Cadillac Williams blown up by Jon Beason

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

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Sinorice Moss: Executive Produce & Actor of his First Short Film

Check out this excellent short film where proCane Sinorice Moss is not only the Executive Producer, but also is an actor in the film. Congrats Sinorice! Great work!

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Tavares Gooden Waiting For a Second Opinion

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Tavares Gooden is awaiting a second medical opinion on his dislocated left shoulder from Dr. John Uribe, a Coral Gables, Fla., orthopedic specialist.

According to a league source, Gooden is out at least four to six weeks with the injury.

It's unclear if surgery will be required to repair the damage.

"I got to wait on John Uribe to get all the information back to me and go from there," said Gooden, whose left arm is still in a sling. "By the end of the week, I should know everything."

Gooden was hurt in the second quarter of the Ravens' 15-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, landing awkwardly on his shoulder while covering a punt.

"I fell to the ground," Gooden said. "I hit the ground funny. I was sliding around a little bit. It was real painful."

Gooden said he's not sure what the nature of his injury is yet even though coach John Harbaugh already declared that he dislocated his shoulder.

"I'm not even sure what it is yet," he said. "The films are sent down to Coral Gables for Uribe to look at them. I don't have an accurate time for how long it's going to take. I need to get with my agent and discuss it and see what exactly is going on so I know how to prepare."

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

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Vinny Testaverde back under center with Jesuit

TAMPA --  The 1986 Heisman Trophy winner, Vinny Testaverde was one of the best quarterbacks to ever put on a jersey for the Miami Hurricanes.

His professional career led him across the league, starting right here in Tampa with the Buccaneers.

But instead of returning to his home state of New York, Testaverde made his home here in Tampa with his family.

With his son starting high school at Jesuit this fall, Vinny Testaverde began entertaining the thought of getting out on the football field again, this time as a coach.

With the Tigers under a completely new coaching staff  led by James Harrell, the expectations were lowered. But when coach Harrell received the news of Testaverde's interest of coaching, there was a beam of light.

The time commitment worked out perfectly, and Testaverde is giving guidance on offense and working 1-on-1 with the quarterbacks. His involvement with the team has allowed coach Harrell to focus on his strong suit, the defense.

Click here to order Vinny Testaverde’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Mangini praises leadership of Ravens LB Ray Lewis

Browns head coach Eric Mangini on Thursday spoke highly of the leadership of Ravens MLB Ray Lewis, still playing at a high level in his 15th NFL season.

“I like that term 'force-multiplier,' " said Mangini, a quality-control coach/offensive assistant on the Ravens' coaching staff who said he was in the draft room when Baltimore selected Lewis. "He just makes people around him better. He’s really good, he’s really good at what he does, and he forces, not in a negative way, but he makes people want to play better. He makes people want to push themselves because he is constantly pushing himself to be as good as he can be.

"When you have arguably your best player with that type of work ethic, it affects everybody. I think all the great ones have that quality, where there’s never a sense of complacency."

The Browns visit the Ravens on Sunday.

Click here to order Ray Lewis’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Clinton Portis: No problem with Redskins' running game

Washington ranks last in the NFL with 107 net rushing yards and a 53.5-yard average. The team is tied for 27th in average per rush at 2.7.
But to hear top back Clinton Portis tell it, there's nothing wrong with the Redskins' running game.

"I wouldn't say the running game is struggling. I just don't think we attempted to use it much" through the first two games, Portis said. "We used the running game sparingly. It's hard to get started."

During the season-opening victory over Dallas, Washington gained 89 yards on 23 rushes. Portis had 18 carries for 63 yards. The statistics weren't great, but the Redskins at least had some production from that part of their offense.

In Week 2 against the Houston Texans, however, the Redskins were limited to 18 yards on 17 rushes -- a 1.1-yard average. Portis led the way with 33 yards on 13 carries.

"I think it's just got to get started, man," Portis said. "I don't think we really put forth the effort to get the running game involved. You look at the two games we've played, we've used it sparingly. Our passing game was on point against Houston. We stuck with it."

With the offensive line already in a state of flux, the team is preparing for the possibility of being without left tackle Trent Williams this week against the St. Louis Rams at St. Louis. The impressive rookie suffered knee and toe injuries in the loss to Houston, "and not having Trent just hurt the team period," Portis said. "When we drafted Trent, we expected him to come in here and do great things.

"In these six games [four in the preseason] that you had an opportunity to see the glances at Trent, you see it's something special with him. Hopefully, he can get on the field. If not, I think Stephon [Heyer] capable of picking up the slack. He gonna have to pick up the slack. The guys around him just got to elevate their play. All of us got to elevate our play to carryover 'til we get Trent back."

The Redskins on Tuesday released two-time Pro Bowl running back Larry Johnson and elevated undrafted rookie Keiland Williams to the No. 2 position. The timing of Johnson's release surprised many players, Portis among them.

"It was shocking to me, but this a business," Portis said. "You'll be surprised just because of seeing the work that L.J. put in in the offseason, and the dedication that they had to him. All of a sudden? Like I said - it's a business. Not much surprise me when it come to that."

Williams has made a favorable early impression, Portis said.

"I think he picking it [the offense] up," he said. "Being able to go in and pass protect and pick up his reads. ... When you can come in and pass protect, you give yourself opportunities."

The Redskins opened training camp with three Pro Bowl backs on the roster: Portis, Johnson and Willie Parker. In addition to Williams, young back Ryan Torain is on the practice squad, and Portis believes the team has quality depth at the position.

"I'm comfortable. I'm comfortable with myself," he said. "For everybody else, I think those guys are great guys. I think Keiland and Ryan are great guys. At the same time, it's different. When you had L.J. and Willie, those are proven guys.

"Now, having Leyland and Ryan ... it's just opportunity. I think everybody can play football. It's just a matter of picking up the blitz, knowing your assignment and getting it done."

Click here to order Clinton Portis’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Team Wilfork

Play is an elastic concept, most vividly so in the summer sunshine. The families sit on the hill. The children duck in and out of the little white tent, or they roll down the hill, down to where the ropes are stretched to keep ordinary citizens off the fields on which the New England Patriots sweat and strain and get ready for another football season. The children holler and laugh. The men holler and grunt. The children are playing. The men are preparing to play. The definition of the word here seems bounded on one end by the heedless, reckless momentum of youth, and on the other by the grinding, stubborn momentum of maturity. The idea of play seems somehow to fill the entire space in between.

The families sit on the hill, and, other than the players, they are the only people whose presence at training camp seems to make sense. Why any simple fan would spend hours in the glaring, calcined sun watching football players run drills remains a mystery. (Football is the only one of the three major American sports where, if you watch practice, you will not see the actual game in question.) Perhaps the payoff comes at the end, when several players work the ropes surrounding the field, signing autographs on footballs, jerseys, plaster casts, hats, and even the occasional piece of paper. The children of the families take this as their cue to come tumbling down the hill again, this time rolling under the ropes and onto the edges of the field, greeting their fathers in a rush.

Seven-year-old Destiny Wilfork has found her father’s practice jersey, which, as football players are wont to do, he has removed as a single unit with his shoulder pads. Destiny’s head finds its way up through the jersey and just past the shoulder pads. She looks as though she’s fallen partway into a well. Her father is not entirely pleased. Vince Wilfork is an immense man – 6 feet 2 inches tall and 325 pounds. As the team’s nose tackle, he is required to maintain this kind of mass. If he doesn’t, some offensive lineman will conspire with Sir Isaac Newton to blast Wilfork off the line of scrimmage and into unemployment. Or worse. At this moment, though, looking at his daughter as she appears to be drowning in his work clothes, he puts on the kind of exasperated dad face that has been a staple of sitcom fathers from Ward Cleaver to Al Bundy. Nearby, his wife, Bianca, begins to laugh.

Married since 2004, they have been together for nine years now, first at the University of Miami and now here with the New England Patriots, which drafted Vince prior to the 2004 season. In every sense, they are a team within the team. Vince’s job is to play football. Bianca’s job is to make sure that playing football remains Vince’s only job. She has had to be strong enough to involve herself in all the extraneous details of a professional athlete’s life – from contract talks and endorsement deals to medical issues and charity endeavors. It is Bianca who reads and assimilates the letters that come home from the National Football League Players Association, warning of a possible lockout next season, and it is she who monitors the increasing amount of medical evidence that playing professional football can be an extraordinarily unhealthy business. She has to be strong enough to do all that. Vince has to be strong enough to let her.

“I can honestly say, what Vince does, it’s unusual for anybody,” Bianca says from the kitchen of the large house the Wilforks own on a woodsy cul-de-sac not far from Vince’s place of business in Foxborough. This afternoon the living room is bare because the new furniture they ordered has yet to arrive. “It works for us. If it ain’t broke, we’re not going to try and fix it,” she says. “It takes a lot of strength and courage to allow someone else to take control of the steering wheel. A weak person can’t do that. They can’t transfer the ride. I’m sure his teammates, they talk a little smack about it, but they better not let me hear about it. To put things into perspective, at the end of the day, it’s me and him, and that’s what it’s going to be, even after the kids are gone.”

“That’s my backbone there,” Vince says of Bianca. “She allows me to play and to concentrate on football, and that takes a lot of the stress off me. She handles all that stuff. Any paperwork I get, it goes straight to her. It goes back to when I was in college. She understands me, and I understand her. I know I’m in good hands with Allstate with her. The one thing we try not to do is to compare ourselves with other people. It works for me, and I’m not going to change it.”

They could not be more different. Bianca is a peppery burst of a person. In everything she says, there are at least three words in italics. Vince talks slower, with more than a trace of a Florida drawl, and he seems the more natural storyteller. You have to let him unwind his words at his own pace. She is three years older than he is, and from the start of their relationship, she has been the caretaker of the two of them. Almost on the fly, she has learned to navigate the economics of professional sports as well as the myriad details of what can be a very odd way of life.

“I’ve learned everything, and pretty much every day you learn more as you go,” she says. “I just kind of fell into my role. That’s just kind of the way I am. Like, when agents came around when Vince was turning pro, I would have an interview with an agent and I’d let him go through his whole thing, and then, at the end, I would have Agent A teach me something, whether it was about escalator clauses or not-likely-to-be-earned incentives or splits in the contract in case you get hurt. By the time I got to Agents C, D, and E, they were screwed. Once they know you know what you’re talking about, it changes the whole playing field.

“I work real hard at not being surprised. If I’m surprised, then something’s going on. If I’m surprised, then that means I missed something, and I’m trying not to miss anything.”

Last winter, when Vince was negotiating his new five-year, $40 million contract with the Patriots (making him the highest-paid nose tackle in the NFL), Bianca stayed in close touch with Kennard McGuire, Vince’s agent. On March 5, when the deal was done, she and Vince used Twitter to tell fans they were “pleased to say that we will be here for many more years to come … C ya in foxboro soon.” The negotiations were remarkable in that they were free of the kind of animosity that has marked negotiations between the team and some of its other players – star offensive lineman Logan Mankins, for one, may sit out the entire season in an intractable contract dispute.

“I come in and I tell you what I need to know, and then I back away and you guys duke it out,” Bianca says of her part in the negotiations between Vince’s agent and the team. “It just took a little longer than we expected.”

For both Wilfork and the Patriots, the deal looks even better now than it did then. Wilfork is satisfied, and, with Ty Warren lost for the season with a hip injury, the Patriots are facing the year with Wilfork as the defensive line’s only truly experienced star.

Though there is no more macho universe in the world than professional sports, Bianca’s involvement in Vince’s career is not unprecedented. College recruiters in pursuit of athletes more often than not find themselves dealing with mothers and grandmothers. Colleen Howe, the wife of hockey legend Gordie Howe, was her husband’s agent. But Bianca is obviously something more than an adviser. In almost every sense of the word, for the past nine years Bianca has been the caretaker – of Vince, his career, and their life together, which now includes three children: Destiny and her two brothers, D’Aundre, 12, and 1-year-old David. And while many, if not most, athletes’ wives take on this job at some level or another, few couples have struck the bargain that the Wilforks have: that is, an athlete strong enough to hand over control of so many aspects of his professional life, and a wife savvy enough to make it work. “I guess it’s what I’m here for,” she says. “It’s a gift and a curse. It’s in you or it’s not. I don’t know how I get in these positions, but I do. I think I have a sign somewhere that I can’t turn off.”

* * *
They met modern. They met cute. They met online before they ever met in person.

By the time they met, Vince Wilfork had already become something of a star, at least within the exploding nebula of hype that is high school football in Florida. Big and round and robust, he nonetheless was so athletic that he played on both the offensive and defensive lines at Santaluces High School in Lantana. They let him run the ball in goal-line situations, which consisted mainly of people trying to get out of his way. They even let him punt a little. In 1999, after his senior season, Vince was named one of the state’s three top defensive linemen. At the same time, there was a gravity to his life that only a few people knew about.

David Wilfork, Vince’s father, worked a parks and recreation job around Lantana. He and his blue van were fixtures at every game that Vince and his brother, David, played. The elder Wilfork even ferried their teammates home after the games and practices. The father took his two sons fishing, and their mother, Barbara, cooked what the three of them brought home. However, even then, Vince’s father was being ravaged by diabetes. As he got older, he had a hip replacement and he couldn’t walk. His sons would carry him around the house and bathe him and do what they could to take some of the burden off their mother. Vince, who was something of a homebody anyway, became even more serious about his life than he had been. In 2000, the University of Miami offered him a football scholarship.

By the fall of 2001, Bianca, then 23, had a son, D’Aundre, from a previous relationship, and the two were living with her father and stepmother in Homestead, Florida, and she was working two jobs. Her father, Angel Farinas, was a Cuban emigre who had come to the United States with his mother, his brother, and his grandmother. He worked construction jobs all over the country, building roads and bridges, and even spelunking in pipes to repair sewer systems. He met Bianca’s mother on a job in Pennsylvania; they split when Bianca was around 10. Angel had a rule about his grown children living in his house: If they didn’t want to pay him rent, they had to have a job. So Bianca began working at age 16 and went to school to become a manicurist. Later, Bianca and her stepmother started B&M Freight Service, an export-import firm, and Bianca learned a dizzying array of skills to keep up with the demands of the business.

“People in the Bahamas, they buy things here, and vice versa,” she says. “Shoes, perishables, pharmaceuticals from Italy, all of those things had to clear customs at a US port. I had to know about custom regulations. I had to take hazmat classes.” At the same time, across town, and somewhat more prosaically, she was also working a full shift as the manager of a Taco Bell. Bianca and Vince were both growing, at different speeds and with different family imperatives, when they finally met in Vince’s second semester at Miami.

To get in touch with friends from back home in Gainesville, Bianca registered at, a sort of rudimentary Facebook social-networking site. “He kind of saw my picture there and he sent me a little e-mail,” she explains. “He didn’t have any pictures, and he lied. He said he weighed 250. He hasn’t been 250 since he was born, right? All my friends had pictures on there, and I would never respond to people I didn’t know, even if they were on the cute side, let alone someone who didn’t have a picture. He left a simple, plain message – ‘My name is Vince. Call me.’ I don’t know why in hell I called him. We’ve been together ever since.”

Not necessarily in the same room, however. They talked on the phone for two months, and they didn’t meet until well into the beginning of the football season that fall, when Bianca came for a visit. “Yeah, it took us a while to see each other in person,” Vince says. “We hit it off right away.”

Within six months, they were living together, off-campus, something that Vince’s father knew but that his mother did not. Bianca was three years older than Vince, and she already had a 3-year-old son. None of this was likely to please Barbara. “At the time,” Bianca says, “I called him a mama’s boy. To put it nicely, he had a fear of her.” Meanwhile, Vince was learning to be a father himself. “That was something that was totally new to me,” he says. “I mean, I’m 20 years old at the time and I’m a father figure to this little man. Bianca taught me a lot. I got better and better.”

“D’Aundre would always say, ‘OK, Vince. What are we going to do today?’ ” Bianca recalls. “That was the let’s-see-if-this-guy’s-for-real thing. We talked on that phone for two months, and then, when I finally went to see him, Santonio Thomas, one of Vince’s teammates, walked by, and he asked me, ‘Hey, where’s D’Aundre?’ That kind of sealed the deal for me. The first thing his friend did was ask about my kid. So I knew Vince had been talking about him.”

From the start, it was Bianca who kept track of Vince’s academics, reminding him of tests and of when papers and other assignments were due. They were recognized as a team almost from the start. At the same time, she kept him away from most of the off-field distractions inherent in college football. At this time, Miami was coming out of a decade in which “The U” functioned as college football’s equivalent of the last days of the Roman Empire, as voracious for the night life off the field as it was for the excellence on it. Settled into what was essentially an instant family, and with Bianca’s guidance, Vince managed to avoid the more raucous diversions that had become characteristic of the program.

“They were a great team together,” says Randy Shannon, the head coach at Miami who was Vince’s defensive assistant during Wilfork’s time with the Hurricanes. “She was always on top of him, never let him get lazy or lax. She made sure of that, and we kept in contact.”

In May 2002, the day before his mother’s birthday, Vince got a call from home. His father’s kidneys had failed, and David Wilfork was dead at 48. Vince was devastated. Bianca went with him to help with the funeral arrangements. “I felt out of place,” she admits. This was the first time she’d ever met Vince’s mother, and Bianca and Barbara had some things to talk over.

“By that time, she had found out about us,” Bianca says. “She didn’t approve of him not being on campus. She didn’t approve of him being with someone who was older. She didn’t approve of him being with someone having a child already. So I kind of laid it out there. I basically said: If you want him to live on campus, that’s fine. When he goes and hangs out with the other guys and they’re at strip clubs and they’re partying and they’re coming to practice the next day with alcohol leaking out of their pores, he’ll be doing the same thing. In the meantime, he has a 3.4 GPA, and when his teachers have a problem or he has a paper due, they call me, and that’s been from Day One. Because I have a child, I have to set that example for my son, so there’s no BSing going on in my house, especially concerning education.”

Bianca and Barbara quickly reached a modus vivendi. Not long after Vince’s father died, he and Bianca were preparing for the birth of their first child together, a daughter they would name Destiny. Everyone was happy. But six months after his father’s death, they got another call from his home. Barbara had suffered a stroke. She died later in the hospital. “Tell you the truth,” Bianca says, “I think she died of loneliness.” Vince was utterly bereft. Miami was preparing to play Ohio State in that year’s Fiesta Bowl. Vince told the coaches that he wasn’t going to make the trip, that he was done with football.

“You got to understand, I didn’t have anything after that,” he says, emotion still draped like a shroud on every word. “My father passed the day before my mother’s birthday. Six months later, my mama passed. Both parents are going out of my life. Bianca’s pregnant with Destiny. I got nobody to call. I had a lot of stuff to go through. Mentally, it was tough.

“Football? When my mama passed, I told them I wasn’t going to play. I was going to give up football.”

But he didn’t. Two conversations changed the direction of his life. Vince sat down with Greg Mark, his defensive-line coach. All season, Vince and his teammates had seen Mark disappear early from practice. “He shared something with me that day,” Vince recalls. “All that year, he’d come to work every day and then he’d head to the hospital, where his wife was. She ended up passing that year. I never knew what it was until he told me.” And then he talked to Bianca, and she told him that if he quit, all the work his parents had done for him and all the work he’d done for himself would go to waste. Vince bridled at that, but he decided to play. Then he and Bianca arranged for his mother’s funeral. This time, she was ready.

“How do you bury your mom?” she asks today. “When his dad died, me and her and his brother and Vince sat there, making the funeral arrangements for their dad. So I was able to come in and do it for her, because I had seen her do it only six months earlier.”

If you want to see the rock on which was built and secured the lives together of Vince and Bianca Wilfork, look to those six months – two parents dead, a period of almost gratuitous heartbreak. “Too long a sacrifice,” says W.B. Yeats, “can make a stone of the heart.” That is not entirely true. Share the sacrifice, and you get something stronger than stone, and warmer, too.

* * *
Every year, the Wilforks host a party on the occasion of the NFL’s annual draft. Proceeds go to the Diabetes Research Institute at Vince’s alma mater and to the Joslin Diabetes Center here, through the Vince Wilfork Foundation. This is the great charitable cause of their lives, and it’s a mortal one for 28-year-old Vince, who saw his father die before 50 from complications of the disease, and whose weight, while absolutely necessary for his current job, may be an invitation to the disease in later life. To that end, three years ago Bianca helped devise an off-season diet and workout plan aimed at improving Vince’s nutrition while maintaining his weight. She conducted regular weigh-ins, and she set up three workouts a day, the first one before dawn. “We stay on top of that [diabetes],” she explains. “His parents died when they were 48 and 46. That’s reality. Our goal is that, once he’s finished with football, he will not be that size. Now, he needs that mass or they’re going to kick his ass. Once football ends, that’s a whole nother ballgame.”

Beyond the personal, the Wilforks have worked tirelessly to raise money for research into the disease. “They truly are a team to themselves,” says Michael Sullivan, a senior vice president at the Joslin Center. “This past winter, I was hosting a golf tournament near his hometown and I was flying home, and there are Vince and Bianca. Bianca came over and she said, ‘You were here for a golf tournament? You know Vince would love to be a part of that next winter.’

“She’s a businesswoman at heart. You could see it in that conversation. She’s attuned to business, gets back to you fast, and you always get a direct answer.”

The day at training camp is winding down. Baked and groggy, players file off in one direction and spectators wander off in another. They are together now, Vince and Bianca Wilfork, their children bustling around their feet as the crowd along the ropes begins to thin. This whole scene is about playing, in one sense or another, and the hard work that is involved in playing a game for a living, and for a life. Whatever it is, it’s anything but simple.

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

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Yonder Alonso Starts

Yonder Alonso made his first start as big leaguer.

Alonso has had 15 at-bats since his call-up, 13 as a pinch-hitter.

"I know my role," Alonso said. "It's pinch-hitting, or playing when Joey is out. I'm trying to do as much as I can."

Alonso says, despite the lack of playing time, it's been a good experience.

"This is the best league in the world," he said. "I've talked to all the guys about the game. Everybody gives me their advice. I've learned a lot about how to go about things, my routine."

Baker likes what he's seen of Alonso.

"He's aggressive," Baker said. "He's very confident. He's not up there to take (pitches). That's a good start. There's a few things that need to be corrected in time. I think he'll make the adjustment."

But Alonso is stuck behind Votto. The Reds tried him in the outfield at Triple-A but his lack of speed is a problem. He plans to work toward becoming more versatile in the offseason.

"I'm going to get in the best shape I can," he said. "They haven't talked to me about what is going to happen in the offseason. I'm going to take groundballs at first, third and take a lot flyballs in the outfield.

"Hopefully, I can come in and show them I can play wherever they need me to play."

Alonso is not planning to play winter ball so he can concentrate on working out.

"It's going to be good," he said. "I'm going to have four or five months to get ready. That's something I've never had."

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Is Gaby Sanchez the NL Rookie of the Year?

In a season stacked with talented rookies, Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez might end up being the best rookie who doesn’t win the NL Rookie of the Year award.

But Sanchez is definitely making one final push — even if he won’t talk about the award.

“I think he should get it,’’ teammate Logan Morrison said, endorsing Sanchez for the top-rookie award after Sanchez went 3-for-4 with 3 RBI in a 5-2 win over the Mets. (Read game story here.)

Sanchez broke a 2-2 tie in the eighth inning with a long three-run home run to left field.

“He hasn’t been on the DL. He has been doing it all year and he has been a mainstay in this lineup he has been driving in runs and getting on base,” Morrison said. “It couldn’t go to anybody more deserving than him.’’

Sanchez leads all NL rookies with 81 RBI and is second among NL rookies with 19 home runs. He leads NL rookies with 150 hits, 58 extra base hits and 242 total bases.

But he faces stiff competition from players like Atlanta’s Jason Heyward, San Francisco’s Buster Posey and St. Louis’ Jaime Garcia, to name a few. All of those rookies, and many others, play in larger media markets.

“A tremendous season for Gaby,’’ manager Edwin Rodriguez said. “Sometimes we forget that he’s a rookie. He’s been very, very consistent.’’
Sanchez said he doesn’t want to think about the award until the season ends.

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NFL U Week 2 Photos

Check out photos from Week 2 of the 2010 NFL U season of all of our proCanes. Click here or above on the proCanes Gallery link.

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Comments Sports Minute: Week 2

Hey! Each NFL week we will be doing a Sports Minute Update on the Canes4Life Show which airs every Saturday morning on CBS 4 at 11:30am. If you’re in the Miami area, you can head over to Harrison’s Sports Grill (1674 S Red Rd Miami, FL 33155) this Thursday Night at 6pm and watch the Hurricanes take on the Pitt Panthers followed by the live taping of the show where you’ll be able to hear former Hurricanes’ opinion on the current state of Miami Football and also meet those former players after the taping. Each week we will be posting our Video update on the site. Though a little delayed this week, we still wanted our fans to check it out!

Thanks for watching!

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Andre Johnson AFC Offensive Player of the Week

For the second consecutive week, a Texans player has been honored as the AFC Offensive Player of the Week.

Receiver Andre Johnson, who caught 12 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown in the 30-27 overtime victory at Washington, won the award this week. Running back Arian Foster won it last week.

This is only the second time in his eight-year career that Johnson has won the award. The other time was in 2006.

The award could easily have gone to quarterback Matt Schaub, who threw for a career-high 497 yards and three touchdowns against the Redskins.

Johnson participated in the team’s walk-through before practice on Wednesday and should be doing a little bit more on Thursday, according to Nick Scurfield of the team’s official site (via Twitter). Johnson told Scurfeld that he “felt pretty good today.”

Click here to order Andre Johnson’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Roscoe Parrish Is Now The Bills' No. 2 Receiver

Trent Edwards isn't the only Buffalo Bills player to get benched this week. Though he'll continue to see significant playing time as the team's third receiver, Steve Johnson told's Mark Ludwiczak on Wednesday that he'd be coming off the bench in favor of Roscoe Parrish.

This change may have actually occurred during last week's loss to Green Bay, when Parrish was lined up across from Lee Evans when the Bills used two-receiver formations. As Johnson further explained, he'll continue to see reps on the outside in multi-receiver formations, allowing Parrish to move back to the slot.

Both receivers were at least partially responsible for interceptions in Week 2. An Edwards pass glanced off of Johnson's hands in the middle of the field, and the tipped ball was intercepted. Parrish had the ball wrestled out of his arms for another Packers interception.

Parrish, however, is the only Bills player to have posted a gain of over 20 yards on an offensive play this year, as he's done it twice. On the year, he has four catches for 69 yards and a touchdown. He's already eclipsed his numbers from 2009 (three catches, 34 yards). Johnson, meanwhile, has six catches for 71 yards in the same time frame.

Click here to order Roscoe Parrish’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Bills release injured Dajleon Farr

The Bills announced Tuesday that TE DajLeon Farr has been released from practice squad/injured. Farr is doing his rehab on his ankle in Miami right now and will look to sign with another team once his rehab is complete.

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Where Does Clinton Portis Ranking in NFL and Redskins History?

Click here to read a great article and to see awesome photos of Clinton Portis from the new Redskin online magazine: “Hail.” It’s free to subscribe to the magazine, and whether you’re a Redskins fan or not, it has great info on the NFL and also proCanes!

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Jimmy Graham Gets His First Action of The Season

Rookie tight end Jimmy Graham made his debut in the regular offense on a second-and-1 play on the Saints' second series. The Saints went with their "heavy" personnel - three tight ends, one receiver, one back - to convert the first down on a short run by Thomas. Graham also played special teams and played in a goal-line package in the 4th quarter.

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Andre Johnson could give Dallas Cowboys a lot to handle

Size : 6-3, 223
Position: Wide receiver
Season : 8th
College : Miami

Strengths: Johnson has prototypical size, speed and strength, making him the most physically gifted receiver in the NFL. He ran a 4.35-second 40-yard dash and had a 35-inch vertical jump when he was tested coming out of college. As he showed Sunday in out-jumping Washington Redskins safety Reed Doughty in the end zone, Johnson has the ability to get to the ball at its highest point. He also has great hands and is a good route runner. He can run all the routes and will make the tough catch in traffic. He finished fourth in receptions of 20-plus yards last season with 20. Johnson is a physical player, and he buys separation because of that.

Weaknesses : Johnson has a sprained ankle that makes him day-to-day this week. He has had some injuries in his career, having missed 10 games. Johnson could make better use of head and shoulder fakes. He occasionally has had timing issues with his quarterback during his career.

Last week : Johnson caught 12 passes for 158 yards and had a clutch fourth-down, fourth-quarter touchdown over Redskins safety Reed Doughty to tie the score. Houston rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat Washington 30-27 in overtime.

Who has to stop him? The Cowboys have had Terence Newman shadow Carolina's Steve Smith in the past. But generally, Newman and Mike Jenkins remain on their respective sides -- Jenkins on the right and Newman on the left -- with Orlando Scandrick covering the slot. The Texans will line up Johnson everywhere. Jenkins injured his knee against the Chicago Bears, but coach Wade Phillips said Monday he expects Jenkins to practice this week and start Sunday.

Notable: Johnson was the No. 3 overall pick in 2003.... In 26 career games against NFC teams, Johnson has caught 176 passes for 2,453 yards and 17 touchdowns. ... Texans receivers led the NFL in fewest dropped passes last season, according to STATS, Inc. They dropped 20 of 409 catchable passes. That 4.8 percent led the New Orleans Saints' 5.3.... Johnson is trying to become the first receiver in history to reach 1,500 yards in three consecutive seasons.... Since the merger in 1970, Johnson is tied with Marvin Harrison with 14 games of at least 10 catches and 100 yards. Jerry Rice had 15.

Click here to order Andre Johnson’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Phillip Buchanon shrugs off Hall's comments, praises Bradford

Earlier this week, DeAngelo Hall caused a stir with remarks claiming that he would be on the opposition's primary receiver for the duration of the season.

"From now on, I'm going wherever the [expletive] ball is going to be." Hall said Monday.

During Wednesday's open locker room session at Redskins Park, Hall's secondary-mate, Phillip Buchanon dismissed Hall's remarks.

"D-Hall was pissed, just like me," Buchanon said. When asked if he was bothered by Hall's comments, Buchanon said, "I was bothered by the loss. Houston's a good team, and they made the plays. It's over with."

Turning his attention to this week's opponent, the St. Louis Rams, Buchanon was full of praise for rookie quarterback Sam Bradford. "Disguising [our coverages] would help, because he's still learning," he said. " But he's going to be a very good quarterback. His recognition and his presence in the pocket are impressive."

Bradford completed 14 of 25 passes for 167 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in the Rams' 16-14 loss to the Oakland Raiders last week. The loss dropped the Rams to 0-2 on the season.

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

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Deion claims Bears spoiled buddy Devin Hester

Some know-nothing scribe, who was probably at home sniffing tub-and-tile cleaner, wrote that the Bears should consider letting someone other than Devin Hester return punts.



That was me.

My point was this: The guy has looked lost back there for the past two seasons and looked lost against against the Cowboys. I think it has become a mental block and maybe he should be given a break just like a slumping hitter gets a day off in baseball. Here's the link:

Deion Sanders doesn't agree. The NFL Network analyst considers Hester like a little brother and had this to say on the "Waddle and Silvy Show" (AM-1000) when asked whether the Bears ruined Hester as a returner.

"No. I think they spoiled him," Sanders said. "You did a great job, the player personnel guy did a great job his first couple years with those guys.

The team had so much depth that those guys that wasn't starters were great special teams players with the ability to be a starter. Now you don't have that type of depth."

Sanders went on to say that he believes offensive coordinator Mike Martz is using Hester correctly.

"There's not too many cornerbacks in the league that can run with Devin," he said. Secondly, if you decide not to bump him and you back off and you give him space, you saw that in the game in Dallas last week where he caught a simple little speed out and had space and he went to work on it. Then if you bump him if you miss him on the jam the next sound you're going to hear is the band.

"I think Martz will warm up to him, understand how to get him the ball, and the key component for the Bears right now is not Devin Hester but your quarterback. I mean, Jay Cutler, we were ready to stone him last year. He was a little shaky in the first game but he has warmed up. He is balling now. He's is flat-out balling and I'm proud of him and I [attribute] that to offense of Mike Martz."

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

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Auburn may buy Bernie Kosar's property

Auburn Township trustees are considering an effort to purchase part of a commercial parcel, owned by former Cleveland Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar, when it comes up for sheriff's sale for delinquent taxes.

Kosar is listed as the primary owner of 38 acres of commercially zoned property around the interchange of Routes 44 and 422.

He purchased the land in 1991 with plans to develop it, but has failed to pay taxes on the 10 vacant parcels, appraised at slightly more than $1 million, since 2005, according to the Geauga County Auditor's website.

Auburn trustees said they would be interested in obtaining a portion of one 10-acre, L-shaped parcel, which fronts on Route 44 but runs behind the township's existing Shadyside Cemetery on Washington Street.

The portion is mostly flat, but slopes into a dry ravine toward the back of the property, overlooking Route 422, according to Trustee P.J. Cavanagh.

"It would be the least complicated way for us to add onto our existing cemetery, and the best way to take care of that need far into the future," Cavanagh said Monday night.

Under Ohio law, townships are mandated to maintain cemeteries, but the state also has made it next to impossible to construct new graveyards, the trustee said. Auburn's two main cemeteries are not completely full, but trustees would like to plan for the community's future needs.

"We may need (an expansion) within the next 10 to 15 years," Trustee Chairman John Eberly said.

"How often does this kind of opportunity happen, with a sheriff's sale?" Trustee Mike Troyan added. "This might be affordable."

Trustees said they would not be interested in buying all 10 properties, or even the entire parcel adjacent to the cemetery, because even in a sheriff's sale, the cost would likely be more than the township could afford.

Eberly said he would like to look into swapping part of the parcel for township-owned land on the other side of Route 44.

He added that Assistant County Prosecutor Bridey Matheny indicated such a trade might be feasible, but that she recommended that trustees designate one of them to look into the possibility.

Eberly said another option would be to approach whoever purchases the property and offer to buy the small section adjoining the cemetery.

According to the Geauga County Auditor's website, the 10 parcels add up to 38.13 acres and are appraised at $1,003,400.

The owner is listed as Auburn LaDue LLC, with Bernard J. Kosar Jr. listed as primary owner. Kosar's mailing address is listed as a post office box in Nashport, Ohio.

County Auditor Frank Gliha confirmed Tuesday that the property is in foreclosure for back taxes, but said no date has been determined yet for the sheriff's sale.

"It's in the beginning stages of foreclosure that just started in July," Gliha said. "It's going to be a while before it goes to auction."

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Twins' Danny Valencia finds his power stroke

Twins rookie third baseman Danny Valencia, hitting .424 at Target Field this season and .332 overall, builds a one-inch knob with black tape on the handle of his bats, then leaves his left pinky off and below the handle with his grip.

"Is that the secret?" he was asked.

"Luck is the secret," he said.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said hard work is the secret. Valencia, who turned 26 on Sunday, performed well in spring training.

"He had a really good spring, but we sent him out early because it was a roster thing, and he wasn't going to make our team out of spring training," Gardenhire said. "We wanted to get a good look at him. Once he got going during the year, we expected him to go down (to the minor leagues) and drive the ball and get up here."

But, Gardenhire said, Valencia didn't drive the ball at Class AAA Rochester.

"Not at all," he said. "Look at his power numbers — he didn't have any. And that's the one thing that kind of stood out down there — he wasn't driving the ball. He was hitting all right."

In 49 games and 185 at-bats at Rochester, Valencia had 15 doubles but no triples or home runs. He hit .292.

In 75 games and 259 at-bats with the Twins, Valencia has 17 doubles, one triple and five homers.

"Once he got up here, and (hitting coach Joe) Vavra got a hold of him, and he watched some of these other hitters, he started using his legs a little better and got his balance a little better, and the ball’s starting to come off his bat like we saw from him a couple of years ago." Gardenhire said.

A couple of years ago, Gardenhire predicted Valencia someday would hit a lot of home runs.

"I believe that," Gardenhire said. "I believe this kid's got a chance to be a home run hitter. He has the balance and the strength and the bat speed to be a home run hitter."

Gardenhire said Valencia also had to improve his defense at third base.

"And he has — he has worked really hard at it," he said. "His defense has been fantastic."

At the end of last season, Gardenhire was told by the Twins' front office that Valencia was not ready to come to the big leagues.

"He's ready now," Gardenhire said.

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Catching up with Ken Dorsey for 5 Minutes had the opportunity to catch up with Ken Dorsey last weekend after his Toronto Argonauts walkthrough practice before their game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Check out our quick 5 minute conversation with Dorsey, but also stay tuned in the coming weeks for our full in-depth “Tracking proCanes” feature with Dorsey.

proCanes: So we heard you had to wear an Ohio State Jersey for a couple of days this past week, talk about that.
Ken Dorsey: I lost a bet, and us Miami Hurricanes are men of our word, so I had to do what I had to do. But, I’m not going to say whether that jersey got used as a diaper for my newborn or not. That’s beside the fact. [Laugher]

pC: Who’d you lose the bet to?
KD: Rob Murphy. If we had won he would have been wearing some Miami garb.

pC: You didn’t head down to the game did you?
KD: No, I wish I could have. We were actually playing BC [British Columbia Lions] so I didn’t even get to watch the game.

pC: What did you think of the game? Did you watch the replay?
KD: I saw some of it, I didn’t get to see a lot of it, but obviously the turnovers hurt. It’s hard to beat solid teams like that with turnovers. I think that is more than anything what it came down to. They’ve got a good team, and we’ve got a good team, so that’s what happens.

pC: So you’re here in the CFL, and you’ve made it well-known that eventually you’d like to get into coaching. Would you say this move was made more-so to further your coaching career?
KD: I’d say it’s a little bit of both. It was a great opportunity to come up here and still get a chance to play and still be in football. Obviously it’s a different style of football than I have ever been in, and a lot of it is spread offense. To be able to learn that kind of offense is huge for me. Now I’ve got a pretty good understanding of the spread offense, and how to incorporate that style of offense to a more traditional offense.

pC: Because the CFL game is so different, you still think despite the difference it can translate to the college or NFL game.
KD: For sure, definitely. They’ve been running spread offense up here for years. The CFL is probably more of the inventor of that offense more than anybody else. It definitely translates, obviously it is different with the motions and the extra guy on the field and stuff like that, but there are definitely things you can take from this and take down there or coach up here. That’s not out of the realm possibility up here for me. It’s a blast up here. It’s been a great opportunity to learn about a different style of football.

pC: You’re almost like a 2nd offensive coordinator since you’re not the starting QB, talk about that.
KD: I get to help out coach with the game-plan and just basically being an extra coach on the staff. Up here you’re definitely short handed. There’s definitely not an overabundance of coaches like you have in the NFL. It’s a great opportunity not just to help, but also do something, and be a part of game-planning and have actual coaching responsibilities that I have to get done during the week. It’s a great thing for me to kind of learn, one, how to coach and two, the different things you have to do in terms of break downs of the game tape, or just doing cards on the defense you have to see the next day, to actually trying to scheme two-minute [drill] or third down [plays] or whatever it may be. All that has been kind of what I have been doing in terms of coaching here.

pC: Congrats to having a newborn. Is the whole family up here?
KD: Thank you. Yes the whole family is up here, we all travel together wherever we go. It’s hard to be away from family so it’s nice.

pC: From what I heard you did miss the birth of your latest child.
KD: Yea, well let’s see. My wife had the baby in Indianapolis where her sister lives. She stayed with her sister, so I flew out from here, to there, and just missed it, but stayed there a couple of days and then flew directly to Edmonton for our [next] game. It worked out well, unfortunately I missed it, but I still got there.

pC: There aren’t many proCanes in the league, but you do get to see a few.
KD: I saw Sherko [Haji-Rasouli] last week, which was cool. There are a few of us like Joe McGrath and Anthony Reddick. I get to see a couple of guys which is good, and they’re all doing well, they’re doing real well in this league

pC: Thanks Ken and we’ll be in touch.
KD: Thank you!

Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we will have our full Q&A feature with Ken Dorsey and see what he has to say about his UM days, days in the NFL, current state of the UM program and more!

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Santana Moss Looks To Be in Sync with McNabb

The Redskins have a running game; it’s now done by a receiver. Those short passes to Moss sustain drives. He would have broken one of those smoke routes for a long run had Joey Galloway gotten his block. Moss’ quickness makes him a threat in this role. I’d like to see him get downfield a little more, but that might have to wait until the ground game gets going. Another play I loved: Moss threw a nice crackback block on a linebacker to open up a Portis run to the outside.

Moss has 16 receptions through the first two games, but is averaging just 10.4 yards per reception, according to With the running game struggling, the short pass has helped sustain drives.

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

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Damione Lewis Visits Rams

Defensive tackle Damione Lewis, a first-round draft pick by the St. Louis Rams in 2001 who spent much of his career with Carolina, was among eight street free agents who visited Rams Park on Tuesday for workouts and/or phsyicals.

The list included running back Kevin Jones, a former first-round pick of the Detroit Lions; Yamon Figurs, who opened this season's as Oakland's kickoff returner; and wide receiver Reggie Brown.

Also visiting were LB Eric Alexander, CB Cletis Gordon, DT Dre Moore and DT Jimmy Saddler. None of the players were signed.

Click here to order Damione Lewis’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Rashad Butler Likely Starter at LT for Texans

Texans left tackle Duane Brown has joined outside linebacker Brian Cushing on the NFL’s suspended list.

Brown was suspended for four games today for violating the league’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs. His suspension comes at a bad time because the unbeaten Texans are hosting the Dallas Cowboys and outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware, one of the NFL’s premier pass rushers.

Brown will be replaced by Rashad Butler. Butler’s role as the swing tackle behind Brown and right tackle Eric Winston will be taken by Ephraim Salaam, who will be signed for his third tour of duty with the Texans.

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Sam Shields Taking Control of Nickel Spot

Shields has taken control of the nickel corner job. He split time with Tramon Williams against Buffalo, and together they held Bills WR Lee Evans to zero receptions. He also had a key stop on 3rd-and-6 at the end of the first half.

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Tavares Gooden Out 4 to 6 Weeks

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Tavares Gooden has suffered a dislocated left shoulder and is out four to six weeks, according to a league source with knowledge of the situation.

That's the initial diagnosis following Monday's magnetic resonance imaging exam.

Gooden injured his shoulder during the second quarter of a 15-10 loss Sunday to the Cincinnati Bengals while covering a punt.

“I just landed funny,” Gooden said. “It’s a little shoulder deal. Right now, I don’t know what it is. I’m just praying. That’s all I can do.”

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

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Shawnbrey McNeal Signed to Falcons Practice Squad

The Falcons placed RB Jerious Norwood on injured reserve Tuesday with a torn ACL

Norwood, a fifth-year veteran, suffered the injury in the Falcons' Week Two victory against the Cardinals. The Falcons' top backup to Michael Turner injured his knee after returning the opening kickoff 34 yards and was carted off the field.

Norwood played in 10 games with four starts in 2009 and had 252 yards rushing and 186 yards and a TD receiving. The Falcons signed RB Gartrell Johnson III to the active roster and RB Shawnbrey McNeal to the practice squad. They terminated the practice squad contract of LB Bear Woods.

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Andre Johnson Expected To Play vs Cowboys

Coach Gary Kubiak found out Monday he'll have his best player, receiver Andre Johnson, available against the Cowboys. The MRI on Johnson's right ankle showed a mild sprain.

"We feel better about it today than we did coming out of the game," Kubiak said about Johnson, who had 12 catches for 158 yards and a touchdown Sunday. "He'll be day-to-day as we head into the weekend."

Expect Johnson to play against the Cowboys.

Click here to order Andre Johnson’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Would Bears consider relieving Hester of punt return duty?

With an extra day to prepare for Monday night's meeting with the Packers, there are sure to be some new wrinkles from the Bears.

It will be interesting to see if one of them involves a change of pace in the return game. Devin Hester hasn't hit his stride and the Bears have several options for special teams coordinator Dave Toub to consider.

Hester has gained 12 yards on six returns through the first two games, and he lost five yards on a return in the fourth quarter Sunday at Dallas that backed the Bears up on their own 9-yard line.

The record setter from his first two seasons in the league has gone 30 games without a special teams touchdown, a span that includes 62 punt returns. Consider that he had seven touchdowns on the first 89 punt returns of his career and you can see that much has changed, including the blockers around him. He has had two punt returns of more than 25 yards — 33 and 32 last season — since a 64-yard touchdown in the 2007 season finale against the Saints at Soldier Field.

There has been this recurring idea floated that the team should remove the 27-year-old from receiver duties and let him focus on being a return man, but that's simply never going to happen. In fact, maybe the Bears will do the opposite. Letting him share punt return chores with someone else might make more sense now.

Toub worked to prepare Johnny Knox as a potential punt returner in the offseason although he didn't get any tries in exhibitions. The more logical choice would be Earl Bennett, who is listed as the backup. He had a 49-yard return for a touchdown last season at Baltimore and returned from a hamstring injury to play on offense at Dallas. Cornerback D.J. Moore and receiver Rashied Davis are also options.

Hester averaged 7.8 yards on 24 returns last season. There were several where he was one block away from going the distance and just one would have pushed his average to double-digits. Then no one would have complained he had lost his mojo. The Packers have been solid covering punts through two games but were among the worst in the NFL at it last season.

The good news is the Bears are sixth in the league in kickoff returns, averaging 25.8 yards.


49ers' Frank Gore on New Orleans Saints: 'They can't stand up with us'

The San Francisco 49ers were close against the defending Super Bowl champions on Monday night, but four turnovers and a defense that gave up a 51-yard drive in the final minute led to a 25-22 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Monday night.

"We whupped their behind up and down the field," he said. "They can't stand up with us. And we beat ourselves for the second week in a row. We've got to change that."

Gore did his part, rushing for a game-high 112 yards on 20 carries with one touchdown, a 7-yard run that put the 49ers in position to tie the score with a two-point conversion.

But Drew Brees and company needed only 1:19 to stage a game-winning drive, capped by Garrett Hartley's 37-yard field goal.
Yet Gore still didn't want to credit the winners.

"You watched the game tonight. What'd they do? Nothing. They didn't do anything. We beat ourselves," he said.

Click here to order Frank Gore’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Clinton Portis says his statements were "the truth"

Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis Tuesday stood behind his controversial comments about female reporters in men's locker rooms, saying in a radio interview that his previous remarks were "the truth."

Toward the end of his weekly appearance on 106.7 The Fan's "The Mike Wise Show with Holden Kushner," Kushner shared his personal feelings on the controversy and asked Portis whether he had put the situation behind him. In last week's interview, Portis made statements that prompted a rebuke from the NFL and action by the Redskins. Portis spoke with head coach Mike Shanahan about his remarks and issued a statement of apology through the team.

On Tuesday, Portis painted himself as a victim in the situation and was not contrite.

"I think people going always have negativity, man," Portis said. "People wish me ... when people don't wish you the best, there's always something that they gonna find. You know? I think everything that come out of my mouth is the truth. Whether people like it or not, it's always the truth. With the comments that I made that you didn't agree to, they were true. And some people can't stand the truth, and some people do. At the same time that you know me, if you know my sense of humor, you know the way I talk, you know you getting the truth, and you getting the humorous side of me."

Portis had this to say about his previous statements that female reporters would likely "look at 53 men's packages" in NFL locker rooms:

"I don't think it's that serious," Portis said. "I think there's more to life, ah, going on that you can complain about and make the topic of discussion or point out and have and all the talk shows ... besides the stuff that I say out of my mouth. So for the people who don't understand, I'm never throwing anybody under the bus or I'm never bashing anybody. I think I tell the truth. I speak from the heart and it's up to you to assess it. If you really don't want to hear me talk, then you can always tune out of this station or tune out of my interview.

"If you see me come across, just turn the TV off or turn the radio off. You don't have to listen. I think every day is going to be topic for headlines that, somehow, some way, they gonna take my quote and put it into a context that I didn't say it in. I think if people would have listened to that whole interview, they would have seen I didn't say anything about the woman reporter and I never ... I just was speaking in general about reporters in the locker room. So, I mean, that's over and done with. And for myself, I just won't comment on matters that I don't know anything about. And I'm going to continue to mind my business and go on about my day and not lose any sleep. And when I get with my teammates laugh about what I want to laugh about and take the criticism that I'm gonna take. ... I've been a topic of criticism since I've been here, so I'll be all right."

Click here to order Clinton Portis’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Antrel Rolle questions Giants' leadership after blowout loss to Colts

In an interview on WFAN this afternoon, Giants safety Antrel Rolle vented about plenty of things, including the game plan against the Colts, his teammates’ energy, his own energy and even the logistics of the team’s schedule for a road trip.

All of the above were criticisms he either couched or ones that were outright questionable. But there was one topic on which Rolle was very clear and very critical without hedging his bets. It was about the lack of leadership in the Giants’ locker room. It came in response to a question about whether the team will be lackadaisical this Sunday against the Titans.

“That definitely shouldn’t be the case,” Rolle said before looking back at the loss to Indy by saying, “I saw some things I wasn’t too fond of in that locker room. I felt like there was no one that stepped up to the plate when the opportunity presented itself.”

All summer long, we talked about Justin Tuck being the leader the team has been lacking since the loss of Antonio Pierce midway through last season. Tuck said the coaching staff and a few of his current and former teammates (Michael Strahan being one) have spoken with him about becoming more of a vocal leader.

Rolle didn’t mention Tuck by name, nor did he point out any other teammate. But he clearly identified some players in his own mind as leaders who didn’t speak up.

“I don’t take anything away from any player. I love my teammates, my teammates are great, they’re warriors,” Rolle said. “But I felt like, in a situation like that, something should have been done to a higher extent. I don’t feel like there was enough done at all taking place in that game, especially a game of that magnitude.”

Rolle, who in March signed a five-year, $37-million deal as a free agent, also pointed toward the coaching staff as not providing any direction.
“I definitely see things. I see little things here and there, and it’s not all with the players,” he said. “There are a lot of other things that go on behind closed doors that a lot of people don’t know about. It’s not all about the players sometimes. Things have to change.

“If you want a winning team that has a competitive attitude and to have that dog mentality, sometimes you have to let that team be a dog. Everything can’t be controlled and right now everything is controlled within this organization, everything is controlled.”

* * * *
Unfortunately, the above is where the interview ended. There were no follow-up questions about what specifically needs to change, what’s going on behind closed doors, why the “dog” isn’t being unleashed or what’s being controlled that shouldn’t be controlled. Those questions will certainly be asked of Rolle later this week.

However, earlier in the interview, Rolle indicated he wasn’t too fond of the way the Giants handle the schedule for a road night game. He believes the team arrived too early in Indianapolis (about 3 p.m., he said) for a game the following night and that there was too much sitting around at the hotel and the stadium.

“I just felt like we had too much down time doing nothing and just relaxing,” Rolle said. “I really felt like that carried over to the game.”

To which I present this point: under Tom Coughlin, the Giants are 7-7 in road night games. Not a bad record at all. And frankly, the NFC Championship game in Green Bay, which kicked off at 6:30 p.m., was pretty much a night game as well. So make that 8-7.

And the Super Bowl was also played at night, though the team was there for a week, so I’m not sure that counts. But if you want to include it, go ahead and make that record 9-7. After all, it shows the coach’s ability to handle the logistics of a difficult road schedule. And heck, if that’s the case, why not toss in the London game against the Dolphins, which was also played in the early evening? So make it 10-7, then.

In short, a lot of the “controlled” stuff that Coughlin does that drives the players nuts is also what makes them a competitive team. So I don’t put too much stock into their arriving four hours earlier than Rolle would like. Not at all. And getting to the stadium early should be a good thing; I know I get cabin fever when I sit in a hotel room the day of a night game … and I’m not even playing.

2:12 p.m. UPDATE I originally counted victories over the Falcons in 2006 and 2007 both as night games. Just realized the one in '06 was a 1 p.m. game. The records above have been adjusted to reflect that change. Sorry about that. Still impressive numbers for Coughlin's teams.

* * * *
As for Rolle’s other concerns about the team, he noted his issues with the game plan. But at the same time, he said the coaches still put the players in position to make plays. It sounded like standard frustration about a plan and the execution of said plan that didn’t work.

And Rolle certainly isn’t the first one to criticize the plan. As I noted a little while ago, the decisions to dress only two DTs and play the safeties up high the entire first half were both questionable.

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

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Gaby Sanchez making case for Rookie of the Year

Rookie rocking: Gaby Sanchez padded his resume for Rookie of the Year with his game-winning three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning. It was Sanchez's 19th home run and upped his RBI total to 81, which leads all rookies.

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proCanes Stats From Week 2 of the 2010 NFL U Season

Andre Johnson (Texans): 13 catches 158 yards, 1TD

Darryl Sharpton (Texans): Played but did not record any stats

Vince Wilfork (Patriots):
4 tackles, 3 solo tackles

Brandon Meriweather (Patriots): 1 solo tackle

Jeremy Shockey (Saints): 3 catches 35 yards

Jonathan Vilma (Saints): 10 tackles, 7 solo tackles, 1 Forced Fumble

Santana Moss (Redskins): 10 catches 89 yards

Clinton Portis (Redskins): 13 carries 33 yards, 2TDs,

Rocky McIntosh (Redskins): 14 tackles, 5 solo tackles

Calais Campbell (Cardinals): 5 solo tackles

Antrel Rolle (Giants): 8 tackles, 7 solo tackles

Kelly Jennings (Seahawks): 5 solo tackles

Frank Gore (49ers): 20 carries 112 yards, 1 TD, 7 catches 56 yards, 1 TD

Kellen Winslow (Buccanneers): 4 catches for 83 yards

Roscoe Parrish (Bills): 2 catches for 34 yards, 3 punt returns for 30 yards

Greg Olsen (Bears): 1 catch, 39 yards, 1TD

Devin Hester (Bears): 4 catches, 77 yards, 1TD, 1 punt return for -5 yards

Willis McGahee (Ravens): 3 carries 10 yards

Ray Lewis (Ravens): 10 tackles, 6 solo tackles, 1 sack


Tavares Gooden (Ravens): 2 tackles, 1 solo tackle

DJ Williams (Broncos): 4 tackles, 3 solo tackles

Sinorice Moss (Giants): DID NOT PLAY on IR Will miss the entire 2010 Season

Bruce Johnson (Giants): Played but did not record any stats

Kenny Phillips (Giants): 6 tackles, 4 solo tackles

Reggie Wayne (Colts): 7 catches for 96 yards, 1TD

Jon Beason (Panthers): 9 tackles, 6 solo tackles, 1 tackles for a loss

Phillip Buchanon (Redskins): 3 tackles, 2 solo tackles, 1 pass deflection

Antonio Dixon (Eagles): Played but did not record any stats

Sam Shields (Packers): 2 solo tackles

Randy Phillips (Lions): 2 solo tackles

Jimmy Graham (Saints): Played but did not record any stats

Leon Williams (Cowboys): 1 tackle

Spencer Adkins (Falcons): DID NOT PLAY, INACTIVE

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Bryant McKinnie Reacts to Vikings Loss

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MRI confirms Andre Johnson's sprain is 'mild'

An MRI showed Monday morning that Andre Johnson has only a "mild right ankle sprain," and he is considered day to day.

Coach Gary Kubiak indicated that Johnson was feeling much better Monday than he did Sunday night. The Texans figure to scale back A.J.'s practice reps to make sure he's 100 percent against Dallas. Look for Johnson to start.

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Willis McGahee still available in trade

On Sunday's NFL Countdown show, ESPN's Adam Schefter hinted that the Ravens are still offering Willis McGahee to "anyone" for a draft pick.

Schefter made the statement while talking about the Packers' possible pursuit of Marshawn Lynch. He did not say how high of a pick the Ravens are seeking, but the Super Bowl contending Ravens likely wouldn't give away an elite backup for nothing. It's unclear if the Packers see McGahee as a fallback option for Lynch, or if they would rather simply stick with Brandon Jackson.

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Texans WR Andre Johnson Picks Up 600th Career Reception

Earlier in the Texans-Redskins game, Andre Johnson crossed the 8,000 yard threshold for his career. Then he injured his ankle and left the game, only to return a short while later. Just in time, it turns out, to pick up his 600th career catch on a 29-yard pass across the middle from Matt Schaub. Five plays later, Johnson picked up No. 601, which he'll probably consider more important, because it was a game-tying 34-yard touchdown pass from Schaub.

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Kellen Winslow guarantees he'll be ready

Kellen Winslow continued to downplay the pain in his knee after catching four balls for 83 yards in Week 2.

Winslow, who has had six procedures on his right knee, isn't going to practice much this year, if at all. But he doesn't think that matters, and we tend to agree. "Nobody cares about practice. ... I'll be ready every Sunday." Owners will have to check the inactives every Sunday morning to be sure, but Winslow remains a low-end TE1.

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Tavares Gooden to get MRI today

CINCINNATI—Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Tavares Gooden(notes) suffered a left shoulder injury, the most serious ailment for the Ravens following their 15-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

He was in a sling after the game and is scheduled to get a magnetic resonance imaging exam today. Gooden got hurt in the second quarter while covering a Bengals punt return.

“I just landed funny,” Gooden said. “It’s a little shoulder deal. Right now, I don’t know what it is. I’m just praying. That’s all I can do.”

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Ray Lewis Blasts Refs After Loss

Linebacker Ray Lewis was not happy with the referees after the Baltimore Ravens' 15-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

"There are so many rules that take away from the game," Lewis said. "If you're going to go at it, go at it hard, but don't disrespect the game like that."

Lewis was angry about two penalties called on the Baltimore defense in the second half. He got a 10-yard penalty for tripping after he rolled into Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer for a sack. In the fourth quarter, linebacker Terrell Suggs was penalized for roughing the passer. Both calls led to field goals.

"Six points was given off of BS. It's embarrassing," Lewis explained. "It's embarrassing that you can actually put them in field goal range off of two calls like that when they couldn't get in the end zone by themselves."

The 15-year veteran went on to say that Cincinnati didn't earn the win. The Ravens, now with a 1-1 record, play the Cleveland Browns at home in Week 3.

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Johnson's ability, heart continue to amaze team

LANDOVER, Md. — The name on the back of the white No. 80 jersey was Johnson. It might as well have been "Amazing."

The name on the back of the burgundy No. 37 jersey was Doughty. It might as well have been "Helpless."

In a day filled with spectacular plays, the most memorable one was Amazing outjumping Helpless to make the touchdown catch that kept the Texans' hopes alive.

The Texans took advantage of it, claiming a 30-27 overtime victory over the Redskins to start this season of promise 2-0. The Texans also took sole possession of first place in the AFC South for the first time in franchise history.

Afterward almost everyone talked about the remarkable catch made by the world's best wide receiver. Andre Johnson. No. 80. Amazing.

Johnson's catch over Washington safety Reed Doughty, a leaping grab on a fourth-and-10 play from the Redskins' 34-yard line, tied the score at 27 with 2:03 left in the game.

"I didn't know he had that in him," an excited Texans owner Bob McNair said. "That would have been a magnificent dunk if it was a basketball game. He just wanted that ball. He just literally soared up the air and made a magnificent catch.

"If he hadn't caught that ball, we were out of it. It was over."

If it is left up to Johnson to make a play, the Texans would almost never lose a game. He is that good. That much better than most of the people who try to cover him. Too Big. Too Fast. Too Strong.

That is why McNair went against the norm and renegotiated Johnson contract this offseason, despite the five years remaining on a Texans-friendly deal.

In a wild offensive shootout with over 900 passing yards, the best offensive player on the field was Johnson.

The Redskins had Johnson double-covered on the play, but cornerback Phillip Buchanon, Johnson's college teammate at Miami, inexplicably peeled off. By the time Matt Schaub launched the throw, it was Johnson against Doughty in the South end zone at FedEx Field.

"In that situation, I put my money on Andre 10 out of 10 times," Texans safety Eugene Wilson said. "That was just one of the most, no that was the most clutch play I've ever seen."

Wilson, a former Patriot, has played on two Super Bowl championship teams.

"Unbelievable," said fellow receiver Kevin Walter, who had an impressive game with 11 receptions for 144 yards and a touchdown. But his performance wasn't quite Johnsonesque.

Johnson, who this season could become the first player to lead the league in receiving yards for three straight years, finished with 12 catches for 158 yards, and, of course, that wondrous game-saving scoring grab.

Not that the story needed additional flavor, but Johnson had left the game late in the third quarter, with the Texans in a 17-point hole, due to a badly sprained ankle.

Team doctors told coach Gary Kubiak that Johnson was done for the day. Johnson wasn't so sure about that.

"I was a little discouraged," Johnson said. "I was running around on the sideline, and wasn't feeling too good at first. (I) came inside, came back out, started feeling a little better and I was able to make some plays."

Johnson laughed when he said that. He didn't want to talk openly about having to take a shot to numb the ankle; dull the pain.

Relying on a painkiller isn't typical for Johnson. He is blessed with a rock solid frame that generally holds up to the punishment of football.

He is one of the league's best-conditioned athletes and works hard preparing for the season with a grueling offseason training regimen.

Though he typically dishes out more punishment than he takes, injuries are a part of the sport. He landed with a catch with his foot turned the wrong way and the ankle got twisted up in a little pile.

He tried to walk it off. He tried to run it off. He tried a new tape job. Even after the shot, medical staff wasn't too sure that he could give it a go.

But he tapped Kubiak on the shoulder anyway.

"He walked over to me and said, 'I'm playing,'" Kubiak said. "He tells me he's playing, he's playing."

On Johnson's first play back, the Texans didn't look his way, but he realized that he could run at near full speed, which meant the Redskins were in trouble.

On the Texans' next possession Johnson had a 29-yard catch on third-and-10, to keep the drive moving, then made the catch that he says was the biggest of his career, topping a miraculous fourth-down catch on a game-winning drive against the Dolphins two years ago.

"I just knew that we needed a play to win, and that's pretty much it," Johnson said. "I was given the opportunity and I was able to make it."

Simply Amazing.

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Ravens have been Lewis' team from the start

CINCINNATI - Moments before the Baltimore Ravens line up to try to knock off the defending AFC North champion Bengals on Sunday, the players will look to linebacker Ray Lewis for their inspiration.

Just like they did for their grudge match at the New York Jets a week ago. Just like Lewis' brothers and sisters did throughout their childhood.

The origin of "football's ultimate leader" - as players and coaches alike refer to Lewis - dates back to when he was 9 years old. His mother, a single parent of five children, told Lewis that it was time for him to become the man of the house. He had to learn how to cook, clean and iron. He had to walk his siblings to school and bring them safely home.

From that point, everyone has always followed Lewis.

The 10-time Pro Bowl linebacker takes pride in guiding his teammates, yet he refuses to take it for granted. One of the most feared defenders in the NFL, Lewis is generous toward teammates, whether it's sitting to watch tape with Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed or talking on the phone to an undrafted rookie. His passion is to bring the players around him up to his standard.

He makes sure players are focused at practice. He makes sure players are hitting the weights. If you're late for a meeting, Lewis will chase you down like you're Bengals running back Cedric Benson.

"These guys respect you by seeing you work hard and by seeing you study hard," Lewis said. "That's how leaders are born."

Over 15 years and 2,350 tackles, Lewis has been the face of the franchise. He's also been the voice.

A few days before the season opener at the Jets, Lewis chided New York players for hyping themselves up as Super Bowl contenders and called out Jets coach Rex Ryan for saying Lewis "tapped out" when it came to calling plays a few years ago.

That led to a powerful pre-game message from Lewis on Monday night.

"The power of respect is never to disrespect," he told his teammates. "Respect isn't given, it's earned. We're not here to be liked. But when we get off the field, we will be respected."

The Ravens rallied around his passionate words, holding the Jets to 176 total yards, six first downs and no touchdowns. Lewis' intense speeches, the ones where his eyes pop out and the veins protrude from his neck, have led players to call him Leonidas, after a king of Sparta whose battle cries were immortalized in the movie "300."

"To us, he's a real-life version of that guy in the movies that do all that screaming and go out and whoop ass," linebacker Jarret Johnson said. "He's that image. He's that guy."

After the season-opening 10-9 victory, coach John Harbaugh said the Ravens wanted to win that game for Lewis.

"On one hand, you've got a guy with a huge heart who cares," Harbaugh said Friday. "He respects every part of the game - his teammates, opponents, the coaches, the preparation, the game itself. On the other hand, he gives everything on the field. That creates a pretty lethal leadership combination. I've never see anything like it."

Few would have believed that an undersized linebacker taken at the bottom of the first round would have become such a larger-than-life persona. But the Ravens learned quickly.

Lewis' leadership didn't develop over time. He commanded the team as a 21-year-old rookie in 1996.

"From the very first time that he walked through that door, people walked in behind him," said Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, who was the Ravens' defensive coordinator from 1996 to 2001. "When he walked into the huddle, the second practice that we had, he was the leader of the football team. And, the way he did things and how he did it, as fast as he played, he just became the leader of the football team. He just had an innate sense to be out front. He wasn't afraid to be out front."

Secret of his success
Fans see Lewis' emotional pre-game talks on television. They see his traditional dance coming out of the tunnel. They see his chest-thumping after every tackle.

What makes him such a great leader is he's a shadow of that player during the week. He motivates the Ravens without saying a word.

"You always hear him once in a while, but I don't think that's the thing," defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said. "I think everybody looks at him as being a guy that's played as long as he has at the level he's played at, and then they see him come out to practice and do the things that some guys might not want to do, and he does it. And they say, 'Well, if he does it, I better do it.' And I think a lot of Ray is by example."

It's not a coincidence that players who reached a high level when they were on the field with Lewis failed to live up to expectations when they went elsewhere. It was that way for cornerbacks Duane Starks and Gary Baxter, linebackers Adalius Thomas and Ed Hartwell, defensive linemen Tony Weaver and Maake Kemoeatu and safeties Kim Herring and Will Demps.

"Honestly, Ray is one of a kind," wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who is in his first season playing with Lewis, said. "Out of all the people that I've seen in this league come and go, he's the one guy, the one constant that no matter who you talk to around the league, they would love to play alongside of him. He's a guy that you want to line up with, a guy that you watch from afar and you're just amazed at what he brings to the table, his intensity. For me, just being here this short period, just seeing how he prepares, how he goes about the game of football in general, it's just unbelievable."

A step ahead
Lewis' critics say he's lost a step at the age of 35. Of course, none will say that to his face.

The 6-foot-1, 250-pound wrecking ball has unleashed some of the biggest hits over the past five years. He fractured the shoulder of Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall. He hit Chad Ochocinco so hard that it looked as if the Cincinnati wide receiver's head would come off along with helmet.

Asked four days ago whether Lewis had lost a step, Ochocinco snapped back, "Hell no. You watching the same film I'm watching?"

Lewis' latest bone-rattling collision - his drilling of Jets tight end Dustin Keller in the season opener - showed how he stays one step ahead of offenses.

Lewis watched so much tape of the Jets that he knew Keller would be getting the pass once he passed by linebacker Tavares Gooden over the middle. He predicted it days before the game. He was so sure that he even texted his father about the hit he was going to deliver.

"When you got that perfect setup and you see this man coming, you go 'pop' and you hit him right on the button," Lewis said. "When you get up, you know it was that play. It's what you work for. Playing my position, that's my touchdown."

The Lewis influence
The power of Lewis' leadership came through during the 2008 training camp.

Some players were wary of the Ravens starting another rookie quarterback after the Kyle Boller fiasco in 2003. But Lewis essentially put his arm around Joe Flacco, making it known that the first-round pick was his quarterback.

"Anytime that guy comes up to you and shows confidence in you, it allows the rest of the team to take his side," Flacco said. "I don't think anybody is going to go against Ray."

Lewis is the sheriff of the locker room, the quarterback of the defense.

During the past 11 years, the Ravens' defense has ranked No. 6 or better 10 times. The only year it didn't was 2002, when Lewis played a career-low five games because of a torn hamstring.

"You look at this team and all this great talent - Anquan, T.J. (Houshmandzadeh) and Ray Rice - but there is a humility when that huddle is formed," Lewis said. "For that one minute, they're all Indians. And they're saying, that's our one chief. That's the sense I get from teams who want to win championships."

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Danny Valencia hits third home run in four games

Danny Valencia hit his third home run in four games, Michael Cuddyer homered in his second straight game and Denard Span tripled in a run in the Twins' four-run sixth inning. All four runs came with two outs. J.J. Hardy scored three runs and went 3 for 4, and Cuddyer scored three runs as well, going 2 for 4 with a walk, single and the two-run homer in the sixth.

MEANING: The Twins' 90th win of the season lowered Minnesota's magic number to three. If the White Sox, playing on the West Coast, lost to Oakland, that number drops to two, meaning the Twins could clinch the American League Central division championship as soon as tonight. If the White Sox won on Monday at Oakland, however, the magic number would stay at three and the earliest the Twins could clinch is Wednesday.

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proCanes Extend TD Streak to 124 Regular Season Weeks

Did you know that a former Miami Hurricane/current proCane has scored at least one touchdown in 124 consecutive regular season NFL weeks? Dating back to Week 15 of the 2002 season where Clinton Portis scored 4 TDs, at least one proCane has scored a TD in each regular season week since then. We have chronicled every touchdown since 2002. See below:

Week 2 2010:
Greg Olsen - 1 TD - Chicago Bears
Devin Hester - 1 TD - Chicago Bears
Clinton Portis - 2 TDs - Washingon Redskins
Andre Johnson - 1 TD - Houston Texans
Reggie Wayne - 1 TD - Indianapolis Colts
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco 49ers

Week 1 2010:
Reggie Wayne - 1 TD - Indianapolis Colts
Roscoe Parrish - 1 TD - Buffalo Bills
Willis McGahee - 1 TD - Baltimore Ravens

Click below to see the rest of the list:

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Best Play of the Day - Andre Johnson

Devin Hester had a great one-handed grab for a TD in the Bears’ win over the Cowboys, but with the game on the line, I don't care what team you root for, Andre Johnson's game-tying jump-ball touchdown catch while covered man-plus-man-on-man was ridiculous. "A great athlete making a play," was how Mike Shanahan described it.

This was after Johnson returned in the fourth quarter after injuring his right ankle during Houston's game at the Washington Redskins on Sunday.

Johnson limped off the field late in the third quarter, and he had his ankle taped heavily.

He was back in the lineup with about 6½ minutes left in the game.

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Best Block of the Day Goes to Clinton Portis

This block by Clinton Portis during the 62-yard Fred Davis catch-and-run was one of the early highlights of the Redskins' loss to the Texans, even though it would have been a lot more highlighty had the Redskins won.

Portis's celebration over this block was far more enthusiastic than his celebration over either of his touchdowns, and fans happily ooooohed and ahhhhhhed and crushed small mammals with their bare hands every time the block was replayed on the HD big screens.

It's impossible not to love the effort, and so Portis was inevitably asked about the play after the game. While he was wearing sunglasses and a backpack, naturally.

"Just hustling, trying to be a part of the game," he said. "I seen the play developing and I had a flat route, and I thought [that] Fred had a wheel route. And when I looked up I seen him running down field and I was like, 'I got to get down here, I think this play could be a big play.' And Fred was [asking] where did I come from. It was just hustling, trying to get [him] in the end zone, because I know points are hard to come by. So if you can spring anybody to get a touchdown, I'm trying."

His reward was two straight carries from the one-yard line, the second of which ended with him in the end zone, pictured here.

"Just a great play, hustling," Fred Davis said on Comcast SportsNet. "That's the type of stuff you need."

Portis's mouth might cause 43 public-relations debacles a season, but I don't think you've ever read a story questioning his effort on Sundays. Or Mondays, I guess.

Click here to order Clinton Portis’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Tavares Gooden left Sunday's game against the Bengals

Ravens ILB Tavares Gooden left Sunday's game against the Bengals with an arm injury. Gooden sustained the injury in punt coverage. It may have been to his shoulder.

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Hand it to Hester, given chance he makes plays

ARLINGTON, Texas — Devin Hester quietly lobbied for more touches after having just one ball thrown his way in the opener. One play Sunday showed why he could become a prime target.

Hester's spectacular one-handed touchdown grab helped the Bears beat the Cowboys 27-20.

"No. 1, I just wanted to secure the ball and keep my feet inbounds," he said. "Great throw by Jay (Cutler). He put it exactly the place it needed to be."

Hester said with each new week come new opportunities, and he caught four passes for 77 yards Sunday. He was targeted six times, tied for the team-high along with Matt Forte and Earl Bennett.

Hester also showed his elusiveness on a 38-yard hook-up with Cutler, setting up a Forte touchdown catch. Hester nearly broke Terence Newman's ankle on the play.

"I was just reading the coverage and just … seeing Johnny (Knox) running and clearing it out I knew it was one-on-one with Newman and just had to make a move," he said.

Curious move: Receiver Devin Aromashodu, who was targeted 10 times against the Lions, barely saw the field against the Cowboys. Bennett got extensive playing time after missing last week with an ankle injury, while Rashied Davis even saw the field before Aromashodu.

"We have different game plans for each week," Aromashodu said. "I knew I was going to have a lesser role going into this week. Nobody really told me, but I figured it. No big deal. Main thing is we got the win."


Roscoe Parrish started in a two-receiver set in Week 2

Bills WR Roscoe Parrish started in a two-receiver set in Week 2, and caught two passes for 34 yards. The fact that Parrish started in the two-wides formation is perhaps the most interesting thing we can say about Buffalo's passing game, other than QB change is possibly in the works.

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Steelers work out DE Atkins,OT Barbre Friday

Steelers worked out DE Baraka Atkins and OT Allen Barbre Friday.

Both NT Casey Hampton and LT Max Starks are out for Sunday's game against the Titans and are listed as week-to-week. Atkins and Barbre would provide depth if signed.

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Kellen Winslow comes through with clutch catches

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Few people know what Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Kellen Winslow endures to play every week, let alone to play in Sunday's game against Carolina.

Winslow has battled knee pain throughout his career and this season. He had his sixth knee surgery during the offseason and Bucs coaches have tried to limit Winslow's practice participation. Winslow did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday, but was a limited participant in Friday's light activities.

Despite those obstacles, Winslow believed there was no way he would miss Tampa Bay's game against Carolina, a 20-7 victory in which he caught four passes for a team-high 83 yards.

"I'm ready anyway. I'm ready to go," Winslow said of how not practicing affected him. "Either way, this is my job, so I have to be ready to play."
Winslow was ready on Sunday.

All of his catches came on third-down plays and resulted in first downs to sustain scoring drives.

In the first quarter, his 24-yard catch on third-and-10 near midfield kept alive a drive that resulted in Tampa Bay's first touchdown.

In the second quarter, Winslow made an 8-yard reception on third-and-6 from Tampa Bay's 24-yard line. Three plays later, the Bucs faced third-and-17 at their 25-yard line when quarterback Josh Freeman shook off two Panthers linemen to complete a 40-yard pass to Winslow.

On the next play, Freeman threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Mike Williams, giving Tampa Bay a 14-7 lead.

Winslow's final catch, for 11 yards on third-and-8 at the Tampa Bay 37-yard-line, sustained a drive that resulted in a field goal.

"I was really proud of Kellen today," Freeman said. "He had a rough week, he didn't really practice. We weren't really sure he was going to be able to go. He came out, gutted it out and had a big day."

Winslow's willingness to play through pain has earned the respect of his teammates, who say he never talks being hurt.

"K2 is just an interesting guy," tight end John Gilmore said. "You get Kellen during the week and you get K2 one game day, but one thing about the guy is everybody knows the situation.

"He goes through some things physically and mentally and to see him show up the way he did today is a beautiful thing. It could've (gone) in another direction, but he showed up and made those big plays. That's going to help him out in the upcoming weeks. Whatever we have to do to keep him on the field and keep them healthy, that's what we're going to do."

The Bucs will continue limiting Winslow in practice to have him ready on Sunday. Tampa Bay's only concern is his knee carrying the team to wins, not practice victories.

Winslow admits the only agonizing thing would be not being able to play when it counts, which explains his weekly motivation:

"Just don't let these guys down," Winslow said.

Click here to order Kellen Winslow’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Redskins RB Clinton Portis: Future Hall of Famer?

USA TODAY debuted a new feature this week called "Future Hall of Famer?"

Many players carry this (probably) accurate title, Brett Favre, Tony Gonzalez, Ray Lewis and LaDainian Tomlinson among them.

But we're wondering about players in that grayer area, those who have a decent shot at reaching Canton but who are by no means mortal locks.
Redskins RB Clinton Portis is 813 yards away from supplanting John Riggins as Washington's all-time leading rusher. He's 241 yards from reaching the 10,000-yard plateau for his career, a level only 24 NFL runners have reached; of the 14 members of that group eligible for the Hall of Fame, 11 have already been enshrined, and Jerome Bettis, Marshall Faulk and Curtis Martin will all be on the ballot for the first time later this year.

However Portis has only been elected to two Pro Bowls in his first eight seasons and has never ranked higher than the league's fourth-leading rusher, though he has eclipsed 1,200 yards six times. He's also displayed a propensity to stick his quick feet in his mouth, not that it should really impact his Hall-of-Fame candidacy.

Will he eventually get a bust, or will his shot at immortality ultimately go bust?

Click here to order Clinton Portis’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Reggie Wayne, not so quiet anymore

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Reggie Wayne thinks it's great Andre Johnson and Miles Austin are getting paid big bucks.

He just wants to be included in the club.

On Friday, two days before the defending AFC champs open the season in Houston against Johnson and the Texans, Wayne used a lighthearted approach to make a more serious point about his own situation.

"This offseason we were talking about contracts," Wayne said. "Once he got his done, I texted him 'congratulations,' and the first thing he asked me was, 'So what's up with yours? What are you going to do?' I texted him 'absolutely nothing.' At least somebody's getting paid. I'd also like to send congratulations out to Miles Austin. He got paid."

In August, Johnson signed a two-year extension that could pay him up to $38.5 million. Austin signed a six-year deal reportedly worth $54 million to stay in Dallas on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Wayne, who is second on the Colts' career list for receptions and yards receiving and third in TD catches, is playing out the final two years of a six-year, $39 million deal he signed four years ago.

So Wayne wants to redo his contract.

"It's either we'll get something done or we're not. We haven't had any talks. I can read in between the lines, I know what's going on," he said. "But I'm not going to let that affect my production. Like they say, it's a business, right? So I'm going to treat it like a business. I'm going to do what I'm supposed to do. And that's go out there and make plays."

Wayne skipped all of Indy's team workouts this spring, including a mandatory three-day mini-camp in June, in hopes of getting a new contract.

It didn't work, and when training camp opened, Wayne showed up on time.

"I thought about it (holding out), but it's bigger than me," Wayne said on Aug. 2. "I had already let my teammates down once."

Colts President Bill Polian has said that it's unlikely anything can be completed now because of the uncertain labor situation. NFL owners and the league's players association are trying to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement before next season.

And the Colts' top contract priority is Peyton Manning. His $98 million deal expires after this season, and team owner Jim Irsay has said he will make Manning the league's highest-paid player. That value was established Thursday night when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady signed a four-year, $76 million contract.

But Wayne won't be far behind Manning in the pecking order after posting his second 100-catch season in 2009 and a sixth straight 1,000-yard season. He's been to the Pro Bowl each of the last four years and the Super Bowl twice in that stretch.

What Colts fans will remember, though, is the ball he didn't get in the Super Bowl - the one Tracy Porter ran back 74 yards for the game-sealing touchdown.

Wayne acknowledged he was upset for a couple of weeks, but a little time on the beach helped him get over it.

"That's football, man, that's the way it goes," he said. "I can't say it didn't bother me. But I like the direction we're headed."

And he's ready for some football.

"I feel great, man," he said. "I'm not going to say I feel like I'm 20. Maybe 21 would be more accurate. But we've got some guys around here to keep me feeling young. I feel great, and I'm ready to play. I'm 100 percent healthy, and I'm looking for a good game and a good season."

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

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Ray Lewis' play, influence still essential for Ravens

Ravens MLB Ray Lewis began the 2010 season very much looking like he was still one of the elite at his position at age 35. After the Week One win at the Jets, head coach John Harbaugh said he believed Lewis was still the best linebacker in the game, and he dismissed the notion that Lewis was slowing down.

Lewis can still deliver a tremendous blow, as evidenced when he drilled Jets TE Dustin Keller on the Jets' next-to-last play of the game on an incomplete pass. And he remains the emotional leader of the club.

In a recent interview, Ravens LB coach Dean Pees said Lewis' leadership behind the scenes stems from his deeds as well as his words.

"The thing about it is, everybody kind of, I think, looks at Ray and looks at maybe the vocal part and the emotional part that he plays and his intensity, but (the) other thing about what, to me, makes him a great leader, is the fact that he's never going to ask somebody else to do something that he wouldn't do," Pees told PFW. "Guys respect that. And coaches respect that."

Pees, who's in his first season with Baltimore, added, "He demands the respect of the players, and they respect him, because he puts in just as much time, if not more time."

Pees, who spent the previous six seasons with the Patriots, including four as defensive coordinator, worked with several accomplished linebackers during his time in New England, including Tedy Bruschi, Willie McGinest, Junior Seau and Mike Vrabel. Also, Steelers OLB James Harrison played for Pees at Kent State, where Pees was head coach from 1998-2003.

"What separates the great ones from the good ones sometimes is the film study, the extra time that they put in knowing the team's opponent, knowing the personnel you're playing against, how they're going to attack you and just knowing the game," Pees said of linebackers.

Asked about Lewis' preparation, Pees shared the following:

"We spend a heck of a lot of time studying film. You may have a tip on an offensive lineman, maybe somebody's stance, maybe a quarterback's mechanics, it could be any little thing.

"And what really kind of impresses me always with Ray is usually by the time I get ready to tell him something about that, he's already seen it too.

"That just tells you. I have had a lot of linebackers, and like I say, the great ones really can kind of know that almost before you tell them, and they're already prepared."

Click here to order Ray Lewis’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Frank Gore, Jon Vilma Rivalry Dates Back To High School

The rivalry between New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma and San Francisco 49ers tailback Frank Gore was so intense during their time together at Coral Gables High School in South Florida that their coach, Joe Montoya, said he often had to replace one of them on the practice field out of fear that "they'd end up killing each other."

And the competition didn't end there.

Montoya also recalled a time when the two alpha males broke into a full-on wrestling match inside his office.

"They started out arm-wrestling, then they're throwing each other against my table," said Montoya, who stopped short of calling it a "friendly" rivalry but said that Vilma and Gore have always held each other in high esteem as their careers led them both to the University of Miami, then to NFL stardom.

Vilma, who agreed with that assessment, laughed at the memory of that impromptu wrestling match, which took place when he came back to visit during his freshman year at Miami, while Gore was still a senior in high school.

"He swore that he was stronger than me, and I knew that I was stronger than him, so we started wrestling, " Vilma said. "So of course I won, then obviously he tried to act like he won. ... We respected each other, but I was definitely winning that one.

"We competed in anything and everything. He was by far the best back in Dade (County), and I was trying to be the best linebacker in Dade. It was best on best."

More than a decade later, that still will be the case Monday night in San Francisco, when Vilma once again lines up across the field from Gore.
When the Saints and Vilma meet the 49ers and Gore on Monday night, that longstanding rivalry between the pair of two-time Pro Bowl players may be the most important matchup. Gore (5 feet 9 inches, 217 pounds) is the centerpiece of the 49ers' run-first offense, and Vilma (6-1, 230) is the "quarterback" of the Saints' defense that will make stopping Gore its first priority.

That won't be as easy at it sounds, though. Vilma laughed again when asked why it's so hard for defenses to stop Gore, even though he's always the primary focus for opposing defenses each week.

"That's a credit to him, " Vilma said. "Theoretically, you say that, but once you get into the game, you have a talent like Frank Gore back there ... It's easy to say we're going to stop him, but if he starts breaking long runs or chipping at us for 6 yards a pop, then it makes the game a lot harder. It makes it harder for us to stop them when they get into third-and-2s, third-and-1s."

The Saints did a decent job of containing Gore when they played host to the 49ers in 2008, but that was mostly because they beat up quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan throughout the game and ran up a big lead early.

Gore ran for 82 yards on 16 carries (a 5.1-yard average). But he didn't carry the ball once in the fourth quarter of the 49ers' 31-17 loss.

Vilma and Gore, who consider each other good friends, keep in touch regularly. Vilma said he'll try to pick Gore's brain for technical advice from time to time -- although Gore relies on instinct so much that there's not much he can teach him.

Vilma also leaned on Gore for advice when he was recovering from a major knee injury in 2007, because Gore had come back from torn anterior cruciate ligaments in both of his knees in back-to-back seasons in college.

Both players said they discussed their upcoming matchup a few times this offseason. However, Gore said they kept the trash-talking to a minimum when they spoke on the phone the other day.

"We're going to play ball, " Gore told the Sacramento Bee. "I know he's going to want to beat me, and I want to beat him. I'm out to play ball."
As competitive as their relationship is, Gore also credits Vilma with being a great model for him when he got his life and football career on the right track during those high school days.

Gore came from a broken home and battled a learning disability, which led to academic problems. And even though he was clearly a gifted athlete, he admitted that he didn't take football seriously when he joined the varsity team as a sophomore.

"I was kind of a knucklehead, missing practice during two-a-days. I wasn't used to how the system goes, " Gore told the Bee. "They really didn't accept me until my first game. My first game, I had like 220-something yards, like three or four touchdowns. After that, they told me I should take it serious. If I take it serious, I'd be a great player.

"By me watching (Vilma), it helped me because he worked very hard."

Gore became a superstar, running for nearly 3,000 yards as a senior and setting a Miami-Dade record that still stands with 419 yards in one game.

Montoya said it's a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to coach two special talents such as Vilma and Gore and to watch them go on to such great things.

Although their roads led to the same destination, and they both always had the "desire" to get there, they followed different paths, Montoya said.
Gore needed more guidance off the field. Vilma was a standout student who didn't really shine as a football player until late in high school.

"He started to understand the game more. He started watching more film. He wanted to know more about what offenses were going to do. And you can see him now in the NFL, the way he makes all those calls on defense, he really understands the game, " Montoya said. "I'm so proud of both of those kids. And the good thing is, they're such good kids."

Vilma said it's crazy to think about how far both players have come since those high school days, although he never doubted Gore's ability to reach this level. He recalled some of Gore's highlight runs, where he combined his power and his ability to break away -- a dual threat he still possesses.

"He's tough now, and he was tough then. If there were 15 guys on the field, he made 'em all miss, " Vilma said. "I mean, it's just funny how we're in high school and I'm watching this guy run for 300 yards, and I'm saying, 'Man, he's gonna be legit. And sure enough, it turns out. And you know, he had the hard road with the two ACL injuries and still made it and is still a Pro Bowl talent. You just can't hide football players."

Especially when they're in your face, coming at you day after day.

Click here to order Frank Gore’s or Jon Vilma’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Quadtrine Hill Loses Second Pro Fight

An upset occurred in the televised opener, as Yohan Banks (4-4-3, 2KO) rallied from way down to stop Quadtrine Hill (1-1, 1KO) with a one-punch knockout at 2:24 of the fourth and final round of their heavyweight bout.

Hill, an NFL-running-back-turned-aspiring boxer, was winning every round of the fight and even had Banks – currently doubling as an MMA fighter – badly hurt midway through the final round. But his inexperience proved to be his undoing, as he left himself wide open for a counter right uppercut from Banks to put him down and out.

Referee Jay Nady gave Hill every chance to continue, but was eventually forced to wave off the bout after the ex-NFLer showed no signs of getting off the canvas in time or being in any shape to fight on.

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Ryan Braun ending season on another hot streak

SAN FRANCISCO -- Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun is healthy again, and appears to be putting together another one of his scorching-hot Septembers. But he still refuses to say much about what hindered him earlier this season.

"I feel, probably, as healthy and strong as I have all year, which is a good feeling with 16 games to go and we're not really playing for anything as a team," Braun said after his three-hit game Friday night. "I'll continue to believe in the process, put my work in and let the results fall where they may."

The results have been very good lately. Braun's 57th multi-hit game Friday -- he's tied with Atlanta's Martin Prado for the National League lead in that category -- gave Braun a .362 batting average with three home runs and nine RBIs through the first 14 games in September. This after he batted an NL-best .424 in August.

It's something of a repeat of 2009, when Braun batted .299 in August and .357 in September to lead the National League with 203 hits.

The key has been good health, according to Braun, who said he "dealt with some things this year that I haven't deal with in the past. I had to figure out a way to deal with it, and it's nice to be finishing strong."

What those things are, Braun won't say. He has dealt with occasional back stiffness this season, but that problem has popped up earlier in his career. He was struck in the elbow by a Tommy Hanson pitch during a game against the Braves in early May and lost his power stroke, but consistently declined the notion that the hit by pitch had any lingering effect.

It's not as if he's having a poor season; Braun entered play Saturday night batting .309 with 22 home runs and 89 RBIs. Whatever ailed him this season will stay between Braun and the medical staff.

"There's no reason to get into it," he said. "That does you no good. I don't want it to sound like an excuse or anything like that."

He'll say only that, "I think I found a way. Every year is different, and you adjust your routine and workout regimen to figure out things that work, things that don't work. The last couple of years, I've been really strong down the stretch, and that's a good feeling."

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Scott Maine not taking recovery for granted

MIAMI -- There was a time when medics said Scott Maine would never pitch again. The Cubs rookie thought of that when he warmed up in the seventh inning on Friday night, a nod away from putting a big exclamation mark on his full recovery.

The nod never came, because Ryan Dempster recovered to end the Marlins' threat. But Maine still has hopes of being used sometime in the series' final two games Saturday and Sunday.

The former University of Miami player has dreamed of pitching in a Major League game before close family and friends. About 15 of them were in the Sun Life Stadium stands Friday night, and most will be back.

Maine's career -- and life -- appeared in jeopardy following an Aug. 5, 2009 auto wreck that left him with head injuries and a wrecked left elbow. He was in a coma for days and in the hospital for a month.

Doctors said he shouldn't expect to pitch again, but he didn't believe them. He had Tommy John surgery and was back on the mound the following year.

The Cubs called him up from Iowa on Aug. 24, and he has appeared in seven Major League games thus far. He has a 3.86 earned run average.

Realizing he hasn't yet proven himself over the long haul, Maine doesn't plan to celebrate his Major League status any time soon.

"I've been here a month," he said. "I want to stay here for years to come. Once my career is over, then I'm going to pinch myself and say, 'Did that really happen?'"

Maine pitched the ninth inning for the Cubs on Sunday, walking one and striking out two. Maine has a 3.38 ERA in eight games this season after making his big-league debut Aug. 27.

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Danny Valencia's heavy lifting reduces Twins' number

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins have looked to a number of players to provide big contributions as they continue to close in on their sixth American League Central title in the last nine seasons.

And rookie third baseman Danny Valencia has certainly done his part recently in helping Minnesota to nick away at its magic number, as he did again on Saturday afternoon.

Valencia hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the sixth inning against the A's to help carry the Twins to a 4-2 victory before a sell-out crowd of 40,847 at Target Field.

The victory reduced the Twins' magic number to six games, and the White Sox loss to the Tigers a bit later trimmed that number to five.

The day after tallying two of the Twins' five hits in the series-opening loss to Oakland, which included a solo home run that scored Minnesota's only run, Valencia came up big with his bat once again on Saturday.

With the game knotted at 1 in the sixth inning, Joe Mauer drew a walk and Michael Cuddyer singled to put two runners on with one out when Valencia stepped to the plate. On a 3-1 fastball from A's starter Dallas Braden, Valencia belted his fourth home run of the season in the left-field seats to give the Twins a 4-1 lead.

"He gave me a good pitch," said Valencia. "I had the same type of situation in the at-bat before, and knew maybe he was going to try to do something different this time. I was lucky he threw me a fastball in, and that's what I was looking for."

Valencia's home run was enough run support for starter Kevin Slowey, who held the A's to two runs on five hits over 6 2/3 innings to pick up his career-high 13th win.

At a time when the Twins are dealing with injuries to Denard Span and Jason Kubel, the team once again is counting on other hitters in the lineup to produce. And Valencia has been playing a big role in that, particularly over the past week.

With his 2-for-4 performance on Saturday, Valencia is batting .450 in his last six games. He's been delivering in clutch situations as well, as he's hit .431 with runners in scoring position this year and he's hitting .456 at Target Field -- the highest home average for any player in baseball with a minimum of 100 plate appearances.

"He's made a difference in a lot of games, and single-handedly won a handful," Slowey said of Valencia. "It's been great for us. He was a guy that everybody knew he had the talent and it would just be a matter of time of getting up here and getting some repetitions."

Third base has been a merry-go-round position for the Twins since Corey Koskie left as a free agent after the 2004 season. But in Valencia, the Twins may have found a long-term solution at the position and -- perhaps even better -- he's starting to demonstrate the power stroke of a third baseman.

After not hitting a single homer in the Minors this season prior to his callup in early June, Valencia has started to see his bat heat up with the Twins. Valencia now has four home runs, 17 doubles and a .467 slugging percentage in 265 plate appearances in the Majors.

"People have to step up when you have injuries and we were all hopeful about this kid," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He didn't have great numbers in the Minor Leagues as far as power numbers [this year], but you get up here, see a few things and he's worked really hard on driving the ball, using the whole field. We know the power is there, we've seen it before. He's come up here and worked his tail off and done a good job for us."

The A's had taken a 1-0 lead in the second inning off Slowey after Landon Powell homered with one out. On a 3-2 pitch from Slowey, Powell belted a 393-foot shot to right field for his second home run of the season.

Powell's home run was one of only two hits that the A's would tally over the first five innings, and it was Oakland's catcher who delivered both as he led off the fifth with a ground-rule double to left-center field.

Holding on to the one-run lead, Braden kept the Twins' offense quiet until the fifth inning when Minnesota knotted the game at 1. J.J. Hardy drew a leadoff walk and advanced to third on Drew Butera's double to the left-field corner. Rookie Ben Revere didn't tally his first Major League hit, but his groundout to second base gave him his first RBI and scored the tying run.

Braden still managed to work his way through the Twins' lineup fairly well until the sixth inning when he made the mistake to Valencia.

"A 3-1 ball ran back over, I'm trying to stick it in there," Braden said. "That was kind of the tale later in the game for me, in the fourth, fifth, sixth -- just having to make pitches, starting to labor. I could just feel the fatigue. I didn't really finish the pitch, and he took advantage."

Valencia has been making good on opportunities to help the Twins as they not only lock down another AL Central title but also make a push for the best record in the AL, which would provide home-field advantage in the postseason.

The third baseman just seems thankful to be getting the chance to make an impact in such a race.

"The goal here is obviously to make the playoffs and go deep in the playoffs," Valencia said. "I couldn't ask for a better situation for myself being a first-year guy, a rookie. And having the confidence from the coaching staff to put me out there every day has been great."

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