Kareem Brown at Titans Camp

Kareem Brown is at Titans camp this year. After attending Jets camp last year as a TE, Brown has returned to his natural defensive line position and is working out with the Titans as a defensive tackle and defensive end.

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Jon Beason opens camp on weak side

Panthers MLB Jon Beason opened training camp on the weak side, just as he did in closing out OTAs.

It looks like the Panthers have decided to keep Beason at the WILL, with Dan Connor manning the middle. The move shouldn't hurt Beason's IDP value, as coordinator Ron Meeks' scheme funnels the majority of the plays to the weak side.

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

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Kellen Winslow's workload to be limited in camp

Kellen Winslow (knee surgery) is expected to be medically cleared for Saturday's first training-camp practice, but the Bucs will limit his workload.

"He's going to be able to practice and do everything," said GM Mark Dominik. "We just want to get Kellen to the season and let him go. I know what Kellen can do." Winslow's limitations will mostly involving skipping two-a-days. He's played all 16 games in three of the past four seasons.

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

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Darnell Jenkins in Sweats

Darnell Jenkins started camp on the active physically unable to perform list. Jenkins was in sweats and shorts, working out on the sidelines with strength and conditioning coach Harold Nash and Joe Van Allen of the training staff.

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Vince Wilfork fine with doubters

For the first time in a long time, the Patriots [team stats] are not the prohibitive favorites to win the AFC East. Given offseason moves made by both the New York Jets [team stats] and Miami Dolphins [team stats], they don’t even register as a blip on many scorecards.

The way some see it, the Pats are no longer among the elite and are looking up at some teams, including one or two in their own division. One national pundit, in a recent listing of his 10 best teams on paper heading into training camp, didn’t even have the Patriots on the list.

What does Vince Wilfork [stats] make of all the experts taking a pass on his team? How does he view the lack of respect?

In true Rodney Harrison [stats] fashion, he’s loving every minute of it.

“Hey, that’s fine with me. We’ll hide behind the bush the whole season,” Wilfork said. “I’m pretty sure if you talk to a bunch of other guys, and they’ll say the same thing. That’s just fine with us, because only the Patriots know what we have, and we’ll know even better once we get in camp.

“Everybody has opinions,” the mammoth nose tackle said during a recent interview with the Herald. “The more people don’t pay us no attention, that’s even better.”

Imagine the Patriots hiding in the weeds, sneaking up on teams? That certainly hasn’t been their calling card the past decade, especially with three Super Bowls on their resume. But getting blown out in the first round of the playoffs by the Baltimore Ravens last season and having their flaws exposed has created more doubters than supporters.

Wilfork won’t argue about the problems that existed last season, both on and off the field, but he is on board with the changes that were made during the offseason. He believes some of the new personnel will help the cause going forward. Having spent a lot of time with the group through organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp, he is particularly sold on the group’s make-up.

“I think we learned a lot of stuff. We’re far away from where we need to be, but I think guys have their head on right, and understand what we’re trying to do, and how we’re trying to do it,” he said. “Everyone needs to be on the same page. If we’re on the same page, we give ourselves a great shot to win every week.

“We’ll see where it goes, but I love what we have here,” Wilfork said. “I love the people (we’ve brought) in. I love the teammates we have. Whoever else we bring in, join the party. I’m looking for a fun, exciting season. Hopefully, we can win.”

With a new five-year, $40 million extension secured, Wilfork feels more comfortable taking on a greater leadership role in the locker room. He is still going to lead by example, because that’s his style. But the way he sees it, if enough guys follow his lead, the Pats will be proving all of their early-season doubters wrong.

“For myself, if I’m called upon to say something, I’ll say something. But that’s not my style. I’d rather go out and play hard, then watch everyone around me follow,” he said. “I’m just going to go out and be the best athlete I can be, the best teammate I can be, the best leader I can be. A lot of times, that’s not about talking, that’s about going out and doing. It’s about playing hard and, hopefully, the guys will follow behind me and we can have a hell of a ballclub.

“One thing that don’t lie, when you put that film on Monday after games, everyone sees what everyone is doing. I want to be one of those guys playing my tail off. That’s how you get people rallying around you. People will see, ‘Man, Vince is doing this. I need to do this.’ That’s how it’s got to be.

“A lot of guys in that locker room hate to lose, and hate to be last in anything,” he added. “So if one guy is trying to outdo another guy, that brings out the best in another guy. That’s how it’s got to be. So I’m excited about this season. I hope everyone else is, too.”

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

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Kenny Phillips eases way into training camp while others doubt his health

The doubters are everywhere and Kenny Phillips knows it. He also knows they'll be there until he proves them wrong. The Giants safety even knows they won't believe him even after he returns to practice.

And he knows opposing teams are ready to target him as a weak link in the Giants' defense, until he can prove he's still as good as he was before.

"I'm looking forward to that," Phillips said recently, and with a smile. "They're probably going to think 'He's not ready. He had a real serious knee injury. He's not his old self.' So I hope I get tested early. More plays for me to make."

It's that positive attitude that's carried the 23-year-old Phillips through the last 10 months since the Giants decided to shut him down for the 2009 season after Week 2. He had been diagnosed with patellofemoral arthritis in his left knee. He was in pain, and there was a chance that playing on it would make it worse.

Since then, Phillips has undergone microfracture surgery that he hopes fixed some of the damage from a condition many orthopedic surgeons believe is potentially career-threatening. He's also answered hundreds of questions about his recovery and his outlook for 2010 while missing all of the Giants' spring practices.

And the entire time he remained focused on one thing: Returning to practice when training camp opens in Albany on Sunday afternoon.

That still appears to be the plan for Phillips, the Giants' first-round draft pick in 2008. He expects to be ready for at least limited action - if not for the first practice, then soon after. But the lingering questions remain: How limited will he be? How quickly can he recover? Will he still be his old quick, explosive self? And, most importantly for the Giants, will he be ready for Week 1?

Phillips, for the most part, has maintained his optimism. However, in a recent chat on the NFL's website, he admitted the obvious, that he'd be limited at the start of camp. He also said he expects to be healthy enough "to get some type of playing time" in the opener on Sept. 12, although he probably won't be ready to reclaim his starting role.

That's actually part of the Giants' plan to protect his future and ease him back into a full-time role. Grant and Rolle are the starters at safety for now, and the presence of Grant will give Phillips what he needs most: Time.

"Deon took it upon himself to talk to Kenny and say. 'Kenny, take your time, all right?'" said safeties coach Dave Merritt. "He said, 'I understand my role. And I understand you are the Giants for the future. So take your time and make sure the knee is right when you come back. When you're ready to come back, be ready.' "

"What's important is for him to be on the field when we play Carolina (in the opener)," added GM Jerry Reese. "So we'll start him really slow at the beginning of training camp, get his feet under him. Obviously he's been doing some work while he's been away. We've been monitoring that. But we just want him to take it slow because we want him to be our starting safety when we line up against Carolina on (September) 12th."

When asked if Phillips will be ready to play in the season opener, Coughlin said he wants to take it one step at a time.

"First I want to get him on practice field without any limitations and I'm hoping that that will happen within the first couple of weeks," Coughlin said. "I'm sure it will be one-a-day restriction once he does start practicing. We want to make sure that we build this whole thing up and our doctors and medical staff, which has worked with him tirelessly through the entire process, has a chance to see again exactly where he is and what needs to be done."

Phillips feels he's definitely ready. He was antsy during the Giants' minicamp in June when he was a spectator, left to do solo running on the side of the field while his teammates scrimmaged. He said by then he had already begun cutting, back-pedaling, "pretty much everything" and he had experienced no swelling or pain.

"I feel fine," he said. "I really do."

He really believes that, even if no one else outside the Giants organization seems convinced. Phillips also has no doubts about his readiness for actual football action, despite the long layoff. He doesn't expect to wonder how his knee is reacting every time he changes direction on the field.

The doubts and worries and wonder, he said, are in the minds of other people. And, of course, he knows they will.

"I know it's not going to change until you guys see me out there at practice, making plays," Phillips said.

Finally, that may just be a few days away.

Click here to order Kenny Phillips’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Thumbs Up For Danny Valencia

Danny Valencia went 0-for-3 with a walk yesterday to snap an amazing hot streak that saw him go 14-for-19 (.737) during a four-game stretch. Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com looked it up and since 1993, the only players to rack up more than 14 hits in four games are Johnny Damon (2000), Mike Benjamin (1995), and Brett Butler (1995). Valencia is now hitting .387/.441/.495 in 30 games overall, after batting just .292/.347/.387 in 49 games at Triple-A before his call-up.

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Check out WQAM's interviews with proCanes This Week

Michael Irvin interviewed Lamar Thomas, and Damien Berry yesterday along with super agent Drew Rosenhaus. Click here to listen to all the interviews.

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Saints finalize deal with Jimmy Graham

New Orleans Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis announced Wednesday that the club has agreed to terms with tight end Jimmy Graham, their 2010 third-round draft choice, on a four-year contract and also with free agent quarterback Patrick Ramsey on a one-year contract.

Graham (6-6, 260) was picked by the Saints the 95th overall selection in April’s draft after playing one season of football at the University of Miami. The native of Goldsboro, N.C. played in 13 games for the Hurricanes with one start and caught 17 passes for 213 yards and five touchdowns after taking up football at the conclusion of a successful college basketball career. Graham played in 120 games for Miami on the hardwood, starting 39, and scored 509 points, grabbed 502 rebounds with 104 blocked shots.

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Anthony Reddick One of the CFL's Top Rookies

Anthony Reddick, Defensive Back (B.C. Lions). Reddick joined British Columbia after playing for one of the top U.S. college programs - the University of Miami - “The U.” Through both talent and hard work, Reddick earned a job with the Lions and has recorded 11 tackles, 1 sack and 1 interception in their first four games. With loads of natural ability, as Reddick gives the Lions much needed depth in the backfield.

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Leon Williams Fighting For a Roster spot with the Cowboys

Inside linebacker Leon Williams had a decent off-season but has been a little slow to the take here in camp, but he had a nice breakup of a Matt Nichols' throw to tight end Scott Sicko on a crossing route in seven on seven work.

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Reggie Wayne makes his intentions more clear

When we last heard from Colts receiver Reggie Wayne, he hinted that he might hold out of training camp.

Several days later, he posted a journal entry on his official website that strongly suggested he'll be at training camp from Day One.

In an entry titled "It's About That Times Ladies And Gentleman," Wayne all but says he's showing up.

"Is it that time already Colts fans," Wayne writes.  "Seems just like yesterday I [was] cleaning out my locker getting ready for the off-season.  I guest it's true when they say, 'time waits for no man'.  So Anderson Indiana here come the Mighty Indianapolis Colts to invade your town for a few weeks.

"All of my friends keep telling me how they can't wait for me to go back to work because they want to see some football.  Then we get into a debate about how they cutting my vacation short.  But at the same time, it's raining every day in South Florida due to hurricane season. So maybe it is time to play some football.  Not much else to talk about at this point in time. I'm about to go sit by the pool with a glass of lemonade (that's right LEMONADE) and enjoy my last few days of freedom.  Talk to you soon. GO COLTS!"

Wayne posted that entry on July 21; the Colts open camp on Sunday.  So even though he wants a new contract and team president Bill Polian has insisted that Wayne won't be getting one, it looks like Wayne is willing to continue to honor his current deal, which has two years remaining.

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

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Kenny Phillips to open year as a backup?

The New York Daily News predicts that SS Kenny Phillips (knee) will open the season in a backup role.

Comments recently made by Phillips indicated that he himself doesn't expect a full-time role in Week 1. The Giants will likely ease him in throughout camp and the early part of the season. Ideally, he'll be as close to 100 percent as possible by the middle of the year.

Click here to order Kenny Phillips’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Andre Johnson's contract still problematic?

The Houston Chronicle's John McClain hinted in a blog post Saturday that the Texans aren't necessarily out of the woods in regard to Andre Johnson's contract situation.

"I'm not convinced the Andre Johnson contract situation couldn't get ugly," wrote McClain. "When I see Johnson on the field on Friday, I'll be convinced." While GM Rick Smith is working on getting Johnson a new deal, it doesn't sound like A.J. is a lock to report on time for training camp. Of course, Johnson would risk hefty daily fines by skipping practices.

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

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Reed says he gave 'blood,' but don't teams give bonuses?

News item: Ravens safety Ed Reed has ramped up his one-sided war of words with the team over the past two days, justifying his desire for a new contract by saying — among other things — that he has given his "blood, sweat and tears" to the organization and wants to be appreciated for playing hurt last year.

My take: Guess I'm old-fashioned, but when you sign a long-term contract and take a huge signing bonus, doesn't that mean you're getting your appreciation in advance?

Bonus take: Yes, I realize that NFL players do this kind of thing all the time, but that doesn't make it right. When you sign a long-term contract, you're agreeing to trade some future earning potential for immediate financial security. When did it become all right to break that promise and demand to be paid on both ends of the risk/reward equation?


Antonio Dixon Looks to Be the Eagles' #3 DL

Antonio Dixon hasn't even been an Eagle for 12 months, but he's our #3 DT and a player the coaches like. He got in better shape in the offseason, but didn't wither away. He was 327 pounds back in March. The big question on Dixon last year was conditioning. If he's in better shape now that could offer a nice boost to his game performance. Dixon got by last year on raw ability. If he's in better shape and starts to understand how to play he could become a very good #3 DT.

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Q&A: Joe Pannunzio on TE Dedrick Epps

The Chargers selected Dedrick Epps with their final selection in the '10 NFL Draft. The rookie out of Miami gives San Diego insurance at tight end, as Antonio Gates and Randy McMichael have battled injuries recently. Epps (6-foot-3, 250 pounds) finished his three-year college career with 49 catches for 634 yards and six scores.

For more on Epps, we check in with Joe Pannunzio, the tight ends coach and special teams coordinator for the Hurricanes.

LaShana Marshburn: Tell us about your experience coaching Dedrick.
Joe Pannunzio: Dedrick was a pleasure to coach. He was a kid who came to us from Richmond, Va., and was highly recruited. It was fun to watch him grow and mature. We had him for four years and in his last year, when he was coming off knee surgery, we didn't know how affected he was going to be. He ended up having a good senior year for us. He is just a great kid.

LM: That knee surgery you mentioned caused Dedrick to miss the Emerald Bowl at the end of his junior season. What was that like for him?
JP: It was kind of a strange deal. We were at practice in just shorts and shoulder pads. He made a play and hit his knee while he was going out of bounds. I didn't know if he'd be good enough as a senior because he's never been red-shirted, but he'll be even better this season. If you look at kids' records after they've had knee surgery, it's really 18 months before they fully recover. I would say that's probably going to be true for Dedrick.

LM: Did you notice the Chargers showing interest in him prior to the NFL Draft?
JP: Well, we used to have an offensive coordinator here (Rod Chudzinski) who is now coaching tight ends in San Diego. Also, [linebackers coach] John Pagano is a good friend of mine. The Chargers have always been my favorites [for Dedrick] because of those two guys.

LM: How did the University of Miami prepare Dedrick for life in the NFL?
JP: All you have to do is look around the NFL: Every team has Miami football players. If you look at the Pro Bowl, we had six players there and the next college with the most probably had two. Miami prepares kids better than any place in the country for the National Football League.

LM: Despite the excellent preparation, where must Dedrick still get better?
JP: I'm sure it's like anything else, just being relaxed. The athleticism steps up and is probably going to be the same for him in pro football. It's like most rookies coming in, there's a growing process. I'm sure he is going to have a little bit of that, but he's a kid that's not going to back down from competition. He'll adapt pretty well.

LM: What makes you so confident that Dedrick will succeed in San Diego?
JP: I think the one thing about tight ends is some guys can go down the field and make plays and some guys stay in as blockers and move people. Dedrick can get down the field and he's a decent blocker. He's not a dominant blocker, but he's kind of a cross between the two types of tight ends, so he has a chance to be really good.

LM: And what about his presence off the field?
JP: He's a real quiet, good kid. He is kind of like a son to me.

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Nate Webster Prowling Sidelines For Bellevue High

Nate Webster knows what it takes to be a Super Bowl champion.Now he’s bringing that NFL experience to Bellevue High School, where he’s serving as the football team’s new defensive coordinator.”Talking with a lot of my former coaches, you know, you got to start somewhere, and as long as you have the passion and a love for the game, it doesn’t matter where you start,” said Webster, who played nine seasons in the NFL.He played two, injury-plagued seasons for the Cincinnati Bengals and won a Super Bowl ring in 2002 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.Head coach Russ Shearer said the Tigers know how lucky they are to have the 32-year-old Webster as a mentor.”We’re so fortunate to have him this year, and he’s already made a big difference in a lot of our defense already,” Shearer said.The road to a Class A title runs through Beechwood High School, but Bellevue players think the addition of Webster to the coaching staff could give them an edge.”I think he really is the missing link,” said linebacker D.J. Slater. “I mean, he gets our defense going. It doesn’t take a few plays; it’s the first play, we’re already pumped.”Webster is already bringing an energy to the field during July practices.”Once you see what you’re teaching them take over and they make plays, I get excited, they get excited, everybody excited, and it really (does) bring back some memories,” Webster said.


Ashley Woods Lands a Coaching Position with Nova Southeastern

proCane Ashley Woods who played professional volleyball in Spain for the last year has signed with Nova Southeastern to be a Coach for their women’s volleyball team. Ashley says that the contract are “usually 1 year contracts.” Ashley is very excited to be “staying in the US!!” Congrats to Ashley.

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Chris Perez wins battle with A-Rod to close it out

CLEVELAND -- There stood Chris Perez, not only one pitch away from an infamous residence in baseball history, but erasing a lead the Indians had played so well to build.

Alex Rodriguez, he of 599 career home runs, stepped into the batter's box with two on and two out in the top of the ninth inning, his Yankees trailing by three runs.

Perez had only one thought.

"Don't give it up," he told himself. "Don't let No. 600 be a big one."

Two finely executed pitches later, the 25-year-old right-hander was pumping his fist in celebration after closing out the Tribe's 4-1 victory Tuesday night at Progressive Field.

Of course, Perez's journey to that moment was hardly textbook.

Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter notched two-strike singles to begin the ninth, with Jeter's drive down the right-field line advancing Gardner to third base.

Suddenly, Cleveland's three-run cushion didn't seem so cushy. And Perez, on a night he felt he had his "good stuff," was in a bad spot.

"I was talking to someone earlier today about the closer's mentality," said Perez, the Tribe's interim closer with Kerry Wood on the disabled list. "It's where you have to forget about all the other stuff and just start making pitches."

He made all the right ones against Nick Swisher, who fanned on four pitches, and Mark Teixeira, who popped up a first-pitch fastball to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera for the second out.

Still, Perez's greatest challenge loomed ahead.

"I saw an opportunity to get a big hit," Rodriguez said.

And Perez? He saw a tendency he hoped to exploit.

"I saw how [starter Josh] Tomlin was working him away a lot the whole game with that cutter," Perez said. "I knew he might be looking for it, so I came inside."

Perez did just that with a 96-mph fastball on the inside corner for strike one.


"I was going to go back away," Perez said. "I had good stuff, so I was going to take my chances."

Much to Perez's delight, Rodriguez pounded the down-and-away slider into the glove of Cabrera, whose toss to second baseman Jason Donald retired Jeter for the third and final out.

"The No. 1 thing is to hit a ball hard somewhere," Rodriguez said. "A home run would have been fantastic, not only to get 600, but mostly to tie the game."

On this night, Perez ensured neither would happen.

"I was very confident," Perez said. "I knew that as long as I threw strikes, I had a good chance of getting out of it."

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Danny Valencia befuddled by his great start

The 25-year-old third baseman doesn't know why he's been virtually impossible to get out in Kansas City. On the series, Valencia is 8-for-9 with seven RBIs. With his second consecutive four-hit attack Tuesday night, Valencia became the first rookie in Twins history to have back-to-back four-hit games.

"This is rare," he said of his streak. "It's definitely rare. It's obviously great to have it, but it's something that will probably never come again. I've been fortunate, so I'm just really happy with the way things have been going."

Valencia was recalled on June 3 from Triple-A Rochester, where he hit .292 with 15 doubles and 24 RBIs in 47 games. In his last four games for the Twins, Valencia is 14-for-19 (.737) with eight RBIs.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire points to Valencia's hard work outside the lines as the reason for his recent success.

"He's been working really hard, watching, paying attention, sitting on the bench, working with [hitting coach Joe] Vavra in the cage," Gardenhire said. "As we talked about, he's balancing his swing. He's using the whole field, he's driving it the other way.

"The kid can hit. He's been one of our top prospects coming up for a long time. He struggled this year power-wise, but he's hit the ball."

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Chris Perez opposes HGH testing in majors

On Thursday, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig implemented random blood testing for human growth hormone in the minor leagues. Those on 40-man rosters cannot be approached. The Major League Baseball Players Association historically has opposed blood testing.

When asked about Selig's move, Indians manager Manny Acta and several of his players declined comment. But reliever Chris Perez, who never is afraid to speak his mind, said he was not in favor of it.

"If they have a test that is 100 percent accurate and reliable and that makes sure players are fully recovered before the game, then I'm all for further cleaning up the game," he said. "In this case, though, it looks like they're kind of using the minor-leaguers as guinea pigs. It's unfortunate those players don't have a union to represent them like we do.

"Drawing blood is a whole lot different than getting a urine sample. . . . What about players who are anemic? What are the guidelines? Our season is long, and it's hard enough to recover as it is."

Perez said union representatives told players in spring training that HGH testing, at least at the moment, is "unreliable." A major concern of the MLBPA, regardless, was the possibility that its players would have blood drawn on game days because HGH does not stay in the system very long.

"From the outside looking in, it's easy to say, 'Test everybody for everything.' " Perez said. "But if you're a player, and they make a mistake with your test, your career can be ruined."

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Check out WQAM's interviews with proCanes This Week

So far this week, in his new gig as a Radio Host with WQAM, Michael Irvin has interviewed former teammate Steve Walsh as well as former Hurricane and NFL quarterback Bernie Kosar. Florida Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez was also interviewed this week on WQAM. Click here to listen to all the interviews.

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"The U" Deleted Scene #6

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

Allcanes is taking pre-orders and offering free shipping through August 15th.

The U deleted scene #6 - Gary Stevens and Steve Walsh Leave Same story, different coaches. This time it's Jimmy Johnson leaving for the NFL and the player's choice to replace him is Offensive Coordinator Gary Stevens. Once again, it's up to Athletic Director Sam Jankovich to make the tough decision.

Click here to view all Deleted Scenes.

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The U DVD release will be a 2 disc set

Rakontur is finalizing the details for The U DVD release on August 17th.

The good news is that it will be a 2 disc set. The bad news is that ESPN won't be putting out a Blu-Ray edition at this point (but we're pushing for it).

Disc 1 will have the Director's Statement, featurettes from the Miami premiere at the Lyric Theater and the Miami City Hall screening, the player and coach introductions and twelve deleted scenes:

-Locker Rooms -Schnellenberger's Pipe -QB Contest -Joe Namath 1984 Orange Bowl -Michael Irvin in the Cafeteria -Locker Room Speech -Tim Brown 1987 -Discipline & Education -Tad Foote at the White House -Lamar and Irvin on the phone -Ibis Arrest -Depth & Competition
Disc 2 will have the following condensed games:
-Miami v Alabama (1990 Sugar Bowl) -Miami v FSU (Nov 16, 1991) -South Carolina v Miami (Dec 5, 1987) -Miami v Duke (Oct 1, 1983)

Allcanes is taking pre-orders and offering free shipping through August 15th.

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Edgerrin James camp is a big hit

Click here to order Edgerrin James’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Anthony Reddick Records His First CFL Interception

Anthony Reddick of the BC Lions recorded his first interception in the CFL with a 1st quarter interception of Toronto Argonaut Quarterback Cleo Lemon. Reddick also recorded 4 tackles in the 20-24 loss.

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Clinton Portis's offseason

Maybe you read the Redskins Insider item last week about how Clinton Portis "has surprised many in the organization with his positive outlook and hard work throughout the offseason program."

I thought that was awesome to hear that Portis had changed his offseason outlook and work habits around, so I figured I'd try to find a quote from him about this pattern-breaking summer. Here ya go:

"My preparation for this game, the mindset, the appreciation for the game, that's always first. Going to work Wednesday through Saturday with a positive attitude instead of trying to figure out a way to get out of it, you know? Going out and whatever's asked of me to do, going out and doing that to the fullest of my capabilities. Getting in the weight room this offseason also was a major role. Sticking around, being in the weight room., wanting to be a big part of this team's success. And I think the guys around me, to see me around all offseason, to see me working out, it still shocked people every week. They come in like, 'Who is that? What are you doing in the weight room?' "

Awesome, right?

Click here to order Clinton Portis’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Ray Lewis Gets His Downward Facing Dog On

Ray Lewis has been in the smash-mouth world of the NFL for 15 years. How has he stuck around for that long? Well, yoga for one. That's right, but here's the twist: he doesn't just do it for football. In fact, Lewis says he doesn't train or do anything strictly for his job.

"I do it for a lifestyle, and that's a better motivation," Lewis said. "If you're gonna be training for a lifestyle and to be a man, then you try all these different things."

Yoga isn't often described as a man's game, but you won't hear us arguing. Every offseason, Lewis adds something new to his workout routine. He's tried just about every martial art from karate to Kenpo to tae kwon do. He's also tried boxing.

But Lewis has stuck with yoga over the past few years though, going as far as to recommend it to other football players.

"I do like hour and a half classes," Lewis said. "But not Bikram (the form of yoga practiced in a 105-degree room), that's too hot. I tried it a couple times, but I probably won't ever do that again."

At 35 years old, Lewis has tried a lot to remain healthy and stay in the game. He's slept in a hyperbaric chamber but didn't really like it. Now, after workouts and games, he sports a body compression suit to help his muscles recover.

"I sleep in it. I wear it on airplanes. I use it in all realms of life," Lewis told Page 2 from a shoot for the Under Armour Recharge suit. "It does a great job of helping you recover faster."

And there will always be yoga, which Lewis says he'll probably stick with after his playing days are over.

"If you're just training and living trying to get football statistics, then once you get bored with football, what are you left with?" Lewis asked.

Click here to order Ray Lewis’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Andre Johnson in select company

I've been adamant about starting the season with Jenrry Mejia in Binghamton and Ike Davis in Buffalo, and I'm sticking to it.

You can throw Fernando Martinez into that category too.

Even if they continue to be the three most exciting players in camp.

But when it comes to promoting Ruben Tejada to fill in for Jose Reyes while he recovers from his thyroid condition, I'm willing to look the other way for a month.

The situation at shortstop is different.

Look, it would be cruel and inhumane to subject sinker-ball pitcher Mike Pelfrey (not to mention the rest of the staff) to the utterly rangeless double-play combo of Alex Cora and Luis Castillo.

There's got to be some type of correlation between angst over a grounder up the middle and the fact that Big Pelf started feverishly licking himself on the mound after Jose Reyes went down last year.

Tejada is 20... he hit .289 despite being a pup in Double-A last season. It's impressive. Still, offensively, he's going to be in over his head at the big-league level. That's OK.

His real game -- his defense and his speed on the base paths -- are big-league ready right now now and won't be damaged by a month or so at the Show.

So give me the kid for six weeks until Reyes gets back.

Then he goes back to the farm so we can find out if he's the second baseman of the future, the utility infielder of the future, something more or something less.

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Dedrick Epps Checks Into Chargers Camp

While rookies start camp Monday, one absence from the roster could rank up there in a long history of Charger blunders.

The rookies returned Sunday to check in and pick up a thick, new playbook to memorize. At the same time, some of them shared the rumors they’ve been hearing about what awaits for them in their jump from the NCAA to the NFL.

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"They say it's like going to hell, but I mean it's a part of it. This is what we signed up for,” said tight end Dedrick Epps.

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Kenny Phillips declares himself healthy

All eyes will be on safety Kenny Phillips, a rising star player who made it through just two games last season before going down with a worrisome left knee injury that needed dreaded microfracture surgery to repair.

There are no guarantees with that procedure, but Phillips said he’s raring to go and will be able to get on the field full-tilt in camp. We’ll see.

If he’s ready, he almost definitely is going to be a one-a-day guy, and after every workout queries as to how he’s feeling will bombard him. A close second here is running back Ahmad Bradshaw, coming off three surgeries — screws were inserted to stabilize both feet and bone spurs were removed from his right ankle. That’s some overhaul for a player who makes his living cutting on a dime and putting great strain on his lower extremities. As for Bulluck, he’s seventh months removed from reconstructive knee surgery, so he will have to be closely monitored.

Click here to order Kenny Phillips’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Jeremy Shockey beginning to break down?

At the tight end position, the charismatic Jeremy Shockey is obviously a virtual lock to make the 53-man roster after hauling in 48 receptions for 569 yards in 2009 despite missing the final three games of the season with an injured toe. After eight NFL seasons, Shockey remains one of the more talented tight ends in the NFL, and excels in both the passing and running games. Shockey was limited, however, at the end of last season with a toe injury, and suffered a bizarre fainting incident during the teams OTAs in June. After eight extremely physical seasons in the NFL, it is worth wondering whether Shockey may be beginning to break down.

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

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Coach Harbaugh will "get it worked out" with Ed Reed

(UPDATE: Ed Reed reported to training camp Monday evening)

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he will meet with Ed Reed one-on-one to talk about what went wrong in getting game tape to the Pro Bowl safety.

The Ravens have a policy when dealing with tapes, which Harbaugh said they "handle with care."

"We try to control the information as soon as we can. but we send it out to our players," Harbaugh said. "There is a certain communication that goes on that obviously didn’t go on very well this summer since Ed is upset about it. But when we get a chance to talk one-on-one, we’ll get it worked out."

Harbaugh added, "Ed studies football, and if Ed needs tape, he’ll have tape. That’s very straightforward."

Harbaugh was very complimentary of Reed for how he's handled the hip injury as well as his nerve impingement.

"I agree with Ed, he has fought through injuries as well as anybody in the NFL," Harbaugh said. "I really respect that. He will be playing for us as soon as he possibly, and I believe it will be as early as he possibly can."

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

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Darnell Jenkins placed on non-football injury list

The New England Patriots placed WR Darnell Jenkins and CB Terrence Johnson on the non-football injury list, according to Mike Reiss, of ESPNBoston.com. They have to sit out six weeks until they can be activated.

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Santana Moss Could Be Suspended 4 Games

Will Santana Moss be punished for his involvement with a Canadian doctor accused of administering human growth hormone to athletes? 

The biggest performance-enhancing controversy of the offseason focused on Anthony Galea, a doctor who has treated Moss, the Redskins' top receiver. While Moss has acknowledged receiving treatments from Galea, he also has said he never knowingly received HGH.

If the league feels the government case against Galea provides sufficient evidence that Moss did use HGH, he could be facing a four-game suspension. As the Redskins' only proven receiver, his presence on the active roster is critical.

Prediction: The commissioner's office either doesn't feel it has heard enough to punish Moss or is waiting for the federal case against Galea to progress. After speaking with Moss, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said he didn't believe a suspension is coming.

If one is around the corner, it likely would come down before the team's first preseason game. But don't be surprised if the NFL's patience on the matter stretches into the season. If Galea or someone associated with him doesn't volunteer exactly what Moss received from Galea, a suspension may not be imminent.

Click here to order Santana Moss’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Danny Valencia leads another power surge

One night after scoring 19 runs on 20 hits, the Twins continued their prodigious hit parade Tuesday night in Kansas City, ripping into Royals pitching for 19 more hits.

Danny Valencia tied his career high with four hits in a game, set just one night prior, going 4 for 5 with three RBIs and pushing his batting average up to .400 in his 29-game major league career. J.J Hardy and Michael Cuddyer each went 3 for 5, with Hardy hitting is fourth home run of the season. And Denard Span, after missing two games because of a stomach bug, went 2 for 4 with two walks in his return to the leadoff spot as eight of nine Twins starters managed at least one hit and three of them had three or more.

Valencia is the first rookie with four straight 3+ hit games since Jim Davenport, 1958 Giants.

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'Huff Daddy' keeps smoking

SAN FRANCISCO – He conjures up images of the guy lounging in the corner of a dark, dank hole-in-the-wall bar a few ticks from last call. The dude puffing on a cigarette when not tugging on Wild Turkey whiskey, marinating in Creedence Clearwater Revival emanating from the old-school jukebox.

The next morning, he rolls out of bed and coolly bangs out three hits.

"Damn," the Giants' Aubrey Huff said with wide eyes, "you pegged me.

"I'm pretty kickback, man," he added, hours before the Giants fell to Florida, 4-3, at AT&T Park on Monday. "I mean, I take my game serious, but I don't take myself serious."

True, Giants fans should take just about everything he says with a grain of salt. But be very mindful of what he does between the lines.
Because while Bustermania may be runnin' wild on the shores of McCovey Cove, Huff Daddy has been the most consistent, most dangerous, most reliable bat in the Giants' lineup from Day One this season.

No disrespect to Buster Posey, whose breakout rookie season has fans salivating over his catcher's gear (when, oh when are pitchers going to challenge his inside-out, opposite-field swing by pounding him with fastballs inside on the hands?). But it is Huff who has been the Giants' MVP thus far. And whom they can thank for where they sit in the standings – leading the National League wild-card race.

If Posey has been a revelation, Huff has been a revolution.

No wonder Bruce Bochy shuddered as if he just awoke from a vivid nightmare when asked where his club would be without Huff.

"I'd hate to think where we'd be without him," the Giants' manager said. "He changed our offense. And in the clubhouse, he's a loose, free-spirited talent that grinds out at-bats for us and can steal a base when you're not paying attention to him.

" Then to have that flexibility to put him in the outfield."

Huff is a throwback. A grinder. A guy who fully appreciates his lot in life.

Huff lost his father at age 6, when he was killed trying to take a gun away from a man who had just shot his wife in a workplace domestic dispute.

In baseball – Huff played countless hours of catch with his mom – he spent most of his first 10 big league seasons with Tampa Bay and Baltimore, "the bowels of the basement of the A.L. East," he mused. "Nobody gives a (hoot)." But in the Bay Area, he's developed a cult following.

This is what happens when you lead a team starved for an offensive presence – since Barry Bonds was shown the door in 2007 – in just about every offensive category.

Entering Monday, the left-handed Huff was batting .309 with 109 hits, 42 extra-base hits, 19 home runs, 60 RBIs, 49 walks, a .397 on-base percentage and a .549 slugging percentage.

Plus, his .314 average against southpaws was second in the N.L. among left-handed hitters (with at least 60 games played) to San Diego's Adrian Gonzalez (.316).

Then there's this – his .327 average since May 1 led the league.

"He should have been on the All-Star team," Bochy lamented. "He's a guy we kind of feed off."

Huff has claimed he's the best athlete on the team. Indeed, at Brewer High School in Fort Worth, Texas, he was known more for his basketball talent than for baseball.

That one-year, $3-million free-agent contract he signed Jan. 11 has been worth every penny for San Francisco.

"It's worked out a lot better than I would have ever imagined," he said. "It's no secret I love it here. It's no secret I'd like to stay here.
"This is the best place I've ever been my whole career."

Better than any saloon.

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Chris Perez saves his tenth

Chris Perez earned his tenth save by tossing a scoreless ninth against the Yankees Tuesday night.

Perez did give up two hits to make it interesting, but now has nine strikeouts in his last 9.1 innings, and has performed admirably while Kerry Wood has been out with a blister. If only he hadn't walked nine in his last 9.1 innings as well, he'd be a lock to keep the role all year. On the other hand, the team would rather trade Wood, so Perez is a great final closer on mixed league teams, and should be owned in all leagues by now.

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Jon Jay remains confident at plate

CHICAGO -- With the Cardinals' outfield now a little bit more crowded with the return of everyday right fielder Ryan Ludwick, it stands to figure that center fielder Jon Jay might be forced to come off the bench in a pinch-hitting role a little more often than previously.

Batting .411 on the season in pinch-hit opportunities, Jay seems to already have quite a bit of comfort in those scenarios.

"Even if I was 0-for-15, I would still have the same confidence," Jay said. "I'm going to go out there and do my best. Sometimes you hit the ball real hard at somebody, and sometimes you hit a squibbler for a hit."

A leadoff hitter by trade, Jay likes to think of pinch-hitting as leading off a ballgame.

"I try to keep things simple and put the bat on the ball every time," Jay said. "I've been a leadoff hitter for most of my life, and when I go up there pinch-hitting, I just like to think I'm leading off the game. It might be the seventh or eighth inning, but that's just the way I go about it."

There are a lot of similarities between the two, as hitters are seeing a pitcher for the very first time and must quickly get back up to speed after not swinging a bat since batting practice.

With regular center fielder Colby Rasmus batting .237 since Ludwick went on the disabled list, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa might give Jay an extended look in center field, as he is batting .463 since he was called up on July 3.

"I don't know what's going to happen," Jay said. "It's great to have Luddy back, and it's great for our offense. Whatever my role is, it doesn't matter to me. I just want to be part of the team and help whatever way I can."

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Edgerrin James open to playing in "the right situation"

Edgerrin James is about to turn 32, and he's coming off a season in which he averaged 2.7 yards a carry. But he says that if a team out there is looking for a veteran running back, he's available.

"Now I'm healthy," James said today at his youth football camp. "If the right situation presents itself, I'll be playing."

James says he's not going out of his way trying to convince a team to sign him, but he does think NFL teams should keep him in mind.

"You never search," James said. "You don't have to search. My resume is out there. The one thing about me is you know what you're going to get."

James isn't the runner he once was -- he hasn't averaged even 4.0 yards a carry in any season since he was with the Colts in 2005. But he still thinks he has the skills to contribute to an NFL offense.

"I've always been one of the best pass protectors out there," James said. "I know I can block and I can help protect those $20 million a year quarterbacks."

Click here to order Edgerrin James’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Ed Reed says Ravens refused to send him game film

Revealing exactly how the Ravens haven't given him "support," Ed Reed said the team refused to give him game film when he requested it a couple of weeks ago.

"I had to give an excuse, that's what was told to me," Reed told WBAL on Thursday. "This is the organization that you want me to play for."

He added, "I got the text message to prove it, so this ain't nothing I'm not lying about."

Reed said he was still able to watch old film that he had, which is why he described the incident as "minor."

"But don't treat me like that after I gave my blood, sweat and tears for this guy -- for this organization," Reed said. "I train my tail off. I'm putting my life on line. But I have to give you an excuse to study tape? When I do give you an excuse -- and my excuse is I'm studying tape -- that's not a good enough excuse. But Ed is wrong for asking for a new contract. Come on, man."

Reed continued by saying, "I don't have to be playing for them. I could retire. I don't need the money. They could come and get the money if they want. Money don't make me. Money didn't put me here."

The Ravens are aware of Reed's accusation.

“If this happened, it had to be a misunderstanding of some sort," said Kevin Byrne, the Ravens' senior vice president of public and community relations. "We know Ed is a great student of the game and studies football video all the time. We encourage our players to do this.”

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

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Edgerrin James' youth football camp draws nearly 1,000 kids

Almost 1,000 children, twice more than last year, flocked to the Immokalee Sports Complex today.

They ran the 40-yard dash, participated in a number of drills and played 7-on-7 football games under the eyes and guidance of 1996 Immokalee High School graduate Edgerrin James.

During his second annual football clinic, James said he remained undecided about whether he would return for a 12th season as an NFL running back. He said he would let his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, start negotiating at the right time.

“Now I’m healthy,” James said. “If the right situation presents itself, I’ll be playing.

“You never search. You don’t have to search. My resume is out there. The one thing about me is you know what you’re going to get.

“I’ve always been one of the best pass protectors out there. I know I can block and I can help protect those $20 million a year quarterbacks.”

Rosenhaus said the past year has been tough on James, whose wife died in early 2009.

“But he makes it work,” Rosenhaus said. “If the right opportunity presents itself, he’s going to play this year.”

But this day wasn’t about confirming James’s NFL future. It was about having fun.

At one point, James divided a number of athletes into two groups based on geography. The Southwest Florida children did shuttle runs against children from the Lake Okeechobee area.

Chants of “239!” and “OCB!” followed as the children competed against each other.

The 40-yard dash drew Fort Myers resident Alvin Barnes, who ran the distance in 4.6 seconds but then dropped the time to 4.5 seconds on his second attempt.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Click here to order Edgerrin James’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Jon Vilma Delivering Strong Message of Unity To Current Hurricanes

Having former Canes in the NFL come in for summer workouts and heart-to-heart conversations with current players is nothing new at UM. This summer, though, Vaughn Telemaque said players have been seeing a lot more of Saints Pro Bowl and Super Bowl winning linebacker Jonathan Vilma.

"He's been a really vocal guy," Telemaque said. "That's what coach [Andrew] Swasey said he was like when he was here. Swasey said he would always let his teammates know the importance of winning, the importance of coming together and being one unit."

Telemaque said Vilma spent a lot of time this summer sharing stories and comparing his time with the Jets and the Saints.

"He told us how his time with the Jets, there were altercations, fights, people weren't doing what they were supposed to," Telemaque said. "He said during the championship year with the Saints, nobody had a problem on the team. Everybody was on the same page and they won the Super Bowl. He said we could be just like them."

"I think that's why a lot of us are trying to be more vocal, feeding off each other. It's like we all watch each other's backs."

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

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South Beach Party Was Reportedly At Frank Gore's House

The big South Beach pool party that the NCAA is looking into was held at San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore's house, according to the Sports Business Journal.

The NCAA is investigating if agents, financial advisers or runners paid for trips for college football players, including North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin, Alabama defensive end Marcell Dareus and South Carolina tight end Weslye Saunders, to Miami.

Per the report, there were multiple trips to South Florida, including a pool party at Gore's house and a party at a nightclub.

Gore told the Sports Business Journal he had the party, but didn't know whether those specific players were there.

He couldn't said if they weren't there, though.

"I don’t even know those guys," Gore said. "There were a lot of people there; it was crazy," Gore said. He added that no agent or financial adviser, or other person involved in the athlete representation business paid for his party. I paid for my own party."

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

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The Shutdown Corner Interview: Ray Lewis

Ray Lewis(notes) has defined the position of inside linebacker as much as it has been possible to do in his era, a fact that puts his name on a very short list of the game's all-time greats. But the most intriguing thing I took away from my recent conversation with Lewis is that after 15 years in the NFL, he doesn't see the end coming at all. At 35, Lewis is as defiant in the face of Father Time as he has always been. I caught him on the phone from an Under Armour photo shoot, where he was promoting the Recharge product line. We discussed labor issues, his responsibilities as a coach on the field, his legacy, and how he's beaten the odds from a durability perspective in a sport in which the average career is about one-fifth of the one he's put together.

Shutdown Corner: First of all, I wanted to ask you about the Under Armour Recharge gear and how it helps you recover from the effects of practices and games. How do you use it?
Ray Lewis: If you think about it from the compression standpoint, it does a great job of keeping your muscles compressed after games, while you're sleeping - I even wear them on airplanes. Because of all the fatigue you go through on airplanes ... I just like the fact that I don't feel as fatigued after I use it.

SC: You've spoken out against the 18-game schedule, and I just wanted to get your specific thoughts on that. And what's your take on the CBA discussions overall?
RL: From a CBA standpoint, whatever is going on, you have to let it take care of itself. On the 18-game schedule, I just think that ... not to disrespect anybody, but the people who want an 18-game schedule - I would want them to play 18 games, too. 16 games is already enough. The injury totals are already going up year after year. If you're talking about adding two more games, you're talking about adding more injuries. And in prolonging the season ... we barely have an offseason as it is now to let our bodies recover and get ready for more football. I just think that it doesn't benefit the players at all. You can talk about the business, but the business only exists because of the players. If it doesn't benefit the players, ultimately, it won't benefit the game, either.

SC: Especially for positions like inside linebacker, where you're around the ball all the time and asked to do all kinds of different things. Per Football Outsiders' statistics, you had your highest number of targeted plays (141) since 2004, and have maintained a high performance into your mid-thirties. I know that physically, you still have a great deal of what you've always had, but was there a point in your career where, as your football intellect improved over time, you actually beat that whole "If I knew then what I know now" thing?
RL: I don't think it's a point that you can point out. I just think it's that every year is another year for wisdom, and every year, you learn something new. When you start out early in your career, you're kind of running around with your head cut off. But when you mature into the game, you start to really appreciate the business side of things - how to study, how to watch film, how to watch this, how to watch that. How to prepare for games and practices, and things like that. It's just like anything; you gain wisdom through understanding. That's what has gotten me here. I don't know if there's a point like that, but it is something that you learn every day.

SC: Is there one thing you can point to in explaining how you've maintained a high physical standard on the field over all these seasons in a sport that is designed to beat a body down?
RL: I just think that I train totally differently. I don't train for football; I train more for a lifestyle. I do so much, and it's not just football-specific things. You see a lot of these guys; they just do football-specific things, and that ain't what life is about. Life is about being a versatile athlete and training in all realms of life. That's why I try any form of [martial] art - kempo, taekwondo, karate, whatever it is. Then moving into boxing and wrestling, and that's what I think helps your body out, when you try all these different things. Because a football game is just sixty minutes, but I'm training six, seven hours in every day. So, going for sixty minutes becomes easy. More importantly, I think that your muscles mature and can move in all different directions.
So, if I give any credit, besides giving all credit to God, for being totally healthy, it's just my workout and how much torture I put my body through in the offseason.

SC: The Ravens' defense has maintained a very high standard over the last decade though 4-3 to 3-4 switches, different coordinators, and new personnel except for you. You're the obvious common denominator, but what else has kept that standard so high?
RL: I can't go outside of me, you know? It's like you said, everything has changed - from coaches to coordinators to players ... everything. There's nothing that's the same over the last decade, and the only thing that remains is me. Not to talk about me, but I'm just saying -- that's one thing that the coaches really trust me about. To keep everything intact and keep everyone playing the way they're supposed to play. That's my job. The coaches' job is to give us the playbook, and show us what you want to do, but my job is to evaluate my players and get the best out of them - what I know they can do. I think that's one of my greatest gifts - to be able to [help teammates] pull out of themselves what they thought they could never do. It's what I dedicate to the game, to help players around me. It's been that way from Day One around here - no matter who's the coach, no matter who's the coordinator.

SC: The Ravens come into the 2010 season with a very impressive offensive line built through the draft. Ray Rice(notes) is a star, Joe Flacco(notes) is maturing, and Anquan Boldin(notes) brings a new dimension to the passing game. Has the offense finally caught up with its defense after all these years, and should that make your team a Super Bowl favorite?
RL: I don't know - so much has to happen. You can only play one game at a time, and if you jump to the Super Bowl [conclusion] too quick, it won't happen. We have to get to the end of the year completely healthy first. Are the additions that we picked up good ones? Absolutely. We picked up some quality people. But at the same time, if you look at the Saints last year, I think they had one injury that was reported [through the whole year -- left tackle Jammal Brown(notes)]. If we can get into January and February with something like that, I think we have a good chance. But we just have to go into our opener and try to get that out of the way. Week after week, just bang 60 minutes out, and at the end of the day, we'll see where we are.

SC: We're coming around to Hall of Fame time again - you're a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer when your time comes. Do you think about your ...
RL: No! I can't think about that.

SC: You don't think about your link in the legacy of great NFL linebackers - from Butkus to Lambert to Singletary to you?
RL: I can't think about that or the Hall of Fame - I'm still going. I've got to think about that when my day is done. It will [enter my mind] when I slow down, but I still tell people nowadays - you go find a 20-year-old [linebacker], and put him next to me at 35, and you tell me what he can do better than me.

Click here to order Ray Lewis’ proCane Rookie Card.

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James Jones returns to Heat, adds 3-point shooting

MIAMI — James Jones couldn't leave now, not with his hometown team poised for something special, not after failing to live up to his own standards these past two seasons in South Florida, not when the commute from Southwest Ranches made the experience all too convenient.

So despite being forced to take a $3 million pay cut by the Miami Heat just three weeks ago, the 3-point specialist and University of Miami product said Sunday he is coming back, this time with the bonus of playing not only alongside Dwyane Wade, but also heralded free-agent additions LeBron James and Chris Bosh.

"I have to come back. This is not something I could pass up," Jones told the Sun Sentinel. "This is too much of an opportunity to bypass."

Jones, 29, will now wind up receiving dual paychecks from the Heat this season. Originally due $4.7 million for 2010-11, Jones received a $1.6 million buyout from the team in June. He now will sign back at the veterans' minimum of $1 million for the coming season.

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Meet the Prospect: Reds' Yonder Alonso


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Ryan Braun homers twice, one is a walkoff

Ryan Braun hit a walkoff solo home run in the bottom of the ninth inning Saturday to lead the Brewers over the Nationals 4-3.

A great night for Braun, who also homered in the first inning and finished with two RBI. He's had a bit of a down year, but his stats at home are strong and he continued that trend tonight. The Brewers are 46-53, nine games back of the Reds in the National League Central.

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Aubrey Huff homers twice in victory

Aubrey Huff went 3-for-5 with two homers and three RBI as the Giants topped the Diamondbacks 7-4 on Friday night.

Huff's first of two homers off Edwin Jackson snapped an ugly skid, as he had gone 11 straight games without driving in a run. He's still having an exceptional season, though. He has a chance to set new career highs in both homers and RBI with 19 and 57 so far. His high for homers was 34, established in 2003, and his high for RBI was 108, which he established with the Orioles two years ago.

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GabySanchez shines in win vs. Rockies

MIAMI -- The Marlins bounced back, and Ricky Nolasco propelled forward in the franchise record book.
Nolasco struck out eight over eight innings, while Gaby Sanchez belted a three-run homer as the Marlins beat the Rockies, 5-2, in front of 18,332 on Wednesday night at Sun Life Stadium.

After getting blown out, 10-0, on Tuesday, the Marlins have now taken two of three from Colorado with the final game coming on Thursday afternoon.

After the tough loss on Tuesday, the Marlins were hoping to get some momentum back. The bounce-back win improved the club's all-time record to 6-1 coming off being shut out by at least 10 runs at home.

"That's how you win ballgames right there," said Sanchez, who delivered his 10th homer of the season. "A total team effort. Everybody coming out and did what they need to do to win ballgames."

All five runs for Florida came with two outs.

The Marlins struck quickly off Jason Hammel, who gave up five runs in seven innings.

"It was nice to see the guys coming out swinging," manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "All five runs came with two outs. It was good to see. We had very good clutch hitting. Ricky Nolasco was very good tonight."

A big two-out hit put the Marlins ahead by five runs in the second inning. Mike Stanton doubled, and Chris Coghlan drew a two-out walk. Sanchez delivered a three-run homer to deep center field.

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Q&A with Twins Rookie 3B Danny Valencia

When Corey Koskie left the Twins as a free agent following the 2004 season, not even his biggest fan could have predicted he would be so difficult to replace. In the ensuing six years, Michael Cuddyer and Nick Punto have been given multiple - and ongoing - chances at the position, while Tony Batista, Mike Lamb, Brian Buscher, Joe Crede and Brendan Harris have received extended looks and Juan Castro, Glenn Williams, Luis Rodriguez, Jeff Cirillo, Matt Tolbert, Matt Macri, Howie Clark and Luke Hughes have all made starts at the hot corner.

The franchise’s best hope to end this carousel of futility is Danny Valencia. A 19th round pick out of the University of Miami in 2006, Valencia progressed up the minor league ladder, hitting .298 in 481 games before receiving a call-up on June 3. The 25-year-old hit the ground running in the big leagues and is currently hitting .314 with a .377 on-base-percentage.

I got a chance to meet the top prospect during the last homestand.

DZ: You’ve been up here a month and half – roughly – what are your impressions so far?

VALENCIA: It’s been great. The team is just a couple of games out of first place – that’s the most important thing. We are trying to win the division, can’t lose track of that. It’s been great for me; everyone has been very helpful, very open. You can pick people’s minds and stuff – it’s been a good learning experience. Winning is the main objective right now.

DZ: When you first got called up, where were you, how did you find out about it?
VALENCIA: I was in Triple A and they called me after a game and ever since then I’ve been up here. It’s been great so far.

DZ: Were you at the park still?
VALENCIA: I was at the park, they told me right after the game.

DZ: Who was the first person you called?
VALENCIA: My parents, obviously. First my mom, (I) told her, my dad and other friends and family.

DZ: When get called up how do you avoid putting too much pressure on yourself trying to impress everybody?
VALENCIA: You really just have to try to do what you do. You can’t be somebody else, I am who I am. I am not Albert Puljols, I am not going to go out there and try to hit homeruns every time. The main thing is to go out there and try to help the team win. Lately we’ve been doing a pretty good job of that. I think we are back on track and chasing the goal of winning the division.

DZ: The All Star break ended recently – your first in the big leagues – did you do anything special?
VALENCIA: I just went home, hung out relaxed with the family because it’s been a long season so far. It was nice to go home and relax for a couple of days, but at the same time, I couldn’t wait to come back to work and try and win the division.

DZ: You play a position that the Twins haven’t had a lot of stability in at the big league level. Is that your goal to establish yourself as the third baseman?
VALENCIA: Of course. Obviously you want to be an everyday play in the big leagues. You want to show them that you are person they can trust to do that. Hopefully I can do that and keep the job, we’ll see.

DZ: You played college ball with Ryan Braun; do you still talk to him quite a bit?
VALENCIA: Yeah, I saw him when we were in Milwaukee. I also played college ball with Chris Perez, who plays on this Cleveland Indians team. It’s nice to see old college teammates – it’s a fraternity over there so it’s been really great.

DZ: Do you guys do a lot of texting, that kind of thing?
VALENCIA: Yeah, texting, talk on the phone, whatever it is. We stay in contact.

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