Santana Moss Never Questioned Re-Signing: ‘This Is What I Live For’

WASHINGTON (CBSDC) - When the Redskins approached veteran receiver Santana Moss about possibly re-signing with the team, he didn’t have to think about if for a second, he told 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier on Friday, because he wanted to be here.

Asked if he thought about how he’d fit into Jay Gruden’s offense, Moss quickly said he did not, prior to re-signing to play for the Redskins for another year.

“I didn’t have to look at the offense and all that,” Moss said. “That didn’t matter to me. I wanted to be home, and I didn’t have the chance to have to go look at film and see if I want to have a fit; when they gave me the opportunity to come back, it was no question that I was wanting to be there, so I signed on.”

Moss, 34, will be 35-years-old by the start of the 2014 NFL season. But that doesn’t matter to him either, he said, and he’s never once thought about the amount of mileage on his body, or how much less wear and tear he’d have had he been playing out of the slot his entire career.

“I never have to question myself about what I want to do, because this is what I live for,” Moss said.

“My thing is to play ball,” he said. “Regardless of the situation, I just go out there with my heart, my soul, and just try to make sure that I can give my all for my team because that’s all that matters.”

As for plans for future retirement? Well, that’s a simple answer too.

“When I can’t play no more, you’ll know because you won’t see me around no more,” Moss said. “But until that date comes, I’m gonna keep playing.”

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Devin Hester reaches deal with Falcons

Former Bears kick returner Devin Hester agreed to terms on a three-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday.

Hester became available in free agency after the Bears informed him that he would not be re-signed after eight memorable seasons with the team. There were said to be a handful of suitors for Hester, who had a recent visit with the Falcons.

Hester spent all of the 2013 season solely as a return specialist and his place on the Bears came into question. Chris Williams, Domenik Hixon and Michael Ford will compete for the Bears’ kickoff and punt returner openings.

Interestingly enough, the Falcons host the Bears in 2014, so they’ll get a chance to contain (or kick away from) Hester.

A three-time Pro Bowler, Hester is the NFL’s all-time leader in punt return touchdowns (13) and total kick return touchdowns (18).

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Ravens get seventh-round pick for Bryant McKinnie

After the 2013 season came to an end, tackle Bryant McKinnie said he’d like to return to the Dolphins in 2014.

Miami has since signed Branden Albert to play left tackle and shown little public sign of interest in having McKinnie return as a backup or contender for the right tackle job, but McKinnie’s future in South Florida won’t impact what they have to send to the Ravens as compensation for acquiring McKinnie during the 2013 season.

The Ravens announced that they will get a seventh-round pick in return for McKinnie, who was originally dealt for a conditional draft pick. The conditions on the pick had to do with playing time and McKinnie started 10 games for the Dolphins after arriving in Miami. Baltimore now has two picks in the seventh round and one pick in the first, second, third and sixth rounds. They dealt their fourth and fifth-round picks to Jacksonville for tackle Eugene Monroe, who they re-signed this month.

McKinnie recently amended his hopes for the 2014 season for a chance to compete for a job in Miami or anywhere else in the league. His play in 2013 didn’t do much to recommend him for that opportunity, but it still might be enough to help the Ravens in the future if they use their extra pick wisely.

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3N2 Signs Los Angeles Dodgers’ Chris Perez to Endorsement Deal

Sporting goods company 3N2 has come to terms with Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Chris Perez on a product endorsement deal. Perez, who previously played for the St. Louis Cardinals and Cleveland Indians, will wear 3N2 footwear and apparel as a Dodger during the 2014 Major League Baseball (MLB) season.

Perez joins a roster of 3N2 athletes that includes the Philadelphia Phillies’ AJ Burnett, Milwaukee Brewer and former National League MVP Ryan Braun, and two-time Olympic Softball medalist Natasha Watley.

Perez, who enjoyed back-to-back All Star seasons as a Cleveland Indian in 2011 and 2012, will look to reestablish himself in Los Angeles, fortifying a bullpen with World Series aspirations.

“Chris is a passionate guy – about life and about baseball. Los Angeles is a great fit for him. He leaves it all on the diamond, and the LA fans will love him,” says 3N2 CEO Sean Murphy. “He’s also a great fit for 3N2 – we look forward to a long relationship.”

Said Perez, “I’m really excited to join the 3N2 brand. They’ve been great to me so far and I’m looking forward to the partnership that lies ahead.”

About 3N2
Headquartered in Orlando, FL, 3N2 maintains a singular focus on designing and developing the most dynamic line of high-performance athletic footwear and apparel in the marketplace. Learn more at

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Danny Valencia doesn't have broken left wrist

Danny Valencia did not break his left wrist, as some feared after he was hit by a pitch on Thursday.
Valencia is day-to-day, the Royals announced. The 29-year-old, acquired from the Orioles over the winter, is projected to begin the season as a backup corner infielder. Valencia posted an impressive .304/.335/.553 batting line with eight home runs and 23 RBI in 52 games this past season for Baltimore. The Royals will be wise to only bat him against southpaws.

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Jon Jay gets a run in right field, batting second

Most of the time manager Mike Matheny intends to keep his corner outfielders in place in the lineup -- and thus, in place in the field -- but there will be times when center fielders Peter Bourjos and Jon Jay are both roaming the field at the same time.

Matheny said at those times "there's not reason" Bourjos won't be in center.

Jay gets to go retro, back to his days as the moveable outfielder.

This afternoon, the Cardinals "visit" the Miami Marlins for an exhibition game at Roger Dean Stadium and both Bourjos and Jay are in the starting lineup. Jay is in right. Lance Lynn makes his penultimate start of spring training and will be shooting for that 80-pitch mark reached yesterday by Carlos Martinez.

Bourjos is considered one of the superior defensive players in the game, able to expand his range in center because of his speed. Jay has cracked the Cardinals' lineup several times before as a fourth outfielder-type, first edging Ryan Ludwick for playing time in right field and then replacing Colby Rasmus as the full-time center fielder after playing well enough to allow that trade in 2011. Matheny has talked about how all three of his center fielders -- Bourjos, Jay, and Shane Robinson -- could play all three spots in the field, of course, but if any combination of the three is going to be in the field at the same time, it will be Bourjos in center.

"This guy is here as a plus plus defender when he comes into the game there is little reason not to put him in center field," Matheny said several days ago. "Even if he comes into a game where Jon is in center and maybe we do some defensive replacements, it makes a whole lot more sense to move Jon around and keep Peter in center."

Those situations would include when Allen Craig shifts to first base out of right field and replaces Matt Adams. That could be in a game against a lefty or late in a game for defensive purposes.

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Devin Hester Takes His First Visit As A Free Agent

Though the Dolphins have inquired about Devin Hester, his agent said they hadn’t booked a visit as of Tuesday. Hester made his first visit to Atlanta today…. Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin continues to make the most sense for Miami at No. 19, but ESPN’s Mel Kiper said Pittsburgh might take him at 15.

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Miami Dolphins not showing an interest in signing Bryant McKinnie

At this point in his career, Bryant McKinnie will play just about anywhere for anyone.

The Dolphins have a vacancy at right tackle.

And yet, there’s no sign that the two will reunite in 2014. As of Tuesday morning, the Dolphins had not reached out to McKinnie about returning next season, the Miami Herald has learned.

McKinnie, 34, has made the media rounds in recent weeks, and told 560-WQAM recently that he would even be willing to play on the right side after an entire career at left tackle.

“It shouldn’t be too hard,” McKinnie, a former University of Miami standout, told the radio station. “I have done it in practice a few times. It shouldn’t be too much of a transition.”

As for the Dolphins, they added a left tackle (Branden Albert) and a guard (Shelley Smith) in the first week of free agency — but nothing since. They haven’t even announced any other offensive lineman visiting, despite having two more spots to fill.

If the season began today, Nate Garner or Dallas Thomas would be the team’s starting right tackle. Neither took a snap at that position in 2013.

And so, with each passing day, the likelihood grows that the Dolphins will look to the draft to fill that crucial spot.

They’ve shown little interest in McKinnie, who started the last 10 games for Miami after joining the Dolphins in a midseason trade. (The Ravens are expected to get a late-round pick in return.) They made a play for Zach Strief, but he ultimately re-signed with the Saints.

After that, there’s not much left — and few options better than Tyson Clabo, their 2013 starter at right tackle who remains unsigned.

The Dolphins have expressed preliminary interest in former Texans linemen Wade Smith and Ryan Harris, although they haven’t been in a rush to sign either.
Former Buccaneers tackle Donald Penn is on the market and would be an intriguing fit considering his ties to first-year Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey. The Washington Post reported that Penn will visit the Redskins this weekend.

Charles Brown, David Stewart and Eric Winston are among the other options remaining in free agency. Winston, a University of Miami alum, visited the Dolphins in each of the past two years but doesn’t appear to be an immediate priority for the team.

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Don't look for Shane Larkin to get increased minutes any time soon

Question: Any chance Shane Larkin's time increases and he becomes a major part of the rotation?

At this point, I don't see it happening on a regular basis. Carlisle is going to ride the Ellis/Calderon/Harris backcourt with Vince Carter occasionally in the mix, too. If Larkin plays, it will be as a change of pace. I think Ellington and Crowder play before Larkin, too.

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Eric Winston elected president of NFL Players Association

ORLANDO – Veteran tackle Eric Winston became the NFL Players Association's newest president Wednesday, elected by the board of representatives over New Orleans Saints tight end Ben Watson and free-agent safety Ryan Clark.

"Things are going to come up. We're going to have fights," Winston, who is a free agent, told USA TODAY Sports. "And (the job is) to continue to carry that torch to the next person, whoever that may be. I've got to leave this union better than I found it."

Winston, 30, has played in 124 games (119 starts) over eight NFL seasons with the Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs and Arizona Cardinals. He has been active with the union since 2010 and most recently served on the committee that regulates and disciplines agents.

He succeeds former NFL cornerback Domonique Foxworth, who wasn't eligible to run for a second two-year term because he wasn't on an NFL roster last season.

The board also elected seven new vice presidents to fill out the executive committee – the largest player leadership turnover the union has had. Joining holdovers Watson, Matt Hasselbeck and Brian Waters are Clark, Jay Feely, Scott Wells, Adam Vinatieri, Zak DeOssie, Lorenzo Alexander and Mark Herzlich.

"We're coming from a time of great leadership, taking us through such tumultuous time with the lockout, the new CBA," Watson said. "The guys that have been elected now: they come right behind some of these great leaders that we've had, but they're definitely ready for the challenge."

The executive committee, led by the president, have a variety of duties that include enforcing the selection bylaws in the event of a challenge to the executive director job. DeMaurice Smith is expected to have at least one challenger when he's up for re-election in March 2015.

Executive officers are elected to two-year terms in even-numbered years by the board of player representatives. Any player who has been a member in good standing for one year is eligible.

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Lauryn Williams welcomed back to Detroit, wants to help hometown

Olympic champion Lauryn Williams is in an elite world-class of athletes, but that hasn’t stopped her from returning home to help with Detroit’s revitalization.

Williams is the first woman and one of only five Olympians to ever win a medal at both the Summer and Winter Games.

But, she said Wednesday, it was her time in Detroit that led her to become an Olympic gold medalist and she wants to “pay it forward” to the next leaders of the city.

“Detroit builds champions,” Williams said at an event at the Northwest Activities Center welcoming her home. “There’s an African proverb that says ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’ and that’s literally how I think of my life. It takes so many people. That’s why I’m back in Detroit and that’s why I want to pay it forward. I’ve seen Detroit get itself back on the road to revitalization.”

Williams, 30, doesn’t have a specific outline yet of how she’ll participate in the city’s revival, but she’s been meeting with community activists and leaders to see what she can do. She said she also plans to tackle childhood obesity in Detroit.

At the 2004 Summer Olympics, Williams ran the anchor leg for the women’s 4x100 relay team in the final. Marion Jones and Williams didn’t complete the baton exchange and the U.S. team was disqualified.

“It was really sad to be part of that,” she said. “But in 2012, it all came full circle and I got my chance at redemption.”

Williams was a member of the women’s 4x100 meter relay team that won gold in the 2012 London Olympics. She also won a silver medal in the 100 meter race at the 2004 Athen’s Olympics and recently won a silver medal for the United States in the two-women bobsled event at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

She and Elana Meyers missed winning the gold medal by 0.10 seconds. Williams said the 2014 Olympics are likely her last and she plans to turn her scope on how she can help Detroit become what it once was.

Williams said she spent the bulk of her childhood, from age 3 to 12, in Detroit and she vividly recalls the city being vibrant. Williams attended St. Scholastica Elementary School in Detroit before moving to Pittsburgh, Pa.,with her father. She now lives in Dallas, Texas.

“Detroit is the place that got me going,” she said. “This is where my childhood began. I remember a really vibrant Detroit, a vibrant city and it being a really great place to grow up and I can’t wait to help with the revitalization.”

Williams said she began her track career in Detroit running for the Cheetah’s Track Club.

Members of Detroit’s Cass Techicon1 High School track team came out to hear Williams speak and several said they were inspired by her.

“We came because it was a good opportunity and humbling to see someone like her and meet her,” said 16-year-old Alexandra Hickson.

Williams said her goal is to help young adults like Hickson who are talented, but need help realizing their dreams. Williams received her bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Miami, which she attended on a full athletic scholarship. She also received a master’s degree from the University of Phoenix and is currently pursuing a certificate in financial planning.

“My motto is hard work knows no limit and what it means to me is if you’re working hard toward a goal, a resource will be provided and the opportunity will become available to you,” she said. “My message for them is to work hard. People will see how well you are trying to do and someone will help you get to where you are trying to go.”

Williams said she didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but through community support, she was able to push forward with her goal of being a world-class athlete.

“There was always a door opening for me even though we didn’t have all the resources readily available for me, there was always someone who saw my potential,” she said.

Jim Ward, President of the Greenacres Woodward Community Radio Patrol, said he and other community activist came out to support a “Detroit hero.”

“The bottom line is when you pick up a newspaper, all you hear are the bad things about black youths,” Ward said. “When someone does something positive, we should support them.”

The event was hosted by State Sen. Virgil Smith, who said he plans to be a resource to help Williams to get her initiatives off the ground.

“This is the first time I’ve ever met an Olympian and this is really exciting for me and I’m honored and humbled to have Lauryn back home and in Detroit,” Smith said.

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Bears wish Devin Hester many happy returns

The Chicago Bears did not re-sign standout return specialist Devin Hester for the 2014 season.

"For the past eight seasons, we have been honored to have Devin Hester as a part of our organization," Bears general manager Phil Emery said. "While Devin has redefined the pinnacle standard of the return position in the NFL, the memories and contributions he has given us cannot be measured by stats or numbers.

Hester, 31, is the NFL's all-time leader in punt return touchdowns (13) and total kick return touchdowns (18). Including his 108-yard missed field goal return touchdown, Hester's 19 overall return touchdowns are tied with Hall of Famer Deion Sanders for the most in regular-season history. When adding Hester's 92-yard kickoff return touchdown to open Super Bowl XLI, his 20 overall return touchdowns (including the postseason) are an NFL record.

In 123 games played (46 starts) over eight seasons (2006-'13), Hester's 3,241 punt return yards are eighth most in NFL history and his 12.3 punt return average ranks fifth. He is the franchise's all-time leader in total return touchdowns, punt return touchdowns, punt return yards, kickoff return yards (5,504), total kick return yards (8,745) and second in all-purpose yards (11,632). Hester's 2,807 receiving yards are 18th most in Bears annals and his 217 receptions are 14th.

"From my knowledge, I know that Chicago wants to go a different route with me," Hester said on the NFL Network. "All I can say is thanks to the fans (for) the support. Always been great to me, always been loyal. I couldn't want to play for a better city than those guys."

A three-time Pro Bowl player (2006, 2007 and 2010 seasons), Hester was named to the 2000's all-decade team by The Associated Press and ESPN.

Hester, who is an unrestricted free agent March 11, was named the rookie recipient of the team's 2006 Brian Piccolo Award, which is voted on by Bears players for the teammate they feel best exemplifies the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and sense of humor of the late Brian Piccolo.

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Antrel Rolle Praises Tom Coughlin & Jon Beason

Not that it was unexpected, but New York Giants safety Antrel Rolle is thrilled with the recent addition of his friend and former Arizona Cardinals teammate, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. He believes that DRC brings an entirely new element to Big Blue's defense and even lauded him as one of the most athletic cornerbacks in the entire league.

"This is a huge signing for us. This guy is as good as it gets — he's the best athlete I've ever seen on the football field with respect to the corner position," Rolle said on ESPN Radio. "I think it was a phenomenal move by the Giants."

Rolle took that praise a step further when discussing linebacker Jon Beason, whom the Giants also recently re-signed. And as big as the addition of DRC is for the team, Rolle believes re-signing Beason was the best decision General Manager Jerry Reese has made since the new league year began last Tuesday.

"I think that may be the best signing that we've made thus far," Rolle said of re-signing Beason. "I think Jon Beason was definitely the voice we needed at MIKE linebacker. He came in not really fully understanding the defense [last year] and still played phenomenal and did exactly what we needed him to do. So, I can only imagine what it'll be like to get him in OTAs and training camp, and to start a season off the right way."

But, even with all of these additions and re-signings of key players, Rolle says Giants fans and his fellow teammates should temper their expectations. They need look no further than the Philadelphia Eagles' "Dream Team" from only a few years back as a reminder that winning the offseason doesn't necessarily equal success. And, ultimately, the only thing that matters is how they perform once the games start to count.

"Can people get excited? Absolutely," Rolle said about what the Giants have done in free agency thus far. "But it doesn't matter what I say, it doesn't matter who we sign. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is how we produce between those white lines. And I think everyone knows that."

Finally, Rolle said DRC asked him specifically about the kind of coach/person Tom Coughlin is. His answer was as blunt, truthful and full of praise as you'd expect.

"He's one of the best guys — people — you'll ever be around in your lifetime. Just a genuine guy," Rolle said. "He cares about what kind of man you want to be. What kind of Father figure. What kind of professional. That's hard to find in this league."

At the end of the day, these are the motivational and inspiring words of a true leader.

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Wilfork Asking To Be Released Just ‘Part Of The Negotiation’

BOSTON (CBS) – When nose tackle Vince Wilfork asked for his release late last week it signaled an unfortunate end to what’s been a legendary Patriots career.

But now that several days have gone by and he’s still a member of the team it’s clear what’s going on here: negotiating.

Ben Volin of the Boston Globe came on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show Tuesday morning to discuss the latest in the Patriots-Wilfork staring match.

“At first it was pretty jarring to see and everybody came to the foregone conclusion that he played his last game as a New England Patriot, but I just think [asking to be released] is a negotiating tactic on his side. I think the Patriots would still rather have Vince on the team than cut him, they just can’t have him on the team at an $11.6 million cap number.

“This is Wilfork trying to play his hand a little bit, force the issue and maybe make the Patriots increase their offer. I ultimately think that the two sides are gonna come to an agreement. Cooler heads will prevail and they’ll find a way to bring Vince back even though he asked for a release. I still think he wants to come back, but this is just part of negotiating.”

The discussion then shifted to the free agents the Patriots have signed and brought in for visits. Among the visitors is the troubled, but very talented, receiver in Kenny Britt. Britt has had nine run-ins with law enforcement since being drafted in 2009 and comes with a great deal of red flags.

Volin says he was “surprised” to hear Britt was coming in for a visit, but added, “It’s the NFL and it’s all about winning and winning now. If he can sign a favorable contract and help you win a Super Bowl then it’s worth it. He could be a good low cost option, plus he’s a Rutgers guy.”

With Julian Edelman back and the signing of Brandon LaFell, if the Patriots were to sign Britt there would be a big logjam at the receiver position. If that’s the case, Volin predicts Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce will be sent packing.

“Tom Brady is 36-years-old and his window is closing so you have to get after it. Thompkins and Boyce might be nice prospects but there’s no time to wait around. They need finished products. There’s no time to wait on the kids anymore.”

Colts owner Jim Irsay was arrested for four felonies this week including driving under the influence and possession of a controlled substance. Volin called on commissioner Roger Goodell to make an example out of Irsay for his actions under the league’s personal conduct policy.

“Goodell has to come down on Irsay pretty hard because Roger Goodell has established his reputation as the crime-and-punishment commissioner, so he’s got to suspend Jim Irsay indefinitely and keep him away for awhile. You feel bad for the guy because he needs help, but he has to stay away from the facility. You have to fine him and the team a significant amount – at least six figures. Then the question is do you hurt the team too and dock them a draft pick?

Multiple draft picks? I think they probably should, maybe a third round pick and a big fine for the organization as well. If Roger Goodell doesn’t come down big on Jim Irsay there’s going to be hell to pay from the players, media and public perception.”

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Drew Brees confident Saints' Jimmy Graham 'will be ready' Week 1

ORLANDO — New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees says he has "no doubt" tight end and teammate Jimmy Graham will be on the field for Week 1, no matter how his franchise-tag fight plays out.

Running back Darren Sproles won't be there, though. And Brees made clear in an interview with two reporters Tuesday at the NFL Players Association's annual meetings that Sproles is one key part of the Saints offense they won't be able to replace.

"I think a Darren Sproles only comes around once in your lifetime, in my career and in everybody's career," Brees said of the quicksilver back, whom the Saints traded to the Philadelphia Eagles last week for a fifth-round draft pick.

"There may be another one 15, 20 years from now. But there's not many guys like Darren Sproles. He's a special player. He's a special person. He's a special teammate."

The Saints planned to cut Sproles, 30, if they couldn't deal him rather than pay his $3.4 million base salary this year on the heels of a 2013 season in which he had just 824 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns.

They're clearing space in part because they need to re-sign Graham, 27, who is headed for either a lucrative contract extension or a grievance hearing on his claim the franchise tag should pay him like a wide receiver, not a tight end.

"Listen, I know Jimmy will be ready to play, whether that means he's coming in tomorrow, April 21st or August 21st," Brees added. "I know Jimmy Graham will be ready to play, and he'll be a big part of our offense and a big part of our team for a long time. I'm very confident that will work out."

Brees, 35, speaks from experience. He sat out all offseason practices in 2012 after getting the franchise tag, then signed a five-year, $100 million contract weeks before training camp began.

"Since I've been through it just two short years ago, you just know it's part of the process," Brees said. "You can't take any of that personal."

Nor can Brees take it personally the Saints cut ties with receiver Lance Moore and several members of the defense — cornerback Jabari Greer, safety Roman Harper, linebackers Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma — that helped lead them to a Super Bowl win after the 2009 season.

Safety Malcolm Jenkins signed as a free agent with the Eagles, who gave Sproles a new three-year, $10.5 million contract with $5.5 million in guarantees soon after the trade.

Sproles "was one of the tougher ones for me, just because I was heavily recruiting him to New Orleans during the (2011) lockout," said Brees, who also played with Sproles for the San Diego Chargers in 2005.

"So I feel like that was my guy, that was my pick, and I wanted that to last forever. But unfortunately, it didn't last forever."

Only six players remain from the Saints' Super Bowl team: Brees, offensive linemen Jahri Evans and Zach Strief, punter Thomas Morstead, running back Pierre Thomas and receiver Marques Colston.

"It's tough, because a lot of those guys I've played with for eight years," Brees said. "Eight years, which is rare. I'd say that's very rare in this day and age, to have that amount of time with a group of guys.

"You become very connected during that time, so it's always hard when you get to this point. It's going to be a new team in a lot of ways, a lot of young guys stepping up into roles that maybe they haven't been in before and it's where the new leaders emerge."

The Saints also made one bold move in free agency, signing safety Jairus Byrd to a six-year, $54 million contract that included $26.3 million in guarantees. In a salary cap league, deals like that often can't happen without trimming some veteran fat.

"Unfortunately, that's part of this game," Brees said. "That's the business of football. Sometimes, you love it and sometimes you hate it."

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Contract breakdowns Santana Moss

Santana Moss is not a lock to make the team. The Washington Redskins expect Clifton Geathers to be on the roster. That’s the assumption one can make after checking out their contracts.

Neither one of those statements is a big surprise; when Moss was signed, myself and others wrote that he was not guaranteed anything. His contract backs that up as Moss only received a veteran minimum deal -- a $65,000 signing bonus and a base salary of $955,000 (but he would only count $635,000 against the salary cap if he makes the roster. The minimum salary benefit takes effect so his base, for cap purposes, would be $570,000).

The only guaranteed cash in the deal for Moss is the signing bonus. The Redskins still think he might be able to help, hence the sort of contract he signed. But I doubt their quest to add another receiver will end; indeed, Kenny Britt is visiting Tuesday. Also, if Leonard Hankerson is healthy and looks good in training camp, that wouldn’t be good news for Moss, unless the 34-year old shows he can still play. But Hankerson and newly-signed Andre Roberts can play in the slot. Aldrick Robinson can as well, but not to the same level as the other two.

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Chris Myers on locker room culture

With former Miami Dolphin Jonathan Martin landing in San Francisco, it appears that not all locker rooms are filled with camaraderie and good-natured towel snapping.

The Martin-Richie Incognito situation brought up some serious issues among NFL players. How much bullying really goes on when no one’s watching? What happens when teasing and hazing crosses the line?

“It’s something that definitely doesn’t happen in Houston. I can attest to that,” Chris Myers said in an interview with Texans Radio. “That’s something that has to get regulated and sanctioned on by the players themselves. When that kind of thing is getting obvious that that’s going on in the locker room, the older guys need to take it by the reins and say, ‘That’s not going to happen.’”

Eagles outside linebacker Connor Barwin wrote an editorial piece titled “My Job Is Very, Very Different From Your Job” for Sports Illustrated’s highly read column, The Monday Morning Quarterback. In his story, Barwin discusses locker room culture in light of the Dolphins highly-publicized incidents.

The former Texan gave high marks to Houston, where he spent his first four seasons in the NFL. Players like Myers helped maintain fairness and social order among rookies and veterans from all walks of life.

“The most successful position groups tend to be the ones with the best organization,” Barwin wrote. “When I was on the Texans, the O-line and D-line were led by savvy veterans like Chris Myers and (former nose tackle) Shaun Cody.”

Myers agrees but doesn’t take all the credit. Everyone does their part. Coaches and general managers recruit “high character guys” and those players help keep the sanctity of the locker room intact.

“I’m glad for Jonathan that he’s getting his fresh start out in San Francisco,” Myers said. “He’ll get a fresh start and get back on his feet and we’ll see what happens with Richie.”

Myers, who had been Barwin's teammate all through his career with the Texans, had a chance to read Barwin's article for The MMQB.

"I texted him and let him know I appreciate the kind words," Myers said. "As long as you can regulate it, and keep it in the locker room, and keep it fun, that's where you go."

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Scott Maine signs with Bridgeport

Bridgeport, CT - The Bridgeport Bluefish today announced the signing of pitcher Scott Maine. Maine enters his eighth season in professional baseball and his first in the Atlantic League.

“We’re excited about the addition of Scott to our pitching staff,” says Bluefish manager Willie Upshaw. “He’s a proven veteran that will be an asset to our bullpen and in the late innings.”

Last year, the Florida native pitched for two Miami Marlins affiliates splitting time with the Triple-A New Orleans Zephyrs and the Rookie League Gulf Coast Marlins. The former Major Leaguer appeared in a combined 21 games out of the bullpen with a 4.19 ERA, three saves and 26 strikeouts in 19.1 innings.

The 29-year-old has played three years in The Show, pitching for the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians from 2010-2012. In 50 Major League games, the southpaw has a 2-3 record with a 5.59 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 46.2 innings.

He began his professional career in 2007 with the Yakima Bears of the short-season Class A Northwest League after being drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the sixth round of the MLB Amateur Draft. In 222 Minor League outings, the reliever has a 19-15 record with a 3.33 ERA, 43 saves and 323 strikeouts in 284.2 innings.

Maine attended the University of Miami and played in the Cape Cod Baseball League in 2006 for the Brewster Whitecaps.

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Jemile Weeks taking changes in stride

SARASOTA, Fla.— In early December, Jemile Weeks' baseball career was thrown upside down.

He was traded away from the only organization he had ever known, the Oakland Athletics, and sent to the Orioles for one of the franchise's most popular players, closer Jim Johnson, in what was immediately deemed a salary dump.

Although the 27-year-old second baseman viewed it as a new opportunity, the external pressure was once again descending on Weeks, a 2008 first-rounder who grew up playing in, and around, the shadow of his All-Star big brother, Rickie.

But Weeks didn't have time to get caught up in the hoopla; he was too busy trying to figure out how to feed 1,000 people and how he could borrow a bounce house or two.

"That was the gist of where my mind was," said Weeks, who is competing for the Orioles' starting second base job, but likely will begin the season at Triple-A. "I knew about the trade, but I already know how media and other interactions work, so I really don't pay attention to it. I tend to stay busy."

A month before the deal, his offseason schedule got particularly complicated when he announced at a periodic family meeting — yes, two pro ballplayers and a community-relations professional sister still have occasional family meetings with their parents — that he wanted to host a community event for charity near where he grew up in Orlando, Fla.

Never mind that Weeks had never attempted such an event or that Christmas was a month away. That was what he wanted to do. And so it was going to happen.

"With my own hands, I reached out to people I know and my sister did, along with my mom's church," Weeks said. "I just phoned friends. I got the bounce houses and the food, pizzas and ice cream, and asked for live performances from people I knew."

Simple as that.

On Dec. 21, Weeks and his newly formed non-profit organization, WeFam LLC, hosted "Christmas on the Boulevard" at a high school in Eatonville, Fla., which is known as the oldest black municipality in the United States.

Weeks was expecting about 400 to 700 people for the free, community-building event that featured face painters, an inspirational rapper, dance demonstrations and presentation poet Shawn Welcome.

More than 1,000 people attended, and Weeks and his volunteers — who included his brother and other Orlando-area professional athletes — fed them all. They also gave out more than 700 toys to children.

"It's just something I wanted to do for the community back home," Weeks said.

It's not unusual for athletes to give back to their communities. But it is fairly rare for someone who isn't yet established in a sport to attempt to make such an impact — and do it single-handedly, without fanfare. And accomplish it so quickly.

Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy, for one, wasn't surprised by the gesture. Hardy was part of a double-play tandem with Weeks' brother in Milwaukee for years.

"It's just that kind of family," Hardy said. "It's the way Rickie is and I'm just getting to know Jemile a little bit, but the way he is too. The family is just a great family."

Weeks' father, Richard Sr., spent parts of two decades working for a food bank in Orlando before switching gears to operate collegiate and youth baseball programs. Weeks' mother owned a cleaning company when her kids were young, but she is now a full-time pastor in Orlando. The couple divorced when Weeks was a pre-teen, but the parents raised their children together, stressing faith, family and community.

"My mom and dad always instilled in us that we don't forget where we come from, no matter how high you get in your career or how successful you become," said Kaisha Weeks, the family's middle child, who was a track star at Southern and is now a communications-public relations specialist.

All three of the Weekses' children helped out at the food bank where their father worked. Weeks was about seven when he first understood the importance of giving back. But his sister said he really was hit with that spirit a few years ago — around when he debuted with the A's in 2011.

That was a whirlwind season for Weeks.

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Bryant McKinnie Willing To Play Right Tackle

According to Bryant McKinnie himself on WQAM sports radio, he is willing to play the right tackle position.

This should be the flag that Dennis Hickey needs to see.  Re-signing McKinnie makes a ton of sense.  First he will be cheaper than what the Dolphins would have paid at the outset of free agency.  Secondly, he showed last year that he could still play the game and finally, the Dolphins really need a right tackle.  The fact that McKinnie was a solid locker room player should be considered a bonus.

Signing McKinnie would give the Dolphins flexibility.  They could draft a RT in May and allow that player to compete for the starting job.  It would be a legit competition and should bring out the best in McKinnie.  The fact that Miami could have a veteran who already knows the schemes and philosophies on offense doesn’t hurt either.  The RT position is vacant right now and the Dolphins should not be banking on the draft to solve that situation entirely.  There are other veterans available but McKinnie might be a good choice to fill that void as a stopgap veteran.

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Which Teams Could Land Vince Wilfork, If Released

New England Patriots star Vince Wilfork has asked for a release from the team after they asked him to re-do his contract and if he gets released, the Oakland Raiders, Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys all could be options for him, while BJ Raji is on the market and he could be in the mix with Jared Allen to the Houston Texans or NY Giants. reported the news about Wilfork and this comes after 10 years with the team and multiple Pro Bowls and stems from them asking him to take a pay cut and to re-work his contract. The Patriots just signed Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner and now Wilfork could be on his way out after he was injured last season and played in four games while making nine tackles and now he could be moving on after being a first round pick a decade ago and he is now 32 years old and one of the best defensive tackles in the game.

Wilfork has championship experience and is one of the top players at his position and teams in need of someone up front who can stop the run will be the main targets for the star. The Washington Redskins had trouble last season topping the run and they could be in the mix, while identified the Texans as a possible option as well. Wilfork costs $7.5 million on his salary and $11.6 million against the cap next season and that is the main issue and he could feel a bit offended after the Pats paid $12 million for Revis next season.

Wilfork has been healthy his entire career apart from the injury last season and that would make him a prime option on the market if he is eventually released. writes that the Texans could be a fit after Wilfork had his Achilles injury last season, as Romeo Crennel is now running the defense and he used to be with the Pats when Wilfork was there. Raji and Wilfork could be targets for the Texans defense, which took a step back last season as the team went 2-14 and now they have the number one pick.

The Redskins have made a number of moves this offseason and they already signed Jason Hatcher as well as Tracy Porter and now they could go after Wilfork if he is released, along with Raji and Jared Allen as well. The team is keeping linebacker Brian Orakpo and now they have the chance to shore up their defense up front. The Redskins signed Hatcher to a four-year, $27.5 million contract and while his age and cap hit could be an issue going forward, the team was impressed by his season last year when he had 11 sacks and now he could add to the pass rush for the Skins.

The Redskins allowed over 110 yards per game on the ground last season and adding either Wilfork or Raji would upgrade the front line of the defense right away. Wilfork may not cost as much as he normally would since he is coming off of an injury and that could be a big boost for Washington ort another team that signed him. 

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Brandon Meriweather, Redskins reach contract

The Washington Redskins have added a few veterans on defense, but the secondary is still riddled with the same question marks as it was last season.

The Redskins have agreed to bring back strong safety Brandon Meriweather on a one-year contract, according to multiple reports.

Meriweather, 30, started 13 games in an overmatched defensive backfield last season, totaling 69 tackles, two interceptions and a forced fumble. After gaining a reputation as a head hunter, he had a two-game suspension reduced to one.

Although he fills a much-needed enforcer role in Jim Haslett's defense, Meriweather has long been inconsistent in coverage.

The veteran will have to hold off 2013 fourth-round draft pick Phillip Thomas, who missed all of last season with a Lisfranc injury.

Bringing back Meriweather shouldn't preclude the Redskins from also signing former Steelers free safety Ryan Clark, who reportedly has engaged in contract talks with the team.

Whether or not the Redskins add a declining Clark to the mix, safety will once again be a weak spot for Haslett's unit.

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Gaby Sanchez ready to prove he's all right at first base for Pirates

BRADENTON, Fla. — What if the answer to the Pirates' most pressing question this spring — who's on first? — was there all along?

All of the offseason focus centered around how the Pirates might upgrade first base. The club parted with Justin Morneau and Garrett Jones. The Pirates were not willing to go to a third year with free-agent first baseman James Loney and have not yet been willing to meet the demands for potential trade targets like Ike Davis, Justin Smoak, Mike Carp and Mitch Moreland.

So much attention has been centered around left-handed first basemen because of Gaby Sanchez's platoon splits. Sanchez has crushed left-handed pitching the past two seasons — .987 OPS in 2013 vs. lefties — but his bat has played like that of a utility infielder against right-handed pitching (.619 OPS in 2013 vs. right-handers).

Sanchez and the Pirates believe he can be much more competitive against right-handed pitching if he faces right-handers on a consistent basis. They believe he can be an everyday player, particularly if Andrew Lambo's struggles in March carry over into April.

“I know that I can do it. I have done it before. I have hit right-handers,” Sanchez said. “It's just something going out there and getting the reps.”

There might be something to Sanchez's hypothesis on why he has struggled against right-handed pitching the past two seasons.

While receiving regular playing time with the Marlins in 2010 and 2011, Sanchez produced back-to-back seasons of identical OPS numbers against right-handed pitching (.742). Sanchez said being a platoon player negatively impacts your ability against same-arm pitchers, and his number against right-handers have declined while being platooned the past two seasons.

“I don't think players lose skills (in a platoon), but you still have to train your body, you still have to train your swing,” Sanchez. “It's tough when you're in a platoon role and all you're doing is facing lefties, and then in that eighth and ninth inning … you are facing your one righty every third day. It's not an easy thing against a guy who is throwing 97 mph in the eighth and ninth inning.

“You're not seeing the arm angle. You're not seeing the arm action on a daily basis. It's tough.”

To try to prepare for the elite velocity he might see late in games last season, Sanchez began using the batting cages in the middle of games and cranked up the velocity. And Sanchez actually was better against right-handed relievers last season than he was against right-handed starters.

Sanchez made only 30 starts against right-handed pitching last season in which he received multiple plate appearances. In those 81 plate appearances, he hit .178 with a .259 on-base percentage.

Why does Pirates manager Clint Hurdle have confidence Sanchez can improve against right-handed pitching?

“The track record. … His first two years in the major leagues his numbers were competitive,” Hurdle said. “You get out of a role, or you fall out of role … there's no regularity. It's a challenge. We feel, with consistent work, the numbers would be closer together, (and) there wouldn't be the separation we saw the last two seasons.”

The Pirates' front office also believes Sanchez can improve against right-handed pitching.

“Gaby is in that competition to become the regular first baseman and to get the majority of at bats there,” Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. “If we find a left-handed complement for him that we feel makes (first base) better, then we go in that direction. We are still working through that process. It may be something that evolves once we get into the season. We have a comfort that Gaby can do a nice job against right-handed pitching.”

And he just might get that chance.

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Redskins could bring back Brandon Meriweather

BrandonMeriweatherRedskins's John Keim "wouldn’t be surprised" if the Redskins re-signed SS Brandon Meriweather.
Per Keim, the Redskins don't view any of the current free-agent safeties as better than Meriweather and could bring him back as a veteran to compete with second-year SS Phillip Thomas. Washington also hasn't ruled out re-signing Reed Doughty to provide depth.

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Vince Wilfork Could Be Back With Patriots On Restructured Deal

The New England Patriots still could keep All-Pro nose tackle Vince Wilfork on a discounted rate.

NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported Thursday that Wilfork has asked the Patriots to be released after rejecting a restructured contract. Wilfork’s agent’s next step is to find out Wilfork’s value on the open market, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Friday.

Wilfork’s camp would then weigh Wilfork’s value in free agency against the Patriots’ restructured contract offer and make a decision on the 10-year veteran’s future. The Patriots would save $8 million in salary-cap space by releasing Wilfork.

They likely could save slightly less than $8 million by restructuring or extending Wilfork’s contract. Wilfork was drafted by the Patriots with the No. 21 overall pick in 2004. The 32-year-old has been named to five Pro Bowls and five All-Pro teams.

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Devin Hester says Dolphins among suitors

RIVIERA BEACH — Devin Hester could end up in a Miami Dolphins uniform by the summer.

The free agent wide receiver and kick returner, who spent eight years with the Chicago Bears before parting ways this month, said the Dolphins are one of 13 teams that have expressed interest in signing him.

A three-time Pro Bowler who holds the NFL record for return touchdowns with 20, Hester would welcome an opportunity to play for his hometown team.
He grew up in Riviera Beach, graduated from Suncoast High School and played college football at the University of Miami.

“I grew up watching them,” Hester, 31, said of the Dolphins. “It’s closer to home. It’s closer to my family.”

Hester, who was in town Saturday for a free youth football clinic sponsored by the city of Riviera Beach and his year-old foundation, the Anytime 23 Empowerment Center, said the Dolphins’ recent bullying scandal is not an issue for him.

An NFL-commissioned report released last month detailed incidents of harassment, racism, bullying and homophobia within the Dolphins’ locker room last season.

Hester has no timetable for reaching an agreement with an NFL team, though he hopes to be signed by the time training camp starts this summer.
Though he’s had his greatest success as a kick returner, he said he’d like some playing time at wide receiver.

During his career, Hester has caught 217 passes for 2,807 yards and 14 touchdowns.

“I’m going to let my agent and the upstairs guys on offense work out the details,” he said. “What’s fair is fair.”

In the meantime, Hester, who lives in Orlando, is focusing much of his attention on his foundation.

The non-profit Anytime 23 Empowerment Center provides after-school programs and activities that promote healthy, stable lifestyles for kids ages 6-18.
As children, Hester and his older brother, Lenoris, were active in the local Boys and Girls Club. Lenoris Hester now is executive director of his brother’s foundation.

“I wanted to give back to the community and inspire youth,” Hester said.

Saturday’s clinic at Suncoast and a celebrity basketball game Friday night were the first public events organized by the foundation.

Friday’s game featured 20 current or former NFL players, including several with ties to Palm Beach County. Anquan Boldin and Abram Elam were among those who participated.

Saturday’s youth clinic drew nearly 300 youngsters in grades 3-8. Thirty professional football players, local high school coaches and volunteers ran the program, which was designed to introduce kids to football by teaching basic skills.

Grant money to support the event was provided through the NFL Youth Football Fund.

“This is all basic, fundamental stuff,” said Hester, who helped run drills Saturday. “We’re just doing the small details to get them started and advance their talents.”

Several of Hester’s former Chicago Bears teammates served as volunteer coaches at the clinic, including cornerback Tim Jennings and safety Major Wright, now a free agent.

Both said they were happy to support Hester’s efforts to reach out to children. Hester has two sons, ages 1 and 4.

“For him to come out here and give back to his community is great,” said Wright, who played with Hester for four seasons. “It’s an opportunity for him to come out here, see where he grew up and give back to his kids. He’s a great guy, not just on the field.”

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Jon Beason expects big things from NY Giants despite key departures

Jon Beason knows that Justin Tuck is gone, he knows that Jason Pierre-Paul is coming off an injury, and he knows that veteran cornerbacks Corey Webster and Aaron Ross are still in the building.

But the Giants middle linebacker, who signed a three-year deal with the team, still expects big things from the Big Blue defense in 2014.

"I feel like I can be scary good this year and as a team, especially as a defense, we could be really good," he said.

Beason pointed to the midseason dominance of the defense, which nearly pitched a pair of shutouts against the Eagles and the Vikings.

"I think what we were able to build last year in a short period of time was scary," Beason said.

"I'm a big fan of building camaraderie and sweating with the guys in the offseason, that's where you build those championships and we missed that," he said. "Well, I missed that because I came in early in the season. But for me, at this point, I know we have that coming up in April, get out there and earn the right to be a champ. It's going to be big this year."

Still, Beason said, the Giants defense will miss the leadership of Tuck, their longtime defensive captain. He said his teammates will have to "pick up the slack."

"Everyone's going to have to pick up the slack because Tuck was such an amazing leader, a guy who demanded respect right when he walked into the room," Beason said. "That's the way I felt about him from the outside looking in and then obviously getting the chance to get to play with him, that was evident.

"For me, I just want to continue to try and be consistent. I think when you're consistent, people follow that."

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Darryl Sharpton From Linebacker ‘U’

Penn State is known as “Linebacker U”  for producing players like Jack Ham, Shane Conlan and LaVar Arrington, but in the past decade another program has vied for the title.

The University of Miami has a proud linebacker history with Ray Lewis, Dan Morgan, D.J. Williams, Rocky McIntosh,  and Jon Beason all becoming productive pros.

On Friday, the Redskins signed  free agent Darryl Sharpton, another member of the Miami linebacker fraternity. Sharpton told Larry Michael he looks to carry on the proud tradition of  Hurricanes in Washington, including his old college teammate Leonard Hankerson.

“It’s definitely very comforting knowing that I have former teammates on this team,” Sharpton said. “Former great Miami Hurricanes have come through here, Clinton Portis and Rocky McIntosh and some other guys.  It’s a real honor to kind of continue some of the great things they did for this organization, and I look forward to it.”

Other Miami alumni of note to play for the Redskins include wide receiver Santana Moss and safety Sean Taylor.

Al Sharpton is Darryl Sharpton’s second cousin, but the linebacker said he calls him uncle.

Sharpton told Michael he was indeed related to the activist and that he visits with him about once a year. He said he remains close with Sharpton’s daughters, who have already congratulated him on signing with Washington.

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Shane Larkin on the D-League shuttle train

It’s a win-win situation when some of the Mavericks’ young players can drive up the tollway and play a home game for the Texas Legends in Frisco. It helps the D-League team and it helps the players get some needed game-situation work.

Shane Larkin will play Saturday for the Legends against Maine at Dr Pepper Arena as the Mavericks re-assigned him on Friday.

It extends a trend of sending players to the Legends, who obviously get a bump in attention and upgraded play when Mavericks end up on their roster.
Jae Crowder and Bernard James have put in cameo appearances at Frisco as well. Ricky Ledo has been there most of the season.

Larkin has played 42 games for the Mavericks and is averaging 2.9 points and 1.6 assists in 11.1 minutes per contest.

This will be his fourth assignment to the D-League. Larkin has seen action in three Legends’ games and holds averages of 13.3 points, 7.3 assists, 6.0 rebounds and 35.6 minutes.

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Yonder Alonso smashes second homer in loss

Yonder Alonso smashed his second homer of the Cactus League season in a losing effort against the Royals on Sunday.

The 27-year-old finished the afternoon 2-for-5 with a pair of runs scored. He's off to a strong start in Cactus League play, hitting .343 (12-for-35). Hitting in the middle of the Padres lineup, he has sneaky value in deeper mixed fantasy leagues.

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Ryan Braun ready for another fresh start

In the two separate sessions in which Ryan Braun met the media in Milwaukee since he was suspended in late July, he fielded many of the same questions about when, why and how he was connected to Biogenesis, as well as many of the same queries about the reaction he expects to receive from fans here and on the road.

The answers to all of those questions were uniform, if not somewhat evasive, but it was interesting that Braun had to remind everyone that he's played under this type of cloud before.

And he did it well.

After the overturned suspension in the winter of 2011 and the now-infamous spring training rant, Braun arguably put up a better season than his MVP-winning campaign the year before.

Now, some will point to last year's underwhelming performance through 61 games before his suspension – without question the worst output of his seven-year career – as a "real" predictor for how 2014 will go for Braun.

I'm not sure about that. He was placed on the disabled list in early June with a thumb injury, and wasn't activated until a month later. This came after he suffered a neck injury right at the start of the season that forced him to miss games.

It's fair to wonder if Braun's body will hold up, or why it's breaking down in his late 20s. He's had his share of nagging injuries throughout his career, and his statement explaining why he used performance enhancing drugs said he did so to overcome one late in 2011.

But he said he used his "extended offseason" to get healthy, and so far so good in spring training.

"I think I'll be better than I've ever been," he said about his return to the field in 2014. "I'm very confident in that."

If his early production in Arizona is true indication of his health, and his ability, it's fair for Brewers fans to expect numbers similar to 2012. Braun led the league in runs, home runs, OPS and total bases that year while recording the second highest hit total of his career (191), the second most RBI (112), stolen bases (30) while also walking the most times in his career (63).

As for the suspension, and being caught in a lie, Braun's message has been pretty consistent. And he aims for his play to be consistent in 2014, too.

"I deeply regret it. I wish I can change it," he said. "I recognize I don't have that opportunity to do that so all I can do is focus on the present, focus on the future, look forward to this year and go out there and do the things that I've done in the past and hopefully be one of the best players in the game and show them that I learned from my mistake, that I've grown from it, that I've learned from it and that hopefully I've become a better person because of it."

He got married this offseason, and says that "I don't think I've ever been happier. I don't think I've ever enjoyed life more. I don't think I've ever been in a better place. So from that perspective, it's been beautiful."

I can't begin to tell you how important that is to a professional athlete.

These guys are real people with real people issues – the illnesses and deaths of family and friends, the birth of children, personal and professional squabbles that can put you in a bad mood. The difference is their job is for all of us to see and judge. And, depending on their status on the team, any carryover can cost them not only their job, but their career.

The fact that Braun feels this good mentally, and seems to be healthy physically, are good predictors for a return to his norm on the field.

That's not to say there won't be challenges, specifically on defense. Sort of lost in all of the news around his extended break was the fact the team asked him to change positions.

"They just asked if I would be open to it and I said absolutely," Braun said of his move to right field. "I told them I'd play anywhere other than third base because third base and I didn't go very well together. I don't expect it to be easy. In left field you get used to the ball coming off the bat a certain way, a certain direction, right-handers and left-handers, the ball slices a specific direction and in right field it'll be completely opposite. In Arizona I'll have plenty of time to get my work in and it's something I look forward to. I expect it to be challenging for sure."

Braun believes tracking fly balls in Miller Park will be easier in right with fewer shadows and lighting issues through the glass panes around the ballpark, but sometimes a player can have troubles at the plate, or in the field, crossover to other parts of their game.

Even if he misplays some fly balls or line drives, I doubt that will be the case with Braun – but it bears watching. Even the most confident of players can press if things go poorly.

But as he's often said, not much about the rest of "this" – the fans booing and the media questioning – is new for him. He performed once before with that pressure. You have to expect that he will again.

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