23 May 2010

Jeremy Shockey 'OK' after hospitalization following practice

Saints TE Jeremy Shockey said his status was improved after being taken to a hospital following a team workout on Thursday.

Shockey said on Twitter:

"I am ok, thanks to everyone who has shown their concern don't worry about me I will be fine.. WHO DAT!!"

Saints safety Darren Sharper said Shockey seemed to suffer a seizure.

"It was scary," Sharper told the AP. "We didn't know what was going on."

Coach Sean Payton said Shockey was likely to remain hospitalized for the night for observation.

"I talked to Jeremy from the hospital and the good news is he's feeling better and everything looks real good,'' Payton told NewOrleans.com.
Payton said there were no details yet on why Shockey was hospitalized.

"They don't know if it was dehydration or what," he said. "That's what they're going through right now. They just want to make sure it's nothing more significant than that.''

Shockey was also hospitalized in March 2009 for dehydration in Las Vegas. He played in 13 games for the Saints last season and their three playoff games. He caught a touchdown in the Saints' Super Bowl win.

Click here to order Jeremy Shockey's proCane Rookie Card.

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Baraka Atkins moving to linebacker?

Baraka Atkins, running with the Broncos' first team at OLB in Elvis Dumervil's absence, is making the conversion from a down lineman to playing in space. Denver likes his size (6-foot-4, 268 pounds) and views him as a run-stuffing option. 'A lot of our outside linebackers' best traits will show up in August,' head coach Josh McDaniels said.

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McIntosh has not signed tenders yet

Cornerback Carlos Rogers and linebacker Rocky McIntosh are the only remaining players who have not signed their one-year contract tenders.

McIntosh, who skipped the first voluntary minicamp in April out of frustration over his contract situation, said he didn't "know anything" about the tender offer.

"All I know is I have to be here on Tuesday [for OTAs] and I'll come to work. I always want to be here. I want to be here from Tuesday to whatever. We'll just see what happens."

Rogers, McIntosh and safety Reed Doughty--who, the Redskins announced Wednesday, has signed his tender--signed waivers to participate in OTAs and minicamps.

Click here to order Rocky McIntosh's proCane Rookie Card.

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Jimmy Graham Looks Good in OTAs

The World Champs were back on the field this morning for another OTA, the first time the media was allowed to watch the team practice this off season. The Saints worked for about two hours in their indoor practice facility on Airline Drive.

WWLs Hokie Gajan checked out a couple of the Saints rookies. I like Jimmy Graham, said the Saints color analyst. He runs well. Hes fluid. And, you can tell hes real athletic. When he gets on those weights, hes going to get bigger.

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Payton 2.0 returns home to Chicago

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. -- His football career has taken him from Amsterdam to Nashville, Montreal to Miami, but after seven years and thousands of miles, Walter Payton's son Jarrett is at long last home.

"It's actually a good feeling to be home," says Jarrett Payton, 29. "It's a lot easier to wake up and get ready for a game, drive in your car and be able to go home. It's nice to be around friends and family."

It's been 23 years since a star running back wearing "Payton 34" on his back brought Chicago football fans to their feet, and these days Jarrett Payton is doing just that -- albeit in a slightly different fashion than his Hall of Fame father did.

Jarrett stars for the Chicago Slaughter, an indoor football league franchise that plays in a gleaming new arena 40 miles northwest of Soldier Field. His mom, Connie, attends all of her son's games, a constant smile on her face as she watches from her seat just a few rows behind the Slaughter's bench. Once Jarrett's locker room tormentor, Bears legend Steve McMichael is now his head coach and says he has made his father proud both on and off the field.

"He's got a burst, he's just as fast as his daddy was," McMichael says. "His personality is a lot like his dad. He's a little jokester, lighthearted and smiling all the time. It's hard not to love guys like that."

Equal parts showman and star athlete, Jarrett was 7 years old when his father hung up his cleats for good. His father's influence on his son's game is unmistakable. Jarrett says he spends hours each day watching game film of his dad, trying to pattern his game and his life after the man he grew up idolizing.

"Being able to block, being able to catch, even throw, too, if I have to," he says. "I just try to pride myself on being just like him, because to me he was the best all-around football player I've ever seen."

Instead of a traditional 100-yard field, this Payton's place is a 50-yard AstroTurf-covered hockey rink, surrounded by padded walls that players slam into on nearly every play. The crowds are significantly smaller, and so are the paychecks. But at this point in his life, Jarrett says there's no place he'd rather be.

"I'm in a cool place, and this to me is better than playing for the Bears," he says.

Shades of his father, who died in 1999, were evident on Saturday night in the first quarter of the Slaughter's game against Green Bay. Jarrett found a hole in the secondary on a pass pattern and caught the ball on the run, bowling over every last thing in his path for a 47-yard touchdown. The 4,900 in attendance let out a roar loud enough to shake the arena, the same kind of roar his father used to hear so many years ago.

"I never thought it'd happen," he says. "I never thought I'd be playing indoor football, either, so it's truly a blessing, and people in Chicago really have taken to it."

Off the field, he works for his father's foundation and hopes to have his own radio show in the near future.

One opportunity that hasn't come his way is a chance to play running back for the Bears. The team hasn't come calling, nor does he expect it to. But although he's earning only about $250 per game playing for the Slaughter, he's having fun doing it, which is exactly what his father would have wanted.

"I'm not getting rich, but inside my heart it feels like it's the right thing, and I can say this is the most beneficial football I've played in my entire life," he says. "You do something until you don't love it anymore, so I'm gonna keep playing 'til I can't anymore."

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Daniels: Santana Moss didn't know what doctor was injecting him with

Defensive end Phillip Daniels was among the most outspoken Redskins last week when news first surfaced that a Redskins' player was linked to Anthony

Galea, the Canadian doctor charged with smuggling and distributing human growth hormone. Disgusted by the idea of performance-enhancing drugs, Daniels even said he didn't want to know who the offending player was.

So it's a bit odd that Daniels was actually among the first to find out. Receiver Santana Moss told Daniels and other teammates last week that he'd received treatments from Galea.

According to Daniels, Moss said he received treatments twice for his hamstring and once for his knee. He said he was never aware of HGH being a part of those treatments.

For Daniels, hearing the explanation straight from Moss was important. "I really think when it's all said and done, I think Santana is going to come out on top," Daniels said. "I just felt like he was telling us the truth and he was honest. That's all you can ask for from a teammate."

Moss told teammates that he heard of Galea from friends around the league and sought the doctor's help. But he apparently never knew exactly what Galea was injecting into his body.

"Sometimes guys go to these outside people, put their trust in these people to get you healthy and do the right things and sometimes it just doesn't work out," Daniels said.

In fact, the suggestion that HGH was part of Moss's treatment seemed to take the receiver by surprise. "I don't think he knew this guy was even dealing with that," Daniels said.

"As far as the HGH or anything, he didn't say he knew what it was or anything like that," Daniels said. "But Santana's a stand-up guy. I think he was telling the truth. He was doing the right things, just trying to get healthy.

Click here to order Santana Moss' proCane Rookie Card.

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Giants talking to Pat Burrell about a AAA deal

The Giants are negotiating with free-agent left fielder Pat Burrell on a Triple-A contract, I've been told, a no-risk deal that could bring the Bay Area product home.

I've been told that the contract is in the "talking stages" and that Burrell does have other options he is mulling.

Burrell, 32, grew up in San Jose, played for Bellarmine High (before going to the University of Miami) and has 267 career home runs, though he struggled mightily in his season and change with Tampa Bay after winning a 2008 World Series ring with Philadelphia. He hit .221 in 14 homers last year and was batting .202 when the Rays designated him for assignment last week.

When I nosed around regarding Burrell last week I was told the Giants were not interested, but that was when he was looking for an immediate major-league deal.

A Triple-A deal would be a perfect situation for the Giants. They could look at him in Fresno for a spell then bring him to the bigs if they choose while paying him the prorated portion of the major-league minimum, while the Rays pick up the rest of what's left of his $10 million salary.

One question I can't answer now is whether the Giants' interest has anything to do with what Mark DeRosa learned when he visited a wrist specialist in Baltimore today. I have not heard how that went.

Burrell is not considered a strong defensive player. In fact, he was Tampa Bay's designated hitter. But the Giants are desperate for offense. I realize Burrell falls into the "lightning in a bottle" category, but he did hit 33 home runs two years ago in the National League.

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Jemile Weeks Rehabbing

Jemile Weeks, the A's first pick in the 2008 draft, continues to rehab another hip injury, and he's at least three weeks away from being ready to play in a game.

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Toronto Argonauts Add Ken Dorsey

The Toronto Argonauts announced Wednesday that the club has signed former University of Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey and veteran CFL and NFL defensive back Dwaine Carpenter.

Both players were former teammates with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL.

"I am very excited to become a part of one of the oldest and best sports franchises in history and to help create something special here in Toronto," said Dorsey in a team statement.

"The CFL is different than any other brand of football out there, but it is a challenge I cannot wait to attack as a part of the Argos organization. I look forward to coming to camp and competing, and helping the Argos with our ultimate goal: winning a Grey Cup."

The Argos also announced that Mike Hagen has is the new director of player personnel. Hagen previously spent 27 years in the NFL in various positions.

Meanwhile, Dorsey, who played six seasons with the 49ers and Cleveland Browns, made back-to-back BCS National Championship appearances, including a win over Nebraska in the 2001 game.

He was originally drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the seventh round of the 2003 NFL Draft. He started 11 games over three seasons with the 49ers. He was traded to Cleveland, in exchange for QB Trent Dilfer, at the beginning of the 2006 season and played primarily as a backup quarterback with four starts in 2008.

After four seasons in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers and the St. Louis Rams, Carpenter joined the Calgary Stampeders in 2007. He dressed in 50 games with the club and recorded 119 tackles, 44 special teams tackles, two sacks, two interceptions, four forced fumbles and eight fumble recoveries in three seasons for Calgary, winning a Grey Cup with them in 2008.

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Redskins confident Santana Moss won't be suspended

ASHBURN, Va. (Map, News) - Washington Redskins receiver Santana Moss told a small group of teammates last week that he received treatments from the Canadian doctor charged with smuggling and supplying human growth hormone.

Moss portrayed the treatments as routine - and not involving banned substances - according to teammate Phillip Daniels.

"I believe he's telling us the truth," Daniels said Wednesday. "He got, like, three treatments, and who knows what happened after that."

Coach Mike Shanahan was also persuaded by Moss' version of events. The two met before Wednesday's offseason practice, and Shanahan came away confident that Moss will not be disciplined for a possible violation of the NFL's banned substance policies.

"I sat down and talked to Santana today and went through a bunch of situations that have happened to him," Shanahan said. "And I feel really good about where he's at. I feel real good that he'll be, I don't know if 'vindicated' is the word, but when people find out all the facts, everything will be OK."

Asked directly if he had any worries that Moss will be suspended, Shanahan said. "No."

Shanahan said his confidence was based solely on his conversation with Moss and that the Redskins had not done any investigating on their own, nor has the coach spoken to the NFL about the matter. Shanahan declined to discuss details but added: "There's a number of things that will occur probably in the next couple of weeks."

Moss referred questions to Shanahan.

"Coach Shanahan and I went over everything," Moss said as he walked off the field.

Moss' name surfaced in an affidavit in connection with the criminal complaint filed against Anthony Galea, a sports medicine doctor whose superstar clients include Tiger Woods and Alex Rodriguez. Galea faces federal criminal charges in the United States for allegedly bringing unapproved drugs into the country and unlawfully treating professional athletes.

Galea's assistant was stopped at the U.S.-Canadian border in September with human growth hormone, Actovegin and vials of other drugs. The assistant was on her way to the nation's capital, where she said a professional football player from Washington had called to request a session with Galea at a Washington-area hotel, according to the affidavit.

"They stopped somebody at the border who had stuff - who knows who they were going to see?" Daniels said. "Maybe they were coming to give (Moss) another treatment. ... It's kind of tough, man, but I believe in him."

Cornerback Carlos Rogers said Moss shouldn't be automatically tied to the doctor's alleged misdeeds.

"That part of the thing wasn't tied to him," Rogers said. "Everybody's put, 'Oh, he had HGH in his bag. It's Santana; it's him.' If they test Santana right now, nothing would come up in his body."

The NFL does not test for HGH, but the league could suspend a player if it has other proof that a player has used the substance.

HGH can used to help an athlete recover from an injury. Moss revealed earlier this month that his left knee had been bothering him for three years - even though he rarely missed a game - and that he had recently decided to have arthroscopic surgery to fix the problem. He has been a limited participant at this week's practices.

"I am in a rush to be out there with those guys," Moss said, "but I'm not in a rush to do anything stupid with my knee."

Daniels said Moss' predicament should make other players wary about consulting with outside doctors.

"That's a lesson for everybody," Daniels said. "Make sure you know who you're working with, go through your trainers and get the right people. And if they're going to work on you, maybe bring them here, bring them to the facility, let the guys see what they're doing."

Santana has played nine years in the NFL, including the last five with the Redskins. He has led the team in yards receiving every year he's been in Washington. He caught 70 passes for 902 yards with three touchdowns last season and played all 16 games.

"I hate that he's got to go through this and be labeled," Daniels said, "because I know what kind of guy he is. I know he's a good guy. ... It ain't like Santana went online to buy stuff. He was getting treatments, and you never know how these guys do things."

Click here to order Santana Moss' proCane Rookie Card.

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Roscoe Parrish is the Primary Slot Receiver

Not surprisingly, Roscoe Parrish was the primary slot receiver. With Josh Reed no longer in front of him on the depth chart there’s a very big opportunity sitting in front of him. Parrish however, is focused on developing offensive chemistry as a team.

“It’s all about progression and everything is going good,” Parrish told Buffalobills.com. “New style, new attitude. Everybody has to get on the same page and get it rolling. There’s still a lot to learn. We just don’t want to make the same mistakes the next day.”

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

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Moss declines to talk about Galea

Redskins' receiver Santana Moss declined Wednesday to discuss whether he received treatment from Anthony Galea, the Canadian doctor, charged last week with smuggling and distributing human growth hormone.

"I already know you all gonna ask me or have a bunch of questions about the allegations last week. Right now where I stand, me and Coach Shanahan went over everything and where we're at," Moss said following the team's organized team activity (OTA) Wednesday afternoon. "We're very clear on our decision. So if you have any questions about them, you have to ask him about it."

Teammates, however, said Moss told them last week that he received treatments on three occasions from Galea but the receiver did not know if HGH was a part of those treatments.

Moss was available to reporters for the first time since his name first surfaced last week in news reports that linked the nine-year veteran with Galea. But Moss referred all questions about Galea to Washington Coach Mike Shanahan.

Shanahan said he met with Moss on Wednesday morning before practice.

"[We] went through a bunch of situations that have happened to him, and I feel really good about where he's at," Shanahan said. "And real good that -- I don't know if vindicated is the word, but I think when you find out all the facts, I think he'll be OK."

Defensive end Phillip Daniels said that Moss told some teammates last week that he was treated by Galea, but he told them he never knowingly took HGH.

"I hate that he's got to be the guy who gets labeled," Daniels said. "Who knows what happened with them coming across the border with stuff? Who knows who they're going to see? I hate that he's got to be the guy to get labeled. He's a guy who goes out and does everything he can to help this team win. So when Santana talked to us about that, I believe he was telling the truth."

According to one source, Galea's medical assistant was on her way to meet Moss in Washington last September, when she was arrested at the U.S.-Canada border on Sept. 14, 2009, with HGH, syringes and other medical equipment in her possession.

Shanahan could not say whether he anticipates a suspension coming from the league office and still hasn't spoken with NFL officials about the case. He expects the league to make more progress in its investigation in the next couple of weeks.

"I feel very good about where he's at, the direction that he took," Shanahan said.

It is not believed that Moss will face criminal charges, but the NFL is actively investigating whether its players received treatment or banned substances from Galea. If the league determines that Moss violated the league's drug policy, he could be subject to a four-game suspension.
Moss said the news reports aren't a distraction -- "I'm good; I'm just getting ready for the season" -- and says he's not losing sleep over a possible suspension.

"I ain't worrying about all that stuff," he said.

One day before his name became publicly linked to Galea's, Moss was evasive about the topic last week in a conversation with the Washington Post's Barry Svrluga. "Until they say it has something to do with me, then we can talk about it," he said.

Moss is recovering from offseason arthroscopic knee surgery and was able to participate in more of the team's practices this week. When the team returns to Redskins Park for its next set of OTAs next week, Shanahan expects Moss to be able to handle an increased workload.

Moss said he's not certain when he'll be 100 percent.

"I have to go along with all my rehab stuff. The signs pretty much show up once I go out there and go through a full practice," Moss said. "Right now we're not trying to do that. Right now were taking everything as slow as we can and doing the right thing when it comes to me being back. I'm not in a rush to do that. I am in a rush to being out there with those guys, but I'm not in a rush to do anything stupid with my knee."

Click here to order Santana Moss' proCane Rookie Card.

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Teammate: Redskins' Santana Moss had no knowledge Dr. Anthony Galea injected him with HGH

Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said Wednesday that he does not expect Santana Moss to be suspended despite having been treated to Canadian doctor Anthony Galea.

Moss told teammates this week that he did receive treatment from Galea, but he added that he did not have knowledge that Galea injected him with HGH. Federal officials charged Galea last week with drug crimes and alleged that he had provided HGH to at least one former NFL player.

"He was sincere with it," Redskins DE Phillip Daniels said. "He was saying, 'Man, if (Galea) did something crazy, I don't know.' "

Shanahan said that he's spoken with Moss about the issue and he's satisfied that the receiver will not be tainted as a drug user when the facts are aired.

"I think when people find out all the facts, he'll be OK," Shanahan said.

The coach would not reveal why he doesn't think the NFL will suspend Moss.

"I can't go into detail," Shanahan said. "There's a lot of investigation that goes on, I think you know that as well as I do. There's a number of things that'll occur probably in the next couple weeks, but as I said I feel very good about the situation at hand."

Moss declined to speak about his connection to the Galea case when reporters talked with him on Wednesday.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday that the league wants to find out more about Galea's potential connection to NFL players. The doctor's assistant, Mary Anne Catalano, told police the doctor injected seven professional athletes with HGH in the U.S.

Click here to order Santana Moss' proCane Rookie Card.

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Keep an eye on Cowboys linebacker Leon Williams

Through the two days of organized team activities that have been open to the media, one linebacker has caught my eye a couple of times - Leon Williams.

Signed in January to a futures contract after spending last year playing for New York in the UFL, Williams has three years of NFL experience, having played for Cleveland and starting nine games. At 6-2, 250, he has good size and it looks like he can move around pretty good too.

He got a good recommendation from former defensive line coach Todd Grantham, who was the Browns' coordinator when Williams was there. Wade Phillips said Williams did a good job as a sub package player for the Browns and so far he's noticed something else about him:

"He's got a real good presence about him," Phillips said. "I don't know what it is but a lot of the players are on team already have a lot of respect for him, for whatever that means. I think he's done well. It's a different system for him. He's a rookie in some ways as far as learning what we're doing, but he's commanded a lot of respect pretty quickly."

The Cowboys are pretty deep at linebacker but Williams could force his way into the mix with his special teams' play for sure. Maybe the Cowboys got a little heavier at linebacker than they have in recent years if he shows some ability.

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Roger Goodell does not address Santana Moss situation

It's too early apparently for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to comment on Santana Moss's reported connection to Anthony Galea, the Canadian doctor charged last week with smuggling and distributing human growth hormone.

During a news conference Tuesday in Dallas, where NFL owners were meeting, Goodell was asked specifically about Moss but did not address the Redskins wide receiver in his response.

"We are very anxious to see all of the details and pursue it aggressively," Goodell said of the Galea case.

Moss himself will have an opportunity Wednesday to address his relationship with Galea. Players are at Redskins Park for the final practice session of the team's second set of OTAs (organized team activities). Moss, recovering from offseason arthroscopic knee surgery, has been participating in the practices this week.

Wednesday's practice is the only one of the three this week open to the media, and no doubt reporters will be curious to hear from Moss afterward.

Wednesday is the first time since news surfaced last week that Moss had received treatments from Galea that Moss will be near media. Speaking to The Post's Barry Svrluga the day before the news became public last week, Moss did not address the topic but did seem to indicate a willingness to discuss the topic at a later date.

"Until they say it has something to do with me, then we can talk about it," he said last week.

We'll learn later Wednesday if, in fact, he intends to discuss the matter at all.

Click here to order Santana Moss' proCane Rookie Card.

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O-line veteran Sherko Haji-Rasouli extends Lions deal

The B.C. Lions announced Tuesday they have locked up a veteran member of their offensive line as right guard Sherko Haji-Rasouli agreed to a contract extension that will keep him in the Leos’ den through the 2011 CFL season.

“Sherko has been strong performer and I expect big things from him moving forward,” Lions GM and head coach Wally Buono said in a statement. “In addition to making an impact on the field with his play, I also anticipate his emergence as a leader in the room.”

A mainstay on the team’s offensive line for the past two seasons, Haji-Rasouli played in 15 games last season, making 12 starts. Overcoming injuries that cost him three games, he bounced back to finish strong and see action in both playoff contests.

Originally entering the CFL with the Montreal Alouettes via the 2002 CFL draft (second round, 12th overall), Haji-Rasouli was signed as a free agent by the Lions in 2005 and has found a regular spot at right guard.

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Yonder Alonso's bat warming at Triple-A

Reds top prospect Yonder Alonso, playing at Triple-A Louisville, is batting .289 over his last 10 games and 45 at-bats. That includes one homer and eight RBI.

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Building Muscle for the Pro Game with Jarrett Payton

Click here to order Jarrett Payton's proCane Rookie Card.

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Santana Moss Wednesday interview

When the Redskins broke up their workout (another of the organized team activities) Wednesday, I went to talk to Santana Moss, who was doing his work on the side as he recovers from offseason, arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. The conversation was interesting - not so much for what Moss said, but for what he didn't say.

Q: "How are you feeling?"
A: "Rehabbing. I ain't bothering nobody. I'm rehabbing. Getting better."

Q: "Are you at all surprised to hear that HGH report about someone on this team?"
A: "I'll talk about football. I don't know about nothing else. I ain't got nothing to do with nothing that ain't about me."

Q: "Okay, well, just to be clear, have you ever met this guy [Dr. Anthony] Galea?"
A: "Like I said, I ain't got nothing to do with that. I ain't got nothing to do with it. You want to talk about Redskins, I'll give you an interview. We ain't talking about Redskins right now."

Q: "But the guy was on this team. That makes him a Redskin."
A: "What that got to do with me?"

Q: "Well, does it have anything to do with you?"
A: "I'm just saying to you bro, you come to me right now, and I appreciate you coming to me the right way. I'm telling you right now, I'm talking about football. You talk about football, anything else out of that, no. You say, 'Santana, I got something to talk to you about,' then if it's about me, then I'll talk to you about it."

Q: "But here's what I'm saying to you, Santana. You can put it to bed right now if it's not you."
A: "What you want to do?"

Q: "I just want to ask ..."
A: "I'm telling you, if you want to talk about football, we can talk about football. I'm not going to answer none of your questions about somebody else unless it's pertaining to me. You know what I'm saying? Other than that, it's football."

Q: "But what I'm saying, I want to make sure it doesn't have anything to do with you."
A: "Until they say it has something to do with me, then we can talk about it. See what I'm saying?"

Click here to order Santana Moss' proCane Rookie Card.

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Andre Johnson shows he's a true professional

The Texans' Andre Johnson skipped the first three days of OTA's. And he was miserable. He knew where he wanted to be. He also knows he's grossly underpaid by just about anyone's standards, considering what he's accomplished on the field, and what he means to the Texans' success going forward.

Andre Johnson isn't just a world class wide receiver. He's a world class person. Yeah there are those that can argue that he's been paid pretty well. And then there's the whole "he's got 5 years left on his contract" argument. But he's out-performed his contract by a ton.
Let's look at some comparisons:
(All dollar amounts are estimated from several sources and are for illustrative purposes only!)

Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald signed a 4 year deal in 2008 worth an estimated $40MM. In the first two years, with bonuses, he's earned about $32MM. During those two years he recorded 193 receptions. That comes out to about $165,803.10 per catch.

The Texans' own Andre Davis inked a 4 year deal in 2008 worth about $16MM, of which he has earned about $10.1MM in the first two years. During that span he's caught 19 receptions, on which he's earned a whopping $531,578.95 each.

Then there's poor Andre Johnson. Now you find out why he's not happy. Maybe not with the Texans organization. Maybe just with his uncle...er...his "agent," that is. More on that in a sec. AJ inked an 8 year deal in 2007 worth $60MM. That's 20 million and 4 years more than Fitzgerald's deal. In the first 3 seasons of AJ's deal he's earned a total of about $26MM. In that same span he's recorded 276 receptions. Ok, all you math geniuses know where I'm going with this. For AJ's 276 receptions, he's earned a paltry $94,202.90 per catch. I know that's still a lot of money, but not by pro-football standards. And every catch AJ makes is vital to the Texans' success.

Yet, instead of throwing a temper tantrum, instead of sitting on the couch in the nice A/C playing his X-Box, he still comes out to voluntary practices. Yeah he skipped the first 3 while he thought about it. But that nagging desire to be there kept eating away at him. So he did the right thing and came to practice.

To me, that shows what a true professional Andre Johnson is. Since day one of his career with the Texans, he's continually shown, on and off the field, what a professional athlete, what a role model, is supposed to look like. He's shown how they should work, how they should perform, and how they should act.

Johnson hired Houston-based agent Kennard McGuire on Friday. The same agent that inked Andre Davis' deal. The same agent that represents Brandon Marshall, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Torry Holt. That tells me maybe AJ was unhappy with his agent more than the organization. We may never know, but one thing is certain. It's now time for the Texans, as an organization, to reward his performance, his leadership, his professionalism, and pay him what he is worth.

Like Craig Biggio was for the Astros. Like Hakeem Olajuwon was for the Rockets. Like Earl Campbell of the Oilers. Andre Johnson is professionalism defined. And I'm glad he's a Texan.

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

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NFL disciplining Santana Moss?

Well, Washington Redskins fans, you've got yourselves a fella who has been linked with infamous Canadian doctor Anthony Malea in wide receiver Santana Moss(notes). It isn't clear whether Santana has ever used performance-enhancing drugs, but even if it's never proven that he has, the NFL may end up fining him or disciplining him in some other way, according to the Washington Post.

Malea has been charged with smuggling and distributing human growth hormone.

Moss was apparently not hindered by his surgically repaired knee during the team's workout on Monday. But he could be hindered this coming season by a possible suspension. If he gets suspended, it looks like the Redskins will depend on third-year wideouts Devin Thomas(notes) and Malcolm Kelly(notes) to fill the hole left by Moss.

Click here to order Santana Moss' proCane Rookie Card.

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Bears' Olsen not recruiting Terrell Owens

Chicago Bears tight end Greg Olsen said his night out in Chicago on Sunday with teammate Jay Cutler and Terrell Owens wasn't a recruiting pitch for the free-agent wide receiver, merely a coincidental meeting.

Owens tweeted Sunday that he was hanging out with Olsen and Cutler at the Underground. He tweeted earlier in the night: "@ underground!! Waiting on jay cutler 2 come n here 2 explain how I wouldn't fit n their system!! Where u @ Jay?!"

Owens, 36, is looking for a new team after catching 55 passes for 829 yards last season with the Buffalo Bills.

Olsen, who shares an agent -- Drew Rosenhaus -- with Owens, said there was nothing to their time together.

"We bumped into him on Sunday night," Olsen said Tuesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "We just happened to run into him when he was in town, and we hung out for a little bit. I know a lot of people read into things, but it really was just that we happened to bump into him earlier in the night and then met up again later on. That's the extent of it.

"There wasn't much football talk. We just kind of hung out and tried to get out a little bit after minicamp wrapped up and just kind of relax."

The Bears held five practice sessions last weekend, their first chance to install new offensive coordinator Mike Martz's offensive system.

Olsen, who initially expressed concern over the tight end's role in a Martz system, came away impressed by his new coordinator.

"He has a high standard for the guys, and I think guys respect that and appreciate that," Olsen said. "He has a high standard for what's expected. I think he believes that we're close to being a top-notch offense, and I think guys believe that, too. He's not going to allow anyone to expect anything but that standard of excellence that we've set forth. If you come up short he's going to let you know about it."

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

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Andre Johnson explains decision on new agent

Andre Johnson spoke on Monday about the process of hiring Houston-based agent Kennard McGuire to represent him. He had been previously advised by his uncle, Andre Melton, but Johnson said Melton helped him decide to hire McGuire.

“I really just felt comfortable with him,” Johnson said. “He's right here in the city of Houston, and when we're practicing, he's (sometimes) out here watching.”

As for any changes in his contract, Johnson said he doesn't have a timetable and that he's focused on football.

“I'm not really worried about that right now,” Johnson said. “When the time comes for it, it'll come.”

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

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Sandoval starting at first base; Aubrey Huff in left

Aubrey Huff will make his first start of the season in left field against the Nationals on Tuesday night.

The Giants haven't scored a run in 20 innings, so they are trying something new. Pablo Sandoval will make his second start of the year at first base, while Juan Uribe will start at third base. Andres Torres will lead off and play right field, pushing Nate Schierholtz and John Bowker are both on the bench. Edgar Renteria is the new No. 2 hitter.

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Ryan Braun’s Waterfront

While named after Milwaukee Brewer’s outfielder Ryan Braun, this is strictly a restaurant, not a glorified sports bar. The dining room has a cool refined feel, artwork is contemporary, and there is plenty of outdoor seating all on the Riverwalk. The menu is casual fare like pizzas, pastas, salads and entrees of poultry, seafood and steak. There are nice touches like the roasted vegetable with sun-dried tomato butter served with fresh bread, and the dollop of sour cream with black caviar on the trout. The prices are very fair, even family-friendly with abundant items under $20.

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Wilfork goes Hollywood ... or not quite

OK, so this isn't LeBron tossing chalk in the air for a Nike ad, or Peyton Manning cracking wise at himself on behalf of Sprint. But for a defensive lineman, it ain't bad ...

Today, when we were at the stadium catching up with Julian Edelman, all of us were invited out to check out Vince Wilfork and co-star Damione Lewis shoot an ad for Bob's Discount Furniture. The team is now in its third season working with the chain, and this is actually Wilfork's second stab at doing a commercial with those guys.

I did take my own pictures, on my iPhone, but Christy Berkery, working for the team, did a much better job snapping shots than I did. So here are her photos of Wilfork and Co. from the team Web site

Click here to order VInce WIlfork's or Damione Lewis' proCane Rookie Card.

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Andre Johnson: Contract not a priority for him

Texans WR Andre Johnson said Monday he isn't concerned about the status of his contract and isn't pushing the team to renegotiate his long-term deal.

Johnson participated in his second straight OTA workout after sitting out the first three last week. He hired Kennard McGuire as his new agent on Friday, but said Monday it shouldn't necessarily be considered a sign he is making a play for a new contract.

"When the time comes for it, it'll come," Johnson of contract talks. "I'm not pressing anything or anything like that. Hopefully, it'll all work out."
Johnson is due to make less than $6 million next season and has five years left on his deal. Other comparable receivers, such as Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald and Miami's Brandon Marshall, have contracts with average values more than $10 million per year.

A four-time Pro Bowler, Johnson said last week he wants to retire with the Texans.

"Like I said, I'm not really worried about it," Johnson said Monday. "I'm out here just trying to work and doing what I need to do to help win a Super Bowl around here. That's what I'm going to continue to do, and like I said before, if that happens, it'll happen and it will take care of itself."

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

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Ryan Braun building baseball, business portfolios

PHOENIX — He's hip-hop. He's got game. He's got restaurants and a clothing line, too. And, oh, how he has swagger.

He is Ryan Braun: business entrepreneur by day, left fielder for the Milwaukee Brewers by night.

Braun, born in Los Angeles and schooled at the University of Miami (Fla.), is a mixture of SoCal and South Beach cool, with a New York flair for the bravado and a business mind that belongs on Wall Street.

"He got definite swag," Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp, 25, says. "I love watching him play."

"He's cooler than cool," teammate LaTroy Hawkins, 37, says.

So cool that Braun, 26, epitomizes a new breed of young players: brash, full of confidence and unafraid to celebrate conquests. The aim for Braun, an All-Star in each of his first two full seasons: Tear up the league with his bat, and conquer the business world with his brains.

Braun, the 2007 National League rookie of the year who teammate Jim Edmonds says is "as good a hitter as Albert (Pujols)," has a restaurant in Milwaukee — Ryan Braun's Waterfront Grill, which opened on opening day — and another scheduled to open in June in Lake Geneva, Wis. He is an investor in a T-shirt line, Remetee, and its website features celebs as varied as American Idol sensation Adam Lambert, rapper Rick Ross and myriad athletic figures sporting the brand.

Braun endorses a protein drink and an airline and says he hopes to soon launch his own energy drink.

"I just feel like being known as a baseball player is one-dimensional," Braun says. "I want my business portfolio to catch up with my baseball portfolio. I enjoy the challenge. I enjoy the hustle. And I enjoy seeing how much I can accomplish."

It would be easy to relax at his oceanfront Malibu, Calif., pad, during the winter, and play table tennis with neighbor Reggie Miller, the former NBA star. As a bachelor, he's aware of Hollywood's abundant nightlife. Yet, he spends three or four days a week during the offseason at Remetee's Compton offices. He did an internship for a financial services company associated with the sports agency representing him in Century City. And he vows to complete the last 1½ semesters to fulfill his business management degree at Miami (Fla.).

Perhaps Braun's ambitions are summed up by his favorite T-shirt: "The U invented swagger."

"Look, if you don't back it up, it's arrogance," Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder, 26, says. "If you back it up, it's confidence. He backs it up."

Again. And again. Braun leads the Brewers with a .324 average and .928 OPS (on-base-plus-slugging percentage), to go with his seven home runs, 10 stolen bases and 30 RBI. "You can't pitch him one way the whole game," Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw says, "because he makes adjustments so quick. That's what makes a great hitter. He's one of the toughest outs in the game."

Braun expects nothing less.

"I'm kind of known for my confidence," Braun says matter-of-factly. "If you don't believe in yourself, I don't see any reason that anyone else would believe in you. If not for confidence, I wouldn't be here today.

"My goal at a young age was never to make it to the big leagues but to excel at this level. If you don't strive for greatness in everything you do, you cheat yourself.

"I think I've been a good player. But I really believe I have the opportunity to be a great player."

According to mom Diane, Braun told major league scouts he would make them look smart if they drafted him out of high school. They didn't, so he went to Miami on a three-quarters academic and one-quarter baseball scholarship. He became the fifth pick overall three years later, signed an eight-year, $45 million deal in 2008 and wonders why anyone's surprised by what he's doing now.

"He's always been confident," says his father, Joe, a former insurance claims worker who now assists his son in his financial world. "We still have a videotape when he was in fifth grade. He stood up and said he wanted to be a big-league ballplayer. And if you saw the look on his face, it was serious. He wasn't joking."

Braun checks on his restaurant businesses during the day from his downtown Milwaukee condo, is usually the first player to arrive each afternoon at Miller Park and keeps the kitchen open for his teammates late.

"Most athletes have a restaurant that ends up being a sports bar," Braun says. "I wanted a contemporary place. A little L.A. A little Miami. A little New York.

"I wanted this to be more of a lifestyle restaurant, one representative of my personality."

He takes pride in the restaurant reviews and seeks suggestions. When teammate Doug Davis' wife said the white napkins should be switched to black to avoid lint, it was done the next day.

"What (NBA star) LeBron (James) has done in Cleveland, Ryan is starting to do in Milwaukee," says Nez Balelo, his agent. "Ryan appeals to all crowds, all audiences."

Rubbing some the wrong way
Sometimes, Braun's confidence has created the wrong kind of publicity.

Braun was in on Fielder's choreographed home run celebration in September against the San Francisco Giants. Fielder rounded third and with his teammates waiting, jumped on home plate. His teammates fell down like bowling pins.

"I loved it," Kemp says. "I hope they bring out some more stuff this year. I want to see it."

The trouble is that the baseball establishment hated it. Giants reliever Bob Howry, now with the Chicago Cubs, said then that it was "not acceptable. It's not only a lack of respect for the other team but the game. It won't be forgotten."

This spring, Fielder was hit in the back by the first pitch he saw from a Giant, a fastball from Barry Zito. Braun says their other celebratory ideas are on hold.

"People were offended," Braun says. "It was never our intent to disrespect anyone. But a lot of baseball people are old-school in their mentality.

"I respect that, but I think the game needs to have guys show their emotion and allow their personalities to shine. That's why we lose so many good athletes. They turn to basketball and football because it looks like they're enjoying themselves more."

Brewers catcher Gregg Zaun, 39, has a different take after watching Braun and some of the younger players.

"I've always been apprehensive to show too much fun, to show too much emotion," Zaun says. "But now that I watch Ryan and some of these young guys, I'm thinking, 'How many great moments did I miss because I was afraid to show my emotions, afraid of having fun?'

"I'm not sure these young guys don't have it right."

Learning restraint
Braun, who says he's always been opinionated, also is learning when to speak up and when to temper his remarks.

"Trust me, do you know how many times I'm asked a question," Braun says, "and would love to give the real answer and tell you exactly how I feel? But I know it's not in my best interest.

"There are certain situations in this game where I'm forced to be politically correct."

Braun tried honesty a year ago when he was asked about the Brewers' pitching staff. He answered, saying their pitching didn't match up with the Cubs.

It incited a furor in Milwaukee. Braun apologized to general manager Doug Melvin.

But greater familiarity with Braun seems to breed respect.

"I didn't really get to know Braun until this spring," second-year manager Ken Macha says. "I sat down with all of the veterans to get to know everyone's personalities. With most, it took about 15 minutes. With Ryan, it lasted an hour, 15 minutes.

"I'm not sure I've ever been around a player with that kind of talent. And, except for Dave Parker, I'm not sure I've ever been around anyone who has more confidence, either."

Braun would have loved watching his 467-foot blast at Chase Field in Arizona two weeks ago. It was the second to hit the center-field scoreboard. He put his head down, ran the bases and, as Macha recounts, asked questions later.

"Where did it land?" Braun yelled when he got to the dugout.

"It hit the scoreboard," Macha said.

Braun: "If it didn't hit that board, you know what? It would have hit the hotel."

The Brewers' team hotel was 6½ miles away.

"That's Ryan," Melvin says. "Never satisfied."

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Roscoe Parrish the primary slot receiver?

Roscoe Parrish is considered the Bills' primary slot receiver, according to the team's official site. It will be interesting to see what an offensive coach like Gailey, with a reputation of maximizing a player’s strengths elects to do with Parrish after he was rarely utilized on offense under the previous regime.

This speaks to the state of the Bills' receiving corps. Parrish was a mediocre slot receiver at best in the early part of his career, and now appears to be declining while focusing strictly on returns last season. Even if Parrish does lock down the slot job, he won't be draftable outside of return yardage leagues.

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

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Kenny Phillips sits out of OTAs as precaution

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants safety Kenny Phillips says he will be ready to practice with the team by training camp. But on Friday he looked as if he wanted to get an early start.

Phillips, out since Week 2 of last season, stood on the practice field with helmet and jersey on. The only thing separating him from his teammates at Friday's organized team activity was the fact that he had on sneakers rather than cleats. The safety is eager to practice, but the team remains cautious with Phillips, who watched his teammates practice.

"Just being safe right now," Phillips said. "Not trying to push it, not trying to rush it. [I can] run, I can do other things, a little bit of cutting. Just taking it real slow right now."

Phillips continues to rehabilitate his left knee after surgery after Week 2 in 2009 to help with patellofemoral arthritis, a degenerative condition. He reiterated on Friday that he will be ready to practice by the start of training camp in August even if it means starting off with one practice a day initially.

"All I know is what they tell me," coach Tom Coughlin said. "He is making progress. I just know that he is running. He is happy, he is getting better. There is no swelling. So those things are good."

The Giants were concerned enough about Phillips' health that they went and signed Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant in free agency and selected another safety, Chad Jones, in the third round of the draft. Rolle and Grant worked with the first team in the OTA while safety Moichael Johnsonalso sat out with a strained quad.

"There is definitely some pride back there," Coughlin said of how the secondary looked Friday. "Antrel Rolle is kind of a take-charge personality. So I like that aspect of it. Deon Grant has been good."

Phillips did do some running with the team, but that was about it.

"We had tested it a few times during certain drills," Phillips said. "I feel like I can go out there and do some things, especially at the start of training camp."

Perhaps the hardest thing for Phillips to do right now is take things slowly.

"I've gotten good reports, I feel great, no pain, no swelling," he said. "Just basically being safe. We have no reason to rush it. Just taking our time."

Click here to order Kenny Phillips' proCane Rookie Card.

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Andre Johnson hires new agent, hopes to secure sweeter contract

Andre Johnson is showing the Texans he’s ready to play hardball by hiring Houston-based agent Kennard McGuire to represent him, according to a person close to the Pro Bowl wide receiver.

Johnson, 28, had been advised by his uncle, Andre Melton, in his first two negotiations with the Texans — a six-year, $39 million contract ($12.5 million guaranteed) in July 2003 and an eight-year, $60 million extension ($15 million guaranteed) in March 2007.

Johnson, who missed the first three days of organized team activities before reporting Thursday, is unhappy with his contract that has five years remaining and calls for him to make a $5.8 million base salary this year.

After working out with his teammates for the first time Thursday, Johnson said he was there to stay. Johnson (6-3, 225 pounds) will focus on football and allow McGuire to see if he can convince general manager Rick Smith to give his new client a better deal.

McGuire represents NFL receivers Brandon Marshall, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Torry Holt.

He recently negotiated Marshall’s four-year, $47.5 million extension with Miami that included $23 million guaranteed.

McGuire negotiated Texans receiver Andre Davis’ four-year, $16 million contract that included $8 million guaranteed.

Among McGuire’s other clients are defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, offensive tackle Orlando Pace, defensive end Cory Redding and defensive tackle Shaun Rogers.

Johnson, who has earned about $27 million in the first three years of his extension, has been voted to the Pro Bowl in three of the past four years. He led the NFL in yards receiving in each of the past two seasons with 1,575 in 2008 and 1,569 in 2009. He had 115 and 101 receptions over the past two seasons.

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

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Hester expects receivers to "shock the world this year"

Count Bears receiver Devin Hester among those expecting big things from the new offense under Mike Martz.

While the Bears don't have a single receiver who has topped 1,000 yards in a single season, Hester projected that four or five receivers would thrive in 2010.

Asked if Martz will take advantage of his versatility, Hester said, "He's going to utilize all the receivers.

"Like I said, we're going to have four or five receivers that are going to succeed, and just kill this league, if we get this offense down pat and do the things we're coached to do.

"Four or five guys are going to really shock the world this year."

Hester said they are now in a position to make plays.

"Now, it's all up to us," he said.

But Hester said Martz is expecting the players to learn a lot.

"He's throwing a lot, everything he's got," Hester said. "We're all picking it up. It's an exciting offense.

"Once we all get it, it's hard to stop."

Besides, Martz has history on his side.

"If you look at the St. Louis Rams, those guys were successful for four or five years with coach Martz," Hester said. " It's not going to happen overnight. We're not going to come out here in a week and know the whole playbook. We got some growing to do, and we're going to make sure we dig deep down inside and put a little extra focus into studying the playbook and get it down before the season starts."

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

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10 Questions: LB Darryl Sharpton

Linebacker Darryl Sharpton was drafted by the Texans in the fourth round (102nd overall) out of Miami (Fla.) in late April.

Sharpton (6-0, 235) led the Hurricanes with a career-high 106 tackles as a senior in 2009. He was the recipient of the team's Hardest Hitter Award and earned team co-MVP honors.

With organized team activities on the horizon, we caught up with Sharpton for a "10 Questions" interview about his nickname, his famous uncle and his favorite hit from his days at Miami.

1. Where are you these days, and what have you been doing to stay in shape?
“I’m in Miami. I’ve just been continuing to work hard and work out at school with some of my old teammates, running up hills and lifting weights and just trying to be in the best shape of my life and getting ready for the next level, the next saga in my life.”

2. Ben Tate, your fellow Texans draft pick, has been training in Miami this offseason. Have you seen him much of him down there?
“We’ve been keeping in touch, definitely. When I left college and first started training, we started working out together at the same facility, so that’s when we started talking and we became friends. It was just a crazy coincidence that we ended up getting drafted by the same team. I went against him at the Senior Bowl in some one-on-one drills, like the pass rush drills we were doing in practice that week. So I guess when I get to the camps and stuff that we’ll be doing the same thing.”

3. Who got the best of it between you two in Senior Bowl practices?
“Oh, man. If you ask him, he’s going to say he did. If you ask me, I’m going to say that I did. But I think that we both did a good job. He did a great job in pass protection a couple of times. I was kind of surprised. Everybody there was used to being the man and a dominant person, and when you go against the best of the best every once in a while, you meet a guy who you can almost say you met your match. He did a great job. I remember thinking, ‘Oh, this guy, he’s actually pretty good.’ I remember one time he kind of jammed me up a little bit more than I liked to be in pass protection. So he definitely showed me has a good skill set and that he’s definitely a hard worker.”

4. There are four other former Miami guys on the Texans’ roster – Andre Johnson, Eric Winston, Chris Myers, Rashad Butler. Have you talked to any of them since draft?
“I talked to Eric Winston briefly. He just gave me a little insight in terms of what to expect, what attitude to come with. It’s kind of funny because I remember when I was on my recruiting visit for the University of Miami, he was the first guy that I ever talked to from UM, and then again he was the first guy to reach out to me when I’m going to the Texans. It’s kind of another crazy coincidence. I remember clearly when I first talked to him: I was at a little pizza restaurant whenever I was getting recruited, and he was talking to me and giving me the same kind of guidelines when I was heading to Miami.”

5. When OTAs start, what do you think you’ll contribute to the team and how do you see yourself fitting in?
“I see myself as a complete, hard-nosed linebacker, and when I get there, I’m going to be just that. I’m going to line up and get in my stance, I’m going to look at my reads, I’m going to go 100 miles per hour, make a bunch of tackles, hit hard, display my power and do what I need to do to help this team win as many games as possible.”

6. You were listed at 5-11 at the combine. How do you respond when people might say you don’t have prototypical size?
“Yeah, that’s a question that has come up from time to time. Sometimes people ask, ‘Man, what do you play? You play corner or something?’ But I never even saw myself as being undersized. Maybe that’s just my ego. When I see myself, unless I’m looking at somebody side-to-side in the mirror, sometimes I feel like I’m bigger than guys that are bigger than me. I feel like I’m big. I feel like I’m just as big as I need to be, and I’ve never, ever – even to myself – said I was undersized.

"I just feel like it’s never been a handicap. I’ve always been able to do whatever I need to do. I’ve always been able to get past any offensive lineman I need to get past. I’ve always been able to tackle anybody that needs to be tackled. For me, I think I’ve got great leverage when I play the game, and my current stature allows me to display the power that needs to be displayed to execute whatever I need to do.”

7. Speaking of power, what was your biggest hit at Miami?
“There was actually one in the ’08 season. I was playing WILL linebacker that year and they were running a ‘WILL lead.’ We were playing Florida State and the fullback was coming through the hole and I recognized the play based on the steps they were doing, and I remember I just went full speed and I completely flattened the fullback and knocked him into the running back, completely disrupted the play. That right there was probably a hit that I’ll never forget. Most people would probably mention the Clemson hit, but for me it was in the ’08 season playing Florida State.”

8. I don’t know if you were aware of this, but you’ve got a pretty famous uncle. How close were you to the Rev. Al Sharpton growing up, and what kind of influence has he had on you?
“Growing up, people always were like, ‘Are you related to Al Sharpton? Are you related to Al Sharpton?’ My parents told me I was, and later on in my life, I actually got to see him a lot more because he traveled a lot and came down to Miami. So I would see him when he came down and we would speak, and he would tell me that he was very proud of me and that he loves me. I met the whole family, and I stay with them whenever I go to New York. He’s been a great guy, a great role model, and obviously he’s very, very famous in many circles, so he’s definitely been a good role model for me, as have my dad and my mom and everybody that’s in my family. I’m just very appreciative of my family as a whole and for them always being there for me.”

9. You’ve already got your finance degree. Is that where the nickname “D-Money” comes from?
“(Laughs) I don’t know. I think it just has a nice ring to it, you know? I got that when I was in college, and it just kind of stuck. My first nickname was Radio from the movie ‘Radio,’ because people kind of say that I look like the main character. That was my name for a good whole year, and then as I got older, I started telling the younger guys, ‘You better not call me Radio.’ So the name eventually disappeared, and I became D-Money, which is a much better nickname than Radio. I guess that kind of goes hand-in-hand with being a finance major, but I think it’s just more that it has a nice ring to it.”

10. Is finance or entrepreneurship something you’d be interested pursuing as a future career?
“Oh, yeah. I’ve always been passionate about finance and entrepreneurship. Everyone I can think of in my family has always had a strong entrepreneurial background. My dad has a CPA firm. My uncle has a radio station. My other uncle, Uncle Pat, he has several companies. I could go back and back in my family. A lot of people in my family have been entrepreneurs. I think it might be something in our blood. That’s always something I’ve been very passionate about, so it’s definitely something I’ll look into for the future. But for right now, I’m just very excited about being a Houston Texan.”

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Olsen "optimistic" about playing under Martz

Bears tight end Greg Olsen has been mum for most of the off-season. But, he chatted with me for a bit Thursday. Here are some highlights of my talk with him.

On how he feels about his role in Mike Martz's offense: "The question that immediately arose was, 'Where do tight ends fit in?' I was right there; I wasn't naïve. I know he's one of the best coordinators (in the NFL). For me, the track record wasn't there. But I feel positive and optimistic, after conversations with him and what we've done on the field, that I'll continue to have a big role in our offense like I have had the last couple of years.

"I don't see that changing."

On if he ever asked to be traded: "In this process, never once did I say publicly or privately that I didn't want to be in Chicago. If it were up to me, I'd play my entire career with the Bears. Obviously, there's a lot more that goes into it than that. I've enjoyed my first three years here. I've gotten better each year, and I want to be staple in this offense for years to come.

"I have a lot of respect for the organization. It's one of the original teams. It's a prestigious organization. It's in one of the top sports markets. It makes it more fun when people care."

"Each week, there's a lot of interest in our games. As players, we appreciate that."

On how he feels about the perception that he's not a good blocker: "That's the way it goes. I think a lot of people paint that image, and don't know what they're talking about. It's very easy to draw those assumptions. It makes for good articles and radio.

"Am I the best blocking guy I the league? No. But the last two years, I was an every down tight end. It didn't matter what the play was. I did it all. This conception that all I do is run around and catch the ball is ignorant."

On his versatility: "I take pride in that I've lined up in a lot of different positions, out of the backfield. Split out wide. Slot. I feel there's not a lot of guys who can do that."

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

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Sinorice Moss dodges questions on Santana Moss' involvement with HGH doctor

Giants wide receiver Sinorice Moss fielded punts and took a slant route in for a touchdown during one pass play at a training session Friday, but he said he could not offer any thoughts regarding his older brother Santana Moss' relation to Canadian doctor Anthony Galea.

"I really can't talk about something I don't know about," Moss said.

The elder Moss, an ex-Jet, was linked to Galea, who has been accused of smuggling and distributing human growth hormone into the United States, in reports from The Washington Post and Buffalo News. The papers said he has received treatment from Galea and is the unidentified Washington player mentioned in an affidavit associated with the case. The affidavit said the Washington player was planning to meet with Galea at a hotel last September.

Sinorice Moss has been in touch with his brother, and said, "He's doing good."

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Greg Olsen admits to initial concerns regarding Mike Martz

Bears tight end Greg Olsen admits that, when Mike Martz arrived as offensive coordinator, the 2007 first-round pick was concerned.

"The question that immediately arose was, 'Where do tight ends fit in?' I was right there; I wasn't naive,'' Olsen told Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times.  ''I know he's one of the best coordinators [in the NFL].  For me, the track record wasn't there.  But I feel positive and optimistic, after conversations with him and what we've done on the field, that I'll continue to have a big role in our offense like I have had the last couple of years.''

Olson feels sufficiently confident about his role that he envisions never leaving Chicago.

''In this process, never once did I say publicly or privately that I didn't want to be in Chicago,'' Olson said.  ''If it were up to me, I'd play my entire career with the Bears.  Obviously, there's a lot more that goes into it than that.  But I've enjoyed my first three years here, and I've gotten better each year, and I want to be a staple in this offense for years to come.''

Still, any concerns Olson had were justified.  Vernon Davis of the 49ers didn't become one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the league until after Martz left.

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

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Damione Lewis Part of a Defensive Line Shuffle

In their effort to fill the defensive line void that was created when Richard Seymour was surprisingly shipped to Oakland late last summer, the Patriots have turned to a couple players Bill Belichick actually considered prior to selecting Seymour with the sixth overall selection in the first-round of the 2001 draft.

Damione Lewis, the 12th overall pick to the Rams that year, signed a one-year, $1.15 million deal with New England April 10. Gerard Warren, who actually came off the board third overall to the Browns, inked a one-year, $900,000 deal that included a reported $40,000 bonus with the Patriots on April 24. The players add depth to the defensive line, and depending on how the competition shakes out, either could end up in the starting lineup.

"All three of those players were in the same draft. It was Warren, then Seymour, then Damione Lewis, all in the same draft," Belichick said of the top three defensive tackles in that '01 rookie class. "We did a lot of work on all three of those players, as well as a lot of others. But Gerard was picked by Cleveland before we picked, so it was a non-factor for us. But it's interesting. All of those players have had good careers and it's interesting that within a calendar year all three of them were here."

Whereas Seymour won a Super Bowl as a rookie in New England, and earned five Pro Bowl nods in his eight seasons with the Patriots, neither Warren nor Lewis found nearly the same personal or team success in their various NFL stops.

The 6-2, 301-pound Lewis spent five seasons in St. Louis. He played in all 16 games just twice for the Rams and never started more than 10 games in a year. He peaked in 2004 when notched a career-high 61 tackles and five sacks.

He moved on to Carolina as a free agent in 2006. He seemed a better fit with the Panthers, actually starting all 31 games he's played in over the last two seasons, recording 48 and 41 tackles in 2008 and 2009, respectively.

All told Lewis has started 65 of his 131 career games, while accumulating 360 tackles, 22.5 sacks, 14 passes defensed, five forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries as primarily a 4-3, one-gap defensive tackle.

Though he appears built more like a nose tackle in New England's scheme, he's been told to be prepared for anything and is excited about the transition to a 3-4, two-gap scheme.

"They said, 'Be ready and learn everything,'" Lewis said following a recent workout in the Patriots offseason program. "I want to learn the whole line and get a very good concept of the defense and how it runs, as far as how the linebackers fit with the D-linemen and all that stuff. I think that is much more important in a 3-4 than a 4-3. In a 4-3, I had one solo job -- to penetrate and be disruptive. It didn't matter if you made a tackle the whole game, but as long as you're penetrating and making the ball bounce, then you did your job. This is totally different than that. That's what makes it fun and exciting."

The 6-4, 330-pound Warren has been a pretty big disappointment as a top-three pick. He stayed in Cleveland for four seasons before being traded to the Broncos for two years. He played the last two seasons in Oakland. Though never really living up to his high draft status, he's been a starter at all three stops, starting 127 of the 135 games he's played in. His career totals include 229 tackles, 32 sacks, 18 passes defense, seven forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries.

"He's been a very productive player through the course of his career, especially in recent years he's been 70 percent roughly play-time player, similar to Damione Lewis. He has a different style, but he's that same kind of productive player," Belichick said of Warren, who would seem to more fit the size requirements for Seymour's old right defensive end spot. "He'll add to that group and I think he gives us a talented player in there that's been very productive. I think he'll be a good addition to our group."

And, as Lewis alluded to, Gerard Warren should expect to move around a bit at various times on the Patriots defensive front.

Depending on how the competition shakes down, one or either will once again be measured up against, at least partially, to Seymour. And once again, Belichick will be doing the evaluating.

Click here to order Damione Lewis' proCane Rookie Card.

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Bryant McKinnie applauds latest Williams Wall ruling

Vikings left tackle Bryant McKinnie knows the importance of Friday's ruling regarding Kevin Williams and Pat Williams.

"That's great news!" he said via text message of the news that the Williams Wall would be in place for the 2010 season after Hennepin County Judge Gary Larson kept in place an injunction that protects the Vikings' defensive tackles from suspension.

With the Williamses in place along the defensive front, McKinnie feels more optimistic than ever about the upcoming season.

"Of course! We pretty much have our team back in full," he texted.

He's right. On offense and defense, 21 of the 22 starters are under contract. Defensive end Ray Edwards is the lone exception, and he's a restricted free agent who's expected to sign at some point during this offseason.

Now the biggest question facing the Vikings is the future of quarterback Brett Favre, who reportedly had surgery Friday on his injured left ankle and should be ready to play when the regular season starts.

He certainly has plenty of incentive, starting with a rematch of last season's NFC championship game at New Orleans, scheduled for Sept. 9.

The Williamses will be on the field for that game, as well as Saints defensive end Will Smith, who tested positive for the same banned diuretic as the Vikings' defensive tackles in 2008. The NFL has avoided suspending Smith while the Williamses' lawsuit against the league is decided.

Click here to order Bryant McKinnie's proCane Rookie Card.

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Jason Michaels starts in center Sunday

Houston OF Jason Michaels started in center field Sunday against Tampa Bay with Michael Bourn beginning his two-game suspension. Michaels last started on May 16 and went 1 for 4 with a run scored. He entered Sunday's game batting .182 on the year.

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Gone fishin' -- catching up with Charlton Jimmerson

What was your greatest moment as a pro?

Charlton Jimerson: "Probably the first time I got called up (Sept. 14, 2005). I played in 2005 with Corpus Christi, Double A. Then I got called up to Triple A (Round Rock) the last week and the season was over. I went home for a week and I have some really supportive family members. And they were like, `You're still going to get called up.' I'm like, `I'm not playing baseball games right now. You don't see people get called up if you're not playing. The season's over.' And a week later, late at night, I got the call from Houston. And that night Roger Clemens was pitching after his mother had passed away, and I got the chance to come in in center field and play defense. I had made it. I put myself in a category that not many get a chance to say.''

Jimerson of the Bluefish hit .364 (8-for-22) with two doubles, three home runs, nine RBIs and six runs scored in six games to earn Connecticut Post Player of the Week honors May. 16-21.

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Cora's 2nd-inning single provides Amazin' momentum

It was a hit, as David Wright said, that changed the game. It gave the Mets a surge. It deflated the Yankees.

In the bottom of the second inning last night, Jason Bay would eventually hit his second home run of the season, and later in the night, Bay would add his third. First, however, Alex Cora delivered an enormous hit to put the game's first two runs on the board. The backup infielder smacked a two-out two-run single off CC Sabathia in the second inning, part of the Mets' big four-run frame and part of their 6-4 Subway Series victory at Citi Field.

"Big momentum changer," Wright said.

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Ryan Braun considers himself role model for Jewish community

Milwaukee Brewers All-Star left fielder Ryan Braun, has never attended Temple. Never had a bar mitzvah. But if the Jewish community wants to adapt him as one of their own, calling him, "The Hebrew Hammer,'' he's all for it.

Why, he was even inducted into the Southern California Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in January.

"I am Jewish,'' says Braun, whose mother is Catholic and dad Jewish. "It's something I'm really proud of. But I don't want to make it into something more than what it is. I didn't have a Bar Mitzvah. I don't want to pretend that I did. I didn't celebrate the holidays.

"It's a touchy subject because I don't want to offend anybody, and I don't want groups claiming me now because I'm having success. But I do consider myself definitely Jewish. And I'm extremely proud to be a role model for young Jewish kids.''

Says Joe Braun, his father, who was born in Tel Avis: "My side of relatives were almost all killed by Germans. My mom and dad were fortunate enough to escape. There's a lot of heritage there, and Ryan realizes that and is able to embrace his heritage.

"Are you going to see him in Temple? No. Are you going to see me in Temple? No. But he knows he is a role model and wants to do the right thing.''

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