Ray Lewis embarks on climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro today

Retired Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis is embarking today on his climb of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest point of Africa at an elevation of 19,340 feet.

Lewis is joined on the trip by Doug Pitt, the brother of actor Brad Pitt and a goodwill ambassador in Tanzania, and retired Pro Bowl Chicago Bears defensive lineman Tommie Harris.

Lewis is in Arusha, Tanzania to raise money and awareness about the need for clean water in East Africa. The climb is scheduled to run from today through July 8.

Prior to the climb, Lewis and the group have been giving hearing aids to children in a nearby village as part of the TackleKili mission for World Serve International and Pros for Africa.

Via the @TackleKili Twitter account, Lewis is shown outfiting children with the hearing aids.

On his Twitter account today, Lewis posted: "To give someone hearing for the 1st time in their life is Life changing."

Lewis, 38, a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year who retired after winning his second Super Bowl with the Ravens, now works for ESPN as a football analyst. He issued a statement last month about his involvement in the climb.

“In one month, I will climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to raise money and awareness for clean water projects in East Africa," Lewis wrote. "I am so FIRED UP for this adventure, but until then, I need your help to bring clean water wells to thousands of children and families. Show your support by following my TackleKili journey, spreading the word, and donating to TackleKili.”

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Santana Moss Motivated By Younger Competition

With the influx of youth on the roster in recent years, it’s easy to overlook that leadership that indoctrinates them into the Redskins way.

No player on the roster represents the Redskins’ core values of teamwork, effort and tradition better than veteran receiver Santana Moss, who is going into his ninth season on the team.

During his tenure with the team, Moss has played for three head coaches, four offensive coordinators, and received passes from nine different quarterbacks.
After last season, Moss moved up the franchise leader boards to fifth in receptions (529), fourth in yards (7,299) and seventh in touchdowns (45).

When Moss decides the time is right to hang up his cleats, he will go down as one of the greatest players to ever strap on a Redskins’ helmet.

But that time will not be any time in the foreseeable future.

Moss is no longer the Redskins’ No. 1 receiver in the offense, but is still playing with an intensity unbecoming of a grizzled NFL veteran.

His motivation: younger competition and proving that he still belongs.

“I’m just motivated off the guys we bring in. When you bring young guys in, you try to prepare yourself against the young guys,” he explained during minicamp. “When you see yourself competing against guys who are coming out of college and are 10-11 years younger than you, it gives you more motivation to keep going out there and do what you do.

“I’m always motivated. I’m a self-motivated kind of guy, and I’m going to keep going out there every year and do what I do until I can’t anymore.”

After registering the fourth-most receptions in the NFL in 2010 (93), Moss struggled with injury in 2011 that limited him to 12 games and 46 receptions.

After the Redskins added a pair of veteran receivers before 2012, Moss recognized that he was on the chopping block and stepped up to the challenge. He lost 15 pounds in an effort to regain his speed and maximize his utility out of the slot.

It worked.

Last year, he went most of the season with more receiving touchdowns than the rest of the offense combined, and finished with eight on the year, his best since 2005.

Moss was a fixture during the team’s offseason workouts this spring, crediting the coaching staff for creating a culture of accountability, even for veteran players.

“A lot of coaches say, ‘Hey I don’t really need you here but if you want to come then that’s fine.’ But our coaches say loud and clear, ‘You are showing what you want,”’ he explained. “They tell us that if they don’t see us, they don’t know if we are really into winning or into the team.

“It tells a lot about the coaching staff and what they want out of us. We want to pick up where we left off at. We want to not dwell on last year but advance forward.”

One of the biggest keys to advancing next season will be the health of starting quarterback Robert Griffin III. The reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year said he is expecting to be ready by training camp, but Moss said that speculation is a media creation.

The team needs Griffin III whenever he is ready to play.

“It’s only a big deal for people who are writing about it. Our team needs him regardless,” Moss said. “We have guys who are preparing themselves to fill that void if we need to. Knowing Robert [Griffin III], he wants to be out there.

“Let’s let him rehab and have his space and hopefully he’s going to be there Week 1.”

Looking ahead to training camp, Moss said the competition at receiver and elsewhere will finally start to come into focus.

“Until we get out there in the heat and training camp, then we will have more to say,” he said. “Every week we have a chance to get together and get better, that’s all we can do. It’s great.”

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Travis Benjamin, Bess add speed to receiver corps

Over the next few weeks, ClevelandBrowns.com will take a look at the 2013 Browns, position-by-position. Today’s spotlight is on the wide receivers.

When the Cleveland Browns looked to add speed to their wide-receiver corps in 2012, they selected Travis Benjamin on the third day of the 2012 NFL Draft and Josh Gordon -- three months later -- in the Supplemental Draft.

This year, they made a draft-weekend trade with the Miami Dolphins that brought five-year veteran Davone Bess to the Browns.

“They’re playing fast,” quarterback Brandon Weeden said of the receivers after minicamp. “The guys outside, tight ends, backs, everybody is really, really playing fast. They’re running routes full-speed and it’s tough. It’s tough on those safeties and corners who are trying to cover them. When you’re playing fast and you know where they’re going and they don’t, it’s to our advantage. I’m pleased with their play.”

Last fall, Benjamin caught 18 passes for 298 yards with two touchdowns, while Gordon finished third on the team with 50 receptions. He also led the team with 805 yards receiving and five touchdowns.

Gordon and Benjamin displayed that speed last season, as each player was on the receiving end of two of the longest touchdowns ever thrown by a Browns rookie quarterback. Weeden completed a 71-yard touchdown pass to Gordon at the New York Giants on Oct. 7, and added the 69-yard score to Benjamin on Dec. 16 against the Washington Redskins.

Key Number:
Two, the amount of times Greg Little has led the Browns in receptions since joining the team in the 2011 NFL Draft.

In 2012, Little led the Browns with 53 receptions, which he turned into 647 yards and four touchdowns.

While his receptions and yards slightly declined last season, Little increased his average yards per reception to 12.2 after it stood at 11.6 during his rookie season. Little also doubled his touchdowns total from his first year in the NFL.

Player to Watch:
The 5-foot-10, 193-pound Bess brings to Cleveland five years of experience and is coming off of a solid 2012 season in which he caught 61 passes for 778 yards, for a career-best average of 12.8 yards per reception, one touchdown and 38 first downs.

The Oakland, Calif., native whom the Dolphins signed as a rookie free agent after the 2008 NFL Draft, has been on the receiving end of 321 passes, and has turned those receptions into 3,447 yards, 12 touchdowns and 183 first downs.

Bess’ most productive season came in 2010, when he caught 79 passes for 820 yards and five touchdowns.

“He brings consistency,” Weeden said. “He doesn’t make many mistakes. If he’s reading routes or he’s doing certain things, he doesn’t make too many mistakes. He’s a very solid player. He’s a pro. The guy knows how to prepare. He is the ultimate pro, and I think that’s starting to rub off on everyone in the locker room, not just the receivers. He goes about his business the right way, and I commend him for it.”

Benjamin added, “It’s great learning. From coming in early, watching things he does, watching film, how he takes notes, he makes sure if you’re in the huddle with him or he’s in the game plan, he’ll look at you like, ‘You’ve got this route, right here.’ He’s just always (good) with communication.”

Shane Larkin makes pitch for Howard, wants to play with him in Dallas

Shane Larkin wants to lead the public relations campaign to bring free agent center Dwight Howard to the Dallas Mavericks.

The Miami point guard said Monday he hasn't quite figured out the sales pitch. He just knows this: He'd love to run the pick and roll with one of his favorite players growing up in Orlando as the son of Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin.

There's one tricky part. The Mavericks liked Larkin enough at No. 18 in the draft to quit trading down in their quest to clear salary cap space for a run at Howard. But they might have to deal Larkin to lure Howard from the Los Angeles Lakers.

Larkin says he wants to be in Dallas but understands "the NBA's a business."

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James Jones Foundation Championing Children

FORT LAUDERDALE – The James Jones Legacy Foundation, which was launched by Miami Heat guard and two-time NBA champion James Jones and his wife Destiny in 2009, is expanding its Crew 22 Training Camps. The camps are geared toward children aged 11-14 who need role models.
Da-Venya Armstrong, executive director of the foundation, said middle school-age children were the most impressionable and the organization focuses its efforts to meet their needs.

“The James Jones Legacy Foundation is building partnerships with community stakeholders to provide positive opportunities in lives of children who need it,” Jones said. “By building character, confidence, aspirations and most importantly hope, we begin to lay the foundation for a better future.”
The foundation has forged a partnership with the Broward Sheriff’s Office to expand its Crew 22 Training Camps to Broward, which will combine team activities and individual empowerment sessions.
 “We could really make a difference because we believe at that age, students are becoming young adults,” Armstrong said.  “Academically and socially, we thought that we could add the most value to their lives at that point.”
The partnership was celebrated on June 26 with a cocktail party held at the Urban League of Broward County’s Sunshine Health Empowerment Center in Fort Lauderdale.
“We are proud to host the introduction event for the James Jones Legacy Foundation,” said Dr. Germaine Smith-Baugh, president/CEO of the Urban League of Broward County.
“James is an exceptional leader and aside from the possibilities he has provided to the Urban League, he is going to continue to transform the lives of children living in South Florida.”
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Bobby DuBose were among those in attendance, along with Urban League board members and executives from American Express, His House Children’s Home, MetLife and Sunshine Health.
“Children don’t only have needs in Miami-Dade County,” Armstrong said. “They were just as interested of bringing our programs and services to Broward County.”
According to the James Jones Legacy Foundation website, the Crew 22 Training Camps provide a comprehensive camp experience for children, offering them both curriculum rich in a variety of life skills and a few days of “fun” that allows them simply to be children.
Fitness and nutrition are introduced from the outset through physical activities followed by healthy meals and snacks.
The educational components include empowerment sessions conducted by experts in areas such as leadership, social development. The foundation will sponsor camps at Florida International University’s Biscayne Bay Campus in Miami-Dade County July 23-26 and at Nova Southeastern University in Broward County July 30-Aug. 1.
The idea for holding the camps on college campuses is to expose the campers to the college environment.
“These kids will be first-generation college kids,” Armstrong said. “[The foundation] wants to provide positive learning experiences. We are training kids for life.”

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Orioles option Danny Valencia to Triple-A Norfolk

CHICAGO – The Orioles optioned designated hitter Danny Valencia to Triple-A Norfolk before Wednesday’s game to make room for new acquisition Scott Feldman, who made his debut with the team Wednesday night against the Chicago White Sox.

Valencia batted .230/.277/.508 with four homers and 15 RBIs in 61 at-bats with the Orioles, providing a right-handed bat with pop against left-handed pitching.

With the Orioles facing three left-handed starters in Chicago, Valencia seemed an option to remain on the roster. But Nolan Reimold’s return from the disabled list, and his ability to fill the designated hitter slot against lefties, made Valencia optionable. Also, the Orioles wanted to keep utility man Ryan Flaherty’s positional flexibility as Reimold and second baseman Brian Roberts have just returned from the DL.

“We wanted to get Danny some consistent at-bats [at Norfolk] and we want to keep the versatility of some other guys for the time being,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “It could be short-term. Nobody’s going away. We like how Danny can help us. It’s just where we were at a certain time.”

“Until we get our arm around [the roster] — Nolan and Brian have played one and two games [entering Wednesday night] — we want to cover ourselves with someone who can play those two spots if there [are] any issues,” Showalter added.

Valencia made just four starts over the past two weeks and was hitless in his past 13 at-bats. Asked if he felt he showed what he could do with the Orioles, Valencia said it was difficult doing so while playing sporadically.

“I feel like I did and I didn’t,” Valencia said. “It’s hard when you don’t play sometimes for four or five days. It’s definitely challenging. But I felt like I had some good at-bats. Recently it’s been tough to get some at-bats. But I guess that’s part of being not an everyday player, being a guy that can come off the bench. So it was tough.”

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Ryan Braun improving after hitting session

WASHINGTON -- Ryan Braun and Wily Peralta were both feeling better Wednesday, although the Milwaukee Brewers couldn't put a return date on either injured player.

Manager Ron Roenicke was heartened by Braun's response to a batting cage session Tuesday. Braun was scheduled to take some more swings and play some catch before Wednesday's game against the Washington Nationals.

Braun has been out since June with a bruised right thumb, and the Brewers lineup has suffered mightily without the 2011 NL Most Valuable Player.

Roenicke said Braun might be able to return before the All-Star break, which would be earlier than previously expected.

"With the progress that he made the last couple of days, I think it's a possibility," the manager said.

Braun said Tuesday night that the thumb is not "pain-free" but is "a lot better than it was."

Meanwhile, Peralta was able to work out in the weight room and play some catch a day after a strained left hamstring forced him from a game in the sixth inning.

Nevertheless, Peralta's next scheduled start, on Sunday against the New York Mets, is in jeopardy and likely will be determined by the training staff.

"I think that's still iffy. ... To put him back out there if they don't think he's 100 percent, I don't think we'll do that," Roenicke said.

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Sam Shields' contract status inspires hunger games

Green Bay — The harness is off and the swagger is on. For Davon House, it's back to playing like a "(bleep)hole," as he put it last season.

In bold letters, House assured he's healthy and he plans to start in 2013.

"To me," House said, "if you think I did good last year then you have a whole other thing coming."

Looking back, if House didn't suffer a left shoulder subluxation in the preseason opener, he probably starts Week 1 at cornerback. Not Sam Shields. Instead, Shields started, finished strong and is now flirting with a long-term deal. Yet still, this 10-minute scene from Donald Driver's charity softball game — House's words marinated with vinegar — is exactly the climate the Packers hoped to build this off-season.

Shields wasn't paid. Neither was B.J. Raji. Center Evan Dietrich-Smith? He's in the waiting room, too. After shelling out millions to two players, the Packers hit the brakes. Don't assume it's by accident, either. Money, always, is a motivator. In 2013, general manager Ted Thompson has several key starters entering contract years.

Financial uncertainty hangs over Shields, Raji, Dietrich-Smith and others.

So, no, the Packers won't be too upset if House or anyone else at those respective positions talks a mean game. Every coach alive trumpets the merits of camp competition — the need to create it, nurture it and make it contagious.

In Green Bay, Thompson can simply wave a checkbook.

The last time the Packers skated through a season with so many core starters seeking long-term deals was 2010. That team was stocked with underpaid players. A.J. Hawk, Cullen Jenkins, Tramon Williams, Daryn Colledge, John Kuhn, Desmond Bishop all delivered in contract years and the Packers won a Super Bowl.

Coincidence or not, Green Bay wouldn't mind a repeat in 2013.

So far, the players entering contract years have been echoing themselves.

After one off-season practice, Jermichael Finley bit his tongue at every turn. Moments after Mike McCarthy praised the tight end for adding weight, the typically talkative, always-colorful Finley wouldn't so much as say how much he weighs. As a Green Bay public relations official leaned into the group interview, Finley kept it G-rated.

"I feel strong right now, healthy," Finley said. "I feel confident. I'm just excited."

Behind the scenes, Green Bay has not always been thrilled with Finley's candidness. With hesitation, Thompson and Russ Ball agreed to keep Finley at $8.25 million this season. And while we can debate how harmful Finley's comments actually are — note: Brian Urlacher is not on an NFL team — that first media session hinted at a tamer, quieter tight end.

On another day, Dietrich-Smith refused to acknowledge the obvious.

Yeah, he's the starter. If he picks up where he left off in 2012, he will be for a while, too. But the restricted free agent also received the one-year, $1.323 million tender, a low-ball risk by the Packers. At this level, he said, you can't assume anything.

"It doesn't matter who you are," Dietrich-Smith said. "If you're not doing what you're supposed to be doing, you could be the next guy out the door. I don't take anything for granted. Every opportunity I get, I have to prove myself."

Raji spoke at length about the importance of getting off of blocks and said he's "confident everything will take care of itself."

James Jones won't be coasting any time soon. Two years ago, he swung and missed (badly) in free agency. Teams were brutally honest with Jones' agent, saying they didn't want to pay the receiver because of his rash of drops in 2010.

Since then, Jones has had the best hands on the team.

And across the oval-shaped locker room, Shields' space was vacant through the first round of OTAs. The restricted free agent hoped to flip his five interceptions over the final seven games into a lucrative deal. Thompson wouldn't flinch, so Shields signed. Once he did return to Green Bay from Florida, the Packer message was obvious.

"I just have to ball out this year," Shields said, "and then we'll go from there."

True, with Rodgers and Matthews the richest players at their positions, Green Bay will not be able to re-sign all of the above long term. Decisions await. But for now, by showing restraint at the negotiating table, Thompson should have several players hungry for a pay raise.

Rings, trophies and legacies are absolutely motivators. But seven, eight figures isn't bad, either.


Ranking the Atlanta Falcons’ players: No. 25 (tie), Matt Bryant and Matt Bosher

There were some tough calls, indeed. Here's the 25th rated players (tie):

No. 25 (tie): PK Matt Bryant and P Matt Bosher

Bryant: Season 12; Age: 38; Height: 5-9; Weight: 203

Bosher: Season 3; Age: 25; Height: 6-0; Weight 208

The kicker and the punter are on the list because both are tough hombres.

The diminutive Bryant, who booted the game-winner over Seattle in the divisional round of the playoffs, is still clutch. Also, he’ll stand up for the team in the heat of the battle like he did last season at Carolina's Greg Hardy last season.

He set the franchise record for most points in a single season (138) and hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. Bryant’s 49-yard game winning field goal against Seattle was the 15th game-winner of his NFL career and his sixth as a member of the Falcons.

Since joining the Falcons in 2009, Bryant has made on 31 of 41 field goal attempts from 40 yards or longer.

Bosher punts and handles the kickoffs. He’s on the list because he doesn’t mind mixing it up as a tackler. He had four special teams tackle in addition to breaking his own franchise record for net punting average (40.7 yards) and he set a franchise record for most touchbacks in a single season with 45.

Last year, Bosher punted 60 times for 2,827 yards (47.1 yard average). Bosher, who appears to have a Pro Bowl trip or two in his future, placed 22 kicks inside the 20-yard line.

In part because of Bosher’s hang-time, the Falcons’ punt coverage team has consistently been one of the top units in the NFL over the last five seasons. In 2012, the Falcons held opponents to 9.3 yards per return.

The Falcons special teams units, under the directior of coordinator Keith Armstrong, led the league in fewest penalties with seven.

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Shane Larkin sets some lofty goals for himself

DALLAS -- Shane Larkin has set aside some lofty goals he hopes to obtain in his rookie NBA season.

"I just got to get playing time,'' the Dallas Mavericks' first-year point guard said. "That’s my goal, to get on the court and produce for my team.

"Of course you want to be on the all-rookie team, Rookie of the Year. I’ve always set high goals for myself because I want to reach for the top. Those are things I would like to accomplish, but first I’ve got to get on the court.''

And to get on the court and earn more meaningful minutes, Larkin knows he first has to put in a lot of hard work, learn the playbook, and just go out and flawlessly execute things on the floor.

"I’ve got to go in there at training camp, summer league at the beginning, and prove my worth,'' Larkin said. "So that’s really what I’m really focused on -- just go in there and work hard and do whatever the coach asks of me and just work hard and try to earn playing time.''

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Shane Larkin out to prove he’s a starter: ‘I’ve quieted everybody so far’

When he figured out that basketball was his calling and not baseball, which had been his father’s avenue to a Hall of Fame sports career, Shane Larkin knew he’d have to overcome a lot.

Like being little.

At 5-11, he’s heard it all. And he already has heard it since being the Mavericks’ first-round acquisition last week, having been chosen 18th overall. He’s already being plugged in as a backup point guard.

And that’s fine. But it’s not what Larkin, who played at Miami (Fla.), has in mind.

“Coming out of high school, everybody said I couldn’t play D-1 [Division 1] ball and I wouldn’t be able to play in the ACC,” Larkin said Monday. “I never let that make me any less confident.

“People are saying I can’t be a starter in the NBA, but I’ve quieted everybody so far.”

Larkin, the son of baseball great Barry Larkin, said his father never pushed him toward baseball, although Shane Larkin said “deep down, he was probably a little disappointed, but his main goal was just to be a dad and be supportive.”

He did get coaxed into football “to make me tougher.” But once he figured out that he had the quickness to be a force on the basketball court, Larkin never looked back. And while he’s grateful for the comparisons to former Maverick J.J. Barea, he sees another NBA player as being more like him.

“I would say that player is Ty Lawson,” he said. “He’s the type of player who can impact the game. He’s a little bulkier than me, but we’re very similar athletically and I feel that’s the impact I can have.”

And, of course, Lawson is a starter in Denver.

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Chris Perez picks up 8th save, Indians beat Royals

Chris Perez worked a scoreless ninth inning to earn his eighth save, and the Indians edged the Royals 6-5 on Tuesday.

It wasn't all roses on Tuesday -- a Jarrod Dyson walk and an Alex Gordon single made things interesting, but Perez worked out of the jam without incident. He's now made three scoreless appearances since returning from the disabled list, suggesting his right shoulder is feeling much better than it did a month ago.

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Padres hope Yonder Alonso can hit soon

The Padres are hopeful that Yonder Alonso (hand) will be cleared to begin hitting in the batting cage soon.

Alonso had a CT scan Monday to check the healing of his fractured right hand, but the results of the exam aren't yet known. If the scan does show sufficient healing, the first baseman will be allowed to begin hitting. Alonso has been sidelined since June 6.

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Portis absorbed punishment for a living, but now lives the good life

Maybe the most underappreciated running back of his generation, a player who blocked with ferocity and ran with grace, is asked about concussions. Clinton Portis answers the way he always does: honestly and bluntly.

"The truth is I had a lot of concussions," he said. "It was just the way things were at the time. I'd get hit hard and be woozy. I'd be dizzy. I'd take a play off and then go back in. Sometimes when I went back into the game, I still couldn't see straight. This happened all the time. Sometimes once or twice a game."

How many concussions does he think he had?

"Numerous," Portis said.

Five? Ten?

"More than that, I think," Portis said.

"I can't put an exact number on it," he adds. "I just know it was a lot. I stopped counting at some point."

Despite that punishment. Portis was able to walk away from the game with limb and mind intact, which despite being one of the toughest people to ever play the game, is a minor miracle. Now, after those violent times on a football field, he spends his days with his kids or walking on a beach or just doing ... nothing. In all, he lives a normal life, with his health intact.

Portis' story is important for one major reason. It's well documented that numerous NFL players have had difficult transitions from their playing days into retirement. Both the NFL and union dedicate massive resources to struggling post-retirement players.

Portis is not fighting demons. The only fighting he's doing is against the traffic headed to the beach in the Miami area. Despite taking physical abuse -- in addition to being one of the most prolific runners in league history, he was also one of the top-three best blocking backs the sport has ever seen -- Portis says he's healthy. No known effects from the concussions thus far. No crutches. No emotional struggles. Just a relaxed life.

"I have a few aches and pains," he said, "nothing major. None of the, 'I can't stand up or walk' stuff. I got away from the game at the perfect time. To be 31 and retired and spending time with my kids, I love it."

Portis is one of those athlete success stories we rarely hear about, particularly retired athlete stories. In an NFL world recently dominated by news of alleged murderers and players going bankrupt, or how some players get so physically damaged they can no longer function as normal human beings, Portis says he left the sport unscathed and not bitter.

There are other tales like Portis' of players who left football content and successful -- see Michael Strahan -- but Portis' is one of the more unique because he is content with the simple joys of ordinary living. He doesn't want to be a star any longer. He just wants to be a normal dude.

"For a lot of players, it's an empty feeling when the attention is gone," said Portis. "A lot of players get caught up in the hype. They believe the NFL defined them as people. I loved football, and Redskins Nation, but football never defined me."

For those familiar with Portis, his intelligence and introspection is not shocking. For those who are not, Portis spent most of his career in Washington from 2004-2010, where he became one of the most popular players in team history. There were numerous outstanding backs who played during that decade. LaDainian Tomlinson, Fred Taylor, Ricky Williams. Portis was just as good as almost all of them.

In three of his first four seasons Portis rushed for at least 1,500 yards and in that fourth season he ran for 1,315 yards). In six of his first seven seasons, he rushed for at least 1,200. He had almost 10,000 yards for the decade and scored 75 touchdowns.

All the while he took an unbelievable pounding, and after what Portis disclosed about his concussions, we now know just how much of a pounding it was.
Despite being practically idolized by a Washington fan base, Portis kept perspective and a sense of humor. He became almost as famous for his various personas as he did his powerful running style.

Has Portis kept those costumes?

"I don't know what happened to most of the stuff," he said. "I still have some of the various pieces. I wish I would have held onto the glasses and the wig."

There was one misstep, when he seemed to back Mike Vick soon after it was disclosed Vick had been running a dog-fighting ring (Portis later clarified his comments). Overall, Portis smartly prepared for the day his career would end. He was ready when it did.

"Being retired is great," he said. "I was at the Redskins facility at eight in the morning and sometimes didn't leave until late at night. Now I don't have a schedule.
"I spent so much of my life in a job where people judged me. Now I just want to be around my kids, and be around people who love me. I miss Redskins Nation and I will always cherish Mr. Snyder (owner Dan Snyder) and coach (Joe) Gibbs. They gave me an opportunity to do something special."

Would he ever consider coming back?

"No way," he said, "I'm done. I'm staying retired. Life is too good."

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JETS TOP 25: No. 18 Kellen Winslow

As the Jets get close to training camp, I am going to examine the roster and give you my top 25 players on the Jets roster. Each weekday we will reveal another person on the list, leading right into camp. I am not including rookies on this list because I do not feel it is possible to fully evaluate them before they play a game. Hope you enjoy.

Last year’s ranking: Unranked/not on team
Position: Tight End
Age: 29
How acquired: Signed as a free agent on June 14, 2013
Contract status: 1 year, $840,000 remaining

Looking back at 2012: Winslow played in just one game for the Patriots and caught one pass. He joined the Patriots after being released by the Seahawks prior to the season when he refused to rework his contract.

Winslow has a bad right knee that scared off teams from bringing him in. He has had several surgeries on the knee, including microfracture in 2007. He did not draw much interest this offseason until the Jets invited him to minicamp as a tryout player and liked what they saw.

Outlook for 2013: Expectations seem a little too high for Winslow, who turns 30 before camp, from fans. It is highly unlikely he will be the player that starred for the Browns and Buccaneers, but if he can stay on the field Winslow could be a nice pickup for the Jets.

The team is very thin at tight end and it needs some playmakers on the field. If Winslow is right, he can be that guy. He will be competing with Jeff Cumberland for the starting job, a competition he should be able to win.

The Jets took a chance on LaRon Landry last year after he had battled injuries throughout prior years and it worked. The training staff crafted a plan that kept Landry rested and on the field and he wound up in the Pro Bowl. Expect Winslow to have similar practice restrictions as the Jets try to get whatever is left out of him.

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Travis Benjamin & Deonte Thompson Football Camp: Sean Spence

Travis Benjamin & Deonte Thompson Football Camp: Sean Spence from Generation Nexxt Youth Sports Nt on Vimeo.

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QB coach Ken Dorsey not far removed from playing days

CHARLOTTE – When Ken Dorsey twice was named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, Cam Newtonicon-article-link was a kid just beginning to find his way in life.

But when Dorsey started three games in place of injured quarterback Derek Andersonicon-article-link for the Cleveland Browns in 2008, Newton was a college football player, one destined to become the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft.

"I kid with him all the time that he's not too far removed from being in the league himself," Newton said of Dorsey, the Panthers' first-year quarterbacks coach who last played in the NFL in 2008. "He understands a lot of the things we're feeling. Sometimes we're down, sometimes we're up, and he's the equalizer to help us focus and get the job done."

Dorsey is quick to point out that he didn't have nearly the success that Newton has enjoyed in the NFL, but as an NCAA champion like Newton and a five-year veteran of the NFL wars, Dorsey knows a thing or two about what it takes to succeed.

"It's great to have that experience that I can look back on to help understand what he's going through on the field," said Dorsey, who compiled a 38-2 record as starting quarterback at the University of Miami. "I understand what Cam is looking at and why he doesn't do something where some people might be asking, ‘Well shoot, why didn't he just do this?' It's not always that easy.

"I understand that when you drop back and the bullets are flying, it's not always going to be pretty, but at the end of the day you've got to find a way to get the job done."

That's exactly what the 32-year-old Dorsey tried to do as a player and what he is now trying to do in his first full-fledged coaching role. He may officially be new to this, but in reality he's been preparing for this moment for years.

"When I was playing, I did a lot of work with the coaching staff," said Dorsey, whose playing days ended as a backup for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League in 2010. "I was in the game-planning meetings with the coaches in Cleveland and Toronto, helping them out with breaking down defenses and things like that.

"I'm incredibly lucky because I can't see doing anything else. This to me, it's not a job. It's what I love to do."

Unlike seemingly so many in his shoes, Dorsey isn't the son of a football coach, but his father still played a big role in Dorsey working to get to where he is today. Tom Dorsey, who died at the age of 65 in February, was Ken's biggest fan.

The feeling was mutual.

"My dad wasn't a coach, but I took a ton away from him," Dorsey said. "He had to work two jobs a lot of times, but he never let us as kids really see when times were hard. He was the hardest worker for the betterment of his kids, and I couldn't have asked for anything more. That's the approach I take to coaching.

"My dad always dreamed of me coaching. Before he passed, I was able to see him in the hospital just after I had been promoted to quarterbacks coach. I was able to tell him, and he lit up. He was so excited."

Tom closely followed his youngest son's transition from player to coach. Ken worked with a couple of high school programs in Florida in 2011, and that same year he got an opportunity from former Panthers quarterback Chris Weinke to work with aspiring quarterbacks at IMG Academy in Bradenton. Dorsey worked primarily with high school athletes, though he did meet a college athlete training for the draft named Cam Newton.

Their relationship grew – as did Dorsey's understanding of coaching – when Dorsey spent the past two seasons as a pro scout for the Panthers. Dorsey spent significant time around the players and coaches in the role, relaying information about upcoming opponents.

"It helped a ton, just being around these guys. They know me, and I know them, so now it's not a complete stranger coming in," Dorsey said. "It's about building trust. Cam understands the time I put in the last two years to help this team win, and I understand the time and work he put in. Having that understanding makes all the difference in the world.

"My whole goal is to do everything I can to make him the best possible player and teammate he can be. Fortunately for me, he makes that job easy because of the amount of work he puts in and the dedication he has."

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Antrel Rolle has sacrificed stats by switching positions when needed

Antrel Rolle considers himself to be a Pro Bowl player, but for the past two years the rest of the NFL did not. He says he is going to change that perception.

“Absolutely, there’s no doubt about it,’’ Rolle said recently.

There is no talk from Rolle about a return to form, a return to health or a return to the lineup. In his three years with the Giants, Rolle always has been there, starting all 52 games (counting the postseason) but his impact seemingly has ebbed and flowed with the rise and fall of the entire Giants defense. He is an every-down player, never coming off the field, but as the point-prevention operation sagged and clunked through a historically bad season last year, Rolle often appeared to blend into the badness.

Rolle never will evaluate his performance by such pedestrian standards.

“Last year I just didn’t have the numbers as far as interceptions and things of that nature,’’ Rolle said, “but as far as just being a football player and going out there and playing the position I need to play and being that role player for my team … I’ve been All-Pro. But that’s not what you get measured at within this league. Teams notice you. I’m sure the offensive coordinator on the other team knows where Antrel is going to be at any point in time.’’

It no longer is a dirty little secret within the Giants defense that Rolle rarely plays his natural position, which is free safety. It is not a sign of decline that Rolle has just five interceptions in his three seasons with the Giants after amassing 10 interceptions in his previous three years with the Cardinals. With the Giants too often a man down at cornerback, Rolle has been asked — actually told — that for the greater good of the defense, he must spend far too much time playing nickel cornerback, perhaps the most demanding spot in the entire secondary. Rolle can do it, but not at the heightened level he reaches when allowed to roam at deep safety.

“We always shoot for that each and every year. We always shoot for me to play the safety role and stay at the safety role but it’s never happened, unfortunately,’’ Rolle said. “At one point in time I would get frustrated. … It’s a part of growing up, a part of being professional and most important a part of just being a team player and doing whatever you have to do in order for this team to be successful.’’

Rolle, 30, came to grips with the hybrid role down the stretch of the 2011 season, a key factor in the defense coming together for the Super Bowl run. His hammering home the “All In’’ theme was an energizing force, and Rolle staying on the field despite two torn labrums in his shoulders strengthened his standing within the team hierarchy.

At first, Rolle, bristled at coach Tom Coughlin’s firm hold, but he has come full circle and now is one of Coughlin’s most trusted advocates.

“What’s helping ’Trel now is understanding the Giants’ way, the Giants’ system,’’ teammate Justin Tuck said. “He wasn’t accustomed to that when he came in. He was more accustomed to [University of] Miami, things of that nature. Now I think he’s a lot smarter with some of the things he says in the media and some of the things he says in the locker room, and I think he’s gonna be a huge part of our leadership and success of the football team.’’

The Giants need and expect greatness from Rolle, who is by far the highest-paid player on defense, set to make $7 million this season (Tuck is a distant second at $4.5 million) and another $7 million in 2014. Rolle will do what is asked of him but is hoping defensive coordinator Perry Fewell can find a capable third cornerback behind starters Corey Webster and Prince Amukamara — with second-year Jayron Hosley, veteran Aaron Ross (returning after one season in Jacksonville) and perhaps even Terrell Thomas coming back from another ACL surgery as viable options.

“Safety is easier than other positions I’ve been required to play,’’ Rolle said, smiling. “Yeah, the level of expectation for myself is going to be through the roof. I understand that once I’m asked to play certain roles maybe my interceptions won’t be as high. Honestly, at this point in time it really doesn’t matter to me. As long as I get the credit from myself, as long as I get the credit from my team, as long as the credit from my coaches, that’s all that really matters to me. I really don’t care what outsiders say.’’

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Jason Fox says offensive linemen have been pushing each other in the weight room

The Detroit Lions offensive line will be noticeably bigger next season.

Center Dominic Raiola has added 20 pounds, left tackle Riley Reiff has packed on 10, and rookie Larry Warford, if he can win the starting job, brings a massive 333-pound frame to the right guard spot.

Jason Fox, who will compete with Corey Hilliard to start at right tackle, has also bulked up.

"I've gained a little weight myself," Fox said. "I think that just shows you that everybody has been working really hard in the weight room. Even with the break before (minicamp) and the break coming up, guys are going to continue to work hard to be in the best shape for the start of the season."

When working out together at the team's practice facility, Fox said there's a natural tendency for the players to push each other, but there's also an expectation among the offensive linemen to continue working hard when they're away from the building.

"We know the biggest goal is for us to succeed as a group and as a team," Fox said. "We know everyone is accountable to keep that up on their own while we go to our separate places the next few weeks."

Detroit's offensive line did an admirable job protecting quarterback Matthew Stafford last season. The unit allowed just 29 sacks despite Stafford attempting an NFL record 727 passes.

They'll look to maintain that success in pass protection, while using the added bulk to create and sustain bigger running lanes for the backs this season. 

The Lions averaged 4.1 yards per carry in 2012 and have consistently registered in the bottom half of the league in that area over the past decade, never topping 4.4 yards per attempt during that stretch.

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TDs Wayne, Johnson should have caught

Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne are the headliners among wide receivers in the AFC South.

They are prominent in the most-recent round of research by Mike Clay of Pro Football Focus.

Boiled down, Clay attempts to find something more telling than red zone numbers. Why? Well, over the past five seasons, catches at the 16-yard line resulted in touchdowns 4.6 percent of the time and catches at the 21-yard line resulted in touchdowns 4.0 percent of the time.

If that 5-yard difference is minimal, why should we expect a catch at the 16 to be more productive than a catch at the 21?

“[T]here’s no reason we should be using an arbitrary number to weight what does and doesn’t count as a ‘scoring opportunity,’” Clay writes. “... Should a wide receiver screen to Randall Cobb from the 19-yard line really be valued the same as a quick slant to Calvin Johnson at the 2-yard line? Of course not. But, if you’re referencing [red zone] data, that’s exactly what you’re doing.”

So Clay calculates oTD -- opportunity-adjusted touchdowns.

Brandon Marshall of Chicago was the best receiver (and overall player) in oTD in 2012 at 12.0. Given the same hands and same quarterback as everyone else, he’d be expected to score 12 touchdowns based on his catches. He scored 11.

Wayne’s oTD was 9.9. That means based on where he was catching the ball, he “should” have had 4.9 more touchdowns than the four he scored.

Johnson’s oTD was 4.8. That means based on where he was catching the ball, his five touchdown catches were right in line with his expected touchdown catches.

Johnson's expected touchdowns should be the same, if not higher, than Wayne's, I would think.

What were the biggest differences between the two?

Johnson’s average distance from the end zone on his targets was 49.7, significantly higher than Wayne’s 44.2. And Johnson was only targeted in the end zone six times, where he caught just one pass, while Wayne was targeted 16 times in the end zone and caught four touchdowns there.

We already tied into the Texans and the issue of throwing into the end zone.

Here is further evidence they could be trying to do more with Johnson in the end zone.

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Ed Reed 94th on PFT's top 100 NFL players

The NFL Network did their list of the top 100 players in the NFL and the Texans were well represented.

They had five players on the list: J.J. Watt (fifth), Arian Foster (eighth), Andre Johnson (14th), Ed Reed (18th) and Duane Brown (48th).

That list is compiled by NFL players, who are asked to vote, although no one really knows who voted and if they took it seriously.

So, our friends at ProFootballTalk have compiled their own list and the way they compiled it makes sense. They assembled a group of media members from around the country who cover the NFL and asked them to list their top 50 players (the NFL Network asks players to list their top 20).

On Monday, the PFT list revealed its first 25 players and one Texan showed up.

At No. 94, the Texans' big free agent acquisition, Reed, made the list. That's quite a different standing for the future Hall of Famer, a 76-spot drop from lists.

It might have something to do with players voting for what Reed was instead of what he is. And Reed is still a very good safety in the NFL but his No. 18 ranking on the NFL Network's list was probably too high.

It's very possible the Texans had a better player (Glover Quin) last year than Reed will be this year. But Reed plays the position differently and the Texans obviously valued that style along with his experience and leadership.

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Cleveland Browns' 100 best all-time players: No. 25, Bernie Kosar (video)

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A countdown of the top 100 players in Cleveland Browns history. Players must have spent at least four seasons with the Browns. The ranking is based only on players' careers with the Browns.

No. 25, BERNIE KOSAR, quarterback, 1985-93

Browns fans might be the most loyal and patient of any in the NFL, despite getting little reward for their devotion over the last four decades.

Beginning with 1974, Cleveland has had 11 winning seasons, two .500 seasons, 23 losing campaigns and three years without a team.

Save for the exciting "Kardiac Kids" seasons and 1994 -- which turned out to be an aberration of a season as the Browns went 11-5 and posted their last playoff win a year before they were moved to Baltimore -- there has been little of consequence for Cleveland fans to cheer.

Except for 1985-89, when talented but flawed and often injury-riddled Browns teams made the playoffs each year, won four AFC Central Division titles and three times came within a play or few of reaching the Super Bowl.

Their quarterback, Bernie Kosar, may have made just one Pro Bowl team -- hardly the measure of a player's quality -- but he played some spectacular games to help the Browns to big games, had some brilliant big-game performances and other fine showings in disheartening defeats. The gangly, 6-5 Kosar excelled despite an unconventional, semi-sidearm delivery, drawing on his accuracy, intelligence and instincts, and a toughness that allowed him to persevere through a string of injuries that in fact sidetracked him prior to what would have been his prime years.

Kosar, from Youngstown, led Miami (Fla.) to the national championship as a freshman in 1983, winning Orange Bowl MVP honors in the Hurricanes' 31-30 upset win over Nebraska. A few weeks after his sophomore campaign, Kosar announced his intentions to enter the 1985 NFL draft and that his hope was to play for the Browns.

At the time, only seniors or college graduates could be drafted according to NFL rules. Kosar had two years of athletic eligibility remaining at Miami but was on track to graduate during the 1985 summer with majors in economics and finance. In the meantime, controversy ensued as teams besides the Browns stated their interests in the 21-year-old quarterback. Missed paperwork deadlines for draft eligibility, threatened lawsuits and other issues further complicated matters as Kosar stood firm in his desire to play for the Browns.

As it turned out, the Browns traded their first-round picks in the 1985 and 1986 drafts, a 1985 third-rounder and a 1986 sixth-rounder to Buffalo for the Bills' first pick in the 1985 supplemental draft. The Browns used it, of course, to take Kosar. Another sidelight to the deal was that it had to be adjusted after controversial but talented Browns linebacker Chip Banks refused to be included in it, threatening to retire if forced to leave Cleveland.

The Browns acquired respected veteran Gary Danielson in a trade with the Detroit Lions to begin the season as the starting quarterback and at the same time tutor the rookie Kosar. Danielson, though, tore a rotator cuff in his right (throwing) shoulder when the Browns were 2-2, prompting Kosar's move into the lineup. Kosar started 10 games the rest of the way and Danielson returned to start one more (a win) and relieve Kosar in two others.

Kosar had a breakthrough game in its efficiency and importance in Week 15, a 28-21 win over the Houston Oilers. He completed 14 of 28 passes for 161 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions and ran two yards for the other touchdown. The Browns, who had gone 5-11 in 1984, became 8-7 in the game that eventually won them the AFC Central title, though they lost their regular season finale. Then, Earnest Byner's ball-carrying pushed the underdog Browns to a stunning 21-3 lead in a playoff game at Miami, before the Dolphins rallied for a 24-21 win. The run-oriented Browns of coach Marty Schottenheimer employed a cautious and unimaginative pass offense due to the youth of Kosar, who completed 10 of 19 passes -- including a 16-yard touchdown toss to Ozzie Newsome -- with one interception.

The Browns went 12-4 in 1986, the most regular season wins in team history (schedules were expanded to 16 games in 1978) not including the team's days in the All-America Football Conference (1946-49). Kosar and his receivers and line carried the offensive load, as backs Byner and Kevin Mack both struggled with injuries. Kosar, in fact, led NFL quarterbacks with seven game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime, the third most in league history. He was first, too, in comeback wins, games in which the Browns rallied to victory from fourth-quarter deficits.

In games started by Kosar from 1986 through 1989, Cleveland won 35, lost 17, tied one and won three more division championships. He played just 12 games in the 15-game, strike-shortened 1987 season, when "replacement players" formed the nucleus of team rosters for three weeks during the strike while most NFL veterans, including Kosar, didn't cross the picket line.

Kosar sprained his right (throwing) elbow in the 1988 season opener, an injury which sidelined him for six games and had lingering effects for the rest of his career. He missed the final regular season game and the 24-23 wild card playoff loss to Houston, in Cleveland, with a sprained knee.

Kosar set an NFL playoff game record that still stands when he passed for 489 yards during the 1986 Browns' 23-20 double overtime win over the New York Jets at Cleveland Stadium, the team's first postseason win since 1969. Kosar completed 33 of 64 passes with a touchdown. His two interceptions contributed to the Browns' 20-10 deficit, before he completed five passes during a long drive that pulled the Browns within 20-17 with just under two minutes left, then connected with Webster Slaughter for a 37-yard completion to set up Mark Moseley's field goal that forced overtime.

Kosar, who is one of four quarterbacks in NFL history to pass for at least three touchdowns in three straight postseason games, sparkled in two other playoff wins.

He completed 20 of 31 passes for 229 yards and three touchdowns, with one pick, as the 1987 Browns topped the Indianapolis Colts, 38-21, in Cleveland. In a 1989 season playoff game, again in Cleveland, Kosar keyed a 34-30 win over the Bills by going 20 of 29 for 251 yards and three TDs with no interceptions.

Following each of the Browns' three playoff wins, they lost American Football Conference championship games to the Denver Broncos.

Kosar's 48-yard touchdown pass to Brian Brennan gave the Browns a 20-13 lead over Denver with under six minutes to go in the 1986 AFC title game at Cleveland Stadium. Quarterback John Elway then directed "The Drive," moving Denver 98 yards for the score that forced overtime and led to a Rich Karlis field goal and the Broncos' 23-20 win. Kosar, who had turned 23 on Nov. 23 of that season, was 18-of-32 for 259 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

The Browns fell behind, 28-10, in the 1987 conference title game at Denver. Kosar, Byner and their blockers led a compelling comeback that tied the game, 31-31, in the fourth quarter. After Elway drove Denver to the go-ahead touchdown, the Browns started a march on their own 25 with 3:53 left. Byner, who played a great game, appeared on his way to a tying touchdown on the seventh play of the drive, but was stripped of the football just short of the goal line by Broncos cornerback Jeremiah Castille, who recovered the fumble at the 1 with 1:05 to go.

Denver won, 38-33. Kosar had 26 completions in 41 attempts for 356 yards and three touchdowns. His lone interception was early in the game, an on-target pass that bounced out of a Browns receiver's hands.

Cleveland's 1989 season again fell one game short of the Super Bowl with a 37-21 AFC championship game loss at Denver. Kosar may not have played if it had been the regular season. He was hampered all year by a sore right arm and elbow, and he played the title game with a rubber splint on his right index finger. Browns receivers dropped at least a half-dozen Kosar passes, and he finished 19 of 44 for 210 yards with three interceptions. Still, he and Brennan connected for two third-quarter touchdown passes, pulling the Browns to within 24-21 before they faded.

The Browns were an aging and banged-up team following the 1989 season and it showed dramatically in 1990 as they went 3-13. Coach Bud Carson, who had taken over in 1989 after Schottenheimer and owner Art Modell had a parting of ways, was fired with the Browns 2-6 and replaced on an interim basis by assistant and former Browns cornerback Jim Shofner. Kosar was benched by Carson for one game, and he missed the final two games after fracturing his right thumb in the first half of Game 14, a game he finished anyway, a 13-10 Browns' win over the visiting Atlanta Falcons. Cleveland totaled 14 points in the three games, all losses, that Kosar didn't play.

Kosar's final full season of play with the Browns was in 1991, Bill Belichick's first as the team's coach. Cleveland went 6-10 though Kosar had a fine individual campaign, finishing among the NFL's top six in numerous statistical passing categories.

Kosar didn't throw an interception until the 10th game in 1991. In all, dating back to a pick during his final 1990 appearance, Kosar threw 308 consecutive passes without an interception to set an NFL regular season record. It stood until Tom Brady's streak of 358 spanning the 2010 and 2011 seasons for the Belichick-coached New England Patriots.

Kosar broke his right ankle in the second game of the 1992 season and missed the next nine games. The injury occurred during the first half of the Browns' 27-23 home loss to the Dolphins. Kosar limped through the rest of the game, throwing two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter for a short-lived 23-20 Browns' lead, before X-rays revealed the extent of the injury hours later.

Veteran quarterback Vinny Testaverde signed a free agent contract with the Browns prior to the 1993 season, ostensibly as Kosar's backup. Kosar and Belichick had been feuding for some time though, and their communication was strained, to say the least.

Testaverde took over for Kosar during the second half of Cleveland's 19-16 road win over the then-Los Angeles Raiders. The victory made the Browns 3-0. Testaverde and Kosar both played in the Browns' next two games, a 23-10 loss to the Colts in Indianapolis and a 24-14 home loss to the Dolphins. Testaverde went the distance in Cleveland's 28-17 win over the Bengals in Cincinnati as the Browns improved to 4-2.

Eric Metcalf returned two punts for touchdowns to key the host Browns' 28-23 win over the Steelers in the next game, which Testaverde started but had to leave after injuring his right (throwing) shoulder late in the contest. He was replaced by Kosar. With Testaverde sidelined, Kosar played the entire game the next week, a 29-14 loss to the Broncos at Cleveland Stadium. That left the Browns 5-3 and in a first-place AFC Central tie with Pittsburgh.

The day after the Denver game, Kosar was released, Belichick saying the quarterback's skills were diminishing. Belichick also wasn't especially pleased that Kosar said following the game that he had drawn up a play in the dirt during a huddle that went for a late touchdown pass to Michael Jackson.

Testaverde was still hurt, though, and inexperienced Todd Philcox was at quarterback when the Browns lost their next three games and eventually finished 7-9.

When let go, the injury-riddled Kosar wasn't the player he had been. Belichick, though, admitted several years ago that he had handled the release of Kosar poorly.

The resilient Kosar wasn't quite through. The Dallas Cowboys, with star quarterback Troy Aikman out for a couple weeks, signed Kosar right after his dismissal from the Browns. Seven days after his final game in a Cleveland uniform, emergency-starter Kosar completed 13 of 21 passes for 199 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions in the Cowboys' 20-15 win over the Phoenix Cardinals in Dallas.

A few weeks later, a shaken-up Aikman had to leave the Cowboys' National Football Conference championship game against the San Francisco 49ers in Dallas. Before Aikman returned, Kosar stepped in to complete five of nine passes for 83 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown to Alvin Harper that built Dallas' lead to 35-14 in the third quarter.

That finally got Kosar to the Super Bowl. Fittingly, he got in for the final few snaps of the Cowboys' 30-13 rout of Buffalo.

Free agent Kosar then joined the Miami Dolphins. He backed up Dan Marino for three years, throwing 152 passes and then retiring after the 1996 season.

Kosar, 49, has remained visible to Browns fans over the years, including work as a television analyst for the team's preseason games.

Kosar announced early this year that he was being treated for brain trauma, an effect from his NFL career, and that the results were encouraging. He suffered at least a dozen documented concussions as an NFL player.

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DeQuan Jones won't receive qualifying offer

DeQuan Jones will not receive a qualifying offer from the Magic and will become an unrestricted free agent.

He never really had a chance with the Magic selecting Victor Oladipo at two. Jones saw 17 starts last season, but played just 12.7 minutes per game in his rookie campaign. He'll play in summer league with the Magic and could catch on with another team or the Magic could even re-sign him.

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Shane Larkin To Mavs, Kenny Kadji To Cavs

The Dallas Mavericks, having traded down twice, drafted former Miami Hurricanes’ PG Shane Larkin with the 18th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.

Having been technically drafted by the Atlanta Hawks with the 16th pick, Larkin will become a Maverick once the swap becomes official.

While at UM, Larkin averaged 14.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg and 4.6 apg.  The 5-11, 176-pound guard was the 2012-13 ACC Player of the Year (Coaches, Sports Illustrated, ESPN), All-ACC First Team (ASCMA, Coaches, ESPN), All-ACC Defensive Team (ASCMA, Coaches) and ACC Tournament MVP.

According to ESPN, the Mavs intend to keep Larkin for now, but should they need to create cap space for Dwight Howard, Larkin could be traded in July.
Former UM PF Kenny Kadji was picked up on Friday by the Cleveland Cavaliers as a free agent.

Hurricanes head coach Jim Larranaga told CaneSport, “Kenny will impress a lot of scouts with his size, shooting ability and overall athleticism.  I am confident he will be in the NBA this season.”

In his senior year, Kadji averaged 12.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 0.8 assists.

He was voted Second Team All-ACC.

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Shane Larkin sees himself as 'Ty Lawson type'

Shane Larkin appreciates being compared to a former Mavericks fan favorite, but with all due respect to J.J. Barea, the first-round pick is setting his sights a bit higher.

No, that’s not a short joke, although their sub-six-foot stature is one reason for the Barea-Larkin comparison.

It’s just that Larkin strives to be an NBA starter. That’s why he prefers to compare himself to another vertically challenged NBA point guard.

“I see myself as a Ty Lawson type,” Larkin said during a conference call with Dallas reporters. “Just somebody that can go out there every night and make an impact with my speed and quickness.”

Larkin’s career path is pretty similar to Lawson’s to this point. Lawson was the ACC player of the year as a junior at North Carolina before being selected with the 18th overall pick in the 2009 draft. Larkin was the ACC player of the year as a sophomore at Miami before being selected No. 18 last week.

The 5-foot-11, 197-pound Lawson is thicker than the 5-foot-11, 171-pound Larkin, but Larkin is quicker and more explosive. Larkin has data from the draft combine to prove it, noting that he tested better than Lawson.

The proof:

*Larkin had a 44-inch vertical max vertical, the best combine measurement in DraftExpress.com’s database. Lawson leaped 36.5 inches as a draft prospect.

*Larkin was timed in the three-quarters-court sprint at 3.08 seconds, the fastest at this year’s combine. Lawson’s time: 3.12.

*Larkin’s time in the lane agility test was 10.64, the sixth-best at this year’s combine. Lawson was timed at 10.98 in 2009.

None of that guarantees that Larkin can be an NBA starter or even a rotation player, but his athleticism, pick-and-roll pedigree and perimeter shooting ability are among the reasons that the little guy thinks big. There’s also a healthy chip on the shoulder of baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin’s son, who enjoyed hushing those who didn’t think he could play Division I basketball, much less star in the ACC.

"People are saying now that I can't be a starter, I can't be a successful player in the NBA,” Larkin said. “I'm just going to use that as motivation."

Larkin’s immediate goals aren’t too large, though. He simply wants to earn playing time and be productive as a rookie.

It’s a pretty good plan to continue following a similar path to the one traveled by Lawson, who primarily came off the Denver bench during his first two NBA seasons before emerging as one of the West’s better starting point guards the last two years.

That’s what Larkin is aiming for. If he ends up being the next Barea, that’s not bad, either.

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Yonder Alonso close to resuming baseball activities

MIAMI -- Injured first baseman Yonder Alonso is getting closer to returning to the field. He has been on the 15-day disabled list since June 6 with a fractured bone in his right hand.

Alonso was hit by a pitch in the seventh inning of a 4-3 loss to the Blue Jays on May 31.

"He's getting closer to doing full baseball activities," Padres manager Bud Black said. "By that, I mean grounders, throwing, hitting in the cage, hitting off a live arm. Not the soft toss or the tee work."

Before Alonso could rejoin San Diego's lineup, Black said the first baseman needed to get his hand strength back, face live pitching and play in at least five games.

Alonso is not with the Padres on their road trip. However, once the 26-year-old resumes baseball activities, Black wants him back with the club before beginning a rehab assignment.

"I'd like to get him here," Black said. "If he's hitting, I'd like him to hit with us."

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Jemile Weeks might be switching to center field

Jemile Weeks has fallen out of the A’s plans since a strong rookie season in 2011, spending part of last season and all of this season back at Triple-A, and now he’s trying to learn a new position.

Weeks, who previously played only second base and a little shortstop, is starting to see some action in center field.

A’s manager Bob Melvin indicated to Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com that the new position was Weeks’ idea and “there’s a fit for it because there’s quite a log jam trying to get him consistent at-bats at second base” at Triple-A.

Of course, his defensive position won’t matter much if Weeks doesn’t pick things up offensively. He’s hitting just .264 with two homers and a .748 OPS in 73 games at Triple-A after hitting .221 with two homers and a .609 OPS in 118 games for the A’s last year.

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Yasmani Grandal playing well through Miami homecoming

MIAMI -- Monday may be San Diego's fourth day of a 10-game road trip, but Yasmani Grandal feels right at home. The Miami product has been cheered on by his mother watching from the crowd during the Padres' four-game series against the Marlins.

"It's always good to play in front of family," Grandal said. "It feels great to be here and being able to play in front of them. It's been a pretty good weekend."

Grandal also managed to reconnect with Jim Morris, his former coach at the University of Miami. Grandal batted .401 with 15 home runs and 60 RBIs and finished second for the Golden Spikes Award in his final season under Morris in 2010.

"I haven't seen him in a while," Grandal said. "We got to talk a little bit and talk about last season and how they did and the expectations next year. I obviously follow them a lot."

Familiarity has led to continued improvement for Grandal, who is batting .380 (8-for-21) since June 20, raising his batting average from .179 to .234 entering Monday's game.

Grandal was 2-for-5 with three walks and three runs scored in two starts against Miami on Friday and Sunday. He started at catcher and batted sixth on Monday.

The 24-year-old credits his improvement to increased at-bats. Two inflamed tendons in the middle finger in his left hand prevented him from picking up a bat and swinging during the winter.

"[I'm] getting a feel," Grandal said. "[I'm] getting my body under control."

The switch-hitter aims to continue improving his average with a special focus on left-handed hitting. This season, he is batting .231 left-handed compared to his .279 career average when swinging lefty.

"I've been swinging it from the right side better than the left side, and that's really unusual for me," Grandal said. "I'm trying to get my lefty swing back on track."

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