Reggie Wayne Close To Passing Edgerrin James on Colts' Franchise List

Reggie Wayne has 41 receptions, sixth in NFL, and 523 yards, third in NFL, despite already having bye week. Wayne needs one TD to pass Edgerrin James (75) for third in franchise history and four points to pass James (458) for No. 7 on franchise list.

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Frank Gore bruises ribs in San Francisco 49ers' win

San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore had a signature game Thursday night with 182 yards from scrimmage in a 13-6 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. All of that production came despite a painful injury.

Gore said he was hit in the back during the second quarter and suffered bruised ribs. He received X-rays after the game and said he was fine. Cameras showed Gore wincing and struggling to breathe late in the game. 

The 49ers' all-time leading rusher missed his team's final drive, but he otherwise gutted it out. He had 92 rushing yards in the second half alone. He led the team in receiving. ESPN reported that Gore had 107 yards after contact, which says it all.

Gore remains one of the most underrated players of his generation. There hasn't been a more complete back -- running, receiving and blocking -- to enter the NFL since Gore hit the scene in 2005. Now he's finally playing for a winner and still playing a very high level at age 29.

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Ed Reed challenges Ravens' opponents: 'Throw at me'

Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed acknowledged Wednesday that a torn labrum in his shoulder is "maybe" affecting his play.

The five-time All-Pro is being counted on to support a Baltimore defense that lost linebacker Ray Lewis and cornerback Lardarius Webb this week to injuries. Reed insists the setback with his shoulder won't keep him off the field.

"I'm not a pitcher, man," Reed told the Ravens' official website, saying the shoulder is nothing to worry about.

Baltimore's defense has been picked at by opponents this season. It's not the purple fortress it once was, and anchoring it with a banged-up, aging safety can't work forever. Reed's answer?

"Throw at me," he said, a proposition that hasn't worked well for teams over the first 10 years of his career. He doesn't expect that to change in his 11th.

UPDATE: The Ravens didn't list Reed on their Thursday injury report, the first one released since he revealed his ailment.

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Olivier Vernon, Lamar Miller happy where they are

On the first day of school at Miami American High in 2005, a lanky freshman named Olivier Vernon walked into coach Morty Bernstein’s office and signed up to play football.

Even though he had never played organized football, Vernon soon found himself on the Patriots’ varsity team. The freshman got pummeled.

“I wanted to play safety because I admired Sean Taylor so much,” Vernon said. “They saw my size and put me on D-line. I was only 175 pounds. There were a lot of big dudes out there.”

No one, at least not then, could have envisioned Vernon playing down the road at Sun Life Stadium as a member of the Miami Dolphins just seven years later.
Last Sunday, the rookie defensive end had his best day as a member of the Dolphins, sacking quarterback Sam Bradford on the Rams’ final offensive play. After the 3-yard loss, St. Louis attempted a desperate 66-yard field goal. The kick drifted left and the Dolphins held on for a 17-14 win.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be playing in the NFL, much less for the Dolphins,” Vernon said. “This is a great opportunity for me and I truly feel blessed.”

Vernon and fellow rookie Lamar Miller, a running back, are both rarities within the Dolphins as both have been able to spend their entire football career — to this point, anyway — without leaving Miami-Dade County (aside from practices in Davie).

The only other player in Dolphins history to play his entire career within the 305 area code is recently retired offensive lineman Vernon Carey (Miami Northwestern).

Defensive back Bobby Harden, a native of Pahokee, played four seasons with the Dolphins after being a 12th-round pick out of Miami in 1991.

Randal Hill came close to being the first as the Miami Killian High grad was taken with the 23rd pick by the Dolphins in 1991. After one game, Hill was traded to Arizona for a first-round pick. Hill returned to Miami in 1995 and played in 26 games over the course of two seasons.

Even though South Florida is rich in football talent and the University of Miami produced 114 NFL draftees from 1992 to 2011, the Dolphins haven’t stayed local very often as Vernon was the first UM player drafted by the Dolphins since Carey in 2004.

Since the Dolphins’ inception in 1966, the franchise has selected 17 players from Miami — nine since Miami won its first national championship in 1983. The Dolphins have signed former UM players — such as Bernie Kosar, Craig Erickson, Cleveland Gary, Leon Searcy and Lamar Thomas — years after other teams drafted them.

Vernon and Miller say they appreciate the opportunity they have to suit up for their hometown squad.

“I can’t believe I’m playing in my hometown. To play high school, college and pro in one town is a true blessing,” said Miller, who played at Killian High before spending three seasons with the Hurricanes. “I used to watch the Dolphins and was a high school Player of the Week a few times, so I got to come to a few games. Having my family here at every home game is real motivation.”

Like Miller, Vernon has plenty of family support in the stands each week.

His father Lascelles — who is a Miami Beach police officer — and mother Bernette never missed a UM game once he joined the Hurricanes in 2009. And although they haven’t traveled yet this season, they are planning to do so. They have, however, been there for his four home games (including the preseason) with the Dolphins.

“The Dolphins believed in me,” Vernon said. “The funny thing was, just before I got picked, my mom hugged me and said ‘I hope you don’t go anywhere.’ I had no control over it. But then it all fell into place. My mom has been at every game I’ve ever played going back to soccer. She’s my No. 1 fan.”

Lascelles Vernon is known for his tailgate spread, something his son gets to partake in once his day is done. On Sunday, however, rainstorms rolled through and the party had to move indoors. Olivier celebrated his big game — he also sacked Bradford in the second — by polishing off a few of his dad’s famous chicken breast sliders.

The pride Lascelles Vernon has in his son is evident. Being able to watch his son play in the NFL not far from his childhood home is special to the entire family.

“I would have liked for him to go somewhere away from home to experience something else, but I’m real happy the Dolphins chose my son,” the elder Vernon said. “I’m happy to have him home. This has been good for him and I’m happy for him. He’s a self-made man. I may be the proudest father in South Florida right now.”

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Ray Lewis tells Haloti Ngata, 'I'll be back'

Ray Lewis' future has been a topic of much speculation since the 17th-year NFL veteran suffered a torn triceps Sunday that landed him on the Baltimore Ravens' injured reserve list, at least for now.

However one of his defensive teammates believes the 13-time Pro Bowler will be back at some point, though whether he believes it's later this year — the Ravens have the option of activating Lewis off IR later in the season — or in 2013 isn't clear.

"I believe and he believes he will be back," Baltimore all-pro defensive lineman Haloti Ngata told NFL Network's Melissa Stark. "Just knowing him, talking to him a day ago, (he was saying) 'I'll be back, don't worry.' "

Appropriate that Lewis, who once described himself as a "machine" on the field, is borrowing lines from The Terminator.

But triceps tears are usually season killers and have already claimed other NFL players like Levi Brown, Eugene Amano and Ty Warren this season, so it's hard to envision Lewis returning before next year.

"I don't know what other guys believe, but I definitely believe he will be back," said Ngata, who's battling a knee injury himself.

"Knowing the work ethic he has, he is going to work his butt off to get back on the field with us."

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Jimmy Graham improves, but still limited in practice Thursday

METAIRIE, La. – Saints tight end Jimmy Graham was limited during Thursday’s practice, a good sign as the third-year record-breaking player tries to get ready ahead of Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay.

Graham sprained his right ankle in the San Diego and though he returned, wasn’t a factor in the second half of that game.

“You always want to have your best players so we hope we’re going to have him,” Saints interim coach Aaron Kromer said. “If we don’t, then we just have to adjust accordingly with trying to get our best players on the field and using different personnel groups and ways to get other guys the ball.”

Kromer said Graham is a mismatch, meaning if he doesn’t play, the Saints lose an advantage on offense.

That said, Graham has the ability to not be full during the week and still play on Sunday.

“Jimmy is mentally ready and he’s a very tough guy,” Kromer said, “so pain doesn’t affect him. You saw him playing after he hurt his ankle in the game. Those kinds of things won’t affect him. He’ll know the game plan.”

And then there’s linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who remains on the physically unable to perform list as he tries to show the coaching staff that he’s healthy enough to play. He has spent the past few months rehabilitating from left knee surgery.

Thursday, Kromer said Vilma looked good.

“He’s running around well,” Kromer said. “He’s physically ready. H e has made some plays in practice that you’re impressed with. We’re excited and hoping he’s ready.”

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Devin Hester Looking for That Monday Night Magic

Devin Hester hasn't returned a punt or kickoff for a touchdown yet this year, but eight of 18 have come on Monday nights. Better yet, Hester's last return for a touchdown came against the Detroit Lions, the Bears' opponent this week.

And with Alshon Jeffery out of Monday night's game, Hester could see a few more footballs his way.

"With Earl [Bennett] back, Dane [Sanzenbacher], it'll be a nice rotation," Hester said. "I might get a couple more snaps."

Hester has just one receiving touchdown this year and no touchdowns on special teams. While the Lions have said they want to limit Hester, Detroit has made that plan before and already given up four kick and punt returns for touchdowns this year.

It doesn't mean Hester isn't banking on the Lions again.

"This is a team we see some opportunities, at the same time we got to be patient," Hester acknowledged, noting that watching film doesn't help because the Lions could play him differently.

Bears head coach Lovie Smith said he's looking for improvement in special teams too.  

"He does know how to play under the lights," Smith said of Hester. "I'll just say we need him to be the greatest returner in the history of our game."

Hester is one return touchdown away from tying Deion Sanders' NFL record  oif 19. Eight of Hester's returns for scores have come on Monday nights.

Does he still believe in his Monday Night magic?  

Hester Smiled.  "I do."

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VIDEO: Chances Ray Lewis Plays This Season

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Colin McCarthy’s status for Buffalo game in doubt

Middle linebacker Colin McCarthy (ankle) and defensive tackle Jurrell Casey (shoulder) sat out practice for a second straight day on Thursday. Coach Mike Munchak sounded optimistic about Casey practicing on Friday, but he seemed to waver when talking about McCarthy’s chances of playing Sunday at Buffalo.

“I’m optimistic he’ll be able to play, just a matter of to what level,” Munchak said. “But again, it’s just one of those things where you get to the point you have to make a decision. Can he play good enough to help us win the football game? And if he doesn’t, then obviously we don’t put him out there.

“We knew this was going to be a week-to-week thing for a while. That’s where we’re at really, kind of waiting to see how he does … We knew after the (Pittsburgh) game it would be harder than after the (Minnesota game). It’s just kind of getting over the hump and he’s not really there yet.”

Munchak said if McCarthy can’t practice on Friday, his chances of playing Sunday would be “a lot less likely.”

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Darryl Sharpton not ready to come off PUP

Texans inside linebacker Darryl Sharpton is not yet ready to come off the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.

Players on the PUP list have to sit out their team’s first six games. They can begin practicing this week. Sharpton is still on the mend after suffering a season-ending quadriceps injury last year in Week 8.

“He’s not ready,” Texans coach Gary Kubiak said Thursday. “He’s very close. He’s working with our trainers and running very, very well, but he is not ready to go on the field with the rest of the players yet. I don’t know… We’ll see where we’re at in a couple weeks here.”

Sharpton has three weeks to get healthy enough to return to practice. From the day he begins practicing, the Texans would have an additional three weeks to decide whether to add Sharpton to the 53-man roster. If either of those deadlines passes, Sharpton will not be able to play this season.

The Texans could especially use Sharpton with inside linebacker Brian Cushing on injured reserve. A fourth-round draft pick out of Miami (Fla.) in 2010, Sharpton could have competed for a starting job with Bradie James this offseason if healthy. He was close to returning when he suffered a setback in his rehab on the second day of training camp, causing a hip issue that landed him on PUP.

Kubiak said Thursday that he does not know if inside linebacker Barrett Ruud, who took Cushing’s spot on the roster last week, will be ready to play against the Baltimore Ravens. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said Ruud, an eighth-year veteran, has caught on quickly and is already working as the signal-caller for the defense in practice.

“He’s doing good,” Kubiak said. “I think we’ll have to make a decision here at the end of the week whether we think he’s ready to go there and help us. Wade and (linebackers coach) Reggie (Herring) have been pleased with his progress in learning our defense. I think he’s going to be able to help us. Whether it starts this week or not, I don’t know.”

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Jon Beason could miss Dallas game

CHARLOTTE – There is concern that linebacker Jon Beason and cornerback Chris Gambleicon-article-link will miss Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys, and perhaps more.

Beason (knee) and Gamble (shoulder) did not participate in practice on Thursday. Beason has yet to practice this week. Gamble practiced in full on Wednesday but suffered a setback during the session.

"There is certainly concern," head coach Ron Rivera said.

Rivera said he's not certain at this point whether either player could end up on injured reserve. A determination on Beason and Gamble's status for Week 7 will come down to how they respond Friday morning.

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Ed Reed is now downplaying injury

Is this shoulder injury limiting what Ed Reed can do on the field? It seems like Reed doesn't know.

This is what Reed told a Baltimore radio station last night: “Is it affecting my game? Maybe."

This is what the Pro Bowl safety told reporters Thursday: "[It's] not anything to worry about. I'm not a pitcher, I can still tackle. I ain't drop no bombshell, man. It's all right."

Reed did reveal Thursday that he injured his shoulder before the Patriots game in Week 3. That's the game where Reed had his most physical game of the season. He broke up a pass in the end zone on a powerful hit.

So why was Reed so bad at tackling against the Cowboys on Sunday? Maybe the better question is why Reed wasn't listed on the Ravens' injury report for the past couple of weeks.

"I don't know why. I'm sure a lot of guys in this league have had injuries and they're not reported," Reed said. "That's part of the game that fans and y'all don't know nothing about. We have to deal with workman comp situations."

Toward the end of last season, Reed acknowledged that he missed a tackle in four straight games because he was playing injured. That was leading up to the playoff game at Houston. Reed then made a critical interception against the Texans.

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Devin Hester held out of practice with quad injury

Chicago Bears receiver/return specialist Devin Hester did not practice Thursday because of a quad injury, coach Lovie Smith said. Smith indicated the injury does not appear to be serious.

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Vince Wilfork has high praise for Mangold

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Few offensive linemen can stand toe-to-toe with Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork, but Jets center Nick Mangold is one of them. Mangold, three-times an All-Pro, is, in the estimation of Wilfork, the best center in all of football.

"He's probably the best. He's probably the best center, I believe," Wilfork said on Thursday. "I've been saying this ever since the guy's been a rookie. He's been pretty steady for them. And it hasn't changed."

Beyond his role as a road-grader and pass protector for quarterback Mark Sanchez, Mangold is also heavily involved with many other facets of the offense, including protection calls.

"Everything it seems like goes through him: the run game, he calls the plays on the line slides, he's the guy in charge," Wilfork noted of Mangold. "That's how it should be, because that's their bread and butter. When they need a play, if they're running the ball, it always seems to end up behind 74 [Mangold's number]. He's a big-time player for them, I give him all the respect in the world facing him numerous times."

Wilfork says that Mangold is the kind of player anyone would want on their team.

"He's one the players that you wish you could have a guy like that, 11 guys like that on the field with you at all times because he just means so much to that team," he said.

Mangold is currently battling an ankle injury that kept him out of practice of Wednesday. Though Wilfork says he wouldn't mind it if Mangold sits out on Sunday when the two teams square off, he's fully expecting the All-Pro lineman to be on the field.

"Trust me, I don't mind," Wilfork continued. "I think everybody will be pretty healthy for this game. You don't want to miss these types of games. If I was on the same side or on the opposite side of this man, I would want to play. Division game, for the lead in the division, there's a lot riding on this game on both sides. If you're healthy enough to play, you have to expect everyone.

"That's one of the guys, I'm sure he'll be ready to go, no matter what is being said or what his injury may be," he said. "Trust me, I'm pretty sure he'll be there."

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Jon Jay loves himself some home cookin’

That Cardinals leadoff man Jon Jay has struggled at the plate in the postseason is undeniable. Also undeniable: the Cardinals have played seven games on the road and just four at home.

Playing a second straight game in St. Louis on Thursday, Jay went 2-for-5 with a two-run double in the Cardinals’ 8-3 win over the Giants. It raised his postseason average to .195.

In 2012, Jay has simply been a different player at home. In the regular season, he had one of the more dramatic splits you’ll ever see:
Home: .384/.453/.496 in 224 AB
Away: .224/.289/.301 in 219 AB

It’s carried over into October, too. He’s 5-for-16 with six RBI in home games and 3-for-25 with one RBI the rest of the time.

Of course, most likely, this whole thing is one big fluke. Busch Stadium isn’t a hitter friendly park, though it does play better for left-handed hitters than right-handers. Also, Jay was actually better in road games than home games last year.

Still, Jay is probably the happiest of the bunch about the Cardinals possessing home-field advantage in the World Series, should they win one of the next three games and move on. It’d be the first time in the postseason that they’d have home field.

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VIDEO: Ryan Braun signing prints for Greatest Jewish Ballplayers artwork

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TE Chase Ford Gets A Workout With An AFC Team

The Houston Texans worked out free-agent TE Chase Ford (Eagles) this week.

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Antrel Rolle Named NFC Defensive Player Of The Week

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Giants safety Antrel Rolle played brilliantly in New York’s 26-3 victory over the San Francisco 49ers this past Sunday.

And now he’s been rewarded for his efforts.

The two-time Pro Bowler has been named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week after recording six tackles, deflecting two passes and picking off two balls thrown by 49ers quarterback Alex Smith.

Both of Rolle’s interceptions at Candlestick Park came in the third quarter, and the first was in front of ex-Giant and former teammate Mario Manningham.

“I think what made that interception happen was definitely Corey Webster,” the former first-round pick told WFAN co-hosts Evan Roberts and Joe Benigno in his weekly spot on Tuesday. “I think he did a phenomenal job of staying patient and squaring up the receiver. And once the receiver broke on the slant route, he undercut the route so well that Alex Smith had to put air on the ball. I was fortunate enough to get a good break out of my Cover 3 zone and was able to hold onto the ball.”

Rolle is the first Giants player to take home the NFC Defensive Player of the Week award since defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was awarded in Weeks 14 and 16 of the 2011 season.

The award isn’t a first for the six-foot-0, 206-pounder, though he’s never wonicon1 it with the Giants. He’s won it three times before — in Weeks 11 and 17 of the 2007 season and Week 9 of the 2009 season — when he was a member of the Arizona Cardinals.

Rolle has played in all six games for Big Blue this season, recording 35 tackles in addition to the two interceptions.

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Colin McCarthy in boot

Titans linebacker Colin McCarthy (ankle) didn’t practice on Wednesday and was back in a walking boot. But coach Mike Munchak said he still expects McCarthy to practice later in the week and play on Sunday in Buffalo.

McCarthy suffered a high right ankle sprain in the season opener on Sept. 9 and missed three games.

“When he is out here, the (boot) gives him more support,” Munchak said. “It is going to take a while to get over this to where he can actually practice the full week. We are hoping by Friday he is out there practicing and playing on Sunday. We still feel good about him.”

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Travis Benjamin returns to practice

Mohamed Massaquoi and Travis Benjamin returned to practice Wednesday for the Cleveland Browns, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Both wide receivers sat out last Sunday's win over the Cincinnati Bengals with hamstring injuries. Massaquoi hasn't played since Week 3, while Benjamin hasn't played since Week 4.

Through three games played, Massaquoi has nine receptions for 145 yards. Benjamin has 10 receptions for 125 yards and a touchdown through four games.

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Ravens keep 'door open' for Ray Lewis

9:14PM EDT October 17. 2012 - OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh is keeping a roster spot available in the unlikely case Ray Lewis can return for the postseason. The linebacker underwent surgery Wednesday to repair a torn right triceps muscle. Lewis goes on injured reserve with the new "designated to return" tag which enables a player to be re-activated after a minimum of six games.

The move seems more symbolic than realistic for a reeling Ravens defense that ranks 26th against the run and is coming off allowing two consecutive 200-plus rushing performances in wins against Kansas City and Dallas.

"Obviously, it's a very serious injury but there's an opportunity and we're going to keep the door open and we'll just see where that goes," Harbaugh said during his pre-practice news conference. "We really don't know any more than that."

Harbaugh said it's important to the team's psyche that Lewis, "the greatest leader in sports," have a chance to come back from an injury that usually requires five to six months to heal.

"Ray's still with us. He'll be around and be a part of what we're doing," Harbaugh said.

The feeling among his teammates is if anyone can make a return for a Super Bowl run, Lewis has the mental toughness and focus capable of doing it.

"Ray Lewis is the land shark. You've got to fear that guy. He's the greatest of all time," cornerback Jimmy Smith said.

"Will he come back next year? Nobody but Ray knows. But knowing Ray, he will definitely be back next season."

With cornerback Lardarius Webb lost for the season to a torn ACL and a meniscus tear inside his left knee, the Ravens did get some needed good news Wednesday when 2011 Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs returned to practice.

Suggs came off the physically unable to perform list after recovering from a torn Achilles' tendon suffered in the spring.

"We should temper our expectations a little bit," Harbaugh said. "He's coming off a very serious injury, an Achilles tear. And we'll just see how he does."

Ravens defensive end Pernell McPhee can't envision a Peyton Manning-like scenario in which the Ravens move on from Lewis after this season and Lewis winds up resuming his future Hall of Fame career wearing another jersey.

"Hell, no,'' McPhee told USA TODAY Sports when asked if he could see Lewis playing elsewhere next season. "Ray Lewis is the Baltimore Ravens.''

His contract runs through 2015. Lewis' salary-cap charge is $7.3 million next season, when he is due to make $5.4 million in base salary.

Even if Lewis can't defy the roughly six-month timetable medical experts place on a full recovery from a torn triceps surgical repair, McPhee doesn't see this as Lewis' last season with the Ravens. After 17 seasons, McPhee said the league should know by now never to count out Lewis, even if he is 37.

"I expect Ray back. I know how Ray is, how much he loves the game,'' McPhee said. "Yeah, he'll be back next year. Knowing Ray, he'll probably be back for the postseason.

"I hope he takes the time and makes his decision. He's one of the greats of all time. He's not just a father figure, a teacher, he pours his heart out when he plays and you want to do the same for him. "He's a real humble, down-to-earth guy.

"I wish him good luck in his recovery. And I hope he'll be back with us this (post)season.''

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Ed Reed playing with labrum tear in shoulder

Ravens S Ed Reed is playing through pain, saying he has a small labrum tear in his shoulder.

Reed revealed his injury Wednesday night on Baltimore radio station 105.7 The Fan. Reed's no stranger to playing through pain, having played the past few seasons with a nerve impingement in his neck and shoulder.

Reed, who practiced Wednesday and wasn't listed on the Ravens' injury report, said he'll play through the pain. A normal labrum tear can take about six weeks to heal, possibly longer. Tackling can become an issue with the injury if Reed leads with the afflicted shoulder.

Reed tweaked his hamstring after returning an interception for a touchdown in the season opener against Cincinnati. That's also an injury that has slightly lingered for Reed, though it hasn't seemed to be much of a problem in recent weeks.

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Colin McCarthy shows his value

Titans coach Mike Munchak has talked repeatedly about what a large difference middle linebacker Colin McCarthy makes for the defense.

But even he was surprised at what a handful of statistics revealed about the second-year pro’s significance to the lineup.

Consider the 10 games over the past two seasons in which McCarthy played at least half the time:

• The Titans surrendered an average of 20.1 points. In the other 12 games, they gave up almost a touchdown more — 26.7 points per game.
• The Titans allowed opponents to score 30 points once. In the other 12, opponents scored at least 34 points six times.
• The Titans forced an average of 1.6 turnovers. In the other 12, they forced an average of one.
• The Titans posted a 6-4 record. In the other 12, they were 5-7.

“I never would have thought it would be a touchdown less in those games — that’s an interesting stat,” Munchak said. “But I think that shows what we’ve talked about. That backs up what kind of player we think he can be and how he does influenceicon1 things out there.”

What’s surprising is how quickly McCarthy, a fourth-round pick in 2011, has become a pivotal figure on the defense. He didn’t crack the starting lineup until the ninth game of his rookie season and has played in only 16 games total.

McCarthy’s impact is rooted in his intelligence and his ability to influence teammates on the field.

“He was voted a captain by his peers, so that in itself says a lot about who he is as a person and as a football player,” veteran defensive end Kamerion Wimbley said. “He knows the defense in and out. He’s going to get guys where they’re supposed to be. A lot of players feel more confident when he’s in the lineup.”
Jordan Babineaux, a former Seahawk, said McCarthy reminds him of former Seattle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie.

“There are certain guys who really have intangibles as far as knowing and understanding the game,” Babineaux said, “and he’s one of those guys.”

The other impressive portion of McCarthy’s game — especially when he’s healthy — is his ability to make big plays. Despite starting only seven games last season, McCarthy posted a team-leading eight tackles for loss.

In a win over the Bills he notched 11 tackles, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble, earning AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

“You can see the attitude he brings to the defense,” Bills coach Chan Gailey said. “He is hustling all the time and he tries to hit everything that is moving or touching the ball. He is really a go-getter type of player, really a headhunter out there.”

McCarthy’s problem is his inability to stay healthy.

Last season he missed three games with a hamstring injury and was later slowed by a knee injury. This season he hurt his ankle in the opener, missed the next three games, and has played with the ankle heavily taped the last two weeks.

McCarthy was a walking boot-wearing spectator at Wednesday’s practice.

“With the two games we had back-to-back, I was a little more sore than I was expecting and the trainer was thinking,” he said. “So the boot is a good way to keep pressure off it and allow it to heal a little bit.”

McCarthy said he would try to play this week against the Bills after toughing it out against the Vikings and Steelers in a five-day span.

“I thought I was good enough to get out there and help the team win,” he said. “If that’s the case going into this week, whenever that time comes, we’ll make the decision and go out there and give it a go.”

The Titans are certainly hoping McCarthy will be able to play, based on the evidence of his impact.

Even in the two games he played more than half the time — he was hurt early in the season opener against the Patriots — the Titans are 1-1. They’re 1-3 in the other games.

“We see him as a leader, but until you’re out there playing week in and week out, it’s hard to develop and really influence a team the way we think he’s going to be able,” Munchak said. “He hasn’t been himself really since the first quarter of the Patriots, but he’s trying to battle through. I know it’s really frustrating. But we know we have someone special there.”

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Story Time: Santana Moss And A Redskins Fan

WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- Santana Moss has lived in the Washington D.C. area now since 2005. He knows when there is buzz and excitement in the town about the Redskins.

You would think Moss, 33, would be one of the most recognizable faces for Redskins fans to identify. Apparently not.

"I heard a guy at the gas station and he asks me 'how about those Redskins?' He didn't even know I played," said Moss to a throb of laughing reporters.
"He was like 'Aw man, I was there.' And I was like 'Yeah it was a good one, huh?' And he was like 'That run man. I haven't seen one like that in a long time.'

Moss concluded the story by saying he didn't tell the guy who he was.

"Nah, I don't get into all that."

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Vinny Testaverde's son to start for Jesuit

Two nights before his team's must-win encounter with undefeated district foe Lakewood, Jesuit coach James Harrell announced he is making another quarterback change.

This time, he's opting for a kid with three varsity completions -- and six prominent syllables -- to his name.

Vincent Testaverde, a 6-foot-1 junior who wears the same jersey number (14) as his Heisman Trophy-winning father, becomes the Tigers' third starter of the season behind seniors Leland Saile and D.J. Diaz.

"They've both been afforded opportunities to start, so now it's his turn," Harrell told the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday evening.

Though Testaverde has performed modestly (3-for-7, 38 yards, one interception) in limited action this season, Harrell said his arm and accuracy give Jesuit (5-2, 5-1) the best chance to win should the Tigers have to veer from the power run game they've employed almost exclusively the last month.

In its last four games, all victories against teams with losing records, Jesuit has attempted 28 passes but run for more than 1,100 yards.

"I think right now, he's deserving of an opportunity based on the amount of progression that he's made in such a short time," Harrell said.

"He's just been working hard, and now, I think when you play a team of Lakewood's magnitude, we not only have to be able to run the ball but we have to be able to throw it. I feel confident that if we have to throw the ball, he's the guy that can get it done."

A Jesuit win, coupled with a victory against 2-4 Gibbs next week, gives the Tigers no worse than a share of the Class 5A, District 8 title. If they lose and Robinson tops Spoto on Thursday, they're eliminated from playoff contention.

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Jonathan Vilma practices, Jimmy Graham doesn’t

We were told on Tuesday that Saints tight end Jimmy Graham should be able to play on Sunday despite an ankle injury suffered during a Week Five win over the Chargers.  While that may indeed be the case, Graham wasn’t well enough to practice on Wednesday.

Mike Triplette of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that Graham didn’t practice on Wednesday, and that he looks to be “very questionable” for Sunday at Tampa.  Double-interim head coach Aaron Kromer declined to say whether Graham has a low or high ankle sprain, mentioning only that Graham “looked good” and that he was “able to run around a little.”

One guy who did practice but who probably won’t play this weekend is linebacker Jonathan Vilma.  The veteran defensive leader exited the Physically Unable to Perform list with a lingering knee injury.  Kromer, per Triplett, also used the “looked good” label for Vilma.

So far the Saints haven’t looked good.  They’ll get a chance to look better against the Bucs.  Either way, interim coach Joe Vitt returns to the sideline next week after his six-game suspension ends.

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Kuechly time? Panthers’ LB Jon Beason misses practice

Carolina linebacker Jon Beason was the only Panthers player not to participate at Wednesday’s practice as he continued to nurse a knee injury.

Beason, who sat out the Seattle game on Oct. 7 with the knee problem, has also been battling a shoulder injury for weeks, but Rivera said the knee is the main concern.

“He practiced on Monday and it flared up a little bit so we’ll give him the day off and see how he is (Thursday),” Rivera said. “The shoulder’s not healed but the knee’s what’s aggravating him right now so we’ll see how he is tomorrow.”

Rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly replaced Beason against the Seahawks, but Rivera has been mum this week about the team’s plans at middle linebacker. The Panthers are coming off a bye week.

Fellow linebacker James Anderson said several players have worked out at the position, which gives the Panthers the ability to rotate fresh guys on the field.
“We’ve had Jordan Senn and Thomas Davis and myself work here and there, too,” Anderson said. “We have the ability to have a rotation of guys. We have the ability to have different groups of guys on the field at the same time. So I think that’s something we can use to our advantage because of the depth of talent that we have.”

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If Ed Reed is hurt, he should take a seat

Another day, another Ravens Pro Bowl defender reveals an injury. Safety Ed Reed said that he has a torn labrum in his shoulder during an interview with a Baltimore radio station.

There's one problem: The Ravens didn't list him on the injury report, which is a violation of league rules. So either the Ravens chose not to disclose the injury or Reed isn't really that hurt.

If Reed does have a significant shoulder injury, he should sit and take time to get healthy. A torn labrum could take around six weeks to heal. Not everyone will agree with this because of the current state of the Ravens defense. Injuries have already sidelined Baltimore's best player on defense (Terrell Suggs), its leader on defense (Ray Lewis) and its best cornerback (Lardarius Webb). It seems like the Ravens would need Reed more now than ever.

But the Ravens need a healthy Reed. They need an aggressive Reed. They need the Reed who was physical against the Patriots when he broke up a touchdown pass in the end zone with a hit.

Reed wasn't that player on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. There were times Sunday when Reed tried to push players out of bounds instead of tackling them, which allowed the Cowboys to pick up extra yards. He finished with three tackles, no interceptions and no passes broken up.

If Reed chooses to continue playing, he can't be as ineffective as he was last Sunday. The Ravens need all 11 players swarming to the ball when they play the Texans, the sixth-best run offense in the league.

Losing Reed would be another big hit to the Ravens defense. But Reed playing at this level leaves the defense just as vulnerable.

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Devin Hester has golden opportunity to end slump against Lions in prime time

No one can blame Bears WR Devin Hester for hoping Monday night could represent the end of a touchdown-return slump.

For one, he's facing the Detroit Lions, and they have allowed two punt-return TDs and two kick-return TDs. The Lions rank last stopping punts, and 30th stopping kicks.

"This is a team that we see some opportunties there," Hester said Wednesday at Halas Hall. "At the same time, we've got to be patient. Other than that you just make sure that we do our assignments and everything will work out for the best."

Detroit's struggles don't necessarily translate to easy returns, Hester said.

"We expect they'll stir it up a little bit, so we've got to make sure we do our part and regardless of what kind of funky scheme they come up with, we've got to make sure we're prepared for it," he said.

Hester's strong point in his career has been punt returns. Of his 19 career returns for touchdowns, including postseason, only six came on kickoff returns. He had a 97-yard kick return TD in 2007 against Detroit, and his last TD return was an 82-yard punt return against the Lions in the Bears' 37-13 victory Nov. 13, 2011, at Soldier Field.

The Bears are anything but happy about their own return game, especially punt returns. Hester is averaging only 7.8 yards per punt return but averaged 12.9 yards before this season. The Bears are 20th as a team in punt-return average.

"One of the areas we've identified we do need to make improvements on is our return game," coach Lovie Smith said. "Of course, Devin is a big part of that."
Hester has eight return TDs in prime-time games and said he still considers himself to have "prime-time magic."

"He does know how to play under the lights," Smith added. "Big game. I'll just say we need him to be, you know, the greatest returner in the history of our game. And I am sure he will be."

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Frank Gore enjoys playing Seattle

San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore has more rushing yards against the Seattle Seahawks than any other opponent. Gore has 1,079 rushing yards in 12 games against Seattle, with a 5.19 yards-per-carry average. He has twice rushed for more than 200 yards against the Seahawks. Seattle, however, held Gore to an average of 71 yards a game in two contests last season.

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NFL responds to Jonathan Vilma, NFLPA lawsuits

NEW ORLEANS -- The NFL is again urging a federal judge to avoid interfering in Commissioner Roger Goodell's efforts to discipline four players for the New Orleans Saints' cash-for-hits bounty pool.

In a response Wednesday to papers the players filed earlier this week, the NFL says its collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association gives Goodell the power to handle discipline involving conduct detrimental to football "at his discretion."

U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan is considering the players' request to overturn varying suspensions to Saints linebacker Jon Vilma (full season), Saints defensive end Will Smith (four games), free-agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove (seven games) and Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita (one game).

The players also want Berrigan to appoint a "neutral arbitrator" to handle any discipline in the matter.

The NFL argues that the players' request "turns the CBA (and the law) on its head."

"The parties agreed to "trust in (the Commissioner's) personal judgment," the papers filed by the NFL said.

The players have argued Goodell's public comments about the matter, dating to before he had even disciplined to the players, prove he cannot be impartial, and therefore has violated the players' industrial due process rights, which are also an inherent part the league's labor deal.

The NFL responded that the standard to prove partiality for an arbitrator within the framework of a labor agreement is much higher than for a judge in a court case. The league cited case law stating, "Nothing in the parties' contract requires arbitrators to arrive with empty heads."

The NFL also argued its evidence in the bounty matter is strong enough to justify the commissioner's actions, whether he was partial to one side or not.

"When all of the circumstances are considered, it is clear that the reasonable observer would not have to conclude that ... the outcome is due to 'bias,'" the NFL said. "The circumstances here include the fact that Plaintiffs do not dispute that the Saints program offered incentives for cart-offs and knockouts, and that cart-offs and knockouts were plays in which an opposing player was disabled or injured, at least temporarily.

"Not disputing that this program existed, Plaintiffs should not be heard to complain that an adverse appeal decision would have to be due to bias."

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Antrel Rolle backing up words

The perception of Antrel Rolle for the better part of last season was that his mouth — as much as his actions on the field — kept putting the Giants in difficult spots.

Remember Rolle’s proclamation about Big Blue beating the Redskins "99 out of 100 times" in the days leading up to their 23-10 defeat, sealing a regular-season series sweep for then-struggling Washington and putting the Giants’ playoff hopes in jeopardy.

That was nothing compared to what Rolle said afterward, when he tapped his chest and challenged the heart of a team that heeded his message all the way to Super Bowl XLVI.

Fast forward to today and the questioning of just how essential Rolle is to the Giants’ success no longer exists. In reality, outside of Eli Manning and perhaps Jason Pierre-Paul, there is no one more valuable than the seventh-year safety whose words and actions have become lock step with what Tom Coughlin demands from the leaders in his locker room.

On the heels of his best individual performance as a Giant and the franchise’s best regular-season effort in quite some time, it’s only fitting Rolle hit the airwaves Tuesday afternoon and set the tone for what must come next when Robert Griffin III and the Redskins visit MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

"We need this win," Rolle said in his weekly spot on WFAN-AM 660. "We need this win extremely bad."

The Giants would not have gotten their impressive win in San Francisco without him.

Rolle was outstanding in anchoring the secondary during Sunday’s triumph at Candlestick Park with two interceptions and six tackles, tied for the team lead.
Rolle picked off 49ers quarterback Alex Smith on consecutive possessions in the third quarter. On the first one, Smith was forced to throw high to former Giant Mario Manningham with Corey Webster in tight coverage.

Rolle made an acrobatic, one-handed pick, but he deflected the credit.

"What made that interception happen was definitely Corey Webster," Rolle said.

"I think he did a phenomenal job of staying patient and squaring up the receiver. And once the receiver broke on the slant route, he undercut the route so well that Alex Smith had to put air on the ball. I was fortunate enough to get a good break out of my Cover 3 zone and was able to hold onto the ball."

Once the 49ers got the ball back, Rolle was at it again; stepping in front of Michael Crabtree with his second INT of Smith in a span of three passes.

After the game, Rolle complimented the coaching staff and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. He also threw verbal bouquets at teammate Prince Amukamara for his interception of Smith after dogging the second-year cornerback all week for his inexperience in playing zone defense.

Rolle badly was beaten by 49ers tight end Vernon Davis last season, especially on a long touchdown reception — a replay of which he watched "maybe 20 times" before the game for motivation.

Davis was shut down by the Giants this time as part of a dominant defensive performance that reinforced Rolle’s opinion about how good the reigning Super Bowl champions can be.

"People are going to say whatever they want, but the game still has to be played on Sunday," Rolle said. "No one is gonna ever tell us what we can and can not do as the Giants organization."

With great perspective, Rolle has emerged as an even larger-than-expected part of that.

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Saint Hope Jon Vilma will be ready to play vs. Bucs

METAIRIE, La. — As the Saints began their prepractice stretch Wednesday, receiver Lance Moore hopped up, looked over at linebacker Jonathan Vilma and hollered, "Glad you're back! We missed you!" The entire team applauded.

"Hello!" Vilma responded with a smile, still seated on the field, one leg pulled over another.

The former University of Miami standout then did something he had yet to do in 2012: practice.

And it was obvious the Saints were pulling for him to be ready to play Sunday at the Bucs, which might be his only chance to get back on the field this season if his bounty suspension, currently on appeal, goes back into effect in a week or so.

"Vilma continues to fight for what's right and a fair process, which I think is extremely justified," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. "The fact that he was out there practicing (Wednesday), it just kind of puts a smile on everybody's face knowing what he's been through and having the opportunity to get him back."
Vilma did not work with the first team but also did not wear any kind of brace or sleeve on his surgically repaired left knee.

"He's back," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "He's doing a bunch of extra stuff, too, to make sure he's ready as far as conditioning and things like that. But he's ready to play. I know he's been champing at the bit and this is his opportunity this week and I know he'll be ready."

Vilma had several offseason procedures done on his knee.

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When it comes to return man Devin Hester, punting out of bounds easier said than done

ALLEN PARK -- Just saying Devin Hester's name causes Detroit Lions punter Nick Harris to shake his head. 

Hester, the long-time Chicago Bears return man, is the stuff of nightmares for NFL kickers and punter.

"He's fearless, he's willing to take risks with the ball, and he knows exactly what to do to get the ball up the field," Harris said. "He's the best ever."

It's tough to argue that assessment. Hester is the NFL's all-time leader in touchdown returns, bringing back 12 punts and five kickoffs for scores in his first six seasons. He's done it twice against the Lions, once with a kickoff in 2007 and on a punt last season.

Kassim Osgood, a gunner on punt coverage, will be one of the first men down the field trying to drop Hester before he can find a crease. Osgood knows Hester doesn't need long to identify an opening.

"He's daring," Osgood said. "He'll take a chance on a gap that most people think would close, and it will stay open long enough for him to get through there."
A prevailing thought to negate Hester's abilities is to simply punt out of bounds every time. Logically, if he doesn't touch the ball, he can't make an impact. Unfortunately, effectively executing that strategy is easier said than done.

"Everybody in golf tries to hit the fairway," coach Jim Schwartz said. "Sometimes they hit it in the rough, sometimes they hit in the woods. I'm talking about guys on the PGA tour, guys in major tournaments and things like that. People watching say, 'Jeez, why can't he hit in the fairway?' There's definitely that element to it."

Harris said on a perfect day, kicking it out of bounds with good distance is easier, but he couldn't guarantee boots longer than 25 yards when factoring in the typically unpredictable swirling winds in Solider Field. Considering his career net average is 35.7 yards, that's a potential 10-yard swing in field position with each punt.

If the opportunity to put the ball out of bounds presents itself, Lions players don't view it as conceding or a sign of weakness.

"No, not at all," Osgood said. "It's all a matter of strategy. Most people want to limit his touches."

Harris agrees.

"He has a higher percentage chance than anyone else to take it back for a touchdown. If you can eliminate a shot on goal, or an opportunity to return the football, why not?"

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Seahawks focused on slowing down Frank Gore

As impressive as the fact the Seahawks have built one of the league’s dominant defenses has been their ability to frustrate opponents who tried to hit them different ways.

They pass-rushed the Packers to the point of distraction. They chased down Cam Newton from behind. They covered the Patriots downfield.

But this week, they have a familiar challenge, trying to slow down Frank Gore and the league’s leading running game.

Gore has more yards against the Seahawks than any other opponent, and the 49ers have the league’s best running game.

Of course, Gore’s 1,079 yards against the Seahawks have been a cumulative achievement, as they held him to 71 yards per game lsat year. But that doesn’t mean they’re not taking Thursday’s test seriously.

“You got to hit him hard and hit him early,” Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright said, via Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune. “Let him know that it’s not going to be your day to get a bunch of running yards. We’re going to come out and set the tone, and make sure he doesn’t get rolling.”

That’s been easier said than done, and Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley stressed the importance of being disciplined.

“He hits the hole right where he needs to hit it every time, and he’s going 100 miles per hour every time,” Bradley said. “And if you’re not in your gap, . . . he has the ability to break a big one at any time.

“They do so many things offensively, and you’re trying to jockey some guys around so you’re in the right leverage and the right position, but you always have that in the back of your mind. If you try to do that too much, are you giving him enough of a space to where he can break a big one?”

The Seahawks are feeling good after last week’s win over the Patriots, but if they can keep Gore and the league’s best running game from doing what they do best, that may be the biggest statement to date.

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Dunk of the Night: DeQuan Jones Throws Down

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Jon Jay likely happier to be at home than most

ST. LOUIS -- They say there is something comforting about being home, but Jon Jay has taken that to the extreme in 2012. Jay's home-road splits would suggest he's thrilled to be back at Busch Stadium, where the center fielder hit .384 and posted a .453 on-base percentage during the regular season.

His numbers outside of St. Louis are hardly comparable. Jay's road batting average is .224; his on-base percentage is only .289. And in a nearly identical number of plate appearances, Jay has walked eight fewer times and struck out 13 more times on the road than he did at Busch Stadium.

"For whatever reason, right now it is trending that direction," manager Mike Matheny said. "But Jon's been such a big pickup for us as far as being able to step into that leadoff spot -- and it's nice he's done it at home. He takes the same approach on the road. He still puts together tough at-bats. I don't see any reason [for the discrepancy], and hopefully he doesn't think more [about] it than he should."

Jay's postseason numbers have so far followed the same trend. While 2-for-8 in two home playoff games, Jay has just four hits in 29 road at-bats. Still, he continues to be a fixture in the leadoff spot, which has been exclusively his since Rafael Furcal went down with a season-ending injury.

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Crunching the numbers for Ryan Braun

The Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun was baseball's Most Valuable Player last season and put up MVP-type numbers in 2012.

Braun had success off some pitchers and not as much against others. Here's a look at some notable statistics for Braun from the past two seasons combined (not including postseason):

Most plate appearances: 24 vs. Bronson Arroyo (7 for 23, hit by pitch).
Most hits: 8 vs. Jake Westbrook (8 for 16)
Most home runs: 3 vs. Arroyo and Cliff Lee
Highest batting average, 10 or more plate appearances (PA): .556 vs. Roy Halladay (5 for 9, 11 PA)
Worst batting average, 10 or more PA: Jeff Karstens (0 for 11)
Highest slugging percentage, 10 or more PA: 1.231 vs. Lee
Most RBI: 8 vs. James McDonald
Most walks: 4 vs. Wandy Rodriguez and Matt Garza
Most strikeouts: 6 vs. Johnny Cueto
Never got him out, gave up 2 homers: Joe Beimel (2 for 2, walk), Liam Hendriks (2 for 2, walk)
Faced once, homered: Jose Arredondo, Jose Ascanio, Antonio Bastardo, Brad Brach, Alex Hinshaw, Juan Carlos Oviedo, Luis Perez, B.J. Rosenberg
Most at-bats with nothing but strikeouts: 2 vs. Nick Masset, Kanley Jansen and Octavio Dotel
Most grounded into double plays: 2 vs. Mark Buehrle (0 for 3 overall) and Justin Germano (2 for 6)
Most hit by pitches: 2 vs. Jason Grilli

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Matt Bosher is Punter of the Week

As I watched Atlanta’s Matt Bosher on Sunday, I couldn’t help but think how patience paid off for the Falcons.

Early last season, a lot of fans were screaming for the Falcons to dump their rookie punter. His punts were short and so were his kickoffs. But the Falcons had a draft pick invested in him and were stuck with him. It started to pay off as last season went on, but Bosher is really blossoming this season.

Each week since the start of last season, ESPN’s Mark Simon has picked a Punter of the Week. His choice for this week is Bosher and you can’t argue with that.

Bosher averaged 52.8 yards per punt both gross and net in Sunday’s victory against Oakland. Bosher’s four punts went 55, 45, 57 and 54 yards.

The 52.8-yard net average was the best for any NFL punter this past week and the best for any punter this season (minimum four punts). It is tied for third-best by any punter in the last five seasons.

Complete net punting data dates back to 1991. Bosher’s 52.8 net average is the best for any Atlanta punter in that span.

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Miami Dolphins put Lamar Miller on ice again

DAVIE - Lamar Miller thought last Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams would be his opportunity to showcase his growth, but the Miami Dolphins kept the rookie tailback on ice for another week.

With Daniel Thomas sidelined by a concussion it was expected that the former University of Miami standout would spell Reggie Bush for a couple of series.

But the Dolphins’ fourth-round pick, whose 5.5 yards per carry average leads the team, only played in four offensive snaps against the Rams, and one of them was whipped away because of a penalty.

Miller didn't get one carry in the Dolphins' 17-14 win, but Miami's coaches have a good excuse for those who think Miller could have helped the Dolphins gain more than 19 rushing yards on 18 carries.

"Usually we are up in the 70 [plays], so I don’t think that Reggie ever got gassed enough to get another back in there enough," coach Joe Philbin said. "That’s probably what happened.”

Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said the offense was limited to 48 plays.

“We never really established our running game, so we didn’t really get anybody off to give Reggie (Bush) a rest necessarily,” Sherman said. “It was nothing specific that I can speak of, other than a result of not a great offensive day and not a lot of snaps…..I don’t lack confidence in his ability to [pass block]. That’s not a reason why he didn’t play the other day.”

With Bush nursing a left knee sprain, and Daniel Thomas still recovering from his concussion, its likely that the Dolphins will give Miller an opportunity to showcase himself during the bye week.

We'll see if that means more snaps in coming games.

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TV networks interested in Ravens' Ray Lewis

Would the networks covet the injured Baltimore Ravens star linebacker, now out for the season with a triceps injury?


"There's always interest in a player of this caliber, no doubt," says Eric Weinberger, executive producer at the NFL Network, which recently showed a documentary on Lewis and used him as a guest analyst on a 2005 Super Bowl pregame show. "With his Hall of Fame credentials, he'd fit in right away. He embodies what we're looking for here. ... We'll start quietly gauging his interest."

ESPN, which used Lewis for a week in 2008 and again in 2010, is game. "Yes, we have an interest," says ESPN's Mike Soltys.

Not every network carrying NFL games openly covets Lewis. CBS' Jen Sabatelle says, "We're always looking to add high-quality analysts, but right now our roster is pretty full." NBC's Adam Freifeld says, "We're happy with our on-air roster."

Fox will announce Wednesday that Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez, a top TV prospect himself, will take advantage of a bye week to be in Fox's NFL studio show Sunday -- and possibly in the college studio Saturday. Says Fox's Dan Bell: "We would consider having (Lewis) on the studio show, like we're doing with Tony Gonzalez."

Normally, NFL veteran stars snap at such cameos to get what amounts to auditions. But Lewis, who already has had cameos, won't need to show what he can do in exhibitions to eventually get into a TV lineup.

But does he want that? "I don't know if Ray would want to do that," Ravens fullback Vonta Leach says. "But I think if he wants to, Ray's the kind of guy that whatever he wants to do in the next chapter of his life, he's going to be successful."

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Colts Try out Spencer Adkins

The Indianapolis Colts brought in free-agent LB Spencer Adkins (Falcons) for a workout Tuesday, Oct. 16.

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Jimmy Graham will be active for Week 7

A source with knowledge of the situation tells Jimmy Graham (ankle) will play in Week 7.

The Saints have maintained radio silence on Graham's status since he went down in Week 5, but the fact that he played through the injury against the Chargers suggested he'd be ready to roll following a two-week layoff. We'll get our first tangible clue as to his Week 7 status when the Saints return to practice on Wednesday, but for now owners can pencil their TE1 into the lineup.

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Lamar Miller played just 4 snaps vs. Rams

With Daniel Thomas (concussion) out of the lineup, Lamar Miller played just four snaps versus the Rams in Week 6.

The Dolphins played just 55 snaps and never established the ground attack. "Usually we are up in the 70 [plays], so I don't think that Reggie (Bush) ever got gassed enough to get another back in there enough," coach Joe Philbin explained. "That's probably what happened." Miller can be dropped in 12-team leagues entering Miami's bye week.

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Devin Hester primed to return to form

Devin Hester says he’s just ‘‘one guy away.’’

Dave Toub says, ‘‘At the end of the year, we’re going to be right where we need to be.’’

Either way, the Bears’ vaunted special-teams units know they have some catching up to do. Not only has the Jay Cutler-to-Brandon Marshall connection raised the Bears’ offense to a new realm, but linebacker Lance Briggs, cornerback Charles Tillman and safety Major Wright have combined for an astonishing five interception returns for touchdowns to spark the Bears’ 4-1 start.

‘‘It’s been kind of hard to join the fun with the way those guys are going,’’ Hester said. ‘‘We’re playing catch-up now. We’ve got to make sure we lead the team in [touchdown] returns.’’

With Hester leading the way, the Bears’ kick-return teams under coordinator Toub arguably have been the most high-profile special-teams units in the NFL in recent years. It’s hard to find many moments or streaks of significant success in the Lovie Smith era that haven’t involved a Hester return.

But in the Bears’ best stretch since the 2006 Super Bowl season — they not only lead the NFL in scoring defense (14.2 points per game), they’re second in points per game (29.8) — Hester and the kick-return units have been virtually shut out.

Hester, who at 29 has an NFL-record 12 punt-return touchdowns and is sixth all-time in punt-return average (12.6 yards), is averaging 7.8 yards on 11 punt returns this season with a long return of 23 yards. He had seven longer than that in 2011, including touchdowns of 82 and 69 yards.

On 10 kickoff returns, Hester is averaging 26.9 yards with a long return of 38 yards. The new kickoff rules have had an obvious impact, but the Bears’ best field position after a Hester kickoff return is their 37-yard line. They’ve started beyond the 30 only twice.

‘‘We’ve been closer every week,’’ Hester said. ‘‘When we watch film, we see that I’m always one guy away from breaking one. We just have to stay patient and keep pushing and don’t lose faith in what we’re doing. It’s going to come, and when it does, we’ll all be celebrating.’’

Toub said, as is usually the case, little things are preventing the Bears from a big kick return.

“Right now, the defense is getting all the returns; we aren’t,’’ Toub said. ‘‘It’s just the way the ball bounces sometimes — guys coming off a block, holding call, a block in the back, different things. We just haven’t taken care of the opportunities we’ve had.’’

The Bears have had at least one kick return for a touchdown in the last nine seasons, pre-dating the Hester era. It’s still only five games into the season, which for most teams isn’t even close to a dry spell. For the Bears, it is.

‘‘It’s happened before,’’ Toub said. ‘‘We went two years without Devin getting a touchdown. Other guys got touchdowns instead. We’re not hitting the panic button by any means. But the guys know that when we get the ball in our hand, we need to make ’em pay.’’

The timing could be right for a breakthrough Monday against the Detroit Lions, who have allowed four kick-return touchdowns this season. The Lions rank 30th in the NFL in kickoff-return coverage (30.3 yards) and last in punt-return coverage (19.6). Hester’s last kick-return touchdown was against the Lions, an 82-yard punt return in a 37-13 Bears victory last season at Soldier Field.

The Bears had significant turnover in their special-teams units. But Toub has replaced players before in similar situations and said there has not been a drop off in personnel. Though the Bears have struggled in kick returns, the coverage units have been outstanding as usual.

‘‘I like our group,’’ Toub said. ‘‘We’ve got a real good group of guys. We’re going to keep plugging away. At the end of the year, we’re going to be right where we need to be.’’

While they are not panicking, the return teams know they have a reputation to uphold, and that creates a little added pressure, especially with the defense scoring two touchdowns a game.

‘‘There’s always a competition in each individual room,’’ Hester said. ‘‘But we’re all a team. The points go to everybody. At the end of the day, I’m happy for those guys, for the returns they have this year. We have to make sure we pick up our part.’’

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Warren Sapp Settles Live Prude Girls Dispute + Fan Chat

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Ray Lewis: By the numbers

A look at some memorable statistics for Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who is out for the season with torn triceps muscle in his right arm. These numbers come courtesy of our friends at ESPN Stats & Information:

1 -- Lewis is the only player in NFL history to amass 40 sacks and 30 interceptions in a career (sacks became official in 1982).

2 -- Times Lewis has been named NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2000, 2003). The five others to achieve this feat: Bruce Smith, Reggie White, Mike Singletary, Lawrence Taylor and Joe Greene.

4 -- Games missed by Lewis in the previous four seasons. He had started every game from 2008 to 2010.

12 -- Pro Bowls for Lewis. Only Bruce Matthews (14), Jerry Rice (13) and Reggie White (13) have been to more. It's tied with Tony Gonzalez for the most by active players. Lewis is also tied with Junior Seau for most Pro Bowls ever by a linebacker.

17 -- Seasons in the NFL for Lewis. That's the third-most by a linebacker in NFL history. Junior Seau (20) and Clay Matthews (19) are the only ones who have played more than Lewis.

50 -- Career takeaways for Lewis, the second-most ever by a linebacker. Jack Ham finished with 53. Lewis has recorded 31 interceptions and 19 fumble recoveries.

57 -- Lewis' tackles this season, which ranks fourth in the NFL. He leads the Ravens and has 14 more than any other teammate.

244 -- Career starts for Lewis (which includes the postseason). That's the most among active players.

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Andre Johnson's production down, but why?

HOUSTON—Andre Johnson has heard the speculation.

Six games into a season in which the 31-year-old receiver has 25 catches for 358 yards and two touchdowns, fans and media want to know why he’s not getting the ball more. Is he open and quarterback Matt Schaub can’t find him? Is he not getting open because of double coverage? Is he not getting open despite being covered by only one cornerback?

The Texans say it’s because they’re running more, and Johnson is being doubled most of the time. As the play caller, coach Gary Kubiak says he has to do a better job of getting the ball to Johnson. But Schaub, who has only eight touchdown passes, is throwing the ball away more than in the past. Too often, he gets good protection but can’t find an open receiver.

Johnson is on a pace for 66 catches, which would tie his career low if he plays 16 games. He’s on a pace for 954 yards, which would be the fewest of his career when he plays 16 games. Johnson says he has to take advantage of the opportunities he gets, and when they’re running so well and winning, he’s not going to complain about his role. Johnson says he’s healthy. He participates in every practice. He had eight catches for 75 yards against the Packers to reach 10,000 yards (10,014) in his career, but he couldn’t enjoy it because of the 42-24 Green Bay victory.

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Prisco: Ravens better without Ray Lewis

Let me start this out by saying I think Ray Lewis is the best middle linebacker ever. But let me also say this, something nobody else will say: The Ravens might be better off without Lewis. Yes, I said it. Lewis has been horrible for most of this season. He gets engulfed by linemen and doesn't get off blocks. You never like to see a veteran like him go down, especially this late in his career, but a younger, faster player might be what the Ravens need now inside. Dannell Ellerbe and Albert McClellan will likely be the starters now. They haven't exactly been playing great, either. The bigger hit to the Ravens' defense is the loss of Lardarius Webb. He is their best cover player. Without him, they lack a premier cover player. That will show up without a pass rush -- probably starting this week in Houston.

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Greg Olsen’s life slowly returning to normal

CHARLOTTE – Panthers tight end Greg Olsen had been looking forward to the Panthers’ bye week with both anticipation and anxiety, knowing he would become the father of twins but knowing that one of the twins would be born with a serious heart condition.

Now, after a stressful but successful few days, Olsen can start the process of turning his attention back to football.

“It was nice to come back in here today, run around and get back in the swing of things,” Olsen said Monday. “It felt good to get back to reality a little bit.
“It’s been a hard week, but it’s been a good week.”

Since last Tuesday, Olsen’s life has been an unending series of ups and downs, but the prognosis for son T.J. is looking up.

T.J. had his chest closed Monday morning at Levine Children’s Hospital at Carolina Medical Center, four days after undergoing open-heart surgery to treat hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare condition discovered by doctors early in Kara Olsen’s pregnancy.

“He is a strong baby,” Dr. Benjamin B. Peeler, Chief of Pediatric and Adult Congenital Cardiothoracic Surgery at Levine, said in a statement. “His postoperative course thus far has been very smooth; however, this is a high-risk condition as well as a high-risk surgical procedure. The postoperative course can be unpredictable and complicated.

“Our team continues to care for T.J. very closely in the cardiac intensive care unit. We are very hopeful that T.J.’s recovery will continue on the same smooth course. The average time in the hospital after the Norwood procedure is about 40 days.”

While twin sister Talbot is now home, T.J. is expected to make Levine home for at least three weeks. After making it through the most dangerous of three surgeries – the Norwood procedure has a 75-percent survival rate – T.J. will undergo a second surgery at six months of age and a final one around his third birthday.

“We’re very fortunate for the care that he’s been able to get, and he’s responded really well to the multiple procedures they’ve done,” Olsen said. “We’re very blessed that he responded the way he did. The doctors at Levine’s have been incredible. We just continue to hope and pray that everything continues to progress as it has the first few days.

“We know he has a long road ahead of him – this is just the first of a few procedures that he’ll have – but he handled the first one really well. That gives us a lot of hope going forward.”

The support shown the Olsens has extended well beyond the hospital walls.

“It’s been incredible – the amount of emails, the letters to my house,” Olsen said. “The guys on the team organized two months of food for us to eat every single night of the week. Steve (Smith) and his wife organized it, and guys volunteered to send food over. It’s been incredible.

“Mr. (Jerry) Richardson came over, Coach (Ron) Rivera, Chud (offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski), players. Everyone has come to see us, everyone has been there, saying, ‘Let me know if you need something.’ It really is a special community here.”

Smith, the elder statesmen of the team now in his 12th NFL season, said his wife, Angie, put together the feeding schedule.

“You’ve got a guy whose son is going to be in the hospital the next couple of weeks. You’ve got to deal with going back and forth, and they have two other kids,” Smith said. “It’s just what you do.”

While Kara Olsen is home with Talbot as well as 16-month-old son Tate, the family’s schedule is still stretched thin. Greg Olsen slept at the hospital the first four nights but has since returned home to help his wife get back on her feet.

“Mom’s doing real good. She’s unbelievably strong – you don’t carry around two eight-pound babies for 37 weeks if you’re not,” Olsen said. “Once she’s back to herself, a couple of nights a week I’ll go after practice and stay there (at the hospital) with T.J. just to make sure he feels that presence and knows somebody is there.

“In my mind, he knows when we’re there and when we’re not, so we’ll try to be there for him as much as we can.”

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Beason or Kuechly? What numbers show

The biggest question the Panthers face coming off their bye week: Move rookie Luke Kuechly from weakside to middle linebacker, or keep defensive captain Jon Beason there?

The Carolina Panthers’ coaching staff spent most of their bye week evaluating their team rather than looking ahead to Sunday’s home game against Dallas.
“You go back and look at what happened in all our games, when you watch every phase, you see a lot,” Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said. “You’re a little more objective. You don’t have to worry about getting ready for the next opponent. You see we had opportunities that we missed.”

“The approach (at who plays MLB) is you’ve got to see who is doing what and put them in the best position.”

The Observer analyzed every defensive snap this season, watching the play of Beason and Kuechly.

Beason anchored the defense for the first two games, while Kuechly struggled to adjust to NFL speed. But in games against the New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons, Kuechly seemed to outshine the veteran Beason.

And in the rookie’s only game at middle linebacker, Kuechly put together his best game of the season, helping the Carolina defense hold Seattle to 16 points.
In that game, with Beason sidelined, Kuechly slid to the middle for the first time since he set the ACC’s all-time tackles record at Boston College. He responded with a team-high 11 tackles, one tackle for a loss, one interception and zero missed tackles while playing in 64 of the 65 defensive snaps. After film review, the Panthers actually credited Kuechly with 16 tackles against the Seahawks.

He did, however, miss an assignment when he bit on a play-action fake, resulting in a 19-yard pass that led to a field goal.

“I think maybe the first quarter and a half I didn’t play too well,” Kuechly said of the Seattle game. “I was getting pushed around. Then you just figure out how they’re attacking you and how you can attack them a little bit better.”

Monday, Kuechly and Beason saw time at both the Mike (MLB) and Will (WLB) positions in the Panthers’ practice.

Beason, a six-year veteran who has been to three Pro Bowls, has been unequivocal about his wishes to remain in the middle. But he has dealt with both shoulder and knee injuries this season, and Rivera has pointed to those injuries as causes for occasional ineffectiveness.

In the season-opener against Tampa Bay, a healthy Beason led all players with 10 tackles and played 99 percent of the snaps. Kuechly had four tackles, and he missed three others. Rivera said Kuechly was “flying around” and trying to make every play.

The Panthers used Kuechly for 29 out of 78 defensive snaps against New Orleans the following week. He had five tackles (and missed three) against the Saints, while Beason had seven tackles and a game-clinching interception, playing 76 of 78 snaps.

Then, before a nationally televised Thursday night game against the New York Giants, Beason missed practice with knee and shoulder issues.

Beason played against the Giants, totaling five tackles in 57 snaps, but he had two missed tackles, resulting in a 31-yard run and a 23-yard catch. Meanwhile, Kuechly put together a 12-tackle performance in 51 snaps against New York, including three tackles for a loss and no missed tackles.

Beason was questionable going into Atlanta in Week 4, but played, having as many missed tackles (five) as tackles in 65 snaps against the Falcons. Kuechly, playing 28 snaps, had five tackles, one pass defended and no missed tackles.

“At the Mike, it’s a little bit more of a flow position,” Kuechly said Monday. “You ask Beason, he’s played Will before, too. Once you get to the Mike, you get to play both ways. At the Will, you’re an edge guy. You’ve got to get ready for cutbacks. So it’s a little bit slower. At Mike you can flow a little bit better.”

“It doesn’t matter too much to me,” said Kuechly about where he plays, “just where I’m comfortable.”

But if the Seattle game was any indication, Kuechly is more comfortable in the middle.

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D.J. Williams back at team HQ following 1st of 2 suspensions

With one suspension finished, Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams is back at the team's headquarters Tuesday as he begins serving a second suspension under a new set of rules.

Williams was suspended from the Broncos' first six games for violating the league's policy concerning performance-enhancing drugs. His next three-game suspension was the result of an alcohol conviction that falls under the NFL's substance-abuse policy.

The league's substance-abuse program aims for its players interacting with the team. Williams is at the team's facility Tuesday working out. He can have interaction with his coaches and players.

What Williams can't do is practice or play in games. Williams is also forbidden from conducting interviews with the media.

A Broncos starting linebacker since he was a first-round draft pick in 2004, Williams can return to the team in a full, active-player capacity on Nov. 12, the day after the Broncos' play their ninth game during Week 10 at Carolina.

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Calais Campbell raffling off football ticket package for charity

Calais Campbell, defensive lineman for the Arizona Cardinals, is raffling off an ultimate Monday night experience to raise money for his CRC Foundation. The package includes two tickets to the Oct. 29 game, in which the Cardinals will take on the San Francisco 49ers in Glendale. A meet and greet with Calais following the game, a signed Calais Campbell jersey, and $100 to the Peoria BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse to enjoy before or after the game.

Tickets are available for $2 on and all proceeds benefit the CRC Foundation. The deadline to enter is Oct. 25 at 8 a.m. The winner will be selected and notified the same day.

“The fans have been a big part of our teams early success this season, as well as my own personal inspiration, so to do things with them on occasion, while benefiting people who need us most right now-- it’s a big win for all involved,” said Campbell. “The CRC Foundation, an organization I started with my family to better the lives of students in the greater-Phoenix area appreciates the continued support, enabling efforts you can see and feel in our community, so I hope that every Cardinals fan feels lucky enough to enter and win an ultimate Monday night.”

About The CRC Foundation:
The CRC Foundation is a non-profit, 501 c(3) organization established in 2010 to teach skills that are not typically learned in a traditional classroom setting that are necessary for real life, such as accounting, budgeting, drug and alcohol awareness, cooking, diversity awareness, and writing. Future CRC classrooms will use the facilities as an alternative to negative activities in the community. Students will also have the opportunity to shadow mentors from the community, participate in sports and develop creative talents. For more information please visit

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Report: Judge in Vilma case asks for documents from Goodell

The "Bountygate" case took another turn Tuesday when a judge in Jonathan Vilma's defamation suit against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell demanded that Goodell hand over documents related to his suspension of the New Orleans Saints linebacker, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.

According to the newspaper, Magistrate Judge Daniel Knowles told Goodell to provide documents reviewed by NFL security related to accusations of the Saints putting bounties on opposing players, reports from witnesses interviewed, statements and affidavits from the investigation, and documents detailing the league's punishment issued in the case, including appeals.

The league will comply with the request, the Times-Picayune reported.

The court issued a motion to stay the discovery portion of Vilma's case pending review of the requested documents. The newspaper reported that Vilma will not have access to the documents even after the court receives them.

Vilma was suspended for the full season by Goodell for his alleged involvement in the Saints' pay-to-injury program. Goodell last week revised the punishment, allowing Vilma to collect his pay for the six weeks he already had been on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. His original sentence called for no pay for all 17 weeks of the season.

Vilma has said he'll come off the PUP list this week and play Sunday against the Buccaneers at Tampa Bay.

In the last 11 months, Vilma has had three surgical procedures on his left knee. He was placed on PUP when a collective-bargaining appeals panel temporarily overturned his season-long suspension and allowed him to rejoin the team just before the regular-season opener.

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Timing, teammates help Panthers’ Greg Olsen

Timing and teammates have helped Panthers tight end Greg Olsen through his newborn son’s first few days.

Olsen spent four days and nights at the hospital last week watching over his son, who was born with a heart defect that required surgery.

“It’s been a hard week but it’s been a good week. We’re fortunate for the care that he’s been able to get,” Olsen said. “He’s responded really well to the multiple procedures that they’ve done. We’re very fortunate and very blessed that he responded the way he did. The doctors and everyone have been incredible here at Levine (Children’s Hospital).”

Olsen’s wife, Kara, delivered twins on Tuesday, and TJ had his first surgery on Thursday. Olsen was able to get his mind off football for a week during the Panthers’ bye.

“I hadn’t put much thought into the game this last week or so,” he said. “And it really worked out well that it was the bye. It would have been tough yesterday having a game to prepare for all week, but I didn’t have to worry about that. It was nice to come in here today and run around and get into the swing of things.”

Several teammates, head coach Ron Rivera, offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and team founder/owner Jerry Richardson have visited the Olsens. Olsen said the outpouring from the community has been incredible – from emails to letters at his home to even a food drive.

Wide receiver Steve Smith and his wife organized the players and their significant others to supply meals each night for two months for the Olsens.

“It really is a special community,” Olsen said. “I’ve said it since the day I got here. ... In these bad times it really shows, but I knew it beforehand. This is a special group of people around here. It’s a really well-run organization. Right now we’re benefitting from it but it will be someone else some other time.”

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Player Profile: Chris Myers

HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – In Sunday night’s blowout loss to the Packers, the Texans had their worst rushing day of the season. Star running back Arian Foster was bottled up for 29 yards on only 17 carries, a terrible performanceicon1 against a Green Bay defense playing without nose tackle BJ Raji.

Houston’s rushing offense has been sort of a mixed bag this season. The Texans rank 6th in the NFL in both overall rushing yards and rushing yards per game. However, more troublesome is what they do on a per-play basis: 3.8 yards. That’s 23rd(!) in the NFL, and not nearly good enough for a team that fashions itself as a ground-based, play-action football team.

Taking a look at the last three games, Houston has averaged 3.1 yards per run against the Titans, and 3.2 against the Packers. Two bad performances. Against the Jets, Foster had 152 rushing yards, but 46 came on 1 play. Removing that one play (which was very-well blocked, to be fair), and Houston averaged 3.6 yards per carry. That number, mind you, comes against a Jets defense that was sliced and diced by the 49ers eight days earlier.

A lot of fingers have been pointed to the right side of the offensive line, with newcomers Antoine Caldwell and Ben Jones at right guard, and Derek Newton and Ryan Harris at right tackle. Clearly, the transition has been turbulent at times on that side. However, the left side needs to play better as well, and that begins with center Chris Myers.

Against Green Bay, Foster had no room up the middle, even with Raji sitting out the game. Part of being an elite football team is being able to take advantage of matchups, and the interior offensive line failed to do so. I think Myers is a terrific player and one of the best centers in the NFL, but the overall inconsistencies of the rushing attack can’t all be due to the right side of the offensive line.

On Sunday, Myers faces one of the NFL’s best defensive players in Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. He’s massive, powerful, and quick. Even with Ngata, Baltimore allowed 227 yards on the ground to the Cowboys, as Felix Jones and DeMarco Murray were able to find tons of creases. Myers needs to lead this offensive line to do the same kind of damage the Dallas line was able to inflict.

No Ray Lewis, no Lardarius Webb, and no excuses for the Texans to put together a big-time game on the ground. Foster should be fresh (it feels like he barely played against the Packers), and Ben Tate will be healthier. Many will be looking for bounce-back efforts on defense for Houston, but the onus is on Myers and Duane Brown to punish Baltimore on the ground.

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Antrel Rolle says Robert Griffin III is all-around quarterback, 'different' than Michael Vick

For years, Michael Vick has been considered the epitome of the dual threat quarterback with top-notch speed and a cannon for an arm. But as more and more quarterbacks enter the league with the ability to make plays with their legs, he's no longer a novelty.

The Giants have already faced a few dual threat quarterbacks this season. First there was Cam Newton, and there was Vick. Last Sunday they got small doses of 49ers backup Colin Kaepernick. But next Sunday may be the ultimate test. Robert Griffin III has taken the league by storm as a rookie.

For years, Michael Vick has been considered the epitome of the dual threat quarterback with top-notch speed and a cannon for an arm. But as more and more quarterbacks enter the league with the ability to make plays with their legs, he's no longer a novelty.

The Giants have already faced a few dual threat quarterbacks this season. First there was Cam Newton, and there was Vick. Last Sunday they got small doses of 49ers backup Colin Kaepernick. But next Sunday may be the ultimate test. Robert Griffin III has taken the league by storm as a rookie.

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PHOTO: Sam Shields Celebrates His INT vs Texans


Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields points to the stands as he celebrates an interception against the Houston Texans during the second half of their NFL football game in Houston October 14.

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WEEK 6 proCane Stats

Lamar Miller (RB) Miami Dolphins: ACTIVE but did not receive any carries

Olivier Vernon (DE/LB) Miami Dolphins: 4 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 tackles for loss, 3 QB hits. Led the Dolphins in sacks.

Vince Wilfork (DL) New England Patriots: 1 tackle, 1 pass deflection, 1 QB hit

Ray Lewis (LB) Baltimore Ravens: 14 tackles, 8 solo tackles

Ed Reed (S) Baltimore Ravens: 3 solo tackles

Bryant McKinnie (OL) Baltimore Ravens: ACTIVE but did not record any stats.

Travis Benjamin (WR) Cleveland Browns: INACTIVE due to injury

DeMarcus Van Dyke (DB) Pittsburgh Steelers: ACTIVE but did not record any stats.

Andre Johnson (WR) Houston Texans: 8 catches for 75 yards. Led Texans in receiving.

Chris Myers (OL) Houston Texans: ACTIVE but did not record any stats.

Brandon Harris (DB) Houston Texans: INACTIVE

Reggie Wayne (WR) Indianapolis Colts: 5 catches 87 yards. Led the Colts in receiving for 2nd straight week.

Antonio Dixon (DL) Indianapolis Colts: 2 tackles, 1 solo tackle

Colin McCarthy (LB) Tennessee Titans: 8 tackles, 3 solo tackles

DJ Williams (LB) Denver Broncos: INACTIVE due to suspension

Willis McGahee (RB) Denver Broncos: 17 carries for 56 yards. 4 catches for 42 yards.

Orlando Franklin (OL) Denver Broncos: ACTIVE but did not record any stats.

Allen Bailey (DE) Kansas City Chiefs: ACTIVE but did not record any stats.

Eric Winston (OL) Kansas City Chiefs: ACTIVE but did not record any stats.

Richard Gordon (TE) Oakland Raiders: INACTIVE due to injury

Kenny Phillips (S) New York Giants: INACTIVE due to injury

Antrel Rolle (S) New York Giants: 6 solo tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 2 pass deflections. 2 INTs 42 return yards

Adewale Ojomo (DE) New York Giants: INACTIVE

Santana Moss (WR) Washington Redskins: 4 catches for 46 yards. Led Redskins in receiving.

Leonard Hankerson (WR) Washington Redskins: 2 catches fir 23 yards.

Brandon Meriweather (S) Washington Redskins: INACTIVE

Devin Hester (WR/PR) Chicago Bears: BYE WEEK

Jason Fox (OL) Detroit Lions: ACTIVE but did not record any stats.

Sam Shields (DB) Green Bay Packers: 4 solo tackles, 1 pass deflection, 1 INT

Matt Bosher (P) Atlanta Falcons: 4 punts for 211 yards 52.8 avg. 2 punts inside the 20.

Jon Beason (LB) Carolina Panthers: BYE WEEK

Greg Olsen (TE) Carolina Panthers: BYE WEEK

Jimmy Graham (TE) New Orleans Saints: BYE WEEK

Jon Vilma (LB) New Orleans Saints: BYE WEEK

Calais Campbell (DE) Arizona Cardinals: 5 solo tackles, 2 tackles for loss

LaRon Byrd (WR) Arizona Cardinals: ACTIVE but did not record any stats.

Rocky McIntosh (LB) St. Louis Rams: 1 solo tackle

Frank Gore (RB) San Francisco 49ers: 8 carries for 36 yards. 4.5 avg. 4 catches for 20 yards

Tavares Gooden (LB) San Francisco 49ers: 1 tackle

Roscoe Parrish (WR) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 3 punt returns for 21 yards. 7.0 avg

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Saints noncommittal on Jonathan Vilma's status for Bucs game

Barring a favorable ruling in federal court, Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma has a window of one week to play in the NFL this season. His coaches and teammates weren't about to close it as the team returned from its open date, as unlikely as the scenario appeared.

Vilma told New Orleans TV station WVUE on Sunday that he would be activated from the PUP list and play against Tampa Bay. Interim coach Aaron Kromer and new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo spoke positively about him on Monday but were non-committal.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reconfirmed his season-long suspension of Vilma for bounty-related offenses last week, but Vilma has appealed the decision. That appeal will be addressed next Tuesday, making him eligible to play this Sunday at Tampa Bay.

The issue is his health and familiarity with Spagnuolo's scheme. The Saints placed him on the Physically Unable to Perform list when a three-man appeals panel lifted his suspension the week before the season opener and threw it back to Goodell.

Vilma is eligible to come off PUP on Tuesday.

"He hasn't practiced yet, and we'll see what we can do on that," Kromer said. "If he can come anywhere close to being near able to play, he's going to say that he's playing. That's just Jonathan Vilma. He's jumping out of his shoes since he got back here before Game 1. He's worked really hard the last six weeks on PUP. Physically, he feels ready. Mentally, he feels ready. He's excited, and we'll see what happens."

Vilma was ineligible to practice Monday because the NFL's sixth week will not officially end until after the Monday night game.

“It's my understanding he'll be able to practice on Wednesday, which is a great thing for our team,” Spagnuolo said. “We have some things to figure out, but it's a good problem to have. It's good to have a guy like Jonathan Vilma ready to go. We know he's a long way away, and he does, too, but you just have to love the guy. He loves playing, loves competing, loves the guys and wants to be out there.”

Atlanta import Curtis Johnson replaced Vilma as the starting middle linebacker and has a team-high 54 tackles, matching Vilma's total from all of 2011, when he was bothered by a lingering left knee injury. Vilma has had three procedures on the knee since last November, so his health remains a question. He also did not have any time under Spagnuolo until his first suspension was lifted right before the season.

“He's been right there step for step with all of us,” Spagnuolo said. “But he's got to get out there and get a feel. The game is fast. It's one thing to sit in a meeting room. My guess is that he's a pretty quick learner and will be up to speed pretty quick.”

Vilma is a long-time captain for the Saints.

“Just getting him back out there will be a morale boost for everybody,” linebacker Scott Shanle said. “To see him out there with a helmet and pads on running around with a New Orleans Saints uniform on would be a huge step.”

Safety Roman Harper agreed.

“He's one our leaders,” Harper said. “He's a captain and our guy. You can never have too many good players.”

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Ravens unsure of Ray Lewis' future plans

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Ravens coach John Harbaugh announced Monday that linebacker Ray Lewis has a complete tear of his triceps muscle and is out for the season. Whether Lewis will be back next season is more unclear.

Lewis, a 13-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker, will turn 38 in May. Harbaugh, who said he heard the news about Lewis five minutes before the news conference, hasn't spoken to Lewis about 2013.

"I'm not going to make any comment on that," Harbaugh said. "But that's for Ray to speak on. I admire Ray Lewis, and everybody that knows him feels that way about him. I'll be looking forward to see what he says about that."

Lewis is one of the most versatile defenders in league history. According to ESPN Stats & Information, he’s the only player to amass 40 career sacks and 30 career interceptions (sacks became official in 1982).

Lewis tore the triceps muscle in his right arm toward the end of the Ravens' 31-29 win over the Cowboys. He was forced to stand on the sideline and watch as Dallas marched downfield to score a touchdown and pull within two points. Then, in the final seconds, the Cowboys moved into field goal range, but the attempt missed.

Lewis made 14 tackles Sunday and leads the Ravens with 57 tackles this season.

Lewis is the latest injury to hit a struggling Ravens defense. Lardarius Webb, the team's best cornerback, is out for the season after tearing his left ACL on Sunday, and Terrell Suggs, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, remains out after tearing his Achilles tendon in April.

Harbaugh didn't seem concerned about how these losses will affect the Ravens (5-1), who are tied for the AFC's best record.

"I feel great about our guys' chances," Harbaugh said. "It's something that we've been able to do in the past. Obviously, it's going to define what we're able to accomplish this year. That's something that we're going to need to do from a leadership standpoint and from a playing standpoint. Our chances of doing it? I don't put odds on it. That's something we're going to have to get done."

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Colin McCarthy's ankle won't heal this season

Tennessee Titans middle linebacker Colin McCarthy missed three games this year with a high ankle sprain.

He tells that he doesn't plan on missing any more games, even though the injury won't heal as long as he keeps playing on this season.

McCarthy said he has never had a high ankle sprain before in his career, and that he simply will have to rehab each week in order to try and play on Sundays.

“That's what I've been hearing. I've never had a high ankle (before), so I don't know what to expect,” McCarthy said. “It doesn't get healthy. It's something nagging for the rest of the season, I'm expecting. So I'll just have to deal with it.”

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Jonathan Vilma ready to play Sunday

New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma says he will be activated from the physically unable to perform list and will be allowed to play Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Vilma was suspended for the season because of his role in the Saints’ bounty scandal. The suspension was vacated on a technicality and reinstated by Commissioner Roger Goodell. Vilma has appealed, as have present teammate Will Smith and past teammates Anthony Hargrove and Scott Fujita. All received suspensions of varying lengths and are eligible to play until the league rules on the appeals, which is likely to take place Oct. 23 (via ESPN).

“I’ll be allowed to practice, I’ll be allowed to play versus Tampa Bay,” said Vilma (via WVUE-TV).

Vilma has had three procedures on his left knee since last November and was placed on the PUP list during the second week of the season and has had several procedures on his knee, including platelet-rich plasma therapy in Germany.

“I’m feeling good, feeling good,” Vilma said. “I know that the media hasn’t seen much of me for a while, but I’ve actually been working out, working hard, training hard so I can get to this point to be able to give our team a chance to win in Tampa Bay.”

Vilma’s lawyers filed a motion today in a New Orleans court to vacate his suspension and “put a halt to the ongoing and fundamentally unfair treatment” by Goodell. The motion also seeks appointment of a neutral arbitrator, rather than Goodell.

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Timing, teammates help Panthers’ Greg Olsen

Timing and teammates have helped Panthers tight end Greg Olsen through his newborn son’s first few days.

Olsen spent four days and nights at the hospital last week watching over his son, who was born with a heart defect that required surgery.

“It’s been a hard week but it’s been a good week. We’re fortunate for the care that he’s been able to get,” Olsen said. “He’s responded really well to the multiple procedures that they’ve done. We’re very fortunate and very blessed that he responded the way he did. The doctors and everyone have been incredible here at Levine (Children’s Hospital).”

Olsen’s wife, Kara, delivered twins on Tuesday, and TJ had his first surgery on Thursday. Olsen was able to get his mind off football for a week during the Panthers’ bye.

“I hadn’t put much thought into the game this last week or so,” he said. “And it really worked out well that it was the bye. It would have been tough yesterday having a game to prepare for all week, but I didn’t have to worry about that. It was nice to come in here today and run around and get into the swing of things.”

Several teammates, coach Ron Rivera, offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and owner Jerry Richardson have visited the Olsens. Olsen said the outpouring from the community has been incredible – from emails to letters at his home to even a food drive.

Wide receiver Steve Smith and his wife organized the players and their significant others to supply meals for the Olsens.

“It really is a special community,” Olsen said. “I’ve said it since the day I got here. ... In these bad times it really shows, but I knew it beforehand. This is a special group of people around here. It’s a really well-run organization. Right now we’re benefitting from it but it will be someone else some other time.”

Still evaluating: Rivera said it will be later in the week before decisions are made regarding who will start at middle linebacker and right guard against Dallas on Sunday.

Rookie Luke Kuechly started in place of Jon Beason (knee) against Seattle and said he worked at middle and weakside linebacker Monday.

Rivera said earlier this season he preferred to keep Kuechly on the outside, but he was forced to adjust when Beason was unable to play against the Seahawks.

“The approach is you’ve got to see who is doing what and put them in the best position,” Rivera said. “Again, we just have to evaluate our players, evaluate what we do and how things fit.”

Geoff Hangartner is expected to replace Ryan Kalil at center, opening the starting right guard position to Jeff Byers or Garry Williams.

The Panthers added free agent Thomas Austin last week after Kalil’s season-ending injury was discovered.

Austin, undrafted out of Clemson, signed with the Minnesota Vikings in 2010. He played three games with Houston in 2011 and most recently was with New England before being cut Oct. 2.

“He’s a veteran guy who’s played in this league. You try to find those kind of guys who are out there,” Rivera said. “He happened to be coming off an injury and we were able to sign him.”

Cowboy watch: ESPN reported Monday that Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray suffered a ligament injury to his foot but it is not season-threatening. Murray leads the Cowboys with 330 rushing yards and also has 17 receptions for 118 yards.

Rivera said the Panthers are planning to face Murray.

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Ray Lewis' season-ending injury means Ravens lose their heart and soul, Mr. Everything

Even as Ray Lewis' game weakened (a little) and the criticism strengthened (a lot) as the Baltimore Ravens attempted to morph into an elite offensive team led by Joe Flacco, there was never doubt about one thing inside the club's locker room:

If Baltimore again gathers in a pregame tunnel leading out to another AFC championship game, it wants No. 52 there – clad in purple and black – barking one of his over-the-top motivational speeches, setting the tone and believing he'll deliver in the biggest moments.

The Ravens are built to play in February – a Super Bowl-or-bust kind of season at hand – and that road is easier traveled with linebacker Ray Lewis leading the way; even at 37 years old and blockable.

Lewis is gone for the season, his 17th in the NFL. The bad news came on Monday, courtesy of an MRI on torn triceps.

At his age, it could be the end of a legendary and dominating Hall of Fame career, the ferocious middle linebacker of a generation. That decision, which would be as chilling as it is sudden, is still to come.

Thirteen Pro Bowl selections, 10 All-Pro nods, two NFL defensive player of the year awards, a Super Bowl MVP, nearly 1,600 career solo tackles and 41½ career sacks is what the résumé reads. Yet Lewis meant more than that. His legacy will come from his presence, his essence, his leadership and his ability to lift teammates and drop opponents at the same time.

That's what was taken from these 5-1 Ravens.

And for all the talk about Lewis' slowing speed, or the emergence of Flacco, or the transition to an offensively-minded, capable-of-winning-a-shootout club (evidence: 31-29 victory over Dallas on Sunday) the impact of the man in the middle of that iconic defense can't be understated.

No, he isn't as great as he was. No, he isn't as fast or as strong or as sure a tackler. Yes, he lost weight to regain speed, then probably lost the speed anyway, only now he was weaker. He was clearly beat on a couple of key Felix Jones runs Sunday.

Yet it's not like he was some stiff. He was dealing with the expectations that come from playing in your own former shadow. He still made a team-high 14 tackles against Dallas, eight of them solo before getting hurt – his career perhaps ending on regular season solo tackle No. 1,567.

He has a team high 57 on the season despite playing without running mate Terrell Suggs, the reigning defensive player of the year who's been out all season with injury. It was Suggs' return, expected soon, that could've alleviated a bit of Lewis workload.

Instead the Ravens' defense isn't just in transition, it's without its transformative figure – the one that gave the franchise its identity.

Lewis is a larger-than-life figure, even in a big-ego world of the NFL. The way he carries himself, preaches, dresses and, most important, brings intensity to every task – be it an offseason workout, a late-game stand or a midweek meeting – rubs off on all.

His younger teammates – who grew up watching him, even listening to the speeches on his regular "mic'd up" TV sessions – were often in awe. He was the relentlessly positive force that preached the team, the team, the team.

When a botched field goal cost the Ravens a shot at the Super Bowl last season, and gave them a frustrating fourth consecutive playoff with at least one victory but no conference title, he defended the kicker. Over the years when the Ravens routinely fielded one of the NFL's best defenses – top three in fewest points allowed in each of the past four seasons – only to be failed by a sputtering offense, he mostly held his tongue.

Even now, with an offense capable of spinning a scoreboard, he wouldn't even retroactively attack the unit. Is this the offense you've been waiting for all these years, Lewis was asked after a Week 1 blowout of the rival Cincinnati Bengals?

"I've been here a long time …" he said, before breaking into a smile. "You can finish that off for me."

These weren't just the Baltimore Ravens that young players were joining. These were Ray Lewis' Baltimore Ravens. Everything, on both sides of the ball, appeared to run through him.

And so when the offense finally turned the corner and showed an ability to reach elite status, the season became a bit of a rallying cry for Ray (and veteran safety Ed Reed).

"[I want to] give Ray another [Super Bowl]," cornerback Lardarius Webb said earlier this season. "It's not even about me."

And, yes, that's the same Lardarius Webb, the team's best cover corner, who also was lost for the season Sunday with a torn ACL in his left knee. And nose guard Haloti Ngata was banged up Sunday. And Suggs is still out.

So increasingly the key to this Super Bowl contender is on offense. Suggs will return. Ngata will heal up. Reed will still ball hawk.

But gone is the heart and soul, the big talking, bigger hitting legend; the prototype middle linebacker that didn't just deliver sacks and wins but defined the franchise's soul for all these years.

Ray Lewis is gone for the year, gone maybe forever, and whether it's in the middle of a key possession or those emotional moments in a pre-game, championship game tunnel, there isn't any way to replace everything he brought to the Ravens, slow, slowing or not.

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Kenny Phillips likely a week away from game action

New York Giants CB Kenny Phillips (knee) is likely a week away from returning to game action. Phillips will get the chance to return to practice this week. "I don't know how far we can go with him," head coach Tom Coughlin said.

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Don't expect Ray Lewis to walk away

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- With Ray Lewis out for the season with torn triceps muscle in his right arm, the biggest question now is whether this marks the end of a Hall of Fame career.

No one knows what Lewis is thinking at this point, but don't expect him to announce his retirement anytime soon. Even if Lewis was thinking of hanging it up this season, the injury shelved those plans.

Lewis, 37, is the type of leader and player who will want to leave the game on his own terms. He won't be forced out by an injury, a coach or critics. If you think this is the end of Lewis' career, you haven't been paying attention to the 17 years he's been in the league. This is a linebacker who has built his reputation on taking away the wills of running backs. It will not sit well with Lewis that his final NFL game was spent as a spectator while his defense was trying to stop the Cowboys from a winning drive. As Lewis stood there wearing his shoulder pads and standing as close as he could to the field of play, it was not a picture of a player who was ready to say goodbye to the game.

What fuels Lewis is the desire to win another championship. His goal has always been to announce his retirement as the best player to have ever suited up for this game. He has the multiple Defensive Player of the Year awards, Pro Bowls and All-Pro selections to back that up. The only part of this game that has eluded Lewis is a second Super Bowl championship. That's why it will be tough for Lewis to sit out the rest of this season with the Ravens at 5-1 and primed for another playoff run. That's why Lewis will return in 2013.

"I don't know when it will all be over for me," Lewis said before the 2011 season. "People want to use my age against me. They say I'm too old. People fear getting old. I don't fear that because now I have wisdom and a tough body to go with that wisdom."

Based on what he has done for the Ravens and the game, Lewis has earned the right to make the decision on when he will play his last snap. Lewis is one of six players to win the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award multiple times since it was first awarded in 1971. He's been selected for 12 Pro Bowls, fourth most in NFL history and two behind offensive lineman Bruce Matthews' record of 14. His 50 career takeaways rank second most by a linebacker in NFL history, according to Elias Sports Bureau (Jack Ham had 53).

Lewis is under contract through the 2015 season, and one former teammate told me that he wouldn't be surprised to see Lewis play to the end of it.

"The Ray Lewis i know will not end his career off this injury. He's conquered much more than this. He will determine when its over not a injury," Lewis' close friend Deion Sanders wrote on Twitter.

Whether Lewis wants to come back is up to him. The injury is not a career-threatening one, according to ESPN injury expert Stephania Bell. She said it takes at least four months for an injury of this nature to heal. So, Lewis would be fully healed by the start of training camp.

"It can be repaired," Bell said. "He can come back strong. He can play the position again."

How effective Lewis is at playing the position has been scrutinized this season. He lost an estimated 20 to 30 pounds before the season in order to increase his speed. But Lewis had trouble getting off blocks and making plays in space, one of the reasons the usually dominant Ravens defense dropped to No. 26 overall.

The numbers, though, show that Lewis was still making an impact. He led the Ravens this year with 57 tackles, which ranked fourth in the NFL after six weeks.

Lewis is the Iron Man of NFL linebackers. Mike Singletary retired after 12 seasons with the Chicago Bears, before his play declined. The Pittsburgh Steelers' Jack Lambert walked away after 11 years because of a severe toe injury. And the Bears' Dick Butkus stopped after nine seasons because of knee injuries. Lewis is approaching two decades in a league where 300-pound linemen are coming at him every time the ball is snapped. The reason for his longevity is his work ethic, which will be a factor in Lewis making a fast recovery from the triceps injury.

What hasn't changed with Lewis over the years is his ability to inspire teams and players. He spoke to college teams across the country this offseason, and two of them (Stanford in the men's basketball NIT and Loyola in the men's lacrosse NCAA tournament) won championships after his talk. He is considered the "godfather" of the NFL because he talks to hundreds of players on a daily basis, which is why he is one of the most respected players to ever play this game. Even his biggest rivals offered support Monday.

"Just heard on ESPN that ray lewis is out 4 the yr. hate hearing that because hes 1 of the NFL's true legends. wishing him a full recovery," Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley posted on Twitter.

While Lewis isn't the same dominant player from a decade ago and they will miss cornerback Lardarius Webb (torn ACL) more on the field, the Ravens still need Lewis to come back. Baltimore can replace Lewis in the starting lineup with Dannell Ellerbe, but the team can't fill the void of Lewis. No one can think about the Ravens without picturing Lewis. He is the longest-tenured Raven on the roster by six seasons (safety Ed Reed is second). The Ravens selected Lewis in the 1996 draft before they selected their team colors.

Lewis remains the unquestioned leader of the Ravens locker room. When Baltimore lost last season's AFC Championship Game in heartbreaking fashion, the players said they left with the words spoken by Lewis after the game: "This year, we did what we were supposed to do, we fought as a team. ... There will be one Super Bowl champ crowned at the end of this year, that's it. So the way we feel, somebody gonna feel like that tomorrow, and somebody gonna feel like that in a week. That's a fact. And the fact is, we gotta come back and go to work to make sure we finish it next time. That's all we gotta do."

And that's why Lewis will be coming back in 2013.

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Antrel Rolle comes up big from natural position

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.—The Giants were adamant about keeping Antrel Rolle at his free safety position this season after spending virtually all 2011 as the nickel cornerback.

Rolle was needed to fill a gaping hole in the secondary, even though nickel back is not where he does his best work. Strictly a safety this season, Rolle has been freed up to roam the field and make more plays.

His best showing to date was in San Francisco, where he intercepted the league’s most difficult quarterback to pick off, Alex Smith, twice in a third-quarter display of playmaking.

Rolle has great hands, but he’s often been unable to use them because he’s dropping deep in coverage. He's also versatile enough to be used in other roles, such as a primary blitzer against running quarterbacks such as Michael Vick.

With starting strong safety Kenny Phillips out with sprained knee ligaments, Rolle’s experience in the defensive backfield the past few games has been even more vital as he’s been required to help backup Stevie Brown get in the proper position.

Rolle has been dealing with a sore left knee but hasn’t missed a game and rarely misses a snap during the course of a game.

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Greg Olsen playing through concerns over son's health

CHARLOTTE—Panthers tight end Greg Olsen is in the midst of a productive season while dealing with a difficult time in his personal life.

Olsen's wife, Kara, delivered twins during the team's bye week. The baby girl is healthy, but the Olsens' son was born with a congenital heart condition diagnosed during prenatal exams.

TJ Olsen last week underwent the first of three open-heart surgeries scheduled before his third birthday. The first procedure is the most risky and invasive, but the doctor who performed the surgery said early signs are positive.

Olsen, in his second year with the Panthers, will be spending several nights a week at the Charlotte hospital, where TJ will remain for about 40 days. He said he's grateful for the support of the Panthers, including owner Jerry Richardson, who chartered a plane and accompanied the Olsens to Boston in May for consultations with pediatric heart specialists.

TJ's middle name is Jerry in honor of the Panthers' owner.

Meanwhile, Olsen is the Panthers' leading receiver with 22 catches and ranks among the top 10 tight ends in the league in receiving with 293 yards and a touchdown.

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Fla. trial for alleged Sean Taylor shooter delayed

SeanTaylor copy
MIAMI -- The trial has been delayed from November to April for the alleged shooter in the 2007 slaying of former Washington Redskins star safety Sean Taylor.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy on Monday set the trial to begin April 15 for 22-year-old Eric Rivera Jr. It was previously set for Nov. 5 but the chief prosecutor has a conflict.

He's one of five defendants from the Fort Myers area who are accused of killing Taylor during a botched robbery at the player's Miami-Dade County home. Four have pleaded not guilty and are being tried separately. Each faces a possible life sentence if convicted.

A fifth man previously pleaded guilty to murder and burglary charges and is likely to testify against the others.

Taylor starred in college at the University of Miami.

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Vilma: Goodell's new suspension based on 'farcical review'

New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma has filed a motion in Louisiana federal court asking the court to vacate the reaffirmed suspension for the rest of the season recently issued by the NFL in the Bountygate case.

The veteran linebacker, who appealed the reaffirmation to commissioner Roger Goodell last week, is eligible to be activated off the physically-unable-to-perform list this week after spending the first six weeks on PUP while rehabbing a knee injury. Vilma told a New Orleans TV station he'll be activated and will play on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he must pass a physical before being cleared to practice.

The court filings ask Goodell to recuse himself in the case, as the NFL Players Association told USA TODAY Sports last week, and request the court "put an end to the ongoing and fundamentally unfair treatment of Jonathan Vilma."

Vilma's legal team claims Goodell "engaged in a farcical review (of the original suspensions), imposed the same judgment as previously imposed and continued his abuse of the process."

Vilma's team also claims Goodell "prejudged" the accusations against Vilma before giving him a chance to address them. It's their contention this "conflicts with the very essence of the NFL-NFLPA" collective bargaining agreement, which is why they contend the suspension should be vacated.

Included in the filings was a declaration from Vilma's attorney Peter Ginsberg in which Ginsberg claims former Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy explained how he believes he was identified as the whistleblower in the case.

Kennedy told USA TODAY Sports last week he never talked to NFL investigators, had no knowledge of a bounty system and had a theory on how he was identified as being the league's snitch on the case. Ginsberg declares Kennedy told him he screamed at his teammates at halftime of the 2010 NFC Championship Game that they were allowing the Saints' defenders to hit quarterback Brett Favre "as if there's money on it."

The league claims Kennedy had told former Vikings coach Childress that Anthony Hargrove, then a Saints dfensive lineman, had told him of a $10,000 bounty on Favre. Ginsberg's declaration states Kennedy told him Hargrove never informed him of a bounty and that he didn't speak to Childress about the bounty system.

Vilma's legal team also asserts Vilma has never had a bank account in Louisiana and couldn't have withdrawn the $10,000 the league alleges he offered as a bounty on Favre and, the week before, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner.

Also included in the filings is a transcript of Vilma's hearing before Goodell and the NFL's legal team last month. Vilma was asked about the pay-for-performance system and said players were rewarded for "cart-offs" or "knock-outs," which he claimed are the same.

Vilma said the players were rewarded only for legal hits in which opposing players left the game for only a few plays and were not injured, but rather had the wind knocked out of them.

"If his shoulder gets hurt, he is out for the rest of the game, he is injured, he is gone," Vilma said, accoding to the transcript. "If his knee, for example -- there was a time when Tracy Porter hit a receiver, something happened where their knee was messed up, they were out for the rest of the game, they literally had to be on the stretcher and carted off. These were serious injuries, you don't get rewarded for that."

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Antrel Rolle stymies Smith with pair of picks

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants safety Antrel Rolle got a tour of the 49ers' Santa Clara facility in April 2005, when the team considered taking Rolle in that year's draft.

Eight seasons later, Rolle was a nightmare for the player the Niners did pick with the first choice that year -- quarterback Alex Smith.

Rolle picked off Smith twice in the third quarter as the 49ers were trying to erase a 17-3 deficit. On the first one, Smith was attempting to thread a tight pass to former Giant Mario Manningham. Smith threw high and Rolle made a spectacular, one-handed pick that set up a Lawrence Tynes 30-yard field goal.

Once the 49ers got the ball back, Rolle was at it again, stepping in front of Michael Crabtree with his second interception of Smith in a span of three passes.

"The first one was Cover 3, and I was able to read the quarterback," Rolle said.

On the second one, Rolle was first in a Cover 3 look and then he came down to blanket Crabtree on a crossing route. When Crabtree didn't make a sharp cut, Rolle sped in front of him to pick off the pass.

After the game, Rolle complimented the coaching staff and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. It was a switch from last year, when Rolle said Fewell was not taking advantage of Rolle's ball-hawking skills.

"Perry Fewell and the rest of our defensive coaches did a tremendous job getting us ready, getting us prepared for this game," he said. "The coaches, they just really emphasized the little things this week."

Rolle and the rest of the Giants' defense were able to rattle Smith one week after he posted his best game statistically of his career. Smith was clearly confused by the shifting Giants secondary and the pressure from the front four.

"I could tell at times we had him rattled," Rolle said. "But every quarterback is going to get rattled sometimes, depending on how you disguise your coverage and things of that nature."

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Jonathan Vilma asks judge to bar Goodell in bounty case

If the Saints decide Jonathan Vilma is ready, the embattled linebacker will take the field in Tampa Bay on Sunday for the first time this season.

It might also be the last time, depending on how things go at NFL headquarters and in federal court.

On Monday, Vilma again asked a federal judge to overturn his recently re-issued suspension in the NFL's bounty probe of the Saints, and the NFL Players Association made a similar request on behalf of three other players.

None of the four players' suspensions are currently being enforced, but that could change as early as next week. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has scheduled the players' appeal hearings for Oct. 23.

The players want U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan to begin considering their cases now so she may be ready to rule by the time the NFL's appeal's process concludes.

Vilma's latest filing said Goodell conducted a "farcical review" of his previously overturned disciplinary action before ruling last week that the Saints linebacker would remain suspended for the season.

The NFL did not immediately respond to requests for comment, deferring instead to its legal response which is due in federal court Wednesday.

Vilma is facing the longest suspension of four players punished in connection with what the NFL has said was a pool that rewarded Saints players with improper cash bonuses for hits that injured opponents.

Saints defensive end Will Smith was docked four games, free-agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove seven games and Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita one game. Vilma's and Smith's suspensions remain unchanged from what Goodell initially handed down. Hargrove's suspension was reduced by one game and he was given credit for five games missed as a free agent. Fujita's ban was reduced from three games.

The NFL Players Association is representing Smith, Hargrove and Fujita. Vilma has his own lawyers, Peter Ginsberg and Duke Williams.

The players said Goodell has continued to abuse his power and demonstrate bias, leaving no hope for a fair process that would respect their "industrial due process rights."

They also asked Berrigan to bar Goodell from handling any further action in the bounty matter and appoint a neutral arbitrator.

"The commissioner of a professional sports league is not exempt from the requirement that he or she be impartial when serving as an arbitrator, and courts vacate arbitration awards when a commissioner falls short of the required standard of impartiality in considering a particular matter," Vilma's new legal papers said.

In the meantime, Vilma is eligible to return to the Saints' lineup.

The linebacker has been on the club's physically unable to perform list since shortly after his initial suspension was overturned by an NFL appeal panel on Sept. 7, but now that the first six weeks of the season have passed, the Saints could activate him as early as Tuesday.

While Saints coaches declined to confirm such plans, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said it was his understanding Vilma will "be able to practice on Wednesday, which I think is a great thing for our football team and our defense."

Curtis Lofton has taken over Vilma's middle linebacker spot, but Spagnuolo said there is room in the lineup for both.

"Let's get them out there, practice and get ready with the one focus being figuring out what's best to help our team beat Tampa Bay," Spagnuolo said. "That will be the No. 1 focus this week with nothing else in sight other than that."

Fellow linebacker Scott Shanle said it would be difficult for a player to adjust to the Saints' new defense in one week of practice, but added that Vilma might be an exception.

"In the 10 years I've played he's the smartest linebacker I've played with," Shanle said. "It was talked about a lot after the (2010) Super Bowl that it was Peyton Manning and Jonathan Vilma in an audible contest and Vilma consistently won, and our coaches always had that trust in him. So when you can get a player like that back, it's a huge boost."

Of course, if the Saints do get Vilma back on the field this weekend, they could still lose him next week.

All four players punished in the bounty probe have asked Goodell to recuse himself from the NFL appeals process, but he has so far refused.

The NFLPA pointed out in its latest motion that although Goodell was given the power in the league's current labor agreement to discipline players for conduct detrimental to football, he may only do so if he complies with "governing legal standards."

The union said Goodell violated those standards by talking publicly about the players' alleged wrongdoing before the disciplinary process began, and by failing to consider conflicting witness testimony or mischaracterizations of evidence by league investigators.

"It is startling that the Commissioner has damaged the careers and reputations of the Players on such scant, contradictory and incredible sources," the NFLPA said.

A three-member appeals created by the NFL's labor agreement vacated the initial suspensions on Sept. 7 and told Goodell he needed to clarify the basis for his rulings. The panel noted that punishments should not have anything to do with cash paid out of the Saints' pay-for-performance pool, because an arbitrator other than the commissioner is supposed to handle such salary cap violations.

The latest legal filings point out that Goodell repeatedly mentioned pay-for-performance allegations as part of the basis for the initial punishment, and that the commissioner's decision to maintain similar suspensions highlights the lack of fairness in the process.

Saints coaches and players have acknowledged the existence of a pool that both fined players for penalties and offered rewards for big plays, including big, non-penalized hits that may have resulted in opposing players leaving games for a play or longer.

Goodell has stated that in their acknowledgement of the pool, the Saints have admitted they encouraged hits that were shown to have injured opponents. Regardless of intent, Goodell said, such a program is intolerable because it sends the message that hits that hurt opponents deserve a reward, and that can affect how players on team approach subsequent games. Vilma and the NFLPA initially filed suit in July, but the matter was placed on hold when the NFL appeal panel vacated the initial player suspensions on technical grounds and the disciplinary phase started over.

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Ryan Braun tops Brewers' annual awards

Leftfielder Ryan Braun and right-hander Yovani Gallardo were unanimous picks as the Brewers' most valuable player and most valuable pitcher, respectively, for the 2012 season in the annual voting of the Milwaukee chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Eight ballots were returned by the BBWAA chapter in Milwaukee, and Braun and Gallardo were first on all eight ballots, receiving 40 points each in the 5-3-1 points system for first, second and third place. Three names were submitted for each category.

Also honored were third baseman Aramis Ramirez as top newcomer and right-hander Marco Estrada as unsung hero. Closer John Axford won the good guy award, given to a player who interacts particularly well with the media.

Braun batted .319 and led the Brewers with 41 home runs, 112 RBI, 108 runs scored, a .391 on-base percentage and a .595 slugging percentage. The reigning NL MVP played in 154 games, second on the club.

Ramirez, who batted .300 with 50 doubles, 27 home runs and 105 RBI, was a unanimous runner-up for second place as club MVP, and first baseman Corey Hart (.270, 30 homers, 83 RBI) received all the third-place votes.

Gallardo led the Brewers' late-season charge into wild-card contention by reeling off eight consecutive victories over an 11-start span. He finished with a 16-9 record and 3.66 ERA, leading the club with 204 innings while logging at least 200 strikeouts (204) for the fourth consecutive season, extending his club record.

Estrada was second in the most valuable pitcher balloting with 13 points (four votes for second, one for third), followed by Mike Fiers with eight points (two votes for second, two for third).

Ramirez topped rightfielder Norichika Aoki for top newcomer, receiving seven first-place votes and one for second for 38 points. Aoki received the other first-place vote and also had six for second place to finish with 23 points. Fiers was third in that balloting with six points (six votes for third).

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PHOTO: Matt Bosher Celebrates Winning FG


Falcons kicker Matt Bryant (3) and holder Matt Bosher watch with the Raiders' Pat Lee as Bryant's 55-yard game-winning field goal goes through Sunday in Atlanta.

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Breakout game for Miami Dolphins’ Olivier Vernon a big hit

On third down at the 45, the Dolphins talked about getting pressure on St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford at any cost.

Down by three points, if the Rams picked up a nice chunk of yardage, they would have been in prime real estate for a tying field goal.

“We tried to put as much pressure on him as we could,” Olivier Vernon said. “A batted down pass, some pressure so he would throw over the receiver or into the ground. We had to do something. We knew we couldn’t let them get into field-goal range.”

Vernon took business into his own hands as the rookie out of the University Miami had his professional coming out party in the Dolphins 17-14 win. Vernon came up the middle and took down Bradford for a three-yard loss.

“It was a great feeling,” Vernon said.

The Rams decided to try and give the strong-legged Greg Zuerlein a chance at an NFL record with a 66-yard attempt, one that had the distance but was off wide left.

“I’m so happy. I feel blessed to be able to make a play for the team,” said Vernon, who ended with two sacks, four tackles and three hits on Bradford.”

Vernon almost wasn’t on the field for the Rams’ final offensive play. In the second quarter, Vernon went down after rolling his ankle on a kickoff return after the Dolphins’ first touchdown.

After missing little time, Vernon was back on the field.

“It takes a lot to keep me out of a game,” Vernon said. “I felt like I was good. I just needed a little tape, a little gum and I was good.”

Said Cameron Wake: “He was [like] Paul Pierce, with the drama. That shows the kind of competitor he is. This is a man’s game. It sounds harsh, but nobody cares about your injuries. They want you out there, making plays. ‘What are you going to do for me now?’ I’m glad he’s on my team.”

Vernon, a third round pick from UM, came up with a big sack of Bradford earlier in the game. With St. Louis up 6-0 and driving in the second, Vernon hit Bradford for a loss of eight yards on a third-and-six from the Dolphins’ 26. Vernon came off the line untouched and hit Bradford as he was still backpedaling out of a shotgun formation.

On the next play, Zuerlein missed his first field goal of the season — in what would be a string of three consecutive field goal misses in the game.

The win was sweet for Vernon and the Dolphins, who had struggled in close games earlier this season. The Dolphins lost overtime games to the Jets and Cardinals, but have now held on to take out the Bengals and Rams in successive weeks.

“Everyone is playing as one on both offense and defense. We know we can win,” said Vernon, a graduate of Miami American High.

“Everyone has doubted us throughout the year. Even me, growing up, people have been doubting the Dolphins. This is a good win for us, shows we can win in a dogfight. Those overtime games, we can finish them now. We needed to prove that to ourselves.”

Vernon planned to celebrate the victory the way he usually does after each home game: By joining his dad’s tailgate outside the stadium. “You want to play good in front of your family,” Vernon said, “represent the name. It’s good to have them all here supporting you.”

Vernon enjoyed those postgame tailgates after Hurricanes games as well — he spent three seasons playing for the University of Miami at Sun Life Stadium before deciding to leave early after an abbreviated junior season.

Vernon had 1.5 sacks in six games for Miami last year after being suspended for the first six as part of the Nevin Shapiro investigation.

“He’s one of those guys who works really hard,” teammate Koa Misi said of Vernon’s big game. “He’s a rookie we can depend on. He makes plays. He made big plays [Sunday]. He’s quick and hustles to the ball. He’s good.”

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Ravens worried Ray Lewis has torn tricep

If the worst case scenario holds true for the Baltimore Ravens, their long-time respected defense is about to take an even bigger hit with the injuries to linebacker Ray Lewis and cornerback Lardarius Webb.

@JeffDarlington: Very bad news for Ravens' defense: The team fears torn triceps for LB Ray Lewis and torn ACL for CB Lardarius Webb, according to sources.

The Ravens had already lost linebacker Terrell Suggs, who tore his Achilles tendon early in the offseason and has missed the entire season so far as a result. Without Lewis or Webb, the Ravens' defense loses even more credibility, putting the pressure on Joe Flaaco and the Ravens' offense to make plays.

Over the years, Baltimore has slowly transitioned into a respectable offensive force, which it needs to be even more if key defensive players end up missing significant time.

There's no reported timetable for how long either Lew or Webb will be out, as this is just team speculation until the diagnosis is released.

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Reggie Wayne catches 900th career reception in Colts loss

Coming off an emotional win over the Packers, the Indianapolis Colts knew it would be difficult to replicate last week's upset on the road versus the New York Jets. Despite missing their star cornerback, Darrelle Revis, the Jets have an intimidating defensive unit equipped with multiple first-round draft picks. Although covered well by the Jets defense, Colts veteran wide receiver, Reggie Wayne, was able to catch just enough passes to secure his spot among the elite receivers with his 900th career reception.

Wayne is the 14th player of all time to pass the 900 mark. With only five of fourteen players still active in the NFL, Wayne has a shot climbing the ranks. Currently, Reggie is the youngest active NFL player with over 900 receptions.

Wayne ranks third among players who have caught all of their 900+ passes on one team. Pittsburgh Steeler's Hines Ward, and former Colt, Marvin Harrison, are the only other two wide receivers in this group.

In the 9-35 loss to the Jets, the Colts were rattled by New York's defense. With only 5 receptions for 87 yards, Wayne was the teammate the Colts' quarterback, Andrew Luck, connected to the most. Wayne was responsible for 1 of 2 lost fumbles by the Colts.

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10,000-yard milestone bittersweet for Andre Johnson

Everybody knows Andre Johnson is one of the best. Now the Texans wide receiver has a big milestone to add to his resume.

Johnson surpassed 10,000 receiving yards for his career during the fourth quarter Sunday night. He became the 38th player in NFL history to do so, but he said he does not plan to celebrate.

“It’s a big accomplishment, but the way things played out (tonight) it doesn’t feel good,” he said.

It took Johnson 128 games to reach 10,000 yards. That makes him the sixth-fastest player to get to 10,000.

Johnson now has 731 receptions for 10,014 receiving yards in his career. Johnson has led the NFL in receiving yards twice and in receptions twice. In 2008, he led in both categories.

Sunday night was Johnson’s best game since the season opener against. He had eight receptions that day but had nine combined in the four games that followed. On Sunday, he had eight receptions for 75 yards.

Johnson said he has been living a dream for the last decade.

“You don’t know what you’re going to do when you get into this league,” Johnson said. “The life span of this league is four years. I’ve been fortunate to be here for 10 seasons.”

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Jeremy Shockey to Vilma: 'Tell the world I'm not the snitch'

Former New Orleans Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey had a little fun with former University of Miami (Fla.) teammate Jonathan Vilma on Twitter on Sunday afternoon.

"@JonVilma51 great seeing u last night buddy!! Pls tell the world I'm not the snitch!! Lol," Shockey tweeted at Vilma, no doubt referring to NFL Network analyst Warren Sapp's unfounded accusations back in March that Shockey was the whistleblower in the Saints bounty investigation.

Shockey, who is currently a free agent, did not appear anywhere in the documents released by the NFL on Tuesday which detailed the league's investigative process in the matter.

Vilma replied by retweeting the message and adding "lol I will bro. Good seeing u too!!!'

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Jonathan Vilma Off PUP List Tuesday, Allowed to Practice and Play Against Buccaneers

Jonathan Vilma revealed on local New Orleans television this evening that he will be off the PUP list starting Tuesday, making him fully eligible to practice this week and play this Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

This according to a Larry Holder tweet:

#Saints' Jonathan Vilma said on WVUE he will be off PUP list Tuesday. "I'll be allowed to practice, I'll be allowed to play vs. Tampa Bay."

Vilma is eligible to play while he waits to appeal his suspension, which he said will most likely be next Tuesday, October 23rd, with a final decision being made a few days after that.

This is absolutely huge news! But initial excitement should be tempered. Being allowed to play is one thing, of course. Being game-ready and physically in shape is another. So just because Vilma is eligible to dress this Sunday, doesn't mean he actually will. My guess is that he won't. And is it really worth bringing him back for just one game, given the likely outcome of his appeal?

Still, having him line up with Curtis Lofton would be pretty sweet. How would that work? Does Lofton stay at MLB while Vilma moves to the outside? Or does Vilma get his old position back?

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Sam Shields carted off

Green Bay Packers CB Sam Shields (shin) was kicked in the right shin in the fourth quarter of the Week 6 game against the Houston Texans. He was carted off to the locker room for further evaluation.

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Antrel Rolle breaks through with two interceptions

SAN FRANCISCO — Yes, Antrel Rolle had two interceptions Sunday, his first two of the season and only the fourth and fifth in three seasons with the Giants. But when he got up to speak after a 26-3 victory over the 49ers, Rolle seemed a lot more excited to talk about Prince Amukamara’s interception.

That’s because Amukamara’s pick came on the Alex Smith-to-the-tight-end play that has burned the Giants repeatedly in the past.

“That’s a play last year when Vernon Davis scored on us last year,” Rolle said. “We got that play a couple of times. I said, ‘Prince, you didn’t play any zone when you were in college. You don’t have zone eyes.’ I said, ‘Listen, this is what’s going to come. They were very successful with this play last year. It’s going to come, it’s going to come.’ ”

Sure enough, it came early in the second quarter. The 49ers were nursing a 3-0 lead and after a nice opening drive, had been struggling to move the ball.
After a Giants punt, San Francisco had a first-and-10 at its own 34. Smith was looking for Delanie Walker deep to the left side. As the ball was in the air, Rolle was vehemently pointing back to Amukamara. The second-year cornerback out of Nebraska pulled the ball down for his first interception of the season.

“He played it to perfection, he played it better than anybody could have played it,” Rolle said. “I told him, ‘I’m really proud of you.’ Because he listened to what I said and he just saw the route.”

That turnover led to a Eli Manning touchdown pass to Victor Cruz to give the Giants the lead for good. However, it was Rolle’s two interceptions in the third that helped put the game away.

Rolle made a sweet catch of a Smith pass on San Francisco’s first possession of the second half. The ball was a little high, but Rolle reached up with his right hand and pulled it in, and then changed directions and returned the ball 20 yards to the 49ers’ 12. That set up a Lawrence Tynes field goal and a 20-3 lead for the Giants.

“I was fortunate enough to hold on to it with one hand and make a play,” Rolle said, somewhat modestly.

Added linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka: “A tipped ball in the air around him, he’s going to come down with it. That’s a testament to how hard he works as an individual.”

The second pick came on the next 49ers possession. On a third-and-16 at the 49ers’ 15, Smith was trying to force the ball in to Michael Crabtree at the right hashmarks. Instead, Rolle jumped the throw and returned it 22 yards to the San Francisco 5, setting up another Tynes field goal.

“Antrel made a couple of outstanding catches of the ball, in a very difficult position, and put us in point-blank range in the second half,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said.

Rolle was asked whether the two-interception day meant something special to him, given that the eight-year veteran hasn’t been the turnover producer he was in Arizona.

“This game meant as much to me as each and every game that I approach,” he said. “It’s just a game. It’s a conference game and we’re playing a very good opponent.

“I always try to go out and give my best no matter who we’re playing, no matter what division we’re playing. I just try to go out there and give my best performance for the team because at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.”

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Clinton Portis Reflects on His Days as a Redskin

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Frank Gore held to 56 yards in Week 6

Frank Gore rushed just eight times 36 yards and added four receptions for 20 yards versus the Giants in Week 6.

The 49ers had every intention of running the ball, but were forced to abandon that game plan after falling behind 17-3 early in the third quarter. Gore's best play may have been a block on Justin Tuck that turned a potential 15-yard loss on a Mario Manningham end-around to a 7-yard gain. Backup Kendall Hunter totaled 32 yards on five touches. Gore will be just a borderline RB2 option next week against Seattle's shut-down run defense.

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Reggie Wayne Has A Tough Outing

Reggie Wayne caught five passes for 87 yards in the Colts' Week 6 loss to the Jets.

Wayne's stats look much better than his actual game. He lost a fumble and was absolutely dominated by Jets CB Antonio Cromartie, who shadowed Wayne with physical jams and superior quicks.

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Greg Olsen’s newborn son doing well after surgery

The newborn son of Panthers tight end Greg Olsen is doing well following open-heart surgery to correct a congenital heart defect.

T.J. Olsen underwent successful surgery Thursday at Levine Children’s Hospital – the first of three scheduled surgeries before his third birthday. Greg Olsen told the Observer on Friday that T.J.’s first 24 hours after the day-long procedure had gone well.

The first surgery is the most invasive and has the most risks.

“If he stays on this path they can close up his chest Sunday, which is another big step,” Olsen said via text message.

Kara Olsen delivered twins by Caesarian section Tuesday – a daughter, Talbot, and T.J., who was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome during Kara’s 18th week of pregnancy. The condition, more prevalent among males, is marked by an underdeveloped left ventricle and aorta, causing the right side of the heart to overcompensate if left untreated.

Olsen said the family brought Talbot home from the hospital Friday. The Olsens also have a 16-month-old-son named Tate.

“Got to bring my baby girl home today to meet his big brother!!” Olsen posted on his Twitter feed Friday night. “Heading back to hospital to see my buddy. Bittersweet day.”

Olsen also tweeted about the support his family has received.

“Thank u all for the amazing support and prayers for my family,” he tweeted. “You have helped us thru this nightmare. Our boy is a fighter.”

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Colin McCarthy plays every snap despite ankle injury

Middle linebacker Colin McCarthy didn’t practice at all leading up to the game because of his sore ankle and was listed as questionable. But he still played all 64 defensive snaps and finished the game with eight tackles, second only to Jordan Babineaux’s nine.

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Reggie Wayne’s lesson: Drink water, not soda

Colts receiver Reggie Wayne coming off the best game of his career in last Sunday’s win over the Packers, but he had to fight through severe cramps to finish the game. And Wayne says there’s a simple reason for that: He was consuming soft drinks.

Wayne says that soda was the primary culprit in his cramps, and drinking too much soda taught him a lesson.

“That’s me being a victim of sodas and not enough water. I know better than that,” Wayne said, via Phil Richards of the Indianapolis Star.

That’s a valuable lesson for you kids out there: Drink water, not soda. Perhaps Michael Bloomberg will recruit Wayne for his anti-soda campaign.

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Wilfork On Pats: 'We're 3-3 For A Reason'

A frustrated Patriots defensive captain Vince Wilfork wasn't in a mood for making excuses after the Patriots defense blew a 13-point fourth quarter lead Sunday after New England's 24-23 loss to the Seahawks in Seattle. 

"Didn't make enough plays, plain and simple," Wilfork said. "That's all I have. Didn't make enough plays. What else can you do? We lost and we're moving on. That's where it's at.

"We didn't make enough plays, plain and simple. Very frustrated. I'm not going to sit here and lie to you and say I'm not. I'm very frustrated. I don't know what else to say because I'll probably lose my head right now. We just didn't make enough plays when it counted, and it cost us."

Wilfork and the Patriots are now 3-3 and in a four-way tie with the Bills, Jets and Dolphins in the AFC East, with the Jets up next Sunday at Gillette Stadium. 
"Who knows? We're 3-3, plain and simple," Wilfork said. "There's not a magic wand. We're 3-3 for a reason. Until we do something about it, we're going to continue to have problems. We just didn't do enough today and it cost us."

Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson beat the Patriots with a pair of touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, as he found Braylon Edwards from 10 yards on a fourth-down pass with under eight minutes remaining before connecting with Sidney Rice from 46 yards for the game winner with under 90 seconds remaining. 

"We knew exactly what it was going to be," Wilfork said of Wilson. "Everything they did we knew exactly what they were going to do. We didn't make enough plays."

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Ed Reed still shines on field while taking on bigger leadership role in locker room

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens safety Ed Reed has taken on more of a leadership role and Baltimore’s eager youngsters are reaping the benefits of his advice.

In the span of 15 minutes Wednesday, Reed schooled Christian Thompson in the fine art of beanbag throwing — thrashing the rookie safety in a game of cornhole — before advising another teammate about the virtues of signing up for a 401K.

More notably, Reed has become a tireless teacher on the topics of film study and keeping a body fit during a long NFL season. Reed knows quite a bit about both, given that he’s tallied 59 interceptions, scored 14 touchdowns and missed only 22 games over an 11-year career.

Reed turned 34 on Sept. 11, yet the eight-time Pro Bowl star isn’t showing his age. Not one bit.

“He’s playing as well or better than I’ve seen him in the last couple years,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I just think the world of how he’s playing and how he’s leading. He’s been leading us in the meeting room, locker room, training room.”

Reed aspires to be a coach after he retires from the NFL, and it appears as if he’s already getting a jump on his next profession.

“This year more than ever,” cornerback Lardarius Webb said. “All the other years, he would teach us a little something here and there, but this year, it’s 110 percent. He is teaching us everything that he can possibly know, and I am happy for it.”

Reed is the voice of experience within a secondary that includes the 26-year-old Webb, 24-year-old Jimmy Smith and Thompson, 22.

“I think when you get to the latter part of your (career), you really begin to realize what it’s all about,” Reed said. “I’ve always had an open-door policy to these guys to come to my house, watch tape together or just give them information. We have a lot of young guys, and this business can take a toll on you if you let it. You just try to give them as much information as possible, whether it’s on or off the field.”

When it comes to preparation, Reed could lead by example to prove a point. He’s been bothered by a neck injury since 2009 and is currently monitoring a knee sprain, yet this season he’s registered 18 tackles, picked off two passes and put his name in the NFL record book for career yardage on interception returns (1,506).

Before facing the Ravens last month, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said, “He’s pretty much ingrained permanently in my mind. He’s such a playmaker for them, and he shows up in a lot of different spots.”

The work Reed does in the training room helps him prepare to play from one Sunday to the next.

“I just work closely with my doctor on the recovery part of it,” he said. “For me to be 34, I’m bouncing back great right now. I’m doing all the things that help the body recover. A lot of guys don’t know about that. I try to help a lot of guys in the locker room, inform them about taking care of their body. You can be doing insane workouts and all that, but if you’re not recovering and rehabbing, you’re working backward.”

Looking ahead, Reed hopes to turn his passion for football into a coaching job.

“Right now it’s just high school because I want to be around my son,” he said. “I’d love to coach at this level at some point or maybe even college because I feel like you can get the kids while they’re young and still give them information. I’m not sure right now, honestly. I want to coach somewhere around my son because he’s growing up and I want to (make up for) the time that I’ve lost from my family.”

Before then, Reed wants to get a Super Bowl ring. The Ravens (3-1) face the Kansas City Chiefs (1-3) this Sunday, hoping to remain atop the AFC North. Between now and then, it’s a good bet Reed will be poring over film with other members of the Baltimore secondary.

“Because he wants to make sure we are together,” Webb said. “If we study film together, we are on point together.”

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Colts receivers follow 'Gospel of Reggie'

INDIANAPOLIS – Reggie Wayne's return to Indianapolis was a godsend for the Colts. No wonder he has some disciples.

Dwayne Allen looks nothing like Wayne. Allen is a 6-foot-3, 255-pound tight end. He could bench-press Wayne.

T.Y. Hilton looks nothing like Wayne, either. Hilton is 5-9, allegedly 183 pounds. He could fit in Wayne's lunch box, or at least his locker.

Yet the big man and the little guy both consider Wayne the gold standard when it comes to the pure art of catching a football. Given Wayne's 13-catch, 212-yard, game-winning show against the Green Bay Packers last week, it's no wonder he has followers. Of course, those followers came long before the latest great Wayne game.

“I don't try to do what Reggie does in any way,” Allen said. “(But) on game day and definitely in practice, any tips I can get from him, I steal from him. I look at him as far as his catching routine in practice. Then he goes out and plays lights out, anything that's coming his way, he's coming down with it.”

Wayne and the Colts (2-2) will play at the New York Jets at 1 p.m. Sunday in MetLife Stadium.

There's little question that Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has leaned heavily on Wayne. Wayne has a team-high 36 catches for 506 yards and two touchdowns.

As Luck goes into New York, however, he'll face a Jets defense intent on trying to take away, or somewhat limit, Wayne's opportunities. That means one of two things: Either Luck will keep going to Wayne anyway, perhaps forcing things and risking interceptions, or he'll need to mix things up even more with Allen, Hilton, Donnie Avery and Coby Fleener.

Given Luck's intelligence, I'd lean toward him looking for alternatives if and when Wayne is being smothered.

Allen and Hilton would be the next-best choices.

Allen has shown fairly soft hands for a tight end. He has 10 catches for 76 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He's surprisingly nimble for a man of his size, yet has the type of power to fight through tacklers and come up with plays in traffic.

Allen and Fleener (13 catches, 139 yards) were expected to provide the type of quality tight end receiving production that seems to be increasing.

“Progressively, our roles have grown bigger and bigger and I think that's the way they wanted it to be,” Allen said. “Coming into this offense, the tight end has a lot of jobs. If coach (Bruce) Arians put everything on us in the beginning, I don't think we have progressed as far.”

Hilton, meanwhile, looks to be on his way to push Avery as the No.2 wide receiver. Avery is more experienced and is second (albeit distantly) to Wayne with 17 catches for 198 yards. Hilton has eight catches for 165 yards (a team-best 20.6 yards per reception).

Hilton was inactive for the first game and played little against Minnesota, but caught four passes for 113 yards against Jacksonville to become the NFL's first rookie receiver this season to break 100 yards. He caught three passes for 37 yards against the Packers, including a big catch late in the game.

The Colts' increased use of the no-huddle suits Hilton well. He says he's more comfortable with the no-huddle than a more deliberate approach.

“A lot of things are coming into play (on offense),” Hilton said. “Watching film is helping a lot, especially with a great guy like Reggie Wayne, who helps us out. Play-calling is becoming much easier, the playbook's becoming much smaller. The game is slowing down for me and the rest of the team.
“The more you study, the more the game slows down,” Hilton said.

The more Colts receivers of all shapes and sizes study Wayne, the more likely they'll be to see Luck's passes coming their way.

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Is Andre Johnson declining for Houston Texans?

The Houston Texans' offense is known for its "Big Three" ... but is that really the case anymore?

Quarterback Matt Schaub is playing at an All-Pro level, and Arian Foster is entrenched as the NFL's preeminent workhorse back. Wide receiver Andre Johnson is supposed to complete this trinity. He hasn't carried his share of the weight through five games.

Johnson was largely neutralized Monday night by the New York Jets' Antonio Cromartie, a good, but not great, cornerback. and NFL Network's Michael Lombardi wrote in his latest "Front Office View" column that Johnson "does not look like the same player."

Wrote Lombardi: "Johnson cannot run, burst or make sharp cuts, which has been the case since his hamstring injury."

Johnson's decreased production supports Lombardi's opinion. Through Week 5, Johnson has 17 receptions for 286 yards and two touchdowns. By way of comparison, here was Johnson's statline through five games in 2009, the last time he played 16 games: 28 receptions, 437 yards and four touchdowns.

Johnson still can produce, but at 31, it's fair to wonder if his best days are behind him.

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Jonathan Vilma Files Appeal

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Reggie Wayne's torrid start makes team look smart

Reggie Wayne made a statement by ignoring the NFL's uniform policy and pulling on orange gloves last Sunday.

It was the right thing to do, a heartfelt gesture from one friend to another. Wayne was recognizing Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano, who is battling leukemia.

This afternoon in the New York Jets' MetLife Stadium, the Colts receiver is expected to leave the orange in Indy.

"I may do it one more time, maybe the next home game,'' Wayne said, smiling. "I'm not sure if I'll be able to get away with it the rest of the year."

Normally, the NFL shows no tolerance for players who defy its strict uniform policy. In the case of Wayne, the league did not assess him a fine for the unapproved orange gloves worn for Pagano and leukemia awareness.

"I think one time, (the NFL will) let you slide,'' Wayne said. "Probably the second time, they'll give you a call.

"I want my kids to have a good Christmas."

He laughed.

"I don't want them to be looking at me crazy when it's Christmas time, wondering why they only have one present," Wayne said.

Trust me, he was playfully stretching the truth like a bungee cord. In March, Wayne re-upped with the Colts, signing a three-year, $17.5 million contract that included a $7.5 million signing bonus.

Regarding the contract, it's proving to be a wise investment.

Wayne is tied for fifth in the league with 36 receptions and third with 506 yards despite playing one fewer game than those ahead of him. His catches are the most by a Colt in the first four games of a season, while his yardage trails only Marvin Harrison (513 in 1999).

Wayne needs two catches against the Jets to become just the 14th NFL player to reach 900 in his career.

The torrid start, Wayne insisted, is "me being me. I don't feel like I'm doing something abnormal. I've felt like I've always been this way."

Jets coach Rex Ryan calls Wayne "a terrific player. He's always been an elite receiver in this league."

Ryan has noticed how interim coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has altered Wayne's role: He is moving around in the formation, even blocking more.
"He's doing some of the dirty jobs ... he's kind of taking that Hines Ward role that Pittsburgh had under Arians," Ryan said.

Perhaps, but rookie quarterback Andrew Luck is having no problem finding his go-to guy. Wayne has been targeted a league-high 60 times. That's 33.9 percent of Luck's 177 pass attempts.

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Clinton Portis to debut on Comcast SportsNet, says beef with B-Mitch is ‘behind us’

Among the many entertaining sports-radio appearances Clinton Portis made during his years with the Redskins, perhaps none was as memorable as his angry on-air confrontation with Brian Mitchell in September of 2008. That exchange was about as friendly as a sleep-deprived fasting Philly fan, and it included repeated promises from Portis that he would not be silenced.

“Portis gonna keep talking,” he said at one point. “The fools saying Portis need to shut up, they can kiss Portis’s [behind]. I’m saying that. Ain’t nothing gonna change.”

The Clinton Portis I talked to a few days ago was considerably less angry, but his basic message was the same. The second-leading rusher in Redskins history is a few weeks into his new career as a talking head, and he has no interest in being any more demure than he was during his playing days.

“Any time I spoke, I spoke the truth,” he told me. “There was no hidden agenda about who I was talking to, or what I was talking about, compared to sources say or so-and-so-says. So I think for myself — being a stand-up person — for those few stand-up guys that are out there, I can help them get their point across or help them be understood.”

Portis has already been co-hosting a two-hour Monday night show with former linebacker Channing Crowder, on 560 WQAM in his hometown of Miami. For the next two Sundays, he will make his semi-official debut as a D.C. media personality, serving as a guest analyst on Comcast SportsNet’s pre- and postgame Redskins programs. Irony of ironies, he will do so on the same set as Mitchell, his longtime antagonist.

“That’s behind us,” Portis promised. “We squashed it. It’s over and done with. I think working with B-Mitch will be great. I now have an opportunity to learn a lot from B-Mitch, and kind of being in his role now is actually interesting. Now I have to communicate and work with and get tips from this man, learn the ways of the media. Having B-Mitch as a mentor or [receiving] guidance is just showing you a different lane.”

Portis isn’t exactly sure what his media dream job would be, but his Miami experience has made him increasingly interested in radio, because it’s “just so fun,” he said. “You just tell the truth, and help the listener relate to what you’re saying.”

And whether he admits it or not, the thing that makes Portis most compelling is the anticipation that his version of the truth might just make headlines. Like, ask him about Robert Griffin III’s health concerns, and you’ll hear an implicit critique of the offensive line in front of him.

“He’s really been a sitting duck,” Portis said. “You’ve got to be worried about the hits he’s taking. He don’t know any better right now. Any quarterback gets hit that many times, he’s not gonna play a full season, I don’t care who it is. Get the ball out of your hands and put the ball in the hands of someone who can absorb it. When your quarterback is taking more hits than your running back takes? You’ve got to say something.”

Still, Portis insists his will be a message of positivity in this media landscape, a respite from the weekly voices of panic and disgust.

“We’re close, it’s going to happen, we’re turning over a new leaf,” he said of the Redskins. “And I don’t think people are putting that out there in the media… I just really don’t think people give them the time to transition.”

Do you reckon this philosophy will keep Portis from criticizing a poorly performing player? Well, I don’t.

“I still don’t think I would be a finger pointer or calling people out, but I’m gonna tell the truth — I’ll tell the truth about what’s going on,” he promised. “You don’t have to say, This guy [stinks] — get the truth out about why this guy [stinks]. Maybe he do [stink], but give the truth about why he [stinks].”

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