Frank Gore Ranked the 46th Best NFL Player


Frank Gore was rated the 46th best NFL player by the NFL Network and below you can see Warren Sapp’s reaction to that!


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Jon Beason leaves OTAs after NY Giants linebacker injures right foot

For all the millions of dollars the Giants spent on their defense during the offseason, they know there is still one player they can’t afford to lose. That’s why they were holding their breath on Thursday morning after linebacker Jon Beason had to be carted off the practice field with an injured foot.

The middle linebacker, and likely defensive captain, suffered what Tom Coughlin first described as an injury to the bottom of his right foot midway through the Giants’ second to last OTA. Coughlin later said he wasn’t sure what part of the foot Beason hurt, only that he “felt something” while running across the field during a play.

Beason pulled up limping after suffering the injury, but he was able to walk over to the sidelines where trainers examined his foot, before summoning a cart. The only good news was he was at least able to ride in the passenger seat, rather than having to lay across the back.

He was later sent to the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan for further evaluation. No update was immediately available. Coughlin’s only prognosis was, “We’ll see.”

The coach did not hedge on the importance of the 29-year-old Beason, calling him “very important. Because of the nature of the player, the man, the attitude, what he brings to the table, the leadership skills, (he’s) very important,” Coughlin said.

That was clear last October when the Giants acquired him in a trade with the Carolina Panthers for a seventh-round pick. Beason joined a defense that was often marked by confusion and immediately settled things down. His teammates frequently credited him for his leadership and the way the unit jelled, finishing as the eighth-ranked defense in the NFC.

The Giants were so pleased with Beason that he was rewarded with a three-year, $16.8 million contract in March, despite his long and troublesome injury history. A first-round pick of the Panthers in 2007 and a three-time Pro-Bowler (2008, 2009, 2010), Beason tore his left Achilles in 2011 and missed all but one game that season.

One year later he landed on injured reserve again with injuries to his knee and his shoulder. Both required surgery, but the surgery on his right knee was a microfracture procedure to fix damaged cartilage. That knee was still bothering him a year later when he lost his job in Carolina to ex-Giants linebacker Chase Blackburn, which led to his trade to Big Blue.

He certainly did not look hurt in his 12 games with the Giants last season. In fact, he looked like a player the Giants could build around. After Beason left on Thursday, the Giants rotated rookie Devan Kennard, veteran Mark Herzlich and newly acquired Jameel McClain in his middle linebacker spot.

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Frank Gore thwarts Father Time to drive San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers have brought in rookie Carlos Hyde from Ohio State, have Marcus Lattimore ready to show what he can do after a year of rehabilitation, and can hand the ball off to Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James, a pair of quick, slashing runners.

The San Francisco corps of running backs in 2014 will be deep and talented.

But despite the obvious skills of Hyde, Lattimore, Hunter and James, Frank Gore remains the team’s No. 1 running back.

And, it seems, he has no thoughts about stepping aside or slowing down, even though he turned 31 in May, an age when most running backs hit a wall and begin to show the wear and tear of all the hits they’ve taken.

Gore, however, is different than most running backs, and a profile of Gore and his intense workout regimen, published this week by Ryan Maquinana on, goes a long way toward explaining how Gore seemingly hasn’t been affected by age.

At age 30 in 2013, Gore rushed for 1,128 yards and nine touchdowns and again showed he was one of the best-blocking running backs in the NFL. It was his third straight season of more than 1,100 yards rushing and his sixth 1,000-yard season in his last seven.

Recently, Gregg Rosenthal of noted that Gore was selected the 46th best player in the league in the NFL Network’s annual ranking of the top 100 players.

“It’s amazing to think that Frank Gore’s durability was a big question for him coming out of college,” Rosenthal wrote. “The last of a dying breed at running back, Gore is still going strong at age 31 for the 49ers. He deserves to be No. 46 overall because he does every aspect of his job well. If I had to choose one running back to get three yards to save my life, (Gore) is the pick.”

So how does Gore do it? How does he remain durable, strong and effective? Maquinana’s story provides the answers.

Gore works out harder than most of his peers, and uses naysayers as motivation. This offseason he works out regularly in a high-altitude simulation dome, doing sit-ups to “the point of exhaustion” and lifting weights. His system is to have no system, he told Maquinana. He doesn’t do a set number of reps in his workouts. He goes until he can’t anymore.

“I’m done when I’m done,” Gore said, adding that he wants no “limits on what I can do to be in tip-top shape.”

In addition, Gore is in his third offseason of working out regularly at the Undisputed Boxing Gym in San Carlos. He can throw punches for 30 consecutive minutes without rest, an exhausting routine that would leave most other men on the mat.

“When I see a guy on the football field huffing and puffing, I know I got an advantage over him,” Gore told Maquinana. “Since I started boxing, between plays (on the football field), I’m standing straight up.”

Gore’s teammates rave about his fitness, leadership, work ethic and intelligence. In fact, even though he’s 31, many can’t imagine him slowing down.

“You know what, I think he’s got five more good years in him,” Lattimore told Maquinana. “He still can do it all, from what I’ve seen.”

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Vince Wilfork Practicing

DT Vince Wilfork and DE Will Smith went into the practice bubble about an hour into practice. Prior to that, Wilfork appeared to be moving well and took part in a blocking drill. All good signs for the health of his Achilles.

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Jimmy Graham's absence from minicamp felt, but not disastrous

On Black and Gold Today from New Orleans Saints minicamp, sports reporter Rachel Whittaker and Fox 8 Saints reporter Sean Fazende wrap up the week with offensive insight.

Tight end Jimmy Graham was not present during the three days of practice as he and the Saints prepare for a grievance hearing starting June 17 regarding whether Graham should be valued as a tight end or wide receiver under the franchise tag rules. However, is Graham's absence a big deal at this point?

Also, Nick Toon is battling for a wide receiver spot with the Saints. With only four catches in two seasons, this summer is critical for Toon. What skills has he shown to make his case alongside other proven Saints receivers?

The Saints have their last OTAs next week and then break before training camp begins in West Virginia on July 24.

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Is Peter O'Brien the answer to the Yankees' power problem?

TRENTON -- It's one of the mysteries of this Yankees season: Where is the power?

The Yankees signed outfielder Carlos Beltran and catcher Brian McCann in the off season, hoping to replace the pop in the lineup they would lose with Alex Rodriguez's suspension and Curtis Granderson's departure, but it hasn't worked out.

Beltran has only five home runs, partly due to an elbow injury, and McCann, who was expected to take advantage of Yankee Stadium's right-field porch, has just seven.

First baseman Mark Teixeira, battling a nagging wrist injury, leads the team with just 10 homers, while outfielder Alfonso Soriano has struggled to find his groove, hitting only six.

The lack of power has the Yankees ranked 22nd in the league in home runs (52) and 22nd in run scored (256). And with a team batting average of just .242, the Yankees are showing they can't consistently manufacture runs with timely hitting.

If the anemic offense continues, general manager Brian Cashman will have two choices: Go shopping for a bat, or find one in his back yard. The Yankees could consider calling up Trenton Thunder's Peter O'Brien, a power-hitting right-handed bat who has been tearing it up in the minors.

O'Brien -- 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds -- has a combined 22 homers between High-A Tampa and the Double-A Thunder this season. He also has 48 RBIs and is batting .278/.313/.630 with an OPS of .943. Those 22 home runs put him at the top of the minor leagues this year.

"I think all of baseball has taken notice of his ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark," Thunder manager Tony Franklin said. "That's a special talent, and he has done very well."

The former Miami Hurricane, drafted by the Yankees in 2012, had 10 home runs and 34 RBIs in limited action in 2012, and he belted 22 homers while driving in 96 runs in 2013, his first full season.

So, why haven't the Yankees pulled the trigger on this guy? Possibly because O'Brien has yet to find a true position.

He entered the minors as a catcher, then moved around. After catching for all of 2012, the Yankees experimented with him at third base, but after O'Brien committed 18 errors in 38 games, they decided it wasn't the right fit. He has rotated between catcher and outfield, and most recently has been given a chance to play first base.

The organization is looking for anyway to get -- and keep -- his bat in the lineup. In the end, however, the versatility could help O'Brien get to the big leagues even faster.

And, of course, there's always DH.

"Yeah, [playing different positions] definitely helps me out a lot, knowing that no matter where I am, I am going to be productive." O'Brien said.

If O'Brien becomes comfortable at first, he could be called up to back up Teixeira.

"First base is good, and to be honest everywhere I've played has been good," O'Brien said. "Catching, third base, right field, I've been comfortable everywhere. I think the biggest thing is where they see me playing for the next 15 to 20 years."

The Yankees are hoping that as O'Brien matures, he become more patient and selective at the plate. He has struck out 506 times, while drawing only 122 walks. O'Brien thinks the walks will come, though.

"I know I'm an aggressive hitter, and I think I should be with some of the things I bring to the plate," O'Brien said. "I think walks are kind of a by-product of putting up good numbers and they will start to pitch around you. So once that starts happening a little bit more, I think those walks will start coming. I'm not worried about it."

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Yasmani Grandal homers against Phils

Making just his third start of the month, Yasmani Grandal homered Thursday against the Phillies.

Even with Nick Hundley gone, Grandal has been taking a backseat to Rene Rivera of late. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to us; the Padres are going nowhere this year and Grandal should be getting all of the playing time his body can handle after he missed most of last year. He's been a disappointment with his .187 average, but why would anyone expect consistency from him when he's playing once or twice a week?

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Jon Jay won't go away

Jon Jay appeared to be the odd outfielder out when the Cardinals started the season.

General manager John Mozeliak acquired Peter Bourjos during the winter to play center field this season. A second outfielder acquired in that trade, Randal Grichuk, starred during spring training and moved onto the cusp of promotion.

Both players have excellent outfield range and stronger throwing arms than Jay.

Then there was Oscar Taveras, the franchise's next great hitting prospect. He got back to full speed during spring training and joined Grichuk on the career launching pad. Like Grichuk, he offered a tremendous power potential.

Those players pushed for roles on this year's team while Jay tried to bounce back from a disappointing year. Jay struggled during the first half of last season, hitting .213 in April and .231 in June.

He regrouped to hit .311 after the All-Star break, but then he went 3 for 16 in the NLDS, 4 for 18 in the NLCS and 3 for 18 in the World Series.

Combined with his struggles in center field -- where he misjudged a number of fly balls at inopportune times -- that offensive slippage seemed to doom Jay to a peripheral role at best on this team.

But while those around him struggled this season, Jay regained his familiar offensive and defensive form.

He is hitting .301 in 143 at bats. He still offers only gap power (seven doubles, one triple, one homer), but he has delivered some timely run production.

Jay is doing a much better job of tracking fly balls, too, reaching most balls hit into the gaps and over his head. He is once again serviceable in center field.
As manager Mike Matheny ponders how to realign his roster and lineup with Matt Adams returning from the disabled list, Jay's recent 9-for-22 upturn should factor into the decision-making process.

Matt Holliday isn't hitting like Matt Holliday. Allen Craig isn't hitting like Allen Craig.

But Jon Jay is definitely hitting like Jon Jay, which is one of the bright spots for this puzzling offense. He has played his way back into regular work in center field.

He should stay out there until he plays his way out of that assignment. Since he is 11 for 26 against lefthanded pitchers this season, there is no reason to platoon him with Bourjos right now.

(Peter, by the way, is 9 for 50 against lefties this season. Yikes!)

With Adams injured and the DH slot available, both Jay and Bourjos got an opportunity to play during the American League road swing. Jay fared better, so he should get the at bats until further notice.

Jay's surge also impacts the Taveras/Grichuk dilemma. With Jay deserving to play every day and Matheny feeling no urge to give Holliday or Craig much time off, there are not a many at bats for whomever fills the fifth outfielder slot.

Adams has a .924 OPS against righthanded pitchers, so he needs to start against them at first base. Against left-handed starters, Craig can play first, Jay can play right field and either Bourjos or the fifth outfielder could play center.

It would be much easier to find, say, 20 at-bats per week for Taveras if Jay were struggling. Oscar could start a game per week in center, spell Holliday and Craig from time to time against tough righthanders, start in right field versus lefties and double-switch into some games as a pinch-hitter.

But that plan doesn't make sense with Jay hitting .301 and Taveras 7 for 37 in his first big league tour.

Down the road, Mozeliak will have to sort the pile with a trade or two. For now, the Cardinals need to ride whatever hot hand they can find in the organization.
Right now, Jay is one of those players. Who could have predicted this back in March or April?

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Leonard Hankerson has 'couple months to go'

Redskins WR Leonard Hankerson (knee) said he has a "couple more months to go" in his rehab.

"Should be good by training camp, but you never know," Hankerson continued. The fourth-year receiver tore his ACL and LCL in Week 11. The Redskins have since added Andre Roberts and DeSean Jackson in free agency, and drafted Ryan Grant in the fourth round. Entering the final year of his rookie deal, HankTime is squarely on the roster bubble. He'll need a strong preseason.

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Atlanta Falcons Interested In Jon Vilma?

The Atlanta Falcons are looking to replace the hole created when they lost Sean Weatherspoon earlier in the week, and they may be looking to bring in one of the biggest names on the free agency market. Former Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma may be getting a good, hard look from the Falcons brass, according to Ian Rapoport of and NFL Network.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday on NFL Total Access that the Falcons are taking a hard look at former New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma as a potential replacement for Weatherspoon, via sources close to the Falcons situation.

Vilma, 32, remains a free agent after the Saints opted not to re-sign the 10-year veteran following a successful and, at times, controversial six-year stay in NOLA. If Vilma’s primary medicals check out, the Falcons plan to bring the three-time Pro Bowler in for a visit.

Vilma was a solid player, if not for the headlines he created in New Orleans. Most notably, Vilma was considered one of the central figures in the bounty scandal that led to his suspension (which was appealed and overturned).

Paired with a knee surgery that kept him out of the majority of the 2013 season, Vilma was ultimately cut by the Saints in February. Since being released he’s been linked to multiple places, but the Falcons seem intent on giving Vilma at least a chance.

The Hawks are also looking at Joplo Bartu and Paul Worrilow as internal options as well.

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Sean Spence eyes return to Heinz Field

Each offseason of the Mike Tomlin era has included a trip to Heinz Field where the Steelers conduct one of their 10 allotted OTAs. The one there this past Tuesday marked an anniversary of sorts for Sean Spenceicon-article-link, one that didn’t go unnoticed.

It was two years ago when Spence, then a promising third-round draft pick, came up with an acrobatic, athletic interception that seemingly captured the attention of everyone who was at Heinz Field that day. Two years later and still in the process of working his way back from a horrific knee injury suffered in the preseason finale later that summer, Spence hasn’t forgotten.

“It was actually my first practice in this building as a rookie,” Spence recalled just after the Steelers had completed the 2014 version of that workout on their home field. “I remember it was off of Byron Leftwich. It was a great play.

“I remember it like it was yesterday.”

Spence has gone through quite an ordeal since then, but he’s also made remarkable progress toward a comeback that was no sure thing in the immediate aftermath of the surgery required to repair his knee.

Spence won’t yet declare himself 100 percent in his recovery. But if the Steelers had another event scheduled for this Sunday at Heinz Field, Spence is of the opinion he’d be capable of participating in that, too.

“If we had a game, yeah, I think I could play,” he said.

He said he’s been playing “with the No. 2s” (the second-team defense) during OTAs, but Spence made it clear he isn’t coming back just to be a backup at inside linebacker.

“I don’t think anybody wants to stay with the No. 2s,” he said. “We’re all competing as a linebacker group. I trust the coaching staff to make the best decision for this team.”

Although he’s designated as a third-year player on the roster, Spence is still waiting to play in his first NFL game, but he’s at least been around the past two seasons, and he kept his eyes and ears open while rehabbing his knee.

The experience is paying dividends now that Spence has made it back onto the field.

“It’s a big edge,” he said. “Especially being around Larry Foote a lot. I was always up under him the two years I had here with him and I learned a lot from him. Being able to sit and watch, it helped a lot.”

OTAs will be followed by minicamp and then it will be on to training camp, an event Spence is embracing as “another test for me, another step.”

He’ll be a confident player when the shoulder pads come on and the hitting commences.

“I think I could be the best,” Spence said this week.

On the team? In the league?

“I’ll just leave it at ‘the best,’” he said. “It feels good to be out here, period. And then to bring it to Heinz Field and practice again with the guys is very humbling, I’m grateful for it. I’m just taking it all in right now.”

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NFL source: Jimmy Graham gripe 'naked cash grab'

An NFL source calls the NFLPA's claim that Jimmy Graham should be franchise tagged as a receiver as opposed to a tight end a "naked cash grab."

That's an actual source within the NFL, as opposed to the vague "league source" we typically encounter in these kinds of stories. "It ignores Mr. Graham's use as a traditional tight end on roughly 60 percent of the snaps where he lined up within four yards of the tackle," the league's source said of Graham's argument. "It also ignores the historical use of the tight end position." The league can gripe all it wants, but the fact is, Graham lined up in the slot or out wide on 67 percent of his snaps last season. Graham could win his grievance, upping his tag from $7.035 million to $12.3 million.

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Orlando Franklin's Switch A Smooth Transition

It's probably a good thing for the Broncos that the biggest news of their second day of minicamp regarded practices that are over two months away.

When the Houston Texans arrive for three days of practices in August, they will provide a test for the shuffled offensive line. At that point, the line will have about two and a half quarters' worth of game time on its ledger. Every snap will help.

But perhaps no one will benefit more than Orlando Franklin, who should see more than a handful of snaps against J.J. Watt. The Texans like to adjust Watt's alignment to create advantageous matchups, and the flexibility should be enhanced by the arrival of No. 1 pick Jadeveon Clowney on the edge. The seasoned Louis Vasquez should see plenty of Watt, as well, but for Franklin, the week should offer a chance to evaluate his progress.

But so far, it's so good for him, which is where we begin.

1. Franklin looks smooth in his adjustment to left guard. This shouldn't be a surprise, given his college background at the position, his experience in the offense, and the presence of so many seasoned hands around him. It also helps that one of Franklin's neighbors, center Manny Ramirez, played right guard next to Franklin at right tackle for most of the 2012 season, when Ramirez was an injury replacement for Chris Kuper.

"I know the things that he likes and how he does certain things," said Ramirez.

At guard, you must react faster, given the shorter distance defenders have to the quarterback and ballcarrier by going up the middle. Franklin's footwork here has been sound; he does a good job getting set and not getting burned by spin moves and stunts.

The jury will be in deliberations on Franklin's transition for months to come, given that pads will not go on until training camp. However, the early returns are promising.

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Reggie Wayne impacts Colts by just showing up

INDIANAPOLIS -- Wide receiver Reggie Wayne has not taken a snap during the Indianapolis Colts' OTA workouts this year. But the veteran is expected to be ready to go when the 2014 regular season starts in September.

Wayne suffered a torn ACL in last season's winicon1 over Denver and missed the remainder of the year. He underwent surgery in late October and has been cleared to return to the practice field.

But Indianapolis officials have decided to take it easy on the 35-year old for the time being. They aren't worried about his return to the starting lineup. But they are being cautious in an attempt to avoid any potential issues heading into training camp.

Still, just having Wayne around has been an educationalicon1 experience for all the other Colts receivers and tight ends. Seeing the work ethic that he has put in to return to action hasn't been lost on players like tight end Coby Fleener.

"He's an unbelievable player and I think that's due to his work ethic," Fleener said recently. "When it comes to him being injured, he wants to be on the field so bad. He's going to work as hard as possibly he can to get back.

"I think the amount of leadership and experience that Reggie brings to the table is something that is kind of understated. People don't talk enough about it. They talk about the amazing catches that he makes and the plays on the field. But really, he's like a coach on the field as well. Whether it's in practice, teaching the young guys or in the gamesicon1, helping me out with a call (that) I didn't hear. He's an amazing player and an amazing guy."

Quarterback Andrew Luck would agree.

"He's a freak," Luck admitted. "I'm not a doctor or a trainer, but I don't have any concerns about Reggie being ready to go when the season starts."

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Bostic pushing D.J. Williams for starting job

When the Chicago Bears re-signed D.J. Williams in March, the expectation was that the veteran would assume the starting middle linebacker job that he held prior to a season-ending torn left pectoral muscle in October.

That won't necessarily be the case.

Williams has been splitting first-team reps with 2013 second-round draft pick Jon Bostic in OTAs. Even in non-contact practices, Bostic is "making a strong impression," CSN Chicago's John Mullin reported Tuesday.

It's an interesting battle to monitor.

Williams turns 32 in July and no longer has the range he did with the Broncos last decade.

Bostic made splash plays in preseason action last summer, but was exposed as not ready for prime time during the Bears' seven-weak stretch of historically inept run defense from late October through mid-December.

There were even postseason whispers that Bostic could be moved to the outside. He will have to prove that he can shed blocks with authority and take the correct route to the ball if he's going to displace Williams in Mel Tucker's revamped defense.

It's one thing to impress the coaching staff in June drills. It's quite another to maintain that level of production once the games start to count.

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Rob Chudzinski all over the building for the Colts

Rob Chudzinski could have been on his way to the beach right now, cashing big checks from the Browns while doing so.

Instead, he’s working with a Costanza-esque title for the Colts, the special assistant to the head coach.

“I wasn’t going to sit and do nothing,” Chudzinski told Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star. “My wife would have thrown me out of the house by now.”

“There’s nothing too big or too small I won’t do. That’s why I’m here.”

While there was some concern that the former Panthers offensive coordinator might step on the toes of Colts play-caller Pep Hamilton, it turns out Chudzinski is spending as much of his time working with the Colts defense.

“I can sit down with Chud for a good 30, 40 [minutes] to an hour and just melt through stuff that he did in Carolina and what he did in Cleveland as well,” defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said. “It’s a great addition for me to have a guy like that from an offensive perspective. Even though [Pagano] is here, it’s still a defensive perspective. … I understand, ‘OK, I want to beat this protection.’ But how do you actually beat it?. … [Chudzinski explains] ‘Here’s what the guard’s thinking. This is what the center’s thinking.’ That helps me to come up with something that’ll beat that protection.

“When we’re breaking down tape of other teams we’re going to be playing, it’s great to sit with him and [learn] why are they doing those things? You never really know as a defensive coordinator because you’re never in those [offensive] meetings. When I sit with him for those hours, I’m listening to what he’s thinking. It’s those little things.”

Chudzinski can also bring some valuable insight to the AFC North, which the Colts will play this year.

And the best part is, he’s doing it for a cut rate, since the Browns are already paying him to do it.

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Bernie Kosar on Jay Cutler: ‘I wish I had 80 percent of his arm’

The first thing Bernie Kosar noticed about Jay Cutler was the first thing everyone sees.

“I wish,” Kosar said, “I had 80 percent of that arm.”

The rest of the scouting report, though, is rooted in subtlety only a man with 13 years of NFL experience can appreciate.

After visiting the Bears’ organized team activities Wednesday as a guest of mentor Marc Trestman, the former Pro Bowler seemed even more impressed with Cutler’s ability to know when not to uncork a blazing fastball.

“He has amazing sense of timing and touch,” said the former No. 1
overall draft pick. “You see on a couple of plays out there. His ability to sometimes have, almost, it’s like an innate ability to judge about how to throw it.
“When to throw the fastball. When to hitch. When to throw it with a little bit of touch — with a little loft to get it up and down before the safeties get over — is really impressive.”

Cutler has a command of the huddle, Kosar said, and audibles with aplomb.

And then there’s his feet.

“I used to joke with Dan Marino,” said Kosar, who backed up the Dolphins great from 1994-96 after spending most his career as the Browns’ starter. “Dan had an amazing presence within the pocket, being able to move from me to you, finding that weak spot, finding that kind of opportunity and openness.

“It’s just, [Cutler] feels the pressure, and just that subtle little step or two that he’s able to take to get away. He’s really impressive.”

The Bears’ other four quarterbacks have noticed.

Jerrod Johnson is amazed how Cutler still works on his fundamentals, from making sure he has a deep knee bend to following through on his throws to other basics the coaching staff preaches.

“For me as a young quarterback, he’s been tremendous for me,” said Johnson, who is competing alongside Jordan Palmer, Jimmy Clausen and rookie David Fales for the backup job. “The things coach Trestman says, he really applies it, and you can see his play go up as well.”

The five quarterbacks huddled up with Kosar for about an hour before practice and made dinner plans for later that night. Clausen said he was fortunate to “just learn from one of the great quarterbacks in the past.”

Kosar said he might be interesting in coaching one day — “Football’s in your blood; Once you start, it’s like this is part of your DNA,” — but was careful not to step on the toes of Trestman, offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer or quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh.

“I’m kinda sitting back and waiting to see how it’s going,” Kosar said.

Asked about Kosar, Johnson smiled and rattled off practice guests ranging from Mike Ditka to Mike Singletary.

“Coach Trestman,” he said, “has some cool friends.”

Few go back farther than Kosar.

The two met when Trestman was a volunteer assistant at the University of Miami and Kosar was a highly touted freshman.

They won the 1983 national championship together, Trestman having been promoted to quarterbacks coach.

They reunited in the pros with Trestman coaching Kosar for two years in Cleveland. With Trestman as the offensive coordinator in 1989, the Browns reached the AFC championship.

Kosar is the godfather to Trestman’s oldest daughter, Sarahanne.

Kosar said he was proud of the comfort level Trestman has achieved — and the respect he receives from players — in only his second year.

“You can see the camaraderie, almost a family-type atmosphere they have here within the building and within the team,” Kosar said. “It’s really impressive to watch.”

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Yasmani Grandal Use Rain Tarp as Slide-n-Slide

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Lawsuit filed by “close friend” of Ryan Braun is dismissed

MILWAUKEE COUNTY (WITI) — FOX6 News has learned a lawsuit, filed by a “close friend” of Brewers slugger Ryan Braun has been dismissed.

The lawsuit was filed in Milwaukee County Court on July 31st, 2013.

The lawsuit alleged Braun has been using steroids since his days at the University of Miami.

The lawsuit was filed by Ralph Sasson — a self-described “close friend” of Braun’s from grade school, high school and college.

The lawsuit contained documents that alleged or implied that Braun has been using steroids since college, that he accepted illegal payments in violation of NCAA rules and that he committed academic misconduct at the University of Miami.

The lawsuit’s primary complaint is that Braun made defamatory statements about Sasson after a business deal went south.

Sasson said after Braun tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone in 2011, Braun’s agent contacted him and offered him $5,000 for research that would help Braun beat the rap — including a background check on Dino Laurenzi — the man who collected Braun’s urine.

The lawsuit also accused Braun of encouraging Sasson to make prank phone calls intended to throw off ESPN reporters who were preparing to break the story of Braun’s failed drug test.

Sasson says he refused to make the calls, but he did perform research aimed at helping his friend.

When Braun’s agent refused to pay, Sasson threatened to sue.

He eventually got paid, but only after signing a confidentiality agreement, which requires that neither party say disparaging things about the other.
The lawsuit claims Braun violated that agreement by telling others that Sasson was “rude to the staff at Miller Park” and that he is “crazy.”

Sasson was asking the court for punitive damages.

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Second man convicted of murder in Sean Taylor killing

SeanTaylor copy
MIAMI — A Florida jury has convicted a man prosecutors called the ringleader of a botched 2007 Miami-area burglary that ended with the fatal shooting of Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor.

The 12-person jury deliberated nearly four hours Tuesday before finding 25-year-old Jason Mitchell guilty of first-degree felony murder and armed burglary. Trial testimony indicated that Mitchell hatched the plot for five Fort Myers-area men to burglarize Taylor’s home near Miami after previously seeing large amounts of cash there.

The judge immediately imposed the mandatory life sentence for murder, plus 40 more years for the burglary conviction.

The man who authorities say fired the fatal shot, Eric Rivera Jr., was convicted last fall of second-degree murder and sentenced to 57 years behind bars.
Two other men await trial. A third has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and burglary.

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Aldarius Johnson Getting An Extended Look in Camp

The kids are getting a good, long look.

With the injury bug biting the Calgary Stampeders receiving core hard – yes, again! – a couple of newcomers are getting an extended audition at this year’s training camp.

Canadian slotback Jabari Arthur returned to action Tuesday morning.

But import receivers Nik Lewis, Marquay McDaniel, Jeff Fuller and Joe West continued to watch from the sidelines.

Which gives the likes of Robert Holland and Aldarius Johnson a bigger opportunity.

“We’re getting more of a look than we would normally get from the young guys,” Stamps GM/head coach John Hufnagel said.


“They’re working hard.

“Sure, there’s a lot thrown at them and they’re making some mistakes, but not the same amount we’ve had from young guys in the past.”

Johnson is used to playing on the big stage, having starred with the Miami Hurricanes along with Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Jacory Harris.

The 6-foot-3, 213-pounder is hoping to make the most of his extra reps.

“I’m just coming out every day and playing football,” the 24-year-old said. “I love to compete. I love the competition.”


Jimmy Graham hearing next week

With Jimmy Graham's grievance hearing scheduled to begin one week from Tuesday, a league source indicated that the NFL Management Council will make a strong counterargument against the NFL Players Association's claim that he should be considered a wide receiver instead of a tight end for franchise-tag purposes.

At stake is whether the New Orleans Saints should be required to offer Graham a one-year franchise-tag salary of $12.3 million instead of $7.035 million -- not to mention a tremendous amount of leverage in long-term contract negotiations.

"The union's position is a naked cash grab," the source said. "It ignores Mr. Graham's use as a traditional tight end on roughly 60 percent of the snaps where he lined up within 4 yards of the tackle. It also ignores the historical use of the tight end position.

"Since the days of Mike Ditka, coaches have split the tight end wide to gain information about the defensive set and gain a matchup advantage. According to the union's position, last year's All-Pro tight end was not a tight end and Mike Ditka was a wide receiver."

The NFLPA, meanwhile, will argue that Graham should be considered a wide receiver since he lined up for 67 percent of his snaps in either the slot or out wide last season (according to ESPN Stats & Information).

According to the letter of the law, the collective bargaining agreement states that the franchise-tag designation is based on the position "at which the Franchise player participated in the most plays during the prior League Year."

A neutral third-party arbitrator will have to determine what exactly constitutes lining up as a tight end.

It's a debate that has grown in recent years as the modern passing game has continued to evolve. Other tight ends have talked about making the same argument, such as Jared Cook and Jermichael Finley.

But this will be the first time the debate has actually reached the point of a grievance hearing.

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Sam Shields secures future in Green Bay with four-year deal

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Cornerback Sam Shields' position coach nearly cried when he let him know he had re-signed with the Packers. Shields' mother bawled when she learned of the deal, and he bought her a house.

Signing a four-year, $39 million deal with a $12.5 million signing bonus can be a life-changing event, especially for a fifth-year undrafted cornerback who didn't move to defense until his last year in college.

Now it's time for Shields to assume the pressure that comes with a big deal.

"The reality of it is Sam is now looked on as one of our core players," coach Mike McCarthy said Tuesday. "So he'll step up and play accordingly."
Shields didn't cry after agreeing to the contract in March.

"I promise I didn't," he said after a team workout. "It's still ... it's like 'Dang, wow.' But I didn't."

Shields seems to be handling the attention well. He said he feels no extra pressure with the contract, and that he's confident that his best years are ahead of him.

Just the kind of attitude that McCarthy would like to hear as Green Bay tries to improve its defense. The return of Shields gives the Packers stability at corner, with veteran Tramon Williams manning the other side.

Shields, who has 13 interceptions in four years with the Packers including four last year, said he is still learning. Imagine if Shields had played corner his whole career. After making 75 catches for 971 yards and seven touchdowns in his first three seasons of college ball at Miami, Shields was asked to move to corner after the spring game before his senior year. Shields played defensive back in that game, and an assistant coach liked what he saw.

His family encouraged him to try it, and Shields went on to start 10 games at corner. In April 2010, the Packers signed him as an undrafted free agent.

There were some discouraging moments in the beginning. He would argue with cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt about learning the plays.

"When I first got here, I didn't know the difference. It was frustrating. 'Man, it's not for me,'" Shields recounted.

But Whitt stuck to it, even making little cards to help Shields study the defense. Shields gives Whitt the most credit for his development and his prized pupil is now returning to Lambeau Field with a new deal.

"Sam Shields has earned this opportunity. I think he'll handle himself and clearly understands the level of success ... the step that he's taken," McCarthy said. "But frankly, we all know there's so much more out there that we want to accomplish."

Losing Shields could have meant that Casey Hayward, who missed most of last season with a hamstring injury, would be moved into the starting job; or Micah Hyde, who had a promising 2013 season after being drafted in the fourth round a year ago.

Instead, Hyde is now getting looks at safety, along with 2014 first-round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Shields' good friend, veteran Morgan Burnett, signed a big free agent contract last year, and returns at the other safety spot. The Packers are looking for more big plays from their safeties, a position from which the team didn't get an interception in 2013.

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You won't believe what Allen Bailey did to give the Chiefs' D a little more weight

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Now here's a switch: While the rest of his teammates have been trying to drop weight like it was a bad habit, Allen Bailey is going the opposite direction.

"Double protein," the Kansas City Chiefs defensive end says with a grin. "Chicken and protein. And steak, man."

Actually, make that two. Medium rare.

"To help moreso with the run," Bailey explains. "I was a little light the last couple years, so I put on a little weight."

Last fall, the 6-foot-3 Bailey was working in the 280-285-pound range, and comfortably. But he wanted to become more of a fixture on first and second down, rushing downs, as well as have the weight to be able to work inside -- a la teammate Dontari Poe, a Pro-Bowl nose tackle -- if the Chiefs go "small" and shift an outside linebacker to a hand-on-the-ground slot along the line of scrimmage.

"Still got my same speed and agility; just added a little more weight to it," the former Miami (Fla.) standout says "That's it."

Like Dwayne Bowe and Mike DeVito, who changed what and how they eat, Bailey changed up his meal plan, hooking up with a service in south Florida called DeliverLean that sent entrees to his home. The end result: Roughly a dozen more pounds on his frame than in January, same burst.

"Over 300 (pounds)," he says, patting a belly that doesn't show it. "You can't tell, but I'm pushing (the) 300 Club up there.

"Yeah, that meal plan really did it to me. I was kind of surprised when I came back (to Kansas City), what my weight was, because I don't weigh myself that much in the offseason. So when we came back (here) with (organized team activities), I went, 'Oooooh.'"

More Oooooh: For the past three weeks, it has been Bailey, and not free-agent signee Vance Walker, eating up most of what used to be Tyson Jackson's snaps with the first-team defense, alongside Poe and DeVito.

"My mindset was just coming in and just earning it -- just earning everything, right from the beginning," says Bailey, who played in 15 games last fall, starting three, with a sack and three pass break-ups.

"It's all competition. Everybody's in a competition ... that's part of what makes it fun. Competition should be fun. Make it all competitive and have fun with it."

Based on several metrics, Bailey might be more than worth his weight -- whatever that weight happens to be. The Georgia native played on 453 total defensive snaps last fall, according to (PFF), the third-highest count among Chiefs linemen, and second among Chiefs defensive ends to the now-departed Jackson. credited the ex-Hurricane with appearing on 39.5 percent of the team's defensive snaps last fall, the same percentage as DeVito.

Of players who appeared on at least 25 percent of their club's defensive plays last fall, Bailey wound up among PFF's Top 25 3-4 defensive ends in tackles (18th, with 26), quarterback hurries (18th, with 19), and 'stops' (solo tackles 'which constitute an offensive failure'; 23rd, with 19). His overall PFF grade of +8.5 was good for 21st among 3-4 defensive ends -- and ahead of more celebrated peers such as the Niners' Ray McDonald (+7.7), the Ravens' Chris Canty (+7.4) and the Cardinals' Darnell Dockett (+2.4).

On PFF's chart of the top Run-Stop 3-4 defensive ends in pro football, among those who appeared on at least 25 percent of their team's snaps, Bailey's 'stops' percentage of 11.6 ranked fourth overall -- behind only Houston's J.J. Watt (13.7), Cleveland's Billy Winn (13.4) and Philadelphia's Cedric Thornton (12.4), and better than the likes of the Jets' Sheldon Richardson (9.8) and Arizona's Calais Campbell (9.3), Justin Smith (8.3), and even Jackson himself (8.1).

"It's a different feel in the room now with him being gone, I can't lie," Bailey says. "It's a different feel, but we're all about getting to know the new group of guys and go on from there."'s log credits Jackson with 500 defensive snaps and 45 percent of the Chiefs' total defensive plays last season, the highest of any lineman save for Poe (87.8 percent). Basically, that means there's a hole up front for someone to fill -- on and off the field.

"The opportunity's there," Bailey says. "So I'm just looking to take it."

Well, that and seconds. Big 97's plan is to shoot a little past the 300 Club now, maybe put on a few more pounds during the roughly month-long gap between the end of OTAs and mini-camp and the start of preseason camp -- then let the sauna that's St. Joe in August work off the rest.

"I want to be on the field as much as possible," Bailey says. "That's the goal, right?"

After all, a man's gotta eat.

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Erik Swoope's transition: Miami hoops player to Colts tight end

INDIANAPOLIS -- The making from scratch of an NFL player begins at about 5:30 each morning at Erik Swoope's home near the Indianapolis Colts' training center. He prepares his own breakfast and then cues up his first tape session of the day -- usually not of himself and only occasionally of the Colts. Swoope is instead immersed in the work of tight ends around the league, paying special attention to the ones who played basketball. He watches Jimmy Graham and Antonio Gates and Julius Thomas for the little moves they make to get open that hark back to their crossovers, or for footwork that is in various stages of evolution from the improvisational nature of the hardwood to the more structured steps on the gridiron.

Swoope recognizes the basketball in those players, even as it is slowly being coached out of them -- the way it is just beginning to be coached out of him, too.
Hanging in Swoope's locker -- he is in a pod of the extra lockers set in the middle of the Colts' locker room, with the other undrafted rookies -- is a University of Miami backpack, a relic from a different time and a different sport. Swoope was a four-year basketball player at Miami, a 6-foot-5 power forward known for his athleticism and for having the intelligence to understand every position on the floor. He was 6-2 by the time he was in sixth grade and already jumping above the rim. The AAU teams began to circle, and then, a few years later, the talk about college scholarships began. The risk that injury would derail those possibilities was too great for him to seriously entertain the playful chatter he and his friends engaged in about playing football.

And so he never did -- not when he was already too big for Pop Warner, not when he was taking the court for Harvard-Westlake High School in Los Angeles, the elite hoops program that produced Jason and Jarron Collins, and not at Miami, where Swoope earned a degree in economics while laying the groundwork for a playing career.

Just not the one he has now.

Swoope went to coach Jim Larrañaga's office on March 14, the day after the Hurricanes' season ended with a loss to North Carolina State in the ACC Tournament, expecting to discuss his hopes of playing basketball overseas. It was to be a routine end-of-season meeting. Instead, Larrañaga surprised him with some news: The coach had received a call from the Denver Broncos, whose area scout, Nick Schiralli, had heard from his college connections about Swoope's athletic gifts.

"I was completely shocked," Swoope said of his conversation with Larrañaga. "When my coach presented the opportunity, I was almost in disbelief. They told me they were looking for guys 6-4, 6-5 who could catch the ball and run fast. It was almost a spit-balling idea."

Perhaps. But it is grounded in precedent. After the success of players like Gates with the San Diego Chargers and Thomas with the Broncos -- and of course, most famously, Tony Gonzalez with the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons -- teams are on the lookout for basketball players of similar height, weight and speed, believing they have at least as much potential as some prospects who have played football all their lives.

Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said that when there is a basketball player who has the physical attributes that could enable a transfer to tight end and who "can walk and chew gum at the same time," he wants to at least ask if that person is interested in football.

Swoope was, but he did not accept the invitation to work out with Denver immediately. First, he sought the counsel of, among others, Graham, the former Hurricanes basketball and football player whom Swoope had met as a freshman, when Graham was just joining the New Orleans Saints. Miami's trainer had always compared the two of them, and had told Swoope that he thought his nature -- his speed and strength and quickness, his ability to play every position, from shooting guard to center, while still knowing what the point guard did -- would make the transition smoother, as it had for Graham.

"The main thing Jimmy did was ask me character questions -- What motivates you?" Swoope said. "He said, 'If you're going to make this change, don't let it just be on a whim. If it motivates you, strive for it.' We didn't talk about X's and O's, just about character."

There is, of course, one critical difference between Swoope and Graham, Gates and Thomas. Like Graham, Thomas, a Portland State product, had played some college football. Gates was a top tight end at the high school level before opting for basketball at Kent State. Swoope had none of that background -- he had never played organized football of any kind, had never put on shoulder pads -- and he had just seven days to get ready for the workout with the Broncos. He worked mostly on catching drills, getting some pointers from his brother, Devin, who had played basketball before switching to football, eventually landing at Northwood, a Division II program. Devin, in fact, made the even more unfathomable transition from nose tackle (at 315 pounds) to receiver, which necessitated a 100-pound weight loss.

Swoope watched NFL Network. He found clips of the NFL Scouting Combine on YouTube, so he would know what drills to expect in his workout. He even studied the Madden video game, to gain some rudimentary knowledge of routes.

The audition with the Broncos did not net Swoope a spot with the team, but others were curious about his potential. The Colts had heard through the scouting grapevine that Swoope was interested  playing football, so director of college scouting T.J. McCreight approached Grigson about his interest level.

Indianapolis has taken on a number of projects over the years -- including Daniel Adongo, a Kenyan-born rugby player now entering his second season in the NFL. But Grigson had to be sold on the idea of Swoope.

Then the GM began to think the stars might align. On the Colts' staff are coaches Rob Chudzinski and Alfredo Roberts, both former Miami tight ends. The national scout who worked Swoope out, Matt Terpening, played college basketball, too. And then there's the fact that former Colts tight end Marcus Pollard spent 10 seasons with the team despite having played only basketball in college.

"Then I Googled (Swoope) and saw a dunk against Virginia Tech," Grigson said, of a rim-rattling one-handed slam delivered during the ACC Tournament. "A lot of guys would be envious of how he throws it down; he was aggressive to the hole. The way he got here -- is it crazy? At first, it can seem that way. But when you look at who the best tight ends have been -- Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham -- it makes sense."

In the less than three months that he has been playing football, plenty has not made sense to Swoope. Like when he first got the Colts' playbook after signing as an undrafted free agent.

"I looked at it, and it was, 'This is Chinese. I have no idea what I'm looking at.' " Swoope said.

Since then, he has become so immersed in football that he has not even spoken to his family about basketball. Swoope's weight training program from Miami has transitioned well to the NFL, as he already has put on about 20 pounds from his senior-year playing weight -- he is at 246 pounds now -- and likely has another 10 to go. Football's necessary emphasis on developing size and strength is a departure from the emphasis on joints demanded by spending so much time in the air during basketball games.

"Basically, everything has to get bigger," he said.

The greatest adjustment, though, has been mental, as he moves from the more improvisational style of basketball to the more rigorously structured execution of football. Thomas, who says he still feels like he is early in his own adjustment to football, declared that one of the things that surprised him about football was the length of the day and the level of detail covered at meetings.

"In basketball, you practice and go home. I couldn't imagine if a basketball coach went through and said, 'Look how high your step was,' " Thomas said. "In football, it is so strict on what you're doing and how you're doing it."

And so Swoope is learning nuances that many of his teammates might have first encountered as early as childhood -- not just the play and the formation and the reads, but knowing what everybody else on the field is doing and how his tempo will affect others. It is the difference between knowing that in basketball everyone can get open and recognizing that in football he might be running his route to allow others to work free. Veterans have given him tips on everything from how to block for a run to keeping his eyes on specific defenders.

Working against defenders in OTAs has helped Swoope understand the value of foot fakes and hand positioning, and what a difference doing it correctly makes. And when he watches the film of the former basketball players, he notices how much more structured their physical positioning -- where their feet and hands are -- gets as they spend more time in the NFL.

"I've been surprised at how specific it is, and then when you do it, I'm surprised at the difference it makes," Swoope said. "In basketball, everybody has a different shot form, or a different way they lay it in. In football, there has been, through history, proven ways that work. You emulate those very specifically."

With Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener, two promising youngsters selected in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Colts are loaded at tight end. So Swoope is a likely candidate for the practice squad or to make the active roster as a special teamer, a job that would probably suit him because of his basketball-bred ability to play in traffic.

Grigson admits that when Swoope arrived with the other rookies after just a few weeks of running routes, he expected coach Chuck Pagano to give him an eye roll when he first saw the new project. Instead, both men were encouraged when they noticed that Swoope already knows how to get out of breaks.

"We didn't know if he would look like a fish out of water," Grigson said. "But his burst, his body control, the way he caught the football were all really, really good signs. You saw raw athletic ability. He's very mature, very businesslike. He was already a pro and he never played. He's wise beyond his years."

Grigson went on to praise Swoope's fortitude, recalling a minor injury that the prospect brushed aside earlier in offseason workouts: "Here's a basketball guy, but he's got a little hamstring and he doesn't want an MRI. He wants to get out there. There's something there."

Whatever it might turn out to be, Swoope is still spectacularly raw less than three months into his immersion program, learning a game -- as Thomas explained it -- at a level that equates to learning addition and subtraction while everyone else on the field is doing calculus. Swoope is still, Grigson said, a very rare case, because he has to learn everything for the first time.

Thomas' coach, who also worked with Gates in San Diego, offers a dose of reality.

"It's much more difficult than it looks," Broncos tight ends coach Clancy Barone said. "For every one player that was a college basketball player that does make it, there are another 25 who don't. Mentally, they can't figure it out, or physically, the demands are too much."

Those are the odds that Swoope is confronting now, and they're certainly much longer than his odds of playing basketball in Europe would have been. The start of his first football season is still more than a month away, but in Indiana, where basketball dominated for generations until Peyton Manning moved to town, it has been hard for Swoope to escape the end of the season for the sport -- with its comfortable familiarity and dreams -- he has left behind.

"In my head, this is where I want to be," he said. "We've been talking about the playoffs a lot. But I wanted to make this sacrifice, and I'm not second-guessing myself."

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Shane Larkin focused on lane penetration

Mavs PG Shane Larkin acknowledged that to earn a bigger role next season he must "get in the lane and create for others."

The 5'11" guard averaged 2.8 points on 38.0 percent shoting last season, but his quickness is intriguing for Mavs coach Rick Carlisle. "We need speed on this team," Carlisle said. "We need playmaking ability, we need lane penetration, we need defense and we need scoring, and I think [Larkin] can help us in all those areas."

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Yonder Alonso turning corner after slow start at plate

PHILADELPHIA -- Yonder Alonso's .210 batting average entering Tuesday's series opener against the Phillies doesn't tell the whole story.

The Padres' first baseman had several stints on the interstate early in the season and was hitting as low as .157 on May 8. But, Alonso has fared better from the batter's box since. Over his last 27 games, he hit .278 (25-for-90) with five homers and 14 RBIs.

Alonso went the first month and a half of the season without a homer, but Padres manager Bud Black thinks Alonso's getting on base is more indicative that he's turning things around than the recent power surge.

"I think last year, with the wrist problem, it had something to do with his power. And he missed a lot of games last year," Black said. "And I don't think anybody thought of Yonder, even out of the Draft, as a pure home run hitter. But he's got power to hit home runs. Yonder is more of a gap-to-gap, line-drive hitter. He gets into trouble when he tries to hit homers, and when he tries to pull the ball.

Alonso's also done well of late when he has come to the plate with runners in scoring position. In his previous 26 games, he hit .294 (5-for-17) in those situations.

"I would prefer line drive to left-center, line drive to right-center, line drives all over the park with a sprinkled in homer," Black said.

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Ryan Jackson has undergone surgery on his right wrist

Padres shortstop Ryan Jackson has undergone surgery on his right wrist.

Jackson is expected to be on the shelf until late August or early September. Given that he's no safe bet to be added to the big league roster late in the year, there's a chance it could wind up being a season-ender.

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Jaguars Brandon Linder signs 4-year rookie contract worth $2.7M

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. –  Rookie guard Brandon Linder, a third-round draft pick from Miami, has signed a four-year contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Linder signed the deal Monday. It's worth a little more than $2.7 million and includes a signing bonus around $530,000.

With Linder under contract, the Jaguars have three remaining rookies unsigned: quarterback Blake Bortles (first-round pick) and second-round receivers Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson.

Linder was a four-year starter for the Hurricanes. The Jaguars drafted him to compete for a starting job at right guard along with Jacques McClendon and Drew Nowak.

Linder is part of the team's offensive line overhaul, which included signing left guard Zane Beadles in free agency and finding a replacement for retired center Brad Meester.

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Lamar Miller Still The Starter

In the competition between Lamar Miller and Knowshon Moreno to be the starting running back in Miami, Miller has taken a big early lead.

A week ago we noted that Moreno was off to an unimpressive start and didn’t appear to be in great shape. Now word out of the Dolphins’ Organized Team Activities is that Miller is having a strong offseason.

“He’s had a very good camp,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said of Miller, via ESPN. “This is the time as a third-year player that you’re ready to make a big contribution.”

Reporters on the scene have described Miller as looking like a better fit in new coordinator Bill Lazor’s offense, and have described Moreno as looking a little overweight. When the Dolphins signed Moreno it was with the idea that he’d come in and replace Miller as the starter, but that no longer appears to be the case.

Moreno is coming off his best season, with 241 carries for 1,038 yards and 10 touchdowns last year in Denver. But it’s a lot easier to put up big numbers in Denver’s offense than it will be in Miami’s offense. Miller has only been so-so in two seasons since the Dolphins took him in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL draft, but Miller just turned 23 and is only entering his best years as a running back. If Miller continues to improve while Moreno continues to struggle with his conditioning, the job will be Miller’s when the season starts.

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Jim Kelly released from hospital after finishing radiation

Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly took another step in his fight against cancer Monday, as he was released from the hospital and headed home.

According to Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News, Kelly is 10 days removed from his final radiation treatment. Doctors told him it will take two to three months to determine the next step in his treatment.

“He’s excited about getting home,” Kelly’s brother Dan said. “We’re really excited for him and he’s glad to get going on the road to recovery.”

The 54-year-old just finished a six-week round of chemotherapy and radiation, and has been in the hospital since May 15.

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Laron Byrd trying to create a role for himself with Cowboys

LaronByrd 2
IRVING — Although he didn’t totally agree with the decision at the time, LaRon Byrd is thankful the Arizona Cardinals didn’t turn their backs on him and throw him back onto the football field.

At least the wide receiver knows the Cardinals cared about his well being.

Two days before the Cardinals’ first preseason game last summer, Byrd ran a slant route and was upended by a defender, landing on his head. Byrd suffered a concussion and had to sit out the entire preseason and regular season.

After much soul-searching, Byrd is in complete agreement with the Cardinals’ decision to keep him sidelined for the entire 2013 season.

“With the concussion deal, I thought I was going to be cleared up and then back at it, but with the Cardinals, I guess they were just taking precautions,” Byrd said. “And then during that time the NFL had a big old lawsuit going on, so I guess it’s just business.”

Last August the NFL reached a $765 million settlement with nearly 5,000 former players, who alleged the league misled them about the long-term dangers of concussions. A federal judge rejected the settlement in January.

Byrd, meanwhile, slept well knowing that the Cardinals had his best interest at heart.

“They were basically covering themselves and making sure everything was OK on the home front, and I kind of respect that,” Byrd said. “I felt like they did me a service of also just making sure I was OK instead of just throwing me out there.”

The Cardinals eventually released Byrd on April 4 and the Hahnville, La., native signed with the Dallas Cowboys on April 26.

The Cowboys, of course, were aware of Byrd’s only bout with a concussion prior to offering him a contract. But those concerns are no longer an issue as Byrd has been a solid contributor during the squad’s organized team activities.

“We had to do a lot of diligence to make sure there were no issues, but he’s been great so far, so hopefully he’ll keep that up,” receivers coach Derek Dooley said. “He has a great attitude, he’s got a really good work ethic — and it always starts with those two things — and he’s made some plays for us.

“So he’s just got to keep doing what he’s doing. It’s a long process, and hopefully we’ll feel the same way in training camp.”

Byrd signed with the Cardinals in 2012 as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Miami, where he had 106 career receptions for 1,254 yards and seven touchdowns in 51 games. But he played only four games with the Cards as a rookie, catching just one pass for eight yards and collecting two special teams tackles.

That limited action, coupled with his inactivity last year, has Byrd facing the reality of his situation.

“This season is real big for me,” he said. “I would say it’s the turning point of my career.

“It’s definitely important basically for me just to let people know I can play this game. And also to let the coaches and everybody know I’m healthy.”

Dooley anticipates it will take time before the shine comes back to Byrd’s game. But he steadfastly believes that the 24-year old speedster can help the Cowboys.

“I think any time you’re out of ball you’re going to develop a lot of rust on you, which you’ve got to knock off because the only way to play well is to play well a lot,” Dooley said. “When you’ve been off for a while it takes you awhile to kind of get back into that rhythm of what it felt like.

“But I think he’s there. I think he’s gotten a little comfortable out there and now it’s a matter of just improving his skills.”

With Arizona, Byrd was able to learn his position from one of the game’s best — eight-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Byrd even plans to attend Fitzgerald’s football camp in Minnesota next month, as he did last year.

“[Fitzgerald] is one of the best in the league and he’s going to be a Hall of Famer one day,” Byrd said. “There never was one time that I asked him a question that he didn’t help me.

“It was more like a little brother, big brother type relationship that we had. Even to this day, we text and call each other and I ask him certain things about how defensive backs play me and how should I attack them.”

At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Byrd is currently the tallest receiver on the Cowboys’ roster. That could bolster his chances of making the final roster.

“LaRon’s got good size, he’s got a little experience because he’s been in the league a couple of years, so he’s very mature from that standpoint,” Dooley said. “He’s a very big target, he’s got good hands and he’s smart.

“Now it’s just about going out there and trying to create a role for himself.”

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Jason Fox works at left tackle

Miami Dolphins OT Jason Fox worked as the backup left tackle for the first time during organized team activities Monday, June 9. OG Nate Garner had played backup left tackle in the previous two sessions and Fox was previously competing with OT Ja'Wuan James at right tackle.

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Santana Moss says having to work for a roster spot is nothing new to him

Santana Moss turned 35 this month and has played 13 NFL seasons. The Washington Redskins made upgrades at his position this offseason  by signing wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts as free agents.

But when it was suggested to Moss last week that he faces more competition than usual to secure a spot on the Redskins’ season-opening roster, he said the situation is nothing new from his perspective.

“I’ve never not had to go work for my job,” Moss said following an offseason practice at Redskins Park. “So at the end of the day, there’s always competition. Like you say, you all will rate where somebody’s at. I never did that. I went out here and worked. That’s why I’m able to be here today is because I’ve always showed instead of talked about it. So I’m gonna continue to do that. I’m gonna go out here and practice hard and put everything on tape and at the end of the day, you can judge on the tape.”

Even so, Moss acknowledged that his approach to the sport has changed in recent seasons.

“Honestly, the more you hear, the more you’ve been around this league, you mature a lot more and appreciate what you’re doing a lot more,” he said. “For the last four or five years, my appreciation of the game has been a little different. My approach is very different especially when you’ve got these young fellas coming in. You want to show them how to prepare, show them how to practice and just show them the reason why I’m still here because I can go out here and play this game. My approach has been different but at the end of the day, it’s all about having fun.”

Moss had 42 catches for 452 yards and two touchdowns last season as the Redskins went 3-13 and then fired Mike Shanahan as their coach. Moss said there’s plenty of work to be done to ensure that things will be different under the team’s new coach, Jay Gruden.

“You can’t put it on a scale right now,” he said. “I just feel like last year things didn’t go as well as we had planned. And it should have. I feel like the coaching staff, they did a tremendous job of getting us ready every week. At the end of the day, we went out there and laid the eggs. But it’s not just on the offense, the defense or the coaching staff. It’s on everybody.  Right now we’re trying to build so we don’t have that same lapse. So right now you can’t put it on a scale how different it is. But so far, so good.”

A coaching change always brings optimism in the NFL, Moss said.

“When it’s new, everything is all good,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s new. It’s just like getting that new girlfriend. You had the old one and she got on your nerves. The new one ain’t gonna get on your nerves until down the road. When it’s new, everything is all good.”

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Reggie Wayne has been cleared for football activity

Although Reggie Wayne (ACL) is not participating in OTAs, he has been cleared for football activities.

The Colts are taking it slow with Wayne, who is roughly seven months removed from his knee reconstruction. He's expected to take the field with his teammates when training camp opens on July 23. It's an aggressive timetable for a 35-year-old receiver that relies so heavily on sudden cuts and precision route-running, but people within the Colts are calling Wayne a "freak." We'd like to get a look at his progress in a preseason game before painting a rosy picture.

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Sean Taylor’s Cousin Learned From His Passion, Work Ethic

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Sean Taylor was one of the fastest rising stars in the NFL during his four-year career with the Washington Redskins. The safety garnished a reputation as being one the hardest hitting safeties in league history before his life was tragically cut short nearly seven years ago. While he may no longer be with us, his exploits continue to be reminisced by Redskins Nation and his family. Wide receiver Santana Moss pays homage to his college and professional teammate each game and you can still see numerous No. 21 jerseys in the stands at FedExField on Sundays. In the fifth round of the NFL Draft this past May, Taylor’s cousin, Keith Reaser, was selected by the San Francisco 49ers. Taylor’s style of play still has a profound impact on Reaser both on and off the field. As explained in an article by ESPN’s Bill Williamson, Reaser said he watched every game of Taylor’s and that the two would train together where the two-time Pro Bowler played a mentor role.

“I watched every game he ever played,” Reaser said, “from him being at Miami in college to the NFL. We used to run and train together. What I learned most from him was his passion and work ethic. He taught me that, and I will never forget it.”

Reaser was joined by his family on Sundays in front of the television or somewhere in the stadium Taylor was playing in and said that him just playing professional football was a bonding experience. When they received news that he had been shot and passed shortly after, Reaser said it was a “tough time” on the family. At the time, he was only 16-years-old.

“He was our focal point. So much was about Sean. For it to happen like that and being in the spotlight, it was very difficult to handle.”

Now, seven years after Taylor’s death, Reaser is trying to make a similar impact to Taylor when he caused opposing players to fear lining up in his path.

“He would have been the best safety ever to play,” Reaser said of Taylor. “I want to make his memory proud.”

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Give Jon Jay Some Credit

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - Jon Jay deserves a break.

What is it about Jay that Cardinals fans find so unappealing? The Cardinals' every day center fielder is quietly putting together another very respectable campaign, slashing .292/.347/.380. And yet no one is noticing.

Somehow, in the court of public opinion, Jay is the weakest link on this team.

I've heard Jay's name pop up in trade talks for the past couple of weeks (namely to Minnesota) and my immediate reaction has been, "good for whoever trades for him."

Jay could be a coup if another team is able to get the Cards the right pieces to acquire him. At present, the Cardinals are rich with outfield depth, churning out more quality prospects than Tom Emanski and possessing the cash flow to lock up anyone they deem worthy of a multi-year contract. That makes Jay easier to pry away for another team than he would be under normal circumstances, but Mozeliak and Co. shouldn't be listening anyway.

It's time for a riddle. What do Chris Davis, Starlin Castro, Allen Craig, Alex Rodriguez, Eric Hosmer, and Adam Dun have in common? They are part of a handful of a very large group of players that have failed to produce as many wins for their club as Jon Jay has since he became an everyday player in 2010. Need some more numbers to prove his worth? Consider these tidbits:
• Among Cardinals, Jay has a lower batting average than only Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina.
• Only Matt Carpenter and Holliday have a higher OBP
• His .355 BABIP indicates his performance has little to do with luck
• You could buy five Jon Jay's for the cost of one Jhonny Peralta
• Jay has a higher slugging percentage than Holliday and Craig

Not the most mind-bending stuff in the world, but it does paint a picture of Jay's value relative to what his team has been doing. Furthermore, the guys that Jay is losing his playing time to, Bourjos, Craig, and Randall Grichuk, are the ones that probably need the most help on the team right now.

This isn't to say that Jay is the man and the Cardinals need to scrap all other centerfield plans to accommodate Jay's Ruthian bat, by any means. I'm just pointing out that he has been more productive and consistent than an awful lot of people give him credit for. Beside all the numbers, Jay has an excellent reputation in the clubhouse and the community and is one of the longest tenured players on the roster. It's not like team chemistry is the type of thing you can ride to a pennant if you aren't stacked with talent, but it's what pushes the special teams over the top. I think losing Carlos Beltran was a much bigger blow to the leadership and accountability of the clubhouse than the loss of the numbers he contributed, and the subtraction of Jay could have a similar effect.

So be critical, Cardinals fans; question everything, but recognize the individual talents of each player and understand what their role is and what is expected of him. Jon Jay is doing the job the team expects him to as much as anyone else in the lineup.

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Sean Spence's return would shore up ILB

PITTSBURGH -- Sean Spence said he is at full strength but the Pittsburgh Steelers' linebacker stopped short of proclaiming he is all the way back from the career-threatening knee injury he sustained almost two years ago.

"It's still a process," Spence said Thursday after the Steelers' final practice of the week. "When I get to Latrobe I'll be able to test my knee more there."

The good news for Spence and the Steelers is he has looked good while testing his reconstructed left knee during organized team activities. Spence has been a full participant in all six of the Steelers' six voluntary practices, and he doesn't plan on taking any of the remaining practices off as a precaution.

What is most encouraging for Spence and the Steelers: the 2012 third-round pick said he is not thinking about his left knee when he is out on the field.

"Once I get warmed up I'm out there running around, having fun and competing," Spence said. "[The knee] has been responding pretty solid, and I've been out here every day. Hopefully I can continue that."

It has been an arduous road back since Spence shredded his left knee in the Steelers' final preseason game in 2012. The 5-foot-11, 231-pounder tore multiple ligaments and also sustained nerve damage, putting his career in peril before it had started.

Spence has worked tirelessly to get back to the field, and he overcame another setback last season when he returned to practice only to break a finger and get sidelined again.

"It was frustrating at times," he said, "but I had to be patient."

It's hard not to root for that patience to be rewarded given everything that Spence has had to overcome. And if his left knee holds up during the grind of training camp, Pittsburgh's inside linebacker position could become a strength a season after it was a liability last season.

Imagine Lawrence Timmons and Ryan Shazier backed up by Vince Williams, who had to start 11 games as a rookie because of an injury to Larry Foote, and Spence.

It's still way too early to anoint Shazier as the starter alongside Timmons or expect Spence to make an impact in 2014. But the prognosis at inside linebacker is promising, especially when it comes to Spence. “

"Being out for two years and being able to sit in meeting and see coach (Keith Butler) makes corrections with the guys, I always try to use the mental aspect of the game as an advantage," Spence said. "To take that all in and bring it out to the field has been good for me."

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Steelers Unlikely to have interest in Ed Reed

The Pittsburgh Steelers are not expected to show an interest in free-agent FS Ed Reed (Jets), as they already have four safeties with Will Allen, Michael Mitchell, Troy Polamalu and Shamarko Thomas, and Robert Golden also could push for a spot, so there is no room for Reed right now.

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Luck on Reggie Wayne: 'He's a freak'

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne has already let it be known that he wants to prove the doubters who question whether he can return to form at age 35 following ACL surgery wrong.

Wayne isn't taking part in the team's organized team activities as expected, but quarterback Andrew Luck has seen enough of his go-to receiver to make him believe that Wayne will be just fine.

"His attitude is awesome," Luck said. "He's around, he's coaching, he's talking football. I feel like I know Reggie. He's going to be back better than ever doing things that the 35-plus years olds shouldn't be allowed to do on this earth. He's a freak."

The plan all along was to bring Wayne, who tore his ACL in Week 7 against Denver last season, back slowly. He was cleared for football activities in late April but he's not expected to take the field with his teammates until training camp. Players report for camp in Anderson, Indiana, on July 23.

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Santana Moss can still help

Washington Redskins WR Santana Moss can still help the team win games and is having an excellent offseason, according to head coach Jay Gruden. Gruden added that Moss is working out hard, is the first one out on the field and provides great leadership for younger players.

Fantasy Tip: What Gruden is saying is all fine and dandy, but Moss is still no lock to make the final roster. If he does make the team, it’s best to leave him on waivers, where you might be able to pick him up as a bye-week replacement.

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Matt Bosher returns to Jupiter to help raise funds for field

JUPITER, Fla. - At the Square Grouper, Jupiter Boosters hosted a fundraiser for their new turf football stadium.  And one of the celebrity bartenders was former Warrior and current Atlanta Falcon Matt Bosher. The punter just bought a house in his hometown and called that a dream of his. Of course another is to keep his job in the NFL, which, as a punter, is a year round effort.

The booster club is just 20 thousand dollars shy of their goal for the new field. They're expecting to start construction in a few weeks.

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Yonder Alonso puts homer drought behind him, finds stroke

SAN DIEGO -- Not long ago, Yonder Alonso had gone nearly a full year without hitting a home run. By the time he crossed home plate on Saturday night, after rescuing the Padres with a tying two-out bomb in the bottom of the ninth, that homerless streak seemed like a long time ago.

"When I went up to bat I just wanted to get on base and see what happened," Alonso said. "It was one of those things where we have to come back."

San Diego's first baseman hadn't recorded a four-bagger from May 20, 2013, until the second game of a doubleheader on May 15. But since then, he's been making up for lost time and helped carry a Padres team that has floundered offensively.

"People are going to opinionate and have their numbers and stats and say I haven't hit a homer in this long or that long," Alonso said. "They don't necessarily understand all the things that are going on. For me, it's just making sure I put the ball in play."

In his last 21 games, he's hitting .287 with five homers and 13 RBIs.

"The [homers] are coming now, and that's fun," Alonso said. "[But] you don't necessarily have to hit a homer to win a game. You can make two or three diving stops on defense that saves two runs, and we win a ballgame 2-1. That's just as important as a homer."

That might be true, but if Alonso can help spark a streak of clutch hitting for the majors' worst offense, Padres fans would probably be just as happy.

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Juilian Gamble & Kenny Kadji Competing For $500,000

JULIAN GAMBLE dipped his shoulder and spun around Kenny Kadji in a flash. Gamble planted both feet, quickly rose toward the rim and threw down a powerful, emphatic dunk. Slam.

Kadji couldn't help but scream while watching his former teammate from the University of Miami.

"Don't bring down the rim, Jul'," Kadji yelled in excitement during a team practice at Aspiring Champions Gym near King of Prussia. "That'll cut into our winnings, man."

Two minutes later, Marcus Lewis, the 2014 ESPN College Slam Dunk Champion from Eastern Kentucky University, took flight from the foul line and almost dunked on Garrius Adams from the 2013 ACC championship Miami team.

Half a dozen players and two coaches filled the gym for some early practice on Wednesday for simply dubbed "The Basketball Tournament," which started yesterday at Philadelphia University. The championship will be June 28 at a site to be determined.

Thirty-two teams will overrun the gym this weekend for the chance at winning $500,000, which is then split among the members of the winning team. John Mugar, founder of the event, said the process began 3 years ago to establish a new tournament in Philadelphia.

"It's being financed from an investing group out of Boston," Mugar said. "The reason they're investing is because we hope to establish this as something that is broadcast-worthy, and we would like to give out the premise of an open basketball tournament and make it valuable to sponsors or anyone interested."

The notable teams in the field include one composed of members of the 2009 Villanova team that reached the Final Four, including Reggie Redding, Scottie Reynolds and Dante Cunningham, who now plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Another team is made up of former Saint Joseph's stars; another squad includes eight former players from City 6 teams, such as La Salle's Dalton Pepper and Aaric Murray; and a Cornell team that made the Sweet 16 in 2010.

Another team named "Rep Your City" is headlined by Delaware 87er Aquille Carr, Lewis, Gamble, Adams and Kadji. Matt Gibson, their coach and a writer for Dime Magazine, brought his team to Philly 2 days early to get some practice in. Gibson said he got his team together because of some connections he made through journalism.

"After 2 days of practice, we'll be in great shape to make a serious run in the tournament," Gibson said. "No one picked us to win the tournament, but we have a confident bunch and there are clusters of guys that have played together in college and professionally. Having some type of organization in an event like this can go a long way."

Mugar thinks that a tournament such as this, which promotes the idea of "team basketball" more than anything else, could be a mainstay in Philly if received well.

"Realistically, and as a basketball fan, I want to see how team basketball levels up with supremely talented players," Mugar said. "Having a winner-take-all prize really puts the emphasis on team basketball. It's purely paid to win. There's no emphasis on statistics. The box scores don't mean as much as the final score overall. I can't say I have a favorite, but I am interested in how it plays out."

For more information, visit

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Peter O'Brien Moving To First

TRENTON — Peter O’Brien is going to need a new glove.

The Thunder’s most prodigious power hitter spent fielding practice Saturday taking ground balls at a new but not entirely unexpected position — first base.

“I feel like it’s a pretty natural position (for me),” said O’Brien, who could make his first-base debut as early as Sunday afternoon. “I played a lot of third base last year, and the outfield, and my footwork feels good around the bag.”

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound O’Brien — who has already hit 21 home runs between the Thunder at High-A Tampa this season — has primarily played catcher and right field for the Thunder this season after playing behind the plate and at third in 2013.

With top Yankees prospect Gary Sanchez already behind the plate and O’Brien’s defense in right not exactly looking ready for the Bronx, however, a move to first had been widely speculated. According to Thunder manager Tony Franklin, the organization just wanted to make sure the time was right.

“Pete’s had a couple of position changes in the last couple of years, and we just didn’t want to overload him,” said Franklin, who said O’Brien will also continue to catch. “First base was going to be in his future at some point, we just didn’t want it to be too soon.”

While there certainly appeared to be some kinks for O’Brien to work out during his brief fielding session Saturday, his history behind the plate and at the hot corner seems to bode well for the transition.

“The biggest thing are just the little things, like cuts and relays and things like that,” he said. “To be honest, I’m pretty familiar with any position I’d play, because as a catcher you have to know every other position.”

At first, he also won’t have to shoulder the burden of handling a pitching staff.

“First base is base is just: pick it, catch some throws, and drop bombs,” he said with a laugh.

As for that glove, O’Brien said he had to borrow a spare from a box he found on top of teammate Rob Segedin’s locker, but a more permanent piece of leather is on its way.

It certainly appears it will get plenty of use.

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In praise of Jon Jay

I've been tough on center fielder Jon Jay, but I try to be fair, and to that end I have to say he's really been one of the Cardinals' best players so far in 2014 ... and one of the most consistent Cardinals, too.

Granted, that isn't saying much considering the dull showing of the STL offense. But in terms of Cards' position players that are at least playing up to their ability level, it's difficult to find fault with Jay's performance. He's done a nice job so far. 

Compared to most of the Cardinals' hitters, Jay isn't having an underachieving season. He's doing well. And this, despite the attempts to basically phase Jay out or at least greatly reduce his playing time.

Some small-sample factoids on Jay's 2014: 
• With a .295 batting average he's outhitting Matt Holliday, Allen Craig and Jhonny Peralta, among others. 
• Jay's .352 onbase percentage is topped only by Matt Carpenter (.393) and Holliday (.376.) 
• Jay's .388 slugging percentage puts him above Craig (.375), Holliday (.369) 
• In 73 plate appearances since April 30, Jay is batting .333 with a .384 OBP and .409 SLG. 
• Jay's .740 OPS ranks fourth among Cardinals' regulars. 
• Jay has driven in 17 of 104 runners on base; that may not look like much but that "OBI" (others batted in) percent of 16.3 % is the best among Cards' hitters that have at least 100 plate appearances. 
• Jay has been effective coming off the bench, going 9 for 20 (.450) after entering the game as a substitute.
• When he leads off an inning,  Jay is 8 for 20, or .400.
• In "late and close" situations Jay is 3 for 10, or .300. 
• With runners in scoring position and two out, Jay is 6 for 18, or .333. 

The Cardinals acquired CF Peter Bourjos from the Angels to displace Jay. Rookie outfelder Randal Grichuk was included in that trade. The Cardinals twice have promoted Grichuk from the minors and given him a few opportunities to start in center. 

But in games in which they've played center field, Bourjos and Grichuk have combined to go 29 for 141 (.205) with 45 strikeouts. Bourjos' overall strikeout rate of 29.4 percent is the 23rd highest (worst) K rate among MLB hitters with at least 100 plate appearances so far. 

Jay has been OK defensively, not nearly as good as Bourjos in the metric valuations. But is minus 3 rating in the John Dewan plus-minus system isn't atrocious. 

Please understand what I'm saying here ...

I'm not saying Jay is a great player who should be in there every day no matter what. I'm not saying Jay should be the CF for the rest of the year, or next season. 

But based on his track record and reasonable expectations, Jay is doing his part to help the Cardinals. He's getting his job done. And that's more than most Cardinals can say right now. 

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