews Scouting report: Ryan Hill

Russ Lande and his team of War Room scouts presents a scouting profile on Miami CB Ryan Hill:
NFL position: CB
Height: 5-10 7/8
Weight: 203
40 time: 4.54

Current projection: Third-round pick

Strengths: Has good size and arm length for the next level. Is an excellent athlete with the speed, range and quickness to develop. Shows outstanding press man-to-man coverage ability. Is a physical, aggressive run defender and tackler. Has a physical jam with the recovery speed to play in the receiver's pocket downfield. Does a good job of re-routing the receiver and has good closing ability on plays in front of him in zone or man coverage. Has soft hands and excellent ball skills to make interceptions.

Weaknesses: Has only two years of playing experience as a defensive back at the college level. Has a bow-legged frame with questionable durability, given his 2009 shoulder injury. Shows some choppy transition skills in man-to-man and zone coverage. Is not an effective blitzer off the edge.

Bottom line: Hill was a first-year starter at left cornerback for the Hurricanes in 2010. A shoulder injury cost him the 2009 season, and he received a medical redshirt. Hill served as a part-time starter at safety in 2008 after making the switch from wideout. He is an excellent athlete with the speed, quickness and range to earn playing time early on defense as a pro, with the potential to develop into a starter by his second NFL campaign. He has a lot of physical and athletic potential to continue to develop in the NFL. Look for him to go in the third round due to his physical and athletic qualities.

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Colin McCarthy's shoulder injuries cause for concern

Miami linebacker Colin McCarthy helped his draft stock with a strong showing in the Senior Bowl, but one senior scout for an NFL club told the National Football Post concerns about previous shoulder injuries will prevent his team from considering him.

An honorable mention All-ACC selection this past season when he led the Hurricanes with 119 tackles, McCarthy projects as an inside linebacker and he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.59 seconds at the combine. He did well for himself in Indianapolis, but the most significant information teams gain there is medical reports.

The scout was quick to say just because McCarthy will not be on his team’s board doesn’t mean other teams will not consider him. McCarthy started the first four games of the season in 2008 before a shoulder injury forced him to miss the remainder of the year. He received a medical redshirt, and reports indicate he had as many as three shoulder surgeries while in college.

Still, McCarthy is considered a strong prospect and the NFP’s Wes Bunting has him No. 2 on the big board for inside linebackers behind LSU’s Kelvin Sheppard.

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Bill Belichick Suprises Allen Bailey

Bill Belichick sat in the defensive meeting room with lineman Allen Bailey, cornerback Brandon Harris, linebacker Colin McCarthy and defensive backs DeMarcus Van Dyke and Ryan Hill for a few hours and no sandals were thrown. More than anything, a lot of questions were asked.

When Belichick rolled tape of Bailey, for example, the play was a stunt. That led Belichick to ask Bailey what Miami called the stunt and what his specific technique and responsibility was on the play.

So in that sense, Belichick is much like a reporter attempting to gain a better understanding of a play that unfolds in a game. The more information he gathers, the more accurate his evaluation of the player.

Belichick's approach was somewhat of a surprise to the players.

"He seemed like a cool, laid-back type guy. On TV, you see him all serious all the time," explained Bailey, who is projected as an early-round pick. "It wasn't tense. It was a relaxed atmosphere. Just all football."

At a time when owners and players are fighting over billions of dollars and the future of the league is headed to the courtroom, that Belichick is taking an "all football" approach is no surprise. If he's investing time watching film with prospects, it makes sense to study those players a bit closer because they might have a better chance to soon be fitted for Patriots jerseys.

In Bailey, Belichick has plenty of tape to evaluate. The Sapelo Island, Ga., product is third on Miami's all-time charts for games played (50), just two behind leader Brandon Meriweather. He measured 6-foot-3 and 285 pounds at the NFL combine in February -- where he met with Jets head coach Rex Ryan, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris, among others -- and showed his athleticism in running a 4.71 in the 40-yard dash. That is an impressive time for someone with that physical makeup; almost linebacker-like.

Bailey has played in both a 4-3 and 3-4 alignment at Miami, so he offers some scheme versatility as a defensive end who could also stay on the field on third down and rush from an interior position. He totaled seven sacks in each of the past two seasons. He described his style of play as "high motor, versatile, attacking upfield."

As for the other Hurricanes in the room with Belichick, Harris is considered one of the top cornerbacks in the draft, a cut below first-round picks Patrick Peterson (LSU) and Prince Amukamara (Nebraska). He enters the draft following his junior season. McCarthy, a mid-round possibility, projects to inside linebacker/special teams in the Patriots' scheme. The team is well stocked in that area. Meanwhile, Van Dyke and Hill look like later-round options in the defensive backfield.

By the time the draft arrives, the Patriots will have met or worked out hundreds of prospects, which adds important context to the entire process. If nothing else, Belichick's film session with Miami defenders simply speaks to the level of detail with which he approaches the scouting process.
"It was no pressure, just meeting and watching film," Bailey said. "It was relaxed and we got to know each other."

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Greg Olsen on the trade market?

Chicago Bears TE Greg Olsen is a player who could be on the trade market this offseason, according to CBSSports.com. Olsen, who has one year left on his rookie deal, made 19 fewer catches for 208 fewer yards and three fewer TDs than in 2009.

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Papa Bear: Devin Hester to write parenting column

If you’re seeking advice on how to break a tackle to see daylight, then Bears return specialist Devin Hester is an obvious choice to hit up for some how to.

But parenting tips?

Apparently the three time Pro Bowler has some intelligence in that department as well.

Hester, who has a year-and-a-half old son Devin Jr. with his wife Zingha, is using some of his downtime to pen a column for Chicago Parent magazine about his favorite places to bring the little guy in and around the city.

“The fathers who are leaning toward not being a father figure, I want to let them know being in your son’s life in the most important thing for the first 13 to 15 years,” Hester told the AP. “Those are the key years. The things a father did when he was young, a young child wants to know.”

Hester also gave some background on his own upbringing, saying that he felt lucky to have had two male father figures in his childhood, between his biological father, who died of cancer when he was 10, and also his step-father who coaxed him into football after his father’s death.

Hester regularly shares pictures and videos of his young son on his twitter account.

Hester’s first Chicago Parent column called “Hangin’ with Devin” will run in April.

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Kellen Winslow Says He's Very Content In Tampa Bay

While he waits for the owners and the players' professinal trade association to settle their dispute, Buccaneers TE Kellen Winslow told PFW he prepared financially for the lockout and is working to stay in shape.

Coming off two relatively healthy and productive seasons, Winslow, who is heading into his third season with the Bucs since being traded from the Browns, said this is the happiest he's been in his professional career.

"I mean, I had a great time in Cleveland," he said. "Had a great time with my teammates. We didn't win too much, but had some good relationships in Cleveland. Just overall happy — I'd have to say yeah. Everything is in the right position. Warm weather, great coach, no drama."

Following a surprising 10-win season, the bar is being raised for the Bucs this offseason. They didn't make the playoffs in 2010, but have plenty of young talent and will be expected to contend for a spot again in '11. Winslow said he's surprised by how quickly the fortunes have changed for the team, which went 3-13 in '09.

When he was dealt to Tampa Bay heading into the '09 season, it looked like Winslow was going to be part of a long-term rebuilding project and that wins could be in short supply.

"I knew we had the right guy leading us (at head coach), but I just knew we were really young," Winslow said. "For us to do what we're doing — it's pretty amazing with how young we are. (My teammates) made me a believer. I didn't know at first. I didn't know how good we could be."

The 27-year-old has undergone several surgeries on his right knee since he was involved in a motorcycle accident in '05 and his practice time in training camp and during the season has been limited by head coach Raheem Morris to give him time to rest and recover.

Winslow said his offseason workout regimen has also changed over the years, and that it currently consists of running, cycling and playing basketball.

"I've gotten a lot smarter," he said. "I just used to do anything I could because I wanted everything right now. I would already be running routes right now and be lifting a lot of weights."

Winslow, who is heading into his eighth season, has led Tampa Bay in receptions in each of the past two seasons, making 77 catches in '09 and 66 in '10.

Click here to order Kellen Winslow’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Jeremy Shockey calls Panthers “an intriguing situation”

Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson has a reputation as being a hard-liner in the labor situation that is bogging down the NFL right now.

But Jeremy Shockey, who signed with the Panthers shortly after his release from the New Orleans Saints, had no problems going to Carolina, where he signed a one-year contract.

“I met the owner, Mr. Richardson, he was a straight-shooter, he looked me in the eye and was real sincere in the things he had to say,” Shockey said on WFNZ in Charlotte, N.C., according to sportsradiointerviews.com. “Coach (Ron) Rivera has some great things ahead of him as a head coach, obviously the offensive coordinator, Rob Chudzinski, I knew him from Miami as a tight ends coach and as an offensive coordinator at Miami.

“It just made sense. It is something that I had a chance to meet with a bunch of teams and meet with a bunch of owners and things like that but to me, I had this thing, sort of a gut feeling and it is exciting, it is a young ball club compared to some of the other ball clubs I have been in and it is a very intriguing situation for me.”

We’ll see how intriguing Shockey finds things once the Panthers select a quarterback for this coming season. If things bog down – and if veteran wide receiver Steve Smith is still there – that could become a potentially awkward situation with a couple of players who are vocal when they’re not getting the ball.

Click here to order Jeremy Shockey’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Jason Geathers Scores Winning TD with 31 Seconds Left

The Arizona Rattlers finally made their extra points, toughened defensively and made the plays in the end to beat the Jacksonville Sharks 55-52 Saturday night in their Arena Football League opener at U.S. Airways Center.

Nick Davila's 9-yard pass to Jason Geathers with 31 seconds left was the difference.

The Rattlers didn't lead until 4:30 remained, when Virgil Gray returned a kickoff 55 yards for a touchdown. Joe Schroeder, who missed three extra-point tries in the first half, gave the Rattlers a 47-46 lead with 4:30 remaining.

Linebacker Kevin McCullough intercepted Aaron Garcia's pass with 23 seconds left, and Davila ate up the last 18 seconds by throwing four straight passes high into the crowd.

"That's Arena football," said Davila, who finished with 286 yards and six touchdown passes, completing 27 of 46 passes. "You've got keep playing."

The beginning wasn't the kind of splash the Rattlers wanted to make to open an 18-game schedule.

They dropped three passed and gained no yards in their opening series. They missed three extra-point tries in the first half. They lost the ball on an on-side kick. And they allowed 17-year veteran quarterback Aaron Garcia look ageless, as Jacksonville built a 30-25 halftime lead.

But the Rattlers recovered nicely, especially in the final minute of the half, when Marquis Floyd intercepted a Garcia pass in the end zone and Davila found Nate Forse from 16 yards out as time expired.

Floyd said he felt he had to make amends for an on-side kick that bounced off of him and was recovered by the Sharks earlier in the half. That led to a touchdown.

"That on-side kick was on me," Floyd said. "He kicked a high shot off of me. I felt I had to make up for that."

After Davila fumbled the ball on the first series of the second half, the Rattlers played mistake-free, and kicker Joe Schroeder, booed for missing three extra points in the first half, became clutch.

Schroeder's extra point gave the Rattlers their first lead, 47-46, with 5:17 left. It came after Virgil Gray returned the kickoff 57 yards for a touchdown. Before then, Gray was bottled up on kickoff returns.

"It was my first real look on the returns in this game (off the nets)," Gray said.

Garcia, the league's career leader in passing yards and touchdown passes, completed 14 of 18 for 141 yards and three touchdowns in the half. He was limited to two TD passes in the second half. He finished 24 of 39 for 259 yards.

After Forse dropped two passes and Trandon Harvey another to start the game, the Rattlers became stick-fingered. Harvey finished with 12 catches for 130 yards and four TDs. It was his best game as a Rattler since 2008.

"We kind of got the cobwebs out a little bit in the first half," Davila said. "We finished with situational football. We remained poised and it paid off."

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Ryan Braun says he's fine after rib-cage strain

PHOENIX -- A familiar problem popped up Saturday for Brewers All-Star outfielder Ryan Braun, who exited the team's Spring Training game with a rib-cage strain.

Braun's right side banged into the outfield wall during batting practice, and he felt some discomfort along his left side after that.

"Didn't feel right," manager Ron Roenicke said about Braun, who chased a foul ball in the top of the first inning in the afternoon game against the D-backs.

Braun exited as a precaution, and through a club spokesperson said he was "fine."

The Brewers' official report said Braun strained his intercostals, the small muscles between the ribs that have given him trouble in the past. It's a minor injury, but one that can linger for an indefinite period of time.

Braun was already scheduled to be off Sunday against the Royals.

The Brewers' All-Star right fielder, Corey Hart, has a similar injury to his left oblique, the large muscle along the outside of the ribs. Hart suffered his injury two weeks ago Saturday and has yet to swing a bat since.

Against the D-backs on Saturday, Braun was penciled into his usual three-hole and played the top of the first inning in left field without any apparent incident. Instead of batting in the bottom of the inning, Chris Dickerson took Braun's place.

It's been a very busy spring for the Brewers' athletic training staff. Besides Hart, starting catcher Jonathan Lucroy (fractured finger), likely Opening Day starter Zack Greinke (cracked rib) and reliever Manny Parra (back) are all unavailable, and second baseman Rickie Weeks has only been playing a couple of innings per day because of a tight groin.

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Chris Perez Buys Himself A Piece of History

You might have seen the headline when Cleveland Indians closer Chris Perez signed a one-year deal with the Tribe in January.

But you probably never heard about one of the first things he decided so spend some of that $2.2 million on.

He bought a baseball card.

Now, it's not just any card, either. Perez purchased a one-of-a-kind Topps card, a fold-out booklet with the signatures of nine 1927 New York Yankees attached. The two biggies? Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, while the seven other autographs are the rest of the starters in the legendary lineup known as "Murderers' Row."

The cost? A mere $20,000.

"This is definitely a nice little gift I'm giving myself for my new contract," Perez said from spring training in Goodyear, Ariz. "Some people buy cars, jewelry, houses. I wanted to buy something a little different. I could barely talk my wife into letting me bid the initial $20,000 let alone get in a bidding war."

In an interview about the card and his collecting habits appearing in the latest issue of Beckett Sports Card Monthly, Perez admits that he does chase his own cards -- though they're not quite as expensive. He appears on just 235 cards, according to the Beckett.com database, and they're worth an average of just $3.51 apiece.

"I own every one of my own cards, except the 1/1s [where only one copy is made]," he said. "But I do check out eBay to see if there are any printing plates or other 1/1s."

Perez, who made his big-league debut with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2008, said his biggest previous card purchase was an autographed 2001 Bowman Chrome Albert Pujols rookie card -- a card that typically fetches about $4,000.

"I have made some big purchases before," he said, "but nothing of this magnitude."

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Danny Valencia has nothing to lose

JUPITER, Fla. — This year is different for Danny Valencia. The third baseman no longer is wondering when he'll get his big-league break, and he's not clearing his Hammond Stadium locker of baby food and diapers as he had to last spring after some harmless rookie hazing.

Yet Valencia doesn't feel far removed from those days. He might have placed third in rookie of the year voting last season, but as for 2011, Valencia said, "I'm still the rookie."

Take a spring training game earlier this month in Bradenton. Valencia doubled in each of his first two at-bats, and Twins manager Ron Gardenhire gave the third baseman the option to be done for the day or to hit once more. Valencia opted for one more turn at the plate, finishing his day with an ugly strikeout and drawing the comical ire of the manager.

"He wanted one more, and then he looked like (expletive)," Gardenhire quipped while Valencia sat in the clubhouse eating his postgame meal. "I told him, 'That's why I'm the manager — I take you out after two, you have two good at-bats, you could have walked away good.' Now he's in there eating chicken thinking about his last at-bat."

So Gardenhire keeps Valencia on his toes, and Valencia, with his boisterous personality and wellestablished confidence, offers up plenty of chances for entertainment. All of that remains the same. What's different this year is Valencia's status with the team.

Valencia batted .311 with seven homers and 40 runs batted in in 85 games for the Twins last season. He came into spring training with the third-base job all his own, offering stability at a position that for so many years in this organization has been uncertain.

But will the confident 26-year-old try too hard to outdo his 2010 output? Will he feel the pressure to match his rookie results and stumble into a sophomore slump? Does any of that worry Gardenhire?

"Not in the least, to tell you the truth," Gardenhire said. "Danny likes Danny. That's Matt Tolbert's line — Danny likes Danny. I kind of think that, too. I don't think he worries about too awful much. I think he likes to play baseball, he gets out there and I don't think you have to really worry about it with him. That's pretty entertaining to me. That's why I've said it's his job, just take it and run with it."

Valencia contends he's still trying to win his position, but perhaps that's just his way of "walking the line," something he said he'll do all of this season. But there is no doubt that it's his, and Gardenhire has been happy with how Valencia has handled that responsibility during camp.

When Valencia came up last June, the Twins worked with him on two things specifically — helping him find the power in his swing after he failed to homer in 185 minor league at-bats before his call-up and coming to the ball on defense rather than sitting back and letting the ball come to him.

The Twins have had to continue to work on Valencia's tendency to stay back on balls, but even that seems a small issue to Gardenhire, who said his defense with the Twins last season was much better than what the team saw from him during spring training earlier in the year.

And though he needs a defensive reminder every now and then, Valencia seems to remember quite well his 2010 hitting lessons. Despite not yet hitting his first Grapefruit League home run, he has been one of the most impressive players to watch during batting practice and right away started hitting the ball hard in games.

In nine spring games, Valencia is batting .381 (8 for 21) with four doubles, three RBIs and a .458 on-base percentage.

"He's popping the ball," Gardenhire said. "He's a force when he walks to the plate nowadays. He gets the barrel out there, he gets in good hitting counts. He's not afraid, if you give a 3-0 green light, he'll be up there ripping. And you know he has some courage, so that's a good thing."

For his part, Valencia said he's trying not to think about the possibility of a sophomore slump, choosing instead to focus on winning a job that's already his.

"I set high goals for myself. I have high expectations for myself, so I don't think there's anybody putting any more pressure on me than I am doing myself," he said. "If I can just build off last year and build off the routine that we established, I think I'll be all right."

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Gaby Sanchez blasts Marlins after 5 errors

Give Gaby Sanchez credit.

It would have been easy to shrug off Friday’s awful performance against the Mets since it was just the 13th game of the spring.

But Sanchez was furious after the game, ripping his team’s performance for the five errors and mentally detached manner they played while getting drubbed 10-0 by NY.

“Embarrassed. Awful. Terrible,” were words Sanchez used again and again.

SS Hanley Ramirez dropped an easy pop then air-mailed a throw, RF Bryan Peterson missed the cutoff man and made two throwing errors, and CF Scott Cousins got in on the action by letting a fly ball pop out of his glove.

It was ironic that the defensive implosion took place a couple hours after manager Edwin Rodriguez had cited the defense as something he thought was a highlight of the early spring.

That got washed away Friday, but Rodriguez is not ready to hit the panic button.

He called the game the worst of the spring, by far, but said the Marlins need to learn from it.

Sanchez is showing good leadership for still being a relative youngster. Hopefully that will rub off on some of his teammates who did not seem too concerned after participating in the meltdown.

To be fair, there is still a lot of spring left, but the Marlins need to come to play with more focus than they managed Friday or there will be more days that will leave Sanchez shaking his head and using the word “embarrassed” multiple times

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