Vince Wilfork fined $30K

Vince Wilfork's instinct to protect his teammates cost him $30,000.

The NFL fined the New England defensive tackle for hitting Jacksonville offensive lineman Steve Vallos in the back of the head during Sunday's following a Patrick Chung interception.

Vallos hit Patriots defensive end Trevor Scott from behind near the end of the play, sending him to the ground, and afterward Wilfork said he was sticking up for his teammate. He was flagged for unnecessary roughness.

"That was protecting my teammate, plain and simple," Wilfork said. "You're not going to sit right in front of me and take a cheap shot at my guy with me standing behind you, that won't fly. Plain and simple. I'll probably get penalized for it, I did, but at the same time, you'll never see me letting my teammates just get cheap-shotted like that with me standing right there."

Bookmark and Share

Ed Reed fined $55K by NFL for illegal hit on Victor Cruz

The NFL fined Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed $55,000 for his illegal hit on New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, Fox Sports insider and NFL Network contributor Jay Glazer reported Thursday.'s Albert Breer, via a source briefed on the fine, confirmed the league's punishment of Reed, who was flagged for the fourth-quarter hit during the Ravens' 33-14 win last Sunday.

The NFL suspended Reed for one game in November for his third hit on a defenseless player in a four-year span. Reed appealed, and the suspension was replaced with a $50,000 fine.

"I just play the game," Reed told The Baltimore Sun on Thursday before the fine was announced. "I let them make those decisions."

Reed hasn't been thrilled with the way the NFL has ruled on his hits. Cruz said after the game that he believed the hit was legal.

At least it didn't draw another suspension.

Bookmark and Share

Calais Campbell Keeps Coming

He didn’t make the Pro Bowl, which wasn’t a huge deal to Calais Campbell but was a rallying point to many who believed the Cardinals’ defensive end deserved such an honor.

If nothing else, the support Campbell got underscored the strides he had made. Campbell sees it as a natural progression.

“Last year I feel like I was playing at a high level and some good ball but I feel this year I am just a lot more knowledgeable and I feel more comfortable in the game,” Campbell said. “I get in my stance and feel like I can see what’s going to happen before it actually happens, which of course allows you to have success when you know where the ball is going. Hopefully my game continues to get better and better.”

The Cards would take that. Even though Campbell missed three games with a calf injury, he is still is third on the team in tackles with 63 – impressive for a 3-4 defensive end – has 5½ sacks, seven passes defensed and has played very well against the run.

He has been excellent the past two games especially, showing off the growth he’s made just since signing his contract extension last offseason.

“He has said himself at times, he didn’t turn his switch on fast enough,” said veteran defensive end Vonnie Holliday. “When he takes the approach to the game where he feels he has to prove something, when guys get after him about needing to make plays, he seems to play with better pad level, better hands.

“Early in the season, we talked about, ‘Are you really in shape yet? Then he got hurt and it kind of put him in perspective a little bit, all the expectations after getting the big deal and what it takes to be that guy in this league.”

Campbell believes his game would have advanced even without the new contract. But after a big 2011, he did understand people wanted to see a repeat once he wasn’t in a contract year anymore. It is safe to say, Pro Bowl or not, Campbell has done that.

“I feel like you’ll progress if you have the competitive spirit in you,” Campbell said. “You will mature on the field and off the field every day. But I do feel like there is natural pressure when you sign a big deal because everyone expects you to produce. I feel like I could have played better this year, especially earlier in the season. I feel like it was just starting to click when I got hurt. That stinks, because I think those three games were critical.”

Bookmark and Share

Vince Wilfork says the Patriots have a new motto: "Start fast and finish strong"

After putting themselves in a 13-3 hole at the beginning of last week’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Vince Wilfork says if this team wants to go far in the playoffs, than they need to start games off the right way.

Well this Sunday against Miami will be the Patriots last opportunity to get it right. Starting fast as been a common theme this week for the Patriots and Wilfork said it’s a part of their new motto.

“We’ve just got to do a better job of starting games. We’ve showed that we can play with anybody,” said Wilfork. “We can play for 60 minutes, but it’s just so much up and down. Part of that is how we start. Got to do a better job of starting fast. That’s going to be a motto from here on out, start fast and finish strong. It’s a good week to start this week with… We understand that and our main goal is to execute and start fast. If you do two of those things, we’ll be ok.”

It’s been two weeks in a row now that the Patriots started off slow. In Week 15, against San Francisco, the Patriots were down 31-3 in the midst of the third quarter. As good as the Pats have looked in certain games this season, Wilfork believes faster starts will help them become more consistent.

“Throughout the season we’ve just been so inconsistent. If it’s a mental breakdown, a fundamental, a technique issue or whatever it may be. We have to have 11 guys on the same page when we’re on that field,” said Wilfork. “It’s a big challenge for us this week. Bill (Belichick) has been pushing the envelope for us. He’s been demanding that we play better, execute better. I think every guy in this locker room is pushing one another to make sure we go out, finish start and start fast. Start games fast. That will clean up a lot of stuff around here. That’s one of our goals.”  

Bookmark and Share

Ed Reed focused on finishing season before free agency

Ed Reed has a decision to make when the 2012 season ends.

Once the season comes to a close, Reed will become a free agent. He's unlikely to be franchised by the Ravens unless the organization reaches a long term deal with Joe Flacco before the free agency period rolls around.

He insists he isn't worrying about it right now, however.

But even though it's not on his mind at the present time, Reed feels he has enough left in his tank to keep going. It will be a situation where the future Hall of Famer, at age 34, will have to weigh the pros and cons before reaching a conclusion.

"I know, physically, I feel like I can play," Reed said. "But also, physically, I have concerns about my life after football."

Though he's still dealing with the ever-constant pain from a nerve impingement in his neck, as well as a shoulder injury sustained from a torn labrum earlier in the season, Reed has yet to miss a game in 2012.

He's fifth on the team in tackles with 58 and has four interceptions. Reed also has 15 pass deflections and three fumble recoveries.

The injuries clearly haven't slowed Reed down that much as he's constantly receiving treatment at the Ravens' training facility and at home.

"The ailments I have to deal with as a player, for me to play all 16 games, I'm doing what I'm supposed to do," Reed said. "My doctor in the offseason and the midseason maintained myself. I'm doing the right things physically. It's something I take pride in."

Even so, Reed joked that age has crept up on him after he was asked if his range from sideline to sideline remains the same as it once was.

"It's definitely not what it used to be when I was 24 vs. 34," Reed said. "But that's where the mental part comes into it. You slow down physically but mentally you get stronger and understand the game a lot more, which allows me to play the game a certain way and understand how to play the game, put myself in different situations."

Reed doesn't appear ready for retirement any time soon. His numbers are indicative that he still has more football to be played if his body can hold up.

But when Reed does feel the need to leave the game behind, he wants to be involved in the health aspect of the NFL. With the different treatments Reed undergoes to maintain his body, he wants to share his methods with younger players as they come up through the league.

"It's such a grueling time in your life for football players," Reed said. "That's why health is an issue across the league in the past and present, because of the physicalness and violence of the sport. It's something I want to be a part of, and I'm glad my body is bouncing back from the ailments I have right now."

Bookmark and Share

Greg Olsen has more class than flash

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Former Panthers tight end Wesley Walls used to celebrate touchdowns by pretending to shoot the ball as though it were a duck or a clay pigeon.

Greg Olsen celebrates touchdown by handing the ball to the official.

But after getting passed over for the Pro Bowl, despite breaking Walls' team record for catches by a tight end during the best season of his six-year career, Olsen joked that he might need to come up with a signature move.

"Maybe I should start celebrating a little bit more, dunking and doing all that stuff. Because I think sometimes that's what draws a lot of attention," Olsen said Thursday. "But that's just not who I am."

Instead, Olsen is a versatile player who, depending on the situation, could be catching a long pass from Cam Newton or blocking for him. Olsen has established career highs this season with 65 catches for 800 yards, and needs 23 yards to break Walls' receiving yardage record for a Panthers tight end.

But he's also improved as a blocker, and often is asked to line up in the backfield and help out with pass protection. Yet many observers still view Olsen as a one-dimensional, pass-catching tight end.

"That's always been the knock on me. But the funny part is the people who make that knock don't watch the tapes. If you actually stop to watch the tape, I think people would be surprised," Olsen said.

Olsen, 27, was Chicago's first-round draft pick in 2007 after leading Miami with 40 receptions his final season with the Hurricanes. He spent his first four seasons in Chicago before the Bears traded him to Carolina for a third-round pick in 2011 because then-coordinator Mike Martz did not believe he fit into his offense.

Olsen said his reputation as a poor blocker has followed him since college.

"Early in my career, obviously, I wasn't the greatest blocker. But these last couple years - you don't play every down in the NFL if you can't block. You can't hide," he said. "I take a lot of pride in never coming out. And in order to play every play, you have to do it all."

Olsen said the two NFC tight ends in the Pro Bowl - Atlanta's Tony Gonzalez and Dallas' Jason Witten - are deserving players and future Hall-of-Famers. But Olsen said he was disappointed he was not selected as an alternate.

"I was a little surprised, to be blunt. I thought I had as good a season as anybody," Olsen said. "There are not a lot of guys that play every snap and have to do everything."

Panthers left tackle Jordan Gross, whose locker is next to Olsen's, said Olsen has been the ultimate team player since coming to Charlotte.

"Greg has been a huge pick-up for us. He's a guy that does stuff the right way, works hard. Blocks more than most starting tight ends in the league ever dream of blocking. And has a great set of hands on him, as well," Gross said. "He deserves the ball, deserves way more attention than he gets."

Olsen's 65 receptions rank fifth among tight ends - behind Witten (103), Gonzalez (88), New Orleans' Jimmy Graham (76) and Pittsburgh's Heath Miller (71). Miller will miss the Steelers' last game after undergoing knee surgery Thursday.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Olsen's value extends beyond statistics.

"He's a well-rounded tight end. He's not a pass-catching guy by any stretch of the imagination. He's developed into a good blocker," Rivera said. "He's not catching as many passes as some of those other guys. But you have to think about where he fits with what we're doing and just realize how important he is to us."

Olsen is friendly with Walls, who played for the Panthers from 1996-2002 and ranks third on the team's receiving list. The two attended the Wells Fargo Championship with their families last spring at Quail Hollow, where Walls is a member.

Olsen was not familiar with Walls' shotgun routine. And though it might not get him noticed, Olsen plans to keep his celebrations low-key.

"I'm not a big rah-rah, attention-seeking guy," Olsen said. "I know a lot of guys around the league are. That's just not really my thing."

Bookmark and Share

Antrel Rolle: ‘I’m Going Out There To Be A Beast At All Costs’

The New York Giants were thoroughly embarrassed last Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, as they were shut out, 34-0. Giants free safety Antrel Rolle, for one, is not happy about what happened. And he promises to be “a beast” this week against the Ravens. From Dan Hanzus at

Earlier this month, free safety Antrel Rolle spoke of the New York Giants needing to regain their nasty edge. In Rolle’s words, the Giants needed to get their “dog” back. The inner-canine appeared found after Rolle & Co. ripped the New Orleans Saints in Week 14, but the Giants followed that with an epic stinker against the Atlanta Falcons. It was an alarming effort by the team, but Rolle remains confident — or at least quotable — as the Giants prepared for a potential must-win game against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. ”I was absolutely horrified with the way I played,” Rolle said this week to’s Kimberly Jones. “I think I played probably one of my worst games ever.” The Giants missed a whopping 18 tackles against the Falcons, with Rolle himself playing a part in the futility. He promised better production against Baltimore. ”I’m going out there to be a beast at all costs,” he said. “It doesn’t matter the situation we’re in, it doesn’t matter what’s being called. I’m playing all out.” If we’re going off recent history, the Giants have the NFL right where they want them. New York lost a similarly disappointing Week 15 game to the Washington Redskins last season before running off six consecutive wins to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Of course, past performance does not guarantee future results.

Bookmark and Share

Ed Reed Talks Pro Bowl

Reed on the Pro Bowl: Being voted to the Pro Bowl isn't anything new for Reed. This is the ninth time he's earned the honor to represent the Ravens for the AFC's all-star squad.

However, Reed would like to see the game moved back to after the Super Bowl like it used to be.

"It was a lot of fun then," Reed said. "I don't like the fact they switched it and now it's before the Super Bowl. It takes away from it."

One of the reasons Reed favored the old approach was that the Super Bowl winner's representatives would be introduced last. This would fuel the competitor in him, as he was forced to watch any particular season's NFL champions receive a great deal of praise for their accomplishment.

"We wanted to be those guys being introduced," Reed said. "That was the thing for all players. If you weren't the last team introduced, you knew it was a respect thing."

Earlier this season, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league might drop the Pro Bowl if participants don't improve the level of play in the game. Reed stated the case that it's like the NBA All-Star Game, where players are competing, but in a safer manner to avoid injuries.

"Trust me, it is competitive as it gets," Reed said. "It's like the all-star game for basketball. Those guys go hard but at the same time, you want to protect guys and not have something serious happen over there. I think the fans understand that to some degree. It is a game a lot of points get scored in. Guys understand there's a respect level as players as we play the game. We know what's going on."

Bookmark and Share

Six proCanes Make the NFL Pro Bowl

Six Miami Hurricanes were among those named to the 2013 Pro Bowl, announced by the National Football League offices Wednesday.

With its six selections, Miami tied Tennessee for the lead among all universities nationwide.

Andre Johnson (Houston Texans) and Reggie Wayne (Indianapolis Colts) were two of the four AFC selections at wide receiver. The veteran proCanes wideouts, who each earned their sixth Pro Bowl nod, have played pivotal roles for their respective teams through Week 16, combining for over 200 catches and 2,700 yards. Johnson ranks first in the conference with 1,457 receiving yards, while Wayne ranks second in the AFC with 102 receptions.

Johnson's teammate Chris Myers earned his second Pro Bowl selection when he was named the AFC's back-up center. The former sixth-round draft pick was also named to the Pro Bowl in 2011.

Two of the league's best defenders, Baltimore Ravens' safety Ed Reed and New England Patriots' nose tackle Vince Wilfork, were among those selected as starters. Reed earned his ninth trip in 11 professional seasons, while Wilfork was selected to his fifth-career Pro Bowl.

San Francisco 49ers' running back Frank Gore, who recently marked his team-record sixth 1,000-yard season, was the lone proCane NFC selection. The four-time Pro Bowler has rushed for 1,146 yards this season.

Bookmark and Share

proCane Players of Week 16

Co-Offensive Players of the Week:

Reggie Wayne: proCane Colts WR Reggie Wayne caught five catches and scored the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter with a little over four minutes to play to help seal an unexpected playoff berth for a young Colts team. Wayne helped Luck break the single-season rookie passing record Sunday, ranks sixth in the NFL with 1,315 yards and fifth in receptions with 102. Wayne extended his NFL record 63 game streak of having 3 or more receptions.

Andre Johnson: proCane Texans WR Andre Johnson recorded his 800th career reception in Sunday's loss to Minnesota, reaching the impressive milestone in the second-fewest games of any player in league history (Marvin Harrison). The 10th-year wide receiver built on another terrific season with a seven-catch performance, eclipsing the 100-catch plateau for the fourth time in his career. The Miami, Fla., native, who has the fourth-most catches of any active player, now ranks third in the NFL with 1,457 receiving yards and fifth with 100 receptions. Johnson finished the game with 7 catches for 97 yards.

Lamar Miller: proCane Dolphins RB Lamar Miller in his first chance at extended play for Miami this season didn’t disappoint. Miller rushed 10 times for 73 yards in Sunday's win over the Bills, leading the Dolphins in rushing. Miller is getting an extended look with Daniel Thomas out for the season, and showed big-play ability while filling in for Reggie Bush. He should go into the offseason no worse than second on the running back depth chart, and could be considered for a starting role if Bush doesn't re-sign.

Honorable Mention: Santana Moss, WR Redskins.

Defensive Players of Week:

Sam Shields: proCane Packers DB Sam Shields continued his stellar play after returning from injury three weeks ago. Shields had 1 tackle, 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss, 1 pass deflection and 1 interception in Packers blowout victory over the Titans. Since his return Dec. 9 from an ankle injury, Shields has two interceptions in three games, his first sack in nearly two years and seven passes defensed, just a few stats to tell of his big hits, inseparable coverage and feisty nature in no man's land.
Honorable Mention: Calais Campbell, DE Cardinals.

Special Teams Player of the Week:

Matt Bosher:
proCane Falcons P Matt Bosher continued his great 2nd season with four punts in Week 16. Bosher’s four punts totaled 167 yards with a long of 47 yards, and average of 41.8 yards and two punts were downed inside the 20-yard line.

Bookmark and Share

Vikings fill out practice squad sign tight end Chase Ford

The Minnesota Vikings filled out their practice squad on Wednesday morning, signing former University of Miami tight end Chase Ford.

He fills the spot vacated when the Vikings promoted end George Johnson to the 53-man roster on Saturday.

Ford (6-foot-6, 245 pounds) had only 16 catches in his two seasons with the Hurricanes and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.75 seconds at his campus workout in March.He wasn't drafted and most recently had a stint on the Dallas Cowboys' practice squad.

The Vikings probably wanted to give the spot to tight end Allen Reisner, who was claimed off waivers by Jacksonville after they cut him on Saturday.

Bookmark and Share

Eagles sign Antonio Dixon to plug hole in defensive line

It’s not exactly the 11th hour, but it is the 16th game, so Antonio Dixon was surprised when his phone rang on Tuesday and the voice on the other end wanted to know if he would be interested in signing a two-year contract with the Eagles.

Dixon, a defensive tackle, played for the Eagles for three seasons -- he started 10 games in 2010 -- before being released in training camp this year because he didn't suit the Wide-9 formation the team was playing at the time. He signed with Indianapolis and played two games with the Colts before he was released again, so Dixon headed home to Homestead, Fla., to lose some weight and stay in shape and hope another team would call.

But, as week after week went by and there were no calls, he was beginning to accept that his career might be over. And then, finally, the phone rang.

“I was surprised a little bit because you never know what changes or who'll call you,'' Dixon said. “I'm really happy to be back, though, to play with the Eagles again.”

There's a good chance he wouldn't be back with them if Jim Washburn, the defensive line coach who installed the Wide-9, hadn't been fired a month ago. But Dixon said he harbored no bad feelings toward Washburn or the Eagles after they released him.

“I know it's a business,'' he said. “I've seen a lot of people get cut -- I was one of them. It's a business, and you can't be mad for a long time. You've just got to get over it.”

The Eagles signed Dixon because it appears rookie defensive tackle Fletcher Cox won't play in Sunday's season finale against the New York Giants. Coach Andy Reid said there was no guarantee Dixon would suit up for Sunday's game, but Dixon later said he had been told he would be active and see playing time. And he said he's ready.

“This is why they brought me back, because they need my help,'' he said. “And I told them I would give them everything I've got.”

Bookmark and Share

Ravens activate Ray Lewis, but he's still not ready

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis is back on the active roster.

But that doesn't mean the Pro Bowler is a sure bet to be recovered enough from his triceps injury to play in the postseason.

Coach John Harbaugh already ruled him out for this week's road trip against the Cincinnati Bengals.

"We will not look at him again for this week. We'll look at him (for) the playoffs," Harbaugh said in his Wednesday press conference.

"It's an injury that is a 12- to 16-week injury. So, if you do the math going back, we thought there was a chance. He is progressing really well. I'm not saying he couldn't have played the last couple of weeks, but it would've been risky to reinjure it. The fact that there was some patience on Ray's part and our part, it turned out well."

Lewis suffered the injury in a Week 6 win against he Dallas Cowboys.

Being removed from the injured reserve list allows Lewis to fully practice with the team, but there's no guarantee he'll even be ready for action the first weekend in January.

"It's hard," Harbaugh said. "He wants to play. Nobody wants to play more than Ray, but Ray sees it for what it is, and he sees the big picture."

Bookmark and Share

Santana Moss happy to be part of Redskins turnaround but unwilling to look back yet

Wide receiver Santana Moss has played in Washington since 2005, longer than any Redskins player except tight end Chris Cooley. So even though he has never played in a Redskins game with the winner-wins-the-division stakes like Sunday night’s, he understands what it means to this region.

“This city is a different city when you’re winning,” Moss said. “You have a lot of diehard Redskins fans here. Lord knows what they’ve been going through.”

Moss will be playing for the chance to make the playoffs for only the third time since he arrived in Washington in 2005. At 33, after it appeared like he might be in the downward phase of his career, he’s contributed to the Redskins’ six-game winning streak like a younger man. Revitalized by Robert Griffin III, Moss is third on the team with 39 catches for 551 yards, and he has six touchdowns in the past eight weeks.

In the Redskins’ locker room today, Moss was not in the mood to reflect. He may look back at what the season meant to him after Sunday, but not until then.

“I’m grateful to be in this situation, because I know there’s been years where I’ve been fighting hard just to get to this moment,” Moss said. “But I can’t express my feelings until we go out and accomplish what we’re trying to accomplish. Until that happens, then I’ll be able to tell you how I feel. Right now, my focus is too strict to even let me dwell on where we’re at. I don’t feel like we’ve accomplished nothing yet.”

Bookmark and Share

Frank Gore's numbers slip since quarterback switch

SANTA CLARA -- Pro Bowl-bound Frank Gore said he's had to become a more patient runner because of the 49ers' read-option and pistol formations behind quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

"Some plays you just don't know if he's going to keep (the ball) or not," Gore said Wednesday. "I've got to be patient and can't hit the hole that fast in the pistol."

Perhaps known best for his vision to find holes, Gore's production has tailed off to 4.01 yards per carry in Kaepernick's six starts after he gained 5.38 per carry in Alex Smith's nine starts. Gore had only six carries for 28 yards in Sunday's 42-13 loss at Seattle, and only one carry after the first quarter.

"We do different things with Kap, as far as running the ball," said Gore, who has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for a franchise-record sixth season. He is 65 yards and one touchdown shy of matching last season's total of 1,211 yards and eight touchdowns.

Named to his fourth Pro Bowl, Gore noted that he feels stronger and fresher than a year ago at this time. He has 238 carries this season compared with last year's total of 282.

"It's been a pretty good year. I've played good football," Gore said. "I play hard, I'm consistent, and I help the team get wins."

Bookmark and Share

Colin McCarthy (concussion) is not expected to play Sunday

Colin McCarthy (concussion) is not expected to play Sunday against the Jaguars, Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean reports.

Bookmark and Share

Reggie Wayne considered Houston in the offseason

To a lot of outsiders, Reggie Wayne’s decision to return to Indianapolis looked like one that would lead the 34-year-old receiver to embark on a rebuilding project with the team that drafted him.

That’s not how things turned out, of course. Guided by No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Luck, Wayne’s Colts orchestrated another 10-win season and are back in the playoffs after a one-year hiatus.

But when Wayne was making that decision, Texans receiver Andre Johnson was really hoping his old college teammate would join him.

“Here was one of the places that he actually wanted to come,” Johnson said. “I was hoping that I would get a chance to be able to play with him again. Unfortunately, it didn’t go that way.”

At Miami, Wayne took Johnson under his wing and mentored him in the transition to college football.

Johnson figures part of why Wayne didn’t leave Indianapolis is his familiarity with Colts coach Chuck Pagano, who was the defensive backs coach at Miami from 1995 to 2000. Pagano recruited Johnson to the school.

Ultimately, as a guy who values loyalty, Johnson thinks Wayne made the right decision.

“He started there, he’s had a great career there,” Johnson said. “I’m just happy he’s there playing at a high level even though he’s been doing it for 12 seasons.”

Bookmark and Share

Ravens fear another attempt to suspend Ed Reed

Sunday’s meaningless game for the Ravens at Cincinnati could have significant meaning for one of the team’s players, especially if it means he is prevented from playing.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Ravens currently fear that the NFL will try once again to suspend Reed for an illegal hit on a defenseless player.

Last month, the NFL suspended Ravens safety Ed Reed for his third illegal hit on a defenseless player in four seasons.  On appeal, the punishment was reduced to a $50,000 fine.

This time around, Reed hit Giants receiver Victor Cruz on the sidelines in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game at Baltimore, drawing a flag.

“I don’t know what’s going to come of it,” Reed said after the game, via the Baltimore Sun.  ”I had the referee whispering in my ear on the second play.  All I like to do is play the game.  I don’t really know what to do with it.  I don’t really know what to do with that.  I thought it was a decent hit.  He got up from it.”

If the league attempts to suspend Reed, the effort would likely come early enough in the week to allow Reed to embark on an expedited appeal process.  If the appeal lingers, Reed could miss a playoff game.

From a financial standpoint, that’s actually better for Reed.  A suspension for the final regular-season game would cost Reed 1/17th of his regular-season salary, which equates to more than $423,000.  If Reed misses a wild-card playoff game, he’d lose only $22,000.

Bookmark and Share

Ndamukong Suh open to training with Warren Sapp

Warren Sapp, the former NFL great and current NFL Network analyst, hasn't been shy about criticizing Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Suh has said Suh doesn't have awareness and is wasting talent. Suh said he's baffled as to why Sapp continues to attack him.

Last weekend, Sapp said he would welcome Suh to come learn from him during the offseason.

"We'll get the in trenches ... come on, big boy," Sapp said on air. "I'm going to pull out a tape, and it's called 'Making of a Rush Man,' ... and then we're going to go out on the field and implement it."

Suh told's Tim Twentyman that he would welcome the meeting.

"I'm not afraid to learn from anybody," Suh said. "You don't just give criticism and not have it be constructive in some way."

Suh might be saying the right things, but I doubt this actually will happen. Sapp has been extremely harsh toward Suh to the point where some might consider it borderline mocking. Sapp's criticism doesn't have to be constructive. That's not his job. But it would be totally understandable if Suh didn't want anything to do with Sapp.

Bookmark and Share

Antrel Rolle On The Giants: ‘Every Man Needs To Look At Himself In The Mirror’

NEW YORK (WFAN) - After being outscored 67-14 over the last two weeks, the defending Super Bowl champions no longer control their own playoff destiny.
New York fell to Baltimore, 33-14, this past Sunday, and now have lost five of seven after starting the season 6-2.

So what’s wrong with the Giants, a team that always seems to come up big in the clutch?

“I don’t even know what to say at this point, to be honest with you,” safety Antrel Rolle told Evan Roberts and Chris Moore on Wednesday. ”I just think that we’re extremely flat. … We’re not playing with emotion, we’re not playing with pride, we’re not playing with a sense of urgency, we’re not playing with intellect. Everything that you can possibly do wrong as a football team, I think we’ve pretty much done it over the past two weeks.”

The two-time Pro Bowler doesn’t see the intensity that Big Blue showcased last season when it went on a memorable run and defeated the Patriotsicon1 in Super Bowl XLVI.

“Are we out there playing with passion? No, obviously not,” Rolle said. ”Are we playing motivated? Obviously not. Are we playing smart football? Obviously not. (Atlanta and Baltimore) are good, but are they better than us? Hell no! I’ll tell you that right now. Hell no! I don’t care what the score was.”

Though the veteran didn’t call any of his teammates out, he admitted that each player wearing blue needs to be on the same page and have their head in the right place as the season winds down.

“Every man needs to go and look at himself in the mirror,” Rolle said. ”… It kind of comes down to, ‘Does this guy want to be here? Is this guy going to play? Is he going to lay it all on the line come Sunday?’ That’s the question right now that’s being asked of us. Does this team still want it? Do we believe in ourselves? Are we satisfied having won the Super Bowl last year? I can’t speak for everyone when I say it, but I know that I’m certainly not.”

When reporters and fans looked at the schedule before the season, the Week 17 matchup between the Giants and Eagles stood out as one that could have significant playoff implications. Now with the game just days away, the Eagles are tied for the worst record in the NFC and the Giants’ season is hanging by a thread.

But although the game might be anticlimactic, Rolle promises that he’ll leave it all out on the field in the final regular-season game.

“I’m going to play this game harder than any game I’ve ever played in my career,” Rolle said. ”If this happens to be our last game, you don’t want to go out the way we have the past couple of weeks. You want to go out with at least a piece of a cherry on top. … I’m going to go out there and just give it my all, like I’m a kid again; just go out there and play ball. Just attack the game, don’t let the game attack you.”

Bookmark and Share

Video Of Ed Reed And Bryant McKinnie Singing “Silent Night” At A Bar

Bookmark and Share

Harbaugh says Ed Reed 'did everything he could' to avoid helmet contact with Victor Cruz

Sprinting toward New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz in the fourth quarter Sunday, Ravens free safety Ed Reed delivered a shoulder blow high to the upper body.

Part of the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year's shoulder glanced off of Cruz's facemask during the Ravens' 33-14 victory over the defendin Super Bowl champions, triggering a penalty for an illegal hit announced by the official as illegal contact to the helmet and neck area of a defenseless receiver.

As a repeat offender who had a one-game suspension overturned by NFL hearing officer and Ted Cottrell prior to the San Diego Chargers game earlier this season and replaced with a $50,000 fine,  Reed has now had four incidents in the past three years and could face punishment from the NFL. The Ravens are hoping that any potential punishment from the league office won't go beyond a fine and that Reed won't face a suspension.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday afternoon that Reed and other players are in a difficult position under the NFL rulebook due to the speed of the game, also noting that wide receiver Torrey Smith was penalized for an illegal block where he appeared to make contact with his shoulder to the chest of a Giants defender.

"It's tough, full-speed, the whole thing," Harbaugh said at his weekly press conference at the Ravens' training complex. "I hope the league really takes a look at this in the offseason and figures out a way to help the players out a little bit.

"It's been a real challenge so far this year. Ed was trying to do everything he could. I could say the same thing about Torrey on the block back, it was chest high. Our guys are really trying to do the right thing and it's difficult at full speed to do that."

Harbaugh noted that typically the NFL informs teams and players of any punishment later in the week.

If Reed is suspended without pay, it  would cost him an entire game check of $423,529. This hit could fall into a grey area in how it's interpreted under the NFL rulebook.

"I don't know," Reed said Sunday when asked if he thinks he'll be punished by the league office. "I don't know what's going to come of it. I had the referee whispering in my ear on the second play.

"All I like to do is play the game. I don't really know what to do with it. I don't really know what to do with that. I thought it was a decent hit. He got up from it."

Bookmark and Share

Sam Shields shows he can be physical

GREEN BAY, WIS. - If Sam Shields walked by on the street, you might think he was a college student. He's so quiet, even his laugh is polite. If he has any swagger it's horribly unapparent.

Dressed in jeans, casual shoes and bundled against the cold in a simple brown jacket, he leaves Lambeau Field with his head down and hands punched into his pockets looking nothing like Green Bay's answer in the secondary.

And yet since his return Dec. 9 from an ankle injury, Shields has two interceptions in three games, his first sack in nearly two years and seven passes defensed, just a few stats to tell of his big hits, inseparable coverage and feisty nature in no man's land.

He came back from the injury a day after his 25th birthday and appears to be a more well-rounded player since he helped this team win the Super Bowl following the 2010 season, when he was an undrafted rookie free agent out of Miami.

Shields grabbed his latest interception last Sunday when he pounced on an underthrown ball by Titans quarterback Jake Locker. The third-year cornerback had studied all week and realized he needed to get his head around quickly against Tennessee whenever the Titans threw the deep ball.

"And that's what I did on that play," said Shields. "It was underthrown and I kind of did an awkward turnaround. I stuck my hand out."

The sack was basically a gift wrapped by Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers, who called No. 37 for a blitz.

"That's one of the calls I love -- I love to go in there and get the quarterback," said Shields.

How interesting is that? Sacks require a certain nature in a defender, one that the Packers hoped to draw out of their speed demon from Sarasota, Fla. After all, the man only had one career sack before that -- in the playoffs in 2010. One.

Rewind the calendar to 4 1/2 months ago, when it was noted that Shields wasn't having the best training camp. He might have been peeking in the backfield. It sure looked as if he was getting beat deep. When the coaches auditioned Jarrett Bush, Davon House and even rookie Casey Hayward, Shields' future looked questionable.

Three days ago, Shields shrugged it off as simple competition.

But veteran left cornerback Tramon Williams said Shields had another assignment, one that was under the radar but took precedence over everything else.

"The only thing that was ever questioned with Sam was his physicality," said Williams. "The kid has all the ability in the word. Obviously he's not the biggest corner, but when you have to put your head in there, that's what they want to see."

Williams, listed at 5-foot-11, 184 pounds, said he sees it every year. Coaches want to experiment in camp. They put Shields through the ringer and demanded that he first put some pop in his tackle. The coverage stuff was important but he had to answer: Could he hit?

"And he showed that," said Williams. "He was focusing more on his physicality at that point and he's gotten that part of his game good."

Shields was playing well enough to start the 2012 season but against Houston Oct. 14, he suffered shin, knee and, more seriously, ankle injuries. He missed six games and seven weeks of work. He couldn't even walk at first because of the pain. He said the only way to return from that injury was to make sure he had his famous speed back.

Three weeks ago, it was. He shut down a reverse by the Detroit Lions, caught an interception and had a shot at two more. He says he feels no ill effects of the injury at all.

That's clear. He stuck to the hips of Tennessee wideout Kenny Britt like the cream cheese frosting of a Christmas carrot cake.

And two games ago at Chicago, when push came to shove, Shields shoved back. Guarding 6-3 wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who was targeted four times, Shields didn't allow a single completion.

"Sam did a great job on him," said Hayward. "I'm not sure he got open all that much."

But Shields also tapped into that physical training from camp as soon as he was shoved to the ground by Jeffery in the end zone of Soldier Field. Mr. Nice Guy looked mad as you-know-what. He played that way. Shields also got a few pass interference calls go his way -- on the offense for once. But he said that wasn't just luck.

"While we watch film, we see guys on other teams get grabbed and pushed, and we're like, why don't they call that?" said Shields. "So we're always fighting for that call. Even during training camp when the officials come to practice, we ask why. Sometimes they don't see it. We study guys that push and grab. Most of the times it's the big receivers that push and grab."

Shields is the lightest player on the roster, 8 pounds under the next lightest, Randall Cobb and Hayward. He hasn't gained an ounce since his rookie season. He loves to train in the off-season by running. He's built for basketball, a point guard on a football field.

But he's making the most of what he has by adding physical tackling to his already legendary speed.

Bookmark and Share

Jimmy Graham on the fumble recovery and more

27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" codebase=",0,47,0">

Bookmark and Share

Calais Campbell playing like a Pro Bowler

Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell said he’s nowhere close to 100 percent healthy, even after two games back from a calf injury that sidelined him for three weeks.

“In the NFL this time of year, I don’t think anybody feels 100 percent,” Campbell said. “It’s impossible, because it’s a long, physical season. No matter how many games you go through, you start getting nicks and bruises and things that just hurt and you have to suck up.”

You wouldn’t know looking at him play, though.

Even with a three-game hiatus, the 6-foot-8 defensive end is near the top of many of Arizona’s defensive categories. His 53 tackles are fourth on the team, and his 4.5 sacks are second — and tops on the defensive line.

And after three tackles for loss in last week’s win over Detroit, Campbell now leads the squad with eight stops behind the line of scrimmage.

Campbell finished with eight tackles against the Lions, the same amount he had a week earlier in the embarrassing 58-0 loss in Seattle. But against Detroit, Campbell had more explosion.

“When I got back in that Seattle game, I didn’t have that push-off like I wanted to have,” he said. “But last week, it came back and I felt like it allowed me to do some things that I wish I could have done all season.”

Had he been healthy all season, Campbell would have stood a very good chance of being named to the NFC Pro Bowl squad for the first time in his five years in the league. And with the rate at which players drop out of the Pro Bowl, Campbell may make it there anyway.

“Those things factor into a couple things: your win-loss record, your publicity or your notoriety around the league, and then how well you play,” defensive coordinator Ray Horton said. “You keep your fingers crossed. Statistically, you’d hope that Daryl (Washington) and Patrick (Peterson) would be a shoo-in, and then Calais on the body-of-work deal.”

Pro Bowl squads are announced on Wednesday.

Bookmark and Share

Reggie Wayne: We’re too young to rest

Whether they win or lose against Houston on Sunday, the Colts will be the fifth seed in the AFC when the playoffs get underway.

Given that, there’s a question about whether or not the Colts should rest some of their key players in the final game of the regular season. With coach Chuck Pagano handling different questions upon his return to work on Monday, it was up to wide receiver Reggie Wayne to handle queries about the Colts’ approach to the game. Although Wayne spent many years on a team run by Bill Polian, who never met a starter he didn’t want to rest in the final weeks, Wayne isn’t in favor of treating Week 17 any differently than the previous 16.

“We’re too young to rest,” Wayne said, via the Indianapolis Star. “We probably need to put everybody out there and have them continue to play. I don’t think we can afford (to rest). I can’t speak for everybody, but I’m built to play.”

The Colts have never lost to the Texans at home, a streak they can keep alive with a win on Sunday. How much that really impacts things is unclear, but psychological points couldn’t hurt as the Colts and Texans look like the class for the AFC South for at least one more season as the Jaguars and Titans try to put themselves back together. They could score more points at their divisional rival’s expense by knocking them down to the third seed, taking away the bye that seemed like a done deal for Houston just a few weeks ago.

Bookmark and Share

Mike Rumph named coach at American Heritage

A day after announcing that former Miami Dolphin Jeff Dellenbach would no longer be the school’s football coach, Plantation American Heritage replaced him with another former local star.

American Heritage named former University of Miami and NFL defensive back Mike Rumph its new football coach.

Rumph, 33, guided the Patriots’ boys’ and girls’ track and field teams to state championships this past May in his first season as the school’s head coach for that sport.

Rumph was named The Miami Herald’s Track and Field Coach of the Year.

With Dellenbach also no longer the school’s athletic director, American Heritage also announced that position will be filled by Karen Stearns, a 15-year employee with the school.

Stearns most recently been the school’s compliance officer dealing with matters involving the Department of Education and the FHSAA bylaws and guidelines, and has a long history and background with athletics and management.

Rumph, a graduate of American Heritage-Delray and former first-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers, replaces Dellenbach, who guided the Patriots to back-to-back 9-2 seasons that ended with district championships and first-round playoff losses to Miami Jackson.

This is the first head coaching job for Rumph, a member of UM’s 2001 national championship team.

Rumph played six seasons in the NFL, four of which came with the 49ers before brief stints with the Washington Redskins and St. Louis Rams. He retired in 2008.

Bookmark and Share


On a day that Tom Brady blasted his own performance and that of his offensive teammates, another Patriots captain – Vince Wilfork -also had a defining moment of leadership.

Late in the fourth quarter, and the Jaguars threatening to tie the game, Chandler Jones hit Chad Henne on fourth-and-goal from the Patriots 10. Patrick Chung picked off the pass at the goal line and returned it to the Patriots 28.

But, during the return, Jacksonville offensive lineman Steve Vallos hit Trevor Scott from behind toward the end of the play. Vallos knocked Scott from behind and face first into the ground. Wilfork saw it and took big time exception with it and retaliated against Vallos. Wilfork was flagged for an unnecessary roughness penalty for sticking up for his teammate.

“That was protecting my teammate, plain and simple,” Wilfork said. “You’re not going to sit right in front of me and take a cheap shot at my guy with me standing behind you, that won’t fly. Plain and simple. I’ll probably get penalized for it, I did, but at the same time, you’ll never see me letting my teammates just get cheap-shotted like that with me standing right there.

“It is what it is, it’s part of football. Some people might not like it, some people might like it, but I’m going to do everything I can to protect my teammates,” he continued. “And I was protecting my teammate. But it is what it is, and I don’t think twice about it. If it happened again, I’d protect my teammate the best way I could.”

Bookmark and Share

VIDEO: Colts Reggie Wayne on Pagano's return

INDIANAPOLIS – Chuck Pagano returned as Indianapolis Colts coach today, fighting back tears in a news conference as he thanked all those who helped him through his battle with leukemia.

Pagano met with the team at 10 a.m. Monday, then talked and took questions from reporters Monday afternoon.

Pagano expressed appreciation to his family, the organization, his coaches, fans and media. He said he couldn't think of a better city or franchise.

“It's really overwhelming,” he said. “The whole thing was overwhelming and very humbling. … As I said in the locker room, this team has chosen to live in a vision and not in circumstances. My job as head football coach is just beginning all over again.”

Pagano will resume his duties as coach immediately, with interim coach Bruce Arians returning to his role as offensive coordinator. Arians and other coaches attended the news conference, as did players Reggie Wayne, Cory Redding and Tom Zbikowski.

“I know exactly why I'm here now,” Pagano said. “This is the place you'd want to be, starting with the owner on down. These are the finest people I've ever been around and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Wayne talks about Pagano's return in the accompanying video.

Bookmark and Share

Jimmy Graham's hustling heroics epitomize gritty New Orleans Saints win

Arlington, Texas - Moments after the New Orleans Saints' exhilarating 34-31 win against the Cowboys on Sunday, David Thomas found Jimmy Graham in the crowded intersection at midfield and emphatically embraced him in a hug.

Graham had just made perhaps the most significant play of his budding career and it had nothing to do with the skills that will make him a perennial Pro Bowler.
Normally, the 6-foot-6 wunderkind beats opponents with his extraordinary height and hands. This time he did it with his heart and hustle.

"That's why we hustle! That's what we do!" Thomas shouted at his friend and position mate. "You did this! You got this win for us!"

Graham's heroics were a fitting end to a fatiguing afternoon for the Saints. They symbolized the resolve of the entire Saints team, which outfought and outplayed the Cowboys in their pigskin palace in a game the home team had to have to keep pace in the NFC playoff race.

With nothing to play for other than pride, the Saints admirably battled as if there was no tomorrow for four quarters and four and a half minutes of overtime.

On a day when they ran an astonishing 91 offensive plays, none was more critical than their final one, when Graham ignored injury and exhaustion to run down Marques Colston's fumble and preserve a shot at Garrett Hartley's game-winning field goal.

Just two plays earlier, Graham had raced to the sideline in excruciating pain, the ring finger on his right hand dislocated and bent sideways at an anatomically incorrect angle.

But the swollen finger or the achy wrist that has hampered him all season were not on his mind when Graham watched Colston's fumble bound inexplicably toward the Cowboys' goal line in overtime.

"I didn't think about the finger," Graham said. "It felt like a loose ball on the basketball court, and I had to dive in and get it. I've been diving on hardwood since I was a little kid."

Indeed, if the Saints could have picked a player to run down a loose ball, they undoubtedly would have selected Graham, a former power forward who led the University of Miami in rebounding in his senior season.

"I was watching Jimmy and I said if there's one that can get this thing it's Jimmy," quarterback Drew Brees said. "He just reverted to being the enforcer on the basketball court in the paint, muscling guys around, boxing them out. ... Jimmy was not going to allow anybody to prevent him from jumping on that ball. When he came up with that ball, that's when I knew we had it."

The play shouldn't have surprised anyone in black and gold or blue and silver. Two years ago, safety Malcolm Jenkins exhibited similar drive to run down Roy Williams and desperately force a game-deciding fumble just before the Cowboys wide receiver crossed the Saints' goal line.

The Saints won that day 30-27. The circumstances and final score were nearly identical Sunday. The only difference was Graham's heroics came at the opposite end of the field as Jenkins'.

"That's just what this team does," Graham said. "We've got a lot of resolve. We've been through so much. We all give all we have."

That it came from Graham, one of the team's few true superstars, and against the Cowboys, a team known more for its style than its substance, made the play all the more satisfying and appropriate.

"That last play kind of exemplified the whole course of the game," center Brian de La Puente said. "We're never going to quit. This team has such good character. We're fighting every last play to get that win."

Indeed, if suspended Saints Coach Sean Payton was watching the game - and you know he most certainly was somewhere - then it's hard to imagine him walking away from this team after seeing their effort and attitude throughout this adversity-filled season.

After all, it was Payton who once described the NFL as a league made up of 10 to 12 solid, smart, functioning clubs and a bunch of others "just swimming in circles."

The Cowboys, winners of just one playoff game in the past 16 seasons, might qualify as one of those circle-swimmers, despite their hefty payroll and billion-dollar stadium. If they fail to beat Washington next week they will have missed the playoffs for a third consecutive season.

By contrast, the Saints have a chance to record the same 8-8 record despite the NFL's draconian Bountygate sanctions. As 8-8 records go, the Saints' would definitely qualify as  the glass half-full version compared to the Cowboys' half-empty. It'd have been easy to fold up the tent after the embarrassing loss to the Giants two weeks ago. Instead, the Saints fought and scratched their way to a pair of impressive wins against opponents with playoff aspirations.

As he left the locker room Sunday, Graham had the claw marks on his triceps and a taped-up right ring finger to prove it.

Bookmark and Share

Cardinals continue counting on Campbell

While rumors swirl that the days could be numbered for longtime Cardinals defenders such as SS Adrian Wilson and DT Darnell Dockett, we hear the star status of DE Calais Campbell has never shined so brightly.

Having been a bit limited in the Week 14 catastrophe in Seattle after missing three games with a calf injury, Campbell was an unstoppable beast in the Week 15 victory over Detroit, registering a sack and eight tackles, including four for loss. While his numbers weren’t nearly as imposing before his injury, daily team observers considered performances like Campbell’s overpowering effort vs. the Lions pretty much par for the course.

“When he’s been at full strength, he’s played at a Pro Bowl level,” one daily Campbell observer said. “He’s been really good. He’s always been a good pass rusher, but he has also really improved against the run this year. He’s been far and away the team’s best D-lineman.”

While the team’s front-office moves, or lack thereof, have been subject to increased criticism in the desert lately, two moves that most team insiders agree made a ton of sense were the contract extensions given to Campbell and fellow defensive cornerstone ILB Daryl Washington through the 2016 and ’17 seasons, respectively.

“They look really smart for doing that,” the source said. “Campbell is in his fifth year and is only 26. And he’s just a great guy, big in the community. He’s been a dream come true.”

Not nearly as becoming, though, is the depth at end behind Campbell. Unlike the case when Campbell was waiting in the wings behind Antonio Smith, there is nobody on the roster with what would be considered heir-apparent potential.

“They need to address the position,” the source said. “David Carter has been swinging back and forth between tackle and end, and there are questions about him in a starting role. The other backups, Vonnie Holliday and Nick Eason, are well over 30. They don’t have a guy they’d really be willing to plug in for Campbell if need be.”

Bookmark and Share

Are Giants looking past Kenny Phillips?

The Giants could get S Kenny Phillips (knee) back this weekend against the Eagles, and at this point they’ll take all the defensive help they can get. The Giants can go with Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown as their starters and work Phillips back into the rotation if they want to because Brown has emerged as a playmaker and Rolle is the most versatile defender in the secondary.

But the picture might be becoming clearer: Phillips, who once was viewed as a cornerstone of the defense, could be playing his final few games with the club.

His contract is up after the season, and though the Giants would be interested in bringing him back, it would be at their price — and not a dollar more or a year longer.

GM Jerry Reese is respected around the league for his hard-line decisions, such as allowing WR Steve Smith and TE Kevin Boss go following the 2010 season — without clear replacements on the roster — when the money got too rich.

It’s that measured approach to the salary cap and roster management that could be applied to Phillips’ situation. He has been limited to six games this season, and though he’s coming off what was his finest regular season in 2011, some sources indicate the Giants might not think that Phillips’ arrow is still pointing up.

He’s still young, just turning 26 in late November, but the chronic knee problems have been a worry after he missed most of the 2009 season with what some people feared was a career-altering injury.

If a safety-needy team comes strong with a big-money offer in free agency, Phillips likely will move on. Think the Redskins — who certainly wouldn’t mind pillaging their division rivals and seldom have been shy in free agency — might dip a toe into that water? Perhaps.

Bookmark and Share

Clinton Portis Goes Shopping For Real Estate On Reality TV

In about two weeks Clinton Portis is going to be starring in the premiere episode of a new HGTV show called Scoring The Deal. The premise? Basically, a hotshot real estate agent named Jason Abrams travels the country trying to find homes fit for superstar athletes. At least three of them have local ties—Clinton Portis, Greivis Vasquez, and Cato June are all in need of a huge houses pronto and Abrams gets it done for them.

Portis might be the person the HGTV general manager is referring to when she says: "For the first time in all my years at looking at shows for HGTV, I've actually had to pull out shots because of talk about stripper poles." If you recall his McLean mansion came with such an amenity (and it did take a price chop before he could sell it). After the jump we have the six minute promo clip of Cato June who needs to find a pad in New York because he has invested in a Broadway play, plus the full list of athletes who are going to appear in the series.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013:
11:00pm – SERIES PREMIERE with Clinton Portis
11:30pm – Episode 102: Vernon and Vontae Davis, Jordan Farmar

Tuesday, January 15, 2013:
11:00pm – Episode 103: Cato June
11:30pm – Episode 104: Joe Haden, Greivis Vasquez

Tuesday, January 22, 2013:
11:00pm – Episode 105: Adewale Ogunleye
11:30pm – Episode 106: Derrick Morgan

Bookmark and Share

Jonathan Vilma's days could be numbered with cap cuts looming

Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma prevailed in their defiant battle against the NFL's bounty suspensions. But they'll face an even tougher adversary in the offseason:

The salary cap.

The two longtime leaders of the New Orleans Saints defense loom as the most likely veterans to be released as the Saints face the daunting task of slicing millions of dollars off their cap.

Unless the former Pro Bowlers agree to substantial pay cuts, their remarkable runs with the Saints likely will come to an end.

Neither Smith nor Vilma was interested this week in speculating about their futures. Although players are constantly aware of the business side of this game, they're equally aware that it does no good to dwell on their football mortality.

When Smith was asked if he has at least taken a moment to appreciate that he could be down to his final two games in a Saints uniform, he said, "Well, you always appreciate it. You never know. Nothing's guaranteed in this business."

"That's why you've always got to go out and perform, and that's why sitting at 6-8, you have two games left, you want to go out and play your best," continued Smith, who is tied for the longest-tenured player on the Saints roster with receiver Devery Henderson - both of whom arrived in the 2004 draft class (and both of whom could be gone next year, since Henderson is a free agent). "Because at the end of the day, this is a business. So you don't worry about this that and all these hypotheticals. You just go out and say at the end of the day, you'll know what's going on when it's time to go on. But right now it's nothing to be concerned about or worried about."

Vilma, who arrived in a 2008 trade, agreed.

"I don't even think about it," he said. "I'm not part of management, so that's not something I think about or worry about."

The Saints are projected to be around $16 million above the salary cap heading into 2013 - and that's even with pending free agents like Sedrick Ellis and Jermon Bushrod coming off the books.

Obviously, that means the Saints will have to make some serious cutbacks, along with some creative contract restructuring - something General Manager Mickey Loomis has always been adept at.

Smith, 31, and Vilma, 30, are the most likely candidates to be released, because of their hefty salaries and their diminished production in recent years. The end and outside linebacker positions are two spots where the Saints badly need to get younger and more dynamic.

Smith is due $10.15 million in salary and bonuses in 2013. If he's released, the Saints still will be charged $6.8 million over the next two years to account for the remainder of Smith's pro-rated signing bonuses.

Vilma is due $6 million in salary and bonuses. If he's released, the Saints still will be charged $2.6 million against the 2013 cap in pro-rated signing bonus.

Bookmark and Share