Photo of the Week - Tough Family Love

It’s bound to happen almost every Sunday, and last Sunday it was caught on camera. Brandon Meriweather laid out fellow Cane Jeremy Shockey in the Patriots loss versus the New Orleans Saints last Monday night. We’re family but it doesn’t mean we can’t show some tough love occasionally.

Click here to Brandon Meriweather’s or Jeremy Shockey’s proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

McKinnie limited Thursday

Minnesota Vikings OT Bryant McKinnie (back) was limited in practice Thursday, Dec. 3, but is likely to play in Week 13.

McKinnie told “I’m doing good” so expect him to play on Sunday.

Click here to Bryant McKinnie’s proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

Broncos spotlight on linebacker D.J. Williams

A look at Broncos inside linebacker D.J. Williams:

The buzz: Williams has started all 11 games as the Broncos' weakside inside linebacker and leads the team with 81 total tackles and 63 solo stops. He has 3-1/2 sacks this year, which is already a career high; his previous best was 2-1/2 last season. His nine tackles for a loss are the third-most on the team, and he also has two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

Looking ahead: Williams is on pace for 118 total tackles this season, which would be the second-highest total in his seven-year career. However, Williams has 24 games in his career with 10-plus tackles, so with a strong December, he could finish among the top 10 in the league this year. But that might not be enough for Williams to earn his first trip to the Pro Bowl, especially in a season when other Denver defensive players (such as Elvis Dumervil and Brian Dawkins) have received much of the national attention.

FYI: Of the 50 Broncos draft picks from 2000-05, Williams is one of only two still on the team. Williams was the team's first-round pick out of Miami in 2004. The other is offensive lineman Ben Hamilton, who was drafted in 2001.

Click here to DJ WIlliams’ proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

Beason not getting suspended

For now, it appears linebacker Jon Beason will avoid suspension by the Panthers for his arrest on misdemeanor assault charges stemming from a November 15 incident in a strip club, according to

Our View: Not surprising, considering his 96 tackles lead the team by 35 and are sixth in the entire NFL. Since he is facing no felony charges, the number of games he will likely miss is zero.

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

Bookmark and Share

McIntosh: Skins defense knows what it must do

Weak-side linebacker Rocky McIntosh believes the Redskins' run defense is better than its 25th-place ranking in the NFL would indicate.

"We've just given up a few long runs, that's why were not ranked that high," McIntosh said. "But we know what type of defense we are. We just take of that, and we'll be fine. Guys know what we have to do."

The Redskins have the top-ranked pass defense and are eighth overall in yards per game. The Saints have the league's No. 1 offense and quarterback Drew Brees is having an MVP-caliber season. But the Redskins' defensive players are confident in their scheme and ability to perform well against the Saints.

"I feel good. I always feel good," McIntosh said. "Guys want to go out there and try to make plays. Like I said, we know what we have to do."

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

Bookmark and Share

Watch Gerard Daphnis, Leon Searcy, Hurlie Brown and Ryan Collins Talk Hurricane Football

Click here to see the episode at

Bookmark and Share

Weekly Freakout: Devin Hester

Chicago receiver Devin Hester looked poised to join some of his former teammates from "The U" as an every-week fantasy starter.

Hester (pictured), however, hasn't looked anywhere near the part of even Santana Moss at this point. Hester has fallen down to No. 32 in our WR rankings, meaning he's barely worth a start, even in 10-team leagues.
Why is that?

Hester has just 12 receptions for 86 yards over Chicago's past three games, and that cold streak has owners whether or not he's in play even in a favorable matchup against the Rams. St. Louis has allowed 145.5 yards and eight TDs to receivers this season.

So, why has Hester gone from borderline stud to every-week dud? Jay Cutler has everything to do with it. Cutler has thrown for just two TD passes over the past two weeks. Cutler seems a little too locked into tight end Greg Olsen, who ironically also played his college ball at Miami.

Here's a few other things we've noticed about Hester:

He had cleared 80 yards receiving in five games. The Bears are 1-3 in those games.

Surprisingly, he's averaging just 12.0 yards per reception. Not what you would expect from a boom-or-bust type player.

Hester has not caught a TD pass since Week 7 against Cincinnati.

All these signs suggest Hester isn't quite there yet. Or it's Cutler's fault. Most likely, it's a lot of both.

Can Hester turn it around in December? He had 17 receptions for 223 yards and no touchdowns in four December games in 2008.

Not sure I would use him this week against the Rams.The fantasy playoff schedule (vs. GB, at BAL, vs. MIN) isn't very inviting either. I would take a chance on Hester against the Packers; Hester had 90 yards and a TD against Green Bay in the first meeting. Other than that, Hester is best life on the bench.

Your thoughts? Did you drop Hester? Is he worth having on a fantasy playoff roster?

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

Bookmark and Share

Earl Little Has Krop Player Playing Big Role

The last time Dr. Michael Krop High's football program made it three rounds deep in the state playoffs in 2001, the school was just two years old like this season, many picked the Lightning to finish last in the district.

While Joe Mira surprised everyone by finishing second in the 5A district, surprising Stranahan and McArthur in the first two rounds, that third-round game, much like this week at Miramar, was against a very good Blanche Ely program with record-setting running back Tyrone Moss. The Lighting lost that game, but managed to put up a good battle.

Mira has since moved on to take over programs at South Miami and Westminster Christian, and little known David Hudson is now in charge of a team that relied on defense, a tremendous sophomore kicker, Ricardo Perez, and an offense that put just enough points on the board to post an 8-4 record in a district where Carol City and North Miami Beach started the season as huge favorites.

What Hudson has done with this year's Krop team is teach, organize and get the most out of every athlete on the roster. Krop has won the games that most felt it had little chance to win, and lost a few that it should have won. But that's what puts them in a place some 30 other Miami-Dade schools would love to be in this Friday night.

On a team with very few recognizable names, one person does stand out to those who have followed football in the region. First-year defensive coordinator Earl Little moved in this year after spending time at Central.

The one time NFL and University of Miami standout defensive back knows a little about this district. He starred at North Miami before heading on to a brilliant career in college and professionally.

Little has done enough to shape and mold a number of overachievers on the defensive side of the ball. Players such as senior linemen MacDonald Payoute and Torrey Jean-Baptiste, and defensive backs Chris Lazarz, Kadeem Wilson, Rochard Serjilus and Gerald Love.

There are also junior linebackers Kevin Brown and Marvin Jean, defensive back Patrick Derosier, and lineman Marcus Harris and defensive end Rex Graham, who is among the sack leaders in South Florida.

In addition to Perez, who is easily one of the top young kicking prospects in Florida, the sophomore class also boasts defensive back Justin Villafane.

``There is no question that the defense has carried this team,'' Hudson said. ``But we also have some surprising and impressive athletes on the offensive side of the ball.''

The Lightning feature senior quarterback Marlon Kelly, who has improved a great deal over the past month and now has become a leader.

Others seniors sparking the offense include receivers DeAndre Hall, Jason Jean-Louis, Tavarius Nole, Brandon Davis and Lekam Hanna, running back Terry Williams and lineman Dennerick Forbes.

Junior running back Brandon Eldemire has truly come into his own. The 5-8, 170-pounder has speed, great vision and gets those tough yards. Other juniors making a contribution include running back Jarvis Taylor, and lineman Devonte Forbes and Gabriel Malka.

The last time the Lightning advanced this far in the playoffs, it had athletes such as Marvin Clearmont, Jay Pericles, Prince Floyd and Grant Moule. Now, eight years later this program is still trying to prove the experts wrong.

``We weren't supposed to make the playoffs,'' Hudson said. ``We weren't picked to beat Everglades or Carol City. Now, it's a very good Miramar program that our players aren't supposed to beat. All this team has done is play hard and move on to the following week.''

Trainers R Us, Inc. will be hosting its first Private vs. Public All-Star High School Football Game and Junior Football Combine on Jan. 9, 2010. The All-Star Game will showcase the talent of student-athletes who are high school seniors from private and public schools in the south Florida area on an annual basis.

Each student-athlete wishing to participate will need to be nominated by their high school coach, have a 2.3 grade point average and have taken the ACT/SAT. This game will provide high school student-athletes an opportunity to showcase their talent among their peers and to various college recruiters. The Private vs. Public All-Star Game will present a positive environment for all athletes who participate in the event through unity, commitment and respect.

The Private vs. Public All-Star Football Game will be hosted at Monsignor Edward Pace High School at (15600 NW 32nd Ave Miami Gardens) at 6:30 p.m. Each team will have 40 players participating in the game. Pre-sale tickets can be purchased at practice sites for $6.00 or $8.00 at the gate.

The junior combine will also take place at Monsignor Edward Pace High School on January 9, 2010 and conducted from 8:00 am to 12:00 p.m. For information on the combine and the game, contact Mario Smith at 786-285-3699.

Bookmark and Share

Rashad Butler Could Start Sunday

Left tackle Duane Brown of the Texans didn't practice Wednesday because of a sprained knee.

Rashad Butler, who is playing his third season with the Texans, will start if Brown can't play at Jacksonville at noon Sunday.

“I feel good about him,” coach Gary Kubiak said about Brown's chances of playing. “It's really scary if you saw the play (against Indianapolis). You'd have thought something really bad could have happened, so I think we're very, very lucky.

“His toughness, his frame of mind right now, he'd have gone today if I'd asked him to.

“But we'll rest him and probably practice him on Friday.”

Bookmark and Share

Santana Moss Gets a Week 12 Game Ball

WR Santana Moss: Moss didn't have an enormous impact on the game, but he scored his first touchdown since Week 4. Although some receivers around the league would have let their frustrations about the lack of production boil over publicly, Moss has kept his cool and remained a steadying locker room presence during extreme adversity. For that, he gets a game ball.

Click here to order Santana Moss’ proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

Vilma Talks About Concussions

Count Jonathan Vilma as one NFL Player who supports the cautious approach when dealing with concussions. He wrote about the topic on his PlayMaker Mobile blog this morning. He is especially happy that his buddy Clinton Portis is visiting a specialist this week.

Concussions and the NFL

by jonathanvilma 1. December 2009 18:39
I have always said anything from the shoulders up you need to be extra careful. Concussions, stingers anything that causes headaches or nerve damage you need to take as much time off as you need to clear it up. My boy Clinton Portis is going to see a specialist in Pittsburgh before he plays again, he should. I know he wants to play, he's as tough as they come, but take all the time necessary. You don't mess around with that. I do believe you fight through injuries, it's like the old saying 'you're hurt each week but not injured,' but when we're talking about your head and your neck no way. You sit out. I wouldn't play with it and I wouldn't want a teammate to play with it. Knees, ankles, shoulders no problem. You can recover from an ACL injury, but head injuries and nerve damage that's life threatening stuff.

We thank proCane fan Kirk for bringing our attention to Jon Vilma’s entry on his PlayMaker Mobile page.

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

Bookmark and Share

Bucs Release Darnell Jenkins

Tampa Bay signed DE Josh Leonard and CB Jamar Love and released WR Darnell Jenkins from the practice squad.

Bookmark and Share

From the locker room: Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey

Tight end Jeremy Shockey had one catch against the New England Patriots, a 15-yarder on a possession that ended in New Orleans’ only punt of the first half. It was his lowest total of the season, but while the Patriots covered him well, they could not slow down anyone else.

After the game, Shockey talked about the Saints’ easy 38-17 victory.

What’s it like playing for a team that has so many good receivers?
“If you don’t catch a ball in the first three plays of a series, you’re not going to. We’ve got Devery (Henderson), (Marques) Colston, (Robert) Meachem, damn. I had one on the first drive and thought I was going to have a good game, but the next thing you know, no balls were thrown my way. But that’s a good thing. Those guys are going to get covered and the defense is going to try to stop them. It’s just a matter of time until a breakout game happens.”

Did you sense a level of frustration on the Patriots’ part?
“Yeah, I saw it. They were out there and big (nose tackle) Vince (Wilfork) was talking, ‘don’t run to this side,’ and the next thing you know we through a screen pass to Pierre (Thomas) and he tried to chase him down and he was huffing and puffing after that. They played hard. They were in the game, and Mike McKenzie made some great plays for us. He’s a true friend from Miami. I’ve known him for years, and I’m glad we brought him back. It’s a smart decision. It just shows you how smart (general manager) Mickey (Loomis) is and (coach) Sean (Payton is). They are giving the guy a chance. He’s been working out hard, and he helped this team win.”

Did you show New England something they hadn’t seen on tape?
“No. they’ve seen 10 of our games before. We just executed and we didn’t turn over the ball and we had the momentum and we made some big plays. They made some bad plays and they lost the momentum. Any time that happens, it’s very hard to come back. We put ourselves in a hole in the Miami game. Halftime we were looking at ourselves like what the hell is going on, and then we got the momentum back and they made some bad plays and we ended up making good plays and we ended up winning the game. That’s how this league is. Our goal today was to start fast, and we did.”

How did they defend the offense?
“They had a good game plan coming in, but there are so many weapons. You are going to guard this guy one time and leave this guy alone? We’ve got great players and we’re running the ball hard. It’s hard to stop. If we can continue to protect the ball and not hurt ourselves, we’ll be OK.”

Do you just get a special feeling when the offense is rolling? “As an offense we keep coming together. It’s good to see everyone having fun. I could be very selfish and say I want more balls. Obviously as a competitor you want more balls, but in the same sense when you review the film from the last couple of weeks, other guys are open and Drew (Brees)’s going to throw it to the guy that’s open, clearly.”

Did this remind you of the Giants game the way you rolled over a team in a heavily hyped game? “This reminded me of the Super Bowl I never got to play in when I was with the New York Giants, in Scottsdale (Ariz.), so it was great beating these guys. It was great beating the 10 teams prior to this game and it’s going to be fun beating the other teams. It’s in our hands, but we can’t be lackadaisical in any way. We have to look at our next game as our last.”

I haven’t seen too many guys running free for 75 yards against the Patriots. Is this how just you guys function?
“I don’t know. They choose to double-team some people, and Drew is a very smart quarterback. He’s going to find the open receiver, and we have very big, tall, fast receivers that can run, and the DBs are usually little. Plus, we’re running the ball. People aren’t realizing that we’re running the ball and we’re scoring more points than anybody in the fourth quarter. The Patriots were number one by far in scoring points in the first half, and we held them to 10. We knew that coming out of halftime, if it was going to be even, and we were ahead anyway, that we always score the most points in the NFL in the second half and especially in the fourth quarter, and we did that.”

What concerned you the most when you were preparing for the Patriots’ defense?
“They have a great team. They’ve won a lot of Super Bowls in this decade, so obviously they are a dangerous team. We knew that if we didn’t turn over the ball, we had an extremely good chance to win, and if we came out and stuck to the game plan our coaches gave us, we were going to win. They don’t have Richard Seymour anymore. They don’t have the (Teddy) Bruschi’s the (Rodney) Harrisons. It’s not the same defense you guys have seen. They have (strong safety Brandon) Meriweather. He’s a very good player. They have a good team and they have a lot of resolve and I’m sure they will win a lot of games this year.”

For two straight games, the offense has not turned the ball over. Is that the key for this team? “That is the key in football, period. It’s turnovers. Not just this game. Every game.”

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

Bookmark and Share

Should the 49ers trade Frank Gore?

But the 49ers' last great quarterback, Steve Young, used the notion to illustrate another alleged absurdity -- the idea San Francisco should commit to a spread passing game as its primary offense because quarterback Alex Smith seems more comfortable that way.

"It’s great, it’s great," Young said of the new-look 49ers offense, "but Frank Gore needs to be traded. You can’t run the spread with Frank Gore being effective. He’s not the guy that is going to catch the ball (like) Marshall Faulk and slash and burn (like) Joseph Addai and different guys who have thrived in the spread."

Young made the comments during his latest visit with Ralph Barbieri and Tom Tolbert on KNBR. He addressed the subject a week ago as well.

Why can't the 49ers have it both ways? Why can't they spread the field with multiple receivers, including their speedy tight ends, and still get production from Gore?

"Frank Gore is an All-Pro running back in a pro formation," Young told KNBR. "There are a lot of ways to skin the cat. And so if we’re going to have to run the spread to really be successful and Frank is going to be in the game, then Frank is going to have to first of all suck it up a little bit and decide, 'Look, I’m going to have to change my game and I’m going to have to do some different things. But for the good of everybody, this is what is going to happen, and then I’m going to get mine when I get mine. I don’t know how it is going to happen, but I’ll wait around for it.' "

Young sounded skeptical.

"If that is how we’re going to be successful for the next half-a-decade, then that is how we can kind of get to the promised land of some playoff time, then let’s go all in," Young continued. "But that is what the spread does to you. You have to go all in. But I do not believe that Alex needs to have the spread to be successful. If he continues to get better and deal with pro defenses and make plays, then there’s no reason why in an offseason we can’t take 10,000 snaps from center and figure out a way to get really comfortable with that and then break it out next year and be a more dynamic offense."

I agree completely. Against the Jaguars in Week 12, the 49ers averaged 2.6 yards per carry on nine rushes and 4.5 yards per pass on 26 attempts from their preferred "spread" personnel group featuring Gore, Michael Crabtree, Josh Morgan, Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker. They used this grouping on 20 of 22 first-down snaps and 15 of 20 second-down snaps.

The 49ers ran only one play from their base offense and seven plays using two backs. Gore prefers running behind a fullback, but the offense has generally stagnated using that personnel. I'm very curious to see how the 49ers attack the Seahawks in Week 13. A power running game featuring Gore has worked well in the past.

"What offense do you run?" Young asked. "I think you can fiddle around with the spread, but especially with the tight end, if you are going to include the tight end, I think that you are going to have to work at trying to find sets that allow Frank to run from the I a little bit, a pro set, and find other places to get them the football and Alex to get comfortable. You can see if you blur your eyes how this might become something pretty cool."

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

Bookmark and Share

Zorn clarifies Portis' condition

Coach Jim Zorn today attempted to clarify some confusion about the medical status of running back Clinton Portis, who has sat out the last three games because of lingering affects from a concussion.

During his regular weekly appearance Tuesday on ESPN 990's "The John Thompson Show," Portis, who also has been ruled out from this week's game against the New Orleans Saints, seemed to indicate he had been cleared by a Washington physician to return to the football field, but added he was still experiencing vision problems that would have to improve before he could play.

After practice today, Zorn said that Portis, whose vision has at times been blurry since he suffered the concussion Nov. 8 against the Atlanta Falcons, had only received clearance to increase his football-related activity during the week. "He's still a little bit away," Zorn said. "We're trying to push and rest and push and rest.

"I think those things are helping him, I think he's improving, but he still has another session to go with the doctors just to kind of give him the clean bill of health. He's not getting frustrated to the point where he's breaking things. But he's trying to listen to what his body is saying to him, and right now he's coming along."

In addition, Portis is expected to be examined again by concussion specialists at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center next week.

Click here to order Clinton Portis’ proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

Gore says he's ok with change on offense

Frank Gore has had some of his best rushing games against Seattle, including a 207-yard performance earlier this year. The question heading into the teams' second meeting is how much Gore will carry the ball in an offense that's increasingly leaning toward the pass. (Steve Young addressed that issue on KNBR this week.) Mike Singletary today said he sat down with the offensive players last week to discuss the changing approach.

"Whether it's Walter Payton or whether it's Jerry Rice, a great receiver - when they're not getting the ball, they feel like they're not contributing," Singletary said. "They feel like they're not part of it. I talked to all of our guys and had them understand that, we need to understand that going forward everybody will have their part in the success. Everybody will have their part. And it's really important that we're for one another. ... If we really want to win, if we really want to do this right, we need to be happy about the other guy (having the ball.)"

Asked about how he felt about the direction of the offense, Gore was terse, but said he was ok with it. "I know when my number's called, I'm going to try my best to the best I can out there."

Gore's numbers this season are down, but you can hardly blame the spread for that. In 2006, Gore's best season in the NFL, he had 20 or more carries in seven games. This year, he's reached 20 twice - in the opener against Arizona and in the win over Chicago. That's partly due to an ankle injury that forced Gore to miss the better part of three games and because the 49ers fell quickly behind in two other games, Houston and Green Bay, and had to turn to the pass.

Despite using the spread offense heavily against Jacksonville, Gore had 16 carries - his third-highest total of the season - to go along with a season-high seven receptions. Having a 17-3 lead at the half likely boosted his carries.

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

Bookmark and Share

Panthers taking wait-and-see approach on Jon Beason allegations

CHARLOTTE — Coach John Fox said Wednesday that the team’s star linebacker, who has been charged with misdemeanor assault after he allegedly punched a man outside a Charlotte strip club, will not face disciplinary action until after his case has been resolved.

Gregory Frye, the man who claims Carolina Panthers player Jon Beason assaulted him at a Charlotte strip club, filed a civil lawsuit in court Tuesday seeking $10,000 in damages, claiming that Beason sucker-punched him on Nov. 16 and broke his nasal cavity and frac-tured a facial bone.

Frye’s attorney Curtis Osborne told reporters his client wants a jury trial.

According to the lawsuit, Frye attended the Panthers game against the Atlanta Falcons on Nov. 15. Afterward, he went to Strike City in uptown Charlotte and then to the Uptown Cabaret, a strip club near Bank of America Stadium, with several people, including Beason’s teammate tight end Dante Rosario.

Frye allegedly told Rosario he believed he had seen Beason and a woman snorting cocaine at a party on Lake Norman in June.

When the news got back to Beason, the lawsuit alleges the All-Pro linebacker became upset and that Beason’s bodyguard suggested to Frye he should speak to the player directly. The lawsuit claims that Beason later approached Frye and threatened him.

After exiting the Uptown Cabaret, the lawsuit alleges Beason punched Frye, 29, in the face when Frye turned around to make sure Beason was following him. Frye also claimed to be kicked in the ribs, although he’s not sure by whom, and punched one more time. The lawsuit also says Frye claims that Beason responded by saying, “Yeah, I hit him. It might cost me a hundred grand, but you don’t go around telling people I’m doing coke.”

“Mr. Frye suffered injuries, including a crushed nasal cavity and a fractured facial bone, which will require corrective reconstruction surgery,” Osborne told Charlotte TV station WBTV on Tuesday outside Mecklenburg County Court.

Beason’s attorney George Laughrun and his agent Drew Rosenhaus did not return phone calls Tuesday, a day off for players.

Laughrun said earlier in the week that Beason plans to plead not guilty on Jan. 11. Laughrun said Beason had nothing to do with the incident. He called Frye’s claims in the civil suit “fantasy land if he thinks this happened.”

Police didn’t press charges against Beason because of insufficient probable cause, but a magistrate judge did feel the charges were war-ranted and Beason was arrested on a charge of misdemeanor assault. Beason was released Monday on a written permission to appear in court.

Mecklenburg County Court records show that Frye in the past has been arrested on charges of assaulting a female and writing a worth-less check, but those charges were dismissed.

“We were aware of the police department looking into the incident and have addressed it with Jon,” Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said in a statement released by the team on Monday. “At this time, there appears to be two different versions of what happened.”

Bookmark and Share

Michael Irvin to give speech in Amarillo

AMARILLO, TEXAS -- Former Dallas Cowboys football player Michael Irvin will soon be making his way to Amarillo.

On April 8, 2010 Worth the Wait is having its event, 'An Evening With,' and Michael Irvin will be the keynote speaker of the evening.

This is a recurring an event that Worth the Wait presents, in an effort to bring the community together.

You may recall that back in 2007, the non-profit hosted 'An Evening With Emmitt Smith,' brining in a crowd of about 2,000.

Teresa Hillman, Development Director for Worth the Wait, said having Emmitt Smith was a very successful event and considering a speaker for the next one, they wanted to bring in somebody who would generate that level of excitement and make another big impact on the community.

For sponsorship details or more information about this special evening, please contact Teresa Hillman at 806-326-1072 or

Click here to order Michael Irvin’s proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

Bernie Kosar: Browns focused on NFL draft (No. 1 pick)

So, what are the Browns playing for? The draft. Head Coach Eric Mangini won't say it. Bernie Kosar, a consultant reporting to owner Randy Lerner, said as much on WKNR-AM 850: "We've got as many picks as anybody (11) in the draft. We've got to get that right, and we've got to get that focus right, or you're heading for another season like this." The Browns are in the hunt for the No. 1 overall pick, currently tied with St. Louis and Tampa Bay for the worst record in the league. Among the contenders for the top draft slow, Detroit might be the likeliest to lose out. The Lions face playoff contenders the next four weeks, then finish against the Bears. The Buccaneers have a game left against the unbeaten Saints, but they also have three games against teams with losing records. The Rams have three games left against 5-6 teams and one against the 4-7 Bears. The Browns have games left against San Diego (8-3), Pittsburgh (6-5), Kansas City (3-8), Oakland (3-8) and Jacksonville (6-5). If teams finish with the same record, head-to-head competition, such as the Lions beating the Browns, has nothing to do with draft position. The tie-breaker is strength of schedule. The team that played a weaker schedule drafts higher.

Click here to order Bernie Kosar’s proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

Salmons doesn't want to replace Ben Gordon, he just wants to outplay him

CHICAGO --When Ben Gordon left town this summer, a lot people wondered whether John Salmons could fill his shoes. He did just that Wednesday night, pulling off the type of hot shooting streak typified by his former teammate.
Salmons paced the Chicago Bulls with 22 points as the Bulls knocked off the Detroit Pistons 92-85, snapping a five-game losing skid in the process.

"It's just good to get a win, period," Salmons said after the game. "It's good to be home. It's good to play in front of our home crowd. It's a good win for us."

After finishing off the circus trip with five straight losses, the Bulls were in desperate need of a victory, and Salmons helped them earn it. He shot 7-for-12 from the field and hit three of his four 3-pointers.

"I thought John did a nice job," Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said. "He shot it better. He was attacking. He took a couple early jumpers and was off, then he got off the dribble and started attacking a little bit better. We need him to score. We need him to play well. I think his defense picked up a little bit tonight, which was a good sign."

Defense was always the difference between Salmons' and Gordon's games -- Salmons usually played it, Gordon sometimes didn't. And on this night, the Chicago D combined to stop the Bulls' former teammate while the spotlight was fixed in his direction.

Gordon was just 6-for-16 from the floor, leading the Pistons with 18 points.

"I was just trying to be aggressive on him and make sure I just remember him so many times just rising up after that pick-and-roll," Bulls center Joakim Noah said. "So I was just trying to stay there a little bit longer, just making sure that John [Salmons] could recover a little quicker, and I think he did a great job on him tonight."

Salmons got the best of Gordon in Wednesday's matchup. He gave Bulls fans hope that he might be the one who steps up his game a little more and starts patching the scoring hole the team hasn't filled since Gordon left.
But even Salmons wishes the sharpshooter from UConn were still on his team.

"It's better to play with him than against him, I'll tell you that," Salmons said. "I was telling [assistant coach] Randy Brown, talking about having to chase him around all game. A tough guard. He's a good player."
When he wants to be, Salmons proved that he is, too.

Bookmark and Share

Salmons, Rose lead Bulls

CHICAGO — John Salmons scored 22 points, Derrick Rose added 19 and the Chicago Bulls ended a five-game losing streak by beating the Detroit Pistons 92-85 on Wednesday night.

Detroit's Ben Gordon made his return to the United Center and heard the boos from the crowd. Gordon, who led the Bulls in scoring the previous four seasons before signing a five-year, $55 million contract with Detroit in the offseason, scored 18 points on 6-of-16 shooting and picked up five fouls.

Salmons hit 7-of-12 shots for 22 points, one rebound, three assists, two steals, a block and three 3-pointers in Wednesday's win over the Pistons, snapping a five-game losing streak for the Bulls.

Bookmark and Share

Cubs still studying Milton Bradley-to-Rays deal?

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry had hoped to trade Milton Bradley at least a couple of weeks ago. But the Bradley situation continues to hang over the Cubs with the winter meetings approaching, and Hendry may be getting anxious to make Bradley disappear.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports today that the Cubs are studying a deal that has been on the table for weeks: trading Bradley and cash to the Tampa Bay Rays for Pat Burrell, whom they would try to move elsewhere (perhaps to the Mets for Luis Castillo).

The Cubs don't seem to have a spot for the defensively challenged Burrell with Alfonso Soriano in left field.

Bookmark and Share

Gaby Sanchez Player of the Week

Gaby Sanchez won the player of the week honors in the Dominican Winter Baseball League for the week of November 16-22. Gaby plays 1st and 3rd for the Toros del Este. Gaby is in the Marlins organization and had a productive year last year with the New Orleans Zephers in the Pacific Coast League. Look for him in the majors next year.

Bookmark and Share

Vilma Talks About Win Over Patriots

Jonathan Vilma wrote abut the win over New England on his PlayMaker Mobile page today. He said it was especially valuable for "team togetherness" and for Drew Brees, "who grinds it out like no one else."

New England win and Brees
by jonathanvilma 1. December 2009 18:25

The Dome was electric last night. If you weren't there or didn't get to watch it on ESPN the atmosphere inside that Dome was incredible. It was a big win for us. The importance of that win was that we played well on both sides of the ball against a really good team. It was a solid win against a solid opponent. We are always preaching and always harping about team wins, team togetherness. That showed up last night on a big stage against a great team. To be able to put together a complete game against the Patriots on Monday Night was great for this team. It was great for Drew Brees too. To play like that against a Belichick defense was huge. He did things against them that no one has ever done before, which only adds to his credibility as one of the best quarterbacks in the game. He has such football smarts and he prepares harder than anyone I have ever seen. Teams are always going to try to pressure him in different ways, but he always gets the ball off, throws with great accuracy, completes a big percentage and leads the league in touchdowns. He's not afraid to sit in there with everything coming at him and deliver the football on time and in the right place. He does a lot of mental work. I pride myself as a film study guy. I watch a ton of film every week and when I get tired of watching and finally get up to leave I walk past the quarterback room and there he is still watching film. He grinds it out like no one else. It's very impressive to watch and it's why he's as good as he is.

We thank proCane fan Kirk for bringing our attention to Jon Vilma’s entry on his PlayMaker Mobile page.

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

Bookmark and Share

Martin Bibla Wins a UFL Championship

Las Vegas Locomotives offensive guard Martin Bibla who won an ArenaBowl with the Philadelphia Soul in 2008 was asked how would compare winning an ArenaBowl to winning a UFL Championship, his response was, “Anytime you get to go to a championship it’s a great honor, so winning in the AFL and winning here would be top notch.”

Bookmark and Share

Portis gets OK to play, but return will wait

Injured Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis said Tuesday he has been cleared to play by a local doctor but will wait until Monday's examination by a doctor in Pittsburgh.

Portis was ruled out of Sunday's game against New Orleans because of a concussion suffered three weeks ago in Atlanta.

Appearing on the ESPN 980's "The John Thompson Show," Portis said, "It's just the vision. Outside of that, I haven't really tried anything else. I wasn't having any headaches or nausea or anything. Once we realized that, it was basically getting my eye back up to speed."

It wasn't clarified whether Portis is still experiencing vision problems when he moves his head quickly.

"I would love to be on the field trying to get out there and finish out the season," he said. "At the same time, I have to do what's safe and what's best. If I'm cleared and can get back out there for the last few games, I'm definitely going to try and get back out there. If I can't, I'll go into the offseason healthy and starting off fresh next year."

Click here to order Clinton Portis’ proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

Man files civil lawsuit against Panthers' Beason

Carolina Panthers linebacker Jon Beason was sued Tuesday by a team fan who claims Beason beat him last month at the Uptown Cabaret.

Gregory C. Frye claims in his lawsuit the Nov. 15 attack occurred after he told another Panthers player that he had seen Beason "up at the lake doing coke with some girl."

Beason, 24, was arrested Monday and accused of punching Frye in the face at the Morehead Street strip club after the team's win over Atlanta.

Beason, one of the Panthers' team captains and their leading tackler, adamantly denies attacking Frye and the drug allegations, said his attorney George Laughrun.

"I think Mr. Frye is living in fantasyland if he thinks Jon Beason ever snorted cocaine," Laughrun said.

Frye's suit claims he went to the annual Lake Bash at Lake Norman in June and saw Beason and an attractive woman "engaging in what he believed to be snorting cocaine."

The suit then describes what Frye, 29, alleges happened at the nightclub after he told Panthers tight end Dante Rosario that he had seen Beason doing cocaine.

Frye claims Beason's driver/bodyguard later approached him, saying: "Whatever you said about Beason, he's really pissed. You need to go talk to him."
Frye says a short time later Beason approached him "in a noticeably angry manner, cursing and yelling at Frye about the 'cocaine' statement."

To cool things down, Frye said, he suggested talking outside.

Frye says he took one step and turned to see if Beason was following.

"Just as Frye turned around, Beason hit him with a crushing right blow to his left eye/nose area," the suit says. "When the blow landed, Frye saw a streak of light, his legs buckled, and he fell to the floor."

Frye claims he was kicked as he tried to get up. When he got to his feet, he alleges, Beason struck him again on the left side of his head, causing him to stagger back as someone handed him a rag to catch blood rushing from his nose.

Frye says he didn't raise a hand or provoke Beason, and that he didn't fight back.

The lawsuit alleges that Beason was asked if he had struck Frye, and that Beason responded "something along the lines of, 'Yeah, I hit him. It might cost me a hundred grand, but you don't go around telling people I'm doing coke ...'"

Frye says he suffered a crushed nasal cavity, a facial fracture and swelling on the left side of his head. He is seeking damages in excess of $10,000.

Frye has a history of criminal charges and civil complaints, according to court records.

Among them: He sued a woman in 2005 for assault and battery and for medical costs, records show, but the case was dismissed. He was charged in 2008 with assaulting a female. That case was also dismissed.

Bookmark and Share

Jack McClinton Statistical Roundup

Here are Jack McClinton’s Statistics through four games for his Turkish team Aliaga Petkim which has an overall record of 3-4. McClinton has played in 6 of their first 7 games.

Bookmark and Share

Brian Asbury Statistical Roundup

Here are Brian Asbury’s Statistics through five games for his Israeli team Hapoel Kiryat Tivon which has an overall record of 6-1.

Bookmark and Share

The Alex Cora Signing

It is easy to like the signing of Alex Cora, especially if you have any dealings with Alex Cora.

The hard part is reconciling it with the needs of the 2010 Mets.

But by signing Alex Cora to a one-year, $2 million contract for 2010, the Mets are showing willful indifference to the offensive, defensive and financial implications of the move.

Cora registered a -7.8 UZR/150 mark as a shortstop last season, along with a -9.3 UZR/150 as a second baseman. Anyone watching his limited range isn’t a bit surprised by this. It is easy to see where he got his good defensive reputation- he has terrific hands, good instincts, and was probably terrific at one point. That point, unfortunately, is in the past, and this contract only covers the future.

For taking that defensive hit, the Mets are adding a bench player who had an OPS in 2009 of… .630. He’s projected to put up a .637 by Bill James in 2010.

But so what? He’s the backup shortstop and second baseman, right?

Well, yes, but that $2 million isn’t being spent by the Yankees and their limitless resources. Keep this in mind: the 2009 Mets had to choose between Randy Wolf and Oliver Perez. Why? Well, once Perez was signed, they couldn’t afford Wolf’s one-year, $5 million deal. Or put another way, they’d already spent $2.25 million on Tim Redding, $2 million on Cora, $925K on Jeremy Reed and $600K on Cory Sullivan. All four are entirely replaceable players. Wolf, in the rotation, wouldn’t have been.

On Twitter, several of the pro-Cora voices seemed to fall back on the idea that this move wouldn’t preclude the Mets from making other moves. The problem is, there’s no evidence to support that idea- and the move itself actually keeps the Mets from fielding a backup middle infielder who is an above-average fielder, above-average hitter, or whose salary at least doesn’t keep them from adding other options where spending more than the league minimum is worth doing.

Bookmark and Share

proCanes Stats from Week 12 of NFL U

Andre Johnson: 5 catches 67 yards

Vince Wilfork: 6 tackles, 4 solo tackles

Brandon Meriweather: 8 tackles, 6 solo tackles

Jeremy Shockey: 1 catch 15 yards

Jonathan Vilma: 9 tackles, 8 solo tackles, 1 tackle for loss

Santana Moss: 4 catches 28 yards, 1 TD, 1 punt return for 10 yards


Rocky McIntosh: 5 tackles, 4 solo tackles, 1 tackle for loss

Calais Campbell: 4 tackles, 2 solo tackles, .5 sack, 1 pass deflection

Antrel Rolle: 5 tackles, 3 solo tackles

Kelly Jennings: 3 solo tackles, 2 pass deflections

Frank Gore: 16 carries 33 yards, 7 catches 14 yards, 1 TD

Kellen Winslow: 7 catches for 81 yards

Roscoe Parrish: 2 punt returns for 11 yards

Greg Olsen: 7 catches, 45 yards

Devin Hester: 1 catch, 20 yards, 2 punt returns 4 yards

Darrell McClover: Played but did not record a tackle

Willis McGahee: 5 carries, 18 yards, 1 catch for 1 yard

Ray Lewis: 9 tackles, 5 solo tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 pass deflection

Ed Reed: 3 tackles, 2 solo tackles, 1 pass deflection

Tavares Gooden: 5 tackles, 4 solo tackles, 1 tackle for loss

DJ Williams: 2 solo tackles, 1 sack, 2 pass deflections


Jeff Feagles: 5 punts for 251 yards with a 50-yard average with 3 inside the 20-yard line

Bruce Johnson: 1 solo tackle

Reggie Wayne: 3 catches 19 yards

Jon Beason: 17 tackles, 11 solo tackles, 2 tackles for a loss

Damione Lewis: 5 tackles, 1 solo tackle, .5 sack

Phillip Buchanon: 3 tackles, 2 solo tackles, 1 tackle for loss

Antonio Dixon: 1 tackle

Bookmark and Share

proCanes Extend TD Streak to 117 Regular Season Weeks

Did you know that a former Miami Hurricane/current proCane has scored at least one touchdown in 117 consecutive regular season NFL weeks? Dating back to Week 15 of the 2002 season where Clinton Portis scored 4 TDs, at least one proCane has scored a TD in each regular season week since then. We have chronicled every touchdown since 2002. See below:

Week 12 2009:
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco 49ers
Reggie Wayne - 1 TD - Indianapolis Colts
Santana Moss - 1 TD - Washington Redskins
Willis McGahee - 1 TD - Baltimore Ravens

Week 11 2009:
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco 49ers
Andre Johnson - 1TD - Houston Texans

Week 10 2009:
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco 49ers
Reggie Wayne - 2 TDs - Indianapolis Colts

Week 9 2009:
Greg Olsen - 3 TDs - Chicago Bears
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco 49ers
Kellen Winslow - 1 TD - Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 8 2009:
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco 49ers
Reggie Wayne - 1 TD - Indianapolis Colts

Week 7 2009:
Reggie Wayne - 1 TD - Indianapolis Colts
Brandon Meriweather - INT returned for a TD – New England Patriots
Devin Hester - 1 TD - Chicago Bears

Week 6 2009:
Jeremy Shockey - 1 TD - New Orleans Saints
Greg Olsen - 1 TD - Chicago Bears

Week 5 2009:
Clinton Portis - 2 TDs - Washington Redskins
Ed Reed - INT returned for a TD - Baltimore Ravens
Kellen Winslow - 2 TDs - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Andre Johnson - 2 TDs - Houston Texans
Reggie Wayne - 1 TD - Indianapolis Colts

Week 4 2009:
Greg Olsen - 1 TD - Chicago Bears
Reggie Wayne - 1 TD - Indianapolis Colts
Willis McGahee - 2 TDs - Baltimore Ravens
Santana Moss - 1 TD - Washington Redskins

Week 3 2009:
Santana Moss - 1 TD - Washington Redskins
Willis McGahee - 2 TDs - Baltimore Ravens
Sinorice Moss - 1 TD - NY Giants
Devin Hester - 1 TD - Chicago Bears
Greg Olsen - 1 TD - Chicago Bears
Reggie Wayne - 1 TD - Indianapolis Colts

Week 2 2009:
Antrel Rolle - Blocked Field Goal Return for a TD - Arizona Cardinals
Andre Johnson - 2 TDs - Houston Texans
Willis McGahee - 2 TDs - Baltimore Ravens
Kellen Winslow - 1 TD - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Frank Gore - 2 TDs - San Francisco 49ers
Bruce Johnson - 1 TD - New York Giants

Week 1 2009:
Willis McGahee - 2 TDs - Baltimore Ravens
Kellen Winslow - 1 TD - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Reggie Wayne - 1 TD - Indianapolis Colts
Jeremy Shockey - 2 TDs - New Orleans Saints
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco 49ers
Devin Hester - 1 TD - Chicago Bears

Click below to see the rest of the list:

Bookmark and Share

Proceeding cautiously, Redskins want Portis back

As expected, running back Clinton Portis will sit out his third consecutive game because of lingering affects from a concussion, but he still could return this season, Coach Jim Zorn said today.

"Clinton Portis is not going to play again for another week," Zorn said. "He is going to have another exam on Monday after our game against New Orleans. ... He may practice some this week, but he's going to be out for the game. We're going to try to get him going and try to see if we can get those symptoms to not continue to reoccur."

Portis has not played since suffering the concussion in the Nov. 8 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. As of last week, the eight-year veteran had continued to experience blurry vision. The Redskins at 3-8 and in last place in the NFC East. Even if Portis returns to full strength before the season ends, I can't see a compelling reason to bring him back for the final few games.

Zorn views the situation differently.

"He's a guy we want. We want him to participate. We want him to be a Redskin player. Absolutely," Zorn said. "And if he's healthy, he's gonna wanna go. And we're going to want him to go.

"So, yeah, I think all those things are compelling. Now, we're going to make sure his head's right. But that's why we're talking the precautions we are."

Bookmark and Share

Attorney: Beason will plead not guilty

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers Pro Bowl middle linebacker Jon Beason was arrested Monday and charged with punching a man at a strip club.

Beason was booked on a misdemeanor assault charge Monday afternoon -- while his teammates were watching film of their loss to the New York Jets a day earlier -- and released on a written promise to appear in court.

His attorney, George Laughrun, said Beason had nothing to do with the incident on Nov. 15 and would plead not guilty.

"He's adamant that he never hit anyone," Laughrun said. "He's just pretty devastated that he's charged with something like this. But he has confidence in the system and looks forward to clearing his good name."

Gregory Frye accused the 6-foot, 237-pound Beason in the arrest warrant of inflicting serious injuries at the Uptown Cabaret, a strip club within walking distance of Bank of America Stadium. Frye, who has an arrest record, claimed his nasal cavity was crushed and he suffered bruising to his nose and face.

Beason hours earlier on Nov. 15 had recorded eight tackles in Carolina's victory over Atlanta.

Laughrun said police hadn't finished an investigation, but Frye was able to obtain a warrant from a judge for Beason's arrest.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police spokeswoman Rosalyn Harrington said she had no information and couldn't comment. Laughrun said Beason is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 11.

"We were aware of the police department looking into the incident and have addressed it with Jon," Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said in a statement. "At this time there appears to be two different versions of what happened."

Beason could not immediately be reached. His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, didn't immediately return a phone message seeking comment

The arrest comes a day after Beason matched a career-high with 17 tackles and recovered a fumble in Carolina's 17-6 loss to the New York Jets.

After starring at Miami, Beason immediately became one of Carolina's top defensive players after being the team's first-round pick in 2007. He set a franchise record with 160 tackles his rookie year, and recorded 159 tackles last season when he was selected to the Pro Bowl for the first time.

Beason has a team-best 115 tackles in what has been a disappointing 2009 season for the Panthers (4-7).

Bookmark and Share

Andre Johnson's lament

Asked why the Texans fell apart Sunday after coming out so strong, receiver Andre Johnson said: “In the first half everybody was making plays. Then the second half was a totally different story. I think it was about our execution. (The Colts) really didn't change anything.”

But nobody could get Johnson to wallow in his disappointment.

“I don't think it's difficult to stay positive,” he said. “When you play a football game, win or lose, you have to forget about it and move on because you have another opponent next week. We have to come in, correct our mistakes and move on.”

Bookmark and Share

Top target - Kellen Winslow

TE Kellen Winslow finished with a team-high seven receptions for 81 yards and eclipsed 3,000 career receiving yards. It was the ninth time in 11 games Winslow led or tied for the team lead in receptions. Winslow has the second-most receptions (54) and is tied for the sixth-most receiving yards (564) in a single season by a tight end in Buccaneers history.

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

Bookmark and Share

Gore scores TD to save fantasy day

Frank Gore ran for 33 yards on 16 carries, but caught seven balls for 14 yards and a touchdown in the 49ers' Week 12 win.

The Jaguars buckled down to stop the run, but Alex Smith made them pay with one of the best games of his career. He found Gore open in the back corner of the end zone in the second quarter for a four-yard score. Gore has a fairly favorable matchup against the Seahawks in Week 13.

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

Bookmark and Share

Jennings Comes Up Big

Just when it looked like the Seahawks were going to find themselves trailing one of the league’s worst teams, Kelly Jennings and Josh Wilson came up with a game-changing play that put the Seahawks on top for good.

Facing fourth-and-four in range of a long field goal, Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo instead decided to go four it. Kyle Boller tried to squeeze a pass into a tight spot, and Jennings, who said the play was one the team had emphasized during the week, dove in front of Rams receiver Donnie Avery break up the pass. The ball popped straight up in the air, and Wilson ran under it and raced 65 yards for a touchdown.

“It was a 7-7 game, they’re driving, they’re on our side of the 50, it meant a lot,” Wilson said. “It meant a lot to go into halftime with the lead. If they get a field goal or anything, they have a lead. To get a 10-point swing, 14-point swing is big, anytime in this league, I don’t care who you’re playing. I was just happy that I could assist in any way to us going home happy.”

It was Wilson’s second interception return for a touchdown this year and the third of his career. He also ran back a pick for a game-clinching score against Detroit this year.

And instead of having a lead in the locker room, the Rams were instead down four points despite driving for a long field goal following the interception.

Click here to order Kelly Jennings’ proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

Redskins remember Sean Taylor

As you might remember, former Redskins safety Sean Taylor died two years ago today. The Redskins didn't do anything as a team this morning to mark the occasion, players said. But some individuals remembered Taylor.

"I have my little thing that I do personally every year to pay my respects to Sean," running back Rock Cartwright said. "He's definitely missed. There's a not a day that goes by here when I don't think about him."

"I didn't do nothing special," wide receiver Santana Moss said. "I don't like to go back to it. I speak to him when I can, mostly every day, so it's not like this particular day is different."

Several players shook their heads at the notion of two years having passed. There has been some significant change in the meantime: 22 of the Redskins' 53 players didn't play with Taylor.

"Time flies," Cartwright said. "You've just got to keep moving forward."

"We appreciate who he was and why he was here," Moss said. "I play for him every Sunday."

Click here to order Sean Taylor’s proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share

Romberg Fills In At Guard

Harvey Dahl and, depending on whom you ask, offensive tackle Sam Baker all left the game with injuries for the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

Brett Romberg filled in for Dahl. Romberg, a center who plugs in at guard, said he last played guard last season.

With four offensive starters out of the lineup, the team predictably struggled. The Falcons' yards-per-play average (3.9) was the lowest of the season, and their third-down conversion rate (31 percent) was the third lowest. Not great numbers against a team that entered the game 27th in the NFL in total defense and leading up to the Falcons game demoted its defensive coordinator and switched schemes.

Bookmark and Share

Persistent Dixon flying with Eagles

Antonio Dixon has beaten the odds so many times that he's lost count.

A severe stutter was the least of Dixon's troubles. One parent was in federal prison, the other hooked on drugs. Dixon shuttled between homeless shelters and foster homes. He attended more than a dozen schools and, because he suffered from dyslexia, didn't learn to read as a child.

Dixon surmounted all of that to earn a football scholarship to the University of Miami, graduate in four years and become one of six NCAA athletes to win the 2009 Wilma Rudolph Award for persistence in overcoming hurdles and achieving on and off the field.

The 6-foot-3, 322-pound Dixon didn't play much in his four years with the Hurricanes, starting just 10 games and recording only 71 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Still, the Washington Redskins signed him as a rookie free agent in April.
The trouble for Dixon was that the Redskins already were loaded at defensive tackle with All-Pro Albert Haynesworth, longtime starter Cornelius Griffin and veterans Kedric Golston, Anthony Montgomery and Lorenzo Alexander.

The only spot for him was on the practice squad, which is where he was headed after being one of the Redskins' final cuts. But the Philadelphia Eagles liked what they had seen of the Miami native and signed him to their roster.

Eagles coach Andy Reid, who worked with Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Blache in Green Bay, said the fact that Blache liked Dixon was important to him.

"Greg Blache is one of the finest defensive line coaches in this league, so if he liked him that's a pretty good player," Reid said.

Dixon made five tackles, four of them for losses, in the preseason opener against the Baltimore Ravens - enough to impress the Eagles when they scouted the Redskins.

"He was a player who we liked in college [though] he was a little on the raw side," Eagles general manager Tom Heckert said. "He's obviously a gifted player with good athletic ability for a big strong guy. We thought that he had improved, even in his short time in Washington, to where we thought he was good enough to make our [roster] and help us in our defensive tackle rotation."

He certainly has done that. Dixon plays 10 to 20 snaps behind starters Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley. He made his first tackle in Week 2, sacked the New York Giants' Eli Manning in Week 8 and kept Philadelphia within three points in the fourth quarter Sunday by blocking Chicago's field goal try.

"I told Bunkley I was going to block it," said Dixon, who thought he should've blocked Robbie Gould's 49-yarder in the third quarter.

"Antonio Dixon, I can't say enough about the guy," Reid said after the Eagles followed the block by driving for the winning touchdown. "He came through bigger than big with the blocked field goal. He's developed into one of our favorites here. He's a great kid, a pleasure to be around."

Quarterback Donovan McNabb said his teammates love Dixon's attitude.

"It's always good to see him with a big smile on his face," McNabb said. "[He's] happy about his opportunity, and he's taking full advantage of it."

Dixon, who faces a constant battle to keep his weight under control, is thrilled to be on a roster, especially on a team that might be playoff-bound.

"I had made a lot of good friends on the Redskins, and I was looking forward to being on the practice squad," Dixon said.

"Griff and the guys helped me out so much with my hands and my footwork. But my agent told me that he thought some [other] teams were interested in me, and then the Eagles called. I was really nervous the first game because I didn't know I was going to play, but I've been fine since then. Looking back at some of the things I had to go through, I'm very proud to be where I am. I just had to fight. I'm still fighting."

Dixon's success makes Griffin beam like a proud papa.

"Dix is a great guy who's been through a lot," Griffin said. "He works hard and he's coachable. There are guys on the street who wish they had the opportunity he had. I didn't want him to let that opportunity be wasted, and he's making the most of it."

Bookmark and Share

Hester on full moon surprise: "I got a lot of comments from chicks"

Being a wholesome blog devoted solely to football, we're not going to link to the oodles of videos available on the World Wide Web of Devin Hester and his uniform malfunction at the end of Sunday's loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. If you're interested, you'll find it.

Hester was trying to reach down and scoop up a low pass from Jay Cutler when Eagles cornerback Dimitri Patterson dragged him down by his britches, casting a full moon over NBC's telecast of the game.

"I ain't talking about that,'' Hester said this afternoon as he walked off the practice field inside the Walter Payton Center. "I'm trying to let that die down."

Hester was embarrassed by the incident but said it's one of the things that can happen when a defender grabs ahold of you just the right wrong place.

"It done happened before. It's not the first time and it won't be the last,'' he said. "There's nothing you can do, man, when they pull your pants."

Asked if he has received an outpouring of attention over the incident, he asked to change the subject.

"Don't do this to me,'' he said. "Let it die down. I did got a lot of comments from chicks, I'll consider that as a compliment."

Bookmark and Share

Two years later, Sean Taylor's life still deserves three dimensions

It was Thanksgiving morning 2007, and the Washington Redskins were preparing for that Sunday's contest with Tampa Bay. Santana Moss was sitting in a meeting room next to the NFC interception leader, a physical safety who had missed a game with a sore knee, and would be missing another.

"And he went down the line, 'Hey, Happy Thanksgiving,' to every coach," Moss recalled this summer. "I kept looking at him, and saying to myself, 'You don't have to do that, Sean.' But that's him. And then that weekend came, and boom, he was gone. Those moments I think about to this day. Who would have known, man, that was going to be his last week with us?"

Who can believe that it's been two years?

That weekend, right after Thanksgiving, Sean Taylor returned to his Palmetto Bay home, not far from the fields where he made his football name for the Gulliver High and the University of Miami. He had come to continue recuperating from the knee injury, and wasn't supposed to be in the house with his fiancée Jackie and their 18-month-old daughter, also named Jackie. During the second break-in of the month, an armed intruder shot in. Twenty-six hours later, Taylor's life ended. The legal proceedings seemingly never do. Five men were charged with a role in the murder. The trial has been delayed three times and one suspect who pled guilty has since petitioned the court to withdraw his plea.

But this isn't a commentary on the legal system. Nor is it designed as a tribute to Taylor's football exploits, since those are understood. It simply serves as a second attempt to tell a man's story. Taylor's murder was a tragedy for his family, friends and fans. It was a dark hour for the media as well. We were at our absolute assumption-making, narrow-minded worst.

You might remember bigots on anonymous message boards characterizing Taylor as just another thug who couldn't outrun his troubled past. But many media commentators, including prominent African-American columnists at major American newspapers, initially suggested Taylor's associations (from shady friends to the University of Miami itself) played some role in his fate. Many observers applied stereotypes that didn't fit; Taylor wasn't some abandoned inner-city male but, rather, a police chief's son. And while he had made mistakes, showing some poor sportsmanship and getting arrested twice (once for DUI and once on gun charges after his ATVs were stolen), he wasn't killed for his failings.

He was killed for his success, for what he had earned that others wanted. He died trying to protect what he most valued: his family.That got lost in the one-dimensional portraits. That's what still bothers former teammates, such as Moss.

"Once he passed, I just hated to hear people in the media say, 'That's the life he lived,'" Moss said. "No, he didn't live that life. That guy barely went out. He is a guy that did less than what I have done, when it comes to how I hang. The trouble didn't come my way. I have been brought into a lot of situations, but I have found a way to get out of it or found a way to turn my back. And I am thankful for that. But he was one of those guys that when the trouble came, it hit him, it hit him hard. And he got labeled for some of the stuff that he had been involved with, or some of the situations he put himself in. But as far as his life, and who he was as a person and who he was as a teammate, they didn't do a great job of really searching and seeing who this guy was before talking about him."

Even Moss, though, had needed some convincing. Moss played at a different Miami area high school (Carol City), and preceded Taylor with the Hurricanes. They finally became teammates in 2005, when Taylor was in his second NFL season, and started sitting together on planes.

"I had a perception of him, too," Moss said. "I didn't think he was no bad guy. I was just like, this guy, the way he plays football, he's one of the guys you don't really want to have a conversation with. So I had to kind of let him open up to me first. We started talking about music. And the music he was talking about, I just didn't put that music with him. And I'm like, OK, man, Sean's all right, man. He's somebody you can talk to."

Taylor's depth would have surprised most. Most, after all, didn't hear Taylor's lengthy and personal radio interview six weeks earlier with the Redskins flagship station. In response to a question about his fears, he replied, "You can't be scared of death. When it's that time and it comes, it comes."

The week before Thanksgiving, as they rehabbed together in the training room, Moss and Taylor had their own lengthy, very personal conversations.

"`Wow,' I was saying to myself," Moss said. "And I wonder if it was a sign that it was his time, he was ready to go because he was talking about stuff that wasn't on a level with what we had ever talked about. But he was on some off-the-wall stuff, and it was all great things, you know, just life."

A life cut too short, two years ago.

Bookmark and Share

Vernon Carey and teammates handed off turkeys to students

Hundreds of anxious students gathered outside Miami Northwestern High School's auditorium on Monday afternoon to get free turkeys for Thanksgiving in return for excellent attendance. While they waited out front, members of the Miami Dolphins, led by right tackle Vernon Carey, slipped in the back to sort, bag and deliver turkeys to students.

``You come here; I want to show you some Thanksgiving love,'' said Essie Bailey, of Liberty City, who squeezed the six-foot-five, 340-pound Carey with everything she had. ``That's what I'm talking about.''

Carey, 28, who led the Northwestern football team to a state title in 1998, returned to his alma mater for the Fifth Annual Vernon Carey Thanksgiving Turkey Drive.

``This is my home and these are the people I care for with all my heart,'' said Carey, who is quiet and reserved -- off the field.

What makes this year's turkey drive different from other years is that it focuses on giving students an incentive to attend class regularly. Northwestern is hard at work to shed its ``F'' rating.

The lesson: You can't learn anything if you don't come to class.

``The only way students could get a turkey this year is to have perfect attendance,'' said Assistant Principal Adalys Rodriguez, who verified students' eligibility at the front gate.

They also had to show initiative by attending a special academy on Saturdays to help improve their grades. Rodriguez said that the aim is an ``A'' for attendance.

Judging by the size of the line, attendance has been pretty good at Northwestern this year. The Dolphins' offensive line stood side by side and towered over the students as they greeted them with 1,200 turkeys and cans of cranberry sauce.

``This makes it all worth the effort,'' said Alvin Woodside, 17, a junior at Northwestern. Carey and his teammates took time to sign autographs, pose for photos and share stories and laughs with everyone in line.

``Vernon is well known in Miami's inner city for helping the poor, and he started the Vernon Carey Foundation in October to continue this mission,'' said Felix Williams, director of the foundation. One of his programs -- Carey's Crew -- gives 20 students from Brownsville Middle School the chance to attend home games at Land Shark Stadium, as Carey's special guests.

The good deeds he sows have not gone unnoticed. In 2008, Carey was a finalist for the 2008 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.

``Vernon did this on his own and Publix delivered the turkeys and helped him coordinate it,'' said Bill Fauerbach, vice president of Publix, who arrived early, rolled up his sleeves and help preload the turkeys into bags.

Carey said he has a duty to make sure his old neighborhood is fed during Thanksgiving and looks to his favorite book for inspiration -- the Bible. To whom much is given, much is expected.

Bookmark and Share

Wilfork's more than just a nose tackle

Wilfork might be one of the best run-stuffers in the NFL, a wide body who occupies blockers as well as anyone in the league, but that doesn't mean he's just a nose tackle. In the past three weeks, the sixth-year defensive lineman has played just about everywhere on the Patriots' defensive line -- and has thrived doing it.

With the undefeated New Orleans Saints significantly weaker at tackle than at guard or center, Bill Belichick will have the luxury of unpredictability on his side: The Saints will have no idea where the Patriots plan to line up Wilfork.

"We put him where we felt like we need him on a game-by-game basis," Belichick said earlier this week. "How that will be going forward? We'll figure that out week to week. Vince, he does a good job for us every week."

Against Miami earlier this month, Wilfork played primarily right end on a three-man defensive line. He was matched up against left tackle and former No. 1 overall pick Jake Long, the Dolphins' best pass-blocking lineman. The first time Wilfork moved back to defensive tackle, Long went out of his way to block him again "" and Tully Banta-Cain tore right through the block of a tight end to drill Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne and force an incomplete pass.

A week ago against the New York Jets, though, Wilfork played almost the entire game back at nose tackle, occupying double-teams on more than half of his snaps and occupying the time of Nick Mangold, perhaps the best center in the NFL. Wilfork did spend one series at defensive end, however, and he was as productive in those three snaps at defensive end as he was the entire rest of the game at defensive tackle. Consider the numbers gleaned from a review of the tape:

-- In 29 snaps at the nose tackle on a three-man defensive line, Wilfork had two tackles;
-- In five snaps as a right tackle on a four-man defensive line, Wilfork had zero tackles;
-- In three snaps as the left end on a three-man defensive line, Wilfork had three tackles.

That's the kind of versatility the Patriots get with Mike Wright this season and used to get from Richard Seymour before he was traded to Oakland. But Wright and Seymour at least look like defensive ends "" Wright is 6-foot-4 and 295 pounds while Seymour is 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds "" while Wilfork looks like the prototypical wide-bodied nose tackle at 6-foot-2 and 325 pounds.

"Things happen a little quicker at the nose than it is at end," said defensive end Ty Warren, a lineman who has spent some time himself at nose tackle.

"It's a little dirtier at nose than it is at end "" but other than that, it's all the same schematically."

His three snaps at end against the Jets, though, made him look like anything but a wide-bodied nose tackle. Rookie Myron Pryor entered the game at nose tackle to allow Wilfork to shift to left end, and it didn't take more than the requisite three plays for the Patriots to force the Jets to punt.

On his first snap at end, Wilfork shrugged off right tackle Damien Woody and wrestled Thomas Jones to the ground a yard beyond the line of scrimmage. On third down, a situation that sees Wilfork head for the sidelines most of the time, the Jets ran their version of the Wildcat formation with wide receiver Brad Smith. Wilfork pushed Woody into the backfield and was in position to make the tackle of Shonn Green as soon as he fielded the pitch from Smith.

"Vince does what we ask him to do within the scheme, and he does it very, very well," defensive coordinator Dean Pees said earlier this week. "I can't tell you how much he means to our defense."

Like the Jets and Indianapolis Colts, the Saints have their best offensive linemen in the middle of their line: The film analysts at rank Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks rank as two of the four best offensive guards in the NFL.

On the outside, though, the Saints might be vulnerable. Starting left tackle Jammal Brown went on injured reserve with a hip injury in late September, and second-stringer Jermon Bushrod appears to have been outplayed by third-stringer Zack Strief. Bushrod and Strief alternated at the position a week ago, and that's usually a sign that neither has been able to seize the job for his own.

Belichick could line Wilfork up at end and send him against Bushrod or Strief, thus exploiting the weakest point in the Saints' line with his most talented defensive player. Belichick also could line Wilfork up at nose tackle and occupy either Nicks at left guard, controlling the gaps inside while also preventing Nicks from assisting Bushrod or Strief against Banta-Cain off the edge. Belichick even could alternate Wilfork between nose tackle and defensive end and never give the Saints' offensive linemen a chance to settle into any type of defensive rhythm.

Whatever he ends up doing, there's no question it's forced the Saints' offensive coaches to put in long hours this week.

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

Bookmark and Share

Salmons scores 23 in Bulls loss to Bucks

Bulls swingman John Salmons had a solid game vs. the Bucks -- 23 points on 8-of-15 FGs and 6-of-8 FTs, three rebounds, three steals and three blocks.

Salmons has been heating up after an ice-cold start to the season, and the opportunity to buy-low may have already passed. He made one 3-pointer, which isn't too shabby considering the entire team was 2-of-8 from downtown.

Bookmark and Share

Salmons A Slow Starting Star

John Salmons, SG/SF, Chicago Bulls: One of the more underrated shooters in the Association, Salmons is hitting a hideous 36.1 percent of his shots this season. It's shocking, considering he averaged better than 47 percent from the field the previous two seasons. The good news is that little else has changed; the Bulls' roster is basically the same (minus Ben Gordon), he's playing the same minutes and taking just as many shots. He's obviously not going to average 36 percent for the season -- not even the worst shooter does. That means when he does find his shot and boost that percentage, we should see his scoring production bump back up toward 18 per game.

Bookmark and Share

Mets re-sign Cora

NEW YORK -- He doesn't hit 30 home runs, catch or pitch. But Alex Cora makes the Mets a better team in ways subtle and not so subtle. So even though his agreeing to a contract with the club late Monday addresses none of the club's primary needs, it does fill a need.

Now the Mets have a sense of who will play shortstop when Jose Reyes doesn't or second base when Luis Castillo -- or his successor -- doesn't. And the home clubhouse at Citi Field will have a respected voice and a presence.

Cora, a free agent who was injured for much of last season, passed a physical and agreed to a contract that will pay him $2 million for 2010. The deal includes an option for 2011 that can vest if he reaches certain quantitative levels.

Cora is the first big league player the Mets have added to their roster since the season ended, and one they came to appreciate last season, his first with the club.

"I'm excited about coming back," Cora said on Monday. "We have a lot to prove as a team after what happened last year. As for me personally, there is unfinished business. I was hurt a great deal of the time, and I really wasn't able to perform like I know I can. I'm healthy now, and I can't wait to get to Spring Training. We all have something to prove."

Cora started 54 games at shortstop and 13 at second base, significantly more than either he or the Mets envisioned in January, when he signed a one-year contract for $2 million. Reyes' extended stay on the disabled list turned the now-34-year-old veteran into a regular. He wore down and ended his season on Aug. 12, when fatigue, the condition of both thumbs and the Mets' position in the standings said it was time.

Cora had torn ligaments in both thumbs in consecutive games in May. He was assigned to the DL on May 18, two days before Reyes played his final game.

Cora returned to active duty on June 4 and started 56 of the Mets' subsequent 63 games. He underwent surgery on Aug. 20 to repair the right thumb and on Sept. 21 to repair the left.

He batted .308 in his final 13 games and finished his first season in the National League since 2004 with a .251 batting average, 18 RBIs, 31 runs and 14 extra-base hits (one home run) in 271 at-bats.

Coste who played for the Phillies in 2006, 2007 and into last season, was claimed on waivers by the Astros on July 10. He batted .224 with 18 RBIs, 15 runs and 15 extra-base hits (two home runs) in 205 at-bats with the two teams. He is a career .272 hitter with 23 home runs and 108 RBIs in 299 games (806 at-bats).

Bookmark and Share