Ed Reed wants more support from Ravens

Ed Reed said repeatedly that he wants more support from the Ravens as he recovers from hip injury, but the Pro Bowl safety declined to indicate the specific problems.

"I haven't had the support from the other side as you think has been there," Reed said after the first day of his football camp in Randallstown. "If I don't say it now, it won't ever get said."

He said there were "minor things" that some people in the organization don't know are happening. He said he wouldn't talk about them to reporters until he has a chance to address them with the Ravens.

"It's like a marriage," Reed said. "There are going to be disagreements. You got to work with that person. When it starts to get too much, you got to pull back [and ask] 'Is it worth it or should I take a pay cut and be on another team?'"

Reed clarified that he didn't ask the Ravens for a new contract this year. But he did request one last year.

"The word I got was: 'We're comfortable with where we're at,' " Reed said. "Yes, you would be comfortable with the plays that I'm making on the field and paying me what you're paying me."

Reed continued to express dissatisfaction with his current contract, which has three years remaining.

"There are six, seven players in front of me [financially] at my position that I honestly wouldn't let hold my jock, and I don't even wear one," Reed said.

He also doesn't think a safety should be paid less than a quarterback.

"Peyton Manning doesn't sleep when he sees No. 20 going to Indy," Reed said. "But let alone, he's making $100 [million]."

Reed said he didn't have any "ill will" against the Ravens. He also indicated that he could play eight to 10 more years.

"If it was up to me, I would retire here," Reed said. "Does it always happen? No."

Reed indicated that he would start training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list. He wouldn't put a timetable beyond that.

"Like I told my coach, I'm preparing myself to try to come back for that first game," Reed said. "But who's to say it's going to be the first game against the Jets or the first game in October, November for December. I honestly don't know."

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

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Sinorice Moss Helps N.Y. Teens Meet Goals

Sinorice Moss wants to dare kids to dream of a better future.

The New York Giants wide receiver is launching a program called Dare to Dream, which asks teachers and high school students to take a pledge expressing their goals, such as improving their grades by the end of the year or applying to college. It then rewards students when they achieve their goals.

Throughout the school year, the foundation works with students to monitor progress and provides support to schools such as books and classroom supplies. Students who accomplish their goals will receive a certificate signed by Mr. Moss and other rewards, such as tickets to a game or a chance to speak at their schools.

"I tell these kids that it's not going to happen overnight, I didn't just wake up and become a professional athlete," Mr. Moss says. "I worked hard and went to college and if these kids and their teachers can dare to dream, they will accomplish what they set out to do."

Mr. Moss was born in Miami and played college football at the University of Miami, where he helped form the Moss Foundation with his older brother, Santana, a wide receiver for the Washington Redskins. The two donated more than $250,000 for training camps, community fairs and other school projects.

When he was drafted to the New York Giants in 2006, he says he wanted to also work with children in New York City.

"I started hearing about a school system that was failing these students and I wanted to show these kids that someone cared about them and that through education, they can make it," Mr. Moss says.

This year,he ran a pilot program with Sobro, the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, which runs after-school programs for schools in the Bronx. About 20 children wrote letters to Mr. Moss, explaining short-term goals to read a certain number of books throughout the year or their dreams of becoming an astronaut. At the end of the summer, Mr. Moss plans to hold a barbecue with participating children to hand out certificates of achievement.

"Growing up in the city, there's a lot of distractions. We want to get these kids to start dreaming, to start thinking about a future and making the right choices," says Deidra McKoy, a youth counselor at Sobro.

Sobro works with schools like Christopher Columbus High School, which was among 19 schools Mayor Michael Bloomberg tried to close this year as part of a strategy to shutter failing schools. The State Supreme Court said the city didn't follow proper procedure and ruled to keep the schools open.

"Many of the kids wrote in their letters to Sinorice that they feared their school was going to close… it felt hopeless, it affected their psyches," Ms. McKoy says.

The Dare to Dream foundation now looks to expand the program in other schools and create a fellowship for teachers and guidance counselors at participating schools.

Click here to order Sinorice Moss’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Jimmy Johnson joins cast of 'Survivor'

Former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson will appear on the CBS reality show "Survivor: Nicaragua" this fall, according to a source.

The 67-year-old Johnson, who was unavailable for comment, joins the show's 21st season this summer. The series has been taped in various exotic locations, including Panama, the Fiji Islands, Kenya and Brazil since it started in 2000. This year's show will tape in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua.

Johnson, who won two Super Bowl titles with the Cowboys in the 1990s, will be grouped with strangers in an isolated area where contestants must complete challenges to win awards or immunity from getting kicked out of the game show.

Since retiring from the NFL as a head coach, Johnson has worked for Fox Sports as a pregame show analyst. The taping of Survivor is not expected to conflict with Johnson's job on Fox.

Several former Cowboys figures have been involved in popular television shows in retirement. Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin, part of "The Triplets" along with Troy Aikman who played for Johnson, competed in the ABC series "Dancing with the Stars."

Smith won the ballroom dance show in 2006. Irvin appeared on the show in 2009, but didn't win.

Former Cowboys quarterback Gary Hogeboom was a contestant on "Survivor: Guatemala," in 2005 and finished in seventh place.

In nine NFL seasons, with the Cowboys and Miami Dolphins, Johnson compiled an 80-64 record, which places him 49th on the all-time win list.

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Bruce Johnson Still Working To Prove Himself

For an undrafted free agent, New York Giants' cornerback Bruce Johnson had quite a productive rookie season in 2009. He played in 15 games, picked off two passes -- including one against Dallas's Tony Romo that he ran back for a touchdown, forced two fumbles, defended seven passes and made 30 solo tackles.

All of this while playing a lot more than anyone could ever have anticipated, after injuries made Aaron Ross and Kevin Dockery unavailable. Johnson played so well, in fact, that the Giants made no effort to keep Dockery this off-season. He eventually signed with the St. Louis Rams.
Johnson took some time out of his off-season to answer some questions for me. Our conversation is below.

Big Blue View: You came to the Giants as un undrafted free agent. The team had drafted cornerbacks in the 6th and 7th rounds, yet you chose New York anyway? What made you think that was the right situation.
Bruce: The reason I felt it was the right situation for me was because the NY Giants actually wanted to sign me, instead of having me come just work out to see if they would like me, like the other teams. Right then and there I knew that was the best situation for me, and it was on my shoulders to make the most of it.

Big Blue View: You played more than many people anticipated. Assess your rookie season.
Bruce: When people think of undrafted free agents, they usually think it's someone who is not "game-ready" or as talented as the other guys on the team. I wasn't going to let that "undrafted free agent" label limit my will and drive to make the team. Instead, I used it as a form of motivation. Overall, I would have to say my rookie year was exceptional.

Big Blue View: Your thoughts on the unfortunate Chad Jones situation and, to a lesser extent, Mathias Kiwanuka's motorcycle crash. Do things like that make you re-consider how you spend your time away from the game?
Bruce: When I first heard about Chad, I was mainly concerned with his health and well being. It was a relief to find out that he would be able to walk again. Unfortunately, it was a bad accident that could of happened to anyone. I try my best to stay healthy and out of harm's way.

Big Blue View: What is the biggest thing that surprised you about the NFL?
Bruce: The biggest thing that surprised me about the NFL was actually playing along side or against the top-notched athletes that I watched growing up. Another thing that surprised me was how much of a job this was instead of just a game.

Big Blue View: How much difference is there coming into camp with a year of experience? Do you still feel like you are fighting to make the team?
Bruce: Oh yes! I still do feel like I am fighting for the team, but I am really fighting for my respect most of all, because I still feel like I haven't earned enough. The difference between camp rookie season and this season is now I know how to manage my time better, as opposed to last year when I came in blind and didn't know what to expect.

Big Blue View: A lot of players I have talked to during the off-season indicate that there seems to be a more determined attitude around the ballclub, and around the workouts. Do you sense a difference this season?
Bruce: Yes I do sense a difference. It is fun because there are so many competitors in our locker room who won't settle for anything less than hard work. Everyone puts forth their best efforts for the team. Every time I talk to a teammate, the conversation always ends on a football note, and how ready we are for the season to start. Should be a very interesting season.

Big Blue View: Other than working out, have you done anything to get away for a while during the break between mini-camp and training camp?
Bruce: Yeah, Mon!!! Actually, I just traveled to Jamaica. It was nice to get away and get reenergized before camp starts. I really needed that! Beautiful scenery, great food, great people. Definitely an experience that I won't forget.

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Eric Winston says Texans are "shooting for the stars"

Texans right tackle Eric Winston has some big goals for the 2010 edition of the team.

Explaining that the Texans consistently broke down their end-of-practice huddle with the chant, "1-2-3 . . . Super Bowl!" during the offseason, Winston says the team has big goals this year.

"This team, in a lot of ways I think, feels that we were a playoff team last year," Winston told Texans TV, a video feature on the team's official website.  "We're not gonna take it one step at a time.  We're shooting for the stars.  We're shooting for all the way.  We know it's in Dallas this year, it's be semi-home field for us. . . .  We're gonna shoot that high."

We (at least I) think the Texans will make it to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, a year after the team's first winning record.  To make it to the Super Bowl, however, they'll have to find a way to get past the likes of the Ravens.

We're not saying that the Texans can't, but qualifying for the postseason is one thing.  Advancing through multiple rounds is quite another.

Click here to order Eric Winston’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Giants hope Antrel Rolle is ready to be leader

How long does it take to become a leader?

The Giants hope not very long when it comes to Antrel Rolle.

In less than two weeks Rolle will go to Albany for his first training camp with the Giants, and he'll arrive not merely as a high-priced safety ready to step into the starting lineup. The Giants are hopeful Rolle, in a relatively short period of time with his new team, will emerge as the leader of the secondary.

In his five years in Arizona, Rolle not only helped the Cardinals make it to the first Super Bowl in franchise history but he also became a catalyst for the entire defense. The Giants, realizing their defensive backfield was in shambles in 2009 and that Kenny Phillips is coming back from micro-fracture knee surgery, made Rolle their free-agent priority and signed him to a five-year, $37 million contract, one of the richest deals for a safety in NFL history.

Rolle didn't come in and proclaim he's a leader but it is clear that's where he's headed.

"There's a lot of new faces on this team, a lot of veteran leaders," Rolle said. "We're all learning a new system. Everyone's becoming a teammate at this point. That's first and foremost before we try to step out of bounds and do too much. Before you name leaders, before you become a leader you know you have to be a teammate first.

Last week, former Giants star Michael Strahan told The Post now that linebacker Antonio Pierce is retired, a leadership void could hurt the team if someone such as Justin Tuck doesn't rise up and assume that role.

"I think it's important for Tuck and Osi [Umenyiora], [Mathias] Kiwanuka and Corey Webster," Strahan said, "important for some of these guys to step up."

Add Rolle's name to that roll call of candidates.

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

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Training Camp Battle: TE Greg Olsen vs. TE Desmond Clark

TE Greg Olsen vs. TE Desmond Clark -- This is the sleeper battle of the summer. Olsen might be eight years younger than the 33-year-old Clark, but there is something about Clark that has caught the eye of the Bears' new offensive coaching staff. Clark went from 41 catches to 19 last season and his playing time went from 78 percent to 38 percent of the snaps. Although Olsen gradually has put up better numbers in each of his three seasons and is coming off a 60-catch, eight-touchdown year, the Bears' staff still thinks he could be doing more. This summer offers him a big challenge with Clark on board.

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

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Ed Reed acknowledges he could begin season on PUP list

OWINGS MILLS -- Baltimore Ravens star free safety Ed Reed acknowledged that he'll begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list, and predicted he'll probably remain there when the regular season launches.

Under that scenario, Reed would miss at least the first six games of the season while he recovers from major hip surgery.

"I'm going to be on the PUP list for a minute, and I'm not letting them take me off like they did last time without telling me," Reed said during a radio interview with 105.7 The Fan. "I'm just rehabbing. It's a slow process. I'm going to get out there when I feel good. I can't give you a date. I don't know."

When asked if he thought he would remain on the PUP list to begin the season, Reed replied: "Of course, definitely. It's going to be challenging opening up with the schedule we have whether I'm there or not. It's leaning that way more than anything. Hopefully, we can weather the storm. We have great players around us to get through those games and be able to make a run."

Reed recently said that he was 35 percent recovered from his offseason procedure, which was performed in Colorado.

The former NFL Defensive Player of the Year said that he doesn't feel much better than that at this point.

"Not really, it's not too much higher than that," Reed said. "My workout hasn't changed too much. I have been doing a little more things as far as agility stuff. Nothing strenuous. I still have some soreness and a little pain. It's going to take time.

"I had to reconstruct my whole hip. It's not something where I can say, 'I'm going to be back.' I'm not coming  back until I'm well and ready. I don't care what anybody says. I know I can play football. I'm going to take my time with this and be sure."

Reed has previously said he wants his contract addressed, but is aware that the Ravens are unlikely to do something for him at this time.
Reed hasn't committed to playing beyond this season and has three years left on a six-year, $40 million deal that included $15 million in guaranteed money with remaining base salaries of $6 million this year, $6.5 million in 2011 and $7.2 million in 2012.

"I did an interview and we talked about contract stuff and people misconstrued it," Reed said. "There's always issues with contracts and stuff like that. I talked to the Ravens last year about my contract. It's nothing they haven't heard before."

Reed made an unspecified reference to dealing with the Ravens about 'organizational stuff' ove the past few weeks.

"It was like when Steve McNair was in Tennessee when they didn't want him around," Reed said. "That's what I felt in the last two weeks. It makes you think."

Reed quickly emphasized that he wasn't saying the Ravens aren't allowing him to rehab at their training complex.

"Oh, no, not at all," he said. "It's not a problem with me rehabbing.. It's nothing major to blow out of proportion. It's small stuff. When you deal with little things, wow, it makes you think about your situation and life in general.

"Hopefully, when I do talk to the Ravens, I'll let them know there are some things that I need. I haven't had my normal offseason routine. It's going to be challenging. There will be some business things that we need to attend to."

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

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Vince Wilfork cracks list of Top 50 highest paid American athletes

SI.com just released their 7th annual Fortune 50 list of the highest paid American athletes. Seven Boston athletes are on the list, including Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork, who earlier in the year signed a five-year, $40 extension.

According to the piece in SI , Wilfork ranks 38th out of 50. The defensive lineman is the only member of the Patriots on the list. Quarterback Tom Brady, in the final year of his deal, did not make the cut. 

Wilfork joined Celtics forward Kevin Garnett (No. 15), Red Sox pitcher John Lackey (No. 26),  Celtics captain Paul Pierce (No. 27),  Celtics guard Ray Allen (No. 28). Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett  (44), and Sox DH David Ortiz  (47) on the list.

Of Wilfork and his wealth, SI.com writes: ”Normally spendthrift Patriots emptied the bank in March to retain their Pro Bowl nose tackle, signing him to a five-year, $40 million deal that included an $18 million signing bonus up front.”

Brady, in the final year of a $60 million contract that pays him just $3.5 million this season, should find his way back on that list next year.  

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

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Astros' Jason Michaels delivers big hit in 12th

Jason Michaels delivered a go-ahead double in the top of the 12th as the Astros beat the Cubs 4-3 on Wednesday.

It was 1-1 until Michaels came in as a pinch-hitter and delivered a two-run double. The Astros added an insurance run on Angel Sanchez's single, and it'd turn out that they needed it. With both Matt Lindstrom and Brandon Lyon having already been used, Gustavo Chacin was brought in to pitch the bottom of the 12th and he gave up a two-run homer before earning his first ever save.

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Chris Perez pitched a perfect ninth inning against the Twins Tuesday

Chris Perez pitched a perfect ninth inning against the Twins Tuesday to pick up his ninth save of the year. Perez has become the Indians’ primary close with Kerry Wood back on the DL. Perez has thus far performed quite well which have led to rumors of wood being potentially dealt before the trade deadline.

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Cora livid after Mets' latest lackluster 'L'

PHOENIX -- Alex Cora is mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

The veteran utilityman, miffed by the laughter inside the Mets' clubhouse after last night's 3-2 loss to the Diamondbacks, fired venom in the direction of Mike Pelfrey and reporters who were joking at the pitcher's locker.

Cora spouted an expletive in Spanish and raised his voice in the direction of Pelfrey and reporters as hede parted the clubhouse at Chase Field.

"A little respect, please!" Cora snapped. "They stuck it up our [butts]."

Jason Bay was not in the room at the time of the outburst, but later heard about it.

"We need something," Bay said. "You know what I mean?"

At least someone on the team is showing emotion, proving the Mets aren't a total collection of corpses.

Manager Jerry Manuel's lineup, whole for the second time this season with the additions of Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Luis Castillo, continues to sputter.

Start with Bay, who is worthy of a seat on the bench after his latest no-show performance. Bay went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a double play on a night rookie Barry Enright made the Mets look silly.

The righty, making his fourth career start, allowed one run on five hits over eight innings. Over the two games with their starting lineup intact, the Mets have scored four runs total. Good thing the D'backs (36-58) are among the laughingstocks of baseball or it could really be ugly for the Mets.

It left R.A. Dickey (6-4) to suffer a third straight defeat in which he pitched reasonably well. The knuckleballer allowed three runs on seven hits over seven innings as the Mets, who lost for the fifth time in six games to start the second half, fell 6½ games behind Atlanta in the NL East.
"I believe this lineup can get it done -- I really do," Manuel said.

Nobody in the lineup is killing the Mets more than Bay, who is batting .189 (10-for-53) in July with only two extra-base hits. His last homer came on June 28, making it 60 at-bats since he last went deep. The Mets have moved him to sixth in the batting order with Beltran's return, but he might be better off going from left field to left out.

The Mets didn't score until eighth, when Josh Thole hit his first major league homer. But Enright (2-2) got back on track and finished the inning. Angel Pagan homered leading off the ninth against D'backs closer Juan Gutierrez, but the righty then retired David Wright, Beltran and Ike Davis to earn the save.

Dickey has allowed three earned runs or fewer in each of his three straight losses. The Mets have scored three runs combined in those three starts.

"It just really thought tonight was an outing where we fought tooth and nail," Dickey said. "We gave our guys a chance to win."

Enright allowed two hits and a walk in the first inning and then didn't allow another base runner until Reyes singled leading off the sixth.
The D'backs rattled Dickey in the fourth, scoring twice to grab a 3-0 lead. Chris Snyder walked with two outs before Gerardo Parra launched an RBI triple over Beltran's head. The pitcher Enright then singled home Parra.

Beltran appeared to get a bad jump on Parra's ball, but said his surgically repaired right knee wasn't a factor.

"As soon as he hit it, I thought I was going to be able to make it," Beltran said. "It just kept going and went over my head."

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"The U" Deleted Scene #5

Every Tuesday until The U DVD release on Tuesday, August 17th, rakontur will be posting exclusive bonus features and deleted scenes that won't be available anywhere else.

The U deleted scene #5 - Jimmy In, Olivadotti Out
When Howard Schnellenberger left UM for the USFL, months after the 'Canes' first ever National Championship win, it was up to new Athletic Director Sam Jankovich to choose his replacement. Although the players and fans overwhelmingly wanted Defensive Coordinator Tom Olivadotti to take over, Jankovich selected Jimmy Johnson, a then unknown coach from Oklahoma State University. At the time, nobody was happy about the decision, especially the assistant coaches.

Click here to view Deleted Scenes #1 and #2., here for Deleted Scene #3 and here for Deleted Scene#4.

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Ed Reed could miss first six games of season

The last time we heard from Ed Reed, he expressed concern that he could miss part of the regular season because of his hip surgery. The Baltimore Sun believes the absence could be substantial.

Jamison Hensley writes the "most likely scenario" surrounding Reed would be for him to be placed on the active/PUP list to open the season, which would knock him out of the first six games.

Keep in mind that this information was presented in a blog post about training camp, not as a breaking news story.  There's a lot of time left before the regular season, and the Ravens will exhaust any chance to have Reed available at some point in September.

For now, there's serious doubt whether the best player in Baltimore's banged-up secondary will make it back to the field before that newsmaking quarterback over in Pittsburgh.

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

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Is Reggie Wayne contemplating a holdout?

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne made it clear earlier this offseason that he was dissatisfied with his current contract, releasing a statement and skipping minicamps and organized team activities.

"I have tremendous respect for Jim Irsay, Bill Polian and the entire Indianapolis Colts organization, but at this time, we are in disagreement concerning my contract situation," Wayne said in a statement his agent e-mailed to National Football Post prior to the Colts' minicamp. "Therefore, I will not be attending this weekend’s mini-camp. I will continue training diligently in Florida, as I have each off-season since my rookie year, to ensure that I am ready to play this season. I hope that a fair resolution can be reached in the not-too-distant future that allows me to achieve my goal of playing my entire career with the Indianapolis Colts.”

Now, Wayne is taking a noncommittal stance toward attending the Colts' upcoming training camp at Anderson University.

During an interview with WISH-TV in Indianapolis at his charity basketball game, Wayne indicated his decision is up in the air.

"We have to see," Wayne said in a video posted on the StampedeBlue.com website. "We're just gonna take it day-by-day. I would love to see Anderson. I've never been there. When that day comes, we'll see what's up."

Wayne told the television station that there have been conversations between the team and his camp.

"We've been talking," Wayne said. "I guess you could say that, but we're just gonna let them do their thing. I'm just going to come and play football. When that phone rings with the good news, I'll be excited."

Colts team president Bill Polian has previously said that no deals will be done for Wayne or defensive end Robert Mathis until the team addresses quarterback Peyton Manning's contract.

"What I told both representatives was that given the current status of both our budget and the labor negotiations, it is not possible to do anything at this point," Polian said. "I recognize that they are both very good players, that they are great guys, that we respect them highly, that we value their contributions, and when it's time to do that, when it's propitious to do that, when it is possible to do it, we will."

Polian predicted that Wayne will report for training camp.

"I don't think he will stay away from training camp because there is a rule this year in the uncapped year that if you do not come in by Aug. 10, you get an extra year tacked onto your contract," Polian said. "So, that is the last thing he wants. He's got two years to run on his contract. So, I presume he will be in."

Polian has also said that the uncertain state of the collective bargaining agreement is a big obstacle toward doing long-term deals.

The Colts did sign safety Antoine Bethea to a new contract this offseason, though.

"We're not in a regular environment, that's the problem," Polian said. "I've spoken to both their agents, and I certainly respect both men and they make a good case. But the problem is we don't have a system, and without a system you don't know where contracts might or might not fit .. It's a jigsaw puzzle, and as one piece fits in then another falls in place and another falls in place.

"So the question is, what are the basic concepts and then where you go from there? What does one piece do to all the other pieces? That's the difficulty. You can't predict that, no one knows what it will be. No one knows until the parties sit down and hammer it out what it will be. And a small, little piece over here could change the whole complexion of things."

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

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Jack McClinton Summer League Stat Wrap

Jack McClinton just wrapped up his NBA Summer League Season with the Chicago Bulls in Las Vegas. The Bulls went 1-4 with two of their losses coming with only a one point differential.

McClinton played in all 5 games averaging 14 minutes per game. McClinton scored a Summer League Season high 12 points in 30 minutes in the Bulls’ first game. Overall he averaged 4.4 points per game while shooting 16% from 3-point land and 100% from the free throw line. Click here to see his full stats.

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Eric Moncur Looks to Make the Eagles

Eric Moncur (6-1, 237, rookie season): When the defensive end position is mentioned, typical fans and analysts tend to think of guys like Cole, Graham, and Parker. When the backups are discussed, names like Tapp and Sapp are immediately brought up. However, few have realized that the determined Moncur is among the Eagles’ competing defensive linemen. Despite dealing with a variety of injuries at the University of Miami and showing a seeming unwillingness to engage blockers at times, the 25-year-old undrafted free agent addition reportedly has a great work ethic and showed signs of success while participating in this offseason’s minicamp sessions. Because of the plethora of other defensive ends, Moncur is just not likely to make the final roster, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be watched in Training Camp as a potential standout.

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Less Weights, More Cardio for Devin Hester

No person of sound mind and body would ever accuse a world-class athlete like Bears receiver Devin Hester of being out of shape, but even world-class athletes get tired in the fourth quarter of a football game.

A former second-round pick, Hester made a name for himself in the NFL as arguably the best return man in league history the first two years of his career, but ever since he started to become a much bigger part of what Chicago does offensively, his effectiveness on special teams has taken a nose dive.

It's possible that Hester didn't have the cardiovascular endurance to play 50 snaps per game on offense and also return punts, so the two-time Pro Bowler changed his routine during the offseason.

"The thing I really did this summer is I cut back on weight training and focused more on conditioning to really get myself an overtime workout," Hester said Sunday in the Chicago Sun-Times. "I've got to be able to play six quarters a game. I want to be able to go the whole game without being fatigued. I felt that I need to put extra time into conditioning because not only am I a receiver but I'm a returner, and I have to be in better shape than the normal guy."

In order to improve as a pass catcher, Hester has enlisted the help of recently-retired four-time Pro Bowler Isaac Bruce, who is likely to end up in the Hall of Fame one day for the things he was able to accomplish in Mike Martz's offense when the two of them were in St. Louis.

"With the speed I have," said Hester, "he said it's going to be hard to stop me. [Bruce] tells me just from training with me that I'm so explosive, and if I can put my fundamentals together I will succeed. So that's basically what I'm doing now, brushing up my technique and trying to polish up everything, and hopefully I can really translate it over to the game."

While Hester had 12 return touchdowns from 2006-07, plus one more in Super Bowl XLI, he has been shut out of the end zone on punts and kickoffs since the 2007 season finale against the Saints.

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

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Jimmy Graham had strong offseason

New Orleans Saints rookie TE Jimmy Graham was very impressive during offseason workouts and the team could find ways to create mismtaches for him by the end of the season, according to Michael Lombardi, of NFL Network.

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Devin Hester talks T.O., Bruce, slot position

Working with hundreds of young football players over the weekend was like a vacation for Devin Hester. Monday, it was back to work.

The Bears receiver hosted football camps at Grant Park and Naperville North High School on Saturday and Sunday, then traveled back home to the Miami area to continue his intense training with now-retired ex-Rams star receiver Isaac Bruce. Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who coached Bruce in St. Louis, hooked Hester up with the four-time Pro Bowl receiver.

The pairing was endorsed by both coach Lovie Smith and receivers coach Darryl Drake, who called Bruce's gesture to mentor Hester a blessing.


"He has shown me things about having a plan,'' Hester said of Bruce. "What I mean about having a plan is being up on the line and having a plan of what coverage you're expecting ... what type of releases off of different presses and the way to run certain routes against different coverages. Basically, what he's helping me on is adjusting to the coverages I'm getting."

Hester and Bruce start their workouts around 9 a.m. at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale -- the same school that produced Bears rookie safety Major Wright. The sessions are three hours and will conclude Wednesday.

Hester's goal is to master the "Z" receiver position in Martz's offense, the same outside receiver spot Bruce perfected. But playing the "Z" doesn't mean Hester will line up outside all the time.

"The way this offense is designed, everybody is going to be put outside and everybody is going to be put inside," he said. "There's really no, 'You're the slot, you're the Y guy.' It depends on the formation.''

Whatever the formation, Jay Cutler is likely to spread the wealth with a group that includes

Hester, Johnny Knox, Devin Aromashodu, Earl Bennett and Juaquin Iglesias, not to mention the tight ends. Five receivers had 45 catches or more in last year's monotonous system, led by tight end Greg Olsen's 60 catches.

There still seems to be doubt about the receiving corps as a whole despite Martz's claim of the receivers being the strength of the team. Drake is sure to have the group well-prepared.

Regardless, rumors persist about the Bears possibly adding veteran help, and Terrell Owens' name always seems to surface.

"If we get him, it's a good thing," Hester said, "but if we don't, I feel comfortable with the guys that we have. We've got a great group of receivers. ... We're really going to step up to the plate."

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Vinny Testaverde surpasses Troy Aikman...in golf

The annual celebrity golf event, the American Century Championships, wrapped up today after three days of play at Tahoe, Nevada. Several former Dallas Cowboys participated in the event, including pro football Hall-of-Famer Troy Aikman. However, it was another Cowboys quarterback leading the way.

Vinny Testaverde finished highest of the former Cowboys, posting a final score of 38 to finish in a tie for 32nd place. Todd Haley, a former Cowboys assistant coach and current head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, was second of the bunch. He finished in a tie for 46th place with a final score of 21.

Troy Aikman and Steve Beuerlein finished in a tie for 51st place, which is fitting, considering the two's history. Aikman, of course, let the Cowboys to three Super Bowl championships in the 1990's. And during the Cowboys second Super Bowl run in 1992, Beuerlein was Aikman's backup. The two finished with a final score of 16.

Former Cowboys linebacker and current head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Jack Del Rio, brought up the back of the pack. He finished in 75th place with a final score of -22.

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Meet your coaches: Alfredo Roberts

The next coach on the list is tight ends coach Alfredo Roberts. Roberts is entering his second season with the Bucs, after spending the 2007-2008 season with the Cleveland Browns. Roberts coached Kellen Winslow while he was in Cleveland and followed him when he was traded to Tampa, and the results have exceeded all expectations for the Bucs.

Winslow was Freeman’s primary target last season, catching 77 passes and 884 yards, both were franchise records. Roberts helps the tight ends with their route running and moving with the ball after the catch, key fundamentals but very important. Along with Winslow, the Bucs have Jerramy Stevens and others that provide depth and some play making ability (with unproven receivers this season again, tight ends will be Freeman’s primary targets).

Roberts also worked with another great tight end while in Jacksonville, Mercedes Lewis, who is becoming a good pass catcher as well (Roberts has proven he is an excellent coach). Roberts continues to work hard with the tight ends as they become one of the primary weapons for Freeman and the West Coast style offense that the Bucs will be shifting more to this season. Roberts is a key member to the coaching staff and his intense coaching will yield great results on the field this season.

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Charlton Jimerson has Contract Purchased by Los Angeles Angels

Bridgeport, Conn. –  Bridgeport Bluefish team officials today announced that outfielder Charlton Jimerson has had his contract purchased by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim organization. The Atlantic League’s June Player of the Month will report to Double-A Arkansas of the Texas League.

“Charlton has worked tremendously hard to get back to this level,” says Bluefish manager Willie Upshaw. “He was an exemplary teammate both on and off the field and we wish him the best of luck.”

Jimerson appeared in 48 games for the Bluefish in 2010, posting a .346 batting average with 10 home runs and 43 RBI in 182 at-bats. He led all Bridgeport batters with a .426 on-base percentage and a .626 slugging percentage. Last year, the former Major Leaguer made his Atlantic League debut as a member of the Newark Bears. He became one of the most dominant hitters in the league and won the league’s batting title by posting a .335 mark. The slugger also recorded 21 home runs, 62 RBI, and 38 stolen bases in 103 games played.

The 30-year-old made his Major League debut with the Houston Astros in 2006 following six successful seasons in the minors. In his first Major League at-bat, the California-native slugged a home run on the first pitch he saw in the big leagues against the Philadelphia Phillies on September 4, 2006. He finished that season with a .333 batting average over 17 games. After being signed by the Seattle Mariners the following year, he would make two more tours in the Majors in 2007 and 2008. Jimerson has appeared in 30 career Major League games and owns a .444 batting average.

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Danny Valencia Coming Up Big

Danny Valencia was 2-for-4 Sunday and is batting .333 in 23 games since being called up from the minors. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is trying to make sure Valencia doesn't get stale on the bench, but he is fighting Nick Punto and Michael Cuddyer for playing time at third base. "I just don't want him to end up on the bench doing absolutely nothing up here,'' Gardenhire said of Valencia.

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Aubrey Huff showing that his reputation for poor defense is undeserved

Huff showing defensive reputation undeserved

Aubrey Huff and his assortment of gloves were kept busy throughout the weekend. Huff started in right field Sunday in the Giants' 4-3 loss to the Mets. It was his second straight game in right after playing left field Thursday and starting at first base Friday.

Huff said he doesn't care where he plays as long as his name is in the lineup. He sees it as a way to prolong his career.

"I like to keep it interesting," Huff joked, before adding that he always played multiple positions growing up. "I get kind of bored playing the same position. That's just the way I'm wired."

Huff came up to the big leagues as a third baseman in 2000 but often was a designated hitter during the first 10 seasons of his career.

"I've always had that DH label, but the guys who write that never played the game," Huff said. "Every new team I come to has me do extra work in spring training because teams believe what they read.

"I've kind of got a chip on my shoulder with the defensive reputation I've gotten."

With the additions of Buster Posey and Pat Burrell, Huff has been on the move for much of the season, starting 48 games at first base, 21 in right field and 18 in left. He has not made an error in the outfield, where he has provided his share of diving catches, including one Saturday night.

"If you can play the infield, you can play outfield. In the outfield, you just read fly balls, it's not that hard," Huff said. "I don't have a cannon, and I'm not going to throw a lot of guys out. I'm not going to track down the balls a lot of guys would, but I'll make the routine play."

Posey had some of his ugliest swings of the season in his first two at-bats but dumped an inside fastball softly into right in the sixth inning to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games. Posey is the third Giants rookie in the San Francisco era to record two separate double-digit hit streaks in one season, joining Orlando Cepeda (1958) and Chili Davis (1982).


Yonder Alonso Heating Up as Bats Enter Second Half

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Cincinnati Reds' prospect and first baseman Yonder Alonso has gotten dialed in at the plate over the past few weeks for the Louisville Bats, hitting .412 with 10 RBIs and three round trippers over his last 12 games before the all-star break. It's no coincidence that during Alonso's recent surge, the Bats steamrolled into the break, winning eight of their last 12 before putting the season on hiatus for the midsummer classic.

As the 2010 campaign's second half begins, Louisville can only hope that the left-handed hitting Alonso continues his torrid pace. The six-foot-two, 210-pounder is currently in the midst of a seven-game hitting streak, just days after putting together a season-best eight-game mark that started on June 25th.

Alonso has been an everyday, middle-of-the-order player for Louisville since being recalled from double-A on May 13th. The former first round draft pick has immediately made his presence felt in Louisville, netting four hits and six RBIs in just his third day with the club during a 12-9 victory over Rochester. In 58 games with the Bats since his call-up, the 23-year-old Alonso has batted third in each game, hitting .268 with six home runs and 34 RBIs, while also registering six stolen bases, which is already more than his career professional total.

Although just halfway through the 2010 campaign, Alonso has already matched nearly all of his hitting totals from a year ago, when he played in just 84 games due to a broken bone in his hand. In 89 games this season between Carolina and Louisville, the former Miami Hurricane has already matched his home run total from last year (9), while his 47 RBIs are closing in on last season's mark of 52. While Alonso has played first base his entire career, he has also netted 16 starts with the Bats this season in left field, only committing one error in his appearances between the corner outfield spot and first base.

Despite only appearing in 84 games during the 2009 season, Alonso played at four different levels within the Reds' organization, starting the year in low-A ball and working his way up to triple-A by the time the Bats began the playoffs. Alonso was a regular with Louisville during their playoff series against Durham, hitting .250 with an RBI and a double in the series. Thanks to a .383 on-base percentage while playing 49 midseason games with Sarasota in high-A ball, Alonso was named a Florida State League all-star in what was his first full pro season.

Alonso's merits haven't stopped since his 2009 all-star appearance, however, as he spent time this past off-season playing in the Arizona Fall League, earning a spot in the Rising Stars showcase after driving in 23 runs in 23 games. Just this week during Major League Baseball's all-star festivities in Anaheim, Alonso played in the XM Futures Game, which touted some of baseball's finest young prospects. Alonso, a native Cuban who came to America at age 10, played the entire game at first base for the World Team, going 1-for-4.

Alonso was selected in the first round of the 2008 draft as the seventh overall pick after playing three years at Miami (FL), making one appearance in the College World Series. In his final season with the 'Canes, Alonso hit .367, driving in 71 runs while hitting 23 round trippers.
It remains to be seen how Alonso will fit in to the big picture with the Reds, especially if the team re-signs Joey Votto. What is clear, however, is that Alonso will continue to gain valuable experience this season at the highest level of the minors, most likely playing every day and giving Louisville an anchor in the middle of their batting order.

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Kelly Jennings could regain starting job in Seattle

The winds of change continue to blow on Seattle's secondary. Following in the footsteps of 15-year veteran Lawyer Milloy, who raised a lot of eyebrows when he emerged earlier this offseason as the starting strong safety over Jordan Babineaux, it appears former first-rounder Kelly Jennings could be closing in on Josh Wilson for the starting RCB job. "They really like the way he was playing," one team source said of Jennings. "They really like Josh, too, but as good as he did after becoming a starter, he still slid inside to defend the slot, which he does very well and would continue to do. Kelly just went through a terrible period last year where he completely lost his confidence before bouncing back somewhat." We're told another factor behind Jennings possibly starting is that it would enable Wilson to go back to returning kickoffs full time — a role he likely wouldn't fill if he remained the starting right corner.

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Devin Hester learning from ex-Rams great Bruce

Devin Hester has been preparing for this all-important Bears season by spending more and more time with former Rams great Isaac Bruce.

It turns out that Hester and the ex-Rams great have a lot in common. They both play the "X" receiver position in offensive coordinator Mike Martz's offense and they both live in South Florida.

"I asked coach Martz if I could get in touch with Isaac since he was down there already and we hooked up and the guy is amazing," Hester said Sunday after approximately 200 kids participated in his football camp at Naperville North High School. "He's one of those guys who takes the time and has fun doing it. He has a passion for it. He takes time out of every day to work with me and spend time with me. It's been a big help in my life."

Hester said that Bruce, who went to four Pro Bowls with the Rams while running Martz's system, is helping him refine his skills as a receiver while he works to get in what he hopes will be the best shape of his career. Hester is hoping that de-emphasizing weight training and running more will help him excel as both a No. 1 receiver and a returner.

"The thing I really did this summer is I cut back on weight training and focused more on conditioning to really get myself an overtime workout," Hester said. "I've got to be able to play six quarters a game. I want to be able to go the whole game without being fatigued.

"I felt that I need to put extra time into conditioning because not only am I a receiver but I'm a returner and I have to be in better shape than the normal guy."

Bruce has been teaching Hester how to run better routes and some of the other finer points of playing the position.

"With the speed I have, he said it's going to be hard to stop me." Hester said. "He tells me, just from training with me, that I'm so explosive and if I can put my fundamentals together I will succeed. So that's basically what I'm doing now, brushing up my technique and trying to polish up everything and hopefully I can really translate it over to the game."

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

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Patriots find new face in Vince Wilfork

On the surface, the centerpiece of the interactive game the Patriots [team stats] launched on their website yesterday, the player the team has placed at the forefront of the promotion with their young fans, is a mammoth nose tackle.

No, Vince Wilfork [stats] doesn’t play the rock star quarterback role like Tom Brady [stats]. He isn’t a ridiculously talented wide receiver like Randy Moss.

He’s an in-the-trenches, get rough, get dirty, smack-you-in-the-mouth defensive lineman who has evolved into one of the primary faces of the franchise, if not the face.

Sound a little odd? It shouldn’t. There really isn’t a better man for the job.

He’s joined the ranks of Tedy Bruschi [stats] and Troy Brown [stats] as the Pats signature player because of how he’s carried himself on and off the field. The Pats wouldn’t be comfortable using just anybody for the “Help Vince” campaign, a promotional game fans play on their smartphones and receive clues on patriots.com to help Wilfork find his “stolen” Super Bowl ring. They want someone who is well respected, who is plugged in to the Internet and has a keen connection with the fans.

Big Vince meets all those criteria.

“All my career, I’ve tried to separate myself from the average defensive lineman. I always try to separate myself on and off the field,” Wilfork said by phone from his Florida home yesterday. “I think the toughest part is separating myself off the field. It’s easy to be a running back or a quarterback or a receiver or a defensive back or a linebacker and get a lot of face time and a bunch of marketing deals or whatever it may be.
“When you’re in the trenches, it’s tougher, because we’re not seen all the time . . . but why can’t it be something different? Anybody can pick a quarterback or someone in a skill position and put their face on it. Why not go a different route. After all, at the end of the day, it all starts up front (on the field). It starts with the hogs up front.”

Wilfork has watched and learned from some of the best in the game, players he wanted to emulate both for how they approached their jobs and represented the jerseys they wore. He’s followed along the same path, between earning individual honors (Pro Bowl, All-Pro), and capturing the ultimate team award (Super Bowl).

Wilfork has stated from Day 1 his intention of being a Patriot for life, and while his recent contract negotiation had some sticky points, it never got ugly a la Logan Mankins [stats]. It reached an amicable conclusion, with the nose tackle signing a five-year extension. With that type of security, it’s easier to achieve cornerstone status, which is what he has on defense while Brady maintains that cache with the offense.

“I’ve played with a bunch of guys over the years, Tedy Bruschi, Rodney (Harrison), (Richard) Seymour, Willie McGinest, (Mike) Vrabel, all these guys were leaders on and off the field,” Wilfork said. “When you talk Patriot football, those are the guys’ names that pop up and always stand out. When you walk through the halls, and see all the pictures, you’ve seen tons of pictures of these guys because they built the organization from the ground up because they went through the tough times.

“They created something that’s very rare with all those Super Bowl runs. And I learned from all those guys. And I want to try to set myself up like those guys,” Wilfork added. “All those guys are real good guys off the field, not only on the field, but off the field, too. They taught me a bunch of stuff, and you just carry that over. You try to move forward with that, because at the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, I want to go down as a Patriot, and being one of the Patriots who people say played the game how it was supposed to be played, and also did really well by the community. I always looked at those guys, and got inspiration from those guys.”

Wilfork also credited his wife Bianca with helping create his image off the field, one that has been built on charitable endeavors. The couple hosts an annual draft day fund-raiser to support the Diabetes Research Institute. Wilfork is also an active member of the Mass. Mentoring partnership.

“Now, it’s to the point, everything has hatched,” Wilfork said. “We’re looking at some things now where we laid the foundation years ago. Now it’s all starting to bloom.”

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

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Rookie Jason Fox prepared to be a patient pro with Lions

Allen Park -- Jason Fox is trying to get used to the fact that he's at the bottom of the offensive line totem pole.

Fox, Detroit's fourth-round pick out of Miami, was working with the third and fourth units this spring and during minicamp. And that's an unusual position for the tackle to be facing.

Fox started as a freshman in college and eventually totaled 47 career starts. Among Miami offensive linemen, only Mike Sullivan (1987-90) and Richard Mercier (1995-96, 1998-99) totaled more, with 48.

The only other Miami players with more starts at any position are safety Ed Reed (48, 1998-2001) and defensive tackle William Joseph (50, 1999-2002).

"They've told me that throughout training camp I'll get reps at both sides," Fox said. "I'm just trying to do whatever I can to help this team. If they want me to play special teams, if they want me to play on the right side, if they want me to play left tackle, I'm going to do whatever it takes to help contribute."

Either way, the Lions are happy to have a young lineman they can mold.

"You need young offensive lineman to develop in your program," Lions offensive line coach George Yarno said. "Jeff (Backus) is almost 33 years old and he's played a lot of football. He's not going to play forever, so somebody that can step in eventually and take his spot when he's done playing -- you've got to groom those guys. You can't just pull one out of your hat."

The Lions have three lineman -- Backus, center Dominic Raiola and tackle Jon Jansen -- with at least 10 years experience.

Fox (6-foot-6, 314 pounds) is being groomed to eventually start at left tackle.

"We have so many guys in that room that have been around this league for a long time and they know what they are talking about," Fox said. "I'm in their hip pocket every time they turn around, asking them questions."

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Jon Beason changes his tune on T.O.

During a recent live chat on NFL.com, Pro Bowl linebacker Jon Beason told question-askers that "there's no way [Terrell Owens] could be a Panther," while noting that the controversial free agent receiver "has been a distraction in the locker room."

Beason is now apologizing, and he's changing his tune.

"I have to apologize for my comments regarding T.O.," Beason tweeted Friday afternoon.  "I personally would want him on our team in Carolina.  He's been a great WR for a long time and will without a doubt be a hall of famer. . . .  He'd be a great addition opposite Steve Smith."

Beason's new politically correct stance on a potential Owens signing in Carolina may simply be an attempt to save face in case the unlikely marriage happens.  Or possibly Beason has received an impassioned plea from his agent -- who also happens to be T.O.'s agent -- to clean up the mess.

It's the second time in less than a year that Beason has had to reel in comments he has publicly made about another player.  During the 2009 season, he called out former Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers, who in Beason's assessment wasn't giving his all.  Presumably after Peppers put all of his foot into Beason's rear end, Beason backtracked.

Click here to order Jon Beason’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Reggie Wayne wants to get to camp on time

Reggie Wayne was at Conseco Fieldhouse to play basketball Saturday evening, but he took a moment to talk football. Indianapolis Colts players report to training camp at Anderson University two weeks from today and Wayne's timely arrival is an open question.

"I want to be there on time but we're just going to do our part and let them do all the negotiations," the Colts' four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver said before the Amp Harris & Reggie Wayne "Saving Our Youth" Celebrity Basketball Game. "We done talked a little bit but it's just talk. That was it."

Wayne is dissatisfied with his contract, a six-year, $39 million deal that has two years to run with base salaries of $5.47 million this season and $5.95 million in 2011. He did not participate in the club's offseason voluntary organized team activities or mandatory minicamp.

That doesn't mean he won't play this season -- even if he doesn't get a new contract.

"I play football. That's what I do," he said. "I love the game. It goes deeper than contract talks; I like doing this. I ain't getting any younger and football is my passion."

So are splashy entrances.

In 2006, Wayne reported to training camp wearing former Colts teammate Edgerrin James' Arizona Cardinals jersey. In 2007, he wore military camouflage and last year he showed up in a dump truck, hardhat on his head, lunchbox in hand and announced the Colts were "under construction for the Super Bowl."

"I've always got something planned," Wayne said. "Hopefully everything falls into place and I end up at Anderson on time."

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

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John Salmons making about average

The free-agent signings of John Salmons and Drew Gooden should help the Milwaukee Bucks stay competitive in the Eastern Conference next season after the team surprised NBA observers with a dramatic, 12-game improvement in the 2009-'10 season.

Bucks general manager John Hammond made it a priority to re-sign Salmons, who made such a huge contribution to the team's playoff push in the last two months of the season.

Now that more players are signing long-term contracts, a closer look reveals the Bucks signed Salmons and Gooden to deals near the norm for those positions.

According to league sources, Salmons received guaranteed money of more than $33 million over his five-year deal. And Salmons could earn well in excess of that number with non-guaranteed money in the fifth year of the contract.

Salmons will be paid in the $8 million range in the first year of the deal, after he opted out of the final year of a contract that would have paid him $5.8 million next season.

Skiles said Salmons' calm demeanor was important to the Bucks' success, in addition to his ability to sink clutch shots and get to the free throw line.

"When John and Jeff (Weltman) started talking with Chicago (before the trade deadline last season), one thing that stood out is he is serious," Skiles said of Salmons. "Now a lot of players are serious, but John is a true professional. We needed that then, and we need it now. That's why we made this type of commitment to him."

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Scavolini Pesaro signs Guillermo Díaz

Scavolini Pesaro has signed Guillermo Díaz to a one-year contract. The 25-year-old Puerto Rican guard is back to Italy after ending last season in his country for the Capitanes de Arecibo. Previously, Díaz played for Angelico Biella from January to April, averaging 7.7 points and 2.0 assists per game in just three games.

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Forward James Jones to re-sign with Heat

Free agent forward James Jones said Sunday he has agreed to rejoin the Heat, giving the team another skilled perimeter shooter.

The Heat bought out the last three years of Jones' contract on June 30, but Jones said he always thought there was a possibility he would return.

Jones will earn the $1 million veteran's minimum this season, combined with the $1.5 million buyout sum he is owed for the upcoming season. Jones passed up more money elsewhere. San Antonio reportedly was interested in giving him part of its $6 million mid-level exception.

``I still feel I have unfinished business here,'' said Jones, who played limited minutes last season. ``The opportunity to win a championship was too much to pass up. Hopefully, the minutes will be there and I will make teams pay.''

Jones said he was given no assurances about playing time and will accept his role regardless. With Jones, center Jamaal Magloire and point guard Carlos Arroyo all expected to be re-signed, the Heat will have 13 players under contract. That group includes Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, rookie Dexter Pittman, Joel Anthony and Mario Chalmers. Free agent Juwan Howard is also expected to sign.

That would leave the Heat with two open roster spots that would leave them below the NBA's maximum of 15.

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Gaby Sanchez has two hits in win over Nats

Gaby Sanchez was 2-for-4 with an RBI double in a win over the Nationals on Sunday afternoon.

Sanchez drove in the only run of the game with his fifth inning double off starter Craig Stammen. It was his first RBI since July 2. With a .302 batting average to go along with a .367 on-base percentage, he has been pleasant surprise for the Fish this season, although his nine homers and 39 RBI leaves him outside of consideration in mixed leagues at the moment.

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Chris Perez notches save with Wood on DL

Chris Perez pitched a scoreless ninth inning to notch his eighth save of the season in the first game of a doubleheader against the Tigers on Saturday afternoon.

Perez walked one and struck out one in the scoreless frame. The 25-year-old right-hander should get the majority of the save opportunities now that Kerry Wood is on the disabled list with a blister on his right index finger. Remember, there's a chance that Wood will be traded before the August 31 waiver deadline, so Perez should be safely tucked away in all formats.

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Yonder Alonso Waits His Turn

A Louisville Bat slugger might be buying a ticket out of town, and to the big leagues soon...

Pat Doney tells us it may not be with the Reds.

It's been said that "Patience and fortitude can conquer all things." Bats' 1st baseman Yonder Alonso possesses both of those things... And now, is just waiting for a shot to conquer.

Yonder Alonso is listed as the #45 prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America magazine, and was a first round pick in the 2008 MLB draft.  He said his number one accomplishment in life, is being the first person in his family to go to college at the University of Miami.

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Jon Jay making case to stick with Cardinals

ST. LOUIS -- With Cardinals outfielder Ryan Ludwick likely to come off the disabled list before the start of August, manager Tony La Russa will be faced with the difficult decision of which player Ludwick will replace on the active roster.

The decision is difficult, because one of the easiest players to move -- a rookie with plenty of Minor League options left -- is demanding by the virtue of his play to stay with the club in a playoff hunt. Jon Jay has been on a hitting tear for his short Major League career, and the versatile outfielder has been building a strong case for a permanent roster spot with his limited playing time.

Jay entered Saturday tied for the longest hitting streak in the National League at 12 and was batting .386 with a .403 on-base percentage and .614 slugging percentage in 74 plate appearances.

Clearly the numbers suggest Jay should spend more time with the Cardinals, but does Jay think so?

"Maybe, maybe not," Jay said. "You just never know, and that is the attitude I have no matter what. Even if they told me, it doesn't matter to me. I am going to go in every day like it is my last day here."

It hasn't been just the big leagues where Jay has been scorching the ball on a consistent basis. In 42 Minor League games at Triple-A Memphis this season, Jay hit .321 with a .394 on-base percentage and .491 slugging percentage. Jay also stole 13 bases and chipped in 32 RBIs.

The power numbers are a recent development for Jay -- a .491 slugging mark is by far the highest of any year -- but the lefty just attributes the surge to growing into his body and swing.

"It helps to have confidence knowing that my swing is where I want it," he said. "I just try to keep it going. I just have to stick with my approach and keep doing the things I have done my whole life to be successful."

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