Portis vs James in Cardinals-Redskins matchup

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) _ Edgerrin James and Clinton Portis aren't comparing notes this week.

The University of Miami pals usually call each other all the time, offering ad hoc scouting reports on opponents past and future. One can only imagine what the conversations are like when two elite backs are talking shop.

"Everybody else that we play, it's 'What do you see?' 'What you think?' 'What works?'" Portis said. "This week, I'm sure neither one of us is going to give each other advice on how to help defeat the other team."

Of course not. James' Arizona Cardinals and Portis' Washington Redskins are going head-to-head Sunday, offering a treat for running back aficionados. James and Portis are two of only six players in league history to average at least 110 total years from scrimmage per game.

"It's enjoyable because I know he's playing against a great defense," Portis said, "and he knows I'm playing against a great defense, so it's always a competition."

James ranks fourth on the list with an average of 115.6, while Portis is sixth at 111.5 among backs who have played a minimum of 85 games. Nos. 1, 3 and 5 — Jim Brown, Barry Sanders and Walter Payton — are in the Hall of Fame. LaDainian Tomlinson is No. 2.

James has been easy to overlook this season because Kurt Warner is back to his old self at quarterback, leading the Cardinals to 23-13 and 31-10 victories with downfield passes to Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. James has 44 carries for 155 yards, a modest 3.5 average, although last week he became 14th player in league history last week to reach 15,000 scrimmage yards.

Portis, like the rest of the Redskins offense, picked up his game in Week 2 after a difficult opener. He ran for 96 yards in last week's victory against the New Orleans Saints, giving him 180 yards on 44 carries for a 4.1 average.

"Watching Clinton Portis strain for the extra yard can fire you right up," Redskins coach Jim Zorn said. "That is what a running back is made for in this game."

Portis' has been in the news for other reasons in recent days. Last week, he made remarks to The Washington Post that could have been interpreted as an insult to his offensive line or his team's offensive scheme. Then, on Tuesday, he and former Redskins kick returner Brian Mitchell had a testy exchange on a radio show, with Portis upset over the way he had been criticized by Mitchell.

"He said what he had to say," Portis said. "I said what I had to say, and that's pretty much it."

Portis added that he has no problem with his linemen or the Redskins organization.

"If they had a problem with me, they wouldn't have gone out and blocked," Portis said. "If I was calling my linemen out, why didn't they quit on me? ... Portis wants to be here. If Portis wanted to be somewhere else, I'd be somewhere else."

Both squabbles were readily dismissed in light of the team's performance in the 29-24 win over the Saints, a game Portis said was just a taste of things to come.

"Just knowing this offense can get better is exciting," he said. "It's just a matter of doing it, week-in and week-out."


Bears KR Hester has torn cartilage

Chicago Bears kick returner Devin Hester is suffering from torn cartilage in his rib area, the Chicago Tribune reported Thursday.

Hester, who suffered a rib injury during the third quarter of Sunday's 20-17 loss to the Carolina Panthers when he was forced out of bounds at the end of a punt return, was unsure of his availability for Sunday's home opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"I'm feeling a lot better so I'm hoping by the end of the week I'll have no pain or nothing like that," Hester told the newspaper on Thursday.

In 34 regular-season games since joining the Bears in 2006, Hester has returned seven punts for a touchdown and run back four kickoffs for scores.

Hester said he was injured while making a quick move to avoid a tackle. He said he couldn't breathe normally for two days.

"I was told that if you go out there and it's not healed all the way, then you could damage it even more," he said. "I'm just going to get as much treatment as I can, and hopefully ill be ready."


Vilma Settling In with Saints

Q: With your tackle totals, is it easy to say that you’re getting the feel for this defense?

Jonathan Vilma: "Yes, I’m getting a feel for it and Coach (Gary) Gibbs has a really good scheme. He’s really put in a lot of time and effort to get the right guys, because it’s really the guys up front and the secondary that’s been doing a great job. I just make the tackles, but the supporting cast has been really, really good."

Q: Your knee must be holding up if you’re making all these tackles?

Jonathan Vilma: "Yes, fortunately my knee’s been holding up really well. It hasn’t been an issue up to this point. I’m excited about that. I’m always cognizant about my knee. Asides from that, it’s about the guys around me that are doing a really good job even though we didn’t play up to our standards against Washington, we look to bounce back."

Q: When you go back to the film as a unit, how do you look at your tackling in the Washington game?

Jonathan Vilma: "I would have to say our tackling was average at best starting with myself and going on down. It wasn’t necessarily guys getting run over or a physical thing. I think it was that we’re taking bad angles to the ball sometimes; the players are able to cut back on us, things like that. We just have to take better angles to the ball and that starts at practice."

Q: How do you do that?

Jonathan Vilma: "It just comes in practice where you’re simulating a game. If a wide receiver catches a ball, you’re running to the ball full speed in practice, actually thinking about tackling him even if you’re not doing it in practice, in the game, it should show up."

Q: Are you coming out at all on defense?

Jonathan Vilma: "No. I like it that way. I don’t want to come out."

Q: Was it like that way in New York for you?

Jonathan Vilma: Yes.

Q: Can you talk about going against Jay Cutler this week?

Jonathan Vilma: "He had very good game asides from that one play. He had a really good game. The past two games he’s been playing really well. From what I see he can make all the throws. He’s very comfortable in the pocket. He can roll out. You’re looking at a young, talented guy who is very confident and is coming into his own right now. I think he doesn’t feel the pressure much like Aaron Rodgers with Brett Farve and him with John Elway, he’s just going out there and being himself."

Q: How important will this game be to set the tone for the entire season defensively?

Jonathan Vilma: "It’s important to respond, because this is what we do and is our profession. We play the game to win, not to put up a good fight or anything like that and when you go out there and you don’t perform up to your standards, or up to our standards, I should say, you put the most pressure on yourself. We want to go out there, play up to our capabilities. We know what kind of talent we have."

Q: Going back to John Elway, Denver’s been able to run the ball well because of their zone blocking scheme. Why is it so effective?

Jonathan Vilma: "It’s effective, because it forces defenses to be very disciplined and not just the defense as a whole, but the individual. You can have ten guys playing right and one guy misses his gap and it breaks for ten yards or 20 yards. On and on you see the film, you can have seven or eight guys do the right thing, but if one guy messes up they find the crease. It forces the entire defense to be disciplined. Of course you have to make the tackles."

Q: Around the league, does this offensive line have a reputation?

Jonathan Vilma: "They have a reputation. I don’t see it as a bad reputation, I see it as a good one. They’re known as athletic, smaller type of offensive line. They like to cut block, everybody knows that. You watch it one film, they’re 100 miles an hour, play in and play out and they do what they have to do to get the running back an open hole."


Painting of Sean Taylor Sparks Controversy

A painting honoring  murdered Washington Redskins (web|news) safety Sean Taylor is causing a lot of controversy.

The artist planned to sell his artwork showing Taylor and donate some of the money to charity. But the team has other ideas.

It hangs in Champs Restaurant in Pentagon Row, a 5x6 foot oil painting of Taylor, the Redskins safety killed last November.

"I think it's a great tribute to him," said one customer. "I think the painting itself is beautiful," said another.

But Jason Swain, who painted it as a tribute, can't sell it. The Kensington artist, who specializes in portraits, planned to sell the painting for $20,000 and donate $5,000 to Children's Hospital. He said the Redskins' management saw it on exhibit and liked it.

"But they wanted me to donate it to them," said Swain. "You know, 200 hours work, I really can't afford to give away a piece like this, and also the hospital wouldn't have made anything out of it," he said.

So he told the Redskins, no freebie.

"That's when I got the email saying the logos were a problem," said Swain.

The Redskins told Swain he would have to remove all team and NFL logos because of corporate branding and legal issues. So now Swain can't sell his painstaking tribute to Sean Taylor - unless he gets his paint brush back out.

"I just hate to change something like that - he's a Redskin, it's like he'd be wearing a blank uniform," said Swain. "It just wouldn't be the same."


System grows on Moss

--In the moment, the impact of the 67-yard touchdown catch was clear.

Santana Moss burst past his defender and then he burst toward the end zone and then the FedEx Field crowd burst with joy. The catch had capped the Redskins' unlikely fourth-quarter comeback against the New Orleans Saints, and it had kept Washington from slipping to an 0-2 start.

But yesterday afternoon, Moss stood in front of his locker and seemed certain that play will have more of a lasting impact.

"Now it just opens up chances for us to do more," Moss said. "You're gonna have teams that play you for that. We have a great opportunity now to pretty much run our offense when it comes to deep, short or intermediate routes because we've done them all, especially when it comes to deep passes."

For Moss, who finished with seven catches for 164 yards, the long touchdown reception was 18 yards longer than his longest catch last season. And there are still 14 games left.

Moss said he's rejuvenated by the West Coast offense of first-year head coach Jim Zorn.

"Just being able to say you're depended on," Moss said. "When you're a receiver, you don't want to be out there just to be out there. It's a boring job if you're running around and blocking all day."

Zorn said Moss was the first receiver to have such a dominant game because he was the first receiver to truly grasp the scheme. The coach said that when receivers are comfortable, they play faster, are able to create more space, and do not over-think their position.

"That's what's happening with Santana," Zorn said. "He's the first guy in our group that all of a sudden you can see a burst. You can see in, out, catch, run. Things kind of rolled for him this week, not as a fluke, but just as an, 'Ah, I get it.' He could start running patterns with greater confidence."

In 2005, Moss had 84 catches for 1,483 yards, and he was selected to go to the Pro Bowl. But over the past two years, he was slowed by leg injuries, totaling 790 receiving yards two seasons ago and 808 last year.

Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell was a rookie in 2005, and though he did not throw any passes to Moss that year, he watched Moss catch plenty of them. So far this year, Campbell has seen some similarities.

"Now he looks like the same Santana that can make two or three people miss and get 20 yards on a 5-yard catch," Campbell said. "We do everything at such a high speed and a high tempo right now."

Moss, for one, is excited about the possibilities.

"You hope it's contagious and keeps coming up," he said. "You hope it just doesn't stop."


Olsen determined to rebound from adversity

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Whoever first said that “a life without difficulties is a classroom without lessons” no doubt wasn’t talking about dealing with adversity on a football field. But Greg Olsen can relate.

After losing the first two fumbles of his NFL career in last weekend’s 20-17 loss to the Carolina Panthers, the Bears tight end is eager to bounce back in Sunday’s home opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“I’m sure if you asked the top guys in the league if they’ve had those kinds of days where things didn’t go their way, I’m sure every single one of them would say, ‘Yeah, I’ve had a few of them,’” Olsen said. “That’s just part of playing at this level. Things are going to happen and you’ve just got to learn from it and move on.”

Having committed the Bears’ only two turnovers of the season thus far, Olsen will focus more on tucking the ball away, something that was never a problem when he played at the University of Miami.

“My whole career I think I had maybe fumbled one time my freshman year of college and didn’t lose it,” Olsen said. “It’s not something I’ve had a history with in the past, so maybe sometimes you take it for granted, and sometimes things like this refresh your mind that, ‘Hey, don’t take anything for granted. Just get back to doing what you’ve done your whole life.’”

Although Olsen knows that opponents study tape, he doesn’t think that his two fumbles will cause tacklers to go after the ball more aggressively than usual when he’s carrying it.

“They want to strip the ball no matter who has it,” Olsen said. “I think probably every guy in the league at one point has fumbled the ball, so that would mean everybody has a target on their backs. I don’t worry too much about that.

“I think they have to worry more about game-planning to stop our offense and stop the tight ends and me personally from what we can do making plays and don’t worry about that other stuff.”

While Olsen can’t recall ever fumbling twice in one game, he did rebound from a poor performance at Miami.

“I had one game where I dropped two passes that were fairly routine passes and that was pretty much the first time I had dropped a pass in a game,” Olsen said. “That time I moved on the next week and had a real good game. You just get back to focusing on the week of practice, and that’s the same approach I’m going to have this week.”

Offensive coordinator Ron Turner gave Olsen a pep talk after the Bears returned from their road trip.

“I talked to him Sunday night when we got off the plane and said, ‘You’re a great player. You’ve made a lot of great plays for us. You’re going to make a lot of great plays for us. We’re going to come to you. You made two mistakes in that game. I made some mistakes in that game, too.'" Turner said.

“It wasn’t one play that lost the game. It wasn’t two plays. It was several plays; several opportunities we had and several things that we did. Greg’s a competitor. He’ll bounce back. No one feels worse than he does about it. We have talked to him and he knows we believe in him.”

Teammates have been supportive, but Olsen doesn’t need to hear any words of encouragement from them to know what he did last week and how he must overcome it.

“What are they going to say?” said Olsen, who has caught four passes for 43 yards in two games this season. “They know I was disappointed and not happy with those two plays. They know I hold myself to higher expectations than that and that I was harder on myself than anybody else could be.

“At this level in professional sports, things happen. You’re not always going to be 100 percent. Mistakes happen; that’s why a team loses. If everyone did every play right, every play would be a touchdown on offense and a three-yard loss on defense. Things don’t always go the way you planned. You’ve just got to not let it happen too often and just move on and get better.”


Santana Moss Might Return Punts

The Washington Post reports Redskins starting WR/PR Antwaan Randle El is struggling as a punt returner. HC Jim Zorn said starting WR Santana Moss will also likely field some punts against Arizona.


Coughlin on McDougle

How has Jerome McDougle adjusted to this team and his role?

He made two really good plays the other day, as you saw. He squatted in there and took the shovel pass away and then he got up the field and tipped the ball. We use him on special teams as well. So I think he is naturally evolving into feeling good about the role that he plays and understanding, as soon as the defensive huddle call is made, exactly what his assignment is.


Williams makes an impression

After inside linebacker Leon Williams made some big strides last year, the Browns were hoping for more of the same in 2008.

Maybe that process has begun.

Williams was credited with six tackles -- all of them solo -- in Sunday night's 10-6 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Almost as important as that was the fact he was around the ball most of the rest of the game.

Browns head coach Romeo Crennel said Wednesday as the Browns began preparations for Sunday's road game against the Baltimore Ravens, that Williams saw more playing time against Pittsburgh because the club was "trying to keep Andra Davis fresh because he is playing on special teams more than he has in the past."

Williams took advantage of the opportunity and will no doubt get a lot of snaps at Baltimore.

The third-year pro played well last year, especially in the first 10 games. He started nine times overall and played in all 16 contests, amassing 90 total tackles, including 65 solos, and four sacks (outing him in a three-way tie for second on the team) for 20 yards in losses.

Through two games this season, he has eight total tackles, all of them solos.

The Browns' 3-4 defensive alignment is designed so that the linebackers are freed up to make plays. So when a linebacker performs as Williams did on Sunday, it's a good sign that the defense played well overall, which is exactly what happened. Pittsburgh gained just 281 total yards and had only 14 first downs.

The 0-2 Browns, anxious for a win, will need more of the same against the Ravens, keeping the team in the game while the offense tries to get untracked. That means Williams will be a key player.


Hester sitting out practice

Devin Hester is not participating in the practice in full pads this afternoon at Halas Hall. He is on the field but not in uniform, and nickel back Brandon McGowan was not spotted on the field when the media was allowed to view the beginning of practice.

Hester injured the left side of his ribs running back a kickoff in the third quarter at Carolina on Sunday. He had an MRI Tuesday and it's not believed the injury is serious, that it could have been just a fluke occurrence. Hester has said he is feeling fine and expects to play Sunday vs. Tampa Bay.


Bears’ Olsen tries to move on after nightmare game

The glass is more than half full for the 1-1 Chicago Bears.
“We’re a couple of mistakes away from being 2-0 as the only team to start with two road games, against two good teams,” tight end Greg Olsen said.
He should know. He made two of Chicago’s biggest mistakes in Sunday’s 20-17 loss at Carolina, fumbling away his only two pass receptions.
Chicago’s 2007 No. 1 draft pick – the only first-round pick on the Bears’ offense – has had to cope with the unfamiliar experience of being a goat. He said teammates have been silently supportive.
“What are they going to say?” Olsen asked. “Obviously, they know I was disappointed and not happy with those two plays. They know I hold myself to higher expectations than that. I was harder on myself than anyone else could be.”
Offensive coordinator Ron Turner knew what to say, consoling Olsen after the Bears’ plane landed at O’Hare.
“You are a great player,” Turner said he told Olsen. “You have made a lot of great plays for us. You are going to make a lot of great plays for us. We’re going to come to you. You made a couple of mistakes. I made some mistakes in that game, too.
“It wasn’t one play that cost us that game. It wasn’t two plays. It was several plays.”
Not everyone saw it that way. An online poll on Comcast’s Bears postgame show identified Olsen’s fumbles as the runaway No. 1 reason the Bears couldn’t hold on to a 17-3 lead.
“Obviously, everyone on the outside has a lot to say about it,” Olsen said. “That’s part of it. I’ve just got to move on and know what I’m capable of doing. I’ve shown it many times. Now I’ve just got to get back to doing it.”
Quarterback Kyle Orton remains confident in Olsen.
“He knows we can’t have turnovers, especially on the road,” Orton said. “He feels bad about it. It was a tough game for him, but he’ll bounce back and make some good plays for us.”
“You never want to let your team down,” Olsen said, “but there was nothing I could do about it after the fact. I didn’t intend to do that.
“I just have to focus more on tucking it away. My whole career, I maybe fumbled one time, my freshman year in college, and I didn’t lose it. So maybe you take it for granted. Things like this will refresh your mind, so you don’t take it for granted. Get back to doing what you’ve done your whole life. There is nothing more to it than that.”
Actually, ESPN.com statistics show Olsen with zero career fumbles before Sunday, either in college at Miami or with the Bears.
“Greg is a competitor,” Turner said. “He knows that we believe in him. He will bounce back.”


Calais Campbell Playing Solid Special Teams

Calais Campbell is making a name for himself on special teams and he logged another tackle and downed Dirk's punt at the two. Campbell did pick up a block below the waist though.


Parrish limited

Roscoe Parrish was limited in practice today while nursing a sore knee, according to the Bills' official website. He has also been dealing with a rib ailment.


Calais Impressing

Calais Campbell continues to impress. He led the DL with 3 tackles versus the Dolphins and should continue to see an increased role as the season progresses. He has been one of the more active defensive lineman for the Cardinals, and is a regular in the defensive line rotation. These stats are not from mop-up duty.


Ortega Released By Saints

The Saints released tight end Buck Ortega, who was activated from the practice squad over the weekend.

The Saints have been shuffling their roster quite a bit in the early weeks of this season, so it's not clear if Ortega's departure is temporary or permanent.


Browns Sign Santonio Thomas

The Cleveland Browns have placed DE Robaire Smith on Reserve-Injured and have signed DE Santonio Thomas, the club announced today.

Smith, 6-4 and 310 lbs., suffered an Achilles injury Sunday night against the Steelers in the third quarter and did not return. In two games this season, Smith started both contests at right end and totaled six tackles. Last season he led the club among defensive linemen with 64 tackles and ranked tied for second with four sacks.

Thomas, 6-4 and 305 lbs., has spent the previous three seasons with the New England Patriots mainly on the practice squad. Thomas entered the league in 2005 as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Miami (Fla.) and spent the 2005 and 2006 season on the Patriots’ practice squad. Last season, Thomas appeared in four games with the Patriots and finished the year on the practice squad.

Defensive Line
Height: 6-4
Weight: 305
College: Miami (Fla.)
Birthdate: July 2, 1981
How Acquired: FA – ‘08
Year with Browns: 1st
Year in NFL: 2nd

Games Played/Started: 2005 (0/0, 0/0); 2006 (0/0); 2007 (4/0, 0/0).

Career Totals: 4 games, 0 starts.


This Buc Really Gives Time To Kids In Hospital

TAMPA - Meeting the two Tampa Bay Buccaneers players who visited patients today at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital would have been a special 12th birthday for Collin Goldstein.

But when cornerback Phillip Buchanon took off his diamond watch and handed it to Collin, the birthday turned way beyond special.

The boy held up his arm, the watch large enough to slide past his elbow, his face aglow.

"The best birthday present ever," he said. "I got Buchanon's watch."

The cornerback and wide receiver Maurice Stovall signed autographs, chatted and handed out stuffed Bucs bears to several dozen children at the hospital.

The birthday gift was a spur-of-the-moment thing for Buchanon. It turns out the Freeze watch was one of his favorites. He waited weeks for the black version to come in.

"I can wait again," he said.

It wasn't his first visit to children in hospitals. He also did it in Miami, where he went to college, and Houston, where he played for the Texans before signing in 2006 with Tampa Bay.

"I try to just talk to them and cheer them up," he said.

Junior Rivera of Lutz added to his collection of Bucs autographs with Stovall and Buchanon.

Junior, 11, in the hospital after an emergency appendectomy, is a huge Bucs fan. He could only whisper because of the pain in his stomach, he said.

"There's not one thing in my room that isn't black and red," he said.

After autographing a poster and team pennant, Buchanon bent close to Junior.

"You can do whatever you want to do. Put your mind to it," Buchanon said.

"This is a dream come true. Go Bucs!" Junior said.

Michael Lopergalo slapped Stovall's outstretched palm when the player stood in front of him. At 4 years old, he was happy to be out of the hospital room, where he has been since Thursday because of a hip infection, said his mom, Carole Daysh of Land O' Lakes.

"He's been locked up in his room the whole week," she said.

Was he excited about meeting the players?

"Yeah," Michael said.

The visit by the players is part of a community outreach program carried out around the National Football League every Tuesday, the players' day off.

Players volunteer for the visits, which also include working with schools, clubs and organizations the players pick.

The team teddy bears were given to every child in the hospital. About 247,000 have been handed out since 1999 through the Glazer Family Foundation, a charitable organization created by Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer.

Every child who enters one of seven hospitals — five in the Tampa Bay area and two in Orlando — is given a football player bear or cheerleader bear.

Collin, who has spent three of his 12 birthdays in the hospital because of a severe digestive disorder, picked a cheerleader bear this time to go with the player bear he already had, said his mother, Judy Gilbert of Clearwater.

Collin beamed at the watch.

"I don't ever want to get rid of it," he said.

But what did he intend to do with it?

"Use it to tell time," he said.


Hester awaiting MRI results, sources expect him to be fine

Devin Hester was at Halas Hall awaiting results from the MRI he underwent in Tuesday morning, a source said.

The rib injury sustained by the Bears Pro Bowl returner (and budding wide receiver) was believed to be either a pull or a tear; nothing appears to be broken.

It remains unclear whether Hester will miss any time. A source indicated Monday that Hester is expected to be healthy.

Hester suffered the non-contact injury while returning a kick in Sunday's game at Carolina. He was first scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday, but the team wanted to wait for the swelling to subside.

It is too early to determine whether Hester will be available for Sunday's home opener against Tampa Bay. The Bears will face Bucs starter Brian Griese, their leading passer from a year ago.


Meet Roscoe Parrish

Ravens' Lewis discusses future, 'Godfather' role, dancing

The October issue of Men’s Fitness magazine features a profile of Ravens’ linebacker Ray Lewis and the magazine has sent out some advance Lewis quotes from the story.

In the piece, Baltimore's No. 52 tells the magazine several things local fans have heard before, plus the fact that he’d like to play four or five more years saying he would like them to be as a Raven.

Here are some excerpts from the piece supplied by the magazine.

This apparently is Lewis reflecting on being in the final year of a seven-year contract.

“I respect the business but when I dedicate my life to this organization, the saddest question I've ever had to answer is, Am I going to be a Raven? Job wise, you don't play with somebody like that. But it's about football now. If you get caught up in [the business] you get too sour. Bottom line is, I'm going to play four or five more years. But I'm a Raven. I bleed purple.”

On mentoring younger teammates and opponents (he was recently credited for providing counsel to the Bengals’ Chad Ocho Cinco Johnson.

“A lot of them call me the Godfather. They ask you certain things and they're craving [knowledge]. A man's pride sometimes gets in the way. But when you see another man go through adversity, you're able to step back and realize, Hey, I can learn something from that guy.”

On his pre-game dances during player introductions.

“When I'm doing all that [dancing], that's me looking at God and saying how amazing He is. It's His stage. For me to walk out of that tunnel and give somebody hope, that's Him. So when you see me make that cross, and then I come out, that's blessing them. …. I'm thinking, This is another freaking opportunity, right now. Do not cheat this moment.”


Beason, The Emotional Leader

On fourth-and-1, the Panthers sniffed out an inside run and stuffed fullback Jason McKie's run up the middle at midfield. That secured Carolina's win as Jake Delhomme was able to take a knee and run out the clock.

Prior to that play, middle linebacker Jon Beason huddled everyone together and said, "I'm going to give everything I've got for you and you do it for me. Guys went out and responded, and it was just an effort play - mano y mano."

It was the underappreciated nose tackle Maake Kemoeatu who broke up the play, getting a good push inside. Na'il Diggs and Julius Peppers both swarmed in to finish up, tackling McKie behind the line of scrimmage.

"Big Maake made the play," Beason said. "I went over and hugged him and told him I loved him. I get a little emotional when we win. Especially when guys make plays, I feed off of it."


'Edge' surpasses 15K yards from scimmage

Cardinals running back Edgerrin James became the 14th player in NFL history to surpass 15,000 career yards from scrimmage with a third quarter run Sunday against the Dolphins.

James' game jersey and the ball he carried to reach the milestone are being sent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio for display.

James is the 12th running back on the list and the only current player.


Roscoe Has Another Big Return

Roscoe Parrish's big 4th quarter punt return was HUGE, gving the Bills a field position advantage with the game on the line. If the Jags had been able to pin the Bills back in their own territory in a one point game, the Bills might have had a much more difficult time holding onto the lead. Edwards missed Parrish on a deep throw earlier in the game, but Parrish looked to be more of a threat that the defense had to be concerned with in this game than in the Bills' win over Seattle.


Second-half adjustment pays for Portis

Clinton Portis wasn't happy with how he got started Sunday at steamy FedEx Field. The Washington Redskins running back picked up just 5 yards on his four carries on the first series.

But Portis figured out what was going wrong.

The veteran back adjusted where he was lining up, and it started clicking. He finished with 96 yards and two touchdowns to help rally the Redskins to their 29-24 victory over the New Orleans Saints.

"Early on, I was too far into the line," Portis said. "I wasn't confident. I was missing reads, and I came right to the sideline and told Coach [Jim Zorn] that it was on me. Once I got back to the depth that I was supposed to be, things started to open up, and I was able to see. The lanes started to open up."

The Redskins trailed 17-9 late in the third quarter and faced second-and-goal at the 9 when Portis ran left and followed massive fullback Mike Sellers into the end zone.

"It was on [to the left side] today," Portis said. "It was just backside, and [offensive tackle] Chris [Samuels] and [guard] Pete [Kendall] was coming up to the backers, and Mike Sellers, you can tell when he's really into the game. I was like, 'I might as well hold on to him because they got to run through him to get to me.'"

Then, early in the fourth quarter, Kendall and center Casey Rabach opened a big hole on second-and-6 at the New Orleans 8, and Portis ran through it to pull the Redskins within 24-22.


Jennings Injured

The other injury from Sunday's game is Kelly Jennings, the cornerback who suffered a broken rib. He had an injection at halftime and finished the game. He won't practice much this week, but is expected to be available for the game against St. Louis.


Bears Still Have Faith In Olsen

The Bears won't lose faith in tight end Greg Olsen after he fumbled following both receptions Sunday. The way their offense is shaping up around tailback Matt Forte, Olsen will be in position for so many play-action passes -- as long as offensive coordinator Ron Turner and quarterback Kyle Orton continue feeding him the ball. Olsen ultimately will be the best pass-catcher on this team, especially if Devin Hester is sidelined because of a rib injury.

An aside: Watching Olsen's struggles Sunday reminded me of an October day in 1999, when Minnesota tight end Jim Kleinsasser fumbled twice -- against the Bears, ironically -- in a 24-22 Vikings loss. Then-coach Dennis Green moved him to fullback the following week, and the Vikings have never considered Kleinsasser much of a receiving threat since. There's no chance the Bears will go to those lengths with Olsen, but for some reason it jogged my memory.


NFL U Week 2 Video Highlights

Check out the return of our NFL U Video Highlights. Like we did back in 2006, proCanes.com will provide our fans every week video highlights of all of our NFL U stars along with pictures from the current NFL Week. Click here to check out our Week 2 Video Highlights or click above on NFL U Video Highlights. Enjoy this week's highlights which feature a Santana Moss Touchdown, a Reggie Wayne Touchdown, a Frank Gore TD and more!

Olsen bad to the last drop

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Nobody felt worse than tight end Greg Olsen after Sunday's loss to the Carolina Panthers. And nobody should have. It was a pair of turnovers by Olsen, fumbles in the first and third quarters, that turned the game against the Bears. Well, it was the second fumble more than the first that doomed the team, but fumbles are never a good thing.

''Anytime you have two critical errors that lead to your team losing, it's tough to swallow,'' Olsen said. ''That's really all there is to say. It's unacceptable.''

The first came on the Bears' second possession after the team had reached the 25-yard line with a chance to add to a 7-0 lead after driving down the field from the shadow of their own goalpost. Olsen coughed up the ball after taking a hit from linebacker Thomas Davis. The ball was picked up by Jon Beason and returned 12 yards, but the Panthers couldn't get anything going.

The second fumble came one play after the Panthers closed the deficit to 17-6 with their second field goal. Olsen caught a pass in the flat from Kyle Orton and turned upfield for a nine-yard gain before former Bears safety Chris Harris poked the ball out while tackling him.

''It was a takeaway on their part, but we look at it as a turnover,'' Bears coach Lovie Smith said. ''We have to secure the football. It's kind of as simple as that. We know coming in, both defenses, that's what they live by, stripping the football. Learning experience for us, we have to protect the ball better than that.''

NFL coaches hate turnovers, and Olsen is lucky he's a good enough player to survive those kinds of mistakes. The coaches put him right back on the field for the next series. Former Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson once famously cut a player on the Soldier Field turf as he walked back to the sidelines after a second fumble in the season finale. The Cowboys won the game in a blowout, mind you, and went on to win the Super Bowl. But two fumbles in one game is simply not allowed.

''Both times the same thing happened,'' Olsen said. ''I caught it and I was bringing it in to tuck it and he reached around and punched it before I could tuck it away,'' Olsen said. ''The fact is you can't turn the ball over, especially in those situations. You can't do that to your team. You can't put them in those situations.''

Harris forced a league-high eight fumbles last year and already has two this season.

''That's an easy one when I'm tackling on the side,'' Harris said. ''Most ball carriers will try to give you a stiff arm or something, or they are not paying attention. It's kind of like when you are playing basketball with lazy defense and the guy tries to poke it out from behind. Those are the easy ones in football.''


James reaches milestone

With his 55 rushing yards on the day, Cardinals running back Edgerrin James now has 15,004 yards from scrimmage in his career, and is just the 14th player in NFL history to have that many yards, according to the Arizona Republic.


Ortega Added from the Practice Roster

Needing help in other positions, the Saints promoted two practice squad players, tight end Buck Ortega and defensive end Josh Savage. The Saints made room for them by releasing Lehr and placing linebacker Mark Simoneau on injured reserve.
Both Savage and Ortega played, but neither cracked the stat sheet.



The Ed Reed Eye of the Hurricane Foundation will hold its benefit, "A Night in New Orleans," tonight at 6 at the Valley Mansion in Cockeysville, as originally scheduled. The benefit had been moved to tomorrow night when the Ravens were scheduled to play in Houston. It will feature the group Maze, with Frankie Beverly, and Cajun cuisine. All proceeds from sales and donations go the Reed's nonprofit foundation. The Ravens safety, a Louisiana native and former Miami Hurricane, organized NFL player donations for victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. His foundation is working to help Booker T. Washington Middle School in Baltimore transition into a school for the arts and music.


Block on

When Darrell McClover was bearing down on the punter this time, he took the time to see if he could direct what he knew would be a block.

McClover, the only man rushing Jason Baker on the first punt of the game, blew past Nick Goings for an easy block that Brandon Lloyd snatched out of the air and returned nine yards for a touchdown that gave the Bears a 7-0 lead.

''When I'm rushing I am not really looking at [Goings], I am looking at the punter,'' said McClover, who stormed in from the left end.
''I guess he thought I was holding him up and he let me go. I was just trying to hit it where we could get it.''

McClover had a blocked punt at Seattle in preseason but couldn't locate it, and it went out of the end zone for a safety.


Hester sidelined with rib injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- More lingering than the disappointment of Sunday's disappointing loss to the Carolina Panthers may be the loss of Devin Hester.

The Bears' leader in touchdowns over the last two seasons left the field in the third quarter holding his left side with what was described as a rib injury. He was moving gingerly in the locker room afterward and the team shielded him from media without making any further announcement about what medical exams might have revealed.

''Of course he couldn't finish the football game, so that's cause for concern,'' said coach Lovie Smith, who could not specify if Hester was injured on the kickoff return that ended with a tackle by rookie Dan Connor, or earlier. ''That's the final [play]. Whether he did before that, I don't know.''

Danieal Manning assumed kickoff-return duties and brought one Rhys Lloyd kick that went seven yards into the end zone to the 29-yard line. Cornerback Nathan Vasher took his role on punt returns, with an 18-yard return the best of three chances.

It limited Hester to 12 plays on offense and he made just one reception, a six-yarder. So after all of the work to integrate him offensively, he has two catches to show for it. No one wanted to speculate on his status following the game.

''Obviously, he's a great player,'' quarterback Kyle Orton said. ''He helps us in all facets of the game. [If he misses time], it is going to hurt. But offensively, I think Marty Booker can step in and add a veteran presence -- and the limited time he's been in so far this season, he's played well. I am very confident Marty can come in and play well for us.''

Booker went from seven snaps in the opener to 23, with the majority coming in the second half after Hester was lost. A bomb by Orton on third-and-seven from the Bears' 13 was just overthrown as Booker had soundly beaten Ken Lucas.

''He hasn't been out there that much, but I think we have developed some timing,'' Orton said. ''That throw certainly wasn't a timing issue or anything like that; it was just a missed throw. I am confident with Marty.''


The Portis Interview: Director's Cut

So Clinton Portis obviously had some interesting things to say in the story we ran in this morning's paper. That wasn't all he said, though. He was in a very talkative mood.

Here is some other free-flowing stuff from your favorite tailback, some Portis out-takes:

How have you changed as a person and a back since you came to Washington?:

"As a back, I've changed to basically doing what's asked of me," Portis said. "Coming in here, being used to daylight and big runs and high expectations, and feeling prepared to change the organization around and carry the organization, and all of a sudden it didn't work that way, for whatever reason, and all of a sudden you have to take that criticism. Of course you become blamed, but at the same time, I felt like I put in the work. It wasn't like I didn't show up for work. You look back over every game I've played in since I've been here, whether I had the yards or not, you can't sit here and tell me I didn't give you everything I had on the field.

"I think I was running into some brick walls. I ran into some of them full speed. It wasn't like I laid down and all of a sudden, 'No, I can't do this.' I tried. I think trying and always giving all the maximum effort that I can give, you're going to take your criticism and everybody's going to be hard, and all of a sudden you don't do this, you don't do that.

"But my status as far as consistency in the NFL, I've accomplished something that is not easily accomplished. With the exception of the year that I got hurt, all of my campaigns been fine years for another back. For a Marion Barber, that would be great. But for Clinton Portis, it's sub-par. I think it's just unfair , uh I really think it's unfair to have hard work overlooked due to circumstances.

"Since I've been here we haven't played with the line that was expected for us to have. We've lost Randy Thomas and Jon Jansen, or had makeshift [lines], had to plug in this lineman or get somebody last-minute. We've always shuffled our line-up, shuffled our quarterbacks. We really haven't had the same starting receivers. So as far as constant, I've been the only constant in the Washington Redskins, along with Chris Samuels and Chris Cooley. Other than that, everything else has been shuffled."

Here, he took a breath. One question, more than three minutes, 30 seconds. I asked him if it was fair or unfair that people get caught up in the numbers, the stats. He said some of the things that were in the story -- that sometimes 80 yards can be the toughest 80 yards possible. He went on:
"It's part of the game. It's being involved in the game. When your role changed, and you're used to hitting home runs, home runs, and they ask you to become a singles hitter, and you want to slap it out of the park, what do you say? 'No, I'm a home run hitter.' Or do you do what they ask you do to for the team? They want me to hit home runs, but every now and then you got to get a single, get on base first. Then we get a home run, or try and help someone else drive you in. So knowing the role reversal, of course we all want home runs, but I'm not going to say I didn't miss some opportunities over the last five, six years to have a home run. But [shoot], it was hard to come by those opportunities. And all of a sudden it'd pop up, and you miss it. That one time that you miss it, it don't come back."

Keep in mind, too, that Portis never said he wanted to be traded. He just said he thought it'd be interesting if he could run behind a different line with different players around him for one week to see what the results would be. Because he said that, I asked him whether he wished he hadn't been traded from Denver, which is renowned for its consistent offensive line play. He said flatly no, and there's a quote about that in the story. But he was more expansive.

"I think being here made me appreciate having Shannon Sharpe or Rod Smith or Ed McCaffrey as a teammate, or being able to watch an Al Wilson go out and play football -- people who really love the game and played the game the way it was supposed to be played. And then all of a sudden you come and you ask to be the leader, you ask to be the focal point, you ask to take the hits and be the person that everything going to always fall down to you. So I always said it's not about, well, as the focal point, you asked to lead, you asked to carry, you asked to guide newcomers. You asked to pull in a Devin Thomas and try to get him on the right road, to guide a Marcus Mason, who got all the talent in the world, to teach him how to become a complete back, to understand it's more than running the ball."

He also said that he believes these Redskins have more talent than he played with during his two seasons in Denver. And he also showed a bit of a chip on his shoulder.

"People don't want to see me do good. Everybody wants [to say], 'Oh, he's getting paid too much and not producing. He ain't went to the Pro Bowl. He ain't [this or that]. Well, as an organization, we only had three people go to the Pro Bowl.

"If you really pay attention and watch us play, there's a lot of us should have been in the Pro Bowl because we played hard. We played football the way it's supposed to be played. You can't tell me London Fletcher shouldn't have been in the Pro Bowl. Three middle linebackers better than London Fletcher? Or a Sean Taylor over his career. There was another safety better than him? Or LaRon Landry coming up? You telling me there's four safeties in the NFL better than him? No.

"I would be a fool to believe that. For myself, yeah, other people had wonder years. But the consistency, every year, you know what I'm going to give you. It's not going to be a major dropoff. I'm going to give you what I got, every year. No matter what our record is, I'm going to be that constant."

Last thing (though we could probably go on forever): I pointed out that his contract is through 2010, essentially three more seasons. I asked him if he embraced that or he was frustrated about it (given what he had said earlier). He gets to some interesting stuff about leadership and team dynamics.

"I'm past the frustration point," Portis said, "because in frustration, you can't go out and make others do something. I can only do my job. And you know, I think within the organization, they can see I do my job. I can't control other people's jobs. This team, with the talent we have -- we never had this kind of talent in Denver. So the talent that we have here is phenomenal.

"When I was in Denver, there was three players getting a lot of money -- Brian Griese, Trevor Pryce, John Mobley. But you come to this organization, you got six of the highest-paid players on offense. You got five of the highest-paid players on defense. So it's kind of hard when you got 11 players making that much money, and then you got a guy such as James Thrash or Rock Cartwright not making that kind of money who's really the leaders of this team.

"I would love to feel and say I'm the leader of the Washington Redskins. On Sunday, I am. On a day-to-day, Monday-to-Saturday [basis], I'm not, because Rock Cartwright work harder than I do, James Thrash work harder than I do, David Patten -- who's now with the New Orleans Saints -- worked harder than I did. Santana Moss worked harder than I do. Chris Cooley ain't never missed a practice since I been here. [Note: He was speaking Wednesday, before Cooley had to miss that day's practice.] So do I say, 'Put me in the front and let me lead?' On Sunday, yeah, I say that, because there's not one of those guys who I feel work harder than me. But on Monday through Saturday, when the leadership role is really requested, I'm not. That's not me."


Mosher: McGahee gives Ravens a running game

Here's something Ravens fans can take to the bank for the rest of the season: their leading rusher won't be the fullback, their longest touchdown run won't come from a wide receiver, and their signature rushing highlight won't come from Joe Flacco.

The Ravens, without injured Pro Bowl running back Willis McGahee, moved the chains in odd varieties during their 17-10 win last Sunday over the Bengals.

They churned out 229 rushing yards. Eighty-six of them came from second-year pro Le'Ron McClain, the team's 260-pound fullback who amassed 19 carries -- or nearly three times the number of carries McClain had accrued for his career.

Before Sunday, McClain had never carried the ball more than twice in one game and had just 18 career rushing yards.

Second-round pick Ray Rice added 64 yards on 22 carries in his NFL debut, but neither McClain nor Rice contributed the game's highlight runs.
Those came from wideout Michael Clayton and from Flacco, the rookie quarterback also making his NFL debut.

Clayton's 42-yard touchdown run off a double reverse staked Baltimore to a 7-0 lead, and Flacco's awkward, less-than-graceful 38-yard touchdown scamper broke open the game at 17-3.

With McGahee now getting an extra week to heal after Monday night's game with Houston was postponed to Nov. 9, the Ravens' run game can return to normalcy.

"It's going to be good to have Willis in the backfield," receiver Derrick Mason said. "We have all of our weapons healthy and ready to go, and the only person we were missing was Willis. To have Willis back, our main back, is good for our offense."

McGahee underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last month. After missing the entire preseason and nearly all of the minicamps, McGahee's conditioning is gradually returning. He should factor significantly into the ground game next Sunday against Cleveland.

"I want a full workload, but that's something the coaches will have to go through upstairs to figure out what they want to do," he said. "I'm feeling pretty good. It gets better every day, so I can't complain."


A hot Burrell bat bodes well for Phils

PHILADELPHIA — Phillies fans waved rally towels, giddy at their good fortune, and chanted "Sweep! Sweep!" as the Phillies stomped on the Brewers again Sunday. They have gained four games on Milwaukee in three days. Out of nowhere -- here come the Phillies, making another late-season surge toward the playoffs. Good times, all around.

"I believe in momentum -- what do you call it -- attitude, charisma; when you come to the ballpark, everything is OK," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "Everybody is in a good mood, upbeat. Everybody's happy. People ain't walking around sulking because they ain't making enough money, or something happened at the house. I don't know; those things happen. "We're totally focused on playing the game. It shows you we're starting to get it together."

The word Manuel was searching for was "chemistry," but whatever. For the Phillies today, it's all good. They are taking advantage of a momentous collapse -- again. Among the many sins the Brewers committed Sunday, losing a doubleheader and folding faster than Superman on laundry day, was this: They got Pat Burrell going.

Burrell re-joined the Phillies lineup Sunday, driving in the game-winning run in the opener after a grievous insult -- and adding a home run in the nightcap. Burrell was hitting .165 with a .289 slugging percentage since Aug. 5, with just 10 RBIs in 121 at-bats. Still it was a heck of a thing to see Brewers manager Ned Yost bring in a lefty to face Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, and then walk Howard intentionally to let the left-hander face Burrell.

Weird -- and an open admission that Yost thought Burrell wasn't much of a threat. Burrell smoked a single to left that broke a 3-3 tie and sent the Phillies to a win in the opener. Asked if it was an important hit for him and for his confidence, Burrell said it sure was.

"To be able to help us win was important," Burrell said. "I can't lie; it was big. I needed to get a hit in that situation."

In the eighth inning of Game 1, Yost brought in lefty Brian Shouse for Utley and Howard. Utley inexplicably bunted, opening up first base. Yost ordered Shouse to walk Howard, bringing up Burrell. Then he let the lefty face Burrell.

Shouse allows right-handers almost a hundred points better batting average than left-handers. Burrell is hitting 15 points better against lefties. Howard is hitting .208 against lefties. Just weird. But that's how bad the Brewers are going -- 3-10 in September, and going all to pieces in front of the Phillies.

And that's how good Howard is going. With a homer in the opener, Howard has hit safely in eight straight games, driven in at least one run in seven straight and he has seven homers and 19 RBIs in September -- both tops in the majors.

"It's only a matter of time, because he's been swinging the bat so well," Burrell said. "I'm not surprised they pitch around him. All that does is put some pressure on the guy behind him. I need to get base hits there."

Burrell then homered in the second game, as Brett Myers pitched the Phillies into a tie for the wild-card lead. Myers was brilliant, again. That Myers and Moyer both pitched in this series on short rest proved an obvious point -- Manuel is going all-in on the Brewers, and for good reason.
This apparently is the Phillies' plan every season -- to lurk in the weeds, waiting for the teams ahead of them to throw up on themselves, and then waltz past them into the playoffs. The Phillies are a dynasty that way, as long as somebody else falls apart every year.

This year, that somebody may be the Brewers. The two teams traded hit batsmen Sunday, and there should have been a fight. The Brewers needed a fight; there was every reason for this to go haywire -- but the Brewers have no more fight left in them, and the Phillies couldn't have cared less. Bigger fish to fry.

Asked if the Mets and Brewers should be worried about the Phillies, Howard smiled before dodging the question this way: "We're worried about ourselves," Howard said. "Everybody else would probably say the same. We'll take care of our business."

It gets a lot easier if Burrell gets going again. This may indeed be his last stand in Philadelphia; he's in the last year of his contract and Burrell's fade in the last month has put a return in real doubt. He knows it; Burrell has admitted he's thought this month might be the end for him here. Unless, of course, he's playing in October. Reach Kevin Roberts at kroberts@courierpostonline.com


Ex-UM star Tamara James to conduct hoops clinic

No matter how big Tamara James made it in basketball -- leading South Broward High School to three consecutive girls basketball state titles, forging an All-American career at the University of Miami and getting drafted No. 8 overall in the 2006 WNBA draft, James has always made time for the neighborhood children.

On Sept. 13, James will return to the Dr. Martin Luther King Community Center in Hollywood, where she played pickup games as a rising prep star, for the third annual Tamara James Fun Day and Youth Basketball Clinic.

James, with an assist from University of Miami Womens Basketball head coach Katie Meier, will lead elementary and middle school-age children through drills from 9-12.

There will be free food and drinks and giveaway for the kids. Meier and her coaching staff will then conduct a coach's clinic from 1-2.
For more information contact MLK Center Coordinator Richard Walker at 954-921-3412.