What did Former Canes Think About The Win Over GT?

Many former Canes tweeted their thoughts after the huge 33 - 17 win by the University of Miami over Georgia Tech on Thursday night. You can see each players twitter screen name if you want to follow them as well as their comments. Read below to see their thoughts:

rockym52 (Rocky McIntosh): Sorry State of Virginia and Dhall and my neighbors next door..Vtech yall r next!!!!!! we eat hokie sandwiches peanut butter jelly tiime!!!

QBKILLA (Warren Sapp): U SEE MINE C.A.N.E.S!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WELCOME BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!

bigmacvikings (Bryant McKinnie): @paytonsun YES! ME AND SHOCKEY JUST WAS TALKIN BOUT HOW THEY LOOK LIKE THEY GOT THEY SWAGGA BACK!

JeremyShockey (Jeremy Shockey): going to sleep well tonight!!!! great job randy canes look to be back..... j

gregolsen82 (Greg Olsen): Well the canes are back..great performance tonight!

jonbeason (Jon Beason): "a star is born" Jacory Harris CLAP!

bigmacvikings (Bryant McKinnie): OK YALL SEE THOSE CANES! GREAT JOB! J. HARRIS IS PLAYING REALLY WELL.

paytonsun (Jarrett Payton): @bigmacvikings u watching the game? them boys out there actin a fool!!!

Humble83 (Sinorice Moss): Tha "U". I guess the got that swagger back ( Jay-z voice)
about 2

JeremyShockey (Jeremy Shockey): were back!!!! f- yea

bigmacvikings (Bryant McKinnie): @JeremyShockey YUP! THEY LOOK LIKE THEY HAVE THE SWAGGA WE HAD WHEN WE WAS THERE. ITS FUN 2 WATCH AGAIN

rockym52 (Rocky McIntosh): @JackMcClinton Hey ur bball boy Graham scored celebration was awwwwwful though lol

Lance_Hurdle (Lance Hurdle): thas dat hurricane basketball player scorin touchdowns out there...good ish jimbo

DaRealEDGE (Edgerrin James): Its official: LandShark Stadium has turned into a Club.... My son is to young to be @ the club......HaHa!! "The U"...

DaRealEDGE (Edgerrin James): Touchdown JAMES......."U"

DaRealEDGE (Edgerrin James): My son @ the UM game watching his cousin BabyJ#5, and waiting for his turn to play for the 'U'...


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Tracking proCanes - Twan Russell - Part II



In Part II of our interview with Twan Russell, Twan talks about his recruiting experience, the Washington game, the NFL Draft, Randy SHannon, the current state of the program, his love for cartoons and much more! Click here to read Part I of our interview with Twan.

On Friday September 19th, The Russell Life Skills and Reading Foundation will be holding it’s White Tie for Literacy Gala at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino to raise even more money for the community. To register for the Gala click here.

pC: Do you remember anything from your recruiting visit?
TR: Yeah, they dropped me off at the wrong hotel. [Laughter] Darrin took me out one night and Mike took me out the next night. Mike got confused on the hotel because there were a couple of different Marriots so he dropped me off at the wrong hotel. I didn't notice, I didn't know Miami. I'm from Fort Lauderdale. I get out of the taxi and get to the counter and I'm thinking this doesn't look right. I ran back outside, I don't know Mike's number and I had to take cab and I didn't even have any money! [Laughter] I'm bartering with the driver and telling him I'll get my mom on the phone and she can pay you. So yeah, Mike took me to the wrong hotel. We still laugh about today.

pC: You still talk to them?
TR: Yea, I talked to Mike the other day and I was with Darrin a couple of nights ago. Our families are friends.

pC: What would you say was one of your top memories from UM? You never won a Championship.
TR: I won one bowl game. I came in '92 and we played for the National Championship. I was on the active roster, so I would travel because at one point we lost a couple of linebackers, Rohan [Marley] was out and so was Corwin Francis so what they did was they told me they wouldn't play me because that would burn my redshirt but they would take me just in case.

pC: That’s great for you, you got to travel.
TR: It was great! I was there for the San Diego game. [Laughter]

pC; So you got to witness all the brawls, or did you get involved too?
TR: So..... [Laughter] I got to travel that whole year. We played for a Championship and lost, the debacle in New Orleans. The next three years we were in the national championship hunt. My fourth year we couldn't go to a Bowl Game and then my last year we finally won a bowl game, the CarQuest bowl, we beat Virginia. It was a great game, but for me it was bittersweet. It was a great game because we won, but I hurt my knee on the last play of the game. So, I'm going into the draft, though at the time I didn't know I was going into the draft, and I'm preparing for the NFL. I had a knee sprain on the last play of the game. I don't know what happened, some guy fell on my leg and it was a disaster from there. It was awesome because we won though.

pC: You were part of another tough game, the Washington game.
TR: I started that game.

pC: Wow, I'll never forget that game.
TR: Shucks, you? I remember Napoleon Kaufman, He caught the screen pass and I was actually out there for that play. I read it perfectly but it was three against one, and the rule is, if you're outnumbered like that you kind of throw your body into it and take everybody out. I don't like that because you can create three different holes for a guy and he has three different ways to go. My rule is I try and split it so at least I can make him cut back inside or outside. So I decide to split it and made him cut outside thinking I have all my boys coming and they just weren't there. [Laughter] I can still see him running. I mean he's down there in the Keys by now! That killed me. That was probably one of the hardest games because it wasn't about the team, it was about the dynasty. When you carry that kind of weight on your shoulders you feel like you let all the guys who built the place, the guys that didn't win down. We forget about those guys, from when the program was cancelled and then we brought the program back, people forget how we built this program on their backs and they never got to see on the field the rewards but it's because of them we were able to come.

pC: I am sure they lived it through you guys.
TR: I hope they did. I really hope they did. When we go back to some of these alumni weekends. It's great to hear their stories. Maybe they can't talk about National Championships but they're talking about guys who went to the NFL and the bitter rivalries, the Gator Flop. I STILL hate Florida. Nat Moore is a close friend of mine and outside of him going to Florida he's a really good dude.

pC: You're having a hard time finding a good memory.
TR: By University of Miami standards a great memory is a National Championship. I have three bowl rings that I have never worn. I have never even shown my kids, I just realized that as we were talking. They're sitting underneath my bathroom cabinet. I don't display them and at the end of the day, I don't want to be rewarded for losing. I had great moments. There were a lot of great games, some of the Florida State games. The West Virginia game with Tremain Mack coming off the corner and blocking the punt was awesome. We had some great moments, for me I kind of would define happiness when you win. I just think that's one thing I never accomplished. I have never won a team sport my entire life. At St. Thomas we were runner-ups, we lost to Fort Walton Beach, Danny Wuerffel. Every time I see Danny I slap him on his head. I won one championship in track in hurdles but you celebrate that by yourself so I have never won a team championship. I wish I had. That's why I think all the good memories I have are not great, they are just good memories. Winning is good, but Championships are great.

pC: Where was the toughest place to play an away game?
TR: There are a couple of places. West Virginia was always tough. Virginia Tech was always tough only because they would grow the grass three inches high and then they would wet it. I wouldn't say Florida State was a tough place to play, it was more of a great place to play. I don't think that place ever defined whether we won or lost the game. Outside the chants it wasn't that bad. At West Virginia your life was in danger. They hit Randy Shannon upside the head with a trashcan. They would spit on you. We would wear our helmets all the way onto the field. They would pour drinks all over us. That was a violent place. I used to get scared. Am I going to look up in the stands and see someone with no teeth?

pC: Or throwing his teeth at you.
TR: Exactly, he probably would have. [Laughter]

pC: Did you have a nickname either in Miami or as a pro?
TR: That I am willing to share? [Laughter] In college I didn't really have a nickname, T Russ, nothing crazy. In the NFL they would call me “Angry Christian.”

pC: Why is that?
TR: It was kind of a play on words because most people say Christians are nice and sweet but I was a special teams player and I had to run down the field and knock someone out and there is a switch that would turn on. People would tell me to calm down and I wasn't going to calm down, I'm playing football. I would get in a little fight or something and they would say 'Christians don't fight' and I would say "go read the bible!" You read some of the most gory wars in the bible, it's the Christians fighting, so I got the name "Angry Christian" after practice one time. I got in a fight with one of the offensive lineman. He just hit one too many times and it was enough and I lost it. I remember [Dave] Wannstedt was the coach at the time and he says 'Is that Twan?" Yeah, "A C," angry Christian.

pC: So you didn't expect to get drafted?
TR: No, honestly the first time I heard my name in the NFL was when there was scout with the Raiders in the middle of the season at the facility watching film.  I didn't know who he was and I was going in to watch film and he says 'you need the room?' I asked him if he was a new coach or something and he said 'no, I'm with the Raiders, what's your name?' I told him and he said 'Oh yeah, I was just watching you, you might be OK when you get to the NFL.' I said "NFL?" [Laughter] He said 'hey, I see you being able to play a long time on special teams and if you really work hard you could become a starter.’ I was like wow. Maybe in the back of mind I knew I wanted to go, but you never know. I was taking internships at Channel 10 and with the Urban League. I was thinking when this thing finishes, I'm going back to mama's house. I was more focused on graduating from college and making sure that [I could make a future for myself]. Yes, I was training and staying shape, but this was during football season, I was just concerned with the next game. After that conversation, it was in the back of my mind.

After the season Randy spoke to me and was kind of giving me some instruction on what I should be doing as far as my training and the blueprint of what the NFL was looking for and what they're expectations were. He told me to make sure I was healthy and when it was time to run, to run my best. He told me I needed to go to the Senior Bowl, but I ended up not going to any of them, but I went to the combine banged up. I ran, but didn't run well, I ran a 4.7 [seconds 40-yard dash], but I was still hurt, so a 4.7 hurt wasn't too bad. I ended up being drafted by the Redskins.

pC: Did you sit there on Day Two and knew you were going to get drafted.
TR: It was kind of mixed. There were some teams interested, where they were saying depending on what happens they might be interested in you in the third round. Like on day one I'm sitting there with my mom and brother, just hanging out. It was kind of stressful, my agent had told me you're probably going to go in the 4th or 5th round but depending on the team you might go in the 3rd round. So on Day 1 I get a phone call and it's the Detroit Lions. They asked if I was ready and told me they were thinking about taking me on the next call, they asked if I thought I could play linebacker and I told them I was ready. So, they had made mistake. They meant to call Matt Russell. [Laughter] So the guy calls back and apologizes and tells me the intern gave him the wrong number and name. That was tough. I was done after that call. I didn't want anyone around me. Day two we were just sitting around watching and my little baby niece walks up to me and says 'Uncle Twan, did they call your name?' and I said "No they didn't call my name! Stop asking me." [Laughter] Everybody had their marching order to leave Twan alone. The Redskins called me, but it was kind of weird because I never talked to them, they never showed any interest at least not to me. A couple of days before I guess they called my agent and told him they liked me for their 5th round pick.

pC: So you were with the Redskins, Dolphins, and Falcons, what was your favorite stop?
TR: The Dolphins, without a doubt. I started a few games, but I was a backup. I played all three positions depending on what year it was and who was hurt and what the situation was. My first year I had a big nickel role but at the end of the day I was a special teams player and I was proud of it but don't get me wrong. I didn't like the fact I wasn't starting. I will never forget what Randy told me. He told me 'Twan everybody in the NFL has a niche. Focus on special teams and you'll have an opportunity to play linebacker at some point.' I took that and never forgot it and if everyone has a niche, what's my niche?

Early on, I wasn't a big guy, I wasn't as big as I needed to be for linebacker but I was fast. So my rookie year I went to Pete Garcia who was the special teams coach and I told him "I'm going to be your best special teams player, I just need you to point me in the right direction" and he just starts laughing. He's an old school guy. I came out there young and glassy eyed. He just turns and tells me 'show me on the football field.' I thought the guy hated me. He cussed all the rookies out, he acted like he didn't like us, but when it came down to it, he did that because he wanted to see if we could handle it. One of the defining moments was on opening day when I walk away with a few tackles and he taps me on the butt and says 'hey you did a pretty good' and then he cussed me out again. That was the first positive thing I heard the guy say for the four months I'm associated with the team. [Laughter] It's memories like that, that made it all worth it. Football is a fun game and it has afforded me to do a lot of things, have a great family, taught me how to deal with different people.

pC: What ended it for you?
TR: My third year with the Dolphins, third game of the year, I chipped the bone in the back of my knee. Initially we thought it was a minor deal and I could come back and I tried to come back without having surgery. I ended up having surgery, came back a couple of weeks after that and it just wasn't well. It was a grinding and burning sensation in my knee. I've been hurt but I had never had an injury that I couldn't play with. I stayed hurt, I was always small but I played. From the time you started the year everything is hurting so for me pain was just my friend. This was the first time I couldn't turn the pain off or I couldn't find something to cover the pain. It was tough. That year I was on a cane and crutches and I ended up getting picked up by Atlanta. They kind of took a chance on me and they needed a special teams guy to come in and help. I played the year but it was painful, it was the worst experience I ever had. I have no idea how I played on Sundays. I had an OK year, I was second the team in tackles but I was a skeleton of who I used to be. It just wasn't a good fit. I knew at the end of the year, unless I had a significant increase in comfort, I wouldn't play again. I came back home and I was at my mom's house because she had gotten sick. I was crossing the street and I misjudged the car and normally you just run out of the way. It didn't go that well. I limped and kind of had to jump and I remember sitting there, like, I'm done. I had to get back on crutches and a cane again for a year. I wasn't close to getting hit but it was just so much effort to cross the street. It was rough so I ended up retiring. 

pC: Was it tough to retire?
TR: No, because for me I wasn't retiring because nobody wanted me , but because I couldn’t do it. I think there is a difference. When a guy is healthy he is thinking he can still go out and play, that's tough. But when you can't physically, I think it's an easier pill to swallow. 

pC: Who was the most influential person from a football standpoint?
TR: I'm kind of like a hodge podge of a bunch of different coaches. Probably the coach I spent the most time with and had the most opportunity to learn from was Randy. He was my position coach in college and my position coach with the Dolphins. I spent six years of my upper football life with him. 

pC: Why do you think the program slipped the way it did in recent years?
TR: Whether it's a company or a marriage, a city or country you have your "lows." It's not if they come but it's when they come. You have to manage the lows to make sure you are preparing yourself to go back to the "highs." People change, lifestyles change, players change, the dynamics of the school changes, everything affects football. You change the acceptance rate by one percentage point, well that's two players. A lot of things kind of fell into that. I don't blame one individual. A lot of people try and pass it off on Larry Coker, or a lot of people try and pass it off on Miami's academics or the Orange Bowl. It's everything. For whatever reason it happened. We were down then, and we're on our way up. You can see it. If you look at every college institution there are highs and lows. That's just the way it is. No one really knows why but if you change the offensive coordinator or your quarterback gets hurt it can change the entire year. There are a lot of variables that go into it.

A few years ago we were down, I mean we were as low as you can go. You have people wanting to jump off a bridge and drag the team with them. That stuff hurts, but what's the plan going forward? Who is the person we are going to put in there to make sure that five years from now we will be on our way up. Look at Nebraska. Dynasty. Michigan. Dynasty. Look at Ohio State. People forget. These dynasties go down a little bit. The difference between the University of Miami and them is that we're more than a dynasty and people have higher expectations for us, but we're not invincible. I'll tell you I think we have somebody in place who is building it the right way for longevity.

pC: So you think Randy Shannon is the man?
TR: Absolutely I think Randy Shannon is the man. People say it should be faster. You ever do something bad to your wife? Have you ever said something stupid? How long did it take you to fix it? It's years! It doesn't happen overnight. One bad thing can destroy a dynasty and it may never come back. We have a guy who is building it the right way. Unfortunately he had to get rid of some things, redo some things and retool. He had to bring in a different type of culture. The culture that worked 20 years ago doesn't necessarily work today. If a CEO or manager can't change with the times they're going to fail.  The University of Miami is changing its culture. The things that we did 20 or 30 years ago don't work today. The mentality is a little bit different, so now we have a guy in there that's willing to change it a little bit and he's doing it the way he knows works. These guys need someone who is strong but loving. He's his own man. I don't care what you say about Randy Shannon, he's his own man and I respect that. At the end of the day they're going to judge him. I trust him. I know what he did for me. I know the man I am, a lot of it has to do with my relationship with him and the people at the University of Miami. They're going to be back. You can see the building blocks. We're impatient! When we were going down, other people were going up. I know some people say it's a four-year term, but it's really longer than that. We didn't get into this hole in one year, we got into this hole in multiple years and when we were going down these other teams were building. I mean you could say in essence that it's a six to seven year turn that we're trying to catch up with. Do I think it will take six to seven years? No.  I think Randy has a real good blueprint. I don't like making predictions especially when it comes to a team I have an affinity for. I know this season is very difficult and people are talking about these first four games. 

pC: You may be a little biased because you work for the Dolphins, but what do you think about the move to Land Shark Stadium?
TR: [Laughter] I'll be honest my initial thought when they first talking about moving from the Orange Bowl to Land Shark Stadium. I thought, I don't know about that, I'm thinking about tradition, I'm not thinking about amenities. Land Shark Stadium is one of the better stadiums in the world. When we classify Land Shark Stadium we measure it by world standards. Someone asked me one day 'if that's the case and the Orange Bowl is so great, you must take the family there all the time and never miss a game.' I was like "it's tough for me to take the kids there because there are no bathrooms, there is no cover for them, if it gets to hot I have no where to take them." And the guy is like 'if that's the case then why do you care about the change?' I paused and thought that it makes a lot of sense. Then I thought about it some more and concluded it's a great transition. You talk about the amenities alone outside of the football game.  I think at the end of the day people go to watch the game because of the game, not because of where it is. But people now are like 'hey if it gets too hot, I can go in the suite or I can get myself a nicer meal or go to the bathroom and be comfortable for a couple of minutes. 

pC: The atmosphere though isn't the same.
TR: I am biased now, I am biased. This year will be a little different; we'll have a couple games that we pack them out. We're going to really see a hump because Land Shark Stadium is a special place when you get a big crowd in there. Now you can't say it doesn't look like the University of Miami's home. They transform it very well especially when they decided to put the "U" in the middle. When you win, none of that matters.   

pC: Word Associations, Give me the first thing that pops in your head when you read the following:

Randy Shannon: Greatness
Larry Coker: Wow, [laughter] Great Dresser
Orange Bowl: Special
Land Shark Stadium: Ultimate
The Ibis: Gritty
Fiesta Bowl: Hate it
Ohio State: Hate them, second to Florida
Butch Davis: Transition
Art Kehoe: The man

pC: Do you follow any teams other than the Dolphins?
TR: I watch as much football as I can since I work Sundays. 

pC: Favorite NBA Team?
TR: I'm a Heat fan.

pC: Do you follow baseball?
TR: No. I actually hate baseball. When I was in Middle School, I went to Lauderdale Lakes Middle School. My sixth grade year, I had never played the game before and they had some flyers up for tryouts. I walk up to the coach and say "hey coach, I can run, I can catch, if you can teach me how to bat, I think I could be a real good player." He tells me 'I don't have time to teach you how to bat, I've got all these kids over here that play city ball and already know how do it right now. You're too much effort.' I was like screw you and I hated baseball from then. 

pC: What's your favorite food?
TR: Collared Greens

pC: What sort of music will I find in your iPod?
TR: I love gospel, rap, hip-hop.

pC: What movie could you watch over and over?
TR: I pride myself on never watching the same movie twice. [Laughter] 

pC: Ok how about a movie you could watch twice?
TR: Those little kid movies. “Cars.” I have seen the movie one hundred times. My son loves it. 

pC: What's one TV show you can't miss?
TR: You want me to be honest? I'm a cartoon freak. I don't miss any of them. I TiVo them all. 

pC: When you say cartoons do you mean the old cartoons or Simpsons Family Guy?
TR: No, I hate the Simpsons and Family Guy. I watch Yu-Gi-Oh, Fantastic Four, I mean you name it, I watch it. My son and I watch it all. I'm a cartoon nut. I TiVo about 20 cartoons. I don't watch them all, but I pick and choose. My favorite is probably Wolverine X-Men.  

pC: What do you do in your spare time?
TR: Work on the foundation and hang out with family.

pC: Two websites you have to check daily?
TR: The Dolphins website and sun-sentinel.com

We at proCanes.com would like to thank Twan Russell for being so gracious with his time to do this very insightful interview for our new feature "Tracking proCanes." Click here to check out our past interviews with Leon Searcy, Steve Walsh, Frank Costa, John Routh, Chad Wilson and more!


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Buchanon Should Play

CB Phillip Buchanon was not listed on the injury report, and is expected to play this week. He did not play Sunday at New Orleans after being limited in practice by a neck problem last week.



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(det.scout.com)

Rolle Does A Nice Job As A Punt Returner

FS Antrel Rolle did a nice job in his first regular-season action as punt returner. He had a 27-yard return and averaged 11 yards on five returns.



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(ari.scout.com

Reed expected to start

Ravens defensive coordinator Greg Mattison seemed confident that defensive end-linebacker Terrell Suggs (ribs) and safety Ed Reed (concussion) will start Sunday at San Diego.

Reed, who has played in 54 straight games, was limited in Wednesday’s practice, which came as a surprise to some.

“He wasn’t supposed to go, but he’s out here intercepting passes,” Mattison said.


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(baltimoresun.com)

Jarrett Payton eyes career as rapper

Walter Payton's son, Jarrett, has traded high-stepping for hip-hop.

Recently released from his Canadian Football League contract with the Toronto Argonauts, Payton says he's huddled with a microphone hoping to launch a rap career from the far west suburbs.

One of the songs on his underground mix tape "The Preseason" is a melodic tribute to his Hall of Fame pops.

"I have a passion for music. A buddy of mine sent me the instrumental. . . . I said, you know what, I was going to go from the heart and whatever comes from my heart comes out of my mouth that's what I'm going to say," Payton said. "So, it's a touching song. Because it truly is how I feel."

On "Loves," Payton raps: "Forever/ I will be remembered/ As the son of a great ... As a little kid/ Had to run up the hill/ Like my father did/ That's why he just started him/ and now I just gotta be just a part of him."

Payton is still polishing his songs and says he's looking for local producers to help shape a forthcoming album, which he plans to release on his independent music label, Citywide.

As his family readies for "Payton Week" -- a tribute marking the 10th anniversary of Walter's death in November -- Jarrett says he's hoping a statue of his father will find a permanent home somewhere near Soldier Field.

"When you think of the Bulls ,you think of Michael Jordan. When you think of the Bears, you think of my dad," Payton said.


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(suntimes.com)

Making the cut: Vikings' McKinnie chops his braids off

EDEN PRAIRIE — Bryant McKinnie gave himself an early 30th birthday present: A haircut.

Since his final season in college at Miami, the McKinnie has worn his hair in braids.

The style actually stemmed from a pact he made with then-teammate Ed Reed to not cut his hair until the Hurricanes lost a game that year.

Well, they won the national championship.

McKinnie kept the look and never cut his hair.

Drafted in the first round by the Vikings in 2002, the 6-foot-8, 335-pound McKinnie has been their starter at left tackle since then. He had those braids until last week's opener, chopping them off in favor of a close-cropped cut. Teammate Pat Williams took him to a barber in Minneapolis.

People occasionally asked him when he was going to cut his hair, and eventually he targeted age 30.

His birthday is next Wednesday.

"I did it a week ahead of time because you've got to train your hair to being low," McKinnie said, laughing.
Reaction, he said, has been positive. His friends and teammates like the look. His helmet felt loose last Sunday at Cleveland, but his head was a lot cooler.

"I'm not sweating as bad as I used to," he said. "I used to just start walking and start sweating. I think it was from my hair. Now I've got to keep stuff on my head because I get cool faster now."

McKinnie has found his share of off-the-field trouble; he served a four-game suspension last season for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.

He also has become more serious about business interests, including in the music industry, and he switched agents to sign with Drew Rosenhaus as part of that focus.

Add all that up, and the most important force behind his makeover was maturity.

"I'm changing a lot of things in my life, just period, so that was one thing that needed to change," McKinnie said. "To get rid of the braids and stop looking young or thuggish or whatever. I'm trying to take care of business though so I'm going to look the part."

Cornerback Cedric Griffin took the same approach to cutting his braids this spring.

"It's just a point in time where you need to let go of some old things and do some new things in your life," Griffin said.


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(sctimes.com)

It's time to rank Miami Hurricanes of the NFL

We present our annual (well, I think we did it last year) Sweet 16 list of the best current NFL players from the University of Miami.

No shortage of choices. This marks the fourth consecutive season the Hurricanes have led or tied for the league lead in most ex's. Twenty-one of 32 teams have at least one Cane, with the Ravens, Texans and Giants leading with four each.

UM's 39 total active players as of this week leads the state parade over Florida State (28), Florida (27), Central Florida (14), South Florida (5), Bethune-Cookman (3), FIU (1 -- Ravens backup OLB Antwan Barnes) and Central Florida CC (1).

Our ranking:

• 1. Ed Reed, Ravens FS: Has 43 career picks including NFL-leading nine in '08, when he made fifth Pro Bowl and fourth first-team All-Pro.

• 2. Andre Johnson, Texans WR: Had 115 catches for 1,557 yards last year to make third Pro Bowl and first All-Pro.

• 3. Ray Lewis, Ravens ILB: Past his prime? Really? He made his 10th Pro Bowl and sixth first-team All-Pro in 2008, and once again led the league in scowling.

• 4. Reggie Wayne, Colts WR: Facing Dolphins Monday night, Wayne made third Pro Bowl last year, had fifth consecutive 1,000-yard season and began 2009 season with 10 catches for 162 yards and one TD.

• 5. Clinton Portis, Redskins RB: Made second Pro Bowl last year and has six 1,000s in seven years entering this season.

• 6. Frank Gore, 49ers RB: Had third straight 1,000-yard season last year and scored twice in opener last week.

• 7. Devin Hester, Bears WR/returner: Had 11 kick- or punt-return TDs his first two years before tailing off with none last season.

• 8. Jon Beason, Panthers MLB: Rising star was first-team All-Pro in '08 and had an interception last week.

• 9. Vince Wilfork, Patriots NT: Run-stopping force made Pro Bowl in 2007.

• 10. Jeremy Shockey, Saints TE: Had two TD catches last week; aims for first Pro Bowl since 2006.

• 11. Willis McGahee, Ravens RB: Solid veteran no longer starts but proved worth with rushing and receiving touchdowns in last week's opener.

• 12. Santana Moss, Redskins WR: Had his third 1,000-yard season last year.

• 13. Kellen Winslow, Bucs TE: Made '07 Pro Bowl and scored a TD last week.

• 14. Jonathan Vilma, Saints MLB: Made Pro Bowl in '05 and had a sack last week.

• 15. Edgerrin James, Seahawks RB: Sentimental nod for career achievement. Edge is a backup near end of career now, but has seven 1K seasons, four Pro Bowls.

• 16. Jeff Feagles, Giants P: Sentimental nod II. The 22-year veteran is NFL's all-time leader in most punts and punting yardage.

• Other former Hurricanes who start: Lions CB Phillip Buchanon, Cardinals DE Calais Campbell, Dolphins RT Vernon Carey, Ravens ILB Tavares Gooden, Panthers DT Damione Lewis, Redskins OLB Rocky McIntosh, Vikings LT Bryant McKinnie, Patriots SS Brandon Meriweather, Texans C Chris Myers, Bears TE Greg Olsen, Giants SS Kenny Phillips, Cardinals FS Antrel Rolle, Broncos ILB D.J. Williams, Texans RT Eric Winston.

• Former Canes who are backups: Falcons OLB Spencer Adkins, Texans RT Rashad Butler, Eagles DT Antonio Dixon, Lions DT Orien Harris, Seahawks CB Kelly Jennings, Giants CB Bruce Johnson, Giants WR Sinorice Moss, Bills WR Roscoe Parrish, Falcons C Brett Romberg.


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(miamiherald.com)

Kellen Winslow Jr. Lets Loose

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tight End Kellen Winslow Jr. discusses his love of McDonald's BBQ sauce, his ambition to become a techno music DJ after retiring and his tattoos, with Jim McCormick.

Behind the Helmet - Kellen Winslow II sound bite Behind the Helmet - Kellen Winslow II sound bite


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Portis: "Clinton Portis Can't Do Everything"

Both The Post and The Times ran stories this morning on Clinton Portis's unselfishness, and the way he's declined to call for more carries after the Week 1 loss.

The topic was also raised on Portis's weekly appearance on the John Thompson Show Tuesday afternoon, and since there's no conversation in D.C. sports like a conversation between Thompson and Portis, I thought I'd provide the full quotes. If you're a fan of referring to yourself in the third person and checking Portis paperwork, you oughta love this.

Thompson: "Clinton let me just ask you this, and I just got finished defending your coach. I like the guy, I don't think he's a commercial, I think it's gonna take time. Ok, but I'm gonna ask you on the side that I don't understand...When I watch y'all play and I look at Clinton Portis, I'm saying that they're trying to blend him in, they're trying to balance stuff. I heard JZ say something about balance. The hell with balance. I want you to be the star, I wanna see you break loose, I wanna see you get a lot of balls. I'm saying to myself, 'Give Clinton the ball.' Answer that for me. And that's just the part of me that don't understand football, and I know that myself. I want to see Clinton Portis being the star. How would you answer that to me?"

Portis: "I would love to be the star. I would love to sit here and tell you, 'Clinton Portis is the answer to every problem we've got.' I would love to tell you, 'Put Clinton Portis on defense and I can make plays over there.' But Clinton Portis can't do everything.

"I think as a team what they're trying to do is get us to play team ball and for it not to always be on my shoulders, and let other guys that's capable of making plays make plays. And I think we have the challenge, we've just got to do it. I mean, there's no other way to say it.

"Everybody says I'm not durable, I'm not this, I'm not that. I'm at the top in the league every year. I'm at the top in carries, I'm at the top in plays, I'm at the top in total offense, I'm at the top in total yards, but people fail to realize all the work that I actually put in. It's, 'Oh, he didn't get the ball.' Well, I led the league in carries. How many more times you want me to carry the ball, how many more times you want me to touch the ball?

"I can't do everything. I can't throw it and I can't catch it, I can't do that to myself, I have to play within the guidelines of what the coach call. You know, I would love to sit [there and say], 'Hey man, give me the draw.' Hey, when he feels like giving me a draw, I go ask him, 'Coach, let me get the draw,' and if he call it, he call it. if he don't, I got to execute the plays that he call.

"And I think everybody on that field feel that way. I'm sure 'Tana would love to throw fade routes, I'm sure 'Tana would love to catch a slip screen, I'm sure 'Tana would love to catch a quick screen. The same way with Fred Davis and Chris Cooley and Randle El and Malcolm Kelly and the rest of the guys, Devin Thomas, Mike Sellers. Everybody want to touch the ball, everybody feel like they can contribute, and we're not having the opportunities to spread the ball around.

"Having 40-some plays, it ain't gonna get everybody the ball. We have 40-some plays. I touched the ball 18 times, so you've got 30 more plays to get everybody else the ball. That's not gonna be enough to win. We've got to go out and have 60 or 70 plays a game; therefore, everybody can touch the ball, everybody can contribute."

Yeah, that's why I like September. Also, here was Portis, talking about LaRon Landry and the defense:

"When you watch film, it's never the lack of effort, it's never the lack of attention. Players are where they're supposed to be. I mean, you look at LaRon, he in the back, trying to knock people head off....A receiver can't hold onto the ball while he running at them like that. I think it was just overaggression, but you don't want to take him being aggressive away. You can't say, 'Oh LaRn, [change] your angle.' He got to go out and play as a madman, and I think that's what he did."


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(washigtonpost.com)

Giants' Feagles could punt to the roof

Jeff Feagles hit the roof of the Giants' indoor practice facility five times with his punts on Thursday.

"He was practicing," Tom Coughlin said with a smile.

Of course Coughlin was referring to the controversial video board that hovers 90 feet above the field at the new home of the Dallas Cowboys. There have been two preseason games played there already, but on Sunday the Giants will be the first regular-season guests. And that means Feagles could be the first punter to plant a football right in the center of those hi-def pixels.

Or maybe he won't.

"I don't want that distinction," Feagles said Thursday. Unlike Coughlin, he wasn't smiling.

"They told them to build it at 85 feet or whatever and they built it at 90," Feagles said. "The rule itself is there and if it happens — and obviously it has (in the preseason) — you just have to deal with it."

The rule calls for a dead ball and a re-kick if a punt hits the video board. That's why Thursday, when Feagles was clanking them off the roof, the Giants were actually working on having their gunners and punt coverage team take their time coming back to the line of scrimmage so they can catch their breath.

Because it would be a disadvantage for the punting team to have footballs hit the board, and because Feagles is so precise at angling his kicks, it seems unlikely that it will happen on Sunday night. Still, it seems to be something people are curious about.

Sunday Night Football producer Fred Gaudelli said he'll be in position in case it happens. "In a regular game, we're not tracking the ball on a punt, we're actually just moving down the field to show the coverage go after the returner," he said on a conference call Thursday. "But we're going to start initially tracking the ball live because obviously people are going to be wondering about that right away."

Even the T.G.I. Friday's restaurant chain has gotten into the frenzy, offering free appetizers if a punt hits the video board on Sunday night.

While Feagles downplayed the probability of hitting the board, he'll certainly be able to do it if he wants to. At least in warm-ups, just like some people can't pass an awning or street sign without jumping up to touch it, Feagles will have his chance to hit it. At 90 feet, can he?

"I can tell you that if I do hit it, it will be a heck of a punt," Feagles said. "Our practice facility here is 80 feet and I'm really hitting the top of that. Another 10 feet is pretty high."


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(newsday.com)

Michaels swinging hot bat in second half

Jason Michaels got so tired of seeing his subpar batting average displayed on stadium scoreboards around the league that he decided to quit looking and quit worrying and to just start to relax at the plate.

That batting average, which for much of the first half of the season was under .200, was sitting at .242 entering Wednesday’s game against the Reds. Michaels hit .176 in the first half of the season, but he was hitting .340 (17-for-50) following the All-Star break.

“I’m going up there with a good plan and sticking with it and actually trying to have good at-bats,” Michaels said. “That’s really the one thing. When you don’t play as much, you don’t get a chance to have repetition and make adjustments quicker. I think you can easily fall into over-adjusting and fall back in the same hole.”


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(astros-sportsfans.com)

Tracking proCanes - Twan Russell - Part I



proCanes.com is continuing our “Tracking proCanes” feature with former University of Miami Hurricane, Washington Redskin, Atlanta Falcon and Miami Dolphin Twan Russell. While attending St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Twan achieved academic success and received athletic accolades.   Despite having to face numerous challenges, he was named to the academic honor roll countless times.  One of his proudest moments in high school was winning the State Track and Field Championship in the 300-meter hurdles.   Although track and field was his first love, Twan received a scholarship to play football at the University of Miami.

Some highlights of his college football success include: leading the University of Miami Hurricanes in tackles (115), posting 20 tackles against East Carolina University, earning Second Team Big East All American honors and being named Special Teams Captain. After earning degrees in Broadcast Communications and Criminology at the University of Miami, the Washington Redskins selected Twan in the 1997 NFL Draft.  During his NFL career, Twan played the linebacker position with the Redskins, the Miami Dolphins and the Atlanta Falcons.

Twan remains active in the community, making it a point to speak at functions and support causes that benefit those who are less fortunate. Through his foundation, The Russell Life Skills and Reading Foundation, Twan provides young people with the fundamental tools essential to success. His foundation does this by emphasizing the importance of reading as a purely educational tool and as a means through which young people could experience the world beyond their immediate communities.

On Friday September 19th, The Russell Life Skills and Reading Foundation will be holding it’s White Tie for Literacy Gala at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino to raise even more money for the community. To register for the Gala click here.

Part I: Twan talks about his Foundation, the first four games on Miami’s schedule, Coach Erickson, Ray Lewis, Warren Sapp and much more!

proCanes: What are you doing with the Miami Dolphins now and when did you start working with them?
Twan Russell: I started with them [Miami Dolphins] about a year after I was done playing, around August 2005. I am the director of the youth and community programs. I oversee all youth initiatives from a Dolphins’ standpoint in schools. We have in-school programs, we have community center programs, we have youth football programs with the primary focus of teaching football and educating kids. We have a big initiative called “Dolphit” where we say kids have to be fit in the classroom, they have to be fit physically and they have to be fit socially. The three main things are education, physical fitness and positive choices. You have to do those three things to be “Dolphit.”

pC: How many schools are you involved with?
TR: All of them. All of the schools in South Florida and right now we’re trying to expand to all eight counties which is a huge initiative. We’re doing a skeleton right now. It [the initiative] is coming from our owner, it’s coming from our CEO. They don’t just want to be the Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Dolphins they want to be the South Florida Dolphins. It is kind of cool because it expands what I do and expands our message, which is what it’s all about anyway.

pC: How did you get into this? Did you get into this through your foundation? Is there overlap between the two?
TR: There is a lot of overlap because a lot of the things that I implement now I learned while building my foundation. But I guess the way I got involved, probably about a year after I was finished playing I got a phone call and was asked if I would be interested in working for the Dolphins from Bryan Wiedmeier, at the time he was the COO of the Dolphins. He asked me if I would be interested in working there, so I went in and it was a cool meeting because he asked me ‘what would you like to do?’ and I said I want to do this, this and that and he said ‘OK great, if you can those and also do this, we would love to have you.’ It was a cool interview because it was more about this is what we kind of want to accomplish and we’re looking for somebody to go out and accomplish that for us. It was fun because it kind of fit who I am and what I want to do.

pC: Let’s talk a little about your foundation. When did you start it and talk a little about the mission.
TR: I could talk about the foundation for days, but we actually started in 1998 but we didn’t incorporate until 1999. My mom and I were sitting in the house one day and I told my mom “I would really like to do something in the community, I would really like to start a foundation and I want to do it around educating kids.” She says: ‘That’s exactly what I want to do, you’re taking the words out of my mouth.’ So we sat down and put a plan together and originally we were just a homework program. Let’s just help kids with their homework. Within that first year we learned very quickly that the reason children aren’t doing well in their class work or homework had nothing to do with desire, it had to do with ability. So we said let’s focus on the problem. We took a different focus and said let’s focus on literacy. Let’s teach our children how to read and write and from there they can teach themselves and learn anything they want to.

People say ‘you only focus on literacy, what about math and science and the rest of the subjects?’ Well, if you can’t read you can’t do the rest of the subjects. We see a significant increase in our children once they catch up in their proficiency in reading. Now where they struggle is the word problems and FCAT questions because they mix up the sentence a little bit because the kids may get confused as to what the question is asking. The children in our program score higher in the FCAT and we don’t teach the test. The reason for that is because we take the fundamentals in reading and writing where it’s 60% phonetics and 40% whole language. We take those to philosophies and we say what does phonetics do well? Phonetics is great for understanding the origination of the word you can sound out any word you have never seen and maybe use it in everyday language either written or oral. You can sound that word out and decipher it. Then the second part of that is whole language. Whole language is if you put up an apple and the word under it is “apple,” it’s memorization. It’s great for reading ability and comprehension. They both have good qualities so let’s combine the two. Our kids read faster, comprehend better and they can read any word that’s out there, because they have the tools.

There was a study that came out a couple of years ago that you can predict with a 90% accuracy rate whether a child will be successful in high school by the time they are in third grade. Our kids go all the way up to high school but we understand that if we can get those children on par by the time they are in third grade they will have a better chance to achieve later on in life. Probably 60% of our population is that younger group, pre-k to third grade. Don’t get me wrong we have quite a few 4th and 5th graders and middle school students; we even have a teen center in Miramar. Our teachers understand that those are the critical years and we put a lot of effort in those years.

pC: Let's talk about the first four games on the Miami Hurricanes’ schedule.
TR: We have Florida State, we match up well against FSU. We have for years. Anyone can win that game and obviously you know who I'm piquing. Then we have Georgia Tech and of the first four games, I think that is the toughest one. We haven't beaten them in four years. We don't match up well with them. I remember when I played against the option. It was assignment football, you had the fullback and then you had maybe three people that had two players. The strong safety, linebacker and the end had the quarterback and the pitchman. Between the fullback, quarterback and pitchman, you slow played the quarterback to the pitch. It's hard to explain that to a young guy because a young guy trusts his ability not necessarily his mind. Now you have guys that have been in the system a couple of years and get it. The defense hasn't changed. The offense with Whipple has changed, but from a defensive standpoint we'll be OK. Of the four that's the one that makes me a little nervous. Oklahoma, I think we match up well against them. Virginia Tech is kind of like Florida State. Anybody can walk out of that game victorious. All of them can turn out that way. People say, 'oh they CAN'T win that game,' that's a bunch of crap. The University of Miami can match up against any of those guys. They play good football and have talent coming up and have some young guys that are hungry.

pC: So let’s start from the beginning. What age did you start playing , did you play any other sports?
TR: I probably started playing football at five years old and you were supposed to start when you were six. So I was not quite on the team initially, because I didn't qualify from an age standpoint. Back then the ages were different. If you were six at any point during the year, when you turned six you could play. For the most part of the year I was 5 but then I turned 6 by the middle of the year. I used to be the practice squad guy that everyone used to run over. By the end of the year I started to play a little better. I had an older brother on the team and I kind of wanted to be like him and he beat me up all the time. I think most of it was to just find ways to hit him on the field because he was a running back and by wanting to do that, I wanted to be a better player. 

I played football most of my life, but my passion was track. When I was in middle school, I ran the hurdles, triple jump and long jump. When I went to high school I thought I was going to be a decathlete or Olympic hurdler. Believe it or not, when I was looking at colleges I looked at colleges that were going to let me run track. It was a good plan initially, [laughter], when you're a linebacker and weigh 180 lbs coming to college and you're still running track. I would get up to 195 pounds but then during track season I would get down to 180 lbs. It was Spring of my freshman year and I was missing spring practice because it was during the Big East [Track] Championships where I placed fourth. I come back and I'm like man, I placed fourth, I didn't even practice that much! I was all excited and I was thinking maybe I can do both. So Coach [Dennis] Erickson catches me in the hallway and he says: 'Hey Twan, come here. I heard you did really good.'  He was totally setting me up. I told him “thank you coach” and he says: 'Yea you did 4th, huh?' I said “yeah I am really excited about that” and he says: 'Yea but next year you won't be running track if you want to stay on the football team.' That was the last conversation I had about track. [laughter] He was cool about it, I mean he said it jokingly but he was serious. I'm kind of glad it happened that way because then I could focus more on football and my class work. It allowed me to broaden my horizons as far as what I wanted to do. It gave me the ability during the offseason to do more internships and it kind of broadened my horizons as far as where I'm going to be working. So actually it was a blessing in disguise. He did it just for football reasons, but it actually turned out being good.

pC: You were planning for life after football?
TR: I had no idea I was going to the NFL. It's funny because when I was in High school I had no idea I was going to college. I started and I knew I was an OK football player. I went to St. Thomas Aquinas. There were a bunch of us who were playing and I never really got the media attention in football. I got a little in track.  I think it was maybe the beginning of my Senior year and I walk up to Coach Smith and say: "Coach, you know I need to start thinking about college, I don't think my mom can afford it" and he starts laughing and tells me 'go look in that box.' So I go look in a box with my name on it and in the box there are a million letters with my name on them. He says: 'why don't you reply back to those people and maybe one of them will give you a scholarship!' You know, I'll tell you, that was one of the best things that ever happened to me because, I didn't know. You know what I mean? Now a-days kids are being recruited as sophomores. I played because I loved to play the game. I probably played better because I wasn't worried about stats. I played because I loved the coach, I loved my teammates. I just loved the game. After that, I was like OK! I started getting phone calls and Randy Shannon was one of them.

pC: Randy Shannon actually recruited you?
TR: Well he wasn't the first, Erickson's offensive coordinator recruited me initially but then Randy did. At first, I wasn't sure if I wanted to go to the University of Miami. For me, I didn't just want to pick a school because I wanted to play there. My mom was pushing me to go to Notre Dame.

pC: Who was it down to in the end?
TR: It came down to Notre Dame and the University of Miami. Florida State was in there for a little while, until I went on my visit. [Laughter] It just wasn't for me. I narrowed my schools down by thinking number one, of all the schools which ones could I play for? Actually early on Michigan was number one on my list until they told me they wanted to move me to strong safety. Then I narrowed it down to Notre Dame, FSU and the University of Miami. Those were my top three. They all had good communications programs because I thought I wanted to be a broadcaster. Syracuse was high on my list because they had the best broadcasting program, but from a football standpoint I couldn't see myself playing there. Between Notre Dame and Miami, Miami won out from a weather standpoint and everything about the University of Miami, fun in the sun, on top of the fact that I knew I was going to get a great education. I was going be close to home and I had a great rapport with the coaching staff. I love Coach Erickson. I knew them from when my dad worked there.

pC: I was going to say you had a connection to the program.
TR: When I was in 8th grade and Coach Erickson had never seen me play football he told me 'one of these days , you're going to be looking for a college and I hope it's the University of Miami.' It was kind of a joke, but when it started coming down to it, and I don't know if he remembered making those comments, but it meant something to me that he knew my name. Whether he asked somebody or whatever, when he walked in a said 'hey Twan, how you doing?' I felt a sense of pride that the head football coach of Miami knows my name. Who sealed the deal was probably Randy [Shannon]. We developed a relationship and he truly cared about me as a person. He didn't just give me the crap talk. He was real with me. He said 'you're going to come in and sit on the bench and play special teams for a few years. I've got Darrin Smith, Michael Barrow.' So he was real, and I appreciate that. He didn't give me any crap. At the time the defensive coordinator was Sonny Lubick. I liked them all. I liked Sonny and Randy and I knew when I went there I was going to be among the family. I knew they were going to show me tough love and I needed it. I knew they were going to help me when I needed it. Actually that was the best decision I ever made because that's what it was. There were times when I needed to get slapped in the head and they did it, not literally. Maybe I was out running five o’clock in the morning. There were times when I needed a pat on the shoulder and they did it. There were times when I needed to be pushed and they did it.  That is all you can ask from a program and I think that is one of the reasons why they were so good at what they did. They understood the person. It was more than just football.

pC: What do you think was toughest part about playing at UM?
TR: Probably the whole thing with my father before I got there. That was tough

pC: Did you get a lot crap from players or looked upon weirdly.
TR: Probably most of it came from me because I knew it was there. That was probably the biggest single reason of why I didn't want to go to the University of Miami. I didn't want to deal with it. I remember having that conversation with Randy and he said: 'Twan, we're not recruiting because you're anybody's son, we're recruiting you because you're a man that we want here and we think you can help us.' That went a long way because a lot of people were saying 'why would you want to go there after what happened?' But, that was the best decision I ever made. The things that I dealt with because of that. My first year, I don't know if I wasn't at the University of Miami if I could have handled it if I didn't have the support. I'm not talking about someone holding my hand, I'm just talking about people who cared about me and protected me and said 'hey Twan, today you need to address this and leave it alone.' It made me tougher physically and mentally to be able to deal with those situations. Even now as an adult, you deal with all sorts of crap, but if I can deal with that, I can deal with anything.

Probably the worst time I ever had was probably my redshirt sophomore year and we were at Temple I think or West Virginia. They start chanting 'Pell Grant' and other things and I'm in the middle of the game. I'm a special teams player so I have a lot of time to be on the sidelines. [Laughter] I'm a 19-year-old kid, and this one guy is just killing me. My teammates kept telling me not to worry about it and then they started to make it personal and said my dad's name and I lost it. I don’t remember who tackled me because I am trying to hop the fence and get the person, because I just lost it. I look at it now and think, wow that was crazy but I didn't even realize what I was doing at the time and my teammates pulled me back and told me not to worry about it. It's things like that, if I was somewhere else, I don't know if the coaching staff or the players on the team would care enough to help me through that and they wouldn't have understood. It's because of those things I am who I am right now.

pC: How would you say Erickson was as a coach?
TR: I loved the guy. I loved him. I loved him. I thought he was a great coach. He was one of the main reasons I went to Miami. He cared about his players and he probably did it to his fault but he cared about the guys. A guy cannot say coach Erickson did not care about him or did not try and take care of him. He did it to a level that most people wouldn't understand. I love him. There is a critical moment in every athlete’s life, where you rise to excellence or stay mediocre. What he did through everything, he made sure he gave you every possibility to rise to excellence. I remember those locker room talks and those one-on-one's he had. Before he left, I was a young guy. I wasn't contributing to the level of the Michael Barrows or Darrin Smiths, but he still had time for me. He would pull me to the side ,ask how everything was going. He would say: 'hey, you know Spring is coming up and I will be watching you to see what you can do.' He talked to guys on that level. Since I have been in the NFL and other places, I never had a coach that did that outside of my position coach. I never had a coach pull the guys to the side and you're the obsolete guy and say: 'hey I'm looking at you now and waiting for you to do something because I see it in you.' That doesn't happen. For me, I thought he was great. I loved him.

pC: You were there after he left. Did you notice a huge difference between Coach Erickson and Coach Butch Davis.
TR: Yeah, it was a different coaching staff. Completely different coaching styles. Erickson was a little looser, but Butch came to town when he had to crack the whip a little bit. That doesn't make him any better than Erickson, we needed a different type of coach and a different type of person for that time. We were going through all of the probation stuff, but you know he was the perfect coach for that time and I bet if we had a different coach at that time we wouldn't have come out of it that successful. He came in seeing that he had some players on his team that he needed to take care of but he still had to build for the future, knowing he didn't have all the resources to do it. Some people didn't understand what he was trying to accomplish but when you look at the long-term picture there were some things he needed to change whether you like it or not. If you watched him later on, it worked out. You can't get mad at a man for his plan. He was a good coach and we had a good friendship. He even brought me up to Cleveland and I flipped a coin. I was close to going but for me it was important to stay home and be with my family.

pC: It was between the Dolphins and Browns?
TR: Well I was with the Dolphins and I was a free-agent and the Browns brought me up and he was serious. From the moment I stepped off he was very serious about his offer, but for me it was more than just that. I really thought down here, I could make a mark in South Florida not just on the football field, but off it, and that always played into my decision and it turned out to be a good decision.

pC: How was it playing next to Ray Lewis?
TR: It was fun. We just played the game. We just had fun. Football is so much less complicated than people make it. We knew what the coverages were, we only called three or four defenses back then. Sometimes we would put stuff in and then so often I would hear Randy say, 'screw that, we're going to do what we do' and he would throw it all out the window. [Laughter] Coach Tubberville would say 'screw what we learned all week, Cover A Cover 2 and we're going to line up and kick their butt.' That's the way we played. We would make jokes on the field. It was fun and we were intense, but we wouldn't take life too seriously.

pC: Was he the leader of that defense at the time?
TR: We had Warren Sapp, we had a lot of guys on that team. We had CJ Richardson, we had a lot of leaders on that team. At that time I wouldn't say he was the leader of that defense. He left with Warren and Warren was a big personality back then.

How was it playing with Warren?
Warren is crazy. It's a good crazy though. A great teammate, fun to be around. You talk about somebody who would keep you on the edge, the things that he would say you wouldn't even think. He knew football, he knew the game, he was brilliant. When it came to X's and O's I always thought he was very smart. 

pC: Who was the best player you played with at UM, or the toughest to go up against in practice.
TR: It's not just one! It's hard! I came in my freshman year, I remember it was during Spring and the young guys do practice squad and all that stuff. It was a four-wide set and they have Kevin Williams in the slot and I'm the linebacker so I have to bump out Kevin. I remember covering him and the quarterback didn't throw the ball to him and I remember telling him "I D'd you up Kevin" and he says 'you didn't D me up, the quarterback just didn't see that I was open.' [Laughter] I was sitting there thinking that these are the guys that I would watch on television. You know, Darrin Smith, Michael Barrow, Jessie Armstead. To be in the meeting room with them and see how they break down film, see how they communicate on the sideline and even off the field and see how they help the young guys be successful. All that for me was a big deal. It's hard to say who was the best. You had Ryan McNeil and then you start talking receivers with Lamar Thomas, Horace Copeland, running back, it just never stopped.

So who was the best player? Maybe me? [Laughter] That's the joke at the University of Miami, everyone asks who the best player is, and everyone looks in the mirror! [Laughter] I don't know. Even Ray [Lewis] he was a good College Football player but he is a GREAT NFL player. Ray in college was good, everything he did was good, but what he is doing in the NFL is CRAZY. Very few guys can raise their level by 100% when they go to the next level. Most guys can go up 20 to 30 percent, but he increased it 100%. You can't compare the college guy to the NFL guy. They are two different people. To answer your question, I don't know. Do you throw Gino there? You have Kevin Patrick, it just doesn't stop. I can do it by position!

pC: Give me the best receiver at the time and bets linebacker.
TR: Receiver is tough, it was “Fast Track Football” back then. It becomes a coin toss between Kevin Williams, Horace Copeland, Lamar Thomas. Probably of the three, the most exciting because he talked a lot was probably Lamar. Horace always had the huge catches and flips in the end zone and Kevin Williams was a great kick returner but he was great in the slot. It's hard to find those slot guys. Think about how many games he scored on a punt return, running the ball catching the ball.

Linebacker is easier for me. See my all-time favorite linebacker is probably Darrin Smith. That doesn't take anything away from Mike and Jessie, but you know Darrin was a head guy. He wasn't the biggest guy in the world, but he was smart, savvy and tough when he needed to be.

pC: Didn't you take his number when he left?
TR: Well, he took my number before I got there. [Laughter] Well I was 45 in High School and when I got there I had to get 54 so I was waiting to kick him out. He was one of the reasons why I went. On my visit I spent a lot of time with Darrin and Michael Barrow. Those two guys are two of the reasons why I went. Hey, if they can do it and they're from the same area and kind of my build out of high school, I can do this as well.

Click here to read Part II of our interview with Twan and see what he has to say about his recruiting experience, the Washington game, the NFL draft and more!


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Who's Stock is Rising?

Brandon Meriweather, New England Patriots safety: Despite his late-game heroics Monday night, can you really say Tom Brady's stock improved? In the absence of so many retired veterans on the Patriots' defense, Meriweather showed signs he's ready to step into a leadership role.

Meriweather was credited with a team-high eight tackles against the Bills. He threw Fred Jackson for a 4-yard loss and made the initial hit that stood McKelvin up before he fumbled.

Reggie Wayne, Colts WR: Wayne technically became the team’s top receiver in 2007, but the real takeover over the past two years as the team adjusted to an injured, less than effective Marvin Harrison took a while. Sunday, with Harrison gone and Anthony Gonzalez out early with a right knee injury, Wayne was practically unstoppable.

Deep, short, in the middle of the field and on the perimeter, he was getting a steady diet of throws from Peyton Manning and making the most of them. He’ll need to continue that production while rookie Austin Collie and second-year man Pierre Garcon work as the second and third wideouts.

Jeremy Shockey: Saints TE: Shockey’s been a target for ridicule throughout much of his career. Some of it’s due to injuries and some of it's because of his behavior.

But you can never forget that he’s an enormous talent. He caught two touchdowns on Sunday, which is two more than he had all of last year. Makes you wonder what’s possible if he can stay healthy all season.


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(espn.com)

Phillips not practicing Wednesday

Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News is reporting on his Twitter page that Giants' safety Kenny Phillips is not practicing on Wednesday. Phillips is coming off a knee injury that caused him to miss some of the preseason.

Our View: Vacchiano sounded surprised that Phillips wasn't practicing today, so we don't know much about why he was held out. The team will surely discuss it after practice, so we will let you know if it is anything serious.


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(rototimes.com)

Lions Release Orien Harris

As speculated by PFT's Mike Florio yesterday, the Lions have claimed defensive end Turk McBride, who was waived by the Chiefs yesterday.  McBride was drafted in the second round back in 2007, so it's no surprise that the Lions claimed him.  Aside from wanting to upgrade their depth at DE, defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham was with the Chiefs when McBride was drafted. 

Orien Harris, the defensive tackle acquired in the Ronald Curry trade, was released to make room on the roster for McBride.


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(prideofdetroit.com)

Paging Greg Olsen

Brian Urlacher’s season is over, but I’m asking, when does Greg Olsen’s season start?

Tommie Harris, same question.

Olsen caught one pass for eight yards in the opening night loss in Green Bay. Cutler threw his way six times. Fix this.

The offensive line frequently seemed to be in fire-drill mode against the Packers’ 3-4 defense, and even when the line wasn’t a mess, the quarterback already looked like a victim of Pavlov’s Happy Feet. So, if the Bears needed to get rid of the ball quickly, then the tight end should be the best option.

Didn’t happen. Can’t happen again.

The Packers put cornerback Charles Woodson on Olsen when he lined up right and bracketed Olsen with a linebacker and a safety when he lined up left. Presto, change-o, abra-ca-dabra, watch the supposed Pro Bowl tight end disappear.

Is it really that easy to take away one of Cutler’s two most important weapons? Olsen has to be better than that. Or are Cutler’s other options even worse at getting open than we first thought? I’ll hang up and listen for the excuses. . . .


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(chicagosports.com)

Gooden is Back on the Practice Field

Ravens starting linebacker Tavares Gooden practiced Wednesday during the portion open to the media in an attempt to check the status of the knee injury he suffered last Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

After he has finished out the practice week, the Ravens will decide if he can line up next to Ray Lewis in San Diego this weekend.

“He’s practicing, so we’ll see how he gets through practice and how he feels when it’s all said and done,” said head coach John Harbaugh.

Gooden injured his knee on a routine special teams play.  He was helped off the field at M&T Bank Stadium and into the locker room, but returned to the sideline in the fourth quarter and rode a stationary bike. 

“There’s nothing torn, so I’m happy about that,” Gooden said before Wednesday’s session. “I’m just relieved that part is over with. Now it’s just about getting it stretched out and getting it moving again the way I’d like to have it move.”


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(baltimoreravens.com)

Drew Brees: I'm impressed with Shockey

The Saints' trade for Jeremy Shockey didn't quite pan out in 2008, what with Shockey's failure to score a single touchdown and an assortment of injuries (sports hernia and ankle) that knocked him out of action for four games.

But Shockey already has two touchdowns after just one game. Ok, so it was against the Lions, but they count just the same.

Saints QB Drew Brees, who got on Shockey a few times last year for running some bad routes, had nothing but praise for the 29-year-old tight end. Said Brees during an interview with790 The Zone in Atlanta: 

"I have really been impressied with Shockey and the way he has worked this off-season. Really, the big difference between this year and last year with him is that we've had time together. Last year, let's not forget that we signed him the first day of training camp with the trade with the Giants. We acquired him coming off the broken leg. He practices for four days, and then he has the groin issues, and the sports hernia and ankle injury during the season. It was just one of those things where we never had enough time together to kind of fill that rapport and get on the same page on the field. Then you come in this year and get two (TDs) right off the bat. I'm glad we brokered the deal. Hopefully there are many more (TDs) to come. I think he has a great future here in New Orleans."


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(newsday.com)

Bryant McKinnie Birthday Bash in Miami




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Broncos linebacker Williams still tackling change

For weeks the changes came rolling out of the Broncos' Dove Valley complex, like midsize sedans off the assembly line.

New coach, new staff, new defense, new wants and new needs.

Change is the watchword of the Broncos this season, and few players have dealt with as much change on the field as linebacker D.J. Williams.

"I've had some," Williams said. "I guess be ready for anything is how I go about it, because anything could happen. I kind of expect them to come to me after every season and say they're going to try something different."

Williams is playing for his fourth defensive coordinator in his six NFL seasons, and playing in his fourth spot at linebacker. So when the team fired coach Mike Shanahan and started rebuilding the defense, Williams was ready to make a switch again. But early word on what a 3-4 defense might mean to him wasn't all that good.

"A lot of guys I knew came to me and said, 'You're going to hate going to the 3-4, hate it, especially coming from a 4-3,' " Williams recalled. " 'You're going to hate how you do things and all that.' But that's not the case at all.

"People can see already: It lets you do a lot of different things. There's a lot of stuff going on, and we could see that right away in the offseason. Basically I'm not sure what they were talking about hating it, because you can't hate it.
It's going to work."

Williams was credited with 10 tackles Sunday in the Broncos' 12-7 victory at Cincinnati, just behind safety Brian Dawkins' 11 for the team lead. Williams now plays at one of the inside linebacker positions in the Denver defense, lining up away from the offense's tight end.

In the Broncos' former defensive playbook, Williams never really found a home, having been moved from the weak side (away from the tight end) to the strong side (across from the tight end) to the middle and back to the weak side.
With each move, it was often said the new position just might be the best one for Williams, who had two 100-tackle seasons on the weak side to go with one 100-tackle year in the middle.

"When we looked at him and watched him, we could kind of see where he fit," Broncos defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said. "I think he fits best where we've got him right now and it's fortunate it's worked out that way.

"He's an inside linebacker more than an outside guy. I'll say this, he's a good football player. Since we've been here he's done everything we've asked and more."

Williams said one of the things he likes about the new playbook is that everyone has a chance to make a play. Sunday, three linebackers — Andra Davis, Darrell Reid and Mario Haggan — had the team's three sacks, and another linebacker, Wesley Woodyard, had one of the interceptions.

"Everybody is going to get their turn," Williams said. "Andra had a sack, Mario had a sack. We had two chances to get interceptions. Everybody's going to have a chance to do something. Your job this series or the next series might be taking on a block, but next time you may have to do something big. I look at that and you see opportunities."

Williams said it's all a work in progress, and that he looks forward to seeing where it will lead. Perhaps next season he might even line up in the same position as this season. Now, that would be a change.

"I think it gives us the variety, makes us kind of an offensive defense," Williams said. "I'm still adjusting to all this, but I'm getting more comfortable in what I'm doing all the time."

Broncos G Ben Hamilton and LB D.J. Williams are the only current players to make the 50th Anniversary team.


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(denverpost.com)

The Man Who Powers the Offense

Before practice Wednesday, Chris Cooley walked to the bulletin board near the entrance of the Washington Redskins' locker room and used a pushpin to hang a copy of an e-mail he had just received from a fan. The letter quickly erupted into a string of bawdy insults, more than two dozen angry expletives and ripped no fewer than seven players, from Jason Campbell to Clinton Portis.

"YOU [expletive] NEED TO START PLAYING WITH SOME HEART, PASSION, AND LOVE FOR THE GAME Instead out there collecting paychecks," it said. "The only team I see out there with some heart are the cheerleaders."

Just about every Redskins player knows he's ripe for scrutiny and dissection heading into the home opener against the St. Louis Rams. The Redskins know they have to improve on both sides of the ball Sunday, and for the offensive unit, that likely means getting more touches for Portis.

Asked whether he'd like to see a big game from his big running back, coach Jim Zorn said, "I'm hip-hip-hooraying that thought."

Recent history suggests a good afternoon of touches for Portis usually means a pleasant week of basking in a win.

"Everything predicates on your run game," said Campbell.

In the Sunday's season-opening loss at the New York Giants, Portis had 62 yards. As the offense struggled to stay on the field, Portis had only 16 carries. A year ago, the Redskins were 0-4 when Portis failed to notch at least 20 carries. Over the course of his Redskins career, Washington is just 9-20 when he fails to carry 20 times.

And since Portis joined the team in 2004, the Redskins are 21-4 when he rushes for at least 100 yards. Last year, they were 5-1. That lone loss a season ago was against the Rams.

Told that his offense doesn't seem to go when Portis isn't pushing it, Zorn said, "I disagree with that."

Zorn envisions a well-rounded offense with multiple threats, but the Redskins have yet to show the rest of the league that those other weapons can be consistently effective.

Steve Spagnuolo, St. Louis's first-year coach, has seen plenty of Portis and the Redskins, having spent the past two seasons as defensive coordinator for the Giants and the previous eight as a defensive assistant in Philadelphia.
"He makes it go," Spagnuolo said of Portis. "And when he gets going, that offense is twice as effective. I have always had great respect for him."

Though Portis had ample opportunity, he had no intention Wednesday of complaining about his touches in New York and didn't seem concerned about his role in the offense entering Sunday's game.

"I would love to tell you I could carry this organization, I could do everything. I think we have a lot of talent and a lot of people who feel as if they're capable of helping us out," Portis said. "I can't sit and be, 'Oh, I'm being selfish. Gimme the ball, gimme the ball, gimme the ball.' You know I want the ball. The coach knows I want the ball. But if we don't have but [49] plays, it ain't nothing he can do about it. He called it and they gave me the ball when they can."

If the offense clicks -- and coaches and players say it's only a matter of time -- then Zorn faces a juggling act. He hopes his outside receivers will scare secondaries and wants to make sure Antwaan Randle El out of the slot and Cooley on the end both have plenty of looks, as well. But he still has to make sure Portis has his touches, as he's the only offensive cog who's shown a direct correlation to wins and losses.

Last season, Portis averaged 110 yards through 11 games and the Redskins were 7-4. Slowed by soreness, Portis averaged fewer than 60 yards an outing down the stretch, as the Redskins lost four of their final five games.

Coaches are hoping to spare Portis from some of the wear and tear he faced late last season, by rotating backs a bit more and giving Ladell Betts more carries on third down. Still, despite a relatively light afternoon last Sunday, Portis said he woke up the next morning and felt as if he'd just had 25-30 carries, instead of only 16.

While Portis is comfortable with his role -- for now -- he acknowledges that coaches can be in a no-win situation when it comes to fan reaction.

"When it's just going to Clinton, Clinton, Clinton, all the callers and all the reporters are, 'Well, they need to do more. Clinton can't do it all. How long can they ride on Clinton?' " said Portis. "Now that we're trying to do more, it's like, 'Well, doing more isn't working. Give the ball back to Clinton.' We just have to stay in our scheme of things and everybody that's capable of making plays is going to make plays eventually."

West Coast offense or not, the running game is often key to opening up opportunities for those other players. Against the Giants, Washington actually got off on the right foot, as Portis ran for 34 yards on the game's first play, his longest run since November 2006.

Portis said he returned to the huddle thinking, "Ooh, 150, baby! At least!" Instead, he averaged fewer than two yards a carry the rest of the way, and the offense called only 49 plays all game. Portis had just one more touch in the first quarter and never established a rhythm out of the backfield.

"A running back has to get into it," Zorn said. "He started out like gangbusters on the first play. I thought we were going to do that more."

The offense worked out of the shotgun formation more in Week 1 than it did at many points during Zorn's first year as head coach, which he knows limits what he can do with Portis. But play-action will still be a crucial component and could provide Portis's best chance of breaking off a big run.

It's only a matter of time, Portis keeps saying. Despite what some of their fans might contend in angry letters, players are certain this offense is better than last year's. They might not have shown it at New York, but they're aiming for a better performance against a Rams defense that allowed 446 yards last week against Seattle -- including 167 on the ground.

"We got game two coming up this week," said Portis, "and hopefully this is my breakout week."


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(washigtonpost.com)

Ravens' Lewis plans entertainment center

Preparing for life after a bone-crushing NFL career, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis unveiled plans Tuesday for a sports-themed entertainment center in Hunt Valley that could be the first in a national chain.

The project, called MVP Entertainment, will be built at Hunt Valley Towne Centre. Lewis has a majority stake. His business adviser, Marc Rosen, and Rosen's wife, Laura, are minority partners.

Lewis was optimistic about crafting a life in the business world beyond the NFL.

"Instead of putting on a helmet, you put on a tie and a suit," he said. "That's where my next phase in life is going - the building and giving back to who we are in this world."

He and the Rosens laid out an ambitious vision for MVP Entertainment, which is to be completed by Super Bowl time next year. It will feature tiered bowling lanes, a 100-foot-wide video wall, a 150-seat restaurant and sushi bar, private event rooms, a quick-service restaurant, golf simulators, an arcade, a radio broadcast center, and a sports memorabilia and bowling pro shop.

Click here for photos of the groundbreaking and an artists rendering of the entertainment complex.

Marc Rosen said MVP will feature "never before seen" NFL memorabilia from Lewis' personal collection, but it will not be decorated with the player's likeness.

They have been working on the project for 18 months and did not allow the recession and a weak consumer spending climate to deter them, Rosen said. He said they visited and researched similar establishments across the country before embarking on their own.

"We decided, if we're going to do it, let's do it now," he said. "We really believe the community wants this."

MVP would occupy part of the site of the former Walmart. The 63,000-square-foot facility will round out the offerings at the rejuvenated shopping center, which has a Wegmans, Sears, Best Buy, a movie theater complex and numerous shops and restaurants.

Their plans include launching similar MVP locations in other cities where there are NFL and other pro sports teams, and each location will take on the flavor of its local sports scene, Marc Rosen said.

Patrons at the Hunt Valley location can expect a front-entrance experience similar to what Lewis encounters each time he walks through the tunnel and onto the field at M&T Bank Stadium, Laura Rosen told a crowd at Tuesday's groundbreaking.

Marc Rosen, a trial lawyer and chairman of Owings Mills-based K Bank, met the football player about seven years ago after Lewis did some marketing for him. He and Lewis had been talking "for years" about which direction to take Lewis' career when he eventually retires from the NFL.

Lewis wanted a venture that was healthy and family-oriented, to be active in his investments and to have Baltimore be a part of any enterprise. Bowling was a natural fit because Lewis loves the sport.

"He's an outstanding bowler," Rosen said.

It makes sense for a professional player to launch a new enterprise while still active in the sport, said Ray Schulte, owner of a sports marketing agency, Schulte Sports, in Woodstock. There are some common pitfalls to avoid, such as falsely believing that a high-profile name can single-handedly carry a venture, not knowing an industry well enough to succeed in it, and not picking the right partners and management to help run an operation, he said.

"The thing that Ray has, which he can utilize, is that he's starting in a market that he knows and understands and he's beloved in," Schulte said. "He has business background. He probably has aligned himself with people who are very capable of running a business."

The venture is Lewis' second in the hospitality business. Four years ago, he launched Ray Lewis' Full Moon Bar-B-Que, a restaurant in Baltimore's Canton neighborhood, that was a partnership with a small chain in Alabama. Lewis and the chain promoted plans for a national expansion, but it never materialized.

The restaurant was located in the trendy Can Company complex, and early reports put Lewis' initial investment at $2 million. It was decorated in Ravens colors and contained Lewis photos and memorabilia. Lewis, whose mother had operated a small fast-food store in Memphis, Tenn., had billed it as a family-oriented venue with a traditional Southern-style menu.

Lewis said Tuesday that he decided to close the restaurant earlier this year after learning many valuable lessons so he could focus on the Hunt Valley project.

"I thought, 'Why don't I put [my energy] into a bigger and brighter vision, and put it closer to my house," he said.

The investors declined to say how much money they are putting into the project.


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(baltimoresun.com)

Weeks highlights cast of AFL-bound A's

SEATTLE -- Second baseman Jemile Weeks, Oakland's first pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, headlines the abbreviated list of A's prospects who have been tabbed to play in 2009 edition of the prestigious Arizona Fall League.

Weeks, who missed much of his first year of pro ball with a hip injury, is currently playing for Double-A Midland of the Texas League, batting .224 with a .373 on-base percentage in 16 games through Monday.

The 18th annual Arizona Fall League season begins on Oct. 13 and runs through Nov. 19 with the Rising Stars game on Nov. 7 and the Championship game set for Nov. 21. Every game can be followed live on Gameday on MLB.com and MLBFallBall.com.

A product of the University of Miami and the younger brother of former AFL partcipant and Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks, Jemile Weeks opened the year at extended Spring Training before joining Class A Stockton. In 50 games with the Ports, he batted .299 with seven homers, 31 RBIs and a .385 OBP.

Also selected from the A's organization for AFL duty with the Phoenix Desert Dogs were outfielders Corey Brown and Grant Desme. Through Monday, Desme was batting .299 with 17 homers, 47 RBIs and a .389 OBP in 59 games at Stockton. Brown was batting .263 with eight home runs, 38 RBIs and a .339 OBP at Midland.

The A's also will send four pitchers to the AFL, but the names of those players have not yet been released.


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(mlb.com)

Crawford has verbal spat with Burrell

BALTIMORE -- Carl Crawford had a verbal confrontation with Pat Burrell in the Rays' clubhouse prior to Wednesday night's game against the Orioles.

Rays manager Joe Maddon talked to both players about the incident and surmised: "It was nothing."

"Honestly, I talked to both parties," Maddon said. "Everything's good."

Crawford declined to comment; Burrell was not available.


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(mlb.com)

NFL U Week 1 Video Highlights

Check out the return of our NFL U Video Highlights. Like we did back in 2006 & 2008, proCanes.com will provide our fans every week video highlights of all of our NFL U stars along with pictures from the current NFL Week. Click here to check out our Week 1 Video Highlights or click above on NFL U Video Highlights. Enjoy this week's highlights which feature a Reggie Wayne TD, a Devin Hester TD, two Willis McGahee TDs and much more!


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NFL U Week 1 Photos

Check out Week 1 photos from around the the NFL of our proCanes. Click here to see the photos.








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The Daily CANESHOOTER proCane of the Week Photo

Click here to check out the Daily Caneshooter’s proCane of the week photo of Florida Marlins 1B Gaby Sanchez, seen with the Hurricanes back in 2004. Sanchez hit his first career homer - on Miami Hurricanes night, no less - last Saturday against the Nationals. Sanchez was called up by the Marlins on September 8th after a injury-plagued season.


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(dailycaneshooter.blogspot.com)

Watch Leon Searcy & Darrin Smith Talk FSU, GT and More!



Go to
Canes4Life.com for more information and to catch the Real Talk w/ Real Canes every Wednesday Night.


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Saints sign Roby, cut Ortega

The New Orleans Saints have signed free agent wide receiver Courtney Roby, who was the primary kickoff returner for the team for five games last year.

Roby first signed with the Saints midway through the 2008 season and returned kicks before landing on injured reserve. He averaged 24.8 yards on 19 kickoff returns for the Saints last season.

To make room for Roby on the roster, the Saints cut tight end Buck Ortega, who split last season between the practice squad and the active roster.


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(nola.com)

Giants Cut Kareem Brown

The Giants also cut CB DeAndre Wright and TE Kareem Brown from the practice squad. They replaced them with TE Bear Pascoe (Fresno State) and DB Michael Coe (Alabama State).




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(bigbluview.com)

Browns Release Leon Williams

The Browns abruptly announced early Tuesday evening they waived linebacker Leon Williams. They gave no comment in their one-sentence release.

Williams was drafted in the fourth round in 2006. He was a mainstay on special teams since then and started 12 games in 2006 and '07.


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(cleveland.com)

Ed Reed Returning Punts?

Ed Reed went back to receive a punt in the first half against the Chiefs. Will we see more of that or was this a special circumstance?

Mike Preston: According to Reed, it was a quick change for the defense and punt return unit, so he just stayed on the field.

If you want to believe that, fine. Me? I think the Ravens had a lot of communication problems Sunday in the defensive backfield and on special teams. It has to get better. You don't want Reed, already suffering from a neck injury, returning punts. It was stupid, and hopefully it won't happen again.


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(baltimoresun.com)

"Shine 2" Fighter Profile: Brian Fuery

I’ve never seen Brian Fuery’s desk, nor do I even know if he has one, but I assume that the nameplate sitting atop would read Brian Fuery: Athlete.  He’s at an early point in his career, so he probably hasn’t made time to get the promotional business cards, coffee mugs or t-shirts, however, the people will know soon enough.

Fuery started out as a defensive back for the Miami Hurricanes during their heyday in the 1990’s.  Although some former football players let the fame go to their heads, Fuery would say of his football career, “The thing about being a football player at Miami is that there is a huge brotherhood.” No bragging about how good he was or dreams about how his football career could parlay into a lush insurance job where he could get clients based on his name.  Instead of accepting the cushy office jobs that were offered to him post-graduation, Fuery opted to serve his country by joining the U.S. Air Force.

Upon his return from duty, gone were those cushy job offers.   Intuition, however, prevailed careening him towards entrepreneurship as a personal trainer in the Miami area. It was fate for his endeavor as a personal trainer provided Fuery the opportunity to find what he was really supposed to do: train for professional fighting.

“I was actually lifting weights in the gym, and a guy from Team [Pablo] Popovitch was actually doing Russian kettle bells, and I walked into the gym, and he was asking me about Russian kettle bells. He was wearing a pair of Team Popovitch shorts, and I asked him where I could buy a pair. So I stopped by the school and sat down with Pablo, and I was pretty much a wrap. He told me to try a class, because he knew I was a really good high school wrestler. And from the very first class, I loved it.”

And now, Fuery is a two-time world jiu-jitsu champion, a Pan-Am Games champion, a North American Grappling Association (NAGA) champion, and a Grappler’s Quest champion. Now he is a fighter, and he’s a natural, not only because of his athleticism, but because he learned early in his life that there were a lot of people who could help him, and that he would go far if only he allowed himself to be molded into a bad-ass dude.

Perhaps Fuery even learned some of his humility from his coach, world champion Pablo Popovitch, who reigns as one of the most decorated players in the history of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. “The guy is super knowledgeable,” says Fuery, “he has an answer for everything. He’s very humble, and he’s the epitome of the martial way. I won’t train with anybody else. When he’s preparing you for a fight, the guy is so humble, and the great thing is that he’ll stop the entire class if you have a question in order to help you.”

Fuery is set to make his professional debut in mixed martial arts at Shine Fights II: American Top Team vs. The World, and he realizes that he’s already behind the game. “I saw that some guys that I beat in amateur went pro, and I decided that it was time for me too…the other thing is age…I don’t plan on doing this forever.”

This fighting thing may only be the next step in his life, but there is little doubt from the people around him that he will yet again be successful. It’s not every day that some former college football player becomes a jiu-jitsu world champion without ever trying to go out and make a name for himself.

Xtreme Couture heavyweight Phil Friedman will provide stiff competition for Fuery in his debut on September 4, but he isn’t worried.  “I’m looking to take him down, and try to get the match over as soon as I can.”

The world is set to see the next step in the evolution of Brian Fuery: Athlete.  Once again, we find he isn’t thinking about himself, “Being able to fight in front of my home crowd is a good opportunity for me, not only for me but for my family and my team. I want to make sure that my team gets the recognition that they deserve.”


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(mmaspot.com)

In Turner's staff, Chudzinski is the go-to guy

Tomorrow night will be the first real game in which Norv Turner has help from above from Rob Chudzinski.

After four preseason games, training camp and this past week's preparations for the season opener, Turner believes his new assistant head coach has made the Chargers “more equipped” for success.

At the very least, Turner has someone new to talk to and less to do.

Wanting some assistance on a daily basis and to shake up and receive more input from his staff, Turner hired Chudzinski in February as assistant head coach and tight ends coach.

Assistant head coach is something of a nebulous term, which can mean different things depending on the staff.

“I'm just trying to do things to take some things off Norv's plate — administration things, organizational things, scheduling,” said Chudzinski, who was the offensive coordinator in Cleveland in 2007 and '08 after a two-year stint coaching tight ends for the Chargers.

During games, Chudzinski joins linebackers coach John Pagano and offensive coordinator Clarence Shelmon in the coaches' booth. He and Shelmon will communicate with Turner via headset, with Shelmon mostly handling the running game and protection. That will allow quarterbacks coach John Ramsdell to be on the sideline, communicating more directly with Philip Rivers.

During the week, in addition to helping devise the daily schedules, Chudzinski is a contributor to the game plan, as Turner asks all of his offensive assistants to be.

“It's a great process,” Chudzinski said. “We have a real open environment when we're game planning. Everyone is involved.”

Said Turner: “Having Chud here has kind of stimulated everybody.”


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(signonsandiego.com)

Aubrey Huff's tweaked routine pays off for Tigers

DETROIT -- A change in routine led to a change in results for Aubrey Huff.

Huff struggled a bit adjusting to his role as a part-time pinch-hitter after being acquired by the Detroit Tigers in a trade last month.

After the trade, he would start preparing in the fifth inning when he wasn't in the starting lineup. He would stretch out, hit balls off a tee in the batting cage and work up a sweat while waiting to get into the game.

On Sunday, he took a new, more mellow approach.

"I didn't swing as much," Huff said. "I felt really relaxed and got up there and got a nice double the other way."

And how did he prepare Monday?

"I did the same thing," he said.

That certainly worked out well for him. Huff delivered a pinch-hit, three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to send the series finale with Toronto into extra innings. The Tigers won 6-5 in the 10th.

The home run was Huff's 15th of the season and 203rd of his career.

It was his first as a pinch-hitter.

In Huff's first five at-bats as a pinch-hitter with the Tigers, he went 1-for-5 with a single and one RBI. He knocked in a run with his double Sunday and has four RBIs in two pinch-hit at-bats since changing his routine.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland said veterans adjust to a pinch-hitting role more quickly than young players, but the change can be tough for everybody.

"When you're used to playing every single day and all of a sudden you're not, it's a little bit different," Leyland said. "It's new territory for him."


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(mlive.com)

Burrell connects for grand slam in loss

Pat Burrell was 2-for-4 with a grand slam in a loss to the Orioles on Tuesday night.

Burrell's third-inning grand slam actually gave the Rays a 5-0 lead, but starter Jeff Niemann uncharacteristically coughed it up. Though it looked like he was finally starting to get it together in August, Burrell is batting just .163 this month. The free-agent acquisition is batting .230/.328/.390 with 14 home runs and 62 RBI in 369 at-bats this season.


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(rotoworld.com)

Gooden Has a Mild Sprain

The Ravens don't consider starting inside linebacker Tavares Gooden's sprained right knee to be a serious injury.

Gooden was slated to have a magnetic resonance imaging exam on Monday. Initial X-rays revealed no ligament tears or significant damage.

"We think right now it's a mild knee sprain," Harbaugh said. "We'll just see how it responds this week.

It's unclear, though, if he'll be ready to start this week against the San Diego Chargers. If Gooden can't go, then Jameel McClain would likely fill in for him.


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(ravens24x7.com)

Wilfork draws iffy flag for "going low"

When Vince Wilfork drew a third-quarter flag for tackling Bills quarterback Trent Edwards as he threw, the Patriots massive nose tackle went to the tried and true, "What'd I do?!  What'd I do?!" gesture.

According to referee Scott Green, Wilfork got the 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty for "going low" on Edwards.  But based on a conversation we had this summer with NFL officiating guru Mike Pereira, what Wilfork did was not a penalty.

Pereira said in August that the rule about hitting quarterbacks low -- originally instituted after Carson Palmer got his knee mangled by Kimo Von Oelhoffen in the 2005 playoffs and reemphasized after Tom Brady got his knee mangled last season by Bernard Pollard -- had been clarified to teams and officials.  And the "going low" component related mainly to players already on the ground.  In that case, a defender on the ground could swipe at the quarterback's legs or try to wrap him up but he could not drive into the quarterback's knees with his shoulder.

Moreover, Wilfork hit Edwards below the waist but above the knees.  As Pereira pointed out to Dan Patrick in March 2009, the quarterback "strike zone" runs from the area below the neck to above the knees.

Wilfork, who's been on the receiving end of a few fines in his career, appeared to do none of the above, wrapping Edwards up above the knees as he backpedaled and taking him down.

So while Green may have felt that Wilfork was a split-second late getting to Edwards, throwing a flag for "going low" in that instance does not mesh with the rules as currently written.


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(profootballtalk.com)

Hester impressive

Maybe it’s too early, but I think a lot of people owe Devin Hester an apology.

All the haters who ripped on the fourth-year wide receiver as being nothing more than a return specialist should not that Hester had 4 passes thrown to him Sunday night and caught all 4 for 90 yards, including a 36-yard TD, the Bears’ first of the new season.

For comparison, Earl Bennett caught 7 passes for 66 yards, but he had 13 passes directed his way. Tight end Greg Olsen had 6 passes thrown to him and caught just 1 for 8 yards.

And keep in mind that Hester was playing against Packers cornerbacks Al Harris and Charles Woodson, possibly the most talented tandem he will see all season. Hester actually made Woodson, a five-time Pro Bowler, look bad after he caught a pass just over the line of scrimmage and then ran through the 12-year veteran’s tackle attempt for a 24-yard gain.

Hester’s still learning, and he isn’t as polished as a lot of No. 1 receivers, but on Sunday he looked a lot better than a lot of critics expected.


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(dailyherald.com)

Studs & Duds For the Redksins in Week 1

Studs LB Rocky McIntosh. For the most part was able to fill his gap very well. Forced some cutbacks into the teeth of the defense. Overran one play, but it did not hurt them.

Duds WR Santana Moss. True No. 1 receivers beat double teams. Moss does not. And he lost his cool against Corey Webster. Moss needed to help Jason Campbell more on the interception.


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(washingtonexaminer.com)

Wayne Hints Colts Should Bring Harrison Back

Who will help Wayne?

Against the Jaguars, he was a one-man wrecking crew. He had 10 catches for 162 yards and a 35-yard touchdown on which the bet was whether Manning's pass or Jacksonville safety Sean Considine would get to Wayne first.

It was a matter of Reggie being Reggie, especially against the Jaguars. The 162-yard output was the third-highest of Wayne's regular-season career, and the fifth 100-yard game in his past six outings against Jacksonville.

That, on the heels of him playfully complaining after catching only three passes during the preseason.

"See how it works?" he said, smiling broadly. "When you say something, they listen."

Manning made it clear the game plan included a heavy dose of Wayne, who was the target on 14 of his 38 pass attempts.

"He knew I'd be looking his way and Jacksonville knew," Manning said.

The Jaguars feature cornerback Rashean Mathis, a 2006 Pro Bowl selection, at left corner. That's away from Wayne. Their right-side starter is rookie Derek Cox.

Jacksonville frequently gave Cox deep help from a safety but opted not to have Mathis flip sides to cover Wayne. So it was Wayne vs. Cox on many occasions.

No contest.

"There were some great catches," Manning said.

With the Colts trailing 3-0 and facing a third-and-13 at their own 19, Wayne sprinted down the left sideline, adjusted on Manning's slightly underthrown pass and went over Cox for a 39-yard catch. It was the key moment in an 11-play drive that ended with Joseph Addai's TD.


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(indystar.com)

Meet Rocky McIntosh Tuesday night!

Come out to the Redskins Late Night TV show taping at Gordon Biersch this Tuesday night at 7 PM.

Comedian Chris Paul hosts with special guest Redskins Linebacker Rocky McIntosh!

Gordon Biersch is located in the Tysons Corner Center.

Redskins Late Night airs Sunday Morning at 1:30 a.m. on WRC-4.


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(extremeredskins.com)

Sharpe Released

The Falcons released CB Glenn Sharpe from the practice squad and CB William Middleton, a fifth-round draft pick from Furman who was cut before the season, was signed to the practice squad.


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(victoriaadvocate.com)

Joseph Released

The Raiders released defensive lineman William Joseph to make room on the roster for Richard Seymour.




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(mercurynews.com)

Buchanon put Lions in bad spot

The late scratch of Phillip Buchanon (neck) put the Lions in a bad spot against the Saints.

Buchanon practiced all week but couldn't go against the Saints. "We'll have to take a hard look at where he is," said coach Jim Schwartz. "We can't have a situation come up that, late in the week after taking practice reps, all of a sudden he's not able to play." Eric King started in Buchanon's place.


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(rotoworld.com)

James Jones says "the wrist is great"

And he didn't just say so.

He showed so.

One of three Heat representatives at Jason Taylor's "Cool Gear for the School Year" event at Old Navy in Davie -- along with Udonis Haslem and Alonzo Mourning -- the Heat small forward demonstrated by bending his right wrist back and forth in a way that he couldn't for all of last season.

"I'm all the way back, man," Jones said.

The Miami native said he's been working out at the arena all summer, while some of his teammates have been up in Chicago. "I'm in the best city in the world," Jones said. "This is the best place to work out. For the time in my career, I've really had a whole summer to dedicate to my body, and it's really paying off."

He declared himself and declared himself "60 to 70 percent better" than he was for most of 2008-09, before he started getting his shooting stroke back in the playoffs.

"It was a mental barrier," Jones said. "It was hard to just play and not worry about getting hit the wrong way. I'm past that now. Now I'm in the trenches with Jamaal Magloire every day. If I can battle with him, I can battle with anyone."


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(sun-sentinel.com)

Aubrey Huff delivered a game-tying pinch-hit three-run homer

Aubrey Huff delivered a game-tying pinch-hit three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth on Monday night to help propel the Tigers to an eventual 10th-inning victory.



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(fantasysp.com)

Strong debut for Bruce Johnson

Giants rookie cornerback Bruce Johnson, an undrafted free agent from the University of Miami, was really untested in the game.

Johnson, playing as the third defensive back in Sunday's game due to injuries to starting corner Aaron Ross and nickel back Kevin Dockery, had three tackles and forced a fumble.

The Redskins were never able to exploit the rookie, who matched up with Washington's outside receivers most of the day.

"I was really proud of the way Bruce Johnson played," Coughlin said.


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(app.com)

Sunday proCane Inactives

proCanes Week#1 Inactives:

Orien Harris: Detroit Lions

Phillip Buchanon, with a neck injury: Detroit Lions

Spencer Adkins: Atlanta Falcons


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Gore's two touchdowns lead Niners to victory

Frank Gore rushed 22 times for 30 yards and a touchdown and added three receptions for 18 yards and a second touchdown to lead the 49ers over the Cardinals in Week 1.

The Niners stayed committed to the run, even with second-year stud Calais Campbell leading a swarming defense. Gore got on the scoreboard with a high-effort lunge in the second quarter and added the game-winner when Shaun Hill caught the Cardinals blitzing and hit him in the flat for a 3-yard score. Glen Coffee had just one carry for -3 yards.


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(rotoworld.com)

Hester nets 90 yards, TD in Week 1 loss

Devin Hester hauled in four catches for 90 yards and a touchdown in the Bears' Week 1 loss to the Packers.

Hester caught a deep out thrown to his back shoulder on the Bears' first drive, showing impressive focus. That catch wouldn't have been made last year. He also worked his usual magic in the open field and seems to be coming along as a wideout. If defenses continue to buckle down on Greg Olsen, as the Packers did Sunday night, Hester should find plenty of targets by default.


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(rotoworld.com)

Winslow catches five balls for 30 plus TD

Kellen Winslow caught five balls for 30 yards and a touchdown, and ran once for seven yards in Sunday's loss to Dallas.

Winslow made a weak effort on the play preceding his score, but atoned for it by hauling in a Byron Leftwich pass from two yards out in the fourth quarter. Winslow is safely an every-week fantasy starter until he gets hurt.


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(rotoworld.com)

Gooden Hurt But Looks OK

Linebacker Tavares Gooden, who limped off earlier in the half, is back on the Ravens sideline working out on a stationary bike. The team is calling his injury a sprained knee and he looks like he might try and return.Gooden's knee injury sustained in Week 1 is not serious. He only suffered a sprain, and did not tear any ligaments.

Gooden intends to suit up for Week 2 at San Diego. Gooden is a great athlete and could develop into a solid starting inside linebacker if he sharpens his insticts.


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(masnsports.com)

Shockey hauls in two touchdowns in win

Jeremy Shockey caught four passes for 31 yards and two touchdowns against the Lions in Week 1.

Shockey matched his 2008 touchdown total in one game. He looks rejuvenated this season and should remain a prime red zone weapon all season. With Billy Miller out of the picture, we expect his production to be much more consistent this year.


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(rotoworld.com)

Wayne's 162 yards, TD lead Colts over Jags 14-12

INDIANAPOLIS -- The pressure on Reggie Wayne is always increasing, and the Indianapolis wide receiver keeps responding.

Wayne already was adjusting to his first season without longtime sidekick Marvin Harrison. Early in Sunday's season opener against Jacksonville, new partner Anthony Gonzalez went down with a right knee injury and did not return.

Unfazed, Wayne played one of the best games of his career, catching 10 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown to help Peyton Manning tie Johnny Unitas with his franchise-record 118th victory and lead the Colts to a 14-12 victory over the Jaguars.

"I don't think I'm going to have this kind of day every week," said Wayne, who had 10 receptions for the ninth time in his career. "I would hope so, but I'll take whatever they give me."

Jim Caldwell, who won his debut as head coach following the retirement of Tony Dungy, said Wayne simply was his usual self.

"He's been playing Pro Bowl-caliber football for a long time," Caldwell said. "It's not anything new in terms of what he's able to do. He doesn't surprise us in that sense, and he shouldn't surprise anybody in this room, because he's always been able to step up."

Gonzalez was supposed to ease Wayne's transition into the unquestioned No. 1 receiver role this season. Gonzalez caught 57 passes for 664 yards last season, and his teammates had consistently spoken with confidence about his ability to step in and flourish as a primary target.

Gonzalez went down without contact while running a route in the first quarter. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning asked Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis what he saw.

"I didn't see it," Manning said. "I asked Mathis what happened. He said 'I didn't even touch him.'"

Wayne immediately knew his job had become more difficult.

"That's not what you want to see, especially the first week," Wayne said. "Gonzo's worked so hard to get in this position he's in. For an injury of that caliber to happen is tough on everybody. That's definitely a lot more pressure on me."

Wayne expected extra attention from defenses because the Colts released Harrison in the offseason. Harrison would have counted $13.4 million against the team's salary cap this season, the highest of any NFL receiver. Although Indy wanted to restructure his contract, team president Bill Polian said there was no feasible way to do it.
Losing Gonzalez for an extended period will only makes things tougher for Wayne. The severity of Gonzalez' injury is unknown. If Gonzalez is out for the season, Wayne wouldn't have a problem with Harrison, a free agent, coming back.

"I didn't want Marvin to leave in the first place," Wayne said. "We worked well together."

Wayne instead found himself working with Pierre Garcon and rookie Austin Collie. Wayne thought the young receivers played well, but he felt the offense sputtered and forced the defense to keep the Colts in the game.

Manning threw an interception into the end zone on the first drive of the game, and Joseph Addai lost a fumble at the Jacksonville 35 early in the second quarter. Even though the Colts outgained the Jaguars 365 yards to 228, the Colts had to make a late defensive stand.

"Me personally, I feel like we should have at least had 20-something points," Wayne said.

Wayne's biggest play on Sunday was a 35-yard touchdown reception from Manning in the third quarter. Manning dropped the pass between two defenders.

"Then the touchdown, he is kind of waiting on the ball, the safety is coming over, and he catches it knowing he is going to get hit," Manning said. "Great game by him."

The Colts' bulkier defensive line also held up better against an old nemesis, Maurice Jones-Drew, who rushed 21 times for 97 yards and scored Jacksonville's only touchdown. He had averaged 6.3 yards per carry in six previous games against the Colts.


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(miamiherald.com)

Shockey has breakthrough touchdown with Saints

It took 17 games but New Orleans Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey finally showed Sunday why team officials acquired him from the New York Giants 14 months ago for second- and fifth-round draft picks.

The former University of Miami standout scored twice in the Saints' 45-27 win against the Detroit Lions at the Superdome, catching touchdown passes of 1 and 15 yards in the second quarter from quarterback Drew Brees on back-to-back drives.

After the first score, he came off the field with both arms held high, the ball in his left hand and looking skyward.

"I'll definitely remember my first Saints touchdown, " said Shockey of the play that extended the Saints' lead to 21-10 with 3:45 remaining in the first half.

Immediately afterward, as Shockey celebrated the occasion in the back of the Poydras Street end zone, Lions rookie safety Louis Delmas came up behind and slapped the ball from Shockey's hand.

Officials hit Delmas with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

"I didn't know who it was, " Shockey said. "I thought it was my own teammate. I'm sure (Delmas) will be getting a letter from the NFL for that one."

Shockey doubled his touchdown total in New Orleans several minutes later with a juggling catch, a play that was upheld by officials after undergoing a review from the replay booth.

"I made it look hard, " he said. "It was a great pass and I luckily came down with it. I'm grateful for those two but again, we're going to work hard this week and get ready for Philadelphia."

Saints Coach Sean Payton said he was pleased for Shockey, who set the tone for himself in the team's first exhibition game against Cincinnati with a 22-yard touchdown reception from Brees.

"I told him then that just broke the seal, so hopefully they'll just be overflowing now, " Brees said. "He started off with two today -- not too shabby. But obviously, I think the sky is the limit for Jeremy and what he can do in this offense. He has come a long way.

"We had a great offseason together, and I feel very comfortable with him that he is going to have a great year."


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(nola.com)

Moss vs. Webster Dustup Ends Quickly



Washington Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss got into a skirmish with New York Giants cornerback Corey Webster early in the second quarter of the Redskins' 23-17 loss, tussling with the defensive back and exchanging several blows to the face.

Moss' helmet was knocked off during the fight, which began when the two got into it as Moss was blocking Webster, and they had to be separated in the end zone after Webster took Moss down.

The two received offsetting personal-foul penalties, and after the game Moss expressed regret for his actions.

"It wasn't nothing personal. It was just that particular play," he said. "A couple of shoves got out of hand and then my helmet flew off and then I got a head butt to the eye. Once I got a head butt to the eye I just kind of, I'm just one of those guys I'm not just going to sit there. And due to the fact that you kind of think about your team at the time you don't want to put yourself in a situation like that we was in, we were already backed up. You sit here now and you say you regret it or you hate it, but we didn't get no, it was offset penalties so I'm lucky. I'm glad for that.

"But just beyond that it was something that shouldn't have happened and we kind of talked about it. I told him that, 'Hey, I did what I did because [of] how I felt once my helmet came off. I'm defensless. I can't do much.' And he wants to keep going, then I'm going to keep going regardless of what I've got on and that's just what happened."

Redskins Coach Jim Zorn said after the game that Washington had to be more disciplined in key moments.

"Our challenge was to become more disciplined on the field, and that's going to be our challenge from week one to week two," he said.

Redskins safety LaRon Landry also tussled with Giants running back Brandon Jacobs in the second quarter, though neither player was penalized. In last year's opener, Jacobs memorably ran over Landry for a long gain.
"The Redskins as a whole is a pretty clean team," Jacobs told reporters afterward. "They just have one guy over there that was a little salty from 12 months ago, you know, 12 months today. .....

"He just kept at me, you know, hitting me out of bounds, got a stupid penalty. ..... He should have been smarter, you know, but it comes with experience."

Redskins linebacker London Fletcher said the nature of play in the NFC East made for most of the after-play altercations.

"It's not a lot of love lost between these two teams," Fletcher said. "It's pretty much like that in the NFC East when we get to go against each other. I think we've got a great distaste for the Giants, and I'm pretty sure they've got a great distaste for us."


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(washigtonpost.com)

McGahee plays well in Week 1

Willis McGahee rushed for 44 yards and a score on 10 carries, while also catching four balls for 31 yards and a touchdown in Week 1.

McGahee is definitely the favorite near the goal-line for the Ravens. His touchdown catch was for three yards while Joe Flacco did a nice job getting away from pressure and finding McGahee in the front, left corner of the end-zone. He looks faster than he did last season, too.


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(rotoworld.com)

Even inactive, Naples' Adkins still pretty active for Falcons

ATLANTA — All last week, as the Atlanta Falcons made their final cuts, Spencer Adkins was thrilled about NOT hearing his name called.

"Basically, if you didn’t get a call, that was good news," said the former Naples High School standout and Miami Hurricane, who was selected by the Falcons in the sixth round of the 2009 NFL Draft (No. 176 overall). "So I didn't get a call and toward the end of [last Saturday] night I started getting happier and happier. I was really excited to be a part of this team."

Adkins didn't have that same good fortune on Sunday afternoon. The curtain fell on his NFL debut about an hour before it was scheduled to open, when he was one of seven players deactivated by the team for its season opener against the Miami Dolphins.

Obviously, he was disappointed at not being able to compete, especially with his father, Lester and mother, Mable, having made the trip to the Georgia Dome. But it had little to do with the game being against the Miami Dolphins, who he said were not his favorite team growing up (he laughed and declined to say which team was).

Still, nothing was going to put a damper on the enthusiasm of his first weekend as a pro. There was still plenty to learn by observing the proceedings on the field.

"I watch all our linebackers. I get better just by watching them," he said. "Basically, all week we studied the [Dolphins’] offense and what they do, but when it comes game time, that's not necessarily exactly what they're going to do. So I want to pick up on the keys of what they're doing for this game plan."

Click here to read the rest of the story.


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(naplesnews.com)

Former Hurricane Fuery wins pro debut

MIAMI - Fort Lauderdale's Brian Fuery made the transition from football to mixed martial arts look easy Friday night at Shine Fight II: American Top Team vs. The World card at the James L. Knight Center.

The former University of Miami football player from Team Popovich won his pro heavyweight debut and needed only one round to do it.

A confident Fuery forced Phil Friedman (1-2), of Las Vegas' Xtreme Couture, to tap out at 2:03 of the opening period in front of a less than capacity crowd of 1,000.

"He is a tough guy and I like tough guys," said the Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt, who took him down twice before putting him away with a head and arm choke.

"You want to beat a champ, you got to beat a champ and this was the first step.

"In football you can wear the jersey and you don't always get on the field," Fuery said. "Here, this is the field and you make things happen. You don't wait for anything to happen."

Another former football player, Homestead native and former Green Bay Packer Herbert Goodman (9-7), of Appleton, Wis., came from behind in the first two rounds to knock off James Brasco (4-2), of Delray Beach, in the third round with a flurry of punches.

"I knew he was a good wrestler," Goodman said. "I got the takedown and saw he was winded. I pushed him off, put him on his back and I went for the punches and knocked him out.

"It's been a big transition from football. In football I have 10 other players around me. I am still learning."

UFC veteran and Ascension MMA owner Junior Assuncao (8-4) won a three-round split decision over Peter Grimes, of Granite, Ill. The judges had Assuncao, 29-28 and 30-27 and Grimes 29-28.

Several fighters, including Assuncao, complained about the slippery surface of the cage.

"It was really slippery, I was complaining the whole time to the ref, it was hard for us to have traction there," Assuncao said.

"I definitely had a good performance, you can't argue about that. I knew my jiu-jitsu was stronger and I depended on it."

Micah Miller, of American Top Team Boca Raton, looked impressive with a triangle choke forcing Anthony Morrison, of Philadelphia, to tap out at 4:25 of the second round.

"It definitely adds pressure have everyone here for me, my family and my ATT family," Miller said. "It's good to bring it back home and show people who I love what I have been doing."

The card featured six PRIDE, five UFC and three WEC veterans in the South Florida debut of Shine Fight Promotions, which is trying to make an impact locally.

Shine is expected to return in December with another pro card. It is the first of three pro MMA cards scheduled for Dade and Broward over three weeks.

Four other fights were still scheduled, including three bouts and the non-title main event between former UFC fighter Roan "Jucao" Carneiro and Jorge Patino.

It is Carneiro's first fight since being released from the UFC after losses to Jon Fitch, Kevin Burns and Ryo Chonan.


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(sun-sentinel.com)

Bryant McKinnie Birthday Bash




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Winslow Winning Over Teammates

Kellen Winslow was arguably Tampa Bay's biggest acquisition of the offseason, but Bucs fans wouldn't have known judging by preseason statistics alone.

The Bucs traded their 2008 second-round pick to Cleveland in exchange for Winslow, who signed a new, six-year, $36 million contract with Tampa Bay during the offseason.

Winslow received little playing time in preseason. In fact, he did not catch a single pass, but Bucs head coach Raheem Morris cautioned people against reading too much into preseason game plans.

"It's never intentional," Morris said. "You just don't see a lot of Kellen, period, in a preseason game. You don't see a lot of Jerramy [Stevens], you don't see a lot of any of those guys really, except for the offensive line because they played a little bit for those quarterbacks so we could get that competition out of the way. But we see a lot of those guys at practice, we see a lot of those guys in some live stuff at our facilities, so we're looking forward to that.

"You just don't game-plan in the preseason. You have one mock game plan. During the preseason, you're not going to see a dose of Kellen. You're not going to have your special plays that you would have for Kellen, your special plays that you would have for Antonio Bryant or Michael Clayton or Peanut [Clifton Smith] and all those types of things. But when you go into your normal situation, your normal game plan mode, your practice reflects it, your game plan reflects it, how it looks on your sheet reflects it, how it looks in your head, how you want to get him the ball, who you get the ball to. All that stuff will be reflected in this week's game plan."

When given an opportunity to play, Winslow has proven to be a lethal threat on the football field. The former first-round pick has hauled in 219 career passes for 2,459 yards (11.2 avg.) and 11 touchdowns.

That production came in Cleveland, but it wasn't all smooth sailing for the former Miami Hurricane. Winslow's production was hindered by injuries and overshadowed by off-the-field controversy.

Morris has publicly criticized Winslow, stating that he's seen firsthand how Winslow has gotten himself into some trouble. The first-year head coach, whom Winslow has a great deal of respect for, went as far as privately and publicly challenging Winslow to keep his emotions in check on the football field.

Morris said he's seen improvement from Winslow from a mental toughness standpoint.

"We talked about controlling his emotions in training camp," said Morris. "You're talking about a high-energy guy that can either cause disastrous results by his blowups or cause the team to ride the emotional rollercoaster. We're going to pride ourselves on not riding the emotional rollercoaster up or down.

"We're not going to let negative things pull us in the wrong direction. Kellen has done a great job of getting better and he's done a great job of abiding by what his head coach has asked him to do."

Most of the criticism Morris has dished out to Winslow has been in a playful manner, but Winslow has taken Morris' coaching suggestions seriously.

One example is the fact that Winslow, who missed a few weeks of organized team activities while moving his family to the Tampa Bay area earlier this offseason, was critical of himself -- and received some friendly advice from Morris - regarding his conditioning and his need to get re-acclimated to the Florida heat and humidity.

Winslow took it to heart. On Thursday, Morris had his players practice in shorts, jerseys and helmets. However, Winslow elected to practice in full pads.

"Kellen is a full-pad guy," said Morris. "He wants to be as ready as he can for Sunday. He wants to get used to Florida and embrace the heat. He might be buying into what I'm saying too much."

Morris isn't the only one that noticed Winslow going above and beyond the call of duty during Thursday's practice by sporting full pads. His teammates insist the type of work ethic Winslow demonstrated Thursday is the norm, not the exception.

"He comes to work everyday and you can appreciate that," Bucs safety Jermaine Phillips said of Winslow. "When you see him at his locker he's studying the playbook or tape. When we're out there practicing in shorts he's in full pads because that's the way he plays and prepares. He takes every rep like it's his last. He's a great guy and player to have on your team."

While Morris has been critical of Winslow in public and in person, the tight end's teammates don't seem to mind the emotion - or competiveness - he brings to the football field.

"He's a true competitor," said Bucs center Jeff Faine, who was also Winslow's teammate in Cleveland. "He's a guy that requires a lot out of his teammates, but gives a lot as well. It's something where it's almost considered a weakness by some because he's so competitive, but it's really not a weakness. He gets involved 100 percent in everything he's doing and he competes very hard.

"Personally, I don't ever want to contain that emotion as long as it's utilized the right way and in the right situations. That emotion can be dangerous, but in a good way, against our opponent."

Winslow's work ethic has been noticed by all of his coaches and teammates, not just Faine.

"He's been a great teammate," said Bucs wide receiver Michael Clayton. "His work ethic has been everything I expected. He's made plays out here. He's a dynamic player. The things he can do in the open field are amazing for a tight end. He's going to give a lot of people problems and he's really going to help us offensively."

Part of Winslow's frustration in Cleveland stemmed from the Browns' woes, particularly from an offensive standpoint. The Browns had difficulty establishing the running game, which allowed defenses to focus on covering Cleveland's main weapons - Winslow and WR Braylon Edwards.

"When you run the ball they put eight men in the box, and when there are eight men in the box it's either Cover 1 or Cover 3" said Winslow. "When I was Cleveland there were always seven men in the box, playing teams like the Steelers and Ravens. When you put eight in the box it's easier to get down field off play-action and that sort of thing."

But Winslow isn't calling for the ball in Tampa Bay. One of the things he loves about being part of the Bucs offense is how the team plans to run the ball with Cadillac Williams, Derrick Ward, Earnest Graham and Clifton Smith, and call on he and his fellow tight ends and receivers to make plays in the passing game.

"This is a new start for me," said Winslow. "I'm happy here and I love it. I'm just excited. I'm just a piece to the puzzle. Everybody is a piece of the puzzle, and I'm one piece, so I'm just trying to go out there and do my job. We have a lot of talent on this team."

Although expectations for Winslow are high in Tampa Bay, the Bucs believe the former Pro Bowl tight end will benefit from the change of scenery.

"He came here with a blank slate in my mind and in the minds of a lot of guys here," said Clayton. "It's tough enough as a player to make a change. He's married and he has a family. You don't want those problems. It was no different than when David Boston and Antonio Bryant came here. They had reputations in the past. You look for a fresh start. It's up to the captains and the individuals in the locker room to make you feel welcome. We definitely opened him with open arms. Our mentality is keeping it within the family. That's what he's done. He's made a tremendous transition. From the first day you felt comfortable with him and interacting with him. He's found a new home and I think he loves it here, and we love having him here."


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(thepewterreport.com)

Redskins' legend calls Clinton Portis 'cry baby'

WASHINGTON - The war of words between Redskins running back Clinton Portis and Hall of Famer John Riggins continues to escalate as the 2009 season approaches.

The controversy started when Riggins, the Redskins all-time leading rusher, called Portis a "headache" in January. Portis, who needs just 1,370 yards to break Riggins' record, responded earlier this week, saying it was "crazy" for the former tailback to be so critical of him.

"For him to be a legend and to hate as much as he hates, to be upset that I'm on his tracks -- it's crazy."

Portis said he respected Riggins accomplishments, but was upset with the criticism.

"I think he was a great running back, but think of who else was around, you know? Really not hard to be a great running back when you've got all that talent and help around you. I think they just had great teams."

On WTOP's "Riggo Report" Friday, Riggins said Portis shouldn't be calling out his teammates or his coach when things go wrong.

"Clinton is a good running back, but when he basically called his offensive line out last year -- I didn't think that was particularly wise. And I don't think it really goes over very well in the workplace when you start criticizing people you work with and blaming them for your lack of production or because you're not where you perceive yourself to be in the minds of everybody else."

As far as the rushing record, Riggins says he is rooting for Portis -- sort of.

"Clinton, I congratulate you ahead of time and I do hope that you break the record for your own sake because maybe then you can quit being a crybaby and go back to playing football for the Redskins."

Portis will begin that pursuit 4:15 p.m. Sunday at the Meadowlands against the Giants.


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(wtop.com)

CATCHING UP WITH ROMBERG

Brett Romberg is standing in the Atlanta Falcons locker room as he talks on the phone in slightly reverential tones.

"I'm looking at Tony Gonzalez over there," he says. "He's probably the best player at his position in the league's history. He's in what -- his 13th season? And he still looks and plays like he's 23."

"There's Roddy White," he continues. "He is ridiculously fast and doesn't drop a thing. And Michael Turner -- I didn't even recognize him when I first met him because he's kind of small, but he's thick. Thick enough to run through you, but then you're amazed at how he can get out on the corner and run around you. Always because of Ovie's blocking, of course."

He lets out a quick laugh at this point because fullback Ovie Mughelli has been dressing in the stall beside him and listening in while the 29-year-old Canadian centre goes on about the Falcons offence.

After a short pause, Romberg continued, "We have weapons here that you don't normally see on any one team. It's not a matter of whether we're going to score on you. It's how quick are we going to do it."

You could excuse the native of tiny Belle River, Ontario if he seems a little overzealous when it comes to the subject of his new team. After all, he spent the last three years at the centre, figuratively and literally, of one of the biggest messes in the National Football League. In Romberg's three seasons playing with the St. Louis Rams, the team went 8-8 (2006), 3-13 (2007) and 2-14 (2008). The Rams, a team once famously known as "The Greatest Show on Turf," got turfed by their opponents with greater regularity last season than any other club short of the winless Detroit Lions. The "For Sale" sign was reportedly hung out on the Rams franchise just shortly after Romberg fled as a free agent to the Falcons.

"It's a pretty great blessing to be here," he says with conviction. "As an athlete, you just know when you're part of something special."

Romberg certainly knows "special." He won a championship in high school, took his junior club team from Windsor to the Canadian national final and anchored the offensive line of what some view as the best U.S. college team ever, the 2001 NCAA Champion Miami Hurricanes.

He has blocked for stars like Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee, Fred Taylor and Steven Jackson. He has played alongside the likes of All-Pros Ed Reed, Andre Johnson, Torry Holt and Rashean Mathis. His 2005 Jacksonville Jaguars team went 12-4, only to be upended in the playoffs by the eventual Super Bowl Champs from New England.

This is a player who is accustomed to success and expects it in Atlanta, with the defending NFC South Division champs. "This is a winning program," he says. "With nothing but good things ahead. Coach Smitty [Mike Smith] always talks about enjoying the journey. We're going to do just that."

For Romberg, his own journey has taken him from Belle River to a college scholarship at "The U" in Coral Gables and then on to pro football in Jacksonville, St. Louis and now Atlanta. "I totally have the greatest job in the world," he says in the kind of voice that lets you know he means it. "Yes, it's ridiculously hard from a physical and mental standpoint, but there are plenty of benefits."

He says all of this acknowledging the struggles of people back in his hometown, an area where the unemployment rate has soared to near 16 percent. "Easily three-quarters of my family is employed or directly affected by the auto industry," he says. "My mom saw her hours cut back from full-time to part-time at her job. My whole family has always kept me grounded and reminded me of the good life that I have been lucky enough to earn through football."

This is not to say football has been all good to Romberg. As a centre, he is regularly subjected to the kind of physical beating most people endure in small car wrecks. "My whole body creaks now," he says. "It's so hard to get up in the morning and just go to the bathroom."

Remember, this is a young man speaking, still four weeks shy of his 30th birthday.

Those aches and pains don't diminish his love for the game that has provided for him, his wife Emily and the family they are now looking to start in their new home in Miami. "I feel my age out on the field now," he says. "But I'm going to play until the wheels fall off."

"Enjoy the journey," he says again thoughtfully. It's a phrase that Romberg clearly has a deeper understanding and appreciation for. "Enjoy the journey and you'll like the outcome. That's what coach always says to us." The next leg in Romberg's own remarkable journey begins on Sunday when his Falcons play host to the Miami Dolphins.


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(tsn.ca)

Jaguars to shadow Wayne with Mathis?

Colts beat writer Phil B. Wilson expects Reggie Wayne to be shadowed by Jaguars CB Rashean Mathis all over the field on Sunday.

If so, the Jags may have no answer for Anthony Gonzalez on the opposite side. Jacksonville's next best corner is third-round rookie Derek Cox, who barely practiced in camp because of injuries. Gonzo is a legit WR2 play.


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(rotoworld.com)

Wilfork Named Captain

Vince Wilfork was name defensive captain for the New England Patriots.






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Gore's goal: Turn back time

This is the time of year when strangers tell Frank Gore they own him. Breathless fans approach to say they just drafted him in their fantasy football leagues.

"It happens all the time," Gore said. "And I always tell them, 'You took the right guy.' "

Gore holds the key to the 49ers' fantasy scenario, too. Starting in the opener today in Arizona, coach Mike Singletary is betting that Gore's legs and a tough defense will be enough to carry the 49ers into the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

As coordinator Jimmy Raye memorably said of his offense: "The bell cow in this operation will be No. 21."

In response, Gore tells his real bosses the same thing he tells the fantasy crowd: You took the right guy.

Entering his fifth season, and coming off three consecutive 1,000-yard efforts, Gore said he's in the best shape of his life. He dedicated himself to off-season training starting in January after Singletary pulled him aside for a private meeting.

"He told me to be ready to tote the rock," Gore recalled.

So Gore went back to the scene of his prime, the University of Miami, and reunited with strength coach Andreu Swasey.

Swasey is in his ninth season as the Hurricanes' head strength and conditioning coach. A former defensive back at Baylor (Singletary's alma mater), he specializes in speed and agility training.

Gore, who knew Swasey from the UM days, never exactly relaxed during previous offseasons. In recent years, for example, he ran hills in Miami with a truck tire tethered to his torso.

But in training with Swasey, he had a specific goal in mind: He wanted to turn back time. The 49ers running back aimed to have his legs sizzling like they where when he rushed for 1,695 yards.

"I told him he had to get me back to the form where I was in '06," Gore said.

He arrived at training camp looking like his old self. Gore never missed a practice and sometimes ran with both the first- and second-stringers.

"Whenever coach says, 'Frank,' he jumps up and he's in there," linebacker Patrick Willis said.

Willis is among those who think the 2006 numbers are within range. Gore had his big season the year before Willis was drafted. But the linebacker thinks he's finally seeing the guy he's heard so much about.

"His whole attitude. The way he walks. His swagger," Willis said. "To me, that's the Frank that they talked about the year before I got here when he rushed for big yards and went to the Pro Bowl.

"That's the kind of swagger that we're seeing from him this year, and he has every right to feel that way. He's one of the best backs in this league."

Today, Gore gets to open against his favorite opponent. The running back averaged 133.7 yards from scrimmage in his past six games against the Cardinals. That's by far the highest average against Arizona since 2006 (minimum three games). Torry Holt is second at 89.3 yards.

Then again, Gore's damage is hardly limited to the desert. Since the start of 2006, his 3,833 rushing yards are the most in NFC. He had 1,036 yards on the ground last year to become the first 49er with three 1,000-yard seasons in row.

There is a degree of mystery about how his numbers will be affected by the emergence of rookie Glen Coffee, who led the NFL in rushing during the preseason. The 49ers occasionally indicate that sharing some of the workload with Coffee will keep Gore's legs fresh.

But more often they indicate that they're going to ride Gore as hard as they can — apparently to delight a lot of fantasy football owners everywhere.

As Singletary put it last week: "Our best chance of winning is getting the ball into the hands of our playmakers. And the No. 1 playmaker that we have is Frank Gore."


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(mercurynews.com)

Weeks sends RockHounds to Finals

Jemile Weeks believes that every day presents an opportunity to do something special. Those beliefs were confirmed Saturday night.

The former first-round Draft pick homered and drove in four runs to lead the Midland RockHounds to a 5-2 triumph over the San Antonio Missions and a spot in the Texas League Championship Series.

Tyson Ross (1-0) struck out eight over 6 1/3 strong innings for Midland, which will face Northwest Arkansas in the best-of-5 Finals, beginning Tuesday. The RockHounds are seeking their first championship since 2005.

Weeks was 2-for-9 in the first three games of the series but singled in a run with two outs in the second inning to put Midland in front to stay.

"I look forward to times like this. This is why you play, to do something special," he said. "That was one of those situations, a 0-0 ballgame. The first team to score, that's where the momentum's going to go. I got a pretty good swing and started the momentum for us."

With Ross cruising, the RockHounds padded the lead in the fourth. Shane Peterson doubled home Matt Spencer with one out and Archie Gilbert walked before Weeks hammered a 1-0 pitch from San Antonio starter Corey Kluber over the right-center field fence for his first postseason homer.

"I knew they walked the guy in front of me and pretty much had to throw something in the zone," said Weeks, the 12th overall selection in 2008. "I was just sitting there, waiting on my pitch."

Ross, a 2008 second-rounder, limited the Missions to one hit before Eric Sogard led off the sixth with a triple and scored on Logan Forsythe's groundout. Seth Johnston ended Ross' night with a one-out RBI single in the seventh.
The Missions threatened in the ninth as Johnston led off with a double and Mitch Canham walked with one out. But Jon Hunton retired Sogard and Cedric Hunter to record his second save of the series and set off a celebration at Citibank Ballpark.

"This is championship ball and we feel we're a championship team," Weeks said. "It's a party atmosphere and everyone's pretty much acting like a fool right now. It's a good feeling.”


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(web.minorleaguebaseball.com)

Braun, Brewers muscle past D-backs

PHOENIX -- It was a night of historic markers for a trio of Brewers: Ryan Braun hit his 100th career homer and Felipe Lopez collected his 1,000th career hit, both coming in the first inning, to lead the Brewers during Friday night's 6-3 victory over the D-backs at Chase Field.

And then closer extraordinaire Trevor Hoffman closed out the game 1-2-3 in the ninth to earn his 585th save, padding his all-time saves lead. It was Hoffman's 31st save in 34 opportunities, pretty good considering he missed the first three weeks of the season with an oblique problem.

"Well, congratulations are due [to] all of them," Brewers manager Ken Macha said.

Lopez, a former D-back, opened the game with double off lefty Doug Davis, once a starter for Milwaukee. Two batters later, Braun launched a two-run home run to right, scoring Lopez and giving the Brewers a quick, 2-0, lead. He'd been hanging at 99 since Aug. 28.

"It wasn't weighing on me, but when people constantly bring it up you start thinking about it," Braun said. "It's obviously not at the same level, but it's like the Derek Jeter situation [Jeter singled on Friday night to pass Lou Gehrig on top of the all-time Yankees hit list]. But it's a big deal for me. It's hard enough to hit one homer in this league, let alone 100."

The homer for Braun came in his 400th game. He's the second fastest among active players to reach that mark behind Ryan Howard of the Phillies, whose 100th homer came in his 325th game. Howard now has 215 homers in 709 games. Braun, 25, is finishing his third season.

"That's pretty cool," Braun said. "That's pretty special, I think, anytime you're on a list with guys like that, you're doing a lot of things right. You have to be pretty consistent and obviously very successful."

Braun added a third-inning RBI double and Lopez had a fourth-inning RBI single, chasing Davis. The Brewers knocked out Davis (7-13) with four consecutive singles to open the fourth. He allowed five runs on 11 hits.
"It was just one of those nights," Davis said.

Right-hander Braden Looper (12-6) started for the Brewers and earned the victory, pitching 5 2/3 innings of three-run, eight-hit baseball.

At least Braun retrieved the ball from his milestone hit after it bounced around the Milwaukee bullpen. Lopez said he was so narrowly focused that he forgot it was his 1,000th hit when he opened the game with the double into the right-center field gap.


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(mlb.com)

Marlins' Gaby Sanchez's first homer a confidence boost

MIAMI GARDENS - After an injury-plagued season Marlins rookie Gaby Sanchez finally had cause to smile Saturday night after walloping his first big-league homer to cap off an 11-3 rout of the Washington Nationals.

And it was made sweeter because his two-run pinch-hit blast came on the night the Marlins were honoring his alma mater and Land Shark Stadium co-tenants, the University of Miami, who added 18,500 Hurricanes fans to the third largest gate (38,214) of the season.

"It was fate, one of those coincidences that happen once in a while,'' said Sanchez, 26, a Miami native. "It was like being almost back home with all the mascots, the band playing, the Hurricanes giving the C-A-N-E-S. It was a real nice experience being out there. It was perfect timing.''

What wasn't perfect timing came during a spring training game in March when Sanchez who was bidding to be the Marlins Opening Day first baseman - sustained a severe bone bruise on his left knee after colliding with former Nationals outfielder Lastings Milledge. That set him back and eventually landed him in Triple-A New Orleans.

"Spring training could've easily gone better for me,'' Sanchez said. "It was terrible timing that first month in New Orleans. I was feeling good, seeing the ball, hitting it and then I tear the MCL in my right knee. It's tough but you can take it two ways, like this is a terrible year or you try to come back and not get down on yourself. I chose the latter.''

Sanchez was batting .345 with 19 runs, four homers and 16 RBI, before the injury. After his return he ended up hitting .289 with 16 homers and 56 RBI before the Marlins called him up on Sept. 8. After a rough 1-for-11 start, mostly pinch-hitting, he got hold of a Logan Kensing slider and sent it into the left-field seats not far from where the UM band was sitting a few innings earlier.

"I didn't know what was going on but I knew I hit it good,'' said Sanchez, who was 3-for-8 in five games last season. "After I stepped on home plate and went into the dugout I was, 'This is kind of cool.' ''

What's even cooler is Sanchez is injury free and despite having Nick Johnson standing in his way at first base is a more confident major leaguer.

"This year was a good learning experience,'' he said. "Now I'll come back next year and be a lot more confident and more relaxed.''


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(sun-sentinel.com)

Burrell shows frustration

BOSTON - DH Pat Burrell has internalized his frustration most of the year. In Sunday's 4-0 loss to the Red Sox in the second game of a doubleheader, he let it get the best of him.

Pinch-hitting for Fernando Perez in the eighth inning with a runner at third, the struggling slugger tried to check his swing on a 1-2 pitch in the dirt from Jon Lester. Home plate umpire Lance Barksdale ruled strikeout. Burrell argued, and Barksdale ejected him.

"From my perspective, I thought he did swing," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I don't know exactly what was said."

Burrell made a quick exit after the game and didn't comment. He went 0-for-4 in the Rays' 3-1 loss in the early game and didn't start the second game, as Maddon opted to use Carl Crawford at DH.

The starting left fielder for the World Series champion Phillies last year, Burrell is hitting 28 points below his career average at .227, with nowhere near the power numbers (13 homers, 58 RBIs) he put up the previous four seasons in Philadelphia.

After coming around a bit in August, he is 5-for-39 in September (.128), including 1-for-19 on the current road trip.

"All I ask is for intent and work and effort, and he gives that to you every day," Maddon said. "Sometimes it does not want to work out."


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(tbo.com)