NFL U Family - Photo of the Week

Here is Reggie Wayne and Ed Reed relaxing before taking part in the 2007 Pro Bowl game in Hawaii which featured 8 proCanes: Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Frank Gore, Sean Taylor, Jeremy Shockey and the late Sean Taylor.

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Watch Leon Searcy & Richard Mercier Talk VT, Oklahoma and More!

No WIlfork At Practice

Just got back from Pats practice, and the only two players not in attendance for the media portion (the first 10-15 minutes) were nose tackle Vince Wilfork and linebacker Jerod Mayo — wide receiver Wes Welker was in attendance. The practice was held on the lower fields outside of Gillette Stadium in full pads. Tom Brady was wearing pink cleats and Randy Moss had pink gloves, part of a breast cancer awareness initiative that will be taking place around the NFL this weekend.

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A Year Later, Shockey Is Fitting In

METAIRIE, La. — It took one year, two injuries and zero touchdowns for tight end Jeremy Shockey to feel comfortable here.

In 2008, after the Giants traded him to New Orleans, Shockey suffered from a sports hernia and an ankle injury and a touchdown drought. He still caught 50 passes in 12 games, but he was not the player that Sean Payton, the offensive coordinator for the Giants in Shockey’s rookie season in 2002, had traded for.

“This game’s hard enough,” Shockey said Wednesday in the Saints’ locker room. “If you’re not healthy, it makes it superhard. Being hurt last year, it wasn’t a good feeling. But in the same sense, I got to step back.”

Then Shockey pointed at the group of reporters surrounding him. He picked one in particular, zeroed in, looked him in the eye.

“That’s the way the game is,” Shockey said, laughing by that point. “If everyone was healthy the whole time, you’d probably be playing.”

Same old Shockey. Only last season’s injuries ended up helping him transition from the Giants to the Saints. Shockey was hurt the majority of training camp last season, leaving little time to build trust or rapport with Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

Asked to assess their relationship Wednesday, Brees said, “It has come a long way.”

Shockey has already scored twice this season, while catching 14 passes for 128 yards in an offense in which the undefeated Saints spread the ball around. On Sunday, against a banged-up Jets secondary, Shockey should figure prominently in the game plan.

It was Payton who wanted Shockey in New Orleans. And it is Payton who is most pleased with his tight end’s progress.

“He’s healthy now,” Payton said. “I’d rather have a player that’s passionate about what he’s doing. He comes here in the morning, and it’s all football. Bring me a bunch of those guys.”

With the Giants, Shockey used to play the Jets each preseason, some years with a regular-season game mixed in. But these are not the Jets that he remembers. These Jets have a new coach (Rex Ryan), a new quarterback (Mark Sanchez), and they practice in New Jersey instead of New York.

Shockey said his injuries had not changed his go-for-broke, physical playing style. He praised Saints fans, who met the team at the Saints’ facility at 1 a.m. last week after they returned from their win at Buffalo.

The real intriguing Shockey matchup comes two weeks from Sunday, though. That is when, after a bye week, Shockey and the Saints host the Giants here.

“All of them,” Shockey said, when asked which of his former teammates he most looked forward to seeing. “I’ll shake all their hands and wish them good luck.”

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Edgerrin James helped show current RB Joseph Addai right NFL approach

Joseph Addai said he doesn't recall who reached out to who, exactly. A running back for the Indianapolis Colts, Addai remembers few details of precisely how he got to know Edgerrin James.

Addai said he just remembers one day admiring and respecting a player who preceded him in his position, a player who became an NFL star when Addai was a sophomore . . . in high school.

The next day, it seemed to Addai, they were communicating by text and speaking by telephone.

But Addai said that they communicated -- that James spent time in 2006 to speak with and counsel Addai during the latter's rookie season -- taught him a lot.

It taught him a lot about the NFL, and how a player should approach his place in it.

Addai said it taught him something else, too:

That respect Addai had given him all those years? As it turned out, James deserved every bit.

"This is the guy who they brought me in to try to replace and he's helping me out," Addai said Thursday.

Addai, a 1,000-rusher in 2006 and 2007 who is now in his fourth NFL season, spoke this week as the Colts prepared to play the Seattle Seahawks Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis. The game will be the first for James against the Colts since he left as a free agent in February 2006, his first time playing in front of fans who watched the No. 4 overall selection in the 1999 NFL Draft win two NFL rushing titles and make four Pro Bowls.

But around the Colts, James is about more than numbers. Colts President Bill Polian said this week he expects James will get a deserved ovation Sunday, and Colts QB Peyton Manning -- with whom James and Marvin Harrison formed the Colts' version of the Triplets  from 1999-2005 -- said this week the importance of James to the Colts' current run of success shouldn't be underestimated.

James, in a very real sense, remained a member of the Colts even after his departure. Colts Owner and Chief Executive Officer Jim Irsay awarded James a Super Bowl XLI ring even though James had left following the previous season, and Irsay has spoken fondly of James, who almost certainly will be placed in the team's Ring of Honor soon after his retirement.

One reason for the team's affectionate attitude toward James was the class and honesty with with James carried himself off the field, and it was that side of James Addai said he saw shortly upon being selected by the Colts in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft.

This was a little more than two months following James' departure, and Addai said James immediately took a mentoring role on the field and off.

"That speaks a lot about him," Addai said. "I still talk to him to this day. Having somebody like him who had been doing it well -- that means a lot."

Addai said he and James talked multiple times after he was drafted, then the two spent time together the following February as the Colts prepared to play the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI in James' native South Florida.

Addai recalls James saying during that time:

"Joe, if you're going to make a decision, run it across me first."

"Just little stuff like that -- not always about football . . . life," Addai said. "You have someone you can always go to -- it's good."

Addai said the two communicated shortly before the season, and that he was happy James signed with Seattle. Their relationship, he said, is an "ongoing thing" and one he said speaks to how veterans should approach yoing players in the NFL.

"The NFL is tough," Addai said. "You have to adjust to the lifestyle and when you have someone older who has been doing it, that helps out a lot. To have someone to say, 'This is what you should do; think about this; if you need advice, call me' . . . that feels good. I don't care how tough you are, or whatever, if you have an older guy help you out, it always makes things easier."

Asked if he was surprised James handled the situation as he did, Addai pointed to the nearby locker of RB Donald Brown, the Colts' first-round selection in the 2009 NFL Draft and a player with whom Addai is sharing carries this season.

"I wouldn't say surprised, because if I was in his (James') shoes, I'd do the same thing," Addai said. "But if we lookat society, when someone's taking someone's job, the other person doesn't like it. That's what society tells you, but me myself? I would do the same thing. Donald, he comes and asks me questions and I say, 'Look, ask them. I'm going to give it to you,' because regardless of jealously, at the end of the day, football is going to stop at some point in time. Life is going to keep going. Why mess a potential friend through football because you feel like, 'Oh, this is the person they're trying to bring in to take your job.' It shouldn't be that way. The ultimate goal is to win games.

"I'm the older guy, so I'm trying to help him out -- the same thing that Edge did for me, and the same thing (former Colts RB) Dom (Rhodes) did. It's likea chain. You have to do it.

"It wouldn't be right if I didn't do that."

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Tom Brady, Ed Reed in thinking man’s matchup

FOXBORO - In the moments before the ball is snapped on Sunday at Gillette Stadium, two of the brightest, hardest-working minds in football will be churning.

Behind the center will be Tom Brady [stats], the Patriots [team stats] quarterback who has used a cerebral approach to become one of the most efficient players in the game’s history.

In the center of the defense will be Ed Reed, the Baltimore Ravens do-it-all safety who has been baiting passers into throwing him the ball since 2002.

Brady will spot Reed, because the QB said, “You don’t break the huddle and think, ‘Let’s just run this play without seeing where he’s at.’ ”

And Reed will be focusing on Brady’s tells, attempting to figure out where the play is headed.

“It’s all a game inside the game,” Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said.

Some have called it chess, and Reed acknowledged, “I (do) play chess.”

Reed will again on Sunday when the Patriots host the Ravens in one of the week’s marquee matchups. The showdown between the stars should be just as intriguing.

Reed and Brady both have spent their careers reacting before their opponents. Both have the tools to make it work.
“It will be fun to watch before the snap and after the snap,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.

Brady is a two-time Super Bowl MVP, the 2007 regular-season MVP and owner of the best touchdown-to-interception ratio of all time.

Reed is a five-time Pro Bowler, the 2004 defensive player of the year, and twice the NFL leader in interceptions with nine.

“I was hoping that he’d take this week off,” Brady said of Reed. “Every team goes into the game thinking, we’re not throwing Ed Reed interceptions.”

This is what linebacker Terrell Suggs, Reed’s teammate, said about Brady: “He’s one hell of a quarterback. We have our hands full.”

Both Brady and Reed have options to counter the other. Not one of those options is enticing.

Reed will always be around the ball. When he makes a pick, he’s a threat to run it back for a score, as evidenced by his 11 career touchdowns.

At times, he’ll appear to be freelancing, leading some quarterbacks to try to attack.

“And then he’s there right where he should be, playing his responsibility,” Brady said. “There are guys that guess, but he’s a guesser that always gets it right. It’s not guessing, it’s more knowing.”

If Brady tries to pump-fake, it may be a waste of time because Reed won’t bite. And when there is pressure, “He’s sitting on routes and jumping on them,” Brady said.

No worries. Brady is just as frustrating.

Harbaugh noticed Brady’s patience, and he wasn’t alone. Lewis said that if a defense is trying to disguise and shield what it’s doing, Brady will simply wait.

“Tom takes a lot of time at the line of scrimmage trying to get an idea as to what you’re (defense is) in before the snap,” Harbaugh said. “Then he’s as good as anybody just figuring out what you’re calling and getting the ball in the hands of his playmakers.”

What can the Ravens do to prevent Brady from finding wide receiver Randy Moss and Co.?

“I’ll stand still just like I am right now, like I’m doing an interview,” Reed said, laughing with his local reporters. “No, we give him some movement, but for the most part it’s pretty laid out on what we do on tape.”

Bill Belichick lauds Brady when the opportunity presents itself. After coaching Reed at a recent Pro Bowl, the Pats coach doesn’t mind voicing his opinion that the Ravens safety is the best at his position.

“He’s a rare, rare player, as good as any I’ve ever seen,” Belichick said. “He’s always around the ball and that’s usually bad for the offense.”

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Edgerrin James returns to Indy

Business has taken former Indianapolis Colts running back Edgerrin James a long way away from what's truly important to him.

He's a backup with the Seattle Seahawks, a role that will last at least the next three months.

He's the father of four forever. Never mind his brood is nestled on the other end of the country, more than 3,000 miles away in Naples, Fla.

James' houses are in order because he has kept his priorities straight. He's away from the daily happenings of his kids -- they're under the watchful eyes of James' mother, Julie, an aunt and a nephew -- but he's hardly an absentee dad.

"I'm on the phone with them nonstop," James said during a phone interview from Seattle ahead of Sunday's visit to Lucas Oil Stadium to face his former team. "We have a sweet setup at the house. I know they're well taken care of.

"I'm going to be hands on. I don't want to blow it as a parent."

It's family and football, in that order, for a 31-year-old who quietly and relentlessly has forged a career that one day could land him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"Doesn't surprise me at all," said running backs coach Gene Huey, who worked with James during his record-setting seven-year career in Indianapolis and is in his 18th year with the Colts. "He follows the beat of his own drum, which is a good beat.

"He's done it the right way, on and off the field."

James: the player
James set the bar high shortly after the Colts made him the fourth overall pick in the 1999 draft, much to the consternation of the local fan base. They wanted Ricky Williams, the Heisman Trophy winner from Texas. They got the other dreadlocked running back, the more complete player out of the University of Miami.

James recalled one of his first interviews with the local media.

"I said I wanted to be one of the best that ever played the game," he recalled.


"I'm in that ballpark, and I'm only 31 years old," James said.

He ranks No. 11 on the all-time list with 12,164 yards and needs 576 to move past Tony Dorsett into the No. 7 slot. He's a two-time league rushing champion and one of only four running backs in NFL history to rush for at least 1,500 yards four times.

Never a true breakaway threat, James was a grinder. He moved the chains, broke the will of defenses.

"He'd just wear you down so much, the defense," quarterback Peyton Manning said. "By that fourth quarter, you remember so many games where they just said, 'I'm tired of tackling this guy.' "

The Colts decided following the 2005 season it was time to get younger at the position and allowed James to become a free agent. He eventually signed with the Arizona Cardinals, but only after setting Colts records for rushing yards in a career (9,226), season (1,709) and game (219).

Huey appreciated what he had with James, and knew what the team would be missing.

"Probably one of the finest human beings I've ever been around," he said. "One of the most unselfish athletes I've ever coached.

"He helped us win."

James has yet to make a similar impact in Seattle. He has just 43 yards on 17 carries while learning the offense.
Before signing James, coach Jim Mora did his due diligence. He called his father, who coached James with the Colts from 1999-2001.

"My dad, when we were getting ready to sign him, said, 'You'll love this guy,' " Mora said. "He told me he's one of his favorite players of all time, and people of all time.

"And he doesn't disappoint. He rallies guys . . . he's always imparting wisdom."

James: the parent
Andia Wilson, James' girlfriend since their high school days in Immokalee, gave him four children -- Edquisha, 12; Eyahna, 8; Edgerrin Jr., 4; and Euro, 2. They never married but remained close.

In April, Wilson died after a long battle with leukemia. James was there in a Tampa hospital room when she passed. So were the kids.

He's still there for the kids, even from a distance.

A free agent after being released by the Cardinals, James made certain he got things in order in Naples before pursuing his next NFL stop. He moved his mom into his Naples residence to help raise the kids. A cousin and nephew didn't blink when James asked them to pitch in. All it takes is a phone call for a couple of aunts to stop by.
The Seahawks wanted James to report to training camp Aug. 23. He told them it would have to wait. Aug. 24 was Monday, the first day of school in Naples. Wilson always had taken care of getting the kids to school. Now, it was a responsibility James embraced.

"That was super important for me, to be there for their first day of school," he said. "Then I could go play football."
James was raised by his mother, with heavy influence from his grandmother, Annie Lee, and occasional input from his father, Edward German. Edgerrin was tempted by the drugs and violence in poverty-stricken Immokalee but never yielded to either.

Too often, James has witnessed how the lack of a father figure has affected children, particularly daughters.

"I have daughters and as an African-American, it's really big time to be there for them," he said. "You see girls doin' whatever it takes to get by and a lot of times it's because the father isn't taking care of his responsibilities.

"They're not able to help their daughters along the way and they make a lot of mistakes and they have to pay for those mistakes. I don't want my daughters or my kids to be like that. I want to be there every step of the way and make sure they're raised the right way."

James' future is secure. He has earned more than $75 million during his 11-year career. His kids will have every opportunity to make something of themselves.

"I'm going to put them in the best possible position to have success," he said. "I'll see to that. I'm not going to slack off. I'm not going to miss a beat."

James: the giver
Huey was exposed to James' benevolence whenever he visited Immokalee. He saw the community-wide pitch-ins James orchestrated, how he interacted with the youngsters.

Almost every summer, James takes a busload of kids to Disney World. This summer, he chartered a bus, loaded it with South Florida youngsters and spent a week in Washington, D.C., to commemorate Barack Obama's election as president.

Several years ago, James' compassion hit Huey on a personal level. Huey's mother had died early on a Friday, yet he reported to work later that morning. The topic of the running backs meeting that day revolved around Huey's loss.

At one point, James casually asked how much a funeral cost.

"I said funerals can cost five or 10 thousand dollars," Huey said. "We just sat there and talked some more, then we broke up and got ready for practice. I didn't think much more about it."

Then Huey returned to his office, an envelope was on his desk. Enclosed was a check from James to pay the funeral expenses.

"A sizable check," Huey said.

Huey never cashed the check but kept it as a memento of James' "generosity and heartfelt concern for me.

"He never said another word to me about it. That's the way he operates."

With his priorities straight.

Some of the more memorable comments from the free-speaking Edgerrin James during his seven-year stint with the Colts:

"The ad people want me to clean up my grammar, my speech, my look, my image. But I've got a saying: 'It's real easy to be me; it's too hard to be someone else.' "
-- 2000, about why he had no desire to get rid of his gold teeth and dreadlocks

"I only went to college for 21/2 years, but I think I know the meaning of the word voluntary."
-- 2001, after being criticized for not participating in the team's voluntary offseason program

"I want my momma to enjoy being able to live. I'm her prayer. I've seen her cry a thousand times. No more."
-- 2001, about taking care of his mother, Julie James

"I'll be a tourist, full time. Just do whatever. You know tourists. They don't know where they're going, but they're having a good time."
-- 2003, about his plans when he retires

"The closest I'm going to get to Tokyo is Benihana."
-- 2005, about his reluctance to accompany the team to Tokyo for a preseason game. He went

"I'm part of the solution; I'm not part of the problem. It's crazy."
-- 2006, when it became clear the Colts would not re-sign him

James: Atop the charts
How Edgerrin James ranks among the Colts' and NFL career leaders:
Rushing yards
1. James 9,226
2. Lydell Mitchell 5,487
3. Marshall Faulk 5,320
4. Eric Dickerson 5,194
5. Lenny Moore 5,174

Rushing yards
1. Emmitt Smith 18,355
2. Walter Payton 16,726
3. Barry Sanders 15,269
4. Curtis Martin 14,101
5. Jerome Bettis 13,662
6. Eric Dickerson 13,259
7. Tony Dorsett 12,739
8. Jim Brown 12,312
9. Marshall Faulk 12,279
10. Marcus Allen 12,243
11. James 12,164

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Belichick heaps praise on Reed

Q: Can you talk about Ed Reed and the mind games he plays?
Bill Belichick: I don't think there's anybody any better in the game, or I've seen anybody any better than Ed Reed in terms of disguise, ability to read the quarterback. [He can] anticipate plays, sometimes it's route, sometimes it's formations, sometimes it's what the quarterback's doing. And on top of all that, he's got a tremendous burst and acceleration to the football, great hands, timing and ball skills. When you put it all together, he gets around a lot of balls. I think the quarterback has to know every time that ball leaves his hand where Ed Reed is because that guys makes ... He can play sideline to sideline. Usually, you feel better in two-deep defenses than one-deep, but really with Ed Reed back there, I think you almost feel better in one-deep because he can cover the whole field by himself, and you don't have to worry about the other guy covering half of it. He really can handle the whole thing back there. When I was in Hawaii with him for a week at the Pro Bowl and got a chance to work with him - I mean, I know it was the Pro Bowl, but work with him on a daily basis in practice, and really watch him up close, and tell him what to do, and watch him do it, and that type of thing -- that was even more impressive. He's a rare, rare player at that position, as good as any I've ever seen. I know there are a lot of guys that have had a lot of interceptions there, the Paul Krause's and the Darren Sharper's, guys that I'm not taking anything away from them. But this guy, he can do it all back there. He can play corner if they want him to play corner. He blocks kicks. He returns kicks. He returns interceptions for touchdowns. He scoops up interceptions for touchdowns. He's always around the ball and that's usually bad for the offense when he is. He's a great football player.

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Peyton Manning: Edgerrin James critical to decade-long run of success

Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning has been crucial to one of the most successful eras in recent NFL history. But Manning said Wednesday afternoon the importance of another player -- one who will make his first appearance in Indianapolis Sunday in more than three years -- shouldn't be overlooked.

That player?

Former Colts running back Edgerrin James.

James, the No. 4 overall selection by the Colts in the 1999 NFL Draft, played seven seasons with Indianapolis, leading the NFL in rushing in 1999 and 2000 and making the Pro Bowl in 1999-2000 and 2004-2005. He spent 2006-2008 with Arizona and signed with Seattle shortly before the season. When the Colts play host to the Seahawks Sunday, it will be the first time since a 21-18 playoff loss to Pittsburgh in January 2006 that James has played in Indianapolis.

It also will be James' first game against the Colts since his departure. 

“It's always different when you're playing against a guy,” said Manning, who along with James and former Colts WR Marvin Harrison formed Indianapolis' version of the Triplets from 1999-2005. "Everybody's very competitive. I'm happy the fans will get to see him. When we've had some former players come back, our fans always have given them a warm reception. . . . I have to believe it will be one of the most memorable ex-Colts coming back to play here in recent times.

“I know the fans will be excited to see him. It will be good to have him back in Indianapolis.”

Manning said James' addition was critical not only to the Colts' offensive development, but its success this decade. The team went 3-13 in 1998, then 13-3 in his rookie season.

“Edgerrin was the key to our running game, and really our offense kind of becoming what it was,” Manning said. “They had to play the run every single play. All of a sudden the buzzword kind of got out about our play action. We had these great fakes and all these plays down the field.

“It was because No. 32 was back there. It wasn't just because 'some guy' was back there. . . . He was really one of the pillars to getting the Colts turned around and helping us become a winning franchise and having teams respect the Colts more.”

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Vilma is pumped to meet old team

Turns out Saints veteran safety Darren Sharper was good for a quote or two on the conference call today with Jets beat writers. How about that?

Sharper, who was our guest after five other player requests were turned down by the Saints, gave us this little nugget about ex-Jets LB Jonathan Vilma.

``People say, `Someone's garbage is another person's treasure,'' said Sharper. ``We feel like J,V. is a treasure for us because he's a perfect fit for the style of defense we want to run. He's a guy that can get to the football, get up and down the line and is a great leader.

``I know he's going to have a little bit of extra motivation and extra incentive in playing a team that drafted him. He's definitely looking forward to playing this game. We're more than happy to have Vilma here leading our defense.''

Vilma, who was an ill-fit in former coach Eric Mangini's 3-4 scheme and was traded to the Saints before the 2008 season, was one of the players we requested and were denied.

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Giants' Phillips expects long rehab after knee surgery

Kenny Phillips had surgery Tuesday to relieve some of the pain from patellofemoral arthritis in his right knee, a condition that put him on injured reserve last week. Dr. James Andrews performed the surgery in Alabama.

"This kind of injury takes a long time to heal," Phillips wrote on his Web site. "It's a long process, I can't even run for four to five months. It's going to be a while before I'm back to 100 percent."

Patellofemoral arthritis is a condition many experts have said could be career-threatening. Microfracture surgery was considered as an option, and judging by his description of the lengthy recovery time that's likely what occurred. The condition cannot be cured or fixed, but surgery can alleviate some of the pain he's likely to suffer for the rest of his career.

Phillips wrote that he won’t be able to be near the team on game days.

"I won’t be at the games on the sidelines. I’ll probably watch at home on TV," he said. "But I’ll be at the facility first thing tomorrow to start my rehab. Nothing major at first, just icing and massages. I might get off these crutches in about 8 weeks."

The Giants don’t believe the injury will be career-threatening, and neither does Phillips.

"I’m going to make a speedy recovery, and I’ll be back better than ever next year," Phillips wrote. "Keep believing and pray for me."

Phillips said he plans on being at the Giants' facility Thursday to begin his long rehabilitation.

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General Manager of the Bears Jerry Angelo Discusses Signing Darrell McClover

LM: Why did the Bears re-sign linebacker Darrell McClover rather than pursuing a more experienced veteran at the position after Hunter Hillenmeyer injured his rib against the Seahawks, and how close is injured strongside linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa to returning?
JA: We signed Darrell McClover for special teams purposes as what we did with Tim Shaw because Nick Roach and Jamar Williams got promoted as starters. Pisa will be back here shortly—if not this week then after our bye week against Atlanta. In the event that he and Hunter aren’t ready to go this week, then Jamar and Nick will be our starters. That would take them off special teams, so we needed a player to replace them in that area.

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Will James expected to replace Buchanon

Will James is expected to start for the Lions at right cornerback again on Sunday, replacing Phillip Buchanon.

Buchanon has been the scapegoat for Detroit's secondary woes. The Lions are allowing quarterbacks to complete a ridiculous 75% of their throws, while getting nothing from their sub-package DBs. Expect a big day for Jay Cutler.

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Ray Lewis on injury: 'Everything is cool'

Three days after suffering a stinger, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said, “Everything is cool.”

Lewis was injured when he collided with teammate Haloti Ngata. After laying on his back for a minute, he was helped to the sideline. But Lewis missed only one play before returning.

“The bottom line is if it’s going to exist, it’s going to exist,” he said. “So, you can sit out five plays or just come back after one. The symptoms … I was going to have the rest of the day anyway. I just dealt with them.”

Ravens coach John Harbaugh again declined to name the players who sustained concussions in Sunday’s 34-3 win over the Cleveland Browns. He said it would be announced on the team’s injury report this afternoon.

Starting linebacker Tavares Gooden said he has a mild concussion from Sunday’s game.

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Irvin makes comeback on Dancing with the Stars, impresses judges

Call him “the comeback kid.” Michael Irvin took his unlucky 13 points from last week's mediocre performance on Dancing with the Stars and convinced the judges and voters that he was worth another week.

In hot pink attire, Irvin and his partner Anna Demidova confidently danced the quickstep on Monday night, receiving a score of 20. Irvin had been an audience favorite from the beginning, but this week he also won the judges' praise. Guest judge Baz Luhrmann, sitting in for Len Goodman, called Irvin a “natural performer” with “great charm.” Judge Carrie Ann Inaba admired Irvin and Demidova's ability to work together as a team. (But watch out for that weird tongue thing, Luhrmann said. He was right.)

It's the footballer in Irvin that will keep him going. His competitive spirit is contagious and has won the hearts of voters at home. Irvin told his partner they would practice in the brand-new facility until 5 a.m. if that's what it took, later promising, “I am going to attack the quickstep.” Attack he might not have done, but he has certainly improved and performed it well.

He knew it too -- a big thumbs up immediately following the performance proved he had shaken off the first week jitters and scored himself his first touchdown.

Irvin was pronounced safe on Tuesday night, as was an injured Tom DeLay. DeLay seemed for sure a candidate for the bottom three, but instead, actress Debi Mazar, snowboarder Louie Vito, and entrepreneur Kathy Ireland were in jeopardy of leaving the show.

But they couldn't tell you right then who would be leaving. They instead filled the space with two performances from Joss Stone -- in one, she was wearing a swanky black dress barefoot and was accompanied by overpowering back-up singers with strange dance moves. Then came Disney Channel star Selena Gomez, then a marching band/break dancer/step show from the USC Trojan Marching Band. And then Joss Stone again.

The three performers who are really killing the competition are singer with no last name Mya, Aaron Carter, and (we hate to say it, but) Donny Osmond. These three got the highest votes from the audience and judges, and were some of the first to be pronounced safe. Irvin is still middle-of-the-pack in terms of dancing ability, but his audience charm will likely keep this big-name Cowboy on the roster.

“We can go as far as prayer, hard work, and those voters can take us,” Irvin said. Sweet.

In the end, Ireland was pronounced the week's weakest link. She elegantly accepted the news as only she could. “I wouldn't change a moment of it,” she said.

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Two Years After Sean Taylor's Death, His Mother Faces a Wall of Hardship

HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Donna Junor sported a flowing print dress, bejeweled flip-flops and manicured orange nails when she answered the door last week at the three-bedroom townhouse she fears she will lose to foreclosure.

Her sporty but aging Mercedes-Benz, the one with the "Sean 21" tag, was parked just outside the door. The living room featured plush red furniture and a brightly colored area rug. In the dining room, just below the airbrushed portrait of her son -- the late Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor -- sat a neatly set dining table with cloth napkins.

When she could afford it, Junor, 49, lived a nice, comfortable life. Her son made sure of that, handing out massive checks, even gift bags filled with tens of thousands of dollars, to family members. Now, those days are long gone.

When Taylor died without a will on Nov. 27, 2007, the bulk of his $5.8 million estate went to his daughter, Jackie Taylor, now 3, who lives with her mother, Taylor's high school sweetheart, Jackie Garcia, in Coral Gables, Fla. Taylor's mother did not get a penny. Nor did his grandmother, great-grandmother, two of his half-siblings or any of the cousins or relatives who had grown accustomed to his largesse.

In Junor's case, she was left with possessions that carry costs and fees that she says exceed her income as a substitute teacher. She could not pay the real-estate taxes last year on the townhouse she bought in 2005 with $222,000 her son had given her. Another tax bill is due at the end of November. She hasn't paid her homeowners association dues in months. The lawyers have begun chasing.

"I'm not looking for a handout, but I just don't think when you have a son in the NFL who was so progressive, his mother should end up this way," Junor said. "I don't feel I should be left out in the cold like this."

Taylor died a day after suffering a gunshot wound while confronting burglars in his south Miami home. After his estate was settled, Taylor's father Pedro "Pete" Taylor, who shared a bank account with his son, received the $328,000 remaining in the joint account. Pete Taylor has long been estranged from Junor.

An additional $650,000 from a life insurance policy went to Taylor's eldest sister, Monika Martin, 29, one of Junor's four children.

Though the money represented just a small portion of Taylor's estate, it provided a significant financial cushion to two members of his extended family, neither of whom, at least formally, has spread the wealth. Anything short of the generosity Taylor showed during his life likely would have been met with resentment from the family members left out of the settlement. Indeed, a family divided long before Sean Taylor's birth -- Pete Taylor and Donna Junor did not raise their son together -- seems to have grown further apart since he died.

"People do change, even though she's my daughter," Junor said about Martin, who has two small children. But "what about Pete? . . . Sean's daughter was supposed to get what she got, but the injustice is Pete. Whatever he got of Sean's savings, he should share."

Pete Taylor declined to comment. Reached by phone, Monika Martin said she did not know the extent of her mother's financial woes, but she said she had previously taken some of the insurance money "and helped my mom with it." A significant cut of the insurance money, she said, went to pay taxes.

Four months after her brother's death, Martin, a schoolteacher, purchased a $300,000 home.

She said she understood the frustration over the way her late brother's assets were distributed. "I don't think everything went fairly, either," Martin said. "That's life. . . . I know [Taylor] would have wanted it to be different.
"All of us, we all were spoiled by him. The reality is, he's not here anymore. The reality is, we didn't always have money. . . . I don't think the reality has hit" my mother.

Reality hit when the letter from the homeowners association's attorneys came recently, informing Junor that legal action would be taken against her in 30 days if she did not settle the balance on her account. The letter indicates that she owes more than $1,400 in association fees; she said she also owes more than $3,000 in unpaid real-estate taxes with another $3,000 due soon.

After 14 years of part-time classes at Miami-Dade Community College, Junor finally got her degree this year. But, she said, she has not been able to find regular, full-time work as a teacher. She lives with her daughter Sasha Johnson, 22, and Johnson's baby, Christopher, 1.

It isn't just her son's wealth that bypassed Junor; she said she doesn't have any of his memorabilia, either. All of it either was auctioned to raise money for the estate, or, she says, collected by Taylor's father or fiancée, Garcia.
Junor says she knows her son took good care of Garcia, whom he dated at Gulliver Prep and the University of Miami. She produced a copy of a certified check for $400,000 that Taylor had written to Garcia, a niece of actor Andy Garcia's, a month before his death. He also gave her a $200,000 check for their baby's account. Garcia did not respond to an interview request.

"I'm hoping somebody gets some kind of conscience and tries to help her financially," said Joan Martin, an aunt of Junor's. "A lot of times when I speak to Donna, I get tears to my eyes because I know how she cared for her children. . . . I'm very angry about the situation."

So much did not go as planned. Taylor died after attempting to defend the $900,000 home he had bought largely for his family; the house has been padlocked and uninhabited since his death, and is in the process of foreclosure. Just a month before he died, Taylor had given his half-sister Sasha Johnson and half-brother Jamal Johnson, 20, bags of $10,000 in cash; both promptly showed off the money to friends, including a man by the name of Jason Scott Mitchell. Mitchell faces possible life in prison in connection with the burglary attempt that led to Taylor's death.

"I don't have a brother anymore," Sasha Johnson said. "I don't care about money. I never did."

At her mother's house, Johnson made lunch, washed dishes in the sink, and spoke little as her mother spoke about her financial situation. Eventually, Johnson went upstairs and produced a cardboard box from her bedroom filled with mementos of her late brother.

In her high school graduation card, Taylor addressed her as "little sister" and then, in parenthesis, "prom queen." She showed off an autographed jersey and keepsakes from restaurants they visited and trips they took. She smiled when recalling fishing trips to the Keys during which they sat under bridges, having fun and catching few fish.
She grew quiet, though, when asked about the decisions her sister, Martin, made with the insurance money she received.

"That's life," she said. "That's my sister. I love her regardless. . . . It's money. It's not an issue. It comes and goes, and that's what tears families apart."

Jamal Johnson said he, too, doesn't care about money, but feels for his mother's plight. "She's the mother," he said. "That's her son. I feel she should be compensated in some kind of way."

As for himself? "When [Sean Taylor] was around, he gave me money, but I'm not looking for anything," he said. "I ain't in no financial [trouble]. I'm still young."

Junor said she doesn't want to be forced out of the home she owns. She doesn't want to move, and doesn't want to sell it. "Where would I go?" she said. She said she would be satisfied with merely "catching me up" on her bills, but she doesn't know where she will find the cash.

"Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought at [49], I would be worrying about these types of things."

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Mets to Keep Alex Cora

According to Adam Rubin of the Daily News, the Mets are likely to re-sign Alex Cora to be their back-up middle infielder.

Cora, who had season-ending surgery on both of his thumbs, hit .251 with a .320 OBP in 82 games for the Mets this season.

He didn’t have a sensational season, but, i believe he is the type of player who fans are unable to judge, because his true value may be in the clubhouse, and on the bench, not on the field… so, i can handle him being re-signed…

The thing is, omar, please, do not pull a Marlon Anderson, or a Julio Franco, and box yourself in to a corner by giving him an unnecessary, two-year deal, because you felt you had to overpay to keep him… he’s valuable, but he’s not that valuable…

Cora hit .417 in 16 plate appearances as a pinch hitter this season, while batting .243 in the 67 games that he started.

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NFL U Week 3 Photos

Check out Week 3 photos from around the the NFL of our proCanes. Click here to see the photos.

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NFL U Rosters Update - September 29

Check out the latest update to the 2009 NFL U Rosters. There is a new addition and some subtractions since our last update. You can also check out the MLB, and CFL rosters. Click here to see the proCane rosters.

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Raheem Morris calls out Winslow, again

At a time when many (like us) are questioning whether Browns coach Eric Mangini might lose his players by privately fining them, we think it's fair to wonder whether Bucs coach Raheem Morris might lose his players by publicly calling them out.

Most noticeably, Morris seemingly questioned the desire of tight end Kellen Winslow on a third-down play from the first drive of Sunday's 24-0 loss to the Giants.

On a play that needed five yards for a first down, Winslow (per the Tampa Tribune) caught the ball short of the sticks, moved horizontally and then reached the ball out with his arm.

Winslow came up a yard short.

Morris, on Monday, let his disappointment with Winslow's effort be known.

"Should he have squared his shoulders and tried to get the first down?" Morris said.  "Yes.  Yes.  He has to.  We all do.  We all have to have that want-to."

Indeed, it wouldn't have been the first time that Morris had choice words for Winslow and Winslow alone.  In early August, Morris said that Winslow is "too up and down emotonally."

Still, it was the Bucs who sent a second-round pick to the Browns for Winslow, and it was the Bucs who gave him a big contract with a lot of guaranteed money.  It's not as if Winslow had been a model citizen (or a stoic) during the first five years of his career, so the Buccaneers arguably knew or should have known what they were getting themselves into.

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Bears bring back Commando for special teams help

In another sign that the Bears believe they will be healed up soon at linebacker, the club has made a roster move at the position with an eye toward special teams and not the defense.

That means Derrick Brooks is not coming to town. Instead, veteran linebacker Darrell McClover has been brought in for the second time in just more than a month, according to a source close to the player. McClover was signed by the team and takes the place of DeAngelo Smith, who was claimed off waivers from the Cleveland Browns two weeks ago. The Chicago Tribune first reported Smith would be cut. McClover can help on special teams immediately, an area that has been thinned out because of the injuries at linebacker. The Bears signed Tim Shaw was as a young guy who could come in and help out on special teams after Brian Urlacher was lost for the season. McClover can also do that and he's probably more familiar with the defense than Shaw.

McClover was the sixth linebacker the team kept on the roster last year. He appeared in 10 games but was placed on injured reserve in late November with a pulled hamstring. He produced 14 tackles on special teams and added a blocked punt. McClover made 36 special teams tackles in 28 games for the Bears from 2006 to 2008, earning the nickname "Commando" from teammates. He had a tryout with the Houston Texans during the offseason, and then was brought in for the final two preseason games where the Bears got a look at him and then made him one of the final roster cuts.

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Portis playing through painful injuries

Redskins beat writer Jason Reid doesn't believe Clinton Portis will reach 1,000 rushing yards this season.

Portis has a reputation for malingering in practice, but the bone spurs in both ankles have been extremely painful. Portis is reportedly "doing things he has never done in an effort to remain in the lineup." The 2,100 career carries are taking a serious toll on his body, and he's now in obvious decline.

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QB Jacory Harris gets advice from Ken Dorsey

CORAL GABLES - Although Hurricanes sophomore quarterback Jacory Harris doesn't want to hear about rankings or overhyped media predictions anymore, he did enjoy hearing words of encouragement from former 'Cane quarterback Ken Dorsey after he struggled in a 31-7 loss to Virginia Tech on Saturday.

"Ken Dorsey [texted] me, telling me it was just like the time he lost to Washington," Harris said. "[He said], 'You just got to get behind the team, talk to them, make sure everybody is on the right track, that we're paying attention and focused because we can't let VT beat us twice.'

"We can't worry about what Virginia Tech did last week when we're playing Oklahoma because that's when distractions [occur] and a lot of things don't go the right way.''

Dorsey was referring to a 34-29 loss to then-15th-ranked Washington in Husky Stadium on Sept. 9, 2000 in the second game of the season. The Hurricanes dropped from No. 4 to 12, but then ran the table, including a 37-20 victory over seventh-ranked Florida in the Sugar Bowl to finish 11-1.

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Greg Olsen proud to wear pink

The pink rubber wristband is always there on Greg Olsen's right arm. When he sleeps. When he showers. Even when he plays, tucked neatly beneath his glove.

"Share beauty, spread hope," it reads.

It has been there for every catch, every block and every high five.

He hasn't been without one in eight years, not since his mother Sue was diagnosed with breast cancer. His first one broke, and he quickly replaced it.

So wearing pink to support breast cancer awareness is nothing new for Olsen. But wearing pink gear (cleats, gloves, helmet decals, etc.) for a game will be.

Olsen was happy -- tickled pink, you might say -- to step forward to be part of an initiative the NFL is calling "A Crucial Catch: Annual Screening Saves Lives." Starting Sunday and continuing through the month, the league is encouraging annual mammograms for women older than 40 by having players wear pink gear.

Jay Cutler, Lance Briggs and Juaquin Iglesias also will participate for the Bears.

When Olsen was a sophomore at Wayne Hills High School in New Jersey, his mother Sue, a teacher, felt something wasn't right during a breast self-examination. She went in for tests and on May 29, 2001, her wedding anniversary, she and her husband and three sons were all together, getting ready to go out to dinner.

The phone rang. It was her doctor. The news wasn't good. She had breast cancer.

"You almost feel you are getting a death sentence," she said. "It was devastating.

"Then you realize you are going to get the best care you can, and you have the support of your family. I have three great kids and a great husband. You say, 'I can do this. I'm going to beat this.' "

First came a lumpectomy. Then chemotherapy and radiation. The treatment went on for more than one year.

"It was the first time in our early lives, me and my brothers, that we had true adversity as a family -- beyond losing a football game or basketball game or not hit the winning shot," Greg said. "It was our first and biggest ordeal as a family."

Olsen still remembers vividly when his mother starting feeling adverse effects of treatment. It was the week of 9/11, and she had to miss his first football game ever -- opening day that season.

But now the good news: 57-year-old Sue Olsen is a healthy, proud cancer survivor. She flew to Chicago to watch her son play against the Steelers a little more than two weeks ago.

"We all stuck together and by the grace of God I was able to have the treatment I needed and a great doctor," she said. "Eight years later I'm here to tell everybody to keep on fighting."

There is no doubt her illness has changed her, as it has her son. She says he is more sensitive, maybe tougher.

"It gives you perspective on what's really important," Greg said. "At that time I probably thought the most important thing was winning a game. You realize there are a lot more things that are a lot more serious in this world."

And so Olsen has carried the torch for breast cancer awareness, participating in fund-raising events and starting his own foundation, Receptions for Research. The foundation will have its first main event in Chicago, Shake the Lake Festival, Nov. 13 at Joe's Bar.

Sue Olsen says she is touched that because of her, Greg is helping to raise money to help others.

So if Olsen gets a jab or two from an opponent or teammate about his pink apparel, he won't mind.

"If it raises awareness, that's what matters," Olsen said. "People will be watching on TV and find out October is breast cancer awareness month. ... I'd like to help others any way I can."

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Portis: "I Think We Have Something Special

Well, if you had Week 3 in your "When Will Clinton Portis Snap During His Weekly Radio Interview" pool, you lose. Sorry. Still no snapping. Still the "we have talent, give it time, we have the same record as the Steelers" Portis.

Portis was on ESPN 980's John Thompson Show Tuesday afternoon, and while he had plenty of strong sound bites, he didn't sell anyone out. Well, besides Mike Sellers, when he faulted Sellers for going the wrong way on that first-quarter fourth-down play. But he said he wasn't throwing Sellers under the bus, so that doesn't count.

Doc Walker and John Thompson were virtually begging Portis to question Jim Zorn's playcalling and his use of Portis, but the running back refused, repeatedly. And for the second week in a row, he used extremely lofty words to describe the talent level on this team, talking about the players he thinks will make the Pro Bowl, for example.

"Right now we're going through a tough time," Portis said. "Will we make it out of it? Yes. Will it be difficult? I mean, it's a season. Our heads aren't down, we're not throwing in the towel. We've still got 13 games to go play. Now if we throw in the towel now, we're gonna be miserable, but I don't think nobody in that locker room is gonna throw in the towel....I'm not gonna sit and make this a me me me me, because it's not me me me me. As a team, I think we have something special and we can do something special, and I think we will do something special."

[Quotes are moderately approximate until I get a recording of the audio. Apologies.]

At the end of his appearance, after having said several times that he's fine with the playcalling, Portis finally admitted that he regularly offers suggestions to Zorn, Sherman Smith, Stump Mitchell, and even Greg Blache, "trying to get him to let me play safety" for a few plays. But he said his suggestions aren't a secret, and that they aren't surprising.

"My suggestion always is to play smashmouth; on defense let's play smashmouth, on offense let's play smashmouth," he said. "If you wonder what I'm thinking or what I want to do, that'll never change. Let's go mano-a-mano, you line up over there and we'll line up over here and let's do it....I can't answer why we [don't] do it. I wonder the same thing."

Still, he emphasized repeatedly that playcalling wasn't the issue, saying "Coach Zorn ain't playing football. His days over. He' s on the sideline calling plays, we've got to go out there and execute it."

Portis said he had no problem with the last-ditch hook-and-ladder call, and he said he had no problem with the call on that fourth-down play. He said Sellers bounced outside instead of going inside, and when Portis went inside, that apparently foiled the play.

"If me and Mike both go downhill, then you've got one person trying to stop me and Mike Sellers," Portis said. "Impossible, if you ask me. But running sideways, Mike bounced out, I went in and the guy made a play. That should be a walk-in touchdown."

But Portis added that Sellers played a great game, that he wasn't trying to throw him under the bus, and that 15 or 20 plays decided this game, not just one. He also said his ankles were as good as they've been in two years on Sunday, and that once he says he's ready to play, that means he'll take as much of the ball as the coaches want to give him.

"When I step on the field, that means Clinton Portis is ready to help the Washington Redskins," he said. "If you want me to block, I'll block my ass off. If you want me to run, I'll run my ass off. Whatever you want me to do, that's what I'm gonna do."

As for the media and fan firestorm, Portis again said he understands that in a bad economy, people are looking for something better than this. He compared the demand for instant results to the demands that voters are making of President Obama, and said in both cases patience is necessary. He said he even heard a woman in the Four Seasons complaining about the Redskins' struggles.

"All of the sudden we suck, we're the worst team in the NFL because we lost to the Lions," he said, summarizing the reactions around town. "The Lions got good players, man. We're 1-2, there's a lot of teams that are 1-2. We're in a situation we'd rather not be in. Have we ever started out 1-2? Yes we have. Is it a situation we can get ourselves out of? Yes, we can....

"People can't get caught up in hype. I think we're in a [big] media market, and at this point in time every story that come out in the media is we suck, we're horrible, we're overpaid, we're this, we're that. Every team in the NFL got talent and they've got playmakers. Detroit made plays and we didn't....

"I think the belief in players there. I think we're spreading the ball around. From the 20 to the 20, we're hell on wheels. It's just converting in the red zone, scoring touchdowns, coming up with more points, getting off the field on third downs, converting third downs for the offense, converting short-yardage situations....It takes patience. It takes time. It will be done in time."

The interview will be replayed on ESPN 980 at 6, and will be online later.

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2009 ACC Football Legends: Vinny Testaverde, Miami

After a historic college and pro career that spanned nearly 26 years, former Miami Hurricanes quarterback Vinny Testaverde is enjoying life after football. Although it’s been a long time since he last took the field in a Hurricane uniform, Testaverde still feels a close bond with ‘The U.’

Testaverde is one of this year’s Dr Pepper Atlantic Coast Conference Football Championship Game Legends who will be honored at this year’s ACC Football Championship Game weekend. The Legends will appear at the ACC Coaches and Awards Luncheon at noon on Friday, Dec. 4, and will be honored at the “ACC Night of Legends” held at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay on Friday evening. They will also be recognized during pre-game ceremonies at Raymond James Stadium for the 5th Annual Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship, which kicks off at 8 p.m., Dec. 5 on ESPN.

Before he was even old enough to play organized football, Testaverde remembers waiting for his father Al Testaverde to come home from work so they could play catch in the back yard. By the time he was 7 years old, he was on a team, but he already knew by then that he wanted to be a quarterback someday.

Testaverde left his hometown of Elmont, N.Y. to play prep school football at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia, and was heavily recruited by several ACC schools including North Carolina, NC State and Virginia. He said that although the decision was hard, he chose to attend Miami because he had family in the area and because he saw the Hurricanes as a team on the rise after watching them beat a Penn State squad that was ranked No. 1 at the time.

“That caught my eye and I thought, ‘Hey this would be a great place for me if I want to be a successful quarterback for a program that had a prolific passing game,’ They certainly were doing that at the time,” Testaverde said.

In his first year at Miami, Testaverde was part of arguably one of the best stable of college quarterbacks put together at one time. The list included future NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, current Georgia head coach Mark Richt and Bernie Kosar, who guided the ‘Canes to the 1983 national championship.

Richt was a big influence on the young Testaverde. He was Kelly’s backup and the person that Testaverde would always turn to when he had a question. After Kelly and Richt graduated at the end of the ’82 season, Testaverde competed for the starting job with Kosar. When Kosar won the job, Testaverde continued to remain patient and wait for his turn.

“There’s a lot that I’ve learned from sitting on the bench and watching guys like Jim Kelly, Mark Richt and Bernie Kosar. Not only was I learning about football, I was learning how to be patient, and how to wait for my turn,” Testaverde said. “When you have to wait your turn and watch somebody else play, it’s kind of a humbling experience, so I think it taught me humility and how to be patient.”

That’s a lesson he tries to teach kids when he talks to them now – to be patient and prepared when their time comes and continue to work hard. He always stresses that they have to be ready because they may only get that one opportunity and when it comes they have to take advantage of it.

When Testaverde earned his chance to start at the beginning of the 1985 season, the tradition of outstanding quarterbacks at Miami was under construction.

“At the time it was still building. We had Jim, we had Bernie and then I was next in line,” Testaverde said. “That tradition was just starting to build at that time and I was just fortunate that I had a lot of great talent around me, and a lot of great coaches that were able to continue to run a system that would help me become successful.”

After losing his first career start to Florida in the Orange Bowl, Testaverde would never lose another regular season game, posting a 21-1 career mark in the regular season. His next home game would also become the beginning of one of the most impressive streaks in sports. With a 38-0 win over Cincinnati on Oct. 12, 1985, the Testaverde-led ‘Canes began a 58-game winning streak at the Orange Bowl that would last nearly a decade – still an NCAA record.

During the streak, the Hurricanes defeated four No. 1 teams including the top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners in 1986. In a matchup between the top two football programs in the country, Miami held off Brian Bosworth and company in a 28-16 upset over the defending national champions. Testaverde threw for 261 yards and four touchdowns, while connecting on 21 of 28 pass attempts in the game.

“We were very confident but we knew that it was going to be a tough fought game with two good schools going against each other,” Testaverde said. “We felt like if we just kept our poise and played together as a team we’d come out successful, and we were able to do that,” Testaverde said.

Leading up to the 1986 season Testaverde and his teammates felt pretty good about their chances in the upcoming year. After finishing fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1985, Testaverde was one of the favorites to win the award his senior year. He admits that although he tried not to think about it, he couldn’t help himself at times.

In that historic campaign, Testaverde led the Hurricanes to an undefeated regular season, and within six yards of winning a national championship against Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl. His outstanding play that year earned him the Heisman Trophy, making him the first player in Miami history to win the award.

Al Testaverde always dreamed of his son winning the Heisman Trophy. When he was growing up his dad would talk about it with him as they watched the ceremonies together on TV.

“I think back to those days and it was the best time that I ever had playing football,” Testaverde said. “Although it goes to one person, it really was an award that was won by the efforts of a lot of people.”

In only two years as the starting quarterback at Miami, Testaverde put up numbers that still rank near the top of many individual career passing categories. His pass completion percentage (61.3) ranks second all-time, passing yardage (6,058) ranks third, total offense (5,738) ranks fourth and touchdown passes thrown (48) puts him in a tie for second on the list. In 1997, Testaverde was inducted into the University of Miami Ring of Honor and in 1998 the UM Sports Hall of Fame. He remains one of only four Hurricanes to have their jerseys retired.

Drafted with the top pick in the 1987 NFL draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Testaverde would go on to play for eight different teams and set an NFL record for throwing a touchdown pass in 21 consecutive seasons. He’s been enjoying his retirement since the end of the 2007 season.

“Actually it’s pretty nice that I get to wake up Monday morning not feeling so sore,” Testaverde said. “There are some aspects of it that I do miss, but a lot of it that I don’t. I kind of left on my own terms. Now, I get to spend time with my family.”

It’s been nearly 25 years since Testaverde last led Miami into battle, but he still feels a special connection with the Hurricane program.

“I think the guys that have gone through Miami and that program are very close, even the guys that you didn’t know, that didn’t play in your class,” Testaverde said. “Whether they came years after or years before, I still feel a bond and a closeness because we went to Miami, to ‘The U.’”

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Salmons ready to prove he's not a one-year wonder

Bulls forward John Salmons is as soft-spoken as anyone in the NBA, and he doesn't draw much attention to himself.

At the same time, he doesn't mind being famous.

After rarely leaving the floor during the seven-game playoff series against Boston, which was a television-ratings bonanza last spring, Salmons found that his notoriety soared.

"I was in New York with my brother-in-law. He was just taking me around and random people knew who I was," Salmons said Tuesday at the Berto Center. "I was surprised. I was shocked. In Harlem. How do people know me in Harlem?"

Salmons thinks he probably was recognized more often in the weeks following the Celtics series than in his first six NBA seasons combined.

"I'm guessing it's just off that one series and Chicago being a bigger market," he said. "It was fun. You never mind getting a little positive feedback."

His growing street cred will help serve as motivation to return for a longer playoff run this season. But Salmons has something else to prove - that he's not a one-year wonder.

The 6-foot-6 swingman is an extremely rare late bloomer. He never averaged double figures in the NBA until his sixth season, then rose to 18.3 points and 47.2 percent shooting last year. The Bulls acquired Salmons from Sacramento on Feb. 18.

There are very few examples of players who started so slowly and then averaged more than 18 points for a full season. A couple who meet the criteria, Antoine Carr and George McCloud, went back to their normal numbers after a single breakout season.

After setting the bar higher for himself than it ever has been, living up to last year's expectations has to be on Salmons' mind. Or is it?

"I haven't thought about that," he said. "There's no reason to think that way. I know there are still nonbelievers out there. I know that. I'm not a fool.

"But at the same time, I'm focusing on doing what I do best, just go out here and help my team win. Whatever comes out of that, comes out. That's how I approached last year, that's how I approached every year."

The Bulls can't complain about Salmons' performance last season, especially when he became a full-time starter in March. That month he averaged 21.3 points and shot 50 percent from the field before being slowed by a groin strain.

This year the Bulls are counting on Salmons to step in as the starting two guard. He has been working next to Derrick Rose so far in practice.

"I love playing with him," Rose said. "He doesn't say that much. I don't say that much either, but we've got an understanding on the court of what we're supposed to do. He's a bigger guard, has a funny-type game, but he can score the ball."

Salmons, a Philadelphia native, took some time off to recover from the groin injury but still got in a good summer of work.

"I learned a lot from the playoffs," he said. "I learned once you get that deep, teams pretty much know what you like to do. I tried to add some things to my game where I'm not as predictable."

Nothing about Salmon's pro career has been very predictable so far. This is the first time he has even been projected as a starter on a quality team.

"It's different, but I'm looking forward to it," he said. "It's fun to me. I always wanted to be in this situation."

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Huff comes up empty again for Tigers

Detroit --Aubrey Huff came to bat in the first inning of Tuesday's first game of a big doubleheader against the Twins, runners at second and first, two out, and the Tigers hoping for a quick knock that would give them a boost in an enormously important game.

He bounced out to second base to end the inning.

Huff came to bat in the third with runners at third and first and none out. The Twins, staring at a big inning, would happily have settled for a double-play grounder and a run scored. Huff instead hit a high chopper to first that enabled Michael Cuddyer to throw out lead runner Clete Thomas at the plate. The Tigers didn't score in the third.
Huff had two more at-bats in Tuesday's first game. He had two more groundouts.

He was not the only culprit in a gut-ripping 3-2, 10-inning loss to the Twins that turned a big crowd (35,243 tickets sold) into a frustrated, heartsick group of the grief-stricken. The Tigers blew chance after chance in the early innings when Nick Blackburn was struggling to throw strikes and giving up his share of hits.

But it was Huff's anemic day that underscored not only what is fundamentally bad about the Tigers -- they don't hit -- but how improbably sour a couple of supposedly life-saving trades have turned out to be for the Tigers.

No relief
Huff is batting .190 since the Tigers acquired him Aug. 17 in a trade with Baltimore for minor-league reliever Brett Jacobson. He has two home runs -- one of them a game-saver against Toronto -- and 13 RBIs.

But it is not what the Tigers expected of an established, left-handed power hitter who had 15 homers and 85 RBIs with Baltimore in 2009, and who hit 32 home runs a year ago.

Jarrod Washburn, likewise, has blown up on the Tigers in ways that were fairly unimaginable when they made the July 31 trade deadline deal to bring a poised left-hander with a 2.62 ERA in 2009 to stabilize the Tigers' down-the-stretch rotation.

The Tigers, though, have filled in adequately for Washburn. The hitting has been another story, entirely. And when Huff failed to bring the Tigers any noticeable muscle to a lineup begging for it, games such as Tuesday's lost cause occur, and with it could go the Tigers' playoff hopes against a more reliable Twins team.

Huff's third-inning at-bat Tuesday was catastrophic. Rolling over on a Blackburn pitch and swatting a high bouncer to first base when he needed, at the very least, to hit the ball deep into the infield, destroyed the Tigers' chance for what could have and should have been a game-deciding inning.

Ground balls have been his habit of late. A man with 203 home runs and 294 doubles in his 10-season career has struggled, in step with his team, to drive the baseball to the outfield and beyond.

"If I knew the answer I'd, certainly be doing it," Huff said, sitting in front of his locker, feeling no better than the heads-down fans who shuffled out of Comerica Park. "I've been getting good pitches to hit.

"It's been one of those things."

Dissapointing time
Those things, however, have been happening repeated to the Tigers. They often get a pitcher in trouble early in a game, as they did Tuesday with Blackburn. They put men on base. They run up pitch-counts. And then they stall, as they did Tuesday when from the fourth through the eighth innings, 15 consecutive batters went down.

Huff can't change those numbers by himself. But he was brought to Detroit to at least drive a ball out of the infield with runners at third and first and no one out.

He failed, as did his team Tuesday, and as it yet might be doomed in its playoff chase because of the Tigers' collective futility at hitting the baseball.

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NFL U Week 3 Video Highlights

Check out the return of our NFL U Video Highlights. Like we did back in 2006 & 2008, will provide our fans every week video highlights of all of our NFL U stars along with pictures from the current NFL Week. Click here to check out our Week 3 Video Highlights or click above on NFL U Video Highlights. Enjoy this week's highlights which feature two Willis McGahee TDs, Andre Johnson, Sinorice Moss, Reggie Wayne, and much more!

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Buchanon was benched in Week 3 in favor of Will James.

Lions CB Phillip Buchanon was benched in Week 3 in favor of Will James.

Buchanon was not injured. Coach Jim Schwartz said he went with James because he had a good week of practice. Detroit's secondary got lit up by Santana Moss for 173 yards and a touchdown. Jason Campbell threw for 340.

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Bears' play of the game: Devin Hester's TD catch

Play of the game in slo-mo Situation: Trailing 19-17, the Bears face second-and-7 on the Seahawks' 36 just after the two-minute warning.

Result: Jay Cutler throws a short pass to Devin Hester, who takes it to the end zone for a 36-yard touchdown.

The tape shows: The intent of the play is merely to get 5 to 7 yards so the Bears can either put themselves in a manageable third-down situation or set themselves up for a field goal. The Bears choose to pass with the anticipation -- the correct anticipation -- that the Seahawks will use an eight-man front.

Adrian Peterson, lined up as a single back, picks up right defensive end Darryl Tapp. But on the other side of the formation, left end Patrick Kerney blows past right tackle Chris Williams with an outside speed rush. He gets to Cutler just after Cutler unloads a high pass.

The Seahawks are in man-to-man defense. Hester runs a 5-yard slant in front of cornerback Travis Fisher, who is on the field only because Ken Lucas was injured in the game.

As Hester reaches high to make the catch, free safety Deon Grant comes in from a poor angle and hits Fisher instead of Hester. Hester turns upfield toward the end zone, and Earl Bennett makes a downfield block. No defender gets near Hester.

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Gore's MRI reveals right ankle strain

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore is expected to miss three weeks because of a right ankle strain.

The 49ers said Monday night that the strain was revealed during an MRI.

Gore injured the ankle on his only carry during Sunday's 27-24 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. He left the game after a four-yard gain and did not return.

Gore was taken to the locker room on a cart, but X-rays revealed no broken bones.

The team says the injury is not related to the ankle sprain Gore sustained during his 207-yard rushing performance against the Seattle Seahawks on Sept. 20.

Gore will miss Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams and next week's game against the Atlanta Falcons. His place in the lineup will be taken by rookie Glen Coffee, who rushed for 54 yards on 25 carries at Minnesota.

The 49ers have their bye week Oct. 18, and Gore is expected to return for their Oct. 25 game at Houston.

San Francisco also said tackle Joe Staley is day to day with a bruised right thigh and safety Reggie Smith has a strained right groin that will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

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Wilfork has sprained left ankle

FOXBOROUGH -- A source close to Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork has confirmed that Wilfork has a sprained left ankle. The injury happened during the second quarter of the Patriots' 26-10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

Wilfork had his ankle rolled up on by teammate Mike Wright, who said after the game he felt responsible for Wilfork's injury.

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Portis battling injuries as Redskins run game stalls

One of the most surprising aspects of Washington's loss to Detroit was Redskins coach Jim Zorn's gameplan. 

Zorn decided to attack Detroit aggressively through the air, almost ignoring the running game early.  In the first half, the Redskins had zero rushing yards on only five attempts.

The entire Washington offense improved in the second half, and Clinton Portis finished with 42 yards on 12 attempts.  But Zorn's lack of attempts early could be a telling sign that he's not confident in his offensive line and running back, who put together a top-ten rushing attack last year.

Washington's line appears to be getting old all at once, and has failed to push the pile in key short-yardage situations.

Portis may also be starting to show his age after a heavy workload in the first half of last season.  (He had a steep decline late last season.)  Portis was questionable on the injury report for Detroit with an ankle injury, and was unavailable for two drives in the fourth quarter because he got kicked in the calf. 

Portis refrained from speaking to the media after the loss, but it's clear the Washington running game is showing signs of attrition. 

After averaging 105 yards from scrimmage per game during 2007-2008, Portis is averaging 69 yards per game this season.

The Redskins have the time and talent to improve -- the next three games are not difficult -- but there are many reasons to believe the best days for their running game are in the past.

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proCanes Stats from Week 3

Andre Johnson: 4 catches for 86 yards

Vince Wilfork: 2 tackles 1 solo tackle, 1 tackle for a loss and 1 pass deflected before being injured in the second quarter

Brandon Meriweather: 7 tackles, 3 solo tackles

Jeremy Shockey: 6 catches for 48 yards.

Jonathan Vilma: 5 tackles, 4 solo tackles

Santana Moss: 10 catches for 178 yards 1 TD

Clinton Portis: 12 carries for 42 yards

Rocky McIntosh: 7 tackles, 5 solo tackles 1 tackle for a loss

Calais Campbell: 4 tackles, 3 solo tackles

Antrel Rolle: 7 solo tackles and 1 interception returned 26 yards

Edgerrin James: 4 carries 7 yards

Kelly Jennings: 2 tackles, 2 solo tackles

Frank Gore: 1 carry, 4 yards. Gore left the game after one carry with an ankle strain

Kellen Winslow: 3 catches 14 yards

Roscoe Parrish: 1 catch for 5 yards and 3 punt returns for -1 yards

Greg Olsen: 5 catches for 44 yards 1 TD

Devin Hester: 5 catches for 76 yards 1TD (the winning TD) and 1 punt return for 9 yards

Willis McGahee: 7 carries for 67 yards 2 TDs

Ray Lewis: 3 solo tackles

Ed Reed: 2 tackles, 1 solo tackle, 1 pass deflection and 1 interception returned 9 yards.

Tavares Gooden: 3 solo tackles

DJ Williams: 7 solo tackles and 2 tackles for loss

Sinorice Moss: 1 catch for 18 yards and 1 TD, 1 punt return for 7 yards

Jeff Feagles: 4 punts for 200 yards with a long of 56 yards

Bruce Johnson: 3 solo tackles and 1 pass deflection

Reggie Wayne: 7 catches 126 yards 1 TD

Jon Beason: 11 tackles, 10 solo tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 sack

Damione Lewis: 2 tackles, 1 solo tackle

Phillip Buchanon: Did not play due to injury

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Hester makes the tough grabs in Week 3

Devin Hester caught five passes for 76 yards and the game-winning touchdown for the Bears in Week 3.

Hester made some really tough catches, picking one up off his cleats and making a high fingertip catch on another. He beat the secondary deep in the first half but was overthrown by Jay Cutler. Hester isn't a true No. 1 receiver by any stretch, but he's looking vastly improved as a wideout.

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Wayne racks up 126 yards, TD in Week 3 win

Reggie Wayne hauled in seven passes for 126 yards and a touchdown in the Colts' Week 3 victory over the Cardinals.

Wayne was all over the field, grabbing everything within his range. His 20-yard touchdown haul in the second quarter required an athletic one-handed grab, but he made it look easy. Even facing double-teams, he found a way to get open. There's no reason to think he won't excel next week against the Seahawks.

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Portis struggles again, this time vs. Lions

Clinton Portis managed just 42 yards on 12 carries and caught a six-yard pass in the Redskins' Week 3 loss to Detroit.

It's time for owners to be extremely concerned. Portis is no longer a "special" runner after 2,000+ career carries and has struggled in back-to-back cake matchups (also St. Louis in Week 2). With bone spurs in both of his ankles, his best run-blocking lineman on injured reserve, and his role diminishing, get rid of Portis if you can find someone willing to buy him low.

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Vince Wilfork latest to fall

FOXBORO - It was a familiar scene for the Patriots [team stats]: Another defensive star on the field in pain.

In the opener, it was linebacker Jerod Mayo with a knee injury. In the Patriots’ 26-10 win against the Falcons yesterday, it was nose tackle Vince Wilfork [stats] with a left ankle injury.

The Pro Bowler went down late in the second quarter, walking slowly to the bench and then heading for the locker room.

He had two tackles, one for a loss, with a pass deflection. Coach Bill Belichick said he hadn’t really had a chance to see Wilfork and did not provide an update. Teammates described him in good spirits after the game.

Myron Pryor stepped in and assisted on three tackles.

“I did all right,” said Pryor, a rookie. “I still have more work to do. I was real worried about him, but you got to be positive. I figured everything is going to be OK.”

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Moss again shifts into overdrive in Detroit

DETROIT | It was deja vu all over again for Santana Moss at Ford Field on Sunday - except for the result.

A year after Moss torched Detroit for nine catches for 140 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown to rally Washington to a 25-17 victory, the team's perennial No. 1 receiver broke out of his early-season slump.

However, Moss' 10 catches for 178 yards, including a 57-yard touchdown, weren't enough as the Redskins were stunned 19-14 by the Lions, who had lost 19 games in a row.

"I ain't a one-man wrecking show," said Moss, who had just five catches for 41 yards in the first two games. "I've won games before, but we got to win games as a team.

"We're in someone else's house, and it wasn't going to be easy. Today was my day. They played a little off [me] and we capitalized off it, but we just didn't do enough to win."

Moss' touchdown, which cut the deficit to 13-7 just 1:45 into the third quarter, was just his second in the past eight games.

"When I was coming back out [for the second half], I told [running back Clinton] Portis that we needed a break," Moss said. "I wish I could do that every weekend."

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Confident Hester wanted ball with game on the line

SEATTLE – Bears wide receiver Devin Hester was feeling it Sunday in Seattle, so much so that he provided quarterback Jay Cutler with some unsolicited suggestions. 

“He wanted the ball a lot today,” Cutler said after the Bears’ 25-19 comeback victory at Qwest Field. “He was always in my ear [saying], ‘I’ve got it. Give it to me.’ Sometimes it was there, sometimes it wasn’t. But whenever we called his number, he came up big for us.”

That was especially true with the game on the line. With the Bears trailing 19-17, Hester caught a short slant pass from Cutler and turned it into a game-winning 36-yard TD with 1:52 remaining.

“They brought a little bit of pressure, which we were anticipating,” Cutler said. “It was press man [coverage]. He ran a great route. I put it a little bit out there. He made a heck of a catch and run. He makes one guy miss and it’s a touchdown, and that’s what he did.”

Hester also caught a 36-yard touchdown pass in the season opener against the Packers.

“He’s a threat,” said coach Lovie Smith. “When he gets the football he can score at any time, and that’s what happened. He’s caught the ball well. He’s running great routes, and he should get better and better each week. Devin is a No. 1 receiver and hopefully we can put him in positions to make plays like that.”

Hester had five receptions for 76 yards in Sunday’s win. His diving 22-yard grab over the middle set up Johnny Knox’s 7-yard TD, which gave the Bears a 14-13 lead early in the third quarter.

But it was Hester’s 5-yard catch in the second period that probably best demonstrated the progress he’s made at the wide receiver position. On third-and-five, he snared a high pass, spun around with a defender on his back and reached the ball out while being tackled, picking up the first down by a few inches.

“He’s showed me something since I first got here,” Cutler said. “When I first got here, they said  he didn’t know the playbook, he couldn’t get out of cuts, and he had trouble catching the ball, and all that’s been false since Day 1. Since I first arrived here, he’s worked as hard if not harder than everybody in that room to get ready for the season. He’s really driven.”

Cutler was reminded of that when Hester was asking for the ball Sunday afternoon.

“Whenever you get in a rhythm and you feel you’re dominating, you want the ball in your hands,” Hester said. “I was telling him, ‘I think I can get a shot on  this guy with a slant.’ He came to me when it counted and I stepped up and made a play, and that’s basically how it went down.”

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Wilfork upbeat after injuring ankle

FOXBOROUGH - Already without middle linebacker Jerod Mayo, the Patriots had a hole in the interior of their defense. It got bigger with the loss of nose tackle Vince Wilfork, who left yesterday’s 26-10 win over the Falcons in the second quarter with an ankle injury and didn’t return.

Fellow defensive lineman Mike Wright said he talked to Wilfork after the game and that Wilfork was in good spirits.

“As good as can be for being hurt,’’ said Wright. “He’s very disappointed I’m sure. Anyone would be. He’s a fighter, and he’ll be back.’’

Wright, who said he was fine after being shaken up with a shoulder injury in the fourth quarter, said he rolled up on Wilfork’s ankle. Wright said he was manning the nose, next to Wilfork, and got pushed over too far on a double-team block and ended up catching Wilfork’s ankle.

“It was my responsibility that he got hurt, so it was hard to keep playing because it was in the back of my head,’’ said Wright, who teamed with rookie Myron Pryor to fill in for Wilfork. “I tried my best to put it out of my mind, but when something like that happens I just can’t stop thinking about it. But it’s behind us, and I talked to him, and we move on to next week. All I can do is get better and fix the problem.’’

Wright said he has to do a better job of handling double teams.

“I was on the nose and I got banged over, got banged over way too far and rolled on his ankle, so that’s what happened,’’ said Wright. “There were a couple of other times where I just didn’t play the doubles very well, and they got the best of me. So it’s hard to take it, but I’ve got to and get better from it.’’

Wright liked what he saw from Pryor, who finished with three tackles. “He showed in preseason that he’s going to be a big contributor for us throughout the rest of the season,’’ said Wright.

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Buchanon Sidelined

Cornerback Phillip Buchanon was a bystander on the sideline for the Lions victory over the Washington Redskins. It looks like Buchanon’s neck that surprisingly sidelined in during week 1, still is a problem.

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Gore leaves game with ankle injury

MINNEAPOLIS — San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore left the game Sunday against Minnesota with a right ankle injury. The team says X-rays showed no broken bones and his return is doubtful.

Gore has been bothered by the injury since last week against Seattle. He rushed for 207 yards on 16 carries in the game, but did not play for most of the fourth quarter after getting hurt.

He left the game after rushing for 4 yards on one carry on the second possession of the game for San Francisco. Gore limped to the sidelines and tried to walk it off for several minutes before taking a cart to the locker room.
Glen Coffee replaces Gore as the 49ers primary running back.

Now comes word from the team that Gore will miss at least the next two weeks with a high right ankle strain, not sprain. Glen Coffee replaced Gore after the injury and ran for 54 yards on 25 carries.

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James hanging on to the No. 2 role

Edgerrin James is still the Seahawks' No. 2 back, according to beat writer Danny O'Neil.

Even if this is true, Justin Forsett is closing the gap quickly. Forsett is simply the better running back at this point. O'Neil says that Forsett is still just the third-down back. We'll see, but there's no doubt Forsett is worth an add in most leagues. We're expecting Seneca Wallace to check down to him plenty on Sunday.

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In The Spotlight: Ravens safety Ed Reed

BALTIMORE, Md. -- Ravens safety Ed Reed is one of those players the Browns let get away in the draft, and he's been making them pay ever since.

What makes it even tougher is the guy who passed him up -- former Browns coach Butch Davis -- coached him at the University Miami and knew his potential. Davis opted for running back William Green instead at No. 16 in 2002 and the Ravens snatched up Reed at 24.

Since then, he's gone on to make the Pro Bowl five times and make life miserable for the Browns every time they face him.

"A guy like Ed Reed can ruin the game at any point from an offensive perspective," said Browns coach Eric Mangini'. "He has great instincts, and he aggressively uses those instincts to make plays. Once he has the ball in his hands, he's an impressive returner. They use him from time to time as a punt returner and he's made plays there. You add the fact that he's a pretty special rusher when he's up on the line of scrimmage, and he's rushing on their punt return teams, he's a guy you have to deal with there as well."

Some nauseating numbers for Browns fans regarding Reed:

• In 14 games against the Browns, Reed has 53 tackles (47 solo), seven interceptions and 12 passes defensed.

• His seven picks are his most against any NFL team, as are his 295 interception return yards and three TDs.

• His 106-yard interception return for a TD vs. the Browns Nov. 7, 2004 set a record for the longest return in NFL history, which he broke last season with a 107-yarder in Week 12 at Philly. The 106-yarder helped him become NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2004.

• He has 43 interceptions, most in Ravens history and best in the NFL since he entered the league in 2002. His 1,152 interception return yards also lead the NFL since 2002.

• He tied his career-high with nine interceptions last year.

• Of his 43 career interceptions, 26 have come in the second half, 17 in the fourth quarter.

• When Reed records an interception, the Ravens are 27-8. When he picks off two in a game, the Ravens are 8-0.

• Reed has 12 career TDs and is the only player in NFL history to score return TDs off a punt return, blocked punt, interception return and fumble recovery.

"Any way that he can return it he has, and he's dangerous at all times," said Mangini. "You can't exactly pinpoint where he's going to be because of the way that he plays, and some of the freedom he has back there."

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Coughlin confident on Phillips' return

Tom Coughlin said exactly what he should have said today when asked about Kenny Phillips' injury, noting that he is absolutely convinced that the second-year safety will be a third-year safety and a fourth-year safety and so on.

"What we have done is in the best interest of the player and the New York Giants because we feel like this young man has an outstanding future," Coughlin said.

Coughlin's supposed to be optimistic. So are the Giants. I hope Phillips is just as optimistic. They're in the business of believing things can happen when others say they can't. If you can beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, who's to say Kenny Phillips can't be a Pro Bowler in 2010? Like Justin Tuck says all the time when he's asked if the Giants can handle some situation or stop some offensive player or win some big game. "Of course I think that."

Coughlin said the team doctors were just as surprised by the news that Phillips' season would end this quickly as Phillips apparently was.

"The term was, 'we could manage it.'  And he was all for it.  You saw his camp, he had a great camp," Coughlin said. "They knew what it was, sure. They knew what they were dealing with, yes. Because they did all of the tests. But did I know that coming in? No."

So to quote Coughlin on other things: We'll see. Nobody is rooting against a Kenny Phillips recovery (with the possible exceptions of Tony Romo and Jason Campbell, though they have their own issues to be worrying about). Still, every time I mention this patellofemoral arthritis to a doctor, he or she cringes.

I'll leave you with this. I went to see a rheumatologist today for something I'm dealing with and as I was leaving his office I asked him, just out of curiosity, what he would say to a 22-year-old football player who came to him with palleofemoral arthritis. He just shook his head.

"I'd say I hope he has his college degree," he said.

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10 not-so-hard questions with Tavares Gooden

Q: What’s the progress of tackle Vernon Carey’s transition back to the right side?
A: It’s going OK. Vernon’s played over there before; he’s not been a foreigner over there. He played there I think the first two or three years of his career here. So he’s a kid who’s knowledgeable in that area. It’s just a matter of him learning our offense, learning what the calls are and the types of things that go with it.

Q: Is Carey a more natural fit on the right side?
A: He’s a big guy and you’d like your right tackle to be a big, thick guy like Vernon. I kind of thing he naturally fits into that mold.

Q: Has Carey emerged as a leader on the line?
A: Absolutely. He’s been in there, been involved. He’s talking all the time in the meetings and asking questions. He’s doing the stuff you’d like an older guy to do with a group of younger guys in there. He and [Justin] Smiley, with the exception of Steve McKinney, are the two older guys in the room. They have to be the pace setters for the younger guys. If they’re doing what they have to do, then the younger guys will look up to that and work at that level.


McClinton Invited to Timberwolves Veterans Camp

Jack McClinton is heading to Minnesota and pending a physical this morning will be part of the Timberwolves veteran camp.

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Braun homers in 9th, Brewers beat Phillies 7-5

MILWAUKEE — Ryan Braun hit a two-run homer off reliever Tyler Walker in the ninth, giving the Milwaukee Brewers a 7-5 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday.

It was Braun's 30th home run of the season and second career game-ending homer. The loss went to Walker (2-1), one of the pitchers the Phillies were considering as a replacement for struggling closer Brad Lidge.

With the loss, the Phillies' magic number of wins or Atlanta Braves losses needed to clinch the NL East remained stuck at four. The Braves didn't cooperate earlier in the day, beating Washington 11-5.

Trevor Hoffman (2-2) pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up the win for Milwaukee.

With the game tied at 5 and Walker in to pitch the ninth for Philadelphia, Craig Counsell led off with a sharp single. Braun then clubbed a pitch deep to right-center field and was mobbed by teammates as he crossed home plate.
Ryan Howard hit his 43rd home run for the Phillies.

In a sloppy performance highlighted by a pair of errors for each team, it got particularly messy in the sixth as the Brewers rallied for two runs to tie the game at 5.

After a two-out walk to pinch hitter Jason Bourgeois and bloop ground-rule double by Felipe Lopez, Counsell hit a flare that caused confusion in the middle of the Phillies' outfield and eventually bounced off of shortstop Jimmy Rollins. The play originally was ruled an error but was later changed to a two-RBI hit.

The play erased a 5-3 lead the Phillies took on Howard's homer.

It was Howard's fifth home run in nine career at-bats against Brewers starter Braden Looper, who came into Saturday night's game having allowed the most home runs in the major leagues — then gave up two more to run his season total to 39. Even light-hitting catcher Paul Bako got in on the action with a two-run shot in the second inning.

The Phillies then ran their lead to 4-0 in the third on Jayson Werth's sacrifice fly and a bloop RBI single by Pedro Feliz.

Braun's RBI single and a sacrifice fly by Prince Fielder cut the lead to 4-2 in the third, and Milwaukee added another run on a groundout by Lopez in the fourth. But Howard homered to lead off the fifth and put the Phillies up 5-3.

Kyle Kendrick started in place of Pedro Martinez, who was scratched because of continued soreness in his neck after hurting himself during an at-bat a week ago.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said before Saturday's game that was not clear when Martinez would return. His next scheduled appearance is against Houston on Thursday.

Kendrick went four innings, giving up six hits and three runs.

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