The U - Uncle Luke (Luther Campbell)

Listen to Uncle Luke’s “The U” song that will premier on ESPN’s 30 for 30 Documentary on the University of Miami football program called “The U.”

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Winslow Says Vilma Couldn't Cover Him

Buccaneers tight end Kellen Winslow said Thursday that he is looking forward to playing former college teammate Jonathan Vilma, who starts at middle linebacker for Tampa Bay's next opponent -- the undefeated New Orleans Saints.

Both Vilma and Winslow played together at Miami, and faced each other in practice. The Hurricanes had some legendary seven-on-seven practice sessions that the players organized and ran themselves in the summers leading up to training camp. Winslow garnered a lot early buzz in his Miami career with how he performed against Vilma, a former first-round pick, and some other great Hurricane defenders in those player-only practices.

The Saints' Vilma and the Bucs' Winslow will have the first of two battles in 2009 this Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. Not only will Winslow play Vilma, New Orleans tight end Jeremy Shockey was an upperclassmen when Winslow first came to Miami. Winslow was asked if he was eager to have a re-match against Vilma this Sunday.

"Yeah, Jeremay Shockey, [quarterback] Drew Brees, it is going to be fun," Winslow said. "It is going to be exciting, a lot of athletes, and a bunch of all-stars out there on that defense and that offense."

The Bucs traded a second-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for Winslow at the beginning of free agency. For the season Winslow (6-4, 240) leads the Buccaneers in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. He has 42 catches for 454 yards and five touchdowns. Winslow said that he had the edge over his old college teammate in those seven-on-seven sessions.

"You can ask Vilma, man. Vilma couldn't guard me. D.J. [Williams] couldn't guard me. Sean Taylor couldn't guard me, respect, but none of those guys could guard me," Winslow said. "It is what it is. They'll tell you the same thing. Vilma probably won't, but yeah, I owned those guys."

Winslow, 26, was told that the media would be sure to write his comments, and he saw humor in it.

"All in fun," Winslow said laughing.

Winslow talked about how Vilma and the Saints defense would be a tough task for the Bucs offense. New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has a reputation of being very aggressive with blitz packages that confound offenses.  

"They give you a lot of looks," said Winslow. "They give you a lot of different looks, a lot of different coverages, and a lot of different blitzes trying to confuse you and mess up your protections. We have a big challenge."

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Photo of the Week - Bryant McKinnie PhotoShoot

We would like to thank MKRob for bringing these pictures to our attention. Check out the MKRob’s sports blog here.

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Watch Gerard Daphnis, Leon Searcy and KC Jones Talk Hurricane Football

Click here to see the episode at

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Ed Reed 'taking it one year at a time'

Ravens safety Ed Reed cannot make any guarantees that his playing days will extend beyond this season.
Reed, 31, has been beset with neck and shoulder pain that have grown worse this season. He told the Baltimore Sun that while his play hasn't suffered "that much," he can't rule out having to sit out at some point this season.
Or that he'll want to continue playing after the season ends.

"Coming into this year, not knowing how my injury was, knowing I had more pain than I had in the past, I was taking it one year at a time," Reed told the Sun. "I was not going to come into the season worrying about it and not give my all.

"My main thing was, look, come into the season, give your all and see how it feels. ...  Assess it every week, every day, see how it's feeling. It's been holding up enough to where I can be effective."

Reed has two interceptions this season, down from his league-leading nine last year. But eight of Reed's picks last year came in the final six games. -- Sean Leahy

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Parrish Practices, Will Play in Week 11

Buffalo Bills WR Roscoe Parrish (illness) practiced Thursday, Nov. 19, and he will play Week 11. Parrish missed Wednesday's practice because he was sick, and not because of a knee injury that kept him out of last week's game, reports. With Dick Jauron’s firing look for Roscoe to get more playing time.

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Portis ruled out

Clinton Portis will miss a second straight game for the Redskins on Sunday because of the after-effects of the concussion he suffered on Nov. 8 against the Atlanta Falcons.

Coach Jim Zorn said that Portis "is just foggy enough" for him not to let the Pro Bowl running back practice, let alone face the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys. "I want to see him practice and I want to see him have those days where when he practices, he doesn't have residual problems," Zorn said. "And right now, he can't even practice so we'll keep him out this week."

Portis had started 40 straight games before last week. Washington is 4-6 in the 10 games that Portis has missed during his six seasons with the Redskins. Ladell Betts will replace Portis as was true during each of the previous 10 games.

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Vilma Speaks About the Brady Quinn Cheap Shot

In week 4's matchup against the Jets, Jonathan Vilma took a low-blow block from Mark Sanchez, for which Sanchez was fined. Now he's speaking out against Brady Quinn's cheap shot on Baltimore's Terrell Suggs last week. Here is what Vilma had to say on his PlayMaker Mobile page last night. 

What bothers me about this play is, for one, Brady Quinn is not a rookie—he's a third year guy. Two, he knows right and wrong, he knows fair and foul play. And three, as much emphasis as there is put on protecting quarterbacks, quarterbacks need to understand they need to do the same thing. There is a reason defensive players can't go low on quarterbacks. Look at Tom Brady. Look what happened to him. So why would you reciprocate and do the same thing if you're the QB? That's what really bothers me.

It's not like Mark Sanchez where it was his fourth game starting and he was a little bewildered and he was just out there. Brady Quinn has been around and he understands right from wrong. He understands fair and foul play. That bothers me. Yeah, Brady Quinn gets fined but that fine isn't going to help the Ravens, it's not gonna help Terrell Suggs get back any quicker, and now they've got to play Peyton Manning this weekend.

Not having Suggs impacts them in so many different ways. Now do they not only miss one of their best pass rushers but they miss one of their best players on defense, period. The guy can stop the run and the pass and you need that against a guy like Peyton Manning, where everyone says "don't blitz Peyton," but you need someone to rush the passer and that was their guy. That's what's especially frustrating. To see that happen, the way it happened, being on the defensive side it really bothers. We have to be really conscious about where and how and how hard we hit a quarterback, and now QBs are just going after defensive players because they're afraid of being blocked, they're afraid of being hit, and that's just not right.

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Gore's added role against Packers: Blitz prevention

SANTA CLARA — Things are a lot more complex for 49ers’ halfback Frank Gore than just taking the handoff and running with the football.

Gore is the team’s every-down running back and leading rusher with 551 yards and six touchdowns. He is also second on the team with 26 pass receptions for 211 yards and a touchdown.

But Gore will have just as much responsibility Sunday against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field when the ball does not come his way.

In the Packers’ conversion to a 3-4 defensive scheme, defensive end Aaron Kampman, who has 39½ sacks in the past 3½ seasons, lines up at outside linebacker. In some cases Sunday, Gore will have the responsibility of stepping up to block Kampman in pass protection.

“They create a mismatch over there on that side with a back trying to block a defensive lineman off of a two-point stance,” 49ers offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye said.

Gore takes pride in being a complete running back, including his efficiency in blitz pickup. The Packers offer a challenge because he might find himself responsible for picking up a corner blitz, a linebacker up the middle or Kampman on the edge.

“I just have to know what I’m doing,” Gore said. “They bring a lot of pressure. As long as I feel I know what I’m doing and what man to block. I’m going to try my best to block him.”

The 49ers on Thursday concluded their significant on-field practice work for facing the Packers. But the team will have two brief low-speed workouts that are designed for review today and Saturday before taking the field. Green Bay defensive coordinator Dom Capers has a lot of variations on his scheme, so the 49ers are grateful to have additional time to prepare.

“When you are getting ready for a game like this where they do some extra things that you might need a little extra time to prepare for,” 49ers coach Mike Singletary said. “It just gives the guys that extra film time, extra time to visit with their position coach or coordinator, and just get a feel for any little thing that you can possibly solve.”

It is not uncommon for 217-pound Gore to be matched against a much bigger man in pass protection. Kampman played defensive end his first seven NFL seasons at around 260 pounds.

“I just have to attack — get as close as I can before he can make moves, attack and keep working,” Gore said.
Gore is coming of his best back-to-back games this season. In games against Tennessee and Chicago, Gore gained 187 yards and two touchdowns on 40 rushing attempts.

The 49ers have started to run the ball out of the shotgun formation, something they did not do earlier in the season. He has 112 yards on 16 carries out of the shotgun, including two direct snaps that gained 38 yards.

“It makes no difference to me,” Gore said. “I feel like I can run in the ‘I’ (formation), shotgun and ‘Wildcat.’ I feel you have to be more patient in the shotgun. You know the first read and you can see the defense better. But it doesn’t matter to me.”

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Demystifying Devin: Bears' Hester goes down easy

Now that the Bears have turned Devin Hester from the best return man in recent NFL history to a No. 3 receiver who is getting a No. 1's paycheck - with math like that, no wonder their season smells like No. 2! - have you noticed how easy Hester is to tackle?

When he was catching punts and kickoffs, operating in the open field and running past people, who knew?

With Hester now working the middle of the field, catching screen passes and running end-arounds, it's become obvious: Devin is easier to knock down than the old lady George Costanza bowled over when he thought there was a fire at a kid's birthday party.

This revelation is part of the Demystification of Devin, who used to be the Eighth Natural Wonder of the World but now just makes Bear Country wonder what the heck happened to him.

Hester's peers don't wonder. They simply rely on old information. 

A recent Sports Illustrated players' poll asked: "Who is the league's most dangerous return man?"

Nearly half of the 296 NFL players surveyed named, you guessed it, good ol' No. 23.

These guys are so 2006!

Yes, the poll was conducted in September, so it doesn't take into account that Hester ranks only 17th in punt returns this season (9.9 yard average) and hasn't returned a single kickoff. But ... Hello! Put down your Madden NFL 08 controllers and pay attention!!

Hester got so out of sorts last year, when he was trying to learn how to line up and where to run on offense, that he was the NFL's 57th-ranked punt returner - 6.2 yards per. And he was 65th in kickoff returns before Lovie Smith mercifully gave those duties to the spelling-challenged Danieal Manning.

Mr. Dangerous hasn't taken one to the house since the 2007 season finale, which also was the last time he had a punt return longer than 33 yards. But hey, at least he led all return men in fumbles last season.

Opposing coaches used to fear him - and for good reason. The man had 13 returns for touchdowns in his first two seasons in the league, including one in the Super Bowl and another for 108 yards on a missed field goal. Opponents used to punt away from him and kick the ball out of bounds, even if it meant giving the Bears great field position. What a weapon.

Ah, memories.

Punters now just boot the ball directly to Hester, daring him to be the special guy he once was. He hasn't come close to making them pay. As has been the case after he catches passes, opposing players barely have to breathe on him to make him fall down and go boom. Strong with the football, he ain't.

In what has been a humiliating season for his team, Hester set a new standard of futility in last week's loss at San Francisco. He failed to gain separation from a defender and then slipped, letting Jay Cutler's pass get intercepted. His softness was put on display when he was bumped off his route by an official, setting the stage for another INT. He averaged under 7 yards a catch. He gained 4 yards on two punt returns. The few times he had the ball, he was taken down when barely touched. And he was benched briefly after committing penalties (false start, holding) on consecutive plays.

Dangerous? Sure. To the Bears.

"I just have to get back into a groove," an embarrassed Hester told the Tribune's Vaughn McClure earlier this week. "When it's my fault, it's my fault."

Thing is, Hester actually has made progress as a receiver. He has caught 48 passes for 596 yards - not exactly Reggie Wayne or Andre Johnson numbers, but decent nonetheless. He has better-than-expected hands, and opponents have to respect his speed.

Then again, NBC's Cris Collinsworth, a former All-Pro receiver, repeatedly criticized Hester for failing to run NFL-quality routes. And man, was Hester easy to tackle. Hines Ward, he's not.

So what's the solution? Decrease his offensive load, move him back to the kickoff team, let him operate more "in space" and turn him back into Dangerous Devin?

Afraid not. There's no going back now. He's paid as if he's a No. 1 receiver and the Bears have nobody better.

Anyway, in a few weeks - about the time the Bears are officially eliminated from playoff contention - you'll want to check out another revealing poll showcasing the NFL's latest trends.

Spoiler Alert!: 58.6 percent of respondents name Orlando Pace the league's top offensive lineman.

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Olsen A Key For Bears

Two players who could help the Bears' offense find its way again are tight end Greg Olsen and Devin Aromashodu.

The Bears have used Olsen a little more the last two weeks, mostly because he has been getting more favorable matchups against defenders. That trend is likely to continue against the cornerback-depleted Eagles on Sunday.  So the Bears need to throw to Olsen more than they have been, particularly down the field. He is capable of more than he has shown at any point this season.

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Should Dolphins sign Edgerrin James?

So much of sports is about roles. Nathan Jones, for instance, has great impact in his utility role in the secondary's nickle and dime packages. But if he was a starting cornerback asked to lock onto a top receiver? Not so much.

Ricky Williams was in a great role for himself, at 32, for the last couple of seasons. He has 105 carries so far for a career-high 5.3 yards a carry this year - or 42 carries less than Ronnie Brown. That played out to just under 200 carries for Ricky, a good figure for a veteran who still is a very physical back.

But with Brown out now, the question isn't whether Ricky's numbers go up, but by how much? And with Patrick Cobbs also out, how much trust is there in Lex Hilliard? We'll start finding out the answer about Hilliard tonight.
Finally, do the Dolphins go out and get a veteran back like Edgerrin James for the rest of this season?

The question isn't just what James can offer. It's the wear and tear he'd save on Ricky's body.

James was cut by Seattle after playing seven games with minimal impact: 46 carries, 127 yards, 2.7-yard average. But the Immokalee native and University of Miami grad might see a big career finish by ending at home.

Whatever's left in his tank - if anything is - the Dolphins would get it. So the question becomes do the Dolphins need it, if not for what James can bring, for how he'll save Ricky's body?

Ricky and Ronnie have been the two best players on the Dolphins this year. The Dolphins want to look ahead, too. Bill Parcells already gave Ricky a contract extension for 2010. But part of that, Tony Sparano knows, is using Ricky properly.

The Dolphins have had the luxury of doing that with Ronnie in the same backfield. For one or two games, Ricky will be fine with that. Over the final seven? Can he carry 20-25 times a game? And should he be asked to take the punishment, at 32, his running style still demands?

James turned 31 in August. He's played 11 years in the league. His Seattle numbers, of course, suggest little is left. But his numbers in a reduced role at Arizona (one he complained about) were reflective of something more: 133 carries, 514 yards, 3.9-yard average.

Sometimes there's a little toothpaste left if you squeeze the tube just right. Bringing James to Miami just might be that case -- and, more importantly, help save Ricky's body.

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Braves Release Brian Barton

According to Baseball America, the Braves have released former phenom outfielder Brian Barton.

Barton was considered a great athlete but went undrafted after a strong career at U Miami, as clubs believed he’d make use of his aerospace engineering degree rather than pursue baseball. However, he signed a $100,000 bonus (plus another $100K for schooling) with the Indians, and has been a prodigal nomad ever since.

The Beaneheads like Barton’s plate discipline and ability to get on base — he has a career .398 OBP and a .849 OPS in the minors. Old schoolers like his raw skills — particularly his speed and quick bat — though some of his mechanics look a bit awkward (but then, Hunter Pence looks awkward too). He can catch the ball in the outfield, exhibiting good range, and his arm is about average. His skill set is so impressive, he was a Rule 5 pick by the Cardinals prior to the 2008 season and most recently the Braves gave up righty reliever Blaine Boyer to obtain him.

However, Barton has now been with three different organizations in three years, and at 27 years old has yet to establish himself as a big leaguer. So why should the Mets be interested?

Brian Barton reminds me a lot of where Ben Johnson was at a similar age — but in this case, you don’t have to trade Heath Bell for him. Like Johnson, he has raw, untested skills that suggest he can be a solid defender, baserunning threat, and hit with pop, but is at an age where you hope to be seeing that potential realized. As the Mets gambled that Johnson (and later, Xavier Nady) could be a late bloomer, the same could be said for Barton, who may have been robbed of a year of development due to the Rule 5 process. Since the Mets don’t have much in the way of MLB-ready outfielders, Barton would be an ideal low-risk, high-reward player to audition in Buffalo next year. If he fails, so what? No harm done. I’d rather take a gamble on someone who may yet to tap his potential, rather than, say, Chip Ambres or Emil Brown. Nothing against Ambres nor Brown, but their peaks have passed — we know what they are, while with Barton there may still be something we haven’t seen.

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NFL U Week 9 Video Highlights

Check out the return of our NFL U Video Highlights. Like we did back in 2006 & 2008, 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 9 Video Highlights or click above on NFL U Video Highlights. Enjoy this week's highlights which feature Frank Gore, Ed Reed, Andre Johnson, Kellen Winslow and much more!

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Bucs Sign WR Jenkins To Practice Squad

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers attempted to add competition and depth to its wide receiver position Tuesday by signing Darnell Jenkins to their eight-man practice squad.

Jenkins, 26, has spent time with Houston and Cleveland since entering the NFL in 2008 as an undrafted free agent out of Miami, playing mostly as a practice squad member. The Browns released Jenkins on Nov. 10.

In four seasons with the Hurricanes, Jenkins caught 90 passes for 1,274 yards and five touchdowns.

The Buccaneers will announce a practice squad roster move to make room for Jenkins.

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Kellen Winslow Could Have a Big Week 11

Kellen Winslow — Meet the security blanket for rookie QB Josh Freeman. So far, more than a third of Freeman's completions have gone to Winslow, who's caught 11 balls for 159 yards and a TD in Freeman's first two professional starts. In fact, Winslow appears more comfortable with the rookie than with the veteran quarterbacks who preceded Freeman as Tampa starters this season. The Bucs host the Saints this week, and despite mass slobbering over the Saints' defense, it hasn't been all that hard to move the ball against New Orleans. The Saints are tied for 19th in pass defense and rank 21st in total defense.

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Roscoe Sick

Both Roscoe Parrish and Justin Jenkins missed Wednesday practice due to illness.

Interim head coach Perry Fewell said they don’t believe it’s something serious like the flu, but are still trying to determine that.

“We hope 24 hour bug, but it’s day to day,” said Fewell. ”We don’t’ think it’s anything that’s major but it’s day to day.”

Both players have been essential contributors to special teams, though Parrish has been inactive each of the last four games.

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Zorn says Portis 'very doubtful' to play

Coach Jim Zorn stopped short of ruling Clinton Portis out for Sunday's game at Dallas, but he said the Redskins' star running back is "very doubtful" to play.

"But I don't want to count him out," Zorn said Wednesday after practice.

Portis wasn't present at practice and is at risk of missing his second game since suffering a concussion - the second of his career -- on Nov. 8 in Atlanta.

Zorn said Portis worked out early Wednesday morning -- to get "a little sweat going," Zorn said -- and Portis experienced some blurriness. Portis attended the weekly team meeting but left Redskins Park to visit a Washington doctor and missed the running backs' position meeting.

Zorn laid out a timeline that makes it seem very doubtful Portis will be ready for action against the Cowboys. Even if he stops experiencing symptoms, coaches want to wait a full 24 hours and retest him before allowing him to practice. "I would be very cautious," even after Portis received medical clearance to play, Zorn said.

Zorn said he definitely wants Portis to take part in practice before Sunday's game.

"Him not practicing is also very key for me because I want to see him go," Zorn said.

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Buccaneers tight end Kellen Winslow defying perceptions

You think you know a guy, don't you?

You have read all of the headlines. You have heard all of the punch lines. You have kept up with all of the controversies.

By now, you know his reputation, and you have measured his character, and you think you have a pretty good handle on his personality. From a thousand miles away, you have judged whether he is a good guy or a bad one.

It is the way of the American sports fan. Give people a few highlights, tell them about a few lowlights, let them spend 10 minutes googling a guy's history, and they think they can see into his soul.

Then a player such as Kellen Winslow Jr. comes to town.

And, surprise of surprises, he invites you to take another look.

Give him a chance, and perhaps you will discover that he is not at all what you might have suspected.

Winslow walks into the meeting room at One Buc Place, and his voice does not bounce off the walls, and he does not beat his chest, and he does not demand the ball. His voice is quiet, insistent. His passion is obvious; his standards are high. He is insightful, analytical, entertaining and, in case you wondered, delighted to be here.

This is Winslow laid bare. For the first time since coming to Tampa Bay in the offseason, Winslow has lifted the shade to let people see what is inside.

"I got a fresh start here," Winslow says. "I couldn't ask for anything better. Our record is what it is, but I'm truly happy. You look around, and guys are really having fun around here.

"We got our first win. It is only one win, but I haven't won in a long time (13 games, dating back to last year with the Browns). Coming from Cleveland, it was pretty frustrating over there. I'm just all smiles here."

The Bucs are smiling, too. As Winslow gets ready to return to Miami, where he starred as a tight end for the Hurricanes, he has 35 catches for 352 yards and five scores. Even for a player who hasn't had three starting quarterbacks this year, those are good numbers.

"Since he's been here, he's been nothing but special, nothing but a good guy, nothing but a good teammate," Bucs coach Raheem Morris says. "He's found a home, and I hope he's here for a long time."

Yet the old controversies still follow Winslow around. When he was 19 and a sophomore at Miami, he compared himself to a soldier during a postgame outburst. When he was 21, he had a motorcycle accident that threatened his career. In a league as troubled as the NFL, should a silly comment and a serious accident define a man's career?

"I learned a lot from the whole soldier thing," Winslow says. "When Kellen Winslow's son says something, it gets magnified. So I learned to stay quiet.

"People believe what they believe. What they read. What they hear. What they see on TV. You look up Kellen Winslow (on the Internet) right now, and the soldier thing is right there. People like negative."

Do people still care? Put it this way: The better Winslow plays, the less Tampa Bay fans will worry about things that happened long ago and far away.

For instance, did you see Winslow's touchdown catch against Green Bay? When Josh Freeman threw the ball, the first thought was that it might break something on the pirate ship. Somehow, Winslow managed to leap high enough to catch the ball and come down in bounds.

"He looked like he was getting ready to windmill for a dunk," receiver Sammie Stroughter says.

Winslow shakes his head. "I wasn't high at all, man," he says. "I can't really jump that high any more. It really wasn't that hard of a catch. It looked better than what it was. It wasn't a LeBron James or a Kobe (Bryant) jump."

To understand Winslow, perhaps you should start with his expectations. After all, tight end is a family profession around the Winslow home. That's why Winslow wears pads during those practices when it is not required, why he runs plays with the scout team after practice is over, why he seems almost obsessive about playing the position.
"I want to be the best," he says. "Plain and simple. That's why I play the game. That's what I've always wanted to do. Play tight end. Be better than my dad.

"I love this game, man. More than anybody. I was born into this. I see my dad (former Charger Kellen Winslow Sr., a Hall of Famer) as this god figure when I was growing up, and that's what I wanted to be like. Ever since I can remember, since I was 4 or 5, this is what I've wanted to do."

His father can be hard on him, Winslow says. He can be hard on himself, too.

"I haven't done anything yet," says Winslow, nicknamed K-2. "This is what I think: If I ended my career today, I've done nothing. I've done what a lot of other tight ends have done. That's no disrespect to them, but I have higher goals."

He can recite the current statistics of other tight ends. He studies them in cut-ups, trying to pick up this from Tony Gonzalez and that from Antonio Gates and something else from Jason Witten.

Part of the success of a tight end, Winslow points out, is having a good quarterback to work with. Dallas Clark has Peyton Manning. Gates has Philip Rivers. His father had Dan Fouts. Winslow? He has hopes that Freeman will be the one.

"He can be," Winslow says. "Just looking at him, his mechanics for a young guy are very good. That's what's going to set him apart, because everyone has ability. He's going to be good. It's going to take him a while. He couldn't even get the plays out six or seven weeks ago."

Want to know how much football means to Winslow? Go back to the darkest moment of his career. It was after his motorcycle accident when doctors told him he might never play football again.

"I really thought of suicide, to be honest," Winslow says. "But my wife (Janelle) was right there by my side. I was told I was never going to play. I was miserable. I didn't want to do anything. I didn't want to live anymore.

"I'd say it lasted for a couple of weeks. 'Just what am I doing? What am I going to do now? My dream is gone.' But I didn't let it beat me. I came back, and I'm here."

He could own this town, you know. He has the ability; he has the charisma. If only he would talk a little more, if only he would let people get to know him, a lot of fans would be wearing No. 82 jerseys.

"On offense, you have to play a certain way," Winslow says, grinning. "But if I played defense, I could say whatever I wanted. I'd be a totally different guy. You would see the real me. I would be a (Warren) Sapp, a John Randle. I'd talk more stuff than anyone on the field."

Playing defense is obviously a subject Winslow has considered. A lot. He'd like to play outside linebacker. In a 3-4. Lined up over the right tackle. If you can work it out, he would be willing to start today.

Settling for offense, Winslow has been the Bucs' most consistent contributor. If you disagree, look at what the Packers did to try to stop him. They took their best corner, Charles Woodson, and moved him to cover Winslow.

"As soon as I saw that, I smiled," Winslow says. "I knew that was going to create mismatches for someone else."

All of that said, the Bucs are only 1-7. For goodness' sake, even the Browns, Winslow's former team, are 1-7.
This, he says, is better. Here, he says, he can see progress.

"We're going to be d--- good," he says. "It just takes time. We didn't think we were going to be 1-7 when we came in, but there is just a lot of positive energy around here. It's really because of Rah (Morris). He's going to get us there."

From here, it seems like a lofty goal. From here, it seems like a difficult goal to reach.

Then again, maybe Winslow can leap high enough for that one, too.

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NFL U Week 10 Photos

Check out Week 10 photos from around the the NFL of our proCanes. Click here to see the photos.

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Orien Harris Released

While the signing of ex-Chief Larry Johnson has gotten all the attention, the Cincinnati Bengals have made other roster moves.

Cut to make room for Johnson on the roster was DT Orien Harris. Harris, signed a few weeks back off the street to take some pressure off then-injured starters Domata Peko and Tank Johnson, was with the Bengals earlier in the year, traded to St. Louis for FB Brian Leonard, cut by the Rams, spent training camp with the Lions, didn’t make that squad, and has now been and gone with the Bengals again.

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Gooden Suffers A Concussion

Ravens ILB Tavares Gooden suffered another concussion during Monday night's win over the Browns.

This was Gooden's second concussion of the year, with the first one also coming against the Browns in Week 3. Expect rookie Dannell Ellerbe to pick up the majority of snaps in place of Gooden.

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Portis and the Hall of Fame

The Boss wants a blog on Clinton Portis’ Hall of Fame prospects –- and what the Boss wants, the Boss gets. So here goes:

As things stand now, with Portis at 9,696 yards and showing signs of winding down, I think he’s going to have a hard time making it. Don’t get me wrong. He’s had six good-to-outstanding seasons and has been one of the better running backs of his generation. But unless he has a Second Act in him -– he’ll be 29 next year -– the doors to Canton probably won’t open for him.

Sure, he could get in down the road as a Veterans Committee candidate. Leroy Kelly (7,274 yards) and John Henry Johnson (6,803) were the last two backs to go that route. But they played in a different era, and there’s been an inflation in offensive statistics since then. (Example: In the first seven decades of the NFL, there were seven 10,000 yard rushers; in the two decades since, there have been 17.)

That ups the ante for anybody hoping to get elected to the Hall. You just need more volume on your resume nowadays, more quantity. Nobody is going to be much swayed by the argument that “Clinton gained more yards than Leroy Kelly and John Henry Johnson.”

I don’t have any formula for who should make the Hall and who shouldn’t, but let’s try to go about this systematically:

1. In the last 20 years, the following backs have gone in (not counting Veterans candidates): Franco Harris, Earl Campbell, John Riggins, Walter Payton, Tony Dorsett, Eric Dickerson, Marcus Allen, Barry Sanders and Thurman Thomas. Has Portis had a better career than any of them? I would say no. (Remember, we’re talking about Total Body of Work here, not how glistening some of your individual seasons were.)

2. Here are some of the backs who will be up for induction in the next 20 years: Marshall Faulk, Jerome Bettis, Curtis Martin, LaDainian Tomlinson, Corey Dillon, Edgerrin James, Tiki Barber, Eddie George, Shaun Alexander, Fred Taylor, Warrick Dunn and Jamal Lewis. (Notice I haven’t even mentioned Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson, who are just getting started but have shown Serious Stuff. I also haven’t mentioned Terrell Davis, an absolute stud who will have trouble cracking Canton because he got waylaid by injuries.) Anyway, how many guys in that group would you rank below Portis? My take: Certainly none of the first eight. Then you could start splitting hairs.

3. A list of the things Portis has done: Made two Pro Bowls, rushed for 1,500 yards in a season (three times), averaged 100 yards rushing per game in a season (2003 with Denver) and strung together five 120-yard rushing games (’03-04 and again in ’08 -– a rare feat). At some point, he’ll probably top 10,000 rushing yards. How much farther he goes beyond that, only his body knows for sure.

4. A list of the things Portis hasn’t done: Made first-team All-Pro, led the league in rushing (top finish: fourth, three times), led the league in touchdowns or rushing touchdowns, gained 2,000 yards from scrimmage in a season, caught 50 passes in a season, set a significant record, had One of Those Games People Spend the Rest of Their Lives Talking About, played in the Super Bowl (much less won one), played in a conference title game (much less won one).

That's a fairly lengthy list.

I understand the attachment many Redskins fans feel toward Clinton. He’s got talent, he’s got personality (heck, he’s got multiple personalities) and he’s been a workhorse. He just isn’t -- at this stage, at least -- a Hall of Famer.

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Greg Olsen’s Charity Concert Attracts Celebrities

Actor Vince Vaughn was one of the many famous faces in the Chicago crowd last weekend when he attended Greg Olsen’s ‘Shake the Lake Musical Festival’ at Joe’s Bar to benefit the Receptions for Research charity.

The event featured performances by country music stars Keith Anderson and David Nail, as well as appearances by Olsen’s teammates Jay Cutler, Tommie Harris, Hunter Hillenmeyer and Earl Bennett. Other Chicago athletes who stepped up to support Receptions For Research included Cubs pitcher Randy Wells and former Blackhawk Chris Chelios, who is currently playing with the Chicago Wolves.

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Ray Lewis calls out Brady Quinn for "cheap shot"

Though Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who complained loudly last month regarding the protection of quarterbacks, apparently had nothing to say after Monday night's game regarding the 15-yard penalty imposed on the Browns via a low hit to Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco, Lewis had plenty to say with respect to Cleveland quarterback Brady Quinn's decision to dive at the knees of Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs during the return of an interception. 

"That's an illegal blow," Lewis said, per the Associated Press (via Sean Leahy of USA Today).  "I don't care how you want to look at it. . . .

"When you're running down and you're looking at the quarterback going at somebody's knees who doesn't even have the ball.  I want to see if [Quinn] gets the same fine I got or even higher.  Now [Suggs] is out four or five weeks because of some baloney like that."

The Ravens haven't commented officially on Suggs' status.  He left the game with a knee sprain and did not return.  Suggs is due to undergo an MRI on Tuesday.

Quinn denied wrongdoing in comments distributed by the team.  "I was trying to go for the ball carrier," Quinn said.  "I was trying to make the tackle on [Chris] Carr.  I would never wish that upon anyone.  I was upset about it on the field.  He was someone I worked out in Arizona with.  I will be praying for him.

"Again, we are sorry about that.  That was never the intent.  Again, I am sorry to Terrell and the rest of their team. . . .  I apologized to the team as much as I could.  I talked to Terrell as well, but he was in pain in that point in time and I don't know if he even heard."

We're still not sure why diving at the knees of someone other than the guy with the ball will result in a tackle of the guy with the ball, barring some sort of domino theory.  (Hey, maybe that's how the guys in Miami can bootstrap their locker-room pastime to football.)  And we'd have a lot more respect for guys like Quinn if they simply said, "It was chaotic.  I don't play defense, I didn't know what to do, and that sense of frustration I felt after throwing an interception caused me do something that I thought at the time was a good idea.  In hindsight, it wasn't."

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Are Portis' best days behind him?

Lying pressed against the artificial turf inside the Georgia Dome, briefly unconscious and later unable to remember what happened, Clinton Portis looked like he smacked into a wall.

Maybe he already had.

It's a dirty job, NFL running backs. They get beat up and worn out, and that's just the physical part. Doubt and hesitation tug at the psyche. Diminishing returns arrive faster than at other positions.

Portis' career workload raises the question of whether that is now happening to him. He is, after all, in his sixth season with the Washington Redskins and his eighth as a professional.

Portis, who suffered a concussion against Atlanta two weeks ago and missed Sunday's win over Denver, has been working behind a patchwork offensive line.

Still, his typical quickness and burst seem to be missing. After rushing for 1,487 yards last season (fourth highest in the league) on 342 carries (third highest), he looks like a different runner.

Portis is averaging a modest 4.0 yards a carry (the league average is 4.3), and that number is skewed by a 78-yard run against Philadelphia. More than 47 percent of his runs have netted 2 yards or fewer. Meanwhile, his replacement, Ladell Betts, gained 184 yards for a 4.5 average in the past two games. Betts appears to be the more decisive, confident runner.

Redskins coach Jim Zorn attributes Portis' flat performance to a lack of consistent practice time because of nagging injuries. He made a point Monday of saying Portis will regain his starting job once he's cleared to play and said Portis remains an effective runner.

But a decline would not be unprecedented or unexpected because Portis' durability and ruggedness might be catching up to him. Going into the season, only four active runners had more career carries. All of them - Edgerrin James, LaDainian Tomlinson, Fred Taylor and Jamal Lewis - have seen better days.

At 28, Portis is the youngest of the group. But the odometer says he is older. He has been a workhorse throughout his career, especially after the Redskins traded All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey to Denver in 2004 to get the fast, tough, durable running back required by new coach Joe Gibbs.

The No. 1 rusher in franchise history, John Riggins, played nine seasons for the Redskins. Portis has played fewer than six, yet he is second by only 880 yards. Portis averaged 293 carries during his first seven seasons and has four years of 300 or more carries in the last five. All running backs are different, but that many rushing attempts over a period of time - in addition to blocking and receiving - often are followed by a sharp, immediate decline, regardless of age.

James averaged 317 carries from 1999 through 2007. Now he is looking for work, cut by Seattle a few weeks ago. Cincinnati's Rudi Johnson was essentially finished after three straight 300-carry seasons. For Stephen Davis, averaging 301 carries over four seasons apparently was too much. Terry Allen, Jerome Bettis, Ahman Green, Corey Dillon and Shaun Alexander among others also dropped off considerably after several seasons of concentrated work.

"[Portis] is probably trending downward, but it's impossible to evaluate him based on his numbers," ESPN analyst and former quarterback Trent Dilfer said. "That is probably the second-worst offensive line in the league. Maybe the worst. Yes, he's trending downward, but he's not [finished] yet. ... Some players are just flat done because of the cumulative effect of carries and overuse. Other players, that time is near, but it is not now [for Portis]."

If not now, then when? Competing in the most violent of sports, NFL running backs probably absorb the most punishment and traditionally have had the shortest career expectancy. Some runners have been compared to "bowling balls," but according to former Redskins great Larry Brown, it's really the other way around.

"It's like you roll the ball down the alley and the pins essentially are the running backs," said Brown, whose running career was cut short by injuries and general wear and tear. "They're the ones that get knocked down every time."

Brown led the league in rushing in 1970. Two years later, he gained even more yards and carried the Redskins to their first Super Bowl. He retired at 29 in 1976 after eight seasons, a shadow of the 5-foot-11, 195-pound player whom coach George Allen used again and again and still again to implement his ball-control philosophy.

"I noticed a vast difference in what I couldn't do and what I used to be able to do," Brown recalled. "I got to the point where, when the ball was handed off to me, mentally I was in and through the hole and downfield, but my body wasn't there."

Portis, who has not spoken to reporters in nearly two weeks, predicted before the season he had "five great years" remaining. But Dilfer said no player would acknowledge any sort of decline while still competing. "I know I didn't," he said.

In addition to James, the players ahead of Portis in carries have not fared well lately. Despite a big game Sunday, Tomlinson's 3.3 yards a carry is a career low. Taylor, after a career-low 42.3 yards a game with Jacksonville, is nursing an injured ankle with New England. Playing for the miserable Cleveland Browns, Lewis is on pace for a career low in yards a game and plans to retire after the season.

Assorted leg injuries this year have bothered Portis, listed at 5-11 and 221-pounds. But pain is a way of life in the NFL, especially for running backs.

"It's like you got run over by a Mack truck because every part of your body is sore, from the crown of your head to the bottom of your feet," former Houston/Tennessee running back Eddie George said.

Remarkably durable over his nine-year career, George started to slip after year 5, when he had 403 carries, his fifth straight 300-plus season.

"Unless you put on the pads and experience 30-carry games, not just one game but numerous times, you wouldn't know what your body goes through and what you have to do each and every week," he said.

In 2003, 13 players had at least 300 carries. It was 10 in 2006 and five last year. Dividing the work among running backs is a growing NFL trend, and Dilfer said the Redskins should do the same with Portis and Betts.

"[Portis is] a split-carry back, and that's exactly what Clinton needs to be to maximize his career the next two or three years," he said.

Zorn last week played down the idea. He said Betts is not a "change of pace" from Portis like some others in a two- or three-back system.

On his weekly ESPN 980 radio appearance Tuesday, Portis said he deserves to remain the starter but does oppose the idea of sharing the position.

"[It] would be even better," he said. "I'm not a selfish guy. 'C'mon, give me the ball, give me the ball, give me the ball.' If Ladell is gonna help us win, it don't matter to me. I'm all for it."

In his 2005 MVP season, Shaun Alexander led the league with 1,880 yards and 370 carries as Seattle went to Super Bowl XL. Like Portis, it was his fourth 300-plus-carry season in five. The next year, Alexander ran for nearly 1,000 fewer yards, and his yards a carry dipped from 5.1 to 3.6. His production declined even more in 2007. He played briefly for the Redskins last year and is now out of football.

Zorn, then Seattle's quarterbacks coach, said Alexander suffered from a weakened offensive line. Dilfer, who played with Alexander from 2001 through 2004, saw something else.

"What happened was he stopped trusting his instincts because he started doubting his abilities," he said. "He was so instinctive as a runner. He could turn nothing into something and know when to turn it on and turn it off. Then, all of a sudden, it looks like he's questioning his instincts and thinking too much."


Jack McClinton Statistical Roundup

Here are Jack McClinton’s Statistics through four games for his Turkish team Aliaga Petkim which has an overall record of 2-3. McClinton has played in 4 of their first 5 games.

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Brian Asbury Statistical Roundup

Here are Brian Asbury’s Statistics through five games for his Israeli team Hapoel Kiryat Tivon which has an overall record of 4-1.

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Salmons leads Bulls past Kings

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — John Salmons scored 23 points and the Chicago Bulls beat the Sacramento Kings 101-87 on Tuesday night.

It was the first game with more than 100 points for Chicago, which was held under 90 in five of its previous seven games and entered with the NBA's third-worst shooting percentage. The Bulls shot 47 percent and made seven of 12 3-point shots.

Salmons was 9-18 from the field and 3-5 from 3-point land in 44 minutes of play. He also had 5 rebounds and 4 steals.

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First or third, Sanchez wants to succeed

MIAMI -- When Gaby Sanchez watches Jorge Cantu, he sees some similarities to himself.

Not that Sanchez aspires to pattern himself after any one player, but he and Cantu share some common ground.
Cantu is one of those quiet run producers who gives you quality at-bats with little fanfare.

Like Cantu, who drove in 100 runs for the Marlins in 2009, Sanchez's best position is first base. But both also can play third.

"We're very similar just by the way he hits," Sanchez said. "He hits the ball to all fields. He hits for a pretty good average. He has power. He can play third and first. We are similar in that kind of circumstances."

The irony is, depending on which direction the Marlins go this offseason, Sanchez may ultimately replace Cantu on the roster. Cantu is in line for a pay raise in arbitration, and if he is dealt, Sanchez and prospect Logan Morrison are expected to get a chance to win the first-base job in Spring Training.

If Cantu returns and moves primarily to third, then Sanchez and Morrison also will have a shot to win the starting first-base job.

Rather than look ahead, Sanchez is focused on taking the necessary steps to becoming a big league regular. The 26-year-old, who spent most of last year at Triple-A New Orleans, entered Spring Training in 2009 as a front-runner to win the first-base job.

But the Miami native, who attended the University of Miami, had a rough spring. Hampered by a sore left knee, he was limited to 14 Grapefruit League games, and in 36 at-bats, he hit .194.

Near the end of Spring Training, Sanchez was optioned to Triple-A, where he hit .289 with 16 home runs and 56 RBIs in 85 games.

Sanchez appeared in 21 games for the Marlins, and he had 21 at-bats, with two home runs and three RBIs in limited action.

"It was a rough year," Sanchez said. "Not so much the part of not making the team out of Spring Training. The injury hurt me a little bit. It set me back a little bit. I showed after the injury with the knee I was able to come back and perform and do what I needed to do get back to this level.

"Now, I'm not trying to do too much. I need to be relaxed. The more relaxed I am, the better I'm able to do things."
Sanchez has always had the reputation of being a strong hitter. At Double-A in 2008, he earned Southern League MVP honors after batting .314 with 17 home runs and 92 RBIs.

In the eyes of baseball statistical expert Bill James, Sanchez could be a sleeper for the Marlins in 2010.

In the recently released Bill James Handbook 2010, Sanchez is projected to have a solid season. If he gets enough playing time and at-bats, James' book forecasts Sanchez to bat .279 with 15 home runs and 59 RBIs.

"I'm just going to go out there and do whatever I can," Sanchez said. "They will tell me if I should practice at third or practice at first. My thoughts are it is going to be first. I'm going to keep working and keep doing the things at first base. It doesn't matter what position it is, I'm going to work hard at either one that I do."

Competition may ultimately determine who's on first for Florida for Opening Day 2010.

Nick Johnson is a free agent who isn't expected to return. Cantu, if he's back, may find himself at third if either Sanchez or Morrison is ready to assume the first-base job.

If that is the case, then Cantu could be at third base.

"My thoughts are my main position is first base," Sanchez said. "I'm going to go out there and keep doing the things I've been doing. It doesn't matter to me whatever position it is, I'm going to do the best I can do."

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November 17 - NFL U Roster Update

Check out the latest update to the 2009 NFL U Rosters. There is a new addition and a subtraction since our last update. You can also check out the MLB, and CFL rosters. Click here to see the proCane rosters.

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proCanes Extend TD Streak to 115 Regular Season Weeks

Did you know that a former Miami Hurricane/current proCane has scored at least one touchdown in 115 consecutive regular season NFL weeks? Dating back to Week 15 of the 2002 season where Clinton Portis scored 4 TDs, at least one proCane has scored a TD in each regular season week since then. We have chronicled every touchdown since 2002. See below:

Week 10 2009:
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco 49ers
Reggie Wayne - 2 TDs - Indianapolis Colts

Week 9 2009:
Greg Olsen - 3 TDs - Chicago Bears
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco 49ers
Kellen Winslow - 1 TD - Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 8 2009:
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco 49ers
Reggie Wayne - 1 TD - Indianapolis Colts

Week 7 2009:
Reggie Wayne - 1 TD - Indianapolis Colts
Brandon Meriweather - INT returned for a TD – New England Patriots
Devin Hester - 1 TD - Chicago Bears

Week 6 2009:
Jeremy Shockey - 1 TD - New Orleans Saints
Greg Olsen - 1 TD - Chicago Bears

Week 5 2009:
Clinton Portis - 2 TDs - Washington Redskins
Ed Reed - INT returned for a TD - Baltimore Ravens
Kellen Winslow - 2 TDs - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Andre Johnson - 2 TDs - Houston Texans
Reggie Wayne - 1 TD - Indianapolis Colts

Week 4 2009:
Greg Olsen - 1 TD - Chicago Bears
Reggie Wayne - 1 TD - Indianapolis Colts
Willis McGahee - 2 TDs - Baltimore Ravens
Santana Moss - 1 TD - Washington Redskins

Week 3 2009:
Santana Moss - 1 TD - Washington Redskins
Willis McGahee - 2 TDs - Baltimore Ravens
Sinorice Moss - 1 TD - NY Giants
Devin Hester - 1 TD - Chicago Bears
Greg Olsen - 1 TD - Chicago Bears
Reggie Wayne - 1 TD - Indianapolis Colts

Week 2 2009:
Antrel Rolle - Blocked Field Goal Return for a TD - Arizona Cardinals
Andre Johnson - 2 TDs - Houston Texans
Willis McGahee - 2 TDs - Baltimore Ravens
Kellen Winslow - 1 TD - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Frank Gore - 2 TDs - San Francisco 49ers
Bruce Johnson - 1 TD - New York Giants

Week 1 2009:
Willis McGahee - 2 TDs - Baltimore Ravens
Kellen Winslow - 1 TD - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Reggie Wayne - 1 TD - Indianapolis Colts
Jeremy Shockey - 2 TDs - New Orleans Saints
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco 49ers
Devin Hester - 1 TD - Chicago Bears

Click below to see the rest of the list:

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proCanes Stats from Week 10 of NFL U

Andre Johnson: NO GAME, Texans Bye Week

Vince Wilfork: 3 solo tackles

Brandon Meriweather: 1 solo tackle

Jeremy Shockey: 3 catches 42 yards

Jonathan Vilma: 8 tackles, 6 solo tackles, 1 tackle for loss

Santana Moss: 2 catches 8 yards, 2 punt returns for 8 yards


Rocky McIntosh: 6 tackles, 4 solo tackles

Calais Campbell: 1 solo tackle

Antrel Rolle: 9 tackles, 9 solo tackles 2 pass deflections, 1 interception

Kelly Jennings: 2 solo tackles, 1 pass deflection

Frank Gore: 25 carries 104 yards, 1 TD, 4 catches 21 yards

Kellen Winslow: Led the Buccaneers with 7 catches for 102 yards

Roscoe Parrish: DID NOT PLAY, was not on the active roster

Greg Olsen: 7 catches, 75 yards

Devin Hester: 7 catches, 48 yards, 2 punt returns 4 yards

Darrell McClover: Played but did not record a tackle

Willis McGahee: 13 carries, 35 yards

Ray Lewis: 7 tackles, 5 solo tackles, 1 sack, 2 pass deflections

Ed Reed: 4 tackles, 3 solo tackles

Tavares Gooden: 1 solo tackle

DJ Williams: 10 tackles, 7 solo tackles

Sinorice Moss: NO GAME, Giants Bye Week

Jeff Feagles: NO GAME, Giants Bye Week

Bruce Johnson: NO GAME, Giants Bye Week

Reggie Wayne: 10 catches 126 yards 2 TDs

Jon Beason: 8 tackles, 6 solo tackles

Damione Lewis: 3 tackles, 2 solo tackles

Phillip Buchanon: 7 solo tackles 1 tackles for a loss and 1 forced fumble

Antonio Dixon: Played but did not record a tackle

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Belichick quite open about Colts’ Wayne

FOXBOROUGH - Patriots cornerback Jonathan Wilhite spent most of Sunday night sprinting and diving and doing anything he could to keep up with Colts receiver Reggie Wayne.

Wilhite was one of the busiest guys on the field as Peyton Manning found Wayne for catch after catch. Wayne led the Colts with 10 receptions for 126 yards and two touchdowns, but Patriots coach Bill Belichick attributed that more to the receiver’s talent than his second-year defensive back’s play.

“I mean, I can’t say enough about Reggie Wayne,’’ Belichick said. “That guy is the best receiver we cover every year and it seems like he just keeps getting better. I thought the routes he ran and the catches he made were nothing short of spectacular, with the go route, the two touchdown catches, the third-down conversion on the corner route in front of our bench. He’s a tremendous receiver and he had some production against us.’’
Wayne gained a step on Wilhite on both touchdown catches.

“I thought Wilhite played well and covered him well,’’ Belichick said. “There were some great throws and great catches.’’

Belichick added, “It would be hard to say much to Wilhite. He did about all he could do on a couple of those plays.’’

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Zorn on Portis

Clinton Portis: Zorn said that while he was pleased with Ladell Betts's 114-yard output against Denver, Portis would remain his starting running back when he recovers from the concussion that caused him to sit out against the Broncos. But -- and it's a big but -- he's not sure when Portis will be better. "I don't know what the prognosis is," he said.

Zorn said the team would "wait, and wait patiently and wait cautiously" before deciding whether Portis could play this week. But he did say Portis was still experiencing blurred vision when he turned his head quickly.

"I think the headaches are now gone," Zorn said. "I think the ringing's gone. There's still a little blurriness. It's really when you move your head real quick, there's a little blurriness. Something's still there, and day by day, I think he's getting better and better."

Zorn said he would not wait until Saturday to make a decision on the running back. He could know more by Wednesday. Whatever happens, though, Zorn downplayed any differences if he gives Betts more time.

"Partly because that's what we've been doing," Zorn said. "We're sharing time. Maybe not the run load, but we have been sharing time. I don't want this to be something where Ladell came in and did a wonderful job -- good grief, he really did a tremendous job -- and yet have Clinton lose his job because Ladell came in in support. I think it's just exciting to know we've got two running backs who can run the ball. I want to be very sure that Clinton can get out there and really pound it and really use all of his abilities before we shove him back in, hoping that his concussion will be okay."

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Buchanon Talks About the Strip

Phillip Buchanon said it's a move he's been practicing since his Pop Warner days with the Riverdale (Fla.) Wildcats. And it was one of the few highlights for the Lions in Sunday's loss.

Buchanon chased down Adrian Peterson in the open field on a would-be, 61-yard touchdown run and punched the ball loose with a textbook practice-drill move. Defensive end Jason Hunter then covered the fumble -- five of Peterson's 11 career fumbles have come against the Lions -- in the end zone for a touchback.

"The first thing I was thinking was, 'Chase, tackle, strip,' " Buchanon said.

Click here to order Phillip Buchanon’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Bucs' Winslow striving to be the best

TAMPA, Fla. -- A bright spot in an otherwise dismal season for the struggling Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one-time Pro Bowl tight end Kellen Winslow is making the most of a fresh start with his new team.

The sixth-year pro has been the club's most consistent player on offense, leading the Bucs (1-8) in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns, while also dispelling the notion Tampa Bay took on a talented but troublesome player when they obtained him from Cleveland in an offseason trade.

Winslow had a pair of 80-catch seasons with the Browns, but received more attention for the career-threatening motorcycle accident that sidelined him in 2005 and squabbling with the front office last year.

The accident came after he missed most of his rookie season in 2004 with a leg injury, and doctors told him he would never play again.

Winslow was devastated. He credits his wife, Janelle, and his family with helping him through the difficult time, during which he says he briefly contemplated suicide.

"I come into the league, all this potential, all the accolades. I get hurt the second game of the year against Dallas. Never been injured before. Come back. Get a motorcycle, I think of Jason Williams the moment I buy it," Winslow said, referring to the former NBA player whose career was cut short by a motorcycle accident.

"I said, `Man, that's not going to happen to me.' A month and a half later, I make one mistake on the bike and my whole life changes. I really thought of suicide, to be honest. But my wife was right there by my side. My family was right there by my side. ... I didn't let it beat me."

Teammates and coaches rave about his work ethic and passion for the game. And, Winslow has gone about his business quietly and avoided generating the negative headlines that haunted him in five seasons with the Browns.

"I got a fresh start here. I couldn't ask for anything better," said Winslow, who leads the Bucs with 42 receptions for 454 yards and five TDs - one more than Tampa Bay's wide receivers have as a group.

"Our record is what it is, but I'm truly happy. You look around and guys are really having fun around here. ... We are what we are, but there's just a lot of positive energy around here."

Despite Tampa Bay's slow start under first-year coach Raheem Morris, Winslow is convinced the Bucs are headed in the right direction - and he feels fortunate to be part of what Morris is trying to build.

The 26-year-old son of Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow signed a $36.1 contract extension in April, making him the highest-paid tight end in the NFL.

Although he's worked with three different starting quarterbacks this season, he's excited about the prospect of rookie Josh Freeman developing into the type of player who can help him realize his potential.

Winslow, whose stay in Cleveland was marked by plenty of highs, lows and controversy, is on pace to finish with 75 catches for more 800 yards and nine touchdowns.

"I want to be the best, plain and simple. That's why I play the game. That's it," said Winslow, who had the second 100-yard game of 2009, and sixth of his career, during Sunday's 25-23 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

"I was born into this. I see my dad, this god figure growing up and that's what I wanted to be like. Ever since I can remember, ever since I was like four or five, this is what I've wanted to do, and I'm doing it. ... I'm going to take the most advantage of it that I can."

The Bucs acquired Winslow in exchange for a second-round pick in this year's draft and a fifth-rounder in 2010. His next contract includes $20.1 million guaranteed, a record for a tight end, and could be worth up to $42.1 million with incentives.

Winslow has maintained a low profile off the field. He's rarely granted interviews since arriving in Tampa Bay, in part because of negative perceptions of him lingering from a comment he made in college at Miami, where he once likened himself to a "soldier."

"To make a long story short, the whole solider thing I learned a whole lot from. I was 19 years old, and Kellen Winslow's son says something and it gets magnified," he said. "It seems like everything I say, good or bad, gets magnified. I learned to just stay quiet and just play ball."

In addition to being driven by his father's accomplishments, Winslow studies film of today's best tight ends, including Tony Gonzalez, Jason Witten and Antonio Gates. He tries draws a little from each and tries to incorporate various things they do well into his game.

He enjoyed some success in Cleveland and is off to a promising start in Tampa Bay, but feels like he's barely scratched the surface of his potential.

"If I ended my career today, I've done nothing. I've done what a lot of other tight ends have done," Winslow said. "That's no disrespect to them. But I have higher goals."

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If healthy, Redskins' Portis will regain job

A day after his team snapped its four-game losing streak, Redskins Coach Jim Zorn tiptoed across the running back tightrope Monday. With one player who struggled at times during the team's slump and another who helped bust the team out of it, Zorn was careful not to offend either.

Zorn did make clear, however, that despite Ladell Betts's impressive performance the past two Sundays, when Clinton Portis is healthy again, he'll remain the team's starting running back.

"I don't want this to be something where Ladell came in and did a wonderful job -- good grief, he really did a tremendous job -- and yet have Clinton lose his job because Ladell came in in support," Zorn said. "I think it's just exciting to know we've got two running backs who can run the ball."

Portis suffered a concussion in the first half against Atlanta on Nov. 8 and missed Sunday's 27-17 win over Denver. Zorn said on Monday he still isn't certain whether Portis will be ready to return for this Sunday's game at Dallas.

"I'm not going to try to push him through it and say: 'You've got to go now. Ladell had a great game. You'd better watch out.' That's not the issue," Zorn said. "The issue is his health. That's the main thing. That's the only thing."

As experts and NFL officials comb through reports and studies, teams across the league have been more proactive and cautious when it comes to dealing with concussions this season.

Philadelphia running back Brian Westbrook suffered a concussion against the Redskins on Oct. 26. The Eagles shut him down for two weeks, but on Sunday in San Diego, in his first start back, Westbrook suffered a second concussion in four weeks.

The Redskins are determined not to put Portis in a situation in which he risks further injury. Portis has suffered two concussions as a football player; the first was during his final season at the University of Miami.

In the days leading up to the Broncos' game, Portis missed practices and Zorn said his star running back was suffering from headaches and ringing in his ears.

"I think the headaches are now gone," Zorn said on Monday. "I think the ringing's gone. There's still a little blurriness. It's really when you move your head real quick, there's a little blurriness. Something's still there, and day by day, I think he's getting better and better."

If he can't, Betts showed coaches what he's capable of as a starter. Last season -- the first for Zorn and offensive coordinator Sherman Smith -- Betts had just 61 carries. Even as coaches decided in the offseason that Betts would be used more regularly this season -- especially on third downs -- his role was minimal until Portis was injured. Betts had only 11 carries in the team's first seven games.

But now, in the Redskins' past seven quarters, Betts has 177 yards on 39 carries and a team-best two rushing touchdowns. Rock Cartwright, who had a total of 12 carries in the past three seasons combined, has chipped in with 57 yards on 16 carries. Against the Broncos -- the league's third-ranked defense entering the game -- the Redskins totaled 174 rushing yards, their most since Nov. 23, 2008, in Seattle.

The team's ground game had been mostly ineffective with Portis in the backfield this season. Among running backs with at least 50 carries, 27 have a higher rushing average than Portis' 3.98 yards per carry. He's battled nagging injuries, has struggled to find and hit holes and hasn't displayed the explosiveness that made him one of the league's elite backs. Never in his career has Portis had only one rushing touchdown nine games into any season.

Still, Zorn remains committed.

"I don't want a guy to have to lose his job because he got a concussion. He's our running back, and who knows what kind of game he might've had" against Denver, Zorn said. "We can speculate on both sides of that. I don't want to take anything away from what Rock and what Ladell did either. They really helped us win."

When Portis is again healthy, Zorn said he doesn't "see any reason" his star running back can't perform similar to what Betts has shown the past two weeks -- even if Portis didn't necessarily show it in the previous seven.

Interestingly, in both the 2006 season and the current one, Portis managed just one 100-yard performance in the team's first eight games before getting injured. In taking Portis's starting spot, Betts responded with five straight 100-yard games in 2006. On Sunday against the Broncos, he posted his first 100-yard game since then.

Zorn wasn't certain when he'd make a final decision about Portis's status for Sunday's game at Dallas. But if Betts gets the majority of the practice plays this week, he'll likely start a second straight game.

"I don't think it would be prudent to say [Portis] is going to be ready on Sunday if he can't run hard and work through the practice week," Zorn said.

Following Sunday's game, Betts praised the efforts of the offensive line in front of him. It's a unit that had changed its starting personnel five times already this season, and in the days leading up to the Broncos' game, coaches shuffled three more starters. Zorn said he liked what he saw Sunday and plans to again go with a line that includes newcomer Levi Jones starting at left tackle, Stephon Heyer at right tackle and Chad Rinehart at right guard.

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Athletics' Weeks shines in Arizona

PHOENIX — I had the opportunity to talk with both Buster Posey and Jemile Weeks — hot properties for the Giants and the Athletics, respectively — when the AFL Scottsdale Scorpions and the Phoenix Desert Dogs met for the fifth time in Phoenix earlier this month.

Both players have similar baseball backgrounds. Both played college ball in Florida — Posey for Florida State and Weeks for the University of Miami. Both played in the 2008 College World Series where Weeks’ Hurricanes eliminated Posey’s Seminoles before going on to lose to the Stanford Cardinal.

Both were drafted and signed at the end of their junior years in the first round of the June 2008 Draft — Posey was the fifth pick overall, Weeks the 12th.

Both had their first full minor league seasons this year (2009). Weeks appeared in 50 games for Single-A Stockton in the California League and 30 games with Double-A Midland in the Texas League. Posey played in 80 games for Single-A San Jose in the California League and 35 games for Triple-A Fresno in the Pacific Coast League.

Finally, both were selected by their organizations to play in the prestigious Arizona Fall League. Both are looking forward to returning to the Valley of the Sun in February for spring training.

I sat down with Jemile Weeks a few minutes before the 24th game of the AFL’s 32-game schedule. He had the afternoon off but assured me that he really wasn’t hurt.

“It’s just a hammy thing that has been nagging me a little bit.”

I assumed that was baseball jargon for a hamstring problem.

Actually, Weeks had been on a 10-game hitting streak that ended the day before we talked. During that time he collected 15 hits in 41 trips to the plate for a sizzling .366 batting average. Included in his 15 hits were four doubles and three triples. He knocked in six runs, scored 12 and stole three bases.

I asked what it was like to play in the Fall League after his year at the Single-A and Double-A levels.

“I know I’m playing with the best of the best,” he answered. “These are guys who are going to be major leaguers. You’re getting a taste of the top talent in minor league baseball.

“Since I’ve been playing in college and professionally, this is the best talent I’ve seen. These guys are more consistent with their actions. Like with groundballs and balls to the outfield, there are not as many mistakes as you would see at other levels.”

At the time I talked with them, both players had appeared in 15 AFL games. Weeks had 18 hits in 64 plate appearances, Posey 13 in 58. Weeks’ speed helped him to six doubles and three triples. Posey’s power got him a couple of home runs.

Both Weeks and Posey are typical of a phenomena in baseball today in which players have spectacular college careers only to find themselves having to hustle for a chance to play in an environment where everyone plays at the level that brought them national recognition.

Certainly, outstanding college players frequently become outstanding professionals, but, not always. For Posey and Weeks, who both turned 22 this year, it’s all out there in front of them. They have a great deal they could look back on, but, that’s not the direction in which they are focused.

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Tigers won't pursue Washburn, Huff

DETROIT -- The Tigers will watch free agency pick up later this week, when players can field offers from all teams. But as expected, they will not pursue re-signing Jarrod Washburn and Aubrey Huff.

Washburn and Huff were both late-season trade acquisitions who struggled down the stretch, and neither was expected to be targeted. Washburn had told reporters after filing for free agency that he hadn't heard from the Tigers other than to check on his knee after surgery.

"We called both Jarrod and Aubrey this week and told them we will not be pursuing them," Dombrowski told Booth Newspapers. "We wished them well."

Huff batted .189 with two homers and 13 RBIs in 40 games for the Tigers after coming over from Baltimore in a mid-August trade. Detroit's plans to rotate players, including Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen, essentially sealed Huff's departure.

The Tigers hold exclusive negotiating rights on their free agents until Friday. Other teams can talk to them now, and all four have drawn interest, but those teams can't make contract offers or officially talk contract terms until Friday.

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Phillip Buchanon Catches Adrian Peterson from Behind, Forces Fumble

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Colts' Wayne made the right call

INDIANAPOLIS -- As if rubbing salt in the wounds of New England fans, Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne compared his audible on Sunday night's winning touchdown to a certain pitcher for the world champion New York Yankees.

Wayne caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Peyton Manning with 13 seconds remaining as the Colts shocked the Patriots, 35-34, at Lucas Oil Stadium.

"I gave [Manning] my CC Sabathia shake off," joked Wayne. "It was initially a fade route. We had just run the fade and it was unsuccessful. I wanted to do the same thing, show fade and just come with the slant and it worked."

Matched up with one-on-one coverage with cornerback Jonathan Wilhite on the outside, Wayne took a step toward the outside, faking the fade route as Manning sold it in his drop back, then cut hard inside as Manning delivered a near-perfect ball where only Wayne could catch it.

"I'd been running pretty much takeoffs all game," said Wayne. "I thought that would be an ideal time to change it up. We had just thrown a fade earlier on the drive and it was unsuccessful. I just wanted to do the same thing, but convert the fade into a slant route and it worked for us."

Manning, well known for his audibles at the line of scrimmage, gave all the credit to Wayne for the play call.

"Reggie called the last play," said Manning. "We threw a fade route to him earlier and they defended it well. I was going to throw the fade again, but he wanted the slant. It is hard for me to say it was his best catch ever because he has made so many, but it was timely."

Where did it rank for Wayne?

"As far as catch-wise, it was just a routine catch," said Wayne. "It was just a slant pass. Peyton did a great job of putting it out front. If I want to go home smiling, I make that catch. If I want to go home upset, I drop it. The catch, it was just routine, but situations and moments, it was up there."

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McKinnie's stature on the rise

Bryant McKinnie is hard to miss on the football field. Inconspicuous doesn't generally apply when you're 6-8, weigh 335 pounds and wear a size 18 shoe.

But sometimes, when members of the Vikings offense are watching film, it's impossible for them to ignore the damage inflicted by their gigantic left tackle, Big Mac.

"It's rare when you see an offensive lineman just use one arm and literally rag-doll people out of the screen with one throw," right guard Anthony Herrera said.

"When he gets his hands on somebody, he can reject him," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "It's like he's throwing somebody out of the bar. Gone. That guy flies off the film, the guy's on his back. We'd like to see that every single play."

That, of course, has always been the knock on McKinnie, the No. 7 pick in the 2002 NFL draft. He's long possessed the talent to become an elite left tackle, but inconsistency and off-the-field issues have prevented him from realizing his potential.

That might be changing.

At age 30 and in his eighth season, McKinnie said he's playing arguably the best football of his career. He's in better shape after incorporating different offseason training methods, including yoga, racquetball and tennis. Yes, hard to picture but true.

He said he's also in a good place mentally after enduring some embarrassing incidents in recent years, including the infamous Love Boat scandal and his arrest after a fight outside a Miami nightclub that resulted in a four-game suspension at the start of last season.

McKinnie, who received a seven-year, $48.5 million contract extension in 2006, said he made some changes in his life and that he wants to be recognized for his performance on the field. Specifically, he wants to make it to the Pro Bowl and thinks he's playing at a level worthy of that distinction this season.

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Olsen hauls in seven passes for 75 yards

Greg Olsen caught seven passes for 75 yards on Thursday in the Bears' 1-6 loss to the Niners. Olson was targeted several times in the red zone, but failed to haul in a score.

Our View: Quarterback Jay Cutler struggled tonight, especially in the red zone, which hurt Olsen's chance to get a score. He will remain the team's top red zone threat, and he should finish this season strong.

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Winslow has 102 yards in losing effort

Kellen Winslow caught seven balls for 102 yards in the Bucs' Week 10 loss to the Dolphins.

Winslow now has 11 catches for 159 yards and a touchdown in Josh Freeman's two starts. K2 was nowhere to be found in the first half, but came on in the final two quarters when the Bucs moved to a pass-heavy offense. Winslow's been up and down all year, but is on track to finish as a top-ten fantasy tight end with five scores, 42 catches, and 454 yards through nine games.

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Hester will always lack some key No. 1 characteristics

On pace for 85 receptions and 1,060 yards this season, credit Devin Hester for proving many of his naysayers wrong that he can't be a primary target in this league. However, we saw some reasons Thursday in San Francisco why he'll never be on par with the likes of Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. Not only does his 5-11 and 189-pound frame limit him from from a physical point of view when it comes to his effectiveness in the red zone, but he lacks some of the instinctual characteristics that separate the truly great wideouts from the simply good ones.

You can make an argument that two of Jay Cutler's five interceptions were Hester's fault, as one time he slipped coming out of what was a lazily run pattern and then quit on another mid-stride when the umpire interrupted a crossing pattern.

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Cameron explains McGahee's decreased playing time

Ravens offensive Cam Cameron said there are “a lot of different circumstances” why Willis McGahee’s playing time has decreased. McGahee, who led the NFL with seven touchdowns in the first four weeks of the season, didn’t have one touch last Sunday at Cincinnati.

Said Cameron: “When you’re getting a lot of snaps, one back can’t carry the load. When you’re not getting a lot… If Ray were playing poorly, then obviously Willis would play more.”

Cameron said he hopes for McGahee to get a couple of series in the first half Monday night. The running back could enter the game if the Ravens have a long opening series or could come into the third series, which has been the team’s preferred rotation.

“So, it’s been a snap issue more than anything, and it’s been a Ray Rice level-of-play issue as well,” Cameron said. “We like all our backs, and the more snaps we have, the more they all are going to play.”

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Wayne catches two TDs in Week 10 win

Reggie Wayne caught 10 passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns in the Colts' Week 10 win over the Patriots.

Wayne made a couple of fantastic catches in the first half, including a 20-yard touchdown grab late in the second quarter. He stayed hot well into the night and snagged the game-winning touchdown with 13 seconds left in the fourth quarter. He's a top fantasy receiver no matter the opponent.

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Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis will be a game-time decision Monday night against the Cleveland Browns, according to coach John Harbaugh.

“Ray went through the same thing, good portion of the stuff, and Fabian the same. So they all kind of practiced the same amount. Again, we’ll have to come down to the game to see how they’re going to, whether they can go actually on game day. But they have a chance to go. It’s going to be a game-time decision for all three of those guys.”

Lewis returned to practice for the first time since injuring his foot. He isn’t noticably limping.

When asked if he’s going to play, Lewis replied: ”You’ll find out on Monday night. I feel great.”

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Portis still feeling effects of concussion

Top running back Clinton Portis still is experiencing problems five days after suffering a concussion in the Redskins' last game, stirring questions about whether he might sit out the remainder of the season.

Portis has been ruled out of Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos at FedEx Field. After facing the Broncos (6-2), the Redskins (2-6) have seven games remaining. Coach Jim Zorn has said the team would exercise caution with Portis, and having him return to the lineup this season simply might not be in his best interest.

"He came in today. He still has a little, I don't know, if it was like a ringing in his head," Zorn said. "He checked in with our trainers. We sent him back home to keep him docile, if you will. We'll get a better evaluation next week."

At the very least, Portis might need to sit out another few games while continuing to be monitored by team medical personnel. But with some form of ongoing ringing in his head, Portis clearly should not be anywhere near the dangerous environment of an NFL field on game days.

"I'm not an expert concussions, so I would not begin to even try to speculate on" what the ringing in his head means, Zorn said. "I just know that we just have to be really careful with trying to get a guy back ... These are pretty difficult things to deal with. We're going to try to do the right thing."

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Winslow helping to teach Bucs rookie QB Freeman

Long before Josh Freeman earned the starting quarterback job in Tampa Bay, tight end Kellen Winslow was preparing the rookie for the big day.

Aside from the quarterbacks, no Buccaneers player spends more time studying an opponent on film than Winslow, and that caught the attention of his coach, Raheem Morris.

Morris watched as Winslow stayed late in the film room and just talked football with Freeman, weeks before the rookie took over. They would go over the young quarterback's progressions, Winslow teaching him how to use the film to help him on game day, Morris said. And when Freeman finally got his shot last week, he showed what he had learned, throwing for 205 yards and three touchdowns — one of them to Winslow — in the 38-28 upset of Green Bay.

"I have watched him bond to Josh, grab Josh by the neck and bring him into the room with him and those two sit for hours at a time and go through the process … whether Josh is playing or not," Morris said. "It has been fun to be able to watch those two work together."

It wasn't long ago that Winslow was learning the hard way how to be a pro. Now in his sixth NFL season, he is acting like a player who wants to be the cornerstone for a rebuilding franchise with a promising young quarterback.

All the talent he displayed at the University of Miami was bursting to get out when Winslow came into the league in 2004, but he couldn't get out of his own way. After breaking his leg during his rookie season, Winslow made more headlines in 2005 when he broke his contract by riding a motorcycle — and crashing, tearing an anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and missing that season as well.

In games, he was a Pro Bowl-caliber talent, and made the All-Star game in 2007 when he caught 82 passes for 1,106 yards. But he was better known for his trash-talk to other players, and, even later, against the team that drafted him, the Cleveland Browns, accusing them of sloppy medical practices that caused him two staff infections in his time there.

Despite Winslow's talent, the Browns traded him this off-season to Tampa Bay for two draft picks. It was a chance for Winslow, who made a name for himself in this state as a star at the University of Miami, to make a new name for himself.

He realized how important Freeman, the team's first-round draft pick this year (17th overall), would be to Tampa Bay's future. And he immediately started to impart all the football knowledge he could, breaking down opponents, teaching the rookie to look for weaknesses — and for Winslow..

"Kellen's been great," Freeman said. "We talk a lot of football together."

Winslow never had one consistent quarterback in Cleveland — Jeff Garcia, Trent Dilfer, Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn were just a few. He saw how important it was to have a rapport with Freeman. And he sees great potential for the rookie.

"If I see something, I'll talk to him about it," Winslow said. "I feel I have a guy now who I can work with over a long period time. And this is just the start of it."

Morris said Winslow is always asking to be trusted with the football, and has been "nothing but a positive influence for these young men."

This year, Winslow already has a career-high five touchdowns and is averaging more than 10 yards a catch, although his yardage is down on a 1-7 Bucs team. The Dolphins, who have faced some of the league's best tight ends this year, may be facing the best pure receiver of them all, Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said, and "one of the fastest guys on their team."

"The guy plays the position like a wide receiver, but he is a tenacious blocker," Sparano said. "The guy will get after you. He's not afraid to fight you. . . . He's a challenge, no question about it."

As Winslow returns to the place where he "learned to play football," he hopes to show he is part of building another success story in the state of Florida.

"He has come in here and done nothing but help this young quarterback," Morris said. "That has been a lot of fun, to watch with those two grooming together."

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Weeks' patience paying off in AFL

Jemile Weeks' patience and hard work are beginning to pay off.

The former first-round pick hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the eighth inning Friday as the Phoenix Desert Dogs outslugged the Mesa Solar Sox, 9-7.

Weeks, selected 12th overall by the Athletics in the 2008 Draft, also scored twice for the Desert Dogs (16-11), who have won three in a row. The Florida native ended a 1-for-16 slump with his first Arizona Fall League homer and credited focus at the plate.

"Lately, I think I have been getting out of the zone a little and swinging wild," Weeks said. "I went with the mind-set to be patient and wait for my pitch."

Weeks, who batted .278 between Class A Advanced Stockton and Double-A Midland, has hit safely in 11 of his last 13 games. He stole a base and scored a run in last weekend's Rising Stars Showcase and said baserunning is something he plans to work on next season.

"Defensively, I want get better," he said. "Guys are hustling down the line to take you out, there's a quicker and more consistent way to do things. [I want to] come out next year and have a healthy season and steal some bags, where I felt I lagged. Definitely, stealing bases and being more consistent on defense [are priorities]."

Fellow Athletics prospect Grant Desme broke a 10-game home run drought with a two-run shot in the fourth and scored twice. Nevin Ashley (Rays) went 2-for-4 with an RBI, extending his season-long hitting streak to 15 games for the first-place Desert Dogs.

Steve Singleton (Twins) slugged a three-run homer and AFL batting leader Bryan Petersen (Marlins) collected three hits, including a pair of triples, and scored twice for the Solar Sox (12-14).

Justin Friend (Athletics) walked one and struck out one in a scoreless eighth for his third win and Eddie Gamboa (Orioles) pitched a perfect ninth for his first save.

Red Sox farmhand Chris Province (0-2) took the loss after allowing two runs on two hits in two innings. Spencer Steedley (Twins) scattered three hits and fanned one over two innings of scoreless relief.

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McClinton Scores 6 Points In His Latest Game

Jack McClinton in his 4th game of the season with Turkish Team Aliaga Petkim scored 6 points in 22 minutes of playing time on 3 of 6 shooting from 2-point land and 0 for 5 shooting from behind the 3-point arc. So far this season through 4 games McClinton is averaging 13 points a game in an average of 28 minutes of playing time.

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Brian Asbury Scores 20 Plus Points in His Last 2 Games

In his fourth game of the season Brian Asbury scored 21 points on 6 of 13 shooting and 9 for 9 shooting from the free throw line in 29 minutes for the Israeli team Hapoel Kiryat Tivon. In his 5th game of the season Asbury scored 29 points in 33 minutes 11 of 16 shooting including 1 for 1 from 3-point land and 6 for 7 from the free-throw line. So far through 5 games, Asbury is averaging 28 points a game in 33 minutes of playing time a game.

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Del Negro encourages Salmons to keep shooting

Coach Vinny Del Negro offered his support for a struggling John Salmons who is shooting a dismal 30.6% to start this season.

"He's too good of a player not to make shots eventually," Del Negro said. We agree. Salmon's percentages are way down but his shots are actually up. If/when his shot starts to fall he should put up solid numbers, making him a prime buy low candidate.

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