All Canes Radio With Lamar Miller

Every Thursday Night joins All Canes Radio to bring the latest news on not only current Hurricane football but also proCane news and exclusive interviews with current and former proCanes live from Shake Shack in Coral Gables. Click here to listen to this week’s show and hear our exclusive interview with former Hurricane and new proCane Lamar Miller. Miller talks about being drafted by the Miami Dolphins, how his rookie season is progressing, what he sees in Hurricane freshman Duke Johnson and much more!

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Ray Lewis Overrated?

In the ongoing effort to fill cyber and print space space 24/7 and keep readers perpetually stirred up, Sports Ilustrated has released an NFL players' poll that lists New York Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow as the most overrated player in the game.

The bad news, at least if you're a Ravens fan, is that Ray Lewis shows up at No. 5 on the list.

Yes, in a survey of 180 players, Baltimore's sainted middle linebacker and future no-doubt Hall of Famer was listed by three percent of the player vote as a guy whose reputation -- at least at 37 years of age, with 17 years in the league -- far exceeds his production.

And that probably hurts Lewis, a man with enormous pride, more than the torn triceps that has him sidelined, possibly for the rest of the season.

For those who care about this sort of thing, Tebow was listed on 34 percent of the player ballots as most overrated.

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Kenny Phillips Returns to Practice

While Ahmad Bradshaw sat on the stationary bike watching practice, there was actually some good news taking place on the field.

Kenny Phillips, who injured his knee early in the Week 3 game against the Eagles, returned to practice and was participating in individual drills for the first time since his injury. He did not appear to be physically limited in any way, back-peddling and running.

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Santana Moss isn't 'trippin'' about playing time

Back in March, some wondered why the Washington Redskins would retain an aging Santana Moss, the team's longtime leading receiver who turned 33 this year and is making $2.65 million in salary.

They had already lured under-30, free agents Josh Morgan and Pierre Garcon to Washington with multiyear contracts.

But wonder no more. Morgan has been inconsistent as a pass catcher, Garcon is on the shelf with a foot injury and Moss has four receiving touchdowns, three more than any teammate.

"'Tana has just been unbelievable this year," says offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. "He hasn't been playing as much but his production has been as good as it's been for us. Even though we're limiting his reps, he's still having a huge effect on the game."

Moss, who lost 15 pounds in the offseason to regain some speed lost over the years, has played sparingly but is making a big impact. In a 27-23 loss to the New York Giants, Moss played 17 snaps, yet managed three catches for 67 yards and two touchdowns.

In the past seven seasons in Washington, he leads all pass-catchers with 488 receptions and the last time the 5-10 Moss found himself in a No. 3 receiver role was in his second season in the NFL with the New York Jets. And before that, as a freshman at the University of Miami. He says he approaches the slot position with more confidence and more of a sense of urgency nowadays.

"We all go through stuff in life that we've been through before," Moss tells USA TODAY Sports. "So it was nothing for me to adjust to. I don't look at myself as being any lesser than any guy out there. I just feel like my role is different so I accepted it and tried to make the best of it."

Shanahan said Moss is doing just that. He raves over a second-quarter touchdown in the loss to the Giants, a screen pass from Griffin which Moss took 26 yards to the house.

Shanahan said it was "blocked perfectly."

"'Tana set all the guys up. Everybody was working their tail off to get to their guys," Shanahan says. "'Tana hit it one gap at a time. Set one guy up, then the next one, then the next one, then the next one, all the way back to our backside tight end."

Urgency in attitude, patience in motion. Just about the opposite of the way Moss approached the same situation early in his football career.

"When I was young I really just went out there and thought, 'Hey, they'll give me the ball or they wont,'" Moss says. "Now I'm like, when I'm out there, I'm gonna' get open so he can give me the ball. I have a better understanding of what I'm trying to do and who I'm trying to be for this offense. I know this position is meaningful for our offense, so when I'm out there I'm trying to be the best, and I know No. 10 will get me the ball."

No. 10, or rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, may be looking in Moss' direction even more in the coming weeks. Tight end and leading receiver Fred Davis is out for the season with a torn Achilles and Garcon's absence from an early-season foot injury is indefinite.

Moss says he's happy whether he's Griffin's No. 1 option, as he's been in Washington for the better part of a decade, or the No. 3 guy who provides a spark and a reliable set of hands for a developing quarterback in a brand new offense.

"A lot of guys want to be this and be that," Moss says. "I've done it all. Don't get me wrong; I would like to be that guy. But due to the circumstances and what we have and how we're doing it, I can really sleep well knowing my role because I feel like I am that guy for that position.

"That's why I don't be trippin' about it."

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Is Hester the answer to fill Jeffery void?

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- One question facing the Chicago Bears coming off their bye week was how exactly the offense planned to replace rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who is on the shelf for the foreseeable future due to fractured right hand. The Bears provided the answer, at least for one week, when they dramatically increased Devin Hester's playing time at wideout in their Week 7 victory over the Detroit Lions.

Hester played 59 of the Bears' 72 snaps on offense (82 percent), his highest play-time percentage of the season. However, the increased reps did not necessarily translate into huge numbers for Hester, who finished with three catches for 38 yards on just six targets.

"He did well," Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice said. "We just have to continue to work on our timing. If he runs a route and the read takes it to it, we got to connect. We got to hit those things. He did well."

Interestingly, Hester has done his best work this season when his playing time has been limited. He arguably had best game of the year on offense in Week 4 versus the Dallas Cowboys (3-38-1) when he lined up at wideout for just eight of the teams 55 offensive snaps (15 percent). Hester also made an impact play the next week in Jacksonville when he hauled in a 39-yard pass even though he was on the field for 25 of the offense's 75 snaps (33 percent).

Besides Hester, the Bears also turned to Earl Bennett to fill the void left by Jeffery, although Bennett played less than Hester with 38 snaps (53 percent) versus the Lions. Bennett had a three-game stretch last year in November where he made a true impact in the passing game (5 catches for 95 yards and 1 touchdown at Philadelphia; 6-81 vs. Detroit; and 3-75 vs. San Diego) but has been relatively quiet since then. One reason for the decline in production can be traced back to a hand injury Bennett suffered before Week 2 but tried to play through until he had to shut it down for two weeks to allow the hand to heal properly.

Tice thinks the time off has prevented Bennett from really getting into the flow of the offense this season. Bennett has nine catches for 109 yards on the season, while Hester is slightly better with 10 receptions for 152 yards.

"Earl has been hurt so there hasn't been a challenge in finding a niche," Tice said. "He's just back last week. So Earl is going to continue to hopefully get into a rhythm and be more crisp and then we can start hooking up. But Earl has been out so it hasn't been a challenge, not yet."

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Alex Smith to Calais Campbell: 'Hate is a strong word'

Arizona DE Calais Campbell is frustrated.

He felt like he should have had four sacks in the Cardinals' 21-14 loss to Minnesota last week, instead, he settled for none.

“I got to make up for that this week especially going up against the 49ers, who I hate with a passion,” Campbell told SiriusXM's Tim Ryan and Pat Kirwan. “I can't wait to go out there and stick it to them and Alex Smith. I've got him down a few times, I know he's thinking about me a little bit.”

Smith found Campbell's comments more amusing than anything when asked about them Thursday.

“Hate is strong word. It's a strong word,” Smith said, holding back a smile. “I mean, they're a division opponent, obviously there's a lot of history there, we play them twice a year. Great rivalry, hate is a word I wouldn't use.”

As could have been expected, Campbell's comments made the rounds at the 49ers facility. No one -- at least not publicly -- seemed to care much about what was said.

OLB Aldon Smith played the sympathy card.

“I'm sorry he feels that way, first of all,” he said. “We're going to go out there and compete, whoever we play. We play the Cardinals on Monday so we're preparing to play them and compete hard.”

Not exactly fighting words coming from a player known for letting more than his play do the talking on game days.

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Vince Wilfork's unique sightseeing plan

LONDON – Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork knows that this is a business trip, first and foremost. The primary goal is to beat the St. Louis Rams.

But that doesn’t mean Wilfork won’t carve out a little time for personal enjoyment, just like he did in 2009.

“This is my second time coming over here and I enjoy it,” he said Friday morning, shortly after the team arrived in London. “There are guys that haven’t traveled outside the U.S. and all of a sudden you’re coming over here to play football; it’s a big deal. We’re all excited about it, to have a chance to get out of our element a bit and come out a couple days early to a different place, and have a little time to do some things. It’s a good trip all the way around, but you have to make sure on Sunday, you’re ready to go because we’re all here for a purpose.”

Wilfork shared his game-plan for sightseeing in London.

“I just get in the cab and say ‘take me somewhere good.’ It’s up to them, and last time I was here, it was good,” he relayed.

There is one specific plan in the works – to see Buckingham Palace. Wilfork visited in 2009 and wants to do it again, and he said it was possible the whole team could join him.

“I was telling the guys that weren’t here for that trip about the experience, and a lot of them were excited about it,” Wilfork said. “You see things on TV, and now you actually have a chance to go see it in person, that’s the amazing part about it. There are a lot of things that people can learn throughout history, and right now, you’re in some good history so take advantage of it while you have a chance.”

Wilfork also joked about his wife, Bianca, and how she might be spending the next few days in London.

“She loves to shop, and there is great shopping here. I might leave with a car this year, who knows with her,” he cracked.

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This Date in Miami Hurricanes History...October 25th, 1992

This Date in Miami Hurricanes History...October 25th, 1992.... 
Brought to you by the UM Sports Hall of Fame!

Freshman Frank Gore highlighted his talents in front of a nationally televised audience by rushing for 124 yards and 2 touchdowns..on SIX lead the top-ranked Hurricanes to a 45-3 victory over the West Virginia Mountaineers in front of a Thursday night crowd of 44,411 fans in the Orange Bowl ! 

Miami moved to 6-0 on the year with a balanced offense and a relentless defense that held WVU at bay...including safety James Lewis' 74 yard interception return for a touchdown.  UMSHoF Class of 2013 member quarterback Ken Dorsey completed 16 of 27 passes for 192 yards and 2 touchdowns.

The Canes moved back to # 1 after a 49-27 victory the week before at FSU...a spot they would not relinquish...and finish 12-0 and capture their 5th National Championship with the Rose Bowl victory over Nebraska !

Dorsey, Brett Romberg and Assistant Coach Don Soldinger, members of the 2001 National Champions, will be inducted into the

UM Sports Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2013 inductees at the 45th Annual UMSHoF Induction Banquet, to be held Thursday, April 11th, 2013 at Miami's Jungle Island !  Go to  for more details ! 

For more information go to


The University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame is a non-profit, 501c3 corporation whose sole purpose is to recognize those student-athletes, coaches and administrators who have excelled at their sports and brought acclaim to the university through their accomplishments and championships.  All tax-deductible donations help showcase their achievements for Hurricanes fans to enjoy for generations to come !

To Donate to the UM Sports Hall of Fame, click below...

Click here to donate now
UM Sports Hall of Fame
5821 San Amaro Drive
Coral Gables, Florida

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At 33, Santana Moss isn't done yet

This was supposed to be the year Santana Moss was eased toward the rocking chair. He had started to play on cruise control in recent seasons, and the Washington Redskins spent a lot of money on younger receivers to give Robert Griffin III an attractive array of targets.

But the 33-year-old vet wasn't going quietly. He rededicated himself, taking less time off in the spring and losing some 15 pounds.

That player who caught both of Griffin's passes against the Giants, including the 30-yard, over-the-shoulder grab at the goal line late in the fourth quarter? That was Moss. Not Pierre Garcon. Not Joshua Morgan. Not Leonard Hankerson.

''Lighter, quicker, faster,'' Moss said Wednesday. ''I can't say I'm back to the old 21-year-old, 22-year-old `Tana, but a few years ago when I was running like I was running, I feel like I'm that right now.''

Moss has four touchdown catches on the season. No one else on the coach Mike Shanahan's roster has more than one. That's noteworthy given that Moss is being used mostly a slot receiver and isn't on the field that much. He played a season-low 17 snaps in the 27-23 loss to the Giants, and his three receptions for 67 yards in that game put him at 19 for 290 for the season.

Not that he's complaining. In fact, the 2012 version of Moss sounds happier than, say, the 2009 version who had 902 yards for a team that went 4-12.

''So many weeks I went home stressed out, thinking like there's so much on my shoulders because I'm the only guy in the passing game,'' Moss said. ''Way before coach Shanahan got here, it was hard to go out there and put up numbers because everyone's keying on you, and then when they keyed on and you didn't get balls, they wanted you to fuss and be mad about it. And I'm, like, why fuss for something when it's not there?

''Just to sit back now and see we have so many targets and just to be a guy that's included, it's just great to see.''

Moss' newfound excitement, like everyone else's, is driven by the arrival of Griffin, whose must-watch skills have made the Redskins (3-4) exciting and competitive again. The Heisman Trophy winner leads the NFL in completion percentage and has a 101.8 rating even though he hasn't established a go-to receiver.

Free agent acquisition Garcon has missed four games with a foot injury and has only eight catches. Morgan, another free agent signing, has 18. Second-year player Hankerson is at 22. Tight end Fred Davis leads the team with 24, but he's done for the season with a ruptured left Achilles tendon. None rank in the NFL's top 50.

Those unspectacular numbers are due, in part, to Griffin's ability to spread the ball around. Also, the Redskins' effective ground game - they're No. 1 in the league in yards rushing - means the rookie doesn't have to throw as much.

Nevertheless, the season has played out in such a way that Moss has gone from potentially expendable to nearly indispensable.

''He's a guy that's seen it all, done it all, and can still do a lot with the abilities that he has,'' Griffin said. ''He can be a security blanket. But, like I've told people, you don't try to force it to guys like him who can make plays. You take it if it's there.''

While being active in the offense leads to its share of positive plays, it inevitably also brings about a few negative ones. Moss fumbled away the Redskins' final chance for a game-winning drive against the Giants, losing the ball after a catch over the middle at Washington's 43-yard line with 39 seconds remaining.

Moss said it stinks to be part of such a play, but he's been around long enough to know how to deal with it.

''At the end of the day you have to put that in perspective,'' he said, ''and know that you're going to be in some tough ones, you're going to be up, you're going to be down. It's how you handle it, and I've handed them all.''

Moss recently passed 500 catches and 7,000 yards with the Redskins, both ranking fourth all-time for the franchise behind Art Monk, Charley Taylor and Gary Clark. He might not have been around to reach those milestones had he not pushed himself anew to get ready for the season.

''If I hadn't put the extra work in, I probably wouldn't want to be here,'' he said. ''Because I know I wasn't myself the last couple of years, even though I produced well enough the year before. But that wasn't me, that wasn't the body of work I like to put out there.''

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PHOTO: proCane Orlando Magic DeQuan Jones Drives to the Hoop


Orlando Magic forward DeQuan Jones (20) fights for a loose ball with Memphis Grizzlies defenders Zach Randolph, left, and Jerryd Bayless in the first half of an NBA basketball preseason game Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in Memphis, Tenn.

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Jon Jay's in charge in center

It happened early in spring, perhaps even the first time they met as teammates, and its importance carried all the way through October.

Carlos Beltran, who has three Gold Glove Awards as souvenirs from his time as a center fielder, approached Jon Jay, the Cardinals' full-time center fielder for the first time. Jay had been thinking all offseason about how he needed to be more assertive in center. He wanted to lead more, yield less. And here was the Cardinals' new right fielder, one of the finest center fielders of his generation, coming to him with some words of advice.

"Hey, do your thing out there," he said, as Jay recalled. "You're the center fielder."

Emboldened by that role and encouraged by the two veterans flanking him, Beltran and left fielder Matt Holliday, Jay emerged this season as what manager Mike Matheny called "the quarterback of the outfield." Jay started 108 games in center, led the team in highlight-reel catches and went the entire regular season without committing an error. He will at least be a finalist for the Gold Glove Award and could win his first — a fact that his manager, general manager and even teammates trace back to what he first did in spring training.

He took charge.

"The largest area of improvement was really just him taking control of the outfield," Matheny said. "That's a pretty tough spot for a young player to be put into when you have Matt Holliday on one side and Carlos Beltran on the other with a lot of accolades on their shelves. He took control and that's a huge part of the position: (don't) be afraid to tell a guy, 'Hey, you need to get closer to the line.' They certainly have respect for Jon and his instincts now, and that's a huge step forward."

Added Jay: "I think it was having the chance to know I was going to be out there more, knowing that I was going to get the time to prove myself."

Time worked for Jay. It only recently worked against him.

Last month, the center fielder heard from his agent that he would fall less than a week shy of qualifying for arbitration this winter. This week it was announced that "Super Two" status was given to the players between two and three years of experience with the top 22 percent of service time.

Under the agreement between the union and the leagues last November, the bar this offseason was set at two years, 139 days. Jay has two years, 134 days. Those five days mean Jay won't have access to arbitration to raise his salary for 2013 and the Cardinals will have control of him for another four seasons.

"I came into the year knowing the situation. It doesn't change anything for me," Jay said. "I don't take anything for granted. I know how this game is. You've seen it a lot with guys in other years. You're in. You're out. I work hard to stay consistent. That stuff takes care of itself."

Jay speaks from experience because he's often been the player who was in while others were out. In 2010, his play as the fourth outfielder allowed the Cardinals to trade Ryan Ludwick for Jake Westbrook. In 2011, Jay outplayed Colby Rasmus in center and that led, in part, to a deal that sent Rasmus to Toronto and instantly steeled the bullpen for an October run. In 2012, Jay took over as the everyday center fielder, and he'll return as the incumbent in 2013 — but there may be a challenger on the horizon.

Oscar Taveras, 20, is being developed as a center fielder, and on Thursday general manager John Mozeliak called him "one of the most prolific hitters I've seen in our organization probably since Albert Pujols." Taveras won the Texas League's equivalent of most valuable player award after batting .321 with 23 home runs, 94 RBIs and a organization-high .572 slugging percentage. In six games already this fall for the Dominican Winter League, Taveras has a .364 average with two homers. Projected initially as a right fielder, Taveras has improved enough for the team to think his athletic ability will translate to center.
Although Taveras will come to big-league spring training in 2013, that doesn't mean he'll arrive as a center fielder or that he'll leave spring with the major-league club.

That takes time.

"That's a great question, frankly," Mozeliak said when asked how a young player could take control of the demanding position. "That should be what drives the answer. It is the hardest position to play as a rookie. When you think about getting Taveras in the mix I'm not sure what that looks like."

What it means for Jay is the very thing that allowed him to stand out and take over as center fielder for the Cardinals is what will keep him there.

He seized control of the role.

"Right now, he's our center fielder," Mozeliak said. "And he played like it."

Jay started the final 41 games of the regular season in center and all of the 13 playoff games. He will have his right shoulder re-examined soon to assure that the injury he sustained in April doesn't have lingering effects. Jay also took over at leadoff when Rafael Furcal faltered, and the lefthanded-hitting outfielder batted .303 in the top spot. Though a .224 average and a .289 on-base percentage on the road was a riddle, and hole in his season. Jay doesn't plan to spend much time this winter fretting about that extreme split, focusing instead on improving his approach at leadoff and his angles in the field.

He sees winning a Gold Glove much as he views falling short of arbitration: It takes time. Often a stellar defensive season puts the player in the conversation first and the Gold Glove doesn't follow until a year later — if the fielder earns the opportunity for an encore.

"I understand how all this stuff works," Jay said. "I know how this game is — you have to wait your turn. You have to put in your time, pay your dues. ... You put in your time, your work, and you wait patiently and then your time comes."

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Did []_[] Know Vinny Testaverde Holds The NFL Record For...

proCane Vinny Testaverde who was an NFL quarterback from 1987 - 2007 with seven different teams (Buccaneers, Browns, Ravens, Jets, Cowboys, Patriots, Panthers) holds the NFL record for most consecutive seasons with an NFL touchdown pass with 21 consecutive seasons.

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Jeremy Shockey: I'm not the 'snitch'

NEW YORK -- Jeremy Shockey says he was not a whistle blower in the Saints bounties case, and that Warren Sapp's accusation he was has made it difficult for him to go back to New Orleans.

Appearing on Showtime's "Inside The NFL," Shockey said Wednesday about being "a snitch" that, "I would never do anything like that." He adds he spoke with Saints coach Sean Payton about it and Payton said, "Jeremy, just let it go."

The former tight end says NFL commissioner Roger Goodell "even came out and said I wasn't the person who did it."

Shockey says he confronted Sapp about the report the former defensive lineman made on NFL Network and Sapp replied he "wanted to stick by his source." Shockey added, "I don't think his source was all that credible."

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D.J. Williams sentenced to 30 days house arrest

DENVER -- Denver Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams will serve 30 days under home arrest for driving under the influence but not until after the season.

Williams was sentenced Wednesday but a judge said he didn't have to start serving it until Feb. 7, 2013. Prosecutors had asked that Williams serve a month behind bars.

Besides the home arrest, during which time he'll have to wear an ankle monitor, Williams also must serve two years of probation, have his sobriety monitored and attend alcohol education classes and therapy, all standard punishments for second-time offenders. He also must perform 56 hours of community service and pay $2,390 in court costs.

"We thought it was a fair and appropriate sentence given all the circumstances," said Williams' lawyer, Harvey Steinberg, who immediately filed an appeal.
Williams is serving an NFL-mandated three-game suspension over his August conviction for driving while ability impaired. This is on top of the six-game suspension he just completed for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Coach John Fox said Wednesday that Williams is "paying his dues right now, literally. So, it's a process. He's done what he's supposed to do through the process and we'll honor what they decide."

Williams was banned from team headquarters for the first six weeks of the season but was allowed to return last week. He can attend meetings but cannot practice and isn't allowed to speak with the media until his suspension ends. He can resume practicing with the team on Nov. 12.

Defensive end Elvis Dumervil said it was good to have Williams back in the building.

"He's a great teammate. Sometimes people make mistakes, but he's definitely a great guy to have in the locker room," Dumervil said. "Having his presence here is tremendous, so we're excited to get him back in the room with us."

Williams originally was charged with driving under the influence, but a jury convicted him of the lesser charge. He was also convicted of driving without headlights, the offense that prompted police to stop him near downtown Denver about 3 a.m. on Nov. 12, 2010.

Prosecutors said Williams failed roadside sobriety tests during his traffic stop and refused to take a blood test to determine his possible alcohol level. He was taken to a detox facility.

The Broncos stripped Williams of his captaincy shortly after his arrest -- the second time he'd been detained for suspicion of drunken driving. In 2005, he pleaded guilty to impaired driving.

Williams, who also made news last summer by tweeting a picture of his digital playbook and saying his coaches were asking him to switch positions again, has led the Broncos in tackles five times in his eight years since joining the NFL as Denver's top draft pick in 2004 out of the University of Miami.

During his absence, Wesley Woodyard and Keith Brooking have shared snaps at his weakside linebacker position, although Brooking recently supplanted Joe Mays as the starting middle linebacker.

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Jon Beason Placed on IR

Carolina Panthers linebacker Jon Beason expects to have season-ending knee surgery and be placed on injured reserve, he told News 14 Carolina. Beason was inactive the last two weeks because of the knee.

"I've been pretty banged up, it's been week to week," Beason said. "And we decided to take another look at the knee, see what's going on. (I) got the MRI yesterday, and it didn't look good, so I'm probably going to have to have surgery and if I do that, I'm going to end up on the IR.

"So that's probably what we're going to do, moving forward, probably early next week. But, it's part of the business, man. You can't control injuries."

Beason spent all but one game in 2011 on injured reserve with an Achilles injury. He hasn't had much luck or production after he signed a five-year, $50-million extension before the 2011 season. Beason has 28 tackles without a sack in 2012. He was a Pro Bowl pick in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

The Panthers will be fine with Luke Kuechly, this year's No. 9 overall pick out of Boston College, continuing to play in Beason's spot. Fine as long as the Panthers are happy with being the No. 20 scoring defense in the NFL. The big question centers on Beason's future -- he's coming off back-to-back major injuries with a hefty contract and a high draft pick playing his position.

UPDATED: Beason was placed on injured reserve by the Panthers on Wednesday.

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Richard Gordon returns to practice

Backup tight end Richard Gordon returned to practice Wednesday after missing three games with a hamstring injury — and he should help the running game a little bit. Cornerback Shawntae Spencer (foot) and tackle Khalif Barnes (groin) aren’t expected to be back this week.

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Darryl Starpton close to practicing

The Texans’ biggest injury concern heading into their bye week is running back Ben Tate, who may not be available in Week 9 because of a minor hamstring injury. Their biggest question mark is inside linebacker Darryl Sharpton, who is still on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list with a quadriceps injury.

Sharpton, who tore his right quadriceps last season in Week 8, was eligible to return to practice last week. The Texans feel like he’s close. Last week, Kubiak said Sharpton has been working with trainers on a side field during practice and running “very, very well.”

Sharpton has until Nov. 7 to start practicing. From the day he starts practicing, the Texans have three more weeks to activate Sharpton from the PUP list. That means the latest he could be back on the active roster is the week leading up to the Texans’ Week 13 game at Tennessee.

If either deadline passes, Sharpton would not be able to play this season and would remain on the PUP list.

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Colin McCarthy practices, but still frustrated

Middle linebacker Colin McCarthy returned to practice on Wednesday, but he’s hardly back to normal. McCarthy, who missed his fourth game last Sunday because of lingering soreness with his right ankle, plans on playing this Sunday against the Colts.

The second-year pro remains frustrated with the pace of his recovery, however. The good news for the Titans is he got out of the walking boot over the weekend and he’s practicing.

“It’s not going to heal overnight,” McCarthy said. “The extra day or two of rest makes it feel better, but obviously it’s not anywhere near 100 percent. It was fun to get back out there and practice, and I am preparing this week to have a big game against Indy.”

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Five years later, Kevin Everett asks, 'Am I fortunate?'

He walked on Oprah's "Day of Miracles." He was headlined on Sports Illustrated's cover, "Against All Odds." His biography was called, "Standing Tall: The Kevin Everett Story."

Only now it's five long years after the fairy-tale ending everyone heard and read about, and Everett sits in his home outside Houston, asking the question he often asks himself.

"Am I fortunate?" he asks. "You tell me. Am I?"

Five years ago, the former University of Miami tight end was carried off the Buffalo Bills field on a stretcher, paralyzed, with doctors wondering if he'd ever move again.

After a couple of weeks, some feeling came back. After five weeks, he took a step. After five years, he and his wife, Wiande, a former Miami track athlete, have two young girls with a third on the way.

And he's never tried to run again. If he ever tries to jog on a treadmill, his body drops into spasms. It spasms most days, anyway, arms and midsection and legs all twitching out of control. His right leg often drags if he's not regular with his medication.

There's also constant pain in his neck and shoulders that, after five years, he says, "I've come to some understanding about that I'm going to have the rest of my life.

"So, yes, I'm fortunate,'' he says. "And I'm unfortunate. You can't separate the two. I don't know what world people live in at times, thinking I've been completely blessed.

"My career was stripped away from me from this injury, unexpectedly. Some people think I'm supposed to be happy all the time. Put yourself in my shoes. Or put yourself in anyone's shoes who has had some life-changing injury come their way.

"Tell me how you'd feel. People don't understand that. They just want to hear the good stuff. It's kind of weird that people don't have common sense to see it's not that easy of a situation to read.

"But God let it happen for a purpose. And I know the purpose. It's to use my life as an example, to open up eyes about this injury. That's why I talk about it."

He visits Houston hospitals. He phones people suffering like he did. And he occasionally gets involved in fundraisers like the Nov. 2 dinner at Hangar No. 9 at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport called, "Walking With Anthony." (Anthony Purcell was paralyzed from a swimming accident.)

Everett has a prepared speech about Sept. 9, 2007. He talks of his mindset, his challenge and, ultimately, his fate on a kickoff when he tackled Denver return man Domenik Hixon.

"I hit him and it kind of kicked my neck back,'' he said. "It didn't jack back real hard. But from the impact and the force and the pressure, my neck dislocated. There's not a more helpless feeling than that."

Click here to read the rest of sun-sentinel’s columnist Dave Hyde’s story on Kevin Everett.

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Jon Vilma says Goodell shouldn’t be allowed to pick next arbitrator

Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma didn’t want Commissioner Roger Goodell to preside over the internal appeal of Vilma’s suspension.  Vilma got his way.

Now, Vilma doesn’t want Goodell’s designee to preside over the internal appeal of Vilma’s suspension.  Vilma may get his way.

Ultimately, Vilma wants Judge Helen Berrigan to appoint the arbitrator.

“In appointing Tagliabue, Goodell has shown beyond any doubt that he simply cannot be allowed to appoint the arbitrator to adjudicate this matter,” Vilma’s lawyer, Peter Ginsberg, writes in his most recent legal filing, “and the time has come for the Court to appoint a person who can fairly and impartially resolve the instant dispute according to the standards demanded by federal law.”

In attacking the appointment of Tagliabue, Vilma points to various factors that have been mentioned here in recent days.  Tagliabue works for Covington & Burling, the law firm that represents the NFL in the bounty litigation and other matters.  In 2010, the NFL paid Covington & Burling more than $3.8 million in fees.  In 2010, Tagliabue received $1 million in base compensation from the NFL, along with $7.583 million in deferred compensation and retirement benefits.
Vilma also explains that that, on October 22, he requested more information about money paid to Tagliabue and Covington & Burling since Tagliabue’s tenure as Commissioner ended, along with details regarding legal services provided by Covington & Burling to the NFL and its teams.  Vilma contends that the NFL refused to provide the information.

“Tagliabue cannot serve as an impartial arbitrator without compromising Covington & Burling’s and his representation of Goodell and the NFL,” Ginsberg writes.  “Any arbitration award short of a total affirmation of Goodell’s punishment conflicts, ostensibly at least, with what is the NFL’s best interests.  Likewise, any arbitration award challenging or rejecting Goodell’s conduct in this matter could jeopardize Goodell’s position in the pending defamation case.  If Tagliabue finds – as he should – that Goodell imposed discipline without basis, it follows that Goodell’s comments concerning the purported Bounty Program were reckless or in disregard of the truth.  Tagliabue thus would be in a position of issuing an award that exposes his client to liability for defamation.”

Though the NFL will respond by pointing to the fact that lawyers like Jeff Pash, who works in-house for the league, have served in this same capacity in the past, the fact that Tagliabue has a relationship with a firm that has a lucrative, ongoing, attorney-client relationship with the league creates the appearance of potential impropriety, which usually is enough to trigger judicial intervention.

Either way, we’ll have an answer by next week.  And it won’t be a surprise if Judge Berrigan disqualifies Tagliabue.

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Jimmy Graham returns to practice

Pro Bowl TE Jimmy Graham returned to Saints practice Wednesday, but not on a full basis.

Interim coach Joe Vitt said Graham ran routes without defenders to test the sprained right ankle that kept him from traveling with the team to Tampa on Sunday.
“He did what we call land base stuff,” Vitt said. “He did routes on air. He looked very, very good. The doctors and the trainers are examining right now. He looked good.”

The Saints did not miss Graham in Tampa, rolling up 458 yards while scoring five touchdowns, but they would love to have him back this Sunday night when they face Denver and Peyton Manning.

“When Jimmy was down this last week that gave opportunities for others,” QB Drew Brees said. “What you love is when you have access to the full arsenal.”
The Saints had only two healthy tight ends at practice -- David Thomas and practice-squad player Mike Higgins. Third-string TE Daniel Graham, who has played in all six games as a blocking specialist, was out with a knee injury.

Still striving: Brees has been in vintage form the last three games, completing 91 of 136 (66.9 percent) passes for 1,192 yards, 11 scores and two interceptions, but he's been doing it almost all by himself.

The Saints rank dead last in the NFL in rushing, averaging 76.2 yards, and failed to pick up a critical first down that would have allowed them to run out the clock while protecting a 35-28 lead against Tampa Bay. Darren Sproles was stuffed on third-and-3, forcing them to punt, and the Buccaneers came within 9 yards of a tying touchdown.

“Obviously the running game is still a huge issue for us and something we're still working on,” T Zach Strief said. “But the offense has felt at times how we should be feeling and we have gotten going the way we'd like to.”

Despite the lack of help on the ground, Brees agreed.

“Definitely you feel that no matter what play is called, we're going to make it work and we have the opportunity to really make something happen,” he said.

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Cam Wake tutors Olivier Vernon in finer points of pass rushing

MIAMI GARDENS — It’s a circle Dolphin coaches hope will never be broken.

A young player arrives, raw, eager to learn, and a veteran steps forward and becomes his mentor. It happened when Jason Taylor taught Cam Wake how to play outside linebacker three years ago, and it’s happening again now with Wake and rookie defensive end Olivier Vernon.

“I remember Koa (Misi) doing the same thing (Vernon) is doing now a couple years ago,” Wake said. “Coming to me and asking, ‘What are the packages?’ ‘What do I do when they do this?’ I want to pass on my wisdom as much as I can, and help him utilize the assets he has.”

Vernon was about as raw as a rookie can get when he arrived as a third-round pick out of the University of Miami last summer. Leaving UM after his junior year, he took Wake as his role model at the defensive end position and, with his playing time limited early this season, has watched and learned.

“When I’m on the sidelines during a game I just look at him and I’m like, ‘Man, how did you do that?’ ” Vernon said. “He gives me some pointers and I try to apply it.”

Wake said their size similarity — Wake is 6-foot-3, 258 pounds while Vernon is 6-2, 268 — means they face similar challenges in getting to the quarterback.
“We’re that ‘Too big to be a linebacker, too small to be a defensive end’ size,” he said. “You’ve got to have a mentality every time you step on the field and you’re giving up 80 pounds to an offensive lineman. You’ve got to be able to say, ‘I don’t give a blankety-blank how big you are, I’m just as strong, and powerful, and explosive.’ And he has that.”

Vernon impressed General Manager Jeff Ireland in a workout prior to the draft, but was still surprised when the Dolphins, who were switching from a 3-4 defensive scheme to a 4-3, selected him.

“I could have sworn I was going to a 3-4 team, because every team I met with was playing a 3-4 scheme,” he said. “So when I came to the Dolphins and heard (they were playing) a 4-3, I was like, ‘All right, cool, I’ll put my hand back in the dirt.’

“But the coaches have given me a little leeway with a two-point stance. I feel a lot more comfortable in a two-point stance (standing up).”

Vernon’s ability to get to the passer from the early days of offseason workouts impressed not only Wake (“he was chasing Ryan Tannehill all over the field&rdquoWinking but also defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, who recognized that underneath the unpolished exterior was an athlete with the size, strength and quickness to consistently pressure passers.

“It’s an ongoing process … but just using the natural speed he had, he was able to excel with some of the rushes he would use in college,” Coyle said.
“(Then) he started to realize he has to continue to develop his repertoire of pass rush moves. (Defensive line coach) Kacy Rodgers does as good a job as anybody in the league coaching those defensive linemen. Now you’re seeing a guy who’s going to be an impact guy from here on out.”

Vernon had five tackles in his first five games including a half-sack against the New York Jets, but his coming-out party was the Oct. 14 game against St. Louis, when his four tackles included two sacks of Sam Bradford. Among Dolphin rookies, only A.J. Duhe (1977) and Marco Coleman (1992) have had more in a game.

Vernon said watching Wake haul down Bradford earlier in the game inspired him.

What made that day even more special is that his father, Lascelles, a Miami Beach police officer, and mother, Bernadette, were in attendance, as they have been at all his games since his days at American High School in Miami. He was heavily recruited by Alabama and Florida State, but family ties led to the decision to stay home and play with the Hurricanes. Now he makes his living not 10 minutes from where he grew up.

“I grew up on 199th Street, so when I went to middle school the bus would pass (Sun Life) stadium every day,” he said. “To play there now, it’s crazy.”

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Rodgers, Ryan Braun throwing benefit for Brookfield shooting victims

GREEN BAY- Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Brewers slugger Ryan Braun want to help the families of the victims in the Azana Spa and Salon shooting.

The tragedy at the Brookfield spa left a lot of people grieving and a lot of other people looking for ways to help.  Among them, Rodgers, Braun and SURG partner Omar Shaikh, who plan on holding a benefit at their 8-Twelve MVP Bar and Grill in Brookfield for the families of three women killed and four others wounded in Sunday's shooting.

"It's 100% because of the community," says Rodgers.  "And Omar (Shaikh), Ryan (Braun) and I talked about doing something for the victims."

Rodgers says having the restaurant in Brookfield has made them more interested in the Brookfield community.

"It was a big time tragedy.  So, anything we can do to help out is what Omar, Ryan and I are going to do."

So they are planning a fundraising event.  Shaikh is finalizing plans for a fundraising dinner in which 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the victims and their families.

More details of the benefit will be announced on Monday.

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Titans Sign proCane C Tyler Horn

The Titans on Tuesday agreed to a deal with center Tyler Horn on a practice squad contract.

Horn, who played in college at Miami (Fla.), was originally signed by the Falcons after the NFL Draft.

To make room for Horn, the Titans on Tuesday released receiver Vidal Hazelton.

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Progress for Gore: He can sleep on side

More evidence that bruised ribs are far more painful than they sound: Running back Frank Gore had to sleep sitting up in bed after he took a helmet-to-the-ribs shot from Seattle cornerback Brandon Browner last week.

Gore, who termed it the most painful injury he’s played through, also had difficulty taking deep breaths in the aftermath of a 13-6 win over Seattle. Four days after sustaining the injury, though, he went though Monday’s non-contact practice and expressed optimism that he’ll play on Oct. 29 at Arizona.

“It’s a lot better, just take it a day at a time,” Gore said. “I feel like I should be alright.”

Bruised ribs typically take several weeks to heal completely and Gore said “little movements here and there” are still painful, although he can now sleep on his side.

With a bye week following the 49ers’ visit to Arizona, Gore would have a chance to heal completely if he missed the Monday night game.

Not surprisingly, Gore is instead planning to make his 24th straight start.

“(I’ll) keep getting my treatment,” he said, “and I’ll be fine.”

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Did []_[] Know Bubba Franks Holds The NFL Record For...

proCane Daniel “Bubba” Franks who spent most of his NFL career with the Green Bay Packers owns the NFL record for the most 1-yard touchdown passes, passer/receiving combinations with Brett Favre with 8. Random but true and interesting!

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Calais Campbell hates the 49ers, “with a passion”

On Monday night, the Cardinals will try to reverse a current three-game losing streak, via a game against the 49ers.  Arizona defensive end Calais Campbell is looking forward to the opportunity.

“I really felt like I could have had four sacks last week and I had zero,” Campbell told Tim Ryan and Pat Kirwan of SiriusXM NFL Radio on Tuesday, regarding the Cardinals’ Week Seven loss to the Vikings.  “So I gotta make up for that this week especially going against the 49ers who I really hate with a passion.  I can’t wait to go out there and stick it to them.  Alex Smith I’ve gotten down a few times so I know he’s thinking about me a little bit.  So I can’t wait to get out there.”

Told that the Niners don’t like him either, Campbell had no complaints.  “They’re not supposed to like me,” Campbell said.  “I’m not supposed to like you.  That’s what makes this game so special.  I mean, off the field I don’t have nothing against anybody but on that field come Monday night, it’s on and crackin’.”

It definitely is, and it definitely will be, in six days.

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Jimmy Graham to test ankle on Wednesday, could be ready for Week 8

New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham will test his injured ankle on Wednesday and could be ready to take the field in Week 8, coach Joe Vitt said on Monday. Vitt said there was a pretty good chance of Graham being able to play against the Denver Broncos.

Graham was inactive for Sunday's win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Graham was was limited late last week in practice and had been listed as questionable for Week 7. Graham hurt the ankle earlier this month against the San Diego Chargers.

Fantasy Impact: Fantasy owners counting on Graham had to be a little frustrated on Sunday but that is the risk of not having a backup plan for an injured player. His injury status will be monitored as the week goes along but there is a better chance he plays this week.

Graham remains a No. 1 fantasy tight end and should return soon.

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Mike Tomlin Puts DeMarcus Van Dyke & Stevenson Sylvester On Notice

The special teams co-coach has seen enough. He can't take it anymore.

As soon as he has some healthy bodies, Steelerscoach Mike Tomlin plans to remove the "repeat, egregious offenders" on special teams who erased 85 yards in returns Sunday. It was another in a continuing parade of holding and block-in-the-back penalties.

So, beware DeMarcus Van Dyke and others. Your time is coming ... sometime.

"With all the injuries, we have minimal options," Tomlin said at his Tuesday news conference, categorizing the penchant for special-teams penalties as "disturbing."

When more players return to health, Tomlin said "the repeat, egregious offenders will be watching. You can take a helmet off and make them watch. We feel like we can be explosive in that area, provided we don't shoot ourselves in the foot."

The limping Steelers (3-3) were called for five penalties on special teams Sunday in a 24-17 victory over Cincinnati, where they nearly lost more yards (85 negated and 40 in penalties) than they officially gained (132) in the return game. They were flagged for one penalty on offense and defense, allowing the third-most penalized NFL team to drop to sixth-most this week.

Tomlin fired special teams coach Al Everest before the final preseason game and split his coaching duties between himself and assistant Amos Jones.

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Colts coach Pagano released from hospital

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts won a sometimes sluggish game Sunday over the Cleveland Browns, but their best moment of the day came afterward.

Colts owner Jim Irsay told the team in the locker room that coach Chuck Pagano had been released from the hospital Sunday morning and watched Indianapolis' 17-13 win on television at home.

"I was more thrilled about that than the win," Colts quarterback Andrew Luck said.

Pagano is undergoing treatment for acute promyelocytic leukemia. He will continue his treatment on an outpatient basis and is not expected to return this season.

The game, a battle of rookie quarterbacks on rebuilding teams, came down to the final minutes, with the Colts' defense delivering the stop it needed.
Indianapolis defensive back Jerraud Powers managed to disrupt Brandon Weeden's pass to Josh Cooper on fourth down in Colts territory with 1:54 left to help seal the win at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Colts evened their record at 3-3, while the Browns fell to 1-6.

Luck completed 16 of 29 passes for 186 yards, and he rushed for two touchdowns. Weeden was 25-for-41 for 264 yards and two touchdowns.

The Colts were surprisingly effective on the ground. Rookie Vick Ballard carried the ball 20 times for 84 yards, and second-year back Delone Carter added 41 yards on 11 attempts.

Cleveland managed only 55 yards rushing, and rookie Trent Richardson played only the first half, carrying eight times for 8 yards.

Richardson, who entered the game with a rib injury, was not injured further, but Browns coach Pat Shurmur took him out because he wasn't effective.

"I told our players last week we made enough plays to win the game (against the Cincinnati Bengals)," Shurmur said. "This week we didn't, and there were a lot of contributing factors."

The Colts took a 7-0 lead on their first possession, with Luck directing an 11-play, 80-yard drive that lasted more than seven minutes. It was a mix of run and pass, starting with a 30-yard Luck-to-Reggie Wayne pass and ending with Luck's 3-yard run for the score. Luck was 4-for-4 passing for 67 yards on the drive.

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Reggie Wayne Amazing One Handed Catch .. Packers vs. Colts 2012

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This Date in Miami Hurricanes History...October 24th, 1992

This Date in Miami Hurricanes History...October 24th, 1992.... 
Brought to you by the UM Sports Hall of Fame!

In the first game ever as a BIG EAST member, UMSHoF member Coach Dennis Erickson's top ranked Hurricanes moved to a 7-0 record by defeating the Virginia Tech Hokies 43-23 in front of a Lane Stadium sellout crowd of 51,423 !  The Canes cruised to a 40-3 lead by the end of the 3rd quarter on the strength of UMSHoF member Gino Torretta's 249 yards passing on 17 of 28 attempts and 3 touchdowns !

Stephen McGuire scored on a 1 yard run early in the 3rd to record his 33rd career touchdown, passing UMSHoF member Melvin Bratton's school record !  Coleman Bell had 6 receptions for 117 yards and a score, and Lamar Thomas had 2 touchdowns on 3 receptions for 37 yards.  Dane Prewitt added 3 field goals.  The Miami defense held the Hokies to 231 total yards and collected 4 turnovers !

The Canes won the first of their record 8 BIG EAST conference titles by going 4-0 in the league in 1992 !

For more information go to


The University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame is a non-profit, 501c3 corporation whose sole purpose is to recognize those student-athletes, coaches and administrators who have excelled at their sports and brought acclaim to the university through their accomplishments and championships.  All tax-deductible donations help showcase their achievements for Hurricanes fans to enjoy for generations to come !

To Donate to the UM Sports Hall of Fame, click below...

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5821 San Amaro Drive
Coral Gables, Florida

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John Harbaugh defends decision to not put Ed Reed on injury reports

Ravens coach John Harbaugh doesn't feel he or the organization he works for has violated any rules when it comes to not placing Ed Reed on any recent injury reports.

Last Wednesday, Reed revealed he had a torn labrum in his shoulder. The revelation caused a minor stir considering it was not publicly known he was dealing with that kind of injury.

The NFL decided to look into the matter and is reviewing Ravens' practice and game tapes to see how much Reed has been practicing.

"What they'll find with Ed is that he's practiced 100 percent of the time and he hasn't missed any game time with the injury," Harbaugh said. "Our understanding of the rule has been if they don't miss any time at all according to the injury then it doesn't have to be on the injury report."

On Friday, Harbaugh said 25 to 30 players are dealing with minor injuries but have been able to fully participate in practice. Rather than place all of them on the injury report, the Ravens have kept their daily lists to a minimum. For Sunday's game against the Texans, the Ravens listed five total players on the injury report while Houston listed 15.

This would explain why Baltimore appeared healthier than it probably has been, especially before Ray Lewis (triceps) and Lardarius Webb (ACL) sustained season-ending injuries.

The NFL has cracked down on injury report violators recently. The league fined Washington and Buffalo $20,000 each for not being as forthcoming as it would have liked -- the Redskins for not disclosing a Robert Griffin III concussion and the Bills for not mentioning Mario Williams had a wrist injury.

Harbaugh said he didn't believe the Ravens had done anything wrong but that the franchise will adhere to whatever the NFL decides.

"I'm very confident that we understand that rule as well as anyone in the league," Harbaugh said. "We've kept the injury report very tight. We've kept it to the guys who have to be on the injury report. Not that we're trying to hide any injuries, but we could do what some other teams do and put a bunch of guys on there. And I'm just as happy to do that. We could put all the guys on the injury report. If they'd rather us do that, we'll do that. Whatever they tell us do, we'll do. We're trying to follow the rules."

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Antrel Rolle says Giants will show 'who's the better team' Sunday vs. Cowboys

The Giants, at 5-2, are riding a three-game winning streak and enter Sunday's game against the 3-3 Cowboys with a chance to create some significant separation between themselves and the rest of the NFC East pack.

They also will have the opportunity to exact some revenge from the Giants' season-opening 24-17 loss.

"We didn't like going out there and losing that game," safety Antrel Rolle said in an interview on WFAN this afternoon. "Our first game at home, Wednesday night game, all the bright lights were turned on us and they came here and they whooped our butts, fair and square.

"They were definitely the better team that night and we'll show them who's the better team come Sunday night."

Observers claim the Giants are playing the best football in the NFL as they head into a brutal stretch on the schedule. Rolle doesn't think so.

"I can't say that we're the best team in football right now," Rolle said. "For one, our record doesn't show that, but two, we've been playing good football. I wouldn't say we've been playing great football. I don't think we've been playing to the kind of level I know we can play as a complete unit so at this point in time we're right where we need to be."

The Falcons own the league's best record at 6-0, while the Texans are 6-1 and the Bears are 5-1. The Giants are one of four teams sitting at 5-2.

"We'll continue to get better each and every week, but as far as putting that title of being the best team in football, no one is going to be able to do that until February, February 4th or 5th, whenever that game [the Super Bowl] is played," Rolle said. "Until then you just try to grow and get better each and every week and that's what we're trying to do here with the Giants."

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Taking stock of Ray Lewis' legacy

Ray Lewis is injured and will not play again this season. Given that he will be 38 years old in 2013, his illustrious career might be over. The garish yellow jacket of Canton induction is in his future. How should Lewis be assessed?

The minor question is whether Lewis was tailing off this year. The answer is: Of course he was -- he was playing as an NFL linebacker at age 37. Sunday, Lewis whiffed badly on what looked to be a routine tackle at the line of scrimmage, allowing Felix Jones of Dallas a 22-yard touchdown run. In 2010, the Ravens' defense was fifth against the rush; in 2011, it was second; after Sunday, it was 26th. Father Time is catching up to others on the Baltimore front, too. But Lewis' decline is obvious. Traditionally teams run away from him; this season they've run at him. The reason is aging, a human condition that appears irreversible.

So how to assess Lewis? The positive are many: Super Bowl ring, two defensive Player of the Year awards, an amazing 12 Pro Bowl trips. Among the few middle linebackers of the modern era who do not come off the field on passing downs (Brian Urlacher and London Fletcher head the short list of others). Active in public service. And in an era of me-first job-hopping by players and coaches alike, Lewis has spent his entire 17-season career in the same place. He might be the last of a dying breed in terms of loyalty to team and city.

The negative: Lewis has a criminal record, from pleading guilty to a serious crime. He cannot be understood without this context, which in recent years has been strangely absent from sportscasting and sportswriting.

In 2000, Lewis and two other men were charged with murder in Fulton County, Ga. (Atlanta). The murder charge was dropped when Lewis pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and agreed to testify against the friends he had been with when the friends stabbed two men to death after a Super Bowl party. Lewis admitted lying to police, and based on his testimony, the best-case reading of his actions is that a huge, muscular NFL player stood by doing nothing while his companions killed a pair of men. The companions subsequently were acquitted on grounds of self-defense; it was suggested, though never proved, that the two men killed threatened Lewis' group with a gun. Society might never know for sure what happened that night. When a desperate fight occurs in the dark, even the people involved might never know for sure what happened.

Until the killings, Lewis had a reputation as a man to be feared. Since the killings, his reputation has changed: Now it is of a hard-nosed football player, but a kind person off the field. He talks to youth groups. He is tireless in having his photograph taken with strangers, something many NFL celebrities dislike. (I have observed Lawrence Taylor become angry when approached by kids for a photograph.) He is unfailingly accessible to the media, which many NFL players consider their enemy. He smiles and stops to help people.

That is -- Lewis, by appearances, is redeemed. No one can know what is in another person's heart. But since 2000, Lewis has seemed a changed man. And this is more important than his achievements as a football player.

The world is full of impressive athletes, and full of men who have done bad things and gotten away with it. There is a distinct shortage of those who have made themselves better people.

Assuming Lewis leaves the NFL, reporters and conventional audiences will want him to tell amusing anecdotes of his experiences his famous football players. He should tell awkward, unpleasant anecdotes about his own life. Lewis' experiences with himself are the essence to assessing him. The saying goes: What happens to a man matters less than what happens inside a man. In Lewis' case, it seems that what happened inside was good.

In football-tactics news, since when do teams try to set up very long field goals? Baltimore leading 31-29, the Cowboys had first down on the Nevermores' 34 with 26 seconds remaining, holding a timeout. Rather than run another play to improve field position, Dallas let the clock tick down to six, used the timeout, then watched the placekicker miss a 51-yard attempt. This botched sequence was partly due to wide receivers Miles Austin and Kevin Ogletree, who had gone deep on the previous snap, walking, not running, back toward the huddle. Still, 'Boys coach Jason Garrett had not prepared the team by calling two plays. A 51-yarder is automatic -- is that what they teach at Princeton?

This proved nothing compared to St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher's decision. Trailing Miami by three points, the Rams had fourth-and-7 on the Dolphins' 48 with 31 seconds remaining, holding a timeout. Rather than go for a first down to improve field position, Fisher let the clock tick, using the timeout at four seconds. Fisher set up a 66-yard field goal attempt. Which, shockingly, did not succeed.

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Tim George Jr. in No. 93 at Martinsville

Tim George Jr. will make his first appearance at Martinsville Speedway in the Camping World Truck Series.

George will pilot the No. 93 Chevrolet with the familiar Applebee's/Potomac Family Dining Group colors this weekend in the Kroger 200, instead of the No. 2 Chevrolet. Crew chief Gere Kennon will call the shots for George and his RCR pit crew will service the truck during the 200-lap affair.-Richard Childress Racing

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John Salmons' return still up in the air

PHOENIX – The Kings are uncertain when John Salmons will return to the team. When he does, he'll have to play his way back into the rotation.

Salmons has missed the last five preseason games, including Monday night's 103-88 loss to the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center.

Salmons was excused from the team for personal reasons.

"No timetable," Kings coach Keith Smart said of Salmons' return. "Just in communication with him, and I told him just take your time and come back when you're ready."

In Salmons' absence, James Johnson, Francisco Garcia and Travis Outlaw appear to have cornered the minutes at small forward with Tyreke Evans still playing there when the Kings go with a smaller lineup.

Salmons began last season as the starting small forward but was benched while mired in a season-long slump.

When Salmons does return, Smart expects he will need time to catch up with teammates and to get into NBA shape.

"You can go run on a treadmill at the Y, (but) it's just not the same," Smart said. "We've got to get his conditioning back to where it was when he left and then see what he does once he starts playing."

Smart figures Salmons is working out and that he won't return totally out of shape. The coach just doesn't want to throw him back into a game before Salmons is ready.

"I'm sure as a veteran he's doing (what it takes) to keep himself going," Smart said.

Cisco rises – One of the things the Kings are most pleased about this preseason is Garcia's shooting.

The Kings are looking for players who can be consistent threats from the perimeter to create more space on offense.

Garcia has shot well in practice and in preseason games.

Through Monday's game, Garcia has taken 19 shots in the preseason.

Fifteen of those shots were three-point attempts, and Garcia has made six (40 percent). He missed both of his three-point attempts against the Suns.

After shooting a career high 39.8 percent from three-point range in the 2008-09 season, Garcia has watched his three-point percentage decline.

He shot 29 percent from behind the arc last season, his worst rate since his rookie season of 2005-06 (28.5 percent).

Regular-season preparation – Smart had said he'd use the final two preseason games to begin easing the minutes played by his main players. That was the case Monday as training camp invitees Tony Mitchell, Hamady N'Diaye and Willie Reed all played in the first half.

The Kings end the preseason Thursday against the Lakers in San Diego.

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PHOTO: Anthony Reddick Gets A Sack

Anthony Reddick, 26, and Khreem Smith, 94, of the BC Lions sack quarterback Kerry Joseph, 5, of the Edmonton Eskimos as they played in CFL action at BC Place in Vancouver, October 19, 2012.

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Leonard Hankerson grabs six passes

Leonard Hankerson caught six passes for 70 yards in the Redskins' Week 7 loss to the Giants.
Stepping in at the "X" spot for Pierre Garcon (foot) once again, Hankerson led the team with eight targets. He was solid, showing fearlessness over the middle and creating separation on slant routes. The big plays for the Redskins' offense came on a bubble screen to Santana Moss and a go route to the slot receiver. Hankerson will be a flex option against the Steelers next week if Garcon sits, but we can't expect any big plays. He has one touchdown and one play longer than 23 yards on the season.

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Reggie Wayne goes 6-73 in Week 6 victory

Reggie Wayne secured six passes for 73 yards in the Colts' Week 7 win over the Browns.

The Browns surprisingly left RCB Sheldon Brown on Wayne's side for most of Sunday's snaps, rather than "shadow" him with top cover corner Joe Haden. Wayne was the only Indianapolis receiver capable of getting open with any hint of consistency in the victory, and turned in another productive PPR game. Through six contests, Wayne has 47 receptions for 666 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Keep him rolling against the Titans in Week 8.

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Travis Benjamin catches 3 balls for 33 yards

Browns rookie WR Travis Benjamin returned to the lineup from a hamstring injury in Week 6 and caught three passes for 33 yards.

He was targeted five times. Benjamin was the No. 4 receiver behind Greg Little, Josh Gordon, and Josh Cooper, but the Browns under Pat Shurmur have always believed in receiver rotations and Benjamin received a healthy dose of snaps. Benjamin isn't a re-draft league fantasy option, but he's someone to keep in mind long term. Benjamin can really run and Cleveland's offense is improving.

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Andre Johnson goes off for 86 yards

Andre Johnson racked up nine catches for 86 yards in the Texans' Week 7 win over the Ravens.

Although Johnson isn't yet hitting big plays down the football field, he's now racked up 17 receptions and 75-or-more yards in his last two games. He's certainly still an imposing presence out wide, even if Johnson has lost a step or two in terms of vertical route running. The Texans have a Week 8 bye, and Johnson should have no trouble roasting the Bills' defense in Week 9.

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Willis McGahee celebrates 31st birthday in style

Broncos running back Willis McGahee is used to spending his birthday on the football field, or at least practicing on it.

But with the Broncos on their bye week, the Pro Bowl back can enjoy his 31st birthday on Sunday doing whatever he wants. And Willis did it up.

McGahee turned 31 on Sunday, and he celebrated his birthday at least in part by answering tweets from many well-wishers. But, he also definitely got his party on, having gone out with former University of Miami teammate and current Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie and former Bronco and current Detroit Lions cornerback Drayton Florence to Lux Lounge in Washington D.C. on Friday night.

Oh yeah, hot new recording artist Elle Varner also showed up too. You go, Willis.

Time to party like ish yo’ birfday.

McGahee also went back to his hometown of Miami for a little bit before as well. The Broncos don’t have to be back at Dove Valley until Monday. So until then, McGahee can nurse his….birthday cake hangover.

Happy birthday, Willis.

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Saints expecting Jimmy Graham back Sunday against Broncos

The Saints did not miss Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham when he sat out against Tampa Bay with a sprained ankle. They'd just assume not have to push their luck next Sunday night at Denver.

“He's an instant matchup nightmare for defenses,” wide receiver Lance Moore said. “We have a number of different guys that can do a lot of different things once we have everybody in there.”

Newly reinstated interim coach Joe Vitt said Monday the early signs were positive about Graham's return.

“We're going to test Jimmy Graham out Wednesday, but right now we feel good about it,” Vitt said. “We think he's got a good chance to be full go.”

Graham was limited in practice last Thursday and Friday before the Saints decided to leave him in New Orleans for their trip to Tampa. He hurt his right ankle in the first half against San Diego on Oct. 7, and the injury lingered through the bye week.

Drew Brees threw four TD passes in the Saints' 35-28 victory against Tampa Bay, including a go-ahead 20-yard strike to Graham's replacement, David Thomas. Moore and fellow wide receivers Marques Colston, Devery Henderson and Joseph Morgan combined for 20 catches and 317 yards.

For one day, Graham's 99 catches and 1,310 receiving yards from 2011 were irrelevant.

“We've done it before,” Moore said. “I missed a lot of games in 2009 (when New Orleans won the Super Bowl), and the offense didn't really suffer much at all. Those touches get spread around to a lot of different guys. That's what we do.”

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Antrel Rolle says Giants looking for 'get-back' against Cowboys

The Giants earned their first division win Sunday against the Redskins. Up next is a trip to Dallas, to face a Cowboys team that spoiled their season opener by handing the Giants a 24-17 loss.

"Obviously Dallas beat us the first game of the season, so we are definitely looking for get-back," safety Antrel Rolle said. "We’re definitely looking for some get-back at this point in time."

Rolle also went on to call this week's game a "must-win." The Giants sit atop their division with a 5-2 record, although their record in the NFC East is 1-2.

There's also the matter of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' message to fans this summer at his team's training camp, telling them, “Y’all should come to Cowboys Stadium and watch us beat the Giants’ (butts)."

Rolle said that doesn't trigger in their minds this week, but running back Ahmad Bradshaw said they "definitely" remember Jones' words.

"We take pride in the billboard postings and different things, which motivates our team," Bradshaw said. "We just use it all for motivation for our team."

Asked if the Giants look forward to this week's trip, Bradshaw said, "definitely, no question. We have fun in Dallas stadium."

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Ed Reed: Lots of injuries go unreported in NFL

People are getting a little cavalier with this whole injury report thing. Whereas New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick had quarterback Tom Brady listed every week, these teams have simply left guys off.

The Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins were fined $20,000 each Friday for failing to report injuries. The Bills didn't list Mario Williams, who was receiving treatment on his wrist. The Redskins announced quarterback Robert Griffin III was "shaken up" and questionable to return against the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 7. He should have been declared out with a concussion.

Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed recently admitted that he's been playing with a torn labrum. The NFL has launched an official inquiry because Reed has been missing from the Ravens' injury reports. Coach Jim Harbaugh on Friday explained that some 25 to 30 players each week have small injuries that they practice and play through.

"I don't know why it doesn't go on (the injury report)," Reed told the Baltimore Sun. "I'm sure a lot of guys have been through this league and had injuries and it's not reported. That's the physical part of the game and a part of the game that the fans and y'all don't (know) anything about. That's the part that we have to deal with from a workers' compensation situation, so to say. That's stuff that will be taken care of.

"I'm physically all right, but it is what it is on that."

It's hard to see a scenario in which the Ravens aren't fined, especially in the wake of Reed's admission and the fines imposed on the Bills and Redskins. Teams and players try to hide injuries -- that's no surprise. They might have gotten away with it if Reed hadn't talked about it in the interview.

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Meet Leonard Hankerson!

Come by the Harris Teeter in Reston TODAY from 12PM – 1PM to meet Leonard Hankerson and try out his new sandwich, the Hanktastic!

Harris Teeter  
11806 Spectrum Center
Reston, VA 20190
(703) 435-5800

• DATE: October 23, 2012
• TIME:  12:00 PM 
• LOCATION:  Harris Teeter in Reston, Va.

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Ed Reed downplays rib injury

Ravens star free safety Ed Reed landed awkwardly on top of a Houston Texans player's foot in the fourth quarter, suffering a rib contusion.

However, the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year returned to play Sunday in the Ravens' 43-13 loss to the Texans at Reliant Stadium.

Afterward, Reed downplayed the severity of the injury.

"It was my rib and kidney, I think they said I took a cleat," Reed said. "It felt like I fell on a shoe or something. It's just really sore right now. It hurt like heck when I was out there.

"I just hoped nothing was broken and I didn't feel like anything was broken.  It just kind of cut my wind a little bit, but I'll be all right."

Reed didn't appear to have trouble with the torn labrum in his shoulder that he complained of last week and hasn't been listed on the Ravens' official injury report, causing the NFL to look into the matter.

Reed had six tackles against the Texans

Ravens coach John Harbaugh had a similar take on the injury, saying: "It looked like a rib contusion kind of a deal, but I haven't heard the finaly say on that."

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Jonathan Vilma implores Saints to 'continue to hit'

Jonathan Vilma is appealing his season-long suspension for his role in the New Orleans Saints' bounty program, but his seemingly endless legal battle hasn't changed his approach to football.

On the eve of his season debut, Vilma gave a impromptu speech at the team hotel before the Saints' 35-28 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"He told us to hit -- and continue to hit," Saints guard Jahri Evanstold and NFL Network's Jeff Darlington after the game. "It showed a guy that was hungry, ready to put the pads on and hit somebody. He hadn't hit anybody in a long time. I think it got a lot of people in the mood to just go out there and hit."

Vilma asked Darlington to talk to teammates about his speech, which struck a nerve with a locker room that looks up to the linebacker as a leader and believes NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has unfairly targeted him.

"It was beautiful," safety Roman Harper said. "(Vilma) is an emotional guy. And who can blame him? He's been through a lot. He's the definition of a fighter. After all these things that have been going on, he's been battling through it.

"Now the rest of us need to do the same."

Vilma didn't start Sunday, but he saw time at weakside linebacker. He finished with no tackles and one quarterback hit. He can play next Sunday against the Denver Broncos before his appeal is heard by Paul Tagliabue on Oct. 30. Vilma's abbreviated season could be over after that.

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For Santana Moss, ecstasy then agony

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — In a slightly different world, Santana Moss would face the bright TV lights and microphones thrust inches from his face and relive the happy instant when the game-winning touchdown found his hands.

Instead, Moss thrust the hands deep into his pockets. The detritus of defeat surrounded him: crumpled blue towels, empty water bottles, discarded game programs, shards of training tape and the urgency to leave MetLife Stadium.

In the span of a few jarring minutes Sunday, Moss went from hauling in a 30-yard touchdown pass to losing a fumble on the last-ditch drive as the New York Giants survived the Washington Redskins, 27-23.

“It’s something,” the receiver said, “you don’t want to be a part of.”

In the midst of his 12th NFL season, Moss understands Sunday’s extremes better than most. He tries not to get too high or low. Cliches beat back the waves of cameras. He spoke in an even, gathered voice about a turn of events as appealing to him as a dip in the nearby Hackensack River.

Yes, he felt badly about fumbling. Yes, he felt good about the touchdown.

That last touchdown — his second of the afternoon, with 1:32 remaining — stuck in his mind. Victory over the defending Super Bowl champions felt like beating Giants rookie cornerback Jayron Hosley by three steps on a seam route while Robert Griffin III’s pass caught him in stride like something from a quarterback instructional video. The touchdown would do it. The touchdown had to.

“We had the game pretty much in our grasp,” said Moss, who caught four passes for 67 yards. “Would I want it to happen a little different? Yeah, but when you’re fighting, anything can happen. Sometimes you lose a fight. I just feel like a lost a fight.”

A win came before the loss. Griffin noticed Moss one-on-one against a rookie. The opportunity was too enticing to pass up. Never mind that Moss‘ extensive playing time came thanks to big-ticket free-agent Pierre Garcon’s lingering (and mysterious) foot injury. Never mind Moss‘ 33 years, an age when most players move into their post-football careers.

“I just want to give him a chance,” Griffin said. “He told me he appreciates that because a lot of people have said they don’t think he still has it. I, for one, have seen it. I think he still has it and he showed it right there.”

Of course, Eli Manning’s 77-yard touchdown pass to Victor Cruz followed.

Moss, though, had another opportunity. Did the Giants score too quickly? The football rested on the Redskins‘ 32-yard line with 46 seconds left. Could Griffin conjure up another rally against a defense he shredded for 347 total yards? The quarterback zipped an 11-yard pass into Moss‘ arms. He wrapped the football with two arms responsible for 655 career catches.

Somehow, someway Giants linebacker Chase Blackburn clawed the ball free. Moss hadn’t lost a fumble since 2010, when he handed over two fumbles.
All tackle Trent Williams saw was the football — and comeback ­— on the ground. Hosley, the rookie Moss beat a few minutes earlier, scooped up the ball. Williams hoped Moss‘ knee was down. So did running back Alfred Morris. That’s all they had left. But Moss‘ knee wasn’t down. The rally ended and sent Giants supporters whooping back to their tailgates and New Jersey Transit trains and tour buses.

After the cameras receded, Moss slipped through the locker room, arms covered by his blue-green sweater. The touchdown that gave the Redskins an oh-so-brief lead seemed far away. Across the piled duffel bags and stacks of jerseys and overflowing garbage cans stood Morris. Before the season started, the rookie asked Moss to autograph a No. 89 jersey. Moss had always been his favorite Redskin.

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Frank Gore feeling better after bruising ribs, losing breath Thursday

Frank Gore left the 49ers practice facility today with a big pack of ice wrapped around his bruised ribs, but he said the pain and shortness of breath that knocked him out of Thursday's game had subsided. In fact, Gore didn't even miss his daily workout.

"I'll find a way to get out there and help the team," the running back said of playing in the next game. "What do we have -- 11 days, 10 days? -- before the next game, so that will be good."

Gore was injured in the second quarter when, after catching a short pass, he was drilled in the back by cornerback Brandon Browner. The more he played, Gore said, the harder it become for him to breathe, and it was particularly tough after long runs.

He had several of those in the fourth quarter, and midway through the period he took himself out of the game. Gore rushed for 131 yard and added another 51 in receiving yards. Kendall Hunter was on the field for the team's final two drives.

Gore said it was the most pain he's played through in his career, which is significant considering the injuries he's endured. Still, he said he's optimistic he can play in the team's Oct. 29 game against Arizona. "I'm going to come in tomorrow, do what I have to do and keep myself ready," Gore said.

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Antrel Rolle keeps lighting fire in Giants teammates

The words came straight from the heart and poured out of Antrel Rolle’s mouth as he stood in front of his locker inside a shell-shocked locker room. The 2011 Giants had just given a shameful performance against the Redskins and had been booed out of MetLife Stadium — and a Super Bowl dream appeared shattered.

But Rolle’s impassioned plea helped transform the Giants into champions:

“If you’re going to go out here and play the game on Sunday, you need to be out there with your men throughout the week,” Rolle said that day. “I’ve been nicked up all year long. A lot of other people have been nicked up all year long. We go out there and we’re fighting.

“I don’t know. I ain’t the coach, man. I’m not trying to be the coach, and I’m not trying to say what he should do or shouldn’t do. But I feel as teammates we need to hold each other more accountable. If you’re going to be in the battle come Sunday, let’s be in the battle throughout the week. That’s only going to make us better.”

On the eve of another important divisional home game against the Redskins, I asked Rolle what compelled him to stand up that day.

“I really don’t know, I felt like it was do-or-die that moment,” he said. “I just felt like we needed all of our guys on the field. I felt like in order for us to have any kinda shot, we needed everyone on the field. And that was the only message to that comment, because I knew what I was going through. Maybe my teammates didn’t know, but I knew what I was going through, I knew what I was battling. I just felt like if we had all of our guys out there and we have more of that attitude, we’ll just get ourselves that much over the hump.”

Rolle had a pair of bum shoulders.

“I had excruciating pain at times,” he said.

He practiced anyway.

“The way I see it, if I can run, I’m gonna practice,” Rolle said.

I asked him if he knew his words would carry so much impact.

“I definitely knew it would be an eye-opener,” he said. “The way I look at it, if things are always kept under wraps, then guys are gonna keep on doing the same thing. Once people started paying attention to it and looking to see, ‘Well, OK, who’s out there, who’s not, who’s this, who’s that?’ it might give a little sense of urgency, ‘Let me get my butt out there.’ ”

His teammates knew Rolle wasn’t singling anyone out.

“I think it was more or less a wakeup [call],” Justin Tuck said. “We understood he wasn’t talking to anybody individually. But I think guys took it to heart, and understood that he was right. We understood we had to step it up. ... I think some guys came back, and probably shouldn’t have. But the fact of the matter is it helped us. He hadn’t made a stance like that before, so no one had kinda looked at him in a leadership role, but after that, it really woke this team up. You give him a lot of credit for having confidence to stand up and say what was right, and the rest is history.”

Super Bowl history. From that moment on, the Giants were “all-in.” And when Rolle looks around now, in the only place he wants to be, he sees a 2012 Giants team that has adopted that mentality.

“We definitely have guys out there practicing that’s hurt and nicked-up and bruised,” he said. “We still have to be very, very smart about injuries — you gotta be careful, you don’t anyone damaging themselves, but if they can go, at least give a little bit. Any little presence is better than none.”

Especially when you are defending a championship. Especially this Sunday, when the Giants cannot afford to drop to 0-3 in the NFC East.

“There’s never gonna be a letdown Sunday for us, there’s never gonna be a roller-coaster Sunday for us,” Rolle said.

“This is definitely a must-win game for us, without a doubt,” Rolle said.

He likes the mentality of this year’s team more than the up-and-down 2011 Giants.

“I think we might have the edge a little bit more this year,” Rolle said. “Us going though that last year has put a little bit of a fire under our butt this year to get things going early and try to keep it going early, never have letdowns and never get complacent due to any kind of success.”

When E.F. Rolle speaks, everyone listens.

“Although I may be outspoken to the rest of the world, within the locker room, I don’t really say too much to the guys here,” he said. “Whenever I say something, they know it comes from deep within. It takes a lot for certain things to come out of me. ... I’m never gonna say anything that’s out of character or that’s not 100 per cent true.”

If you’re in a foxhole, you want Antrel Rolle in it with you.

“I consider myself a nut at times,” Rolle said. “A lot of times I really don’t think logical at all. I never say no. I know my coaches take advantage of it, so whatever they ask me to do, I’m gonna make sure I get it done, to the best of my ability.”

Rolle always considers himself the toughest guy out there on Sundays.

“I’ve respected opponents, but I’ve never feared anyone,” Rolle said. “It doesn’t matter how big, strong, fast they are. My teammates will definitely vouch for me — I’ll attack anything moving.”

His two interceptions of the Niners’ Alex Smith last Sunday earned him NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

“I always make fun of my coaches, they always say, ‘Antrel, you’re not gonna stretch?’ And I say, ‘Do you ever see a lion stretch before they go hunt their prey?’ They just get up and go get it,” Rolle said. “No matter what I’m asked to do, I just try to go get it.”

From the man who restored the roar to the Giants.

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Willis McGahee says struggling running game 'a long ways away'

ENGLEWOOD, Colo.—Willis McGahee isn't frustrated by the performance of the Broncos’ running game. But there's no masking the lack of production from that part of the offense, which has been held below 75 yards and to 3.5 yards or less per carry in three of the past four games.

The balky running game is partly culpable for the Broncos' notoriously slow starts, especially the past two weeks. McGahee averaged 3.8 yards per carry in the first half at New England in Week 5, then was held to 0.7 yards per carry in the first half at San Diego.

The Broncos tried to get the ground game going early at San Diego, playing their first possession in a three-tight end formation that shoved blocking specialist Virgil Green into the starting lineup for the first time this season. But Denver's blockers have struggled to get any kind of push in recent weeks, and the Broncos have quickly abandoned the run.

Denver's best hope at building a balanced offense might be to use the pass to set up the run. McGahee finally got going in the fourth quarter Monday, averaging 6.3 yards per carry as the Chargers began dropping back in zones to neutralize Peyton Manning, who was shredding San Diego during the Broncos’ comeback win.

"We're close, but we're still a long ways away," McGahee said. "There are certain things we can do better and get better at as far as the run game. But at the end of the day, last year I didn't start out like 100-yard game, 100-yard game. It was nickel-and-diming it."

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Jon Vilma gives Saints 'D emotional lift against Bucs

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Inspired by Jonathan Vilma's return, New Orleans' porous defense found a way to keep Tampa Bay out of the end zone, then did it again to preserve the Saints' second straight win.

Drew Brees threw for 377 yards and four touchdowns, however Sunday's 35-28 victory over the Buccaneers wouldn't have been possible without a third-quarter goal-line stand and another stop to end the game.

"I don't know how much better we got. I know we won the game. That's always a positive," safety Roman Harper said. "We were always finding ways to lose a game, and now we're finding ways to win a game.

With Vilma playing for the first time while appealing a season-long suspension for his role in the Saints bounty program and Brees shrugging off an early interception that led to Tampa Bay's first touchdown, New Orleans (2-4) took another step toward turning around its season following an 0-4 start.

Vilma provided an emotional lift, if not any game-changing plays. Brees extended his NFL record for consecutive games with at least one TD pass to 49 and launched a 95-yard scoring drive that put the Saints up 14 points after the defense stopped four straight Bucs running plays from the New Orleans 1 late in the third quarter.

Brees was 27 of 37 and threw TDs passes of 17 yards to Marques Colston, 9 yards to Darren Sproles, 48 yards to Joseph Morgan and 20 yards to David Thomas to overcome the New Orleans defense yielding a season-high 513 yards.

Vilma, who has a hearing on his appeal scheduled for Oct. 30, finished with one quarterback hit but no tackles.

"I tried to not let my emotions get the best of me," Vilma said. I didn't want to put myself in a situation where I was going to hurt the team or anything like that, so I tried not to be overexcited."

Teammates said it was good to have him on the field.

"Having him back just, emotionally, really made a difference in this game," interim Saints coach Aaron Kromer said. "We were trying to get him in in certain packages, and we had a couple of linebackers go down early in the game."

Vilma was very business-like, answering questions while getting dressed in the locker room. He said he wasn't sure how many snaps he played, but that he felt fine and believed he was in good enough condition to play an entire game.

The ninth-year pro said he had always believed he'd get an opportunity to play this season.

"Most people didn't, but it was a long, drawn-out process, and for good or bad, it ended up this way and I was able to be back on the field with my teammates. That was a great feeling," Vilma said.

Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has been appointed as arbitrator for Vilma's appeal, as well as the hearings for three other players facing suspensions of various lengths.

"I think it's a good first step for Paul to be the neutral arbitrator," said Vilma, who played mostly in passing situations on Sunday. "We expect that he's going to do things in a neutral capacity, which will allow us to cross-examine some of the witnesses and allow us to see the evidence, if there is any evidence."

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VIDEO: Watch: DeQuan Jones, Jameer Nelson Hook Up for Alley-Oop

The Orlando Magic topped the Indiana Pacers, 112-96, on Friday for their first victory of the 2012/13 preseason. And while there are plenty of highlights to be found--six Orlando players scored in double-figures, and the team shot 54.9 percent from the field--none was more electric than DeQuan Jones' alley-oop dunk from Jameer Nelson.

After a Pacers turnover, the Magic outlet the ball to Nelson on the left side of the floor. Jones leaked up the right side, and no Indy player managed to plug it up. Nelson found Jones with a pinpoint lob pass, and Jones flushed it easily and with both hands.

One can hardly fault Magic play-by-play man Dennis Neumann for misidentifying Jones as Oklahoma City Thunder swingman Daequan Cook; it's easy, even for professionals, to lose one's faculties in the immediate aftermath of a highlight-reel play.

Jones, an undrafted rookie from Miami (FL), is averaging 10.2 points per game in five preseason appearances, shooting 60.5 percent from the floor. His consistent, efficient productivity may have given him the inside track to the Magic's 15th and final roster spot.

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DeQuan Jones soars despite long odds

Small forward DeQuan Jones is probably better than, oh, 95 percent of the world at playing basketball.

That’s likely not enough to make the Magic roster, which has 13 guaranteed contracts.

Despite the long odds, Jones has played with a fervor this preseason, displaying his athletic assets that could draw interest from another team, stateside or abroad.

Friday night, Jones, an undrafted free agent out of the University of Miami, opened eyes again in the Magic’s 112-96 win against the Indiana Pacers at Amway Center.

Jones hit 5-of-6 shots for 10 points, had four blocks and turned in the highlight play of the night – a fastbreak alley-oop dunk off a pass from Jameer Nelson.

“The good thing is we haven’t made any cuts so far,” Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said when asked about Jones’ chances of making the team. “Go to practice and work hard. That’s my advice I have for him. Be good to the game and the game will be good to you.”

Added Vaughn, “DeQuan has done a good job. He tries to get better every day and I appreciate that. He did a good job using his athleticism against some pretty good forwards.”

Jones knows what he’s up against.

“I feel fine. I just go out and play the best basketball I can and just let the rest take care of itself. I use my speed, my agility,” he said. “I try to be an energy guy, a utility guy.”

Jones said the coaches and veterans such as Jameer Nelson have helped him immensely.

“They all talked to me about letting the game come to you….so it kind of slows down,” he said.

The Magic have three more preseason games left, and cuts could start any day with 20 players on the roster.

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proCane DeQuan Jones seizes opportunity with Orlando Magic

There is a price to pay for being a rookie in NBA training camp.

DeQuan Jones, the former University of Miami forward, learned that as soon as he joined the Orlando Magic as an undrafted newcomer a few months ago. He has had to carry luggage for the veterans, make CVS runs to buy Old Spice body wash for the team and stop at Target to pick up a stepladder for captain Jameer Nelson, who at 6 feet needs a bit of help to reach the top shelf of his locker.

Jones is so accustomed to the rookie ribbing that he thought it was another joke when coach Jacque Vaughn on Sunday called his name to join the starters in the team shootaround before the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“Coach Vaughn always starts practice at the baseline, and on Sunday he said, ‘I want the first five out here, and started listing off the names … Jameer, D.J.’ I was thinking, ‘D.J.? That’s me. Was that a typo?’ Coach looked right at me when he said it, but I was hesitant to walk over because I’ve experienced all the rookie pranks and I thought maybe this was another trick. So, I just stood there until I realized it was for real.’’

Vaughn opted to rest J.J. Redick that night and wanted to see Jones in the starting lineup to evaluate how he would respond, and how he would do guarding the Cavs’ better players. Jones didn’t disappoint. He finished with seven points and nine rebounds.

He did well enough to earn a second start on the road against the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night.

Before the game, Nelson, who has been particularly helpful to Jones, approached the rookie and said: “This is your chance. Take advantage of the opportunity.’’

Jones took the advice. He scored a game-high 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting. He also did a standout job defending the Pistons’ wings and made highlights nationwide with an acrobatic dunk over Detroit’s top pick, 7-foot center Andre Drummond. During camp, Jones has impressed coaches, teammates, executives and fans with his explosiveness, athleticism and versatility. He has looked equally comfortable as a forward and a shooting guard.

The former Cane also has wowed fans with spectacular dunks that are circulating on YouTube and Twitter.

As a result, Magic coaches and executives find themselves in a DeQuan-dary. They have 20 players on the roster, and only 15 make the final cut the first week of November. Jones is likely battling Justin Harper, Ish Smith, Josh McRoberts, Armon Johnson, E’Twaun Moore and Christian Eyenga for one or two spots.

“I came into camp with no expectations,’’ Jones said by phone. “I was just excited for the opportunity to finally live my dream and be part of an NBA organization. I sat around the TV for three hours during the NBA Draft, enduring the reality that I was not being drafted. I was down, but the next day, after a good night’s sleep, I told myself, ‘Stay focused. The ball’s in your court. Don’t give up.’ ’’

The Magic called the following day, and Jones has exceeded expectations.

Not bad for a guy who averaged just 5.9 points per game his senior season as a Hurricane. Jones’ last year at UM was hardly what he had anticipated when he signed with the program four years earlier as a much-hyped Atlanta high school and AAU star.

He was suspended by UM for the first 11 games of his senior season because his name was implicated in the Nevin Shapiro booster scandal, an allegation he and his family vehemently denied. The school, unable to produce any evidence against Jones, reinstated him Dec. 21, 2011, after he retained an attorney to challenge the suspension.

Through it all, Jones kept a positive attitude and took advantage of the time on the bench to become a better student of the game. He paid close attention to advice from then-new coach Jim Larranaga and assistants Eric Konkol, Chris Caputo and Michael Huger. The lessons have served him well in Magic camp. Larranaga and his staff continue to text Jones several times a week with tips and encouragement.

“My introductory meeting with Coach L when he was hired, he told me the key to success was to utilize my strengths and hide my weaknesses,’’ Jones said. “He broke my game down for me in a way nobody ever had, and taught me how to utilize my strengths in every situation, how to best cover a great shooter, how to guard a penetrator. He helped me understand how I can best make an impact with my energy and athleticism. Almost every day I reach back to a lot of what he and the other UM coaches taught me, and it still applies.’’

One of the few gaffes Jones has made in Magic camp came just before his first start. During pregame introductions, he jogged over and shook the hands of the referees, a college custom. The veterans immediately mocked him.

“Jameer was cracking up, told me that was a rookie move,’’ Jones said, laughing. “Those are moments you take with you for a long time. I’m just soaking it all in, playing my game and hoping for the best.’’

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