proCanes NFL Rosters as of October 9, 2014

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GIF: Andre Johnson Scores Miracle TD, Female Fan Spanks Him

Every time that it looks like Andre Johnson is getting too old and beat up to make miraculously athletic touchdown catches, he makes a miraculously athletic touchdown catch to prove the haters wrong.

That should have been a pick. That had to be a pick. 99 times out of 100 that is a pick. Only two receivers in the game can prevent that from being a pick. (They have the same last name.)

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Andre Johnson reaches another receiving milestone

HOUSTON – Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson has added another line to his career resume becoming the latest receiver to surpass 13,000 yards.

Johnson reached the mark on a screen pass in the 2nd quarter. He is the second fastest to reach that mark only Jerry Rice got to that milestone quicker.

The Texans wide receiver is 15th on the all-time list for receiving yards in a career. The next person in front of him is Steve Largent who had 13,089.

Last week, Johnson became the second fastest player in NFL history to surpass 950 receptions for a career.

Johnson finished the game with 7 catches for 99 yards and a touchdown.

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Calais Campbell: Julius Thomas sent text message apologizing for chop block

In front of the media, Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas has yet to seem remorseful for executing a controversial chop block on the Arizona Cardinals' Calais Campbell last Sunday -- a hit that took the defensive end out of the game.

However, Campbell said Thursday on the Big Red Rage on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM that Thomas sent him a text message apologizing for the incident.

"He sent me a text (Wednesday) and told me that he didn't mean to do it and he was sorry and (said) good luck in getting healthy," the defensive lineman said. "So that was good. I was happy to hear from him. It made me feel a little bit better about it, but the situation hasn't changed; I'm still going to miss these next few games."

Campbell said Thomas didn't give an explanation for the rough block, but the Cardinals star said he understands how the best players on opposing teams sometimes get targeted.

The seven-year veteran wouldn't comment directly on his feelings about Thomas, but he did say what missing time due to an injury means to him.

"The thing about it is I want to be on the field playing games, and when stuff like that happens and I can't play the game I love, it really hurts inside," he said. "But the beauty of it is it wasn't as bad as it could've been. And (I'll) be back in a week or two, maybe three. And I think this team we have is very special. We're going to do some damage this year, so I'm excited to go back and team up with my guys and go win some games."

After the loss to Denver, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians called the chop block "the dirtiest play I've seen in 37 years of football."

And on Wednesday, the NFL reportedly fined Thomas $8,268 for the illegal hit.

Arians wouldn't comment on the penalty Wednesday, but Campbell did, handling it with class.

"It was a max fine for an illegal block for a first time offender. It makes sense," he said. "I'm glad the NFL did something, and hopefully he won't do it no more."

In four games this season, the defensive end has rang up 16 tackles, one sack, one pass defensed and he recorded his first interception of the season (which he returned 23 yards) in Sunday's loss. Campbell is coming off perhaps his best year as a pro, when he posted 58 tackles, nine sacks, six passes defensed, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble during the Cardinals' 10-6 campaign.

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Andre Johnson snags 62nd TD to end 12-game drought

Andre Johnson’s 4-yard touchdown catch early in the second quarter ended the longest scoring drought of his career at 12 games. He had last made a reception in the end zone against the Cardinals in Arizona on November 10, 2013. He hadn’t scored at home since catching three of Case Keenum’s passes for touchdowns against the Colts a week earlier.

Johnson’s 62 career touchdown passes rank him 68th all time, which is out of sync with his standing in receptions. Johnson is 11th overall with 957. But the nine retired players ahead of him all scored at least 85 touchdowns and the Colts’ Reggie Wayne has 81 despite playing just one more season than Johnson has.

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Lamar Miller pops up on injury report

Lamar Miller was added to the Dolphins' Thursday injury report with a foot issue, but practiced in full.

It suggests Miller tweaked something in practice, but the "full" designation means his status isn't a concern. What is a concern is the potential return of Knowshon Moreno (elbow), but Moreno's Week 6 status has yet to be settled. Miller will be a boom-or-bust RB2 if Moreno is back, but borderline RB1 if he sits.

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Greg Olsen not expected to miss Bengals game because of ankle injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen did not practice for a second straight day with an ankle sprain, but the team’s leading receiver said he will play in Sunday’s game at Cincinnati.

“Yeah, I’ll be fine,’’ said Olsen, who has 27 catches for 327 yards and four touchdowns. “I was able to do some running today, and hopefully will be back out there to get some practice in tomorrow.’’

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Travis Benjamin gets place in Canton

The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton asked for the jerseys that QB Brian Hoyer and WR Travis Benjamin wore in last week's historic win over the Titans.

Hoyer threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Benjamin with 1:09 to play to complete the 25-point comeback win.

"It's pretty cool, especially a kid growing up here going to Canton all the time -- field trips, whatever it might be," Hoyer said. "To have something that I wore on display there is pretty cool, but with my luck, that record will get broken this week."


Three days after the #browns staged the greatest comeback by a road team in #nfl history, the jerseys of QB Brian Hoyer & @travisbenjamin11 are now on display!

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Ed Reed honored

Former NFL football standout Ed Reed, a St. Rose native, was honored recently by several members of the St. Charles community for his outstanding contributions to community projects.

The Destrehan High graduate was honored by DHS football coaches and players for sponsoring the annual Ed Reed football camp, the annual high school football jamboree and for his donations for the renovation of the Wildcats weight room. The school retired his No. 20 jersey.

He also was recognized by Dynasty Barber Shop for contributions for haircuts for children for back to school. Reed also was honored by Rise 2 Royalty Inc., a west St. Charles charity, for helping the group provide school supplies and belts for Luling Elementary students.

Reed recently joined the cast of Showtime's "Inside the NFL." He also was inducted into WGNO-TV Friday Night Football's Hall of Fame.

Reed, a safety, played college football for the University of Miami, where he was a two-time consensus All-American. He was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the 2002 NFL Draft and played 11 seasons for the Ravens before signing with the Texans, and later the Jets in 2013.

Reed's former football coach Stephen Robicheaux said, "It is through his exemplary example that we have learned lifelong lessons that continue to mold our idea of success."

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Luther Robinson jumps at his chance to play

Green Bay — When Luther Robinson scrolled through his text messages late last Thursday night, there was a common theme. Friends were confused. They saw the No. 97, the "Robinson" on the jersey.

But was the Luther Robinson they knew really activated?

"I confirmed to them that I was playing," Robinson said, laughing. "It was me and nobody else in my pads."

Friends had every right to be confused. The defensive lineman was called up from the practice squad on the day of the game. His tip of Christian Ponder's pass led to the pick-six in Green Bay's 42-10 win over Minnesota. Now, comes the hard part — lasting in this league. Finding a role. Capitalizing on the opportunity he never quite had at the University of Miami.

The 6-foot-3, 301-pound Robinson started a whopping three games in college. Part of an old coaching regime, he was sparsely used in the new one. As a senior, Robinson finished with 24 tackles and a ton of frustration.

On Green Bay's defensive line — one that's endured an extreme makeover — Robinson has a chance to stick.

"I knew I could play ball," said Robinson, who played 34 snaps against the Vikings. "I knew I could play. It was just a matter of competing and somebody picking me and going to the right place and position."

The Miami Dolphins, perpetually erratic by nature, are piecing together a deep, dangerous rushing attack under coach Joe Philbin. Lamar Miller, another former 'Cane, is averaging 5.7 yards per carry. And Knowshon Moreno returned to practice this week. Miami will bring a zone scheme that caused problems for the Packers last season.

Changes were made on the defensive line, and those changes now include Robinson. The way he sees it, this chance is long overdue.

Robinson grew up a die-hard Florida State fan in Fort Pierce, Fla., attending every Seminoles-run football camp from seventh grade through 11th grade. With Robinson in their own backyard, however, the Seminoles didn't offer him a scholarship until two weeks before signing day.

So he chose Miami. Yes, Robinson did watch the national championship last January.

"Yeah, I could have been there, right?" he said.

Instead, Miami it was. Robinson played two seasons under Randy Shannon and three under Al Golden, increasingly lost in the shuffle. After one 2012 game, Robinson's father, Luther Sr., phoned local radio station WQAM with a rant that Golden was "a liar" who favored his own recruits.

Luther Jr. apologized then for his Dad's comments and trudged along.

Looking back this week, Robinson admitted college was not fun.

"I can't say it was a good experience, but I tried my hardest," he said. "I didn't get to play. I mean, I played, but I was a back-up player."

Playing under Golden, he said, was "very different" than Shannon.

"I came in with Shannon, so I was a Shannon guy," Robinson said. "Coach Golden came in with his strict 'do this, do that.' It was different.... I knew I could play. And my Dad stayed in my ear, people at home believed in me. Some people believed in me, some people doubted me.

"With the doubt, I just use that as motivation and kept grinding."

Across the locker room, center Corey Linsley is told Robinson only started a couple games in college. At first, he's confused.

"What do you mean he started one or two games?" Linsley said.

That's it, he's told. Then, quizzical turns to bewildered.

"That's amazing," he said. "He was a good player from Day 1. You could tell. I would have never guessed that. Somebody screwed up."

That being said, this "somebody," Hurricanes defensive line coach Jethro Franklin, only had glowing things to say about Robinson question after question. The former Packers assistant describes Robinson as a player who played multiple techniques, serving as a "sixth man" off the bench.

"Really, he could've started," Franklin said. "He adjusted well to the role that he had. We had a good lineup with him being a part of it; it worked. He definitely could've started. He was a guy who could do it all. Technique, do it all. Fundamentals, do it all. He could play nose, could play end, could play the 3-technique and that was his role."

And the Packers, specifically senior personnel executive (and ex-Hurricane) Alonzo Highsmith spotted pro potential. Quickness, for one, stands out. Robinson originally wanted to be a basketball player until future Milwaukee Buck Larry Sanders dropped 40 points on him in a high school game. Still, Robinson is quick to note he scored 20 points himself at center that night.

The basketball background helps. Quick feet, he explained, are a must in the pass rush, in reading and reacting, in this new direction up front.
Through their one-on-one and half-line battles in training camp, Linsley saw this up close.

"He's very smooth with all of his movements," Linsley said. "He's patient, which you don't see in a lot of guys. He's not afraid to wait a second and then go into his move."

Datone Jones (ankle) is "day to day" and Josh Boyd (knee) returned to practice on a limited basis. Roles remain in flux and Robinson is suddenly a viable option at defensive end and sub.

This week, Robinson has been wearing a Nike "Punish Me" T-shirt in the locker room. He says he picked it up with a pair of new sneakers — the colors matched. Nothing personal, nothing Miami-related, he insists.

Yet the line sure applies. Robinson feels slighted, overlooked. And this weekend, he returns home with a real shot to be a difference-maker. He can perform in front of the people who wondered why he rode the bench so long for the Hurricanes. Questions were constant.

Now, the same friends who texted him then will begin coming out of the woodwork now.

Robinson never doubted he'd excel with a chance.

"I knew that if I got a call, I could come in and play," Robinson said. "I knew that."

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Rams coach Fisher: Gore 'nerve center' of 49ers offense

Running back Frank Gore’s future with the 49ers is not determined after this season.

But his present is pretty clear to St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher.

“He’s kind of the nerve center of that offense,” Fisher said Thursday on a conference call with Bay Area reporters. “It revolves around him.”

Gore, 31, the 49ers’ all-time leading rusher, is just 109 yards away from Eddie George for No. 25 on the NFL rushing list.

He’ll have his opportunity for a third consecutive 100-yard rushing day on Monday night against the Rams.

“He’s an outstanding runner,” Fisher said. “There’s not been any drop off. He started this year like he finished last year. He’s the same runner. He does very well without the ball. He’s really good in protection.

“(He’s an) unselfish player, hard to defend.”

After a slow start, Gore ranks No. 5 in the NFL this season with 365 yards on 77 rushing attempts. He is averaging 4.7 yards per carry.

Gore’s production has been at the center of the 49ers’ two-game win streak, coming against Philadelphia and Kansas City.

The 49ers have gotten back to their time-test formula of relying on Gore and the run game.

"A few weeks ago when there was a lot of no-back passing and things like that was effective for them against Arizona,” Fisher said. “But the run game and the play-action game keeps you ahead of the sticks and keeps your third downs manageable in that 2- to 6-(yard) range, and Kap’s (Colin Kaepernick) looked good at it.

"He’s going to convert those and keep the offense on the field.”

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Ray Lewis partners with Juvent Sports

Retired Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis, a two-time NFL Defensive  Player of the Year and former Super Bowl Most Valuable Player, has partnered with Juvent Sports.

Juvent is a micro-impact platform sports technology device designed to help athletes recover faster from workouts and aid in pain relief and get the body warmed up for optimal performance.

"It's really changed the way I actually warm up before I do anything," Lewis said in a telephone interview. "When I was introduced to Juvent, the first time I actually listened to the science behind, standing on Juvent, when I get off it, there's some pop now. When I started cycling and lift more, I started to recognize fairly quickly how fast I was recovering. It was really what I was starting to feel when I actually started to live with Juvent as my morning and night, morning and night routine.

"It almost becomes addictive because you understand what it's doing for you. People might stretch a little, they might do yoga, but a lot of that is on the outer surface. Nothing really wakes you up from the inside. You get on these other machines and the vibrations are so rough it almost makes you sore because you can't stand on those things long.When you stand on Juvent, it became an every-day necessity. You can really help people."

Lewis, who retired following the Ravens' Super Bowl XLVII victory and is now an ESPN analyst, said he's seen major benefits from using Juvent to help his muscles recover faster and eliminate fatigue. Lewis said he feels more explosive and energetic than ever before.

Ideally, Lewis would like to see Juvent in every NFL locker room and training room.

"That's definitely one of my pitches," Lewis said. "You see so many guys with so many lower body injuries just recently at the beginning of the season, it's blowing my mind. You've got to do something to try to stop some of these injuries. If you can put Juvent in locker rooms, so guys can wake up the body properly. It's so important to be on Juvent before and after games. What I've learned so much being retired is that recovery is the key."

The way Juvent Pro works is it delivers thousands of low-magnitude and high-frequency pulses through the heels of the feet that move up through the body. The intent is to stimulate muscles and bones to promote circulation, joint health and healing through as little as 10 minutes per day. Juvent has partnered with the NFL Alumni Association as an official provider.

"This is a product that if there had been something like this when I was playing, it could have taken me to a totally different level," Lewis said. "It's made me appreciate retirement without so many aches and pains. I just think Juvent has a real opportunity to impact not just the sporting world, but anybody going through aches and pains.

"We're talking about the pure science of waking the body up from the inside and getting things to fire that honestly might not in a lifetime. Every muscle and fiber is what you get on Juvent. You really get attached to Juvent because it did something for my body to make it wake up and starting recovering. The ultimate key is how the body can recover. It can help many, many people."

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Peter O'Brien is Off to a Fast Start in the Arizona Fall League

Arizona Fall League play is underway and one member of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ system is in mid-season form. Peter O’Brien has hit two home runs in two days as the Salt River Rafters have split their first two games with the Scottsdale Scorpions. O’Brien, listed as a catcher, played his normal position on Tuesday before switching to first base last night.

In addition to his two dingers, O’Brien has three walks while striking out once in eight plate appearances. His Minor League career has been plagued a low walk/high strikeout ratio. In 2014, O’Brien walked only 21 times while fanning 111 times in 427 plate appearances. It is also interesting to note that in order to keep O’Brien’s bat in the lineup, the Rafters moved him to first base. Perhaps a game or two in right field will also be in the cards for O’Brien before the AFL ends.

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2000 Miami Hurricanes squad to have mini-reunion at NRG Stadium on Thursday

At the end of ESPN's 30 for 30 film 'The U', a group of Miami Hurricanes players sum up their program's successful history and culture in one sentence.

"It's a Canes thing."

On Thursday night at NRG Stadium, 'The U' squad of 2000 will be well represented, as several former players and coaches will converge as the Texans host the Colts.

Undoubtedly, the most recognizable names are a pair of former Hurricane receivers Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne. Johnson and Wayne are two of the most accomplished wide outs in NFL history and are quite used to sharing the same turf on a football field.

In addition to their years battling against each other in the AFC South, the two were teammates on the 2000 Miami squad that went 11-1 and finished second in the nation according to the AP poll. Wayne, a senior on that squad, caught a team-high 10 touchdowns. Johnson, a redshirt freshman, played in 11 games as a wide receiver and kickoff return specialist (imagine that!).

The connections don't stop there. On the Colts sideline watching it all unfold on Thursday will be head coach Chuck Pagano, who was the Hurricans defensive backs coach on that same 2000 squad.

Imagine how fun his job must have been in practice, going against Wayne and Johnson (and Santana Moss) every day. 2000 was Pagano's last year at Miami, as he advanced to the professional ranks en route to being named the Colts head man in 2012. Pagano talked at length about Johnson and Wayne in a press conference earlier this week.

"I was fortunate to be at the right place at the right time and recruiting that school and recruiting Andre. Very, very; I mean we all know his talents. He’s a great player, but he’s a better person," Pagano said. "The relationships are for life. I’m fortunate enough to be coaching and playing alongside Reggie Wayne here, but being able to stay close to the guys you were around in college and guys like Andre is very special to me and my family."

Not done yet.

On the same 2000 squad, there was a relatively unknown redshirt freshman center. That center would go on to have a strong collegiate career and be selected in the sixth round of the 2005 NFL Draft. Nine years later, he has started over 100 straight games for the Houston Texans, and is now viewed as one the NFL's top centers.

Chris Myers.

If all those connections weren't enough, there is one more that Texans fans will know all too well. During the great Miami run of the late 1990s and early 2000s, the voice of the Hurricanes was...Marc Vandermeer.

Vandermeer (@TexansVoice on twitter), who has been the voice of the Texans since the franchise's inception, spent several years in Miami calling Hurricane athletics for their radio network.

So, while there will be Deep Steel Blue and Colts white on the field at NRG Stadium, there will be a lot of Miami green and orange in the heart of many. 

Rock and Roll indeed.

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#proCanes Pat O'Donnell & Devin Hester Meet For The First Time

Bears punter Pat O'Donnell has never crossed paths with Devin Hester.

O'Donnell is only a rookie after all. And even though he, like Hester, played his college ball at Miami, what he knows about the legendary return specialist comes mostly from watching highlights.

"He's an explosive player," O'Donnell said Wednesday. "He's great in the open field. So you need to take that away from him."

With that scouting report needing a bit more detail this week, that makes O'Donnell's special teams mentor, Robbie Gould, a pretty valuable resource. Gould spent eight seasons as Hester's teammate, gaining a profound appreciation for his explosiveness on game day and his meticulous preparation methods.

"He's the best returner to ever play," Gould said. "He doesn't just catch the ball and run really fast. He sets up his returns really well. He sees the return really well. And when he sees green space, he's going to go find it."

Yes, the Bears are well aware of the challenge that awaits them when they head to the Georgia Dome on Sunday to face Hester and the Falcons. From 2006 to '13, Hester was a keg full of dynamite as a returner for the Bears, delivering 19 regular-season return touchdowns.

Three weeks ago, he recorded his NFL-record 20th return score, taking a Buccaneers punt 62 yards to the end zone.

So the Bears have decisions to make this week on how to handle Hester — whether to kick to him, where to kick to him, how to align their coverages.

Special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis knows the importance of homework in a week like this. But when asked if the challenge of facing the greatest returner in league history is fun for him, DeCamillis leaned back and laughed.

"Yeah, this is a blast, man," he said with obvious sarcasm. "I'm having a blast right now."

The Bears are far from the first team to have Hester anxiety. In nine seasons, including Super Bowl XLI, Hester has delivered 21 return scores against 14 teams off of 16 kickers and punters.

The obvious armchair advice is to kick away from him, to send kickoffs through the end zone whenever possible and to angle punts toward the seats.

But Gould notes the dangers involved in trying only to drill kickoffs through the field of play, potentially creating line drives without great hang time that Hester might snag a yard or two from the end line, fueling his aggressiveness.

And on the suggestion of consistently firing punts out of bounds, DeCamillis notes the pitfalls there too.

"It's a lot easier (to say) to just hit the ball out of bounds than what people think," DeCamillis said. "You have to protect for the rush. … Otherwise, everybody would do it. I'm sure at Soldier Field, you probably saw it a lot where people hit 20-yard punts trying to do that."

Hester is no doubt itching for a chance to make his former organization pay. On a conference call Wednesday, he admitted he was bothered by the Bears' decision to move in a different direction last winter, allowing his contract to expire in March and never seriously considering a new deal for the 10 days he sat on the free-agent market.

"They didn't offer me no contract," Hester said. "They didn't call me, period. … I just had to take it the way it was."

Past business aside, Hester has a more pressing focus on finding a way to make an impact Sunday. He called O'Donnell a young player "trying to get a feel for the game right now." And his familiarity with Gould, he says, gives him an understanding of the kicker's strengths and shortcomings.

Asked specifically what Gould's weaknesses are, Hester paused.

"Robbie knows," he said with a chuckle.

Gould, however, wants it known he has no aversion to putting the ball in Hester's hands.

"Devin knows my tendencies," he said. "But I've got a good game plan ready for him. … It's not about shying away from Devin. Listen, he puts a lot of pressure on you as a kicker. But you talk about having opportunities to play against a great player, and you have to step up and play great."

Hester's most recent return score — that 62-yarder against Lovie Smith's Bucs in Week 3 — flashed reminders of his brilliance, his speed, savvy, vision and agility all exploding like a firework.

"We've got to get to him fast and make sure we wrap up," said Bears rookie Senorise Perry, a member of the punt coverage team. "He loves to do anything outrageous to get a touchdown. He's kind of a daredevil. He'll try anything."

Perry has been marveling at Hester highlights since he grew up a Miami Hurricanes fan with Hester as one of his favorite players. Asked if he would introduce himself Sunday, Perry smiled.

"I'm kind of nervous when I get around people like that," he said.

Hester can have that effect.

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Tommy Streeter gets Steelers jersey

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The black and gold jersey in receiver Tommy Streeter's locker stood out, especially since the Jacksonville Jaguars had played the Pittsburgh Steelers at EverBank Field the day before.

When a closer look revealed it was a No. 84 Steelers jersey, an explanation was needed.

Turned out to be pretty simple. Streeter, who has been on the Jaguars' practice squad since Sept. 29, is a childhood friend of Steelers receiver Antonio Brown. He asked Brown before the game if he could have his jersey and that's why it was autographed and hanging in Streeter's locker.

"I told him that it'd be cool to have everybody who I ever played with growing up," Streeter said. "Me, him, T.Y. Hilton were on the same [Pop Warner] team growing up. We play the Colts so I'll probably ask him for his, too."

Streeter and Brown grew up in Miami. The 26-year-old Brown played at Norland High School and starred at Central Michigan before being drafted by Pittsburgh in the sixth round in 2010. Streeter, who turned 25 on Tuesday, played at Northwestern High School and starred at Miami before leaving school after his junior season. He was a sixth-round pick by Baltimore in 2012 and has spent time with the Ravens, Buffalo, and Tampa Bay before signing with the Jaguars last month.

Though they've taken different paths to the NFL, they have remained close, Streeter said.

"Even when I was coming out for the combine and stuff he was the one teaching me to run routes and stuff like that," Streeter said. "Every time I go home I go by his family's house to say what's up, play with his little brothers and stuff like that. I just have always been involved with the family, always coming up and staying close-knit with them.

"It was cool to see him out there, all the success he's been having over the years and stuff. I just thought it would be cool to have that."

When asked about the jersey on Wednesday, Brown said that Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has banned the practice from now on after what happened Sunday. Jaguars running back Denard Robinson and Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell -- rivals in college at Michigan and Michigan State, respectively -- also exchanged jerseys, Brown said.

But he was a little surprised to know that Streeter had the jersey hanging in his locker on Monday.

"Oh, he does?" he said.

He said that Streeter may have in part wanted the jersey because it symbolizes how tough Brown's road to the NFL has been. He grew up in the rough Liberty City area of Miami and was homeless for a time as a teenager.

"I think I inspire a lot of guys from my neck of the woods from what I've been through and where I'm at," he said.

Streeter said he's hoping Jaguars fans don't get upset at him for asking for the jersey, or for having it hanging in his locker.

"It's just one of those things where you have a personal relationship someone outside of work," Streeter said. "It doesn't go beyond that. It was I mutually respect you, we come from the same place, I'm happy for you type thing."

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Antrel Rolle annoys Eagles with NFC East talk

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It sounds like Giants safety Antrel Rolle has made some enemies in Philadelphia.

On Monday, Rolle dismissed the notion that the defending champion Eagles are the team to beat in the NFC East this year, and said the division was weak last year.

He stood by those comments on Wednesday.

"I said what I said," Rolle said. "That’s no discredit to Philly. Obviously they were the best team in our division last year. They finished 10-6. That’s an awesome record for any team in the NFL. I said what I said. Division was weak, in my opinion. That doesn’t discredit Philly under any means. If they want to take it that way, then so be it. The game still has to be played come Sunday."

Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin sounded miffed by Rolle's comments.

"He talks too much," Maclin said Wednesday, according to colleague Phil Sheridan.

Maclin also talked about the photo a Giants fan tweeted Tuesday, showing Giants cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Prince Amukamara making "0" signs with their hands, standing on either side of the fan wearing an Eagles jersey which trumpets the fact that the Eagles have never won a Super Bowl.

"Anybody can live in the past, man," Maclin said. "We just have to go out there and take care of business, we'll be all right. We'll continue to go out there and win. I don't care how we win. We can win 2-0. We can win 50-49. As long as we go out and win."

The showdown between the 4-1 Eagles and 3-2 Giants is still four days away -- we'll see if the trash talk intensifies in the next few days.

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Devin Hester not pleased with Chicago breakup last year

Falcons wide receiver Devin Hester was not pleased with the way things ended in Chicago, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. When speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Hester showed his frustrations on how he played out the final year of his contract and how the Bears did not meet his asking price of $3 million per year.

"Chicago didn't offer me anything. They didn't offer me no contract," Hester said. "They didn't call me or nothing, They didn't call me, period, pretty much. I didn't hear from Chicago. They didn't say they were going to re-sign me. All I know is that they were going to go in a different direction."

Hester already spurned his former coach with a rushing touchdown and a punt return touchdown in Week 3. Now he'll get his first crack at his former team on Sunday at the Georgia Dome. Hester has 14 catches for 212 yards and a touchdown through five games.

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Nate Webster convicted of sex crimes wants early release

CINCINNATI -- Former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Nate Webster, who is serving a 10 year sentence for having sex with the underage daughter of a former assistant coach, is asking for an early release from prison.

Prosecutors said Webster had sex with the girl several times in 2009 when she was 15. Webster said the sex occurred when she was 16, Ohio's legal age of consent.

The victim said the encounters began when she agreed to babysit Webster's kids at his home. She said Webster threatened to hurt her and her family if she told anyone.

Before the trial, Webster turned down a plea deal that would have sent him to prison for four years.

Webster only has to serve 10 years of his 12-year prison sentence after the Ohio 1st District Court of Appeals ruled in 2013 that prosecutors didn't prove one of four counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.

Webster's wife, Jennifer, wrote to the Court of Common Pleas asking for her husband's judicial release.

She stated that Webster's incarceration has caused their family "tremendous hardship," and her husband accepts responsibility for his actions.

"Nathaniel... has seen the physical, emotion and financial ramification of his actions," wrote Jennifer.

He is expected to appear in court at 9 a.m.

Webster played for the Bengals in 2004-05. He also played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2000-03) and Denver Broncos (2006-08).

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Jon Beason working

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants middle linebacker Jon Beason was participating in practice Wednesday, during the portion open to the media.

Beason has missed the past three games with a foot/toe injury, but could return for the Giants' NFC East clash against the Eagles in Philadelphia on Sunday night.

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Sean Spence Still A Piece Of The Puzzle After Ryan Shazier Returns

Pittsburgh Steelers third-year linebacker Sean Spence made his second start on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Unlike the week before, however, he played every snap of this game, although the defense played less in total.

Spence had never played a regular season game before this year after missing his first two seasons due to injury, so I wasn’t surprised to see that Steelers substituted for him on one drive the week before.

Although it was somewhat surprising that they substituted him with Vince Williams, which prompted Lawrence Timmons to shift over from the buck to the mack linebacker spot for the seven or so snaps he was in the game.

Nevertheless, Spence has shown that he can play a full game in the NFL now, and hold his own while doing it.

And just as that comes, rookie starter Ryan Shazier is set to resume practicing today. And from the sounds of the comments, it seems as though he will automatically resume his spot in the starting lineup when he returns.

I’m not sure that Spence can really do anything to change the coaching staff’s minds if he wanted to stay in the starting lineup.

But Shazier is a rookie, and the Steelers were already subbing for him with Spence for a drive for two during the first two games of the season.

I expect that that will continue throughout most of the season, especially in light of this little detour that has caused him to miss two valuable weeks of practice time already, with perhaps more time missed on the horizon.

Moreover, Spence has already proven that he is an asset on defense. And allowing an intelligent, knowledgeable player such as him take a few series here and there in place of Shazier should only help the rookie learn.

Relying on rookie starters proved to be an issue last year when the Steelers had to rely on a pair of them for most of the season among their linebacking unit.
The ability to balance that out with a comparative veteran can help neutralize some of the hazards that come along with playing a rookie. The veteran player can point out tendencies that he noticed while in the game, for example.

The bottom line is that, even if Shazier does manage to return this week, and is inserted right back into the starting lineup, I certainly don’t believe that we have seen the last of Spence until the next injury. It seems that he will likely be a part of a rare inside linebacker rotation for the Steelers for the foreseeable future.

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Vince Wilfork leading pack of young defensive linemen

FOXBORO -- Inside the Patriots locker room, Vince Wilfork is surrounded by youth. The stalls close by are inhabited by players who are eight-to-10 years younger than the 32-year-old in his 11th pro season. In the down moments when he holds court, guys like Chris Jones (24 years old), Zach Moore (24) and Dominique Easley (22) hang on every word.

It's easy to see why. Not only does Wilfork's resume speak volumes, but the work he's put in this year -- about a year removed from a season-ending Achilles tear -- has been impressive.

After playing in 50 of 55 snaps in Sunday night's win over the Bengals, he's played 246 plays this season, about 75 percent of the team's overall defensive snaps. He has 16 tackles, four quarterback hurries, and he made a game-sealing pick in Week 3 against the Raiders. 

Patriots coach Bill Belichick recognized Wilfork on Wednesday morning, not only for the work he's done on the field coming off of an injury, but also for the time he's put in with his young teammates off of it.

"Vince is always good with that," Belichick said. "I think all the guys are: Chandler [Jones, Jerod [Mayo], [Dont'a Hightower], Rob [Ninkovich]. I think they work well together as a front seven because it's all tied together.

"And the defensive linemen, they support each other, they try to help each other. The guys that have more experience, working with some of the other guys. In the end, everybody's gotta do their job. Obviously Vince has had a big challenge this year himself personally, forget about anybody else. That's the most important thing is for him to handle that. But at the same time, he always gives us great leadership."

With Sealver Siliga on short-term injured reserve, Wilfork will continue to attract attention as the team's space-eater in the middle of the field. But Wilfork is helping break in another young defensive tackle who could provide him some help on the interior. 

The Patriots signed Casey Walker off of the Panthers practice squad when Siliga was placed on IR, and almost immediately Walker found Wilfork to be a willing mentor. As Walker was still feeling his way around his new environment, it was Wilfork who took him aside to go over plays in the Patriots playbook.
The 24-year-old, 6-foot-1, 325-pounder made his presence felt for the first time on Sunday night as he made a tackle for a loss and got one pressure on Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton.

"Casey's worked hard," Belichick said. "He's been here and tried to learn what to do. Spends a lot of time with [defensive line coach] Brendan [Daly] and some of our veteran players. Vince has spent a lot of time with him as well. He's working at it. We'll just hopefully build on last week."

With Wilfork showing him the way, Walker's guaranteed to be getting the right advice.

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Raiders claim Ray-Ray Armstrong

As a rookie in 2013, Rams linebacker Ray Ray Armstrong committed nine penalties on special teams but kept his job in St. Louis into this season.

He doesn’t have it any longer. Rams coach Jeff Fisher announced Monday that Armstrong was released after Sunday’s game, which saw him pick up an unnecessary roughness flag for shoving Eagles punt returner Darren Sproles at the end of a return in last Sunday’s 34-28 loss. While Fisher said that the penalty wasn’t the only reason for Armstrong’s departure, he had expressed displeasure with stupid special teams penalties on Sunday and the move should serve as notice to others even if Armstrong wasn’t a “scapegoat.”

“Again, it’s the body of work,” Fisher said, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “It had been addressed with him numerous times, and that penalty ultimately becomes my fault because when a guy’s making mistakes over and over, and he’s allowed to play, it becomes my fault. So we’re gonna get someone else in there that understands things a little differently. And it’s not the [result of the] game. This was gonna happen win or lose. This is not a scapegoat. You guys know me, I’m not about that. But we need to make a change and go a different direction.”

Fisher said that the team has been called for 16 pre-snap and post-play penalties, which are the kinds of things that can come back to haunt a team that’s lost their last two games by a total of nine points. And also the kinds of things that can help put you out of work.

Ray-Ray is a Raider.

Cut by the Rams after his latest avoidable penalty (unnecessary roughness for shoving Eagles punt returner Darren Sproles after the play), Ray-Ray Armstrong has landed with the Raiders via waivers.

Undrafted by the Rams in 2013, he made the roster, appeared in 16 games last year, and four this year before being waived.

To create a space on the roster, the Raiders placed linebacker Kaluka Maiava on injured reserve.

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Cowboys add LaRon Byrd to practice squad

LaronByrd 2
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys made two practice-squad moves Tuesday, re-signing linebacker Keith Smith and adding wide receiver LaRon Byrd.

To make room for Byrd, the Cowboys released Tim Benford.

Smith was cut on Monday when the Cowboys added safety Jakar Hamilton to 53-man roster after his roster exemption expired. With injuries to Rolando McClain (groin) and Bruce Carter (quadriceps), it is possible Smith will be re-signed to the active roster by the end of the week.

Byrd was cut last week by the Cleveland Browns. He appeared in one game but did not have a catch. The Browns claimed Byrd off waivers after he caught seven passes for 103 yards and a touchdown in the preseason for the Cowboys.

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Pat O'Donnell's Stock Rising

Pat O'Donnell, P: Toss out O'Donnell's pedestrian 32.0 net average at Bank of America Stadium. That number is skewed because of the coverage miscues that led to Carolina's 79-yard punt return touchdown. O'Donnell crushed the ball in Week 5. His four punts averaged 52.3 yards with a long of 63 yards. He pinned the Panthers inside the 20-yard line on two of his four attempts. Here's the special teams silver lining: Pat O'Donnell.

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How Did Devin Hester Decide On #17 With the Falcons?

One of the many great sights on game days is watching countless Falcons fans fill the Georgia Dome and away stadiums, wearing the jersey of their favorite player, which got us to wondering if the players have a specific reason why they're wearing the number that is on the front and back of their jersey. Falcons WR Devin Hester's wears No. 17, thanks to a tight family bond and some math.

The Atlanta Falcons signed Devin Hester as a free agent on March 20, 2014 and once the season began, it didn't take long before his number was called on offense; he scored in the team's second preseason game, a 12-yard TD reception in the second quarter against the Houston Texans. The TD was just a brief sign of things to come in the regular season.

So far in 2014, Hester has covered a lot of ground, via 14 catches for 212 yards and a touchdown, two carries for 23 yards and another TD and the NFL record-setting highlight, his 20th-career non-offensive score, a 62-yard punt return in Week 3 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Don't forget, Hester also recorded a tackle, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in that historic Week 3 game against the Bucs. Truly, he has been all over the field, proudly wearing No. 17, a jersey number with significance.

"I added my birthday and subtracted from my wife’s birthday and my youngest one’s birthday" Hester said about choosing his jersey number. 

He wore jersey No. 23 with the Chicago Bears (2006-13), as well as in high school, where he starred for Suncoast High (Riviera Beach, Fla.), rushing for 1,014 yards and 12 TDs on 94 carries, while gaining 1,028 yards on 38 catches with nine TDs in addition to throwing for five TDs and 225 yards in his senior season.

Because Hester joined the Bears as a cornerback, he was allowed to wear the No. 23 even after switching to the wide receiver position. Once he joined the Falcons, however, he wasn't allowed to make an offer to cornerback Robert Alford for the number per NFL rules pertaining to which positions can wear which numbers.

Following high school, Hester moved on to thrive with the Hurricanes at the University of Miami, wearing jersey No. 4, playing offense, defense and special teams from 2003-05, starting games at cornerback, nickelback, running back and fullback, while seeing time at wide receiver and returning punts (four touchdowns) and kickoffs (two touchdowns).

Of all the jersey numbers Hester has worn, the one he likes best is whichever one his many fans are wearing.

"It’s a big compliment," Hester said. "I grew up wearing NFL jerseys. You wear whoever your favorite player is; you want to wear their jersey. It means a lot to know I have fans our there, supporting me by wearing my jersey."

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Vince Wilfork Tweeted an AWESOME Throwback Thursday Picture on Tuesday

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Reggie Wayne gets the day off

The Colts gave wideout Reggie Wayne the day off to rest as Indy prepared for Thursday's game at Houston, according to the team's website. Wayne, 35, has 30 catches for 384 yards and a touchdown in five games.

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Frank Gore continues climb up rushing leaderboard

The San Francisco 49ers put together another strong ground performance on Sunday, defeating the Kansas City Chiefs thanks in large part to Frank Gore's 107 yard performance. This game marked Gore's 37th 100-yard performance, and moved him up to 10,332 career yards. He moved past Ottis Anderson into 26th place on the all time rushing list. Next up in Gore's sights are No. 25 Eddie George (10,441) and No. 24 Tiki Barber (10,449). 118 yards against the Rams would move Gore past both backs.

What is particularly interesting this season is that Gore is currently ranked fifth in the NFL in rushing, with 365 yards. Alfred Morris could have moved past him, but a poor effort against the Seattle Seahawks leaves him at No. 6. Rashad Jennings is currently fourth with 396 yards, and he will miss at least a couple games with an MCL sprain. Gore has some solid career numbers against the St. Louis Rams, averaging 4.43 yards per carry. That is just below his career 4.56 yards per carry.

The 49ers are now 13-0 under Jim Harbaugh in games in which Frank Gore surpasses 100 yards. They can win when he doesn't surpass 100 yards, but generally speaking they are in a great position when Gore is slicing and dicing defenses. Aside from Week 3's 6 carry, 10 yard performance, Gore has surpassed 4.0 yards per carry in each game. His low was 4.1 in the opener, but since he averaged 4.8 in Week 2, 5.0 in Week 4 and 5.9 in Week 5. Gore averaged 4.1 yards per carry last season, but has bounced back to 4.7 this year.

Gore spoke briefly with the media after the game, joining Colin Kaepernick at the interview podium. He had a great line when asked about the team's second half domination on the ground. The 49ers had 13 carries for 65 yards in the first half, and then 27 carries for 106 yards in the second half. Gore had 70 of those second half yards.

Matt Barrows made a good point in his film review. After an 8-yard run put Gore over 100 yards, he apparently got up kind of slow. The 49ers brought in Carlos Hyde for the next two runs, before Kap ran and threw an incomplete pass to end that final "full" drive (kneel-downs after that). Hyde finished with a solid 43 yards on 10 carries, marking his best performance since 50 yards in Week 1. After not giving him much work in Weeks 2 and 3 (7 total carries), the team has given him ten carries in each of the last two games.

The 49ers can potentially start working Marcus Lattimore into the mix as well next week, but for now, they are in good shape with their two-headed running back monster. There is no word on how quickly Lattimore will be brought back into the mix this season, but it creates some intriguing possibilities for an already impressive 49ers ground game.

Frank, maybe you can answer this? Big difference then last week, some unquestionable and some questionable offensive penalties with hand placement in some blocks and what not. Anything significant that changed this week? Anything you guys practiced this week, as far as techniques with that, to avoid those?
Gore: "No, we didn't, we didn't."

Frank, what does it mean to you to be able to dominate a second half on the ground like that? What does it say about this team?
Gore: "We some dogs. Our o-line, they played great. We have to give it up to them. Like I said, 49er football, do whatever it takes. We knew that we had to eat up the clock and we did. Me and Carlos did a great job on the ground, and like I said earlier, Kap did a great job in the air. So, we just played great team ball."

Frank, obviously, if you guys had the answer you'd fix it, but can you put your finger on anything yet as far as why you guys slow down inside the red zone?
Gore: "I can't answer that. We have to get better. Watch the tape and clean up whatever it is. We just have to get better."

You're a Miami guy, but how hot was it out there?
Gore: "Oh man, it was hot, but I like it like that though. I like it like that."

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Brotherly love as Hester preps for Bears

Atlanta Falcons receiver/return specialist Devin Hester, who was a second-round draft pick of Chicago in 2006, is looking forward to facing his former team Sunday when the Bears visit the Georgia Dome.

"It's going to be like when you grow up with your brother and he's in the 12th grade and you're in the 11th grade but for some reason, you’re going to opposite schools," Hester said. "It's like he got sent to a private school and I went to a regular school, and now we end up playing each other."

An unhappy Hester had a mutual parting with the Bears, and he has since been rejuvenated while excelling at receiver and in the return game for the Falcons.

Bears cornerback Tim Jennings is one of the "brothers" Hester is looking forward to seeing. And Jennings certainly is looking forward to facing Hester.

"Hell yeah I miss D, man," Jennings said Tuesday. "I'm out here mad every week because I see how happy he is and all the success he's having. I'm happy for him, but he's supposed to be doing that with us."

The Bears will have a tough enough time contending with Julio Jones and Roddy White, but Jennings talked about the key to keeping Hester from impacting the game on offense.

"We all knew he was capable as a receiver, we just didn't know how he was going to do it," Jennings said. "Atlanta is putting him in great situations, giving him opportunities to get the ball and letting him do what he does after getting the ball in his hands.

"The best thing you can do is not allow him to have the ball. That's easier said than done. We know the danger that he is once he gets the ball in his hands. The only way I can tell you to stop him is to not let him get started."

Hester, who asked not to play receiver for the Bears last season, has 14 catches for 212 yards and a 36-yard touchdown for the Falcons through five games. He's also scored on a 20-yard reverse and a 62-yard punt return.

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Andre Johnson misses practice but is expected to play Thursday

Texans receiver Andre Johnson (ankle) missed practice Tuesday in advance of Thursday's game against the Colts. Houston coach Bill O'Brien predicted Johnson will suit up against Indy, reports the Houston Chronicle.

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Vinny Testaverde to be enshrined in college hall

ATLANTA (AP) — It's been nearly 20 years, and Tommie Frazier is still trading jabs with Danny Wuerffel.

The former quarterbacks at Nebraska and Florida have plenty of goodwill for each other, too, as they're enshrined Tuesday night in the College Football Hall of Fame.

Frazier and Wuerffel joined 10 former players and two coaches who make up last year's hall of fame class.

Frazier led Nebraska to consecutive unbeaten national title seasons in 1994-95. He finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting as a senior.

Wuerffel won the 1996 Heisman and led the Gators to a national championship that season. The year before, Frazier led Nebraska to a lopsided victory over Florida in the title game matchup at the Fiesta Bowl.

"You play against some of these guys, or you have established friendships, and when it comes to university against university," Frazier said, "you have so much pride for your school."

Wuerffel said the "rivalry" with Frazier goes back to their prep days in the Sunshine State. He played at Fort Walton (Fla.) High. Frazier went to Manatee High in Bradenton.

For Wuerffel, who lives a few miles from downtown Atlanta and is executive director of a ministry that helps revitalize impoverished urban neighborhoods, the back-and-forth banter is constant.

He's a Gator living in Georgia Bulldog country, and is a resident of a city that likes to bill itself as the new heart of college football.

The Hall of Fame relocated from South Bend, Indiana, and opened near Centennial Olympic Park in August. Just a couple blocks away, the Georgia Dome annually hosts the Southeastern Conference championship game, the Peach Bowl and an annual early season game between high profile programs.

Atlanta also is bidding to host the 2018 national title game at the Falcons' new billion-dollar stadium, which is currently under construction.

"Getting enshrined not only in the Hall, but the fact that it's in this community, is one of those things that transcends the sport," Wuerffel said. "People may hate Florida and not like (coach Steve) Spurrier or me, but they're going to honor you for what you did and brought to college football. That's cool."

The 2013 class includes Heisman winners Vinny Testaverde and Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne. Testaverde was not scheduled to attend the enshrinement ceremony.

Tailback Ted Brown of North Carolina State, offensive tackle Orlando Pace of Ohio State, defensive end Tedy Bruschi of Arizona, Texas defensive back Jerry Gray, Oklahoma linebacker Rod Shoate, Michigan State linebacker Percy Snow, Baylor quarterback Don Trull and Kentucky's Steve Meilinger, who played offense and defense under coach Bear Bryant, are also getting enshrined.

The two coaches are Bill McCartney of Colorado and Wayne Hardin of Navy and Temple.

Dayne, drafted 11th overall by the New York Giants in 2000, retired from the NFL after playing in 2007 with Houston. He works for Wisconsin's alumni association and returned to school a year and a half ago to complete his degree.

"It's pretty easy," Dayne said. "It's not hard. I thought it might be difficult at first, but it wasn't really hard."

Though he's taking classes with kids a generation younger, Dayne gets the occasional autograph request. But the NCAA's career-leading rusher has certain stipulations.

"Only at the end of the year or at Christmas time or something like that," Dayne said.

Brown, who still holds Atlantic Coast Conference records for yards rushing and touchdowns, lives in Minnesota after getting drafted in the first round of 1979 and playing eight seasons for the Vikings.

Working as a juvenile probation officer in St. Paul, Brown was delighted to be inducted with 2013 class — even if the honor came several years, or decades, later than he thought it would.

"I don't think my stats changed that much over the years, but sometimes patience is a virtue," Brown said with a smile. "You have to wait your turn. It's better to be inducted at some point than never to be inducted at all."

The wait was also a long one for Frazier, who lives in Omaha, Nebraska, and works as an entrepreneur and a fundraiser.

"All the credit goes to my teammates and coaches," Frazier said. "It says that I played the game the right way and was able to do things to land myself in the Hall of Fame. This class represents way less than 1 percent of the guys who ever played the game. It's pretty special."

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Santana Moss: Sherman Has Something ‘Deep Down Inside’ He Knows He’s Unsure About

WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Richard Sherman was quick to trash-talk after the Seahawks dispensed of the Redskins 27-17 on Monday Night Football, declaring that Washington receiver Pierre Garcon, who pulled Sherman’s hair in the game, “doesn’t matter in this league.”

Offered the opportunity to clarify his words, Sherman said, “I mean exactly what I said.”

Garcon took, I guess between the two, what would be considered the high road in his response to Sherman.

But Garcon’s teammate, Santana Moss, who’s found comfort relaying messages to fellow players through the media — like when he called Sherman “mouthy” — in the weeks in which he’s been inactive (the entire season, to this point), took things one step further Tuesday afternoon.

Speaking in his weekly radio appearance on 106.7 The Fan’s “Chad Dukes vs. The World,” Moss opened, “What more can you say to this guy? I mean you never win with him. So at the end of the day, Pierre did the right thing. Just leave it alone.”

But Moss, after being pressed again and again, wouldn’t leave it alone.

“He’s one of those guys that when things are going well, he wants to speak,” he said. “Things ain’t going so well, do you hear anything from him?”

“No,” Dukes replied.

“So there you go. I mean he shows that,” Moss said. “If he knows a lot about himself, he would shut his mouth and just play the game. He’s pretty good. You give him that credit. But at the end of the day, if you don’t have nothing to say when it’s not going so well, then don’t say nothing when it’s going well. That’s how I look at it.”

Moss would go on to describe the form of trash-talk that Sherman prefers as distinctly different from the kind Moss and his Miami teammates utilized in college, with Sherman’s style not being one rooted in self-confidence. “We wasn’t pointing guys out and saying that ‘he suck.’ We was just confident about ourselves and went out there and said we’re gonna kick whoever, and we went out and did it.”

“[Sherman] don’t really trash talk,” Moss clarified. “He hides who he is by trying to be a coward and get you out your game. That’s the difference between trash-talking. He knows he can get beat. He knows that he’s not as good as he portrays himself to be. He knows he’s on one of the best defenses. That’s why he’s hidden over there and he’s doing the things he’s doing. At the end of the day, has he shown up? Yes, he did. But he’s not a guy that’s just gonna sit up there and line up and play the game and shut his mouth; he wants to get you out your game so he can have an edge. And that’s the difference between trash-talking and being confident and just knowing that you’re a bad mother, than just somebody who knows that he fears that guy that he lines up against.”

Asked to clarify what he meant, specifically, when he said Sherman’s hiding who he is, Moss returned, “The guy can play the game, we know that. But when you hear a guy come out his mouth like that all the time, you know it’s something deep down inside that he knows that he’s not sure about.”

“If you’re sure, you’re gonna shut your mouth,” he said. “If you sure, you’re gonna shut your mouth. You’re not gonna go out there with nothing to say. Cause I’m [gonna] line up every time just knowing that at the end of the day, I’m gonna have x amount of times to beat you. Hopefully I come out on top. If I don’t, you had the better day. But you have guys like him — and it’s not just him, there’s a lotta guys [who do it] — but he’s just one of those guys that you always hear him blabbing off about this particular individual that he faced that day, just because that guy may not have the numbers that night, so he feel like he did a good job.”

To Moss’s last point, Garcon caught 2 passes for 23 yards in Monday’s Redskins-Seahawks game. Sherman had one pass defensed.

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Ryan Braun given go-ahead to swing a bat

Ryan Braun should know soon if he is finally able to swing a bat properly again.

The Brewers’ rightfielder returned Monday for a follow-up visit with physician Vernon Williams, who performed a cryotherapy procedure on Braun’s ailing right thumb last Thursday at the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic in Los Angeles.

Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash said Braun was given the go-ahead to swing a bat by Williams but didn't think he would try to hit until later in the week.

Braun and the Brewers hope the procedure, in which subzero temperatures were introduced via needle into a damaged nerve at the base of his right thumb, will allow him to move past an issue that has bothered him since early in the 2013 season. When Braun does swing a bat again, he expects to be able to gauge if his pain tolerance has improved to any significant extent.

Braun’s production decreased considerably after the thumb issue prevented him from gripping a bat properly with his top hand. Combined with the season-ending suspension he received for his PED involvement with the Biogenesis clinic, Braun was limited to 61 games of action last year, batting .298 with nine home runs and 38 RBI.

The thumb continued to be a problem in 2014 and worsened as the season progressed. After batting .298 with 11 home runs and 52 RBI over 73 games before the break, Braun slipped to .226 with eight homers and 29 RBI in 62 games in the second half. Over the final month, when the Brewers fell out of the playoff race in a horrible collapse, Braun batted .210 with one homer, five RBI and .603 OPS.

Braun finished with a .266 batting average, 19 home runs and 81 RBI. His .324 on-base percentage and .453 slugging percentage were far below his previous norms.

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Travis Benjamin atones for return issues

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin could have let a mishandled punt and near turnover in the third quarter take him completely out of his game, but it was his persistence that led to Sunday's 29-28 win over the Tennessee Titans at L.P. Field.

Benjamin caught two fourth-quarter touchdowns, and heL.P.ed the Browns seal the largest comeback victory not only in franchise history, but also the biggest ever by a road team in the NFL.

"I grabbed him when he came off after the fumbled punt, and just said to him, 'Hang in there. Your job when you have a chance to make a play is to make a play,'" Browns coach Mike Pettine said.

"It's obvious he lacks confidence in the punt return game, but for a guy, that's just a microcosm of the team. Here's a guy that had something bad happen to him, and he didn't go in the tank. He bounced back and made two plays, including the game winner."

On first-and-10 from Tennessee's 17-yard line, quarterback Brian Hoyer dropped back deep into the backfield and avoided a rush from a Titans defender to find Benjamin wide open on the slant route in the middle of the end zone for the score.

"That was a play where our up-tempo offense gets their defense tired," Hoyer said. "Usually, when you come out there and it's that coverage, the defensive end is right up the field and you have to throw it quick, but he was so tired, I think. He kind of just shuffled along with me. I was able to pull up and I saw Travis just spring open in the end zone. I thought I overthrew him on that one too."

With 1:09 remaining in regulation, it was another Hoyer to Benjamin connection that erased an 18-point halftime deficit. Hoyer's six-yard touchdown pass to Benjamin tied the game at 28 all, and Billy Cundiff's extra point gave the Browns the one-point margin needed for victory.

Hoyer found Benjamin in the back of the end zone, similar to the manner in which he delivered the game-tying touchdown to the Browns' quick-footed wide receiver at the Pittsburgh Steelers in the regular-season opener, on an in-and-out drag route along the back line of the end zone.

"On a play like that, we figured they were either going to all-out blitz us or three-man rush us," Hoyer said. "Right away, I could tell it was a three-man rush. Usually, with that, you're never going to hit a play on schedule. It was kind of a scramble drill without the scrambling.

"It's something we work on throughout the week, especially in the red zone, and Trav made a great move, in and out, kind of similar to Pittsburgh when he scored and I thought I overthrew him when I first threw it. But he got up, grabbed it, got his feet down and made a great play."

Hoyer completed four passes to Benjamin for 48 yards and the two touchdowns, but according to the veteran signal-caller, it was at his and Benjamin's worst that allowed them to build a chemistry that has come through on the field.

"My relationship with Trav goes back to when we were both rehabbing our ACLs," Hoyer said. "I love the guy to death because he's quiet, but he's one of the guys that texted me over the bye week and said, 'Hey man. We're better than this. I'm sitting here watching these guys and we can win in this league.'

"To see a guy who doesn't talk all the time but sends you a text message like that, it shows how much it means to him. I have a lot of faith in him, and our relationship grew as we rehabbed together."

Running back Ben Tate added, "The way he played today at the end, him making those plays, and Trav coming back from making a mistake earlier, getting two touchdowns and helping us win this game, that's big. That shows resilience. That's what you need when you're trying to take the next step."

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Bruce Arians calls hit on Calais Campbell ‘the dirtiest play I’ve ever seen’

Arizona Cardinals Coach Bruce Arians was livid over a chop block that will sideline defensive end Calais Campbell for about a month, calling it the “dirtiest play I’ve ever seen in the National Football League.”

Campbell hurt his medial collateral ligament when tight end Julius Thomas went low in the third quarter of the Cardinals’ 41-20 loss to the Broncos in Denver. Campbell may have partially torn the ligament, Arians said (via USA Today).

“I’ve been coaching for 37 years and it’s the dirtiest play I’ve ever seen in the National Football League,” Arians said. “It was a flat chop block that put him out of the game. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Ryan Clady was flagged on the play, which erased a 77-yard touchdown pass from Peyton Manning to Demaryius Thomas. After the game, Thomas sought out one of the Cardinals players to send an apology to Campbell and told reporters the play was the result of miscommunication with Clady on who was responsible for blocking Campbell. “I guarantee that being dirty is not a part of my game,” Thomas said, “and to intentionally hurt somebody is not something I would ever do.”

Mike Pereira, the Fox Sports commentator who formerly headed up officiating for the NFL, said it was illegal and explained further to’s Peter King.
“It’s called a ‘lure block,’ ” Pereira said. “Chop blocks are usually the high-low combination blocks, except for this one exception. If an offensive player assumes a pass-blocking posture across from a defensive player, the defensive player is going to assume he’s pass-blocking him. Then it’s illegal for another blocker to hit him low. It’s illegal, and probably will result in a big fine, I would think.”

Pereira refers to Rule 12, Section 2, Article 3 in the NFL’s Digest of Rules. The rule that applies here says: “… Chop Blocks are illegal, including in the following situations: A1 [offensive player one] chops a defensive player while A2 [offensive player two] confronts the defensive player in a pass-blocking posture but is not physically engaged with the defensive player (a lure).’’

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Sean Spence: 'There is a lot of talent in this league'

The Steelers will have a tough task on their hands this week, not only against an AFC North team on the road, but a team in the Cleveland Browns that have shown their ability to come from behind.

“This is the NFL and there is a lot of talent in this league,” said linebacker Sean Spence. “Any given Sunday you can be beat from a comeback or not playing well. We have to make sure we go in there focused and do the job.”

In week one at Heinz Field the Browns scored 24 points to tie the Steelers at 27-27. A last second Shaun Suisham field goal secured a Steelers 30-27 win. This past week the Browns came out on top in their comeback bid, coming back from a 25-point deficit to defeat Tennessee 29-28.

“I saw the highlights,” said receiver Lance Moore. “That was awesome for them and a credit to their heart and never giving up. They’re a good team. We have our work cut out for us this week as we did in week one. We will definitely make sure that we study them well and put the best plan together for them and hopefully go out there and take care of business.”

Moore said he sees the Browns as a more confident group now than they were at the start of the season, and that can be dangerous.

“They have that confidence that they can go in places and win games,” said Moore. “They have a lot of really good players over there. They definitely show confidence in their quarterback. Their receivers are stepping up and making plays for them. They have a tough defense. I am sure they will be just as confident this week and they probably feel like they let one get away in week one. We have our work cut out for us.”

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Vilma, Taylor headline latest University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame class

Ten former Hurricanes will be inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame's Class of 2015, the school announced Monday.

Six -- Rusty Medearis (1990-92, '94), Winston Moss (1983-86), Kevin Patrick (1990-93), Sean Taylor (2001-03), Jonathan Vilma (2000-03) and Rob Chudzinsk (1986-90) -- played for the football program. Chudzinski also coached from 1996-03.

Medearis was a Freshman All-American in 1990 and a defensive lineman for the 1991 national title team. He recorded 22 sacks in his first two seasons before sustaining an injury in 1992 that kept him out until 1994.

Moss, currently the associate head coach of the Green Bay Packers, was on the 1983 national championship squad. Prior to a 10-year NFL career, he finished fourth in total tackles and second in solo tackles and tackles for a loss in 1986 despite missing two games.

A First-Team All-American in 1993, Patrick was also named Big East Defensive Player of the Year as a lineman. In his career, he recorded 23 sacks -- fifth in program history. Patrick serves as the defensive line coach at the University of North Texas.

Taylor was a consensus First-Team All-American and the Big East Defensive Player of the Year in 2003 as well as a finalist for the Thorpe Award given to the nation's top safety. Taylor, who will be honored posthumously, ranks second in career picks returned for a score (three), second in return yards (306) and fifth in total interceptions (14). He was on the 2001 national championship team.

Vilma, an All-American in 2003, manned the middle linebacker position for two straight national title games. He led the Hurricanes in total tackles from 2001-03. His 377 tackles rank seventh in program history. Vilma, a three-time Pro Bowler, was a two-time Academic All-American and three-time All-Big East Academic Team in college.

Chudzinski began as the tight ends coach in 1996 and worked his way up to offensive coordinator by 2001. He developed All-American tight ends Bubba Franks, Jeremy Shockey and Kellen Winslow Jr. His schemes set UM records for most points (527), total yards (6,074) and rushing touchdowns (33) during the 2001 campaign. As a player, he won a pair of titles in 1987 and 1989.

Other athletes in the Class of 2015 include Lauryn Williams, who has medaled in both the winter and summer Olympics. Pitcher Alex Fernandez, a member of the Florida Marlins' 1997 World Series team, was an All-American as a freshman. Women's basketball player Kym Hope still ranks in the top 10 for career scoring, free-throw percentage, field-goal percentage, rebounds and blocks. Diver Chris Mantilla, an 11-time All-American, captured the 3-meter title at the 1996 NCAA Championships.

This year's class will be introduced at halftime of Saturday's Cincinnati-Miami football game. Inductees will be honored at the 47th Annual Induction Banquet in April 2015.

"This is an impressive class that reflects the highest level of athletic talent representative of The U," K.C. Jones, president of the UMSHoF and member of the 2008 class, said in a statement. "We look forward to introducing the class at the upcoming Cincinnati game and hosting our induction ceremony at the banquet in the spring."

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Andre Johnson misses Monday walkthrough

Texans receiver Andre Johnson (ankle) did not participate in Monday's walkthrough ahead of Thursday's game against the Colts. He has 27 catches for 320 yards and no touchdowns this season.

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Greg Olsen ripens with age

CHARLOTTE – Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula believes the eight-year NFL veteran Greg Olsen is “getting better” with each passing season.
It’s hard to argue with the numbers.

Olsen is in the midst of a career year for the Panthers and is turning into the focal point of their passing game.

He’s on pace to post career highs in receptions, yards receiving and touchdowns. His 27 receptions are tops on the team and third-most among NFL tight ends, and he has 326 yards and four TDs through five games.

“He’s so consistent,” quarterback Cam Newton said.

On Sunday, Olsen caught two touchdown passes from Newton, including the go-ahead score with 2:18 left in the game helping the Panthers overcome a 14-point first-half deficit and beat his former team, the Chicago Bears, 31-24.

“Greg didn’t do anything that he hasn’t been doing for us all season,” Newton said.

Or in the previous three seasons.

Olsen led the Panthers with 73 receptions last year after catching 69 and 45 his two previous seasons in Carolina. This year he’s on pace to catch 86 passes for 1,043 yards and 12 touchdowns.

He has never garnered the same attention as Jimmy Graham in New Orleans or Rob Gronkowski in New England, partly because his numbers aren’t as gaudy. But that isn’t something the son of a football coach spends a lot of time worrying about.

“My overall goal is every week and every game is for my teammates to see what I do to prepare and how hard I play and try to do the right things,” Olsen said. “I don’t do everything great, I don’t do everything perfect but I feel like guys can rely on me. If guys look at me and say we want him on our side then that’s good enough for me.

“I’m not so much worried about the touchdown dances and the celebrations and drawing all the attention. I try to do my job and that’s all I’m worried about.”
It’s pretty clear the Panthers are quite content with their 6-foot-5, 250-pound tight end.

Coach Ron Rivera said Olsen has been exactly what the Panthers expected when they acquired him in 2011 from the Chicago Bears.

He’s a dynamic pass-catching tight end,” Rivera said. “He plays the role that you’re looking for as the guy that can attack the middle of a team’s defense. His ability to get open and find spaces and make those tough catches is important.”

Olsen has become a popular figure in the Carolinas, and not just because of his production on the field.

He’s one of the most active members of the team in the community, using his status as an elite athlete to help raise money for several charities through his foundation, including the Levine Children’s Hospital.

That’s a cause particularly near to his heart.

Olsen’s 2-year-old son T.J. recently underwent a third open-heart surgery to repair an underdeveloped left ventricle and aorta as part of a rare disorder known as hypo-plastic left heart syndrome.

Olsen has done a remarkable job of balancing his professional career with his responsibilities at home.

Before one practice last month Olsen got a phone call during warmups and hurriedly left the field to drive to the hospital to be with his wife Kara after T.J. had a health scare.

All is fine now, and Olsen’s focus is back on football.

Shula, for one, isn’t surprised Olsen’s numbers are on the rise.

He called the 29-year-old Olsen one of the team’s hardest workers in the offseason and said he’s playing even more physical than in previous seasons.

He pointed to Olsen running over a Bears defender on Sunday on a first down catch as an example.

“I didn’t see that as much the first two years,” Shula said. “He just gets better.”

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Devin Hester not out for revenge against Bears

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons wide receiver Devin Hester is dreading facing his former team the Chicago Bears at 4:25 pl.m. Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

“Not especially,” said Hester when asked if he was looking forward to playing the Bears on Monday. “It’s going to feel like I’m playing against my brothers. Anybody that has brothers and have played against them in basketball or football, it’s the same type of thing.”

Before signing with the Falcons as a free agent in March, Hester played the eight previous season in the NFL with the Bears.

Hester has caught 14 passes for 212 yards and one touchdown. He also returned a punt for a touchdown against Tampa Bay to set the league mark for most returns for touchdowns with 20.

The Falcons and Hester appear to be taking a different tact approaching this game than Baltimore’s Steve Smith took when getting ready to play his old team, the Carolina Panthers.

Steven Smith was open and frank about wanting to prove to the Panthers that he could still play.

“It’s not really a big deal,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “Devin looks forward to playing every game. He’s very passionate about playing football… .I don’t think that we’ll have to calm him down. He’s a very level headed player and he makes plays. I think he’ll do that again on Sunday.”

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Jon Beason held out against Atlanta Falcons to avoid setbacks

Defensive captain and middle linebacker Jon Beason missed a third straight game on Sunday. Tom Coughlin said the decision to sit him against the Falcons was based on the foot and toe injury "and the projection . . . as to how far he could go into the game and where he would be if he were to put another solid week in front of him without any kind of setbacks."

In other words, it was better to save him for the two division games than risk him against Atlanta. Oh, and the Giants are 3-0 without him which may happen to further complicate matters.

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Antrel Rolle: Defending champion Eagles not the NFC East favorites, division was 'weak' last year

EAST RUTHERFORD -- The Philadelphia Eagles are 4-1 and the defending NFC East champions. Giants safety Antrel Rolle doesn't seem to care.

In his eyes, the Eagles are on par with the Giants, Cowboys and Redskins. Despite their current record or past accomplishment, they're not the NFC East favorites. They were the beneficiary of a down year in the division.

"No," Rolle answered when asked if the Eagles were the team to beat in the division. "We just try to go out and play. We're just trying to make sure that we come out on top of our division this year.

"Last year is last year. I don't feel like there was much to really battle with last year in our division. I felt like it was a weak division last year. I feel like this year it's definitely up and rising. We didn't get a lot of credit in the preseason in our division, but I think now the tables are starting to turn a little bit. Dallas is playing good, Philly is playing good right now. I think we're rising and we're stepping up to the challenges and we're playing some good football right now."

There is truth to Rolle's claim that the NFC East was weak last season. The division combined to finish with a 28-36 record. Only the Eagles (10-6) had a winning record.

This year the division is off to a strong start. They are a combined 12-7. The Giants (3-2) and Cowboys (4-1) have joined the Eagles above .500. It should make for a much more competitive December.

"Everyone in the division is the team to beat," cornerback Prince Amukamara said. "Any given thing can happen when you have a division game."

The Eagles already played a thriller against Washington. The Giants blew out the Redskins the following week.

Coming into the season, the Eagles were the favorites in the division according to the Las Vegas odds. The Giants were longshots. Rolle never questioned whether his team was good enough to hang with the Eagles.

"I think you know the answer to that question," he said. "I never doubt. I never doubt."

The Giants have two key contests upcoming -- at Philadelphia and at Dallas. They know it's not going to be easy. The Eagles and Cowboys are a combined 8-2 right now.

"Philadelphia obviously has all kind of numbers. They'e played extremely well. Arguably they could be undefeated right now. We know what that challenge is about," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "It's exciting. We look forward to it. We always do."

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Calais Campbell to miss 3-4 weeks

Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell is expected to miss 3-4 weeks, according to FoxSports 910AM.

Campbell was injured on a cut block by Julius Thomas. The play was penalized, and negated a 77 yard touchdown pass. Head coach Bruce Arians was not happy post-game, saying the play was one of the dirtiest he had ever seen. Campbell recorded two tackles before leaving the contest.

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WATCH: Matt Bosher does inadvertent handstand

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No slowing down Greg Olsen

Panthers tight end Greg Olsen put together his finest performance of the season in Week 5 against the Bears, as he continues to play a huge role in the team's offense.

Olsen put together his third double-digit Fantasy scoring effort of the season Sunday, this time racking up 19 points. He has been targeted at least seven times in four of five games, with five-plus catches and 69-plus yards in each as a result. And, given the Panthers' relative lack of other options in the passing game, there is little reason to think his production is bound to regress.

Olsen is on pace for career-highs in receptions (86), yards (1,043) and touchdowns (12), while also notching a career-best eight targets per game, on average. Unless Cam Newton decides to stop throwing the ball his way -- and there is little reason to think that will happen -- Olsen should be active in all formats moving forward.

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Andre Johnson makes NFL history again

Johnson reached 950 career receptions with his first completion against the Dallas Cowboys. Fitzpatrick’s 11-yard pass to Johnson made him the second-fastest player to reach 950 in his 159th game. Johnson is second behind just Marvin Harrison, who did so in 158 games.

Three catches later, Johnson also became the 11th all-time NFL leader on the career receptions list with 952, passing Andre Reed.

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Allen Hurns finishes with 11 targets Week 5

Jaguars wide receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns were quarterback Blake Bortles' favorite targets during a 17-9 loss Week 5 vs. Pittsburgh.

Both players were tied for a team-high 11 targets. However, neither player had a noteworthy performance.

Robinson led the team with five catches for 51 yards, while Hurns finished with four catches for 26 yards. Neither player had a touchdown.

The Jaguars are back in action Week 6 at Tennessee.

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Frank Gore goes over 100 yards for second straight game

49ers running back Frank Gore hammered his way to a second straight 100-yard rushing game, piling up 107 yards on 18 carries in the win over the Chiefs. These were Gore's first back-to-back 100-yard efforts since he strung five together in 2011.

Gore, 31, is the oldest 49er to rush for 100 yards in two straight games since 1960. Gore added a 1-yard reception.

Gore, who's averaging 4.7 yards per carry, visits the Rams in Week 6 on Monday Night Football.

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Harland Gunn, Robert Alford take some blame

No one in the locker room seemed to regret the fourth-and-1 pass play the Falcons attempted with 4 minutes, 40 seconds left in regulation and trailing 27-20. But newly inserted left guard Harland Gunn, just promoted from the practice squad, did regret allowing quarterback Matt Ryan to be sacked for a 9-yard loss on the play as Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins made the big stop. "I took a bad set," Gunn said heading to the bus. "The guy read it and made a good play. It happens. It's sad to say it happened to me. I'll watch it, review it, get better and get ready for the next game."

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Antrel Rolle forgets about missed tackle and keeps playing

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Giants safety Antrel Rolle repeats an acronym to emphasize the need to shrug off mistakes. FIDO. Forget it and drive on.

Rolle gave a nod to FIDO late in the third quarter against the Falcons on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. He came up to stop running back Antone Smith on a seemingly innocent reception in the flat. But Rolle took a bad angle and missed the tackle, and Smith went untouched from there, 74 yards down the Giants' sideline and into the end zone.

It gave the Falcons a 20-10 lead but ultimately signaled another benchmark. The Giants dominated the Falcons from that point on in winning their third straight game, 30-20.

"I knew the play because I studied that play several times,'' Rolle said, noting he was in coverage thanks to an all-out blitz. "I just came up short. I didn't make the for-sure tackle.''

By "for-sure,'' Rolle meant making a safe tackle by taking a more conservative route to getting in front of Smith. "It's something I can learn from,'' Rolle said, "but you've got to forgive and drive on.''

And forget it and drive on. FIDO.

"That's my mentality,'' Rolle said. "You must have amnesia, especially playing in the defensive backfield. You can't dwell on the last play.''

Running back Rashad Jennings hopes his injured left knee will allow him to use FIDO. Jennings got hurt when he was "kind of ruffled up under the pile a little bit'' in the third quarter. He said afterward that he felt "all right'' but will have to await results of a magnetic resonance imaging test.

Jennings was having another fine day with 55 yards on 10 carries when he got hurt. He didn't go down without getting a good view of rookie backup Andre Williams, however.

Jennings was watching on TV inside the stadium when Williams completed a 65-yard day, including a 3-yard TD run late in the third quarter in which he trucked Falcons linebacker Paul Worrilow. Williams called the run an "explosion of emotion.''

"Yeah, I was yelling, coaching him up from the TV,'' Jennings said. "I know what he was seeing, I know what he was thinking. So I'm proud of him. He's going to be a dominant player in this league.''

Jennings is hardly shy with the superlatives, once again calling the Giants a "great team.''

They had moments of greatness from another rookie, receiver Odell Beckham Jr., whose NFL debut included four catches for 44 yards and a touchdown. Beckham missed most of training camp and the first four games with a hamstring injury. But he quickly adjusted to the speed of the NFL game.

"It was definitely a lot faster" than college, he said. "But as the game went on, it kind of started to slow down. You have to tell yourself, 'This is the NFL; this is the best of the best. But at the end of the day, you're here for a reason.''

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WATCH: Greg Olsen TD cuts Chicago Bears lead to 21-14

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LaRon Byrd Released

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The Browns were awarded wide receiver Rodney Smith off waivers from the Minnesota Vikings, the team announced Friday.

The Browns also waived wide receiver LaRon Byrd.

The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Smith appeared in the 2014 season opener. He was inactive the past three games.

Last year, Smith signed with the Vikings as an undrafted rookie from Florida State. He spent the first five weeks on the Vikings’ practice squad before being elevated to the active roster. He appeared in four games and was in active for seven.

Smith has appeared in five NFL regular-season games. He has yet to tally a catch.

A Miami native, Smith started 34 of 48 career games at Florida State and compiled 106 receptions for 1,540 yards and 10 touchdowns.

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Jay Gruden: Santana Moss is the odd man out

Wide receiver Santana Moss has been a healthy scratch in all four games this season, a development that he has admitted “hurts” after so many years as a key part of the Redskins offense.

It doesn’t sound like the pain will be subsiding anytime soon. Coach Jay Gruden said that the team feels Moss still has the talent to contribute to the offense, but that they feel the other five receivers on the roster can help them more and that’s left Moss on the outside looking in during the 2014 season.

“He’s just right now the odd man out,” Gruden said, via “[It's] nothing that he’s done wrong. It’s just we feel like we’ve got five receivers that are a little bit more useful, but we have a great deal of respect for Santana, what he brings to this team on and off the field. I would imagine that by season’s end, he’s going to get his reps and he’s going to get his looks. I don’t know when that will be though.”

There are certainly worse insurance policies to have at receiver than a player with Moss’s experience, although one wonders what the Redskins might do if Leonard Hankerson is cleared to come off the PUP list later in the season and they want to see what he can do.

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Vince Wilfork addressed New England Patriots Monday to instill confidence

The effort to rebuild the shattered confidence of the Patriots players began immediately after Monday night’s 41-14 loss to the Chiefs.

Per a league source, veteran defensive tackle Vince Wilfork addressed the players in the locker room after the game, urging them to remember that the season is still young and to set aside any individual concerns or issues.  Wilfork, who rarely speaks to the team as a group, told the players that the team has plenty of talent, and that very good things could still happen.

Wilfork expressed “full confidence” in the team on Thursday, via the Boston Globe.  Quarterback Tom Brady also echoed that sentiment to Albert Breer of NFL Media on Friday.

“It’s a competitive group,” Brady told Breer.  “We’re not gonna back down to anybody or anything.  We’ve all been challenged in our life at different times.  And I think this is gonna show, over the next few months, what we’re made of.”

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Lamar Miller breaking tackles, improving at pass protection

The story of Lamar Miller's improvement this season isn't told by the number of 20-yard runs the Dolphins' third-year running back has amassed.

His success is more subtle.

Look at the way the speedy Miller has been breaking tackles, running downhill. Look at his improvement as a receiver and in pass protection.

Miller, the starter since Knowshon Moreno went down with an elbow injury in Week 2, has always been able to peel off long runs. You see his improvement when you see the other things in his game.

"There were some areas that the coaches who were here in the past felt like Lamar needed to improve in the offseason," offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said, "and he's done everything that we've asked him to do.

"Probably all those opportunities haven't shown up yet, but, as they do, I think we're very confident that he's still an improving player and he's very willing to do what we ask him to do. So I have great hope for him."

Miller has an impressive 49 carries for 277 yards and two touchdowns for the season, including a career-best 108 yards rushing against Kansas City.

But here's where you get an appreciation for how Miller could be changing from a year ago: He's done a better job of keeping the offense ahead of the chains, so to speak.

Last week against Oakland, he had a 21-yard gain on second-and-1. He had a 4-yard gain on first-and-10. He had a 3-yard gain on second-and-5. Miller has done a better job of keeping the offense in manageable situations.

That wasn't the case a year ago, or even early this season. All too often Miller would have a few too many 2-yard gains on first-and-10, or 1-yard gains on second-and-6. And he didn't run with authority. He didn't break tackles or elude tacklers.

Against Kansas City and Oakland — he had 12 carries for a rugged 64 yards against the Raiders — Miller was aggressive.

"Going into these past two games I've just been trying to be more physical and break tackles, and try to get positive yards and be more decisive," he said.

Miller also seems to be progressing as an all-around back. In pass protection he shows better recognition (knowing who to block) and better still actually executing the block).

That means he can stay on the field on third downs.

There's still room to grow.

Miller lost a fumble in the end zone against Oakland. And he still has to work on making yards after his receptions.

But for the last two games he's showed he can be a reliable source of rushing yards for an offense that thrives on play-calling versatility.

The Dolphins are No. 6 in the NFL in rushing at 142.3 yards per game, and Miller is a big part of that. His newfound ability to break tackles allows him to get to the second-level, past the defensive line. And his newfound decisiveness allows him to use his speed better on outside runs.

"I think Lamar has done some good things," coach Joe Philbin said. "He's had an opportunity to get into the second level. We've gotten him on the perimeter on occasion, and he's taken advantage of those runs. We've had, for early in the season, a fair number of explosive runs. Those things, they all add up."

Miller will likely return to being the No. 2 back in a two-back system when Moreno is healthy.

For the foreseeable future, however, including the Oct. 12 game against Green Bay, Miller will be the Dolphins' main ball carrier.

"I think I've made some improvement from last year," Miller said, "but I still have a lot of room for improvement. This only my third year. I'm still trying to learn a lot."

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Devin Hester Named One Of The Biggest Surprises

For the Atlanta Falcons, WR Devin Hester is the gift that keeps on giving. Between setting the NFL all-time record for total non-offensive touchdowns and becoming another target for Falcons QB Matt Ryan, Hester has shown the Chicago Bears what they are missing.

In the middle of the offseason, Hester was released by the Bears, making him a free-agent for the first time in his nine-year career. Since coming to the Falcons, Hester has proven himself to his teammates, his coaching staff and the Falcons fan base in the first four games of the season, with 12 receptions for 196 yards, one receiving touchdown and one rushing touchdown for 20 yards.

All of that combined is why Hester sits at No. 5 on Around the NFL writer Chris Wesseling's top 10 surprises of the 2014 season thus far.

“Don’t be surprised if Hester is one of the reasons that Ryan ends up leading the NFL in passing yards this season,” wrote Wesseling. “(He’s) perhaps the offseason’s most under-the-radar free-agent acquisition…”

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Kam Chancellor on Sean Taylor: "He's with me in the game, on my shoulder every week"

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No matter the opponent, you can find Kam Chancellor dissecting film of the Washington Redskins before every game.

The Seahawks strong safety isn't reliving his team’s 2012 wild-card playoff win over the NFC East foe, no. He's watching highlights of former Redskins safety Sean Taylor, the team's 2004 first-round draft pick who Chancellor says he has tried to model his game after.

"Just the tenacity of it," Chancellor admired of Taylor''s play from his locker this week ahead of Seattle's Monday Night Football matchup with the Redskins in Washington, D.C. "The way he showed his passion for the game and the way that he used his God-given ability. He was blessed to be tall, blessed to be strong, blessed to run fast, and he used every bit of his body in his game.

"That's something I was definitely inspired by about him - just using his God-given ability and taking advantage of it."

Chancellor, a Norfolk, Va. native who grew up a fan of the nearby Redskins, refers to Taylor's on-field efforts in the past-tense because the Washington safety died on Nov. 27, 2007. Injuries from a gunshot he sustained by intruders to his Miami-area home brought a far-too-early end to the 24-year-old's life and promising NFL career.

"Before every game I've got to watch him," Chancellor said. "It just puts more aggression into me, man. Just like, 'Boom' - this is what I've got to do. I watch it and say, 'This is what I've got to do every game.' "

At 6-foot-3 and 232 pounds, Chancellor has even more size than the 6-foot-2, 212-pound Taylor did. To accentuate their intimidating stature, the pair has showcased a rare combination of speed, strength, and agility while demonstrating a hard-hitting mentality that made each a true game-changing force.

In his nearly four seasons with the Redskins (2004-07), Taylor racked up 344 tackles, 12 interceptions, 41 passes defensed, four forced fumbles, and was named to the Pro Bowl twice.

After four seasons with the Seahawks (2010-13), Chancellor's numbers looked eerily similar to Taylor's - 290 tackles, seven interceptions, 25 passes defensed, three forced fumbles, two Pro Bowl honors, and one second-team All-Pro mention. And it's worth noting the Seahawks' 2010 fifth-round pick spent his rookie year as a reserve behind veteran Lawyer Milloy.

Chancellor was in his second season at Virginia Tech when Taylor died. He took the news of his hero's passing particularly hard.

"It was tough because I knew I wasn't going to get a chance to meet him," Chancellor said. "That was one of the guys I wanted a chance to meet and try to get some insight from, think like he thinks, pick his brain a little bit. But unfortunately I didn't get a chance to."

If given a chance, Chancellor said he'd ask Taylor what drove him to play the way he did. Then, he'd ask Taylor if he could train alongside him to catch a glimpse of the things Taylor did to keep his game sharp.

Missing that opportunity to meet Taylor has motivated Chancellor to go out of his way to make sure he connects with up-and-coming athletes who admire his own play.

"I kind of want to finish out the legacy myself," Chancellor said. "I'm always there trying to reach out to the guys who say they look up to me now. I try to reach back and not let them miss their opportunity to talk to me."

And despite missing a chance to meet his role model, the Seahawks' defensive captain is adamant Taylor's presence is there with every hit he delivers.
"He's still with me forever," Chancellor said of his link to Taylor.  “He's with me in the game, on my shoulder every week."

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Eric Winston: HGH testing to begin Monday, Oct. 6

The NFL and the NFLPA finalized the updated drug-testing program two weeks ago. Among the key revisions: HGH testing was implemented immediately for the 2015 season, and testing was expected begin by the end of September.

Officially, testing will begin Monday. NFLPA president Eric Winston offered details in a letter to players.

"As you know, the new Performance Enhancing Substances Policy includes HGH testing. Testing for HGH will begin on Monday, October 6th," Winson said, via "Each week of the season, 5 players on 8 teams will be tested. No testing will occur on game days. We negotiated to ensure that the
methodology of testing be conducted in the most professional and safest manner for players. Importantly, after three years of negotiating, players won the right to challenge any aspect of the science behind the HGH isoforms test in an appeal of a positive test."

Other revisions to the drug-testing program include:

• Any appeal of a positive PED test (including HGH) will go in front of a third-party neutral arbitrator. "Appeals will be processed more expeditiously" under the new policy.
• Discipline for violations of the PED policy (including HGH) will be modified.
• A first violation will be up to six games depending on the nature of the violation:
?/span> - Using diuretics or masking agents will result in a two-game suspension.
?/span> - Using steroids, stimulants, HGH or other banned substances will result in a four-game suspension.
?/span> - Attempting to manipulate a test will result in a six-game suspension.
• A second violation will result in a 10-game suspension.
• A third violation will result in a two-year minimum banishment.
• Testing positive for off-season banned stimulants will not result in a PED suspension; instead, the player will be put into the substance abuse program.
• "In cases involving discipline for violations other than positive tests (for example, a violation of law), the Commissioner will retain his current disciplinary authority."

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Jon Jay back in centerfield and back on center stage for Cardinals in October

ST. LOUIS--Jon Jay watched this happen once before. In fact, he lived it.

Barely more than three years ago, Jay stole the Cardinals’ centerfield job. He’ll tell you he won it. Semantics. Colby Rasmus played poorly, and Jay played well. It was July 27, 2011, and St. Louis was gasping for air. Its 55-48 record was fine, but hardly stellar, and Milwaukee sat atop the National League Central. For a franchise as accustomed to success as the Cardinals, that wasn’t good enough, and it didn’t matter that Rasmus was a former first-round pick who’d been tagged as the team’s centerfielder of the future. Future became past when Rasmus was dealt to Toronto that day, and Jay took over. He went on to hit .297 for the season, which ended with St. Louis winning its 11th World Series championship.

Jay’s has been a career defined by team success. Since coming to the major leagues in 2010, he’s missed the playoffs just once, in his rookie year. The three seasons since then have ended in October and include last year's National League pennant. This season? “We’re in it for the long haul,” he says. “It’s not about April or May, June or July. It’s about being in the position that we’re in now.”

Perhaps it is that philosophy, in the waning days of the season, that kept Jay sane during the dog days of this past summer. After a 2013 season in which he slipped offensively and defensively – and then hit just .192 in October, as St. Louis lost the World Series to the Red Sox – the Cardinals let their eyes wander last offseason. It had been more than two years since their title, and the magic of its most recent title had finally run out. That fact was never clearer than on Nov. 22, 2013, when the team dealt 2011 World Series hero David Freese to the Angels for a package that included outfielder Peter Bourjos, who started for St. Louis on Opening Day – in centerfield.

With his contract expiring after this season, Jay looked like a man who should be hunting for a new job. But by June 1, Bourjos’ average hovered near .200, and when Jay did play, he played well. Once again, the Cardinals tore up their preseason outfield blueprint, and by late July, Jay was back as the everyday centerfielder. Since Aug. 5, managed Mike Matheny has penciled Jay into the lineup for all but four games – two of which were due to an undisclosed personal matter. Over that period, Jay drove in 22 runs, scored 24 and posted a .325 batting average, more than 40 points better than that of his next-closest teammate. Perhaps not coincidentally, St. Louis went 31-21 from that point on and turned a one-game NL Central deficit into its second consecutive division title.

“There’s two ways you can look at it,” Jay says of his rollercoaster season. “You can be positive or negative. I’m a positive person. I just continue to work hard and wait for an opportunity. I get how this game works, get how this business works. … For me, that’s the easy part, just going out there and competing. I like competing.”

And compete he did, all the way to a .303 batting average, which would have been be good for the sixth-best mark in the NL – if Jay had enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. (Due to his limited playing time early in the season, he fell 34 plate appearances short of the 502 that are required.) However, Jay’s .372 OBP was second-best on the Cardinals, behind only Matt Carpenter’s .375, and his 2.8 WAR was fourth-best among the team’s hitters – even more impressive considering he has more than 150 fewer at bats than the three players with higher marks.

But Jay is anything but bitter. “As long as we're in October, I’m playing a lot and the team’s in the playoff, I’ve had a good year,” he says. It’s an easy line to spout when it’s September and your manager is singing your praises, calling you the “quarterback” of the team and saying you’re integral because of your ability to sense what’s happening on the field. It’s easy when October is looming, and you’ve got a job to do, and you’ve proven you can do it.

It’s easy because the last time Jon Jay won a job in centerfield, he won a ring three months later.

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