Calais Campbel limited in practice Thursday

CalaisCampbellCards
Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell practiced in a limited capacity Thursday, according to the team's official website. He has missed the last two games after suffering a Grade 2 MCL sprain against Denver in Week 5. Campbell, who practiced for the first time since the injury, told reporters earlier in the week that he's hopeful of playing Week 8 against Philadelphia.



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Reggie Wayne misses practice for second straight day

ReggieWayne
When the Colts held wide receiver Reggie Wayne out of practice on Wednesday, it was difficult to know how much of a role his injured elbow played in their decision.

Wayne typically gets a veteran’s rest day on Wednesday and both he and coach Chuck Pagano downplayed the significance of the injury after he sat out the session. Still, the team was concerned enough to send Wayne for an MRI early on the week and even a relatively insignificant injury can be enough to keep a player out for one week.

The possibility of that outcome seems a bit likelier now that Wayne has missed practice on Thursday as well. Tom James of the Terre Haute Tribune-Star reports that Wayne watched his teammates go through practice from the field and that he didn’t have a wrap or anything other than a compression sleeve on the injured elbow.

If Wayne doesn’t play, it could mean an expanded role for Hakeem Nicks. Nicks signed as a free agent in the offseason after a disappointing year with the Giants in 2013 and has 17 catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns so far this season.


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Jim Caldwell praises Devin Hester

DevinHesterFalcons
BAGSHOT, England -- Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell has been so impressed with Atlanta Falcons returner Devin Hester throughout his career that he has changed the way returns and returners are viewed in football.

"He's made it an art form and cut a niche in there like no one else in the game," Caldwell said Friday. "There's been some great returners in the game, there's no question about that. Deion Sanders was one that was one of the guys that was dangerous in that regard.

"[Hester] is equally so and I think he will be one of the first guys to ever carve that niche out."

That niche, according to Caldwell, is a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The 31-year-old Hester holds the NFL records for most special teams touchdowns in a career (20) and most punt return touchdowns (14). He also helped revolutionize the position in the NFL.

Caldwell should also know his abilities well from Super Bowl XLI, when Caldwell was part of the Indianapolis Colts staff. Hester ran the opening kickoff back 92 yards for a touchdown against the Colts in a game Indianapolis won, 29-17.

"Any time he gets the ball in his hands he's a threat to go all the way," Caldwell said. "Very difficult guy to handle. We've faced some very good ones prior to this weekend and he's no exception.

"He's probably going to the Hall of Fame because he's a cut above maybe the rest."


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Andre Johnson Still A Must-Start in Fantasy

AndreJohnson2
Andre Johnson was the less productive of the Texans wide receivers Week 7 at Pittsburgh, but he still tied for the team lead with nine targets and caught five passes for 77 yards. Only once this year has another Texan gotten more targets than him in a game, and it was Arian Foster, not DeAndre Hopkins.

That's an ideal role for a wide receiver in Fantasy, and though it's led to only one touchdown for Johnson this season, he's too promising from week to week for you to consider sitting him. He's 12th in receiving yards, for crying out loud.

So why do Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard rank him 24th and 32nd, respectively, at wide receiver for Week 8 at Tennessee? You got me. If it was the Lions, I could understand, but the Titans rank 21st against the pass, allowing 247.9 yards per game.

I'm sticking to my guns on this one. Johnson is a must-start in Fantasy.


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Mike Rumph finds quick success as coach

MikeRumphTracking13
After Mike Rumph’s five-year NFL career as a defensive back came to an end in 2007, he thought he knew what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.

“It was one of the most difficult things I had to do,” said Rumph, who won a national title in 2001 with the Miami Hurricanes after playing high school football at Atlantic. “I kind of had a plan, but I didn’t. It was very difficult because I wanted to do so much.”

Rumph started life after football by opening a business selling puppies that later closed. He also spent some time as a personal trainer. But when he agreed to become the defensive backs coach at Miramar-Everglades High in 2010, life began to improve for Rumph.

It got even better after Rumph joined Plantation-American Heritage’s coaching staff in 2011. After two seasons as the Patriots’ defensive coordinator, he replaced Jeff Dellenbach as the team’s head coach in 2013.

“I went through four years kind of figuring out exactly what I wanted to do,” said Rumph, who grew up in Delray Beach and Boynton Beach. “The minute I started coaching, it took the place of all the different things I failed at.”

Rumph, 34, succeeded immediately in his new position, leading Plantation-American Heritage to its first state football title in school history in his first season as the team’s head coach.

On Friday, Rumph returns to Delray Beach, as Plantation-American Heritage (5-2) travels to take on its sister school, No. 1 American Heritage (5-1). It will mark the first time Rumph has returned to Palm Beach County as the Patriots’ head coach.

Although the success was immediate, there was a learning curve that came along with being a first-year head coach. Rumph worried about implementing structure and earning the respect of his assistant coaches.

“But early in the spring, the practices ran very fast and efficient like I envisioned and my staff responded well to me,” said Rumph, who has former NFL players like Patrick Surtain and Oronde Gadsden on his coaching staff.

The rest is history, as the Patriots finished with a 14-1 record on their way to winning the Class 5A state title in 2013.

It marked the first time Rumph had been part of that level of success at the high school level, as he never advanced to the playoffs during his playing career at Atlantic before graduating in 1998.

“It’s one of my top accomplishments,” Rumph said of leading Plantation-American Heritage to a state title. “We can go years and years without winning a state championship. I’ve been around a lot of coaches that have never won a state title, so to get it in my first year was an honor.”

But Rumph wasn’t able to experience that moment in front of his father, Mike Rumph Sr.

“I couldn’t make it to the game and I hated it,” Rumph Sr. said of missing last year’s state championship game.

But this week, Rumph will be able to coach in front of about 250 family and friends that are expected to be on hand to support him in his homecoming. His father will be one of them.

“I hear it’s going to rain,” Rumph Sr. said. “But I’ll be out there with a poncho.”


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Business as usual for Lamar Miller

LamarMillerDolphins2
Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard both love Dolphins running back Lamar Miller at Jacksonville this week, and it makes sense. It's the Jaguars, after all. They lose all the time, often by a lopsided score, which gives opposing running backs plenty of chances to carry the ball in the second half.

Of course, the same logic applied for the Browns last week, and you see what happened with Ben Tate. He had only 36 yards on 16 carries. Granted, the Jaguars ended up winning that game, so it didn't follow the usual script. But looking back further, the Titans' Bishop Sankey had 61 yards on 18 carries in Week 6, the Steelers' Le'Veon Bell had 82 yards on 15 carries in Week 5, and the Chargers' Branden Oliver and Donald Brown combined for 42 yards on 19 carries in Week 4. Some of those performances were OK, but you have to go back to Week 2, when the Redskins' Alfred Morris ran for 85 yards and two touchdowns, to find a time when a running back really lit it up against the Jaguars. Not surprisingly, they rank a respectable 15th against the run, allowing 110.3 yards per game and just 3.8 yards per carry.

Of course, in standard 12-team leagues, you've been content with 60 yards and a touchdown from Miller, and he's probably still good for that. I just wouldn't expect more based on the matchup.


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Santana Moss remains firmly behind Kirk Cousins

SantanaMoss2
ASHBURN, Va. -- He’s played with many quarterbacks, some of whom weren’t very good. That’s partly why Santana Moss also played on some bad teams. However, he’s also played with a number of quarterbacks who fared well.

And Moss thinks Kirk Cousins will end up in that category, which is why he wishes no change had been made at quarterback.

Cousins was benched at halftime of the Washington Redskins' 19-17 win over Tennessee after two more turnovers. That’s an issue he hasn’t been able to solve: He’s committed 23 turnovers in his 14 NFL games.

“I feel we’re in a tough situation as a team,” Moss said. “People are tired of what we’re going through so changes had to be made. … I understand turnovers are big and I don’t feel giving Colt [McCoy] a chance is wrong. But when you have a guy you’ve been trusting the last few years with this role and he’s coming up big for us, you just can’t turn on him because of a couple miscues.

“I feel he made a lot of great plays in the time he’s been in there to show us why he’s been the go-to guy when [Robert Griffin III] is not around. You don’t want to hurt his progress from saying, ‘OK, he’s been relied on the last few weeks and now we’re turning stray on him. I understand this game, it’s all about what have you done for me now, it’s all about winning, all about not turning it over. So when all that comes together, you lean the other way because you don’t want to see it anymore.”

Moss, echoing comments he made to 106.7 The Fan’s Chad Dukes earlier in the week, remains a big fan of Cousins. He makes throws that Moss views as excellent -- the touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson against Arizona, where he stuck the ball just inside corner Patrick Peterson; the lofted pass to tight end Niles Paul for a 50-yard gain last week. Those throws could no longer trump the turnovers for the coaches, but Moss sees it as a preview on his career. Moss, 35, is basing it on Cousins' game, plus what he's seen in a career that includes 722 receptions. But more than a shot at the coaches' decision, his words were as much about a belief in Cousins.

“I see he knows how to run the offense well,” Moss said. “He knows where to throw the ball. When you give him time, he can pick defenses apart. Those are some of the things I rave about because I’ve been in offenses like that, been around guys who know where to throw the ball and when. Mark Brunell was like that. Vinny Testaverde. Chad Pennington. I’ve been around great quarterbacks who show me that.

“When you have that in a young guy like Kirk, who really hasn’t had a year that he can say has been his -- it’s always been a backup role. This year is almost like his first fresh year, even though he came in as a backup. He’s still young. He’s like a rookie. If I was in those shoes I wouldn’t want to break his mental of what he’s been working to be. I would try to work with him and get him out of that.”

Even late last week, before the Titans game, coaches remained confident in Cousins’ ability, so I doubt a whole lot has changed. Cousins needed to respond better to his mistakes. They appear to weigh too heavily on him. But he proved to one player that he’s worthy of another chance.


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Shane Larkin starts, scores five in win

ShaneLarkinCanes
Shane Larkin started at point guard against the Wizards on Wednesday, posting a line of five points, four boards, four assists and two turnovers in 24 minutes.

John Wall made him look pretty bad and Larkin's lack of size was a factor tonight. Still, coach Derek Fisher likes his speed and ability to penetrate, so he should be in the rotation. Unless Jose Calderon (calf) misses time, Larkin won't be worth owning in most leagues.


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VIDEO: An Intro Into Kellen Winslow's World Now




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Titans add tight end Richard Gordon

RichardGordonRaiders
The Titans have added tight end Richard Gordon to their 53-man roster.

Gordon (6-4, 265) has played three seasons, primarily with the Raiders and Chiefs. In 29 career games, he's totaled four receptions and one touchdown. He was a sixth-round selection by the Raiders in the 2011 NFL Draft.

The Titans have also added linebacker Nate Askew and receiver Derek Moye to their practice squad.

Askew (6-4, 235) was an undrafted college free agent who signed with the Buccaneers, and was waived following training camp. Moye (6-5, 210) was an undrafted college free agent in 2012, who spent time with Miami, New Orleans and Pittsburgh over the last three seasons.


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Seantrel Henderson looks nothing like a projected football bust

SeantrelHendersonBills
There was a time when no praise was too strong for Seantrel Henderson.

Then there was a time when no scorn was too strong.

These days, Henderson gets little of either. And it might be the best thing for him.

People knew Henderson's name before he was old enough to drive. He got a scholarship offer to Notre Dame when he was in ninth grade. He was named Rivals' No. 1 prospect for 2010 while it was still 2008 and still finished at No. 2. He was 6-foot-8, 337 pounds at age 17.

He was strong enough to play in the NFL before he was old enough to play varsity football and he was agile enough to play prep hoops along with it. His high school position coach once said he could "dance on a light bulb." If there was one high school player in 2010 who was most likely to get his name announced on the first day of the 2014 NFL draft, it was Seantrel Henderson.

Then everything began to slowly unspool.

Henderson played well as a true freshman at Miami, but over the next three years he was suspended three times for violating team rules. He also got into a car accident while driving with an expired license and missed time with a concussion. Eventually he was moved out of the starting lineup altogether: the can't-miss kid missed badly. He admitted to NFL teams earlier this year that his suspensions were because of marijuana use. There were also questions about his desire.

"Being ranked so highly, so early in age," Henderson said by phone last week. "The expectations and what everybody expected of me – they expected to me to be perfect. It was pretty hard."

The pressure of being the next Jonathan Ogden had crushed Henderson, and so he spiraled to a place where there would be almost no pressure. He reportedly failed a drug test at the scouting combine. He quit on his pro day workout. He was lucky to be picked in the seventh round by the Bills.
"That was a big disappointment," he said. "I knew I was better than that. It was very motivating."

The expectations were gone. The star rookie in Buffalo was Sammy Watkins. The face of the team was E.J. Manuel. There was more attention on Bon Jovi's ownership bid than on the opening day roster. In Buffalo, Henderson could fail without fans even learning his name.

And then he didn't fail.

Henderson won a starting job at right tackle and he has kept it. He has not missed a snap all season – one of only four offensive players on the team who can say that. This is where Henderson should have been headed all along – a starting spot in the NFL – but the fact that he's such a low-round pick makes him one of the biggest steals of the draft.

He's managed his new role better than he did the hype of his younger years.

"I'm still far away from where I want to be," he said. "One week at a time. Getting better each week. Get more comfortable each time."

Henderson hasn't been superlative. He has allowed four sacks. He hasn't done much better at protecting Manuel or replacement Kyle Orton than the other linemen. But there have been flashes of greatness. There has been promise. In the Bills' signature win, on the road against the Detroit Lions, Henderson held his own against Ziggy Ansah and the rest of Detroit's ferocious front. He is believing in himself more.

"It was more me having the confidence in myself that I could do it," he said. "I always knew I could play. It was more mentally going out there and playing.
"I've gone against some of the best players in the league now. I've seen what they've done against other opponents. I just prepared and made sure I'm ready. I tell myself I'm ready."

Just as important, the Bills have had faith. Even before the season started, head coach Doug Marrone – himself a former offensive lineman – suggested Henderson could be a long-term answer at right tackle.

"He's been everything that people obviously didn't say about him when he was coming out," Marrone told a local radio station in August. "I think he understands that and there are periods in time when people can change and one of them is when you go from college into this league. We have to do everything we can to not only keep him progressing on the field, but off the field."

One of the blessings of a small-market team is the shelter it provides for someone like Henderson. "He has a new family here," said offensive line coach Pat Morris. "We can provide the support. Basically it boils down to him."

Henderson said he has been clean, and he's sensed the difference in his life. "It was better right away," he said. "Way better right away. I was taking care of my business on and off the field."

The best thing that can happen is the worst thing that can happen: more pressure and expectations. If Henderson keeps his job – and Marrone said this week there's no immediate sign he won't – he'll be expected to keep getting better. He'll be more of a name, and more vulnerable to blame. Then comes the true test of how he handles the kind of praise and scorn that landed on him before.

"He has a whole career to get better," Morris said.

And that is enough of a victory for now.


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Santana Moss Talks About His New Cherokee Indian-Inspired Tattoos

SantanaMoss2
Recently, Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss decided that he wanted to get a new tattoo for the first time in about ten years. So he reached out to his Miami-based tattoo artist TattzbyD and arranged to get a mural—a huge mural—done on his legs. And that mural includes the faces of a handful of Cherokee Indians.

Moss' decision to get Cherokee Indians tattooed on his legs has raised a few eyebrows, because the Redskins are currently embedded in a controversy concerning their team name and logo. There are a handful of Native American groups who have petitioned the team to change both in recent years. But as he told 106.7 The Fan this week, Moss decided to get the tattoos to honor his mother's Cherokee heritage and not for any other reason.

"I've been wanting to do another tattoo for like the last 10 years," he said. "And one day it just clicked. You know, I've heard so much about my mom's side—she [has] a lot of Cherokee Indians in the family, starting back with my grandmother and her mom and their mom—so I just wanted to do something honoring them. And it came about, and I told [TattzbyD] what I wanted—look up some chiefs, look up this and that. And he just put a little mural together for me and he went to work on my leg."

Moss also delivered a message for anyone who doesn't like the mural: "Don't bother me," he said, "I won't bother you."

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An Incredible Sean Taylor Fan Art Piece

SeanTaylor copy
Lawrence Thomas let his heart speak when drawing the above picture of former Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor.

“My inspiration for this drawing was truly from sadness and from the heart. It took about a week to do and get Sean’s stats and past info,” he said in an accompanying letter.

Thomas continued by saying Taylor’s memories will always be remembered.

“Wanted to give the organization and the fans a copy. One of the team’s greatest players. He will never be forgotten. #21.”

20141022_152414


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Harland Gunn gives Falcons a veteran option at center

NFLU2009
LONDON — During the Falcons’ open portion of practice, offensive lineman Harland Gunn was working on his snaps at center with starting quarterback Matt Ryan at the Arsenal Football Club training ground on Wednesday.

Gunn was inactive last week against Baltimore.

With Peter Konz (knee) on injured reserve, Gunn gives the Falcons a veteran option to play center. Undrafted rookie James Stone finished the Baltimore game, playing 56 of the 66 offensive snaps.

“I think James is a very good young football player that understands the game,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “He impressed us early on with his ability to identify fronts and change protections. He’s an intelligent young guy, but he just doesn’t have any experience.”

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said he’s glad the team is away and in a hotel because he’s had extra time to watch film with Stone in order to make sure they are on the same page.

“James has done a great job since the first day he walked into the building,” Ryan said. “He’s a smart guy and has picked up our offense very quickly. I think (line coach) Mike Tice and (assistant line coach) Wade (Harman) have done a good job of working with our young guys.”

Gunn has played in just four NFL games, with one start. With Justin Blalock out with a back injury, he started at left guard earlier this season against the Giants.
Gunn wasn’t drafted out of the University of Miami in 2012 and was signed by the Cowboys. After Dallas cut him Gunn ended up on the Saints’ practice squad until the Falcons signed him to their 53-man roster for the final six weeks. Gunn didn’t play in a game that season, played in three games for the Falcons in 2013 and began this season on the practice squad.

The center will play a key role against Detroit’s stout defensive front.

“We are going to have to be solid up front,” Ryan said. “We really are. We are going to have to play well up front and account for where those guys are at. That’s what we are working on right now.”


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Sam Shields still sitting out

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Packers starting cornerback Sam Shields, who missed the Week 7 win over Carolina with an ankle injury, did not practice Wednesday as the team prepared for Sunday night's visit to New Orleans. Shields has 14 tackles and two interceptions in six games.




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Calais Campbell Not Practicing

CalaisCampbellCards
TEMPE, Ariz. – Arizona Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell may still return to the field sometime later this week, but he spent Wednesday sidelined for another practice.

That puts a larger emphasis on Thursday’s and Friday’s sessions should should his strained right MCL feel well enough for Campbell to engage in a full practice.

“I’ve got my fingers crossed,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said about Campbell practicing later this week. “But he’s making good progress.

“There’s a big difference between jogging and running around a hoop, and taking on guys 300 pounds and pushing on him.”


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MRI shows no damage to Reggie Wayne's elbow

ReggieWayne
INDIANAPOLIS – The MRI done on Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne’s left elbow didn’t show significant damage, coach Chuck Pagano said Wednesday.

Wayne didn’t practice Wednesday because that’s his normal rest day and the Colts are calling him day-to-day when it comes to his availability for Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Pagano said they’ll be fine if Wayne, who missed the final nine games of the 2013 season with a torn ACL, is forced to miss any time.

“I feel great,” Pagano said. “You have a guy like [Hakeem] Nicks who has been on a Super Bowl championship team. Caught a lot of passes in his career. We all know what Donte [Moncrief] is capable of doing. I feel really good.”

Nicks, who has gotten off to a slow start in his first season with the Colts, would slide into the No. 2 receiver role if Wayne doesn’t play.

“He comes here every day with his hat on, lunch pail, ready to work,” Pagano said about Nicks. “He’s a competitive guy. We have a ton of competitive guys in that locker room. They all want to contribute and they all want to make plays. He understands that. He’ll be ready no matter when his number is called. He knows his stuff; he practices hard, prepares hard.”


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Jimmy Graham limited at Saints practice

JimmyGrahamSaints
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham wound up in the lineup against the Lions last week after several days of uncertainty because of his shoulder injury, but he only played a limited number of snaps and didn’t have a catch as the Saints blew a lead in the fourth quarter.

The Saints got back to practice on Wednesday to start their preparation for facing the Packers on Sunday Night Football and Graham remained a limited participant in the action for New Orleans. Barring a setback, his presence last week suggests he’d be in the lineup again this week in a game that the Saints could really use to give themselves boost in the struggle for playoff spots in the NFC. The question will be how effective Graham can be, but it’s not one that will be answered on the practice field.


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Warren Sapp, Jerome Brown, Ray Lewis among CFB HOF candidates

RayLewisHurricanes
Eric Dickerson, Keyshawn Johnson, Ray Lewis and NFL Network's Warren Sapp are among the 193 candidates on the 2015 ballot for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.

There are 75 players and six coaches from the FBS ranks and 87 players and 25 coaches from the small-school ranks on the ballot.

Joining Sapp, Dickerson, Lewis and Johnson as FBS candidates are Brian Bosworth, Randall Cunningham, Kirk Gibson (a star at Michigan State before choosing baseball), Cade McNown, Zach Thomas, Ricky Williams and Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera, who was a star linebacker at California. Among the candidates in the small-school group are former NFL players Marlin Briscoe, Mark Cotney and Don Griffin, as well as Gary Wichard, a former high-profile agent. The entire list of the 193 candidates is here.

The announcement of the 2015 class will be made Jan. 9, in advance of the Jan. 12 College Football Playoff National Championship Game.

From the National Football Foundation website: "To be eligible for the ballot, players must have been named a first-team All-American by a major/national selector as recognized and utilized by the NCAA for their consensus All-America teams; played their last year of intercollegiate football at least 10 years prior; played within the last 50 years and cannot be currently playing professional football. Coaches must have coached a minimum of 10 years and 100 games as a head coach; won at least 60 percent of their games; and be retired from coaching for at least three years. If a coach is retired and over the age of 70, there is no waiting period. If he is over the age of 75, he is eligible as an active coach. In both cases, the candidate's post-football record as a citizen may also be weighed."


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Packers wonder what Jimmy Graham's role will be

JimmyGrahamSaints
Green Bay — The toughest question the Green Bay Packers face this week as they prepare for the New Orleans Saints defense is whether tight end Jimmy Graham will be just a decoy again this week or his old self.

Graham suffered a shoulder injury against Tampa Bay in Week 5 and hasn't been close to himself since.

The Saints were lucky enough to have a bye the week after Graham bowed out in the second quarter against the Buccaneers, but when Graham returned Sunday against Detroit, he was a non-factor. It was apparent he was being used more as a decoy than anything.

He was targeted twice by quarterback Drew Brees but did not have a reception. On Wednesday, Graham was listed as a limited participant in practice.
"He looks better this week than he did last week," Brees said in a conference call. "The shoulder will continue to get better. I'm not worried or concerned in that regard. Jimmy is a tough guy.

"He's had to play through a lot in just his short career. He's battled multiple injuries over the course of many seasons. I know he's going to give us whatever he can. We'll see what that is."

Before he got hurt, Graham was off to another good start. Despite no catches last week and just two against Tampa Bay, he ranks third among all tight ends in the NFL with 34 catches for 376 yards and three touchdowns.

Since 2011, no other tight end can match Graham's numbers. He has 304 receptions for 3,883 yards and 39 touchdowns. The reception total ranks fourth among all players in the NFL during that span.

If the 6-foot-7, 265-pound Graham, who played in 120 games for the University of Miami basketball team before giving football a try, is doing better, the Packers have themselves a matchup problem. They can try to match Morgan Burnett, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Micah Hyde against him, but all three would need help to match Graham's speed.

Defensive coordinator Dom Capers will have to be ready to defend the healthy Graham and then see which Graham materializes once the game starts.

"Jimmie Graham is a tough matchup, no doubt," coach Mike McCarthy said. "How you play him, that's really what the game is for. But he's a very talented individual just as far as the way he attacks the middle of the field.

"They use him down the boundary and on the corner routes, too. But he's definitely someone that you have to be smart with."


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(jsonline.com)
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D-Backs prospect Peter O'Brien used to catching flak

PeterObrienCanes
The skeptics are not new, and Diamondbacks prospect Peter O'Brien has heard what they have to say. They don't think he can catch in the major leagues. O'Brien answers their doubts with an anecdote from his past.

"You're talking to the same guy that didn't have a Division I scholarship anywhere up until two weeks before the college season started," O'Brien said.

In four years, he went from going undrafted out of high school to being a second-round selection of the New York Yankees. He then developed into one of the better power-hitting prospects in baseball and is now playing in the talent-heavy Arizona Fall League, smashing home runs that leave vapor trails and showing why the Diamondbacks wanted him in exchange for Martin Prado at the trade deadline.

More: Diamondbacks coverage from Nick Piecoro

But he's perhaps also shown why the Yankees were willing to part with him. He has struggled with his throws from behind the plate, and scouts have also raised questions about his blocking and receiving skills.

O'Brien doesn't deny he has improvements to make. He also doesn't doubt he'll be able to make them.

"I definitely view myself as a catcher," he said. "I'm going to work as hard as I can and do everything I can to be back there."

In many ways, this is a familiar script for the Diamondbacks. Since Miguel Montero reached the big leagues in 2006, the organization has struggled to develop another frontline catcher despite spending several high draft picks on them and targeting them in trades.

Stryker Trahan, the team's top pick from 2012, has a similar back story to O'Brien. Few have doubted Trahan's offensive potential, but his ability to stick behind the plate is in doubt. This season, he bounced from catcher to the outfield and back to catcher.

O'Brien did the same during his time with the Yankees. With an advanced bat and others in the organization ahead of him at catcher, O'Brien was introduced to first base, third base and right field over the past two years.

Like Trahan, O'Brien sounds determined to reach the majors as a catcher, and the Diamondbacks sound willing to give him every chance to do so.

"He just needs to catch more," Diamondbacks farm director Mike Bell said. "He needs more consistent reps behind the plate. With his bat, that would be a nice weapon to have (playing catcher)."

At a time when offense is down throughout the game, O'Brien stands out. In just 399 at-bats this season, he hit 34 home runs, the sixth-highest total in the minor leagues, and he already has three homers in 31 at-bats in the fall league.

He credits the hard work he put during the summer after his sophomore year of high school, a time when he said he fully bought into the idea of being a baseball player.

But not everyone bought into him. Lightly recruited out of high school in Miami, he secured a baseball scholarship at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla., in a tryout only weeks before school started.

So this idea that people don't believe in him? It's nothing new, and it's something he's learned to embrace.

"I've always felt that even though I've done everything that the big guys have done and put up numbers, I've always felt like the underdog," said O'Brien, who played three years at Bethune-Cookman before transferring to Miami. "I think that's what has given me my work ethic and the drive I have to reach my goals and be where I want to be."


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(azcentral.com)
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Lamar Miller wearing brace on right knee

LamarMillerDolphins2
Dolphins running back Lamar Miller practiced Tuesday wearing a brace on his right knee, reports the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Miller has been on the injury report lately with a knee injury, but it's not believed to be serious. He has not missed a game.




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(cbssports.com)
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Jon Beason might shut it down with big toe injury

JonBeasonGiants
Giants linebacker Jon Beason told WFAN that it's 50-50 whether he tries to play again this season or has surgery on his injured toe, reports the New York Daily News. Beason, who visited a foot specialist Tuesday, said in the interview that he's playing "without a critical ligament" in his big toe.

Beason returned to action Week 7 but aggravated the injury in the loss at Dallas.


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(cbssports.com)
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Pat O'Donnell Impressing

PatODonnellCanes
Rookie punter Pat O’Donnell, also known as “Mega-punt,” had the highest gross average by a Bears punter in a game since Todd Sauerbrun back in 1997. O’Donnell averaged 53 yards per punt with a net average of 45.7. O’Donnell has improved the Bears punt game vastly after Adam Podlesh struggled last year and seems to have clicked the past couple of weeks.



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(isportsweb.com)
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Reggie Wayne expected to miss a game or two with elbow

ReggieWayne
Apparently, the “adult beverage” wasn’t enough to take the edge off Reggie Wayne’s elbow.

According to Mike Chappell of RTV6 in Indianapolis, the Colts wide receiver is expected to miss a game or two because of an elbow injury suffered early in Sunday’s win over the Bengals.

He fell after a play, bracing himself with his left arm as he fell. He had an MRI yesterday, but no results were announced.

Wayne suggested he wasn’t that concerned after the game.

“I’m good now,” he said. “I just kind of fell on it, fell on my arm. Go home, have an adult beverage and see how it feels in the morning.”

The veteran receiver’s numbers have been down in recent weeks (eight catches for 50 yards the last two games), but he was playing well prior to that (14 for 196 against the Titans and Ravens), an impressive comeback for a 35-year-old who tore his ACL last year.

But if he’s not back for Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh, Hakeem Nicks will have to take on a bigger role.


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(profootballtalk.com)
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Dolphins add WR LaRon Byrd to practice squad

LaronByrd 2
The Miami Dolphins are signing wide receiver LaRon Byrd to the practice squad, according to a report from the National Football Post's Aaron Wilson. No corresponding move has been announced to open the space on the practice squad.

Byrd was signed by the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted free agent in 2012. He appeared in four games his rookie season, but landed on injured reserve for the 2013 season due to concussion symptoms. This season, he has spent time with the Dallas Cowboys and the Cleveland Browns, making one appearance with the Browns. He played seven snaps in the season opener for Cleveland against the PIttsburgh Steelers.

He has one career reception for eight yards.

At 6-foot-4, Byrd is the tallest wide receiver on the roster or practice squad for Miami. He is two inches taller than starter Brian Hartline and is tied with Dion Sims as the tallest of the receivers and tight ends.

Byrd played four years for the University of Miami from 2008 to 2011. He caught 106 passes for 1,254 yards and seven touchdowns.


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(thephinsider.com)
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Andre Johnson salvages night with big fourth quarter

AndreJohnson2
Texans receiver Andre Johnson had one 4-yard reception through three quarters Monday night at Pittsburgh. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick finally looked Johnson's way in the fourth quarter, and the 33-year-old wideout finished with five catches for 77 yards.

In the process, Johnson moved past Steve Largent for 14th place in career receiving yards. Johnson has 14,057 receiving yards.

Johnson shared the team lead with nine targets, his average this season. He'll visit the Titans in Week 8.


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(cbssports.com)
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Reggie Wayne could miss one or two games

ReggieWayne
Colts wideout Reggie Wayne, who had an MRI on his elbow Monday, could miss one or two games, reports WRTV in Indianapolis. Wayne sustained the injury in the first quarter of Sunday's win over the Bengals.

The MRI results have not been released.



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(cbssports.com)
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Jon Beason going to see a foot specialist again

JonBeasonGiants
A frustrating season has continued for Giants linebacker Jon Beason.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin told reporters that Beason was going to see foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson after leaving yesterday’s game against the Cowboys.

Beason’s been bothered by a toe problem all season, and may have aggravated it yesterday. He’s missed three games, and hasn’t been able to stay well this season.

If anything, there’s familiarity there, as Anderson knows Beason’s (growing thicker) medical file well since he’s the Panthers’ team doctor as well.

When Beason’s on the field, he’s a difference-maker for the Giants defense. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to this season.


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(profootballtalk.com)
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Calais Campbell could practice later in the week

CalaisCampbellCards
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said he is hoping defensive end Calais Campbell, who has missed the last two games due to a knee injury, will return to practice later in the week.

Campbell has totaled 16 tackles, one sack and one interception in four games. The Cardinals play the Eagles in Week 8.


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(cbssports.com)
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Sam Shields' strained patellar tendon 'feeling better,' but timeline unclear

SamShields2
GREEN BAY – Sam Shields’ injured left knee is improving, but the Green Bay Packers starting cornerback won’t know when he will be able to play again until he tests his knee by running on it.

Shields said Monday that he suffered a strained patellar tendon when he went down while backpedaling to his pre-snap position before a play against Miami on Oct. 12. The bizarre injury caused him to miss Sunday’s 38-17 victory over the Carolina Panthers at Lambeau Field.

Whether Shields could return for next Sunday night’s game at New Orleans depends on if he’s able to test the knee this week and can run pain-free on it – something he didn’t sound overly optimistic about.

“I’m feeling better. As far as time, I don’t know right now because I haven’t ran,” Shields said Monday. “But the pain is slowly going away, so that’s good.”
Shields, who missed six games in 2012 with an ankle injury and two games last season with a hamstring injury, said he would make himself available for interviews again on Thursday with the hope of progressing by then.

With Shields out, Davon House started in his place and allowed only one 5-yard reception. House also had a pass breakup on which he suffered a dislocated right ring finger

“I think I did my job,” House said. “It was a solid game. No impact plays, though. Guarding a really good receiver in (Kelvin) Benjamin, I did my job, so that was a good job, but in my mind, if I was to get a pick, to me that’s an impact play. But to the coaches, they might’ve thought I did awesome because their best receiver didn’t have any catches on me.”


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(espn.com)
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Patriots still relying heavily on Vince Wilfork

VinceWilforkPatriots2
When the Patriots restructured the contract of Vince Wilfork in March, they secured him for this season with an option for two more seasons. The 32-year-old Wilfork has been a mainstay of the New England defense for 11 seasons and figures to be for the foreseeable future as well. That he missed all but four games with a torn Achilles’ tendon last season suggested that they might ease his workload this season.

But that doesn’t mean the Patriots are easing off on their use of their 325-pound nose tackle.

Wilfork has played 78 percent of snaps this season, sixth-most on the New England defensive line. Darrelle Revis (92.2 percent), Rob Ninkovich (89.1 percent), Devin McCourty (88.1 percent), Jerod Mayo (86 percent) and Chandler Jones (84.2 percent) are the only defenders who have seen more time on the field than Wilfork — and Mayo is out for the season with a knee injury.

Last Thursday against the New York Jets, Wilfork was on the field for 64 of 69 defensive snaps — and eight more special-teams snaps. He saw more total snaps than any other New England defensive lineman or linebacker.

“Vince is a tremendous leader for us,” Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said in a conference call on Monday. “He does a great job every day with his approach to the game both through practice, through meetings and then obviously on game day. He’s a tremendous leader that our players can look up to, just really a hard-working individual that brings his lunch pail to work every day as far as getting in there and grinding it out and really trying to understand what our opponents are doing.

“Obviously, we look to him in that capacity from a very strong leadership aspect. For anything that we do on defense here as a team, we’re just trying to put the best players out there in the best position possible to win the game.”


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(providencejournal.com)
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Jon Jay undergoes wrist surgery after big postseason

JonJayCards
It certainly didn’t show while he was on fire during the playoffs, but Cardinals center fielder Jon Jay had a left wrist injury that required surgery and the recovery timetable is 6-8 weeks.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that Jay played through the injury since July, yet he hit .325 in August and September before going 14-for-29 (.483) in the postseason.

It was quite a change from last year, when Jay struggled offensively and defensively in the playoffs, and according to Goold the Cardinals plan to keep him as their starting center fielder for 2015 after bringing in Peter Bourjos as competition last offseason.


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(hardballtalk.com)
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Photo: Warren Sapp Still Has His College ID From Miami In His Wallet

WarrenSappHurricanes2
Warren Sapp’s days at the University of Miami ended 1995. 

Despite the fact that it’s been nearly 20 years since the NFL Hall of Famer was a student-athlete for the Hurricanes, the former All-American still has his Miami college ID in his wallet. It’s awesome. 

Check it out: 

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Awesome -- @warrensapp still has his college ID from the 'U' in his wallet.

View on Instagram




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Greg Olsen posts first 100-yard game of season

GregOlsenPanthers
Panthers tight end Greg Olsen led the way in the aerial attack, cracking the century mark for the first time this season in a Week 7 defeat to the Packets on Sunday.

Olsen came down with a 23-yard grab in the third quarter, and on the ensuing drive he caught passes for 20, 8 and 10 yards. He was held without a grab in the fourth quarter. He caught all eight of his targets for 105 yards in a 38-17 defeat. He has 493 yards and five touchdowns on the year.

The Panthers will host the Seahawks in Week 8.


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(cbssports.com)
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Lamar Miller thriving as No. 1 back for Dolphins

LamarMillerDolphins2
Dolphins running back Lamar Miller found the end zone for the third straight game in Week 7 against the Bears, as he continues to operate as the top option in the running game.

Sunday's was probably Miller's least impressive game so far, as he rushed for a season-low 3.4 yards per carry. Miller ripped a 2-yard run to get in the end zone in the third quarter. He registered 83 yards of total offense, rushing for a team-high 61 yards and a score on 18 carries, averaging 3.4 yards per attempt. He was thrown to three times and finished with two catches for 22 yards. There was nearly even more for his Fantasy owners to cheer about, as he had a touchdown wiped out by a holding penalty.

The Dolphins' revamped offensive line has made life much easier for Miller, and he has become a reliable Fantasy option as a result. With few contenders for playing time, there is little reason to think he will be unable to keep this kind of production up. Consider Miller a strong Fantasy option in all formats for Week 8 against the Jaguars.


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(cbssports.com)
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Frank Gore held in check by Broncos

FrankGore2
Frank Gore was held to 20 yards on nine carries in the 49ers' Week 7 loss to the Broncos.

Gore was held in check by the Broncos run defense and couldn't get anything going behind an offensive line that was missing three starters. The 49ers abandoned the run in the second half, with Carlos Hyde getting the majority of work over Gore late in the game. Gore is averaging just 4.1 YPC and has one touchdown in seven games. The 49ers could look to get Hyde more involved coming out of their Week 8 bye.


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(rotoworld.com)
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Historic Day For Reggie Wayne

ReggieWayne
Reggie Wayne planned to use an old-fashioned remedy Sunday evening to get a sense of how his injured arm was doing.

"I'm good right now," Wayne said after the Colts' 27-0 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. "Just kind of fell on it. I'll go home, have an adult beverage and see how it feels in the morning."

Coach Chuck Pagano said that Wayne wrenched his left elbow after falling awkwardly on it and Wayne was seen wearing a bandage around it late in the game. But he said afterwards that "it's a little bit of everything. We'll see how I feel tomorrow."

It was a big day historically for Wayne, who became the ninth receiver in NFL history to surpass 14,000 yards. But due in part to his injury and in part to the fact quarterback Andrew Luck has so many other receivers to throw to, it was a quiet day statistically.

Wayne finished with four catches — and two drops — for just 15 yards (3.8 average). He extended his streak of games with three or more receptions to 78, but it didn't happen until midway through the fourth quarter. The 14-year veteran has at least one reception in 126 consecutive games.

He wasn't complaining about it one bit after such a dominating performance against the Bengals. The Colts' defense got the shutout, but the offense was pretty good as well, rolling up 506 total yards and picking up 27 first downs.

"We've got something special," Wayne said. "We felt that way going into the season. Got a lot of guys back healthy and these last five games are an indication of what we can do. Like I said earlier, I'm sure there's a lot of corrections to be made, but if we continue to ride this wave, we can keep this streak going.

"This is what we envisioned. Hopefully, we can keep guys as healthy as possible. ... We're pretty loaded offensively."

Wayne wasn't about to be draw into comparisons. He demurred when asked if this was the most loaded the Colts have been offensively since the mid-2000s — when Wayne was part of a legendary offense that included quarterback Peyton Manning, wide receiver Marvin Harrison, tight end Dallas Clark and running backs Edgerrin James and later Joseph Addai, among others.

"I'll let you decide that," he said. "I'm here to play with this team right now. Once I hang up my cleats, I'll think about that. But right now, this team is starting to gel pretty well and go out and play Colts football, which we did today."


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(indystar.com)
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Steelers looking for Sean Spence to step up game at inside linebacker

SeanSpenceSteelers
Steelers rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier was feeling good about his chances of playing on “Monday Night Football” when he returned to the practice field last week.

Even though he's listed as questionable against the Houston Texans, Shazier isn't likely to line up at Heinz Field. Instead, Sean Spence again will be challenged when the Steelers face one of the league's best running teams.

Admittedly, Spence and outside linebacker Arthur Moats are feeling the heat. While neither has played poorly, they haven't distinguished themselves, especially against the run.

That, of course, has to change if the Steelers are to slow down Texans running back Arian Foster.

“A lot of people are questioning me and Sean,” Moats said. “We know they're asking if we're good enough, but we get a chance to prove ourselves on “Monday Night Football.”

Spence, though, said it will take a team effort to shut down Houston's running game. The goal, he added, is to force quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to lean more on an erratic passing game that features wide receiver Andre Johnson.

“Houston has a great receiver, but this is a run-first team,” Spence said. “If we get them one-dimensional, it's to our advantage.

“As a defense, we have to be gap sound. Everyone from the defensive line to the safeties have to fit into their gaps because Foster is one of the best backs in the league. He has great vision, and if guys get out of their gaps, he'll find it.”

In 2011, Foster exploited nearly every gap, seam and crease. Ultimately, he wore down a leg-weary defense as he rushed for 155 yards, including a game-clinching 42-yard run in a 17-10 victory.

“I heard about that,” said Spence, a third-round draft pick in 2012. “The (coaches) talk about it all the time.

“The speed you see on film is not equivalent to Foster's game speed. On film he floats. In real action, he's running by you. So, we have to get more than one hat on him.”

In other words, the defense must get physical with Foster.

Spence acknowledged that while most everyone ignored former Steelers receiver Hines Ward's criticism that the defense is soft, there is pressure to prove that getting run over twice by Cleveland's ground game is a mere aberration, not the norm.

“The whole defense takes exception to those comments,” Spence said. “The Steelers defense has never been called soft. With that perception out there, we have to change it immediately.”

Yet, the defense is ranked 15th against the run and 23rd in rushing yards per attempt. The Steelers allowed 406 combined rushing yards in three games: Cleveland twice and Baltimore. But they limited Carolina, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay to 161 rushing yards.

The Texans aren't likely to deviate from a game plan that worked three seasons ago. They might be even more persistent with the ground game, considering Spence and Moats are still trying to fit into a rather complex defense.

“The biggest thing is stopping the run,” said Moats, who will split time with James Harrison. “When they're forced to pass, they can be rattled as they were against Indianapolis (in a 33-28 loss).

“We've had our ups and downs, but we're jelling. The communication has been much better this week than it has been in previous weeks.”

“We can talk about what we have to do, but we have to make plays,” Spence said. “If you do your job, the plays will come to you. We can't force it because that's how Cleveland hurt us with the run game.”


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(triblive.com)
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Allen Bailey has been nice find for Chiefs

AllenBailey
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City Chiefs have been missing four defensive starters because of injuries since early in the season, so they needed help from unexpected places to keep things from collapsing on that side of the ball.

One player who has done that is end Allen Bailey. Mostly a situational pass rusher in his first three seasons with the Chiefs, Bailey is not only a starter but doesn’t come out of the lineup much. He has played almost as many snaps this season as Pro Bowl nose tackle Dontari Poe.

“He made a big jump a year ago I thought in football and knowing what’s going on,’’ defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said of Bailey. “He’s obviously a very gifted guy athletically. He could play 80 plays a week and never get tired. He and Poe are very similar that way. Where’s he’s started to develop is he’s getting all the other things that come really from just playing. The last two years is the first time he’s really played a lot of snaps and this year obviously he’s playing almost all the snaps.’’

The Chiefs lost starting end Tyson Jackson during the offseason as a free agent but signed Vance Walker as his replacement. Bailey instead won the starting job and is now playing well enough that he has a strong grasp on it.

The Chiefs have played most of the season without the other regular starting end, Mike DeVito. He ruptured his Achilles tendon in the season opener and is out for the season.

Though Bailey isn’t DeVito’s replacement, his solid play has eased the loss. Bailey has 2.5 sacks, putting him on a pace for more than 7.5 for the season. That would be the highest total for a Chiefs defensive lineman since Jared Allen had 15.5 in 2007.

“One of the things that’s really great for us is that those two inside guys can make plays for us chasing things down,’’ Sutton said of Bailey and Poe. “That doesn’t happen a lot. A lot of times you’re not fortunate enough to have that kind of player. You maybe have a big, sturdy guy in there who maybe can’t make the plays outside. These two guys can chase screen plays down, wide plays, and they really help your defense.’’

Bailey is in the final season of the contract he signed with the Chiefs as a third-round draft pick in 2011. He’s playing well enough to deserve a new contract from the Chiefs at the end of the season.


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(espn.com)
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Jimmy Graham shut out in Week 7 loss

JimmyGrahamSaints
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham played through a shoulder injury Week 7 at Detroit but did not record a catch. Graham was not targeted in the first half and drew two targets after halftime.

Early in the fourth quarter, Graham ran a deep sideline route but Drew Brees overthrew him. Graham's health will be a big topic of discussion as the Saints prepare to host the Packers on Sunday Night Football in Week 8.


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(cbssports.com)
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The special cleats that allow Jon Beason to play for Giants this season

JonBeasonGiants
EAST RUTHERFORD -- Giants starting middle linebacker Jon Beason had a line of cleats in his locker this week at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Not all of them were usable at this point and time.

Beason needs special double-carbon-fiber-plated footwear to get on the field these days because of a right foot injury suffered in the spring and aggravated earlier this season. Carbon fiber is stronger than steel.

"That is what I'm giving up to play," Beason said earlier this week as he tried to bend the sole of his shoes without any success.

It's the result of a broken sesamoid bone and torn ligaments in his foot/toe during an Organized Team Activities (OTAs) workout in June, and an aggravation of the injury in a Week 2 loss to the Cardinals. Beason returned for the season opener, but missed three games because of the injury.

He unveiled the "secret weapon" upon his return last week against the Philadelphia Eagles. Both his head coach and defensive coordinator called called him "rusty" in the contest.

The reality is Beason (like most players during a grueling NFL season) is not going to be 100 percent the remainder of this year. He intends to play through the discomfort with the help of his new cleats and a custom-made orthotic.

It's not ideal, but it's better than the alternative -- missing more time and more games.

"This is what got me back," Beason said, pointing to the shoe (see slideshow above from the version he wore in Sunday game in Philadelphia). "If it's too pliable, then my toe just keeps going. It has to stop so I can eventually push off. So it's kind of finding that perfect balance."

Beason needs some flexibility from his footwear so he can explode. If it's too stiff, it would be like trying to run with a wooden block attached to his foot.

It's all taking some getting used to. You could see, particularly on his first few plays against the Eagles, that Beason is getting acclimated to the stiffer feel. He stumbled and almost fell over on one play. He had trouble changing directions on another.

As the game progressed, it was evident he was becoming more comfortable. Beason finished with three tackles and a pass defended on 56 snaps.

There was clearly some progress being made. Even after coach Tom Coughlin expressed concerns in previous weeks about Beason playing on turf, he was out of the field with his teammates on Thursday when the Giants practiced indoors.

Beason's been working tirelessly to make sure his healthy improves, both for the short term and the season. The toe is vital to his success. He still works to strengthen the big toe using Thera-Bands. He described it as the equivalent of weight-lifting for your toe.

"Once you have that injury to the toe, you realize how important it is," Beason said.

Cleats too. They go a long way in determining what you can do on the field and, in Beason's case, whether he can get on the field.


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(nj.com)
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Frank Gore said 49ers never told him in offseason his spot was in jeopardy

FrankGore2
Running back Frank Gore isn’t sure where he’ll be next year for his 11th season in the NFL. But returning to the 49ers for this season was never in question, he said Thursday.

A NFL Network report before Monday night’s win at St. Louis claimed that the 49ers approached Gore in the offseason and told him his roster spot was in jeopardy. General manager Trent Baalke said before kickoff that was “not true,” and Gore said the same Thursday at his locker.

Gore is as curious as anyone if the 49ers will attempt to re-sign him, and he’s all for it in his quest to win his first Super Bowl ring, and the 49ers’ first since 20 years ago.

As much as Gore thrives on being an offensive catalyst, he wasn’t complaining how the 49ers’ pass-oriented attack beat the Rams 31-17 behind Colin Kaepernick’s 343 yards.

“I’m happy with that game,” Gore said. “Now we get to see how (the Broncos) play us.”

A stronger passing threat would seem to benefit Gore, who was coming off back-to-back 100-yard rushing games before Monday’s 38-yard effort on 16 carries.

Gore said he feels “great” and believed coaches were being smart in the fourth quarter by resting him in favor of Carlos Hyde, who failed to score despite three consecutive runs from within the Rams’ 2-yard line.

Gore returned on the 49ers’ next series and also failed to convert a fourth-and-1 run from the Rams 34. “They stopped it and played good defense,” Gore said. “Whenever you can’t get yards, you get (upset).”

The more yards Gore can gain Sunday night, the longer that will keep Peyton Manning & Co. off the field. Gore isn’t campaigning for a marquee role, however.
“We all have to play well as a group,” Gore said. “Whoever’s number is called, they’ve got to make plays.”


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(mercurynews.com)
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Darryl Sharpton stepping in and stepping up

DarrylSharpton
When Darryl Sharpton signed with the Bears Sept. 25, he didn’t expect to be starting at middle linebacker less than three weeks later. But that’s exactly what transpired last Sunday in Atlanta.

“It’s not something that I had on my calendar obviously,” Sharpton said. “But it’s what adversity brought and with the coaching, this organization prepared me for this adverse situation and I was able to step in.”

With the Bears’ top four linebackers all unable to play against the Falcons due to injuries, Sharpton stepped in and stepped up. He not only recorded 10 tackles and broke up a key third-down pass with a crushing hit on receiver Roddy White but called all the defensive signals.

So how did Sharpton know enough about the defense to get his teammates lined up and make all the checks?

“Just experience playing football, just being in the game for so long,” he said. “There’s some carryover from different systems and you try to gather all of your football knowledge and information and then take the new game plan and then just go out there and try to mesh the two and do your best.

“I didn’t play perfect. I made mistakes, which I have to correct, which is why we’re going to these meetings, so you can improve the next week.”

Sharpton was selected by the Houston Texans in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Miami. He appeared in 42 games with 19 starts over four seasons, recording 166 tackles, one interception, one sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

After ending each of his first three seasons on injured reserve, Sharpton became a starter midway through last year after Brian Cushing suffered a season-ending injury. The experience helped Sharpton excel in the same type of scenario last week with the Bears.

“It was a similar situation when ‘Cush’ went down,” he said. “Last year I stepped in his spot and I think I did a good job there. So it wasn’t unfamiliar territory [last Sunday]. It was like déjà vu.”

Sharpton left the Texans to sign with the Redskins in March. But he sustained an ankle injury in training camp and was eventually waived/injured Sept. 22. The 26-year-old signed with the Bears four days later, joining his third team in a six-month span.

“It just speaks to the nature of life, the nature of the league,” Sharpton said. “You never know what’s in store for you in the future. You don’t know what’s going to be there. Sometimes you don’t know whether you’re going to be on a team or you’re going to be starting on a team. You never know in this league. The only thing you control is your effort and your intensity and your willingness to play, As long as you keep that, you’ve just got to put the rest in the Lord’s hand.”

Sharpton is excited to reunite with Bears linebackers coach Reggie Herring, his position coach with the Texans in 2011-12.

“He holds everybody to a high standard and he doesn’t keep it a secret what he wants from you,” Sharpton said. “He’s going to tell you exactly what he wants and if you’re not doing it the right way he’s going to correct you.

“Reggie’s very direct and to the point. He has a lot of memorable quotes. His general message is just stay focused, focus on your job at hand and take advantage of your opportunities. He’s a guy who coaches details and he’s very detailed-oriented and he demands that from his players, all players. It doesn’t matter who you are, he has a high standard for everyone.”

Sharpton is the second cousin of Reverend Al Sharpton. But that’s far from the most interesting thing about the linebacker given his journey to the Bears, which began with a tryout.

“When I first came here I only had the clothes on my back,” Sharpton said. “That same night I had to go to Walmart and get some underwear and socks and stay in a hotel, so it was pretty rough. It was the first time I did something like that, just living out of Walmart pretty much. My wife was able to ship my car and some clothes up to me now, so I’m a little bit more settled.”


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(chicagobears.com)
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Greg Olsen continues long streak of consecutive games

GregOlsenPanthers
Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen took exception to Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict apparently trying to hurt his ankle last week, calling for the player with the long history of personal foul penalties to be suspended.

And while Burfict avoided suspension, he was not successful in taking Olsen out of the lineup.

Olsen, who has two sprained ankles, expects to play Sunday at Green Bay, which would be his 118th consecutive regular-season game.

It’s the second-longest active streak among tight ends, trailing Dallas’ Jason Witten, who has played in 177 consecutive games. As a rookie in 2007 with Chicago, Olsen sat out the first two games with a knee injury but hasn’t missed a game since.

“I put a lot of pride into that. It’s not easy to play in this league to begin with, let alone play tight end and do all the things we’re asked to do,” Olsen said.

“I try to take good care of my body, both in the offseason and during the season. Little things are going to get nicked. You learn to play while not feeling top-notch. If you learn that pretty quick in this league, you’ll be in good shape.”


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(charlotteobserver.com)
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Ravens will challenge Devin Hester, not kick away from him

DevinHesterFalcons
Ravens special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg says that as he prepares to face the Falcons and Devin Hester on Sunday, he’s not planning to wave the white flag of surrender and kick high and short or out of bounds to avoid giving Hester a chance to run the ball back.

Instead, Rosburg says, the Ravens will welcome the opportunity to compete with Hester, and plan to contain him.

“We have faced a lot of good returners this year already,” Rosburg told the Baltimore Sun. “When we play Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, we face very good punt returners of that caliber and of that type. We have a lot of confidence in our punt game. We have good gunners, we have a good punter and we have good inside core guys, so we are going to do all we can to try to contain him with what we do.”

Hester is the NFL’s all-time leader in kick return touchdowns, and this year he’s in the Top 10 in the NFL in both kickoff return average and punt return average. Rosburg says that makes the Ravens look forward to taking him on.

“It’s up to our guys. They relish a challenge,” Rosburg said. “And playing against the best returner touchdown-wise that there’s ever been, that’s a great challenge for our guys. They look forward to that challenge, but they also have a great deal of respect for whom we are playing. . . . He has the perfect combination of skills for a returner. He’s fast, and he has incredible change-of-direction skills. He can run up and smell somebody’s breath and then disappear. The other thing he can do, which people aren’t really that aware of, he can break tackles. He’s a strong runner. So, he really has the three-way combination to be the outstanding returner he is. Every time you give him the ball, he’s a threat to take it to the house, and that’s his goal.”

The Ravens’ goal is to keep Hester off the highlight reel on Sunday.

(profootballtalk.com)
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Jon Beason would like to win a game

JonBeasonGiants
Jon Beason tried to force a smile when he delivered the one-liner, but it was hard because there was so much truth behind the joke.

"Right now I'm messing it up," he said on Thursday. "When I play, we don't win."

Beason has played in three games this season. The Giants have lost all of them. He has been inactive for three games this season. The Giants have won all of them. That is certainly little more than coincidence, but it is something Beason would like to rectify on Sunday against the Cowboys.

Beason played last week against the Eagles for the first time since aggravating his toe in Week 2. He had three tackles credited to him.

"I thought I moved pretty well," he said. "I read plays well. I'd like to be more active. That's the starting point coming off an injury with a limited amount of practice. I was somewhat happy to make it through the game. Obviously I want to build on that. I can play a whole lot better. I have to play better."

Tom Coughlin said Beason has been practicing fully the last two days and said Beason is making "good progress." He said that Beason's energy and enthusiasm have been the same that he provided last season, and that the production should be following soon.

Beason said he still feels limited in practices.

"I would like not to be, but everything is about Sunday," he said. "It's on the back burner in my mind how many snaps I'm taking in practice. I just know that I'm ready to go and try to get this win on Sunday."

Which, as he knows, would be his first of the year.

"You say, 'Hey, do your job, do it hard, and hopefully you can be a reason why we win as opposed to a reason why we don't.'"


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(newsday.com)
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Timeout With Chase Ford

ChaseFordVikings
Vikings tight end Chase Fordicon-article-link has eight catches for 85 yards in the past three games since being elevated from the practice squad to the active roster to fill in for injured TE Kyle Rudolphicon-article-link. After stops in Philadelphia and a brief stint in Dallas, the native of Corrigan, Texas, a town of less than 2,000 people northeast of Houston, Ford caught on with Minnesota for the final two games of 2013. Vikings.com took a Timeout with Ford for a Q & A this week.

Q: What did you like or not like about growing up in a small town?
Ford: I pretty much loved everything about it. I guess you could say the only downfall to it is you can’t just, you’ve got to drive to go to Walmart or the mall. That’s kind of the only down thing.

Q: Better not forget something on your grocery list then?
Ford: We’ve got a local grocery store, but if you’re trying to go get a TV or some shoes or something you’ve got to drive about 25-30 minutes. It’s not too far, but it’s not just hop in the car and “Let’s go.”

Q: Describe the transition you made from junior college to Miami and then the NFL.
Ford: To me, the way I’ve always explained it when people ask me, I feel like that way it was good for me because the game, it was like your talent level rose with how you were playing. It’s not like an 18-year-old going to Tennessee or Miami or something like that, because it would take them by storm, like ‘This game is too fast.’ It was like a ladder that got me up here, a little bit better, a little bit better and then the top level.

Q: What did you learn from spending time with three NFL teams as a rookie?
I learned it don’t feel good to get cut (laughs). Do everything you can to not get cut.

Q: Did you learn something to take with you to your next team?
Ford: I learned a lot. In Philly, Tom Melvin, he’s the tight ends coach at Kansas City now, but he taught me a lot. There was stuff I didn’t know, little things with your route running and blocking that helped me out a lot. I was only in Dallas for a week, so I’m not going to say I learned anything there, but I’ve learned a whole lot from last year’s staff and this year’s staff here.

Q: How have those experiences helped you adjust to the new offensive system here?
Ford: You’ve just got to be prepared for anything. Coming from high school to junior college to college, I haven’t had the same playbook for more than two years since I’ve been playing football. Having the same playbook for years to come would be real nice.

Q: How much time do you spend in your playbook?
Ford: I’m going to start spending more time because that was something that I never really was taught, so it’s something I’m learning as I go, that it helps you to watch extra film and helps you to study your plays a little more. You might know it, but if you look over it one more time, you might not mess up.

Q: Would you rather block, catch the ball or run after the catch?
Ford: You know what? If I had to pick one, I’d probably say catch the ball. That’s really the reason I play football, because I like catching the football.

Q: How much emphasis do you place on catching the ball?
Ford: I’ve never been one of those guys that caught 100 jugs after practice every day. It was just a natural gift God gave me, where I can catch the ball. I’m thankful for that.

Q: What about the other parts besides the catch, the route running and things like that? How much of that did you have to learn more of at this level?
Ford: I had to learn all of it, pretty much. I didn’t even really know how to run routes until I got into the league. That was something that Tom helped me with in Philadelphia. You would see it on paper and draw it up on paper, but you wouldn’t know stuff like when you’re running this inside route, this dig route, you’re falling up field and you’re not supposed to do that, little things like that help you out a whole lot in any league but especially this one because they’re so fast and so good on their reads that the little things count, and I’ve picked all that up since I’ve been in the league.

Q: There’s a lot of Texas guys, lot of Florida guys, lot of California guys in the locker room. Do the Texas guys kind of hang together a little more or have a state pride thing?
Ford: No, everything’s better in Texas, don’t get me wrong. Our team ain’t like that. I feel like everybody’s cool with everybody, and I feel like the way we hang out would be less state-wise and more position-wise. I’m probably cooler with my tight ends than I would be with the defensive backs — nothing against them, they’re my boys too, but you spend more time with your position group.

Q: Do you have any pre-game habits or rituals?
Ford: Not really. I like to listen to a little, I don’t want to call it Gospel music because Gospel music puts out a different term, but a Christian music like Kirk Franklin cause it’s more upbeat but is still sending the same message, so I try to listen to that before the game to clear my mind.

Q: How long has your faith been important to you?
Ford: Coming from the South, they call it the Bible belt, so I’ve kind of always been brought up in it and it was really important to me when I was younger, but it’s something that I went through my teenage years living my life or whatever, but it’s something I’m trying to get back on like I was when I was younger.

Q: What goals do you have for the rest of the season?
Ford: Win. That’s the number one goal. I want to do whatever it takes to win. It doesn’t matter if I don’t have a catch and the receivers have 30 catches.

(vikings.com)
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Saints list Jimmy Graham as limited participant Thursday

JimmyGrahamSaints
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham was listed as a limited participant in practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday due to a shoulder injury he suffered in Week 5. During his Thursday press conference, coach Sean Payton said he was "optimistic" about Graham's status heading into Week 7 against the Lions.




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(cbssports.com)
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Texans simply need a win on MNF, Andre Johnson says

AndreJohnson2
The Texans are four days away from playing their final primetime regular-season game this season.

With the national lights of “Monday Night Football” and the Pittsburgh Steelers waiting, Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson said his team simply needs a victory.

The Texans started 2-0 but are 1-3 during their last four games, including back-to-back near wins that ended in defeat.

“We just need to get a win,” Johnson said Thursday at NRG Stadium.

He added: “We’re not in a bad spot. Of course, we would like to be in a better situation — we feel like we’ve let some games get away.”

The Texans only have two primetime games this season. After recently falling to Indianapolis on “Thursday Night Football,” Monday at Pittsburgh is the final scheduled national showcase for the 2014 Texans.

“Everybody’s watching. It’s the only game on TV,” Johnson said. “A great big stage for us and hopefully we’ll go out there and put our best game on Monday night.”


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(chron.com)
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Eric Winston blasts Marvin Lewis

EricWinstonChiefs
CINCINNATI -- Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has been criticized from the minute he made comments during his Wednesday afternoon news conference that concussions "linger longer" now because of the media attention that head injuries receive.

One of his most vocal critics was NFL Players Association president and former player Eric Winston, who expressed his thoughts on Twitter.

Winston's tweets also could be targeting Panthers coach Ron Rivera, who said wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin came in Monday complaining of a "little headache" after a receiving a hit Sunday from Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Panthers doctors determined Benjamin had a mild concussion.







Lewis' comments came during a portion of his weekly news conference in which he was asked about Burfict and the intense, aggressive, emotion-filled edge he plays with. Those same traits have made Burfict one of the more penalized players in the league, and one who has started getting a negative reputation for some of his post-whistle antics.

A source told ESPN's Ed Werder that Burfict was fined $25,000 this week for twisting the ankles of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and tight end Greg Olsen after he had tackled both in last Sunday's 37-37 overtime tie in Cincinnati.

In a fiery interview session with Panthers reporters the day after the game, Olsen called for Burfict to be suspended for the actions and called out his style of play.

"He's a hard-nosed player," Olsen said. "His style of game is what he is. It's why he knocks himself out half the time."

The latter portion of Olsen's comment was in reference to the three concussions Burfict has had since the end of last season. He already has had two in back-to-back weeks this season. The concussions forced him out of the season opener at Baltimore and the Week 2 game against the Falcons. They also kept him sidelined for three weeks before he returned last weekend against the Panthers.

Despite leaving the game briefly for what the Bengals said was a "hit to the head," Burfict returned and finished the game.
It's the only game he has finished this season.

At one point during Lewis' news conference, a reporter asked about at what point the coach becomes concerned about Burfict not only as a player, but as a human being, given his number of concussions.

Replied Lewis: "He had a concussion against Atlanta. That's the biggest concern. You don't want him to have ... again, I coached defense and linebackers for a long time and concussions didn't linger. Now we've found that because of the media and things they seem to linger longer. There's a lot of attention paid to it. I don't know why they linger longer, but I don't remember them lingering like they do now."

The NFL in recent years has intensified its approach regarding concussions and renewed its policies related to the level of medical scrutiny players must go through before getting cleared to play again after a concussion. Many of the league's concerns stem from long-term health issues retired players have experienced, and recent research that has made some connections between former player deaths and head trauma.

Lewis was asked after Wednesday's practice if he wanted to clarify his comments. He declined, acknowledging he probably shouldn't have broached the topic in the first place.


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(espn.com)
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Reggie Wayne Talks His Bond With T.Y. Hilton

ReggieWayne
INDIANAPOLIS – With a short week last week, Reggie Wayneicon-article-link did not appear on his weekly radio show.

The 14-year veteran was back on it this Tuesday though for a more in-depth conversation.

On WNDE, Wayne talked his relationship with T.Y. Hiltonicon-article-link, the play of Pat McAfeeicon-article-link, the retirement of Pat Angerer and the Cincinnati Bengals.

Here are some of the highlights from Wayne joining Query and Schultz:

On T.Y. Hilton and the relationship he has with Wayne:

“He has that playmaking ability and he was able to show that Thursday night.

“T.Y. comes and he’s always asking questions. He asks, ‘What do you think I should of done there? Should have I gone inside or should have I gone outside?’ That’s the way you learn. That’s the way I was with Marvin Harrison. I would ask him things what I could do to run this particular route better. Whenever you have a guy that’s played a little longer I think you should use that. T.Y., he’s taken advantage of that opportunity. He’s asked me a lot of questions in his three years. He’s a true professional already. He’s a student of the game. He takes a lot of notes. He asks questions in meetings and you don’t see a lot of young guys that do that. He’s a guy that really wants to be good and whenever you see a guy that wants to be good, you want to do everything you can to help. At one point in time, I used to say in his rookie year, ‘You might want to think about doing this or doing that.’ Now I don’t have to do that much. He has that experience under his belt. He knows defenses. He understands his role. If we are talking anything football, it’s probably a question he comes and asks me and it’s probably pretty minor.”

On the first quarter against the Texans and if he remembers a time when the Colts had an opening quarter like that:

“That’s a good question. I’ve got a lot of games under my belt in 14 years (laughs). I don’t think there’s any to be honest with you. We were hitting on all cylinders. We went out and scored fast, had a surprise onside that worked and were able to take that turnover and score real quick. We saw early that things were going to be all right for us and that’s kind of the way it goes. I really believe that football is a game of momentum and it seemed like everything we dialed up was the right choice. We need to figure out a way to just continue to ride that wave, even though we know it’s going to be tough.”

On the play of Pat McAfee and special teams in 2014:

“I believe he’s changing the whole mindset of the way team’s think of that. If you look at what he’s already done this season, and the way he’s punting the ball, he’s punting the ball outstanding. He’s doing things that we aren’t really used to seeing on the special teams side as far as the Indianapolis Colts. He’s definitely become a weapon for us. He can make any kick that you can ask him.

“You’ve got a Hall of Famer in Adam Vinatieriicon-article-link always in his ear and I think Pat has taken his game to a whole ‘nother level. I think he’s realized how good he can be. He’s playing phenomenal.”

On Pat Angerer retiring from the NFL:

“Pat was a feisty guy. He was kind of an undersized guy. It was funny because he always played with a little chip on his shoulder and he brought a lot of energy to that locker room, to that team. I saw he shut it down and retired due to injuries and things like that. That just makes you realize that Pat was a young player and it seemed like he was doing so well, but the injuries kind of took over and forced him to retire.

“I enjoyed Pat. He was a great teammate, a great person. We spent a lot of time together laughing. Unfortunately a lot of that time was in the training room, getting healthy but that’s the way it is. We call the training room, the “barbershop.” Everybody is going to be in the barbershop trying to get back to 100 percent as close as they can and we had a lot of laughs in that training room.”

On the Bengals:

“They are always right in the mix, especially the last few years since they got the quarterback in Andy Dalton. He’s really had them in the fold of the AFC race. At one point in time in my career, you kind of looked at Cincinnati and figured, alright they are going to be one of the bottom echelon teams in the AFC but now you can’t do that anymore. They are a team that’s going to make you come out and play a good game or they will embarrass you.”


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(colts.com)
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Knicks to pick up guard Shane Larkin's third-year contract option

ShaneLarkinMavs
After some initial uncertainty, the New York Knicks plan to pick up the third-year contract option for guard Shane Larkin, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

The Knicks have been satisfied with Larkin, 22, in the preseason, and will guarantee the $1.67 million on his contract for the 2015-16 season.

The deadline for guaranteeing the third-year option comes at the end of October.

As Knicks president Phil Jackson plans to use significant salary cap space for high-profile free agents in the summer of 2015, he’s been cautious on committing guaranteed money to the payroll. In the preseason, Larkin has averaged 2.5 points and 1.5 assists in 20 minutes per game for New York.

New York acquired Larkin, guard Jose Calderon and center Sam Dalembert from Dallas as part of a deal for center Tyson Chandler and guard Raymond Felton in June.

Larkin was the 18th overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft in which he was part of a deal from Atlanta to Dallas. He averaged 10.2 minutes per game as a rookie for the Mavericks in the 2013-14 season. Larkin was an All-ACC player at the University of Miami.


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(yahoo.com)
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Lauryn Williams wins championship

LaurynWilliams
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- This time last year, Lauryn Williams was getting into a bobsled for the first time.

Now she's not only an Olympic silver medalist, but a national champion as well.

Williams -- one of five people to medal in different sports at the Summer and Winter Olympics -- won the U.S. national bobsled push championship in the women's brakeman division Thursday, finishing her two starts on the wheeled track at Lake Placid in 9.56 seconds.

Katie Eberling, who's transitioning from push athlete to driver, won the women's pilot competition and Olympic veteran Nick Cunningham won the men's pilot title.

"It was really inspiring to get back out there and be on the track and to win my first push championships," said Williams, who became a two-time Olympic track and field medalist before turning to bobsledding. "I think it's really awesome to see all of the new girls so bubbly and excited about bobsled, and I really relate to that feeling since that was me not even a year ago."

Williams considered retirement after she and Elana Meyers Taylor won silver at the Sochi Games, doing so just six months after getting in a sled for the first time.

But she kept her options open, never making her plans to step away official, and now she's expected to lead the push athletes on the women's World Cup team this winter.

"I'm really looking forward to the season," Williams said.

Eberling finished her two pushes in 8.41 seconds, edging Olympic bronze medalist Jamie Greubel Poser (8.47) for the women's pilot title. Maureen Ajoku was third in 8.72.

Meyers Taylor did not compete because of injury. She had won six straight national push titles.

"I think anytime Elana isn't entered into the competition there's an asterisk next to the win," Eberling said. "But it feels good to start the season with a win and to get back into competition mode after a long offseason."

Cunningham won his third straight men's pilot title, his time of 7.93 topping Codie Bascue (8.00) and rookie Andrew Blaser (8.05).

Steven Holcomb, the 2010 Olympic champion, was fourth and Olympic veteran John Napier -- who is contemplating a return from retirement -- was fifth.

"As a competitor, I always want to win," Cunningham said. "We are going through a rebuilding phase with our program, so to come out here and start the season out like this and to see the depth of pilots is a great thing to see."

Napier isn't sure what his future holds yet.

"I am back to enjoy myself and to spend time with the team," said Napier, who was in college at Lakeland, Florida last year. "I missed being around the team and the guys. This culture is a part of my life and it seems no matter how far I run away, it will always be near to my heart."

The men's brakeman push championships are scheduled for Friday. On-ice training in Lake Placid is expected to start next week, weather permitting. National team selection races also start later this month.


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(espn.com)
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Dejected Jon Jay appreciates season of resiliency

JonJayCards
SAN FRANCISCO -- Shortly after the Cardinals' season-ending 6-3 loss to the Giants at AT&T Park on Thursday night, Jon Jay lay flat on his back in the visitors' clubhouse, displaying the exhaustion and disappointment of a man who played his heart out, but ultimately came up short.

A second straight trip to the Fall Classic was not in the cards this year for St. Louis, which dropped the National League Championship Series to San Francisco in five games. But it was not for a lack of inspired performance by Jay, one of nine current Cardinals who's been present for all four of the club's consecutive runs to the NLCS.

"He was big for us all year," said first baseman Matt Adams. "Just a great ballplayer. Great all-around player, great defender, and he's a gamer. He comes to the field ready to go each day."

Jay went 14-for-29 (.483) this postseason and made big plays in the outfield, including a sliding catch in left field in the eighth Thursday to rob Gregor Blanco of a hit.

Now, the 29-year-old outfielder will enter his second offseason of arbitration, and after making $3.25 million this season, Jay will certainly receive a raise. Whether general manager John Mozeliak opts to give him a long-term extension, trade him or sign him to another one-year deal remains to be seen.

One thing, however, is clear: Jay was rock solid in 2014. He batted .303 during the regular season, before shining in October. And in Jay's fifth Major League season, he was also a key team leader.

"I want to thank him," Adams said. "He did a good job taking me under his wing this year and kind of showing me the ropes. He's just a great teammate.

"Just being there," Adams said when asked for specifics. "Some situations that he went through when he was younger. He just was able to help me out all year long. It was pretty cool."

Throughout the playoffs, Jay and second baseman Kolten Wong were the most consistent hitters in St. Louis' lineup.

"We wouldn't be here if it wasn't for what they were able to do," Matt Carpenter said. "This team's got a lot of players that take a lot of pride in what they do, and those guys are a big part of it. You can't say enough about what they were able to do for us."

On Thursday, a dejected Jay was not yet ready to celebrate his personal performance. But he could appreciate being part of yet another deep postseason run with the Cards.

"This team, we dealt with so much adversity all year long," Jay said. "We kept getting hit with different things and a lot of people counted us out, and we played well the second half and we kept believing in ourselves, and we got to this point.

"Obviously, you want to go to the World Series and get a chance for a ring, but when you look back at the season, we'll know how hard we fought and how we really came together as a team and as a family. We gave it our all, but they were just better than us." 


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(mlb.com)
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Lamar Miller: Practices in Limited Capacity Wednesday

LamarMillerDolphins2
NEWS UPDATE
Miller (knee) was a limited participant at Wednesday's practice, the Dolphins' official site reports.

ROTOWIRE FANTASY ANALYSIS
Miller was one of 11 players listed as limited by the Dolphins on Wednesday, with his status worth tracking as Sunday's game against the Bears approaches. With Knowshon Moreno now out for the season, Miller's status as the Dolphins' lead back looks secure, assuming his health. That said, those looking to insure Miller, whose knee issue isn't believed to be serious or who are simply of a mind to secure a back that is an injury away from an expanded role, are advised to consider Damien Williams, who currently slots in as Miller's top backup.


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(rotowire.com)
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Darryl Sharpton Goes from No Name to Big Game for Bears

DarrylSharpton
Who’s #53 for the Bears?  Who the heck is Darryl Sharpton?  I heard those questions a lot on Sunday during the Bears’ surprising 27-13 win over the Atlanta Falcons.  The Bears, who limped into the game with their top four linebackers sidelined with injuries, called upon a bunch of “no name” linebackers to lead the Bears defense against one of the top offenses in the league.  I have to admit, when I heard the names Christian Jones, Khaseem Greene and Darryl Sharpton as the Bears starting linebackers, I thought two things.  1) we’re screwed and 2) who is Darryl Sharpton?  After a strong showing on Sunday, I had to do a little research about Sharpton, who’s not just another random Phil Emery waiver wire claim.

Phil Emery has been churning the bottom of the Bears roster so much every week, that it’s easy to overlook who he’s bringing in.  Most of the guys coming in are undrafted free agents or late round roster cuts who couldn’t cut it elsewhere.  That’s not the case with Darryl Sharpton.  He’s an experienced veteran with a nice linebacking resume.

The 5-11 linebacker was drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans out of Miami (FL).  Coming out of “The U” is a pretty good pedigree to begin with and was named 2nd team All-ACC in his senior season.  Sharpton appeared in 12 games as a rookie and recorded 34 tackles.  He played a reserve role for the Texans for the first three years with the Texans until he was pressed into action to fill in for Brian Cushing, who went out with a broken leg in 2013.  Sharpton had a terrific season including 87 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 pass defended and 6 stuffs in 15 games.

Sharpton was targeted by the Redskins in the offseason, signing a 1-year deal in March of 2014 worth up to $2 million.  It didn’t get that far as a preseason high ankle sprain led to his contract getting terminated on September 22nd.  Phil Emery scooped him up on September 24th.


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(beargoggles.com)
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Warren Sapp: ‘I Almost Threw Up’ When I Saw McCoy Helping Other Players Up

WarrenSappBucs
NFL Hall of Famer Warren Sapp joined The Booger and Ryan Show to discuss what’s gone wrong for the Bucs this season.
Sapp said what he’s watching from the Bucs defense isn’t the Tampa 2.

“That ain’t (Tampa) 2,” Sapp said. “No, they’re not playing that defense I mean it’s a different version.”

Sapp did say though that even with Derrick Brooks, Hardy Nickerson and John Lynch the Bucs were 1-7 in their first 8 games with the new system. It takes time to learn.

Sapp said it’s plain as day on film. It’s about the players on the field.

“It’s the Willys and Joes, not the X’s and O’s,” Sapp told Booger and Marc. “Me and Gerald (McCoy) had a real frank conversation this morning. He said ‘I had a bad day at the office, I’ve chalked it up and I’ve got to get better.’ I said there we go.”

Sapp told us that there are quality players there they just need to make some plays.

Gerald McCoy defended helping up opposing players. Sapp said he didn’t like that.

“Too see him (McCoy) reach down and help the running back up and help the lineman up, I almost threw up. Uh! This could never happen, this could never happen. There’s a certain mentality you play this game with.”

So far though, Sapp said he likes Lovie Smith and what he’s doing. It takes time for a bad team to let all the bad habits go. Sapp said even in his day, it took him time to become a disciplined DT.

In today’s current NFL, Sapp said that you can’t rely just on defense.

“You can’t come out and play like we did anymore,” Sapp said. “We can forget those days, Buc ball is dead fellas. The 17-10 games all that 13-9 uh-uh. It’s over. There will be some points put up on the scoreboard, the defense has to keep you in it and the offense has to win it for you.”


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(cbslocal.com)
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PHOTO: Bears LB Darryl Sharpton Forces Fumble




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Calais Campbell jogging, could return Week 8

CalaisCampbellCards
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Tuesday that defensive lineman Calais Campbell (knee) is jogging, FOXSports.com reports.

Campbell likely won't be able to play this week, but it appears he could return in Week 8 against the Eagles. He was injured by an ugly cut block in Week 5.



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(cbssports.com)
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