Tanard Davis Released

The Tennessee Titans released former Miami Hurricane and defensive back Tanard Davis. Davis played the nickel- back position during the preseason due to other injuries in the Titans’ secondary. Thee is a good chance he makes the practice squad somewhere.


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Falcons Release Sharpe

The Falcons today announced the release of former Hurricane defensive back Glenn Sharpe.


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Bears inform special teams standout McClover he is leaving

The Bears will release linebacker Darrell McClover, a special teams standout who was signed two weeks ago. If the team needs special teams help down the line, it's possible he could return.

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Photo of the Week - Warren Sapp Out on the Town

Warren Sapp & Antonio Misuraca at Secret Society at B.E.D./Peter Richardson/RED EYE PRODUCTIONS


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Devin Hester on the Spot

He's the No. 1 receiver on the depth chart, and the Bears are paying him No. 1 receiver-type money, but Hester has yet to perform up to No. 1 receiver standards. It's true that he's only in his second year at the position and is still learning, but he's expected to show major improvement now that the Bears have a quarterback who can get him the ball deep. Hester has the talent to be a difference maker, and it's time for him to deliver.

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QB Berlin nearly perfect on 85-yard TD drive

Brock Berlin just made a major statement in his battle with rookie Keith Null for the No. 3 QB job. Berlin directed the St. Louis Rams on a clinical, 15-play, 85-yard drive that knocked 7:29 off the clock and culminated with a 6-yard touchdown pass to TE Daniel Fells. Berlin hit on seven of nine passes during the march, and the two incompletions both were drops. Berlin made a large stride in keeping the third string QB role, leading the Rams on an impressive touchdown drive.  His only blemish?  An interception.

Berlin finished the game 9-17 for 97 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

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James gets couple carries for Hawks

SEATTLE – It wasn’t much, but running back Edgerrin James got his first few touches in a Seattle Seahawks uniform Thursday against the Oakland Raiders.

And he didn’t look too shabby, rushing twice for 11 yards on the team’s first series of the evening at Qwest Field.

James’ debut included a 7-yard scoot through the middle of the Raiders’ defense on the second play of the game, with the veteran doing a nice job of picking his way through Oakland’s front seven.

The play exemplified why the team terminated the contract of T.J. Duckett, replacing him with James.

After the opening series, James was replaced by Justin Forsett and joined the rest of the starters on the sideline.

James, who joined the team just over a week ago, suited up against Kansas City last weekend and participated in the team’s pregame warm-ups, but went into the locker room and changed into his street clothes before the game started.

The Seahawks reportedly signed the 31-year-old James to a one-year, $2 million deal to back up starter Julius Jones.

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Moss catches two touchdowns as push to make team continues

Sinorice Moss wanted answers. Instead, he provided them.

The Giants' fourth-year wide receiver, who publicly griped about not getting as much playing time as he expected last week against the Jets, was in the game early Thursday night against the Patriots. And he didn't waste any time in making his final plea for a roster spot.

Moss caught touchdowns on the Giants' first two drives to the end zone to lead the team's starters to a first-half blowout of New England. Rookie Hakeem Nicks followed those scores with a 64-yard touchdown, but the backups lost the second-half battle as the Patriots stormed back for a 38-27 victory in the preseason finale for both teams.
Still, the final score wasn't nearly as important as whether Moss established himself as a reliable receiving option worthy of being a Giant for one more season.

"I really wish I did prove that when my number's called, I'm able to go out there and make plays," Moss said. "My number was called tonight and I was able to make some plays for this team."

Yes, his touchdowns came against a defense comprised of mostly backups. And yes, he caught both touchdowns against a rookie safety. But for a guy who has yet to live up to his promise as a second-round pick from Miami and was believed to be in a battle for a job with Derek Hagan as final cuts approached, he'll take it -- even if he did have a bad drop on a short pass in the second half.

"Opportunity favors the prepared," Moss said. "And I came into this game very prepared for any situation I was put in to, go out there and do my best. I was blessed to have two opportunities to go out there and score touchdowns and I did."

Moss and the rest of the Giants' offense were also blessed that 10 members of the Patriots' starting defense were standing on the sideline or sitting on the bench.

But just like Moss, the Giants will take whatever success they can get throwing the ball. After a disappointing performance against the Jets that included several bad drops, they were perfect in this one.

Manning gave way to Carr for the second drive, but the rest of the starters stayed in the game. Carr, who completed all six of his passes for 153 yards, opened by hitting Hixon on a deep fade for 38 yards. Three plays later, he rolled right and found Moss in the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown.

This time, Moss had to fight off Chung, the 34th overall pick in April's draft, before breaking to the right across the back of the end zone.

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Beason ready to run

CHARLOTTE -- In this, the "Year of the Tweet," it figures that at least one Panther uses Twitter to update fans on his recuperation from injury. But 140 characters only provided Jon Beason enough room for this:

They said it couldn't been done, they said it wasn't enough time.... Ha we'll see in due time.

Using more traditional means -- i.e., talking to reporters -- Beason expounded upon those words Thursday with a more forceful prediction on his Week 1 status.

"I don't have any doubt that I'll be ready for the game," he said. "I've still got nine days."

In the meantime, Beason has to start running.

"We're going to get out there this weekend when everyone's gone on their break, and I'll be out there running and seeing how this thing feels," Beason said. "But it feels great.

"It's not really sore. It's just scarring down. But it feels real good. That's the best way I can put it. We will see."

Beason's confidence is rooted in his last recovery from a sprained knee, when he was at the University of Miami.

"The fact that I've done it before and knew how fast I came back, I knew it was possible," he said. "I'm just happy it happened when it did. I don't want to miss any time. But it happened; it's behind us."

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Giants WR Moss scores two TDs in finale

Sinorice Moss caught two passes for 35 yards and two touchdowns against the Patriots Thursday night.

That's how you showcase a player for a trade. Moss capped off each of the first two drives with touchdowns and likely saved himself from the chopping block. Receiver-needy teams hoping he would be cut may now be out of luck.

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Ken Dorsey senses similarities with Jacory Harris

Ken Dorsey was the Miami Hurricanes' last great quarterback, and he sees a lot of himself in current Canes passer Jacory Harris.

``Yeah, we're both lanky,'' Dorsey says with a laugh.

Before Dorsey's senior season he weighed in at a whopping 6-5, 200 pounds. Harris, a sophomore, is listed at 6-4, 190 pounds.

Arm strength?

``I think we're similar,'' Dorsey said. ``I think he definitely has a little more athleticism than I did, but I think his ability to throw all the throws, timing and precision are going to be crucial for him because he's not the rocket arm. But at the same time, he has plenty of arm to make every throw on the football field, and make them well and get the ball there on time.''

Competitive spirit?

``Jacory is a competitor,'' Dorsey said. ``When you look at all the Miami quarterbacks, we were all competitors. We care a lot about each other, and we like to push each other.''

With that in mind, here are a few words of advice from Dorsey that Harris should take to heart before Monday's season opener at Florida State.

In case anyone needs to be reminded, Dorsey's breakout game in his sophomore season was a heart-pounding 27-24 come-from-behind win against the top-ranked Seminoles in 2000. With such a demanding schedule to begin the season, a strong performance in the season opener is vital to Harris' development, according to Dorsey.

``Leadership is earned on the field,'' Dorsey said. ``The way you play dictates your credibility a lot of times. So, I think it's a great opportunity for him Monday to solidify his role on that team as the leader and the guy everyone can look to.''

Like Harris, Dorsey started a few games as a freshman before earning the starting role in his second season. Like the team in 2000, these current Canes don't have much of a backup plan beyond the starting quarterback. In 2000, the backup quarterback was actually a receiver. Despite the overwhelming need to remain healthy, Dorsey says he approached his first season with reckless abandon and so should Harris.

``You can game-plan to protect the quarterback, but he's going to get hit, so you just can't change your offense to try and protect the kid,'' Dorsey said.

``If you want to win, you can't compromise or ease up. That's when you get hurt.''

Talent surrounded Dorsey in 2000. Similarly, the 2009 Canes aren't lacking at the skill positions. Dorsey's best advice: Let the playmakers make the plays.

``I'm not saying he needs to be conservative, but take the throws that are there,'' Dorsey said. ``In Miami's offense, there are players who can turn a 5-yard hitch route into 20 yards. It's all about taking what the defense gives you and being smart.

``Those big plays are going to come if you make completions.''

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Dolphins may look at Sinorice Moss if cut

The Miami Herald's Armando Salguero thinks the Dolphins will/should look at Sinorice Moss if he is cut by the Giants.

Salguero notes that Moss can return punts and kickoffs for the Dolphins, who are in need to find someone for the duties. Salguero also mentions that Moss is from Miami and has played for a Bill Parcells disciple, Tom Coughlin. Just pure speculation at this point.

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Meet Baltimore Ravens Ray Lewis at public signing...

Autograph tickets go on sale September 4 at 10 AM for a public signing with Ray Lewis at Great Moments Westminster location on September 30, 2009 from 7:30 to 8:30 PM.

Great Moments 140 Village Shopping Center 531-B Jermor Lane Westminster, MD 21157 (410) 876-6906

Monday thru Friday - 10:00 am to 8:00 pm Saturday - 10:00 am to 7:00 pm
Tickets are generally sold through several distribution points, including online, Charge-by-Phone and on-site. Distribution points access the same inventory. Therefore, autograph tickets for popular events may sell out quickly.

Availability of Autograph Tickets is not guaranteed.

Great Moments welcomes drop-off or mail-in items to be signed if you cannot attend the autograph signing by Ray Lewis at a cost of $79.00 per flat item or mini helmet and $99.00 per full size helmet, football or jersey. Items are due by September 28, 2009. Please remember to include return shipping with mail-in items.

Please note that shipping charges do not apply to autograph ticket orders and autograph tickets are not merchandise.

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Indians' Perez up to 19 2/3 scoreless

Chris Perez fanned three in two perfect innings out of the pen Thursday against the Tigers.

He's up to 19 2/3 straight scoreless innings. Perhaps just as remarkable is that he's gone 10 1/3 innings without issuing a walk. In parts of two seasons with the Cardinals, Perez gave up 27 earned runs and 37 walks in 65 1/3 innings.

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Beason Hints He Could Be Back Soon

Jon Beason on Wednesday September 2nd said on his twitter account: “They said it couldn't been done, they said it wasn't enough time.... Ha we'll see in due time.” Sounds like he could be ready for Week 1, we know the Panthers sure hope so, as do we here at proCanes.com.

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Frank Gore: Niners want to run 60 percent of the time

According to 49ers offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye, "balance for us will be closer to 60-40 run-pass."

With Mike Singletary running the show, we don't doubt the 49ers will be committed to the ground game. They've said it all camp as Frank Gore and Glen Coffee have impressed. But the only way to run 60 percent of the time is to have leads. Either way, Gore is in line for a sizable workload.

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McClover Should Make the Bears

The Bears brought back the Commando prior to the Denver game in order to energize special teams. That's what he does. He's not a contributor on defense but the Bears usually give special teams coordinator Dave Toub one player on the roster to be a designated core special teams guy. McClover could have arrived in the nick of time.

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Finals days in a Giants uniform might be approaching for Sinorice Moss

Sinorice Moss is searching for an explanation about playing time after seeing less of the field against the Jets last week than he expected.

"There are questions that need to be answered," the 2006 second-round pick said. "It would be ideal to get those questions answered."

These were the public gripes of the wide receivers on the roster bubble as the Giants approach Thursday night's game against the Patriots -- the fourth and final game of the preseason. With final cuts looming on Saturday, there's a chance both Moss and Tyree could be in their final days with the Giants.

If the team keeps six receivers, as it has for each of the first five seasons of the Tom Coughlin era, at least one of the two figures to be cut. The first five slots are pretty much guaranteed to go to Domenik Hixon, Steve Smith, Mario Manningham and the two rookie receivers Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden. That seemingly leaves one spot for Moss, Tyree or Derek Hagan, who had an impressive training camp.

While Moss was clearly agitated about having lost an opportunity to state his case against the starters, Tyree was smiling and laughing with reporters. The fact he was sidelined with a hamstring injury that will also keep him out Wednesday night against New England (the team he made Super Bowl history against) didn't appear to discourage him at all.

Nor did the possibility he'd be unemployed this weekend.

Moss took the opposite approach and said the thought of being cut hasn't crossed his mind -- not even as he watched Nicks and Barden enter the game with the starting offense. The 5-8, 185-pound Moss believed the rookies and Hagan were given his chance to prove he can impress the coaches in a live game, not just during non-contact drills in training camp.

"Anybody can go out there and catch a pass in practice. That's why we do practice," Moss said. "But it's about getting an opportunity in a game and showing it. I can go out there and catch five or 10 passes a day (in practice). But I feel like it would be a lot better if I would be able to do it in a game. ... That's a very, very big thing for me."

Moss didn't address the issue with coach Tom Coughlin, who said "he's welcome to come and speak with me any time he wants."

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Testaverde Named to ACC's 2009 Legends Class

Former quarterback Vinny Testaverde has been named by the Atlantic Coast Conference as the University of Miami's representative in its Class of 2009 Dr Pepper Football Championship Game Legends. Testaverde, a Ring of Honor and Hall of Fame member at UM, headlines the 12-member group announced by the league on Wednesday that also includes former Florida State quarterback Chris Weinke and one of the winningest head coaches in league history in Clemson's Danny Ford.

The Legends will be honored at this year's Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game weekend. They 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 has an 8 p.m. kickoff on Dec. 5 and will be nationally televised by ESPN.

The group of 12 former gridiron standouts from current ACC schools includes three former ACC Players of the Year, seven former All-Americas, nine players who combined for 79 years of professional football experience and 10 who were drafted into the National Football League including two first-round picks and the No. 1 choice in the 1987 draft (Testaverde).

In all, the collection of players and coaches combined to capture two national championships, one NFL World Championship and 15 ACC team titles.

Testaverde, who now lives just outside Tampa in Odessa, Fla., became Miami's first Heisman Trophy winner, claiming the 1986 Trophy. In two seasons as the starting quarterback for the Hurricanes, Testaverde led Miami to a 21-1 record including a 28-16 upset triumph over then-No. 1-ranked Oklahoma in 1986 in the Orange Bowl. That year he was named a consensus All-America and also earned the Maxwell and Walter Camp Player of the Year Awards and the Davey O'Brien Award. The first selection in the 1987 NFL Draft, Testaverde went on to a 21-year career in the National Football League with Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Baltimore, the New York Jets, Dallas, New England and Carolina, throwing for 46,233 yards and 275 touchdown passes.

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Sinorice Moss gathers gloom as Giants' final cut nears

FOXBORO - Sinorice Moss didn't know what to think Saturday night when he was sitting on the bench, being ignored by the coaches, while the rest of his teammates played in the first half against the Jets. He was sure he had earned an opportunity with an outstanding spring and summer.

Now he's forced to wonder if his opportunity might be somewhere else.

That's what the 25-year-old Moss is facing, as he heads into the Giants' preseason finale against the Patriots in New England tonight. He knows the final cuts are due at 6 p.m. on Saturday, and he's no longer sure if he has a future with the Giants.

He also knows it might be too late to do anything about it.

"If that is the case, I have no say so in that," Moss said. "I don't know what it is. I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing, keep working hard. This week is a new week, a new opportunity for myself to go out and make some plays."
Moss has remained positive throughout a three-year career that has been marked by injuries, inconsistent performances and a lack of opportunities. But this week, his demeanor turned sour after his unexpected experience against the Jets.

Other than on special teams, he didn't get on the field until late in the second half, although the first-team offense played most of the first three quarters. Even rookies Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden got time in the offense with quarterback Eli Manning ahead of Moss.

That was Tom Coughlin's explanation - that he wanted to get an extended look at his young wideouts - but it was still a blow to Moss, who entered training camp as the No. 3 receiver and felt he hadn't done anything to lose the job.

Needless to say, the snub sent his mind racing with "a lot of different things."

"Uncertainty," he said. "Not knowing what's going on. Those were the types of questions running through my head. I was just very, very anxious and eager to get out there on the field."

When Moss did get out there with the offense, he was invisible, even though he insisted, "I did what I had to do. I ran my routes. I was open."

After the starters were pulled with 6:12 left in the third quarter, backup quarterback David Carr attempted 17 passes. He targeted six different receivers. He threw to Nicks six times. He even threw to Mario Manningham five times, even though Manningham had been playing since the first quarter.

He didn't throw in Moss' direction once.

Not surprisingly, Moss wanted answers, so the next day he approached receivers coach Mike Sullivan. But he got the same answer Coughlin gave, that the coaches were, "Just trying to work guys in there, get guys out there and be able to show what they can do."

Asked if that meant they already knew what Moss could do, Moss said, "I don't know. I still don't know."

"I mean, there are questions that need to be answered," he said. "It would be ideal to get those questions answered. But I'm going to stay the same way I've been, keep working hard and do what I have to do this week. When I get the opportunity, I'll go in there and do what I have to do."

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Want to stay at Vinny Testaverde's home?

The ever-dwindling real estate market is really going after Vinny Testaverde.

The former Jets quarterback recently lowered the asking price of his Oyster Bay Cove estate to $3.15 million. It started out at $6.995 million two years ago. Anyway, it's still too much for me.

However, the story in today's real estate section also says the house can be rented for $25,000 a month. So, who wants to chip in for a month at Vinny's?

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Inside Answers: Willis McGahee

Mike B, Los Angeles: Willis, I’ve been following your career since first days in Buffalo, wanted to say Baltimore is a perfect fit for you. Die-hard fan of yours. I had one quick question. Back when you were playing New England when they had their undefeated season going you had an explosion of a game, you had a cut back on Teddy Bruschi had him turn all the way around. I was wondering do you ever go back and watch videos from that game."
McGahee: “Actually, I don’t. It was a good play, but that was so long ago. But with him retiring, he was a good player. He was a real fundamental guy that always knows his opponent well. I faced him twice a year when I was in Buffalo.”

Luis Vega, Baltimore: It's great to see you healthy and just as primed as you were in '07. Do you see yourself and Rice as the best tandem RBs this year? Your humble interviews make me proud to be a Ravens Fan as well! You still have a lot of fans cheering for you on game day, me included!

McGahee: “Yeah, I think we’ll be good to go. Like in the top two groups in the league. There are a lot of good backs out there, but we can switch it up with me and Ray and Le’Ron [McClain].”

Brad Regan, Ocean City, Md.: What workouts do you do in the offseason to stay in shape?
McGahee: “Really, nothing out of the ordinary for me. I go down to Miami, and most people know how we get after it. You know how we do it.”’

Felix Van den Berg, Nijmegen (Holland): Mr. McGahee, first I want to say that you are one of my favorite running backs and that you are an inspiration for me, because I play running back too. My question is: what is the most difficult team you've ever played against? It also can be in college or high school.
McGahee: “Oh man, that would be Florida State. They were our rivals, and we played them every year. It was basically playing the guys you grew up with in high school. And they were good when I was at Miami.”

Mark Houston, Timonium, Md.: Willis, how do you feel about being the backup when you’ve started all your career?
McGahee: “It’s two guys back there. This is 2009. It's not 1980 or 1991, when one running back did everything. It's different. You can't really take all the pounding because the hits are getting a lot harder. So you've got to be able to switch it up, give everybody a rest and let somebody else come in and do something before you get back in the game."

Tyler Thomas, Decatur, Ill.: I'm a long time fan of yours and when I cheer for you I always call you Willis... I need a nickname to call you. Do you have any nicknames you go by? I've almost got a nickname for everyone on the team help me out here!
McGahee: “To be honest, I don’t really have one. I’d say McGahee. Sorry to disappoint.”

Brett Tinnes, Minot, N.D.: What's up Willis? First off, if the preseason is a sign of things to come for our organization, this regular season/postseason could be extremely exciting. I was wondering what your pregame routine consists of. What certain things do you do the morning of a game? Any preferred pregame meal, music, workout, etc? Congrats on a successful preseason so far, and good luck from North Dakota for the regular season!
McGahee: “Oh yeah, but it’s not a crazy ritual. I listen to music a lot. It’s all rap. Some of that ‘down south’ music to bring me back home. With food, I try to eat a lot of chicken. It’s good protein and energy for the games.”

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Burrell, Longoria rally Rays past Sox

ST. PETERSBURG -- Pat Burrell's go-ahead RBI single stopped the Red Sox's momentum. Evan Longoria added the emphasis.

Burrell also hit a solo home run in the second inning, part of a three-run second that staked Tampa Bay right-hander Matt Garza. Garza battled through 6 2/3 innings and gave up six hits, four runs, three walks and struck out three. He threw 120 pitches, tying a season high.

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Edgerrin Gets A Lot of Work In His 4th Practice

Edgerrin James. The leading rusher among active NFL players did more in his fourth practice with the team than he had in the previous three combined.

It prompted the obvious question: Will he play in Thursday night’s preseason finale against the Oakland Raiders at Qwest Field?

James, who joined the team last Wednesday, has not played since the Super Bowl in February, when he was with the Arizona Cardinals. In fact, he didn’t participate in any minicamps or OTA sessions this spring while waiting for the Cardinals to grant his request to be released.

Coach Jim Mora said after Saturday night’s preseason game against the Chiefs in Kansas City that James would not play until the Sept. 13 regular-season opener against the St. Louis Rams.

But Tuesday, he altered that assessment.

“If he feels comfortable, and he wants to get a couple carries, then we’ll find a way to get that done,” Mora said. “But this is a guy who, shoot, he’s the 11th leading rusher in the history of the National Football League. I think that if he went into the Rams game without a carry, it wouldn’t be a big deal.

“People have seen a lot of Edgerrin James. As long as he feels comfortable in the offense, that’s the most important thing.”

James definitely looked more comfortable Tuesday, when he got carries with the No. 1 and No. 2 units and also caught some passes.

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Ray Lewis, local investors to open 'high-energy' restaurant, bowling alley in Hunt Valley

A new 63,000-square-foot family entertainment venue backed by Ray Lewis will open at the Hunt Valley Towne Centre early next year.

MVP Entertainment will boast 38 bowling lanes, an upscale dining and express restaurant, a sports bar, coffee bar, two high-tech golf simulators and a memorabilia shop.

The project is a partnership of Baltimore Ravens linebacker Lewis and local residents Marc and Laura Rosen. The group said in a statement it hopes to eventually expand MVP Entertainment into other professional sports cities.

The Baltimore Business Journal reported on Lewis’ interest in the project in June. MVP Entertainment marks the second hospitality project for Lewis, who was previously the namesake of a shuttered barbecue restaurant in Canton.

“Whether you’re dining in our premier restaurant and bar, attending a private event in our VIP lounge, or just bowling with family or friends — MVP Entertainment will be exciting and high energy,” Laura Rosen said in the statement.

Hunt Valley Towne Centre, anchored by the state’s first Wegmans grocery store, has quickly become one of Baltimore County’s top retail destinations since being transformed by Owings Mills’ Greenberg Gibbons in 2005. The 980,000-square-foot “Main Street-style” development includes a Dick’s Sporting Goods, California Pizza Kitchen and a soon-to-open Best Buy.

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Why Edgerrin James chose to be a dad first

All too often when a story about fatherhood as it pertains to a professional athlete hits the wire it is usually a cautionary tale of what not to do.

Recently, however, Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports had a chance to speak with new Seattle Seahawks running back Edgerrin James for his Gameface column.  In the interview, which came out on Friday, August 28th, James detailed why it took him so long to come to terms with an NFL team after having been a free agent since the Cardinals released him after the draft.

On April 14th Andia Wilson, James' long time girlfriend and the mother of his four children, lost her battle with leukemia. As his family grieved, James avoided the subject of a return to the gridiron.  However, with the season approaching, a discussion of the matter became inevitable and James was surprised to learn that his children wanted him to play.

Currently ranked 11th on the list of all time leading rushers, his children encouraged his return noting that he had a shot to make the NFL Hall of Fame if he returned and passed a few of those ahead of him.  Still, when the Seahawks came calling, suggesting he fly across country to join their team, James politely declined. 

Why, you ask?  Because the first day of school for his children was coming up and there was no way he was going to miss it.

On the surface it doesn't seem like such a hard decision for someone in his position to make.  The argument could be made that James has made millions during his career with Indianapolis and Arizona, and that he could have comfortably drifted into retirement.

Financial security aside, as a professional athlete, James' career has a limited shelf life, especially a running back in his thirties.  However, James was prepared to walk away from it all if that is what was right for his family.  And to their credit, the Seahawks could have chosen to go in a different direction, but they gave James the time he needed to be a father when his children needed him the most.

When James straps on his helmet again, he does so knowing that he did right by his kids.  And, as they continue to mourn the loss of their mother, they will hopefully find some comfort in watching their father continue to ply his trade.

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Walter Payton's legacy lives on through son Jarrett

Some athletes are here for a season. Some last for an eternity.

The 10-year anniversary of Chicago Bears legend Walter Payton's death is Nov.1, but his legacy lives on through his 28-year-old son, Jarrett Payton.

Barring a hectic schedule with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League, Jarrett is expected to present Walter Payton Achievement Awards to Grambling State receiver Van Phillips and South Carolina State lineman ZacharyMiddleton on Saturday during the MEAC/SWAC Challenge Legends reception at Disney's Boardwalk. The MEAC/SWAC Challenge will pit South Carolina State against Grambling at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Citrus Bowl.

Walter Payton died from liver disease in 1999 and was respected as one of the greatest running backs ever. He was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection who amassed 16,726 yards, then an NFL record.

But he was equally respected for what he accomplished off the field. He gave down-to-earth accessibility with fans, championed organ donation and empowered his Chicago community even after his death through the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation.

I caught up with Jarrett for an interview about the life and legacy of his father.

All Access: What's the fondest memory of your dad?
Jarrett Payton: My dad just liked to have fun. We'd sit there when the [video] arcade was closed and play for five or six hours. It wasn't just in Chicago. If he was going to speak somewhere, we'd find an arcade and go as late as possible. He liked to play Terminator II. That's right up my alley because I love video games. I'm addicted.

AA: What is your father's legacy?
JP: His biggest legacy was me and my sister [Brittney]; that's what he always said. He's gone, and we are the kids who are trying to keep his memory alive. I was born into this so it's nothing I was ready for when I was born, but over time, it's become very special.

AA: Was it hard playing football as Walter Payton's son?
JP: I started playing football my junior year of high school and played soccer from [age] 3 to my sophomore year. The extra set of eyes were on me with soccer so I got used to it. My dad always preached to me about being myself and not worrying about trying to be like him.

AA: What did your dad think about your high school football career?
JP: I was 19 when he passed. He went to a lot of my games in high school. If he couldn't come to a game, he would be on the phone with somebody getting play by play. He was always there.

AA: What has your professional experience with football been like? Do you still have NFL aspirations?
JP: Since I came out [of the University of Miami] in 2004, I played in Tennessee for two years, got released, came up to Canada, played in Montreal for a year, asked for a release and now I'm here in Toronto. No NFL for me; I'm good right here. It just suits me.

AA: What are your thoughts on the Hurricanes?
JP: People always want to talk about Miami's not the same, but I think that's the nature of sports. Everybody kind of gets their turn to be at the top. Everything is going to be recycled. They're making the right steps to being back where we used to be.

AA: Speaking of Miami, who will win the Super Bowl?
JP: My Bears could be there. It's so hard right now to even think about it because preseason gets me so wound up. The Steelers, they look so good. They'll probably not skip a beat at all. There's so many. If I had to pick right now, I would say the Steelers.

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Redskins No 2 Portis strikes back at No 1 Riggins

ASHBURN, Va. (AP)—On his 28th birthday, Clinton Portis(notes) was trying to be low-key. No big party this year. “I’m going to mind my business,” he said Tuesday as he walked off the Washington Redskins practice field.

But at the mention of the word “Riggo,” he wasn’t about to bite his tongue.

Portis kept up his running feud with Hall of Fame running back John Riggins on Tuesday. Portis, who has a chance to overtake Riggins this year as the franchise’s all-time leading rusher, is clearly getting tired of being criticized by the legend he’s pursuing.

“I think he was a great running back, but, you know, think of who else was around him,” Portis said. “That was really not hard to be a great running back when you’ve got that talent all around you. I think they just had great teams, you know. I think everybody who played in that era as a running back is big around here.”

Riggins rushed for 7,472 yards in the 1970s and ’80s for the Redskins, much of it behind the stalwart offensive line known as the Hogs. Portis needs 1,370 yards to take the No. 1 spot.

As a radio commentator in retirement, Riggins hasn’t been shy about criticizing any and all facets of his former team. Among his comments about Portis, Riggins in January called Portis “a headache” who needs to change “the way he views himself and views his contributions to the team.”

“The idea for him to be a legend, and to hate as much as he hate,” Portis said. “To be upset that I’m on his tracks, for the comments or the ill will that he has toward me and don’t know me. You know, it’s crazy. You did your thing. The people around here love you, and I’m not trying to replace you. I don’t want to be you. Your background check and my background check are totally different, so I really don’t feel like he can comment on nothing I do.”

Call it the tat-for-tat between two flamboyant backs. Riggins is remembered for his unpredictable ways as a player, including the banquet at which he supposedly told U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to “loosen up, Sandy baby.” The height of Portis’ showmanship came when he wore costumes every week during his media sessions during the homestretch of the 2005 season.

“It ain’t no ill will,” Portis said. “I’m minding my business, and hopefully he’ll do the same. … He deserves to be a legend. And I can see why the town appreciates him when you put in that kind of work for an organization and the fans are that crazy about you. You should be appreciated.”

Portis got in similar contretemps with another former Redskins standout last year, confronting longtime Brian Mitchell on the radio over Mitchell’s critical comments. Portis also derisively called coach Jim Zorn a “genius” after getting benched in the second half of a game, riled some teammates by saying the team “overlooked” the struggling St. Louis Rams, and irked the offensive line when he speculated what it would be like to run in a different scheme.

After all that complaining, Portis has been keeping quiet this preseason. He went bowling Monday night as an early birthday treat and planned to have dinner Tuesday night “somewhere where I can do a suit and tie.” That’s quite a switch from the year he spent $200,000 on his special day, including a party at the Kennedy Center.

“I just feel wiser. I just feel I’m at a calm state in my life,” Portis said. “Early 20s is wide open, if you want women, you want partying, you want the cars. Now it’s just another day.”

Portis has taken a jaded view toward the media in recent years, having decided that he’ll always be criticized no matter what he says or does. On the field, the numbers are impressive: He persevered through knee, rib and neck injuries to rush for 1,487 yards last year and made the Pro Bowl. This year, he’s expected to give way to backup Ladell Betts(notes) on many passing downs.

“The things that I’m asked to do, that’s what I do,” Portis said. “I’m not trying to go above and beyond it. My opinion: If there’s somebody I have a problem with, I’ll speak my piece to him. If somebody got a problem with me, they speak their piece to me. It avoids all the attention.”

Unless, it seems, that person is John Riggins.

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FIBA Americas - Puerto Rico Led By Guillermo Diaz

Brazil and Puerto Rico won their respective openers in the quarterfinals round of the FIBA Americas Championships on Tuesday in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico trampled Panama 79-51 and improved to 4-0. They could potentially secure a semifinals berth as early as Wednesday when Puerto Rico takes on the Dominican Republic. In the nightcap, former Asseco Prokom guard Christian Dalmau scored 5 points in a 9-0 second-quarter charge as Puerto Rico built a 34-25 halftime lead that it would continue to grow throughout the second half. P.J. Ramos and Guillermo Diaz led the winners with 12 points apiece.

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Huff drives in three against Tribe

Aubrey Huff was 2-for-2 with two walks and three RBI in a win over the Indians on Tuesday night.

Huff was disappointing with the Orioles, but he's been even worse since joining the Tigers, batting just .088 with one RBI in 34 at-bats entering play on Tuesday. Manager Jim Leyland originally planned to leave him out of Tuesday's lineup, but was rewarded by going with his gut, as Huff had his best night since being acquired. He drove in runs with an RBI single in the first and a two-run double in the fourth.

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Huff trying to work out of hitting slump

DETROIT -- Aubrey Huff has been around the game long enough to know that his big hit with the Tigers could be an at-bat away. That doesn't make his wait for it any easier.

Two weeks after Huff made his Tigers debut -- after coming over in a trade from the Orioles -- the veteran slugger who was acquired to add a jolt to Detroit's inconsistent offense could use a spark himself. He entered Tuesday's series opener against the Indians with a 3-for-34 (.088) batting clip since the move, part of a .191 (17-for-89) slump in August that began with Baltimore.

Huff is batting .203 (29-for-143) since the All-Star break, and he's at risk for registering the lowest batting average of his career -- below the .248 mark he had during his first full season in 2001.

If it was a matter of terrible swings, he'd be beating himself up. The fact that he feels like he's making quality swings makes it somewhat easier.

Then again, as a designated hitter, he has a lot of time to think about it.

"When you're a DH and you're not hitting," Huff said, "and you're sitting for 45 minutes between at-bats, it can be tough."

However, it could be worse if he were sitting for entire games.

That isn't likely to happen. Detroit manager Jim Leyland talked after Monday's loss as though he might sit Huff for a game or two to get him away from some of the pressure. Come Tuesday, however, he thought better of it, putting Huff back in the lineup against Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco in his Major League debut. He did, however, drop Huff from fifth in the order to sixth, the first time Huff has started anywhere other than fifth in his brief Tigers tenure.

After taking on Cleveland lefty Aaron Laffey on Wednesday, the Tigers will face at least three straight right-handed starters, so Huff is likely to get plenty of chances to snap out of it. He's an experienced hitter in a division race and a left-handed hitter to balance out the lineup.

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Barton clears waivers to make room for Hudson

Tim Hudson has been activated from the 60-day disabled list and the Braves made room for him on their 40-man roster by placing outfielder Brian Barton on waivers.  Barton cleared waivers on Monday and was outrighted to the Triple-A Gwinnett roster. 

Hudson's start against the Marlins tonight will be his first Major League appearance since July 23, 2008.  The veteran right-hander is coming back from Tommy John elbow ligament transplant surgery.

Barton has hit .261 in 108 games for Gwinnett this season.  His three-hit performance against Durham on Monday night aided the club's postseason push. 

Gwinnett is one game behind Durham in the International League's South Division and they currently lead the Wild Card race with a 3 1/2-game advantage over Syracuse. 

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Damione Lewis Impressive in Panthers 17 - 13 loss to the Ravens

This is more of a preseason lifetime achievement award than anything specific to Saturday night. Lewis is the one professional defensive tackle on the roster, and he's playing pretty well.

The biggest worry with him is that he's going to be stretched too thin because of the lack of help. If they try to play him more than 65 percent of the defensive snaps, it's going to overload him and he's not going to be as effective. Whether it's one of the kids on hand or someone the Panthers are currently trying to acquire, they have to get him some help. He's playing too efficiently now to not get the help he needs.

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Player of the Day - Kelly Jennings

Kelly Jennings. The former first-round draft choice played like one during the 95-minute practice, intercepting a pair of passes.

With cornerback Marcus Trufant out indefinitely because of a bulging disc in his back, Jennings is playing Trufant’s spot on the left side in the nickel – because Josh Wilson slides inside to cover the slot receiver.

Monday, Jennings wasn’t just playing left cornerback, he was making plays. And there was a progression to it.

First, Jennings had blanket coverage on an incomplete pass to Courtney Taylor. Then, he made a lunging tip to break up a pass to Ben Obomanu.

Jennings’ first interception came on a fourth-down pass in the two-minute drill, when he picked off a Matt Hasselbeck pass that was intended for Mike Hass. His second came on the final play of practice – on another fourth-down pass, this one by rookie QB Mike Teel that was intended for Hass in the end zone.

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Has Santana Moss Bulked Up?

Santana Moss did indeed buff up and beef up in the offseason. He wasn't saying last time we asked for the digits, but he did tell Dan Steinberg: "When people look at me for my size and think all I can do is run, I like to give them an arm or two and tell 'em I ain't a weakling."

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McGahee emerging as Ravens' goal-line back?

Willis McGahee has taken five of the Ravens' seven carries inside the 5-yard line this preseason.

Ray Rice had the "Statue of Liberty" touchdown and Le'Ron McClain had the other attempt. It looks like McGahee will start the season as the goal-line back, but it could change on a game-by-game basis throughout the season. If McGahee holds onto the job, it caps Rice's fantasy ceiling this year.

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Play of the Day - Edgerrin James

Running back Edgerrin James, who joined the team last Wednesday, made a fingertip grab of a Hasselbeck pass over the middle despite middle linebacker David Hawthorne swiping at his arms.

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Report: Bubba Franks Returns to the Jets

The Jets have been in the market for a veteran blocking tight end for some time. They visited with such luminaries as Michael Gaines (who signed with the Bears on Monday) and Robert Royal, but missed out on both, which left them getting back together with a familiar friend. Bubba Franks has re-signed with the team, according to Dave Hutchinson of the Newark Star-Ledger.

The move is a bit of a surprise since Franks isn’t really known for his blocking skills. At 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds, he’s got the size, but he excelled as a red-zone option with the Packers, scoring 27 touchdowns from 2001-04. Injuries have limited him to just 16 games over the past two seasons, however, and he’s only caught 24 passes in that time.

Franks played with the Jets in 2008, but injuries limited him to eight games in the lineup. He had just six catches as a third tight end option behind Chris Baker and Dustin Keller. Baker’s departure may open more of a role in the passing game for Franks, although he\’ll need to stay healthy to take advantage of the increase in playing time.

It will be interesting to see if the Jets remain in the market for a blocking tight end since the offense figures to be focused on the run in 2009. With Baker and Alex Smith joining the Patriots this offseason, there\’s been some speculation that Benjamin Watson will hit the unemployment line and he’d be an interesting addition to the Jets roster. Not only does he fit their needs better than Franks, he’d also continue the long tradition of Patriots and Jets players swapping rosters every season.

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Las Vegas Locomotives Sign OG Martin Bibla

The United Football League (UFL) announced today the signing of 19 players for the Las Vegas Locomotives including OG Martin Bibla from the University of Miami.

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'Edge' to play Thursday for Seahawks

Seattle plays its final preseason game on Thursday at Qwest Field against the Oakland Raiders. That's when Edgerrin James is scheduled to make his debut as a Seahawk.

James, who joined the team last week to shore up a struggling backfield, sat out the 'Hawks 14-10 win over Kansas City Saturday night. The Seahawks are a perfect 3-0 in the preseason. Whether that matters when the regular season begins remains to be seen.

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Sinorice Moss is getting upset

Receiver Sinorice Moss, a second-round draft pick in 2006 who has failed to deliver on his potential in three NFL seasons, is too miffed to see the handwriting on the wall.

Moss is mad because he got few opportunities during the team's third preseason game, on Saturday night against the Jets.

"You have to ask the coach," Moss said after the game regarding his lack of use, per the New York Post.  "I have no explanation.  I really don't know what to say about what happened.  When I did step on the field, I went out and did my best."

The most likely explanation is that the Giants have decided that Moss doesn't fit into their plans, and that they don't want to risk Moss suffering a season-ending injury for which they'd owe his 2009 salary of $535,000.

"I'm not worried about it at all," Moss said of the possibility that "former" will soon be applied to his title.  "There's no need to stress myself out worrying about what's going on.  Hey, [they] brought these guys in for a reason, they used 'em tonight to see what they could do and they did real well.  I know what I can do for this team.  I've been saying that since I've been here."

The only problem?  Regardless of what Santana's younger brother has been saying, there hasn't been much doing.  In three seasons, he has appeared in only 29 of a possible 48 regular-season games, with a mere two starts.  He has 38 career catches for 403 yards and two touchdowns.

For the 2009 preseason, Moss has two catches for 10 total yards.

If this is the end of the line for Moss in New York, he'll likely have good company.  By all appearances, Super Bowl XLII hero David Tyree will be making helmet catches somewhere else in 2009 -- possibly in the UFL.

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Hester flashes old Pro Bowl form in win over Broncos

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Former Broncos star Jay Cutler wasn’t the only Bears player to make a memorable return in Sunday night’s 27-17 preseason win in Denver.

Devin Hester looked like Devin Hester again, bringing back a punt 54 yards to the Denver 4 to set up the Bears’ first touchdown. Resembling the player who was selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his first two NFL seasons, Hester dashed across the field, burst through a seam and raced down the sideline.

Hester set an NFL record with five punt and kickoff returns for touchdowns as a rookie in 2006, and then eclipsed the mark with six in 2007. But last season he failed to get into the end zone on special teams.

“It felt good,” Hester said Sunday night. “I knew I was capable of doing it; I just haven’t been showing it. This year is going to be a new year for me. I’m going to take advantage of what I missed out on last year.”

Fielding punts for the first time in the preseason, Hester’s long return came after two misadventures. He failed to race up to catch a high short punt that bounced 28 yards in Denver’s favor and he later caught a punt while backpedaling at his own 5-yard line.

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Feagles Says 'High' To Cowboys Video Board

Jeff Feagles watched with interest as Titans rookie punter A.J. Trapasso hit the gigantic $40 million digital video board hanging over the field at new Cowboys Stadium with a punt in a recent preseason game.

The Giants play there in Week 2. The NFL's mandated minimum height for a center-hung board is 85 feet; the Cowboys' screen is 90 feet over the playing surface. The Giants' brand-new indoor field house is 80 feet high.

"I can hit that, not all the time -- it takes a really good punt," the 43-year old Feagles said. "For me a 90-foot shot is going to be pretty good. If I hit that thing, it's going to be a nice punt off my foot. Our old bubble was 60 feet high. I could hit that with no problem."

Commissioner Roger Goodell came up with the unusual ruling that if a punter hits the Cowboys' video board, the result will be a do-over, with the game clock reverting back to the time before the punt.

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Keep Devin Hester on Punt-Return Duty

First of all, let's get one thing straight: Devin Hester can be a good receiver in the NFL.

He might never be a superstar, and he'll probably never go to a Pro Bowl, but few players in the entire league have his long run potential. Now he just needs to figure out the nuts and bolts, and the Bears' investment in his offensive future will have paid off.

The problem is that in the midst of Hester's transition to the wideout spot, the Bears -- and Hester himself -- have managed to forget just how good he is at returning kicks in the first place.

They got a reminder Sunday night.

Hester's 54-yard punt return in the first quarter of the Bears' win over the Broncos was classic Hester. He was fast, decisive, and uncatchable in the open field. (Hester also waved for a fair catch inside the five, which is also classic Hester, but we'll pretend that didn't happen for now.) It was the first time the Bears allowed Hester to return punts in the preseason, and it was incredibly encouraging return.

See, we're all for Hester trying his hand at wideout, but not at the expense of his legendary return ability. For a while, it appeared that was exactly what was happening; Hester said in the offseason that he didn't know whether he would return any more, that he had to focus on wideout responsibilities.

There are obvious financial reasons for Hester's interest in the position, and it's clear the Bears are dedicated to turning Hester's ability in the open field into something they can use more frequently, but why can't Hester do both? Kicks and punts aren't exactly complicated. They won't take away from time spent poring over routes.

Which is why it's not only good to see Hester returning well, but even returning at all. The Bears need to maximize his talent. Taking the ball out of Hester's hands on special teams plays is not that.

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Baraka Battling

Baraka Atkins and rookies Nick Reed and Michael Bennett are likely battling it out for the final spot. Atkins, in his third year, has shown flashes of being a good pass rusher but hasn’t fully tapped his potential. At 6-foot-1, 250 pounds, Reed is small for a defensive end. But he has three sacks, an interception and a tipped punt in three exhibition games. Bennett has been a disrupting force inside, and also has the versatility to play both defensive end and defensive tackle.

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Hester returning to form

DENVER -- Not only did Devin Hester electrify the Invesco Field crowd with a 54-yard punt return, he also provided great insight on how Jay Cutler handled an emotionally charged Denver defense.

"I saw more things [that] you normally don't see as far as just in the huddle," said Hester. "We got a little rowdy, a couple players got into some altercations with some fights on the field, and he was the guy who was like, 'Hey, chill out, let's get down and put these points on the board and worry about that later.' You see a quarterback [taking control of the situation] like that, you know you got a good leader going forward."

Back to Hester's return: I couldn't pass up the opportunity to give him some grief over failing to score. How does a guy like Hester get tackled on the 4-yard line?

"I got a little rhythm; I never score in preseason games. I did that on purpose," said Hester with a grin.

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McClover Gets Plenty of Action

Linebacker Darrell McClover, re-signed by the Bears last week, started the game on the kickoff unit and also played on the kickoff, punt and punt return.

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Portis: Bruised Rib; Won't Play Thursday

Portis will not play in the Redskins' final preseason game Thursday night in Jacksonville, the Washington Post reports. He has a bruised rib, rather than a bruised knee, which had been reported earlier.

The injury is not believed to be serious, but there's no need to expose Portis to further injury in the team's final preseason game.

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Hester's His 54-yard return in the 2nd quarter sets up a touchdown

DENVER -- Now that's the Devin Hester most Bears fans have been longing to see.

Hester, back in familiar territory as a punt returner, looked like his old self with a 54-yard return in the second quarter. It set up the Bears' first touchdown, a 1-yard leap by Matt Forte, in Sunday's 27-17 exhibition victory over the Broncos.

Hester hadn't returned a punt in the Bears' first two exhibitions. But with the starters seeing their most extended preseason action Sunday, it was only natural for Hester to be back in that role. He already surrendered kickoff return duties to Danieal Manning last season.

Hester's return to the return game was not so smooth at the start. He had no chance to field the first punt, and on the second punt, Hester signaled for a fair catch at his own 5-yard line instead of letting the ball go. On his third opportunity, the Broncos kicked away from him.

At least Hester got his feet wet. He has seven career punt returns for touchdowns but did not have one last year. His last punt return for a score was Dec. 30, 2007, against New Orleans, a 64-yarder in the Bears' 33-25 win.

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Edge takes a seat

Mora said the team decided Friday evening not to play recently signed free-agent running back Edgerrin James.

“He wanted to come out and go through pregame warm-ups so he could feel what it was like and just get a feel for how we do things, and then he went in and changed,” Mora said.

Mora went on to say that James will probably see his first action in the team’s regular-season opener against the Rams. James spent most of the night shadowing running back Justin Forsett.

“It’s good to have a guy like that, who has been around and knows what he’s talking about,” Forsett said about James. “He was showing us what the defense was doing – the rotation of the secondary – which helped our game out.”

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Beason in danger of missing Week 1

Jon Beason (MCL sprain) acknowledged that it's going to be a sprint for him to be ready for Carolina's regular season opener.

The Panthers would be in a world of trouble against the Eagles in Week 1 if Beason can't play, or is at less than 100 percent. The teams square off at 1PM ET on Sunday, September 13, so Beason has two weeks to heal up.

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Sinorice Not In With Manning

WR Sinorice Moss, who is fighting for a roster spot, wasn't in for any snaps with Manning. But Coughlin said "they tried to create that scenario" where they would assess rookie receivers Ramses Barden and Hakeem Nicks, who were in the mix with Manning in the first half.

Moss barely got off the bench on Saturday and may be close to the end of his tenure in New York.

Moss didn't appear until the third quarter. Asked if he was frustrated, Moss said, "Of course...There's nothing I can do. I'm not the coach." Rookies Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden along with Derek Hagan got on the field more than Moss against the Jets. He is in danger of getting cut.

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William Joseph Solid

William Joseph and Gerard Warren are one of the few players that can boast about having a solid play here and there at defensive tackle for the Oakland Raiders.

Coach Cable talks about the defensive line roatation. “It was just the rotation and those young guys are coming on, particularly Joseph and Bryant,” Cable said. “They’re getting it down right now.”

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McClover Back

Commando, and I'm not talking about the California governor. They call linebacker Darrell McClover "commando" and he's back on the scene for a role on special teams. Coordinator Dave Toub is usually given a roster spot to get one guy who serves as a core, four-phase contributor for him. You'd have to think that is what McClover was re-signed to do. Whether he fills the role remains to be seen, but he'll make it more interesting at the bottom of the depth chart at linebacker. Jamar Williams has an undisclosed foot/ankle injury. Hunter Hillenmeyer has been in a battle most of camp and played well at Buffalo. Undrafted rookie free agent Kevin Malast has done some positive things. Rookie fifth-round pick Marcus Freeman probably will not make the team. Does McClover pose a danger for Hillenmeyer, who is probably an average special teams contributor?

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Romberg Starting

C Brett Romberg, who was acquired in the offseason, started the second exhibition game in place of Todd McClure (leg strain). He enjoyed the two touchdown drives.

"They looked stellar," Romberg said. "That was one thing we really wanted to focus on, coming out explosive."

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Chris Myers To Start Preseason Game Vs. Vikings

C Chris Myers, who missed the first two preseason games because of a high ankle sprain, will start against the Vikings.

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Irvin catches gig at NFL Network

Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin is joining NFL Network.

The former Dallas Cowboy will be an analyst on the cabler's Sunday programs "NFL GameDay Morning" and "NFL GameDay Highlights," which air immediately before and after the day's matchups.

Irvin, a five-time Pro Bowl player and three-time Super Bowl champion, served as an analyst for ESPN for four years and was host of Spike network's reality skein "4th and Long," which aired earlier this year.

"NFL GameDay Morning" has been extended to four hours for the upcoming season that begins Sept. 13.

Irvin, who played 10 seasons with the Cowboys and will be a participant on the next cycle of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars," will join Marshall Faulk, Deion Sanders, Warren Sapp and Steve Mariucci in the studio.

Also, NFL Network announced Stacey Dales will be the new co-host of "NFL GameDay Morning," along with Spero Dedes. Dales comes from ESPN and ABC, where she covered college football and basketball and the NBA.

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Ray Lewis' elbow wrapped halfway through Saturday's game

Ravens star linebacker Ray Lewis had his forearm and elbow wrapped to start the second half of Saturday night's game against the Panthers. Lewis and safety Ed Reed were on the sidelines while the rest of the starting defense started the third quarter.

Was Lewis hurt?

"Hurt? Me?," responded Lewis to the question. "Nah, my club was a little sore after I used it to go across somebody's head in the first half. It was just the club getting some rest."

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Olsen becoming reliable target for Cutler

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- On a random August evening, I felt a crisp breeze and for a moment thought I was standing at a fall practice. It was an unusually cool night on the campus of Olivet Nazarene University. All around me were signs of midseason football.

The Chicago Bears were rolling through a two-minute drill with a precision that suggested they had been practicing for months, not weeks. One constant stood out, however, as the Bears' offense moved down the field. Three times in an eight-play drive, quarterback Jay Cutler found tight end Greg Olsen downfield. Olsen's first two catches converted first downs, and on the third, he one-handed the ball in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown.

Teasing Olsen afterward, Cutler said: "Do you ever use two hands?"

The connection between Cutler and Olsen is no joke, of course. Olsen emerged in camp as Cutler's most trusted and reliable target, the de facto No. 1 receiver on a team with an otherwise inexperienced group of pass-catchers.

The Bears have elevated Olsen to starting status after two years behind veteran Desmond Clark, and the intersection of those events makes Olsen our choice as the NFC North's Emerging Star for 2009.

Even while splitting time last season with Clark, Olsen caught 54 passes; that total was the 10th-most among NFL tight ends and the highest total for a Bears tight end since Mike Ditka caught 75 in 1964. With additional playing time this season and his clear chemistry with Cutler, it seems Olsen is poised to take over the Bears' offense.

"I think people are going to be surprised at how good our receivers are going to be and how much those guys can make plays," Olsen said.

"[But] I look at myself as someone that can be 'That Guy.' I feel like I can do a lot of different stuff: Play the receiving role, play tight end and just do whatever I can to help other people get open or make the play myself. I kind of embrace that and have those high expectations of myself."

Olsen's combination of size (6-foot-5, 255 pounds) and speed (he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds during the 2007 scouting combine) provide the Bears enormous flexibility in developing their pre-snap formations. He appears equally comfortable lining up as a tight end, H-back, slot receiver or outside receiver. That versatility helps offensive coordinator Ron Turner create mismatches and keep defenses guessing.

"He's a tight end and we feel confident lining him up on the line to block a defensive end," Turner said. "But he also gives us all kinds of flexibility. We'll have packages for him everywhere on the field."

That confidence didn't crystallize until Olsen improved his blocking skills to reach the Bears' standards. Like many pass-catching tight ends, Olsen wasn't asked to block much while playing at the University of Miami. As a result, he spent much of the past two years learning technique and understanding how to use his body.

"Everybody knew he came in as a great receiver," Clark said. "It was funny watching him trying to block his first year. He admits it -- he didn't work on his footwork and that kind of stuff at Miami because he didn't have to. When he got here, me and [former Bears tight end John Gilmore] used to sit back and crack jokes about it. Now, when you look at his footwork, it's right there with any tight end in the league. So the past couple years, he's really put in the work to get better."

The key, Olsen says, is accepting that technique can help overcome size and strength differential.

"Very rarely is the tight end going to be the bigger of the two guys matched up," he said. "There are very few guys who can overpower a defensive end. It's not going to happen. So especially for us lighter guys, we've got to win with things like footwork and hand placement. I never realized how important that really was. Getting good leverage, learning angles and hand placement and footwork -- all of that goes a long way. People think it's just whoever is bigger and stronger, but that's not really the case."

As he polished his blocking skills this spring, Olsen also focused on developing a relationship with Cutler -- whose April arrival was late by NFL (or, at least, non-Favre) terms. They spoke by phone a few hours after the Bears finalized his acquisition, met a few days later and continued working together this summer after the Bears' offseason program concluded.

For much of July, Olsen, Cutler and other Bears receivers worked through the passing tree on their own time at the team's practice facility. Midway through training camp, Olsen estimated he and Cutler understood each other's thinking 85-90 percent of the time.

"I feel like we have a fairly good idea of what each other wants to do," Olsen said. "Once we get into game-planning, that's where the rest of that comes into play."

With improved blocking, more playing time and an elite-level quarterback, Olsen seems poised for a breakout year. He'll need a monster performance to earn Pro Bowl honors now that perennial All-Pro Tony Gonzalez has moved to Atlanta and the NFC. But at the very least, everything is in place for Olsen to elevate his name into those elite conversations. Already this summer, he is in midseason form.

"Personally, I feel like I can put myself into that group, which over the past couple years has really been the same guys," Olsen said. "The Gonzalezes, the Jason Wittens, the Dallas Clarks, [Antonio] Gates are kind of the usual suspects when you talk about the best tight ends in the game. Personally, I feel like I have the ability to be one of those guys now that I'm becoming a veteran guy. Those guys have all put in six, seven or eight years in the league.

"I feel like as a young guy I can put myself up there and be one of those guys."

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Hester Getting Comfortable

WR Devin Hester says he’s starting to get the hang of playing with QB Jay Cutler, and the Bears are also about to let Hester play more on special teams. Hester hasn’t returned a punt in preseason and hasn’t fielded many in practice before this week, but he’ll handle the job Sunday in Denver. It’s something Hester wants and needs to do because returning punts has been his strong suit.

Frankly, he needs the work. On offense, Hester failed to get deep enough on an overthrown Cutler bomb in last Saturday’s win over the Giants and admitted this week he didn’t think Cutler could throw 60 yards. Now Hester says he has a better understanding of his quarterback, and Cutler agrees with the assesment.

The Bears will need the two to bond into a top passing combination because they’ve shown no interest recently in adding a veteran receiver. They’ve put all their chips on Hester becoming a legitimate No. 1 wideout.

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Gulliver To Name Football Field After Sean Taylor

Gulliver Prep announced Friday that it would name its football field in honor of its former alum and NFL star Sean Taylor.

Before joining the NFL, Taylor played football on the schools team as a Gulliver Raider. He eventually played on the UM's Hurricanes team and eventually with the Washington Redskins.

But Taylor's dreams came to a tragic end when five men drove from Fort Myers to rob Taylor's Palmetto Bay home in November of 2007. Prosecutors say during that botched robbery one of the suspects shot Taylor in the groin. He later died at Jackson Memorial Hospital because of the shooting. The five men are all in custody and face life sentences.

The dedication of the field is scheduled will take place at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 4th at 6575 N. Kendall Dr.

Taylor graduated from the preparatory school in 2001. He helped Gulliver win the Florida Class 2A State Championship in 2000, with a 14–1 record. At Gulliver, Taylor was a star on both sides of the ball, playing running back, defensive back, and linebacker. In 2007 he was named to the Florida High School Association's All-Century Team which selected the top 33 players in the 100 year history of high school football in the state of Florida.

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The U (Billy Corben) Saturday, Dec. 12, 9 p.m. - The U (Billy Corben)

Throughout the 1980s, Miami, Fla., was at the center of a racial and cultural shift taking place throughout the country. Overwhelmed by riots and tensions, Miami was a city in flux, and the University of Miami football team served as a microcosm for this evolution. The image of the predominantly white university was forever changed when coach Howard Schnellenberger scoured some of the toughest ghettos in Florida to recruit mostly black players for his team. With a newly branded swagger, inspired and fueled by the quickly growing local Miami hip hop culture, these Hurricanes took on larger-than-life personalities and won four national titles between 1983 and 1991. Filmmaker Billy Corben, a Miami native and University of Miami alum, will tell the story of how these "Bad Boys" of football changed the attitude of the game they played, and how this serene campus was transformed into "The U."

“The U “ will premiere on ESPN immediately following the Heisman Trophy ceremony.

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Giants should look to deal Sinorice Moss

It is time for the New York Giants to trade Sinorice Moss. In fact, I know a lot of you would say it is past time for that to happen.

Moss has had a pretty good pre-season. He did well during camp at UAlbany, especially early on. When it comes right down to it, though, the diminutive fourth-year wide receiver from the University of Miami is looking at another season without a real role on this team.

That's been the case for the 5-foot-8, 185-pound speedster ever since his rookie year. He has never been able to translate the blinding speed and good hands into production on the field, and has just 38 catches over three seasons. He has also returned 18 kickoffs, with only marginal success.

From the looks of things, he is staring at the same type of season again -- meaning, being an afterthought.

At receiver, Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith are penciled in as starters. Moss was listed as third receiver when training camp began, but that seems more like it was a courtesy extended to a veteran who has paid his dues.
Mario Manningham seems to be the No. 3 guy right now. The Giants also seem determined to move No. 1 pick Hakeem Nicks up the ladder as quickly as they can. At the first sign he was fully healed from his training camp hamstring woes, Nicks began getting some reps with Eli Manning. Right now, my guess is he is No. 4.

At best, that makes Moss No. 5. And what sense does it make for the Giants to allow Moss, who can make some plays but has obvious physical limitations, to take opportunities away from either Nicks or the sensational third-round pick, Ramses Barden? To me, none.

Looking even further down the list, Derek Hagan has had a better camp than Moss and at 6-2, 215 probably has more to offer as a pass-catching target. Besides, the only real difference between Hagan (53 catches in three years with Miami) is that the Giants drafted Moss and the Dolphins drafted Hagan.

As a return guy, Moss has never shown the explosive big-play ability you might think his speed would lead to. Right now, he is probably the backup punt returner to Manningham and part of a kickoff return rotation with Danny Ware, Ahmad Bradshaw and maybe even Nicks or Hixon.

So, that would make Moss a backup kick returner and spare part wide receiver. Again.

I know there are teams out there hunting for wide receiver help. Saturday's opponent, the New York Jets, is one. The Baltimore Ravens are another.

Please don't harbor the illusion that General Manager Jerry Reese could get a useful player, like a backup offensive lineman, for Moss. Those kinds of trades don't go down in the NFL at this time of year. What Reese probably could get is a draft pick, say anywhere from the 5th to the 7th round.

That might not seem like a lot, but stockpiling draft picks in return for players you probably can't use is always a good idea. And we know Reese has had a habit of striking gold with some of those late picks.

Getting himself dealt somewhere might be the best thing Moss ever does for the Giants. And it might be good for his career, too.

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Phillips a rising star in Giants' defense

Growing up 15 minutes from the University of Miami campus, Kenny Phillips idolized Hurricanes such as Ed Reed and the late Sean Taylor. His choice came down to either Miami or Tennessee, and he decided to go with the program that could be referred to as Safety U.

Phillips eventually became a star for Miami before becoming a first-round draft choice for the Giants in '08. Some scouts said he was the best tackling safety they'd seen in years. Phillips quickly asserted himself as a playmaker in his first training camp, but he wasn't transferring it to the field.

His best season in college had actually been '06, when he could lean on safety Brandon Meriweather (now with the Patriots) in terms of making calls. He was available late in the first round of the '08 draft (No. 31), in part, because he slipped a little bit without Meriweather.

He couldn't crack the starting lineup heading into his rookie season with the Giants because he was thinking too much instead of trusting his instincts. A year later, he's poised to become one of the most dynamic players in the division.

He's my pick from the NFC East in ESPN.com's Emerging Stars series. Phillips has once again been one of the best players during training camp, but this season there's reason to believe he'll take that production to the field.

"There's a calmness about [Phillips]," Giants general manager Jerry Reese told ESPN.com earlier this month. "It never looks like he's straining. Everything comes easy for him. He's had a great camp and you can start to see that he's got some star qualities."

Even the grouchiest man in camp, coach Tom Coughlin, has gushed about Phillips. He'll replace James Butler at strong safety and play opposite Michael Johnson. Butler joined the Rams in free agency, but even if he'd stayed, he wasn't going to hold off Phillips another season.

This past offseason, Phillips added 15 pounds of muscle and is now playing at 217. And the funny thing is, he doesn't have a clue how he did it. He'd always had a tough time retaining weight, but something changed. Now, one of the surest tacklers on the team has a more menacing look about him. And as evidenced by several highlight-reel interceptions early in camp, Phillips didn't have to sacrifice any speed.

"I'm way more confident in the defense this season," Phillips said Friday via phone. "I'm playing football now and I'm not having to think so much. It's like back in college or something."

Speaking of college, Phillips gives a lot of credit to former Hurricanes such Reed and Bennie Blades for his development. He said Reed taught him how to break down film and recognize certain formations. There's a reverence in Phillips' voice when he talks about Reed.

Phillips met Blades on the sideline of the Miami-Oklahoma game in '07. Blades, who was never shy on confidence, reminded Phillips that he once had 15 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble in a game against the Sooners. He challenged Phillips to repeat the feat and then offered him feedback throughout the game.

"He was basically coaching the whole game," Phillips said of Blades. "We lost pretty big [51-13], but I ended up having 14 or 15 tackles and an interception. All I was missing was the forced fumble."

By his account, it took Phillips at least eight NFL games in '08 before "things started slowing down." In Week 8, he helped ignite the Giants in a come-from-behind 21-14 win in Pittsburgh. On one play, he recognized from his film study where running back Mewelde Moore was headed in a pass pattern. He raced across the field and annihilated Moore, which drew a 15-yard penalty for an excessive hit.

Despite the penalty, the play energized the Giants' sideline and the defense quickly caused a turnover. Phillips grabbed the second interception of his career in that game and finished with five for the season. Now he has a bigger goal in mind.

"Ever since high school, my goal was to get 10 interceptions and four touchdowns in a season," Phillips said. "I think I can make it happen."

Phillips said "it almost feels like cheating" to have so much talent in the front seven. He thinks the chaos near the line of scrimmage will make life relatively easy for the secondary. Coaches have asked Phillips to be more vocal this season, and that's something that comes pretty natural to him.

"When you're a starter, you're automatically looked upon as a leader," Phillips said. "Last year, James Butler got everyone lined up. Now I've got to make some of those calls and I'm looking forward to it."

I brought up safeties such as the Redskins' LaRon Landry and the Eagles' Quintin Mikell, but it's obvious Phillips thinks he's ready to overtake those players. He takes a great deal of pride in his tackling, and that's one of the reasons he's watched film of former Eagles safety Brian Dawkins.

"I like running into stuff," Phillips said. "Big or small, it doesn't matter. I really, really hate missing tackles."

He said Clinton Portis and Marion Barber are the toughest players in the division to tackle -- because he wasn't allowed to choose his teammate Brandon Jacobs. Phillips is one of the brightest young stars on what I believe to be the best defense in the NFC East.

We should be able to eliminate the word "emerging" when Phillips goes to the Pro Bowl in '09. After all, Justin Tuck was my choice last season.

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After a 'bad (expletive) dream' in Arizona, Edgerrin James' priorities change

After spending the summer looking for a job, it now appears Edgerrin James, who has more rushing yards than any active NFL player, will prolong his career as a Seattle Seahawk.

Not that it was that big a priority to James.

His longtime girlfriend Andia Wilson, the mother of his four children, lost her battle with leukemia in April. James has been so committed to looking after his kids, none older than 12, that he balked at joining the Seahawks until he'd taken them to their first day of school Monday, something Wilson had traditionally done.

"I had to be there," James told Yahoo! "There was no leaving."

After a tumultuous final year with the Cardinals -- James termed it a 'bad (expletive) dream' as he dealt with Wilson's illness and his own midseason benching even though he regained his starting role during Arizona's Super Bowl run -- he is now just looking to fit in with Seattle.

"The way I look at it is I've played 10 good years, and I've done everything a running back can do. I want to help. I think I want to be like Ginobili now -- I want to come off the bench," James said, referring to the San Antonio Spurs' electric sixth man. "I'm the new Manu Ginobili! How about that?"

Seahawks coach Jim Mora thinks James could take over for released T.J. Duckett as Seattle's best option near the goal line and in short-yardage situations.

"I think Edgerrin does that," Mora told seahawks.com. "He rarely takes a negative run. He always falls forward. So he'll be a good addition for this football team."

James previously played for Mora's father, Jim, early in his career with the Indianapolis Colts.

"I had my best seasons, statistically, under Jim Mora, so it's tough not to see that as a positive. I played for the father; now I'm playing for the son. It's cool," James said.

"I told Coach Mora the other day, 'Damn, why couldn't I have been in this system three years ago?'" James said of running in Seattle's new zone-blocking scheme.

But no matter how many yards the NFL's 11th all-time leading rusher (12,121 yards) adds in the Pacific Northwest -- he needs 619 to move up to seventh place and 1,139 to surpass Eric Dickerson for sixth -- his children remain priority No. 1.

"As football players, we're so programmed to do well in our job that sometimes we forget about our house," he said. "I look at my mom, who's helping with my kids, and then I look at them. My kids don't have that mom. When you really think of it like that – damn, it's heavy.

"If my daughter would've said, 'Daddy, I don't want you to go play,' then 100% guaranteed I wouldn't be playing. I've gotten to enjoy so many things, but right now it's time to be a parent first, and I don't want to blow it."

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Meriweather an all-around force for Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Brandon Meriweather's eyes widened when his 2008 statistics were repeated within context.

In looking at where he ranked among his teammates in the various categories, it can be argued sincerely that Meriweather had the best season of any New England Patriots defender.

He didn't become their starting strong safety until Week 8, yet he led the Patriots in interceptions and takeaways, made more tackles than Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel and recorded as many sacks as Vince Wilfork and Ty Warren.

"I didn't know all that," Meriweather said with a beaming smile.

If Meriweather didn't realize just how impressively he performed last year, then you can't blame the rest of the football world for overlooking him. While everybody raved about rookie linebacker Jerod Mayo and fretted over myriad injuries, Meriweather quietly put together a superb sophomore season.

Folks will start to notice. With veteran Rodney Harrison retired to the broadcast booth, Meriweather has emerged as one of New England's defensive leaders in his third NFL season. Add his ability to make a game-changing impact in multiple ways, and you'll see why we made Meriweather our choice as the AFC East's Emerging Star for 2009.
"It's all there," Scouts Inc. analyst Matt Williamson said. "He's ready to blossom and be a player."

Meriweather led all Patriots defensive backs in stops and finished second overall with 57 solo tackles. His 22 assists placed him third in total tackles behind Mayo, the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year, and Wilfork, an elite 3-4 nose tackle.

Meriweather also snared a team-high four interceptions and tied for the lead with two forced fumbles. He was second to cornerback Ellis Hobbs in passes defensed. Meriweather added two sacks. His 11 special-teams tackles ranked third.

He was one of only four defensive backs last year with at least two interceptions, two sacks and two forced fumbles. The others were Adrian Wilson, Antoine Winfield and Quintin Mikell. Wilson and Winfield went to the Pro Bowl.

"I want to be one of [those] safeties that you don't have to take off the field for nothing, not for special teams, and if I could I'd play offense," Meriweather said. "I'm just trying to be an all-around player.

"I envision myself to be a smart player, instinctual, an all-around athlete. I don't want to be just a safety. I want to be known as a cover safety, a deep safety. I want to be known as a safety that can do a little bit of everything."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick has been pleased with Meriweather's development. For the first time, Meriweather went into training camp as the starter and didn't disappoint.

"Each year he's taken a jump in the offseason and then through the course of the year, and then another jump the next offseason and through the practice sessions in the spring," Belichick said. "In training camp he's a guy that's improved pretty steadily, as I said, with a couple big offseason jumps.

"He's smart, works hard and he's really kind of starting to quarterback the secondary now. He and [free safety] James [Sanders] both do a good job of communication back there and getting everybody on the same page. He's had a very productive camp for us this year."

Meriweather should thrive with the Patriots in 2009 not only because he's another year wiser, but also because situations probably will be in the defense's favor more often than not.

With quarterback Tom Brady returning to a potent offense that's deep at running back, receiver and tight end and features three Pro Bowl linemen, the Patriots should be playing with a lead frequently.

"He can make more plays on the ball, get more interceptions," Williamson said. "He's shown an ability to get his hands on the ball already.

"You can't get away from the physical attributes that he has. He's fast. He's fluid. He has good size. He can be in the box and throw his body around. He has the ability to play man against tight ends or slot receiver at the line.

"And he's not afraid at all to come up and hit. He can be an intimidator over the middle in the passing game."

The Patriots drafted Meriweather 24th overall two years ago out of the University of Miami. He had the talent to be selected much higher.

Some teams rated him the No. 2 safety in the draft. Others projected him as a big cornerback because of his agility and coverage skills. He was a ferocious hitter, garnering the nicknames "Hit Stick" and "B-Ware." He left Miami as its career leader among safeties with 182 solo tackles. Ed Reed and Sean Taylor were Hurricanes, too.

But a pair of incidents hurt Meriweather's stock and deleted him from a few teams' draft boards. He was the fourth safety and seventh defensive back taken.

Meriweather was involved in a shooting incident in July 2006, firing three bullets at an unidentified assailant who had shot his Hurricanes teammate, Willie Cooper. No charges were filed because Meriweather was defending himself and the handgun was registered.

Three months later, Meriweather stomped opposing players with his cleats during the infamous Miami-Florida International brawl.

But after interviewing Meriweather before the draft and with the testimony of Hurricanes coaches Randy Shannon and Larry Coker, the character-conscious Patriots didn't detect a significant risk and made him their first pick.

Meriweather didn't start as a rookie. He made his mark on special teams with 18 tackles, but had trouble getting on the field defensively. He had 11 games with one or zero defensive tackles.

"What's difficult about it is the expectations," Meriweather said of the NFL transition. "You expect and the coaches expect you to be almost perfect. That's why people say our system is difficult. We have good coaches that expect good things out of you. When you put so much pressure on yourself, it gets hard."

Meriweather got his shot last season when Harrison suffered a torn quadriceps in Week 7. The injury ended Harrison's season, and the way Meriweather played ended Harrison's career.

Meriweather's progress was illustrated by the coaching staff's belief in him late in the season. Both of his sacks happened in December. His first was a critical strip sack of Seneca Wallace to seal a Week 14 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

"I prefer to get an interception to a sack, but whenever you get a chance to blitz, that says something," Meriweather said. "That says your coaches trust the rest of the players around you, trusts your timing and ability to get to the quarterback. That shows your coaches have faith in you."

As an emerging leader in the secondary, he knows he must play even better this year.

"The more that's given, the more's expected," Meriweather said.

In that vein, he intends to open up as he gets more secure in his role.

For example, he thinks it's about time to break out the Hit Stick again after a couple of seasons of keeping it stashed while he learned the NFL game.

"He's still alive," Meriweather said. "He's been in the background, trying to adjust and learn the system and learn the NFL level and how to be a pro.

"He's been hiding a little bit, but he's coming back soon. Real soon."

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MIAMI, Fla - August 29, 2009 - Six legendary football players are stepping up to raise donations and awareness for charities around Florida through the ‘Rivals Challenge: Trash Talk for Charity' with the Make a Play Foundation with bragging rights on the line this week for the annual clash between Florida State and Miami. Warrick Dunn (FSU), Kevin Everett (UM), Willis McGahee (UM), Ed Reed (UM), Myron Rolle (FSU) and Samari Rolle (FSU) are competing during the next 10 days in a campaign sponsored by the foundation, an organization that works with former football players of Florida, Florida State and Miami. One player and one fan will make up the winning team and crowned champions at the end of the challenge.

Through the challenge, players and fans will combine forces to create greatly needed resources and opportunities for select charities. To participate, fans choose one of their university's favorite players to support and a rival player to ‘talk trash' to. With each dollar donated, fans can add one point to their favorite players' total and deduct one point from a rival players' total. The player who has the most points at the end of the week will be crowned the champion, winning the battle between charities. 

The players from each school will be drafting one fan to be part of each team, selected from videos submitted online during the week. Fans are encouraged to submit a short clip, showing off their best touchdown dance. Videos, one minute or shorter, can be submitted through Friday, September 4th at Noon on the foundation's website: www.makeaplayfoundation.org. On the eve of gameday, two video finalists will be announced. Following the game, the finalist representing the winning team will be declared the fan champion of the challenge.

Each player has adopted a cause and will be donating their proceeds from the challenge to a related charity. A portion of the proceeds will also benefit the Make a Play Foundation's academic and recreational youth programs.

Tallahassee will be defending their title after winning the ‘Rivals Challenge: Thanksgiving Food Fight' last November against Gainesville. During the week of the Florida-Florida State game, UF and FSU students and fans collected nearly 22 tons of food for Gainesville and Tallahassee food banks through a strong campus effort and with the support of 23 participating Publix stores. FSU dominated the week, collecting 15 tons of food.

The ‘Rivals Challenge: Trash Talk for Charity' will begin on Saturday, August 29th and run through Monday, September 7th at midnight. Fans can donate online through the Make a Play Foundation's official Web site at: www.makeaplayfoundation.org or by calling 352-514-2681.

‘TEAM' shirts for each player will be on sale this week for $25 with proceeds benefiting each player's total. They can be purchased online at Make a Play Foundation's official Web site at: www.makeaplayfoundation.org.

The donation totals and winning player will be announced Tuesday, September 8th.  

The Make a Play Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization that represents a unique partnership of former players of three of college football's legendary rivals - Florida, Florida State and Miami- and partners with established community organizations and individual player foundations to create opportunities for underprivileged children through academic and recreational grants, designed to promote confidence and leadership. The organization's goal is to use a collective voice to help promote growth and change for children and families in former players' hometowns.


Foundation Participating For: Warrick Dunn Foundation
Donations will benefit his foundation's "Home for the Holidays" program which provides down payment assistance and complete home furnishings to single-parent families in Tampa, Tallahassee, Atlanta and Baton Rouge
Warrick's Official Foundation Website: www.warrickdunnfoundation.org

In 1995 and 1996, FSU's Dunn combined for 347 rushing yards, leading the ‘Noles to back-to-back wins over Miami. He was part of three victories over the Hurricanes during his four seasons in the garnet and gold and still holds the school's career rushing record. Seminole fans can choose to support Dunn through the Warrick Dunn Foundation. One of Dunn's most cherished undertakings is "Homes for the Holidays," a program established and operated by the Warrick Dunn Foundation to honor his mother's dream of owning her own home. The program focuses on providing down payment assistance and complete home furnishing to single-parent families. Since 1997, the "Homes for the Holidays" program has assisted 86 parents and 233 children and dependents in achieving the American dream of home ownership in Tallahassee, Tampa, Baton Rouge and Atlanta. In 2008, Dunn was selected The Home Depot NFL Neighborhood MVP, a competition that recognizes NFL players for their positive impact in their local communities.

Foundation Participating For: The Kevin Everett Fund
Donations will provide financial assistance to those who have been affected by spinal cord injuries and traumas through his foundation

Kevin's Official Foundation Website: www.thekevineverettfoundation.org

During Everett's two seasons at UM he was a part of three victories over the Seminoles. As a junior in 2003, the Canes defeated FSU 22-14 during the regular season and 16-14 in the Orange Bowl re-match. As a senior he had three catches for 42 yards in the 16-10 thriller, a UM overtime win. Everett was Miami's second leading receiver in 2004 and was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 2005. In the first week of the 2007 season, Everett had a helmet-to-helmet collision on the second half kickoff return. Because of the injury to his spinal cord caused by dislocation of the third and fourth cervical vertebrae, doctors predicted a less than 10% chance for a full neurologic recovery and said he may never walk again.Just two days later, Everett had regained voluntary movement in his arms and legs. One month later, Everett took his first steps that December and was able to walk for the first time. Today he walks unaided and is slowly regaining the use of his hands and fingers. The foundation raises funds to bring about education and awareness of spinal cord injuries and provide financial assistance to those who have been affected by these traumas.

Foundation Participating For: The Willis McGahee Foundation
Donations will benefit the Gwen Cherry Park Foundation Fund, benefiting the NFL's YET Center in Miami, as well as to benefit toy and food drives for youth through his foundation's upcoming events
Willis' Official Foundation Website: www.willismcgahee.com

McGahee's stretch playing for the Hurricanes includes two iconic wins over FSU, Wide Right III and Wide Left I. In the 2002 classic, he caught a screen pass from quarterback Ken Dorsey and screeched down the sideline for a 68-yard run late in the fourth quarter, setting up the game winning score. He finished the day with 173 all-purpose yards, as the ‘Canes held on to a 28-27 win and extended the nation's longest win streak to 28 games. As a redshirt freshman he scored an 8-yard touchdown in the 49-27 win in Tallahassee as Miami snapped FSU's 54-game unbeaten streak. During his redshirt season he witnessed a 27-24 UM win in 2000 over #1 FSU, also known as Wide Right III. McGahee shattered UM season rushing records during the 2002 season, establishing new season highs in virtually every category.

The Willis McGahee Foundation was established to help underprivileged children in the Baltimore and Miami areas by providing them with the tools, resources and encouragement they need to become self sufficient young people with a sense of high self-worth.  The Willis McGahee Foundation provides toys at the holidays, Thanksgiving meals, schools supplies, books and educational materials and dental supplies to children in need and their families.  In early 2009, The Willis McGahee Foundation was honored by the Howard County Government for the support of county children and received the Celebrating Successes for Children Award.   In October 2009, Willis will be named the 2009 Humanitarian of the Year and will receive the John W. Holland Humanitarian Award in recognition of his Foundation's charitable work.

Foundation Participating For: Myron L. Rolle Foundation
Donations will benefit scholarship, leadership and health programs through his foundation
Myron's Official Foundation Website: www.myronrolle.com

In 2008, FSU defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews characterized Rolle's performance versus Miami as "the best and most complete game" that he had ever seen a safety play during his 25 years of coaching. Rolle is well-known for his off-the-field resume which includes postponing the NFL for a season to attend Oxford University in 2009 as a Rhodes Scholar. He recently held a leadership and wellness academy with the Florida Department of Children and Families, a week-long summer camp for 100 foster children. He also unveiled construction plans for a free health clinic and state-of-the-art wellness and training facility in the Bahamas that he plans to begin construction on within the next few years.

The Myron L. Rolle Foundationis a tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated to the support of health, wellness, educational and other charitable initiatives throughout the world that benefit children and families in need. The Foundation was established in 2009 and supports the FSU College of Medicine Scholarship Programs, funds the "Our Way to Health" Program, The Myron Rolle Wellness and Leadership Academy, Myron's Health Clinic in the Bahamas (Exuma) and provides academic scholarships for top student-athletes from his hometown and from the Bahamas.

Foundation Participating For: Rolle with Me Foundation
Donations will provide school supplies through book back giveaway, as well as help raise donations for his upcoming holiday party for underprivileged youth
Samari's Official Foundation Website: www.samarirolle.com

In 1997, Samari Rolle picked off two passes in a 47-0 thumping of the Hurricanes, handing UM the worst defeat in 43 years. During his final three seasons at FSU, Rolle was a part of a defense that held UM to 33 points, outscoring them 122-33 in three straight wins. Entering his 12th NFL season, Rolle has started 12 postseason contests, including Super Bowl XXXIV. After being diagnosed with epilepsy in 2007, and along with his Rolle with Me Foundation, Samari has partnered with the Epilepsy Foundation to bring awareness to the disorder. He was selected as the Ravens' 2007 Ed Block Courage Award winner by his teammates and named a finalist for The Home Depot NFL Neighborhood MVP in 2008. The Rolle With Me Foundation annually organizes free youth football camps, Thanksgiving food drives for families in need, holiday parties for Baltimore youth, a summer reading program and has provided equipment for youth athletic leagues and donated book bags and school supplies to underprivileged children.

Foundation Participating For: Eye of the Hurricane Foundation
Donations will provide school supplies, holiday meals and gifts for future drives and help Reed's health and fitness youth  initiatives through his foundation
Ed's Official Foundation Website: www.eyeofthehurricanefoundation.org
In the 2001 match-up, Reed's performance was a highlight to a season and a team that some consider as one of the best in college football history. Playing with a separated shoulder, he helped lead UM to a 49-27 win with four pass break-ups, two interceptions and a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown. The win ended FSU's 37-game home win streak, as well as ending their shot at their fourth National Championship game. His participation in the challenge will benefit (charity) of Miami, a charity dedicated to (cause). Reed's foundation has done a majority of its projects in Baltimore and his hometown of Destrehan, Louisiana and has provided school supplies, college scholarships, athletic equipment and holiday gifts for children in both areas. He has also organized a Children's Fitness Day and Thanksgiving Turkey Drives.


On why he started his own foundation... "The Homes for the Holidays program allows me to fulfill my mother's dream of home ownership. By providing other single-parents assistance for home ownership, I am able to positively impact the community and continue her legacy."

How the UM-FSU game compares to different games on the schedule... "The match-up between the Seminoles and the Hurricanes is always a heated rivalry. It's not only an important conference game, bragging rights for dominance in the state of Florida are also up for grabs."

What's your favorite memory of the UM-FSU game... "We beat Miami 3 times while I was wearing 28 for the Noles, so it is hard to pick a favorite memory. My last game against Miami, during my senior year, I had an 80-yard run. It was the longest in my college career."


On why he started his own foundation... "Often times you don't think of some things until they happen to you.  As a football player, you are trained to not think about injury, because as soon as you do, you are more likely to play gingerly and that could cause you to get injured.  Once I was injured, I knew that I was blessed to be living and able to walk again.  I knew that God didn't spare me just to take care of me, but to be a living testimony to how awesome he is.  I felt the best way to do that was through the Foundations that I started." 

How the UM-FSU game compares to different games on the schedule... "Honestly, that game was circled during training camp.  We prepared for all of our games, but we came into the season really geeked up about that game.  It was for bragging rights, and even when we were not in the same conference, we definitely didn't want to lose to FSU.  I am PROUD to say that we never lost to FSU during my career."

What's your favorite memory of the UM-FSU game... "The whole rivalry was great.  I would say my most vivid memory was when we played at FSU.  It was rainy, muddy, the stadium was the loudest that I have ever played in, during college and the pros.  The FSU fans are by far the craziest fans we encountered in college.  BY FAR. They get amped up. The game was a little sloppy because of the conditions, but we won."

On the level of play in this game... "There was a definite difference. The ACC is loaded with talent, but we didn't face another team usually with as many NFL Prospects as FSU.  They had Antonio Cromartie, Alex Barron, Buster Davis, Leon Washington, Chris Rix and the list goes on and on.  They always had talent at every position.  That is what made the games so good.  You knew that you had to bring it every play, because each team had people who could change the game with one play."


On why he started his own foundation... "My agent Leigh Steinberg approached me with the idea of mobilizing some of my altruistic passions in the form of a Foundation. He has had experience creating Foundations for his clients and allowing them to see their ability beyond the sports field." 

How the UM-FSU game compares to different games on the schedule... "As a player the whole week is filled with excitement. The equipment managers play the rap song "We Ballin Boys" that features former UM players such as Willis McGahee and Ed Reed. The whole school is buzzing about the game and every interview question by reporters references the rivalry. It goes without saying it's an intense match up." 

What's your favorite memory of the UM-FSU game... "The week leading up to the 2008 Miami game I had suffered dehydration problems. I didn't leave the hospital until an hour before the team flight left for South Florida. Fortunately, I made the flight. I was saturated with water and weighed 233 lbs which is 20 lbs heavier than I usually weigh. I was nervous about how I was going to perform but it turned out to be the best game of my college career. We ended up winning the game and it goes down as one of my best memories of the UM-FSU match up." 

On the level of play in this game... "Obviously the speed of the Miami players exceeds any players that we played all year with the exception of probably the University of Florida. I remember my father telling me that he heard an NFL scout remark that a Florida State and Miami game is as close to NFL game speed as you'll see in college. There's something to be said for that."

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Tim James' journey from NBA to Iraq

The phone rings at 1 a.m. It is Tim James. The connection is tinny and echoing.
How are you, Tim?

``It was 125 degrees yesterday,'' he says. ``I've never felt anything like that. It was like working inside an oven. It was 121 in the shade.''

James is in Iraq, in a suffocating desert 105 miles north of Baghdad, but he isn't making one of those celebrity visits to cheer up the troops.

No, he is the troops.

The former University of Miami basketball star and former Miami Heat first-round pick enlisted in the Army a year ago, at the age of 31, and now he finds himself in the dusty, dirty center of a war.

Betty James wanted to scream. She knew she had raised a tough man in Liberty City, but did he have to go and be this tough? He had other career options. Teaching. Coaching. Couldn't he choose a new career path in his 30s that didn't involve insurgents and explosions?

Her son had money. He made almost $2.5 million playing for the Heat, Hornets and 76ers. The Heat's per diem of $113 means an NBA player gets more in meal money a season than the $2,000 a soldier of James' specialist rank will earn in a month. More than triple, actually.

And James earned plenty playing professionally in Japan, Turkey and Israel, too. But as he traveled all over the globe playing his beloved game, seeing a world he never thought he'd see growing up poor in Miami, he didn't learn to merely value or appreciate America's freedoms. He decided he wanted to fight to protect them, too.

``I never saw this coming,'' his mother says.

He was always so quiet. Stoic. Everyone says so. At Northwestern High School, at UM, as a member of the Heat. So when her little boy told her ``Mom, this is what I want,'' Betty James never told him she didn't approve, even as her friends told her that her son was out of his mind. She asked him ``Are you sure?'' but never let him know she didn't want what he wanted. Support loudly, pray quietly -- that was her way.

So when he hugged her to leave for training, she smiled and held him for an extra beat. And then the mother of Tim James went back inside her house, slumped behind her closed front door and began to cry.

What kind of soldier is James?

``A tall one,'' says his captain, Curt Byron.

Byron is a rugged military man who has flown UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters 50 feet over Iraq. He is responsible for the training, safety, mission accomplishment, health and morale of more than 120 men in Task Force ODIN (Observe, Detect, Identify, Neutralize). Company motto: ODIN's fury. Byron met his wife at West Point, and she is a company commander for a military intelligence unit in Korea.

Point is, Byron has seen and heard some war stories, but he has never before heard and seen one like this:
A former NBA player in the Army who nobody knew was a former NBA player?

James hasn't shared his past with fellow soldiers. Quiet, remember? Humble, too. He wanted to be just another teammate. So none of James' fellow soldiers knew he used to play pro basketball, though they all said he should have after he scorched those younger soldiers in a pickup game one day during training. He didn't tell them after that, either.

``I wanted this experience to be raw,'' James says now. ``Start a new life. I wanted to understand new minds and new ways of thinking. I've been in basketball since I was 8. I didn't want to have a basketball conversation every day.''

Click here to read the rest of the story!

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Gaby Sanchez Back To Triple-A

Gaby Sanchez has been optioned to Triple-A New Orleans. Sanchez failed to record a hit in seven at-bats during his most recent call-up.

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