Eagles sign Jacory Harris

The Eagles signed rookie free agent quarterback Jacory Harris to a contract, the team announced Friday.

Harris, a product of Miami (Fla.), went undrafted last month. He was invited to the Dolphins rookie minicamp for a tryout. He instead inked a deal with the Eagles, giving the team the maximum 90 players on their roster.

In four seasons as a Hurricane, the 6-foot-4, 195-pound Harris passed for 8,826 yards, completed 60 percent of his passes and tossed 70 touchdowns against 48 interceptions.

The Eagles now have five quarterbacks under contract -- Michael Vick, Mike Kafka, Trent Edwards, third-round rookie Nick Foles and Harris.
Harris is a long shot to make it to the final 53-man roster.  But as least he has a shot — and along the way he may learn something from quarterback guru Andy Reid that helps Harris stick somewhere else.

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PHOTO: JoJo Nicolas At NY Giants Rookie Camp


New York Giants tight end Adrien Robinson (81), a fourth-round draft pick, catches a pass in front of safety Jojo Nicolas (46) during a drill at the team's NFL football rookie minicamp in East Rutherford, N.J. , Friday, May 11, 2012.

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PHOTO: Adewale Ojomo At NY Giants Rookie Camp


Defensive end Adewale Ojomo dives on to a tackle dummy during drills at the New York Giants NFL football rookie minicamp in East Rutherford, N.J. , Friday, May 11, 2012.

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Javarris James Getting a Tryout With the Cardinals

One practice in — and with just rookies — it’s impossible to know what will happen with any of them.
“It was interesting,” coach Ken Whisenhunt of the Arizona Cardinals said. “The enthusiasm was great, the effort was great. I didn’t know quite what they were doing all the time.”

But it was clear Whisenhunt was enjoying the idea of being back on the field, in a totally teaching aspect, knowing that games are months away. That part of his job was lost last year with the lockout. “It makes you appreciate being on the field again,” Whisenhunt said.

There are nine “veterans” taking part, guys who were already on the team’s roster before the draft. That, Whisenhunt said, is everyone on the roster who is eligible to do so. There are others that wouldn’t mind getting the extra work, Whisenhunt said (and I’m sure the coaches wouldn’t mind it either), but the collective bargaining agreement won’t allow it.

The biggest name among the tryout players: running back Javarris James, who played for the Colts and who is the nephew of former Cardinals running  back Edgerrin James.

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Leon Williams Trying Out for Kansas City Chiefs

Eight draft picks, 15 college free agents, five first-year veterans and 10 tryout players make up the 38-man roster for this weekend’s Chiefs Rookie Minicamp.

Practices begin Friday at the team’s training facility and run through Sunday afternoon. Helmets will be worn and the offense will line up against the defense, but no contact is permitted.

Minicamp is not open to the public, but media will be allowed to cover practice sessions on Friday and Sunday. Rookies may stay in Kansas City and join veterans in the offseason workout program beginning on Monday as long as their college semester has concluded.

Veteran free agent LB Leon Williams, a former fourth-round pick of the Browns when Romeo Crennel was serving as Cleveland’s head coach, was also invited to camp on a tryout basis. Williams has seen action in 57 games (12 starts), recording 154 career tackles and 5.0 career sacks.
Williams was out of football last season, but played in 11 games with the Cowboys in 2010.

Rookie minicamp also permits first-year veterans with no pension credits (less than three games on the 53-man roster or injured reserve in a single season) to participate.

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Brandon Washington Signs A Contract With the Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles today announced they have signed three 2012 draft choices, each to four-year contracts: fourth-round cornerback Brandon Boykin, fifth-round guard Brandon Washington and seventh-round running back Bryce Brown.

A three-year letter winner out of Miami (FL), Washington compiled a streak of 25 straight starts at both tackle and guard in his junior and senior seasons. As a senior in 2011, Washington started all 12 games at left tackle for the Hurricanes after starting 13 contests at left guard in 2010. The Miami, FL, native earned all-state honors as an offensive lineman and defensive tackle as he helped lead Northwestern High School to a state title and national championship. He attended Lincoln High School his first three years.

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JoJo Nicolas and Adewale Ojomo Sign Contracts

The Giants announced the signings of eight undrafted free agents — not the 10 that scouting director Marc Ross said they signed in the hour after the NFL draft. The list includes:

WR Julian Talley (UMass), WR David Douglas (Arizona), RB/FB Joe Martinek (Rutgers), S Jojo Nicolas (Miami), S Janzen Jackson (McNeese State), DE Matt Broha (Lousiana Tech), DE Adewale Ojomo (Miami), and G Stephen Goodin (Nebraska-Kearney).

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Tommy Streeter's Ravens Jersey

After signing his new 4-year contract with the Baltimore Ravens, proCane Tommy Streeter tweeted a photo of his new #11 jersey.


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Tommy Streeter Signs Contract With Ravens

Ravens agreed to terms with No. 198 overall pick WR Tommy Streeter on a four-year contract.

Taking over the No. 1 receiver role from Leonard Hankerson, Streeter was too big and fast for college defensive backs as a junior. Although his inexperience, inconsistent hands, and raw route running scared teams off early in the draft, Streeter is an interesting flier as a future deep threat.

Streeter’s 4-yearr contract is worth $2,194,000 with a signing bonus of $94,500. His average salary is $548,500 and expires in 2015.

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Travis Benjamin Signs 4-year Contract

Browns agreed to terms with No. 100 overall pick WR Travis Benjamin on a four-year contract.
Benjamin is on the small side at 5'10" and 175 pounds, but the Browns believe he can add a much-needed speed element to their wide receiver corps. Nicknamed the "Belle Glade Blur," Benjamin blazed a 4.36 forty at the Combine. His future is in the slot, but he'll have to hit the weight room before making a fantasy impact.

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Marcus Forston Signs Contract With Patriots

The Pats made official the signing of veteran running back Joseph Addai, which leaked out Saturday thanks to the loose-lipped Peyton Manning, and also announced reaching agreement with seven rookie free agents, who will be at rookie camp starting tomorrow.

The list includes Mississippi RB Brandon Bolden, Miami DT Marcus Forston, Rutgers DE Justin Francis, Iowa TE Brad Herman, Kentucky WR Matt Roark, South Florida OG Jermiah Warren and Iowa T Markus Zusevics.

DL Marcus Forston, 22, was limited to three games last season at Miami due to an injury. Forston, 6-3, 300 pounds, played in 13 games with 12 starts in 2010 and registered 37 total tackles, 3.0 sacks and one interception.

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Cardinals sign Calais Campbell to five-year contract

The Arizona Cardinals announced Thursday that they have signed defensive end and 2012 franchise player Calais Campbell to a new five-year contract.

The deal should clear up some cap space. Via his one-year franchise tender, Campbell was counting $10.605 million against the Cardinals’ salary cap.

Considered a talented underachiever coming out of Miami in 2008, Campbell has developed into one of the NFL’s top 3-4 defensive ends. Still only 25 years old, Campbell has amassed 21 sacks and 180 tackles over the past three seasons. With long arms at 6-foot-8 and 300 pounds, Campbell has also swatted away 17 passes.

Campbell’s new five-year contract locks him in with the Cardinals through 2016.

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Jason Fox says he feels great, wants to 'help out any way I can'

SAGINAW — Jason Fox may have been shelved the entire 2011 season with multiple injuries, but he looked plenty healthy running the court and throwing up jumpers in the Detroit Lions Crime Stoppers charity basketball game Wednesday.

Fox, who has played just four games in his two seasons with the Lions, said he is focusing on the future after two seasons nearly completely lost.

"I feel great, I'm ready," Fox said. "The past is the past. Obviously I wanted to play more and be physically able to. But that's in the past, and I'm ready to help out any way I can.

Fox, an offensive tackle drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL draft, was sidelined all of last season, first with a broken foot suffered in training camp and then with a knee injury that required surgery.

The Lions have shown patience in the 24-year-old, but Lions General Manager Martin Mayhew said earlier this year that this is "a critical year for him" to prove his durability.

"It's very important," Fox said of this year. "I've had some unfortunate luck in the past, but that's behind me now and I'm ready to put that in the rear-view mirror."

Fox is currently as one of five tackles on the Lions roster, all which have a good shot of making the 53-man roster. The group includes recent first-round pick Riley Reiff.

"We have some great guys, some great coaches and great guys," Fox said. "We've got older guys, there's so much you can learn from them, and just a talented group altogether. It should be a good year."

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Jarrett Payton Hosting Inaugural Football Camp

Jarrett Payton, son of Chicago Bears legend Walter Payton will host the 2012 Jarrett Payton Academy Youth Football Camp from June 11 to 13 at Mooseheart Child City and School in Mooseheart, IL.

The camp is an event of the Jarrett Payton Foundation, which is committed to positively impacting the lives of children —physically, emotionally and psychologically by creating and providing programs that present them with opportunities designed to develop their leadership skills and enrich their lives.

The camp is a three-day summer skills camp geared toward enriching lives and building confidence in young men grades four to eight through football.

Participants will leave the camp with further education in specific football skills and knowledge, as well as leadership skills, wellness tips and strengthened relationships with peers.

The fourth to fifth grade camp takes place from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and the sixth to eighth-grade camps from 1 to 4 p.m.

Registration before or on May 15 is $100 and $125 thereafter.

For more information call )847-922-3420, email info@jarrettpayton.com or on the web at www.jarrettpayton.org.

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Jon Vilma's lawyer: Players not getting right of due process

Peter Ginsberg, LB Jonathan Vilma's lawyer, on not being able to see any bounty evidence: “The NFL and Commissioner Goodell have created a unique process that truly denies anyone accused ... any notion of due process. This isn't the first time we've asked the NFL to show us evidence that we could respond to its concerns. So it's disturbing first because Jonathan has been denied fundamental fairness and because Commissioner Goodell feels it's appropriate for him to publicly make some horrific accusations and allegations against Jonathan but doesn't for some reason feel it's appropriate to give to us or anyone else the basis for those allegations.”

Ginsberg also said it's too early to tell what forum or avenue that will push the NFL to show the bounty evidence. He also said he doesn't believe it's appropriate to have Goodell in charge of every step of the league's process. But Ginsberg does believe there will be avenues where the league will be forced to show the bounty evidence.

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Danny Valencia Gets Vote of Confidence From Gardenhire

Update: Manager Ron Gardenhire gave Valencia a vote of confidence as the starting third baseman despite a 0-for-21 slump that's seen his batting average fall to .198, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Valencia went 0-for-4 in Tuesday's loss to the Angels

Recommendation: With Jamey Carroll moving to a utility role with Brian Dozier promoted from Triple-A there was some thought that Carroll could get starts at third base or take over the job. However, that doesn't appear to be the plan in the near term.

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Ryan Braun shakes off fans' jeers, returns to MVP form

MILWAUKEE (AP) — After a failed drug test called his character into question during a tumultuous offseason, Ryan Braun is the one doing most of the bashing these days — looking every bit like the reigning NL MVP during a recent hot streak.

At home, he is cheered wildly during every at-bat by big crowds filled with No. 8 jerseys and T-shirts. He is opening a second restaurant in the Milwaukee area later this year, a joint venture with his pal Aaron Rodgers — the latest step in what is becoming a full-on, co-MVP Wisconsin sports bromance.

Watching a Milwaukee Brewers game at Miller Park, there would be almost no way to tell that Braun spent the offseason defending himself against leaked details of a positive test for an elevated testosterone level. An arbitrator overturned a 50-game suspension after Braun and his representatives questioned the methods used to collect his urine sample.

That hasn't bought Braun much slack on the road, where some opposing fans have made it clear that they don't believe his innocence and aren't going to let him forget about it.

"That's a true professional," Brewers centerfielder Nyjer Morgan said. "Words don't explain what he's gone through, just with the offseason and this year when we go on the road and how he's handling it all. It just shows he's well-mannered, well-spoken and he's all about business. You can see that he's definitely got a chip on his shoulder and something to prove. So he's doing a wonderful job with that."

Speaking to reporters before the Brewers' home opener last month, Braun acknowledged he was out to prove something.

"Of course," Braun said April 6th. "It's not so much about proving anybody wrong as it much as it is proving the people who all believed in me and supported me right. So I'm definitely excited. Very motivated."

Braun might still feel that way, but he's less inclined to talk about it now. Asked this week whether he felt like he was putting everything behind him, Braun said only, "That's irrelevant."

"I don't think there's really much talk about it now," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. "And I think that's a credit to him, how he has handled it. There's been obviously a few cities where he's run into a few boos or jeers, but he hasn't let it affect him."

Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio said Braun's production is the main indication that he is handling the scrutiny.

"He's second in the National League in home runs, right? He's got like a .980 OPS," Attanasio said this past week. "I think he's handled it pretty well. And the same way we say the bar has been raised here, the bar has been raised so high for Ryan Braun that second in the league in home runs, people are still saying, 'Well, jeez, you're not quite back yet.' He's doing just fine."

Braun rebounded from a slow start that included an 0-for-16 skid in April. More recently, he has been playing through a nagging Achilles tendon injury.

After homering in the ninth inning of a loss on Wednesday, Braun was batting .313 with 10 home runs and 21 RBIs.

Statistically, his home and away splits aren't significantly different.

"I've admired Ryan Braun from the moment I met him, his first day he had that press conference," Brewers infielder Travis Ishikawa said. "I didn't know the whole situation, but to be able to handle all the questions, everything that's gone on all of spring training. We haven't been to a place on the road yet where he hasn't been booed. This guy wasn't even convicted of anything, he was found innocent. But because of what happened he has to deal with it everywhere he goes, and he carries himself so professionally."

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke acknowledged at the beginning of the season that dealing with opposing fans could be a challenge for Braun.
"Some are a little harsher than others," Roenicke said recently. "Whenever we go to Chicago he gets booed. It's because he's a really good player. I think all the great players, they get booed. I think he's used to that. If it happens everywhere it's probably a little different. As you guys know, he's very strong mentally. He's got a lot of confidence. I think sometimes it drives him to do better, to try harder. Sometimes that's really good and sometimes you press a little too much."

Morgan, a polarizing figure who attracts his fair share of criticism from opposing fans, acknowledged that players can't completely tune it out.

"You can feed off of it or shake it off, one of the two," Morgan said. "However you get it going. That's just how it is, the nature of the beast. You know, everything is handled just fine. We're doing it right out there. We're not letting the fans get to us, and especially he's not letting it get to him. Because I've heard some nasty things out there. Sometimes those things, you hear that. It's not like you don't hear it."

While Braun seems to be back, the Brewers are struggling to regain the form that won them an NL Central title and a spot in the NL championship series last season.

Prince Fielder is gone, and much of the remaining lineup is struggling. Milwaukee's pitching hasn't been as good as it was last season. And the Brewers have lost a pair of everyday players, first baseman Mat Gamel and shortstop Alex Gonzalez, to knee injuries that are expected to keep them out for the rest of the season.

"Trust me, we'll be all right," Braun said. "I mean, you can only say 'it's early' for so long. We don't view it like it's early any more. We just view it like we haven't played consistently yet. But it's there. It's all there. We'll be all right."

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proCane Rookies Lamar Miller & Olivier Vernon Throw up "The U" After Dolphins Rookie Minicamp


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Frank Gore training at Niners facility

Usually in Miami this time of year, Frank Gore is spending the offseason at the 49ers' facility.
Gore usually trains with his former Hurricanes teammates in Florida, but he's a grizzled 29-year-old veteran at this point and a team leader. "I feel like I still got a lot left in my tank," Gore insisted. "I want to show it off that I still got a lot left in my tank and I can play at a high level. I will play at a high level as long as God blesses me to be healthy."

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Jimmy Graham Q&A with Kids @Tulane Camp

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Warren Sapp To Appear On New Dating Game Show “The Choice”

Fox’s upcoming celebrity dating show The Choice has lined up a list of famous bachelors and bachelorettes to audition sexy singles in prime time.

EW.com has the complete list of celebrity contestants, the first photo from the set and some behind-the-scenes insight from Fox’s alternative series guru Mike Darnell.

The Choice has cast singer Joe Jonas, actor Dean Cain, fashion model Tyson Beckford, former American Idol star Taylor Hicks, Jersey Shore stars Pauly D and Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, chef Rocco Dispirito, TV personality Rob Kardashian, former NFL star Warren Sapp and more (full list below). The female celebrities include actress Carmen Electra and model Hope Dworaczyk.

In each episode, four celebrities sit in spinning chairs and listen to non-famous prospective dates pitch themselves. Over the course of three rounds, the contestant pool is paired down until each celebrity has chosen their date for the evening

“What started out as a goof ended up being a ridiculously good format,” says Fox’s Darnell, who was on hand during The Choice‘s recent taping. “It really feels like a hit. It was charming and funny… [The show] works beautifully. It’s going to sell all over the world.”

Five of the episodes will feature male celebrities; one episode puts women in the power seats. The contestants were unaware who the celebrities were until moments before they went on stage, but that didn’t stop the sparks. “The [female contestants] took it ridiculously seriously, like they were getting married,” Darnell says. “A couple of the setups really had chemistry.”

These type of shows can go either way, more often than not people end up playing themselves.

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Lawyer for Jonathan Vilma says he still doesn't have evidence

In a radio interview Tuesday evening, the lawyer for suspended New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma said the NFL still hasn't responded to his request that the NFL release any and all evidence it has compiled against Vilma as it relates to the former Pro Bowl linebacker's involvement in the Saints' pay-for-performance bounty program.

Peter Ginsberg told WWL Radio that it is important that Vilma is able to see the evidence against him. In a 17-point request on Monday, he asked NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league to furnish the evidence it has amassed.

"The fact that we haven't received a single piece of evidence from the commissioner not only makes the whole process suspect but made it important that we ask the commissioner as specifically as we possibly could what we think we should be able to see in order to even the playing field and in order to give Jonathan a fair hearing," Ginsberg said. "And I must say that the commissioner still hasn't responded to this most recent request. This is not the first time we have asked them for the evidence."

Ginsberg said the reason he believes Goodell hasn't obliged the request is because the evidence isn't as damning as the NFL has made it out to be.

"What the commissioner has said publicly, the accusations and allegations against Jonathan are not true," Ginsberg said. "They are simply not accurate.

"Add to that the fact, as we have seen in the press the last few days that the commissioner's office and the commissioner's outside counsel have discernibly misrepresented even the information that the commissioner has gathered. When you put that in the context of the commissioner's high-priced outside counsel saying that when we asked for evidence and when we wanted to know what we were answering to - and this is (outside counsel Mary Jo White) quote 'a Red herring,' it really puts into perspective the kangaroo court that Jonathan and the others have been subjected to.

"I can't think of any other forum in the United States where this kind of abusive process is permitted. If you want to ask me why it is permitted, you are asking the wrong person. I wasn't a part of the CBA negotiations. And I don't think that the CBA as it stands permits this kind of abusive process."

Ginsberg said the NFL's biggest fear is that the evidence is released and the public will see that Vilma is not guilty of helping start, fund and participate in a bounty system.

"The evidence is not what the commissioner says it is," he said. "At the end of the day, I think all of you will come to the conclusion that what the commissioner has been accusing Jonathan and the others of doing is not correct. It's not accurate. It was said publicly in an irresponsible manner. I think that's why we haven't received the evidence. And I think that's the commissioner's biggest fear that at some point we will find the right forum that will make the commissioner answer for what he's said and what he's done."

Ginsberg said Vilma continues to work out and rehab at the Saints' facility while his appeal is pending. He's had some success in past dealings with the NFL, as he represented Pat and Kevin Williams during their appeal to the NFL of the StarCaps suspensions. 

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Santana Moss might be odd man out in Redskins' WR group

The Washington Redskins believe Robert Griffin III represents the answer to a longstanding question at quarterback.

Here's the next question: Who will he throw to?

Rosenthal explored this topic Monday, citing the somewhat awkward makeup of a receiving group in Washington that lacks a clear star, but offers depth.

The top four wideouts read as follows, in no official order: Pierre Garçon, Josh Morgan, Leonard Hankerson and Santana Moss.

Coach Mike Shanahan hinted Sunday that Moss might be the odd man out in three-receiver sets.

"We'll let that play out," Shanahan told The Washington Post, "but when you go after a guy like (Garçon) and you go after a guy like (Morgan), you've got a guy like Leonard Hankerson, you know there are three guys right at the top of the list that are playmakers, and that's what we're looking for."

Last season was a mess for Moss. His 46 catches for 584 yards and four scores were partly the result of a broken hand that sidelined him for four games. Shanahan indicated Moss never really hit his groove after the injury, but complemented the wideout's ability to get back into shape.

Moss turns 34 this season. His starting days appear over, but we're having this conversation in May. His experience is an asset and, besides, in today's NFL, a fourth receiver has an ample chance to show he belongs higher up the list.

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Jon Vilma lawyer takes NFL's outside counsel to task

Peter Ginsberg, LB Jonathan Vilma's lawyer, on NFL-hired outside counsel Mary Jo White's comments on the bounty evidence: “I'm actually very disappointed. When Mary Jo White was the U.S. Attorney in the eastern district of New York, I worked for her and know her quite well. Back in those days, Mary Jo would have never believed that for an accused to ask for evidence and to have a fair forum for defending his or her rights was a ‘red herring.' But now that she's been hired by the Commissioner and sitting in a significant law firm instead of a department of justice office, she apparently seems to be backing up the Commissioner that we don't have the right to know exactly what it is we're being accused of or have a right to face the people who are accusing Jonathan.”

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Shenise Johnson Leads Silver Stars in Scoring in Preseason Loss

Indiana's Roneeka Hodges scored 10 points, including two key 3-pointers, as the Fever defeated the Silver Stars 78-69 in a WNBA preseason game in Indianapolis on Wednesday.

The victory before 5,270 fans at Bankers Life Fieldhouse was the Fever's second over the Silver Stars in five days. They won 69-67 at Trinity on Saturday.

Hodges, who played with the Silver Stars in 2010 and 2011 before being traded to Indiana during the offseason, had two 3-pointers, and Jeanette Pohlen had two baskets during the run.

The Silver Stars were hampered by 27 turnovers. They had 49 miscues in the two preseason contests.

Rookie Shenise Johnson led the Silver Stars with a game-high 15 points on 7 of 8 shots. Danielle Adams had 14 on 6-of-8 shooting.

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Chris Perez talks about season so far, his yelling, Alex Rios and his jersey giveaway

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Danny Valencia Optioned Triple-A

Twins optioned INF Danny Valencia to Triple-A Rochester. Valencia opened the season as the Twins' starting third baseman but batted just .190 with 23 strikeouts and two walks in 103 plate appearances.

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Alex Rios upset with Indians closer Chris Perez over fist pumping

Anyone who watches baseball knows that closers are their own breed. Many of these guys are weird, and they aren’t afraid to show it. Like many closers before him, Cleveland’s Chris Perez is one of the more animated players in the game. On Thursday night, Alex Rios took exception to that as Perez closed out a 7-5 win over Chicago.

According to MLB.com, Perez got the benefit of a borderline third-strike call to A.J. Pierzynski for the second out of the ninth inning and gave a strong fist pump. He then got Rios to ground into the game’s final out, which led to more celebrating and a heated exchange between him and the White Sox outfielder.

“Well, I don’t know what was wrong with him,” Rios said with a smirk after the game. “He just started yelling for no reason. I don’t know why he started yelling, and that’s it.

“When I hit that ground ball, he was yelling when (Cabrera) was throwing to first. He was yelling the whole way. I couldn’t tell what he was saying. He was just staring and saying something.”

Perez said he was yelling at his teammates because he was happy they came up with a crucial win and that his animation was not directed toward Rios — not that he cares what Rios thinks anyway.

“He’s on a different team,” Perez said. “I’m not friends with him. I don’t know him personally. I’ve just been playing against him. That’s it. If he’s mad, whatever. I don’t care.”

The more it bothers opponents, the happier guys like Perez are with their antics. The best thing Rios can do is pretend it doesn’t affect him.

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Jemile Weeks returns, goes 2-for-3 with a steal

Jemile Weeks returned to action on Tuesday, going 2-for-3 with a run scored in a come-from-behind victory over the Blue Jays.
He also stole his sixth base, showing no ill effects from the groin tightness that forced him to miss Sunday's game. The young second baseman is struggling mightily with a .188/.260/.304 batting line, but is a good bet to straighten things out soon.

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Aldarius Johnson Gets a Tryout

According to sources, proCane WR Aldarius Johnson has landed a tryout with the Arizona Cardinals and will attend their Rookie Mini Camp this week. Johnson will be joining fellow proCane WR LaRon Byrd in Arizona who sign an undrafted free agent contract with the Cardinals. Best of luck to both Johnson and Byrd this week at Cardinals Mini Camp.

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Sean Spence In Steelers Gold & Back at Rookie Camp


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Olivier Vernon expected to contribute as rookie

According to the Palm Beach Post, the Dolphins plan to use No. 72 pick DE Olivier Vernon as an edge rusher in nickel situations.
Vernon notched just 1.5 sacks in six games as a junior, but is a favorite of venerated Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel draft guru Bob McGinn. Vernon has loads of natural pass-rush ability, and will be worth keeping an eye on in IDP leagues as a rookie.

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Sean Spence eager to soak in Steelers’ system

Sean Spence grew up in Miami, but the Steelers were always his favorite NFL team. As such, he needed anything but a history lesson after the team issued him No. 51 last week.

“I understand James Farrior wore this number,” Spence said. “He’s a great linebacker, but I’m not James Farrior. The things he did I may not be able to do.”

Comparisons to Farrior, who was released earlier this year, are more than just premature, and that explains why Spence was one of the Steelers’ more curious draft picks.

The former Miami Hurricanes standout is not playing Farrior’s old position, and his selection didn’t address a glaring short- or long-term need. But as Hurricanes defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio said: “I think the Steelers looked at it and thought they were getting a good football player. I think he’ll be a good fit.”

The question is where.

The 5-foot-11, 230-pound Spence is a bit undersized by NFL standards, and he is slated to play behind Lawrence Timmons at right inside linebacker.

Nothing is assured next season beyond extensive special teams duty, and that is assuming Spence makes a successful transition from the ACC to the AFC North. Spence’s athletic ability and aptitude suggests he could emerge as a key contributor in various sub-packages, including the Steelers’ nickel defense.

Spence, an outside linebacker at Miami, has plenty of experience dropping into coverage. Spence also proved to be a quick study at Miami, partly out of necessity.

He played for three defensive coordinators in four seasons, but that didn’t stop Spence from leaving Miami as one of only six linebackers to record consecutive 100-tackle seasons.

“He learned what the other guys on the field were supposed to do as well (as his own position),” said D’Onofrio, who coached Spence his senior season. “He’s a great kid. Always has a good attitude, a smile on his face.”

Spence, who took part in rookie minicamp over the weekend, shrugged off questions about whether he is big enough to play inside in the NFL. One factor that suggests it won’t be much of an issue is the way the game has changed.

“A lot of stuff today is misdirection and trying to fool you or outnumber you one way and then give you a different look coming back the other way,” Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler said. “A lot of that requires the ability to read from the linebackers, not so much to get down and stuff a hole. Sometimes, you have to do it on the goal line when you have to take on a big running back. But we’re taking on Ray Rice; we’re not taking on Jerome Bettis anymore.”

Spence has taken on something as daunting as Rice, the Baltimore Ravens’ Pro Bowl running back, and that is a new playbook.

Spence has a couple of weeks to immerse himself in it before the start of offseason practices. The minicamp that concluded yesterday should help Spence when he returns to Pittsburgh later this month for practices that will include more than just rookies and first-year players.

“I think it’s a huge advantage,” he said. “You don’t want to come out here looking like a lost child in front of the vets and be embarrassed.”

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Ed Reed enjoying his off-season

The Ravens have a big question mark with their defense right now for an obvious reason, but they’re still fortunate to have a number of veteran players who are going to be ready when the bell rings. 

One of them appears to be safety Ed Reed, something he talked about in an interview on 105.7 The Fan last week. 

The Ravens’ web site reported about Reed’s radio interview, one that sounded like the future Hall of Famer is looking forward to the 2012 season. 

“My off-season is going great,” he said in the interview. “I’m feeling good.”

The Ravens always will need a player of Reed’s caliber. They’ll need him even more now because of the recent injury to Terrell Suggs. But injuries are part of the game in football. 

Reed’s battled hip and nerve problems the past few years and still been a major force on defense. 

“I’m just getting myself physically able to live my life,” he said in the interview. “I’m not even worried about what comes in the next couple months because that’s part of life. That’s something that could be done in my sleep.”

There’d been questions at season’s end about whether or not Reed would be interesting in coming back for the 2012 season. Was his career over? He didn’t talk with the media after the painful AFC title game loss in New England.

But Reed appears to still have a love for the game. He marches to the beat of his own drummer, something great players often do. Right now, though, the Ravens certainly need him back on the field in 2012. 

“I dream about doing special things when it comes to football, so that’s something that’s been embedded in me for a long time,” Reed said in the interview. “I’m feeling good. I’m able to do the things that I’ve been doing all off-season since I’ve been playing football.”

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Lamar Miller at Miami Dolphins rookie mini camp

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Jacory Harris at Miami Dolphins rookie mini camp

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Olivier Vernon at Miami Dolphins rookie mini camp

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Frank Gore vows 'I still got a lot left in my tank'

The San Francisco 49ers won't look the same in 2012. After years of handing the rock to Frank Gore -- and, often, only Frank Gore -- they now house a versatile stable of backs.

Gore, participating in the team's offseason workout program, is joined on the roster by Brandon Jacobs, Kendall Hunter, Anthony Dixon, Rock Cartwright, fullback Bruce Miller and second-round pick LaMichael James (not to mention undrafted free-agent back Jewel Hampton, who looms as a dark horse).

Comcast SportsNet Bay Area charted every play from last season to reveal that Gore played two-thirds of the snaps as San Francisco's featured back. Hunter played when Gore didn't, and the 49ers plan to use more of the younger back, not less. All of this points to a reduced role, but Gore isn't fading quietly into the night. His 1,211 yards in 2011 were the second best of his career.

"I feel like I still got a lot left in my tank," Gore told the team's official website. "I want to show it off that I still got a lot left in my tank and I can play at a high level. I will play at a high level as long as God blesses me to be healthy so I can go out and do something that I love."

Gore is days away from his 29th birthday and even if he leads the way, we expect a changed backfield in San Francisco. The Jacobs addition remains puzzling, but the 49ers have successfully stocked the position with fresh legs. After narrowly missing a Super Bowl berth last season, coach Jim Harbaugh will employ every weapon they possess in 2012.

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That LB number looks familiar on third-round pick Sean Spence

Sean Spence was drafted in the third round to work in the ILB spot manned by Lawrence Timmons, not the void left by releasing James Farrior. Now Spence finds himself wearing Farrior's old No. 51. Spence said. “He's a great linebacker, but I'm not James Farrior. The things he did, I may not be able to do.”

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Vikings take a look at Rocky McIntosh

The Vikings, who are trying their best to get better after a woeful 3-13 season, could be getting help from a defensive player who once was regarded as one of the most promising young linebackers in the game.

Per a league source, the Vikings worked out Rocky McIntosh on Tuesday.

McIntosh spent six seasons with the Redskins.  The shift from a 4-3 to the 3-4 defense resulted in a move inside.  In 2011, McIntosh lost his starting job after the first eight games of the season.

The Vikings currently have nine linebackers on the roster.

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No indication D.J. Williams plans to settle his lawsuit against the league

Given the news of defensive lineman Ryan McBean settling the lawsuit challenging his six-game suspension with a difference-splitting three-game suspension, the obvious question becomes whether Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams will do the same thing.

There currently are no indications that Williams plans to or will be settling.

Of course, that could change if the NFL offers something like a one-game suspension or no suspension and a fine.  For now, though, Williams plans to keep fighting the outcome of the in-house appeal of his suspension.

The thinking in league circles is that McBean settled because no team would have signed him to a contract while he had an active lawsuit pending against the league.  Whether that perception is accurate, the reality is that he signed with the Ravens only after settling the lawsuit against the league.

I’ll have more to say about the McBean settlement and the Williams non-settlement during PFT Live, including how this situation possibly relates to the Saints’ bounty investigation.

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Santana Moss loses weight after lackluster season

WR Santana Moss did not play with the same speed or explosiveness in 2011 that he had in the past. One reason: He wasn't in top shape. That's not the case anymore, though as coach Mike Shanahan said the slot WR has lost 15 pounds since the season ended. At 33, Moss needs to have a strong offseason to avoid getting cut after June 1. The Redskins have other options in the slot (Josh Morgan, Leonard Hankerson), but a resurgent Moss would help too.

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Jon Vilma's lawyer has history of extending time for players

Hiring Peter Ginsberg as his lawyer may help extend LB Jonathan Vilma's career in 2012 and beyond as he faces a yearlong suspension. Ginsberg represented Vikings DTs Pat Williams and Kevin Williams in the court battle against the NFL in connection with the StarCaps litigation. The StarCaps issue began in the 2008 season and Ginsberg fought the NFL until the league won in 2011. It kept the Williamses and Saints DE Will Smith on the field for nearly three seasons before serving their suspensions.

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Cap space and Calais Campbell

No, nothing new is brewing on the Calais Campbell contract front. Right now, the franchise-tagged defensive end remains unsigned and isn’t around. To refresh the details, the tag means he will be a Card in 2012 for sure, but until he signs, he’s under no obligation to come to anything.
(Technically, the Cards could also pull the tag at any point before it’s signed, but that would never happen.)

The Cards, by last report out there in cyberspace, had about $2.5 million of cap space. There has been a lot of speculation that a new long-term deal for Campbell would create more, and that’s true. How much, though, is the question. Campbell’s current cap number (tagged players count even as they aren’t signed) is around $10.7M. Now, there are a million ways to structure a contract, and many of them would shave that number down. But let’s say, for instance, Campbell gets a five-year contract. Given the amount of “guaranteed” money — normally, money in those first three years of the deal — he’d probably command (it’s going to be north of $20 million), that’s a good chunk that comes up early in the deal. Whatever you take away from the current cap number, it’s going to be pushed into the next couple years, pressing future caps anyway. It’s not like signing him will suddenly create $10M of cap space.

Of course, just trimming Campbell’s cap number to, say, $7.5M gains more than $3M of space, and at this point, given the roster, that probably would be fine heading into the season. The deadline to sign Campbell to such a deal is a little more than two months away.

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Blake Tekotte optioned on Tuesday

San Diego optioned outfielder Blake Tekotte on Tuesday. The team recalled Alex Hinshaw to add depth to the bullpen.

Tekotte had just three at-bats for the Padres, as he was the utility man off the bench.

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Danny Valencia won't be benched

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire doesn't have any plans to bench the struggling Danny Valencia.

"I've given Danny a couple days," Gardenhire said. "He's good to go. Danny's ready to play. I don't think he needs a day to relax. I know he's pressing a little bit, trying to get hits like everybody else in our lineup. But a good two-hit day would probably make him feel pretty good about himself." Gardy would probably be warm to the idea of putting Valencia on the bench if he had better options, but, unfortunately, he doesn't, so he'll let him try to hit his way out of a slump. Valencia is hitless in May and sports a hideous .207/.221/.315 batting line for the year.

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Aubrey Huff back with Giants

LOS ANGELES _ Aubrey Huff walked into Dodger Stadium with a wide grin on his face, often stopping to joke with teammates as he made his way into the clubhouse. It was a good day for Huff, who still is recovering from one of the worst days of his life.

Huff was activated from the disabled list Monday, two weeks to the day after he left the team while having a panic attack. Huff has been getting treatment for an anxiety disorder and said he's ready to play the game "with fun and let the chips fall where they may."

"This kind of puts more things in perspective," Huff said. "A little bit of pressure builds and it just gets to you sometimes. But this game isn't everything.

"I'm trying to keep myself in check and keep my mind positive."

Huff flew home in the midst of an episode of anxiety April 19, hours before the Giants played a doubleheader against the New York Mets. He's been going through therapy ever since and has been with the team for over a week as he prepared to return to the field.

Huff wasn't in the starting lineup Monday, but that hardly mattered to him. He was just happy to be back on the active roster and said he wasn't bothered by the fact that manager Bruce Bochy said he primarily will play left field.

"I've just got to come out and play_just go out there and have fun again," he said. "There's no doubt that if you look at my numbers the last year and a half, I just obviously haven't had fun. It was a tough year last year. In 2010 I was having a blast_I've got to get back to that.

"There was a lot of stuff on my plate last year and coming into this year. I just need to go out there and have fun again."

That hasn't been hard for Huff over the past week. He said the combination of spending time with his wife and two kids, as well as his teammates, has helped him recover.

Bochy researched anxiety issues when Huff was first put on the D.L. and said he's confident Huff is ready to return.

"I'm very happy for him," Bochy said. "This is a tough thing he has been through. I don't really know how he deals with it, but I'm sure it's not easy."

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Lamar Miller could see time at receiver

Dolphins coach Joe Philbin believes No. 97 pick RB/KR Lamar Miller could eventually see time at receiver.

"I'm not saying make a full position change, but I think there's some flexibility with what you can do with the guy," Philbin said. Miller caught just 28 career passes in college, but buried behind Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas on the depth chart, the Dolphins appear ready to get creative in finding ways to get Miller's 4.40 40 speed on the field. Recovering from December shoulder surgery, Miller says he's "coming along pretty good," and expects to be cleared for contact before camp.

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Brandon Marshall: Hester poised for big WR season

The Chicago Bears are still waiting for Devin Hester to emerge as a top receiver but his new teammate Brandon Marshall came away impressed with what he has seen.

"I've never been around a receiver, never seen a receiver who runs routes like Devin Hester does outside," Marshall said Monday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "He has all the skills to be a Pro Bowl receiver, not a punt returner -- we all know what he can do there -- but a Pro Bowl receiver.

"Honestly I think he is going to have a bigger year than me this year. I just don't think he's been in an environment, a situation offensively that catered to him as a player. I think with [quarterback coach] Jeremy Bates and [quarterback] Jay [Cutler] growing and maturing, I think they will be able to put him in a better position this year to where he can probably do damage. I'm excited about everyone else, but the person I'm more excited to see is Devin."

Hester has averaged 39 receptions and 513 yards in five seasons as a receiver. He is coming off a 26-catch season in 2011, his worst since 2007, his first as a receiver.

Bears coach Lovie Smith seemed to indicate at the NFL owners meetings that Hester will be relegated only to punt returns in addition to his receiver duties, leaving kick returns to Eric Weems and Devin Thomas.

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Browns look to speedy Travis Benjamin for WR depth

It's been more than a week since the 2012 NFL Draft and the Cleveland Browns first round picks, running back Trent Richardson and quarterback Brandon Weeden, have stolen the headlines, but another offensive rookie could play into the team's success this season, wide receiver Travis Benjamin.

Last season, the Browns receiving crew led the league in dropped passes and the Browns top receiver Greg Little had just 61 receptions for 709 yards. Forty-one other receivers finished with more catches.

"He's different than the guys we have, not just [in terms of] speed," Browns President Mike Holmgren told the Akron Beacon Journal. "He's smaller and quicker. He's a different receiver. We have bigger guys, not slow guys, but they're bigger."

Benjamin, the Browns fourth-round pick out of the University of Miami, caught 41 passes for 609 yards and three touchdowns last season for the Hurricanes and ended his collegiate career with 2,146 total reception yards -- only five other players have tallied more than 2,000 receiving yards in Miami history.

"When you look at him and see his size, you think he's just a slot receiver," George McDonald, Cleveland's wide receiver coach from 2009 to 2010 and current Miami wide receiver coach said. "But with his speed and quickness, he can do a lot of things on the perimeter also. I think he has the unique ability to be flexible enough to have a skill set that allows him to play both spots."

Benjamin also brings some baggage to Cleveland after receiving more than $150 in extra benefits in the form of meals and entertainment from former Miami booster and convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro. Shapiro reportedly said he provided Benjamin with extra benefits beginning in his freshman season. The wide receiver was suspended from the Hurricanes season opener in 2011 and ordered to repay the benefits.

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Kellen Winslow rocks the Hard Rock over the weekend


Kellen Winslow was at one of the lowest points of his life when he crashed his motorcycle in 2005. The incident made him a punching bag for sports pundits, but believe it or not, the crash might have spawned a second career for Winslow after football.

Faced with plenty of time on his hands during rehab, Winslow started tinkering with mixing music.

How does that old cliche go, when life gives you lemons, you mix it up on a turntable.

Winslow had long been musically gifted, taking piano lessons as a kid and playing the saxophone for a year. (He doesn’t practice the piano anymore, nor can he read music, but give him a half hour, he can certainly play by ear.) He even liked to make play lists as a kid, so become a DJ seemed like the next logical step.

That journey led to his first professional gig at the Breathe Pool Lounge at Beachlife at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Sunday. Despite the nervousness, Winslow said everything went off without much of a hitch. Winslow kicked off his set with “Amsterdam” by Luminary and just free styled the rest of the afternoon.

“It was great,” Winslow said. “It was everything I thought it would be. I messed up on one song, but I don’t think anybody noticed.”

Winslow doesn’t have any future gigs lined up, but he would like to DJ after his playing days are done and eventually move on to producer.

Winslow started with hip-hop when he first started spinning seven years ago, going with performers such as 50 Cent, Nas, DMX, Ludacris and Busta Rhymes. Now he specializes in trance, techno and house music. But Winslow admits that he likes all kind of music. He admits 90 percent of the stuff he listens to is house, techno and trance, but as for the other 10 percent he enjoys Foo Fighters, Blink 182, Daughtry and Creed.

Wait, Creed? Are you sure you want to admit that?

“Creed was awesome,” Winslow said.

Well, we’ll just have to take his word for it now. He is a professional.

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Jonathan Vilma Requests To See NFL's Bounty Evidence Against Him

May 7, 2012
Via E-Mail
Roger Goodell
National Football League
345 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017

RE: Jonathan Vilma
Dear Commissioner Goodell:

We are writing on behalf of our client Jonathan Vilma. Mr. Vilma, along with other NFL players, has filed pleadings in two other forums seeking to resolve the issue of the proper jurisdiction to address the instant dispute alleging his participation in a so-called "pay-for-performance/bounty" program at various times during the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons. Those pleadings have been filed before the System Arbitrator, pursuant to Article 14, Section 3 and Article 15, Section 1 of the August 4, 2011 CBA, and before the Non-Injury Grievance Arbitrator, seeking an order of compliance with Article 3, Section 3(b). We are also obviously aware that you have attempted to impose discipline pursuant to a Notice dated May 2, 2012.

As you are aware, we have previously requested your Office to provide evidence gathered during the course of the NFL's investigation that supports, corroborates or relates in any way to the many allegations you and the NFL have disseminated in the media regarding Mr. Vilma's alleged participation in a purported bounty program and which in summary form is described in your May 2, 2012 Notice setting forth Mr. Vilma's proposed punishment. The NFL has refused to provide a single piece of evidence to us. That approach to this serious matter was reflected in the NFL's outside counsel's disturbing recent statement to the media that the players' requests to review and understand the alleged evidence against them is a "red herring.' Rather, to be able to share, discuss and analyze the supposed evidence that has been gathered is a fundamental cornerstone of a fair and just process, and a vital prerequisite to uncovering the truth. Indeed, the failure of the NFL to conduct itself in a just manner has compromised the process and resulted in erroneous and damaging conclusions.

As we prepare for future proceedings, we request the NFL to provide immediately the following in order to assure that resolution of this dispute not be delayed and that Mr. Vilma has a fair opportunity as quickly as possible to remedy the harm that is being done to his reputation and to his career:

1. All documents and communications evidencing a "pay-for-performance/bounty" program, including, but not limited to, any ledger, notebook, record or record book, payment slip, note or entry of any sort, or evidencing that no such "pay-for-performance/bounty" program existed and/or involved Mr. Vilma;
2. All documents and communications evidencing that Mr. Vilma established, or assisted in establishing, a "pay-for-performance/bounty" program or any other program in violation of NFL rules, or evidencing that Mr. Vilma did not have a role in establishing, or assisting in the establishment of, such "pay-for-performance/bounty" program;
3. All documents and communications evidencing that Mr. Vilma "pledged," made or received payments of any kind resulting from an opposing player being carried off the field, i.e., "cart-offs," including but not limited to any ledger, notebook, record or record book, payment slip, note or entry of any sort, or evidencing that Mr. Vilma did not "pledge," make or receive payments resulting from an opposing player being carried off the field, i.e., "cart-offs"
4. All documents and communications evidencing that Mr. Vilma "pledged," made or received payments of any kind resulting from an opposing player being unable to return to the game, i.e., "knockouts," including but not limited to any ledger, notebook, record or record book, payment slip, note or entry of any sort, or evidencing that Mr. Vilma did not "pledge," make or receive payments resulting from an opposing player being unable to return to the game, i.e., "knockouts";
5. All documents and communications evidencing that Mr. Vilma "pledged," made or received payment of any kind resulting from an opposing player being injured, including but not limited to any ledger, notebook, record or record book, payment slip, note or entry of any sort, or evidencing that Mr. Vilma did not "pledge," make or receive payments resulting from an opposing player being injured;
6. All documents and communications evidencing that Mr. Vilma "targeted" an opposing player in any manner that would violate NFL rules, or evidencing that Mr. Vilma did not "target" an opposing player in any manner;
7. All documents and communications evidencing that Mr. Vilma engaged "in unsafe and prohibited conduct intended to injure players" or did not engage "in unsafe and prohibited conduct intended to injure players";
8. All documents and communications evidencing that Mr. Vilma "participate[d] in a program that potentially injured opposing players," or evidencing that Mr. Vilma did not "participate[d] in a program that potentially injured opposing players";
9. All documents and communications evidencing that Mr. Vilma "embraced" a "pay-for-performance/bounty" program or any other program in violation of NFL rules, or evidencing that Mr. Vilma did not "embrace" a "pay-for-performance/bounty" program or any other program in violation of NFL rules;
10. All documents and communications evidencing that Mr. Vilma offered, paid or intended to pay $10,000, or any amount of money, to any player for knocking Kurt Warner, Brett Favre, and/or any other player, out of the 2009 Divisional Playoff Game, 2010 NFC Championship Game, or any other game, or evidencing that Mr. Vilma did not engage in such activity;
11. All statistics of any nature gathered in the course of the 'bounty program' investigation relating to penalties assessed against Mr. Vilma and all other New Orleans Saints players during the years 2009 - 2011;
12. All game film of New Orleans Saints games and players gathered in the course of the `bounty program' investigation of exhibition games, regular season games and playoff and championship games during the years 2009 - 2011;
13. All tape recordings of any sort gathered in the course of the 'bounty program' investigation relating to meetings of any sort that occurred during the years 2009 - 2011;
14. All witness statements, notes of interviews and declarations gathered during the course of the 'bounty program' investigation;
15. The names and identification of all persons interviewed by the NFL and all persons acting on behalf of the NFL during the course of the 'bounty program' investigation;
16. The names and identification of all witnesses the NFL plans to present at Mr. Vilma's Appeal Hearing; and
17. All evidence the NFL plans to offer or use in any manner at Mr. Vilma's Appeal Hearing.

Thank you for your consideration of the above.

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Leonard Hankerson's hip not 100 percent, Will Be Ready For Camp

Washington Redskins second-year receiver Leonard Hankerson said his recovery from hip surgery is progressing nicely, and he remains on schedule to be fully ready by the start of training camp in late July.

Hankerson - Washington’s third-round draft pick in 2011 - tore the labrum in his right hip midway through last season. Originally, it was believed that he wouldn’t need surgery. But after an extensive rehab process, doctors ordered that Hankerson go under the knife.

Hankerson had surgery the last week of February, and didn’t appear to walk with a limp Monday while attending teammate Brian Orakpo’s Leukemia Golf Classic.

“I’m feeling good, getting better every day,” said Hankerson, who hadn’t spoken to reporters since he suffered his injury in Week 9 of last season. “Not quite there yet, but hopefully I will be in a couple of weeks.”

The Redskins believe that Hankerson will be an important weapon on offense. Coach Mike Shanahan said the Miami product could start this season alongside free agent additions Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan.

Hankerson said he’s eager to receive clearance to begin working with rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III and his fellow receivers.

“Everyone is very excited. ... It’s going to be an exciting year for us,” Hankerson said. “I just have to go out there and be me, go out there and try to get better each week; do the little things moving forward.”

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Jon Beason : The Beast Is Back

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Ryan Braun hits another one out

Ryan Braun stayed hot Monday, singling and blasting a solo homer in a loss to the Reds.

With Rickie Weeks, Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart all struggling, Braun is essentially a one-man wrecking crew right now. He's homered five times over the last six games and now has nine longballs and 19 RBI on the year.

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Jon Jay breaks streak

St. Louis Cardinals OF Jon Jay went 0-for-2 with two walks and a sacrifice Thursday, May 3, to snap his season-high 11-game hitting streak. He hit .488 (21-for-43) during the streak.

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Yonder Alonso has 2 RBIs to help Padres defeat Rockies 3-2

SAN DIEGO — Finally, Edinson Volquez got his first win with San Diego, and the Padres became the last NL team to get to 10 victories.
Volquez got some help from the bullpen to earn his first victory in seven starts and Yonder Alonso drove in two runs to lead the Padres to a 3-2 victory against the Colorado Rockies on Monday night.

“About time,” said Volquez, acquired from Cincinnati in the offseason. “It feels good. I don’t care how I win the game, but I want to win.”

Volquez (1-2) allowed two runs and five hits in 5 1-3 innings, struck out five and walked four. His ERA went up slightly, to 2.98.

“Tonight I wasn’t sharp like my last three games,” Volquez said. “It happens sometimes. Sometimes you feel like you have nothing and tonight was one of those days. The bullpen came on and did a pretty good job.”

He allowed a run in the sixth on two singles and a walk before being relieved by Joe Thatcher with runners on first and second and one out. Thatcher struck out Todd Helton before Brad Brach came on and caught Michael Cuddyer looking at strike three. Carlos Gonzalez singled in a run that inning to pull the Rockies to 3-2.

“Good ‘W’ for Eddie. He deserved it. He pitched well,” manager Bud Black said. “He battled his tail off today. Found a little bit of a groove in the middle of the game ... then it sort of left him again. But he battled. He really couldn’t find the consistency of any of his pitches. It just goes to show you how this game it. He ended up getting the win on probably one of those starts where he wasn’t his sharpest.

“That was a typical Petco Game where it comes down at the end to relief work or a big hit, and today was relief work and the Rockies didn’t get the big hit,” Black said.

The Rockies were held to five hits.

“That’s not enough to win a game here,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said, “especially when you have two guys that have two hits each.”

The Rockies lost their fourth straight game and their shaky rotation took another hit. Left-hander Drew Pomeranz left with a bruised right quad in the fourth, two innings after he was hit by a line drive by Volquez.

Pomeranz stuck around long enough to hit his first career homer, driving a ball off the facade of the second-deck in left field off Volquez with one out in the third.

Pomeranz was hit on the right leg by Volquez’s liner with one out in the second. He fielded the ball and threw out Volquez. He was checked by the trainer and stayed in the game.

Tracy said he doesn’t think Pomeranz will miss his next start.

Pomeranz (0-2) was the fourth straight Rockies starter who failed to reach the sixth inning. He allowed three runs and five hits in three innings, walked three and struck out two.

Alonso singled in runs in the first and third innings. Another run scored in the second on a wild pitch.

Dale Thayer pitched the ninth for his second career save and first since his major league debut on May 22, 2009, at Florida while with Tampa Bay.

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Aubrey Huff: 'I Freaked Out'

Aubrey Huff was standing in his New York hotel room at 5 o'clock in the morning in the early stages of what would be an eight-hour panic attack. The Giants were to play a doubleheader against the Mets that afternoon and evening. Baseball was the last thing on Huff's mind.

"I couldn't breathe," Huff recalled. "I felt I was taking short breaths. Right then and there I thought I was having a heart attack. I told myself, 'I'll be damned if I'm going to be sitting in this hotel room and die of a heart attack. I've got to get out of here.' "

And so he did, starting the odyssey of a ballplayer who left the Giants two weeks ago to go home to Florida, where he had a second panic attack one day later and, finally, after insisting to the team that he had a "family emergency," phoned trainers and described what really happened.

Huff told his story for the first time Friday in a 20-minute conversation with The Chronicle at AT&T Park. He returned to San Francisco a week ago to work out with teammates and, for the first time in his life, see a mental health professional. He expects to resume playing in Los Angeles on Monday night, when he is eligible to come off the disabled list.

"Obviously I've been seeing somebody here in town to kind of work out some of these issues," Huff said. "It took everything I could to get up here from Tampa after I freaked out, if you will. But since I got here I've been fine."

Tough years
Huff, a 35-year-old who has played in the majors for 13 seasons, has had a difficult life. His father was murdered in Texas when he was 6. He acknowledged Friday that he has had marital problems that he caused and other issues in the past 2 1/2 years. His poor play in 2011 has weighed on him, too.

But Huff does not have the answer that he, his loved ones and many fans are seeking: Why a player known for his joie de vivre and goofy demeanor was so panic-stricken on the morning of April 23 that he left his team and flew home without permission. That's not done, and it was a decision that he said would seem "dumb" to a right-thinking person but logical to him at the time.

"Where this panic attack came from, I don't know," he said. "All I know is it was there. I can't explain it. I almost wish I had broken my leg than had that. I can control that. I know what's happening. This, I didn't know what was happening. You can't control it. It's scary."

Moved to second
Two days before, the Giants had lost to the Mets at Citi Field after manager Bruce Bochy asked Huff to play second base, for the first time in his career, in the ninth inning. He made a mistake that contributed to the 5-4 defeat.

The next day's game was rained out, with a doubleheader scheduled for Monday before the team flew to Cincinnati.

That morning, Huff recalled, he woke at 3 o'clock to go to the bathroom, and that's when it began.

He tossed and turned, unable to sleep, his mind racing with thoughts of struggles on and off the field. At 5 a.m. he decided to get up.

"I open the window and see the New York skyline," he said. "The sun is starting to come up. I see all the huge buildings. I just freaked out. I don't know what happened. I couldn't figure out what it was. The room felt like it was getting smaller, a claustrophobic feeling. I couldn't control one thought in my head. There were so many thoughts going through."

Got to get home
His overriding thought, "If I'm going to die of a heart attack, I'm going to at least try to get home."

Huff packed, put on a suit and took a cab to the airport, where he bought a ticket for Tampa and lay along a wall at the gate, crouched on his bag, comforted by having other people around who could help him if he lost consciousness.

"I was shaking, sweating," he said. "I was telling myself, 'Just get on the plane. Just get on the plane.' "

Aboard the regional jet, Huff turned the air vent on full blast and spent the entire flight, still panicked, with his suit coat over his head, wondering if he should write a note to his family in case he died on the plane.

Somehow, the pilot's voice announcing the landing at Tampa finally calmed him, eight hours after the episode had begun. He went home and surprised his wife, Barbara, who thought Huff was joking when he texted he was coming home.

Huff even thought to himself, "What the heck am I doing in Tampa?"

He slept "like a rock" that day, figured it was a one-time episode and booked a flight to Cincinnati the next day to rejoin the team. He planned to stick with the "family emergency" line and hope nobody would be the wiser.

It happens again
However, when the Town Car driver rang his doorbell the next morning, Huff had another panic attack and stayed home. After lying in bed a short while he felt better and thought to himself, "This is ridiculous. I've got to call the trainers back."

Huff finally told the team what happened and was referred to a doctor in Florida who prescribed medication that he continues to take. In San Francisco, he has seen a therapist twice, 90 minutes each time, and has his phone number in case of an emergency.

He has not had to use it.

"Since I've been here I've had good days and bad days," he said. "Today's a great day. Yesterday was a good day. The day before was crappy. I didn't panic, but I felt a little overwhelmed, a little not normal. All in all, seeing this guy I'm seeing has really helped me."

Family support

Huff's wife and children remain his support network and are in San Francisco. Although she filed for divorce in January, he said the proceedings have been "pushed back" and they plan to stay together.

"Having gone through this is weird, because everything in my personal life has gotten better in the last four or five months," he said. "I did get served, but the last three or four months my family life has been better.

"She's been there for me since Day One. I've put her through so much crap. She's an amazing woman, and I'm going to spend the rest of my life trying to make her happy.

"For me, the last three years, especially during the World Series, I've given my heart and soul to baseball. It seems like sometimes my personal life with my family, I haven't given as much to them as I have to baseball."

Huff hopes the help he has gotten and the stress he has released will help him relax more on the field and play better. He also acknowledged a newfound appreciation for people with mental illness.

"To be honest with you, I was always taught that people who had anxiety issues were just weak-minded people," he said. "Now that it's happened to me, you see you can't control it. To people this has happened to, there's nothing you can say or do on the outside to make somebody feel better because they haven't experienced it."

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Yonder Alonso Improving At The Plate For The Padres

At 9-20, the Padres appear to be heading for a 100+ loss season.  Injuries, Rookies playing at the Big League level before they should, and poor performances put on display by most on the roster at inopportune times have made this almost 30 game start a bit of a disaster.  The start to this 2012 campaign has kind of reminded me at times of the terrific flick “Major League,” only the beginning of the movie, where the team appears hapless and cannot seem to find its bearings, not the end where the team ends up on a hot streak.  Parallels to arguably the best sports movie of all time aside, things on the whole have not gone well, and do not appear to improve for a while for our beloved Friars throughout the 2012 campaign.  “Negative Nancy” sentiments about the team’s fortunes in the immediate future aside, it is always better to make the best out of a bad situation.  With that in mind, there have still been some Padres in particular like Rookie First Baseman Yonder Alonso which have showed some improvement over the recent weeks.

As I am sure all of you remember, hopes were pretty high for the then-newly acquired Alonso to succeed as the Padres entered the 2012 season.  The First Base job was open for Alonso to seize in San Diego, and he was expected to hit 5th in a lineup which needed immense production from said spot.  Unfortunately for Alonso, the season’s first 17 games did not treat him well, and things looked bleak for the centerpiece of the “Latos Deal.”

Alonso was 11 for 53 (.196), had a .292 On Base Percentage, and a .250 Slugging Percentage.  Not exactly the production a team expected from a player with such high expectations, and I know some fans that were a tad restless with his lack of productivity at the time.

Undeterred by an early lack of success, Alonso appeared to have got things back on the right track on April 25th.  It was in that game where Alonso went 2 for 4 with 2 Doubles in a 7-2 Loss to Washington where he appeared to started his current streak of solid production at the plate.  Over his last 10 games, Alonso has gone 15 for 40 (.375), and emerged as one of San Diego’s most improved hitters.

During the aforementioned period, Alonso has raised his Batting Average from the paltry .196 mark to a team-leading (for a starter) .271, improved his On Base Percentage from .292 to .336, and best of all, upped his Slugging Percentage from .250 to .375.  Not outstanding numbers by any means, but it still has been nice to have watched his improvement over the last couple of weeks.

As of right now, Alonso is currently tied for the team lead in Hits (26), ranked second in Total Bases (36), and has hit the most Doubles (10) so far this season by any Padres player.  Trumpeted by management as a solid gap hitter, Alonso has done just that over the course of his last 10 games.  Yonder has hit 7 Doubles over said span and illustrated why his swing is very conducive to Petco’s cavernous dimensions and favor gap and opposite field power.

Despite his improvement, Alonso’s stat line which currently reads “0 Home Runs and 4 RBI’s” is a bit distressing to some.  To me however, I’m not overly worried about either statistic and feel like these are not causes for concern, at least in the short-term.  Alonso plays half his games at Petco, and some of those Doubles he has laced would have been easy Home Runs in other ballparks around the league.  As for his RBI total, Alonso and his other teammates cannot drive in runs, if there is nobody in scoring position, let alone on base.  If these numbers stay the same at the end of this month then I will begin to worry a bit, but for right now, they are simply numbers which he can easily improve (at least the RBI’s).

This article is by no means me saying that Alonso is a finished product, and we should forget what we had in Adrian Gonzalez and all his awesomeness.  In fact, Alonso still has a long way to go as a player, and the season is not even 1/5th of the way over.  It still would be nice to see Alonso develop a little bit more pop in his swing, he could use a bit more discipline at the plate (9 Walks to 18 Strikeouts is by no means bad but can be improved), and his Defense (4 Errors so far) could use some work.

Before the season began, I discussed how Alonso could be a possible Rookie of the Year candidate at the end of the season and why.  Granted, Alonso will probably have to increase his power and RBI numbers to force his way into the conversation by year’s end.  Still, if Alonso could put up a season of .280 15 HRs’s, 20 Doubles, and 80 RBI’s, he would turn some heads and have a nice foundation to build on after his first full season in the majors.  It is at least comforting to know now that shipping Latos out of town as well as Anthony Rizzo has not been a total loss.  Thus, let’s hope Alonso keeps improving at the plate and with the glove, because the Padres are going to need all they help they can get this season.

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Aaron Rodgers, Ryan Braun opening restaurant together

Eau Claire (WQOW) - Two of the state's top athletes are teaming up for a new restaurant venture.  

Green Bay Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Milwaukee Brewers Outfielder Ryan Braun have signed a licensing agreement for a new restaurant bearing their names. The 8*twelve restaurant is expected to open in late June in Brookfield -- and will feature American classics on a wood-fire grill.  it will be operated by the same group that operates Ryan Braun's graffito restaurant in Milwaukee.

MILWAUKEE (Press Release) – On Monday Milwaukee Brewers All-Star and Major League Baseball MVP, Ryan Braun and Green Bay Packer Pro-Bowl and National Football League MVP Aaron Rodgers announced they will open a new restaurant called 8*twelve. The restaurant will be located in Brookfield and owned and operated by SURG; making this the second Braun-SURG partnership and the first for Rodgers.

"Wisconsin has the greatest fans in the country," said Rodgers. "This is an excellent opportunity for me to work with Ryan on a project that will create something for fans of the Packers, Brewers and sports in general, to take part in and enjoy."

Located at 17800 W. Bluemound Rd., 8*twelve will offer American cuisine including many family favorites as well as steaks and seafood. Executive Chef Aaron Patin designed the menu, creating items that will offer an extra zest of flavor by being prepared in the wood fire grill, a center point of the kitchen. Fans of both players will see memorabilia in the bar area, which will also include numerous big-screen televisions to catch sporting events.

"Aaron and I are not only great friends, but we both have whole-heartedly made long-term commitments to the sports fans of Wisconsin," said Braun. "We wanted to give them a home base to celebrate their favorite teams and enjoy some great food and service."

Both Braun and Rodgers had a hand in developing the concept for 8*twelve, which is scheduled to open to the public in June. Guests of the restaurant can expect to see both players make scheduled and unscheduled appearances throughout the year.

"Ryan's involvement with Graffito has been such a positive experience for both sides, so when another opportunity presented itself in Brookfield, we all agreed to move forward," said SURG co-owner Omar Shaikh. "Aaron had expressed interest in the business after visiting Graffito a few times and with his friendship with Ryan, 8*twelve just fell into place. This will be great for the Brookfield area"

Mike Polaski, CEO and co-owner of SURG, feels the combination of two great players and amazing cuisine and staff will prove to be a winner. Plans for additional locations are being considered.

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Interview with closer Chris Perez

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Jacory Harris Gets Tryout With Eagles

When the Eagles hold their first rookie camp next week former Miami Hurricanes QB Jacory Harris will be in attendance for a tryout.

Harris tried out for the Dolphins this past week but evidently did not catch on there. Harris, who threw 70 TDs and 48 picks in his 3 year Miami career will give it another shot in Philadelphia.

Harris will find a friend and inspiration here in the form of another Hurricane RB Graig Cooper. He also went undrafted but managed to catch on with the Eagles last summer. He didn’t ultimately make the team, but was re-signed after last season.

“He was in the same situation as I am,” Harris said. “He told me just to be patient. Things may not work out the way you want at first, but as long as you keep trusting and believing in yourself then things are going to work out.”

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Olivier Vernon Didn't Think Dolphins Were Interested

Third-round pick Olivier Vernon is another hometown product from the University of Miami. He grew up in Miami, played for the Hurricanes and is now expected to add a pass rush for the Dolphins. "It's a better feeling to represent your hometown and put Miami on your back," Vernon said. "I knew they needed a pass-rusher, but I didn’t think [Miami] would be interested in me."

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Lamar Miller Still Not 100% Healthy

A lot of Dolphins fans are intrigued about fourth-round pick Lamar Miller from the University of Miami. He is considered one of the sleeper picks in this draft, whose stock fell because of a recent shoulder injury. The rookie tailback says he's getting healthy. He ran without limitation during team drills. "I felt pretty good to just come out here to compete," Miller said. "I’m showing the coaches what I can bring to the team, whether it's special teams or the offensive side of the ball."

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Olivier Vernon might be draft's best value?

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Bob McGinn suggests Dolphins third-round pick Olivier Vernon might turn out to be the best value pick in the draft.
It should be noted that McGinn is the most plugged-in draftnik in the nation. McGinn describes Vernon as a "tough guy, physical, explosive" and believes he should have been a second-round pick. Vernon's career path was headed for stardom as a sophomore before the Nevin Shapiro fiasco ruined his final college season. He will be a down defensive end in Kevin Coyle's 4-3 scheme.

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Travis Benjamin to handle slot duties

Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon-Journal expects fourth-round WR Travis Benjamin to contribute immediately as a slot receiver.
Ulrich expects Greg Little and Mohamed Massaquoi to return as starters with the speedy, undersized Benjamin stepping into slot duties. He should be able to beat out the inferior Jordan Norwood and Josh Cribbs for the job. The rookie out of Miami is also expected to help out in the return game.

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Leonard Morgan, Hankerson can play slot, Garcon won't

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said that Josh Morgan and Leonard Hankerson can play in the slot, but it's highly unlikely that Pierre Garcon will.
Garcon was exclusively an outside receiver with the Colts and figures to stick there. Hankerson mostly played outside last year, but only appeared in four games. Although he's mostly worked from the outside, Morgan has the most experience of the three in the slot, handling 40 percent of his snaps there in 2009. Expect Garcon to start at split end with Hankerson at flanker. Morgan and Santana Moss will compete for primary slot duties.

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Browns hope Travis Benjamin adds playmaking ability they desperately need in their receiving corps

Travis Benjamin isn’t considered a blue-chip wide receiver, but the Browns hope his elite speed will add a new dimension to their offense.

“He is extremely fast, and when you put speed on the field, it changes things,” coach Pat Shurmur said after the Browns drafted Benjamin in the fourth round (100th overall) last week. “We felt like he was going to add that element to our receiving corps.”

The Browns led the league in dropped passes last season and have not been able to get consistent production out of their receivers in recent years. Greg Little led the team last season with 61 receptions for 709 yards, but 41 receivers throughout the NFL finished with more catches.
Still, Browns General Manager Tom Heckert waited until the fourth round this year to address the glaring need. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Benjamin, the only receiver the Browns picked this year, should have an opportunity to earn significant playing time as a rookie.

“He’s different than the guys we have, not just [in terms of] speed,” Browns President Mike Holmgren said. “He’s smaller and quicker. He’s a different receiver. We have bigger guys, not slow guys, but they’re bigger.”

George McDonald served as the Browns’ wide receivers coach in 2009-10 before accepting the same position at the University of Miami, where he worked with Benjamin last season. When the Browns hold their rookie minicamp Friday through Sunday, McDonald believes they’ll gain a greater appreciation for Benjamin’s versatility.

“When you look at him and see his size, you think he’s just a slot receiver,” McDonald said in a phone interview. “But with his speed and quickness, he can do a lot of things on the perimeter also. I think he has the unique ability to be flexible enough to have a skill set that allows him to play both spots.”

Although the Browns have standout return man Josh Cribbs, McDonald said they could maximize Benjamin’s value by using him on special teams, too. Benjamin, who had 41 catches for 609 yards and three touchdowns last season as a senior, also was the Hurricanes’ primary return specialist.
“He has legitimate track speed where he can hit those jets,” McDonald said. “He’s not as big as Josh or as physical as Josh, but I think those two back there rotating or back there at the same time, it presents problems for the punters or the kickers deciding who they want to kick it to.”
Benjamin, though, must work to become a complete player.

“[He needs to] get in the weight room just to develop that strength to take some of the hits that he’ll take there,” McDonald said. “I think the biggest [adjustment] that most college receivers have to deal with when they come to the NFL is just to continue to work on their route-running skills and creating separation at the top of their breaks, because everything happens a little bit faster there.”

And like Little, Benjamin will bring some baggage to the league.

According to the NCAA, Benjamin received more than $150 in extra benefits, including meals and entertainment, from former Miami booster and convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro. Benjamin was one of dozens of players named by Shapiro in recorded interviews with federal agents, Yahoo! Sports reported last August. Shapiro said he provided Benjamin with extra benefits beginning Benjamin’s freshman season, according to the report. The NCAA suspended Benjamin for the 2011 season opener and ordered him to repay the benefits.

“The thing that happened here with him and those guys, it was an unfortunate situation that happened when they were young kids and coming into college,” McDonald said. “… I don’t think anything that happened in terms of that is a judgment on his character. When he was with us last year, we never had any issues with him. Travis is a stand-up guy. I would recommend him 100 percent in terms of his character.”
In 2011, the Browns drafted Little in the second round (59th overall), even though he missed the entire 2010 season at the University of North

Carolina because the NCAA ruled him permanently ineligible for receiving about $4,952 in impermissible benefits. After selecting Little, the Browns insisted they did their homework and felt comfortable with him, in part because they had the insight of tight ends coach Steve Hagen, who coached at North Carolina in 2007-08.

Shurmur suggested Browns quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple, the Hurricanes’ offensive coordinator from 2009-10, provided similar background information about Benjamin.

“We got some intimate knowledge of him,” Shurmur said. “Mark Whipple was with him in Miami. He talked about how this guy has got a great future. … He felt like this was a tremendous kid. Now we got to know him, and he is a hard guy not to like.”

The Browns, of course, will like Benjamin even more if he can evolve into the type of playmaking receiver they desperately need.


Jacory Harris attends Dolphins camp, believes things will work out for him in NFL

DAVIE — The simple fact he played at the University of Miami gives quarterback Jacory Harris an abundance of resources when it comes to learning about the NFL.

"We always talk to Andre Johnson. Jimmy Graham. Ed Reed. Those guys are like brothers to us. They take care of us," Harris said on the first day of Dolphins rookie camp.

But when it came to his situation, the perfect resource turned out to be former Hurricane running back Graig Cooper, who went undrafted last year but was invited to the Philadelphia Eagles training camp, stuck until the final cut, then was re-signed after the season ended.

"He was in the same situation as I am," Harris said. "He told me just to be patient. Things may not work out the way you want at first, but as long as you keep trusting and believing in yourself then things are going to work out."

Harris was not selected in last weekend's NFL Draft but is one of five ex-Hurricanes at this three-day camp, joining third-round pick and defensive end Olivier Vernon, fourth-round pick and running back Lamar Miller and a pair of free agents, defensive back Mike Williams and guard Joel Figueroa.

In three-plus seasons as UM's starter, Harris threw 70 touchdown passes and 48 interceptions and became an easy target for disgruntled Hurricanes fans.

Harris, who struggled with some throws Friday, is no better than fifth on the depth chart behind veterans Matt Moore and David Garrard, first-round pick Ryan Tannehill and practice squad holdover Pat Devlin. Still, he's getting exposure, and who knows where that could lead.

"It's a great opportunity," said Harris, from Miami Northwestern High School. "The Dolphin coaches gave me an opportunity to come out and show my skills, and that's what I'm trying to do. Just come out, learn about everybody, and have fun."

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Kayne Farquharson Has 3 TDs

LOVELAND, Colo. — Kayne Farquharson caught seven passes for 82 yards and three touchdowns as the Nebraska Danger captured its first road win of the season with a 45-33 victory over the Colorado Ice Saturday.

Farquharson caught two touchdown passes in the second half. The first was a 17-yarder from quarterback Rocky Hinds that gave the Danger (4-5) a 38-26 lead with 5 minutes, 1 seconds left in the third quarter.

“It was a big, big win,” Danger general manager Mike McCoy said. “They’re a very, very good team. They came in here 5-3 and were undefeated at home. We came in and played very well. We eliminated a lot of mistakes. We still made a few, but we were able to recover.”

The next Farquharson score was an 18-yarder from Hinds that put the Danger up 45-33 with 3:19 left in the game.

The Danger then held Colorado (5-4) on a fourth-and-goal from the 6-yard line to take possession with less than 1:30 left in the game.

Hinds completed 17-of-30 passes for 193 yards and four touchdowns.

The recently-acquired Jameel Sewell also made his presence felt. The new Danger back-up quarterback had two carries for 12 yards that helped when the Danger were down in scoring position.

“That was key when our back-up quarterback came in and had a couple of good runs,” McCoy said.

McCoy said the Danger defense also made its share of big plays and held the Ice to just 175 total yards.

“The defense had some big hits tonight,” he said. “They came to play. You love to see that, and we had a kickoff return for a touchdown (by Travars Pressley) as well.”

McCoy said this should give the team a good lift heading into Saturday’s game at Omaha.

“We couldn’t be happier,” he said. “We’re just going to enjoy this tonight and get ready to play Omaha next week. It’s a huge game. We’ll try to get a lot of Danger fans over there.”

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Mike Shanahan said Santana Moss is in "excellent shape"

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said Santana Moss is in "excellent shape" and 15 pounds lighter than he finished last season.

Moss' roster spot was expected to be in jeopardy after the additions of Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan. Things are looking up now, however, after Moss reported in good shape in addition to the team cutting Jabar Gaffney. Moss is expected to compete for reps with Leonard Hankerson and Morgan behind Garcon.

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Bryant McKinnie at camp to lose weight

Looking to get back into Pro-Bowl form, Baltimore Ravens tackle Bryant McKinnie is treating the team's voluntary offseason workout as if it was mandatory.

"I feel like I'm on Celebrity Fit Club," McKinnie told the Ravens' official website.

McKinnie's weight shot up to 400 pounds during the lockout last offseason, leading the Minnesota Vikings, the only team the 10-year veteran had known, to cut him.

Now McKinnie is playing at 365 pounds and trying to lose 15 more.

"That would be that perfect weight, because when you get too light people start pushing you around," McKinnie said. "That would take away my advantage."

The Ravens have shown faith in McKinnie, reportedly picking up his roster bonus after meeting with him in March.

"They just wanted to see what I looked like physically, make sure I didn’t balloon up," McKinney. "It was important for them to see me here working and for me to take advantage of the time we have in the classroom."

The 6-foot-9 McKinnie was a first-round pick of the Vikings (No. 7 overall) in the 2002 NFL draft. He played college football at Miami.

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Kellen Winslow Jr. to DJ at Vegas pool lounge

Pro Bowl NFL tight end Kellen Winslow, Jr. of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be performing this weekend at one of Las Vegas’s hottest venues, Breathe Pool Lounge at Beachlife at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. During one of the city’s busiest weekends, Kellen will be entertaining partygoers all afternoon on Sunday, May 6th, from 3:00pm – 6:00pm.

Winslow looks forward to showcasing his serious off-the-field talent. “I’m really excited about DJing at the Hard Rock Hotel this Sunday. DJing has become a real passion of mine the past 7 years, so I’m really looking forward to a good time.”

Breathe Pool Lounge will be open from 11 a.m. until 3 a.m. this Sunday. Admission is $40 for ladies and $60 for men; local ladies get in free.

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Warren Sapp on his financial life after football

Last month a familiar story hit the front page of the sports section: "Multi-millionaire athlete declares bankruptcy." This time it was 39-year-old football legend Warren Sapp. He played defensive tackle for 13 seasons in the NFL, won a Super Bowl title with Tampa Bay in 2002 and banked -- by his own count -- $60 million. Now he's filed for Chapter 7 liquidation.

According to court papers, he owes creditors more than $6.7 million. Sapp says he made bad real estate investments just before the housing bust, among other financial woes. And because of the debt, his paychecks as an analyst for the NFL Network were garnished. He also specifically pointed to an expensive divorce and taking a huge paycut (from $5 million annually to less than $1 million) as factors that led him into his financial predicament.

He's hardly alone. According to Sports Illustrated, nearly 80 percent of NFL players file for bankruptcy within two years of their retirement.

"Trust me, you don't choose this," Sapp said.

He said while most people may not understand how he got into the financial trouble that he did, he wanted to clarify that he is current on his child support payments.

"I will eat trash before my children are not not taken care of," he said.

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Shenise Johnson Scores 11 Pts in Preseason Game

In so many ways, rookie guard Shenise Johnson is a portrait of today's Silver Stars. She's young, talented, skilled and full of potential.
But with a less than a week of WNBA training camp under her belt, Johnson — like a lot of teammates — is learning on the fly, adjusting to the speed and physical play of the game.

That ebb and flow was the glaring imprint of the Silver Stars' 69-67 loss to Indiana in a WNBA preseason game at Trinity University on Saturday.
The Fever scored the game's final seven points, including Briann January's game-winning layup with 2.7 seconds remaining. Former Silver Stars guard Roneeka Hodges led Indiana with 16 points.

Silver Stars guard Danielle Robinson barely missed a heave from halfcourt as time expired.

“I don't think it was even a typical preseason game because I think it's so early,” Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes said. “Like I told the team, it gave us an opportunity to take a small look at what we did in the first week. We had no Sophia Young. You had no Becky Hammon. You had no Tangela Smith. So, it's really hard to really say what our team is just yet. But we did learn a little bit about other people.''

Young scored four points in eight minutes but didn't play in the second half after tweaking her groin. Hughes said Young could have played, but he decided against it. Smith didn't dress for the game, and Hammon is expected to arrive in town Monday.

With many of the team's big names either sidelined or not in town, Saturday's game provided some of the Silver Stars' younger players a moment to show what they can do.

Johnson, the team's first-round pick, had 11 points and five rebounds in 26 minutes. Her jump shot with 2:45 left put the Silver Stars ahead 67-62. The basket concluded a 13-0 run that saw the Silver Stars turn around a 62-54 deficit.

Danielle Adams led the Silver Stars with 12 points, and Jia Perkins and Ziomara Morrison scored 10 apiece.

But after taking a five-point lead with under three minutes left, the Silver Stars didn't score again, missing their final four shots and committing the last of their 22 turnovers.

“It was extremely physical, a different game,” Johnson said of her first WNBA game. “It was fun.”

“It's extremely hard to try and get chemistry together in five days,” she added. “It's not enough time. But like Sophia said, May 19, it'll be a different, different story, different result.''

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Guillermo Diaz and Armia win game 1 of the Georgian Playoffs

GEORGIA - Miami Tropics Alumni Guillermo Diaz scored 11 points, to help lead Armia to their 100 - 70 win over Samedicino Academia, in round 1 of their quarter finals playoff series on Friday in the Georgian Basketball League.

Diaz’ end game consisted of hitting 3 of 4 shot attempts (1/2 from three-point range and 2/2 from the free-throw line) and finished with 11 points and 2 rebounds in 15 minutes.

Armia leads the quarter finals series 1 game to 0.

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Chris Perez reaches double-digits in saves

Cleveland Indians RP Chris Perez worked a perfect 12-pitch ninth inning Friday, May 4, against the Texas Rangers for his 10th save of the season. After blowing his first save chance of the season April 5, Perez has converted 10 straight save chances and allowed just one earned run in 11 innings over the past 12 appearances.

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Jon Jay pulls off another heist

HOUSTON _ Jon Jay, doing his best impersonation of Terry Moore, Curt Flood, Willie McGee and Jim Edmonds, all great Cardinals defensive center fielders of the past, turned in his sixth extraordinary play of the three-game series here in the fifth inning today.

With a runner at first base and nobody out, center fielder Jay and left fielder Matt Holliday raced toward the left-center-field canyon in chase of pinch hitter Houston pinch hitter Justin Maxwell's drive. As the flyhawks seemed about to collide, Holliday pulled up short and Jay made a sliding catch at the warning track.

Second baseman Tyler Greene then started a nifty double play to take Adam Wainwright out of the inning. 

Greene, who earlier had driven in three runs, ran his way to another run in the sixth as the Cardinals went ahead, 7-1.

Greene walked, stole second and had third stolen, too, as Wainwright grounded to the third baseman. Green then scored on Rafael Furcal's infield hit.

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Ryan Braun blasts eighth homer in losing effort

Ryan Braun (Achilles) returned to the Brewers lineup on Saturday and blasted his eighth home run of the season in a losing effort against the Giants.
Braun finished the game 1-for-4. After getting off to a slow start, he has really hit his stride as of late and is now batting .281 with eight homers and 18 RBI on the season. The 28-year-old should be able to continue playing through his Achilles tendon soreness.

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No decision yet on when Aubrey Huff will return

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy said there is still no decision regarding Aubrey Huff, who is eligible to come off the disabled list on Monday.

"We'll talk it over with him and make sure he's ready," Bochy said.

Huff went on the 15-day DL with an anxiety disorder after he suffered an episode while the team was in New York. He has remained with the team and been participating in baseball-related activities

Bochy said there is a chance Huff will play a couple of games in the Minor Leagues as a part of a rehab assignment.

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Jon Jay continues his scorching-hot start

HOUSTON -- Jon Jay's hitting streak ended at 11 games on Thursday. But the Cardinals' center fielder was back at it again on Friday, adding two more hits to his season total. He hit .488 during the streak and had three three-hit games in the first five games of the recent homestand.

Just how hot is Jay's bat? Despite two hits (2-for-5) on Friday, Jay actually lowered his batting average to .414 for the season. He doesn't have enough at-bats to qualify, but if he did, Jay would be leading the National League in hitting.

Jay said he felt the key to his recent hitting streak was not pressing and staying within his simple game plan.

"Just go out there and try to have good at-bats," Jay said. "As simple as it may sound, just swing at strikes and take the balls. That's my game plan out there. I think anytime any hitter does that, they're going to have some success. So that's pretty much all I'm trying to do right now.

"I don't think about hitting streaks or what I'm doing personally. I feel like if we win a ballgame, I've done something right. That's the way I measure my successes."

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Chris Perez navigating the closers' tar pit

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Through one-plus month of the baseball season, closing has proven hazardous to the mental and physical health. If closers are not getting rocked, they are tearing ACLs while shagging fly balls in batting practice.

The Indians have been fortunate. Not only has their closer survived, he has thrived. Chris Perez has 10 saves in 11 opportunities and a 3.09 ERA after Friday's 6-3 victory over Texas. Since a rocky appearance on Opening Day, when he gave up three runs in two-thirds of an inning in a blown save against Toronto, he has allowed one run in 11 innings of 12 appearances.

While Perez has lived up to his All-Star status of last season, a number of his peers has had all sorts of issues. Here is a sampling of what already has befallen closers:

Mariano Rivera, Yankees: The greatest ever suffered a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee during batting practice Thursday at Kansas City. He was tracking a fly ball hit by former Indian Jayson Nix. Rivera, 42, is a 12-time All-Star.

Brian Wilson, Giants: The three-time All-Star underwent Tommy John surgery in April, the second such surgery of his career.

Joakim Soria, Royals: The two-time All-Star injured his right elbow in spring training and underwent reconstructive surgery.

Sergio Santos, Blue Jays: He was placed on the disabled list April 21 because of right-shoulder inflammation. He is 2-for-4 in save chances and owns a 9.00 ERA in six games.

Carlos Marmol, Cubs: He entered Friday at 2-for-4 and owned a 6.23 ERA in 12 games. He was replaced as closer this week.

Heath Bell, Marlins: He entered Friday at 3-for-6 and owned an 11.74 ERA in 10 games. He went 43-for-48 last year with San Diego.

J.J. Putz, Diamondbacks: He entered Friday at 5-for-7 and owned a 6.48 ERA in nine games. He went 45-for-49 last year.

Jose Valverde, Tigers: He entered Friday at 4-for-5 and owned a 5.59 ERA in 10 games. In the 2011 regular season, he was 49-for-49 and had a 2.24 ERA.

Alfredo Aceves, Red Sox: He entered Friday at 5-for-7. In the two blown saves, he gave up eight runs.

Perez did not need to be informed as to how difficult it has been for closers this season.

"We're sort of a fraternity,'' he said. "We feel for each other, because we understand how short people's memories can be. You're always one or two bad streaks away from them calling for your job. And that's how it should be. When you have the lead after eight innings, you've got to win those games.''

Nothing to see here: Perez does not care what a TV replay might suggest or what White Sox outfielder Alex Rios says. Perez reiterated Friday afternoon that he directed no ill will toward Rios at the end of Thursday night's game in Chicago.

As Rios grounded to Asdrubal Cabrera for what was to become the final out of a 7-5 Tribe victory, Perez is seen turning toward the first-base line and yelling. As Rios runs to first, Perez's head follows him.

Rios reached the bag and immediately turned. He flapped his arms and barked at Perez.

"When I was running to first, he was yelling the whole way,'' Rios told reporters. "I don't know what was wrong with him. He just started yelling at me. For no reason. I couldn't tell what he was saying; he was just staring and saying something.''

Perez said he simply was pleased that the Indians prevailed.

"I wasn't talking anything to Rios,'' he said. "I couldn't care less if it was he or (A.J.) Pierzynski or (Paul) Konerko -- whoever made the last out, I was going to do the same thing. It was for the team. We had just won a series on the road.''

Perez maintained that his look toward the first-base line only was to follow the ball into first baseman Casey Kotchman's glove.

"When I knew Cabby had it, I yelled, '(Expletive), yeah! Game's over!''' Perez said. "I watched the ball go to first, then Rios spun on me. I said, 'What? The game's over. What's your problem?'''

Rios said: "If you are celebrating, that's not the right way to do it.''

Rios said he has no history with Perez -- but he does have a walkoff grand slam against him. On Sept. 10, 2011, Rios's blast with one out in the 10th inning gave the White Sox a 7-3 victory.

"Rios was happy after he hit that homer, as he should be,'' Perez said. "And I had a right to be happy after we won a series in their place.''
Give him his due: Count Perez and his teammates among those pleased that Rivera has vowed to return next season. Rivera is MLB’s all-time saves leader with 608.

“You want to see him keep going, for all that he’s meant to the game,” Perez said. “As an athlete, you always want to go out on your own terms and not because you’re not good enough or because of injury.”

Tribe left fielder Johnny Damon said: “He’s one of the greatest pitchers of all time — not just relievers.”

Damon, who played with Rivera in New York, said the closer always has enjoyed running down balls in batting practice.

“For the past 17 years, he probably was the best center fielder the Yankees had,” Damon said. “That’s how good of a shagger he was.”

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Lauryn Williams again dreaming of Olympics

MIAMI -- Her friends kept walking through the door, wearing black and purple, the colors of mourning. Lauryn Williams certainly wasn't dead, but the girl they knew had been retreating further and further inside for years now, and they felt she needed to know this was serious.

Williams was glad to see them, but as they arrived unannounced at her mother's home, one after the other, she got the feeling they hadn't ventured to suburban Miami for a backyard barbecue.

Since becoming the World's Fastest Woman in 2005, Williams' life had not gone according to plan. It was now August 2011, and she had not recorded another personal best. Even worse, her times had plummeted after taking the 2010 season off from intense training.

It was during that leave from the heat of competition that she was supposed to have found clarity. The 2009 season was her first without the bullish support of her father, longtime Rochester and Beaver County resident David Williams, who died of leukemia in October 2008. She realized that she was no longer running for herself and that, after so many consecutive years on the track, she truly didn't know who she was past Lauryn Williams, 2004 Olympic silver medalist.

She had heard stories about people who had gone out searching and actually found themselves, and this would be her personal period of discovery, her own chapter of "Eat, Pray, Love." She went sky diving, hurtling through the South Florida humidity and landing in the farmland of Homestead, Fla., invigorated. She went snow skiing, played in an organized women's flag football league and traveled to Italy with her best friend, riding in a gondola in Venice. Most important to her, she ate whatever she wanted.

When she returned from her exploration, it was right back to the track, and all she'd really acquired were more fantastic experiences and some extra weight on her muscular 5-foot-2 frame.

"It didn't work," says Jamillah Wade, Williams' friend who accompanied her to Italy. "We thought that the more we did it, we'd figure it out at some point. But nothing worked. She didn't figure anything out that she didn't already know."

In 2011, Williams failed to make the world championships for the first time in her career. Throughout a deflating few months, her bright and bubbly personality became gloomy too often. If she were going to make the 2012 U.S. Olympic team -- and become the young woman she wanted to be at the same time -- something had to change.

Wade and Williams' mother, Donna Williams, talked with a few other friends and decided they would meet with Lauryn and give her a jolt. They had indulged her impulses in hope of a new direction, and now it was their turn to offer a blueprint. They called it an "intervention."

That day, the group showed her a PowerPoint presentation, accompanied by music, with about 15 slides that listed her current "unLaurynlike" qualities. The tone alternated between heavy and light as Lauryn sat there overwhelmed, a tight bundle of conflicting emotions.

"Incredibly low," she says, "but also, just happy at the same time. Here are all these people outwardly expressing love, that they want what's best for me. It was a fight-or-flight thing. You can't roll over and give up."

During the presentation, the group suggested possible stimuli to help fuel her transition: Should she switch coaches? Should she move away from Miami after a decade here? The only certainty in that room was that Lauryn Williams, surrounded by the kind of blunt advocation her father could appreciate, was going to fight.

A regretful ending
David Williams had held strong so many times for his family, Lauryn would begin to assume the best in times of trouble. Repeatedly, he had knocked on death's door and had come back swinging harder than ever, so, when she heard her father was sick this time, it didn't immediately register as urgent.

"He was always one of those people that was so tough," Lauryn says. "People would tell you that he was sick, and you'd go, 'How sick?' That's what he taught us. He didn't want it to be a big deal."

On a Sunday morning in October 2008, Lauryn booked a Tuesday flight to Pittsburgh to see him in her hometown of Rochester. He died the day she booked the flight.

Lauryn was never one to show her emotions, and she came to Rochester for the funeral in a rigid state, considering the circumstances. They had not ended on the best terms. She had pulled away as he was trying to bring her close in what would be his final days, and she did not get to say goodbye. But she listened to the eulogies given by a cousin and a childhood acquaintance, both of whom David had taken under his wing as children and shepherded to better lives, and Lauryn's stubbornness became all too clear.

"It was the moment I realized, 'God, I've totally screwed this up, and now he's dead,' " Lauryn says. "I figured he would fly out of the casket, but he didn't. I had a lot of regret. I didn't really know that he was going to die."

From the moment that sixth-grader Lauryn moved in with David's new family in Rochester, her sprinting became a joint venture. It was David who took her to the Carnegie Science Center and encouraged her time after time to race against the video of former Olympic sprinter Florence Griffith-Joyner until she beat FloJo's time. That's when David was convinced he had a special talent on his hands.

It was David, the Trinidad and Tobago native with the booming baritone, who would drive her to races all over the Midwest and make sure to be the last voice she heard before the gun went off.

It was David who captured the country's imagination in 2004, traveling to watch his 20-year-old diva of a daughter compete in the Athens Olympics despite having to undergo daily dialysis treatments in a Greek hospital.

That year, in just her third season at the University of Miami, Lauryn won the NCAA championship in the 100 meters and, before she knew it, she was America's best chance at gold in the marquee event. She had a baby face, a sweet smile and a father who wouldn't take no for an answer. David was able to go thanks to a $10,000 donation from Sewickley Heights businessman Tim Wiebe, a cancer survivor himself.

On the ground in Greece, David sat at a McDonald's and did an interview with USA Today. The headline of the story read, "At the Olympics, a father's love knows no limits." Lauryn and David were Olympic darlings, and he'd look on with the rest of the family as she brought home the silver. Cameras found David and showed him on the video board at Olympic Stadium.

He was there for the inglorious finishes, too. In the 4x100 meter relay final, Lauryn, the anchor of the relay, had a failed exchange with Marion Jones, disqualifying the U.S. team from medal contention. By the time Lauryn received the baton from Jones, she had gone too far from her starting spot. Lauryn admitted afterward that she had left too early, but David was having none of that.

"She was primed and ready to go," David said. "Marion Jones just dropped the ball."

As the 2008 Beijing Games approached, David was sick again, and doctors wouldn't clear him to go. He watched from afar as Lauryn finished fourth in the 100 behind three Jamaican sprinters and suffered another botched handoff in the 4x100 relay that eliminated the U.S. for a second straight Olympics. David always said that Lauryn ran better when he was there, and there's little doubt that thought crossed his mind at home in Rochester.

Within three months, David was gone forever, and Lauryn was back in Miami, training for a 2009 season that never had her full focus. But it wasn't as if she was spending much time processing the loss of her father.

"I've never seen Lauryn cry," says Wade, who met Lauryn when the two ran for Miami. "After he died, I expected a lot more out of her. I expected her to grieve and go through this whole process, but she didn't. It was almost like, you wait for the breakdown, and the breakdown never happened."

Many in the world of track and field would view Lauryn's decision to walk away from the sport that had bestowed upon her fame, glory and a jet-setting existence as a breakdown in judgment. Her coaches and trainers, the people she trusted most, warned her that she may never be the same if she came back.

Lauryn weighed her options and couldn't shake what her gut was telling her. She had been sprinting nonstop since she was 9 years old, and maybe it was time to start running a new race.

Free falling
David and Donna Williams raised a well-rounded daughter. At Miami, Lauryn earned a finance degree. Then she added a real estate license. In 2008, as she trained for Beijing, she got an online MBA from the University of Phoenix. And she loved to cook -- a talent that was sure to draw the man of her dreams.

Except, when Lauryn came home each day to the suburban Miami home that she purchased as a 20-year-old with her first Nike contract, no Mr. Right was waiting for her, and she didn't have the time to cook anyway, opting instead for most of her meals at Donna's place.

Lauryn's life had been pretty fabulous. She knew that. But who's life was she living? And where was it going to take her once her powerful legs stopped moving as fast?

"It's just been really tough trying to define what it is for myself," Lauryn says. "I know I'm talented, I know I'm gifted, and this is a wonderful opportunity that I won't be able to do forever, but, at the same time, I've never really been as defined by track and field. It's never been my thing the same way it has for some of my friends in the sport who want to be legendary and stuff like that."

Lauryn didn't directly inform her mother that she was taking a year off from track. But Donna started to figure it out when her daughter was spending more time lying on her sofa than making the commute to Coral Gables for practice.

Amy Deem, Lauryn's coach at Miami, understood her star runner's need for personal time, but she also had never heard of a runner in her prime years taking a year off for anything other than pregnancy or to recover from injury. But this was Lauryn's journey, and they'd have to let her go.
There was snow skiing in New England with Donna and family friends. Lauryn skied for three days and was bold enough to attempt a black diamond slope her final day.

"I was totally freaked out!" she says. "I was like, 'Why'd you bring me up here?' "

She got down the mountain, navigating the moguls carefully, and then it was back to Miami, where rapper Trick Daddy invited her to play on his women's flag football team.

The plan was to just send Lauryn deep and throw it up to her for touchdown after touchdown, but there was a catch -- Lauryn had no hands.
"I was horrible," she says. "I lack coordination. They were looking at me like I was going to be the go-to person. They'd throw it to me, and it'd be on the ground. It definitely gave me a new respect for players."

Throughout her time away, finding a man became a priority. Lauryn had been meeting most of the men she dated in the track world, so Wade wanted to get her out and about in more normal settings. Each Wednesday, Wade took her to a spot where they could mingle.

Lauryn met attorneys, doctors, you name it, but nobody fully clicked with her.

"'I suck at dating," she says.

Wade has an explanation.

"Lauryn is extremely picky about guys," Wade says. "So we were trying to find a perfect guy. Who is he? Where is he? We couldn't find him. She's extremely intelligent, and she gets bored easily."

Lauryn had one final deeper mission that she wanted to complete before returning to the track in 2011. In December 2010, she traveled to Trinidad for 10 days, seeking to feel closer to -- and closure with -- her father.

Much of David's family was still there, and this place was a part of her she never knew. Her father was an expert cook, having opened a restaurant in Aliquippa, and she wanted to learn how to cook his Trinidadian dishes such as chicken curry.

"It did put me a little more in touch with him," Lauryn says. "The culture as a Trinidadian kid, we never really embraced it. We were American kids with a Trinidadian father. I just really wanted to get a feel for what it was like."

She came back to the track rejuvenated, expecting a seamless return. When that didn't happen, when she had to watch women she believed were lesser runners celebrating because they'd beaten Lauryn Williams, it humbled and depressed her.

The intervention was coming, and tough questions would be asked. How was she going to fix it? She began talking with coaches from around the country about working with them in preparation for this summer's London Games, and she strongly considered moving to Austin or Dallas in the fall. But Lauryn stayed loyal to Deem, who had been by her side for a decade.

Still, she had to get out of this rut. She began researching condos in downtown Miami, places that would make her feel 28 years old instead of 38 and put her in the position to meet that perfect guy.

On Oct. 1, she left behind her safe suburban life and moved into a 52nd-floor condo overlooking Biscayne Bay and Miami Beach. Whatever was going to happen in 2012, it was going to come with a breathtaking view.

This one's for Lauryn
A day with Lauryn Williams at 28 is full of contradictions.

Traveling on the above-ground Miami Metro Rail from her condo to her physical therapy session, she takes an elevator to go down.
"Sprinters are the laziest people," she says.

Yet, riding in her silver Honda RidgeLine pickup truck to go grocery shopping at Whole Foods on South Beach, it takes every bit of restraint she has not to run a woman on a yellow scooter off the road.

"I just hate these little scooters!" she says. "She's holding up my life right now! Why would it take us 10 minutes to get there when it can take us five! Complete disaster!"

Her patience comes and goes, but the infectious smile and excitable tone of voice rarely leave her.

She has reinvested in her running -- doubling down one last time on a bet that her body will follow along with her mind and rise to the occasion. Trainer Lisa Kearns, who has trained professional athletes such as Mike Piazza and Ty Law, is in charge of the body.

Lauryn leans back on a padded bench, letting Kearns tweak her tissue and muscles.

"A Ferrari," Lauryn says. "I require lots of love and care."

Everybody laughs. Even when Lauryn is taking care of her career responsibilities, the reality that she's a vibrant young woman who is still searching for life fulfillment is never far away.

"I'm gonna meet a guy today!" she announces to Kearns. "I'm putting it into the universe!"

Kearns says it still remains to be seen whether the year away can become a positive for Lauryn's running. While she wants to make the Olympic team for the third straight time -- the trials are June 21 to July 1 in Eugene, Ore.-- her overall goal is to run another personal best, beating her previous mark of 10.88 seconds. Her best time this season is 11.17, and Deem says that for her to make the team she likely would have to approach her personal record.

There's no question Lauryn has put everything into it. Since September, she has been on a mostly vegan and raw food diet, chipping away at the pounds she added in 2010. Her weight fluctuates more now -- a product of getting older -- but her mind is in the right place. Recently, she stopped dating a man she met in her building because he was unwilling to change his unhealthy eating habits. Nothing will get in her way -- for now.

What if she doesn't make it to London? Some close to her won't hear that as a possibility.

"Oh, heck yes, she's got another in her," Donna Williams says. "Unequivocally. And I think she could have another one in her after that. I'm seriously looking forward to going to London. I'm not accepting anything less!"

Lauryn knows her mother is banking on another magical trip overseas, and she often can feel her father watching her from above, rooting her forward. But she says she's doing it for herself this time.

Eight months after her friends voluntarily came to her aid, the sense is that Lauryn's move downtown has renewed her in some way. Maybe it's the view, maybe it's the new diet, maybe it's the daily interaction with the city folk on the public train. Whatever it is, it is better than it was.

"Lauryn is extremely happy right now," Wade says. "She is very stable. Emotionally, she's in the best state of mind I've seen her in the last two years."

Lauryn feels it, too. If she doesn't make the Olympics, she says she will be OK. Her desires of more Olympic medals now mingle with dreams of opening up a food truck with her mother in downtown Miami.

The best sign that Lauryn Williams might have one more burst of glory in her? A month ago, Wade noticed that Lauryn had changed her status and picture on her BlackBerry messenger account.

The picture now shows Lauryn years ago, at the top of her game. The message with it? She's somewhere in me.

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