Ravens optimistic Ed Reed will return in 2011

Coach John Harbaugh is optimistic that Ed Reed will return for a 10th NFL season in 2011.

"He's told me '- I don't think he'd mind me saying this -' he wants to play football," said Harbaugh. "Ed's got a chance this offseason to be healthier than he's ever been going into a season ... I don't want to speak for him. He'll have to tell you all that, but I think Ed's going to have a great year next year." Reed talked about walking away after the 2009 season, but he's not nearly as banged up this year. The 32-year-old, signed through 2012, is still playing at an All-Pro level.

Click here to order Ed Reed’s proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

Sam Shields was a steal as undrafted free agent

The 2010 NFL draft came and went and the phone never rang for cornerback Sam Shields.

“I was sick,” said Shields on Wednesday, recalling the vivid memory of being passed over by all 32 NFL teams.

Fast forward nine months and Shields is playing a key role as the nickel back on the Green Bay Packers’ No. 2 rated scoring defense and preparing for the NFC championship game.

No one would have guessed that Shields would emerge from the bottom of the Packers’ depth chart and become such an integral part of a defense on the cusp of a Super Bowl berth.

Not even Shields.

“I never thought of this (happening),” said Shields as a crowd of reporters hovered around his locker. “It’s crazy. This is my first championship game ever since Pop Warner flag football. I don’t count that, and plus we lost, so I mean it’s very exciting for me.”

That sick feeling after the draft was due in part to Shields getting slapped with a misdemeanor possession of marijuana charge last March. Shields claimed he was falsely arrested and wasn’t using drugs. Although the charges were later dropped, Shields’ draft status plummeted.

But that didn’t stop seven teams from showing free agent interest, including the Packers, who signed Shields for a modest $7,500 bonus and minimum contract.

“That was another frustrating moment because there were a lot of teams calling and I didn’t know what to do,” recalled Shields, who consulted his college coach, Randy Shannon, and his father. They advised him to sign with the Packers.

It turned out to be the steal of the off-season for the Packers, who were desperate for secondary help after getting lit up in the first round of the playoffs last season for 51 points.

“At first I was worrying about me making the team on special teams,” said Shields. “That’s crazy, because that’s all I was thinking about.”

But Shields, with his blazing speed and man-to-man coverage skills, had much more to offer.

“He’s been great, man,” said Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Woodson. “I think you have a young guy who came in who really had no fear, came in with a ton of athletic ability.

“He took the challenge of being an undrafted player and having an opportunity to come in and play for this team, and he took coaching well.”

Woodson and fellow cornerback Tramon Williams have served as ideal role models for Shields, especially with their film study habits.

“I’m learning something new every day, especially from those guys,” said Shields.

Woodson credits cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt with bringing Shields along with his unique teaching skills. And Shields has done his part by soaking up everything.

“He’s a young guy that takes notes,” said Woodson. “You don’t see a lot of young guys that come in and take notes.”

According to Whitt, there has been a domino effect in the secondary this season. The coverage ability of Shields and Williams has freed up Woodson to move around on defense, which has caused all sorts of problems for opposing offenses.

Williams said he’s not surprised Shields has developed so fast, even considering he played receiver until his senior season at the University of Miami.

“Some people have it and some people don’t,” said Williams. “He had it when he first came in. Some people take time to progress with it. He has it right now and he’s going to get better over time.”

If Shields continues his ascension, he could become one of the NFL’s next shut-down cornerbacks. But he brushes off any suggestions of stardom.

“I can’t let that get to my head,” Shields said. “I’ve got to take one game at a time. (It’s) Chicago this week. I’m going to go after it.”

Bookmark and Share

Darnell Jenkins Could Go Back To School Sooner Than Expected

The loss to the New York Jets was a big deal for all sorts of reasons that have been explored at great length.

For all of the New England Patriots it meant disappointment. For some of them it meant time to play golf. For some players who have not been in the NFL long enough to have made their futures secure, it can mean time to look for work elsewhere, especially since the league has been talking lockout.

Take Darnell Jenkins, for instance. The Patriots’ wide receiver has been on the injured reserved list for the last couple of months, and when I spoke with him he was considering other options for employment.

“We never know what to expect from the NFL,” Jenkins said. “So, I mean, we got notified. Me, I got a coaching application. I’m taking it serious.”
When I met with Jenkins last week, he was getting his hair cut. The barber joked that he was trying to prepare Jenkins in case he had a job interview.

Darnell Jenkins didn’t laugh.

“We have to feed our families, and some people have kids, and you have to think of something fast,” Jenkins said. “If you’re not already financially stable for the rest of your life, then you have to do something and you have to act fast.”

For Jenkins, who has just signed a future contract with the Patriots that could mean more time on the practice squad, a lockout might mean the end of a football career that has barely begun. It might also mean the beginning of a career coaching high school football, or possibly a return to the University of Miami for one more semester, to finish his degree in sociology.

“I grew up in the poverty area of Miami, and that’s the most my mom ever wanted,” Jenkins said. “Playing football is one thing, but she really wanted me to go to school and be her first child to graduate from college, so whatever makes her happy, that’s what I’m willing to do.”

For Patriots fans, it’s too bad that the Jets figured out how to cover Tom Brady’s receivers so well. For football fans in general, it will certainly be too bad if the league locks out the players in March.

But for individual players, especially those who haven’t played long enough to get rich, losses and even lockouts are just part of the context of their attempts to move along.

Bookmark and Share

Devin Hester ready for Round 3 with Packers

CHICAGO -- Leading up the Bears' regular-season finale in Green Bay, Devin Hester made it abundantly clear he wanted to knock the Packers out of the playoffs.

Although the Bears put up a valiant effort, Green Bay won the game, qualified for the postseason, and after impressive road victories over Philadelphia and New Orleans, will travel to Soldier Field to take on the Bears in the NFC Championship Game.

"It's the biggest rival game in history," Hester said. "It's our third time playing them this year. They won one, we won one. We got to break to tie.

"I've won in the playoffs before. We got one down, two to go. This year, we got to win [the Super Bowl]."

Hester and rest of the Bears' receivers now face the daunting task of breaking through against a physical and talented Packers secondary. Jay Cutler passed for only 168 yards in that Week 17 meeting at Lambeau Field, while Hester and Johnny Knox combined for only one catch for 16 yards. The only receiver who found success was Rashied Davis, who filled in for the injured Earl Bennett, and hauled in seven receptions.

Click here to order Devin Hester’s proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

Greg Olsen proves that a TE can thrive in Mike Martz’s offense

Greg Olsen hopes at least one myth about a Mike Martz-run offense now can be put to rest.

His performance in Sunday’s 35-24 NFC divisional playoff win over Seattle went a long way in erasing any thoughts that Martz’s offense can’t utilize a pass-catching tight end — especially in big games. Olsen and Jay Cutler did their part in dispelling that notion during the victory, quickly and emphatically.

“I’m not going to lie to you, it did feel good to get off to the fast start, and then have a couple of big plays later in the game,” Olsen said. “There’s no question it was a good feeling.”

Olsen caught a long touchdown pass from Cutler on the Bears’ first drive of the day, putting Seattle behind the rest of the way. Olsen finished with 113 receiving yards, the best playoff performance for a Chicago tight end in franchise history.

So was this enough to debunk the idea that an offense under Martz can’t (or won’t) feature a tight end?

“We’re not trying to debunk anything or prove any points. I’ve said from Day 1 that I’m happy to be a part of this offense,” Olsen said. “Everyone is all in. I think that’s a big reason why we’ve gotten this far.”

Still, it would be a hard argument to win anymore. Olsen was reportedly shopped around in the offseason after Martz was signed on to join the Bears. Instead, the team traded for blocking tight end Brandon Manumaleuna, and Olsen was made into a movable part, setting up as a tight end, fullback and wideout as Martz implemented his offense.

Olsen was inconsistently good, putting up solid numbers – like his five-catch, 64-yard performance in Week 3 against the Packers – on some occasions, and not-so-good stats – like when he had one catch in four out of five games late in the season – on others.

He followed up his team-leading 60 receptions and eight TDs of a year ago with 38 catches and four touchdowns this regular season.

And then came Sunday.

“We hear a lot about not using our tight end; what about this,” Bears head coach Lovie Smith said. “Greg came out with a big touchdown pass right away, and throughout the day we felt like he could make a play anytime we got him the football.”

Cutler connected with Olsen for a 58-yard touchdown pass less than three minutes into Sunday’s playoff game, and they didn’t stop there.

“Olsen also caught a bunch of passes today,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said.

No coach, it just seemed that way.

Olsen was targeted a team-high nine times, making only three grabs, but making the most of those three grabs. The 6-foot-5, 255-pound tight end in a receiver’s body had catches of 58, 33 and 22 yards, for the first 100-yard receiving game of his four-year career. It was also the third most in Bears single-game postseason history.

“Some games it can be the receivers, the tight ends, the backs, whoever,” Olsen said. “This just happened to be my day.”

The Packers are at least wondering if he can do it again this weekend in the NFC Championship game. Cutler knows he can.

“I’ve been comfortable with Greg since I got here. He’s a really friendly target,” the second-year Bear QB said. “This is nothing new to me. A lot of teams try to take him away because they know how dangerous he is, and they know we like to get him vertical.

“It doesn’t always work, though.”

Click here to order Greg Olsen’s proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

How Devin Hester turned things around

Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub said he saw the NFL's all-time leader in kick-return touchdowns, Devin Hester, temporarily lose faith in himself before his rebirth this season as the league's best ever.

After returning 11 punts or kickoffs for touchdowns in 2006 and '07, his first two seasons in the league, Hester was blanked in '08 and '09. Toub said the lack of success made Hester doubt himself.

“I felt him pressing,” Toub said. “You could feel it in games. He would try to create things that weren't there instead of trusting the return. Sometimes he would abort. If we had a right call he would stop and say, ‘I saw something left.' He'd try to do it all on his own sometimes.”

Toub said Hester rededicated himself to the return game last off-season and during training camp last summer, and the result was 3 more punt-return touchdowns in the regular season, giving him 14 kick-return touchdowns and pushing him past record holder Brian Mitchell's 13.

“He's trusting his blockers now,” Toub said. “He knows he's going to have room when we do our job; he's going to have room to get started. I think that's the biggest thing that's helped him.”

Click here to order Devin Hester’s proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

Jessie Armstead Receives 'Automotive Dealer of the Year' Award at the 15th Annual Urban Wheel Awards

DETROIT, Jan. 12, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Jessie Armstead (www.jessiearmsteadnews.com), the former NFL pro-bowler turned co-owner of Hamilton Honda (www.hamiltonhonda.net), was recognized as "Automotive Dealer of the Year" at the 2011 Urban Wheel Awards, which celebrated 15 years of emerging diversity in the auto industry. Armstead was honored at the annual star-studded ceremony that celebrates the auto companies, dealers, and suppliers who create products and provide services while keeping the diversity of consumers in mind.
(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20110112/FL28593 )

Armstead took home an Oscar-style statue that distinguishes the dealers' response and attention to a multicultural consumer base, saying, "It's an honor to receive this award with other leaders in the industry who acknowledge the diverse communities that support our businesses. As 'Dealer of the Year' I hope to inspire my colleagues in the industry to not only consider, but to embrace the mixture of cultures that exists across the nation."

Editors at Decisive Magazine (www.decisivemagazine.com) and an independent panel of 15 professional automotive journalists and business organizations selected all nominees, finalists and winners. Armstead accepted this notable honor alongside other industry trailblazers, including Tony K. Brown, Ford's group vice president of purchasing, who was honored as "Executive of the Year." NASCAR's Max Siegel, Owner and CEO of Revolution Racing, received the "Pioneer of the Year" award. Rodney O'Neal, President and CEO of Delphi; Andra Rush, president of Dakkota Integrated System; and Frank Venegas, chairman and CEO of The Ideal Group, Inc., all took home "Lifetime Achievement" awards.

Held at the MotorCity Casino Hotel in Detroit, the awards show drew in an impressive crowd of 1,500 automotive and supplier executives, international media, government representatives and the multicultural community. Celebrities, awardees and community leaders graced the VIP "green" carpet, hosted by Ed Foxworth III and Naomi Patton. The ceremony was hosted by CBS News Analyst Jamal Simmons and marked the start of the North American International Auto Show, one of the most prestigious auto shows in the world (www.naias.com).

About Jessie Armstead: Prior to his turn in the auto industry, Jessie Armstead played 12 seasons in the NFL with the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins, and went to the Pro-Bowl five times. In addition to his work at Hamilton Honda, Armstead is committed to a number of not-for-profit organizations, including YMCA, DARE, Cystic Fibrosis, My Sisters Place, Giants Academy, ASC Football Camp, City Meals on Wheels and Make-a-Wish Foundation.

About Hamilton Honda: Hamilton Honda opened its doors in Hamilton, New Jersey on May 19, 2009. Located on a 12-acre campus, the dealership was founded by Automotive Veteran Mike Saporito (www.mikesaporitonews.com) and five-time NFL pro-bowler Jessie Armstead. After only one year in business, Hamilton Honda skyrocketed into the top 10 Honda retailers in the nation. Hamilton's extraordinary growth is a result of their active community involvement and their discounted volume pricing strategy which gives consumers guaranteed low prices, free oil changes and car washes for life.

Click here to order Jessie Armstead’s proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

Pagano Continues Ravens' Miami Hurricane Connection

Three of the four Ravens who went to the University of Miami are defenders, and now they have a coordinator who is also part of the Hurricane football tradition.

Chuck Pagano, promoted from secondary coach to defensive coordinator this week, was the secondary coach and special teams coordinator at Miami from 1995-2000. He coached four first-round draft picks, two of whom -- Ed Reed and Duane Starks -- the Ravens selected.

"My relationship with Ed Reed is pretty good," Pagano said. "I've known him since he was 17 years old when I dragged him into a biology lab and made sure all the Bunsen burners were off and talked him out of going to Tulane and coming to Miami. …He's got a strong family right here in Baltimore and he's got a ton of support. He's a warrior and he's a great leader and he'll go down as one of the all-timers to ever play this game."

Reed was just as complimentary of Pagano.

"Chuck will do everything he can to make sure the defense is prepared for each practice and every game," he said. "The time and effort he puts in and what he will sacrifice will be more than a championship-caliber.

"I believe his best coaching quality is working with the other coaches and players around him. Just like coach [Greg] Mattison, Chuck will get input from everyone, and that will help him be the best coordinator he can be and us be the best defense we can be."

In addition to Reed, Ray Lewis, Tavares Gooden and Willis McGahee comprise the list of former 'Canes in the Ravens' locker room. Lewis echoed Reed's description of Pagano as a personable, player-oriented coach.

"I really have had a truly personal relationship with Chuck, not only from when he got here, but even before because of our ties to the 'U,'" Lewis said. "Even though he didn't coach me, I have known what kind of man and coach he is for a while now. He has an extreme knowledge of the game, and the way he communicates that with his players and fellow coaches is amazing.

"You have to respect how he studies opponents and how he prepares for the task at hand each week. He is truly a pure players' coach. He is a man's man, and there is nothing that I wouldn't do for him. I am excited to see what we can do as a defense and as a team leading into next season. Here we go."

As Pagano broadens his focus from the secondary to the entire defense, he will have more chances to work with Lewis, and he said he was excited about that opportunity. Lewis, the only remaining member of the inaugural Ravens roster, played 1,111 out of 1,116 snaps this year.
"We chewed him out when he came out for that, for missing five plays," Pagano said. "You play at the level that he's played at for 15 years because of your due diligence in the weight room in the offseason, watching tape and taking care of yourself.

"He's taken great care of his body and he understands that his body is his earning power and what's made him. There is not a more passionate guy. Standing next to Ray Lewis and just knowing that you're going to war with him … it's a very, very comforting feeling."

Bookmark and Share

Darius Rice shines in Manama win

MANAMA remained unbeaten in the main round of the Zain Bahrain Basketball Cup following a 99-71 victory over Sitra at Zain Basketball Arena in Um Al Hassam. New American import Darius Rice guided the victors last night with an impressive 40 points, including six three-pointers, which proved decisive.

It was the third successive win in as many games for Manama who stayed on course for reaching the best-of-three final.

Manama headed into the game needing victory to move a step closer towards securing one of the top two spots in the main round and a berth in the best-of-three finals.

Under their recently-appointed coach John Rabidou of the US, Manama were indeed on fire as they dominated the game right from the start, taking a 7-0 lead in the early stages of the first quarter, which ended in their favour 29-12.

Sitra showed composure in the second quarter and cut Manama's lead by six points and were trailing 38-49 at the interval.

But Manama maintained their momentum in the third quarter and, with a combination of solid defence and accurate finishing, extended their advantage to 74-61.

There was little that Sitra could do in the fourth and final quarter, which was ruled by their opponents who stretched the lead to 28 points for an enormous victory.

The victory helped Manama move up two points clear in the table with six points. They are ahead of defending champions Muharraq, who are also unbeaten after two matches.

National team trio of Mahmood Ghuloom, Ahmed Al Mutawa and Mohammed Hassan were the stars for the victors, scoring crucial points in the closing stages of the game.

Sitra, who suffered their second defeat in three games, watched their bid to regain the only title they had won four years ago go up in smoke.
The team in red jerseys were relying on their American professional Williard Crews who managed 22 points.

Meanwhile, cup action continues today with two matches in the third week, commencing at 6pm when bottom club Isa Town seek their maiden win against third-placed Al Ahli.

That will be followed by what promises to be an interesting encounter between Muharraq and Al Hala at 7.45pm.

Meanwhile, the Bahrain Basketball Association (BBA) has fined Manama Club BD1,000 and also banned the team's supporters from attending the club's next matches against Al Hala.

The decision, made due to Manama fans' riot during their cup game against Al Hala last Saturday, was announced during the BBA's meeting, chaired by president and Parliament Member Adel Al Assomi.

Bookmark and Share

Gaby Sanchez Talks Twitter and 2011 Marlins

Five years ago, if you wanted to peak into the everyday life of an MLB baseball player at all hours of the day and night, it required that you engage in activities that were very likely to get you slapped with a restraining order. Now, thanks to Twitter, you creepers can climb down from the tree and toss the binoculars, because stalking your favorite baseball player has been made 100% legal. In fact, it's even encouraged.

Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez recently took up tweeting, and since he signed up on Twitter last month, he has been great about giving fans glimpses of his everyday life, answering their questions, and even asking their advice on occasion. You can (and really should) follow Gaby on Twitter here: @gabysanchez15. Tell him FishStripes sent you.

We recently had the opportunity to chat with Gaby about his tweets, what he's been doing to prep for Spring Training, and of course, the upcoming Marlins season. Here's what he had to say:

FishStripes: We were excited when you finally joined Twitter last month. What prompted you to join, and what do you think about "tweeting" as a way to interact with your fans?
Gaby: The main reason I joined twitter was to interact with the fans. Last year I saw some guys on the team tweeting with their fans and having fun with it. So in the off season I decided to join the twitter world to talk with the fans and give them a little insight to what goes on with me on a day-to-day basis. I will say that I never knew twitter would be so much fun.

Quite a few of your teammates are on Twitter now. Is it a little competitive between you all as far as who has the most followers?
Not for me. I don't think twitter should be used as a numbers game to see who can get more people to follow them. I think twitter is about chatting with fans. Plus, those guys got a head start, haha.

As of right now you have around 1,700 followers. When you reach a landmark number of followers, are you going to go with the trend of doing a big giveaway? If so, what will you give away?
I will do some giveaways for the twitter fans that follow me. Might be some signed pictures, balls, bats, and maybe jerseys depending on the number. 

Besides @FishStripes, who is your favorite person to follow on Twitter?
I like following the guys on the team like Stanton, Lomo, Petey.

As fun as Twitter is, you're about to get down to business since Spring Training starts next month. Is it a different feeling for you this year going into Spring Training, since you're not competing for a starting position? Is there less pressure?
It is a lot less pressure going into spring training, not because of the competition but because I have a full season as a starter under my belt. I still have to go out there and do my job.

Are there any specific areas of your game that you’ve been focusing on improving this off-season? One of the big things I'm working on this off-season is strength and stamina.
Of course I work on defense and offense, but I felt myself get tired the last month of the season and I don't want that to happen again. I want my body to be physically prepared for the long season.

Last year you hit mainly second in the lineup, and some third. This season you’ll be hitting further down in the order, fifth or sixth. Will the move to the "RBI" portion of the order cause you to change your approach at the plate?
No, I keep my same approach when I'm hitting no matter where it is in the lineup. I try and stay gap to gap and hopefully this year I'll be able to hit some more home runs.

The team made some pretty significant changes in the off-season. What do you think about the changes, and the Marlins chances in 2011?
I think we are going to have a great team. Looks like we are going to have a strong lineup 1-8. In fact, even our pitchers rake on occasion. Everyone knows we have one of the best starting pitching staffs in baseball. The trade has given the bullpen some great arms. I feel like what we did this offseason has given us a great chance to compete and win in 2011.

Thanks, Gaby, and good luck this season!

Bookmark and Share

Jimmy Graham expected to be starter in 2011

The New Orleans Times-Picayune's Jeff Duncan fully expects Jimmy Graham to win the Saints' starting tight end job in 2011.

Of Jeremy Shockey, Duncan goes so far as to suggest the Saints might release him and move forward with Graham as the starter, while re-signing David Thomas to be Graham's primary backup. Graham must make strides as a run blocker to become an every-down tight end, but regardless he'll be one of the top-10 players at the position off the board in 2011 fantasy drafts.

Click here to order Jimmy Graham’s proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

Ray Lewis played all but five snaps in 2010

According to Ravens LBs coach Dean Pees, Ray Lewis missed just five snaps during the 2010 regular season.

He played 1,111 downs. Lewis finished with 139 tackles -- his most since 2004 -- as well as two forced fumbles, two interceptions (one pick-six), and two sacks. Still, Lewis turns 36 this May, so the Ravens may have to get serious about reducing the future Hall of Famer's snaps going forward.

Click here to order Ray Lewis’ proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

Ed Reed won't play in Pro Bowl

Ravens safety Ed Reed won't play in next week's Pro Bowl because of injuries. He will be replaced by the Tennessee's Michael Griffin.

Reed has a rib injury along with a nerve impingement in his neck. He also has been dealing with the disappearance of his brother.

The Ravens will still have four players participating in the Pro Bowl: linebackers Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and kicker Billy Cundiff.

Chuck Pagano, who was promoted to defensive coordinator earlier this week, is the latest member of the Ravens organization to say Reed isn't retiring.

Pagano has a long-standing and strong relationship with Reed, going back to the University of Miami where Reed played for Pagano. "He's coming back," Pagano said.

In a statement issued by the team, Reed said: "Chuck will do everything he can to make sure the defense is prepared for each practice and every game. The time and effort he puts in and what he will sacrifice will be more than a championship-caliber. I believe his best coaching quality is working with the other coaches and players around him. Just like Coach Mattison, Chuck will get input from everyone, and that will help him be the best coordinator he can be and us be the best defense we can be."

Click here to order Ed Reed’s proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

Redskins Expected To Pursue Re-Signing WR Santana Moss

The Redskins are expected to try to re-sign WR Santana Moss, who flourished in Mike Shanahan's offense and remains the clear-cut go-to guy in the passing game. His value is enhanced by the fact that there are no other reliable receiving targets at wideout other than Anthony Armstrong, who at the moment is a one-year wonder. Moss will get attention from other teams once free agency opens, but he has stated his desire to return.

Click here to order Santana Moss’s proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

An unfair end to season for Ray Lewis

After watching the Ravens go off the field Saturday night, the one player you felt sorry for was middle linebacker Ray Lewis.
Here is a player who has given his heart and soul to this organization for the past 15 seasons, and the franchise hasn't been able to build an offense to match his or the team's effort on defense.

The Ravens have invested a lot into this offense for the past three seasons, and to come up with that kind of effort in a divisional playoff game was awful.

Lewis isn't the same player he once was, but he is still one of the better linebackers in the NFL, and he gives 110 percent every play. As the season winded down, you hoped the Ravens would be able to give him another Super Bowl ring before he left the game.

The window keeps closing for Lewis, and it would be nice to see him come off the field holding the Lombardi Trophy. He has been through enough head coaches, offensive coordinators and quarterbacks in his time here in Baltimore for the Ravens to find an offense that can match his effort, production and passion.


Willis McGahee Needs To Take A Drastic Pay Cut To Return?

Aaron Wilson of the Carroll County Times reports that Ravens running back Willis McGahee is unlikely to be back unless he takes a drastic pay cut from his scheduled base salary of $6 million for next season under his seven-year, $40.12 million contract that has three remaining years with $19.7 million left on his contract. The Ravens are widely expected to move on from their backup running back that averaged just 6.6 carries per game this season. With Le'Ron McClain also a free agent, Ray Rice has a chance to emerge as the goal-line back.

Click here to order Willis McGahee’s proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

Reggie Wayne named to All-NFL Team

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne was named to the Pro Bowl Weekly/Professional Football Writers of America All-NFL Team. This marks the second-straight season and third time in his 10-year career Wayne has been named to the list.

Once again, Wayne emerged as the top target for Peyton Manning and the passing game in 2010. Despite finding the end zone just six times, Wayne caught 111 passes for 1,355 yards–both career highs. His 111 receptions ranked second to Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White (115).

Wayne displayed some impressive performances for the Colts this season–including one game with 15 receptions for 196 yards and another with 14 receptions for 200 yards. 2010 also marked the seventh-straight season Wayne crossed the 1,000-yard mark–so it’s no surprise he made the list again this year.

Click here to order Reggie Wayne’s proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

ThePostGame.com links Ray Lewis to banned substance

Ray Lewis has been linked to a banned substance in an article on ThePostGame.com about Raiders head coach Hue Jackson’s affiliation with a supplement company.

The article discusses that the NFL ordered Jackson to end his affiliation with Sports With Alternative To Steroids (S.W.A.T.S.) because they offer a product that contains IGF-1, a substance that is banned by the National Football League.

How is Ray Lewis mixed into all of this? Stay with me here. According to the writer, S.W.A.T.S. owner Mitch Ross said that he supplied Jackson with free products that he distributed to players at the NFL Combine in 2008, including Ray lewis.

“In April of ’08 I gave various alternatives to steroids, including spray, to Hue Jackson at the Ravens’ training camp,” Ross said. “I also gave the spray to Jay Hayes of the Bengals and Anthony Lynn of the Jets. I want to prove that my protocol reverses the aging process on aging athletes and promotes the healing of injuries in a legal manner.”

The spray mentioned in the quote above, is called “The Ultimate Spray,” and was used by Rams linebacker David Vobora when he failed a drug test in 2009. Vobora is currently suing S.W.A.T.S. because he believes the spray was contaminated with a steroid.

Ross (S.W.A.T.S. owner) provided half a dozen text messages exchanged between him and Ray Lewis over the past two years in which the Ravens linebacker acknowledged receiving the spray. Ross estimated that he sent 25 bottles of spray to Lewis over the past two seasons.

Bengals safety Roy Williams was also a user of “The Ultimate Spray.” While Lewis was unreachable, according to the writer, Williams was more than able to talk about it.

Asked about IGF-1 being listed on the S.W.A.T.S. site, Williams said, “I didn’t know it was on there. I’ve never failed a drug test. I don’t want to be associated with something that is banned. Kids look up to me.”

As ThePostGame.com points out, neither Ray Lewis or Roy Williams have ever been sanctioned for failing an NFL drug test.

While this article is may be creating a story out of nothing, it is clear that according to S.W.A.T.S. owner Mitch Ross, Ray Lewis does indeed use “The Ultimate Spray,” which contains IGF-1. The question is whether Ross is telling the truth or whether Lewis even uses the substance. Since he has never failed a drug test, odds are that this story is false.

But how much can NFL drug tests be trusted? There are far too many questions to be answered before any assumptions are made.

Click here to order Ray Lewis’ proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

What's the longterm future of Jeremy Shockey with the New Orleans Saints?

Q: After reading your 10-step program, I have a question for the mailbag. Could you please talk about Shockey's blocking ability compared to Thomas and/or Graham. I haven't paid particular attention to it, but it could be a reason to keep Shockey around. Catches and yards aren't everything for a tight end, especially for a team that needs to improve the running game. Andrew, Uptown.

A: Shockey is a solid blocker but certainly nothing special. I certainly wouldn't characterize blocking as one of his strengths. In fact, from the tape I have watched, Thomas is a much better and more willing blocker and, along with reserve tackle Zach Strief, is usually the tight end called upon when the team needs a blocking assignment at the position. Regardless, Shockey is not being paid $4.5 million to block. That's elite tight end money and at this stage of his career Shockey is no longer an elite tight end. If the Saints really need a blocking tight end, they can find one in the draft or free agency for a fraction of the salary they are paying Shockey. Jimmy Graham is clearly a budding star at the position. With a full offseason of development, he should win the starting job next season. If David Thomas is re-signed -- and I think he will be - then Shockey is expendable although I do think he could be a candidate to return at a restructured deal.

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

Bookmark and Share

Vince Wilfork Uncharacteristically Dodges Media After Playoff Loss

It was surprising that Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork didn't speak to the media after Sunday's loss, but he was apparently livid over the way the Jets celebrated and showboated on the field. Then, it was even more surprising the captain didn't speak again Monday. Wilfork has always been a stand-up guy, and he spoke a ton after the Pats' playoff loss to the Ravens last year, so something must have really bothered him. He did, however, make an appearance on WEEI on Monday.

Click here to order Vince Wilfork’s proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

Greg Olsen re-emerges as impact player

CHICAGO -- From a statistical standpoint (41 catches for 404 yards and five touchdowns), the 2010 regular season was Greg Olsen's worst since his rookie year.

But those numbers mean nothing in the postseason.

Olsen played arguably the best game of his NFL life on Sunday. He finished with a career-high 113 yards receiving yards -- the third-highest single-game total in Bears history -- and caught a 58-yard touchdown on the third play of the Bears' first possession.

"They came out in man coverage," Olsen said. "We thought we had a shot -- it was third and short. Lawyer Milloy was up in coverage, good player, but we were able to get down the field and Jay [Cutler] was able to hold it so that it gave us a chance. He was able to hold it, I was able to get behind [Milloy], and he put the ball where you've got to make that play. [Cutler] put the ball in the perfect spot, and we were able to score."

"Greg gives us a good matchup most of the time," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "Going to him on the first big third down, he's tough to cover, whether it's a safety or a linebacker. Greg has good skills as far as his speed and being able to get down the field.

You can add this to the list of things that went horribly awry for the Bears in the loss to Seattle on Oct. 17: Olsen had zero catches on three targets. Luckily for the Bears -- just like with Matt Forte in the run game -- offensive coordinator Mike Martz was able to correct those mistakes in the playoff rematch.

"It was nice to have a big day," Olsen said. "It was nice to be that big a part of the offense in the passing game. I'm not going to lie, it did feel good to get off to a fast start and have a couple of big plays later in the game. There's no question it was a good feeling."

Click here to order Greg Olsen’s proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

Vince Wilfork wouldn't have sat Welker

BOSTON -- New England Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork said he didn't think the benching of receiver Wes Welker for the first offensive posession of the game had an effect on the team's playoff loss to the Jets, but made it clear that he didn't agree with the decision.

"I don't think it was a big deal, the comments Wes said or the benching. People have opinions and in my opinion, I wouldn't have done it because of what the game meant," Wilfork said during his weekly interview on sports radio WEEI on Monday. "To each his own. I'm not questioning the head man's judgment at all -- it's just my opinion."

Welker was apparently benched for comments to the press last week in which he subtly poked fun at the foot-fetish flap involving Jets coach Rex Ryan and his wife.

Wilfork added that he didn't even know Welker had been benched for the first offensive series until after the game.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, in his appearance on WEEI earlier in the day, also said that the benching wasn't a factor in the Patriots' loss.

"That has no bearing on the way that we played as a team," he said. "I think that's just, I don't know, I don't think it had any effect on the game. What has the most effect on the game is the way that we played."

But Brady acknowledged that Welker's comments were in line with his teammate's sense of humor.

"That's Wes' personality," he explained. "Wes is a very fun, positive, energetic person. With all the things that were coming out of New York, I think Wes just thought it would be funny to combat it in his own way."

"I don't think that's any reason why we lost the game," he said.

Click here to order Vince Wilfork’s proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

Several Giants not pleased with Antrel Rolle's criticism of Tom Coughlin

Antrel Rolle thinks Tom Coughlin is "too uptight" and wishes his coach were a little more like Jets coach Rex Ryan.

Rolle's teammates, though, wish the mouthy safety would keep his thoughts to himself.

Several Giants told the Daily News Tuesday that they were not pleased with Rolle's latest controversial radio interview, in which he praised Ryan and ripped Coughlin during an appearance on WQAM in Miami on Monday. At least one of his teammates even planned talk to him about it Tuesday.

"I haven't talked to him yet, but it is on my agenda to call Antrel," defensive captain Justin Tuck told the Daily News. "When I do, I will make a statement."

Rolle already made quite a statement when he criticized Coughlin's coaching style and heaped heavy praise on Ryan. He clearly envied the way Ryan relates to and inspires his players and said "that team is going to war for him. They would die for him."

Obviously Rolle doesn't feel as strongly about the Giants' coach.

"Honestly, I'm not having the fun I'm used to having," he said. "Do I feel like things are a little too uptight? Yeah, I do. I feel like if he just loosened up just a little bit - still run the ship the way you want to run it, but let us have a little fun. Because at the end of the day, that's what it's all about."
In fact, Rolle said, that lack of fun is a big reason why the Giants are home while the Jets - a team Rolle thinks isn't as talented as the Giants - are one win away from Super Bowl XLV.

"Do I think (the Jets) are a better team? No, I don't think so at all," Rolle said. "But I think their chemistry might be better than ours. I think that they have a lot more fun than we have. Yeah, we're professional athletes. Yeah we get paid a lot of money to do what we do. But at the end of the day, we're all human. No one is a robot at this level. So we do have feelings. We like to have fun. That's what it is.

"I like (Coughlin)," Rolle added. "I understand what he's trying to do. But he has to understand it's 2011. Things have changed."

This isn't the first time Rolle, who signed a five-year, $36 million contract to play for Coughlin last March, has been critical of the Giants' coach. In a radio interview back in September, he seemed to have the coach in his sights when he said the atmosphere around the Giants was "too controlled."

He got little support from his teammates then, and it appears that he won't be getting any now. Even Jessie Armstead, the former Giants linebacker and current consultant, warned Rolle via Twitter that his Ryan-envy was misguided.

"The grass is not always greener," Armstead tweeted. "Jets are making a good run, but if you open your eyes, we have three Super Bowls."
Armstead's tweet was actually directed at both Rolle and safety Kenny Phillips, who joined Rolle on the radio and said, "I would love to play for a guy like Rex (because) he allows you to be you. He's not asking you to hide. If you're a guy that likes to talk, go out and talk as long as you back it up."

Phillips, though, backed off those comments in an interview with the Daily News Tuesday. He said he didn't mean that as a criticism of Coughlin and was stunned at the outcry over his words.

"I was not trying to throw the Giants organization under the bus," Phillips said. "I was not trying to compare Coach Coughlin to Rex Ryan. The Giants have been great to me. That was just taken the wrong way."

It was hard to take Rolle's words any other way, though.

"(Coughlin) does a lot of things the way they're supposed to be done," Rolle said. "But he's got to understand that we have a great team. We don't have a problematic team. We don't have guys with discipline problems. So we're going to take care of our business on the field. Just let us have a little fun a little bit, man. That's it.”

Click here to order Antrel Rolle’s proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

John Salmons out with hip injury

John Salmons didn't start Wednesday's game due to a hip injury, with Chris Douglas-Roberts starting in his place.

We weren't aware of an injury to Salmons and have still not verified if he will play or is out. But since he's not starting, our guess is he won't play tonight. Consider him day-to-day.

Bookmark and Share

Prospect Watch: Jemile Weeks

Jemile Weeks, A's: When Rickie's younger brother has been healthy, he's shown some pretty good tools on the field. Unfortunately for the 2008 first-round pick, he didn't play more than 80 games in either of his first two full professional seasons. If he can get past the injuries that have sidelined him, he could develop into a highly interesting leadoff type with good speed and even some pop.

Bookmark and Share

Patriots Re-Sign Darnell Jenkins

The Patriots on Monday re-signed seven players who ended the season on their practice squad.

Tight end Carson Butler, quarterback Jonathan Crompton, wide receiver Buddy Farnham, defensive lineman Marlon Favorite, wide receiver Darnell Jenkins, cornerback Thad Turner, and safety Ross Ventrone all signed reserve/future deals and will join the team when rosters expand to 80 players later this offseason.

Bookmark and Share

Tavares Gooden to have shoulder surgery

Ravens ILB Tavares Gooden is expected to have surgery next Friday on the left shoulder he dislocated during the season.

He also tore his labrum. Gooden promises to be ready for training camp, but the former third-round pick could take as long as six months to recover. An impending restricted free agent, it remains to be seen if Gooden will be tendered. He's missed 22 of a possible 48 games in his first three seasons.

Click here to order Tavares Gooden’s proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

Hearing for D.J. Williams postponed

DENVER (AP) — Denver Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams won't enter a plea on a charge of driving under the influence until at least next month.

The linebacker had been scheduled for a hearing Tuesday where he was expected to enter a plea but court records show that hearing has been rescheduled for Feb. 25.

Williams was arrested early on Nov. 12 after police stopped him for driving without headlights.

The Broncos' leading tackler was stripped of his captaincy for the season and fined an undisclosed amount by the team.
He faces a multi-game suspension from the league next season because this was his second such arrest.

Click here to order DJ WIlliams’ proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

Kenny Phillips clarifies remarks about Rex and Coughlin

On Tuesday afternoon, safety Kenny Phillips went on ESPN SportsCenter to talk about the radio interview that he and Antrel Rolle participated in.

On Monday, Rolle said Tom Coughlin could loosen up a bit and noted how the Jets' chemistry was better than the Giants' on Miami's WQAM (here's the link to the audio of the WQAM interview). When asked about Rex Ryan, Phillips said the brash Jets coach was the type of coach players would love to play for.

Phillips wanted to make it very clear that the two safeties were not taking any shots at Coughlin and that they did not want to give the impression that they rather play for the Jets and Ryan.

“Well first I want to clear some things up: I do not want to play for the Jets, I do not want to play for Rex Ryan,” Phillips said on ESPN SportsCenter. “I was drafted by the Giants, they stuck with me through my injury and I am very happy with this organization. There were some comments made last night during the interview that were obviously taken the wrong way.”

“The only thing that I was trying to get across, and not only me, Antrel Rolle, was we were trying to give the Jets some praise,” Phillips continued. “The intention was not to take shots at Tom Coughlin. The (comments) were maybe taken the wrong way with our answers. But we were not trying to take shots. Antrel and I are very happy to be a part of this Giants organization. We didn’t get up there and try to compare the Giants organization to the Jets organization.”

Like Rolle said in the radio interview, Phillips said he had a great relationship with his head coach.

“I have a great relationship with him,” said Phillips, who was drafted in the first round in 2008 by the Giants. “He’s a guy that you can go up there, you are having a problem, you can sit down and talk to him and he’s a very caring guy.”

Phillips said he is not worried about any fallout from the radio interview and that the Giants and Coughlin know how the safeties feel about the organization and their head coach.

“Coach Coughlin knows what kind of guys we are and so does the Giants organization,” Phillips said. “They know we wouldn’t intentionally take shots at our head coach or try to throw the Giants organization under the bus. We are not worried at all.”

“Like I said, Antrel and I are very happy to be a part of the Giants organization and we are happy with our head coach.”

Phillips also posted this blog emphasizing more of his clarifications on his website.

Click here to order Kenny Phillips’ proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

Antrel Rolle Calls Out Coughlin

New York Giants Pro Bowl safety Antrel Rolle waited until Week 2 of his first season with the club to go off on his head coach and teammates. You may recall the former Cardinals player complaining that Giants coach Tom Coughlin dropped the team off at the stadium too early in Indianapolis and he questioned the team's leadership skills.

Things eventually calmed down and Rolle seemed to enjoy himself with his new team. He made some ridiculous comments about fans booing the Giants, but for the most part, he became well-liked by his new teammates. But as ESPNNewYork.com's Ohm Youngmisuk points out, Rolle was up to his old tricks while appearing on a radio show in Miami. He thinks Coughlin could stand to loosen up a bit more. You know, like the head coach who shares a home field with the Giants.

"As a person I don't have any problem with Coach Coughlin," Rolle said. "We have a great relationship. When you're talking about the coaching side of things, do I feel like things are a little too uptight? Yeah, I do. I feel like if he just loosened up just a little bit, still run the ship the way you want to run it, still run the program the way you want to run it but let us have a little fun ... because at the end of the day that's what it's all about."

"And people like to talk about Rex Ryan and this that and the other. That team is going to war for him," Rolle added.

Someone needs to plant a bug in Rolle's ear that he's made enough war references for one season. And maybe they could also remind him that it seems like poor form to pine away for the coach of their neighborhood rival. To make matters worse, Giants safety Kenny Phillips followed Rolle's lead and started praising Ryan. (What's said in Miami doesn't stay in Miami.)

"I would love to play for a guy like Rex," Phillips said. "He goes to bat for his players. He'll take the blame, he allows you to be you. He's not asking you to hide. If you're a guy that likes to talk, go out and talk, long as you back it up. Like [Antrel] said, his guys are playing for him and I'd love to be a part of that."

From what I can tell, Rolle and Phillips continued to embarrass themselves throughout the interview. Perhaps the safeties could have a little more "fun" if they weren't allowing Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson to shred them for big gains during a blowout loss to the Packers.

One of the Giants' biggest issues down the stretch was the back end of the defense. And when general manager Jerry Reese is trying to decide how to address those issues this offseason, something tells me he'll remember those comments from Rolle and Phillips.

Sometimes it's OK to lay low when you've collapsed at the end of the season and blown an opportunity to make the playoffs. Rolle and Phillips apparently missed the memo.

Click here to order Antrel Rolle’s proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

Bryant McKinnie Taps Yung Berg; Launches B Major Music Group

(AllHipHop News) Minnesota Vikings player Bryant McKinnie will spend his time during the off-season focusing on the growth of his new label, B Major Music Group.

The Miami-based company has signed rapper Yung Berg for production and Freddy P. from the original Making The Band.

The NFL player is currently working with a stable of artists he "hand picked" due to their talent and potential success.

"I decided to start a record label because I've always had a passion for music, being a music executive has always been a career goal of mine, and with starting a label from the ground up, and working directly with the artist as well as the staff on a day to day basis," McKinnie explained to AllHipHop.com. "I honestly feel like I am well on my way to developing a concrete foundation for a first rated record label in the near future."

In addition to Yung Berg and Freddy P., McKinnie has signed a female rapper/singer named Guyana and an R&B singer named TyRell.

According to McKinnie, he is not just another athlete with a recording company.

He plans on taking the growth of the Miami label seriously, which is one of the reasons he signed Yung Berg, who has a variety of production credits under his belt with artists like Eve, Ray J. and Sean "Diddy" Combs.

"Yung Berg came to me initially to assist with the production for my artists, he saw the working environment and immediately wanted to become a part of the family," McKinnie told AllHipHop.com.

According to Yung Berg, he signed with McKinnie's fledgling company because of the NFL player's support and trust in the producer's vision for the label's music.

“I decided to work with Bryant because he believes in me and my music expertise, with that being said I have no choice but to be a part of the BMajor Music Group movement," Yung Berg told AllHipHop.com. "I also believe that Bryant has a good ear for good quality music with value. Bryant is a true believer in the “underdog” he takes chances on people and that’s rare in music industry, even better in life….. period.”

B Major Music Group has also tapped industry power player Tony Neal, who will help with marketing and promotion for the company's upcoming releases.

"My involvement with BMajor Music Group is simple," Tony Neal explained. "Beside Bryant being very serious about his label & the artists he works with, I want to use my industry influence to show that an athlete can also have a successful situation also."

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

Bookmark and Share

Carolina Panthers to hand offense to Chudzinski

Ron Rivera got his man, and the Carolina Panthers appear headed for some changes on offense.

The Panthers agreed to a deal with San Diego assistant Rob Chudzinski to be their offensive coordinator, with only a contract signing standing in the way of the official announcement.

He was the first choice of Rivera, who had to sell him to Panthers officials who had built their own list of candidates before hiring Rivera. Chudzinski, 42, interviewed Friday.

Chudzinski, who played on two NCAA championship teams as a tight end at Miami, has a reputation for developing talent at that position, which would be new around here. He also has had success leading offenses, and with the Panthers coming off a league-worst year in points and yards, that's something they could use.

Former Panthers linebacker Dan Morgan was playing at Miami when Chudzinski was beginning his rise in the coaching ranks, and said he thinks the Panthers made an excellent decision.

"He's a great guy, and he just has such a bright mind, he really knows the game of football," Morgan said. "I know from seeing it first-hand, he's a great teacher, and he's had a lot of success with different guys over the years. He just has a gift for putting guys in the right places to make plays.
"He's not a yeller and a screamer, but he's a teacher, and he's definitely got the smarts for this job."

The biggest change he could bring is at his old position.

Since five-time Pro Bowler Wesley Walls was released after the 2002 season, the Panthers have had a hard time getting much from their tight ends. In fact, Kris Mangum's 34 catches during 2004 are the most by a Panthers tight end since Walls.

This year, Carolina's tight ends combined for 51 catches for 385 yards, led by Dante Rosario. Starter Jeff King is the best blocker of the lot, and he had 19 catches and two touchdowns.

Third-year man Gary Barnidge didn't have a catch this season, but he probably has the most potential to be the all-around answer they're apparently looking for.

Rivera said the search was on in his introductory news conference, when discussing the team's offensive personnel.

"The tight end is by committee," he said. "There are three guys there I like and they each have a quality of their own. But if there is a guy out there whether through the draft or free agency or on our roster that can become that guy that does it all of the time, we have to find him. I think that will help us as an offense."

By hiring Chudzinski, he has a guy who could bring about that kind of change.

Chudzinski coached three All-Americans at Miami (Bubba Franks, Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow), and under his tutelage, San Diego's Antonio Gates had his only 1,000-yard seasons during 2005 and 2009.

He also has succeeded at the macro level.

When he was Cleveland's offensive coordinator during 2007, the Browns were eighth in the league in scoring and yardage, helping quarterback Derek Anderson to his most productive season. Anderson threw for 3,787 yards and 29 touchdowns that year, leading to Pro Bowl invitation.

As the Hurricanes offensive coordinator in 2001-03, he led offenses that played in three Bowl Championship Series games and won two
national championships. In 2002, the Hurricanes set school records for points and yards, losing only to Ohio State in the title game.

His hiring also illustrates the shuffle-the-deck reality of coaching. He replaced Jeff Davidson here and in Cleveland, and was replaced in Cleveland by Brian Daboll. Daboll was just hired by the Miami Dolphins to replace Dan Henning, whom Davidson replaced here in 2007.

Bookmark and Share

D.J. Williams The Next To Be Shipped Out Of Denver?

With just six draft picks remaining, and only two after the third round, Pro Football Weekly hears the Broncos will be looking to stockpile selections prior to the draft. QB Kyle Orton's name has been floated around in trade talks, but a source close to the team said ILB D.J. Williams could be the next player to go. Williams was stripped of his captaincy after his second DUI arrest this season and has not displayed the attitude the organization expects from its leaders moving forward.

Click here to order DJ Williams’ proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share


Kelly Jennings was on the field for a play that readers of Seahawks.com voted the best of the just-completed decade. It’s just that Jennings had a completely different take – and view – of Jordan Babineaux running down Cowboys QB/holder Tony Romo after a botched field goal attempt to ice the 2006 wild-card win over Dallas at Qwest Field.

Jennings was a rookie cornerback that season, the team’s first-round draft choice out of Miami. Now, he is about to start his fifth postseason game as the Seahawks head to Chicago for Sunday’s divisional game against the Bears at Qwest Field.

In fact, Jennings is one of only 11 players remaining from the Seahawks’ last playoff team in 2007 – joining Babineaux, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, cornerback Marcus Trufant, defensive tackles Craig Terrill and Brandon Mebane, offensive linemen Sean Locklear and Chris Spencer, linebackers Lofa Tatupu and Will Herring and wide receiver Ben Obomanu.

To help celebrate the Seahawks’ return to the postseason after a two-year absence, Seahawks.com asked Jennings for his favorite playoff moment. Here’s what his view of the Romo play – or Babineaux play, if you will – looked like:

“I was actually coming to block it from the other end. If you look at some of the pictures from that play, I’m actually flying through from the other side and I almost tripped Babs. Because when I flew, he had to jump over me to go make the tackle. So I almost kind of messed that up.”

Jennings didn’t trip Babineaux, who was then able to trip up Romo – short of the goal line, and also short of what would have been a first down.
“As I landed after trying to block it, I looked up to see Babs chasing him. So I kind of had a backroom view. Because I almost knocked Babs down, my thought through the whole thing was, ‘Get him. Get him. Get him.’ ”

Babineaux did, to preserve a 21-20 victory that sent the Seahawks to a divisional game in Chicago – which the Bears won 27-24 in overtime on a field goal that the Seahawks could not find a way to prevent.

Click here to order Kelly Jennings’ proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

Glenn Cook Joins Hurricane Staff

The University of Miami announced that former Hurricanes Glenn Cook and Benny Fernandez have joined Golden's coaching staff as graduate assistant coaches. Cook will work with the defense and Fernandez will assist on the offense.

Bookmark and Share

Nationals agree to deal with Alex Cora

The Nationals have signed Alex Cora to a minor league deal, an industry source has confirmed. The news was first reported by Peter Gammons of MLB Network.

Adding Cora could give the Nationals the backup infielder they were searching for after parting ways with Willie Harris following last season. The team was looking for another option that could play second base in case Danny Espinosa struggles in his rookie season.

Cora turned 35 in October, and there seems little doubt his best days are behind him. He hit .210/.266/.278 last season in 82 games with the Mets and Rangers, and hasn't posted an OPS above .700 since 2008 with the Red Sox. Still, he gives the Nationals a versatile infielder, and another player who has won a World Series ring - that's been a consistent theme behind Mike Rizzo's additions the last two years.

And of course, Cora's deal with the Nationals adds another Scott Boras client to their fold, including the third one they've signed this offseason. They have him, Espinosa, Ivan Rodriguez, Rick Ankiel, Alberto Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Jesus Flores and Jayson Werth. Cora, Ankiel and Werth have joined the team this offseason.

Bookmark and Share

Indians ink closer Chris Perez to one-year deal

(CLEVELAND) -- The pattern of players avoiding arbitration is continuing for the Cleveland Indians.

Just one day after Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera signed a one-year $2.025 million deal helping avoid arbitration, Tribe closer Chris Perez did the same. Although Perez' new contract has not been released yet, it is expected to be more than the $423,800 that he made last year.

Perez, 25, finished last season with 23 saves and an ERA of 1.71. The former St. Louis Cardinals right-hander began the season as the Indians closer after Kerry Wood was injured near the end of spring training. Once Wood returned Perez continued his original role as set-up man until the Tribe's full-time closer was dealt to the New York Yankees on July 31.

Perez appeared in 63 games for the Indians in 2010 and recorded 61 strikeouts.

Two Indians remain in arbitration: relief pitcher Rafael Perez and outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. If they don't settle, they will exchange proposed arbitration figures with the team on Tuesday. Choo is the only player expected to receive consideration for a multiyear deal.

Bookmark and Share