NFL U Weekly Matchup Guide: Week 6


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DeMarcus Van Dyke to make second straight start

Oakland Raiders CB DeMarcus Van Dyke is expected to make his second straight start in Week 6 against the Cleveland Browns in place of the injured CB Chimdi Chekwa (hamstring).

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Cowboys' Center Phil Costa Calls Vince Wilfork A Mere "Speed Bump"?

FOXBORO — Thank you, Twitter.

If not for Twitter, most of us around here would have never heard of Dallas Cowboys center, Phil Costa, whose subtle jab at New England Patriots defensive tackle has gone viral.

On Costa's verified Twitter account, he was asked by a Cowboys fan about Wilfork.

The question read, "You ready for Wolfork (sp) big guy? He's a mountain. Good luck on Sunday Phil."

Simply saying thanks would have done the trick for Costa, a second-year center with eight career starts to his credit. Giving Wilfork his props as an All-Pro defensive lineman that you're looking forward to facing? Yeah, that could have worked for Costa.

Instead, he opted for Door No. 3.

Here's his response:

"appreciate it…of course im ready he's more like a speed bump than a mtn…#cowboys are ready to roll!"

As you can imagine, Costa's words made their way back to Wilfork.

"That's fine," Wilfork chuckled, when told of Costa's comments. "I play on Sundays. I'm not a media guy, get it back and forth. I'll be there Sunday. He can tell me that, then. I don't care about all that stuff."

Click here to order Vince Wilfork’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Broncos Have DJ Williams on Trade Block?

The NFL’s trade deadlines is next Tuesday.  Let the rumors begin!

The Broncos may try to deal linebacker D.J. Williams and wide receiver Brandon Lloyd on the trading block.  The Broncos could be looking for a 3rd round pick for Williams.

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Speculation surfaces that Colts could move Reggie Wayne

With the trade deadline only four days away, and with an eleventh-hour deal or two typically being made, speculation has arisen that the Colts could send elsewhere one or two of their disgruntled free-agents-to-be:  receiver Reggie Wayne (pictured) and defensive end Robert Mathis.

Phillip Wilson of the Indianapolis Star traces the spitballing to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who apparently said that the Colts should trade Wayne to the Bills and Mathis to the Jets.  That idea has quickly become rumor, even though at this point there’s no reason to believe either deal could happen.

Wilson thinks that the Colts should keep both players.  But if the Colts already have decided neither to use the franchise tag nor to give new contracts to one or both players, why not dump them now in exchange for future picks?

The hidden benefit, of course, is that it would be a legitimate way to weaken the team as part of a not-so-subtle effort to “Suck for Luck.”

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Rocky McIntosh Playing Great

Linebacker Rocky McIntosh leads the Redskins with 27 tackles; more importantly he’s not missing them like he did last season. He looks more decisive this season.

“He’s playing great this year,” Haslett said. “He’s comfortable with what we’re doing. He’s tackling well. He’s all over the field.”


Ray Lewis' Son First To Eclipse 1000 Yards

Junior Ray Lewis III of Lake Mary Prep was the first Central Florida running back to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the 2011 season, moving into quadruple digits with a 236-yard performance in the Griffins loss to Lakeland Victory Christian last week.

Lewis III's number was quite memorable for him because NFL father Ray Lewis II was able to come home during the Baltimore Ravens bye week to witness his son's game. Lewis III had four touchdowns in the 34-29 loss to Victory Christian, the Griffins (5-1) only loss this season. Lewis III now has 1,181 yards in six games and the Griffins are on a bye week this week.

Many people shrug off the numbers put up by Lewis III since his competition is at the 1A and 2A levels, but people who have seen him play are impressed.

Chuck Tillett, the father of Central Florida's leading small-school passer this year Brendon Tillett (872 yards, 12 TDs) of Orlando Foundation Academy, wrote of Lewis, "Ray is a beast," in an e-mail earlier this season.

Also last week, Lewis III was joined in the 1,000-yard club by Orlando University senior DeeJay Holley, whose 286-yard effort put him at 1,017 yards in six University (3-3) games.


Bond lowered for ex-Bengal Nate Webster

Jailed former Cincinnati Bengal Nathaniel “Nate” Webster had his bond lowered Thursday, a move that could allow him to be freed until his Dec. 12 trial.

Webster, 33, of Symmes Township, was arrested July 21 and charged with sexual battery, gross sexual imposition and five counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.

He is accused of having a sexual relationship with a girl when she was age 15. His bond initially was set at $1 million by Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Ralph “Ted” Winkler, who refused to lower it in a September hearing.

But Webster’s attorney appealed that to the Cincinnati-based 1st District Court of Appeals which ruled Thursday that Webster’s new bond will be $500,000.

If he makes that bond and is released from the Hamilton County Justice Center where he has been since his arrest, the appellate court ruled, Webster must wear an electronic ankle monitor, can have no contact with his accuser or her family and can’t live within two miles of them.

He also must surrender his driver’s license and passport and cannot possess guns. One of the allegations against Webster is that he often had sex with the girl when guns were nearby, possibly to intimidate her into silence.

The charges against Webster carry a maximum sentence of 25½ years in prison.
As of 4 p.m. today, Webster still was in jail.

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Sport City Chefs Interview Demarcus Van Dyke

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Antonio Dixon Gets Tricep Repaired

Team physicians for the Philadelphia Eagles Peter DeLuca, MD, and Paul Marchetto, MD, performed surgery to repair the left tricep tendon of Eagles' defensive tackle Antonio Dixon, according to a Philadelphia Eagles report.

Mr. Dixon suffered the injury while playing last Sunday and has been placed on the injured reserve list. The surgery, performed by the two physicians from Rothman Institute, is complete and Mr. Dixon is now in the recovery process.

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Leonard Hankerson has time on his hands

Leonard Hankerson shuffled through the hallway outside the locker room at Redskins Park on Thursday morning with a backpack slung over his left shoulder. His presence was required in a meeting upstairs in six minutes, barely enough time to chat.

The meeting was another element of preparation for the Washington Redskins‘ game Sunday against the Phil-adelphia Eagles. It’s a huge NFC East matchup, one in which Hankerson knows there’s a strong chance he won’t play. The rookie receiver wasnt activated for any of the Redskins‘ first four games, and nothing appears to have merited a change to the depth chart.

This wasn’t what Hankerson envisioned when the Redskins drafted him in the third round in April. For now, “Hank Time” involves running the scout team offense on Thursday instead of making plays on Sunday. But he is maintaining a positive attitude and determined to capitalize on his chance to play, whenever that arises.

“Any competitor, anybody that wants to play and knows he can help the team out, it’s going to be tough for them,” Hankerson said. “I can’t control it. The only thing I can control is going out to practice and doing what I got to do, keep working hard and getting better.”

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan touted the decision to draft Hankerson 79th overall as an easy one. His 13 touchdowns for the University of Miami last season were a school record. The Redskins, meanwhile, needed a receiver to spark their middling offense.

Hankerson, however, dropped passes too frequently in training camp and in preseason games. That landed him at the bottom of a seven-receiver depth chart.

“Any player is going to come in and be anxious wanting to make a play to get playing time,” he said. “But now I look back on it, and I didnt really have to do that. I could have just been doing what I’m doing now, just coming in here, catching the ball, looking it all the way in and getting better.”

Now he’s stuck waiting for his chance. He knows it likely will take injuries to other players, but its difficult to be patient.

Hankerson has turned to coaching assistant Richmond Flowers for support. Flowers, a former receiver who spent a short time on the Redskins‘ active roster in 2002, understands Hankerson’s mental struggle. He fought to be noticed in several teams’ training camps and on various practice squads during his brief NFL career.

“Hank’s got a challenge,” Flowers said. “I want to let him know that the most important thing is to not let any of it weigh you down and just come out and fight every day. Don’t worry about anything else besides coming to practice, working on your technique and catching every ball you can.”

Hankerson’s attitude is paramount, Flowers said. Either he could pout about being left out of the rotation, or he could productively use this time to prepare himself for an eventual opportunity to play.

“At times you start to feel like you’re not a part of it, and I can see that with him, but I tell him just to keep working,” said Terrence Austin, a former seventh-round receiver who experienced a similar struggle in his rookie season last year. “The coach sees everything that he’s doing, and really it’s about being patient. His time will come. It’s not like he can’t play. He can definitely play.”

Hankerson must prove that by being consistent. That was his downfall in the preseason. On some plays, he would appear every bit the playmaker the Redskins believe the 6-foot-3, 205-pounder can be. Then he’d drop a pass over the middle because he turned to run before securing the ball.

“I think that’s what Hank is working to do - being consistent in practice, the meeting room, the way he approaches his studies, his workouts, consistently catching balls after practice,” Flower said. “Good players … consistently do the same things every day.”

Outside the locker room, Hankerson concluded his chat with a reporter and bolted up the steps, another chance to hurry up and wait.
“I just keep doing what I’m doing in practice, just keep getting better,” he said, “and my time will come.”

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Vince Wilfork Doesn't Practice

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork were not present for the media access portion of Thursday's practice, after both having practiced on Wednesday.

Green-Ellis was limited in Wednesday's session with a toe injury, though Wilfork's absence was not injury-related.

While their absences put into question both players' availability for Sunday's game against the Cowboys, their participation in Friday's practice will shed more light on their status.

With no defensive tackle on the practice squad, the Patriots were down to three defensive tackles in Thursday's practice: Kyle Love, Gerard Warren, and Albert Haynesworth.

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Ed Reed channels his inner Channing Crowder

Ravens All-Pro safety Ed Reed channeled his inner Channing Crowder on Wednesday when a reporter asked him about offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie, whom the Ravens signed after McKinnie was cut by the Vikings.

In case you’re unfamiliar with Crowder’s body of work, the now-retired linebacker was responsible for one of the greatest quotes in the history of geography. Reed’s McKinnie quote can’t touch that, but it was pretty good.

“Baltimore is a different city than Minnesota; there’s probably a little more to do,” Reed said, referring to McKinnie’s many off-the-field issues with the Vikings. “I don’t know why it didn’t work out down there.”

Different city? Down there? Awesome.

Anyway, after Reed, we’ll assume accidentally, identified Minnesota as a southern city, he praised McKinnie.

“You need a left tackle, and he’s one of the best,” Reed said of his former University of Miami teammate. “I’ve seen him go against some of the greatest rush ends in this league right now. And, he’s proven it. It was just a matter of him getting in shape, which I know he is a professional, and that’s why we got him.”

And so far, McKinnie has fit in just fine up here in Baltimore.

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Jim Haslett noncommital on Phillip Buchanon

Washington Redskins’ defensive coordinator Jim Haslett declined to commit Thursday on whether cornerback Phillip Buchanon would make his season debut Sunday. Buchanon re-joined the team Oct. 3 after serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

Buchanon practiced with the Redskins on Oct. 4 before the team took the rest of the week off for its bye. Buchanon practiced Monday and was listed as “limited” with a neck injury for Wednesday’s practice, but has said he will be ready to play when he gets the nod from his coaches.

Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said Wednesday that he and his staff need to further evaluate Buchanon’s conditioning. On Thursday, Haslett said: “It all depends. We’ll see.”

“We can’t activate everybody, so we’ll see how they do the next couple of days, and we’ll make a decision,” Haslett added.

Buchanon is competing with Kevin Barnes and Byron Westbrook for playing time as one of Washington’s backup cornerbacks. Barnes has served as the team’s nickelback, covering teams’ slot receivers, while starters DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson cover the receivers on the outside. Barnes said Wednesday: “I’m still the nickel.”

Haslett said Buchanon has gotten work both in the nickel and outside corner positions, but that he still is getting up to speed on the inside position, where he has played only sparingly during his pro career.

“I don’t know if he’s ready for that task yet. … That’s a hard position to play because we ask them to do a lot of different things,” Haslett said. “Not just covering, you’ve got to blitz, you’ve got to mask the defense, you’ve got to know if they’re regular people … gotta know where to line up, get set, know the guy that runs the option route or the deep routes, so there are a lot of plays to know at that position.”

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In new environment, McKinnie feels like old self

It's hard to appreciate just how large Bryant McKinnie truly is unless you've stood next to him.

McKinnie weighs upward of 350 pounds and stands just three inches short of being seven feet tall. He's not fat, despite what you have heard. He's just gigantic, from his toes to his calves to his shoulders.

He was leaning against his locker and fiddling with his BlackBerry this week. Cupped in his enormous right hand, the BlackBerry looked like it could have been the size of walnut.

There are a number of reasons why the Ravens decided, late in the preseason, to gamble on McKinnie and make him their starting left tackle even though he was cut by the Vikings, with the team expressing concerns about his attitude and fitness. The Ravens felt a simple change of scenery might help him re-boot his commitment, and they were also desperate for whatever help they could get after watching their offensive line look shaky, at best, during the preseason.

But none of those reasons outweigh the most obvious truth about McKinnie: No matter what kind of shape he was in during the lockout, it was still going to be hard for a defender to get around someone built like a Kodiak bear.

Thought it's only been four games, it's probably fair to say the Ravens gamble has paid off remarkably well. McKinnie has started every game and, if you throw out one bad half he had against the Tennessee Titans, he's been pretty good in both pass protection and run blocking. He managed to set the tone for a dominant day against the Steelers when he made two blocks on one play and sprung Ray Rice for a huge gain.
"I think he and Shaq are about the same size," said Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. "Trying to find Ray Rice when he's running behind [McKinnie] is pretty hard to do."

His arrival also allowed the Ravens to put Michael Oher back at right tackle, re-teaming him with guard Marshal Yanda. Rice running to the right side has consistently been one of Baltimore's best plays in 2011.

Plus, if you believe Ravens coach John Harbaugh, McKinnie's biggest impact hasn't been felt yet. It's likely going to come in the second half of the season, when the Ravens will need it the most.

"We are really happy with him," Harbaugh said of McKinnie. "We really like where he is, no doubt. He's played well. He's a premier player. We knew he was one of the premier tackles in football. I just think he's only going to get better as the season goes on, because he's going to get to work with our guys in our system and he's going to continue to get in better shape."

Two types of shape
Just what kind of shape McKinnie was in during the NFL lockout is still somewhat in dispute. When the Vikings decided to release him after eight seasons, an NFL source told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune it was in part because McKinnie showed up weighing nearly 400 pounds.

McKinnie has no problem admitting he wasn't in football shape when he reported to camp. But he contends whomever spoke anonymously to the Star-Tribune was exaggerating how much he weighed. And it only made him all the more happy to leave town.

"I was heavy, but there were reports saying I couldn't even move," McKinnie said. "It just wasn't accurate. I could see where Baltimore might have thought I was a risk because they weren't sure how that would pan out, but it just wasn't accurate. I'm not somebody who can run a whole bunch of sprints. That's never been me. But I always know how to play football. Those are two different types of shape, anyway."

The marriage between McKinnie and the Vikings could never exactly be described as idyllic, even though he played fairly well and the team — which drafted him No. 7 overall in 2002 — had success with him in the line-up. McKinnie was involved in a scuffle outside a Minneapolis gas station in 2005, and he was one of the Vikings fined for his participation in the embarrassing "Love Boat" sex party scandal in 2006. In 2008, he was arrested for his participation in a brawl outside a Miami night club, and he was also openly critical of the team's decision to trade quarterback Dante Culpepper. In 2009, he was selected to the Pro Bowl for the first time but was kicked off the team for skipping practices prior the game.

All those incidents gave the Ravens pause when McKinnie was released by the Vikings. But when general manager Ozzie Newsome spoke with Ed Reed — a college teammate of McKinnie's at Miami — the Ravens Pro Bowl safety didn't hesitate to vouch for his fellow Hurricane.

"I don't know why it didn't work out," Reed said of McKinnie's time with the Vikings. "It's really not my choice, but once he hit the market, Ozzie came to me and asked me about him. It was a no-brainer. You need a left tackle, and he's one of the best. I've seen him go against some of the greatest rush ends in this league right now, and he's proven it. It was just a matter of him getting in shape."

A fresh start
McKinnie says he's not interested in making excuses about his time with the Vikings. If the organization grew weary of him, well, the feeling was mutual.

"Sometimes when you're in a place for so long, you kind of feel like you're not appreciated," McKinnie said. "I'll be straight up and admit that's kind of how I felt. I wasn't being appreciated so it was time for me to go. I felt like saying 'When I leave, you'll appreciate what I've done as soon as I'm gone.' And I feel like some of that is going on now."

Although their time in Minnesota, and their departure from the organization, was certainly different, even Matt Birk said he can understand some of what McKinnie says about the need for a change.

"I think it did rejuvenate him," Birk said. "I know from personal experience that change is good for the soul. It's a fresh start. Sometimes during your career, if you play one place for a long time things can get a little bit stale. When you change all your surroundings, your teammates, your facilities, where you live, I don't think it can do anything but re-energize you. Late in your career, people tend to say 'Oh, his play has fallen off.' And going somewhere new is a chance to prove those people wrong.' "

McKinnie said the Ravens were appealing in part because they told him he wouldn't have to conform to the organization and act a certain way. For years, the Ravens have thrived on having a locker room full of loud and colorful personalities, and McKinnie — who loves to laugh and tell jokes — felt right at home.

"I'm not going to lie, I felt like in Minnesota, people were a little up tight and weren't always allowed to be themselves," McKinnie said. "They were being who the coaches wanted them to be and weren't able to express their true personality. One of the first things Coach Harbaugh said to me was 'Express your personality. We're all about that here. We're about going out there and enjoying ourselves.'"

McKinnie knows he tends to say and do things that would make a lot of head coaches nervous. But what he appreciates about the Ravens, at least thus far, is they're not hung up on appearances. Is he a good guy? A bad guy? In his mind, it's silly question. All the Ravens care is that he does his job.

"I've had coaches in the past that made you dread things, whether it's because they're always complaining or because they're not making it fun," McKinnie said. "The coaches here know I didn't get a chance to learn technique because I wasn't here for camp, so at the end of the day, all they care about is getting the play blocked. I feel like the joy of playing football has returned for me."

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Jarrett Payton: 'No grudges' against 'Sweetness' author

The son of former Chicago Bears great Walter Payton expressed his appreciation to the NFL Network for their upcoming documentary on his father, despite author Jeff Pearlman’s presence in the hour-long piece.

In Pearlman’s book, "Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton," Pearlman reported that the elder Payton abused drugs and had extramarital affairs.

"I hope people see the documentary for what it is, and I think it’s a great piece," Jarrett Payton told the Tribune. "Pearlman’s in it, so I don’t want people to discredit it and not look at it because he’s in it. I want them to really see if for what it is and just watch it."

The documentary airs at 9 p.m. (Chicago time) Thursday.

Payton admitted it has been a difficult last few weeks ever since the revelations in Pearlman’s book. His father passed away at age 45 after a bout with a rare form of cancer.

"But I don’t hold grudges against anybody, and I’m speaking from my heart," Payton said. "Everybody has a job, to write or do whatever they do to the best of their ability. We all have to feed our families. So I understand that. It’s just hard for me to be 30 years old now and to have your life in a book or in the paper. Some of the stuff was true. Some of it wasn't.

"It’s hard because someone passed away and is not here to defend himself. But my family and I have gotten so much stronger through everything. We have to really thank the Bears fans here in Chicago because we’ve gotten so much love."

Payton previewed the documentary and is interviewed in the piece along with his mother, Connie, and sister, Brittany. Former Bears coach Mike Ditka also appears.

"I don’t think my dad knew how much he was loved until he got sick," Payton said. "I hear stories about my dad every single day. But it takes something like this to see how much he really truly affects people. They truly, truly loved him.

"With every bad, there’s some good. We’ve gotten stronger.  As long as my family’s OK, I’m fine. A lot of what’s going on in the last few weeks has just made me reflect on my life and my relationship with my dad. He was my best friend. He really was. He was the best dad in the world because he taught me everything. He taught me to be the person that I am. I’ll take being the person that I am today over any money in the world. My joy and my happiness is the most important thing. And I appreciate my dad for showing me the way.’’

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Ray Lewis Is One of the 'Meanest' Players in NFL

According to a player poll, Steelers linebacker James Harrison is the meanest player in the NFL.

Sports Illustrated conducted a poll of 287 NFL players and Harrison earned the top spot, with Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and Lions defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh right behind him.

Both Harrison and Suh have been fined by the NFL on multiple ocassions for helmet-to-helmet hits and unnecessary roughness penalties. Lewis has not gotten into as much trouble with the league as Suh or Harrison but is known for constantly trash talking on the field.

Former Patriots defensive lineman and current Radier Richard Seymour was No. 4 in the poll. Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito rounded out the top five.

Here is the complete list of the meanest players in the NFL.

1. James Harrison (Pittsburgh Steelers)
2. Ray Lewis (Baltimore Ravens)
3. Ndamukong Suh (Detroit Lions)
4. Richard Seymour (Oakland Raiders)
5. Richi Incognito (Miami Dolphins)
6. Terrell Suggs (Baltimore Ravens)
7. Harvey Dahl (St. Louis Rams)
8. Hines Ward (Pittsburgh Steelers)
9. LaRon Landry (Washington Redskins)
10. Olin Kreutz (New Orleans Saints)
11. Jared Allen (Minnesota Vikings)
12. Steve Smith (Carolina Panthers)
13. Jerome Harrison (Detroit Lions)
14. Cortland Finnegan (Tennessee Titans)
15. Shawne Merriman (Buffalo Bills)

Click here to order Ray Lewis’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Ed Reed hosts annual Fitness Day to keep Baltimore kids active

BALTIMORE - For Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed, one of his missions is to help where Baltimore City Schools can't: keep kids active and in shape.

On Tuesday, Reed was joined by several other teammates including Anquan Boldin and Ray Rice at Baltimore's Booker T. Washington Middle School for Reed's annual Fitness Day.

The purpose was to show kids, especially those in middle and elementary schools, that staying active every day instead of sitting in front of the TV or video games will help lead to a healthier life in the future.

So today, with help from celebrity trainer Monte Sanders, Reed put kids through some simple exercises and some football-type drills to get their blood pumping and their bodies moving.

Reed hopes this can help kids not only with a healthier life, but also help them in the classroom. He also believes that kids who stay active and see how it helps them will in turn encourage younger generations to stay active as well hopefully improving the quality of life in Baltimore and elsewhere.

The annual Fitness Day is part of Ed Reed's "Eye of the Hurricane" Foundation.

Click here to order Ed Reed’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Kenny Phillips fined $20,000

There was a letter hanging in Kenny Phillips' locker from the NFL. Phillips circled the $20,000 and wrote in black marker, "Help,"with an arrow pointing to the $20,000.

That's the amount Phillips was fined by the league for his hit on Seattle tight end Zach Miller in the Giants' 36-25 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. Phillips plans to appeal the fine.

He has a similar letter hanging in his locker from earlier in the season, when he was fined $10,000 for an illegal hit to the head and neck area of Redskins TE Fred Davis in Week One.

Click here to order Kenny Phillips’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Jimmy Graham Has Done Something No Tight End Has Done

Saints second year TE Jimmy Graham has done something no NFL TE has done in over 10 years. He has had three consecutive 100-yard games receiving after going for 129 yards last Sunday. Tony Gonzalez had four straight 100-yard receiving games in 2000. Here’s to Graham getting another 100 yards this week.

Click here to order Jimmy Graham’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Sound FX with Vince Wilfork

NFL Films had a microphone on Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork during Sunday's win over the Jets, and parts of the Sound FX piece is now posted on NFL. com (link here). A segment like this takes you right on to the field with Wilfork.

At one point, Wilfork tells offensive lineman Brian Waters -- who wears No. 54 -- that he was giving him Tedy Bruschi flashbacks. That was one of the more humorous parts.

There was one moment, after a Jets touchdown, in which Wilfork looks at everyone in the huddle and says, "Why do we look so sad? This is football, baby. Let's make a play!"

Wilfork also talks to receiver Chad Ochocinco on the sideline, telling him that he's growing every week as a player.

Those were a few parts that stood out -- along with Wilfork calling for the offense to run the ball and taking joy in Wes Welker's 73-yard catch with Darrelle Revis trailing in coverage -- in a segment that you really have to watch (not just read) to appreciate.

Click here to order Vince Wilfork’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Andre Johnson likely to miss Week 6

Texans coach Gary Kubiak conceded Wednesday that Andre Johnson (hamstring) is "unlikely" to play in Week 6.

Kubiak did indicate that he's been impressed with Johnson's progress, saying "it amazes you just how far he’s come so quickly." Speculation that Johnson's recovery was behind schedule appears unwarranted. The Texans' game-day wide receivers against the Ravens are likely to be Kevin Walter, Jacoby Jones, KR Trindon Holliday, and either Derrick Mason or Bryant Johnson.

Click here to order Andre Johnson’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Phillip Buchanon ready whenever his number is called

Washington Redskins’ cornerback Phillip Buchanon has yet to receive word whether he’ll make his season debut on Sunday, but if given the nod, the 10th-year veteran believes that he can help his team against the Philadelphia Eagles.

“If my number is called, and I’m suited up, I’ll be ready to play,” said Buchanon, who was suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

Buchanon -- who last season served primarily as Washington’s third cornerback, recording 49 tackles and two interceptions – was activated by the Redskins last week. Wednesday marks his third practice with the team. Coach Mike Shanahan said last week that Buchanon “can help us right away,” but so far, Buchanon hasn’t received any indication whether he will play against the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday.

Buchanon said he has worked to ensure he remained in game-ready shape, but conceded that there’s nothing like game action. At the same time, he said he wouldn’t lobby for playing time if he wasn’t ready to take the field.

“I’m a person and a player that I take pride in playing football and I want to do the best,” he said. “I don’t want to embarrass myself or my teammates or my coaches, so I’m ready to play whenever the coaches are ready for me to play.”

With Buchanon out, third-year pro Kevin Barnes has held down the nickel corner spot, lining up against the opposing team’s slot receiver. Although Buchanon has received work at both the inside and outside positions and says he feels comfortable at either, Barnes said as far as he knows, nothing about his role has changed.

“I’m still the nickel. Still the nickel,” Barnes said. “You’re better off asking coach, but right now, it’s as is and I’m sure we’ll find a way to get Phil in there whenever and I’m sure he’ll produce.”

Barnes, who has recorded eight tackles, one pass deflection and an interception, added that he feels like he deserves to keep his job, however.

“I did what the coaches asked me to do and made some plays here and there, and pretty much staked my claim that I should be playing,” he said.

Fellow corner Josh Wilson, who starts opposite DeAngelo Hall, said whenever coaches decide to put Buchanon on the field, it will help the Redskins’ secondary. He joked that he hopes Buchanon stops offering his coaching expertise whenever he does get on the field.

“I’m about tired of hearing him talking and ready for him to get out here and do something,” Wilson said with a laugh. “He’s out there talking about plays, how you can jump something, make a play on this, make a play on that. I’m like, ‘I feel you, I feel you.’”

Wilson then expressed appreciation about having Buchanon in the mix.

“That’s a great player,” he said, “and any time you get great players back off of whatever, it makes your team better.”

Click here to order Phillip Buchanon’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Frank Gore on he MVP Watch

The best running backs are patient when they need to be, waiting for openings to develop before running into the clear.

Frank Gore waited three weeks for his opening with the San Francisco 49ers this season. He's rushed for 252 yards over his past two games, a leading reason the 49ers have improved to 4-1 with victories over Philadelphia and Tampa Bay. The recent surge has landed Gore in the No. 10 spot on the weekly MVP Watch.

"He had his burst back," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said after Gore gashed the Bucs for 125 yards on 20 carries. "He looked like Frank. He’s having fun out there. That’s the thing I see in Frank most of all right now, is that he’s enjoying football."

Gore did it all against the Eagles as well. He broke a 40-yard run on his first carry. He added a 25-yarder during the drive to his winning 12-yard scoring run. And when the 49ers needed to run out the clock on their final possession, Gore carried five times in a row, getting at least 4 yards every time, as the Eagles burned through their timeouts.

For the season, Gore's 400 yards and three touchdowns put him on pace for 1,280 and 10, respectively. But if the last two games provide a more meaningful representation of Gore's projected production, the two-time Pro Bowl choice would be on his way to nearly 1,800 yards and 14 touchdowns.

The first three games of the season were rough on Gore. His offensive line was struggling and Gore didn't look quite right. An ankle injury suffered against Cincinnati raised questions about his ability to produce. Gore has answered those questions resoundingly. He was the choice to represent the 49ers on this list, even though teammate Alex Smith is on pace for 22 TDs and three INTs. Another game or two from Smith like the one he played Sunday might change the equation.

Click here to order Frank Gore’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Ray Lewis Still Intimidates In Pass Coverage

As Jets tight end Dustin Keller came over the middle during the fourth quarter at M&T Bank Stadium the Sunday before last, it looked as if there was going to be a repeat of last year’s smack down from Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.

That hit was used as part of the NFL’s tutorial on how to make a clean, big hit. It was also constantly aired on commercials, presumably being seen by Keller and all of Lewis’ opponents all offseason.

This time, Keller stopped, ducked, and allowed the pass to fall incomplete. The Jets punted.

Call it Lewis’ intimidation factor – a key part in the linebacker’s pass coverage skills.

“Once you kind of establish your reputation for being that guy in the middle and people know you’re going to take those shots, you’ve always got to be conscious of things like that,” said Lewis, who was recently voted the No. 2 meanest player by his peers in a Sports Illustrated poll.

“You create your own mentality once you’re in the middle and you make people respect. And if they do come through there, you make them pay for it.”

Some fans still question Lewis’ pass-coverage skills, and one called in to “Ravens One On One” Tuesday night to ask Head Coach John Harbaugh whether he has considered subbing Lewis out during third-down situations.

Harbaugh said it’s a “fair point” to discuss the option of substituting for Lewis, but laughed at the notion of what it would take to sub Lewis out.
“I’m not sure exactly how we would do it right now in terms of getting him off the field and how many people it would take to accomplish that,” he said.

Lewis will have a tough challenge this Sunday with Texans running back Arian Foster and Houston’s two pass-catching tight ends. Foster caught five passes for 116 yards last Sunday against Oakland and Owen Daniels and Joel Dreessen combined to haul in 12 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown.

But at 36 years old, Lewis’ smarts and intimidation still make him an every-down linebacker, a mainstay in rushing and passing situations.
Lewis missed only five plays all last season. Harbaugh said the notion of taking him out of the game on a few select plays in third-down situations has been discussed, but it’s not something they’re in favor of at this time.

Instead, the Ravens have somewhat built their defense around Lewis in obvious passing downs.

“We try to keep him in situations where he doesn’t have to cover as many one-on-one situations against receiving-type guys as much as we can,” Harbaugh said.

Lewis has often been a blitzer, an area where he has long excelled (39.5 career sacks). He is also excellent in zone coverage of the shallow middle of the field.

“You’re not going to take him off the middle of the field,” Harbaugh said. “He owns that low middle part of the field.

“Guys do not want to run routes in there because they know where Ray Lewis is patrolling. That’s his turf. We’ve seen that time and time again, so he brings that to the table and that’s a pretty valuable thing.”

Lewis said he would always choose the player he is now over the young Ray Lewis, who he called a “time bomb” running all over the field without knowing what was really going on. In his 16th year in the league, Lewis has slowed the game down mentally, and relies on that in pass coverage.

“It’s hard for people to try to complete passes on me because of the knowledge of the game,” Lewis said. “You’re going to get beat sometimes. But more times than not, I’m going to make those plays. I treat it all the same, being the complete linebacker and being able to be on the field on all downs.”

This season, Lewis leads the Ravens yet again with 30 tackles and has also notched one sack and one interception. He was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week after his Week 3 performance in St. Louis, in which he stripped quarterback Sam Bradford after blitzing up the middle.

How long can Lewis keep up that type of production? Harbaugh admits that he doesn’t know.

“Hey, let’s be honest. Ray’s a human being,” Harbaugh said. “At some point in time, he’ll tell you he’s going to have to come off the field. He’ll probably tell you it won’t be before he retires, and I don’t know when that is either. He’s playing at a really high level right now.”

“Ray takes a lot of pride in [his pass coverage]. And he’s done a really good job with it. Obviously he’s not a cover guy, per se. But he believes he is and he’s done a good job of it so far.”

Click here to order Ray Lewis’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Jimmy Graham has been heavily targeted by Brees in passing game

Saints players know by now that with Drew Brees at quarterback, one doesn’t have to play receiver to rack up a lot of receptions.

So far in 2011, Brees has completed more passes to second-year tight end Jimmy Graham (32) and running back Darren Sproles (31) than anyone else.

In their victory over Carolina on Sunday, the Saints reminded future opponents that they are just as likely to throw to running backs when they need a key first down or a touchdown. Of Brees’ two touchdown passes in the game, the first went to fullback Jed Collins and the second went to running back Pierre Thomas, who also happens to rank fifth on the squad in receptions with 14, ahead of Devery Henderson and Marques Colston.

“That’s been the nature of our offense ever since we’ve been here,” Brees said. “You see it every game where there are nine or 10 guys catching balls. Rarely do we have a guy who’s up in the 10-plus range. We have a lot of guys who are six, seven, eight catches, very productive. Every guy contributing on third down and the red zone — that’s what we do. It keeps defenses off balance when they try to game plan for us”
Of Brees’ 12 scoring passes this season, only half have gone to receivers. Three have gone to the 6-foot-6, 260-pound Graham, and one each has gone to Sproles, Thomas and Collins.

Fortunately for the Saints, none of their receivers have the outspoken, “Diva” persona that seems to be common at their position league-wide.
“In this offense, if you’re going to be selfish you’re not going to be here anyway,” said Robert Meachem, who has 22 catches to rank third on the team and first among New Orleans receivers. “Being a play-maker, you always want the ball. Don’t get me wrong. But in this offense you know pretty much, ‘Hey, be patient. It’s going to happen.’”

The Saints haven’t relied too heavily on any one player in the passing game since coach Sean Payton began calling the plays and Brees began executing them back in 2006.

Generally, Brees simply seeks out the most favorable matchups each play. While that has often meant throwing to Colston in past years, the 6-foot-4 receiver has been limited this season by a fractured collar bone that caused him to miss two of New Orleans’ first five games.

With only 12 receptions so far, he is bound to become more involved as the season progresses, but the Saints still won twice without him and are second in the NFL in passing with 336.6 yards per game.

Tampa Bay coach Rahim Morris has mixed feelings about what he sees when he breaks down video of the Saints’ offense. As a football fan, he said, “It’s an unbelievable offense to watch.” As the next opponent on the schedule, it’s a concern.

“I can’t say enough about Drew Brees. What Jimmy Graham’s been able to do this year has been unbelievable. He’s physical, fast, and violent. It will open it up for the receivers down the stretch here,” Morris said. “It’s just an explosive offense that gets the ball around to everybody and uses their talents well.”

Sproles, whose reception total is tied for fifth in the NFL, said one of the reasons he came to the Saints as a free agent was his confidence that Brees would use short passes to get him the ball in space, where he could use his explosive speed.

Sproles also knew defenses would not be able to make him the focus of their pass coverage because of the way Brees has shown he can go down field to the likes of Meachem, Moore, Henderson, Colston, and now Graham.

“You get those big guys out wide, they kind of forget about us” running backs, Sproles said. “The little dump-offs, they’re always there.”

Click here to order Jimmy Graham’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Jon Beason's Achilles healing

CHARLOTTE – When linebacker Jon Beasonicon-article-link fell to the ground in the Panthers’ season opener at Arizona, he first thought he had gotten tangled up with someone else.

Once Beason realized that no one was else around, he knew there was a serious problem.

“It felt like I got hit with a stick,” Beason said Wednesday, when he addressed the media for the first time since tearing his left Achilles tendon. “I thought someone had tripped me, like when someone hits your heel and you stumble. When I turned around, I realized no one was there.

“Then I grabbed my calf, and it was just mush.”

Beason, who underwent surgery on Sept. 16, expects to have his cast removed Friday and will be in a walking boot for six weeks. If all goes well, he should be back to wearing normal shoes around Thanksgiving.

For Beason, who had never missed a defensive snap – let alone a game – in his first four NFL seasons, it’s been a difficult month but one that he’s approached with the kind of determination that made him great in the first place.

Beason wasn’t able to attend the Panthers’ first two home games but did attend Sunday’s loss to the Saints.

“At first it’s hard to come to grips with missing a play, missing a game. Then having to sit home in a splint, not able to leave the house, it’s tough because I couldn’t be here for my team,” Beason said. “But now that I can, I feel better about it. I’m content. The outlook is forward. For me, it’s all about September of 2012.”

And Beason, whose four full seasons with the Panthers produced the top four tackle totals in franchise history, doesn’t plan to ease his way back into the lineup next season.

“I plan on being better,” he said. “I’ve had setbacks before, and there’s always an opportunity to do something great when you come back.
“In my mind, I expect to be back to my normal self. Then being a year older in the system and in my career, I expect to play even better.”

For now, Beason is taking his time, being careful to follow doctors’ orders every step of the way. He watched the Panthers’ first two home games from home, meaning he wasn’t there to console fellow linebacker Thomas Davisicon-article-link when he suffered his third major knee injury in less than two years.

 “I was taken aback for sure,” Beason said. “Thomas is a guy who has worked extremely hard. It’s just unfortunate, but based on the procedure he’s just had, he feels good about it. He’s in good spirits about coming back.”

Even though Beason can’t play, that doesn’t mean he can’t play a part in the Panthers’ continued growth. Now that he’s back in the building, he’s back to attending meetings.

“He’ll tell me things he sees, I’ll tell him things I see, and we try to get on the same page,” said James Andersonicon-article-link, the lone starting linebacker from the season opener still standing. “It just shows what kind of guy he is and leader he is.”

Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said that Beason isn’t alone in that regard.

“Having him and Thomas Davis around has been a nice boost for our young defense, especially the linebackers. And since (defensive tackle) Ron Edwardsicon-article-link tore his tricep (early in training camp), he’s been around every day,” Rivera said. “They both go to meetings and look at the game plans and give the guys whatever advice they can.

“It’s been important to our team to see those guys around. Those veteran guys realize they can have an impact even if they don’t play.”
Beason doesn’t like being limited to watching, and he doesn’t like the Panthers’ 1-4 record heading into Sunday’s game at Atlanta. Otherwise, though, he likes what he’s seen.

“The team is taking to coaching well and is starting to gel. The difference has been one or two plays,” he said. “At this point, the confidence should be there. Now we’ve just got to go out there and execute.”

Anderson predicted that the second Beason is cleared by doctors, he’ll hit the ground running. For a little while longer, though, Beason will have to settle for being back in the locker room.

For someone as upbeat as Beason, it’s not such a bad place to be.

“This is what I love,” he said. “I can’t ever remember coming in here and not being in a good mood, not being happy to be here. Even on days that I’m tired, I still love what I’m doing. I feel like I’m in my element.

“To be back around here, it’s a big plus. I think it’s going to help me heal.”

Click here to order Jon Beason’s proCane Rookie Card.

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SFHSSPORTS Interviews Future proCane Herb Water

SFHSSPORTS interviews current Homestead WR and future proCane Herb Water.


This Date in Hurricanes History...October 12th

This Date In Hurricanes History...October 12, 1991 & 2002
Brought to you by the UM Sports Hall of Fame!

The 2nd ranked University of Miami Hurricanes defeat the 9th ranked Penn State Nittany Lions 26-20 in front of an Orange Bowl sellout crowd of 75,723 and a national television audience !
The game featured big plays on both sides, with Miami being led by an 80-yard touchdown pass from UMSHoF member Gino Torretta to UMSHoF member Horace Copeland...and the backbreaker...a 91 yard punt return from Kevin "KW" Williams !
The Canes went on to a 12-0 record and their 22-0 victory over Nebraska in the Orange Bowl Classic sealed their 4th National Championship and 3rd in 5 seasons...continuing the success of the Team of the 80's !

and in 2002

Top ranked Miami holds off the 9th ranked Seminoles 28-27 in a game that ended with a missed field goal by the FSU kicker...before the largest Orange Bowl crowd in history, 81,927 !

The University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame is a non-profit, 501c3 corporation whose sole purpose is to recognize those student-athletes, coaches and administrators who have excelled at their sports and brought acclaim to the university through their accomplishments and championships.  All tax-deductible donations help showcase their achievements for Hurricanes fans to enjoy for generations to come !

To Donate to the UM Sports Hall of Fame, click below...

Click here to donate now
UM Sports Hall of Fame
5821 San Amaro Drive
Coral Gables, Florida

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NFL U Week 5 2011 Full Stats

Andre Johnson WR (Texans): DID NOT PLAY DUE TO INJURY (Hamstring)

Darryl Sharpton LB (Texans): 2 solo tackles

Brandon Harris* DB (Texans): Played but did not record any stats.

Vince Wilfork DT (Patriots): 2 tackles

Brandon Meriweather S (Bears): 3 tackles

Jeremy Shockey TE (Panthers): 3 catches 21 yards

Jonathan Vilma LB (Saints): 5 solo tackles, 1 pass deflection.

Santana Moss WR (Redskins): BYE WEEK

Rocky McIntosh LB (Redskins): BYE WEEK

Leonard Hankerson WR (Redskins): BYE WEEK

Calais Campbell DE (Cardinals): 5 tackles, 4 solo tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 4 QB hits

Antrel Rolle S (Giants): 8 tackles, 6 solo tackles

Kelly Jennings DB (Bengals): Played but did not record any stats.

Colin McCarthy* LB (Titans): Played but did not record any stats and then injured his hamstring.

Frank Gore RB (49ers): 20 carries for 125 yards, 1 TD and 2 catches 18 yards.

Kellen Winslow TE (Buccanneers): 5 catches for 54 yards, led the Buccaneers in receiving yards.


Greg Olsen TE (Panthers): 3 catches 21 yards 1 TD

Devin Hester WR (Bears): 5 catches, 32 yards, 1 punt return for 1 yard, 4 kickoff return for 84 yards

Willis McGahee RB (Broncos): 16 carries, 125 yards

Ray Lewis LB (Ravens): BYE WEEK

Ed Reed S (Ravens): BYE WEEK

Tavares Gooden LB (49ers): Played but did not record any stats.

DJ Williams LB (Broncos): 9 tackles, 7 solo tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss


Kenny Phillips S (Giants): 5 solo tackles

Reggie Wayne WR (Colts): 4 catches, 77 yards


Phillip Buchanon DB (Redskins): BYE WEEK


Sam Shields DB (Packers): 1 solo tackle, 1 pass deflection

Jimmy Graham TE (Saints): 8 catches, 129 yards. Led the Saints in receiving yards and recorded his 3rd straight 100-yard receiving week.

Allen Bailey* DE (Chiefs): 2 tackles

Spencer Adkins LB (Falcons): Played but did not record any stats.

Matt Bosher* P (Falcons): 5 punts, 189 yards, 37.8 Average, 1 inside the 20, long of 47 yards

DeMarcus Van Dyke* DB (Raiders): 4 solo tackles

Richard Gordon* (TE) (Raiders): DID NOT PLAY DUE TO INJURY (Broken Hand)


Eric Winston RT (Texans): Offensive Lineman, did not record any stats.


Bryant McKinnie LT (Ravens): BYE WEEK

Chris Myers C (Texans): Offensive Lineman, did not record any stats.

Vernon Carey RG (Dolphins): BYE WEEK

Orlando Franklin* RT (Broncos): Offensive Lineman, did not record any stats.

Brett Romberg RG (Falcons): Offensive Lineman, did not record any stats.

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Andre Johnson's soreness has gone away

Coach Gary Kubiak said Andre Johnson's hamstring "soreness has gone away, and his rehab has picked up."
"We'll see where he's at each week," Kubiak said Monday. Johnson won't play against the Ravens Sunday, but the Texans aren't yet ruling him out for Week 7 at Tennessee. Still, the most likely return date remains Week 8 against the Jaguars. Remember that the Texans held Arian Foster out an extra week earlier this season to protect his hamstring from aggravation.

The Texans are expected to sign free agent WR Juaquin Iglesias to their practice squad on Wednesday.
It could mean nothing, or it could mean something. On the heels of Tuesday night's Derrick Mason acquisition, CBS Sports' Mike Freeman is speculating that the receiver additions suggest Johnson's recovery from hamstring surgery is going slower than anticipated. The Texans insist otherwise, but it's a situation to monitor. The Iglesias signing would put three wideouts on Houston's practice squad, joining Dominique Edison and Jeff Maehl.

Click here to order Andre Johnson’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Ray Lewis watched his son score four TDs on Friday

Thanks to the bye week, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis got a chance last week to return home to Lakeland, Fla., where he watched his son, a junior running back and linebacker for Lake Mary Prep, play a game Friday night.

With his father in attendance, Ray Lewis III rushed for 236 yards and four touchdowns on 27 carries and had 13 total tackles in a 34-29 loss to Lakeland Victory Christian. It was Lake Mary Prep’s first loss of the season.

Lewis III first gained national attention a year ago when he racked up 504 yards of total offense as a runner, returner, receiver and quarterback. According to Rivals, he is being recruited by -- surprise, surprise -- Miami.

A year ago, Tribune talked to the prep star about what it was like having an NFL superstar for a father.

"I don't think about what I have to accomplish because of who my father is," said Lewis III, whom The Orlando Sentinel reports is a 5-feet-8, 186 pounds. "I really don't let that stuff get to me. He is an NFL icon to a lot of people, but I don't look at him like 'Ray Lewis, celebrity.' I just go out there and play my game."

In six games this season, Lewis III has carried the ball 97 times for 1,181 yards and 18 touchdowns and has made seven catches for 162 yards and a touchdown. He is also one of Lake Mary Prep’s leading tacklers.

"I would like to follow in his footsteps,” Lewis III told The Baltimore Sun in 2010. “One day I do have a dream of going in the NFL, but I also have a dream of making a difference in people's lives outside the football field."

Click here to order Ray Lewis’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Dwayne Hendricks Could Get Called Off the Practice Squad Soon

Giants defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy, signed in August to provide depth inside, has been suspended four games after testing positive for performance-enhancing substances, the NFL said via statement.

Kennedy's suspension will begin immediately and will end on Nov. 14, one day after the team faces the 49ers in San Francisco.

The 31-year-old Kennedy, a former first-round pick of the Rams, has played well in limited duty this season in a rotation with starters Chris Canty and Linval Joseph, as well as veteran backup Rocky Bernard. He has four tackles in five games but has disrupted a few plays with solid penetration and helped with a key goal-line stand against the Eagles.

The Giants, who lost rookie second-round pick Marvin Austin to a torn pectoral muscle in the preseason, have a defensive tackle on the practice squad in Dwayne Hendricks, a Millville native who signed as an undrafted free agent last year and spent part of last season on the practice squad.

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Ed Reed Doesn't Like League Rule Changes

Ed Reed is a meat-and-potatoes type of football player. He knows what works, and he's not interested in moving out of his comfort system.

That's why the Baltimore Ravens safety has an issue with rule changes he believes were put in place to increase offense and provide the NFL with a more attractive product.

"The game has changed from a corporate standpoint," Reed said this week on "The Rich Eisen Podcast" when asked about why the league has the highest passing yards per game since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.

That's right. Reed believes the NFL has gone from Jefferson Airplane to Starship. It's artistic credibility pushed aside in favor of the almighty dollar.

"When Mike Singletary and all those guys played the game, it was a different football game. They didn't have all them rules," Reed said. "It was football how I grew up playing football. Without all the rules, there's one football, that 11 against this 11. It's tackle football, let's go. Anything goes, so they got rid of the anything-goes attitude and are now trying to protect guys from a life standpoint because of all these injuries."

Reed takes particular exception to rule changes that have forced defenders to be less aggressive in taking down ball carriers.

"How are you going to hinder us from tackling?" he said. "I understand keep your head up, don't hit first with your helmet, I'm totally against that. But hitting a guy as soon as he get the ball? Come on, this is football. That's how we were raised to play it."

Reed is one of the most respected players in football, so any comments he makes carry added weight. But with the NFL more popular than ever, Reed shouldn't hold his breath hoping for things to go back to the way they were.

Click here to order Ed Reed’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Javarris James Works Out For Texans

The Texans worked out former Colts RB Javarris James yesterday, per a league source. James seems to have left Houston without a contract. The Colts could have injury problems at running back as well with Joseph Addai nursing an injury which could bode well for James resigning with the Colts. We will keep you posted.

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Antrel Rolle says former Giants should pipe down on injuries

Antrel Rolle never was a teammate of Michael Strahan or Antonio Pierce, but the Giants safety Tuesday said he doesn’t feel either one of them should be chiming in on Justin Tuck’s neck injury.

“I don’t feel it’s Antonio Pierce’s place or Michael Strahan’s place to comment on someone’s injuries,’’ Rolle said on his weekly WFAN spot.

Strahan, during the Giants victory in Philadelphia on Twitter, questioned why Tuck, who reaggravated a neck injury, was out of the game in the second half. Pierce, afterward on ESPN, chided Tuck and Brandon Jacobs for missing the loss to the Seahawks and said as long as their injuries do not require surgery they should be on the field with their team.

Rolle said, “I’m not fully aware of the severity of Tuck’s injury,’’ but did not question why the Giants defensive captain did not play. As for Jacobs, who missed the game with a swollen knee, Rolle said, “I saw Brandon Jacobs’ knee first-hand. His knee was the size of a volleyball with the amount of fluid.’’ Rolle added he did not think there was any way Jacobs could play.

As far as the 36-25 loss to the Seahawks, Rolle said he thought the Giants “needed to play with a little more attitude, a little more passion. The initial strike wasn’t there.’’

Rolle was involved in allowing the game-winning touchdown when rookie receiver Doug Baldwin was allowed to run free for a 27-yard scoring catch.

“I could have sworn I heard a whistle,’’ Rolle said of when Osi Umenyiora jumped offside but did not blame any hesitation on giving up the touchdown, explaining he and cornerback Aaron Ross did not read the play the same way.

“We were on the right page but we didn’t see it the same way,’’ Rolle said. “We saw the same route but played it different ways and it cost us.’’

Click here to order Antrel Rolle’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Greg Olsen A Fantasy Waiver Wire Wonder

Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers: He’s not a sexy name, but Olsen currently ranks sixth in fantasy points at the tight end position in standard scoring formats. He should be owned in all leagues with ten or more teams, especially when you consider the fact that quarterback Cam Newton currently ranks fourth in the NFL in passing yards.

Click here to order Greg Olsen’s proCane Rookie Card.

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From young age, Ryan Braun lived for big moments

ST. LOUIS -- You never know how players, even the best ones, will respond to the pressures of the postseason.

But Ryan Braun's father swears he did. He knew it the moment he watched his son play his first high school game.

Joe Braun can recount that game to almost every exact detail. At that point, the younger Braun was a freshman at Granada Hills Charter High School in California, who was expected to be on the junior-varsity team. Then, on opening day, the varsity second baseman showed up late to a meeting, and all of a sudden, the young, inexperienced Braun was plucked out of his fifth-period class and told he'd be the one starting the season opener.

Braun's response? First at-bat: Single. Second at-bat: Two-run homer. Third at-bat: Double off the wall.

That day, a tall, imposing senior by the name of Kameron Loe -- you know, the current Brewers' reliever -- was the starting pitcher for Granada Hills and attracted an assortment of scouts from across the country.

But their attention soon shifted elsewhere.

"He was the only kid in the game who didn't have his name on his back," Joe Braun said of his son, "and all the scouts were like, 'Who is this guy?'"

Nobody's wondering that now, of course. Coming off a season that could earn him the National League's Most Valuable Player Award -- thanks to a .332 batting average, 33 homers, 111 RBIs and 33 steals -- the Brewers' left fielder has found an even higher gear this postseason.

Ryan Braun batted .500 with two homers, eight RBIs, six doubles and seven runs, while hitting safely in six of Milwaukee's first seven playoff games. He went 4-for-8 with a homer and four RBIs in the first two games of the NL Championship Series against the Cardinals, which is tied, with the next three games -- beginning with Wednesday night's Game 3 -- shifting to St. Louis. And he seems to step up every time the Brewers need him.

"Nothing surprises me that he does," Joe Braun said. "Is he at the top of his game right now? If you ask him, he'll say he's nowhere near; he can do a lot more things. That's how he feels. But that's what drives him to be successful. It's really important to him. So, no matter how much success he might be having, he feels like he's got more in there, that he can be better."

The senior Braun has been able to take this in from up close. He lives in California -- about 25 miles north of downtown Los Angeles and in the same city where Ryan grew up -- but he's made it a point to be in the stands for every one of his son's thrilling postseason games. Joined by his wife, Diane Braun, and his younger son, Steve Braun, Joe Braun has traveled to Milwaukee and Arizona, and he'll be at Busch Stadium on Wednesday to take in whatever happens next.

"I think he's probably been more influential in my career than anybody else, just in how supportive he's been, how much he's encouraged me and how much he's taught me," Ryan Braun said of his father. "He never played the game, didn't play any sports or anything like that growing up. But he was just an amazing father. I truly appreciate his support, and it's cool that he's able to experience this with me."

Joe Braun surmises he's been able to watch 50 Brewers games in person this year, which for him represents an all-time high. Like in every job, the time off the elder Braun gets is dependent on his boss.

In this case, that's his older son.

Joe Braun calls himself "semiretired," but he helps run various things around his son's life -- from charity work to the Limelite Fusion Energy Drink he endorses to paying bills. The father even throws his son left-handed batting practice in the offseason.

What kind of boss is Ryan Braun?

"He can be tough at times," Joe said. "[He] wants to know, 'Hey, what was this check you wrote for?' He keeps a good eye on me."

Joe Braun was only half-joking there. He knows how intense his son is about baseball and everything that surrounds it. He caught a glimpse of that after the Brewers won Game 5 of the NL Division Series over the D-backs on Friday, a game that saw Ryan Braun go 2-for-3 with a double and a walk.

Ryan Braun brought his father in to join him in the celebration and to show him around Miller Park. Then, barely two hours after his team had won an extra-inning game to close out a series that was pushed to the absolute limit, Ryan -- still dressed in his uniform and reeking of champagne -- plopped down on a chair and began analyzing video of all of his at-bats from the game, from the series and from September.

"That's his dedication," said Joe Braun, who also got to celebrate with the Brewers when his son's Sept. 23 homer clinched the division. "He's still watching his at-bats, watching the pitchers. That's not surprising. That's just what he does. He studies the game. He's real into all of that, and it's important to him. Good at-bat or not, he still watches that, trying to pick something out. Maybe there's something that gives him that extra edge. He's always looking for that."

Joe coached both his sons every year they were able to play Little League together -- Steve Braun, who was an infielder at the University of Maryland, retired prematurely in 2010 due to vision problems. The two boys also loved soccer, and Joe Braun believes his sons were better soccer players than baseball players by the time they get to high school.

Then everything changed.

And for Ryan Braun, it changed during his first varsity game.

Loe, now in his second year with the Brewers and his seventh year in the Majors, doesn't remember much about how he pitched in that game. But he knows he got the win, and he clearly remembers the impact of a scrawny freshman who wasn't even supposed to be there.

Even though an age gap didn't allow them to get close then, Loe remembers a little something about Braun's personality, too.

"At that age, when I knew him, he acted older than a freshman," Loe said. "He always had a little more maturity than that."

This postseason, the 27-year-old left fielder is displaying that on a much grander stage.

"He wants to be in that moment," Joe Braun said. "He realizes that you're not always going to be successful. But you want that opportunity to be that person and help your team win that game, or keep the game going, or get you into the postseason. He always has lived for those moments."

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Aubrey Huff makes sense for Phillies

When I was a die-hard USF basketball fan as a kid, I was introduced to the concept of faking an injury to stave off embarrassment when seldom-used forward Erik Gilberg went up for a garbage-time dunk, came up woefully short, slammed the ball into the front of the rim, fell on his rear, then promptly grabbed at his ankle.

That scene popped back into my head Friday night when Ryan Howard went down in a heap after bouncing out to end Chris Carpenter's masterpiece.

Now we know that Howard wasn't pulling a Gilberg. He has a torn Achilles' tendon, and that's among the more devastating sports injuries.

It's also a potentially fantastic solution to what, at present, is a bit of a messy problem for the Giants.

Howard's injury is going to take a minimum of six months to heal, and that's an optimistic view. Eight months is more realistic, and depending on Howard's work ethic and the competency of his trainers and docs, it could be 10 months to a year.

Thus, they're going to need a first baseman. A good one. Someone who represents a threat in the middle of the lineup. Someone with a little clubhouse juice. Someone with a sense of accomplishment.

Know anyone like that who might be available?

Operator: Hello, you've reached the Philadelphia Phillies. How may I direct your call?

Brian Sabean: Ruben Amaro Jr., please. Brian Sabean calling.

Operator: Hold, please.

Elton John's "Philadelphia Freedom" plays while Sabean sits on hold.

Amaro: Sabey Sabes! What's happening?

Sabean: Well, tell you what. I was watching your game the other night. Bummer about Ryan, huh?

Amaro: Yeah. Slightly. I don't know what we're gonna do.

Sabean: I have an idea.

Amaro: I thought you might. Belt or Pill?

Sabean: Pfffhhhhhfffft! Sorry. You owe me a cup of coffee, Ruben. Just spit mine out. No, I mean Huff.

Amaro: Aubrey Huff?

Sabean: No. Michael Huff, the Raiders' DB. Yes, Aubrey Huff.

Amaro: Dude makes $11 milliion and stunk on ice this year. And you yourself said he was an offseason slacker!

Sabean: Right. But you have as much money as God, Aubrey is great every other year, and you know how motivated veterans are in their walk years. It's perfect!

Amaro: Hmmmm. Good points, all. But I need more.

Sabean: That's all I've got, Ruben. He'd be a nice band-aid for you, is all I'm saying. And hey, he's got this Rally Thong thing that matches your guys' color scheme!

Amaro: Sold. What do you want for him?

Sabean: Just get me that coffee you owe me at the Winter Meetings, OK? And take the thong. Please.

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This Date in Hurricanes History...October 11th

This Date In Hurricanes History...October 11, 1968...
Brought to you by the UM Sports Hall of Fame!

The Miami Hurricanes defeated # 8 Louisiana State University Tigers 30-0 before an Orange Bowl crowd of 39,284 !
The Canes defense was led by 3-time All-American and UMSHoF member Ted Hendricks !

The University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame is a non-profit, 501c3 corporation whose sole purpose is to recognize those student-athletes, coaches and administrators who have excelled at their sports and brought acclaim to the university through their accomplishments and championships.  All tax-deductible donations help showcase their achievements for Hurricanes fans to enjoy for generations to come !

To Donate to the UM Sports Hall of Fame, click below...

Click here to donate now
UM Sports Hall of Fame
5821 San Amaro Drive
Coral Gables, Florida

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Sport Science: John Brenkus compares Devin Hester's speed to that of a black bear.

Click here to order Devin Hester’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Andre Johnson trying to return from hamstring injury vs. Ravens

Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak was non-committal Monday about wide receiver Andre Johnson playing this weekend against the Baltimore Ravens following a minor procedure to repair his right hamstring injury.

Kubiak said the soreness in Johnson's leg has been alleviated and his rehabilitation has been accelerated.

"His rehab has picked up, so we'll see where he's at each day, Kubiak said.

Johnson, who was injured Oct. 2 against the Pittsburgh Steelers and didn't play in Sunday's 25-20 loss to the Oakland Raiders, said last week that he was targeting a return this Sunday against the Ravens.

Click here to order Andre Johnson’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Jeremy Shockey apologizes for not shaking hands

Carolina Panthers tight end Jeremy Shockey, who played for the New Orleans Saints for three seasons before getting cut after the 2010 season, took to his Twitter account Monday morning to apologize for running off the field Sunday afternoon without shaking the hands of his former teammates.

"I hold myself accountable. It was a classless move by me. No one takes losses worse than me," Shockey wrote on his Twitter account Monday morning. In another entry he wrote:

"All the rings I won from high school, college, and in the pro level really means nothing.. Competing means everything!!"

Shockey had three catches for 21 yards in the Panthers' 30-27 loss to the Saints but was animated throughout.

He also posted this Monday morning: "I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have." Need to get more chances to help my team win."

Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, Shockey's replacement, had eight catches for 129 yards. He has had three consecutive games with 100-plus yards receiving, the first time that's happened since 2000 when Tony Gonzalez had four consecutive games when he was with the Chiefs.

Click here to order Jeremy Shockey’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Jimmy Graham’s play is key in Saints 4-1 start

He has become a fantasy-football hero and his play on the field is making him one of the hottest pass-catchers in the National Football League.  Saints second-year tight end Jimmy Graham is scorching defenders at a rapid rate, and he is showing no signs of slowing down.

“I just try and work hard each day, listen to the coaches and my teammates, and help the team any way I can,” said the humble Jimmy Graham. 

Graham is coming off his third straight 100-yard receiving game in the Saints’ 30-27 win over the Carolina Panthers.

Jimmy Graham has not only become one of the most improved tight ends in the NFL; he is also becoming one of the better players in the league also.  Saints quarterback Drew Brees was asked about how much his Tight End has improved from last season to this season.

“At this point last year, he was talented but raw, so green still,” Brees said.  “Even though it’s been only a year, he’s gained a lot in experience, not only from how we incorporated him into the offense last year, but how he had an offseason under his belt where he was really able to work a lot with David Thomas and the stuff we did on the side.”

Drew says Jimmy lives and breathes the game.

“Obviously once we got into training camp, you see him having this mentality of trying to be great and he loves football. He’s his biggest critic, which I love seeing young guys like that who are going to police themselves and do the right thing,” according to Drew.  “They don’t need a coach telling them something, even though as a young guy you’re going to have a coach telling you what to do.”

Jimmy has shown steady improvement in each of his five performances this season for the Black and Gold offense.  Against the Green Bay Packers, Graham had four receptions for 56 yards and a TD.  In the battle against the Bears, Jimmy had seven receptions for 79 yards.  Then, Jimmy really raised his game the next three weeks, hauling in more than 100 yards receiving per week  in each of the last three contests.

Graham torched the Texans for 100 yards on four grabs, and then he upped his play even more against Jacksonville, rolling for ten receptions for 132 yards and one TD.  In the Saints’ most recent win versus the Panthers, Jimmy hit the century mark again with eight catches for 129 yards.

So, let’s add up Jimmy’s numbers through the first five games of the season.  Graham has thirty-two receptions for a total of 496 yards and three touchdowns.  He’s averaging 15.5 yards per reception.

And if we break Jimmy’s numbers down by game, we find that Graham is averaging 6.4 catches per game for 99.2 yards.  From what I know of Jimmy, he is a very humble guy that is grateful for his opportunity to play in the National Football League.

Jimmy is on par to have more than 100 receptions for over 1,500-yards and 12 TD’s this season at this current pace.  He is contributing on the highest level, and the best part is:  He’s really only just getting started.   

Click here to order Jimmy Graham’s proCane Rookie Card.

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D.J. Williams’ late personal foul was costly for Broncos vs. Chargers

The Broncos were penalized four times for 53 yards in Sunday’s 29-24 loss to San Diego, none more costly than the 15-yard personal foul on linebacker D.J. Williams, for head-butting San Diego guard Kris Dielman late in the fourth quarter.

It wasn’t a hard head-butt, but it was right in front of the game official.

Instead of the Chargers facing a third-and-5 at the Denver 37 yard line, the penalty gave San Diego a first down at the 22. Kicker Nick Novak eventually kicked a field goal to extend the Chargers’ lead from 2 points to 5 points with

“That’s the one that really hurt, because we still had a fighting chance right there,” cornerback Champ Bailey said.

Williams declined an interview request with The Denver Post after the game, and later avoided a crowd of reporters waiting by his locker.

Click here to order DJ Williams’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Willis McGahee, Moreno switch roles for Broncos

Playing in John Fox's run-first offense, RBs Knowshon Moreno and Willis McGahee were supposed to be the catalysts of the Broncos' attack this season. Coming out of training camp, Moreno, a third-year pro, was expected to be the primary runner, and McGahee, a ninth-year vet, was set to be the backup.

Just four games in to the season, however, those roles have changed. Because of an injury to Moreno, McGahee took over the starting role in Week Two and hasn't looked back, rushing for 256 yards over the past three games. He is a tough, between-the-tackles runner who can also catch the ball out of the backfield and throw a block on a blitz pickup. In contrast, Moreno seems to have lost some speed and is more of a third-down back at this point.

We hear the role switch won't be reversing anytime soon, as the team is pleased to see McGahee making the most of his starting opportunity.

Click here to order Willis McGahee’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Orlando Franklin leaving Broncos on Monday to be with family

Broncos right tackle Orlando Franklin will travel to New Jersey today to be with his mother and older brother while he mourns the death of his younger brother, who died Wednesday in Jamaica at age 20.

Franklin remained in Denver last week and did not miss a practice. He played every offensive snap in Sunday’s 29-24 loss and had one of his best games of his short career, helping provide the block’s for Willis McGahee’s 135-=yard rushing day.

“It was a tough week, but at the end of the day, I have to be a professional,” Franklin said, adding that playing football and his Broncos teammates helped him get through a “tough week.”

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Bruschi visits 'Wilfork Island'

In a fun segment on Sunday's NFL Countdown show on ESPN, Tedy Bruschi interviewed former teammate Vince Wilfork about his newfound prowess for intercepting passes. Wilfork has two interceptions this season: the first two of his career.

Now that he's among the elite pass defenders in the league, why shouldn't he have an island, a la Darrelle Revis?

Wilfork, who credits Randy Moss for helping him learn ways to catch a ball, had some fun with his answer to Bruschi's tongue-in-cheek question about the differences between "Wilfork Island" and "Revis Island."

"Revis, he'd probably have palm trees and stuff like that," Wilfork joked. "Me, I'd have a horse track and a fishing lake. I'd have my own racetrack with my horses ... and a nice house and a family."

Wes Welker's take: "I think they'd have a luau all the time (on Wilfork Island). A pig roast and everything else. I think it would be a good time."

Click here to order Vince Wilfork’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Jimmy Graham is trying to stay grounded as his NFL career takes off

METAIRIE, La. — When Jimmy Graham was first drafted by the New Orleans Saints, the tight end took down his page on the social media site Facebook. He still has yet to set up a Twitter account.

“I kind of just wanted to focus and not have any distractions,” Graham said. “I try to stay away from all that stuff.”

The second-year pro may be far behind many of his NFL contemporaries in terms of virtual friends and followers. As for production on the field, that’s another matter entirely.

Through the first four weeks of this season, Graham ranks in the top 10 among NFL tight ends in four key categories as he has increasing become quarterback Drew Brees’ go-to guy. He is first in receptions with 24, second in yards receiving with 367, fourth in touchdowns with three and eighth in yards per catch at 15.3.

He has had no fewer than 100 yards receiving in each of his past two games, becoming only the second tight end in Saints history to register triple-digit receiving yardage in consecutive games.

The first was Henry Childs back in 1979, and no Saints tight end has even done it in three straight weeks, as Graham has a chance to do when he returns to his home state, North Carolina, this Sunday as the Saints (3-1) meet the Carolina Panthers (1-3).

“I’m not even close to satisfied,” Graham said after practice on Thursday. “One of my biggest goals this year was to make an impact play every game, so I want to be somebody that Drew can look to in a tough situation and can count on.”

Graham’s growth as a tight end has been remarkable in that, when the Saints drafted him in the third round in 2010, he had played only one season of college football at Miami after spending four years as a power forward for the Hurricanes’ basketball team.

The 6-foot-6, 260-pound Graham is one of several NFL tight ends with a basketball background, following in the footsteps of players like Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez and San Diego’s Antonio Gates. The Saints were banking on Graham following suit when they drafted him.

Fewer expected that, four games into his second pro season, he would have 102 more yards receiving that any other player on the team.

“At this point last year, he was talented but raw, so green still,” Brees said. “Even though it’s been only a year, he’s gained a lot in experience. ... You see him having this mentality of trying to be great and he loves football. He’s his biggest critic. .. I love seeing young guys like that who are going to police themselves and do the right thing.”

It seems that Brees’ only concern is whether too much success is coming too quickly for Graham, and how he’ll respond to it.

“When you look at the success that he’s had so early, it’s easy to assume that it’s always going to be this easy, but it’s not,” Brees said. “The guy works extremely hard at it and we spend a lot of time together and I really think he’s only scratching the surface as to what he can do and how we can assimilate him into this offense. So I’m excited for Jimmy Graham, but I never want to get too far ahead of ourselves here. He can get a lot better.”

Graham is already noticing an uptick in the attention he receives from fans when he walks around his downtown neighborhood or goes out to eat. When word got around that he didn’t have an established nickname yet, fans who saw him started suggesting them.

“Every time I go out to eat someone’s screaming out some crazy name, so it’s been pretty entertaining,” Graham said.

He was a little puzzled when one fan suggested “Avatar.” He was amused when another offered, “The Graham Reaper.”

This weekend, though, he’ll just be “Jimmy” to some loved ones in the stands, including his adoptive mother and his biological mother, with whom he has re-established a relationship after a turbulent childhood that saw him left in a group home for boys when he was 11-years-old.
If Graham never takes his success for granted, his rough childhood will be a main reason why.

When he thinks of what he overcame to graduate from college and arrive on the brink of NFL stardom, he’ll always credit Becky Vinson, the woman who adopted him even though she was struggling financially at the time to pay bills and provide the way she wanted to for her daughter, Karena, who is also expected to be at the game.

“Whenever my guardian adopted me, she said, ‘One day you’re going to be somebody,’” Graham recalled. “So I wouldn’t say that she’s shocked (by his success). Every time I see her she tells me, ‘I knew it.’ But she’s happy for me. And for us, it’s been pretty special.”

Click here to order Jimmy Graham’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Jon Jay collects three hits in Game 2 win

John Jay went 3-for-5 with three runs scored in the Cardinals' Game 2 NLCS victory on Monday.

Batting in front of Albert Pujols, Jay made the most of the opportunity by reaching base and scoring three times in the first five innings. As a result, he doubled his playoff hit total in what has been an otherwise quiet postseason at the plate.

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Ryan Braun is crazy good right now

Ryan Braun still has a lot of baseball left to play -- at least four games in a worst-case scenario -- but his blazing start to the postseason (11-for-22, five doubles, two home runs, seven runs and eight RBIs) has us thinking of great October runs. Since the addition of the wild card in 1996, here are eight other great postseason runs.

8. Bernie Williams, 1996 Yankees (15 games, .345/.435/.707, 6 HR, 15 RBI, 14 R, 1.527 WPA*)
Williams carried the Yankees with five home runs through the first two rounds, and while he cooled off the in the World Series, his two-run homer in the eighth in Game 3 gave the Yankees a 4-1 lead, and he went 2-for-4 in the clinching Game 6, including an RBI single off Greg Maddux in the third inning.

* Win Probability Added, from The change in win probability for the player's team given the score, situation and outcome of each plate appearance. A change of plus-1 indicates one win added.

7. Manny Ramirez, 2008 Dodgers (8 games, .520/.667/1.080, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 9 R, 11 BB, 0.741 WPA)
Ramirez was unstoppable in the 2008 playoffs in going 13-for-25, but it wasn't enough as the Dodgers lost to Phillies in five games in the National League Championship Series.

6. Albert Pujols, 2004 Cardinals (15 games, .414/.493/.793, 6 HR, 14 RBI, 15 R, 1.302 WPA)
Pujols went 5-for-9 with four runs, a home run and three RBIs as the Cardinals beat the Astros in the final two games of the NLCS. And don't blame him for the World Series loss to Boston: He hit .333 (although he failed to drive in a run).

5. Troy Glaus, 2002 Angels (16 games, .344/.420/.770, 7 HR, 13 RBI, 14 R, 1.065 WPA)
He hit three home runs against the Yankees in the American League Division Series, hit .316 in the ALCS and won World Series MVP honors by hitting .385 with three home runs and eight RBIs. His two-run double in the eighth inning of Game 6 gave the Angels a 6-5 lead.

4. Alex Rodriguez, 2009 Yankees (15 games, .365/.500/.808, 5 2B, 6 HR, 18 RBI, 15 R, 1.696 WPA)
For one postseason, A-Rod put it all together. He drove in six runs in each round, drew 12 walks and delivered clutch hits, most notably his two-run homer off Joe Nathan in the bottom of the ninth that tied Game 2 of the division series (a game the Yankees won in the 12th) and his go-ahead double with two outs in the ninth off Brad Lidge in Game 4 of the World Series.

3. Carlos Beltran, 2004 Astros (12 games, .435/.536/1.022, 8 HR, 14 RBI, 21 R, 6 SB, 1.041 WPA)
Amazingly, Beltran holds the record for most runs scored in a single postseason, even though the Astros didn't reach the World Series. He hit four home runs in the division series and four more in the NLCS, made several outstanding catches in center field, drew nine walks ... and went 0-for-3 in a Game 7 loss to the Cardinals (Mets fans nod their heads).

2. Barry Bonds, 2002 Giants (17 games, .356/.581/.978, 8 HR 16 RBI, 18 R, 27 BB, 1.202 WPA)
Bonds had been a .196 hitter with just one home run in 27 previous postseason games entering 2002. He led the Giants to the seventh game of the World Series with a monster effort that included 13 intentional walks. I think his home run off Troy Percival in Game 2 just landed two weeks ago. He went 1-for-3 with a walk in Game 7 of the World Series, but the Giants lost 4-1.

1. David Ortiz, 2004 Red Sox (14 games, .400/.515/.764, 5 HR, 19 RBI, 13 R, 13 BB, 1.865 WPA)
First, he hit a series-winning home run in the bottom of the 10th inning in the ALDS against the Angels. He had a walk-off home run to win Game 4 of the ALCS. In Game 5, he hit a home run in the eighth inning as the Red Sox scored twice to tie it, then delivered the game-winning hit with two outs in the 12th. In Game 7, he hit a two-run bomb in the top of the first. And he hit .308 with four RBIs in a sweep of the Cardinals in the World Series. His 19 RBIs are tied with Sandy Alomar of the 1997 Indians and Scott Spiezio of the 2002 Angels for most in a single postseason.

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Jon Jay finds comfort in two spot

MILWAUKEE • Back in the lineup spot he's made his own this season, Jon Jay stepped in for his first at-bat Monday, took a peek down at the third baseman and suspected he could drop a bunt for a base hit.

It wasn't where the third baseman stood.

It was instinct.

It comes with the job of batting second.

"It was one of those feelings I got, just go for it right there," Jay said. "I went with my gut feeling that now was the good time to do it. It was the first inning, time to get something going."

Jay got a lot of things going for the Cardinals as they evened the National League championship series at a game each with a 12-3 victory Monday at Miller Park.

As Albert Pujols powered through one of his finest postseason games, Jay merited a nomination for best performance in a supporting role with three hits and three runs scored. All of Pujols' RBI-producing swings included Jay.

The Cardinals' three-time MVP set a personal postseason best with five RBIs, and three of them were Jay. The first three times Pujols came to the plate in the game, Jay was on base, changing how the Brewers' pitchers could traipse around Pujols.

That's the job description, the center fielder said.

"I look at every situation to see what I can do to get on base," Jay said. "That was an opportunity for me to bunt (in the first inning). I got it down and everything else happened. It was a great start to the game."

Manager Tony La Russa said that Jay was "one of the key things. Get guys on base enough for the guys in the middle and we're going to score some runs. Jay had every bit as good a day as Albert did."

During the NL division series against Philadelphia, Jay did not appear ahead of Pujols in the No. 2 spot in the order until the final game, and even then it was as a replacement for injured Skip Schumaker.

Jay has returned to the two spot in both games of the best-of-seven NLCS against Milwaukee, and on Monday he described how comfortable he is there because the recipe is simple.

Get on base by any means necessary.

Get home by any means available.

He has done that in a variety ways through two games of the NLCS.

In Game 1, he drew a walk and scored on Matt Holliday's RBI single for the Cardinals' first run. He singled in the seventh to set up what was a failed rally that died via double play.

In Game 2, Jay reached base with the bunt single, a one-out single in the third inning and a leadoff double in fifth inning. Each time, Pujols followed right behind to score Jay from whatever base he reached.

Against Philly, Jay took up temporary residence in the No. 8 spot of the Cardinals' order, a spot in which he had minimal experience during the regular season yet appeared in for all four of his first-round starts. The NLCS has brought him home.

The No. 2 spot has been called by teammates the best place to hit in the majors because Pujols stands on deck every time. Jay made that spot a key part of his platform for more playing time this season. He hit .303 with a .418 slugging percentage in the No. 2 spot. Of National Leaguers with at least 250 plate appearances in the two spot this season, Jay's .303 ranked third behind two hitters the Cardinals have faced in the playoffs. Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco and Milwaukee center fielder Nyjer Morgan each hit .310 there.

Jay's feel for the No. 2 spot was clear in Game 1 as he worked Brewers' starter Zack Greinke through extended at-bats in each of his first three plate appearances.

Jay faced a total of 20 pitches in the three at-bats. He got the walk in the first inning, and he nearly broke the game in the Cardinals' direction with a busted-bat grounder in the fifth. A diving snare by Prince Fielder kept Jay from being part of a rally.

He was part of three Monday.

The bunt and run to beat third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr.'s throw for a single was prelude to Pujols' homer. The third-inning single was a hit-and-run play that put two on before Pujols' double. In the fifth inning Jay had leadoff double and scored on Pujols'second of three doubles.

"I have all these veterans (to) tell us take advantage of every opportunity you have," Jay said. "Even in the offseason, when I'm working out, I'm not saying, ‘Hey, I want to have a good (regular) season.' I'm want to get to the postseason. My goals aren't, ‘Hey, let's play the season and see what happens.' I want to win. I want to be known as a winning player.

"That is one of the things that drive me."

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This Date in Hurricanes History...October 10th

This Date in Hurricanes History...October 10, 1992
Brought to you by the
UM Sports Hall of Fame!

Miami linebacker Darren Krein returned an interception 28 yards in the 3rd quarter to give the Canes a 17-7 lead...and the defense held off a late rally by PennState as the 2nd ranked Canes defeated the #7 Nittany Lions 17-14 in front of a Beaver Stadium record crowd of 96,704 ! 

Defense ruled the day for both Miami QB Gino Torretta, needing 195 yards passing to pass Vinny Testaverde's school record for career passing yards...was held to 80 yards on 11 of 31 passing.

The Canes would move to #1 in the next poll...a position they would hold until the Sugar Bowl game against Alabama.

But on this date...Happy Valley was anything but...all JoePa could do was congratulate Coach Dennis Erickson and the Canes !

The University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame is a non-profit, 501c3 corporation whose sole purpose is to recognize those student-athletes, coaches and administrators who have excelled at their sports and brought acclaim to the university through their accomplishments and championships.  All tax-deductible donations help showcase their achievements for Hurricanes fans to enjoy for generations to come !

To Donate to the UM Sports Hall of Fame, click below...

Click here to pay now
UM Sports Hall of Fame
5821 San Amaro Drive
Coral Gables, Florida

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The Streak Is Extended to 144 Straight Weeks

Did you know that a former Miami Hurricane/current proCane has scored at least one touchdown in 144 consecutive regular season NFL weeks? Dating back to Week 15 of the 2002 season where Clinton Portis scored 4 TDs, at least one proCane has scored a TD in each regular season week since then. We have chronicled every touchdown since 2002. See below:

Week 5 2011:
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco 49ers
Greg Olsen - 1 TD - Carolina Panthers

Week 4 2011:
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco 49ers
Jimmy Graham - 1 TD - New Orleans Saints
Greg Olsen - 1 TD - Carolina Panthers
Devin Hester - 1 TD - Chicago Bears
Santana Moss - 1 TD - Washington Redskins

Week 3 2011:
Willis McGahee - 1 TD - Denver Broncos
Jimmy Graham - 1 TD - New Orleans Saints
Greg Olsen - 1 TD - Carolina Panthers

Week 2 2011:
Santana Moss - 1 TD - Washington Redskins
Willis McGahee - 1 TD - Denver Broncos
Andre Johnson - 1 TD - Houston Texans
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco 49ers

Week 1 2011:
Jimmy Graham - 1 TD - New Orleans Saints
Andre Johnson - 1 TD - Houston Texans
Reggie Wayne - 1 TD - Indianapolis Colts

Click below to see the rest of the list:

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Jimmy Graham posts 3rd straight 100-yard game

Jimmy Graham led the Saints with 129 yards on eight receptions against the Panthers in Week 5.

Graham becomes the first tight end in franchise history to clear 100 yards in three consecutive games, leading the team with 12 targets. Graham was twice kept out of the end zone by safety Charles Godfrey, but got revenge with a one-handed 30-yard circus catch that he tipped to himself. The first-year starter and Drew Brees' new go-to target leads all NFL tight ends with 496 yards (99.2 per game) heading into Week 6 at Tampa.

Click here to order Jimmy Graham’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Greg Olsen finds end zone again in Week 5

Greg Olsen caught three passes for 21 yards and a touchdown against the Saints in Week 5.
He was targeted five times. Olsen couldn't haul in a short pass thrown behind him in the end zone, but Cam Newton came right back to him for a 5-yard touchdown just a few plays later. Olsen is averaging 48 yards with three touchdowns heading into a Week 6 matchup against the Falcons.

Click here to order Greg Olsen’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Reggie Wayne waiting to light victory cigar from Michael Irvin

The sampler box is a gift from Michael Irvin and sits front and center on a shelf in Reggie Wayne's cubicle in the Indianapolis Colts locker room.

Inside are Montecristo cigars. The style? Operation Hope.

"I am a cigar guy and that's the first time I've seen that," Wayne said of the Operation Hope label. "I don't know if Michael Irvin sent that to me for a reason.

"I have to check into that."

It might have been encouragement from one former University of Miami wide receiver to another. The Colts are one of the NFL's four winless teams heading into today's meeting with the Kansas City Chiefs at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Operation Hope?

"I thought that was awesome," said Wayne, who received the Montecristos for appearing on Irvin's radio show last week.
Wayne fashions himself a cigar connoisseur.

"I like to sit on my patio in Miami, even here, and light one up," he said. "Probably one or two a month. I get in those moods."
Wayne is itching to tear into Irvin's gift box but won't until he has a reason to celebrate.

"It's going to stay closed until we win," he said. "I'm going to bring it with me every game.

"I might light 'em all up at once."

Click here to order Reggie Wayne’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Andre Johnson waits to get stitches out, expects quick return

HOUSTON -- Houston Texans star receiver Andre Johnson said he expects to be out a couple of weeks after a minor procedure to repair a right hamstring injury.

Johnson said he is scheduled to get the stitches from two incisions removed early this week.

"I wish I could go out there and try to run around today to see how it feels," he said Friday. "But I have to just wait until I get the stitches out and then I'll go all out."

The five-time Pro Bowl selection says he has felt great since Tuesday's procedure and is confident he will be back soon. He described himself as a fast healer.

"I haven't felt any pain with any of the exercises I've been doing ... so I'm pretty pumped," he said. "I've been bending my leg and everything. The only thing that really bothers me a little bit is where I have the stitches. So I think once I can get those out and the cuts close up I'll be fine."

The Texans (3-1) host Oakland (2-2) on Sunday and then play at Baltimore on Oct. 16.

Johnson was injured Sunday in a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. He recounted his thoughts when he was hurt after catching a pass in the second quarter without being touched.

"I was scared," he said. "I really couldn't explain what it was, I just felt pain. You see I was grabbing my leg when I was on the ground."

Johnson isn't walking with any sort of a limp, a fact that has caused several coaches to comment on the "pep in his step" this week. He said an old injury led to a "pretty big lump" of scar tissue that had been causing pain behind his knee off and on for some time.

"I had a lot of scarring around my tendon and that was the irritation that everything was coming from, so they had to go in and clean it up," he said.

Johnson has 25 catches for 352 yards this season to lead the team. Jacoby Jones will fill in for Johnson this week and the Texans can also go to tight end Owen Daniels, who has 14 receptions for 182 yards and three scores.

"We're being challenged right now from a numbers standpoint as a football team," coach Gary Kubiak said. "That's what this league is about -- trying to find a way each week to regroup and put your best group on the field to win another game. We've got to pass the test."

Johnson hates sitting out when the Texans are playing so well. But he believes the team is better equipped to deal with his absence than in the past when he was injured.

"The whole attitude of the team is totally different than it used to be," he said. "Of course you don't want to lose anybody, but at the same time we know what's at stake for the team. Guys are going to go out and get the job done."

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Kellen Winslow goes for 54 yards on five receptions

Kellen Winslow caught five balls for 54 yards in the Bucs' blowout loss to the Niners in Week 5.
Among the least exciting TE-options going in fantasy leagues, Winslow gives just enough stability to be used as a low-end TE1 in PPR leagues. His upside is capped by a lack of playmaking ability, and Josh Freeman's struggles aren't helping matters, either.

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Colin McCarthy Injured

Tennessee Titans LB Colin McCarthy (hamstring) suffered a hamstring injury in Week 5.

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Leonard Hankerson a Healthy Scratch

Redskins third-round WR Leonard Hankerson has yet to be active through four games this season.

Fifth-rounder Niles Paul has been getting the call due to his edge as a blocker and in special teams play. Until he breaks into the top three receivers, Hankerson will continue to ride the pine.

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Jason Fox back on field for Detroit Lions

ALLEN PARK -- There was a Fox sighting at Detroit Lions practice on Friday morning.

Second-year offensive tackle Jason Fox participated in warmup stretches and only lightly during individual drills. The 6-foot-6, 314-pounder hadn't practiced since injuring his foot on August 6.

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Willis McGahee Reflects On His Serious College Injury

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Jimmy Graham says he still has a lot to learn

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Brett Romberg Steps In and Plays Well

Atlanta Falcons guard Garrett Reynolds was shaken up, and did not return. Brett Romberg took his place and very well. The extent of the injury is unknown but look for Romberg to step in again if Reynolds cannot play.

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Kenny Phillips expects call from NFL on Miller hit

Kenny Phillips expects to hear from the NFL this week over his violent first-quarter hit on Seattle tight end Zach Miller -- and he’s likely to pay the price for his actions.

Miller was trying to catch a ball near the end zone when Phillips launched his body at the tight end, leveling him to the turf. The Giants safety was assessed a 15-yard personal foul, unnecessary roughness penalty for hitting a defenseless receiver.

“Not at all,” Phillips responded when asked if he was going for Miller’s head, an absolutely no-no. “I was just trying to make a play. I saw the ball was out there and I thought I could get to the ball, so I just tried to separate him from it.”

“The refs said I didn’t hit him in the head, I just launched at him. I guess i’m just gonna have to accept the penalty,” Phillips said, adding that he expected to get a call from the league.

A fine is likely.

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Willis McGahee finding running room

In his final game of his 20s, Willis McGahee hardly looked a day older than 23.

For more than three quarters in Sunday's 29-24 loss to San Diego, McGahee wasn't just the Broncos' best offensive player. He was, for all intents and purposes, their only offensive player.

McGahee, who turns 30 on Oct. 21, two days before the Broncos' next game in his hometown of Miami, McGahee was responsible for 74 of the Broncos' 109 total yards in the first half.

When the game was over, McGahee had rushed for a season-high 125 yards (on 16 carries), his third time with more than 100 yards in four games. The last time McGahee rushed for more than 100 yards in back-to-back games, he was a 23-year-old rookie playing for the Buffalo Bills in 2004.

"I've got a lot to prove," McGahee said just before dashing out of the locker room Sunday night. "That's my desire. That's what I drive off of: People count me out. Keep counting me out."

That chip-on-shoulder mentality is clearly aimed at his previous employers (the Baltimore Ravens), and not at the Broncos' coaching staff that seems happy with him as the primary tailback, a role he assumed in the second week of the season after Knowshon Moreno was injured.

Moreno came back last week but has played primarily as the third-down back — or when McGahee needs a break. Moreno did not have a single carry Sunday against San Diego, though he did score on a 28-yard screen pass from

Tim Tebow in the fourth quarter.

McGahee, meanwhile, is showing the big-play ability that has been missing from the Broncos' running game for some time.

Against the Chargers, McGahee broke free for runs of 25, 17, 16, 12 and 28 yards. Six of McGahee's runs went for first downs — giving him more first downs on Sunday than any other Bronco, quarterbacks included.

"He's running downhill — fast — and he's breaking tackles. Us guys up front, we're happy with how he's playing," right guard Chris Kuper said. "It's obviously a joint effort with all of us, but he's obviously doing some things — if there's a guy free in the hole, he's making the move to make him miss, or he's able to run through him. You've got to put a couple bodies on him."

Kuper said the Broncos' run blocking has improved, but the team still has struggled to put together a balanced offense.

The Broncos rushed for 162 total yards but struggled to complete passes until late in the game. Sunday marked the first time the Broncos' offense accumulated more yards on the ground than in the air (113 passing). A combination of early drops and San Diego's tight defense made the Broncos wide receivers mostly obsolete.

Brandon Lloyd didn't catch his first pass until the final drive of the game, and

Eric Decker had only two catches, one for no gain and one for minus-4 yards.

"From what I heard — because I can't see it — they were just loading up the coverage and running a bunch of zone," Kuper said. "That's when we've got to pop more runs out and take pressure off the passing game."

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Frank Gore removes any previous doubts with second straight big game

The whispers began to grow, week by week, as Frank Gore struggled with a slow start this season.

He had lost a step. There was too much wear on his running-back tires. The 49ers never should have given him that big contract extension in August.

But the 49ers' star delivered a resounding message Sunday as he cranked out his second consecutive 100-yard game in a 48-3 rout of Tampa Bay at Candlestick Park: He's nowhere close to being done yet.

"Nah, I never heard any of that stuff," said Gore, who rushed for 125 yards on 20 carries with one touchdown. "Those were some tough games, no doubt. But defenses were gearing up to stop the run. But now my man Alex Smith is playing well, and they can't do that."

And Gore is running wild again.

"He has his burst back," coach Jim Harbaugh said. "He looked like Frank. He's having fun out there. That's the thing I see in Frank -- that he's enjoying football."

Gore clearly is benefiting from the 49ers' improved offensive balance as he and Smith, the 49ers' much-maligned quarterback, are forming a nice synergy under Harbaugh's direction.

Smith was coolly efficient against Tampa Bay, throwing for 170 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. That, in turn, helped create running space for Gore -- and vice versa.

It's completely different from what Gore said he saw as he studied game film from the first three weeks of the season.

"I could see what defenses were doing," said Gore, who also caught two passes for 18 yards Sunday. "They were out to stop me. You can't do anything with eight, nine men in the box. But everything has changed."

Those early games, though, stoked mounting concerns that perhaps everything was beginning to change for Gore. After all, he had spent his entire 49ers career finding a way to gain yardage despite a feeble passing attack.

But the third-leading rusher in franchise history had run for only 148 yards on 59 carries after three games. He also was hobbling because of an ankle injury suffered against Cincinnati on Sept. 25.

That just added to the already existing questions about the wisdom of awarding Gore -- who at 28 has reached an age when most NFL running backs are slowing down -- a three-year, $21 million contract extension. (In that deal, $13.5 million is guaranteed by the 49ers.)

If Gore was hurting, maybe it was even time to work rookie Kendall Hunter more into the offense.

Uh, not so fast.

Gore ran for 127 yards in the come-from-behind victory over Philadelphia on Oct. 2, scoring the game-winning touchdown on a 12-yard run with three minutes remaining.

And he looked like vintage Gore on Sunday against the Buccaneers. His 2-yard touchdown dive midway through the second quarter capped a short drive that gave the 49ers a 21-3 lead as the game quickly progressed into a blowout.

"It's amazing how he hits the holes," tackle Joe Staley said. "There were a couple of times where I thought he was stopped and got nothing. But then he managed to break them for 8 or 10 yards."

Gore was positively giddy after posting his 26th career 100-yard rushing game. He said his ankle no longer was giving him any problems. Each time he was asked a question about his personal performance, he tried to redirect it into praise of the entire offensive unit.

But he did acknowledge that the 49ers' 4-1 start is sweet redemption for both him and Smith after enduring so many losing seasons.

"I'm just happy, man," Gore said. "We came into the league together, and we've been through some rough times. But we believed. Now we're getting the opportunity to let everyone know that we know how to play ball."

Actually, Gore has been showing that from the moment he put on a 49ers jersey. Sunday was just another reminder.

"I've still got room to grow," he added. "And I will get there."

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Money isn’t everything to Bears’ Devin Hester

Devin Hester is one of the Bears’ most marketable stars, a dynamic playmaker and an NFL record-holder.

He had several notable endorsements last season, most notably Under Armour and Red Bull, and other companies were offering him hundreds of thousands of dollars.

More opportunities are sure to come after his punt return for a touchdown Oct. 2 against the Carolina Panthers gave him sole possession of the NFL record with 13 touchdowns on kickoff and punt returns.

But Hester ended his deals with Under Armour and Red Bull during the offseason and said he isn’t inclined to take on any other endorsements.
‘‘It’s too much,’’ he told the Sun-Times. ‘‘It takes away a lot.’’

On and off the field.

Time is money

Sponsors have needs, too, and a player’s commitment to collect that extra income takes a toll — especially during the season.

After a game Sunday, Hester occasionally had to jet somewhere for a commercial, a photo shoot or an appearance and sometimes didn’t return to Chicago until late Tuesday.

‘‘Then there’s no rest,’’ he said.

Although he’s only 28, Hester said he has to be more diligent about taking care of his body.

‘‘With the off day, you need to let your body recover and get treatment,’’ he said. ‘‘If you’re on the road, things like that can hurt. You miss a day or two of treatment, and it’ll show.

‘‘I’ve got to make sure I can do this for another four or five years. With all that stress, it was taking away from football.’’

Asked whether it was hard to leave so much money on the table, Hester said: ‘‘It is, but this is my main job. What’s more important?’’

Still, Hester’s decision doesn’t go unnoticed at home.

‘‘My wife gets on me because I turn down so many deals and photo shoots and commercials,’’ he said.

That, though, is another element Hester won’t sacrifice.

During the season, players often work six days a week. They might arrive at 6 a.m. for a workout, practice twice, attend multiple meetings, then leave after 6 p.m. And Hester might linger at Halas Hall because he doesn’t like to take his work home.

‘‘Once I leave here, I want to be a family guy,’’ he said after a recent practice. ‘‘Once I leave this facility, football is over. It’s family time.’’

Hester is serious about making sure he spends quality time with his son, Devin Jr. In fact, he started writing a monthly column in April for Chicago Parent magazine. The column, ‘‘Hangin’ With Devin,’’ chronicles the adventures of father and son.

A proud papa, Hester regularly posts pictures and videos of his son on his Twitter and Sports Buzz accounts. Devin Jr. will be 2 in November.
Taking success in stride

Coach Lovie Smith said he didn’t know Hester had ended his endorsement deals.

‘‘It hasn’t been an issue,’’ Smith said. ‘‘If they are doing something and it won’t affect what they’re doing here, I trust them.

‘‘But I’m happy for Devin if that’s what’s going to put him in the frame of mind to have a successful season.’’

Hester has only seven catches for 139 yards in the Bears’ first four games, but he keyed their 34-29 victory against the Panthers.

After the Panthers tied the score at 10 early in the second quarter, Hester rumbled through an arm tackle and gained 73 yards on the kickoff. Three plays later, running back Matt Forte scored on a 17-yard run.

After the defense forced a three-and-out, Hester fielded a low kick from Panthers punter Jason Baker.

‘‘It’s the kind of kick you dream about,’’ Bears special-teams coordinator Dave Toub said. ‘‘I mean, it was right down the middle and not high.’’
Punters make mistakes all the time, but Hester showed why he’s the best returner in NFL history. His blockers were set up for a return to the left, but Hester initially started right to help them set up the Panthers.

‘‘He’s so good,’’ Toub said. ‘‘You have to respect him.’’

Hester scored on a 69-yard return to give him the record.

Hester said another reason he scaled back on his endorsement deals was to try to blend in.

‘‘I don’t want a lot of attention; I want to be low-key,’’ he said. ‘‘I want to go to the grocery store with my family and not be bothered.’’

That’ll be hard to do, though,
as long as he continues making
big plays and showing up on highlight clips.

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Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder deliver momentum swings for Brewers

Reporting from Milwaukee -- Two pitches. Two swings.

That's how quickly Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder can change momentum for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Braun and Fielder have formed one of the top game-changing duos in the major leagues for some time now, but this was lightning-fast, even for them.

"You might stop one of them, but you're not going to stop both of them," teammate Corey Hart said. "They can turn around a game in a hurry."

Braun and Fielder needed just one pitch apiece to turn a 5-2 deficit into a 6-5 lead in the fifth inning Sunday, and the Brewers went on to a 9-6 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series at Miller Park.

The Brewers boosted their record to 17-0 at home this year in games started by right-hander Zack Greinke, but with eight hits and six runs given up in six innings, he was far short of his "A" game. In particular, Greinke kept getting hurt with his curveball.

"Every time I threw a curveball, it seemed like they hit it really hard," said Greinke, who picked up the victory thanks to the robust offensive support.

The Brewers bailed out their starting pitcher by scoring six runs in the fifth inning to go up, 8-5. Braun and Fielder did their damage so quickly, St. Louis Manager Tony La Russa couldn't get starter Jaime Garcia out of the game until it was too late.

"They had all of the momentum," Braun said. "And then for us to respond well to that is a great sign of our resiliency, our character as a team."

Hart started the outburst with a single and Jerry Hairston Jr. continued his postseason binge with a double into the left-field corner. Garcia then hung a first-pitch slider to Braun, who drove it the other way into the right-field corner and over the wall on a bounce for a two-run double.

The crowd of 43,613 was still in full roar when Fielder stepped to the plate and also punished a first-pitch slider from Garcia, lining it out to right for a two-run homer that sent decibel levels soaring even higher.

"I don't even know if I heard the ball come off Prince's bat, but I knew it was a good swing and came off nice," Brewers Manager Ron Roenicke said. "You couldn't hear the sound of it because of all the people yelling."

Perhaps the issue was that the baseball exceeded the speed of sound. reported that the ball traveled at a speed of 119.2 mph, the fastest exit of any home run in the majors this season.

"That was one of the hardest-hit balls I've ever seen," said Braun, whose two-run homer in the first against Garcia was more impressive in distance at 463 feet.

"I was standing on second base and I had a good view of it. It got out in a hurry. I'm always worried when I'm on first base and Prince is up that he's going to top-spin one at me."

That was all for Garcia, who frittered away the advantage the Cardinals had built primarily on David Freese's three-run, opposite-field home run in the fourth. Octavio Dotel took over and committed a two-base throwing error after retrieving Rickie Weeks' comebacker, then shot-putting it beyond first baseman Albert Pujols.

That brought to the plate Yuniesky Betancourt, infamous for swinging at the first pitch (and making outs) so often. And he swung at the first offering once again, badly missing a slider well off the plate from Dotel.

This time, however, Betancourt would not be a quick out. Behind in the count, 1-2, he fouled off four consecutive pitches, staying alive until Dotel hung a slider that Betancourt whacked out to left for a two-run homer that allowed the Brewers to put six runs on the board without making an out.

"After the result, I would say it was my best at-bat of the season, but I was just trying to do my job, trying to move the runner over," Betancourt said with the help of an MLB interpreter. "The pitcher hung it a little bit, and I did my job."

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