Tracking proCanes - Chad Wilson - Part II

Part II: Chad talks about Dennis Erickson as a coach, the “U” Family, former teammate CJ Richardson and Carlos Jones and much more!  Click here to read Part I of our interview with Chad.

pC: How was Erickson as a coach?
CW: I read Kevin Brinkworth’s statements about him and he pretty much hit it on the head.

pC: Did he run a loose ship? Were the players really running the place? Or is that kind of blown out of proportion?
CW: I don’t know how things are now. But the players were accountable for themselves and we got on each other and if you were just an outsider coming in it might look like we ran the show but we just didn’t necessarily wait for a coach to tell us to do something. Even down to when it would rain. When the lightning struck, we didn’t turn to the coaches. We started taking it in. They had to deal with the fact that 85 players are running off the field now and you’re not going to have a practice now because we said that’s it. And that works to our advantage when we’re on the field. It’s just a different thing about us. So to say we were on a loose ship? I don’t know. Was he a disciplinarian? Certainly not. Did he sweep some things under the rug? Yea he did. Did it hurt us in the end? Yeah, it probably did, so I don’t know.

pC: Did you guys know he was leaving after the bowl game?
CW: No. There was speculation but, no.

pC: Did he say anything in that locker room after the loss? He didn’t ever address it?
CW: Nope. It wasn’t anything like that. I knew when Lubick was leaving. He told us he was taking the job at Colorado State and it was a whole emotional goodbye to his defensive backs. If you knew Lubick, to see him get emotional you were like wow, but never with Erickson.

pC: Talk a little bit about Miami and that tight bond with old players going back and helping the young guys. Do you go back often?
CW: Early on I’d make it to all the games and I’d come around campus but life gets in the way. I’ve got three kids. I don’t miss any of their things. I coach their teams and as they got older the games would get later in the day on Saturday so I couldn’t make it to the games unless it was a night game. Randy has a passion for bringing teams down and making them play in the noon heat so it kind of cuts me out from going to the games. The alumni event I couldn’t go to because I had something to do for my kids, so I guess life gets in the way a little bit. But I’ve made it down here. I brought my youth football team down last year and Mike Barrow gave them a tour. I’ve been coming down to the campus more now since I started the website and talking with the coaches so it’s good that it’s allowed me to do that and it’s in the course of my living so hopefully I can make it to more games this year.

But the whole thing about the “U” family, that’s the uniqueness of this place and that’s what I try to get across to recruits. I say listen, don’t get hung up in the fact that Oregon has an underwater treadmill. In the grand scheme of things that really doesn’t mean anything. You’re not there to be in the locker room. It’s what’s going to happen on the field and your future and so on and so forth. You have the opportunity to come to this place (UM) if they’re recruiting you and if you’re interested and have pros come back and teach you the game and teach you how things are there. I remember being out on the field one summer and Michael Irvin came out and ran routes with us. That doesn’t really happen much at the other places like it does here. And once you’re a ‘Cane it’s like a fraternity, it’s like a brotherhood. I can see a ‘Cane that I didn’t play with, like Jeff Popovich, but it’s like we have the same mom almost. That’s the uniqueness of this place.

pC: You played with Dexter Seigler and Ryan McNeil. How was it playing with two greatest defensive backs in UM’s history? Did they mentor you?
CW: Well Ryan mentored me because he was older. Dexter saw me come in as a threat. He didn’t say it but he would ask certain questions and Paul White too. There was nothing better than being at our meetings because I think the funniest guys on the team were the defensive backs. Dexter didn’t really mentor me, he saw me more as competition whereas Ryan was an established All-American and he knows I’m not here for his spot, so he would mentor in that sense. That whole ‘92 class, those guys I really looked up to. All three of those linebackers (Michel Barrow, Darrin Smith, Jesse Armstead), even outside of football, just how they’ve handled their lives outside of football. What they did with their finances, how they carried themselves, top notch. And it’s something, now that I’m not playing, that I reflect on. Man this is how these guys did these things and they set a pretty good example which is great because I’m not playing football anymore so I don’t really need to reflect on how they covered a guy coming out of the backfield. I need to think about how they did things off the field.

pC: Did you have a nickname?
CW: Nothing that stuck. They did remind me a lot when I first got here that I wasn’t at Long Beach State anymore. Anytime something went wrong or I did something wrong or I got beat, “you’re not at Long Beach State!” Even Tubberville jumped in on that. I think he may have been the one that started it.

pC: So where would you say was the toughest place to play an away game? The Carrier Dome because it was so loud?
CW: No. You know I wrote for the school newspaper too. I wrote a column while I was here and I would always get on the West Virginia fans because they were the worst. They’d yell all kinds of stuff. I remember the phone ringing one time. We had the phone on the sideline and Lamar Thomas and someone else were coming over and the phone was ringing and someone yelled ‘Hey Lamar, get the phone, it’s your probation officer!’ and they’d yell all kinds of stuff. Some of it would be racial but whatever you couldn’t let them get under your skin. One year they threw a trash can and hit Randy on the head and hurt his neck. They were just crazy. We went there in ‘93 and it had to be 10 to 15 degrees outside and the guys are bareback painted up and they ran onto the field after the game (they beat us 10-7) so they were probably the roughest crowd. I’d heard from guys before that LSU was crazy. They’d throw batteries and you weren’t supposed to come out of the locker room without you’re helmet on and all that. But for me when I was there, the worst was West Virginia.

pC: What do you think about the program now? It has suffered the last few years, why do you think it did?
CW: I think the program suffered the last few years for the same reason why we started to fall down in the 90’s, the recruiting. Some coaches get recruiting and understand it, and others don’t. Erickson’s group, I don’t know that they ever really did. I don’t know, I might get some flack for this, but for those two championships he won, I don’t want to take anything away from him as a coach, but the majority of the playmakers out there were guys Jimmy recruited. I felt like once he left the cupboard was bare. And in Coker’s years, he did the same thing, he had early success with players recruited by Butch. Butch was an awesome recruiter. So I think that’s the deal, it’s just the recruiting thing. I think Randy’s gotten it back on track.

pC: So you think Randy is the man for the job?
CW: Yeah I do. I really do. We’re in a world now where we’ve got to see results now or the fans want the coaches fired. Fans say that Randy has this year and if he doesn’t get it done this year [he’s done] and I’m like holy crap! The guy is in his third season, a brand new head coach, he’s doing good things, we’re not on the police block, he’s trying to deal with cupboard that was bare. It’s a very difficult job and you’ve got to allow the guy time to do it. Yeah, give him 5 years; give him to the point that his kids are seniors, 5th year seniors. If it’s still not happening then, if it’s still mediocre then, then maybe you have an argument. But to say in his third year “he must win” it’s ridiculous. I hate to see that.

pC: What would you say is the most common misconception about UM players is?
CW: Every guy that you talk to is going to say the same thing: that we’re thugs because we enjoyed ourselves on the field and okay we might have had some run-ins with the law, but you know I had this conversation with a guy yesterday, who is a Florida Gator. I said you see what’s going on now? Take it from someone who’s been at two division football programs. It’s no different at Florida then it is at Miami then it is at Texas then it is anywhere, unless maybe BYU or something like that. They’re all doing the same crap, it’s just that when you start winning championships there are more eyeballs on you. There are more people there waiting to tear you down and find the bad. We’ve already seen the good, that’s great you’re up here. There’s no where else to go but down here. So they’re around your campus more they’re following you around more. You’re more visible. So now the things that you were doing that no one cared about, now they care about them. That’s what’s going on with the Gators and that’s what happened with Miami. That’s all it is. We weren’t thugs, we were just 19 and 20 year-old kids, going out and doing crap that 19 and 20 year-old kids did. We’re not thugs and like what Brinkworth said, look at what this class has done. You’ve got a movie star, you’ve got a guy that’s in the WWE, you’ve got it all over the place. So multi-talented.

pC: Brinkworth said he couldn’t really tell me a crazy story and then he ended up telling me a crazy story, you’ve got to give me some sort of good crazy story.
CW: Well without naming names I’ll give you a good crazy story. We were all in building 36. We all lived there. If you can imagine a bunch of football players being in one building. It probably wasn’t a good idea and that’s why they broke it up anyway. So, four guys in one room started playing pranks on four guys in another room and they are going back and forth and back and forth. So having to one up each other the end of the pranks was one of the guys in one of the apartments took a crap on a plate and somehow got into the apartment of the other side and put it up in the air vent and got out of there! Every time there AC kicked on, the most horrible smell would fill up the room and they were like what the hell is that? It’s hot in South Florida so you’ve got to have you’re AC on, so that crap would kick on and oh man! I thought it was the greatest prank ever. So it ended up that someone had the grand idea, hey let’s see what’s in the vent, and they found the plate and they were like oh my god! But to give you one story it’s very difficult.

Word Associations, Give me the first thing that pops in your head when you read the following: 
Erickson: oh man, uh, tough one. You hit me with that one early. Uh, wow. Come back to that one
Randy: A Cane. When I think of a Cane that’s a Cane.
Larry Coker: Over his head.
Orange Bowl: Mystique.
Dolphin Stadium: Um, temporary. Temporary, I hope.
The Ibis: The symbol.
The Fiesta Bowl: Heartache.
Ohio State: I’m in the recruiting business now, um, robbery.

pC: Can you think of one for Erickson?
CW: Normally when I do this, stuff jumps to mind.

pC: Is it more because of your Seattle experience or your UM days? I get the sense that he’s not on your good side. If you saw Frank Costa, I think he said no comment.
CW: Really? I’m not bitter with him about my days in Seattle or cutting me. I guess in the end it felt like it wasn’t really his decision. I felt like the general manager was pulling the plug on that. Could he have kept me if he wanted to? Sure, you know, he kind of told me a story about how there’s a chance we’ll bring you on the practice squad. But when I’m holding a ticket in my hand that you paid $1200 to send me from Seattle back to Miami, I know you’re full of ****. So I kind of would have preferred if he would have looked me in the eyes and said ‘listen they cut you.’ At least give me that. I don’t know, I guess that would symbolize some of the stuff that went on. The word that would come to mind would be, I don’t know.

pC: Talk about your senior year. You were an All-Big East player. Did you start your whole senior year?
CW: Actually my second season here I started the first game. And I’ll give you the truth on this. Paul White and I were in a battle in the spring after my first year here and I felt like I beat Paul out straight up and I don’t know if there was an allegiance to Paul because he had been here two years before me, but they came up with the idea that you guys are going to rotate starts. Chad you start the first game and Paul you start the second and rotate and I was a guy left with one year to make enough of an impression to NFL scouts and I felt like man am I going to be able to do that and what games am I starting? I had to pull the schedule out and see Boston College, looks like I’ll start the Florida State game and the Colorado game. Okay, it looks like I had the better of the starts. The week leading up to the second game I got hurt. I hyper-extended my knee. I thought I had torn ligaments but they did an MRI and I didn’t, but I wasn’t able to play the second game which was Virginia Tech. So, I wasn’t supposed to start that game, Paul started like he was supposed to and I was good enough to come back and play the third game which was the game I was supposed to start. But now when I’m ready to come back the defensive coordinator, McMackin says to me, ‘Oh well no, Paul is starting this week.’ I said “well he started last week and you told me we were going to alternate starts and I’m ready to come back.” He goes ‘no, Paul will start and if you’ve got a problem with that…’He came at me that way! I said “alright I don’t have a problem with it, that’s fine if that’s what you want to do.”

So I went to the practice and said you know what, I don’t think my knee is right, I don’t think I could play. I wasn’t going to sacrifice my senior year. I felt like I blew the previous year, they could have and should have red-shirted me because I didn’t really play a significant amount of time, I was behind Ryan McNeil. If Ryan were to get hurt or anything I wasn’t going to go in. It was going to be Paul. So you guys should have red-shirted me. So I lost that year, so I didn’t want to come my next year, my senior year and you [the coaches] blow it for me too. I didn’t want that and I remember this conversation with Hurley Brown and he said to me: ‘listen take it from me because I did the whole alternate starts thing with Charles Pharms and you don’t want anything to do with that.’ So I kind of took that to heart and said the right thing is maybe I’m not 100%. Could I have come back and played? Yeah. Would I have been alright by the end of the year? Yeah. But I said sometimes you’ve just got to look out for yourself. My senior year is not going to be spent starting against Temple starting against this one and that one and he gets all the choice starts and at the end of the year I’m left holding the bag. So I said “I don’t think I’m ready to play.” The next week I said “I don’t think I’m right yet.” Then I finally said “hey you guys need to probably red-shirt me.”

pC: So they red-shirted you?
CW: Yeah they red-shirted me. So I took the red-shirt year and in the end it was great. Paul was able to start all of the games, finish his senior year out strong and not have to rotate and alternate with me and I just came out the next year and started all 13 or however many games we played.

pC: Who did you start opposite from?
CW: Carlos Jones.

pC: Why did he fall off? Did he just get in the dog house?
CW: I think he relaxed. Carlos had kind of like a lazy way about him. It could kind of be misunderstood but he’s a New Orleans kid and the way he comes across, it could look like he’s just not playing hard and that’s why I think it’s important for coaches, and Jimmy was really good at this, at understanding a kid and treating everyone differently. I think he fell into the dog house and of course the new staff came in they didn’t really understand him in ‘95.

pC: He played his freshman year and made a couple of great plays against Florida State.
CW: His next year he played along me and had 5 interceptions and think he was tied for the team lead and man after I left, that was a disappointment for me because I felt like the kid was on his way and he ended going to Seattle as a free-agent. He ended going up with Erickson and they cut him. So I was disappointed in that because I felt like he was going to be a superstar.

pC: Can you talk about CJ Richardson a little, only because he is one of my all-time favorite players. I never understood why he didn’t make it to the NFL.
CW: He didn’t fit the cookie cutter. He wasn’t a tall safety he wasn’t really big and he wasn’t really fast.

I loved that guy. I loved playing with him. My senior year it was Malcolm Pearson and CJ and I. CJ and I worked better together and I think it was just the kind of player I was. When Malcolm was on my side of the field I was a little nervous because Malcolm would come and jump routes and I’m doing the same thing, and I knew with CJ, I could give him the signal that I’m going jump this and if it’s not what I think it is, he would be over the top of me. With Malcolm I’d jump the route and I’d run into Malcolm and we’re both jumping the same thing and the guy goes behind and it’s done. But that defensive backfield didn’t give up a touchdown until the Pitt game which was late in the season and I remember we weren’t really aware of it and that week I think someone made us aware that we hadn’t given up a touchdown and Pitt scored one. I remember the look when the guy caught the pass and Malcolm was on the other side of the guy and I remember him looking at me and me looking at him and we had the look like, “Oh my god what the hell just happened” look.

pC: The defensive backs that year were no-names, no one was an All-American.
CW: We were all very hungry guys. Carlos was hungry he was trying to finally get into the starting line up. I was, because I thought I should have been starting the year before. CJ and Malcolm had been head hunters on the special teams for all those years and made a ton of plays and just wanted their time to shine. So you had four hungry guys back there. I think we worked hard. CJ was a hard hitter. He’d knock you’re head off. He’s a good guy. I know he hung around here a little bit after we were done and someone told me he was coaching High School football.

pC: Talk about for a second the move to Dolphin Stadium what do you think about that? Did you go to a game there yet?
CW: I have not been to a game at Dolphin Stadium and again it’s because I coach the football team. I don’t think I can give a fair opinion about a game in Dolphin Stadium because I haven’t been there. It just seems to me, when I see it on TV that there isn’t any atmosphere there and obviously it’s not the Orange Bowl. And that’s the problem, you’re comparing it to the Orange Bowl. It just doesn’t seem like there’s an atmosphere there.

The Orange Bowl for being rickety and run down, as a player, there’s nothing better than running out to into that stadium and feeling the energy. I guess some of it has to do with the kind of fans that were in there. Like the heart and soul fan that can afford to get in there and yell and cheer and really get out of their seat because that’s why they are there. It’s not like you said, a corporate place, where the guy’s back might be turned for a 90-yard kickoff return because he’s talking business. So I’m imagining that’s probably what’s going on there [Dolphins Stadium]. That’s the way of football now, corporate dealings. Unless you’re in one of these small towns, where there’s football and nothing else, I don’t know that you’d get that atmosphere. I don’t know if the Orange Bowl will ever be duplicated. You’d have to sacrifice too much money to create a place like that

pC: Talk about who’d you say was the most influential person in helping you develop your game?
CW: I don’t know. Don’t get me wrong I had great coaches. I learned something from Willie Brown, although I had two defensive back coaches when I was at Long Beach State and even though he was the Hall of Famer he was not the better of the two. The coach I had the second year was a guy by the name of Jimmy Warren and he was a great NFL defensive back, but unfortunately his claim to fame was, and you’ll look for this now the next time you see the play, he was the last guy that had a chance at Franco Harris in the immaculate reception. He was a great great coach. And he probably stands out to me out of the five defensive coaches I had in five years. He was the most instrumental in developing my game and developing the mental toughness I would need. I didn’t like him at first. No I didn’t like him, I thought the dude was a jerk, he was pretty much in our face, but I learned to love the guy afterward. When I left and came to Miami I kept in touch with him for several years. Actually when we went to the Sugar Bowl he came down to the hotel and met me at the hotel and we talked, he earned my respect.

pC: Your favorite NFL team?
CW: I don’t root for NFL teams anymore and there’s a story behind that. I grew up a big LA Rams fan. Don’t ask me how growing up in New York. I guess I liked the colors. They had Eric Dickerson. I loved Erick Dickerson. Loved him. And when they decided to let that guy go to the Colts over a million dollars I said okay I’m done rooting for teams. You know I like Eric Dickerson so I’m going to root for Eric Dickerson wherever he goes. I’m done with the Rams and I’m not rooting for any NFL teams. I root for players and I’d say last year the team I probably followed the most was the Ravens. I really love what they do.

pC: Do you follow baseball at all? Do you have a team in baseball?
CW: Yeah, I’m a huge, huge Yankee fan.

pC: Favorite Food?
CW: I don’t really have any. I like Italian.

pC: Band or Group we would find on your iPod?
CW: I like a lot of Busta Rhymes stuff.

pC: A movie you could watch over and over?
CW: Every football player you talk to likes Scarface but I like Training Day. I like Denzel Washington and I thought that was a great performance by him.

pC: A TV show you can’t miss?
CW: That changes over time. The whole family has gotten in love with Operation Repo Man. We watch that a lot.

pC: What do you do on your spare time?
CW: Spare time is not something I have a whole lot of. I like to read. I’m reading right now a book by Malcolm Gladwell it’s called Blink. And it’s about the power of thinking without thinking. It kind of talks about how you’re subconscious mind allows you to make snap decisions about when you meet people or when you’re in a situation. How that takes over without you even knowing. It’s very interesting.

pC: Two websites you have to check daily?
CW: of course and I go on Scout a lot and ESPN.

We at would like to thank Chad Wilson for being so gracious with his time to do this very insightful interview for our new feature "Tracking proCanes." We would also like to thank JC Ridley for his help in tracking down photos of Chad Wilson. You can see more of JC’s photos at and follow his blog at Click here to check out our past interviews with Leon Searcy, Steve Walsh, Frank Costa, John Routh and more!

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Photo of the Week - Clinton Portis Goes Sisqo-Style

These photos are about a month old, but have just surfaced thanks to a tweet from our favorite official Redskins blogger Matt Terl. Terl, who passed on posting them, says a tipster sent them along claiming they were taken at a “D.C. nightclub recently.”

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Parrish Working Out The "Wildcat"

Trent Edwards joked about his role in the "wildcat" formation used by the offense. Edwards contends the Bills are working on it at camp to prepare the defense for games against the wildcat users, like the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. Wide receiver Roscoe Parrish looks quite comfortable taking the snaps with Edwards lined up to the side. To which Edwards joked, "Our quarterback in that set hasn't gotten me the ball and it's a little frustrating."

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Portis Relishes Freer Camp for Redskins Vets

Running back Clinton Portis echoed the sentiments of many veterans, offering unwavering praise for the Redskins' new training-camp lodging policy. Portis said Coach Jim Zorn is showing his respect for the older players by allowing them to spend nights at their own homes, rather than in the team hotel.

"You got some guys who are married, want to lay besides their wife, some guys want to see their kids," Portis said. "But having curfew, sitting off in a dorm room, being miserable, you don't get no phone reception, you got to go to sleep. I think giving us the opportunity to stay home and just be responsible allows the team to grow up."

Unlike past years, veterans of four or more years are allowed to stay at their own homes. Players with three years or less must stay at the team hotel, "sequestered basically," Zorn says.

"I feel I have a veteran team," the head coach said, "and I'm not the only guy doing this, and I didn't create this scenario, but I studied it and I think it has worked with other teams."

Portis doesn't anticipate any problems with the veterans taking advantage having more freedom.

"The responsibility is on you. We asked for it, we got it and now all of a sudden, you don't want to lose that privilege," he said. "You do the things that are required. You're not going to go out and get drunk. You're not going to be in the club, someone sees you around when you've got camp the next morning. You go home, you eat, you go to sleep and you be here on time."

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A Beautiful Thing

One of the best parts of training camp is the camaraderie, hanging out with the guys. You’ve got guys who are married, guys with kids, single guys, rookies, a lot of personalities, and it’s amazing how quickly through football you can become somebody’s friend, and a close friend at that.

It’s a beautiful thing. People around the world should really look at teams in general. We’re just a bunch of guys, white, black, whatever, just trying to coexist together.

I actually just did some acting for a website. They went around and filmed some guys working out, then filmed some skits with us to show a lot of our personality. It’s funny, it’s about pro athletes picking a Fantasy team of office workers. They let us do a lot of improv and they said I was a natural actor, that I acted like the camera wasn’t even there. In one scene I had to pretend I was having a phone conversation with Bryant McKinnie. We started talking about who we would draft in our office worker league and I was lying on a bed, acting like a 12-year-old girl chewing gum and twirling my hair. We used football terms to describe the office workers and why we would draft them.

Click here to read the rest of Jon Beason’s blog entry!

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Clinton Portis is in shape

Clinton Portis is in shape. He said today that he took and passed his conditioning test this morning.

"Sometimes I really wanted to leave after the season and not come back 'til today," he said, "but I can't do things my way, so having the opportunity to be here last year, come out and pass the conditioning test this morning and go to practice just shows you what the offseason did."

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Vilma had minor surgery in abdomen area

The big news from Payton was that star middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma had minor surgery last month.

Vilma had a "scope," in his abdomen area, Payton said, and the team will monitor his reps during the opening week of practice. The decision to have the scope was made after the team's last minicamp practice in mid-June. Vilma played every defensive snap for the Saints last season.

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McGahee has good feeling about season

WESTMINSTER - Willis McGahee doesn't look like he should be on the physically unable to perform list.

One year after admittedly showing up to training camp out of shape, the Baltimore Ravens' running back was sporting a leaner physique as he dashed around the field with no shirt on yesterday after the team opened training camp.

The Ravens are taking precautionary measures with McGahee's surgically-repaired knee after he underwent arthroscopic surgery this offseason even though the former Pro Bowl runner hasn't complained about any pain or swelling.

Nonetheless, the Ravens held him out of the first practice of camp at McDaniel College just to be cautious about his knee.

"We want to make sure Willis' knee doesn't swell up," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "We want to make sure he can take the pounding of a workout and see how he responds."

McGahee might be cleared to practice as soon as today.

One year removed from a career-low season with 671 rushing yards, McGahee showed up nearly a half-hour before practice to get in some extra work.

A year ago, McGahee needed to have knee surgery after a few sluggish practices.

"I'm looking forward to this season," McGahee said. "It's going to be a good season. I can feel it in my bones."

The Ravens are impressed by McGahee's conditioning with Harbaugh emphasizing that he looked very good during a running test and noting that the former 1,200-yard rusher had gained some muscle in his lower body.

"I'd say so far, so good," Harbaugh said. "He looks like he's done a good job."

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Is there a tight end in the house for the Jets?

They Jets are hurting so much that Johnny Mitchell is considering a comeback. I jest. They will miss Chris Baker's dependability. Don't rule out Bubba Franks returning at a later date, if he gets healthy.

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D.J. Williams misses practice again

Linebacker D.J. Williams did not participate in training camp drills today. Williams, a co-captain last year, missed his second practice in three days.

Williams was ill Monday, but both veterans are complaining of soreness. They remained inside the club's complex during an hour-long practice with mostly rookies and quarterbacks.

Coach Josh McDaniels said it is his standard procedure to shield any injured player from the field, even though viewing his new systems might benefit injured onlookers.

"They'll get all the teaching and coaching that everyone else gets in the meeting room," McDaniels said. "Every drill that we need filmed is going to be filmed They won't get any less coaching."

McDaniels said the same rule will be in effect when veterans report Friday. All injured players will be quarantined to the training room during on-field drills, and rejoin the rest of the team in post-practice meetings.

"If we have 12 guys, or 10 guys, that can't participate in a practice because they're banged up, we don't need all those guys just hanging around on the field," McDaniels said. "There are going to be enough people on the field as it is."

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Wilfork and Patriots don’t see eye to eye

True to his word, nose tackle Vince Wilfork will be in attendance today for the first day of Patriots training camp, despite no movement in contract talks. His agent, Kennard McGuire, said yesterday he’s disappointed the situation has come to this.

“Although our dialogue has been ongoing, we just have not achieved the level of comfort for Vince,’’ McGuire said. “In a profession where production and durability equals reward, I’m terribly disappointed that we have not found common ground in what a player of Vince Wilfork’s value truly is.

“Our desire was, and is, a commitment to Vince that equals the one he has made to the organization. Today, we’re just not there. For a man who is as passionate to the game as Vince Wilfork is, I truly feel this is unjust.’’

McGuire would not detail specifics of contract discussions with the Patriots, so it’s unclear what the sticking points are. Per team policy, the Patriots declined to comment on contract discussions.

Wilfork is entering the final year of his contract, and is to earn a base salary of $2.2 million. He initially was set to earn $800,000, but the figure increased because of incentives.

One aspect that boosts Wilfork’s case for a new deal is that he is in the sixth year of a contract he signed as a rookie in 2004, and the NFL no longer allows six-year contracts for players drafted in his position (21st). The maximum contract length is now five years.

As part of the six-year deal, Wilfork received a larger total of bonuses than he would have in a five-year pact - $3 million, in addition to a $2.5 million option bonus. But in exchange for that, he locked himself into an extra year that has cost him leverage now.

Only four players from the 2004 draft class who signed six-year deals have reached the sixth year - Giants quarterback Eli Manning (first overall), Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (No. 4), Wilfork, and Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson (No. 32).

Wilfork had skipped voluntary organized team activities earlier in the spring as a show of displeasure, but he attended mandatory minicamp (he would have been fined for a no-show). At that time, he pledged he’d show up for training camp, hoping that his approach might create a spark to stagnant contract talks.

To this point, however, it has not resulted in the outcome he hoped for. So the question is what happens next?

Wilfork could play out the final year of his contract - assuming the risk to remain healthy and productive - and hit unrestricted free agency next year, when he could be part of open bidding that leads to long-term security. Yet that assumes the Patriots don’t place the franchise tag on him, restricting his ability to test the open market.

In other situations, which had different dynamics, the Patriots have reached agreements with players that ensured they wouldn’t use the franchise tag if certain parameters were met. Cornerback Asante Samuel, who held out of camp in 2007 after being assigned the $7.79 million franchise tag in his fifth NFL season, was one of them. At this time, Wilfork has no such assurances.

It’s also possible the sides continue to talk and strike an extension later in the year. While that seems like a longer shot at this point, defensive lineman Ty Warren (August of 2007) and center Dan Koppen (October of 2006) are recent examples of players who had their contracts extended during the year.

Another option, also in the longer-shot category, is a trade. A player such as Wilfork could net a significant return, and if the Patriots like what they see from second-round draft choice Ron Brace, perhaps they’d consider selling a stock at its highest point, realizing that a long-term agreement in New England won’t be in the cards.

In past years, as the Patriots have opened camp, holdouts had been a significant story line - Richard Seymour, Deion Branch, and Samuel among those most recently staying away before ultimately earning what they desired. Wilfork went a different route, pledging to show up.

So he’ll be there today, carrying disappointment along with his shoulder pads and helmet to the first practice of training camp.

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Former UM players hoping to catch on with Israeli squad

Brian Asbury wakes up each day at 5 a.m.

A quick breakfast is followed by a three-mile run, and a few hours later the former Miami Hurricanes basketball player meets with ex- NBA standout Tim Hardaway. They work on individual drills for a couple of hours before Asbury heads to the gym to play pickup ball.

Asbury has his college degree but isn't ready to settle for working in the corporate world. He and four other former UM players still have aspirations of playing professionally.

That's why they were all at Nova Southeastern on Monday and Tuesday for tryouts with the Maccabi Haifa Heat, an Israeli Premier League team. The players are competing for a one-year contract. Salaries can range from $35,000 to $250,000 based on experience.

"Playing basketball, that's something I love to do," said Asbury, who completed his college eligibility last season. "I'll play wherever, go wherever they want. I'm going to try as long as I'm able to do it. This is what I want to do."

Asbury noticed a few familiar faces as he warmed up before tryouts began. Sitting in the first row was former teammate Raymond Hicks, a college power forward who is trying to make the transition to shooting guard. Hicks has played one season in South America, but he and agent Seth Cohen have made the rounds in hopes of landing with another team. So far their travels have taken them to Mexico and England for workouts.

"Sometimes, we have to leave the States just to get a workout," said Hicks, who last played for the Hurricanes in 2008. "You get to see other things, meet other people. It's always good to make contacts. We make new friends every day. That's the main thing about this business."

If Hicks and Asbury need advice on playing overseas, they can turn to former UM point guard Anthony Harris. After his college career ended in 2007, he had a brief stint in Anaheim in the NBDL. Basketball then took him to Hungary, where he played professionally for one season. Although he earned a salary close to $100,000, he said players should be cautious before deciding to leave the country.

"It's a big adjustment," Harris said. "You're 10,000 miles away from home. You don't have access to things that you're normally used to. It's not the same. You can't call home like you want to. Usually going home is a worry, but calling home is a worry now."

Still, that is unlikely to deter any of the players from pursuing their basketball careers. No one in the group, which also includes Gary Hamilton and Steve Edwards, is ready to eliminate something that has been part of life for so many years.

"It's been in my life so much," Hicks said. "I just want to ride it out until it's over. I'm going to ride the horse until it falls. They're going to have to drag me off the court."

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Baseball's 1st-half MVP candidates

Ryan Braun (MIL - OF): Aside from Fielder, the main reason Milwaukee is inching closer to a playoff spot is Braun. Like last year when he broke out hitting 37 HRs and 106 RBIs, Braun is hammering the ball. He's hitting .318 with 120 hits, 21 HRs and 69 RBIs on the season.

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Huff Helps Orioles Down Royals

Aubrey Huff hit a three-run double in the fifth inning to help the Baltimore Orioles (web | news) take a 7-3 win over the Kansas City Royals in the finale of a four-game set at Camden Yards.

The Orioles jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second as Wigginton hit a one-out, solo home run over the wall in left-center, his seventh round-tripper of the season.

Baltimore padded its lead in the fifth after loading the bases. With two outs and the bases juiced, Markakis beat out an infield single that allowed Matt Wieters to score. Huff followed with a bases clearing double to give his team a 5-0 lead.

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If you need power on your Fantasy Team

Pat Burrell, OF, Rays: Look, it won't be pretty and he's not gonna help your average, but despite the fact that he's been all sorts of brutal lately, I like Burrell to hit for some power down the stretch and I don't think it would cost much to get him. He's hit at least 29 home runs in each of the past four years and despite his isolated power being down, sue me, I'm making a gut call here that he figures it out. Over the past three Augusts and Septembers, he has 30 home runs and yeah, I'm saying he can hit 10 more this year. He's also available in better than 40 percent of leagues, so you might even be able to pick him up.

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Tracking proCanes - Chad Wilson - Part I is continuing our “Tracking proCanes” feature with former University of Miami defensive back Chad Wilson. Chad Wilson played for the University of Miami and Long Beach State University.  He played two seasons for the now defunct Long Beach State 49ers football team.  Wilson was the only freshman to start in the 1990 season and was the first freshman to see playing time in a game for the 49ers since 1985.  Following Wilson's sophomore season with Long Beach State,  the University decided to terminate the football program. Wilson was recruited by every top college football program in the nation including the University of Miami and current head coach Randy Shannon.  Wilson spent three seasons with the Hurricanes playing from 1992-1994.  Wilson started 13 games for the Hurricanes,  played in three major bowl games (Sugar, Fiesta and Orange) and was named All Big East his senior season.  At the conclusion of his senior season Wilson signed with the Seattle Seahawks as a rookie free agent. 

Part I: Chad talks about the website he is currently running, his early days of playing football, what it was like to transfer to the “U,” the QB controversy at the time, the toughest WR at the time to cover and much more!  

proCanes: So talk about what you’re up to now? I went to your website and it looks great!
Chad Wilson: I stumbled upon that really by accident. Like everything I’ve done since I left UM this was by accident. I went for journalism at UM. I started off as a broadcast journalism major and after a while I realized for what I was thinking of doing, I didn’t really need to major in broadcast journalism. I was going to be on air personality so I said let me switch to business and they didn’t like that too much because when I transferred from Long Beach (State University) I lost thirty credits, virtually a whole year, so I was already behind and then by changing my major some of the courses didn’t convert or whatever so I ended up being behind. It ended up being this whole big thing and it turns out they were right because as it is, I am still 19 credits short. So the advisor was right, but me being the young know it all, I went against her advice. Had I followed it [her advice] I probably would have been done.

I was coaching football at place called Archbishop McCarthy High School in Ft. Lauderdale and a couple of seniors that were there I thought were pretty good players and they deserved some kind of exposure so I took their highlight videos and put them on YouTube. What you would normally have to do is mail a DVD out to all these different scouts and the individual colleges. So rather than having to do that, which could be a tedious process because of the amount of time it takes and all would have been lost by then, I put them on YouTube and emailed the coaches with the link and it seemed like a real easy thing to do. I went patrolling around and I thought I can help a whole lot more than just these kids here. So I started going around talking to kids, asking if they were going to school and they would give me their video tapes and I would put it on YouTube. I said I bet if I made a website and put as many kids as I could on it and start soliciting kids to send me their highlights and putting them on there, I could help a lot of kids and then low and behold the site was born.

pC: How is the site going?
CW: It’s going great. People love the site. It’s a lot better than I thought. I knew it was a good thing and people are really taking a liking and I’ve also included a youth football section and the dads go out and add the highlight videos. I have two boys that play and both of their last seasons I’ve had highlight videos made for them and I put them on the site. So as it stands now there’s like 350 to 400 videos and I started in January. And there’s a lot more out there to be submitted

pC: And you’ve told universities about it?
CW: Well like the number one linebacker recruit in the country, his brother, put the video on my site and it must have been at 2 am and I go to see my new submissions and this kid is just killing people, you know? Blowing everyone up and I was tempted to pick up the phone and call the kid at 2 in the morning! So I waited and in the morning I sent an email and it turns out it was the brother and I asked who’s recruiting this kid and he says ‘a couple of people’ and I say “a couple of people? This kid should be recruited by everyone!” So I started telling everyone and I told the coaching staff here [University of Miami] that I’d work with them and next thing I knew this kid blew up. He goes to Treasure Coast High School in Port St. Lucie. They have had a football program for about four or five years so he kind of is hiding and man it was exciting for me to see this kid go from not really known to USC offering this kid a scholarship. It’s just great to see stuff like that happen.

pC: Are you still coaching as well?
CW: Yes I’ve since moved from McCarthy to University School. That’s on the campus at Nova Southeastern right over there by the Dolphins’ complex, so I’m coaching receivers there and we have a number of prospects that Miami is going after, one of them being a defensive end that came from Jamaica last year who never played football but the kid is 6’7” 240 and can run. I came and told the staff [University of Miami staff] I think we have a kid down there you might want to take a look back and the running back coach, Tommy Robinson, went to take a look at this kid. When he was there he saw all these other kids walking around and said ‘hey you know what, I think we’ll spend some time around here and see what’s going on.’ All those kids’ videos are on my site and I get a kick out of helping these kids because I know what it’s like to be a high school junior or senior and you want to play college football and you feel like you’re good but you’re not getting exposure. I aim to help those kinds of kids and in the process I’ve gotten better recognized kids to put their videos on the site. Even a kid who has an offer from pretty much everyone he wants one from, still sees the value in putting the video on there. It’s to the point now that high school kids have fans so fans want to see the videos. It’s quite different from what I had. I never had a highlight video and there weren’t fans. You might have kids at the school that were friendlier but now you have grown men who want to know hey where are you taking a trip to this year and all that stuff.

pC: What position do you coach or are you head coach?
CW: No I’m not the head coach. I coach receivers at University School. I played defensive back here so I’m coaching receivers on how to beat guys like me. This will be my second season there.

pC: What age did you start playing football?
CW: I began playing when I was about 11 years of age. I moved to Florida when I was 10 from New York. In Brooklyn there’s no optimist clubs at every corner like there is here so the most I did was play on the street. My mother is from Trinidad. So the sport in Trinidad is soccer, so when I came down here I lived with mother and my grandmother and my step grandfather and my step grandfather pushed me to play soccer so that’s the first thing I played. I started playing football and in middle school the football players would wear their jerseys on Fridays and they seemed to have all the girls around them so I was like “I could play some football!” I went out there and it wasn’t ANYTHING like what I saw on TV. You’ve got your helmet on and people are trying to knock your head off and I was like “man, I didn’t know it was going to be like this” but I stuck it out and it worked out for me.

pC: So when did you go to California?
CW: I started my first two years of High School at Cooper City High. My mom was a flight attendant and it was just me and her living together and she’d go away for several days at a time and I’m 15 years old and I’m deciding whether or not I want to go to school and what time to come home. I never got in any big trouble; I just wasn’t making the greatest of choices. So my dad lived in California and I’d go out there in the summertime and at about 15 I just decided I needed to straighten up, I needed to decide what I wanted to do with my future, so I figured I would go live with dad. So I moved out there and finished my junior and senior year at Canyon Spring High School in Marino Valley and from there I ended up going to Long Beach State University. It wasn’t my first choice of where I wanted to go but my dad in his own way made me realize that’s probably where you need to go, so I ended up going there and after two seasons they cut the football program there. My second season we played Miami. And Miami beat the hell out of us 55 to nothing but for me it was a homecoming.

pC: I remember that game!
CW: Oh really, yeah they beat us sideways. But I had a great game because I was coming home and I wasn’t going to look bad. So when they cut the football program I called Ryan Collins. Ryan and I grew up playing football together. We played in Optimist in Pasadena together so I called him up and said “they cut football so why don’t you ask the coaches if they’d bring me on” and he went and talked to Randy and Randy was a graduate assistant at the time so they pulled the film out from that season and they looked at it and said they’re going to offer you a scholarship so I jumped all over that. Now a number of schools, all kind of schools came to Long Beach State after they cut the program trying to recruit guys. I played with Terrell Davis and we were the only two guys that played as freshman so as a school coming in it’s valuable that we had the division one experience so I set up trips to all these places like Hawaii because I had never been. I wasn’t going go to Hawaii but I wanted to take a trip out there. LSU, Houston, Colorado, and I had all these great trips set up and I wanted to take them but Randy said ‘Hey you need to come now’ and I said “oh well, that’s the end of those trips”so I came right away.

pC: So you came basically in January, spring?
CW: Yeah, he told me I had to come now because school was going to start and I needed to enroll, so I came in January of ‘92 and played spring ball and my first season was ‘92.

pC: So Randy was technically the one that recruited you?
CW: Yeah he’s the one responsible for bringing me in. They threw it in the graduate assistant’s hands and I’m forever grateful to him for doing that.

pC: So were you a Hurricane fan growing up?
CW: Actually no. I liked the Hurricanes but I was playing defensive back and you know what I’m saying, back then Deion Sanders was the guy. I wouldn’t say I was a big Florida State fan. I was a fan of Deion so obviously I watched their games but shoot I loved Miami but Deion was the guy for me. When I was out at California I actually wanted to go to UCLA. It was a school I liked so when I was done with high school I wanted to go to UCLA but unfortunately they didn’t recruit me.

pC: So you are a Cane but you almost went to? Was it close between UM and anyone else?
CW: When they decided they wanted me, no. I wanted to come back home. But before they cut the football program at Long Beach, I realized that program wasn’t it. I wanted to come back home, I called Florida State. Not necessarily because I was a big fan, because yes, I liked Florida State but the tuition was something I would be able to afford. I figured I was going to have to walk-on, they weren’t going to just give me a scholarship So I figured I would call Florida State, it’s a place I see myself going. I’m not going to go to Florida so I figured I could afford the tuition somehow to go to Florida State and go there. I was in talks with Mickey Andrews and they weren’t offering me a scholarship. I’d even asked for a release from Long Beach during the season which they didn’t take a liking too.

To give you a funny story, the head coach was Hall of Famer Willie Brown. I told him I wanted my release and he told me well which school do you want to go to? First of all he didn’t want to give me the release, he wanted to stall me. So I said Florida State and he said okay I’ll get back to you. So that day at practice I got there and I’m lined up at corner back and they sent the best receiver a guy named Mark Seay who ended up playing for the Chargers. They sent him deep nine straight times. He caught the first one and the next eight he didn’t catch one. But when he caught the first one, I guess he told the whole team behind my back, and the whole team started going ‘OOOOOOOOOOO.’ I guess the plan was to try and break me down and make me feel like I wasn’t good enough to go to Florida State. But it had the opposite effect because you just sent you’re best guy nine times down the field and I covered him. I don’t belong here, I’m better than this. It had the opposite effect. But I’ll never forget the whole team doing that and it was pretty much at that point that I said “I’m outta here.” So I called Florida State and they never offered a scholarship, so when Miami offered a scholarship I thought what could be better, I’m from down here so I didn’t hesitate.

pC: Mark Seay sounds very familiar.
CW: Mark Seay he played the Super Bowl in ‘94 for the chargers. He was a very popular guy there because there was a story that he was at a party and there was a gang that did a drive by and he saved a baby cousin or something and saved her life from being hit. He got hit with the bullet and lost a kidney so he continued playing without one of his kidneys. So apart from being a very good receiver that was his claim to fame, he was playing without a kidney and he saved his niece’s life.

pC: What would you say was the toughest part about playing from Miami after coming from Long Beach?
CW: I wouldn’t even say it was the change in competition. Maybe that at first was a bit of an adjustment for me but I just took it as I was learning to be a ‘Cane. Obviously Miami worked a lot harder than Long Beach State did, and not that I was a stranger to hard work but really understanding what it took to be a ‘Cane. I think it took me the first whole year to really understand that. I’m putting in the hard work but there was something else. It’s like a fraternity, it’s like an initiation that goes on. They cut my head bald like they did to freshmen and I’m thinking “man I’m a 20 year old guy, have some respect here” and they were like ‘no, you’re new.’ So it was just learning to be a Cane and I imagine it was like that for everyone.

pC: So what would you say was your favorite memory because you went through 3 tough bowl games.
CW: I came here in time to just miss a championship ring and then lose 3 bowl games. My biggest memory? The first Florida State game I played in. It was a noon game. Hot as all hell and the guys had to get IVs and just the whole atmosphere

pC: So that’s probably the one that really stands out?
CW: Yeah, but there are many. Being in the Carrier Dome for the first time and being in a stadium that small, but that place makes so much noise. That place seats about 38,000 or it did at that time, and I remember it was a close game in ‘92. There was a last minute play, so obviously the fans were in it and I remember at one point they were so cranked up, I was trying to talk to someone next to me and I couldn’t even hear myself talking. I was like man this little place cranking it up! Then there’s the Sugar Bowl. Not a great memory but memorable nonetheless. I was like “wow, everyone is against us here.”

pC: Who would you say was the toughest receiver or teammate you went against?
CW: You know for all of the great athleticism of UM athletes and UM wide receivers you hear about, I mean, you have Kevin Williams who runs a 4.2-40, you have Horace Copeland who ran a 4.3-40 but you couldn’t run with him after 40 yards, he just was so damn long-legged. My first practice there they would call us together after the stretch and they would call someone out to the middle and they called Horace Copeland out and I watched this guy go out there and with out bending his knees do a back flip! I was like “holy crap I’m at Miami now I’ve got to cover this guy today?” I remember thinking, boy I’ve got my work cut out for me, but with all that Lamar Thomas was the hardest guy to cover,

pC: Why?
CW: He was the least athletic of that trio but he ran great routes. He was a student of the game and I think part of it was him knowing he wasn’t blessed like the other two so he made up for it by being a very good route runner and totally knowing the position and how to turn you around and swing you around. He was tough.

pC: I never knew that. For him not being the most athletically gifted guy he talked a lot too.
CW: He’d back it up. He was talking to me before we even started practicing. I came here in January, spring practice wasn’t until April. He was in my ear by February. He’d see me on the way to practice and give me an earful like you’re the new guy. But he’d back it up with his play.

pC: Who do you think then overall was the best player on the team?
CW: I tell people this and it’s hard for them to believe me. For all the great guys and great athletes that were there when I was there, I tell them the best athlete that I played with was Warren Sapp. I watched the guy run sprints with the running backs. I watched him dunk a basketball at I don’t know, 280-290 lbs. Go up and dunk a damn basketball! He was a tremendous athlete. The best player is tough. With a gun to my head, I’d say him, but I’d also say Ray [Lewis]. But I’d have to say Sapp because when Ray was there with me he was a sophomore so I would say Sapp was the best player I played with.

pC: Who would you say you were the closest to?
CW: Probably Ryan Collins since we grew up together.

pC: Talk about the whole quarterback controversy. From what I have heard it divided the locker-room quite a bit.
CW: It divided it in the sense that maybe guys had different opinions. But to the common person when you hear, divided the locker-room, it would give the impression that there were arguments and fights about it and that was never the case. I never witnessed anything like that. You and I could have been in the locker-room and maybe you thought Frank should be the QB and I thought Ryan should be it but it never spilled over to a heated argument. We went out there and played and if you’re on defense we’re going to do whatever and we know, we’re going to punch the other team in the mouth. It would be great if you guys [the offense] scored in the process.

pC: Was the whole controversy tough on him? I could tell it was tough on Frank
CW: It was tough on him and obviously I’m going to be biased because I felt like Ryan should have started. I felt like he gave us a better chance to win and it was tough because we went through that period of time where we weren’t accomplishing our goals and your goal is to win the championship and the ‘93 season could be categorized as a disaster, it ended with the Fiesta Bowl blow out. It’s a game I knew we were going to lose. And if you talk to most of the players there and they’re going to be totally candid, they’ll tell you that’s the game they knew we were going to lose.

pC: How did you know?
CW: It’s just you go through the week and realize that we didn’t really care to be there and it’s not where we thought we were going to be and I don’t know that we had a great deal of respect for Arizona and that was part of the thinking of the team that year. We were coming off of ‘91 and ‘92 and we felt like we’re just better than you. We’ll show up, we’ll put our helmets on with the “U” on it and you’ll bow down. And we weren’t talented enough to think that way so we got beat by teams we shouldn’t have. We shouldn’t have lost to West Virginia.

pC: Do you think the controversy was racial?
CW: No but some people tried to make it that. And that’s an obvious thing; Frank’s white, Ryan’s black and around that time there weren’t a whole lot of black quarterbacks making headlines. I always told Ryan “you know what man, you’re five years too soon, because if you’re coming out now you would have had plenty of opportunities,” but of course people try to make it that. Frank didn’t play very well at Florida State, so I think that might have been the game where they replaced him.

pC: Yeah he got benched and that was it.
CW: Right, and we did our thing with Ryan and we lost to West Virginia and to be honest with you, we probably would have lost both of those games anyway just because the team as a whole was thinking like I told you, like we’re just going to put our helmets on and win.

pC: So you think it was just like lack of motivation from the coaches? They didn’t motivate you the right way to be ready for those things.
CW: I just think you’re not going to win a championship every year. You’re hungry, you’re building toward that goal and then you reach that goal with a group of guys that were hungry and you get this other group that comes in and they don’t necessarily know the road so they think: I’m at UM now, what we do is win championships so I don’t need to stay late in the weight room and maybe the guys that are at the top now aren’t staying late in the weight room so you start going back down and I think maybe that’s what’s happening at USC. They’re not in a sharp decline but not winning the championships anymore and you see them losing to Oregon State and that’s nothing but they think they can just line up and go on the field and the other team will see that they’re the Trojans and when the ball snaps they’ll just fall down to the ground and they’ll run to the end-zone. Then they’re shocked when that doesn’t happen. It’s like how dare they score! I think that’s what went on in ‘93 and then we were pretty hungry in ’94, as a result of ’93 season.

pC: Were the defenses and offenses close in the locker room or would you say they were more separate?
CW: Locker-room wise we’re all friends. When we got out there on the field it was offense versus defense. And that’s just the nature of UM. That’s the whole competition but on game day we were one unit.

pC: Do you keep in touch with a lot of former teammates?
CW: I wouldn’t say a lot. I keep in touch with a few. Ray got me tickets to the playoff game they played down here. So I text him and talk to him a lot. I’m on Facebook so I’ve got a lot of guys on there. Kevin Patrick is a defensive line coach at USF so I came and saw him. He’s coming to recruit some of our kids so we talk. I have the website going on now so I have him going on there and checking out kids. So I guess I do keep in touch with them in one way, shape, or form. I’ve sent [Jeff] Popovich to the website. He’s at FIU. I get to keep in touch with them that way. And Ryan and I are still good friends. We live in the same area.

pC: What does Ryan Collins do?
CW: He sells insurance and financial planning and he coaches youth football like I do. I’ve been a head coach the last couple of years for youth football and he’s a coach at Pasadena where we used to play and I’m a coach at another park.

pC: What about coaches? Do you still talk to your old defensive coordinators or any of them?
CW: No because they’re all pretty much gone. My first year it was Sonny Lubick, the next year it was [Tommy] Tubberville and my last year it was [Greg] McMackin who is the Hawaii head coach now. Obviously I see Randy and talk occasionally with him. After I played at UM, I went to the Seahawks and [Dennis] Erickson was the coach and he had the unfortunate task of cutting me.

pC: So you finished and you signed on as a free agent with the Seahawks. Did that connection with Erickson help you get the gig?
CW: It did because they called soon after the draft and said they wanted me up there. I had a couple of other places I could have gone to and in hindsight; I probably should have gone to some of the other teams.

pC: What other teams?
CW: The Steelers, the Chiefs, and like I said, in hindsight I probably should have done that. I think I relaxed too much in Seattle thinking these guys would hold on to me, would take care of me, and in the end it’s a business which is what I learned when I went to the NFL. It’s very much a business, they balance their books, they make some decisions based not necessarily on what’s happening on the field but what’s the best financial move and it’s something I didn’t fathom because you play the sport all your years growing up and that’s pretty much how the decisions were made. If you were better than this guy you played. It didn’t necessarily work like that in the NFL. Not every organization. Some organizations play it to win and some are playing for profit.

pC: After that did you try any other teams or that was it?
CW: I tell this heartbreaking story and this is what pretty much ended it for me. I got released from Seattle in ‘95 and the following year they had a pro-timing day at UM and I went down there and I participated in the pro-timing day and had a great workout. I ran a 4.4-40, it was great and I was in good shape. It was in February and I didn’t hear anything from any team for the rest of February, nothing in March, nothing thru April, the draft came, I watched the entire draft. No one called me. So the draft was over and I got on the phone with my agent and on the other phone in my house I was using the internet because back then it was dial-up. There was no other way. So I’m on the phone with him and we’re looking at each team and who they picked and what would be the best place for me to try and go to and that conversation must have gone on till midnight close to 1 o’clock in the morning. I got off the phone went to bed. Next day I went to work and from the office I called at about 1pm to check my messages and the Dolphins had called me three times the night before. I picked up the phone, I called the defensive-back coach and I said “hey, I just got your messages and I’m ready to go.” He said ‘well listen we were calling you last night, we wanted you to come down and sign a contract but when we didn’t hear from you, we got a little worried and so we got someone else and we filled our 85 man roster.’ He says: ‘if anyone gets hurt in camp you’ll be the first one we call.’ And I said man, when stuff like that starts happening it’s not meant to be.

pC: Wow…
CW: It’s tough, but I didn’t want to be 30 years old and still trying to play football.

pC: You got over it really fast? A lot of people have a hard time letting go?
CW: I let go but I didn’t get over it because in ‘98 the Broncos went to the Super Bowl and I’m watching Terrell Davis and me and this guy, we were the guys. He went to Georgia and I went to UM. I should be playing. I had to go through that two years in a row and every time the Super Bowl would come around I’d get these feelings but after a while I just accepted it. I stuck to what I thought; it wasn’t meant to be. There was something else I was supposed to be doing in life.

Come back tomorrow and read Part II of our interview with Chad Wilson and see what he has to say about Coach Dennis Erickson as a coach, the “U” Family, former teammate CJ Richardson and much more!  

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Interview With Phillip Buchanon During His Workout at the U

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D.J.Williams back at practice

Update: After spending one day on the PUP list, linebacker D.J. Williams returned to practice on Tuesday, according to the Denver Post. It is believed he was placed on the list due to his recovery from rotator cuff surgery.

Fantasy Impact: Williams should fine, but anyone thinking of taking him in IDP Leagues should monitor this injury closely throughout the pre-season. The inside linebackers in Mike Nolan's system traditionally put up strong tackle numbers.

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Buchanon is a businessman, philanthropist

MIAMI -- Phillip Buchanon spends his off-season in the Miami area, doing his newfound commercial real-estate business deals and planning his post-playing career.

The new Lions cornerback -- he signed a two-year, $8.5-million deal in the off-season -- has been preparing for the rigors of training camp as well.

Buchanon will fly to Detroit on Tuesday, with the Lions scheduled to begin training camp Friday in Allen Park.
"It feels good on Sundays and in the off-season," Buchanon said. "The hard work in between -- most people don't understand."

A typical off-season day for Buchanon begins at the University of Miami football team's weight room. There, under the guidance of Miami strength coach Andreu Swasey, who had that role during Buchanon's 1999-2001 tenure, Buchanon and other ex-Hurricanes get to work.

"Their body is their business," Swasey said last week, as Buchanon, 49ers running back Frank Gore, Redskins receiver Santana Moss, free-agent tight end Bubba Franks and a handful of others did a series of exercises.

"This is about getting him ready for camp," Swasey said of Buchanon. "This is about him being prepared for longevity."

This particular workout consisted of doing military presses with a pair of 50-pound dumbbells and repeatedly lifting a 14-pound medicine ball.

After lunch, Buchanon drove home in his month-old green, Porsche Cayenne luxury SUV.

Brochures of another condominium complex sat on his kitchen table.

Buchanon, 28, has been looking for a place to buy. But he has held off, wondering why he can't talk the sellers down from $350,000 to $200,000-$250,000 -- especially since he's paying cash.

Buchanon also has been looking for a place to store his Cayenne. He has a black Range Rover in Detroit, the other car he owns. He used to own "four or five," but over the past two or three years, Buchanon said he has learned to conserve and manage his money.

Attending NFL business management and entrepreneurial programs opened Buchanon's eyes to money-making opportunities. Now he owns commercial real-estate properties in Texas, Georgia, Florida and Massachusetts.

"I want to turn $2 million into $4 million and then $4 million into $8 million and then $8 million into $16 million," Buchanon said.

Businesses such as a Joe's Crab Shack and Arby's restaurants lease properties owned by Buchanon.

"You're lucky to be in the league and make it past three or four years," Buchanon said.

Buchanon quietly has given some of his money back to the community. He paid for new uniforms for three local teams. He also paid the admission fees for about 30 high school athletes to attend football camps this summer.

But come Friday, the business dealings, the casual workouts and the constant answering of his two cell phones will slow down if not halt.

"Once the season starts, I'm focused on that," Buchanon said.

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Bryant McKinnie Holds a Charity Event

Lil' Kim and Busta Rhymes love partying in Miami, especially if it's for a good cause.

The pair were in town to help support their NFL bud Bryant McKinnie of the Minnesota Vikings.

This weekend McKinnie (a part-time Miami resident and former University of Miami star) and Swagga Entertainment hosted the Stand Up Miami charity event.

After spending Saturday on a yacht, McKinnie and his celeb friends (which also included VH1's Flavor of Love 2 winner Deelishis, Lisa Raye, DJ Clue and Lil Scrappy) mingled at Karu & Y.

Kim, 34, and McKinnie, 29, were spotted cozy in VIP while a moody Ryhmes -- who arrived around 3 a.m. with a small group of people -- only stayed in the club for about 15 minutes.

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Willis McGahee: (Knee) Placed on PUP List

McGahee (knee) opened training camp on the physically-unable-to-play list on Monday, the Baltimore Sun reports.

According to head coach John Harbaugh the move is just a precaution to make sure McGahee's knee won't swell up during workouts after having offseason arthroscopic knee surgery. McGahee is expected to come off the PUP list no later than Thursday. Though he has struggled with his conditioning heading into training camp in the past, it appears McGahee has recommitted himself after rushing for a career-low 671 yards last season.

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Magic Benton Will Not Play in AF2 Playoffs, Team Disqualified

The arenafootball2 league announced its playoff schedule Monday, and the Florida Firecats were not one of the teams listed.

Florida was the only franchise that qualified that was left out. A league source told The News-Press on Saturday that Florida would be barred because it owed the league more than $200,000 in dues.

Offensive specialist Magic Benton was so disgruntled that he apologized to the fans, on behalf of the Vallozzi family, during an interview on The Red Zone with Clayton Ferraro and Adam Mendelson on Fox Sports Radio.

"I never really had respect for the ownership and how they ran things," Benton said, the team's all-time leading receiver. "They knew what was going on from the get-go, and nobody was professional enough to come let us know. That's classless."

Click here to read the rest of the story.

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T. Gooden: "I can improve on what Bart did"

Swift former third-round draft pick Tavares Gooden remains the consensus favorite to win the battle to replace Bart Scott.

"Being the underdog is nothing new to me," McClain said. "I love to compete. If someone wants to count me out, that's fine. It only makes me hungrier.”

McClain isn't conceding anything to Gooden, a 6-foot-1, 247-pound former University of Miami speedster nicknamed "Baby Ray."  Although Gooden lined up with the first-string defense and raced around the practice field like a wild man during minicamps, the Ravens aren't drawing any final conclusions yet.

They learned last season to not place any limitations on McClain, who set a franchise record by recording two safeties and also blocked a punt and registered 2 1/2 sacks and 17 special-teams tackles. As impressive as Gooden is physically, McClain is an instinctive, gritty player.

However, McClain has the disadvantage of not having played inside linebacker before after primarily playing defensive end in college and operating as a reserve strong side linebacker last season.

"We felt his feet and his athleticism and his body build would be much more suited to be a Mike linebacker," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He's picked it up right away. He's done a really good job."

Gooden is regarded as the superior prospect and athlete. However, he is essentially unproven after being placed on injured reserve last season as a rookie to undergo sports hernia and hip flexor surgeries.

"Nothing is ever established until you get into the season," Ravens defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said. "The good news is Jameel is just getting used to playing the 'backer position, which he hasn't played before and he'll get better. Tavares is coming back from not playing last year, but you can see him improving. Both know what they need to improve on."

Gooden is built like a track athlete with lean muscles stacked on top of each other having bulked up a dozen pounds since his rookie season.

He's an explosive former Florida prep champion in the discus who also thrived as a long and triple jumper.

And Gooden’s behaving like a sprinter who was stuck in the starting blocks for a year before finally hearing the starter's gun.

"I see a stallion," Mattison said. "I see a guy who looks like he's been to the Kentucky Derby that's been tied up for a year and is bigger and stronger. He came out the first day and was like a wild horse."

Gooden has rare range, and drew high marks for his work in pass coverage during training camp last year.

Controlling that speed, though, could prove to be a challenge.

"Tavares is sometimes going too fast," Lewis said. "At a jogging pace, he wants to hit somebody like right now. So, I've got to calm him down."

Gooden is capable of chasing down ball carriers far away from his territory inside. His lateral pursuit is reminiscent of a young Lewis.

"God gave me a good set of wheels," Gooden told 24x7 this spring. "I'm able to run with receivers, faster than receivers. It's a blessing, man. You can't coach speed.”

Gooden's 40-yard dash time of 4.5 seconds is superior to many NFL wide receivers. It's just a matter of making sure he's running in the right direction.

"I can get the job done and then some," Gooden said. "I can improve on what Bart did. I work hard and I'm going to bring it every single play. I can't wait for the season to start to prove what I'm all about."

Gooden, who was Lewis’ roommate at training camp last year, and McClain have made it a special point to seek guidance from Lewis for additional pointers.

"I think the exciting part about those guys is what they learned off the field," Lewis said. "On the field, athleticism, they're gifted in that area. But the way that Jameel and Tavares have already been over to the house just to gain that knowledge, they're searching for it and I'm giving it to them. To see them apply it, it's a great thing to see what those guys are doing."

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Roscoe perishing on Buffalo's sideline

PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Not every Buffalo Bill was delighted by the Terrell Owens signing.

The bombshell acquisition caused borderline delirium within the organization and among its fans. Before enough time had elapsed for the deal to sink in, receiver Roscoe Parrish came to the conclusion it wasn't going to create a favorable scenario for him.

"I asked my agent to let the organization know that I wanted to be traded," Parrish revealed after a recent training camp session at St. John Fisher College in suburban Rochester.

Unwilling to part with him, the Bills declined to honor his offseason request. Now he's hoping to make the most of an undesirable situation.

"I had a lot of issues with the organization in the offseason," Parrish said, "and I don't want to bring those negative issues to training camp."

Parrish, entering his fifth NFL season, is an intensely proud athlete. He's an elite NFL punt returner, but that's not enough for him. He figured he would be an established offensive star by now, not trying merely to be relevant, buried on a depth chart, scrounging for passes.

Owens' arrival pushed Parrish down the receiver pecking order to fourth at best. He's behind Josh Reed as the team's slot receiver. If you consider sophomore Steve Johnson, whom the Bills are high on, Parrish might be fifth.
"It's all good to be one of the best punt returners in the NFL, but I came into the NFL to be a wide receiver," Parrish said. "I wanted to leave that behind with a trade because it's a matter of getting used more at wide receiver. I know what I can do."

Parrish has led the NFL in punt return average the past two seasons -- 15.3 yards last year, 16.3 yards the year before. He has dashed for a touchdown three years running.

But the Bills weren't able to figure out ways to get him offensive touches before Owens joined them. It'll be much tougher now.

Parrish's best receiving season was 2007, when he caught 35 passes for 352 yards and one touchdown. Last year, he had 24 receptions for 232 yards and a touchdown.

For Parrish, that kind of action is trifling. He wants to perform, but he apparently has hit a glass ceiling with Buffalo.
"There's only so much a guy with my competitiveness can take," Parrish said. "You got some guys satisfied with being a role player or just being on a team. You got some guys who want to up their games an extra notch every year and not be complacent. That makes you a superstar.

"Coming into my fifth year, I should be a superstar wide receiver, not a punt returner."

Washington Redskins receiver Santana Moss can relate. He has been mentoring Parrish, trying to buoy him mentally. Moss, also a small receiver from the University of Miami, was drafted by the New York Jets and started out as a return specialist, depth receiver and gadget guy.

Moss increased his reception total by 150 percent by his third season, catching 74 passes for 1,105 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was a Pro Bowler in his fifth season.

"I feel he's a guy that has all this talent and all these big plays just balled up inside him, ready to explode if given the opportunity," Moss said.

"He's going to get his. He puts in the time. He puts in the work. He works harder than most guys at his level. Whether his team allows him to be the guy that he wants to be, that time's going to come sooner or later."

Shortly after the Owens acquisition, reports circulated Parrish was on the trading block, suggesting the Bills were shopping him around. But that wasn't true, regardless of how badly agent Drew Rosenhaus, who represents both Parrish and Owens, wanted to stimulate some action.

The Bills simply weren't interested in trading Parrish. He skipped voluntary workouts. On the first day of mandatory minicamp, he mostly watched from the sideline with an ice wrap on his leg.

"I'm not a guy that's so outspoken, but there's a time when you just have to voice your opinion," Parrish said. "If you don't, they always think you're satisfied. Maybe it'll open the coaches' eyes. They need to know punt returning isn't the only thing I want to do."

About a month ago, Parrish finally came to grips he wasn't going anywhere. That doesn't mean he won't be looking ahead to the October trade deadline if circumstances don't improve.

"I'm not going to say I'm disappointed because I feel if they didn't trade me they got plans for me," Parrish said. "I'm just staying with a positive mindset and just come out here and do what I can do and take advantage of my opportunities.

"I know if I would get my opportunity in a game, all hell's going to break loose. That's how confident I am."

Buffalo is going to an up-tempo, no-huddle offense this year. One can see how depth at receiver will help, but that type of system makes substitutions difficult.

Bills head coach Dick Jauron acknowledged they're trying to find ways to get Parrish more involved.

"We've all seen what Roscoe can do with the ball in his hands, particularly in the open field," Jauron said. "We just need to keep working to find ways to get him the ball. And we also know he's got speed. If he gets a step on somebody he's hard to catch."

Parrish has felt typecast by his size. Listed at 5-foot-9 and 168 pounds, he has been unable to overcome the perception he can't withstand the rigors of every-down football.

But he rattles off a list of names of top NFL receivers who are closer to Smurfs than Goliaths.

"You got a lot of small guys," Parrish said. "You got Steve Smith. You got Santana Moss. You got DeSean Jackson.

You got Eddie Royal. Those guys are just put in a good situation.

"That's the thing that was stressing me out. My situation's not as good as theirs, but I'm not going to say any negative things about it, but I'm just being 100 percent honest with everything. We're in training camp, and I'll just do what I have to do on my end."

Parrish has drawn strength from Moss' story. They work out together in the offseason at the University of Miami campus with fellow Hurricanes such as Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne.

"He sees other guys he played with and against in high school and college doing things he can do, and he's not being allowed," Moss said. "That can bring a guy down."

"Any punt returner can be a big playmaker on any offense. If you can elude all those defenders by yourself at times you can get the ball on offense."

Parrish cannot afford to become consumed with the belief the Bills are wasting him as an asset or holding him back from developing all he wants to be.

"If you go out there with a negative state of mind and your opportunity comes, you're not going to seize that moment," Parrish said. "I'll never let anybody break me. If this team doesn't use me, another team down the line one day will use me."

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Toss Up: Clinton Portis vs. Marion Barber

I'm looking forward to today's "Toss Up" post because it's a classic rivalry between the Redskins and the Cowboys. And in my opinion it doesn't get much better than seeing those two teams with those two uniforms on the same field.

I'm not a fan of either team, and yet I still feel this way. That's when you know a rivalry is good. But this rivalry also extends to fantasy, where Clinton Portis and Marion Barber are two running backs you could be deciding between in the second round of your draft.

In our most recent experts mock draft, Barber went No. 18 overall and Portis was off the board by No. 21. Was that the right order? Let's take a closer look at Portis vs. Barber to find out:

With Barber, his finishing around the goal line is probably his biggest strength. Before he was hampered by a toe injury last year, Barber had no problem posting double-digit touchdowns in 2006 and '07. His career-high of 16 TDs in '06 was something to behold as the Barbarian ran over and through people on his way to the end zone.

If Barber can return to those levels after scoring "just" nine touchdowns like he did last year then that will be the key. Because although Barber is two years younger than Portis, there's no question Portis gets more carries.

That will likely be true even if Ladell Betts cuts into Portis' workload more often this season. Portis topped 20 carries in 12 games last season, including the last three weeks when most fantasy owners will tell you he faded.

Meanwhile, Barber had 20-plus carries just four times last season and will likely continue to share touches with Felix Jones and Tashard Choice, who proved his worth as a late-season injury replacement.

Of course, it's the heavy workload that has some owners worried about Portis' ability to stay healthy. There's some strong evidence -- and colleague Brad Pinkerton will have more on this on Friday -- that running backs who cross the 345-carry threshold have problems staying upright the following season. Portis had 342 carries in '08.

But you can't argue with Portis' track record, and he has been relatively durable lately. Portis has topped 1,000 yards rushing in six of his seven seasons, and he has played in 16 games in three of the last four years. (He missed time in '06 due to a shoulder injury.)

Barber has never had a 1,000-yard rushing season, but he makes up for that with his touchdowns and work in the passing game.

The Redskins seem less inclined to use Portis in the passing game as his receptions dropped to 28 last season. Meanwhile, the Cowboys could use Barber more now that Terrell Owens is gone. And even in a year when he missed time due to injury Barber still had 52 receptions last season.

So here we are at decision time, and it really comes down to whether you like proven production and touches or upside with boom-or-bust touchdowns. I'll stick with the proven guy (Portis), but I have to admit I agonized greatly over this pick.

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Former Miami Hurricanes to try out for Israeli basketball team

Five former University of Miami basketball players will be trying out for Israeli Premier League team Maccabi Haifa on Tuesday and Wednesday at Nova Southeastern University. The club, which finished runner-up last season, is owned by American businessman Jeffrey Rosen, and is the only Israeli team holding tryouts in the United States. Its parent company, Triangle, is based in Aventura.

Former Hurricanes Brian Asbury, Raymond Hicks, Anthony Harris, Gary Hamilton and Steve Edwards are among the 48 players who have been invited to try out, along with some of the top Jewish players from around the country.

Israeli coaches Avi Ashkenazi (head coach), Elad Hasin (assistant coach) and Mickey Gorka (assistant coach) will run the tryouts.

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Roscoe Making Plays in First 2 Days of Mini Camp

On day 1 Roscoe Parrish snared a nice pass over the middle in stride on a well-timed play and he followed up his good first day performance with an even better plays on Day 2 when he made a couple of nice plays in the passing game including a difficult catch on a deep out where he shielded the defender with his body to make the play before going out of bounds.

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Magic Benton Leads Firecats in Must-Win Game

The arenafotball2 (af2) Florida Firecats defeated the Kentucky Horsemen 67-39 at home in a must win game to qualify for the playoffs. Florida (7-9) has now qualified for the post-season eight years in a row, tied for the second longest streak in the af2. Kentucky dropped to 10-6 on the year. Florida took the series 2-1 this year, with the home team winning each contest.

Magic Benton led all receivers with eight receptions for 91 yards and two scores.

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Calais Ready?

7. Is Calais Campbell ready to be a starter?
The second-year defensive lineman is a trendy pick given Antonio Smith’s departure to Houston. He saw more snaps as last season went on, and he also played special teams. Campbell figures to see most of his snaps on the end. He’s still chasing his first career sack, so it’s not like a 10-sack or Pro Bowl season can be expected, but if he can come close to Smith’s steady play last season, it’ll have been a success.

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Armour Breaks His Leg

The Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL lost to the Edmonton Eskimos 38-33 on Saturday. Carlos Armour left the game in the third quarter and here is what head coach Ken Miller had to say about the injury after the game. “I believe it’s a broken leg. I believe it’s a broken tibia, and possibly even a fibula. I don’t know exactly on that, but it is a serious break of his leg.’’ We hope for a speedy recovery for Carlos.

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Wayne Ready For Camp

WR Reggie Wayne has accepted his role as the team's No. 1 receiver with pretty much his patented laid-back attitude.

After all, in recent years the Colts' tandem of Marvin Harrison and Wayne was one of the NFL's premier receiving duos. It was Harrison No. 1 with Wayne very close behind.

In fact, the former University of Miami standout led the Colts in receiving as he hauled in 87 passes for 1,145 yards and six touchdowns. Now with Harrison gone from the picture, Wayne is more than prepared to show that he is more than ready to carry even more of the team's receiving load.

"I'm going to approach it the same, nothing is going to change on my end. The only thing (is) I have to make sure I'm ready. Healthy and ready. I'm definitely that right now. I know they're (the defense) going to be keying on me and that's what it's all about. That's when I hope my teammates can help me out a little bit," he said recently.

One thing is certain. He expects to arrive at training camp in the best shape, physically, of his NFL career. And that's certainly saying something, considering that Wayne is annually one of the best conditioned players on the Colts' roster.

"Yes, I've been grinding. I've been getting it. I'm down at the University of Miami. Normally, it's 5:30 every morning, but I've moved it a little further, so now it's 6:30 every morning," he said.

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Players to Watch: Calais Campbell

Defensive end Calais Campbell: He's expected to take over at right end, replacing Antonio Smith, who signed with Houston in free agency. A second-round pick in 2008, Campbell played in all 20 games as a rookie but didn't start.

He was a capable rotation player, although he didn't register a sack, and was decent on special teams, too. Much more is expected this year.

The Cardinals don't have much experience at end, so there is a considerable amount of pressure on Campbell to perform. Coaches seem confident he'll come through.

At 6-feet-8, Campbell's long frame should be an asset as both a pass rusher and run defender. His long arms can create problems for quarterbacks looking for passing lanes, and he should be able to hold off run blockers.

Just as important, Campbell is bright and a hard worker. If he fails, it won't be because of laziness.

The Cardinals need him to come through. Behind him are Kenny Iwebema, also a second-year player, and Keilen Dykes, who spent last season on the practice squad.

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McGahee Could Surprise

RB Willis McGahee — McGahee is well-known, so why does he make our list? Because second-year RB Ray Rice, who had a very good offseason, and bruising FB Le'Ron McClain, who rushed for 10 touchdowns in 2008, will be taken higher in plenty of drafts. Nonetheless, don't be surprised if McGahee is the Ravens' Week One starter — and if he's still getting enough carries to be relevant to fantasy owners. McGahee had knee and ankle surgery in the offseason, and his status will need to be monitored in the preseason, but he's a low-risk selection as a No. 4 or No. 5 back.

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Reed and Kosar Help New Canes TE Jimmy Graham

Q: Who has helped you make the transition? Any former Canes teaching you? JG: "One of the biggest helpers I've had is Bernie Kosar. I talk to him quite a bit. He's really helped me out a lot, teaching me little things. He's really been teaching me the game. He always tells me I have great hands. He talks about keeping the beginning of your route the same so people can't predict that. Also, how quickly to come out of a break and how quickly the ball is going to be on you and just getting used to that. I've also had a little help from Ed Reed, teaching me how to read defenses. You have to be able to read safeties and linebackers. It's a lot more than five people. I'm just getting used to that."

Q: What about film? Who are you studying? JG: "I've watched more films in the tight ends in the last couple months than ever before. Kellen Winslow. I've been watching a lot on Greg Olsen. Bubba Franks. Bubba was the man. The good thing is there is so much film to watch. It's not like I have to search for it. It's easy to find."

Click here to read the rest of the interview.

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Wilfork to report on time

While there continues to be no substantial movement on a new contract, Vince Wilfork [stats] will not use training camp to show his displeasure.

According to a source in the Wilfork camp, the Pro Bowl nose tackle will be at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro on Thursday for double sessions when the Patriots [team stats] officially open training camp. He will not hold out and use his absence to leverage a new deal.

Wilfork, who is entering the final year of his contract, had opted to skip the team’s voluntary organized team activies in May to send the first signal he wasn’t happy about his current contract status.

However, he stated early last month during mandatory minicamp that he had no plans of staging a holdout and would live up to his contract and meet all of his obligations. That was the plan last month.

“It’s still my decision,” Wilfork said when asked in June if his agent told him to hold out. “I’ll talk to my wife (Bianca) and see what it may be, but it’s hard to tell a guy that loves the game the way I love it to sit out. . . . Now things are happening that I need to be here for and I’m going to be here.”

The source indicated yesterday nothing had altered Wilfork’s line of thinking, and he would “be in camp 100 percent committed to his job.”

The 6-foot-2, 325-pound defensive lineman has said he would prefer getting a deal done now, rather than play the contract out and hit the open market. He doesn’t want to tempt himself with the possibility of being lured elsewhere.
“I want to get locked up because I don’t want to go on the free market. It’s a possibility if I reach that part I won’t be here, and I don’t want that to happen,” Wilfork said last month. “That’s why I’m doing everything in my will power to stick around, get something done before the end of this season.

“I’m pretty sure the Patriots are going to do the same thing. There’s no bad blood here. I know the Krafts are the same way. They know what kind of player and person I am.”

Wilfork has claimed to not be seeking Albert Haynesworth money ($100 million for seven years, with $41 million guaranteed from the Washington Redskins). At minimum, he’s probably looking for $7 million a year and $20 million guaranteed.

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Might be time to trust in Burrell on your Fantasy Team

Pat Burrell, OF, Rays: When a guy in his early 30s has hit at least 29 homers for four straight seasons, you're expecting more than six dingers through the first three months of the season. But Burrell had a nasty neck injury that he tried to play through all year, and only now is there evidence of him starting to get back to being his old self. If you need average, you're barking up the wrong Ray, but with three homers this month, he's back to a power pace he's had for his entire career. I expect another dozen homers between now and the end of September, and I bet they can be had cheap.